Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Alderic

"Hanami" - A Fire Emblem Fates Fanfic

Recommended Posts

=====[ Version History ]=====

[spoiler=04/01/16]

Version 1.0 - April's Foolie Coolie

-Chapter 3, 4, 5 and Epilogue Added

-Fanfic Stats updated

[spoiler=02/19/16]

Version 0.2 - Ground Control, we have lift off

-Chapter 2 Added

[spoiler=02/18/16]

Version -0.1 - Canas Syndrome

-Renamed Fanfic Progress to Fanfic Stats

-Moved Fanfic Stats closer to the top of post

-Added new Fanfic Stats

-Edited the About the Fanfic Section to be more indicative of what to expect

-Added another question to Author's Q&A Panel Section

-Formatted Author's Request for easier reading and added new requests

-Edited minor details in Chapter 1

[spoiler=02/16/16]

Version 0.1 - Alderic the Unready

-Introduce fanfic to Serenes Forest

-About the Fanfic Section Added

-Acknowledgements Section Added

-Fanfic Progress Section Added

-Author's Q&A Panel Added

-Author's Request Section Added

=====[ Fanfic Stats ]=====

First draft: 100%

Editing/polishing/Final draft: 100%

Hours spent writing: 55

Word Count: 12,500+

=====[ About the Fanfic ]=====

I've come here to submit for your viewing pleasure, my fanfic. Or at least part of it (more on this later). This is going to be a short story that revolves around the Nohr route. All the information used in the fanfic is sourced by the pre-release information that was gleaned from various topics in the Fire Emblem Fates subforum. There are no spoilers contained within the fanfic. Some light knowledge of Japanese terms will be required to fully enjoy this fanfic. Some knowledge of the differences between the Japanese and English version of the game will be required to enjoy this fanfic. Some knowledge of Fire Emblem Awakening will be required to enjoy this fanfic (don't worry, there are no Awakening spoilers save for the planned epilogue. It is a minor mid late-game spoiler.). There is one are two minor instances of cursing: The first is because I feel it fits the character and the second is used for shock value and non-ironic dramatic effect. Otherwise, this fanfic can be considered "T" for blud, veolence and crud humour (crud hu- What is that, like French or something?).

The idea for this fanfic came about from a random thread I read where members were discussing what dark story lines could possibly lie in wait for us in the game (you can stop laughing now.). Chronologically, the actual writing for this fanfic began in June of 2015, right before the large infodump from E3. My rough outline of the plot was developed during a break at work and documented on the notes app of my phone. It was a tale set in the Nohr path that would focus on Kamui and his their reactions to the aftermath of his their choice to side with Nohr. At this point, Kamui would be haunted by the consequences of his their world-changing decision; namely, the deaths of the Hoshido royal siblings. This drama would become the focal point of the story.

Against my personal wishes, I'm "publishing" the first chapter of this fanfic on here before the release of Fates, which is this coming Friday. This is because I know nobody is going to be browsing these forums once that day hits. I want to give ample time for people to discover this fanfic and bookmark/earmark this thread for reference so they can follow the story once it is complete. You can also consider this my promise to you, the audience, that I'm committed to deliver a quality read. I could scale back the fanfic to meet the Friday deadline I've set for myself, but I know deep down that I wouldn't be proud of my work to do so. My pride is on the line here!

=====[ Acknowledgements ]=====

First and foremost, I'd like to thank members DualMix and chihiroos for inspiring me to write this fanfic. I read both your posts and decided to write a story of my own involving the dramatic dynamic between the royal siblings and their deaths. Forgive me for not remembering which thread it was that the posts came from.

Next, I'd like to thank members Kirokan and ShadowOfChaos for volunteering countless hours towards the translation effort of various pre-release material. It was your hard work and dedication that allowed me access to enough material to make this fanfic a reality. I know you don't hear it enough, but I appreciate you guys greatly.

[spoiler=Personal Message for ShadowOfChaos]I know this really isn't the place for this, but I'd like to ask if you ever ended up getting that replica of Aqua's/Azura's pendant. If you did, I hope your significant other loved it and was genuinely surprised about it. I like hearing about things like that. Best wishes.

=====[ Author's Q&A Panel ]=====

This section is reserved for the inevitable questions regarding the fanfic I will no doubt receive. I'll compile them here for easy access and reading for any new readers. There's probably a bunch of questions I won't be able to foresee, so I intend to update this section semi-regularly. Plot related questions, why I made decisions with certain character's personality or actions, what was the thought-process in choosing the chapter titles are all fair game to ask. Let me know what you'd like answered and I'll add it here.

[spoiler=Why the double post?]Two reasons: 1) paranoia and 2) pragmaticism. For the first reason, I'm a new member on these forums. I don't know how everything works or how stable the forums are. I've been a member to forums where if you are idle too long or take longer than 30 minutes to post something, you're liable to have your post vampirized (the actual trope name escapes me, but I'm talking about hitting the "post" or "preview" button and having the portal freeze causing you to either hit the back button or refresh the page and you lose your entire post.). For the second reason, this fanfic is long. It contains over 12,000 words and spans 35 pages on my word document. I intend to make very liberal use of the spoiler tags to help compress the post size. I understand that posts can be edited, but remember that the uncompressed version is what I'll have to deal with. It will break the page and probably fracture my sanity trying to modify it. Also, God forbid I run into the issue described in number 1 while I'm trying to edit things. This first post is for the introduction of the fanfic and my personal interaction with my audience. The second post is for the actual fanfic. I intend to regularly update the first post. The second post will only be updated as many times as there are chapters in the fanfic, which is 6 (5 main chapters and an epilogue).

[spoiler=Wait, I'm confused. Is Kamui male or female here?]Obviously, Kamui is a dragon... All joking aside, I had to go back and change to gender neutral markers/identifiers because I forgot that I didn't want to imprint a specific gender to Kamui. Kamui is the player's Avatar in the game and true to form, has no "canon" gender. Whatever the player deems to be Kamui's "canon" gender is canon for that player. It's a neat concept, but a real pain in the ass to follow through on in a written work. I suppose I could have made the argument that the references to "man" in Chapter 1 was shorthand for "mankind" and "human," but I feel like that would be a cop out. I feel like I needed to post this public apology to the 20+ members who already started reading this fanfic. I was half-joking in the Author's Request Section when I had mentioned not pointing out continuity errors, but it would appear that my subconscious was trying to tell me something. So instead of being killed off by continuity errors like Canas in FE7, I essentially neutered Kamui with my continuity errors.

=====[ Author's Request ]=====

To the mods: Please do not delete or concatenate the second post (see the Why the double post question).

To the audience:

>Please refrain from any final judgments of the fanfic until it is completely uploaded. This includes spelling errors, grammar errors and continuity errors. I'm that anal retentive to stop work on the fanfic just to fix those minor details.

>Please use spoiler tags where appropriate.

>Please do not discuss where you think the fanfic is headed plot-wise. There's nothing worse than reading that your plot twist was already deduced so early on. It kills my motivation to finish.

>Please leave questions and comments on what I can add to this post to make things better (e.g. name guide, terminology guide, etc.).

>Please leave a comment on how you would like the story to unfold. Would you like me to upload each chapter as I complete editing them or would you rather wait for me to dump the entire story once it's finished? I personally don't like being left on a cliffhanger, but I'll leave it up to you guys. I don't know when I'll be complete and it's taken me this long just to get to this point. I'm committed to finishing this thing though.

>Also please be gentle with your final review of the fanfic once it's complete. I haven't done any type of creative writing in over a decade. If I commit some cardinal sin of fiction writing, please be discreet about it.

>Finally, don't get too attached to this format. I may switch things around later. Keep your eyes peeled at the Version History section!

>(02/18/16) If someone could alert DualMix and chihiroos to this fanfic, that would be much appreciated. I'm actually quite curious about what their opinions on this fanfic ends up being. :3

Edited by Alderic

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[spoiler=Chapter 1]

=====[ Chapter 1: Reflection ]=====

"Tsutau minasuji

Sono te ga hiraku asuwa~"

...Aqua...?

My eyes open suddenly. It's a struggle for my vision to come into focus. I find myself on my back looking up towards a vast blue sky. Dumbstruck, I can only stare blankly at the passing clouds that are as white and pure as fresh fallen snow. How long has it been since I last saw such a magnificent image? I close my eyes and take a deep breath. Slowly, I reopen them and let out a sigh of relief at the realization that this beautiful image has not faded away or changed into something more somber.

If this is a dream, let me remain asleep for a while longer, I muse to myself. Where am I? Have I somehow wandered outside the castle and fallen asleep in a field? ...No. That would be ridiculous.

I slowly sit up and look around. As far as my eyes can see, there is nothing but an endless horizon. Looking down, I notice that the "ground" that I thought I was laying on was actually water. More precisely, I am sitting on the surface of the water. Ripples expand outward from the areas where my body is touching the surface. I slowly get to my feet.

"What manner of sorcery is this...? What is this place?"

"You are inside yourself," a eerily familiar voice echoes from behind me.

I turn around, but there is no one there. In front of me, a small area of water begins to bubble violently. The water begins to rise and take the form of a human. From the top, the water parts creating two identical figures. Both figures take the form of Aqua. On my left is Aqua in the white dress she wore when we first met. On my right is Aqua in the black dress that she donned when she returned to Nohr.

"You are here," began the Aqua in white.

"...because you wish to reflect on your past choices," continued the Aqua in black.

"The choices I've made thus far? I don't understand."

"Tell me, Kamui... What do you fight for? An end to suffering?"

"Or an end to war?"

"What individual would not wish for an end to war?" I respond rhetorically. "But still... I believe that an end to suffering is a far nobler goal."

"Don't make me laugh, Kamui!" A voice thunders from behind. "Your arrogance has blinded you to the truth! You betrayed your own kin for the sake of your own glory! Just because you are of noble birth, it doesn't make your twisted ambitions 'noble.' The suffering you seek to end comes at the high price of the suffering of those you have abandoned! If that is what you wish for, then let your ambitions die here!"

I quickly spin around to see the image of Ryouma poised to attack. Both hands are raised above his head as he clutches his Raijin katana. I am unarmed. With no time to dodge, I throw up my left arm in defense and brace myself for the inevitable strike. If I am indeed dreaming, now would be a really good time for me to awaken. ...However, the blow never comes. Slowly lowering my arm, I get a close look at Ryouma's face which is now frozen with surprise. As my eyes slowly work their way down, I come to understand why. Buried inside his chest is my golden sword, Yatogami. How did it suddenly appear within my right hand? A single drop of blood falls and is split upon the blade. Lowering his arms, Ryouma stares directly at me as blood continues to escape from the corner of his mouth.

"In the end... I still retain... my honor... When you face... your end... what will you... be... left... with...?"

Ryouma's body starts to slide down the length of the blade. As his head gently rests upon my shoulder, my breathing stops. My right hand starts trembling. I lose hold of the hilt. I unconsciously take a half step back as the weight of Ryouma's body presses against mine. Without anything holding it upright, the body slides right off my shoulder and onto the surface of the water. I strain to look upon my elder brother's corpse and stare motionless with horror as it slowly sinks beneath the surface. His blood stains the water with a crimson hue.

"What is this?" my voice cracks. "WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?!"

"Kamui," the twin Aquas continue to question me. "Tell me, what do you value most? Freedom?"

"Or security?"

"What good is freedom without the security that it will be there today, tomorrow or any other day?"

"I wanted to someday share the skies with you, Kamui." Turning slightly, I see Hinoka clutching her fist against her chest. "What other word better describes the feeling of flying through the endless horizon than free? ...But it's too late now. You've chosen to remain where you are most comfortable. The thought of an open sky terrifies you more than a stifling existence inside a gilded cage."

Before I can voice any opposition, I hear an all too familiar sound in the distance. In the blink of an eye my ears are drowned with the sound of countless arrows piercing the back of Hinoka. With a similar stunned look as Ryouma, she slowly steps towards me. Just like Ryouma, she rests her head against my right shoulder while desperately clinging to my left shoulder with her right hand.

"All I wanted... was to see you again... I longed for the day... that we would be reunited... but not like this... Gods... not like... this..."

Unable to maintain her composure, Hinoka starts to cry into my shoulder. I place my left hand on her waist and slightly lean back to try and support her weight. I gently caress her hair with my right hand. A few moments pass and she musters enough strength to push herself away from me. At arm's length, Hinoka looks directly into my misty eyes. She speaks just barely above a whisper.

"Do not grieve... One day... we will be... reunited again... my dear-"

Her voice is cut off by the sound of another flurry of arrows. This time is different. They were less like arrows and more akin to large metal spikes. They pierce straight through her slender frame, splattering blood over my chest and abdomen. The impact is so severe that her head reels back as her waist is thrust forward. The momentum is enough to force me to take a few steps back to keep from falling backwards. Hinoka begins falling backwards in slow motion. The sister who was so close to me only moments before now feels like she is so far beyond my reach. I struggle to close the distance between us. My body feels heavy. It seems incapable of outpacing my thoughts.

I want to be there. I want to be where she is. I need to catch her before she falls beneath the surface of the water. I can't lose her like I lost Ryouma. I need her just as much as she needs me...

Using all of my strength, I fling my body towards her hoping to grab something... anything... her scarf, her outstretched hand, a finger... I should have had ample time to grab hold of something, but I lose her as she falls into the water. Unlike Ryouma, she doesn't stop to slowly sink into the surface. The way she fell straight through made it appear like there was nothing underneath her at all. My body, however, is unable to pass through this threshold. All I can do is helplessly watch as Hinoka's body slowly fades into the darkness of the unknown deep. As I begin to push away from the surface, I notice a pair of feet in front of me. I already know what comes next.

"Kamui," the Aqua in black addresses me nonchalantly. "What is 'family' to you? Do you look towards those who took you in and raised you?"

"Or is it something undeniably bound to your blood?"

"I love both of my families. Without either of them, I wouldn't be who I am today. Even so... knowing of my true lineage does not dilute the years that I shared with my siblings in Nohr."

"I will never acknowledge you as my kin," a coarse voice calls out from beside me.

"Takumi!"

"Silence, kinslayer!"

I desperately scan my surroundings trying to locate the source of Takumi's cry. My eyes finally settle on his blurry silhouette off in the distance. Invisible waves distort his figure. It's as if he is... No. He IS on fire. The flames threaten to consume him completely. I break into a sprint to try and reach him, but his only response is an open palm towards me.

"Don't come anywhere near me, foul abomination! These flames are nothing compared to the unbridled flames of hatred I hold for you. It was a mistake for the others to trust you... to take you into our homeland. I never once doubted where your loyalty lied."

"I-"

"BITE. YOUR. TONGUE. Spare me your worthless pity. What you have done to my family cannot be washed away by a half-hearted apology. There is nothing to be said between us. I just want you to know that I knew your true colors from the very beginning."

The flames violently flare up and envelop his entire body. I couldn't help but admire his stoicism. Takumi was always strong. Never did his will waver. He was committed to never showing any weakness to anyone. Not his family, not his subordinates, not his sworn enemies, no one... And yet...

"Gah! Why is it only now...? I finally realize my feelings towards her... My most precious... O-"

Suddenly, Takumi is swallowed up in a pillar of fire that extends to the heavens. The flames are so intense that their heat could be felt even from such a large distance away. It burned bright enough to force me to shield my eyes with my right arm. The flames slowly die down enough to reveal a burnt out husk where my brother once stood. Takumi's figure has been completely distorted into something unrecognizable. I don't even bother running towards him. I just patiently watch as his body slowly sinks into the surface of the water. Unable to maintain its twisted form, the body disintegrates into ash as it descends into the unknown depths. I lower my head and try to honor Takumi by giving him a moment of silence.

"I'll ask the question now," my silence is quickly broken as I sense the approach of the twin Aquas behind me. "What is it that you want from me? Clearly, I have not yet endured everything you have in store for me. What happens next?"

"What do you consider yourself to be, Kamui?" the Aqua in white refuses to acknowledge my question. "A human?"

"Or a dragon?"

"Even though a dragon's blood may course through my veins, I am a human first and foremost."

"You have slain three of your siblings," both Aquas speak in unison. "Can that act truly be considered 'human'? Only a heartless monster could do such a cruel thing. Discard the mask that you have hidden behind all these years. Take a long and hard look at your true face."

I don't want to look. I'm afraid to look. What will I see? What is Aqua trying to tell me? It doesn't make sense. None of this makes any sense. I fear that I will go mad if I am forced to see what she is trying to show me. Despite all the chatter in my head, my curiosity is too strong to deny. I have to know. I have to see with my own eyes the ugliness that I have refused to acknowledge all this time. As if being dragged down by chains, my head slowly lowers enough so that I can see my own reflection.

A horned figure is looking down at me through the surface of the water. Giant wings span from the back, elongated limbs resembling those of a stag, and a long tail that runs the entire length of the spine. What is this creature? Is this what I am destined to become one day?

Whatever this creature is, it doesn't seem very happy to see me. It kicks up and slams its two front legs hard into the reflection. The sound of shattering glass fills my ears as I feel the ground collapse underneath me. My freefall lasts for only a moment as my body splashes into the massive ocean surrounding me. In a state of shock, I flail my arms around trying to claw my way back to the surface to no avail. The weight of my guilt drags me down further and further into the dark abyss. Powerless to stop my descent, I close my eyes and accept my fate.

"...mui."

...what ...?

"Ka..."

Who...?

"...ease... ...up. ...can't... ...the..."

Is there anyone out there...?

"Tsutau minasuji

Sono te ga hiraku asuwa~"

...!!! Aqua!

[spoiler=Chapter 2]

=====[ Chapter 2: Reunion ]=====

I snap to my senses. On the floor of my room is Aqua, pinned down by my body. I have a firm grip on her throat and she is gasping for air. I quickly let go of her and she coughs and wheezes in response. She gives me a very concerned but meek glance.

"Who knew... *cough* ...that you were the type... *cough, cough* ...to be so rough with women..."

"Aqua, are you alright?"

"I'm just glad you came back to your senses. *pant, pant* ...It was getting harder and harder to breathe. Had I known that you would react that way... *cough* I would have let Felicia wake you up instead."

"Felicia normally does wake me up... Wait... Why are you in my room?"

"Well..." Aqua shifts her eyes quickly to the left, avoiding both my gaze and my question.

Suspicious... Wait... Don't tell me she was about to...!!!

~~~~~{ Kamui Vision: ON }~~~~~

Aqua

[Please forgive the intrusion, Kamui...]

Kamui

[...Zzz...]

Aqua

[i wanted to discuss... (Sleeping this late into the day? No wonder Felicia has to always wake you up.)]

Kamui

[...Snnnrk! ...Zzzzz... Aqua...? Why're you... doing this... to me...?]

Aqua

[(Dreaming of me, are you? I haven't done anything to you yet, but that's about to change!)]

Kamui

[Hmmm... mmmfff... BWARGH! *gasp* Nosferatu! Shape shifting wolves! Nosferatu riding shape shifting wolves! They came from... ...huh?]

Aqua

[Hahaha! My my, Kamui, what very strange things you dream of. I didn't take you to be the type of person who would be interested in that type of pairing.]

Kamui

[What?! I... No... That's not...]

Aqua

[How about this...? I won't mention any of this to our siblings if you do me a small favor.]

Kamui

[That's blackmail! I won't stand for this!]

Aqua

[i think I passed by Marx in the hallway earlier...]

Kamui

[i'll sit down and be good.]

Aqua

[There, there. That's a good little Kamui.]

Kamui

[Don't call me "little."]

Aqua

[Awww... You're still insecure about 'that'? Don't worry, I have no doubt that eventually the right person will come along and will love you regardless of any 'shortcomings.']

Kamui

[AQUA! Enough teasing! What is it that you want from me?!]

Aqua

[Well... for starters...]

<Kamui and Aqua's support level decreased to rank C.>

~~~~~{ Kamui Vision: OFF }~~~~~

"...you can stop dreaming about me." Aqua's voice rouses me back to the reality of her gaze peering into the windows of my soul while being uncomfortably close to my face.

"What?! I... No... That's not..." I quickly put some distance between us while waving my hand back and forth and shaking my head.

"It's odd enough that you dream of me when you are asleep. Please refrain from dreaming of me while you are awake as well."

"None of this would have happened if you didn't try waking me up by holding my mouth and nose closed."

"Would you rather I awaken you with a kiss like you were some princess from a fairy tale?"

"That would have been even worse. And EXTREMELY awkward. I mean... you and I... we're both..."

"*Giggle* Oh Kamui, you are too much. You're so cute when you get flustered like that. I know it's considered taboo, but... if it's you... I'd be alright with it..."

"A-Aqua?! What are you- Stop messing around with me! Did you only come into my room to startle me awake and poke fun at me?"

"I was worried about you."

"W-what?"

"Lately, you haven't been really smiling or talking to anyone. Everyone's worried about you. Add to the fact that your first reaction to being awoken is to nearly strangle me..."

"I'm sorry, Aqua. This war between Nohr and Hoshido is really taking its toll on me. I've been having some very bad dreams as of late."

"Kamui... I think it might be best if you left the battlefield for a while."

"And go where?"

"There's a little town on the border of the kingdom that I'd like to visit. It's far enough away from the castle, but not anywhere close to the front lines. It would help take your mind off of all the fighting."

"Yes... That does sound like a good idea. I think I'll take you up on your offer."

Traveling by foot, it took Aqua and I three days to reach the town she wanted to visit. For such a small place, it sure is lively and full of activity. Vendors lined all along the streets vie for our attention and wave towards us to look at their wares. Children are playing together off in the distance. My ears perk up at the sound of laughter and friendly small talk. It is a far cry from the desolate silence and ravaged landscape of a battlefield that I've grown so accustomed to seeing. Aqua stops in front of me and puts her arms behind her back while leaning forward slightly and tilting her head to the side.

"Is something the matter, Aqua," I ask her point blank. "Is there something on my face perchance?"

"Yes, Kamui. It's called a 'smile.' I was beginning to worry that you had forgotten what one felt or looked like," she flashes her own warm smile as a reflection of what must have been my own.

"I'm sorry to have worried you. It's just that... A lot has happened since the war started. Many tragedies were left in my wake and many more stand before me. Thinking on all those things weighs down my heart."

"You can't blame yourself for this war. Many of those tragedies that haunt you weren't even brought about by your own hands."

"I know that. Still... It seems irresponsible not to reflect on those tragedies."

"Kamui! We are at war. Whether you'd like to admit it or not, Hoshido and her army are our enemies."

"It's not that simple, Aqua! They aren't 'just' enemies. They are... were our family. They weren't just faceless soldiers to be cut down in droves. They had faces, dreams, people they loved, people that loved them and most importantly... they had names..."

"Kamui..."

"I couldn't forget them even if I tried... Saizou, Kagerou, Asama, Setsuna, Hinata, Oboro, even Suzukaze..."

"Um, Kamui..." a voice calls out from behind me. "I'm not dead. I've been here the whole time..."

"Oh gods! Suzukaze's voice haunts me even now!" I press my hands tightly over my ears.

"I told you, I'm not dead! I swore to you that I would be your shadow. I have never left your side ever since you decided to return to Nohr. Lady Aqua, please tell Kamui that I am still amongst the living."

"Oh, Suzukaze," Aqua gasps with feigned surprise, "You were still with us? I had thought you would have been picked off by a stray arrow by this point."

"L-lady Aqua?! You as well?! I can't believe what I'm hearing... What of all the times I ran errands for you back when we were in Hoshido?"

"You mean all the times I had my 'special' cravings?"

"Exactly! I risked life and limb to infiltrate Nohr so that you could have your favorite sweets from Madam Nyx's Tent of Wonders."

"I guess you do have a point... They really were a curious treat. Who else but Nyx would think of putting hand-written paper fortunes inside of a cookie. I wonder if such a practice will ever catch on. Maybe then I would be able to get them locally. I mean, it's not like I can just waltz on over to Nyx's tent and purchase some myself... Oh wait..."

"Is that really all you have to say about my loyal service over the years?"

"Now that you mention it... I never did like your name."

"W-what?! What's wrong with my name?!"

"It's far too long and has too many syllables. It should be something simple and catchy... I think I'm going to call you Fred from now on."

"F-F-Fred?! What kind of name is that?! And how does that even bear any resemblance to my actual name?!"

"You kind of sound like a 'Fred' to me. Anyway, for someone who claims to be Kamui's shadow, you certainly are drawing a lot of attention to yourself."

Suzukaze scans the area and takes notice of the villagers starting to gather around making comments about him. The rumor mill must be in full swing as the growing audience begins speculating the relationship between the three of us.

"Mommy," one of the children tugs at her mother's sleeve. "Why is that strange man stalking those members of the royal family?"

"Guh!" Suzukaze reels back as if he had just been punched in the stomach.

"This is why shadows are rarely seen and never heard," Aqua gives Suzukaze an icy glare.

"All right, people. Break it up!" a boisterous voice booms from beyond the crowd.

The assembled villagers quickly start to disperse and go back to their lives. As the crowd thins, an armored figure stands before us with crossed arms. He slowly walks towards us and appears to grow exponentially with each step. His scowling face softens once he gets within arm's length distance. I have to look past the prominent scar on his forehead, his narrow eyes and square face to realize and remember that Benoit is not an enemy, but an ally.

"I overheard from the locals that there was a suspicious lot seen walking around town. I had no idea I'd be running into you guys. Princess Aqua, Fred-"

"Oh for the love of..." Suzukaze smacks his forehead into his palm. "I'm starting to wonder if I made the correct decision in following Kamui to Nohr."

"Kamui is here as well?" Benoit raises an eyebrow in disbelief.

"Kamui," Aqua lets out a heavy sigh. "You really have to stop hiding behind people every time Benoit shows up."

"I can't help it," I sheepishly poke my head out from behind Aqua. "Benoit is one scary-looking person. I instinctively dive for the nearest cover."

"It seems like today is full of surprises," Benoit scratches the back of his head. "I had an encounter with another suspicious character roaming around town earlier today."

"I can't imagine there being anyone as suspicious as us walking around these parts."

"It's probably a good thing I ran into you guys just now. Kamui, you're probably going to want to meet this person. Follow me."

Benoit starts to walk off. I share a puzzled look with Aqua. Before losing sight of him, I chase after Benoit. Walking past the main square, he leads us to a small building on the edge of the town. Judging by the size, it must be the outpost that he and Charlotte are stationed at. Following him inside, I am confronted by a familiar face.

"Sakura...?"

[spoiler=Chapter 3]

=====[ Chapter 3: Parley ]=====

"Elder sister..." Sakura greets me with a polite bow.

"Why...? You shouldn't be here."

"I am sorry, but I had to see you again."

"This is crazy! Do you know how much danger you're putting yourself in by being here?! Where are Tsubaki and Kazahana? Didn't they come with you?"

"She was alone when I found her," Benoit explains. "It was a good thing that I was the one that ran into her instead of Charlotte. She would have torn the girl apart if she saw her snooping around these parts."

"Thank the gods for that. You're not hurt or anything, are you Sakura?"

"No," Sakura shakes her head. "Sir Benoit was a complete gentleman. He escorted me safely through town to this tiny fort."

"It's more of a barnyard shed than a fort," Benoit scoffs. "It wasn't easy getting her down here. A Hoshidan princess in Nohr territory draws a lot of unwanted attention. To get her through town safely, I had to pretend I was detaining her."

"It must have been an odd sight for most of the people here," Aqua chimes in. "A tough-looking man in full armor and a dainty little priestess."

~~~~~{ Kamui Vision: ON }~~~~~

Sakura

[i am almost at the capital. I wonder how much farther I will be able to travel before someone notices me. I hope I will be able to speak with elder sister at least one more time.]

Benoit

[...There we go. This war sure is taking a toll on everyone. I wonder how many more orphans we'll end up with before it's all over. There's hardly any room left for all you guys.]

Sakura

[Wow! I have never seen so many kittens in one place before. Are they all yours?]

Benoit

[No, I don't own them or nothin'. This here is a make-shift animal orphanage.]

Sakura

[They are all so cute. It is a shame I cannot adopt them all and take them home with me.]

Benoit

[Why not? Your home is far away from here?]

Sakura

[unfortunately, that is the case. I would not be able to carry them all home with me even if I wanted to. Then there is the fact that they might not all survive the journey home.]

Benoit

[Geez... If you live that far away, then what the hell are you even doing here?]

Sakura

[i am hoping to find someone... my elder sister. The only problem is that she lives somewhere in the capital and I do not know if I will be allowed in considering the country is in the middle of a war.]

Benoit

[Yeah, it'd be pretty tough to travel there considering the times... I might be able to help you get in. I know a few people that owe me a couple of favors. What's your sister's name?]

Sakura

[Kamui...]

Benoit

[Kamui...? Of the royal family, Kamui?]

Sakura

[The very same... I probably will not be allowed to see her, will I?]

Benoit

[so if Kamui is your elder sister... That means... But you don't look like Elise... HEY! Waitaminute! You're one of the Hoshidan princesses! What are you doing here?!]

Sakura

[You only now just realize that I am not from Nohr? (Were my clothes really not a telltale sign? And who would mistake me for that girl with such tacky looking pigtails? Nohrian women sure do have a peculiar sense of fashion...)]

Benoit

[How did you even get in here?! I thought the gate was locked.]

Sakura

[it was wide open when I came here.]

Benoit

[That Charlotte... How many times have I told her not to leave the gate open when she goes out on her patrols? Anyways, that's not important right now. Listen, we have to get you out of here before someone sees you...]

Elderly female villager

[Oh, Benoit. It's so nice to see you working so hard to take care of the animal orphanage on your spare time. I know it must be hard considering you share border guard duty with that flirtatious Charlotte. Hmmm...? Who is this young lady by your side? Benoit, are you now taking in human orphans as well? Bless your heart, son, bless your heart.]

Benoit

[No, that's not what's going on here. I have to escort this lost girl home.]

Young male villager

[Yo, Benoit! If you have some spare time, can we spar today? I've been helping out in the fields a lot lately. My spear arm is ready. Hey... Who's the cutie hanging off your arm? Did you get a new girlfriend? Does that mean I can ask Charlotte out sometime?]

Benoit

[Let's get one thing straight, kid. Charlotte and I are just fellow border guards. Don't go around spreading rumors about us. Second, this girl is NOT my girlfriend. I was just about to escort her home. That's all. If I hear anything different from that when I get back, you'll be laying on yours after a sound thrashing during our spar later.]

Lazward

[That's not fair! I've always wanted to date a Hoshidan girl... MASTER! TEACH ME YOUR WAYS!]

Benoit

[For the love of... IT'S NOT LIKE THAT BETWEEN US! And where the hell did you pop out from?!]

Kamui

[benoit, just the man I was looking for. I found this lost kitten and... Well, it seems like I'm not the only one who has found something that was lost.]

Benoit

[i'm about to lose it here...]

Lazward

[Kamui, you were born in Hoshido, right? What's the best way to win a Hoshidan girl's heart? Benoit won't share his secrets with me.]

Benoit

[son, how about I punt your punk arse into the heart of Hoshido so you can find out first hand?!]

Kamui

[Wait, what?! Sakura... and Benoit...? T-t-there's no way my little sister can be this cute! Sakura, I can't in good conscience allow such a clandestine relationship.]

Benoit

[i'm telling you people, it's not like that...]

Sakura

[Ohhh... Stop telling me who I can and cannot allow to court me. You are not my mother. You were never supposed to find out about this in such a manner. Why are you even here?]

Benoit

[iS ANYONE EVEN LISTENING TO ME?!]

Sakura

[Now I see what is going on here... How could I have been so blind? You are already courting Benoit. That is why you do not want me to be courted by him. That is not fair, elder sister! Why is it that every time I find a man that I fancy, either you or Hinoka steal him away from me?]

Kamui

[Wh-what are you babbling about? Benoit and I are just, uh... We're just allies, nothing more!]

Lazward

[Are you now?]

Kamui

[What's with that look, like you think you know all about us? Go on, tell them, Benoit!]

Benoit

[...]

Kamui

[s-say something, you jerk! I-It's as good as saying that we really are a couple...]

Lazward

[i'm so jealous. Not only has Benoit plucked the vibrant shrinking violet from Hoshido, but he's even managed to seduce the crown jewel of Nohr.]

Kamui

[i can't take this! This is sooo embarrassing...]

Sakura

[Elder sister! Wait, come back here! ...Drat! She escaped. If only I had a bow and arrow handy.]

<Kamui and Benoit's support level increased to rank A.>

<Kamui and Sakura are no longer able to support.>

~~~~~{ Kamui Vision: OFF }~~~~~

"Elder sister," I notice that Sakura has begun to stare at me with a look of grave concern. "Are you... feeling well? Should I use my baton to heal you?"

"No, I'm fine," I reassure her. "You still haven't told me why you're even here."

"I have come to surrender myself to King Garon."

"Sakura! Are you out of your mind?! What would possess you to even attempt to do something so rash?! And by yourself, no less!"

"I want a peaceful end to this war. It has caused so much suffering for both our kingdoms. If one single act of genuine submission could end this terrible war, is that not something worth braving any type of danger?"

"Sakura... Your heart is in the right place, but you are not in the right place to open your heart to others. Even if you somehow make it to the throne room unharmed, I doubt that King Garon will be open to any type of parley. On the contrary, he would most likely have you executed. You have to leave here and return to Hoshido."

"But what about you, elder sister? Return with me."

"I... can't. My place is here. I have to try and find a resolution to this war from the inside."

"If you are remaining in Nohr, then so shall I!"

"Sakura, be reasonable!"

"Elder sister... I know that you try and put on a brave front for me, but the truth is that you are hurting on the inside just as much as I am if not even more so. Have you not suffered enough already?"

"Hey!" Benoit's sudden re-entrance into the room startles both Sakura and myself. "We've got a major situation outside!"

"Please don't tell me it's a pack of Nosferatu riding shape shifting wolves..." I respond out of reflex.

"What in the world are you prattling on about?" Aqua raises her arms in bewilderment.

"Quit daydreaming and snap out of it, Kamui!" The large vein on Benoit's forehead is about ready to burst. "There's a company of samurai approaching the border. They're led by a female lieutenant."

"That's probably Kazahana," I grit my teeth. "Talk about bad timing... She's probably searching for Sakura. If we return her to them, maybe we can avoid a confrontation."

"Wouldn't that be easier if Sakura didn't sneak out of the back window?" Aqua points her finger behind me.

"When did she-?! ...And why didn't you stop her?!"

"The part about the Nosferatu and the wolves. And I didn't stop her because I was too dumbfounded by your fascination with their intermingling."

"I am NOT having this conversation again... Benoit, please chase after Sakura and bring her back here. I'll try to stall Kazahana."

I rush past Benoit and head towards the town gate. As expected, Kazahana and a small army are waiting for me. Her small company of samurai have their katanas drawn and are ready to rain down on me like a volley of arrows. Kazahana motions with her hand for her forces to lower their weapons. She quietly walks towards me while gripping her scabbard tightly. I know firsthand how quickly she can draw her katana and cut down an opponent in front of her. My next few words will have to be chosen very carefully.

"Long time; no see, huh Kazahana?" I wave both hands at her to show that I'm unarmed.

"What is with such a casual greeting?" I see the vein starting to swell on her forehead.

"(I am so dead.) I'll cut to the chase. I know why you're here. You came looking for Sakura, correct?"

"So you admit to holding her captive. Release her at once!"

"I would do so were it within my power. She escaped from the village not too long ago. I've sent Benoit to retrieve her while I deal with negotiations."

"Negotiations?! There will be no negotiations; especially not with a traitor like you! Release Lady Sakura into my custody at once or I will strike you down where you stand!"

"Don't be so brash, Kazahana! I'm not looking for a fight. If she didn't flee from the village when I was with her a moment ago, I would have brought her straight to you. I don't want her in Nohr territory any more than you do."

"Why should I believe anything you say? You've betrayed Hoshido once already and there is no indication that your alleged cooperation here isn't just a ruse."

"I came out here of my own volition alone and unarmed. I may be a match for one swordsman, but not the small army you've brought with you."

"I see right through your ploy. You're buying time for reinforcements."

"No, I'm buying time for Benoit to get Sakura back here so that we can return her to your custody. If it would help things along, I will surrender myself here as a hostage until Benoit returns and we can do an exchange."

"That won't be necessary, Kamui," a familiar voice emerges from the heavens.

I look up over my shoulder to see a wyvern make a slow descent. Atop the mount is Camilla and Suzukaze. As soon as the wyvern lands, Suzukaze jumps off and Camilla greets me.

"Are you hurt, Kamui?"

"No, I'm unharmed. More importantly, what are you doing here, Camilla?"

"Elise found out that you went missing so everyone left the castle to search for you. I would have never found you if I didn't chance upon this Hoshidan ninja sulking around town. I threatened to feed him to Corrin if he didn't tell me where to find you."

"Corrin? Who is that?"

"I've decided to rename my wyvern Corrin."

"I cannot express in enough words how greatly that disturbs me. The worst part is that I can't fathom why..."

"So does that mean I have permission to feed him to my wyvern?"

"Please don't. I'd rather not lose any more comrades if it can be avoided."

"It's laughable that you'd choose now of all times to be sentimental," Kazahana's disgust towards me is audible.

"Oh my, it appears that I've upset the little Hoshidan brat," Camilla glares at Kazahana with contempt. "Perhaps we should settle for a side dish this time, eh Corrin?"

"Hah! Big talk from a woman who hides behind a flying mount. Face me in single combat and we'll see who the real side dish is."

"Both of you, stop this at once!" I protest. "Camilla, we should fall back for now. We're outnumbered and at a disadvantage here."

"Kamui is right, Camilla," a commanding voice comes from the town gate. "Both of you should fall back and regroup."

Marx is here too? Things are escalating too quickly.

Marx sits proudly atop his steed and is accompanied by his faithful retainers, Pieri and Lazward. Behind him stands a small company of cavaliers and mercenaries. A confrontation is inevitable at this point. There's no escape. Once again, I'm caught

between Hoshido and Nohr. There's only one thing I can do now.

"Forgive me, Kazahana. It looks like negotiations have broken down."

As soon as the words leave my mouth, Kazahana draws her katana. Before she can land a clean blow on me, I sprint towards Marx. Camilla takes flight and follows after me. Just as I am about to reach Marx and the others, I stop short and change direction. I make a break for the forest just beyond the town. Briefly looking back to see if I have any pursuers, I catch a glimpse of a javelin flying straight towards me.

"Kamui, look out!" Camilla quickly swoops in and deflects the javelin with her battle axe. "You dare try hurting MY Kamui?!"

Fueled by rage, Camilla rushes to confront the javelin's owner. Tsubaki readies his spear and goes into a dive to engage Camilla. Off in the distance, I can make out Marx and Kazahana's forces clashing against one another. Amidst the confusion, I turn my back on the battlefield and run towards my singular goal: Sakura.

[spoiler=Chapter 4]

=====[ Chapter 4: Divided ]=====

A never-ending landscape of trees surround me. My ears are assaulted by the hollow sound of crisp leaves crunching beneath my feet. ...Which is then followed by a snap from a small twig. As I try to ignore the pain, I begin to reevaluate my stubborn decision to not don any footwear. I continue running forward not knowing whether I'm closing or widening the distance between myself and Sakura. A clearing is up ahead. I rush towards it hoping that I'll be able to gather my bearings when...

*WHAM*

"Oww..." I exclaim as I land on another twig. "Trees aren't supposed to move... Is that you, Benoit?"

"You really need to watch where you're going and get your eyes checked." A rude retort can only mean one thing: Charlotte.

"What are you even doing out here?"

"Patrolling. Like I'm supposed to be doing. The real question here is: what are YOU doing here? This isn't the place for a stuck-up princess to be wandering about. Shouldn't you be back in the castle being lavished in your seat of luxury?"

"Living in the castle is more akin to living in a cage."

"Ohhh... Poor little parakeet. It must be sooo difficult for you. Why not spend some time as a commoner for a change? We could use a songbird like you in the mines."

"As much as I enjoy exchanging pleasantries with you and reconnecting with the masses, I really do have some pressing matters to attend to. Have you or have you not seen Benoit recently?"

"I heard him shouting around these parts. I believe he was calling out to that little sister of yours."

Before I could leap back away from Charlotte, she has a firm grip on my wrist. With a swift tug, she pulls me towards her. She wrestles my arm behind my back and forces me into a kneeling position.

"Why the rush, your highness? With any luck, Benoit will capture that frail sister of yours for you. Although, I don't know why he thinks she has any reason to answer his calls."

"With any luck, Sakura is long gone from this forest and on her way back to Hoshido where she belongs."

"What a waste of a visit then. Perhaps I can help find her."

"That would be pretty tricky considering that you're preoccupied with keeping me pinned here."

"As long as she's within earshot, I'm confident that I can flush her out."

I haven't even begun to mouth the word "how" before I feel a giant surge of pain from my shoulder. It registers immediately that Charlotte had very quickly and brutishly dislocated my arm. My loud shriek echoes throughout the forest. A flock of crows flee their perches from the commotion. I grip my shoulder as I fall to the ground writhing in pain.

"Now we wait to see if she shows her face. ...Quit whimpering already, will you? It was only your left arm. You can still use your dominant arm. Aren't I considerate? Really now... You royals are all so ungrateful," Charlotte lets out a sigh dripping with sarcasm.

The pain starts to slowly fade away as I am enveloped in a warm green light. Charlotte flashes an evil smirk at me before turning around to face Sakura standing in the distance. Charlotte slowly walks towards her as she continues chanting her spell. By the time the spell is finished, Charlotte is within striking distance. Sakura stares defiantly into Charlotte's cold eyes.

"I am not afraid of you!" Sakura's voice barely manages not to crack.

"That either makes you brave or foolish," Charlotte quickly grabs Sakura's wrist with the same bear-like grip as she did with me. "Shall we figure out which category you fall under together?"

Sakura desperately tries to escape Charlotte's grasp to no avail. In the midst of her struggling, she strikes Charlotte's face with the end of her baton. Charlotte releases Sakura causing her to fall on her bottom. Very slowly with shaking hands, Charlotte touches her cheek where she was struck. Tracing the wound and bringing her fingers in front of her face reveals a small amount of blood. Her resulting screech implies that the wound is more severe than the razor-thin paper cut she has received.

"MY FACE! YOU LITTLE BITCH, DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT YOU'VE DONE?!" Charlotte readies her battle axe. "WHEN I'M THROUGH WITH YOU, THERE WON'T BE ENOUGH LEFT OF YOU TO SEND BACK HOME IN A BAG!"

I lunge towards Charlotte wrapping one arm around her neck and using my free hand to push the foot of the axe in an attempt to deflect the head away from Sakura. Despite my best effort, the axe slices across Sakura's face, blinding her. Unable to use her eyes, she desperately searches the ground with her hands trying to feel for her baton. Charlotte drops the axe, grabs me with both hands over her shoulder and throws me in front of her. I scramble to my feet as quickly as I can and run towards Sakura's baton. Charlotte grabs hold of my cape and quickly yanks me back towards her. Losing my balance, I fall right into her arms. Before I could push away from her, she punches me in the stomach, knees me in the stomach and then tosses me aside. I'm left helpless, gasping for air on the floor.

"Sa... ku... ra..." I take in as large a breath as I'm able to and yell out to her, "RUUUNNN!"

Sakura starts to run away as Charlotte slowly picks up her axe. I struggle to push myself off of the ground and get into a sitting position. I can only watch as Charlotte slowly makes her way towards Sakura. Unable to see where she's going, Sakura stumbles to the ground after walking over some uneven terrain. Frantic, she begins crawling on all fours in an attempt to escape.

"Like a cornered rat," Charlotte muses to herself in a cold tone.

Pushing past the pain, I shakily get to my feet and start walking towards Charlotte. Each step I take requires a moment to stabilize my body before taking the next. Thankfully, Charlotte's full attention is on Sakura and she doesn't appear to be in a rush to reach her. I need to get closer before I can break into a sprint to try and tackle Charlotte. One step... Then another... And another... She hasn't noticed me sneaking behind her since my bare feet barely make any sound when pressed on the soft earth. As I slowly begin to close the distance between us, I lower my body and prepare to go into an all-out sprint. Time seems to slow down to a crawl as I focus all my energy on this moment. My ears are filled with the sound of my heart beginning to race. The sound of my heart beating against my chest starts to get louder and louder. Any louder and it will alert Charlotte to my presence. The noise continues to grow in intensity. Louder and louder, it threatens to drive me mad! Finally reaching its apex, my heart lets out a loud neigh.

...Hearts don't make a "neigh"-ing sound, the thought takes a while to sink in as I contemplate whether or not I've truly gone insane.

"Big sis?" The unmistakable soft voice of Elise calls out from behind me.

"And Charlotte as well. What are you two doing this deep in the forest?" Leon's calm and neutral tone does little to set me at ease.

"I'm just doing my duty as part of the border guard," Charlotte points towards Sakura. "Despite your beloved sister interfering with me."

"Kamui, what is Charlotte talking about?"

I bite my lower lip. My mind is still racing from all the adrenaline coursing through my veins. I can't stop my body from trembling as I try to think of a believable lie to give to Leon. Everything feels so distant at this moment. Elise calls my name out of concern, but her voice sounds like it's coming from several yards behind me. I stare blankly at the sight of Charlotte's back as she slowly resumes walking towards Sakura. My chance at saving Sakura is slowly slipping out of my hands like water between my fingers. I ball both my hands into a fist as I lower my head.

"I'm sorry, Leon..." the words are barely intelligible from my shaking voice. "I just... wanted to see my sist- Sakura again."

"Elise! Stop her!"

"Huh? Wh-wh-what do you mean 'stop her'?"

"She's going to betray us!"

I lean forward and break into a sprint. Leon's observations are far too astute. There was never any way I'd be able to come up with a lie that he wouldn't see right through. There's no turning back. It's now or never. I run as fast as I can with one single thought driving me forward: save Sakura! My vision narrows to a small circle in front of me with Charlotte's back at its center. For this instant, this is the extent of my world. Nothing else exists. Not Leon, not Elise, not Hoshido, not Nohr; nothing. As Charlotte's back begins to grow larger and encompass my entire view, I stretch my hand out in front of me to grab her hair. My hand is now the focal point, but something looks off about it. It stopped moving... or more accurately, I have stopped moving.

Why...? Why have I stopped running? It's like my body has been fro- Elise! Of course! She's using the freeze staff, my mind slowly puts the pieces together. But why can't I move my hand? The freeze staff should only immobilize my feet and legs... Come to think of it... It's kind of hard to breathe too...

I struggle to slowly swallow down a gulp as I try to distract my mind from thinking about the implications of my near-petrified state. Through the space between my fingers, I see Charlotte still walking slowly towards Sakura. She is so arrogant that she never even turned around as I was running towards her. The thought makes my blood boil.

*crick*

"If you don't scurry any faster little mouse, I'm going to catch you," Charlotte taunts Sakura as she closes in.

The sheer terror from the realization of how close Charlotte was behind her made Sakura jump to her feet and try to run away. With an effortless swing, Charlotte nicks Sakura's right calf.

*creek*

Falling to the floor, Sakura starts to crawl on the ground once more. Charlotte swings again and slices Sakura's left calf. She lets out an anguished scream.

*crack*

Charlotte appears less human to me and more like some deranged predator. The fact that she is just toying with Sakura makes my stomach bunch up into knots. I can't stand to watch this. I try to turn my head away, but my muscles are locked in place. There's no doubt that I'm still being held in place by the freeze staff's magic.

*ba-dump*

Still struggling to escape her pursuer, Sakura drags her body forward using just her arms. Eventually, her hand reaches the hard surface of a large boulder. She uses her remaining strength to pull herself up into a sitting position with her back against the rock. Her breathing has become very heavy and panicked.

*ba-dump, ba-dump*

"Elder sister!" Sakura pleads. "Where are you?! Answer me, please! Do not leave me alone! You are all that I have left! Are you there?!"

My mouth is just as frozen as the rest of my body. Try as I might, I can't call out to Sakura. I can't calm her down by telling her that everything is going to be alright. I can't tell her that I'm right here with her. I can't tell her that I love her so very dearly. I can't say goodbye...

*ba-dump, ba-dump, ba-dump*

Don't look, I tell myself. Close your eyes. You don't want to see what comes next.

"...scooping up the field mice," Charlotte raises her battle axe above her head with both hands.

I can't... I can't close my eyes, the warmth drains from my face. Elise... you're putting too much power into the freeze staff! Don't make me watch this. Please... Let me close my eyes! ELISE! I'M BEGGING YOU!

*BA-DU-BA-MP-BA-DU-BA-MP-BA-DU-BA-MP*

"...and LOPPING them on the head!" Charlotte's axe swings down hard and a very distinct 'thunk' echoes throughout the forest.

*CRASH*

Something inside me breaks. My body is suddenly flooded with heat. It feels like I'm being engulfed by fire. My limbs begin to expand and two large wings sprout from my back. My dragon transformation is able to break free from the freeze staff's grasp. I let out a loud roar and charge straight towards Charlotte. She turns around to face me and greets me with a crooked smile. Before I could get close enough to lunge at her, I am struck by several bolts of lightning from all directions. Leon's mastery of magic is fearsome. He precisely timed his spell to go off as soon as I got close enough to Charlotte. Unable to maintain my dragon form, I fall flat on my face. My clothes are lightly singed from the lightning damage. Charlotte looks down on me with a haughty smug grin. Kneeling down, she grabs my hair and pulls my head up off the ground.

"Don't get upset with me. You should be thanking me. I did you a favor. I spared you from having to kill your brat sister yourself. Besides... look on the bright side," Charlotte lowers her voice to a whisper. "You're now the proud sister of twins."

Tears stream down my face as I stare straight into Charlotte's eyes with a burning gaze full of contempt. I bite down hard on the corner of my mouth causing it to bleed. With all the strength I can muster, I spit on the cut that Sakura had given Charlotte. Not amused, she backhands me in short order. She lets go of me, stands up and proceeds to stomp on my head. A large shadow surrounds us as a wyvern's cry signals its rapid descent.

"CHARLOOOTTTTTTEEE!!!" Camilla screams with unbridled rage.

Camilla's axe comes crashing down with the force of a meteor. Benoit pushes Charlotte aside at the last instant and blocks the blow with his kite shield. The attack renders the shield in twain. In the distance, the sound of an approaching horse gathers everyone's attention.

"Sorry for the delay, Leon, Elise. I took that samurai too lightly," Marx pauses to assess the situation. "Camilla, what are you doing here? Have you dealt with the other Hoshidan lieutenant?"

"I injured him, but he's a lot faster than he looks. I broke off pursuit when I saw Charlotte beating on our sister."

"Charlotte, explain yourself."

"Please forgive my partner, Prince Marx," Benoit kneels down on one leg and bows his head. "She can get a little carried away when she gets into a scuffle; especially with other women. I'm certain she didn't mean any harm."

"I'll be the judge of that, Benoit."

"Of course. I mean no disrespect, my prince. I just got involved to save my partner and remind everyone here that we're all on the same side."

"Fair enough. Elise, please take Kamui back to the castle. Camilla, make sure that the Hoshidan lieutenant has left Nohr territory. Leon, escort Charlotte and Benoit back into town. Get a full report from them and return to the castle once you're done."

Both Camilla and Benoit assist me in getting onto Elise's horse. Begrudgingly, Camilla mounts her wyvern and takes to the sky in pursuit of Tsubaki. Charlotte gathers both Benoit's and her equipment and starts heading back towards town with Leon following close behind. Marx's gaze remains fixed on Sakura's corpse as Elise and I slowly ride past him.

"Kamui, I'm sorry things had to turn out this way," Marx shakes his head. "Leave the Hoshidan princess to me. I'll make sure she gets a proper burial. I know it's little relief, but that's all I can offer you now. Be strong, Kamui."

I strain myself to give a slight nod in response. My body is heavy with fatigue. As Elise motions for her horse to continue forward, I rest my head back against her shoulder and slip into a deep sleep.

Edited by Alderic

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[spoiler=Chapter 5]

=====[ Chapter 5: Sakura ]=====

I awake to the sound of knocking on my bedroom door. I can barely make out Joker's muffled voice requesting me to grant him access to my room. Joker lets himself in as I sit up from my bed.

"You really shouldn't barge into a woman's room uninvited, Joker," I mask my annoyance with a playful tone.

"Please forgive the intrusion, milady," Joker bows in apology. "To be fair, I did knock and call out to you."

"I could hardly hear you from beyond the door. You also only knocked once."

"You only heard me knock once? I knocked three times. Are you still half-asleep?"

"Perhaps. I haven't been sleeping very well ever since..."

"Milady, you need not force yourself to speak of your trauma. You need to rest, eat a healthy meal and recover your strength. Here, I've brought some soup for you. It's a traditional Hoshidan remedy, or so I've been informed."

Joker rests the bed tray with the bowl of steaming soup in front of me. I take a small spoonful and blow on it before drinking it. The broth is saltier than I expected. I place the spoon into the bowl and get some meat for my second taste. The meat could stand to be a little less gamey. I swallow it whole and place the spoon down on the tray.

"You should finish the soup, milady."

"I don't have much of an appetite today, Joker. Thanks for making it for me, though."

"While I graciously accept your praise, it is misdirected. I wasn't the one who prepared this dish."

"...Is that so...? Joker... where is Flora today?"

"On cleaning duty, milady."

"So that would mean... oh gods..."

~~~~~{ Kamui Vision: ON }~~~~~

Felicia

[i heard that Lady Kamui isn't feeling well lately. I know just the thing that will cheer her up! I'll make her a traditional dish that I learned during our brief time in Hoshido. Now where did I put that recipe...? Uh oh... Did I drop it somewhere? ...Oh well. I'll just have to make it from memory. This should be a piece of cake... er, soup.]

Flora

[Felicia? Are you in the kitchen? I've returned from my outing.]

Felicia

[Oh, Flora! Perfect timing~! I just got started on making some soup for Lady Kamui.]

Flora

[soup? Is this in any way related to what you asked me to fetch for you?]

Felicia

[Of course it is, Flora! What you caught for me is the key ingredient for this dish. It's a Hoshidan specialty called 'Shark Fin Soup.']

Flora

[it isn't really made with actual shark... is it?]

Felicia

[Of course it's made with real shark! Why else would they name the dish after it if it wasn't?]

Flora

[but... I was thinking of keeping it... in the now empty... koi pond... (I was going to name him Cyrus...)]

Felicia

[Okay, Mr. Sharkie~! You're going to help me make a delicious dish for Lady Kamui that will lift her spirits and give her plenty of energy... Uuawww! You're more slippery than I was expecting! *clang* Stop flailing around so much! I'm only going to take a little off the top! Kyaa! *crash*]

Flora

[Felicia... *clong* Felicia... please be gentle with him... *smash* Felicia, be careful! *shing* The knives... the knives are flying everywhere...]

Joker

[Oh my, it sure is lively in here.]

<4 painstakingly long hours later>

Felicia

[...then we add the shark meat aaannnd... we're finished.]

Joker

[i see. What an interesting dish. Are you sure that the shark should go into the soup uncooked?]

Felicia

[i think that's how the recipe goes...]

Joker

[You mean you don't know?]

Felicia

[i wrote the recipe down when I visited Hoshido with Lady Kamui, but I think I lost it somewhere along the way.]

Joker

[How troublesome.]

Felicia

[Don't worry, though. I'm sure that it will turn out fine. I mean, the people of Hoshido enjoy many dishes that contain raw fish. That and the sea salt from the shark means I don't need to add any to the dish.]

Joker

[That doesn't sound quite right, but I'm no expert on Hoshidan cuisine.]

Felicia

[Now then, Flora... Huh? Where did Flora run off to?]

Joker

[Oh dear, you didn't notice from before? She ran out of the kitchen hours ago crying into her hands. I believe she was mumbling something about Cyrus.]

Felicia

[Cyrus...? That's strange. At any rate, could you do me a huge favor, Joker?]

Joker

[Certainly. What task do you have for me that needs my expertise?]

Felicia

[Can you take this soup to Lady Kamui for me? I have to clean up the kitchen. That and...]

Joker

[You're afraid that you will drop the soup or perhaps stumble and end up dressing Lady Kamui in the soup instead?]

Felicia

[*Depressed Moe Sound*]

Joker

[Rest assured, Felicia. I will deliver this homemade meal safely to Lady Kamui intact.]

<Felicia and Joker's support level increased to rank C.>

<Felicia and Flora's support level decreased to rank B.>

<Flora and Cyrus's support level has been terminated.>

~~~~~{ Kamui Vision: OFF }~~~~~

"Is everything all right, milady? You've been sitting there with a blank stare for some time now," Joker's voice pulls me back to reality.

"I'm fine, Joker. I just suddenly lost the rest of my appetite," I let out a soft sigh.

I know that Felicia means well, but that dish made me feel even less energetic than before. I gently place my hand on my stomach... which is suddenly bare?

"What the-?! Why am I in my swimwear?! What happened to my other clothes?!"

"I was concerned for your health when you zoned out earlier. You were sweating profusely, so I merely switched your attire to something more appropriate. Besides, you haven't left your room in several days. Your clothing is long overdue for a launder."

"Let me get this straight: you're telling me that you stripped me down and put me in my swimwear in that small window of time where I was daydreaming?"

"As a butler, I have been trained in many disciplines in order to properly serve my mistress's needs."

"Saying that doesn't make it any less creepy, Joker... I hate to admit it, but you do have a point. I probably could use a nice soak right about now. Could you prepare the bath for me?"

"It's already been cleaned and is ready for you."

"Ah, so that must be what Flora was assigned to do when you mentioned her earlier. I was thinking about taking a relaxing bath today. It's like you read my mind."

"Of course. It's a servant's duty to know their mistress's desires before she herself does."

"You certainly do take your job of attending to me to a whole other level."

"You flatter me, milady. I merely do what is necessary."

"..."

"..."

"...I'm not rubbing your face."

"Oh how you wound my pride, milady."

"I'm going to wound a whole lot more than just your pride if you don't get out this instant!"

I enter the bath house to find Elise and Camilla already inside. I haven't spoken to either of them since the incident. Steeling my resolve, I join them in the warm water of the bath house.

"Are you feeling better, Kamui? You haven't left your room in such a long time," Camilla's motherly voice only serves to add to my guilt.

"Yes," I sheepishly respond. "I'm feeling better today. I never got a chance to thank you for protecting me from Charlotte the other day. Thank you..."

"I couldn't just let her beat on you like that! If I had my way, she wouldn't have gotten off with just a lecture from Leon!"

"Camilla, please calm down. I get so embarrassed when you make such a fuss over me... What ended up happening with Tsubaki? Did you successfully chase him off?"

"I wasn't able to catch up to him. As far as I can tell, he fled back to Hoshido on that day. You don't have to worry about those things any longer, dear. Just leave the remaining Hoshidan resistance to Marx, Leon, and myself. You just stay in the castle where it's safe."

"Hey, don't forget about me!" Elise chimes in.

"I didn't forget about you, Elise. You have the most important job out of all of us. You have to make sure Kamui makes a full recovery. I wish I could stay here longer with the both of you, but I have a strategy meeting with Marx to attend to. Be well, Kamui."

With that, Camilla leaves the bath house. My eyes linger on the closed door for a while. My attention suddenly shifts to Elise as she begins squirting me with water. I splash her with water in response. We both start splashing each other with water while laughing like we were still little girls.

"Hey, Kamui," Elise lowers her voice and avoids my gaze. "I'm really sorry about what happened the other day. You know... with the freeze staff..."

"Don't worry about that, Elise. It's not your fault. You were just following Leon's orders. You were probably so confused and scared that you didn't realize how much power you were channeling into the staff."

"Do you really mean all of that...?"

"Yes. I don't blame you for what happened to Sakura. If anything, I am to blame for her demise."

"WHAT?! Don't blame yourself! What happened to her isn't your fault! She invaded OUR homeland. If she just stayed in Hoshido where she belonged, this would have never happened."

"While it is true that she made her own decision to sneak into Nohr, I could have handled things differently when I discovered her. I could have restrained her and given her up to Kazahana when she arrived at the border town. I know that I could have trusted her to bring Sakura back to Hoshido."

"But it's not that simple. She escaped from you, didn't she? Isn't that how she ended up in the forest?"

"Yes. I shouldn't have followed her, though. That just made things worse. Benoit was supposed to find her and bring her back, but I ran into the forest without thinking once the fighting broke out between Marx, Camilla, Tsubaki, Kazahana and all the others. I ended up bumping into Charlotte along the way. She used me as bait to draw Sakura out from her hiding spot. If I wasn't there..."

"Then Charlotte would have found her anyway."

"You don't know that for sure. Benoit could have found her first."

"And you don't know THAT for sure. If you're to blame for that girl's death, then I'm also to blame. I was the one that froze you in place. If I had used the freeze staff on Charlotte instead, we could have resolved the whole mess without anyone dying."

"What about Leon? Are you sure he wouldn't have zapped Sakura like he did me?"

"He wouldn't have had any reason to. She was injured and couldn't escape. Are you now blaming Leon for what happened?"

"No, no. Nothing like that. He only did what he thought was right at the time. We all did. I give up. There's just no arguing with you."

"Of course not! It's because I'm always right. ...You know, Kamui... Everyone is worried about you. You're just as hard-working as anyone else here, but you're also so hard on yourself for everything. I don't think that's fair. You should learn to forgive yourself. I don't blame you for what happened the other day so neither should you."

"Thanks, Elise. You saying that means a lot to me. I'll try to cut myself a little slack."

"Oh, I almost forgot! There's something I want to show you in the courtyard."

"Did somebody plant something there recently?"

"It's a surprise~. Just get changed and meet me there, okay?"

Before I could respond, Elise jumps out of the bath and runs outside. I slowly exit the bath and dry myself off with one of the nearby towels. I drape the towel over my neck and open the door to the bath house. I am immediately greeted by a face full of bare chest.

"WAHHH!" I jump back in surprise. "L-L-Leon?! What are you doing here?!"

"I could ask you the same question. This is usually the time where the bath house switches over to be for men only."

"Forgive me. I lost track of time. I wasn't aware it was that late already."

"Elise ran out just a moment ago. I had assumed that she was in a rush because she knew it was time to switch over. I wasn't expecting to find anyone still in here."

"That was my fault entirely. We were just having a heart-to-heart. The bath is all yours."

"Kamui?"

"Yes?" I stop beside Leon on my way to the exit.

"Have you been avoiding me?"

"Not particularly, no. What would give you that impression?"

"You haven't left your room or spoken to me ever since that incident the other day. Joker strictly forbade me from entering your room to speak with you. I assume that he was acting under a direct order from you."

"I'm sorry, Leon. I just wasn't in the mood to speak with anyone."

"Yet you were perfectly fine with speaking with Camilla and Elise earlier."

"I guess you must have bumped into Camilla. What is this about, Leon?"

"This is about you still being upset that I struck you down with my magic that day."

"You have to admit that you did go a little over the top. You know my dragon form is susceptible to thunder magic."

"I'll have you know that I was holding back. I could have, and probably should have, given you a stronger blast."

"What is your problem, Leon?! I expect something like that from Garon; not from you!"

Leon grabs both ends of my towel and pulls me close to him. His eyes, full of rage, pierce me to my core. I've never seen this side of Leon before.

"My problem is that you are quick to forget whose side you're on. That girl was an enemy to Nohr. Charlotte was doing her duty as border guard. You had no right to interfere with her or send out Benoit for your own agenda. Your actions can easily be considered treason. Given the circumstances, you got off with a slap on the wrist."

"Let me go, Leon. I... I'll scream if you don't."

"Not if I silence you."

Leon quickly crosses his arms and begins choking me with the towel. I grab the towel with both hands and try to loosen it. Struggle as I might, it's no use. If I were at full strength, it would be easy to break free. Unfortunately, several days of merely picking at my meals has left me weak. I fall to my knees as my grip on the towel loosens.

"L-Leon... P-please... not like this..."

Unable to hold onto the towel any longer, my arms fall to my sides. My vision starts to blur as my eyes begin to roll towards the back of my head. Just before I sink into the unending darkness of unconsciousness, Leon releases his iron grip. I fall on my back and immediately writhe into a fetal position as air quickly returns to my lungs. I gasp, cough and wheeze as I look towards the blurred image of Leon standing above me.

"You would do well to remember what the price of betrayal is."

"*cough, gasp* B-bast... *wheeze, cough* -ard..."

Leon ignores me and enters the bath area while leaving me on the floor. I remain on the floor to catch my breath before slowly getting to my feet. I exit the bath house and steadily make my way back to my room all the while leaning against the walls for support. I discover a fresh set of clothing neatly folded on my bed. I take my time dressing myself and gently rub my throat as I finish. Leaving my room, I take a relaxed pace towards the courtyard to meet with Elise. I'm greeted by her cheerful smile which immediately lifts my spirits.

"It's about time you got here," Elise teases. "I was beginning to think you wouldn't show."

I pat her head twice before responding, "Sorry for being late. I got caught up with Leon."

"Did you two get into an argument...?"

"A small one. Don't let it worry you. Sometimes siblings need to fight things out in order to move beyond certain issues."

"I'd rather you two not fight at all... You both work so hard. I don't like it when you guys argue with each other..."

"It'll be alright, Elise. I promise. Things will get better between Leon and I as time goes on."

"You guys better start playing nice together again... Otherwise, I won't heal either of you anymore."

"That's a little harsh, Elise... Anyway, what did you want to show me? You seemed awfully excited earlier."

"Look out into the courtyard! I know we normally don't have that much in the way of trees, but Charlotte helped plant this one. Isn't it beautiful? She said that it's indigenous to Hoshido. It only blooms for a short period of time and the people of Hoshido celebrate by having picnics and spending time together viewing them. Maybe when things quiet down, we can all sit around and enjoy the tree together. Just you, Marx, Camilla, Leon and me. What do you think?"

Elise grows silent upon looking towards me. Tears begin streaming down my face uncontrollably. My body starts to shiver as the warmth inside it begins to fade. The shade of the blossoms are a pale pink, but all I can see is a bright crimson. I gulp down hard and try to form coherent sentences despite my quivering lips.

"Elise... this is a cherry blossom tree. I saw many of them when I was in Hoshido."

"Are you alright, big sis? What's wrong?"

"The name given to cherry blossoms in Hoshido is... sakura..."

"Oh... No... no, no, no, no, no... I didn't mean to upset-"

"Please leave, Elise. I need... I need to be alone right now..."

"I'm sorry... It was never my intention-"

"JUST LEAVE! Please..."

Elise turns around and runs down the hall. I can hear her trying to suppress her own tears to no avail. I feel horrible. I could have handled that situation better, but I'm at such a low point that nothing matters to me anymore. I just want the pain to end. I don't care if I'm used as a tool by Garon. I don't care if Hoshido ends up falling. I don't care if I'm put to death for treason. I just don't...

[spoiler=Epilogue]

=====[ Epilogue: Ablaze ]=====

Garon sits atop his throne with his head resting against his fist as he listens to the latest report from one of his soldiers.

"...and that concludes my report, your highness," the soldier bows before continuing. "In regards to the other matter you asked me to look into... There still have been no sightings of either Lady Aqua or Lady Kamui. I've requested 5th platoon to keep searching for them in Hoshidan territory."

"That will be all," Garon waves his free hand dismissively towards the soldier.

"By your leave, your highness."

"Those damned brats, the both of them. No matter. This merely delays Hoshido's fall. They cannot stop the inevitable. The real work begins after the conquest of Hoshido. Without Kamui, the final phase of my plan cannot be executed. If only there were another way..."

A nearby candle flickers abruptly as a shadowy figure comes into view. Draped in dark garbs, this individual stands before the king. Patterns of purple eyes line the arms of their robe. The hood of the robe obscures the face of this being. The mysterious figure calls out to the king with a sinister echo.

"For what reason have you awakened a demon dragon?"

"Who are you?"

"...Dragon."

Garon's mildly disinterested look slowly morphs into an evil smirk.

=====[ FIN ]=====

I decided to upload Chapter 2 to celebrate Fate's release. Enjoy everyone!

As a side note, I had a good laugh imagining Rena Strober voicing some of the lines in Chapter 2. XD

4/1/16 EDIT: Apparently, posts have a content limit. Lesson learned...

Edited by Alderic

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have finished the fanfic. I would like to thank all my readers for being so patient with me. I was unaware of the word limit to a single forum post. Thankfully, I was able to use the third post to dump the rest of the story. Now that this thing is finally "published," I am looking forward to the next phase of this project: reader feedback! If you guys and gals have any questions or requests, please post them so I can address them. I still have a few ideas in mind for what to add. If anyone is interested, I can certainly post the "rough outline" that I drafted on my phone to give you an idea of how the story evolved. Until next time, enjoy the fanfic and be sure to post some nice feedback for me to return to. Cheers!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...