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Prologue: The Circlet

Peace has come to the continent of Tellius. The heroes of the Divine War travel home to their respective countries to foster their respective dreams, and live out the life their actions protected. However, this is not the end of their story.

Empress Sanaki of Begnion brings about an array of treaties to unite the various countries of Tellius- the theocracy of Begnion, the might of Daein, the academia of Crimea, the wilds of Gallia, the forests of Serenes, and the plains of Goldoa. As the various meetings took place, the children of their rulers began to mingle and bond. Queen Elincia of Crimea decides to gather the ruling daughters of each kingdom, to form the Circlet of Tellius.

At the group’s head is the daughter of Sir Ike and Dame Mia, the page Elena. Although she is no princess, she is the oldest of the girls, and has the neutral reputation of Sir Ike behind her. Elena is a fierce warrior, a blazing sword on the field of battle. However, she has much to learn before she can consider defeating Lord Renning in battle and claiming the title of Commander of the Crimean Royal Knights.

Elena’s half-sister, born of Sir Ike and Queen Elincia, is Livia, Princess of Crimea. She is unlike her sister in every way, a pacifistic woman with a heart to match. Although the two sisters are often at odds, they are as close as, if not closer than, a pair of full sisters.

Representing Daein is the daughter of Micaiah and Sothe, Princess Yune. Picking locks since the age of two, Yune fits the role of a prankster to a tee. However, the morals imparted by her mother have stayed close by her heart, so she will never use her talents unless she believes it justified. Or she’s really bored and steals something to return later.

Representing Begnion is the daughter of Tormod and Sanaki, Archduchess Emilyn. As the next in line for the title of Empress of Begnion, she would once have borne the most prestigious title in all of Tellius behind her mother. However, as both changing values in Tellius and her family have shaped, Emilyn is nothing of the kind. She is modest, almost to a fault, and admires the work done by her companions and the people around her.

Representing Gallia is the daughter of Ranulf and Lyre, Janiyah. Although she is not a princess, Skrimir bore no daughter, and the laguz tribes choose their leaders based on might anyway. Janiyah enjoys spending time as a cat almost as much as she does in base form, and has studied holding her transformed state under Volug. Although it is unlikely she’ll make Queen of Gallia, she is a figure worthy of admiration regardless- and she’ll probably prefer serving as the future King’s consultant, as her father did before her.

Representing the Union of Serenes is Aderyn, daughter of Tibarn and Gavina. As a female hawk, she bears the burden of keeping the hawk race alive, like her mother before her. However, she does not use that as a means in which to slack in her training, sparring and learning under Tibarn’s wing everything it means to be a hawk, to be a bird laguz. She is much more likely to make Queen of Serenes, and keeps her practice going.

Although Goldoa has borne no daughters, Penelopy of the heron clan, and daughter of Naesala and Leanne, is often considered Goldoa’s representative. Penelopy is gentle and swift, uniting the ideals of heron and raven without any of the stigma associated with the Shipless Pirates or… well… Leanne. She has studied the Old Lore of Goldoa in great detail, learning more galdrar than has been passed down in Serenes.

The Circlet of Tellius has been admired as a symbol of the peace that Tellius has come to bear. It is understood that the girls’ bonds with one another will greatly shape the continent in the future.

Elena conceded in her fight against Renning. She stepped back, and wiped the sweat off her brow.

“I consider this an improvement, Elena,” Renning said.

“But how? I gave up like a quitter,” Elena said.

“No, you had the sense to know when to fold, and conceded before you lost. If I had been a real foe, you would have died at my hand, and that would have been the worst possible outcome,” Renning said.

“But…” Elena said.

“Enough. It looks like your mother is here to see you,” Renning said. Elena nodded, and turned around to see her mother, Dame Mia. She had seen her right arm every day since she was two, but it never failed to send a pang down her heart.

“Elena… Princess Yune has arrived,” Mia said.

“Just her? Or have the other girls arrived yet, too?” Elena asked.

“They shouldn’t be too far away. You should really make sure you are ready to depart before they do. From what I heard, Yune only got in because she picked the lock,” Mia said.

“Sounds like her. So where are we going this time? And who’s coming with us?” Elena asked.

“Greil’s Retreat. It should be plenty comfortable this season, and you’d need that comfort. Quite a few of you are reaching the ages where you’ll be shouldering a lot more responsibility, and that’ll be something you need to worry about. As for your escort? Considering some of you are capable fighters in your own right, I’ve decided to take you up on your earlier request. Dame Astrid shall accompany you… though, at her personal request, she will be accompanied by Kalen and Wright,” Mia said.

Kalen? …Wright, I understand, but is Kalen really ready for a responsibility like this? Protecting literally all the princesses?” Elena asked.

“According to Astrid, the responsibility of this task should shape him up. Going just to Greil’s Retreat and back should not be too difficult a task, but the sheer responsibility of the job will make sure Kalen straightens up. And, if he fails, there always is Astrid to back him up,” Mia said.

“…Thank you, Mother. I’ll go tell Livia, then,” Elena said, grabbing the Wo Dao on her way up to her quarters. Mia watched the sword that was once hers go. She reached over, and grabbed a stock Bronze Sword. She swung it about in her right arm, watching both the sword and her arm drop lifelessly.

“You really must accept that your sword arm will not be serving you well,” Renning said.

“I am the mistress of the swords. That is what makes me stand out over Queen Elincia. I will not let this injury stop me,” Mia said, picking up the Bronze Sword, and trying again. The second attempt went about as well as the first.

“I can see where your daughter inherits her stubbornness,” Renning said, quietly.

It wasn’t long before everyone had gathered outside Melior, and begun their journey to Greil’s Retreat. Much like any other journey, the group was travelling to peace and the occasional greeting from a passing villager. Emilyn looked up at Elena.

“So, how has your swordswomanship improved since I saw you last?” Emilyn asked.

“I think it might have gotten worse. I’m seeing Renning’s sword descend upon me, and I’m bailing out of the fight. How am I supposed to do anything if I can’t stand up to something like that?” Elena asked.

“There are worse flaws than knowing when to quit,” Astrid remarked.

“Really?” Aderyn asked, looking up.

“Of course, Aderyn. I can restore your health, but I can’t revive you if you die,” Livia said.

“Which is why you’ll never get me on one of those battlefields,” Yune said.

“Well, what use will you be? All you do is pick locks,” Aderyn teased.

“Aderyn!” Livia chastised. Janiyah bounded up to Astrid.

“So, are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Janiyah asked, looking up at Astrid.

“I’m getting an idea for training, if that’s what you’re asking,” Astrid said. She pointed forward.

“There’s Greil’s Retreat,” she said. Elena and Aderyn immediately charged forward, Aderyn transforming into hawk form and leaving her horse behind to gain the advantage. Janiyah sighed, reverted to base form, and took the mount.

“One of these days, those two will learn patience,” Janiyah said, sighing.

“I think that’s competitiveness…” Yune said, peering at their competition. Aderyn seemed to be relishing in her victory, while Elena was looking up in anger at her.

“Same,” Penelopy said simply.

Astrid watched the girls enter the Greil Mercenary’s old fort, before setting up her own camp outside.

“Aw… we don’t get to go in?” Kalen asked.

“Kalen, think. If we remain out here, on guard, then we’ll have a better warning of when people approach,” Wright said.

“That, and I don’t think the girls would appreciate a boy in their midst,” Astrid said knowingly. Kalen groaned.

“If you must, I believe the old shed has some blankets, if you want to sleep indoors,” Wright said.

“Just make sure you’re not on watch,” Astrid told him. Kalen went into the shed, and Wright turned to Astrid.

“Are you sure you can instil knightly responsibility into that?” Wright asked.

“…Was your father there when Kieran was knighted, again?” Astrid asked.

“I’m going to take that as a no,” Wright said.

“He’s got too much of his father in him… and his mother wasn’t all rigid like a knight. She made a good soldier, one whom I have placed my faith in many times, but…” Astrid said.

“Oh, crackers! Where’s the hamper?” Kalen yelled from the shed.

“You, on the other hand, have had a much better upbringing for becoming a Knight,” Astrid remarked, smiling. Wright saluted at that comment.

This story has 24 chapters, not counting this prologue, the epilogue, or the eight Gaiden chapters. With one exception, the Gaiden chapters do not actually focus on the main Lord, Elena, instead serving as more of a side-story within a story.

I will attempt to field any questions about the background of the characters in these notes as they come, which I plan to do on a regular basis (barring any foreseen mishaps in the near future, and unforeseen in the far future).

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Chapter 1: Passive Ability

“Uh oh… that looks like trouble,” Astrid said, peering into the horizon. Wright appeared behind her, and took his time looking.

“Yep. They don’t look friendly…” Wright said.

“Odd… well, get Kalen up, and we’ll go protect the Circlet,” Astrid said. Wright nodded, and entered the shed to rouse Kalen. Astrid looked up at the building in which the Circlet was currently meeting.

“I heard something about battle?” a familiar voice said. Astrid’s eyes cast down towards the door, and she saw Elena, standing there in what little combat armour she chose to wear, and the Wo Dao at the ready.

“Elena… this might not be a fight you want to participate in. The Circlet does depend on your legendary blood, after all,” Astrid said.

“Really? Ike’s blood matters that much? Astrid, one day, I will serve as the Commander of the Royal Knights of Crimea. If I can’t take on a bunch of bandits, how am I supposed to serve in my duties?” Elena asked.

“Of all the times to take your duty seriously…” Astrid said.

“Dame Astrid? I am not a princess, like the rest of the Circlet. I am born to commoners who became legends by their actions, and not their blood. My duty is not to sit in a castle and rule from the rear. I will stand on the front lines, and bleed with my comrades,” Elena said.

“…OK…” Astrid said.

“Oh… and you’ve got another two comers,” Elena said. Astrid looked around Elena, to see Livia and Aderyn.

“Really?” Astrid asked wearily.

“Aderyn lives by similar principles to me, except she’s got Tibarn’s honour to defend and all that. Livia’s just here because she thinks we’re irresponsible, and she has staves for that,” Elena said.

“I am not normally one to turn down a healer… but if you do not desire to join this battle, Livia, you are welcome to remain behind. No need to face axes if you do not need to,” Astrid said.

“I would like to accept your offer… but I cannot sit back and let my sister be destroyed,” Livia said.

“You say that like I can’t handle myself. I am quite decent at dodging,” Elena said.

Astrid led the group to the source of the problem. Bandits were raiding a village, looting supplies and killing villagers… the worst thing that would ever happen over the past few decades on Tellius. Elena took to the lead of the party.

“Remember, Elena, I can take on these bandits easily,” Astrid said.

“Yeah, but how am I to learn how to be a true Knight of Crimea if I let you do all the work?” Elena asked. “Besides, these guys have axes… I have the upper hand.”

Elena charged into battle immediately. She struck a nearby bandit with the Wo Dao, killing him easily. His anguished screams alerted the nearby bandits to the arrival of the knights, and they hurriedly assumed more defensive stances. Elena approached the next bandit, and struck him as she had the first. The bandit hung on, and swung his axe. Astrid fired her bow, sending him reeling for Kalen to take the kill.

“I had that!” Elena exclaimed.

“Aderyn?” Wright asked, looking at the hawk.

“Sorry… that flight was a little exhausting… I just need to get my strength up a little before I can fight,” Aderyn said. Wright nodded, satisfied, before charging in. His sword struck the bandits, weakening them for Elena and Kalen to take the finishing blows. A glancing strike caught on Elena’s sleeve, tearing off her shoulder guard and leaving an ugly scrape. Livia rushed over and waved her staff, making sure that the scrape was healing itself, before Elena could rush in to more combat, the shoulder guard forgotten. Livia picked it up.

“One of these days, she’s going to get herself killed,” Livia said. She looked up, and noticed a myrmidon heading her way. Livia started quickly trying to figure out a way out of her predicament, before the myrmidon struck. She had dodged to one side, but the blow had dealt quite a bit of damage. In retaliation, Kalen came up and lanced the myrmidon.

“Are you OK, my lady?” Kalen asked. Livia muttered to herself, renewing herself.

“Give me a few moments,” Livia said.

Elena strode purposefully up to the leader of the bandit group, a quite nasty looking fellow by the name of Gazack. Gazack grinned at her approach.

“What a nice village we’ve raided, boys! The women just walk on up to us! Batta, bind her!” Gazack said. Elena smirked.

“Didn’t you see her sword, boys? The name’s Elena, daughter of the hero Ike himself! If you know what’s good for you, you’ll retreat now. But I do prefer fighting to letting pillagers go… oh, decisions,” Elena said. Batta came charging at her.

“Decision time is over,” Elena said simply. Batta swung his axe forward, and Elena’s eyes narrowed. She raised her sword slightly, and charged forward with an impressive blow, a slice that went straight from groin to head and left Batta a corpse.

“Advantage, Elena. Your move,” Elena said, smirking. Gazack reconsidered attacking the girl after seeing her strike.

“Aw… did I scare the widdle bandit?” Elena asked, before charging in with her sword. Gazack swung his axe about, his blows being evaded easily by Elena, while her blows all struck true. Gazack swung about, sending Elena back a little, before swinging his axe down. It bit the gap between her legs. Elena started scrambling to her feet, as Gazack wound up his swing…

The cry of a hawk! Elena had never been so grateful to see Aderyn swooping in. The bird of prey charged forward, clawing at Gazack’s eyes and face. Gazack swung his axe about, shooing the bird away, but the damage was done. Elena raised her sword, and charged through Gazack, defeating the bandit at long last.

“Thanks for the help, Aderyn,” Elena said. Aderyn reverted to base form, and smirked.

“Just glad I got a piece of him before your critical strikes,” Aderyn remarked.

“Indeed, we can be grateful for your victory…” Astrid said, approaching alongside Kalen, Wright and Livia. Livia was holding Elena’s shoulder guard.

“…Let me guess. Another lecture on how I should be learning to take hits instead of dodging them?” Elena asked.

“It’s nice that you have reasons for fighting as you do, but if you’ll be killed by any blow, you can’t count on dodging everything,” Livia said.

“Elena, this is why you can’t defeat Renning. You don’t plan ahead for being hit,” Astrid said.

“But if I wear all that heavy armour, I can’t dodge. I’d rather dodge: that’s just the way my mother taught me to wield a sword,” Elena said.

“…We’ll discuss this further later, Elena. For now, I suppose it’s just as well to resume the meeting of the Circlet,” Astrid said. Aderyn, Livia and Elena gratefully jumped onto the backs of Astrid, Wright and Kalen’s horses, and the six headed back to Greil’s Retreat for a nice rest.

The first chapter, with an actual confrontation. I will try to make this seem like it could (with a little effort and maybe a few minor overhauls) be seen as a feasible FE game.

In a vacuum. Without worrying about continuity, just on gameplay and individual story with call-backs to the other FEs.

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Chapter 2: The Awakening

Elena led the girls out of Greil’s Retreat for their return to Melior. The meetings of the Circlet of Tellius were just that- meetings. The girls were starting to shoulder their various responsibilities. Astrid and the Knights escorted the group on their way to Melior.

“So, Dame Elena…” Kalen said, slowing his horse down to trot alongside Elena’s.

“…I’m not a Dame yet. I’m just a page,” Elena said.

“That doesn’t matter to me. You fight with the strength of Dame Mia. I would be honoured to serve you,” Kalen said.

“You give me too much credit. I’m not much of a leader,” Elena said.

“But you seek to become Commander of the Crimean Royal Knights. Isn’t that a leader? Plus, you are also the leader of this Circlet,” Kalen said.

“In name only, Kalen. There are no leaders in the Circlet, and plus, I don’t actually have any power over anyone but Janiyah and Penelopy. Actually… I might not… anyway, I could never get the hang of directions. I just fight, and let everyone else play to their strengths,” Elena said.

“You may want to reconsider that policy…” Kalen said. Elena nodded. Astrid looked up to the sky, and spotted a winged shape overhead. She gave a whistle, and the bird’s momentum changed. The raven appeared before the group, reverting to base form.

“Hey, it’s the Circlet! I was hoping to see you in Melior, but it looks like I cut out the middle-man!” Zard, Penelopy’s brother, said, smiling at the group. He had a boyish charm and a few feathers about him outside his wings.

“Zard… what tidings do you bring?” Astrid asked.

“Not good ones, sadly. Archduchess Emilyn of Begnion… Sienne is in danger,” Zard said.

“What?” Emilyn asked.

“It happened so suddenly… there was this red cloud, and a bunch of things started appearing, and then all of a sudden, there were a horde of beorc! I didn’t stay to look, but not the friendly kind, either,” Zard said.

“Beorc… Could you tell me anything about them? Allegiance? Experience?” Emilyn asked.

“That’s the thing. I saw lots of colours of armour in there. Red, white, black, blue, green, yellow… but there were two things all of them had. One was an emaciated bearing about them… the other was a faint red trim highlighting them all,” Zard said.

“Thank you. Emilyn, we will accompany you to Sienne,” Elena said.

“…What makes you say that?” Astrid asked.

“That’s what heroes do. It’s send us or send her home alone,” Elena said.

“If things look too tough, we can always send for reinforcements,” Aderyn said.

“Better yet, send me to Melior! I’ll tell your escorts about this and direct ‘em Sienne’s way!” Zard said.

“…Thanks,” Livia said, curtseying.

“While you’re at it, Zard, could you possibly alert Ike about the bandits we encountered? They seemed like a small party… I don’t want Crimea in danger while we’re gone,” Wright said.

“Bandits? Ike’ll eat ‘em for breakfast. I’ll leave a note,” Zard said, before darting off in the direction of Melior. Aderyn smiled lightly, before the group changed course for Sienne.

“Stop,” Astrid commanded. Everyone complied, their ears tuning in to their surroundings. An unnatural silence had descended…

“He he… A bunch of girls. This doesn’t seem all that hard,” a voice said. Appearing before them were exactly what Zard had described- an odd array of figures that definitely looked uncanny, all with a red trim about them to set the teeth on edge. At the groups head, surrounded by a red glow, was a monstrous looking man with a crown and a kunai.

“Name yourselves!” Astrid said.

“My name? You can call me Gangrel. I once served as the King of Plegia. But alas… things didn’t go too well, and I found myself at the end of Chrom’s sword. I guess I kinda deserved it, though,” the man said.

“That doesn’t tell us much,” Elena said.

“Yeah! Explain Begnion, or at least what these weird words you’re using are!” Emilyn asked.

“Huh… Begnion… never heard of it,” Gangrel said.

“My… my homeland… the epicentre of Tellius… you…” Emilyn said. Fire started appearing in her hands.

“Well, looks like I touched a nerve. …While I’m at it, I pushed your exalt off a cliff!” Gangrel said.

“…Is he… touched in the head? Or just… is he a dead man brought back to life with only pieces of his brain?” Livia asked.

“I’m putting money on him coming from a faraway continent,” Yune said.

“…Let’s just put him out of his misery,” Elena said, pulling out her sword. Gangrel rearranged himself so that most of his army was in between the Circlet and him.

“Typical,” Astrid remarked.

“Wait, Emilyn!” Penelopy said, as the footsoldiers dismounted and prepared for battle. Emilyn was raring to go, but Penelopy had stopped her.

“He… I just… something about him…” Emilyn said.

“I understand. But a mage flying into the thick of things isn’t the smartest plan,” Penelopy said.

“I know, but… wait, what?” Emilyn asked. Penelopy sung a beautiful song. Vigour, the tune of one soldier doing the work of two.

“Huh?” Emilyn asked.

“I just want to see things cooked,” Penelopy said, grinning sheepishly.

“You’re your mother’s daughter, all right,” Emilyn said. She turned on her heel, and started roasting things. Elena and Aderyn followed after her, eager not to be left out of the action. Astrid, Kalen and Wright took another route- a much kinder route for horses, and also took out a chunk of the enemy soldiers to boot. Janiyah slipped into the woods, using her training with Donaregin to slip in and out of the enemy unit’s attention. Livia and Penelopy started following the cavaliers, realising neither of them had a proper attack nearby.

Kalen and Wright looked about, and noticed a large number of units suddenly charging in the direction of Emilyn’s party. Kalen yelped, and Wright looked up. He reached to his belt, and pulled out a horn.

“Are you sure that’ll work?” Kalen asked.

“We best be sure,” Wright said. He breathed in, and let out a long, mournful note. Five seconds passed, and a trio of pegasus knights appeared.

“It worked,” Wright said. The pegasus knights immediately began attacking soldiers standing near Emilyn’s party, clearing up their surroundings. Emilyn nodded in gratitude, approaching the thief.

“Hello there, girl. I don’t think we’ve been properly introduced,” Gangrel said.

“The name is Emilyn, Archduchess of the Begnion Empire. However, considering you have about five seconds before I set you alight, Emilyn will do,” Emilyn said.

“Wow, you really touched a nerve there… she’s not normally this intense,” Elena said. Emilyn’s flames faded.

“You mean…” Emilyn said, a note of fear in her voice.

“…If I sounded bad, that’s not what I meant at all! Emilyn, attack him!” Elena said. Emilyn pulled up an Elignis, and slung it at Gangrel half-heartedly. Gangrel raised his sword, and Elena hurriedly pulled Emilyn out of the path of a thunder strike.

“Watch yourself!” Elena said. Emilyn started shivering again, and looked Gangrel dead in the eye.

“This is my flame!” Emilyn said, spinning on her heel, and slinging the Elignis at Gangrel. Elena charged up to him, and struck with her sword to add to the damage. Gangrel was sent staggering backwards. Livia and Penelopy ran up behind them, the cavaliers not too far behind.

“Girls… whatever it is I have done, I can undo!” Gangrel said.

“Save your breath, Gangrel. Now who are you and what are you here for? Why attack Begnion? What do you gain? Who is calling the shots?” Livia asked, Elena’s sword pointed at Gangrel’s neck.

“I assure you, many of those questions are ones I ask, myself. I remember little that happened after Chrom killed me. I suddenly wound up leading this army of… things, and a sudden urge to try and stop you,” Gangrel said.

“Great. Just great. We can’t interrogate this guy because he knows nothing! Our first potential war, and it’s against an opponent who knows common weaknesses,” Elena said. She stepped forward, and ran her sword through Gangrel’s neck.

“So, what now?” Elena asked.

“We continue as we have been. We must make it to Begnion sooner, rather than later. Our goal is to find someone who actually knows what they’re doing,” Astrid said.

“Agreed. I’d rather not look at those things for much longer than I have to...” Livia said. Elena turned, to see Emilyn breathing heavily, wiping sweat off her brow.

“Are you all right? If these guys get to you, you’re always welcome to hang back,” Elena said.

“Elena… I… unless they’re really nasty… I can’t bring myself to…” Emilyn said.

“Pacifistic?” Elena asked.

“Yeah… I learned magic mostly because my parents love it. All I want to do with it is entertain kids,” Emilyn said.

“And that’s all you need to do with it. Remember, we’re here for a reason. You don’t need to feel obligated to fight with us. After all, you’re meant to be the mediator, daughter of Sanaki, you know, calm and such,” Elena said.

“But… I want to make you proud!” Emilyn said.

“…Yeah, come to think of it, those were impressive fireworks,” Elena said.

“Elena!” Livia said.

“Emilyn, just live your life the way you want. Not what I want, what you want,” Elena said. Emilyn held her heart to her chest, as Elena turned to get back to her mount.

“…I want what you want…” Emilyn muttered to herself, before following the group back to the mounts.

Introducing some new character's abilities in combat, and showing that I am now caught up with the update schedule I have set. From now, they will be released around this time once every two days, unless circumstances demand another time be chosen.

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Chapter 2x: A Bad Choice

After being a deciding factor in many wars, Ike is widely regarded as Tellius’s lord of the battlefield. Nevertheless, he is far more content to wander the land of Tellius, helping those in need, and occasionally supporting his home of Crimea, his wives Mia and Elincia, and his daughters Elena and Livia, in the stead of serving as Crimea’s King.

Zard’s arrival at Melior comes at an opportune moment. Ike is currently within Melior, and a battle like this is a battle he would be more than willing to participate in. Elincia elects to dispatch him and a small retinue of knights, hoping to stamp out the bandit leader and prevent attacks for a significant time period. Zard himself is sent in aid of the Circlet of Tellius, as Elincia awaits Ike’s success.

Ike stopped the party’s movement atop a cliff. He peered over the cliff, noticing smoke appearing from a village.

“That must be where the bandits have struck,” Kieran said.

“It’s all good to know that… but where are they coming from?” Oscar asked.

“We’ll have to go closer to figure that out. But they’ll hardly lead us to their base if we approach like this,” Titania remarked. Ike thought about Titania’s comment. It was true, but there wasn’t much there could be done.

“Ike, less thinking and more moving!” Geoffrey said in annoyance, slapping Ike on the back callously. Ike, not expecting it, fell to the ground. Ike got to his feet, his face covered in dirt and mud.

“Very funny, Geoffrey,” Ike dryly remarked.

“Well?” Geoffrey asked.

“Ike… lay off him,” Oscar said, the mood suddenly changing. Everyone else, too, had realised what about a village being set alight did to Geoffrey.

“…You look like a bandit with a face covered in dirt, Ike,” Kieran said, part to break the tension.

“Very funny, Kieran,” Titania sighed.

“No, it’s perfect. Marcia, grab some rope. I have a plan,” Ike said, suddenly all business. Marcia looked between Ike and the village, the plan needing no explanation.

“…Fine. This is all your fault, Kieran,” Marcia said.

“What is my fault?” Kieran asked, looking around.

Ike, his face covered in mud and some other things that distorted his image a bit more effectively, led behind him Marcia, bound at the wrists and disarmed. Her pegasus, along with the Royal Knights, was following on at a discrete pace. Ike arrived at the village, to thankfully note the bandits were still there.

“Er, hey, who might be the leader of this band?” Ike asked in a low, gruff voice to the nearest bandit.

“Aye, that’d be him, Bazba,” the bandit said. Ike nodded, and led Marcia along to Bazba.

“Oy! Who are you, and who’s she?” Bazba asked.

“Crimean pegasus knight. Caught her snooping about. Figured you’d want to take her to your hideout and work with her,” Ike said.

“…Don’t know much about what a ‘Crimean’ is, but I think I could work with this lady. A little older, but certainly not past her prime,” Bazba said. He reached for Marcia’s rope, but Ike’s grip was iron.

“I was thinking I could come with you? I was the one who did the capturing, after all, and I’m interested in joining you lot,” Ike said.

“Yeah… that’s not possible. Besides, we’re all here… there’s nothing we can’t do here that we can there,” Bazba said. Ike and Marcia let in a breath.

“TITANIA!” Ike yelled. Titania, Geoffrey, Kieran and Oscar all rushed into the village, with Marcia’s pegasus appearing beside her. Ike cut the ropes on Marcia’s wrists quickly, and she hurriedly hopped on her pegasus, grabbing Alondite from the satchel and brandishing it.

“No good… soldiers! Abandon the village! Because whoever the queen of this land is won’t be too happy to see us!” Bazba said. Kieran, Oscar and Titania spread around, using their swords and axes in order to try and catch the bandits making their way out of the village. Ike walked up to Bazba, and wiped the muck off his face.

“Who are you?” Bazba asked.

“Wow, you’ve been locked out of the loop, haven’t you? My name is Ike,” Ike said. He tossed Ragnell into the air, and came down with an Aether strike. He backflipped away, and Bazba dropped to the ground. Ike turned to Marcia.

“You OK?” Ike asked.

“Of course, Ike. But I’d rather we focused on making sure these bandits don’t make their escape,” Marcia said. Ike nodded, and the pair bolted off to where the paladin’s efforts were thinnest.

Marcia bolted about the west end of the village, her shockwaves from Alondite taking on even the furthest bandits. Ike’s eastern efforts had a similar effect, but with Ragnell in his case. The party only stopped once they had run out of bandits to fight. Whether they had all been killed or one or two had slipped away was a different matter entirely.

“So, was this a success?” Ike asked, as the party reconverged.

“Probable. There might still be bandits operating in this area, but any bandits serving Bazba will likely be suffering the drawbacks of a power vacuum,” Titania said.

“Plus, I was a little terrified with that opening manoeuvre… can I veto ever doing that again?” Marcia asked.

“Sure, Marcia. I probably blew the idea in when I heard the base was empty,” Ike said.

“Nevertheless, this was an effective blow to the bandits. Let’s head back to Melior,” Titania said. Oscar and Kieran bowed, and the three paladins started on their journey. Ike and Marcia remained, watching Geoffrey look over the village.

“Is he all right?” Ike asked.

“Probably bringing back bad memories of the Great War,” Marcia said.

“Destroyed villages? What exactly happened?” Ike asked.

“Remember when Valtome cut through Crimea to get to you guys in Gallia? Well, there was this village they ransacked for the supplies Ellie rightly refused them, and we Royal Knights were dispatched to stop them. I came so close to dying that day… anyway, we tried our hardest to save the village once that halberdier started ordering the houses burnt, but there were some that we couldn’t reach in time. Geoffrey blames himself, even to this day, for that… but I can feel it in my heart. It was my fault. I could’ve flown up there and stopped the fire… but I was fighting the halberdier,” Marcia said.

“Ah… should we leave Geoffrey to help the village? Or do we keep him company?” Ike asked. Marcia looked in the direction of Melior, a shiver passing over her spine.

“What is it?” Ike asked.

“We have to get back to Melior… if Geoffrey wants to help the village, that’s his choice. But you’re needed at Melior. I don’t know exactly why…” Marcia said.

“…That must mean… Marcia, let’s go!” Ike cried out. He started bolting in the direction of his horse, before Marcia let him aboard her pegasus, and she flew him in that direction.

Say hello to Ike's Story. Ike's Story takes place exclusively in the Gaiden Chapters, while Elena's story is main-chapter only. The only exceptions are 17x and 19x, but we'll get to those much later. If you see a chapter number with the letter 'x', you can expect to catch up with Sir Ike.

Also, I have only recently realised that I should probably be putting up a feedback box. My bad.

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Chapter 3: No Rest With The Wicked

Taking Zard’s word on the happenings of Begnion, the Circlet of Tellius decides to head to Sienne rather than Melior. The exact nature of Gangrel and his soldiers remains an unknown, but the entire endeavour on the part of the Circlet is filled with unknowns. These unknowns set Astrid on guard, but she remains confident that the Circlet should have the ability to judge the appropriate course of action.

A rainstorm on the way south redirects the Circlet to an abandoned manor house in Begnion. According to Astrid, the home belonged to one of the senators, but fell into disuse after the senate’s true motives became apparent during the World War. Nevertheless, the warmth and shelter it provides offset any stigmas associated with the long-dead senator.

“Hey, Emilyn…” Elena said, peering into Emilyn’s room. Emilyn shivered slightly upon seeing Elena, but Elena approached with an odd gentleness about her.

“Elena?” Emilyn asked.

“I would just like to ask… why were you so scared, back against that Gangrel fellow? Something about you just… I want to make sure you’re all right,” Elena said.

“Really? You’d… you’d do that for me? I’m…” Emilyn stuttered out.

“Calm, Emilyn… just remember that I’ll be there protecting you in battle,” Elena said.

“Really?” Emilyn asked.

“What are sisters for?” Elena asked, smiling as she held out her hand. Emilyn shook it.

“Sisters?” Emilyn asked.

“Us. The Circlet of Tellius. You’re all like family to me. We’ll argue by day, but we’ll protect each other by night. That’s what we’re for,” Elena said.

“Family…” Emilyn said. Elena smiled.

Livia smiled nervously, as she watched Janiyah prepare for her sleep. Janiyah turned into her cat form, and curled up, yawning in a cute cat way. Livia giggled, and Janiyah looked up.

“Come in, Livia,” Janiyah said. Livia entered the room nervously, before walking up to Janiyah.

“Whatever is the matter, Livia?” Janiyah asked.

“Your fur… it feels so… so soft…” Livia said, stroking Janiyah’s side.

“So I’ve been told, yes,” Janiyah said.

“May I… may I sleep with your soft fur?” Livia asked.

“…Now that’s a weird request to make,” Janiyah remarked.

“Please? I’m… I’m a little nervous, around here… I just want someplace nice and comforting to sleep,” Livia said.

“Well then, hop in. Hope you’re comfortable curling up,” Janiyah said. She opened up her body slightly, allowing Livia to squeeze in to the gap in her middle. She pulled her arms around until they were comfortable, before eventually falling asleep. Janiyah swept about Livia’s hair with her tail, before closing her own eyes.

Yune, meanwhile, wasn’t heading to bed. Instead, she was walking about some of the hallways of the mansion that would no doubt have been well hidden back in the days when this place was occupied. A few skeletons, some laguz, some beorc, littered the ground, and there were a lot more cobwebs than things worth stealing. Just as Yune was about to give up, she noticed a tome lying on a bookshelf, much less dusty than its surroundings. She took it, and began to read it, grateful that her mother had taught her Ancient Tongue.

“Spirit Charming is done by tutorial, tutorial, tutorial… The Spirits are plot, plot, plot… dangers of breaking a pact with Spirits, warning, warning, warning… I doubt this is a spellbook. Although… hm… soldiers of all times and places. Soldiers are known as Risen, officers are known as Deadlords… and then… E-I-N-H-E-R-J-A-R… that makes absolutely no sense… and what does it mean there…” Yune asked, reading the tome. She sighed, closed the book, and stashed it away. Penelopy might make sense of it, and something that clean could only be helpful. As she made her way up the stairs, she heard a clatter. She started looking around carefully, wondering where the sounds were coming from.

“Nwee hee hee… sneaking about another’s house… did your mother never teach you manners?” a voice asked.

“Who are you?” Yune asked.

“Me? How quaint… you do not know the name of the owner of the house in which you rest?” the voice asked.

“I know that voice… VALTOME! Show yourself!” Astrid’s voice yelled. Yune heard the sounds of people rising. Elena, Aderyn and the cavaliers, at least, though everyone else was not out of the question. A few more sounds of soldiers- enemy troops. A myrmidon appeared beside Yune, and she realised there would be fighting for her to do. She shrugged philosophically, before lunging forward. She dodged the myrmidon’s sword, and touched the myrmidon in the neck. It seized up, and dropped to the ground. Vitality coursed through her body, and she was ready to at least sneak around the mansion.

Janiyah awoke with a start, causing Livia to fall out of her bed.

“What happened?” Livia asked.

“We’re under attack… stay in here, Livia,” Janiyah said.

“No… I’ll keep you healed. I promise not to stand in front of an enemy and not do anything,” Livia said. Janiyah nodded, smiling, and she led her along the hallways. Livia was looking around, wondering what was happening to everyone else. Now that she was awake, the sounds of shouting and metal-on-metal were everywhere. She could only hope that everyone was all right… that Yune, Penelopy and Emilyn weren’t getting mobbed…

“Nwe he he… so this is the daughter of that queen…” Valtome said.

“Uh oh… this could be trouble…” Janiyah said. She stepped in front of Livia, her hackles raised.

“Ack! What an ugly little thing… sub-human? But you… I’ll enjoy this,” Valtome said. Janiyah lunged forward, right at Valtome’s neck. Valtome swung with his staff, knocking Janiyah away. Livia focused, and swung her staff at Valtome as hard as she could. Valtome let out a grunt, before swinging his staff at Livia. Livia was knocked back, a lot harder than her own swing. Livia was moaning, trying to allow her Renewal to take effect.

Aderyn heard the yelps of her friends, and was rushing through the mansion, looking for everyone. She heard the cavaliers fighting off some soldiers: they’d be fine. Elena was fighting rather viciously, so she was probably all right. She’d just be looking for Yune and Penelopy. And she would probably not find Yune by hearing. She started flying frantically, hoping to bump into one of them and help keep them safe. Preferably Penelopy.


Aderyn was knocked from her course of flight by the appearance of another bird. Aderyn pulled herself off the ground, and allowed her eyes to adjust to the arrival.

“Z… Zard?” Aderyn asked.

“Aderyn? Funny stopping by the same place to take shelter,” Zard said. Aderyn let out a nervous giggle.

“Zard… enemies…” Aderyn said. Zard turned, and noticed a soldier approaching. He shrieked, and charged at the soldier, clawing at its face and tearing at its armour, before returning. Aderyn transformed, shrieked, and added her own attacks on top of his. The soldier vanished into nothingness, and Aderyn and Zard reverted.

“So… how bad?” Zard asked.

“I don’t know… but I don’t know where everyone else is! Livia, Yune, Emilyn, Penelopy… anyone could be overrun!” Aderyn said.

“Let’s split up, and fly about the house. Tell everyone to converge at this foyer, and we’ll make our fight-or-flight there,” Zard said. Aderyn nodded, and the two transformed. They shot like ballista bolts through the house.

Livia groaned, trying to get to her feet. Valtome was punting her with his staff quite often, but she had to get up and retreat. Or at least heal Janiyah. The next time Valtome prepared a strike, Livia pulled out her staff, and attempted to catch it in a lock. The rings did catch, but only briefly, and only blocked a single blow. Nevertheless, Livia could now get to her feet, and dodge the blows more properly.


Livia turned, dodging the predictable blow. Zard had burst into the room, opening the door opposite its hinges, and charged through Valtome. Valtome was sent flying across the room into a bookcase, sending the tomes crashing down upon Valtome’s head. One such tome flipped about and about, before landing in front of Livia. Livia picked it up, and began reading it.

“Interesting… this is an Ӕther tome,” Livia said. She looked up, and remembered to quickly heal Janiyah before continuing on. However, she found herself stumped, and closed the book, pocketing it.

“Livia, Janiyah, we’re organising in the foyer. And Livia… Queen Elincia had this for you,” Zard said. Livia took it. ‘It’ was a silver ring, with the Crimean crest etched into the ruby.

“This…” Livia said.

“I’m told it’s a symbol of your role as Princess of Crimea. Queen Elincia saw fit to pass it down to you. According to her, it will guide you on your way to Begnion. A guiding ring… I prefer using my eyes,” Zard said. Livia smiled, her eyes going back to the Ӕther tome. Something inside her clicked, and she was reading quite thoroughly as Janiyah led her to the foyer.

Elena was running through the halls. She knew that Yune would have gone looking for things to steal, and knowing her, she’d probably be laying low. As such, while Elena was hurriedly searching for the girl, she was making sure to methodically search, ‘leaving no stone unturned’, as it were. Of course, all that was rather unnecessary, as she came across Yune in the centre of a larger room, being assaulted by lightly-armoured enemies like myrmidons and mages. She was tossing kunai about like mad, jumping in and out of combat to retrieve the kunai to be thrown again. She snuck forward, and saw a fighter appear. She struck it down, and ducked a kunai.

“Elena! You scared daylight out of me!” Yune said, before grabbing the kunai from the wall, and firing at another myrmidon. Elena looked over, and quickly ran a pair of priests through, clearing out the last of the rabble.

“Sorry for being worried about you,” Elena said.

“Elena… look. I know you’re the warrior princess. But next time you want to give me a hand, give me a shout first,” Yune said.

“I didn’t know you fought,” Elena said.

“My father was a thief and my mother was a priestess. Your parents were the world’s greatest swordsman and swordswoman. Very big difference,” Yune said.

“Fascinating. But you haven’t addressed my point,” Elena said coolly.

“It’s my talent. Leeching vitality from these folks seems to make a bit more bloodthirsty and effective than leeching vitality from a normal human being,” Yune said.

“…Odd,” Elena said.

“I found this book… it looks like it might mention something about the nature of these guys. I think I’ll show it to Penelopy, or someone else who knows Ancient Tongue better than I,” Yune said. Elena nodded, and the pair went to the foyer.

“Elena! Yune! That makes all of us!” Astrid said. Elena gave a short curtsey as the group had amassed together.

“We’ll have to stay on guard until the downpour clears up. That was quite the shocker,” Astrid said.

“You said it. Penelopy… I have something here,” Yune said. She searched through her pack, pulling out a Speedwing, a Knight’s Crest, and an axe before she pulled out the tome she had found in the cobwebbed room. She bent down to scoop up her treasures, but Elena had already claimed the Speedwing. Yune shrugged, reasoning that the wing might boost her talent.

“A tome? Why?” Penelopy asked.

“You can read it, can you not? Some of it looked relevant,” Yune said. Penelopy opened the tome, and started scanning the pages.

“Spirit Charming… the Spirits… ah. Calling upon the power of Spirits can grant abilities that are otherwise impossible for beorc. For example, necromancy- the art of raising the dead- can be performed by a well-studied beorc, but the result is a Phantom with little identity. Spirits can enhance the abilities of necromancy, as well as drastically reducing the Essence required to perform. Small armies may be made in a single sitting. In these armies, soldiers are known as Risen, and officers are known as Deadlords. In addition, there is a third kind of necromantic effort that can be performed, although the technique is more draining. This is the art of crafting Einherjar, a topic so complex that it will be elaborated on later. Spirit corpses…” Penelopy said.

“Undead soldiers? That explains why they look so thin and wiry…” Elena said.

“A blasphemy,” Livia spat.

“Besides, after my father, who even charms Spirits anymore?” Emilyn said.

“…Emilyn… don’t take this the wrong way… but I think your father might be at the source of this mess,” Wright said. “He’s probably not summoning them… but whoever is has some connection.”

“Very astute, Wright. We must get to Sienne quickly, and ascertain what intent this mysterious Charmer has. I can only hope there’s no Lekain Deadlord…” Astrid said. She checked the rain- still torrential. Astrid volunteered to take first watch, as the group hit the hay out in the foyer.

Posting earlier because I won't be available at the usual time. This won't be a common thing, but at least it was known beforehand and brought forward (because pushing it back would've made it and Chapter 4 come out around the same time).

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Chapter 4: A Daein the Life

The downpour has calmed, but what the Circlet has seen has left the feeling behind. An unknown force is summoning soldiers from beyond the grave, for reasons unknown. Elena decides to pursue the matter, heading directly to Sienne to get to the bottom of the matter. Until they arrive, it is all they can do to wonder why the unknown Charmer is making his assault.

“How far?” Janiyah asked. She had taken to riding double, her endurance being tested by the long, arduous walk with little breaks for resting her transformation.

“Not too far… at least count your blessings we didn’t have to pass Grann Desert,” Emilyn said. Janiyah kept quiet from there. Wright looked around, and quickly changed course to meet Livia.

“Your highness…” Wright started.

“Call me Livia. Princess Livia if you must,” Livia said.

“Right, Princess Livia… how are you finding the battlefields?” Wright asked.

“Terrifying. If it weren’t for my Renewal, I think I wouldn’t set foot on one. But with Renewal, I can pluck up the courage to step on to the field and heal you lot. Without me, you’d be stuck with vulneraries, and those don’t exactly grow on trees,” Livia said.

“They’re pretty cheap, but it is nice to have a healer on hand…” Wright said.

“So, did you have a purpose for coming to talk to me, Wright?” Livia asked.

“Livia… I don’t know how to put this into words… but… would you like to fight alongside me in our next battle? I think it might be helpful for you learn how to heal on horseback,” Wright said.

“Riding a horse in combat? …I will give it a try. My mother rode a pegasus and healed… it can’t be that hard, can it?” Livia asked. Elena and Astrid’s horses stopped, and everyone else came to a stop behind them. A large squadron of ebon-clad soldiers stood before them, a variety of classes represented. At the army’s back sat a dragon-rider, with massive chuckles echoing from him.

“The Mad King Ashnard!” Astrid cried out.

“You know him?” Elena asked.

“He was a great warrior. In his time, he won almost every battle he fought with a high distinction. The only time he lost is against your father,” Astrid said.

“…I can take him!” Elena said.

“It’s nice to hear you with such confidence, but Ashnard wore armour that repelled all attacks but those of Ashera’s blessing. While your blade, the Wo Dao, does have Ashnard’s blood on it, it’s minor Yune’s blessing might not cut it…” Astrid said.

“That seems odd…” Elena said.

“Long story,” Astrid said.

“Um, Wright… did you call Reinforce?” Kalen asked. Wright shook his head, and Zard looked in the direction Kalen was pointing.

“Oh yeah! I forgot to tell you guys that Queen Elincia sent reinforcements for us! Some of them are headed directly for Sienne, but she also called upon a flying troop for us,” Zard said. The leader of the troop approached Elena, the two other soldiers behind her in a triangle pattern. There were two pegasi, and a wyvern carrying two soldiers.

“Hello, Elena,” Mist said, beaming.

“Aunt Mist!” Elena cried out.

“Nice to see you. But the formalities can wait. What the heck is Ashnard doing here?” Mist asked, her head jerking in Ashnard’s direction.

“No idea. He’s a Deadlord, but we don’t know who created him or why. We just need to take him down,” Elena said.

“Against Gurgurant? You girls will need all the help you can get. Rolf! Boyd! Sheeta! Help the girls. I’ll go take on Ashnard. Rolf, if I look like I’m losing, peg Ashnard with as many arrows as possible!” Mist said.

“Understood, Mist… keep safe,” Rolf said.

“I don’t intend to die to someone who’s already dead, Rolf,” Mist said. She shot forward on her pegasus, and started swinging her twin swords. Sonic and Runic blasted wind and light alike, while she dodged Gurgurant.

“To think I wanted to protect her…” Rolf said. He pulled out his bow, and began firing at the Daein Risen. Sheeta let Boyd off her wyvern, and the pair began lancing the enemies. Elena took that as her cue to add her Circlet’s might to the effort.

Mist’s swords flicked out and about, her squalls and beams of light littering the battlefield. Any Risen nearby would, and did, easily die from splash damage alone. Ashnard, however, was holding on fiercely. He was flinching, but it’d have taken Mist’s trained eye of combat to notice. Mist took in a breath, before taking into the high skies. Ashnard followed her.

“The strong… the strong take everything. The weak perish…” Ashnard said.

“You mean like you?” Mist asked. She generated a pair of small tornadoes, launching them at Ashnard. Ashnard dodged the tornadoes, and pulled back. Gurgurant was spinning around with an eeire whirr-whirr-whirr-whirr, before it slammed down on Mist’s pegasus. Mist dodged to one side, the blow grazing across her cheek, arm and leg, while chopping clean off one of her pegasus’ wings. She grabbed the reins with her left hand, the Sonic and Runic swords dropping to the ground. She couldn’t care: she was too busy trying to help her pegasus make a safe landing. She was spiralling about, trying to take control, when she heard the faint song of an arrow. She pulled out of the path, terrified of its strike, before she caught a faceful of something soft.

“Mist… are you all right?” the voice of Rolf asked. Mist shook her head, tearing up as Rolf pulled her around into a more comfortable position, before turning and diving after Mist’s pegasus. Mist noticed Ashnard dropping to the ground, having fallen off his mount. Dragon laguz, wyvern, Mist wasn’t sure, but whatever it was, served Ashnard right.

Sheeta was attacking the Daein forces with ferocity unmatched, her talent on a wyvern given to her by Jill. The Risen Daein had far inferior tactics, and were rather easy pickings. Sheeta was only distracted by her mother’s Sonic Sword appearing in the ground in front of her. The Runic Sword appeared a short distance away a few seconds later. Sheeta picked both up, before hurriedly dodging. A blast of lightning had struck the ground in front of her. Sheeta looked up, to see a Deadlord wyvern knight, a soldier named Gromell, before her.

“Glory to Daein!” Gromell said in triumph, brandishing his Bolt Axe. Sheeta growled, and pulled out her lance. She looked at it briefly, before putting it back, and brandishing the Sonic Sword. She wasn’t entirely clear on how to use it, but she didn’t expect lances to do a lot of good.

“I will show you the true power of Daein,” Sheeta said. She raised the Sonic Sword, focusing intently as she used its power to launch a squall at Gromell. Gromell deftly dodged the squall, before shooting a wicked bolt of lightning at Sheeta. Sheeta dodged, pulling all she had into it.

“Sheeta…” a voice cried out. Sheeta turned, to see Boyd run up to Gromell, and run him through with his lance. Sheeta smiled in gratitude, as Gromell began fading away.

“Sheeta, are you all right? You had me going there…” Boyd said.

“I’m fine, Boyd. Really, I am. But I’ll need to check on Mother,” Sheeta said. She grabbed the two magic swords, and started flying into the sky, looking for her parents.

Ashnard was brought down upon the Risen beneath him, and what little stragglers were left by this point became easy pickings. Although Astrid was still terrified of their ability to appear without warning, she was starting to think of them as nuisances rather than threats. Deadlords, of course, were still powerful in their own right, but generic Risen had little going for them.

“That’s not…” Livia said, looking up at the pegasus approaching them. Rolf slipped off, holding Mist out to Elena and Livia.

“Aunt Mist? Aunt Mist? Are you all right?” Elena asked. Livia pulled out her staff, and started furiously waving it.

“Ashnard… his power was tremendous, even in death. Your father was a great warrior, and Ashnard was one of his toughest opponents… I’m surprised Mist made it out with as few injuries as she did,” Rolf said. Mist started coughing, opening her eyes.

“You didn’t have confidence in me?” Mist asked. Rolf opened his mouth to argue back.

“Just kidding, Rolf. I know what you meant… and I was just as terrified,” Mist said.

“How bad is she hurt?” Elena asked.

“…Her right side of her body got majorly cut by that sword… she won’t be as hurt as Dame Mia, but I’d recommend she stay off the battlefield for a while,” Livia said.

“No fighting? But the only reason I came along was to help you girls out with these undead guys!” Mist said.

“Aunt Mist, you must remain calm. That was a powerful sword you got hit by…” Livia said.

“…Mother,” Sheeta said simply. Mist looked up, to notice Sheeta with Mist’s pegasus behind her. The pegasus’s missing wing was painful to see.

“Kara!” Mist cried out. She ran from Rolf’s arms, and stroked her hand across Kara’s wound. She reached for her staff, and started waving it. The wound began stitching across. Mist began stroking Kara’s side, hoping the wing would return.

“Impressive… she takes care of her mount, that one,” Astrid said.

“Of course. Our mounts are our partners, brothers-in-arms!” Kalen said. Elena was just watching Mist, tears in her eyes. Although Livia had assured them that Mist’s arm would heal, seeing someone else going through the pain of losing an arm… it was hard.

Added edit: Forgot that I needed to manually fix the line breaks.

Edited by phineas81707

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Chapter 5: Attack By The Capital

After the arrival of Mist and her family, the group is able to make it at last to Sienne, the capital of Begnion. At last, they may hopefully receive some answers as to the cause of the problems that have plagued Tellius. Emilyn looks upon her home with dread. The fear that her parents, Empress Sanaki and her husband Tormod, have been killed in the time it took to arrive gnaws at every fibre of her being. She prays for her family’s safety.

“Sienne…” Emilyn said, looking up at the sight.

“I always did say your home was beautiful,” Elena said, smiling. Emilyn turned a little pink.

“Elena… you’ll be there for me, won’t you?” Emilyn asked.

“Of course I will. What else are sisters for?” Elena asked. Emilyn looked down bashfully. Sisters.

“You all right, Emilyn?” Elena asked.

“I’m fine… I’m just worried,” Emilyn said.

“It’s fine to be concerned. But I’ll get you your capital back!” Elena said confidently. Emilyn gave a shy giggle.

Astrid was the first to approach Sienne’s entrance. She had her bow at the ready, wondering what would come about from her home. The gates of Sienne opened, and Elena, Aderyn, Kalen and Wright appeared behind Astrid as backup. Appearing in front of the gate was an odd figure. It was red-skinned, and while it bore no clothes, it also bore no traits that defined its sex. In fact, Astrid wasn’t even sure if it was solid, liquid or gas.

Greetings. So you are the Circlet of Tellius? the figure asked. Whether it was male or female was hard to tell from voice, too.

“Yes we are. Who are you, and what do you want with Sienne?” Elena asked, her Wo Dao extended and gleaming.

Pardon my manners. My name is Pyres. I am the Spirit of Fire. And I am here to take action on my debts, Pyres said. It shot forward, turning into a weird, comet-like wraith, before appearing in front of Emilyn.

…He was right. Well… Can’t have you messing with things that go over your heads, can we? Pyres asked. It shot into the sky in comet form, and drew a loop with its tail. It shot in the direction of Mainal Cathedral, while the loop became filled with a red light. Jets of light shot from the circle, creating a few of the Risen soldiers.

“That thing is responsible for this mess?” Emilyn cried out.

“He will pay, Emilyn…” Elena said. “Charge.”

While the vanguard took to fighting off the Risen within the capital, Livia lingered behind to talk to Penelopy.

“Do you still have that book?” Livia asked. Penelopy pulled it out.

“What would you like to know?” Penelopy asked.

“What is a Spirit, and what reason would it have to interfere in our world?” Livia asked.

“…If you’re asking if that thing was a Spirit, you’d be correct. As for his reasoning… Spirits are like us in many more ways than we can assume at first glance. I’d expect that it would be next to impossible to predict his motives through musty tomes,” Penelopy said.

“Ah… I was hopeful,” Livia said.

“Well, one way or another, we’ll be figuring out his motives, and hopefully his goals,” Penelopy remarked. A cry sounded, and Livia looked up to see Wright clutching at a shoulder wound.

“Gotta go,” Livia said. Penelopy hurriedly sang her song of Vigour to improve Livia’s healing, before watching her go heal. Livia stroked Wright’s hair, before Wright moved on. A Risen fighter appeared next to Livia, and Livia blasted it with a jet of Ӕther.

“She’d make a fine warrior…” Penelopy remarked proudly.

Elena found herself stuck between a lance cavalier and a lance knight in one of Sienne’s back alleys. Elena turned to the cavalier, her sword raised, before she heard a whisper in her ear.

“In here!” the voice said. Elena found herself being pulled into a house, facing a woman of a similar bearing, at first glance, to Astrid. Considering what Elena knew about Astrid’s sisters, she doubted it was one of them. Her name was Ayra, by Elena’s telling.

“What is it?” Elena asked.

“They’ll know you’re in here… this isn’t going according to plan…” Ayra said. She pulled out her own sword, before thinking about her action a little bit more carefully. She reached into a store cupboard, and grabbed a rather wicked looking sword. The lance knight barged into the room, and Elena jumped forward.

“I can take him…” Ayra said.

“No need…” Elena said. She raised her sword, and struck a critical strike. Ayra came forward, and jumped into the air. She swung down upon the lance knight five consecutive times, allowing the knight to turn to dust.

“Come on out of that house! I know you’re in there…” the lance cavalier said, using the voice of the Spirit Pyres at a different pitch.

“Idiot… that’s the most that can be said about these Loptyr-descended fools,” Ayra said.

“Loptyr?” Elena asked.

“Yeah… probably Fala, to be honest, but Loptyr fits them better,” Ayra said.

“I still have no idea what you just said… who are you, anyway?” Elena asked.

“My name is Ayra. I hail from the kingdom of Isaach,” Ayra said.

“Isaach? Wait… what do you remember?” Elena asked, drawing her sword.

“Honestly… not a whole lot. After Arvis massacred a lot of our army at Belhalla, I made my escape and went in search of my children, Ulster and Larcei… but I never did manage to find them. One day, I fell asleep, and when I woke up, I was here…” Ayra said. Elena held her sword up to Ayra, pointed forward.

“You’re a Deadlord?” Elena asked.

“Deadlord? Wouldn’t have the foggiest idea what you mean,” Ayra asked.

“Penelopy found them in that book… Deadlords, commanding officers of a Risen army. Undead soldiers who fight for the Charmer who summoned them…” Elena said. As she spoke, a contradiction began to unfurl in her head.

“Fighting for the Charmer who summoned them? That sounds like a vain compliment to oneself,” Ayra said.

“…I am not a Spirit Charmer, and I do not understand magic. Ayra, of Isaach… I would be honoured if you would join us,” Elena said.

“Thank you…” Ayra said, before pausing.

“Oh… I’m Elena, a Knight of Crimea,” Elena said.

“Ah… you have the authority to hire someone like me?” Ayra asked.

“Of course… Just don’t stab anyone in the back,” Elena said.

“I’d think that comes with the territory,” Ayra said.

Yune was wandering the back alleys, assassinating a few of the Risen archers and mages. She heard a loud clatter, and quickly dived into the shadows. Armoured knights were the worst units for her to take down. The heavy thuds of the knight’s footsteps grew louder and louder, and Yune’s breathing softer and softer. She’d have to abandon this hideout or figure out a plan of attack… but nothing other than her ability was coming to her. The knight stopped right outside her hideout, and Yune stepped into the light, holding out her knife.

“Whoa, sis! What’s with the daggers?” the knight asked, removing his helmet. Yune dropped the knife, clutching at her chest.

“Way to give me a heart attack, Kanvar,” Yune said.

“Hey, I came as soon as I heard Sienne was under attack. How’s the Circlet going?” Kanvar asked.

“We’re growing, bit by bit. And we’re also all on the battlefield now…” Yune said.

“And you’re OK with that?” Kanvar asked.

“No… no, I’m not OK with that. I’m a thief, not a warrior. I pick the enemy’s pockets, not give them sword wounds. But I’ve no choice. These Risen are numerous… and no matter how much our skill allows us to defeat them, more will come. We need everyone we have to not be overwhelmed. I’d rather not fight… but if that is as my sisters wish, that is what I will do,” Yune said.

“Wow… well, I can help with that,” Kanvar said.

“Really?” Yune asked.

“Of course! You stick behind me, and all the Risen will tire themselves out on my armour! I’ll even shoulder some of the burden on you,” Kanvar said.

“Brother…” Yune said.

“I am the Prince of Daein. This is my duty,” Kanvar said. A pair of myrmidons appeared from a far corner, and yelled out.

“Would you excuse me, sis?” Kanvar asked. He put on his helmet, and stepped into the alley. The myrmidons found themselves unable to pass Kanvar, and were forced to fight him to get to Yune. Kanvar began lancing the myrmidons, while Yune steeled herself, and started throwing a few shuriken around him. She’d help where she could. After all, she was the Princess of Daein.

“Attack them! Attack them! There are sub-humans among their ranks!” the leader of the Risen forces, a Deadlord who was, in life, Senator McDiarmid, commanded. He was quite safe commanding from his tower, so when Janiyah appeared at his feet, he freezed in horror. The snarling cat approached him, looking almost rabid.

“This… someone! HELP ME! The beasts… down, feral one!” McDiarmid yelled.

“Yeesh… I’d probably scare him without all this slobbering… oh well,” Janiyah said, lunging forward, and biting into McDiarmid’s neck. She jumped off him, onto a higher tower, before lunging into McDiarmid’s stomach with her claws. McDiarmid was very definitely dust, and Janiyah purred to herself.

“It really isn’t proper to savage… but I just wanted to see how a wolf fights,” Janiyah said to herself, smiling. She eventually jumped down from the tower, to come back to her friends.

The Circlet of Tellius amassed outside Mainal Cathedral, the battle outside complete. Elena looked about, assessing the damage, before introducing Ayra.

“Who’s she?” was the immediate question.

“Penelopy, what exactly is an Einherjar?” Elena asked, choosing not to answer that question yet.

“According to what the book said, an Einherjar can be crafted at the will of anyone or anyones with sufficient Essence. It takes the form of anything that can be physically manifested, and has most of the same characteristics as a real person. Crafting Einherjar is far less complex than true, proper necromancy, but to all intents and purposes, it is. Why, do you think this woman is one?” Penelopy said.

“This is Ayra, a princess hailing from the Kingdom of Isaach, in the continent of Judgral,” Elena said.

“Judgral? But I thought that place was just a myth…” Penelopy said.

“Myth or not, I am here in the flesh. Well… maybe just as one of those Einherjar things, but I’m corporeal enough to lend my sword to you,” Ayra said.

“Elena… can we really trust her? I mean, we don’t know anything about her, or Einherjar in general…” Astrid said.

“Astrid. I know you’re worried about us. But Ayra saved me from the Risen. She specifically went out of her way to contribute. I think she’s trustworthy. If not, we learn more about Einherjar the hard way,” Elena said.

“…I will defer to your judgement, Elena. If you have made a mistake, it is on your hands,” Astrid said.

“I acknowledge the lesson you are trying to teach, Dame Astrid. I will become a knight worth leading the Crimean Royal Knights,” Elena said. Astrid gave a bow, and Elena turned to the doors of Mainal. Emilyn walked up, and stood before the doors.

“Father… Mother…” Emilyn said. She opened the doors, and led the group inside. They had no doubt they would meet the Spirit again. Who else they would meet… how they would find Tormod and Sanaki… these were questions the group was forced to ponder.

Backstory snippet: Senator McDiarmid represents a previously unnamed senator from Radiant Dawn- specifically, the one found early in Part III, before Valtome replaces his role in the story.

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Chapter 6: Empress of Flame

The grand hall of Mainal. Large enough for pegasus knights to comfortably fight in (probably by design). The room was normally a symbol of great beauty. However, on the opposite end of the room, on the raised platform in which Sanaki and Tormod ruled from, was a terrifying sight. Both sages were on the ground, writhing and moaning, as the Spirit stood over them.

“Father! Mother!” Emilyn cried out, rushing forward. The Spirit turned, and raised an arm. Emilyn found herself unable to move forward, held still by some unnatural force.

“No… let her go…” Sanaki said, groaning.

“What do you even want with us?” Elena asked, standing beside Emilyn, and pointing her sword at Pyres.

Hm… I suppose I should answer that question. This man, here, is Tormod Laguz. Twenty of your years ago, he made a pact with me… a pact of the Spirits. However, in his arrogance, he broke his pact, and turned against me. I couldn’t show my face to my Spirit brethren after the victory I stupidly allowed him… but that ends today. I have come to exact my revenge. I have come to destroy everything Tormod cares for… the Spirit said.

“Pyres… stop this madness…” Tormod said, tears in his eyes.

“Father? …Is this true?” Emilyn asked.

“Yes… my great power in the Daein Revolutionary War came from my pact with Pyres. I was young, distraught from having my home and people slaughtered by Lekain… I made my pact in anger. Not long after that, your mother came to me… she was so kind. I vowed to stay by her side. Of course, after a while, I realised that that meant taking control over my Essence back from Pyres. Thankfully, the Disciples of the Divine War could extract Pyres from within me… I took my chance, and bailed. All I wanted was to live in peace with my lovely wife, my steadfast father, and my bashful friend. Emilyn… Muarim and Vika are gone,” Tormod said.

“What? Muarim… Vika… you will BURN, Pyres!” Emilyn said. She broke out of Pyres’ spell, and launched a Cymbeline at Pyres. Pyres waved his arm, dissipating the massive ball of fire, and smirked.

This girl has a sharp Essence… to be expected, of course. Her parents were two powerful fire mages. Her Essence must be nice… Pyres said.

“…Pyres… I would rather Tellius be destroyed than let you make a pact with my daughter. ARCAQUA!” Tormod cried. A gigantic blast of water shot directly into Pyres’ chest. Pyres growled, but shook the blow off.

You’ll pay for your insolence… Pyres said.

“Never… I will never allow you the satisfaction of revenge,” Tormod said.

Oh really? Well… you did say you’d rather Tellius be destroyed. I reckon I could make that happen, Pyres said. Tormod seized up.

“You… you can’t… it’s not possible… not even the goddess could do it…” Tormod said.

She probably could. You know what, Tormod? I think I will. I will destroy Tellius, Pyres said.

“You… you can’t…” Tormod said.

Well, obviously, now I can’t… but all I’d need is a little extra power… and I think I know how I can make that happen, Pyres said.

“I won’t let you,” Tormod said, summoning a ball of water.

Really? You’ll stop me? Very well… you have stopped me once before, have you not? Surely your magic could defeat me again? Pyres asked. Tormod fired his Torrent, launching it directly into Pyres’ chest again. Pyres ignored the blow, and Tormod tried Quake, followed by Tornado. Neither so much as dented Pyres.

Is that truly all the magical prowess you possess? You’ll be of no use to me in accomplishing my goal… Pyres said.

“Yeah, well, I’m the most accomplished mage on the continent! If I’m no good, what else can you do?” Tormod asked. Pyres simply smiled.

There’s a lot more that I can do that you simply fail to realise, Pyres said. He pointed at the door, and sealed it shut. Pyres turned to Sanaki, and shot a bolt of something into her chest. To Tormod’s eye, it somewhat resembled a key.

“What…” Emilyn asked.

I’m going to keep you in here, fighting the woman you loved. I grow weary of taking your loved ones myself, Pyres said. He blew a small cloud at Sanaki, which seeped into her ears. Sanaki turned to Tormod, her eyes gone from gold to red.

“Sanaki…” Tormod said weakly.

“YOU MONSTER!” Elena cried out. She shot right up to Pyres, and jumped skywards with her attack. Elena landed on her feet, her blade held out. Pyres didn’t appear to be scratched, but he was definitely annoyed.

Who do you think you are, to stand up against me? Pyres asked.

“I am Dame Elena, daughter of Sir Ike and Dame Mia of Crimea. In my hands is the Wo Dao, the blade that has won my mother a million battles, and me a hundred. And if the battlefield has taught me anything about magic, it’s that those with high resistance to it tend not to have the greatest defences against swords and the like,” Elena said.

Foolish girl… Pyres said. He spun around on the spot, whacking Elena in the stomach with his tremendous Fire Tail. Elena was blasted into a wall, and knocked to the ground.

Heh… Crimea, eh? Pyres said, before disappearing into a blinding light.

“This…” Tormod started weakly. She turned to Sanaki, to see her beginning to summon a small force of Risen.

“Sanaki…” Tormod said.

“Father…” Emilyn said, looking between him and Elena.

“…Take care of Elena, Emilyn. I’ll try and help Sanaki…” Tormod said. Emilyn nodded, and rushed to Elena’s side. She was woozy from the attack. Emilyn pulled her upright, and started hugging her, trying to keep her company. Livia rode up, and started waving her staff.

Everyone was engaged in battle, fighting against Sanaki’s army of Risen. Kalen rode up to Wright, lancing a Risen soldier.

“Thanks, Kalen…” Wright said, returning the favour against a few fighters.

“Wright… did you see what happened to Dame Elena?” Kalen asked.

“I did. Why? You know she doesn’t pay any mind to her defences,” Wright said.

“But Wright… her attack. It barely did anything! Even you have to admit Elena’s blows hurt!” Kalen said.

“Kalen, I understand what you’re getting at. But now is not the time for such tactics. There are Risen soldiers to fight, and we need to defeat them,” Wright said.

“Right…” Kalen said, turning to look at Elena. She was stirring and looking about, but Emilyn wasn’t letting her go. Kalen decided to head over to her.

Rolf was picking soldiers off from the ceiling, breathing in and out. He hadn’t had much experience fighting from his own pegasus, and was grateful for learning some leg commands to keep his pegasus steady. Still, it wasn’t quite the same as riding double with Marcia, but he was grateful for learning how regardless. He spotted Astrid becoming a little swarmed by Risen archers, and soared down, shooting them all. He stopped his pegasus in front of her, and looked over.

“Are you all right, Astrid?” Rolf asked.

“Perfectly fine, Sir Rolf. Though I thank you for your assistance,” Astrid said.

“…You’re a lot more mature than I remember you,” Rolf remarked.

“Oh… I’ve gone through much for my sisters. I’ve learned a few things here and there. And I’m always one of Dame Mia’s knights,” Astrid said.

“Yeah… it suits you well,” Rolf said.

“Sir Rolf…thanks,” Astrid said.

“Soldier,” Rolf said. Astrid quickly swung her axe about, taking the soldier out.

“Well, better get back to picking,” Rolf said. He turned about, and started firing his bow again.

“Sanaki… I don’t want to fight you…” Tormod said, backing away. Sanaki had summoned flames, and was chasing Tormod down. Her glare was actually quite terrifying as she trailed them.

“Must… destroy… Tormod Laguz…” Sanaki said.

“Sanaki!” Tormod cried out, slinging an Aqua spell forward. The spell splashed across the flames, dousing them. Sanaki shook her wrists, and they re-ignited.

“Hold it right there, Empress!” Elena called out. Tormod jumped back, as Elena jumped back into the fray, her sword held aloft and ready. She charged forward, slicing Sanaki across the chest, and jumping back. Sanaki swirled her arms about, and launched an Arcglacies attack. Elena braced herself for the cold, allowing the blizzard to blast away at her, before she lunged forward. The tip of her sword pierced Sanaki’s stomach, passing right through her spine and coming out the other end.

“Oh… my… goddess… what have I done?” Elena said, her hand jumping back from the Wo Dao. Tormod rushed forward, pulled the sword from Sanaki, and started waving his staff over her. Livia came up, and started helping too. Elena walked backwards into Kalen, and started sobbing into him.

“Sanaki…” Tormod said, shaking Sanaki. Sanaki’s eyes opened and closed quickly, and she looked up.

“Tor… Tor…” Sanaki mumbled.

“Sanaki… please make it. Pyres…” Tormod said. Sanaki looked at her wound.

“I…” Sanaki started, before her head began to loll. Tormod quickly pulled Sanaki up, into a hug.

“Sanaki…” Tormod said.

“Tormod…” Sanaki said, before she fell to the ground, lifeless. Tormod got to his feet.

“…Tormod?” Elena asked, looking up at him.

“…Sanaki…” Tormod said. He turned around quickly, and launched an Arcignis at Elena. Elena jumped into the air, dodging the blast by a hair.

“What the… Tormod?” Elena cried out.

“You killed Sanaki…” Tormod said, casting Arctonitrus. Elena dodged to one side.

“Tormod… she was…” Elena said, struggling to put her reasoning into words. Tormod’s next strike was Arcventus, which was thrown by Emilyn’s Elglacies.

“Father!” Emilyn said, standing in front of Elena. “I won’t let you harm my Elena!”

“Huh?” Tormod asked.

“Your Elena?” Elena asked.

“Dame Elena was just protecting you, Father! Besides, we both know who’s to blame for warping Mother. Pyres! Save your spells for him!” Emilyn said.

“Emilyn…” Tormod said.

“If you want to take your revenge on Elena, that’s fine, but you’ll have to go through me, first! I will not allow myself to live without Elena!” Emilyn said.

“Emilyn…” Elena said.

“…Emilyn Misaha Altina… thanks. Thanks for stopping me doing something I might’ve regretted…” Tormod said.

“…Thanks, Father,” Emilyn said.

“As for you, Dame Elena…” Tormod said.

“Um… Tormod? I’m not a true knight yet,” Elena said.

“Yet. That changes today. Kneel, Elena Gawain,” Tormod said. Elena did so, and Tormod formed a blade made of the winds. He gestured softly, touching her shoulders.

“Dame Elena… by the power vested in me as the Emperor Regent in Begnion, I now dub you a knight. May you use your ability on the field of battle in defence of Tellius, and to stop the efforts of Pyres. To this end, I grant you official command of the Circlet of Tellius,” Tormod said.

“I accept, Emperor Tormod… but what’s the official command for?” Elena asked.

“Mostly morale. And possibly getting people to fight under your banner with more… oomph, if you know what I mean,” Tormod said.

“Nope,” Elena said.

“Dang it… well, now we’ve gotta go find that Pyres, and avenge my wife!” Tormod said.

“That, I get. We rest up tonight, and tomorrow, we give chase,” Elena said.

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Chapter 6x: Crimea's Guiding Light

Ike hurries back to Melior, accompanied by his faithful paladin companions and Marcia. Marcia’s feeling was not something Ike wanted to take lightly, with both Queen Elincia and Dame Mia left at the capital. They choose not to spare time for Geoffrey. They don’t know if they will arrive to a capital in chaos, or one in peace.

And the thought eats away at Ike, as he desperately attempts to arrive and make sure his wives are safe from harm.

Ike led the party of five to Melior, to notice flames alight around it. Soldiers in white were fighting against soldiers of a variety of colours, all with a peculiar red hue. Like the soldiers Zard had mentioned…

“We have to get to Ellie!” Ike commanded.

“I’ll go from above!” Marcia said, before flying up. Ike galloped his horse forward, and rushed inside. He stopped, a horrible sight unfolding before him.

Mia was fighting viciously against a Risen paladin. All Ike knew was that his name was Jagen. A Zanbato was in Mia’s left hand, and she was swinging it viciously. However, it was clear as day that using her non-dominant hand was taking a toll on her ability, and her dodges were significantly less effective than expected- though that was probably her edge having been lost over the years. Jagen reared back, before driving his lance through her, knocking her to the ground. Ike ran to her side, while Titania stared down Jagen.

“Another challenger? I suppose I should take you on… mustn’t let Marth get distracted by this woman’s guard,” Jagen said, raising his lance. Titania raised her axe, and Jagen’s face fell.

“Be as it may that you have the advantage of axes… but do not suggest that I will be an easy foe!” Jagen said. Titania charged, as did Jagen. Jagen aimed at Titania’s shoulder blade, the blade wobbling a bit. Titania didn’t even need to dodge. Jagen took in a deep breath, preparing for his second pass.

Only there was no second pass.

While Jagen was hung up over his failure, Titania still had an axe to grind, and nothing hindering it. Titania’s axe came up swiftly, striking Jagen in the back, and knocking him off his horse. Jagen got to his feet, and faced Titania. Titania remained on her horse, looking down upon him.

“So, you have no trouble fighting a woman with the triangle disadvantage and heavy wounds, but come up against a woman with the triangle advantage and some experience and you’re completely pathetic?” Titania asked.

“How… how dare… I am Sir Jagen, Altea’s greatest champion!” Jagen said.

“Dame Titania, second-in-command of the Greil Mercenaries. It was nice meeting you,” Titania said, charging up, and swinging her axe again.

“Lord… Marth…” Jagen said, dropping to the ground, turning to dust.

Ike, meanwhile, was rubbing at Mia’s wound with a vulnerary. Mia looked up at him, and stopped his efforts with her hand.

“Ike… it’s all over for me… I’ll never fight again…” Mia said.

“That doesn’t mean much, Mia. You couldn’t exactly fight before,” Ike said.

“Ike… leave it… I’m passing here…” Mia said.

“Mia, don’t leave…” Ike said.

“Ike… Ellie… Ellie’s in trouble… you need to save her… I’m already done for,” Mia said. Her head fell back, and her eyes lost their light. Ike gave her body a quick hug, before laying it back on the ground. He noticed a card in her pocket, and quickly took it.

“…We’ll have to press on,” Ike said. He looked up, and noticed Soren appearing before the group.

“Ike… Renning and his team can’t hold out forever. We need you to come and protect Elincia!” Soren said. Ike nodded, and Soren led the paladins through the castle to Elincia’s courtyard. Titania looked back at where Jagen fell, her lip curled in disgust. His attack was cowardly, and his only help was telling the group the name of the enemy commander, a fellow named Marth. It was easy for Titania to resent him… yet at the same time, she felt a strange sense of camaraderie.

Ike appeared in the courtyard of Crimea, the battlefield on which he fought the Mad King Ashnard. Elincia was darting away from a group, another woman on a pegasus giving chase. A lord was standing where Ashnard waited, giving orders to his band. Duke Renning, Lucia, Bastian and Nephenee were all fighting valiantly against the lord, struggling with his troops.

“So you’re Marth!” Ike bellowed. Marth looked around at him.

“…Allow him to approach,” Marth said. The soldiers parted, and Ike approached Marth cautiously. Now that he got a good look at him, he noticed that he looked somewhat familiar…

“What is it you want with Ellie?” Ike asked.

“The queen? We are here to liberate this land from her tyrannical rule. You seem like a reasonable enough man… want to join our cause?” Marth asked.

“Tyrannical… ARE YOU INSANE? Queen Elincia’s rule is far from tyranny! Where on earth have you been to miss the memo?” Ike asked.

“I hail from the land of Altea… I am its prince, Marth. I have fought long and hard for peace in the continent of Akaneia, even against my old allies to do so. What makes you think Elincia is a kind ruler?” Marth asked.

“She puts her people first, she always shows mercy… I could go on. If anything, she needs to be more tyrannical. I don’t know what Akaneia is… but I know enough. You need to be taken down, Prince Marth of Altea,” Ike said.

“If that is to be how it is… I cannot lose,” Marth said, drawing the Falchion.

“Prepare yourself!” Ike said, drawing Ragnell.

Elincia ducked another of Shiida’s strikes with the Wing Spear, annoyed she had not been able to claim Amiti before this duel in the skies. She knew that eventually, she or her pegasus would tire. Shiida, on the other hand, was full of energy, her strikes never seeming to stop coming.

“You cannot hold out forever…” Shiida said.

“That’s why I’m here!” Marcia said, appearing beside Elincia, and drawing the Alondite.

“Soldier from the unknown! I am Dame Marcia, Queen of the skies! If you have anything resembling common sense, you will step down from your attack on Queen Elincia for your own welfare!” Marcia said.

“…Good thing I don’t have any of that,” Shiida said. She reared back on her pegasus, and charged with the Wing Spear. Marcia dodged, and Elincia pulled back. Marcia swung Alondite in a complicated manner, sending a web of shockwaves in Shiida’s direction. Shiida reared back, and used her pegasus’ wingbeats to weaken their effect. Marcia readied another attack, before feeling something strange. She looked at her pegasus’ flank, and noticed an arrow.

“Archers…” Marcia realised. She dropped to the ground, unable to fight.

“Sorry about that,” Marcia said to her pegasus. She looked around for the offending archer.

Gordin was cheering. He had finally hit something with his bow, and had helped Princess Shiida in her battle. His cheer was short lived, however, when he suddenly found himself facing a knight in red.

“You…” Kieran said, all business. Gordin shivered, before a pair of paladins came to his side.

“You stay back on this one, Gordin…” Cain said.

“We’ll take care of it,” Abel added. Oscar rode up to support Kieran, looking between the two paladins.

“…Hey, Oscar, look! These guys look just like us!” Kieran said excitedly.

“…They look nothing of the sort,” Oscar said dryly. He raised his sword, and charged Abel. Kieran swung his axe around, striking Cain. The two paladins moved back, and Cain and Abel came forward. The pair lanced in unison, and Oscar found himself ducking an arrow from Gordin.

“Need a hand?” a deep voice asked. A man approached, clad in a turban and brandishing a silver sword.

“I sure hope you’re not planning on outnumbering my force more than needed,” Duke Renning said, approaching directly opposite the new paladin, Hardin. He drew his own sword, a blade with a gold-trimmed hilt. The opposing paladins all turned to the great knight Renning.

“…Everyone charge him at once!” Cain suggested. Abel and Hardin complied with Cain’s suggestion, and Renning chuckled. He pulled his horse back a few steps, causing the three to crash into each other as they converged. The three scrambled to get up, their horses too tangled to be concerned about. Renning raised his blade again, and Hardin followed suit.

“Retreat, boys. I will take this soldier on,” Hardin said. Cain and Abel ran off with Hardin’s urging, as he faced Duke Renning. Renning’s horse leaped forward, cleaving down upon Hardin. Hardin focused, and allowed a barrier to deflect the blade. Renning snarled, but he had an answer running his way.

“Marcia, could I borrow the Alondite briefly?” Renning asked, as Marcia ran along in the direction of Gordin.

“Go nuts,” Marcia said, tossing the Alondite to the ground, and pulling out a silver lance for Gordin. Renning looked at the sword on the ground, as Hardin realised what was going on, too. Renning jumped off his horse, and the two paladins grabbed onto the sword’s hilt at the same time.

“Get off the sacred blade of Begnion!” Renning said, pushing the blade towards Hardin with all his might.

“You’re not exactly one to point fingers. I know all about your queen’s treachery. Your breaths are numbered, dark knight!” Hardin said.

“I will never betray my niece. I am a knight of Crimea, and I will be one until I die,” Renning said. He let out a low roar, and pushed into Hardin’s turban, into his head. Hardin sunk to the ground, turning to dust, and Renning could claim the Alondite properly. Renning looked up at Marth’s soldiers, of which there were still many. Of course, there were a few soldiers falling- a pair of warriors here, a pair of generals there. Renning looked up, to see some pegasi forming overhead.

“Not good,” Renning said, before reaching into his pack, and pulling out a bow. He was not confident he would be good at aiming, but he didn’t have time to warn Geoffrey or Oscar. He could only hope that they would notice in time.

Ike and Marth’s duel led them across the high balcony on which Ike’s duel with Ashnard took place. The two traded blows easily- Marth keeping his distance with the Falchion, and Ike making use of the hefty weight of Ragnell. Marth had landed many critical blows, but Ike wasn’t about to give up and die like a dog. His Aether art had saved him many times, and he intended to keep it that way. He roared, and charged in, slashing Marth around with a sword aflame, before sending him flying. Marth hit the castle battlements, before jumping back down, landing lightly on his feet. Marth struck again, sending Ike back a small distance, the card Ike had grabbed flying out of his pocket. Ike looked up, to see Marth standing over him.

“I have watched countless allies die on the field of battle. Each and every one… but, to defeat your army here and today, I must strike at their commander,” Marth said.

“Prepare yourself…” a feminine voice cried out.

“Who’s there?” Marth asked, jumping back, and looking around. The sky turned dark for the briefest of moments, before a strike that cleaved the very air appeared before Ike. Marth was struck in the chest, and sent soaring into the heavens. Ike was left staring in awe at the swordswoman standing over him. She turned her head slightly, showing her smile to Ike, before dissolving into dust. The dust she left looked different to Jagen’s, somehow.

“How did…” Ike said nervously, before shaking it off. He looked over the courtyard, and saw Marth’s soldiers start to falter in combat. He looked up, and realised that Elincia was still in danger. There would be time for mysteries later.

Elincia noticed the trio of pegasus knights making their approach, and quickly made her rush to dive down. Shiida dived quicker, keeping her in the air, while the trio were unfazed by altitude change anyway.

“Girls… please…” Elincia asked. Two of the girls in the front dodged arrows with ease, barely looking at them.

“We are the Whitewings of Macedon,” the one in green said.

“We have been hired by Sir Marth in order to take you down,” the one in blue said.

“Come on, sisters! Triangle Attack!” the one in pink said. The three raised their lances, and Elincia realised all too quickly that there would be no dodging this. The red pegasus knight’s lance landed, and Elincia fell from her pegasus. She heard the sounds of people running to her position, only for


Ike and Renning looked between each other in shock. Neither of them had made it underneath Elincia in time. The three pegasus knights dispersed, their mission complete. Either due to the death of Marth or Elincia, the foot soldiers followed suit, disappearing into dust and light alike, leaving no trace of their presence other than the damaged battlefields and the fact that Elincia lay dead in her courtyard.

“No…” Ike said weakly.

“Your Majesty…” Renning said.

“Soren, do you know what Marth and his soldiers were?” Ike asked.

“I have an inkling,” Soren said.

“Find out. I want to know what they are, where they came from, and who they work for. And then I want them dead,” Ike said. He looked towards Begnion, thinking of his daughters. The poor girls would be devastated if they knew… but there was no one else to take the message. Ike hoped they’d be happier not knowing of their mother’s fall. His mind turned back to the stranger. Who was she… and why did she come to his rescue?

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Chapter 7: Mobile Wars

A foul mood grips the party, as Sanaki’s death weighs on their hearts like iron. Pyres is to blame, but in their hearts, Tormod and Elena shoulder responsibility for the mess as well.

However, as the group plans their next move, Aderyn turns her eye over the ocean, and spots land. She was not looking at Phoenicis or Kilvas, and everyone else was confused about what the land south of Begnion could be, too. Elena decides that they should investigate these lands. The inhabitants of this far shore would be either friend or foe, but either way, they would have a lead on Pyres.

“What are you looking for?” Kalen asked, as Elena prowled the port.

“A good boat,” Elena said. The scent of the port was quite inspiring for sea travel, but Elena was wary of what might lay in wait on the other port. A boat that allowed for a good fight if need be, as well as a convenient escape mechanism, would serve them well for their travel to the far land. There were folks coming and going, few of whom recognised Dame Elena. She had specifically taken to wearing a modest circlet to look unique, but considering some men didn’t even spare Elena a glance, she suspected that she didn’t even register on their radar: maybe they weren’t citizens of Tellius?

“Ells…” Kalen said, using Elena’s incognito name. Ellie would’ve been too suspicious.

“Hm?” Elena asked, looking over.

“I was wondering… um… are you… Ells, look!” Kalen cried out. Elena looked around, and jumped for joy. She walked up to the captain of said boat, a man named Fargus, and began haggling for passage to the far land. Kalen bemoaned his timorous line, before going to call upon the rest of the travelling party.

The group had set sail the next day. Accompanying the Circlet and the small group they had obtained were members of Janiyah and Penelopy’s escort, Kezhda the cat and Lucita the dragon. Kezhda joined Janiyah on the ship, smiling as he watched her in cat form.

“What do you want?” Janiyah asked finally, reverting to base and looking at Kezhda.

“I was just coming over to say hello, little one. And to hear of your brave exploits,” Kezhda said.

“Oh… well, to be honest, I haven’t done anything like lead the vanguard or anything like that. I’ve been fighting a lot of Risen, don’t get me wrong… I’ve just not seen a lot of Deadlords in combat. Well, there was that McDiarmid fellow, but…” Janiyah said.

“Hm… Janiyah, you should really be more proactive. Carry on the legacy of Donaregin, as your father did before you, and his father did before him,” Kezhda said.

“I… I will try, Kezhda. I am the future commander of Donaregin… I should try acting like one. Thanks, Kezhda,” Janiyah said.

“You’re welcome, little one. You remind me a little of your grandmother… she was a feisty one, back in the day,” Kezhda said.

“My grandmother, Regina? I didn’t realise you knew her,” Janiyah said.

“I was one of the first members of Donaregin, Janiyah. Your grandmother was there, too… she was much like your Aunt Lethe, actually. But she had a ferocity like your mother’s… with the gentle disposition of your father… wow, I never realised how much she actually gave to our pack…” Kezhda said.

“My father always said she was a great warrior. I strive to one day become like her…” Janiyah said.

“Yeah, well, if you’re being like her, start with the more ferocious bit,” Kezhda said. Janiyah nodded, and dropped back on the deck in cat form.

“Land ho!” Fargus called out. Elena looked out over the ship’s prow, at the new land. She saw a bustling port, filled with… monsters? Skeletons, dogs, flying beasts, and what could charitably be described as a giant fat guy were at the port, though whether they were residents or attackers was vague at best.

“That don’t look too good…” Fargus said.

“Well… do we turn back, Dame Astrid?” Elena asked.

“That’s your decision. I’m fine either way,” Astrid said.

“Let me guess…” Livia said.

“Combat experience?” Elena asked.

“Girl knows what she fights for,” Livia remarked. Fargus docked the boat, and several of the troops had already rushed forward. The cavaliers (counting the troubadour Livia) sighed as they got their horses ready, while Lucita stood by Mist. Mist was looking up at Rolf and Sheeta, who had already begun engaging the gargoyles and harpies in the sky.

“You all right?” Lucita asked.

“Yeah… just missing the fight. Ashnard did a number on me… I need to sit back,” Mist said.

“You’re free to begin advising your niece,” Astrid remarked, as the cavaliers hopped ashore. Lucita smirked, before sinking her head into Mist’s shoulder.

“Here’s a little comfort,” Lucita said. Mist smiled, and she reciprocated Lucita’s affectionate grip.

“Hey… do you see that, over there?” a female said, pointing in the direction of Taizel.

“Yes… it looks like a monster attack, my queen,” her male companion said.

“Oh, how my heart goes out to our people’s suffering… I know we didn’t bring our fighting swords, but-” the female said.

“I understand, my queen. We ride out now, and rescue whoever is in danger. You have my valour,” the male said.

“You are a magnificent husband…” the female said.

Elena was fighting against a pair of skeletons, one armed with a sword, the other a lance. She struck true on their bodies, only to find her blows were less effective against the Risen. Trying a different, slightly more aggressive approach led to her dispatching of the skeletons, only for quite a few more to appear around her.

“Well…” Elena said. A few of them were picked off by the essence of Livia’s Ӕther magic, while some near the back were being crossed through by paladins. Elena stepped back in awe, as two figures, a man and a woman, appeared before her, the skeletons lying in pieces behind her.

“I always hated bonewalkers,” the woman said, smirking.

“Who… who are you?” Elena asked, looking between the two figures.

“My name is Eirika. Queen Eirika of Grado, to be more specific. And this is my husband, Seth,” Eirika said.

“Now, Eirika, did you have to go blabbing about us being the rulers of Grado to some mercenary?” Seth asked.

“Hey, I’m… a knight of Crimea! I’m not just some mercenary! So this is Grado?” Elena said.

“Well, this country, yes. But first, the battle,” Seth said. Elena nodded, and she and Seth began cutting through some eyeballs.

“…Can you tell me more?” Livia asked.

“Maybe later, when everyone’s here,” Eirika said, turning to put her sword in a spider. Livia used her Ӕther from overhead, helping take it down.

Janiyah approached the Deadlord of this area, a woman on a horse. She was slinging magic of a variety of anima types in any direction, hitting monsters as well as people. Janiyah hissed, and alerted the Deadlord to her presence.

“A cat? Well, that’s unusual…” the Deadlord said.

“Unusual? Well… you might not be familiar with the talking cat thing we have in Tellius,” Janiyah said. She leaped up, and struck the mage knight with her claws. The Deadlord growled, and held up her hand.

“I am the Fluorspar of Grado! You will not defeat me, beast!” the Fluorspar said, slinging an Elignis at Janiyah. Janiyah leaped back in a quick panic, and a deep hiss sounded behind her. A black cat jumped in between Janiyah and the Fluorspar. Kezhda.

“I thought you said I needed to start fighting my battles?” Janiyah asked.

“Running head-first into someone packing fire magic isn’t always the best idea,” Kezhda said, hissing at the Fluorspar.

“That means you too, right?” Janiyah asked. Kezhda was about to make a retort, before a shriek sounded from behind them. Janiyah and Kezhda turned in surprise, to see Aderyn shoot forward. Approaching speeds high enough to cause cool little blur lines to appear, she tore right past the Fluorspar. Funnily, she hadn’t struck her, but instead used her speed to check her, before she reappeared in front of her, letting out huge blasts of wind with her wingbeats.

“Birds, too?” the Fluorspar asked.

“I am a bird of prey. I will defeat you,” Aderyn said, before striking more traditionally. The Fluorspar prepared an Arcventus, before an earthquake rent the land. Aderyn’s panic from the Arcventus sent her flying, while the earthquake covered the rest. If there was such thing as a formation on either side, it was long gone now. Livia was Ӕthering harpies, Janiyah rending spiders, and so on in a haphazard pattern. The Fluorspar had been brought up next to Lucita.

“Let me guess… giant lizard?” the Fluorspar asked. Lucita transformed into her dragon form, stepping in front of Mist.

“…Not what I had in mind…” the Fluorspar said. Lucita reverted, and pulled out her bow.

“Of course, my breath is magical, so not too good at dealing with you,” Lucita said, innocently beaming, as she loosed a few arrows. The Fluorspar avoided a handful, while a few more lodged into some relatively harmless places. Nothing too debilitating, but without a healer, probably not wounds she’d walk off. Not like she would. The Fluorspar cast Arcglacies, launching an ice storm at Lucita. Lucita weathered the cold, and fired another arrow, managing a good, lethal strike.

“Dragons are weak to lightning,” Lucita said plainly, before Mist began her light heal.

Cleaning up the monsters was a rather simple procedure. Even with a Deadlord commander, their tactics were non-existent, and they had relatively easy weaknesses to exploit. Nevertheless, the monsters were all cleaned up, and Elena went to introduce Eirika and Seth to the rest of the group.

“More Einherjar, Elena?” Astrid asked.

“They say they rule this land… and I don’t know if the continent itself could be an Einherjar,” Elena said. Astrid tapped the ground underneath her foot. She had her doubts this land was as real as her own, even before the earthquake.

“Anyway, what brings you here?” Seth asked.

“This land was visible from our own. Except this is the first time we’ve seen it in recorded history. We’ve also recently had a spirit that demonstrated great power come for a visit, so we reckon he has something to do with this land appearing,” Livia said.

“That is a puzzle…” Seth remarked, looking over at Tellius.

“Have any of you seen anything that looks out of the ordinary?” Elena asked.

“Aside from this? No. But you’re welcome to come along with us to Renais. The five countries’ monarchs meet every year and trade observations. Maybe someone else has noticed your spirit friend,” Eirika said.

“He’s no friend,” Tormod said quickly. Seth looked at Eirika disapprovingly.

“Eirika, we can’t just bring them along with us to the meeting! We barely know where they come from!” Seth said.

“That’s why we only let in the heads, like usual. That’s this Elena girl that met us, and maybe one of the older girls, too. If it’s a trap, we have the advantage of numbers on the head, separated from the body,” Eirika said.

“You know, we’re standing right here,” Elena remarked.

“Oh… I didn’t mean to offend,” Eirika said.

“No offense taken. Quite a prudent strategy, if I do say so myself. But if we had malicious intent, you have just told us what it is, and we have the ride from here to Renais to come up with a counter-strategy,” Astrid said. Eirika groaned.

“Well… come along,” Eirika said. The group began their trek to Renais.

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Chapter 8: The Spirit Charmer

Elena’s group gives their farewells to Fargus the boatman, and accompanies Eirika and Seth into the centre of the continent of Magvel, the country of Renais. There, Eirika and Seth are to participate in a meeting of rulers, much like the Circlet of Tellius in the future. Elena and Mist, who will be attending the meeting, have received a brief run-down of the eight rulers.

Eirika and Seth, who they have already met, rule over the south-western country of Grado. Neither have any biological claim, but the last such person died with no next-of-kin. Eirika was good friends with said person, and offered to take over its rule so that it may continue to exist as a country.

From the south-eastern country of Jehanna come King Joshua and Queen Natasha. Joshua was a gambling-loving swordmaster who left his kingdom to go on a journey, but eventually came back to take over from the assassinated Queen Ishmaire. Queen Natasha was a kind priest of Grado, before meeting Joshua and turning him to help Eirika.

From the north-eastern country of Rausten comes the Divine Empress L’Arachel, her title an artefact of times past, but she insisted on keeping it. L’Arachel was always known for being a bit… touched in the head, but when the going got tough, she was one of the first to get going.

From the north-western country of Frelia comes King Innes. Frelia was a country of great fortune, as it had largely escaped the chaos of war, especially in the Demon King’s War. Innes was as steadfast as his country, a trait that had both helped and hurt Eirika, but he was a respected sniper regardless, and Eirika liked him. Seth respected him, but didn’t like him as much.

Finally, the central country of Renais was ruled over by King Ephraim and Queen Tana. Ephraim was Eirika’s older brother, and the rule of Renais was intended to be for both siblings. However, Ephraim respected Eirika’s decision to head to Grado, and frequently accepted visits from her. Tana was once the princess of Frelia, but she was the lucky girl to snag Ephraim’s heart, and accompanied him with an iron resolve.

Elena was wondering just how much like the average Circlet meeting these royals would be.

Eirika and Seth entered the room, and took their seats at the table. The table was conveniently designed for ten (Eirika said that was for if Innes and L’Arachel took on spouses), so Elena and Mist could take their seats near Eirika. Everyone else was present already.

“Well, let’s begin this meeting. Eirika, if you’d introduce your friends?” Ephraim asked. Elena got to her feet.

“My name is Dame Elena, of the country of Crimea. This is my aunt, Mist. Crimea is located in a continent called Tellius. Our continent and your continent have never, as far as we know, even existed in the same world until now. However, today we see our two continents meeting, and I know who’s to blame. A Spirit called Pyres, who seeks retribution on our continent for something the Emperor-Regent Tormod did in his younger years. We need to find him, and stop him,” Elena said.

“If it’s a revenge scheme, then why not just let him get it out of his system?” L’Arachel asked.

“Lady L’Arachel!” Eirika cried out.

“He plans to destroy Tellius completely, and is already responsible for the murders of the people closest to Tormod,” Elena said.

“Ah… my apologies,” L’Arachel stated.

“Do any of you know of any activity that suggests the arrival of Pyres on your lands?” Elena asked.

“Well… now that you mention it, Ewan was looking a little off when he visited Jehanna Hall before we left…” Natasha said.

“And there was a spot of trouble in the Frelia/Renais border…” Innes said.

“If you’re talking about Lute-” Tana started.

“I’ve got an idea… Lute and Ewan both fought once, right?” Elena said.

“They were both fine mages,” Ephraim said.

“That leads right into it. They’re mages! Pyres must be after their Essence… it makes sense!” Elena said.

“No, it doesn’t. Do you really think these two mages would just go along with Pyres? The Spirit was the nastiest thing I’ve ever had the misfortune to meet!” Mist said.

“…Ewan might…” Ephraim said.

“…Trickery… Pyres would’ve tricked them!” Elena said.

“Even if that’s true, what do you suggest we do about it, brave dame?” Innes asked.

“Who’s up for a coin toss? Heads, we help. Tails, we don’t,” Joshua suggested, pulling a coin, and preparing a toss.

“Heads,” L’Arachel called confidently.

“T… nah, heads,” Innes called.

“…Heads, maybe?” Natasha said.

“I refuse to dignify this with a call,” Seth said. He then whispered something into Eirika’s ear. Eirika giggled.

“I’ll take you on that! I’ll take heads, he’ll take tails!” Eirika proclaimed, to Seth’s embarrassment.

“Please heads…” Mist found herself saying. Joshua tossed the coin into the air, and it landed in Ephraim’s palm. Ephraim pocketed it.

“We are not basing a decision as important as this on the outcome of a coin toss!” Ephraim said. Everyone looked between each other.

“…We both lose?” Eirika asked Seth.

“First time I’ve lost a coin call,” L’Arachel remarked.

“Listen to you all! A girl needs Magvel’s support, and here you are, bickering about the outcome of a coin toss! Are we strong rulers with the experience of a war on our shoulders, or are we children?” Tana asked.

“…Can I be both?” L’Arachel asked.

“I don’t know, can you? Besides, you all called heads, so I think that means you want to help this girl after all. Because that’s what we’re going to do!” Tana said.

“Tana…” Ephraim said.

“This girl’s continent is on the brink of ruin, and if this Pyres fellow is as big and bold as she claims he is, Magvel is not going to be far behind. After all, if he summoned us to Tellius, he’s going to return us… and somehow, I don’t see things ending well,” Tana said.

“And I thought you weren’t a good princess. You’re serving Renais well…” Innes said.

“So you’re maybe considering a queen of your own?” L’Arachel asked.

“Oh no…” Ephraim said, slowly sinking underneath the table. Everyone else went for stepping back.

“Possibly. If you’re volunteering, then no thanks,” Innes said.

“That’s not what you said when we were having our special moments,” L’Arachel said.

“You can’t prove those happened,” Innes said.

“Hey, L’Arachel… is it just me, or is your tummy a little… bigger than normal?” Tana asked.

“Thank you sister…” Innes said in an annoyed tone.

“This is your kid, Innes! This time, there’s no way out of marrying me!” L’Arachel said.

“…Tana, you can’t point fingers. Your tummy doesn’t look much better,” Innes said, trying to get the conversation back on his side.

“She’s also married to Ephraim, and already has a daughter. Innes, this is one time you can’t win!” L’Arachel said.

“…Which country are we going to take, then?” Innes asked.

“Why, Rausten, of course! That’s the country Eirika said was better!” L’Arachel said.

“Ephraim said Frelia was better. Don’t call that contest the basis of your judgement,” Innes said.

“Well, you-” L’Arachel started.

“SHUT IT!” Elena yelled. Innes and L’Arachel turned to Elena.

“Girls, girls, you’re both very pretty. But now isn’t the time to argue about whose country is better, how you’re going to get married, or who had whose babies. That last one, I really didn’t need to hear. So, are you done?” Elena asked.

“How was it?” Livia asked Elena, as everyone exited the meeting room.

“…We might want to tone back the Circlet’s arguing…” Elena said.

“Also, they’re helping us,” Mist said. This was met by cheers. Ephraim appeared behind Elena, and grabbed her shoulder. A blush shot up Elena’s cheeks, as Ephraim looked across the Tellius group.

“We have decided upon the team layout. The Circlet of Tellius, as I hear it’s called, will accompany me, Tana, Eirika, Seth and Innes to the Frelia/Renais border and Lute. The retinue, however, will accompany Joshua, Natasha and L’Arachel to Ewan in Jehanna. There, they will meet up with at least Ross and Amelia for aid,” Ephraim said.

“Ah…” Aderyn said.

“Elena… you’d take the Circlet into the hands of Einherjar?” Astrid asked.

“Subconsciously, actually. Astrid, will us coming back from this prove to you we can trust Einherjar?” Elena asked.

“…I see… I think. Very well, Elena. I will defer to your judgement,” Astrid said.

“Everyone, get prepared!” Elena said.

The Circlet was the first group to get moving. They marched in the direction of Lute’s home village. Livia, Emilyn and Penelopy could feel the magic emanating from that direction- there was definitely something going on in that direction. While riding, Tana noticed Emilyn looking up nervously at Elena. She nudged her pegasus over in Emilyn’s direction, and hauled Emilyn up onto the pegasus’s back. She flew towards the back of the pack.

“What are you looking at Elena like that for?” Tana asked teasingly.

“Oh… I… well, this is… but I think… I think I like her… I am so jealous of Livia. She gets Elena serving as Commander of the Crimean Royal Knights. Put a pegasus between her legs, and she’d knock Sigrun and Tanith out of the water! I’d want her defending Begnion!” Emilyn said.

“Whoa… uh… I actually had something similar, I think. Ephraim… I had a massive crush on him when I was a girl… but no matter what I did, he’d never notice. He always paid his stupid rivalry with Innes more mind than he did me. But I got through to him in the end… it took a while, but he started appreciating me, and now I’m Queen Renais,” Tana said.

“Wow… but Elena would never abandon Crimea. She’s got too much of her father in her. She’d hate Begnion,” Emilyn said.

“Well… maybe she’s not the problem,” Tana said.

“…I can’t abandon Begnion! It’s like your Renais! Well… it’s also a theocracy, like Rausten…” Emilyn said.

“Either way, it’s important. Hm… well, I’d wait until you found out how she thinks of you,” Tana said.

“She treats me like a sister,” Emilyn said.

“That’s good!” Tana said.

“But she says that’s how the Circlet should be,” Emilyn said.

“…That’s not so good, isn’t it?” Tana asked.

“I… I just don’t know whether to feel OK with this…” Emilyn said.

The villages beside Za’ha woods appeared before the Circlet and the rulers of Western Magvel. Elena stepped forward, and looked around.

“Hm… how curious… I was wondering when this might happen…” a voice said, echoing from several portions of the field at once. Finally, emerging from a pool of water, appeared a small sage. Lute opened her eyes, and looked across at her opposition.

“How piteous… Are you Tormod’s worst? Or the group that he sent as a token force?” Lute asked.

“Tormod… what do you know about my father?” Emilyn asked, stepping forward.

“I know quite a bit, daughter Laguz. I know how he took the power of a Spirit, and discarded it when it no longer suited him. Pyres has helped me attain power I might never have thought possible. In exchange, I would be glad to help him take down Tormod Laguz,” Lute said. She waved her hands, and appearing across the battlefield were a mixed bag of monsters. Lute spread her hands across the ground, and a web of gridlines appeared on the floor. She pushed down, and ten of the tiles Lute had created disappeared into nothingness. She focused, and flicked. The tiles slid across the ground.

“Well… this went bad quickly,” Elena said. She began charging, only for the movement in tiles to send her into a mess of baels. Livia sighed, and charged to help her out. Aderyn and Tana flew about, trying to keep the gargoyles at bay. Everyone else simply prepared for a monster battle, trying their hardest to keep away from moving ground, a task that was easier said than done.

“I hope things go well for you, then,” the kindly storeowner said. Artur thanked her for her time, and left the far village. He looked over at his home village, and the home village of Lute. He sighed, plucking up his courage, before walking. He felt a sharp jolt to the right, and collapsed. He looked around, and noticed the ground underneath his feet shifting. He started looking around.

“Hey… you’re Artur, aren’t you?” Ephraim asked, riding up beside Artur, making sure to stand on the same tile.

“Yeah… Your Highness? What brings you to this neck of the woods?” Artur asked.

“We’re here on behalf of a group of girls from Tellius. Basically, there’s a mess involving powerful Spirits… I don’t understand it for certain, but based on reports Innes and Tana were giving, we think there is something about the Spirits here… has Lute been acting a little odd lately?” Ephraim asked.

“Lute? Yeah, a bit… I have just the thing to help her, though,” Artur said.

“What are the odds?” Ephraim asked.

“Not that good… I say that in the ‘I hope’ sense,” Artur said. Ephraim shot him a glare.

“Well, I didn’t know about any Spirits!” Artur yelled, before rushing across the tiles. He watched their movements, allowing him to use the tiles to get closer. He had a hunch that that might’ve been Lute’s doing, as well.

Artur arrived at the small lake, and Lute turned. She slid the lake underneath her away, and into a small effort Janiyah was pulling against a gang of gwyllgis.

“Hmm? Artur, is that you? It has been some time since I last saw you,” Lute remarked.

“Was it? I suppose there was quite the span. Let me ask you this, Lute. What are you doing?” Artur asked.

“Simple. Someone requested my aid, and I provided it. In exchange for that aid, I have grown more powerful than you could possibly imagine,” Lute said, sliding about the tiles again.

“But at what cost?” Artur asked.

“I'm afraid I don't quite understand that question, Artur. There is no cost. No penalty. Just power,” Lute said.

“And what will you do with this power?” Artur asked.

“Does it matter? If you must know, I plan to use it to protect those I hold dear,” Lute said.

“Really? And in the interim you will literally tear apart the very land you live in, and to what end? You summon monsters to fight innocents, and fill everyone's heart with nothing but loathing for you!” Artur said, looking around. The tiles had changed again- Artur was wondering if Lute was even paying enough attention.

“I see… And do you… feel that way…?” Lute asked.

“What? No! Even now you’re the person I trust above all others!” Artur said.

“Very well, then… Come with me… I think you will find what I can tell you very…. enlightening…” Lute said. Artur stepped back, a little concerned.

“Artur…. Why are you staring at me like that?” Lute asked.

“That mark on your forehead…” Artur said, pointing. Lute brushed her hair out of the way, bringing the brand into greater prominence.

“This? Merely the mark of an… agreement I made, I suppose it is the source of my power,” Lute said.

“Oh Lute… What have you done? Don't you understand? He will use you until you die and then take whatever power you have left!” Artur said.

“…What are you doing to me?” Lute asked.

“I haven't done a thing yet, magical or otherwise,” Artur said.

“This feeling in my chest… I don't like it…” Lute said, clutching at her chest.

“I see…” Artur remarked.

“Where we stand is… hah… very simple. Get on board… or get out of the way,” Lute said.

“I will do neither of those things… Lute, I will bring you back where you belong,” Artur said.

“Then…. you will… die…” Lute said, or more accurately, choked out.

“Let us begin, then, shall we?” Artur asked.

“Why do you insist upon this? I'm superior in both skill and magic. You cannot win this. Please… surrender…” Lute said.

“I cannot, until you awaken from this folly! Let's see how much that pact has enhanced that power of yours. See if that pact can save you!” Artur said.

“Why does every inch of my being detest this… I don't like this at all,” Lute remarked. Artur shot forward a light blast, and Lute began preparing her water magic.

“Ephraim!” Eirika cried out. Ephraim slowed down, and jumped onto Eirika’s tile for a chat. Their horses had to pack close to get it, and the two were pushed together.

“How is this, Eirika?” Ephraim asked.

“…It’s not my first fight since the Demon King’s War… but it’s still sending shivers down my spine,” Eirika said.

“You could sit back, you know. You don’t have to fight with us,” Ephraim said.

“But what if you get overwhelmed? What if just one more sword could save your hide, like it did against the Demon King? Ephraim, I detest fighting. But I will always make sure you make it out of danger in one piece,” Eirika said.

“Eirika… I couldn’t ask for a better sister. You sure you want to stay in Grado?” Ephraim asked.

“I’ve told you countless times, brother. I will not leave Lyon’s country to its destruction, especially after Duessel died. Just because of what the Demon King did, just because of its earthquake problem, does not mean that I will abandon it. You still have Tana, do you not?” Eirika asked. Ephraim turned to Tana, who was running three gargoyles through with a single javelin toss.

“…She’s the better queen… but I will always rather you at my side,” Ephraim said.

“Ephraim, remember what I told you about that?” Eirika asked.

“About what… oh. OH! Don’t worry, Tana and Seth didn’t hear,” Ephraim said.

“No, that’s not… oh, you’re not going to get it. Oblivious as always,” Eirika said, before charging to take out a bonewalker preparing an arrow-shaped demise for Tana.

“What did I do?” Ephraim asked.

“You are much stronger… than…. than I thought…” Lute said, breathing heavily. The pair had just finished a small spar, and needed to take a breather.

“Thank you… That means…. a lot coming… from you…” Artur said, equally winded.

“Why do…. You continue down this path… It will lead you to your destruction!” Lute said.

“Your path will fare you no better! Why? Tell me why you continue to fight for someone else's ambitions!” Artur said.

“I fight to right a wrong! If you would just come with me!” Lute demanded.

“You are being tricked, Lute,” Artur said.

“I think not. And even if I am, I chose this path. I cannot unchoose it… Stop whatever foul curse you have on me before we continue!” Lute said.

“Curse? I know of no such thing!” Artur said.

“You have not struck very many powerful blows… And yet every move I make…. is painful… I don't know why… You must be doing something to me,” Lute said. She pulled back, before launching a mighty Arctonitrus at Artur. Artur looked up in surprise, before dropping to the ground.

“Argh! N-No…. I cannot fall here… I refuse to allow you to follow this path…” Artur said.

“Artur! Stop moving! You'll kill yourself!” Lute said, in a panic.

“Isn't that what you want? ‘Get on board or get out of the way,’ right?” Artur asked.

“Yes… I mean… No! Stop it! Stop moving! Let me help you! I don't care if you will be angry with me later but you're coming with me. Alive,” Lute said, waving her Physic staff. She didn’t care it was a waste. She just wanted Artur alive.

“Why though? Why save me?” Artur asked.

“I don't know… whatever spell you cast compels me to. I feel as though if I don't help you… I will… be lost...” Lute said. A figure appeared behind her, and the Physic staff’s light faded. Lute looked at it with concern.

What are you doing, Aquis? That one’s a powerful enemy unit. Why are you attempting to save him? Pyres asked.

“He is strong. He has potential. I think he will listen to me he could-” Lute said.

Enough! You are to leave him to die. Is that understood? Pyres asked. Lute let out an odd sound.

“Yes…” Lute said nervously.

Good, Pyres said, disappearing from sight.

“Lute?” Artur asked

“I'm here, Artur…. Just rest and try to conserve your strength till the battle is over, then I can fix you,” Lute said.

“I-I don't think so…. You messed me up pretty good there…” Artur said.

“You didn't do so bad yourself… Against my…. superiority…” Lute said.

“Just…. No matter what path you choose… Make it… Your own…” Artur told her. Lute nodded, and began humming a wordless tune. Artur smiled, and fell limp. Lute wiped away some patches of wetness from her eyes.

“Elena, are you doing all right?” Emilyn asked, rushing up to Elena’s tile.

“Just fine. Squishing spiders twice my size… you know, the usual,” Elena remarked, thrusting her sword backwards into a cyclops.

“Right, right… hey, listen, Elena… there’s something I want to tell you…” Emilyn said.

“I’m a little busy… can it wait?” Elena asked, taking out a golem.

“Uh… sure, maybe… I guess it can… it can wait…” Emilyn said.

“Emilyn, I just want to remind you… you don’t have to keep everything bottled up. I’m your friend, and I’ll always be there for you,” Elena said, holding out her hand.

“Always… be there for me…” Emilyn said, taking it. Elena threw her sword into the air, and smiled at Emilyn. She heard a shocked cry, and looked over at Lute. She grabbed her sword out of the falling harpy, and rushed at Lute, leaving Emilyn staring after her… until the tiles faced her with some mogalls.

“Y-You killed him?” Elena asked, looking down at Lute in shock. Lute jumped.

“Yes… I suppose I did…” Lute remarked.

“I can't believe you. He trusted you… And here he is lying dead. Because of you,” Elena said.

“Shut up…. You don't know anything…” Lute said, trembling, emotions overpowering her.

“I don't know anything? All I know is I would never… NEVER stab one of my best friends in the back like you have here!” Elena roared, the Wo Dao at the ready.

“So many different sensations today… This one I recognize. Rage. You will die. Now. I will figure out these feelings later,” Lute said. Elena levelled her sword, and focused. What looked like four other Elenas appeared behind her, all to disappear. One, two, three, four powerful slashes cut the air, and Elena jumped back to her standing position. Lute focused, and created a small triangle of glowing orbs. She pushed her hand forward, and created a large gust of wind. Her Excalibur spell, recited from memory, blasted Elena to the ground.

“That blade…” Lute said, in pain. Elena smiled at having dealt a lot of damage to Lute.

“Hey! You!” Yune cried out, running up beside Elena.

“Hm? Go home, thief… This is no place for you,” Lute said.

“I’d normally be tempted to agree with you… but I know my place. I won't let you hurt my sisters!” Yune said, knife at the ready.

“So be it,” Lute said. She fired an Ignis, causing an explosion in front of her. When the blast cleared, Elena was gone and Yune was covered in wounds.

“How did that effect you so? If such a weak attack hurt you so much… you don't belong on the battlefield, girl,” Lute said. Yune began chuckling.

“No… That attack didn't hurt much… But there’s one thing about the Circlet of Tellius… we look after our own… No matter… the cost…” Yune said, dropping to the ground, exhausted.

“Damn! The girl!” Lute cried out.

“Surprise!” Elena cried out, thrusting the Wo Dao through her spine. Lute dropped to the ground.

“Ah… Ha… I chose this path… I suppose this lead to its… natural conclusion…” Lute said. A red light appeared in her back, and she turned in shock. Elena jumped away from her. Light was being drawn from her body, until she was left a colourless corpse. Elena looked around in shock, only to look up. Pyres was above her, drawing in all the colour from Lute’s body, as well as a tremendous amount of some odd blue substance, similar in appearance to Pyres’s own material.

“Pyres… what are you up to?” Elena asked, her sword pointed to the sky.

I’d love to stay and chat, but this is too much power… I know what I need to do… Yune, when you wake up, you’ll be a lot like your friend there, Pyres said, before vanishing.

“Be like me… how?” Elena asked, turning. In a glow of light, the tiles returned to their natural formation, with Yune close to Livia for healing. Elena was standing beside Lute’s colourless remains, clueless.

Elena shook herself out of her reverie, to notice everyone had finished up the monsters Lute had left. From Livia’s bemused expression, Elena had to guess either she had to bail her out, or she had been swording monsters subconsciously. She’d probably have to ask later. She went to join the group to set off to Jehanna, only for Yune to come running up to her.

“Oh, Elena… I was searching the corpses,” Yune said.

“Yune?” Elena said.

“Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s very impolite, and such, but you know me…” Yune said.

“…What is it?” Elena sighed.

“I found this on Artur,” Yune said, holding out a ring.

“A ring, Yune? Wait… this is a guiding ring! Wait… You don't think?” Elena asked.

“I do…” Yune said meaningfully.

“Oh my goddess, Artur… well, better get this to Emilyn,” Elena said.

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Chapter 8x: The Fire Emblem

Ike and the soldiers of Crimea have been mourning the passing of Mia and Elincia. The loss hits Ike the hardest, as he found his worst fears realised: the two girls dying while he was elsewhere. Empathy with Mist fuels his energy. Ike dwells on Marth and the other Deadlords, the ones who took his family away. His anger at them is paused only by the thought of the one who saved him.

Amongst his dwelling comes a shocking report from Daein. Jill comes to alert Ike and the Knights of Crimea that Nevassa has been compromised, and it is being overrun by a knight with blue hair. Ike realises the very real danger to Micaiah and the Fire Emblem she bears, and mobilises Crimea to come to Daein’s aid.

Ike led the charge on Nevassa, followed mostly by the paladins. Those not as adapted to horse-riding lagged slightly, while Marcia and Jill remained in the skies. Their relatively slow pace was still keeping up with Ike.

“Marcia… I have to ask… where are Mist and Rolf?” Jill asked, fiddling with her axe.

“They’re with the Circlet. They were going to the aid of Sienne, but we haven’t heard back from them in a while,” Marcia said.

“…They’re in trouble… and here we are, going back to Nevassa,” Jill said.

“Jill, this is your home country. I remember you were very proud of it back in the Mad King’s War. And here you are, wanting to abandon it because a girl might be in trouble? Mist is a big girl now, with her own pegasus. Ashnard himself couldn’t have stopped her,” Marcia said.

“I know… but I still worry. Daein means a lot to me… but Mist means so much more. I couldn’t live with myself if I lost her,” Jill said.

“If it means that much to you, after we get to Daein, I’ll come with you to Sienne,” Marcia said.

“You would?” Jill asked.

“Rolf’s with Mist. While Rolf means a lot less to me than Mist does to you, I would like to make sure he’s holding up,” Marcia said. Jill smiled gratefully, and looked forward. The capital of Nevassa stood before the group. Ike had approached this place before, intending to overthrow the Mad King. Now, he stood to liberate it, returning it to Daein.

Funny how allegiances change.

Ike looked around once he entered the castle. Tauroneo and the Dawn Brigade were off in the distance, fighting a small force of the enemy’s own.

“Jill, Marcia, relieve them!” Ike commanded.

“Not so fast…” someone else said. A man of somewhat regal bearing came into view, followed by two warriors, a swordmistress and a troubadour. Ike identified this man as Leif.

“Renning, take the paladins and go find Micaiah. I’ll handle this rabble,” Ike said.

“Is that so? I am the Prince of Thracia, Leif. I have gone through many hardships to get here today. You’ll be no trouble for me to take down!” Leif said. Ike levelled the Ragnell, and ran forward. Leif raised his own blade, and the two men began their duel. Lucia ran forward to the swordmistress, the mages prepared to battle the warriors, and Nephenee was left with the troubadour.

Marcia and Jill arrived beside the Dawn Brigade, facing the batch of Deadlords. A lord, a bishop, two swordmasters (one male, one female), and a druid.

“…It seems your strength is great, Seliph of Chalphy. But your power is not unlimited. We will stop you,” Tauroneo said.

“I understand you have brought about reinforcements. And yes, it’s a little annoying how we have had to split our forces to deal with you. But do you really think we care? We have faced worse situations, Tauroneo of Daein. Julia?” the lord, Seliph, said. Julia focused, and summoned a dragon of light. Tauroneo jumped back, narrowly avoiding Naga by a hair. Leonardo quickly filled the air around Julia with arrows. The swordmasters hurried forward, but Edward took both on. Nolan cleaved down on the bishop, only for a cover of wind to block the Tarvos. The bishop smirked, and began casting ventus, ignis and tontrius spells of varying levels. Marcia slipped over to Sothe.

“While this batch is distracted, we’ll run to Micaiah,” Marcia said. Sothe nodded knowingly, and jumped on Marcia’s pegasus. Marcia zoomed off before either mage could cast something her way.

Edward’s match against both Ulster and Larcei was tiresome. He had achieved several dodges, but the two swordmasters were equal to his skill, dodging just as frequently. His wrath in battle was seemingly negated by the twins’ awareness, so no help with sudden critical strikes. Larcei raised her blade, and Ulster followed suit. The twins struck twice each, followed by a third blow from Larcei. Edward was knocked to the ground, Caladbolg dropped. Larcei pointed her blade at Edward.

“Dang it… and I was doing so well, too…” Edward said. An arrow appeared in Larcei’s heart, and she turned to dust. Leonardo quickly put one in Ulster’s heart, as well.

“I’d chastise you for recklessness, but I’m more impressed you held out so long,” Leonardo commented.

“Thanks, Leo,” Edward said. He scooped up Caladbolg, and returned the favour by running through Julia, turning her into dust.

Marcia and Sothe met Renning and his paladin in Nevassa’s throne room. The blue haired lord turned to face Renning, followed by his soldiers- three girls, one boy, and all but one of the girls mounted.

“…Reinforcements… Deirdre, I’ll face the Dark Priestess. You hold the fort,” the lord said.

“I’m coming with you,” the three other horse-units said in unison.

“And leave Deirdre alone against these guys?” the leader asked. Each one was cowed, as the lord entered the room behind. Sothe quietly slipped behind him, and the sound of metal on metal quickly appeared.

“Oh my, Sigurd!” one of the girls cried out.

“He’ll be fine, Ethlyn…” the boy told her.

“I know… but he’s my brother, Quan!” Ethyln retorted.

“Guys, enemy?” the other mounted girl said, raising her sword. Titania, Oscar and Kieran quickly came in, picking a horse-unit and beginning the fight. Oscar got Ethlyn the troubadour, Kieran got Quan the paladin, and Titania was fighting tooth and nail against whatever class the other girl had that allowed her to use basically any weapon she wanted. Marcia came up against Deirdre, the druid.

“Why are you here, girl?” Marcia asked, Alondite at the ready.

“I don’t know… I don’t remember much after… actually, my memory’s really spotty… uh… well, the last thing I remember well is that I am undyingly devoted to my husband Sigurd. If you want him dead, you’ll have to go through me!” Deirdre said.

“Suit yourself,” Marcia said, lunging with the Alondite, and using its shockwaves to her advantage. Deirdre started summoning some sort of magic, but the Alondite’s power overwhelmed her quickly.

“Sigurd… I will wait for you… again…” Deirdre said, turning into dust. Marcia turned, and started helping Titania deal with the master dame. Oscar and Kieran looked like they were doing fine against Quan and Ethlyn.

Ike knocked the Blagi sword away from Leif’s grip, and dropped him to the ground. Ike was advancing, a terrifying sight in his eyes.

“Just kill me already,” Leif said, glaring at Ike. Something caused Ike’s mind to hesitate for the briefest of moments, before he pivoted and parried the Blagi sword. Nanna withdrew her blade, and looked at Ike in surprise.

“You’re good… but I’m a lot better with the Blagi blade than my husband. Let’s see how you handle this!” Nanna said, thrusting forward. Ike had to lose some ground to Nanna’s strikes. Ike quickly spun his blade around, the trick stunning Nanna briefly enough for Ike to begin impeding her progress. He did have to admit that Nanna was good… like Leif’s own version of Mist. Nanna cried out, something suddenly startling her. Ike pressed the advantage, driving his sword into Nanna, and sending her into dust. Nephenee approached the pile, and pulled her lance out.

“Nice shot, soldier,” Ike remarked.

“Thanks. That means a lot from you, milord,” Nephenee said.

“Yeah, I’m not going to be much of one after this. Livia will take the crown and I’ll be just another noble… and the only reason I put up with that in the first place was to stay by Ellie’s side,” Ike said.

“Well, I’m no good for you with nobility and such, but we Crimeans will salute you no matter what your title,” Nephenee said.

“Thank you, Nephenee. We’d best rush to Micaiah now,” Ike said. Nephenee nodded, and the pair, plus Lucia, began their march. Soren and Bastian started counting in their heads, wondering where they’d need to aim their siege magic.

“You are no match for me, Tauroneo of Daein!” Seliph said, as the two continued their duel.

“Maybe it is you who is no match for me!” Tauroneo remarked, continuing to use his trusty lance against Seliph’s Tyrfing. Seliph ducked the strike, and sliced across with Tyrfing. Tauroneo allowed it to catch on his armour, before focusing. His resolve was showing, but Seliph’s awareness caught on.

“Wow, whoever’s summoning these soldiers knows what they’re doing…” Tauroneo remarked.

“We were sent by the spirit of righteousness to stop your Dark Priestess!” Seliph said.

“…You do realise she goes by Light Priestess, right?” Tauroneo asked.

“That’s neither here nor there… well, maybe it is here, but no matter. I will make sure that you can’t help the Dark Priestess!” Seliph said.

“Micaiah is depending on us… we won’t let her down,” Tauroneo said. Seliph looked around, to notice the Dawn Brigade had scarpered. It was just Seliph and Tauroneo now.

“Oh… dad’s going to get swarmed,” Seliph said. He hurriedly began rushing towards the throne room.

“This can’t end well,” Tauroneo said, before marching after him.

Ike met up with the paladin forces, who had just got done converting the paladins to dust, and combined effort to break into the throne room. The paladins all gasped in horror, as they saw what was actually going down. Sothe was fighting Sigurd, and losing quite badly. Ike charged, but before he could reach Sigurd, he had managed to land the finishing blow on Sothe. Micaiah hurried forward and used her Sacrifice, dropping in exhaustion to allow Sothe a second wind. Sigurd chuckled, as he approached the limp priestess.

“Perfect,” he remarked, before driving his Tyrfing right into Micaiah. Sothe cried out, but could do little more. Appearing in a flash above Micaiah was a figure made seemingly from liquid fire- Pyres was his name. Pyres turned Micaiah’s body over, and grabbed the Fire Emblem.

Perfect, he said. He let out a breath, and some kind of transcendent water, along with an odd colour palette, entered the Fire Emblem. It began glowing, this time not with the power of chaos, but with Essence. Pyres took the Fire Emblem around his own neck, and turned to Ike.

You are the father of that Elena girl, are you not? Pyres asked.

“Elena… what have you done with her?” Ike asked.

Nothing except beat her within an inch of her life on every encounter. She is, however, currently on another continent, fighting against the Spirit Charmers I have left, Pyres said. Ike roared, and charged. Pyres blasted him backwards with ease.

I’d love to stay and chat, Gawain, but I’ve got bigger fish to fry. How do you like my Deadlords? They’ll keep you company… I hear they’re doing a good job, Pyres said. Ike tried a charge again, but instead of stopping Ike’s attack, Pyres chose to disappear, causing Ike’s attack to strike nothing, and for Ike himself to be left open to Sigurd. Ike managed to get himself ready to counter Sigurd, but it was a close shave. Ragnell and Tyrfing clashed, as Ike began pushing forward and gaining room. Ike was at an advantage, before Seliph entered the room.

“Father!” Seliph cried out. He charged forward, and began helping Sigurd fight Ike. Ike pulled out Urvan, but the extra axe wasn’t too good against two Tyrfings. Several of the observers charged in, but Sigurd and Seliph seemed to dodge their every strike. A bolt of lightning cleaved down, and everyone jumped back, yelping.

“What was that?” Sigurd asked.

“Soren and Bastian!” Lucia exclaimed. A meteor came down, followed by a blizzard. Sigurd seized up.

“Come on, dad! It’s not going to be like Balhalla!” Seliph said. Sigurd looked around in fear, before Ike’s Aether finished him off. Ike turned to Seliph, the duel one on one again.

“Dastardly tactics, to exploit my father’s fear,” Seliph said.

“His fear? Hm. Well, how dastardly is it to corner a defenceless priestess and slaughter her just to get her intrinsically worthless trinket? I mean, I have absolutely no idea why anyone would want the medallion now that Yune doesn’t live in it anymore,” Ike said.

“The Fire Emblem is a sacred object… no matter where it appears, it’s power is mighty… except on our continent, where it’s Velthomer’s Royal Crest… yeah, maybe I should’ve thought this through a little more. But I won’t just let my father’s killer go that easily,” Seliph said.

“…There are more Fire Emblems?” Ike asked.

“So I’m told. There’s apparently one in every world. I don’t know what the other ones are, but the one who told me of this horrid world told me that this one was the cornerstone to his ambition,” Seliph said.

“…Does he hear himself?” Marcia asked. Ike charged forward, and threw his sword into the air. He jumped, and found himself unable to grab the blade. His Aether art had failed him.

“Ike!” Titania cried out. She grabbed Marcia’s lance, and rushed at Seliph. Seliph pulled Tyrfing on Titania, and began clashing. Titania was focused on taking down Seliph: she chose a lance on weapon triangle alone, but she had to admit that she couldn’t wield a lance as well as she could an axe, or even a sword. Instinct was even causing her to use a lance a little improperly. Seliph, on the other hand, was seemingly born with the Tyrfing in hand (considering Deadlord mechanics, that was probably literally true), and was more than making up for his level. Titania was thinking about what she could use to counter Seliph…

Wait a minute… Counter!

Titania reached into her pouch, and pulled out a diamond of Soren’s invention. She put it on her ear, and focused. Seliph struck Titania, and her jewel began glowing. Seliph pushed past Titania’s Counter, and struck.

“Damn,” Titania said. She looked, up, and held up her lance. She lunged forward, pushing Seliph off his horse. Seliph got to his feet, looking at Titania with Tyrfing in hand.

“This can’t go on…” Titania remarked. Another meteor dropped, landing right behind Seliph. Seliph turned about in fear, as a small light surrounded him. He turned to stone, promptly followed by turning into dust.

“…Soren, you come through again!” Titania said.

“But Micaiah’s gone, Pyres has the Fire Emblem…” Ike said, looking about.

“Um, Ike… Jill and I wanted to go and check on Mist and Rolf…” Marcia said.

“The Circlet! Of course! We’ve got to join forces with them!” Ike said.

“Ike… Elena still has much to learn. I can easily defeat her. Do you really think she’s going to be able to help us?” Renning asked.

“It’s our best course of action with our current information. We’ve got to find them!” Ike said.

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Chapter 9: Leeched Dry

Pyres had completely taken over the energy of the anima mage Lute. Lute’s power was enough to literally move mountains, but in the end, she was eventually defeated. Pyres stole her Essence, leaving her a dried, colourless husk. The fear that the same the fate will befall the entire continent Tellius drives the Circlet. They rush to Jehanna to come to the aid of Ewan, hoping that they can stop him before the same fate befalls him.

“So, this is Jehanna?” Astrid asked, looking around the sprawling sands.

“There’s beauty in the sands…” Natasha remarked.

“Anyway, this is where Ewan was last seen,” Joshua said. He looked around at his party.

“…I’m thinking this might not go too well for us. We’ve got a lot of horses, and the only armour knight,” Joshua said. Astrid looked across the group.

“…Does L’Arachel count as mounted or magic?” Astrid asked.

“Do you really think the goddess would give me an imperfection such as that? Of course I can cross the desert no problem!” L’Arachel said. Astrid was looking around the desert.

“Well… I guess we can always pray the Circlet got done quickly. They’d be a huge help,” Astrid said.

“Or Ewan could not fight us. That would help,” Natasha said. Astrid nodded, and the group began their trudge towards Jehanna Hall.

“Ross, Amelia, I don’t get what the big deal is!” Ewan said.

“Ewan, do you really think that you haven’t changed from the boy who wanted to show me his world?” Amelia asked.

“Or the boy who gave me that brainteaser about the rocks and the scales?” Ross asked.

“You’re wrong. There’s nothing about me that’s changed. I am that boy. I’ve just made a promise to take out that Tormad guy…” Ewan said.

“…His name was Tormod, if I remember correctly,” Ross said.

“Ewan, think this one through! What did Tormod ever do to you? Do you really think that just because some weird thing tells you to go fight him, you should? This has ‘trap’ written all over it,” Amelia said.

“Big sister…” Ewan said.

“Ewan, I’m going to ask you this once. What would Saleh say if he saw you now?” Ross asked.

“He’d be proud that I’d mastered magic?” Ewan asked.

“That’s the not the impression I got from him,” Amelia said.

“Big brother… big sister… please, I need you,” Ewan said.

“Ewan, I know we said we’d stick by your side no matter what… But I don’t think we can sit by and watch this,” Ross said.

“…Fine. If that’s how you feel, go. But I’m going to prove to Pyres that I can completely and utterly destroy Tormod Laguz,” Ewan said. Ross and Amelia turned and left Ewan to his designs. Ewan turned and looked out the window, forming a small cyclone vacantly, before brushing it aside.

“I am doing what’s right…” Ewan said.

“Sandstorm!” Astrid cried.

“Wait, what? This isn’t sandstorm season…” Joshua said. He couldn’t deny the incoming sandstorm, but something about it seemed off.

“Less debating, more get in the shelter,” Natasha said, pointing. Everyone hunkered down into one of the many shelters that dotted Jehanna landscape. Joshua and Natasha covered their mouths with a protective mask, while everyone else had to make do with their arms.

The shelter was a small gully built into the mountainside- if it weren’t for Natasha urging them along, Astrid would’ve completely overlooked it as just another part of the landscape. But protection from storms was always welcome, and Astrid was glad for Natasha’s wisdom. She led the small retinue she had, with the cavaliers and Kanvar having trouble, but the small laguz force they had doing well. Joshua and Natasha rushed in, before turning to see L’Arachel watching the sandstorm.

“L’Arachel!” Joshua called out.

“There are people in trouble… I have to help them!” L’Arachel called.

“In the middle of a sandstorm? Are you nuts?” Natasha asked.

“It is my duty as the Divine Empress of Rausten to help those in need!” L’Arachel proclaimed.

“Yeah… nuts,” Natasha said. She walked up, grabbed L’Arachel by the ear, and dragged her and her horse into the gully just before the worst of the sandstorm reached the party.

“What *cough* do you think *hack* you’re doing? *splutter* I am *splut* the Divine Empress *blargh* of Rausten!” L’Arachel said, coughing out sand.

“That tiara ain’t gonna protect you from nature’s worst. I’m Queen of Jehanna, I learn these things quickly,” Natasha remarked.

“Well, I’m going to go find those in need. I’ll be back a hero!” L’Arachel said.

“Good luck with that. Sandstorms are incredibly dangerous and…” Joshua said, before looking up. The sandstorm seemed to have passed over.

“…That wasn’t a normal sandstorm, was it?” Joshua asked, turning to Tormod.

“Ewan? It’s reasonable, I guess…” Tormod said.

“More importantly, that’s the kind of power Spirit Charming provides?” Natasha asked.

“I mean, it wasn’t a real sandstorm, so it’s not that impressive, but…” Tormod said.

“We’re fighting something like that? Oh goddess, this can’t go well,” Natasha said.

“Relax… Ewan needs to understand what he’s doing first. He never struck me as that type,” Joshua said.

“You’d be surprised,” Ross remarked. Everyone looked up, to see L’Arachel standing beside the warrior Ross and the general Amelia.

“…When did you get here?” Astrid asked.

“These two were caught in the sandstorm. Pay attention sometimes, Joshua of Jehanna,” L’Arachel remarked.

“Ewan was always such a nice boy… but then we met up with this Spirit thing called Pyres. He told Ewan that he could have all the power he wanted if he’d kill a guy called Tormod Laguz for him. …Ewan accepted, of course. That’s basically his big flaw. So now he’s running around with the power of a Spirit… Entis, or something,” Amelia said.

“Tormod Laguz?” Tormod asked.

“You know him?” Ross asked.

“I am him!” Tormod said.

“Oh… what did you do to irk Pyres?” Ross asked.

“I made a pact with him in my younger years. I got cold feet during the Divine War, and turned away from him. Now he’s come along and wants to destroy my home continent of Tellius, all because I didn’t want him making a pact with my daughter,” Tormod said. Ross and Amelia looked between each other.

“…That’s what you did? I guess it’s kind of bad…” Amelia said.

“No way, little sis! This ain’t Tormod’s fault! I’m sure he had a really good reason for cutting his ties to Pyres, and even if Tormod was worse than Valter and Riev put together, destroying his home continent is just going too far. Tormod Laguz, we shall help you stop Ewan by any means necessary… even if it does come down to the axe,” Ross said.

“Big brother…” Amelia said.

“Amelia, you don’t have to come with me if you don’t want to. But what Ewan’s doing just ain’t right,” Ross said.

“I know… I’ll come along,” Amelia said.

Astrid led the party through to Jehanna Hall. Ewan was standing outside of it, smiling charmingly. He clapped his hands, and appeared in front of the group.

“Welcome to Jehanna! Well… I guess for you two, King Joshua and Queen Natasha, it’s not much of a welcome, is it? But it’s nice to see you guys,” Ewan said.

“Ewan…” Amelia said.

“Big sister, you’re with this group? Pyres told me Tormod would be here…” Ewan said.

“And why would Tormod being here matter?” Ross asked.

“It’s rather simple, big brother. I’m going to defeat him, and pay back Pyres for all he’s done for me! But… sadly, I ran into a little rough patch. You see, Pyres actually stopped for a visit while you were gone,” Ewan said.

“He did?” Amelia asked.

“He did. He told me that I ought to focus on getting something called Essence. He didn’t explain much about what it was, but he did tell me that there’s a lot of it in the castle around the centre of Magvel,” Ewan said.

“The Stone of Rausten!” L’Arachel cried out. Before she could cast her Terra spell, Ewan had clapped again, vanishing. L’Arachel let out a few words Natasha didn’t realise she even knew, before Ewan reappeared.

“Oh, and I totally forgot, but…” Ewan said, waving his hands around. Monsters began appearing around the desert. Mogalls, gargoyles, harpies… Ewan consciously chose monsters that wouldn’t be affected by desert terrain much. He pointed at the entrance of Jehanna Hall, and created a hero. He pointed to one side, and created a wyvern knight. He waved, and vanished again.

“A fight?” Kalen asked.

“Can we not withdraw?” Wright asked.

“Too risky. They’ll just destroy Jehanna, or flank us. They’ll have no trouble catching up,” Joshua said. He flourished his blade, and began his trek through the desert.

The wyvern knight wasted no time in approaching the party’s starting position. With a loud screech, L’Arachel recognised the figure almost immediately as Valter, the Moonstone. Shuddering at the implications of Ewan summoning such a figure, L’Arachel made sure her Tonitrus tomes were at the ready.

“Ah, yes… Lady L’Arachel, empress of Rausten. Not as elegant as Eirika, but I’m sure she’ll come rushing once she hears you’re in trouble,” Valter said.

“You seem to be under the impression that you’ll be able to defeat me. Completely misguided, of course,” L’Arachel said.

“What are you implying, you… urgh!” Valter said, before charging in with his lance. L’Arachel stepped back lightly, and cast Eltonitrus, striking a wicked thunderbolt slightly to Valter’s left.

“That’s your divine judgement?” Valter asked.

“I don’t get it… how could I miss?” L’Arachel asked. The two shot glares at each other, before they went back to battle.

Astrid was shooting harpies from the air with the sort of precision that took years to master. There was one time she had struck through the wing of a passing gargoyle, and another that the harpy had descended into a mogall. However, her quiver was starting to empty, and she knew she couldn’t last much longer against the opposing forces. She looked up, and noticed a gargoyle approaching her. She nocked an arrow, prepared for the worst, when she saw an odd sort of energy envelop it. She recognised it, vaguely. Ӕther magic. Astrid looked up, and noticed Livia smiling from the back of her horse.

“Livia?” Astrid asked.

“Lute put up a little scrap, but she wasn’t the most active rival,” Elena said, walking up from behind Livia. The Circlet and the Einherjar appeared behind her.

“Charge! We’ve got to get to Ewan!” Elena cried out. The whoosh of Tana and Aderyn’s wings was significantly pronounced, and Janiyah was bounding along, ready to rend. Unfortunately, the rest of the party couldn’t quite make that yell dramatic, although Emilyn and Livia were doing their best.

“Well done, Elena,” Astrid said, giving a small bow of sorts.

“I know. Let me get those gargoyles,” Elena said, before jumping over Astrid and fighting three gargoyles at once. Astrid smiled, before tossing an axe and weakening them for Elena to take out.

“Now was that so hard?” L’Arachel asked. Her Eltonitrus had finally struck Valter. Valter growled, and tossed a spear at L’Arachel, opening a wound in her shoulder. Natasha hurriedly came to her side to heal her, while another spear became entangled in Valter’s hair.

“What the…” Valter asked, to turn and see Tana, a sword in one hand, a javelin in the other, and an expression of deep focus on her face.

“You’re the… you’re the Frelian princess!” Valter exclaimed.

“Was. Now I’m the Queen of Renais,” Tana said.

“…Now I’m confused… you’re not Eirika, are you?” Valter asked. Tana flung her javelin at him, knocking him off his wyvern. She pulled out her third javelin, and flew up in front of Valter.

“Not everything’s about Eirika, you know,” Tana said. She drove her sword into Valter, and pushed him back. Both him and his wyvern vanished into dust, to be mixed in with the sand later on.

“Excellent work, Tana. Ephraim’s been teaching you well,” L’Arachel said.

“…That part was more Syrene than Ephraim,” Tana said.

“Oh? Oh right, Ephraim didn’t teach you much fighting, did he?” L’Arachel asked. Tana opened her mouth, before closing and thinking.

“I’m not going to dignify that with an answer,” Tana eventually said.

“Hah… finally…” Joshua remarked. He had finally made it, after non-stop trudging, to Jehanna Hall.

“Not that easy to traverse the sands, is it?” the hero standing on Jehanna Hall said. Joshua took a look- it was his old mercenary pal, Caellach.

“Caellach… but I thought I killed you. You know, my wrath basically decided you didn’t have a Hoplon Guard? Does that ring any bells?” Joshua asked.

“…Vaguely. It’s all a blur after you turned into five people. What happened to them, by the way?” Caellach said.

“…Caellach, we fought together for years. Do you seriously not recognise my critical strike?” Joshua asked.

“I don’t recognise much. A simple man, they call me. I dunno why I’m here, but judging by the fact I saw that freak Valter and none of these monsters are attacking me, I’m guessing we’re fighting again?” Caellach asked.

“…I suppose so…” Joshua said.

“…Why not?” Caellach asked, swinging his axe. Joshua dodged to one side, and focused. He felt himself splitting into five, and recognised the time to strike. He charged forward, and slashed at Caellach’s chest. Little more than a tiny scar was left.

“Looks like my Hoplon Guard’s working this time,” Caellach said. Joshua growled, before coming forward with sword strikes. Caellach started blocking the blows, realising that Joshua wasn’t going to let his handicap stop him. Caellach vaguely wondered how he was going to stop Joshua, for every time he readied his axe, he found himself having to lose his advantage to blocking Joshua’s sword strikes. One of them would have to give eventually… it was a matter of his own life or Joshua’s sword.

“Ooh, I haven’t seen nothing like this thingy,” Yune said, smiling as she looked at her treasure. She studied the shield a little. Caellach looked up, and quickly realised what she had stolen.

The Hoplon Guard.

Joshua turned, and noticed her too. He smirked, and slashed. He had intended for this blow to be a distraction, but Caellach had taken enough damage such that this blow knocked him down into the ground, and into dust. Joshua turned to Yune.

“How did you steal that?” Joshua asked.

“Very carefully,” Yune remarked, inspecting Joshua’s sword. Joshua realised she had nicked it, and grabbed it back.

“You were quick,” Astrid remarked, once the monsters were routed and the group converged.

“Lute had a friend to fight, and that cut down her lethality,” Elena said.

“That, and for her flourishing, she really wasn’t that smart,” Yune added.

“Hm…” Ross said, thinking to himself.

“We cannot remain here! Ewan is after the Sacred Stone!” L’Arachel proclaimed.

“Oh, right!” Natasha said.

“What are you talking about, L’Arachel? We put the Sacred Stone behind the seal that needs our bracelets. He’s not going to get it,” Eirika said.

“We should check on it,” Ephraim said.

“Agreed,” Tana said. The units from Magvel turned and bolted, while the units from Tellius (and Ayra) ran just to keep pace.

“No!” Eirika and Ephraim said in unison. The seal on the Sacred Stone was visibly broken, and the Stone itself gone. Ewan had the Sacred Stone…

“This is very not good,” L’Arachel said.

“What exactly could Ewan do with the Sacred Stone?” Elena asked, coming up behind everyone.

“Let’s not consider the possibilities,” Tana said.

“Let’s go to Darkling Woods,” Ephraim said.

“Why?” Elena asked.

“The Black Temple… if Pyres’ goal is to claim magical power, as you’ve suggested, reviving Formortiis before destroying the Stone would be a good move,” Ephraim said.

“Then we go there,” Elena said.

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Chapter 10: Dragon of Darkling

The Sacred Stone of Rausten has been stolen by Ewan. The power of the Spirits has been demonstrated by the young boy. The rulers of Magvel make cornering Ewan and recovering the Sacred Stone before Formortiis can be awoken- and the Stone itself destroyed- their number one concern.

Eirika pushed into her horse, and cantered up to one of the girls leading the Circlet.

“Hey,” Eirika said, waving at the troubadour.

“Oh, hey,” Livia said nervously.

“Listen… I never got your name,” Eirika said.

“I’m Livia. Princess of Crimea,” Livia said.

“Hm… nice to meet you. I’m Eirika,” Eirika said.

“Nice to meet you, lady of Magvel,” Livia said.

“Livia… I want to talk to you. You remind me a lot of me…” Eirika said.

“…Hm, yeah, I suppose we do have some similarities… my older sister is a goddess on the field of battle, much like what I’ve seen of Ephraim, and we were both born princesses of our nations… again, from what I heard out of Kyle and Forde, we have similar nations,” Livia said.

“Really? Elena is a princess?” Eirika asked.

“No. It’s not… it’s complicated,” Livia said.

“How so?” Eirika asked.

“Well… we have the same father. A war hero by the name of Ike Gawain. He had two lovers and no higher education, and that’s how we came about. I’m the daughter of Crimea’s queen, and Elena’s the daughter of a common mercenary. I’ll be the queen of Crimea one day… Elena’ll have nothing to do with it anyway. But the Circlet looks up to her,” Livia said.

“She must command a lot of trust…” Eirika said.

“Yes…” Livia said.

“Well, nice to meet you,” Eirika said.

The group began their approach on Darkling Woods. There were plenty of trees knocked over, and a clear, albeit zig-zagging, path to the Black Temple.

“That was easy… cut through the forest, or follow the path?” Elena asked.

“It’s never this easy…” Mist said, looking around. A circle of darkness appeared in the sky, and shot down upon Ephraim. He jumped back, and looked up.

“Gorgons… Ewan’s stopping at nothing,” L’Arachel said. The usual swarm of monsters swarmed out of the Black Temple. Gwyllgis, maelduins, cyclopes, and more… and in the back was none other than a dracozombie.

“Nothing is right,” Eirika said.

“We’ll take them on, same as always,” Elena remarked. She shot forward, and started duelling with a gwyllgi. Livia smirked, before shooting her Ӕther at a mogall approaching her. Emilyn added her own Ignis, finishing off the Mogall, and everyone began their advance.

“It was nice seeing you again,” Myrrh said, beaming at Saleh as he turned to leave the Darkling Woods. Saleh did not have to make too much progress before he noticed the monsters and the savaged wood.

“Great Dragon? I think we have a bit of a problem here,” Saleh said. Myrrh followed behind Saleh, and looked across the field. The monsters were destroying the forest in order to make it to the figures at the other end of the field.

“Saleh…” Myrrh said.

“I’ll protect you, Great Dragon,” Saleh said.

“Not just that… do I recognise the people the monsters are attacking?” Myrrh asked.

“…We’ll have to go and see,” Saleh said. He spread an Arcglacies across a horde of monsters, using their frozen bodies to sneak past some of the others. Myrrh followed, making sure not to touch the ice on her way.

Eirika and Ephraim were fighting alongside each other, Eirika’s swords and Ephraim’s lances complementing each other surprisingly well. Eirika drove her blade down on a golem, before turning around and slicing at someone behind her. Saleh ducked the blow.

“Hold your fire!” Saleh said. Eirika lowered Sieglinde, and started to shudder.

“It’s all right, Eirika. What brings you here to Darkling Woods?” Saleh asked.

“Well, there’s… a Spirit Charmer here. He plans to take the power of Formortiis and offer it to a Spirit, so that that Spirit may destroy the continent of Tellius,” Eirika said.

“Tellius? Never heard of it,” Saleh said.

“Well… it’s another continent much like ours, where all the countries have different names, places and backstories, and there are people that can turn into animals, and… look, would you like any continent to turn to ash?” Eirika asked.

“You’re right… we best not let that Charmer get away with this,” Saleh said.

“Saleh… people that turn into animals? Does that mean…” Myrrh asked.

“I’ve heard that there are dragon laguz… don’t know for sure if we have any, though,” Eirika said.

“Sister… are you all right with this chaos?” Ephraim asked.

“Of course I’m fine…” Myrrh said. She looked around, before walking about the army.

“Great Dragon…” Saleh said, before hastening after Myrrh.

“…That can’t end well,” Ephraim said.

“For whom?” Eirika asked.

“…Someone,” Ephraim said, turning back to throwing javelins.

Lucita fired arrows, making sure to strike the gorgons in the back. Her archer’s sense, fine-tuned by Rolf, made herself well suited to the task, so she fired.

“Hi,” Myrrh said, waving at Lucita.

“Whoa,” Lucita said, fumbling her arrow and dropping it. She dropped to pick it up, flushing with embarrassment.

“Sorry… where’s the commander of this army?” Myrrh asked.

“The commander? Hm… I don’t know who that might be. Probably Elena,” Lucita said, pointing out Elena.

“She’s at the front lines? So I came all the way back here when I could’ve been helping out?” Myrrh asked.

“Well, you learned who our commander might be. She’s not exactly much of one,” Lucita said.

“…I’m going to go help out,” Myrrh said, turning and leaving. Lucita turned to Rolf, who was sitting over by Mist.

“That wasn’t just me, right?” Lucita asked.

“Sorry, wasn’t paying attention,” Rolf said. Lucita shrugged, and went back to shooting down gorgons.

Kalen took down a small force of deathgoyles, before turning to look up at Elena. She had kicked a mogall in the eye while clashing swords with a wight. Kalen smiled slightly, before turning to face Wright.

“What do you think, Wright? A girl like her and a guy like me?” Kalen asked.

“What? Uh… Kalen, this is a battlefield,” Wright said. He noticed a small gathering of deathgoyles, and blew a note on his horn. He idly wondered if the pegasus knights would arrive from Tellius or Magvel as he turned back to Kalen.

“It’s just… I think she might be the gal for me. She’s tough, and not that feminine. I…” Kalen said.

“Kalen, you get a hold on your feelings before you say anything to her. Like you said, she’s not feminine, so she’s not going to be as sappy about feelings,” Wright said. Kalen turned to look at Elena, who had thrown her sword at a maelduin, jumping across a harpy to retrieve it.

“…I’ve no hope, haven’t I?” Kalen asked.

“Master of the obvious,” Wright said dismissively.

As the advance continued, Myrrh found herself with a clear path to the entrance to the Black Temple. Myrrh quickly approached, only to have a loud crash in front of her. A dracozombie loomed in front of her, cackling in a menacing fashion.

“A dracozombie… this is…” Myrrh said nervously, looking up. She took the time to notice a few subtle curves and points here and there on the skeleton.

“…Father? They have brought you into this mess again?” Myrrh asked. The dracozombie roared, and Myrrh bowed her head.

“I’m sorry, Father… but I must do this again,” Myrrh said. She transformed into her dragon form, and the two launched their respective breaths at each other. The blows passed through each other, dealing quite a bit of damage, and Myrrh had to revert to take a break. Morva fired another breath, sending Myrrh back. Morva roared in triumph, only for another jet of breath to strike it.

“Hm?” Myrrh asked, looking around. She eventually found a white dragon standing by her side.

“You… you saved me?” Myrrh asked. The white dragon fired its breath again, causing Morva to start shaking. The dragon walked up, and collided with the skeleton, causing it to tumble into dust. The white dragon turned, and looked over Myrrh.

“Thank you… are you with the Tellius people? Are you a human that can turn into an animal?” Myrrh asked. The white dragon offered a smile, before reverting into base form. Lucita was still smiling.

“Lucita… you can turn into a dragon? I knew it, I knew it, this is… this is exciting,” Myrrh said.

“I suppose it might be, dragon. Fair warning, though- most laguz don’t like being called human. Well… it’s a long story, but we’re not even ‘human’ at all,” Lucita said.

“Oh… I’m sorry… what do I call you, then?” Myrrh asked.

“The proper term for someone who can turn into beast, bird or dragon is ‘laguz’. But you can just call me Lucita. My friends used to call me Sheeta, but then Mist named her daughter after me, so that name’s out for this century…” Lucita said.

“Is Sheeta here?” Myrrh asked.

“The wyvern rider,” Lucita said, pointing Sheeta out. Myrrh groaned, before coming in for a hug with Lucita.

“Is that true?” Wright asked the three pegasus knights, in response to their news.

“Yes, Sir Wright,” the lead pegasus knight said.

“Fine… I’ll tell them,” Wright said. The pegasus knights left, leaving behind a whip. Wright turned to Elena and Livia.

“…What happened?” Elena asked.

“Well… it appears that Dame Mia and Queen Elincia have been killed by Pyres’s forces,” Wright said.

“What?” Elena asked.

“No… how can this be?” Livia asked.

“Sir Ike is organising a force to help take him down on Tellius. According to the pegasus knights, he is en route to Nevassa to thwart an attempt on Priestess Micaiah’s life,” Wright said.

“That’s my father…” Elena said.

“Livia… I believe you know what this means?” Wright asked.

“No… if you’re saying it’s my duty to be queen of Crimea, no, I am not ready,” Livia said.

“Livia, for you to not take on the role of queen, or at least queen regent, would be political suicide!” Wright said.

“Wright, our home is being overrun by a vengeful spirit. I think ‘political suicide’ is the least of our concerns,” Livia said.

“Oh… perspective. Well… if you change your mind, the pegasus knights brought this. The Crimean Whip… I think you know what it does,” Wright said.

“Of course,” Livia said. Elena turned to looked up at the Black Temple with trepidation. It loomed overhead, its very presence a monstrosity. She took in a deep breath.

“Is everyone ready?” Elena asked. A chorus of yeses sounded from behind her. She felt two hands on her shoulders, and turned. Ayra and Livia had come up to provide their support.

“Thanks… let’s go,” Elena said. Everyone entered the Black Temple, wondering what they’d find.

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Chapter 11: Might of the Demon King

The Black Temple. This is the place where Lyon succeeded in bringing back Formortiis, the Demon King. Now, Ewan stands here, with a plan of equal, if not greater, consequences upon the world. The group readies themselves for what lies ahead, hoping they may stop Ewan and help Magvel.

“No way… you mean this little runt’s friends with you, too?” Ross asked, looking between Ewan and Amelia.

“…Deserving as he may be of that name, do you mind?” Amelia asked.

“I’m standing right here, you know,” Ewan said.

“You knew I was kidding, right Ewan? But this is fine, little sis. This just means we have a bigger family,” Ross said.

“So… I’m related to you now? Pass,” Ewan said.

“Ewan! Ross… Ewan asked if he could show me all sorts of wonders across Magvel,” Amelia said.

“Hm… wondrous sights… plus, you’ll need someone to keep an eye on ya… I’m in, little sis,” Ross said.

“Ro- I mean, big brother…” Amelia said.

“Is that how we’re talking to each other now? All right then, big brother, big sister, where do we start?” Ewan asked.

“Well, little brother, we start with Rausten, and work our way around. Go from here to Carcino to Frelia to Grado…. In a circle, see?” Ross said.

“Good idea, big brother… Are you ready, Ewan?” Amelia asked.

“Of course! This adventure will make this past war look like Eirika and Ephraim fighting over who gets top bunk!” Ewan said.

“…They never slept in bunks,” Ross said.

“It’s called an expression, big brother,” Ewan said.

“Big brother… big sister…” Ewan said, looking around the Black Temple. From the sounds he was hearing, he could tell that the enemy was fast approaching.

The enemy… Ross and Amelia…

Get moving, Entis! Pyres commanded, glaring at the Sacred Stone on the pedestal.

“Oh, right… but I really don’t see how summoning the Demon King is going to help with Tormod,” Ewan said.

Once he comes, I’ll demonstrate. Is it ready? Pyres asked.

“It’s ready,” Ewan said.

Good… Pyres said.

Elena and her crew entered the Black Temple, the sprawling yet ruinous place where the Demon King’s might was at its strongest. Everyone spread, to see the faint speck of Ewan at the opposite end.

“You have one chance, and once chance only… I am going to defeat you,” Elena said.

Fat chance, dame of the blades. Awaken, Demon King… Awaken, and crush, an odd voice from the opposite end of the room, probably coming from Ewan, said. A dark light appeared in the centre of the room, as shadows began to condense into a shape. As it did so, it began spiralling around, up high. It was spiralling into an aged, bronze medallion in the roof, hovering in a cloud of red energy.

“Pyres!” Elena said.

“That’s mother’s medallion! It’s precious to her… give it back!” Yune said.

Like you’re known for understanding sentiment. This is the Fire Emblem… a powerful object indeed. It once contained a goddess, did it not? Surely the power I need to vanquish Tellius will be but a pittance in comparison to her might? After all, do the legends not say that the destruction of the rest of the world was her temper tantrum? Pyres asked.

“Pyres… I ask you this once… and this is a nice reminder that I have Lethality…” Yune said.

“No you don’t,” Kanvar said.

“Thank you so much for undermining my point. Anyway… Pyres, that Medallion is my mother’s,” Yune said.

Oh… did no one inform you? The Dark Priestess Micaiah is dead, Pyres said.

“Then… I will do the theft I thought impossible… stealing the Fire Emblem,” Yune said. She vanished, only to reappear, battered and bruised, in a far corner.

Pathetic. Wait, Pyres… are you doing what I think you’re doing? Ewan asked.

Yes, Entis. Are you going to stop me? Pyres asked.

You have gone too far this time, Pyres. The others will not turn a blind eye to your plans any more. Not if I have anything to say about it, Entis said.

Really, Entis? Well… I have a proposition for you. Destroy this meddlesome group of kids… do this, and I will restore the power I have taken to its rightful place, Pyres said.

…This will be the only time I cave in to your foolish designs, Pyres, Entis said, generating two threatening tornadoes.

“…We will not be defeated that easily!” Elena commanded.

Entis, instead of summoning monsters, had instead chosen to summon vaguely defined creatures of wind. They moved about with the speed of wind, frequently making opportunities to cut off the progress of the group. The winged members of the group weren’t much luckier- wings were weak to wind. And Entis was using Tonitrus spells to counter Sheeta. Elena, in her fighting with the wind spirits, found herself pushed up against Kalen.

“Uh, Elena…” Kalen said.

“What is it, Kalen?” Elena asked, thrusting through a wind spirit. While it was dispelled, it didn’t carry over to any of the spirits approaching from behind.

“Um… I don’t know how to say this… but I guess there’s no time like the present… Elena… I…” Kalen said.

“Oh, can the drama and cut to details. In case you haven’t noticed, we’re kind of surrounded here,” Elena said.

“I know… which is why I think now’s the time to say this… Elena, I love you,” Kalen said.

“…Aren’t we forward? But I don’t see what your love has to do with maybe actually lancing one or two of these guys?” Elena asked, performing an elaborate manoeuvre to take out two spirits on either side of her.

“Elena… we might not make it out of this situation alive…” Kalen said.

“Whoa, pessimistic, much? That’s no way for a knight to be on a battlefield!” Elena said.

“I know… but before we die… would you marry me?” Kalen asked.

“...You have got to be kidding me. How do we get married now?” Elena asked.

“Well… I hear Myrrh might have the authority to marry us in Darkling Woods… she could-” Kalen said.

“You miss my point! We are not getting married in a war zone!” Elena yelled. She noticed an opening, and rushed over, calling Aderyn to her side. She began making hurried gestures, inviting Aderyn to rush to Yune’s side and recover her. Aderyn nodded.

“…I thought…” Kalen said.

Saleh started an offensive along one wall, followed by Emilyn. Both were using various spells in order to stave off the wind spirits, as well as actually using Ventus magic as a distraction.

“Ah! Teacher, teacher! Over here!” Ewan cried out. Emilyn jumped.

“Ewan? What are you doing here!” Saleh asked, surprised as well.

“Not important right now! I have a riddle for you! I have a mind but no brain, a tail but no body. What am I?” Ewan asked.

“How peculiar… I am afraid I don't have an answer for you, Ewan, what is it?” Saleh asked, genuinely curious.

“A Spirit! Now watch this feat of magic!” Ewan said with joy. He raised his arm, and cast a massive Wind Tail. The south wall of the Black Temple was destroyed, and Saleh turned to see trees uprooted, and somehow, another portion of the forest on fire.

“See that? Wasn’t that amazing?” Ewan asked.

“Ewan… What… did you just… do?” Saleh asked, shivering a little.

“That's just the tippy top of the iceberg of what I can do!” Ewan said in excitement. Saleh reached forward, and grasped Ewan's arm. He pulled it forward, and revealed the mark of the spirit pact.

“Ewan… what did you do to yourself?” Saleh asked, worried.

“I'm so much stronger now! I can-” Ewan started.

“Do what! Destroy entire forests? Slaughter entire ecosystems?” Saleh asked.

“I owe the person who gave me this power! He needs my help to get revenge on those horrible people of Tllisse,” Ewan said, putting emphasis on the wrong part of the word.

“Tellius, Ewan,” Saleh corrected.

“Wha? How could you know that‽” Ewan asked.

“Ewan… There are no shortcuts to power. Nor is there any future in revenge, even on someone else's account!” Saleh asked.

“But-” Ewan said.

“No buts! Ewan, please. Stop this. Now,” Saleh said. Ewan looked on.

“Ewan, are you listening to me?” Saleh asked.

“Yes… I hear you,” Ewan said.

“Ah, good. Come along, then,” Saleh said.

“I'm afraid not… Teacher. Those who are not with me are against me and must be removed,” Ewan said plainly.

“Excuse me?” Saleh said.

“Please, Teacher. I beg you to come with me…” Ewan said.

“Ewan! You are being deceived! If you would just allow me to-” Saleh said.

“No! You are being deceived! I wish I didn't have to do this, Teacher!” Ewan said.

“You could never beat me,” Saleh said, eyes narrowing.

“No… You're right…. Not before… But now?” Ewan said, preparing a dark spell.

“Oh, Ewan… Be prepared. I will hold nothing back to save you from yourself,” Saleh said, his own ice spell coming into the air.

“Glad to hear it…” Ewan said.

“Let's see who triumphs. Years of experience, or youthful arrogance,” Saleh said. Ice and darkness met each other in the air.

“…This looks important to you two, so I’m just gonna…” Emilyn said, gesturing vaguely to Rausten’s Sacred Stone. No one stepped in to do anything, so Emilyn started nervously stepping towards the Stone, preparing to grab it.

“Yune! Sister! Are you all right?” Kanvar asked. Yune stirred, and jumped up. She looked between Aderyn and Kanvar.

“Fine now, brother!” Yune said. She looked at the duel between Ewan and Saleh, as well as Emilyn sneaking around to claim the Sacred Stone.

“Sister… what are you planning?” Kanvar asked.

“The Third Law of Thievery states that every action has an opposite and appropriate reaction. If I nick the Sacred Stone, I can cause a change to how the Demon King is being summoned, and possibly make it so I can actually steal Mother’s Medallion,” Yune said.

“There are laws of thievery?” Kanvar asked.

“Four, to be precise, and I know each one better than you know how to swing that lance,” Yune said.

“Are you insulting my battle prowess?” Kanvar asked.

“Nope. I actually think you’re one of the better lance users I know, though that’s not a particularly impressive sample… Point is, if you took it as a compliment, you’d understand my dedication to thievery,” Yune said.

“If you’re sure…” Kanvar said. Yune started measuring patterns and angles, the movements of the wind spirits and their battles becoming seemingly negligible. Stealing the Sacred Stone, despite the name, seemed not only easy, but trivial

“Where’d she go?” Aderyn asked. Yune was already standing beside the Sacred Stone.

“Thieving,” Kanvar said. Yune took the Sacred Stone from the pedestal, causing the black essence of Formortiis to stop developing. Pyres sucked up the last of the energy, and looked around. He noticed Yune, on the ground and glaring at him, and charged. Yune focused, and brought her arm up to confront Pyres and claim her Mother’s Medallion. She grabbed it, and pulled away from Pyres.

“Ah! Urgh… What was that… He said I was…. unstoppable…” Ewan said, on the ground, defeated.

“He lied. Now pick yourself up. You're going to live to see the consequences of your actions,” Saleh said coolly.

“ARGH! AH! HAH!” Ewan screamed. Saleh jumped back, and looked over at Yune. The Fire Emblem began glowing in Yune’s hand, and started leeching green energy from Ewan’s body, as well as some sort of light.

“Ewan! What's going…” Saleh started, looking between his pupil and the Emblem.

“Ha… ha…. Ha… I don't… Feel right… what's happening… Saleh… Tethys… Where… are you… Everything is so… dark…. I… Ung…” Ewan said, dropping to the ground, colour draining from his body.

“Ewan! No… what happened?” Saleh asked.

“Yune! Snap out of it!” Emilyn cried out, reaching forward to try and pull the Fire Emblem from her hands.

It is too late… Entis’s power, as well as the magic of that Spirit Charmer, are now mine. And I can foresee getting the Essence from these two girls, as well, Pyres said, watching. Livia looked up, and cast an Ӕther spell. The ӕther pushed into the Fire Emblem, coaxing it out of Yune’s grasp and onto the ground. Both girls dropped, hints of colourlessness at their fringes, but otherwise unharmed, though exhausted.

Tut… well, I guess that was the best I could do… Pyres said. The Fire Emblem returned to his possession, and he vanished.

“That spirit…” Saleh said.

“Now what?” Tormod asked.

“…How about everyone comes over to my castle? We’ll rest up there,” L’Arachel said. Everyone nodded in vague agreement, and got ready to go. Elena scooped up Emilyn, and Kanvar Yune.

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Chapter 11x: A Wrong Turn

Ike hastens his party to begin their travel to Sienne, and reunite with his daughters’ team. He believes that only together with the soldiers on her team can Pyres be overthrown. He marches on Sienne, the thought of his daughters driving him on, even at the cost of him having to tell them grim news…

“How far, Marcia?” Jill asked.

“You’d be the better one to ask, Jill… I can’t tell if this is Daein or Begnion. The Daein Revolutionary War did a number on where exactly this border’s supposed to be…” Marcia said. She looked around, fruitlessly searching for a sign dividing the snowy Daein from the moderate Begnion, but finding a seamless border.

“I wonder how this border will work when Yune and Emilyn become Queen and Empress…” Jill said.

“Wait, you mean they’re not already?” Marcia asked. Jill took a moment to think about it.

“…They’ll have to be crowned first, I think. But yeah, they’re next in line and old enough to take the title. Considering the fact that the beorc royals are dropping like flies and the laguz choose on strength, we could actually the Circlet get into power sooner than we’d hoped,” Jill said.

“Enough… did you hear something?” Ike asked. Everyone stopped making sounds, trying to catch the noise on the wind. Marcia recognised it a second ahead of everyone else.

“Pegasus knights!” she called out. Jill and her soared into the air, attempting to identify them. They came back down.

“No alarm. It’s Sigrun and Tanith,” Marcia said. Sigrun and Tanith soared down in front of Ike, and dismounted. Ike followed suit, bowing as per Begnion protocol.

“What brings you here… and where’s the apostle?” Ike asked.

“The apostle does not accompany us everywhere!” Tanith said defensively.

“Tanith. Ike… the apostle is dead,” Sigrun said.

“What?” Ike asked.

“What do you know- that’s all of them,” Jill said out of the corner of her mouth. Marcia whacked her over the head with her lance.

“So… if Sanaki’s gone… what happened to Elena?” Ike asked.

“Tormod is going with her to another continent. He specifically asked we not follow him to the port so that Elena could get a boat without being recognised, but neglected to mention when he would be setting sail,” Tanith said.

“Tanith! Anyway, Sanaki was murdered by Pyres. That’s Tormod’s story, but the way everyone started avoiding looking at everyone else suggests that there was foul play at work,” Sigrun said.

“Pyres… he’s got a lot to answer for,” Ike said, clenching his fist. He quickly unclenched it, realising (uncomfortably) that now he had no directive.

“Oh, thank goodness you’re still here! I was wondering if Janaff and Ulki still had it in them!” a familiar voice called. Ike turned, as did everyone else, to see a fair-skinned blonde-haired girl crash through the brushes. Her white wings were all that marked her as a heron royal, as her traditional white robes had since been replaced with a white shawl, leaving her arms, legs and belly exposed. Her arms and legs were adorned in bracelets, and a thin veil connected her wrists.

“Leanne?” Ike asked.

“No, Penelopy. Of course it’s me!” Leanne said. Ike chuckled softly. Leanne had learned modern tongue, and he actually found Leanne’s attitude amusing. Many laguz were quick to assure him that Leanne had mellowed somewhat since the Great Wars, piquing Ike’s curiosity.

“What brings you here?” Ike asked.

“Naesala, Tibarn and Caineghis are going up against a powerful being. Gavina suggested getting reinforcements, so Janaff and Ulki told me where to go to find you,” Leanne said.

“Where are they?” Ike asked.

“Goldoa. The Spirit is fighting the royals, but I didn’t detect his power patterns all that often: I think the Spirit is elsewhere and distracting the kings,” Leanne said. Ike turned.

“Pyres,” he said simply.

“Ah, Pyres, that’s the one. Crafty little bugger, that one,” Leanne said.

“We’ve gotta get to Goldoa… that has to be it. We go to Goldoa, and then Pyres will be there eventually… and then we strike!” Ike said.

“That’s a good plan, Ike. I’ll come with you. You’ll need a heron’s powers, would you not?” Leanne asked.

“…Well, we’re going to where you’re going to anyway,” Ike said. He began marching, and everyone followed him.

Ike gasped in horror. A small force of soldiers was attacking a merchant convoy- the same merchant convoy Ike had met twice prior. Ilyana was alongside them, fighting off the swarms with her thunder magic, but even she wasn’t infallible. Behind her was a shadow, darting to foe to foe and driving a dagger through them. Ike rushed forward, and everyone added their might to the attack. The forces were quick to retreat, and Ike looked up at Ilyana. Now that the fight was over, the shadow appeared beside Ilyana. A red-headed girl, looking much like Jill, smirking with a finger to her mouth.

“Who’s she?” Ike asked immediately, knowing at least her name- Anna.

“How do you not know who I am? The name’s Anna. I’ve done many things in my time- pegasus riding, merchant-being, and now, I’m thieving and assassinating all stealth-like!” Anna said.

“…This told me nothing I didn’t already know,” Ike said.

“I know all ‘bout you. King Ike Gawain the First, born to the Daein Horseman Greil and the Daein lass Elena, husband to both Dame Mia Catana and Queen Elincia Crimea, and father of Dame Elena Gawain and Princess Livia Crimea. Brother to Mist Gawain. Did I miss anyone?” Anna asked. Ike stepped back, shocked.

“And I thought just knowing someone’s name was odd,” Ike said.

“That. I don’t have any talent like that. I just brush up on my lore whenever I go visiting a new place. It wasn’t that hard to find information on you, Ike, you hero. This chick, on the other hand… all I got was her name, her class, her hunger, and the fact she killed a dragon with a knife,” Anna said.

“Twice,” Ilyana said.

“So who were those you were fighting?” Ike asked.

“Oh, them? …I actually wouldn’t have a clue. I guess I could ask my sister Anna, or maybe my cousin Anna, or even my mother Anna…” Anna said.

“Well, you’re no real help,” Ike said.

“We’ll see who’s a real help later. Killing time starts now,” Anna said.

Ike moved forward, cautiously. He didn’t know who to expect, and not knowing was a step towards catastrophe. He looked up, down, and around.

Look at this… is this the rabble ol’ Pyres wanted us to find, Rakurai? a cold voice asked.

Looks it, Glacius… so, prepared to strike? a swift one responded.

“Who’s there? Stand and be recognised!” Ike commanded. Two orbs appeared in the sky, and spiralled down in front of Ike, before taking on humanoid shapes. Despite this, they still looked like blobs more than humans.

The name’s Rakurai, Spirit of Thunder! Coming down like lightning! the yellow spirit said.

And I’m Glacius, the Spirit of Ice. Where is the Tormod Laguz fellow Pyres wanted us to find? the blue spirit said.

“Tormod isn’t here… but if you’re Spirits, we will take you down. It is our job to stop Pyres before he destroys Tellius,” Ike said.

Destroys Tellius? Sounds a little harsh, but who are we to question a Great Spirit? Rakurai asked.

Great Spirits, if we can get this kill! Glacius said.

“Not on your eternal life,” Ike said, levelling Ragnell. Rakurai and Glacies focused, before dividing into several soldiers of varying classes. Ike looked forward, facing a Glacius with a sword and a shield. The sword seemed to shimmer oddly, even for one of the Spirit’s swords. Ike’s army scattered, leaving Ike to face this odd Glacius alone. The Glacius charged, and Ike parried its blow. He felt an odd surge course through his body, and pulled back. Glacius’s sword… he had to fight without locking blades with it.

Soren was rushing around, looking for some way to identify the main body of these Spirit forms. He hypothesised that one existed, and defeating it would cause the remaining forms to disappear, or at least dramatically weaken. He was reading quite a bit, trying to find some kind of spell that would potentially draw the correct foe to him.

So what’s your job, bookworm? Rakurai’s voice said. Soren’s mutterings must’ve worked.

“Tactician. I know who you are. And if I can defeat you, we’ll be sitting pretty!” Soren said.

Sitting pretty? I guess some of you might… Rakurai said, before raising his staff.

“That was an expression. This is also an expression,” Soren said, before throwing his tome forward. It fell far short of Rakurai, being closer to Soren. Before Rakurai had a chance to laugh, Soren had spread his arms, and began chanting ominously. Gales of darkness and wind alike began blowing through the trees, rushing towards Rakurai with incredible speed. Rakurai began waving her staff, stopping each blast coming his way with a Risen soldier’s body. Soren waved his arms, pushing aside the Risen as they came, but it was quickly becoming a round of endurance. And one of them clearly had more Essence to use. Soren let out a surprised moan as this realisation hit, and dropped to the ground.

“Soren! All your eggs in one basket, huh?” Titania asked.

“…I guess I was excited about taking out the head,” Soren said sheepishly.

The head? Rakurai’s voice asked. Soren looked around, as those two words repeated themselves. Several more Rakurais, some with staves, some with spears, and some weird ghouls, surrounded Soren and Titania.

“That wasn’t the head…” Soren said nervously.

Ike was pushed to the ground, Glacius jumping on him, brandishing his odd blade. Ike growled, and prepared to swing Ragnell. A feather appeared in Glacius’s chest, precluding any further combat.

“Thanks…” Ike said nervously.

“I would rather Crimea not be left in the hands of your daughters at this precise moment…” Renning said.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Ike said, eyes crossed.

“Talk later!” Renning said, pulling out his bow again. Ike turned, and noticed four figures. One with a massive sword, one with twin crossbows, one with wings, and one that looked surprisingly ordinary amongst his companions. None of them had arrows in their chests. At least, until Renning instantly shot Wings out of the sky.

“When did this happen?” Ike asked. Big-Sword and Small-Sword charged and swung at the same time. Ike parried Big-Sword with Ragnell, taking Small-Sword’s blow to ready Urvan. Crossbows was preparing to fire, but Renning had several arrows loosed, cutting at least one of Crossbows’s drawstrings. Ike couldn’t spare another glance for Crossbows, focusing on Big-Sword and Small-Sword. He closed his eyes in thought, before slicing both Ragnell and Urvan in Small-Sword’s direction, leaving just him and Big-Sword. Big-Sword focused, and transformed, his sword becoming bigger, but the body holding it grew bigger, too- such that the new sword was a one-handed blade, or at least Big-Sword had Ike-level strength and co-ordination.

“This is…” Ike said nervously. Big-Sword levelled his sword Ike’s way. Ike returned it, suddenly a lot more terrified.

And these were Minor Spirits.

Leanne looked around, checking for weak links in the chain. Of course, Ike was in trouble, but with crossbow bolts and Renning’s arrows flying around (as well as those swords), she’d probably be shredded to bits before she could finish her song. Her eyes drifted over Soren and Titania, who were also in a situation where she’d not get far, and lit up on a golden figure… staring right at her.

“Who are you?” Leanne asked.

I’m Rakurai… the REAL one. I think. You look like you’re here more for high morale… your death will be a greater blow to your group than my blows! Rakurai said.

“Over my dead body,” Leanne said confidently, before beginning her song. She ignored her status-inducing songs, like sleep, paralysis and poison, instead heading directly for her damaging attacks. She summoned arcane symbols on the ground that were damaging to the touch, she sent bolts of power flying from her body, she threw around objects to bounce off each other… Leanne didn’t care if her attacks were hitting or not. She just wanted to crowd Rakurai with attacks. She felt a tapping on her shoulder, and turned around. Rakurai had appeared behind her, and was casting a thunder spell.

“On a scale from ‘irritating’ to ‘catastrophic’… I’d rate this as ‘mildly annoying’,” Leanne said, starting to sing, before her voice failed her.

“What have you done?” Leanne asked, somewhat genuinely curious. Only her singing voice was muted.

I have disarmed you as if I had disarmed any other, Rakurai said. The thunder charge was prepared, and Rakurai let it loose. Leanne felt someone shove her, and she dropped to the ground. She turned, and watched Ilyana take the thunder into her body. Ilyana gasped, biting her lip, before discharging the electricity forward. Rakurai took the blow to the chest, and was pushed back.

Wait a minute what the heck? Rakurai asked.

“I can transmute lightning into vital nutrients, satiating my hunger and causing massive devastation to my enemies!” Ilyana said.

…What? Rakurai said.

“…I… don’t know…” Ilyana responded, before firing several spells in quick succession. A massive cyclone of winds, waves of flame, impressive bolts of lightning, torrents of water, sheets of ice, tremors of earth… Whatever it was Ilyana was doing with that lightning, she was definitely making sure Rakurai was on the receiving end of a massive strike. Rakurai looked up, to see Ilyana in front of her. She let out a snarl, before she found a dagger shoved into her. Rakurai looked down at her chest, feeling electricity pouring from her into Ilyana.

I’ll remember this… I’ll strike back… Rakurai said, vanishing, as did all other Rakurai figures. Soren and Titania looked up, and realised Ilyana had defeated Rakurai. Ilyana turned to Soren, brandishing her knife. Electricity was still coursing through it, but only momentarily.

“Still think knives were a dumb idea?” Ilyana asked, smirking.

“You have killed two dragons with that, one of them being Deghinsea himself, and now a Spirit… a foe whom, might I add, using knives had a clear advantage over a magical flurry? I apologise for calling it an incredibly stupidly dumb move,” Soren said.

“After all, it saved us,” Titania said.

“Right… but Ike’s still in danger, you three!” Leanne said. Titania, Soren and Ilyana blinked, before rushing forward at top speed.

Ike was desperately holding out against Glacius and his Big-Sword form. He didn’t know nor care how Wings, Crossbows and Small-Sword were doing, whether Renning or himself had finished them off at some point. Big-Sword opened his mouth, and let out a breath of ice. Ike felt the scars on his body sting anew. He was out of ideas. He could only hope that someone else could lend a hand.

The sudden rise in temperature around him seemed to indicate that.

Ike looked up, to see Soren and Ilyana holding their hands forward, chanting and unleashing a small heat wave in Glacius’s direction. Titania dragged him away, and Soren and Ilyana began advancing. Glacius shuddered against the heat, parts of his form beginning to melt.

No… this can’t be happening… Glacius said.

“Wait… so if Glacius is weak to fire… then Pyres must be weak to water!” Ike said, looking up at Glacius.

You wish… he’s a Great Spirit. Great Spirits aren’t this weak… they will not succumb to such tactics. If you intend on fighting Pyres, you will do so using your own strength, Glacius said. He returned to his orb form, and disappeared, along with the yellow orb of Rakurai. Soren and Ilyana turned to Ike, beginning to heal his wounds.

“Well… that was painful,” Ike said.

“Definitely. Though if there’s one thing I don’t understand… Ilyana, when did you learn you could take in electric blasts?” Soren asked.

“About five minutes ago, why?” Ilyana asked.

“About five minutes… so you took a bolt of lightning directly from a Spirit and didn’t know you could withstand that magic?” Soren asked.

“I do lots of crazy things. Most of which work. Surprised?” Ilyana said. Soren shook his head, letting the matter drop for the moment. There were laws of nature being violated today. No doubt there would be more to violate to defeat Pyres…

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Chapter 12: Adventure Continues

Dawn rises on a different continent of Magvel. Between Lute and Ewan, the people of Magvel have a lot to consider. Considering this was L’Arachel’s goal as she wandered the battlements of Castle Rausten. However, her musings were interrupted by a strange sight. Off the coast of Rausten, not in the direction of Tellius, was the tell-tale signs of an approaching ship. L’Arachel awakens everyone from a nice slumber, and urges them to follow her to Rausten’s port, so that they may learn the identity of this ship.

L’Arachel rode her horse ahead of the pack, while everyone else was slumping in their saddles. L’Arachel had really woken them all and put them on the road far too early.

“Tut, tut, disciples. The early bird gets the worm, after all,” L’Arachel said. Elena made to retort, but she quickly fell in her saddle, and Emilyn had to keep her from falling. Considering their naps were malicious, Yune and Emilyn were taking the early rise well. Probably all the contemplating everyone did overnight.

“Do you understand what happens if there’s an invading army on that boat?” Emilyn asked, her arm around Elena’s shoulder.

“We have me, do we not?” L’Arachel said. Emilyn shuddered.

“Are you sure this plan’s a good one?” the woman asked, looking at the far shore.

“Of course I’m not. We just need to find some way to help convince those fellows what’s what,” the man said.

“But Roy… what if this land’s outright hostile? This plan isn’t that smart…” the woman said.

“Lily… if this land is that hostile, we can easily handle them. And then we’ll go back to Lycia and think of a new plan,” Roy said.

“I don’t know… Roy, we don’t need to worry about Lycia. All I need is you… if those two get Lycia, I’ll be fine as long as we’re not separated,” Lily said.

“Lily… everything will work out. I promise, and if that means I stay by your side, well, that just makes things easier for me,” Roy said.

“Roy…” Lily said.

“Stand at the ready,” L’Arachel said. Elena looked up in confusion, to notice a small horde of monsters assembled at the port.

“Just this once, can there not be a dramatic battle?” Elena asked, getting off her horse, and approaching the wights to begin clashing blades, her exhaustion wearing away quickly. The more combat-oriented members of the party followed shortly behind, with the more relaxed members and the support members still being a bit drowsy. This force of monsters was smaller than any other batch, but fatigue was doing the rest of the work. The ship was also approaching, and no one was sure who it supported. Livia vaguely gestured in its general direction, before falling into her saddle.

“…Fine,” Aderyn said, turning to go investigate the ship. Zard noticed her go, jolted awake, and quickly began following her.


Roy and Lily looked over the ship, to notice that they had crashed into the dock. They looked up, to see a variety of monsters fighting against a variety of humans.

“That’s what happens when you don’t pay attention,” Roy remarked. He heard a shriek, and looked up. A rather cute girl with a massive pair of wings loomed over them.

“That, too,” Lily said.

“My name is Aderyn, warrior princess of the bird tribes. State your identity- be you friend or foe?” Aderyn asked.

“…My name is Roy, and this is my wife, Lilina. We are the King and Queen of Lycia. There seems to be a fight between humans and monsters here… I guess we’ll take the side of the humans,” Roy said, drawing his sword and setting it alight. Aderyn shrieked, and turned into her hawk form. She expertly dodged both Roy’s Sealed Strike and Lilina’s Elventus.

“I’m on the side of the beorc! Beorc and laguz, fighting together!” Aderyn said.

“Beorc? What’s a beorc?” Roy asked.

“Aderyn… sorry about her,” Zard said, flying up beside Aderyn. Roy turned his blade to Zard, but Zard held up his hand.

“Can I please get an explanation?” Roy asked.

“We are a race of people known as laguz- we can transform at will,” Zard said.

“Oh, like the manakete?” Lilina asked.

“…Yeah, sure, why not? Beorc are people who cannot transform. Since the two races only meet in Tellius, Aderyn really should’ve known not to use them like that… don’t use the term human again, to be on the safe side,” Zard said.

“Tellius?” Roy asked. Zard turned, to dodge a javelin from a wight.

“More important things,” Zard and Lilina said in unison, before getting off the boat and adding their might to the battle.

Elena chopped down two mogalls in one expert slice, and ran her sword backwards into a deathgoyle. She blinked once or twice, clearing some fatigue from her eye, before she heard a call.

“Huh?” Elena asked, somewhat tiredly.

“Would you like to step this way, little lady?” the man calling asked. Elena cocked her head slightly.

“What are you…” Elena asked.

“Oh… welcome to the arena! A high-stakes, winner takes all battle between badasses! You fight against any foe you get, and fight until one of you dies! Would you like to wager… oh, let’s say 740 gold? For the lady’s first time, of course,” the man said.

“Oh… uh, sure, why not?” Elena asked. She reached into her purse, and put 740 gold on the table in front of the man.

“Lesse who we got… we have a hero with a steel blade. Would you like to fight?” the man asked.

“I accept,” Elena said.

“All righty, then. Remember, call ‘B’ to escape a losing fight with your life, but you will lose your wager,” the man said. Elena nodded, as the man led her into the arena.

L’Arachel, meanwhile, had blundered into another, more pertinent encounter. An emaciated man was directing monsters about, cackling softly all the while.

“Aha! Riev, Blood Beryl of Grado! I should’ve known someone of your foul visage would mar this beautiful country with these feeble monstrosities,” L’Arachel said.

“Is that so? Princess L’Arachel… how I loathe you… you destroyed my life… twice…” Riev said.

“Well, no. I killed you at Rausten Court, then you came back, and then Myrrh killed you in Darkling Woods. When was the second time?” L’Arachel asked.

“First time… long before I became the Blood Beryl… I was a faithful priest serving your uncle, Pontifex Mansel. Now does the memory flow?” Riev asked.

“…I vaguely remember… a star, of some kind? And then there was yelling… and a hug! I liked that hug!” L’Arachel remarked.

“Foolish child… do you not understand the magnitude of your actions? You found me simply practicing my religion, and Pontifex Mansel found that worth excommunicating me from Rausten’s court, and exiling me to boot. I have despised the very air both you and your uncle breathe. And now… I finally have the chance to exact my revenge on you, Princess L’Arachel,” Riev said.

“True. You do have the chance. You’re about as likely as King Joshua is to win a game of chance against me. Also, I prefer ‘Divine Empress’ L’Arachel,” L’Arachel said.

“…Spoilt brat!” Riev said. L’Arachel had prepared an Arctonitrus and an Arcglacies spell, both striking Riev as he attempted to dodge. Riev focused, and created the light of Aura. He pointed forward, and the rings shot forward into L’Arachel. L’Arachel stepped back lightly, and grabbed one of the rings on her staff. She spun it around, and sent it flying into a pair of harpies. L’Arachel focused, and pointed skyward. Any clouds in the sky dissipated, and a bright light shone upon Riev. L’Arachel pointed at Riev, and four columns of light descended on the earth. When they faded, Riev was dropped to the ground. L’Arachel rode up to him, and looked him over.

“…You never were a great priest, even for the Demon King,” L’Arachel commented, before using a Tonitrus spell, the lightning bolt finishing Riev off. She gave a smug little chuckle, before turning back to the enemy.

With the relatively light load of monsters at the port, they were quickly vanquished. L’Arachel arrived next to the rest of the party, to see Yune explaining the situation to Roy and Lilina, the two new arrivals in Rausten. Most of everyone else was slumping around, falling asleep where they stood, though a few were on their feet and getting exercise. Elena and Janiyah were missing.

“Wow… other continents beyond Elibe?” Roy asked.

“Yes, but Pyres is messing with them…” Emilyn said.

“Messing with them? We know about continents being messed with,” Roy said.

“My parents have been dead for years. But here comes along this young fellow, looks a lot like my dad without his beard. Claims he’s Hector, Marquess of Ositia. How can he be my father, though?” Lilina asked.

“Same with me, though my father isn’t as forceful. He looks a lot like me, though,” Roy remarked.

“Hm… perhaps Pyres has bound time? Maybe collected spirits and joined them together?” Tormod asked.

“You know… you may have a point. What do you say, Lily? Should we head back to Lycia and try and knock some sense into Hector?” Roy asked.

“Yes, please, Roy!” Lilina said.

“Excitable little one, isn’t she?” Emilyn asked, smiling at her. Lilina turned, to see Janiyah approach with a small bundle of food from the nearest restaurant. Everyone gathered round, and grabbed a bite of the food each.

“Where’s Elena?” Livia asked exhaustedly, looking around. Everyone jolted up, and looked.

“Think, L’Arachel. What’s in this town?” Livia asked.

“Well, there’s the armoury, the shop, a smattering of houses filled with generous villagers… the restaurants… ooh, and-”

Elena deftly defeated her seventh opponent in sequence. There had been many foes- swordmasters and heroes, for the most part. Ogma, Holyn, Galzus, Karel, Raven, Marisa and Priam, their names were, but none of them managed to defeat Elena. Several had nicked at her armour, creating a few wounds, but Elena just wrapped a bit a cloth around the few she had and called it a day. She bet 860 gold on her eighth fight, and stepped into the arena. Her opponent was a mysterious woman, about Elena’s height, with flowing, fiery hair with all sorts of colours within, and a large black mark on the left side of her head. Behind a mask were deep, brown eyes. She wore a yellow robe in a similar style to Elena’s. Oddly, Elena didn’t know her name.

“Hey! Who are you?” Elena asked.

“…My name is immaterial. What matters is our fight, does it not?” the woman asked, drawing a golden sword from a scabbard that quickly disappeared. Elena raised the Wo Dao, unthreatened by the golden blade. Pretty to look at, but not much else. Elena prepared her strike, only to feel a song of death at her belly. She looked down, to notice a solid cut had crossed it. Elena shrugged, and brought her blade around to strike Immaterial. Immaterial seemed not to move, but her blade came up to meet the Wo Dao. Elena was knocked back, but she shook herself. She charged, only to be nudged aside by Immaterial’s casual lunge.

“I was informed this would be an interesting match,” Immaterial said.

“It will be…” Elena said. She spun and launched a flurry of attacks. Immaterial blocked each and every one almost casually. Elena was really worried, as Immaterial knocked the Wo Dao from her grip. Elena jumped back, as Immaterial’s blade descended upon it, stopping short. She didn’t intend to strike the blade… she expected Elena to have gone for it. Immaterial focused on Elena, watching her make her move.

“ELENA!” Livia’s voice cried out. Elena turned, and Immaterial made her move. She lunged, and her sword drove through…

Mid-air. Immaterial turned, looking for Elena. Elena was at the entrance of the arena, being dragged off by Livia. Immaterial let out a small note, before scooping up the Wo Dao.

“Why did you pull me out of that? I had her!” Elena cried out, as Livia dragged Elena from the Arena, Rescue staff in hand in case Elena got any funny ideas.

“…She was between you and your sword. You did not have her,” Livia said.

“But… the Wo Dao! My wager! Are we just going to leave them?” Elena asked.

“…The most important thing to me is your life. Gold can be replenished. Swords can be replaced. But there only ever will be one Elena Gawain… Junior,” Livia said.

“Thanks,” Elena said sarcastically.

“Elena. I am your sister. I want what is best for you. And while I’m hurting over losing the Wo Dao too, better that than losing you. And exactly how much money did you lose on the wager?” Livia asked.

“860. I earned about five thousand or so from the other fights, though,” Elena said.

“Other fights? Elena, you’re not hurt, are you?” Livia asked.

“Hurt? Well… I got scratched? Does that count?” Elena asked. Livia pulled away all the ribbons cut into her, and noticed all the scratches. Livia huffed, and pulled out a Mend staff to wave over her. Elena watched her work, seeing the hurt in her eyes.

“Livia…” Elena said.

“Elena, you can’t be so reckless in combat! You may think you can dodge every attack that comes your way, but sooner or later the enemy will land a hit. I can assure you that you won’t always be this lucky. Elena… promise me. Promise me you won’t lunge headfirst into danger again,” Livia said. Elena looked into Livia’s eyes. Despite all the differences in bearing and facial structure and everything else that life had brought, Elena and Livia had the same eyes. Elena could see the worry, the fear that Livia had.

“…I promise. Livia, I will not let you down,” Elena said. Livia smiled.

“Thank you, Sister,” Livia said. Elena got to her feet, all the scratches on the road to healing, and Elena followed Livia back to the boat.

(Reminder that the edit was due to a mistake on my part, for the curious.)

Edited by phineas81707

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Chapter 13: A Divide In Time

With the events of the continent of Magvel behind them, the group sets sail in the direction of Elibe, home continent of Roy and Lilina. Unlike Tellius or Magvel, the various countries of Elibe do not have a formal bond of friendship between the various rulers. Roy and Lilina rule over the south country of Lycia. Before the War of the Dragons in Elibe, Lycia was a gathering of fiefdoms overseen by Marquesses. Roy was responsible for their union.

However, the sudden arrival of men claiming to be Eliwood and Hector, the fathers of both Roy and Lilina, has brought all of this into confusion. The younger Eliwood and the living Hector claim ignorance of the union of Lycia, of the War of the Dragons… even the birthing of Roy and Lilina is unknown to them. There is suspicion as to why, but the group can only ponder as they approach Lycia…

As the group marched on Lycia (formerly Ositia) Castle, Elena tried a few practice swings of her blade. The sword had none of the grace she had come to expect of the Wo Dao, and she bitterly missed its heft in her hand.

“You feeling OK?” Kalen asked.

“No. I do not feel OK. I lost my mother’s sacred blade. I’ve never wielded anything else… I worry that, the first time I cut someone, it won’t feel right, and I’ll be in a bad position later…” Elena said.

“Ells… I’ll fight for you. You don’t have to fight if you don’t feel comfortable,” Kalen said.

“Kalen, I am a knight of Crimea. I will not forsake my duty because I do not like the blade I wield,” Elena said.

“Ells, you’re making it so hard for me. I like you, I really do… I want to show you I care, but you keep refusing. Elena… will you be my bride?” Kalen asked.

“Kalen… I do like you… I guess… but your wife?” Elena said.

“Ells… you mean so much to me. You’re beautiful, you’re tough…” Kalen said.

“Aw, you do know how to flatter a lady, don’t you? Yeah, after this is all over, I’ll be your bride,” Elena said distractedly.

“After this? Why afterwards?” Kalen asked.

“How can we have a wedding during?” Elena asked, smirking.

“Wouldn’t King Roy or Queen Lilina be able to marry us in Lycia?” Kalen asked.

“…Kalen… I wanted my wedding to be special. I wanted to be the princess, if only for a day… I know, it’s childish… but…” Elena said.

“… I understand. It must be hard, being the sister of a princess… if that is your desire, then I shall wait,” Kalen said.

“Thanks… hearing you say that makes me feel a little better,” Elena said. She went back to her practice swings as if nothing had happened.

The group arrived at Lycia Castle, and looked at it. Hector was standing on its doorstep, with Eliwood and a small force standing beside him. A fairly substantial force stood between Elena’s force and Hector’s.

“Are these guys yours or his?” Livia asked.

“Hm… that one looks like he wears the Lycian crest… he looks like he has an Ositian crest…” Lilina said.

“Bit of both?” Astrid asked.

“They’re dust just the same,” Elena said.

“Elena, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Well…” Livia said.

“The Lycian soldiers would hardly raise their swords against their royalty. If I can get them to realise they’re fighting their King, they’ll surely hesitate,” Lilina said.

“I just need to get to Mother. She’ll be easier to talk to,” Roy said.

“So, as I understand it, we have to cut through the army to Lycia Castle and get Roy to convince his mother that everything’s all right, and then we get to join hands and hunt Charmers, right?” Elena asked.

“Though how are you sure your plan is going to work, King Lycia?” L’Arachel asked.

“Because they’d dislike war just as much as us,” Roy said.

“That does not inspire confidence…” L’Arachel said.

“If peace is a possibility, we must pursue it,” Livia said. Everyone nodded, and turned to the opposing force.

“So… they’ve returned,” Hector said, Wolf Beil at the ready. He looked at his soldiers: Matthew, Serra, and Oswin, as well as the many men-at-arms. He turned to his side, to see Eliwood and Ninian accompanying him. Eliwood was staring at the opposing force, thoughtful.

“Whatcha thinking ‘bout, Eliwood?” Hector asked.

“Those two… Roy and Lilina, were they?” Eliwood asked.

“What about them? We know they’re impostors,” Hector said.

“No… there’s something about them… and haven’t you noticed our massive disadvantage?” Eliwood asked.

“What disadvantage? We outnumber them three to one,” Hector said.

“Remember every battle we fought when we were going up against Nergal? Remember how every single one had the same odds?” Eliwood asked.

“…You’re right. Oswin, go get some more soldiers. Make it four to one,” Hector said.

“That’s not my point, Hector!” Eliwood said.

“Five to one!” Hector said.

“HECTOR, PAY ATTENTION! Our armies always overcame tremendous odds… and we had few unremarkable men-at-arms at our disposal. Now, it is the opponent who has that in their favour. Considering we’ve got a boy who claims to be my son on that side, I’m willing to bet that we should be on their side,” Eliwood said.

“…I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about. Six to one,” Hector said. Eliwood let out a sigh.

“Ninian, do you want to help me get over to Roy?” Eliwood asked. Ninian nodded, and the two entered the ranks of the men at arms, making their way through.

“…Seven to one,” Hector told Oswin.

“You’ve forgotten what that means, Hector,” Oswin said. Hector blinked.

“…Don’t tell anyone else. Eight to one,” Hector said.

Elena began the fight, cutting down two Ositian soldiers and gesturing for Roy to follow. Everyone else began their rush, looking between the Ositian soldiers and the Lycian ones. As expected, Lilina was quickly able to convince the latter to withdraw.

“She’s so... elegant…” Emilyn said.

“Yes, quite,” Livia remarked.

“I… I want to admit how important she is to me… but every time I try, she calls me her sister… I just feel so…” Emilyn said.

“Wait, when did this happen?” Livia asked.

“For as long as I can remember clearly…” Emilyn said.

“Are you OK?” Livia asked with concern.

“I don’t know anymore… she’s not pushing me away… is she?” Emilyn asked.

“…Well, you just talk to Lilina some more, and then she’ll understand how you feel,” Livia said.

“Wait, Lilina? I was talking about Elena!” Emilyn exclaimed.

“Wait, my sister? You admire her? A lot more than a sister would?” Livia asked.

“…How much do you admire her, Livia?” Emilyn asked.

“She’s powerful, she gets things done… she acts like a real big sister… yeah, I’d say I’d admire her quite a bit. But my mother is gone, and I’ve got big shoes to fill as her successor. Lilina is a bit more relevant a role model,” Livia said. Emilyn sobbed.

“Huh? Are you all right?” Livia asked.

“You’re… you’re… you’re becoming so s-strong… a queen that Crimea will l-love… while I’m sw-swooning over Elena… B-Begnion…” Emilyn said.

“Begnion will have a fine Empress. She’ll always have us, the Circlet of Tellius, to support her. Because that’s what sisters are for,” Livia said.

“Sisters…” Emilyn said.

“Oh… right, you don’t like that word… Well, how about just best friends? Either way, you know I’ll always be there for you… and so will Elena,” Livia said.

“Thank you, Livia…” Emilyn said.

“Well, let’s make sure we can actually give you that title?” Livia asked, casting her Arcӕther spell. Emilyn jumped, and added her Arcignis.

Roy, with the help of Elena and Ayra, made his way to the opposing side. He saw Hector, flanked by Matthew, Oswin and Serra. They all looked much younger than he remembered.

“Hector… I need to talk to you,” Roy said.

“I’m not listening to anything an impostor has to say. I’m holding this fort if it kills me!” Hector said. Roy cringed.

“That’s how you die!” Roy said.

“Oh yeah? I don’t plan on dying, unless it’s with two guys’ skulls in my hands and a third under my foot. Is that how I die?” Hector asked.

“…Well, no, but-” Roy said.

“You guys just can’t come up with good enough lies! I have a daughter, I don’t die in a blaze of glory…” Hector said.

“…I think it’s time. Hector… your wife left you, didn’t she?” Roy asked.

“No… I never had a wife,” Hector said.

“Wife, girlfriend, whatever, you know who I’m talking about, right? Well, at my parents’ wedding- that is Eliwood and Ninian- you had a little… accident, I think you called it. At least, that’s how Father told the story. You grabbed a girl by the breast without warning, knowing her fear of men… It took hours to wipe out the stains, and I hear that dress was ruined for good. I honestly don’t blame her for leaving… though I would’ve liked to have known her,” Roy said. Hector fumed, and charged in with Wolf Beil. Elena and Ayra threw up their swords, blocking him with a dual-bladed cross. Roy stepped back.

“…I guess that was too much detail?” Roy asked in horror.

“Roy! Thank goodness we found you!” Eliwood said.

“YOU! You told him about that night? You specifically ran a second wedding so that no one would ever speak of it again!” Hector said.

“...I’m sure future me had a very good reason to do so. After all, our children seem really close… I’m sure Roy would’ve wondered where his Lilina’s mother is,” Eliwood said.

“That’s no excuse,” Hector said.

“Boys, boys, stop this! Eliwood, I am slightly disappointed in you. Only slightly, though. Better he knows than to have tried to keep it from him, at any rate. And you, Hector… there is no reason to fight. This isn’t fighting time. This is talking time,” Ninian said.

“…I dunno, I kinda prefer fighting time,” Serra remarked.

“Serra! Of course we’ll parley,” Oswin said.

“Did I miss the fun?” a voice asked. Everyone slowly turned, to see a massive general standing behind them. Roy looked up into the general’s eyes.

“Murdock?” Roy asked.

“General Roy. I trust your adventure went well?” Murdock said.

“We won that war… rescued Idoun from her nightmare, defeated Zephiel… I think we killed Jahn...” Roy said.

“You killed Zephiel?” Murdock asked.

“…Since you’re here, I don’t know,” Roy said.

“Wait… you were behind the plan to kill Zephiel all along?” Hector asked. Everyone turned to him.

“…Stop, go back, think about what you said,” Eliwood said.

“But still… we went to great lengths to keep Zephiel safe. Fortune was on our side that day, otherwise we’d never have saved him. Why on earth did you kill him?” Matthew asked.

“The fact that he wanted to destroy all humans and return the world to the dragons was a pretty good reason. Him almost killing Cecilia is another. And don’t even get me started on Sacae, Ilia, Lycia… Hector, did I forget to mention he killed you?” Roy asked.

“…If I ever see that little runt again, he’ll be getting a faceful of Wolf Beil!” Hector said.

“Then I’m afraid I’ll have to stop you here,” Murdock said. Roy raised his blade, the Sealed Sword. Elena looked at it in awe, as he brought it down, flames shooting across to Murdock. Murdock shivered, and threw his spear at Roy. Roy deftly dodged, and he thrust forward into Murdock’s chest. Murdock was sent reeling, and Eliwood stepped forward. His rapier was lunged into Murdock, turning him to dust.

“What?” Eliwood asked, watching the dust blow in the wind.

“He’s not real. He’s a construct made by an evil Spirit. Anyone we’ll fight will be,” Elena said.

“Dark constructs…” Ninian said.

“Don’t worry, Ninian. If Nergal does come back, we’ll make him dust, too,” Eliwood said.

“Thank you, Eliwood…” Ninian said, beaming.

Lilina looked up at the Ositian force, which was beginning to withdraw from the field. She smiled in relief, before hearing a sudden clicking sound. She turned on the spot, noticing a sage that was very definitely not there earlier.

“Who are you?” Lilina asked.

“My name is Brunnya, of Biran. You are Marquess Ositia, are you not? Lilina, if memory serves,” Brunnya said.

“…Queen Lycia. But yes, I am the sage Lilina. What brings you here?” Lilina asked.

“Well… to put it simply, I heard King Zephiel was murdered by one Marquess Pherae. Since I also hear you two are an item…” Brunnya said.

“Coward, no matter which way you slice it. Arcignis!” Lilina cried out. A blast of flames burst forward, which was quickly met by Brunnya’s Arcglacies. Lilina stepped back in shock, before thinking quickly. She hurriedly cast an Arcventus, creating a massive gust of wind to blow the ice crystals back. Brunnya created a magical shield to defend herself from the brunt of the shards, though there were still a few scratches.

“Damn you, girl…” Brunnya said, casting a massive bolt of lightning to strike. Lilina jumped, and Emilyn cast Arcterra into the air, grounding the lightning strike and allowing Lilina to weather the blow. Emilyn waved her staff, and healed off Lilina’s scratches.

“Hey, no fair! You shouldn’t be allowed to heal!” Brunnya cried out. Emilyn looked up, and noticed Brunnya preparing an Arcglacies. Emilyn’s Cymbeline tore right through the ice, and into Brunnya. There was nothing left but dust or ash. Emilyn knelt, and felt the powder.

“That was a little overkill…” Lilina said.

“They always turn to dust. I’m not sure if I burned this one to cinders or just dusted her,” Emilyn said.

“…I don’t really want to know,” Lilina said.

“Well, sadly, I think we’ll need to explain that story,” Emilyn said.

“And that’s what happened,” Livia finished explaining. Everyone had been gathered in Castle Lycia, and Elena and Livia had been narrating the long story. Everyone was nodding in thought.

“So, basically, any of our mages could be turning evil?” Hector said. He turned to Lilina.

“…Never seen a Spirit, not a bad guy,” Lilina said.

“How can we trust you?” Hector asked.

“Hector? Take a step back, and think about what you said again,” Eliwood said.

“Stop taking the other side! Eliwood, what do we have to trust these guys?” Hector said.

“Hector… I actually visited Pherae. The older Marcus was still there. He called me Roy, and we had a nice talk… Hector, Roy is worthy of trust,” Eliwood said.

“…All right, Eliwood. You were the better thinker, after all. But what else can we do? I haven’t heard of anything that might be this Spirit Charming,” Hector said.

“You’re right… Dame Elena, would you care to stay here in Ositia? Tomorrow, we’ll start searching for Charmers,” Eliwood said.

“Can everyone fit in Ositia?” Hector asked.

“Of course. And if we don’t, we can always send some of them to Pherae,” Lilina said.

“Thank you for your hospitality,” Elena said.

“Sister?” Livia asked.

“Who else can we trust? We might find ourselves going into the shelter of a Charmer. If we stay with people from Elibe, we’ll be able to have forewarning of when a Charmer shows up. We don’t even know how many there are!” Elena said.

“Guinevere, Lugh, Hugh, Niime, Sophia, Raigh…” Lilina said.

“Pent, Erk, Nino, Canas…” Ninian said.

“We’ll sleep on it,” L’Arachel said confidently.

After everyone had settled for their rest, Lilina had snuck away from Ositia’s Castle, and into the woods. She looked around, and entered the small hut.

“Hello?” Lilina asked, holding out a small gem. A large shadow began moving, approaching Lilina. Lilina smiled, as a large hand took the gem. The shadow looked at it curiously.

“Gonzales…” Lilina said. She shot a small fire spell towards a candle, lighting up the room.

“Pretty? Why here?” Gonzales asked, looking up.

“We’ll need your axe. There are bad people around… people that might have been our friends… can I trust you to help?” Lilina asked.

“Gonzales do anything for Pretty!” Gonzales said.

“Thank you, Gonzales…” Lilina said. She took the gem, and attached it to a chain to put around Gonzales’s neck.

I would like to state one thing... originally, I had intended for Eliwood to have met FE6!Eliwood in Pherae. However, later revisions/chapters decided that there would be a restriction of one Einherjar construct per soul- or in simpler terms, only one Eliwood could exist at a time. This both makes more sense from a conservation-of-energy standpoint and neatens up one of the other characters who should have two constructs.

The times where two mutually exclusive scenes appear, and you have to choose which you prefer.

[spoiler=Chapter 17 of Circlet]Didn't want to deal with baby!Lilina

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Chapter 14: The Binding Pact

With the peoples of Lycia united in something that could be called peace, everyone takes a well-deserved rest that night. However, news of the bad variety had arrived on their doorstep before many could properly awaken.

As Lugh told a very sleepy Roy and Elena, Cecilia, the Mage General of Etruria, had been captured by someone whom Lugh did not name, but upon further coercion, was revealed to be a druid of incredible might. Elena needed no further information to know that this was the work of a Spirit Charmer, and quickly got to waking everyone up so they could be bright and ready to face the opponent.

Elena was riding at the front of the group, with Roy and Lugh not too far behind. Everyone was still rubbing at the corners of their eyes, but they were not going to let tiredness defeat them this time. They had to get to the Spirit Charmer.

“So, what should I know about this situation?” Elena asked generally, looking between Roy and Lugh.

“King Mildain and Queen Lalum are working hard to make sure everything stays relatively calm. After all, the boy you’re about to face was a hero of the War of the Dragons,” Lugh said.

“So… one of the men I once commanded?” Roy asked, one part horrified, and one part knowing. Lugh started thinking back to what he had said, before covering his mouth in horror.

“Lugh, I don’t blame you for not wanting to face it. It truly is a horrifying thought. But this is not the place for it,” Roy said.

“Huh?” Elena asked.

“I know exactly who we’re about to face,” Roy said.

“What, all the clues add up? All I know is that we’re going up against a male druid,” Elena said.

“And there was only one male druid under my command in the War of the Dragons,” Roy said.

Raigh looked at Cecilia, whose magical Essence, as the Spirit had called it, was being drained into a card. Cecilia looked up at him with pleading eyes, which he just ignored. Sentiments such as kindness and compassion had no place in this world.

“How much Essence would this one provide, Drakas?” Raigh asked, pointing at her. He nodded thoughtfully.

“This is at least a step up from Pent and Clarine, then,” Raigh said. He scrunched his brow in thought.

“Raigh…” Cecilia let out. Raigh ignored this.

“I don’t know who else you could mean. I think that covers it for Etruria… I’ll have to move on,” Raigh said. He raised his eyebrow thoughtfully, and nodded.

“Lycia? Piece of cake, and Lilina will have plenty of Essence,” Raigh said. He felt a shiver, and turned.

“Got any ideas?” Raigh asked. He found himself reaching into Cecilia’s satchels, and pulling out an odd-looking staff. Raigh realised what he was looking at, and grinned.

“That’s… actually par for the course,” Elena said.

“That’s rude,” Lugh said simply.

“When we went up against Lute and Ewan, we had people that were good friends with them to help us. I don’t know why, but this always happens, and I feel really horrible, because I’m pitting friend against friend… now I know how Ike felt about Jill,” Elena remarked.

“I handled most of that!” Mist called from near the back of the column. Elena nodded vaguely, before a weird feeling came over her. She looked at Roy, and found himself filled with rage, for whatever reason. Elena growled furiously, before jumping off her horse. She drew her blade in mid-air, and thrust down on Roy. Roy hurriedly drew the Sealed Sword, deflecting Elena’s strike. Elena performed a dramatic flip, landing on the field in front of them. A mischievous glint appeared in her eye, and she charged forward, determined to right the wrong Roy had inflicted upon her. Roy stepped backwards, Elena’s clumsy strike passing in front of him harmlessly.

“Livia?” Roy asked.

“Elena? What’s going on?” Livia asked. Livia, too. Livia had done a great wrong to her. She hissed, and charged forward, thrusting with her sword. Livia sidestepped it, the blade nicking her ankle. Livia hurriedly got out of range, her Renewal gem taking effect.

“What?” Emilyn asked, worried.

“I’ll take care of this dame,” a voice said. Roy turned, and spotted Perceval approaching.

“Sir Perceval!” he exclaimed.

“This dame has gone rogue… it is my duty to help take her down,” Perceval said. Elena shot Perceval a glare. He, too, had exacted a great wrong to her. Elena charged, pulling a Swordreaver from the convoy, and holding it out to Perceval. Perceval brandished his own lance, and levelled it in Elena’s direction. Elena let out a berserk roar, and charged. Natasha let out a slight yelp, as she realised what the problem was.

“Sir Perceval! It’s a Berserk staff! Don’t-” Natasha called out, before her hands jumped to her throat. She opened and closed her mouth, but no words came out.

“Silence…” Astrid said.

“Time for some mage-flushing,” Janiyah said. She transformed, and Penelopy rushed forward. She performed the song of Vigour, and Janiyah jumped into the trees, prepared to find the staff user.

Raigh smiled, his staves having struck true. He turned to Cecilia, and held out her card. Cecilia was pulled in, and Raigh put it beside Pent and Clarine’s in his small, but ever expanding, deck. He heard a scratching on bark, and his breath stopped. He looked around slowly, noticing a big pair of green eyes in the bushes.

“A wild cat? Phew… thought you would be something actually terrifying,” Raigh remarked. The cat leaped from the trees, and Raigh prepared his Apocalypse magic. Before the runes had finished being drawn, Raigh found himself being knocked to the ground, the cat upon him. Raigh growled, trying to reach for something to cut the thing with, but the cat was intelligent. It was keeping Raigh’s arms from moving to such a degree.

“You’re not a human, you can’t be this smart! Humans will always win against beasts like you!” Raigh said. The cat hissed, and clawed at Raigh’s cloak, sending the cards to the ground. The cat cast her eyes only briefly, before approaching Raigh, hackles raised.

“This… this isn’t going to work… Drakas, I need to go to Dread Isle,” Raigh said. He vanished in a circle of runes, and Janiyah reverted to base form.

“Humans,” Janiyah said dismissively. She scooped up the three cards Raigh had dropped, before turning and running back to everyone else.

Elena was locked in combat against Aderyn, her blade having already landed several blows. Perceval and Ephraim were standing back, surprised at just how insane Elena was getting. Natasha was trying to wave her staff, but no one was noticing. Janiyah bounded up behind Natasha, and looked between her and Elena.

“Hm?” Janiyah asked. Natasha waved her Restore staff.

“Restore?” Janiyah asked. Natasha nodded, and Janiyah rushed in. She snuck around the field, before finding Livia.

“Livia… try using a Restore staff,” Janiyah said. Livia pulled out her Restore staff, and approached Elena carefully. Elena turned, her eyes locked with Livia’s. Elena suddenly jumped forward, cleaving down with the Swordreaver. The blow glanced across Livia’s arm, knocking the Restore staff to the ground. Yune dived, but Elena had knocked the staff aside, and turned to Yune. She thrust her sword forward, which Yune neatly dodged. She pushed forward, grabbing Elena’s neck, and using her talent to restore Elena’s vitality. Elena blinked a couple of times, and looked around.

“What… what happened… oh… ooh…” Elena muttered, before falling into Yune’s arms. Yune looked down at her in surprise, before Emilyn appeared to gently take her away.

“What… what have I done…” Elena asked.

“You’ve done nothing… it was Berserk…” Livia said, having picked up her Restore staff.

“I… I think I need to take a rest…” Elena said. Emilyn stroked her back, and helped her along to join the party.

Before everyone had moved along, Janiyah held up the three cards she had secured from the druid.

“Janiyah, be careful with those,” Penelopy said. She set the book Yune had retrieved from Valtome’s mansion in the air, and opened it to the page describing Einherjar.

“Spirits of the cards, we have need of your might. Return to the shape you once assumed,” Penelopy said, pointing at the cards. A small burst of light appeared from her hand, and the three cards began to glow. Janiyah dropped them, and they changed shape. By the time they had reached the ground, they had turned into three very confused but very solid shapes.

“Those were Einherjar cards. Whoever was using them was obviously returning them to their card form,” Penelopy said.

“You mean the weird druid back there? He said he was going to a place called ‘Dread Isle’… ring a bell?” Janiyah asked. The colour had drained from Eliwood, Ninian and Hector’s faces.

“Dread Isle…” Ninian said.

“That’s bad,” Janiyah said.

“But your Spirit Charmer will be there, no question,” Eliwood said.

“That’s good!” Janiyah said.

“They’ll no doubt want to unleash dragons of incredible might across Elibe, who’d probably make it to Magvel and Tellius, too,” Eliwood said.

“That’s bad,” Janiyah said.

“…Yeah, I’ve got nothing good to say about that situation, either. Want to go stop it?” Eliwood asked.

“…No, thanks. I quite like the idea of dragons completely destroying the world,” Aderyn said. Everyone stared at her.

“Of COURSE we’ll go stop it!” Aderyn said.

“Great! I’ll go get the boat,” Eliwood said, turning back to Lycia.

“Um, Sir… who are you?” Perceval asked.

“Eliwood. And you are?” Eliwood asked.

“My name is Perceval, Knight General of Etruria. Cecilia and I would like to accompany you on your journey… if only to point out that Dread Isle is off our coast now,” Perceval said.

“I suspect that there is some kind of force at play here, possibly related to how some of us appear younger than what is available to us suggests,” Pent said.

“Or whoever moved the continents just shoved Dread Isle somewhere out of the way of Magvel,” Hector said.

“Either way, the destination you seek is nearer the Western Isles than Lycia. We will gladly escort your group to a port and organise a boat to take you to and from the island, but we really must return to the Etrurian court as soon as possible,” Pent said.

“That ungrateful wretch Raigh took me while I was relieving myself! Thanks to him, I’ll have missed Lance’s joust!” Clarine said.

“Err…” Livia said.

“We really did not need to know that part,” Aderyn commented.

“…Anyway, are you ready?” Cecilia asked.

“…We are. Not sure about Elena, but we’ll have to get to Dread Isle as soon as possible,” Aderyn said.

“All right, then!” Cecilia said. Everyone began their march to the necessary port.

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Chapter 15: The Dreaded

Pent and Clarine escort the assortment of Tellius, Magvel, Elibe and Ayra to the port town of Batavia, a fair Etrurian port. Pent arranges for the treasure-hunter Dart and his companion Farina to sail this team to and from Dread Isle. The journey from their starting spot to the Dragon’s Gate, the place where Raigh’s goals are coming to a head, is long and free from conflict, allowing Elena plenty of time to mull over the events the Berserk staff caused.

The Dragon’s Gate… it is said that catastrophe would strike were the gate opened. Eliwood and Hector both know of the immense dangers that lie beyond, and are adamant about making sure the gate remains shut at all costs. Ninian, however, doesn’t understand one thing. Why has Raigh not made a bid for her, to open Dragon’s Gate? Does he have the dragon he need without her? If so, who is it?

Raigh growled again, as extorting Fae and Idoun again turned out a fruitless endeavour. He knew that the Essence gained from Pent, Clarine and Cecilia would have helped… if only that stupid jungle cat hadn’t interfered. Raigh couldn’t believe his plan was thwarted by a simple predatory cat…

Raigh, pursuers have arrived, the dark voice of Drakas said.

“Really?” Raigh asked.

Yes… I suggest summoning Morphs to buy yourself the time to open the gate, Drakas said.

“I suppose that would be sensible,” Raigh said. He drew a purple runic symbol on the ground, and began chanting. He summoned a dark druid, a trio of sages, and a sniper, before focusing and creating a faceless horde of Morphs.

“Will that be sufficient?” Raigh asked.

Sufficient is the easy part. The hard part is all on you now… the gate must be opened with all due haste, Drakas said.

“Understood,” Raigh said, turning back to Fae and Idoun.

Livia led the party on Dragon’s Gate, in lieu of Elena. Once she had reached the doorstep, she turned back to the party.

“Here be dragons. Are we prepared?” Livia asked.

“…We must be prepared. There is no other alternative,” Eliwood said.

“But if a dragon does appear, Hector could beat it easy!” Lilina said. Despite the gravity of the situation, Eliwood found himself chuckling.

“What?” Lilina asked.

“Hector… did you tell your daughter you beat the dragon?” Eliwood asked.

“With his bare hands!” Lilina said.

“…And it never seemed like it came out of nowhere?” Eliwood asked.

“…Did you lie to me, Father?” Lilina asked.

“No…” Hector said.

“Oh, yeah, you killed the dragon. My memory is that the dragon snorted in your face, and you ran away, screaming like a little girl. Lyn had to kill the dragon. That’s totally you killing it with your bare hands,” Eliwood said.

“Father… how much of a hero are you?” Lilina asked.

“He held off the invasion of Pherae…” Roy said.

“Didn’t I die in that?” Hector asked.

“I’m on your side, Hector,” Roy said.

“…Can we put this matter to rest?” Livia asked.

“…Fine,” Lilina said. She shot Hector a look, before beginning to follow Livia into the Dragon’s Gate.

“…So, here you are,” Livia said, leading the party into the Dragon’s Gate. Raigh turned from Fae and Idoun, shooting a cheeky grin.

“You’re here to stop me, aren’t you?” Raigh asked.

“Raigh… do you really think this is a good idea?” Lugh asked.

“Tut… Lugh, you don’t understand. You never understood. I will open the Dragon’s Gate, and the Essence of the dragons within will fuel the flames of the Fire Emblem. As long as those flames burn brightly, my magic will be more powerful than you could possibly imagine!” Raigh said.

“Raigh, was it? Do you understand what dealing with Spirits will do to you? You will be drained of all of your life force. If you’re lucky, you’ll die,” Tormod said.

“I don’t care. If what you say is true… I would rather a short life of tremendous power over a long life knowing I could achieve it. Anyway, enough chatter. I must have the Dragon’s Gate opened,” Raigh said.

“We will stop you,” Livia said, firing a burst of Ӕther forward.

“…I recognise that… Quintessence?” a voice asked. Livia stepped back, as the five morphs took shape.

“I must have your quintessence, pegasus knight,” Nergal said.

“Yes… an abundance of quintessence would be most beneficial,” Limstella said.

“I will serve this fellow… but I must say, he does look quite familiar,” Sonia said.

“You two can do whatever you want. I’m going to have some fun killing,” Ephidel said.

“This is a message from Lord Nergal. ‘I await you on Dread Isle’,” Denning said.

“…Like it? You’re all toast,” Raigh said.

“…Are you really threatening us with that? That last guy didn’t even make any sense!” Emilyn said.

“Emilyn?” Tormod asked.

“Someone’s got to pick up Elena’s slack,” Emilyn said, pointing to Elena. Elena was shivering at the sight of the staves hovering around Raigh. She was regretting learning what a Berserk staff looked like.

“…Just charge, minions,” Raigh said. Ephidel began creating a variety of lesser Morphs to assault the group, and everyone began their charge.

“Come on, Idoun! Come on!” Fae said, gesturing. Idoun looked around in worry, the enemies around her leering menacingly.

“Come on, Idoun! You don’t need Dragonstone!” Fae said. Idoun focused, but a Morph grabbed her, and Idoun yelped. Fae turned around, looking for Raigh, before an arrow shot right past her ear, and into one of the morphs grabbing Idoun. Another three shot down the other Morphs, and a girl appeared in front of the pair of dragons.

“Hey,” the girl said, before shooting another set of arrows at another set of Morphs, hitting them right in between their eyes.

“Archer saved us! Archer saved us!” Fae said.

“Archer… why?” Idoun asked.

“The name’s Lucita… I heard there were dragons in trouble, and I came to the rescue. I have an… affinity for dragons,” Lucita said.

“…Thank you,” Idoun said.

“Scary druid Raigh took my Dragonstone! Raigh meanie, not like nice Sophia,” Fae said.

“The druid? I know a pretty good thief… I’ll get it for you,” Lucita said.

“Thank you, Lucita! You’re really nice, like Igrene archer!” Fae said.

“…Nice…” Idoun said. Lucita smiled, before rushing towards Yune.

Livia stared down Nergal. Nergal was smirking, looking at Livia’s pale grey books. Livia smirked lightly, watching Nergal’s movements. He began casting a runic symbol- Ereshkigal. Livia fired a short Ӕther blast, interrupting Nergal’s attack, before focusing. She created a pair of massive spinning blades of some odd substance, almost like liquid light, before firing forward. Livia’s powerful Ӕther spell struck Nergal, knocking him to the ground.

“How… how can you manipulate quintessence so effectively?” Nergal asked.

“My father was a knight with mastery of Aether. It is only natural that I have mastered it, too… just in my own way,” Livia said.

“…I need that quintessence… and you will give it to me,” Nergal said.

“Oh, someone needs another blast of Soleluna,” Livia said, preparing her spinning blades. Before Nergal got the chance to protest, Livia had chopped him into proverbial pieces.

“So… you are the twin of that other druid…” Sonia said, smirking at Lugh.

“…That thing commanding you is not my brother. My brother is much kinder than that. Even if he doesn’t show it, I refuse to believe that’s my brother,” Lugh said.

“Ugh… you sound just like that girl I was forced to call my daughter… Nina, I think her name was,” Sonia said.

“…Hm, lose one annoying daughter, get an annoying son. Life must be so horrible,” Lugh remarked.

“I know!” Sonia said in annoyance. Lugh rolled his eyes, and began creating an orb of water in mid-air. Sonia immediately began questioning it, before Lugh brought it down. A bolt of lightning cleaved down on the orb, sending lightning forward into Sonia. Sonia dropped to the ground, twitching slightly. A small blast shot behind her, and she was completely dusted.

“Thanks, Liv,” Lugh said.

“Livia will do,” Livia said, smiling still.

“Hey, Raigh!” Yune called out. Raigh turned, to see the thief smiling at him. Raigh inspected his inventory. Nothing a thief could steal- his tome, his staves, and a dragonstone.

“What do you want?” Raigh asked, genuinely curious.

“Oh, nothing much…” Yune said. Raigh pointed his Berserk staff, and fired a charge. Yune’s eyes glazed over, and she started looking around.

“Ooh, that looks nice… and that, too… you know what, I think I’ll make those mine… that’s pretty, too…” Yune said. She was darting around the field, making everyone’s pockets lighter. Morph or ally, equipped weapon or spare trinket, everything within arm’s reach starting entering her possession. Raigh looked into his pockets suddenly, realising his Dragonstone and his Apocalypse tome had been taken from him. Lucita hurriedly rushed over to Yune, and granted her a boon. She took the Dragonstone, and gave her a pat on the back.

“…I’m never going to return this, aren’t I?” Yune asked.

“Send it to the convoy. It’ll get sorted out,” Lucita said, tossing the Dragonstone over to Fae.

“Thank you, kind Lucita! Watch me, watch what I can do!” Fae said. Fae held up her Dragonstone, and turned into an elegant, if a little weird-looking, dragon.

“That’s nice, Fae,” Lucita said, before transforming into her white dragon form.

“Lucita’s a dragon, too? She’ll live a long time like Fae? Fae happy! Happy happy!” Fae said.

“…Sure, why not,” Lucita said. Her eyes glazed over, as Raigh fired a Berserk charge at her. He vanished, leaving a Berserk Lucita.

“Perfect…” Limstella said, approaching. Lucita turned to Limstella, and fired a massive blast of breath. Limstella was left a pile of ashes.

“…Fae, back,” Idoun said. She dropped to the ground, and felt the familiar black shape take hold. A massive black dragon stood where Idoun was standing prior.

“Idoun protect Fae! Idoun protect Fae until Fae find help!” Fae called out. Idoun looked down upon Lucita, but Lucita wasn’t concerned. Lucita struck blow after blow. Idoun focused, and launched one wretched air at Lucita. Lucita was knocked backwards, dropping to her knees. Idoun looked down upon her.

“Have calmed?” Idoun asked. Lucita growled, before she felt all her energy return to her. Cecilia sighed in relief, having cleansed Lucita’s Berserk energy.

“We really need a better way to avoid that,” Cecilia remarked, as Idoun and Lucita fell to rest.

“Ephidel!” Ninian cried out. Ephidel turned, smirking at the girl.

“You’re the dragon…” Ephidel said.

“That’s right. I’m a dragon. But that means nothing anymore. Ephidel… I remember you, more than anything. You’re the one who brought me to this infernal island in the first place…” Ninian said. She turned her head, and gestured. Eliwood galloped right beside her.

“Eliwood? You really think one lord can defeat me and my legion?” Ephidel asked. Ninian spun around on the spot, waving her veil, before dropping to one knee. Eliwood unsheathed Durandal, and spun it about dramatically.

“You’re not making it out of this one, Ephidel!” Eliwood said. Ephidel summoned a horde of Legions, each one brandishing their axe and yelling a vague ‘Rororororo’ noise. Eliwood brandished Durandal, and cut through each and every Legion with a few successful strikes. Ninian continued her dance all the while.

“Curses… I guess I’ll just have to cut down this problem by the root!” Ephidel said. Eliwood glared at Ephidel, before jumping up into the air, and slamming down with Durandal. Ephidel quickly dissolved before any attack could be fired. Eliwood ran through the ashes, just to be safe.

“Ninian…” Eliwood said.

“Eliwood…” Ninian said, smiling slightly. She walked up, and stroked Eliwood’s back comfortingly.

“This is a message from Lord Nergal. ‘I await you on Dread Isle’,” Denning said, staring down Rolf.

“Well, we now stand on Dread Isle… and I’m not sure where Nergal went… but I guess this is a good enough confrontation,” Rolf said.

“This is a message from Lord Nergal. ‘I await you on Dread Isle’,” Denning said.

“…Yes, so I’ve heard,” Rolf said, readying his bow.

“This is a message from Lord Nergal. ‘I await you on Dread Isle’,” Denning said.

“…Can you say anything else?” Rolf asked.

“This is a message from Lord Nergal. ‘I await you on Dread Isle’,” Denning said.

“Guess not…” Rolf said. He closed his eyes, and fired five arrows in sequence. He struck Denning’s quiver and made quite a few nicks, but no serious injuries for the moment. Dust was clotting around his cuts, much as he had come to expect from the other Einherjar. Denning fired an arrow at Rolf, which he easily dodged.

“…You’re not like the others…” Rolf said.

“This is a message from Lord Nergal. ‘I await you on Dread Isle’,” Denning said.

“…But I think we’ve heard just about enough out of you,” Rolf said. He fired his arrow directly into Denning’s throat, and he dropped to the ground.

“This… is… a…” Denning started, before dissolving into dust. Rolf retrieved his arrow.

“This is a message from Lady Elena. ‘Get a new line!’,” Rolf said.

Lady Elena herself, meanwhile, wasn’t doing so well. She hadn’t touched a blade, for fear of that same bloodlust overcoming her once more. As she sat around, fear of action and inaction alike eating away inside her, she looked up to notice Raigh in front of her, Berserk staff in hand. Elena jumped, and hid in the convoy.

“Coward… you know, I’m not entirely sure if this thing still works,” Raigh said.

“Raigh… I can’t… not again…” Elena said.

“How many times has it been fired? Two, or three? In the heat of the moment, I seem to have lost count… Lady Elena of Crimea, my Master has had plenty to say about you. None of it good. The only use you’d be to anyone is if you would surrender to be a general serving me. Join me,” Raigh said.

“…Why would I ever join you? Joining you would mean hurting my friends… my sister… and Emilyn, too…” Elena said.

“…They also mentioned you’d be stubborn like this, too. Well… there’s only one thing left to do,” Raigh said. He started his dark spell.

“Surprise!” Emilyn cried out, grabbing Raigh’s Berserk staff, and waving it. It had no effect- the staff was useless. Emilyn looked at it, shrugged, and smashed Raigh over the head with it. Raigh dropped to the ground, and Emilyn stepped forward, putting her foot onto the small of Raigh’s back. She summoned a ball of light, not unlike Micaiah’s signature Thani, before holding it in place.

“Raigh… I give you this one chance. Expunge the Spirit within your body… or it will not be my spell that finishes you,” Emilyn said.

“Tch. What kind of threat is that? Now, if you’d actually let me cast my magic, you’d be history,” Raigh said. Emilyn looked up to Elena, who held her thumb turned. Emilyn pushed Raigh onto his back, and set her leg onto Raigh’s chest. Raigh consigned himself to his fate, and grabbed Emilyn’s thigh. Emilyn grabbed Raigh’s head, and dropped the orb of light. Emilyn weathered the magic, pushing away. Raigh was writhing on the ground, almost, yet not quite, dead.

“Why didn’t you kill him?” Elena asked.

“I didn’t?” Emilyn asked.

Fool… you could not defeat one little girl… I guess I’ll have to in your stead! a voice, clearly not Raigh’s, said. Raigh’s body raised into the air, and assumed a menacing look.

“Emilyn…” Elena said.

“I’ve got it!” Emilyn said. She created several orbs of light, and fired a few at Raigh, sending him dodging.

You will die… now… Die… Die… Raigh said, before faltering.

Tch… failure. You were always the least stable of the Spirits, Pyres’s now familiar voice said.

“Pyres…” Elena said.

Yes, Dame. It is I. Though, I must say that this has been quite illuminating. However, I really must be returning- I need to actually be gaining power at the moment, and it’s not happening now,” Pyres said. Emilyn pointed her light orbs at him, but Pyres ignored it. He pointed at Raigh’s body, and stole all the colour from it. Among it was a bolt of pure darkness. All of the light sunk into the Fire Emblem, and Pyres vanished once again. Emilyn let her light orbs dissipate, as Raigh’s colourless corpse fell to the ground.

“Elena… I…” Emilyn said, turning to Elena.

“I know, Emilyn… I’m so proud of you…” Elena said, pulling Emilyn into a hug. Emilyn looked at Elena curiously.

“What did I do?” Emilyn asked.

“You stood your ground, and you showed whoever that Spirit was who’s boss around here,” Elena said.

“You… but I… I…” Emilyn said.

“Emilyn, I need you to tell me now. What comes more naturally? Fighting, or staying back?” Elena asked.

“…I don’t like to fight… but I can’t sit back and let you be destroyed, Ells. And… whenever I see you in danger… like just then… I have to help you. Nothing could stop me from taking down your foe…” Emilyn said. Elena smiled, and stroked Emilyn’s face gently.

“Elena?” Emilyn asked.

“That’s all I wanted to hear… Don’t tell anyone else, but I always did consider you above everyone else… I wanted to keep you happy…” Elena said.

“Elena?” Emilyn asked again.

“I… if something happens in Begnion, let me know,” Elena said.

“Elena… thank you,” Emilyn said.

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Chapter 15x: Foulness Beyond Foul

Upon Leanne’s urging, Ike leads his group through Begnion to make their way to Goldoa as quickly as possible. However, he begins to have doubts on whether or not he can succeed in his mission to defeat Pyres. According to Leanne, Pyres was easily matching the royals of Gallia and Serenes without even trying. If he possessed such power, what hope did he have of overcoming it?

“Ike, we should take a break,” Leanne said suddenly.

“Huh? Leanne… why?” Ike asked, turning back. There seemed to be nothing ahead that warranted a stop to think.

“Ike… I sense… there’s some kind of laguz around here…” Leanne said. She closed her eyes, and looked around.

“Talking about us?” a familiar voice said. Leanne let out an easy breath, and waved to Janaff, Ulki and Gavina as they approached. The hawks each waved back, Gavina having to adjust the feathers behind her ears. One green feather behind her right ear, and one brown, one black, and one white behind her left. Ike had yet to meet a female hawk that wasn’t Gavina, but he’d have to guess that they were far worse off.

“Janaff? Ulki? Gavina? What brings you all the way out here? And how’s Tibarn?” Ike asked.

“And Naesala? If Pyres hurt one feather,” Leanne said.

“That’s the thing… they’ve been overcome. His power ebbs for a few hours every once in a while, but when he comes back, he seems so much stronger than before,” Gavina said.

“That motherhating, egg-sucking evil son of a burning pile of cat droppings!” Leanne said, lapsing into ancient speech as she did. Everyone who understood ancient speech had their jaws drop. Ike looked around.

“Did I miss Leanne’s attitude again?” he asked.

“…It wasn’t much,” Gavina said.

“Are you kidding? That was a really creative one out of her… oh,” Janaff started, before recognising Ike’s vague disappointment.

“…Are my insults really that interesting? We’ve got to get to Goldoa and make Pyres dead!” Leanne said.

“…Uh, Leanne? He defeated Tibarn, Naesala, and Skrimir without even trying… together,” Janaff said.

“And you don’t want to beat the crap out of him why?” Leanne said.

“Trust me, I’d like to take him out, too. But do you really think we have a chance?” Janaff asked.

“Janaff is correct,” Ulki said.

“However, Leanne does have a point. We’re not getting any tougher, and Pyres grows by the day. Better we try and lose quickly, before losing without trying by waiting for him to finish gathering power,” Gavina said.

“Then we’d better get a move on,” Ike said.

“I’ll go ahead and tell Ranulf that we’ve got a change of plan,” Ulki said, before transforming and shooting forward. Ike and his company continued the march.

Leanne stopped Ike again at the lip of an open field, with a few thickets and rivers. Ike sensed an ominous presence, too, and pulled out his sword. Ulki appeared with Ranulf, Lethe, Lyre and Kyza in tow, and they, too, assumed cautious stances.

“Look at what I found…” a foul voice said, echoing across the field. The laguz turned chalk white, as the hunched form of Izuka cackled from the other side of the field.

“Izuka!” Gavina said, transforming and zipping forward. She grabbed Izuka in her talons, flying over him menacingly.

“I tore you to pieces! Why are you not in pieces?” Gavina asked.

“Well, this most excellent fellow brought me back into this world, and permitted me to continue my experiments with these magnificent specimens… I had never thought I would get the chance to see my life’s work exacted on those rare royal laguz!” Izuka said. Gavina let out a loud shriek, and tore Izuka into several pieces, dropping him to the ground.

“Great, now we have three problems. Three very big, very terrifying problems,” Gavina said.

“Four!” the same cackle called out.

“…Five,” Gavina said. There was an ear-splitting roar from the south-west, a booming shriek from the north-west, and a sorrowful caw from the south-east. And Janaff spotted what appeared to be Izuka to the north-east.

“…I’ve got a bad feeling about this…” Ike said.

“A bad feeling? This is about as very not good as possible,” Janaff said. Ike heard the sounds of ravens gathering nearby, and in a panic, rushed the team to the centre of the field, surrounded on all fronts by the advancing Feral Ones. He quickly realised his folly, and starting looking around for solutions.

“Kill the head and the body will fall?” Ike asked.

“I can try that,” Marcia said. She soared up the cliff, accompanied by Sigrun and Tanith. The trio performed a Triangle Attack, knocking Izuka to the ground. Tibarn, Naesala and Skrimir were still advancing, frothing at the mouth and making terrifying noises.

“…Gavina, any plan?” Ike asked.

“Well… they are skilled on the field of battle, but not infallible. If Pyres defeated them, we should be able to as well if we want to stand a chance. …Numbers. It’s all in the numbers… distract them, and whittle away at them. Leonardo, Oscar, Renning, Nolan, fill the sky with arrows and crossbow bolts. Ranulf, engage Skrimir, but don’t attack. Lethe, Lyre, Kyza, you attack when Skrimir is distracted. Soren, Bastian, Ilyana, your magic is appreciated, but focus on healing. As for the rest of you… a small swarm of Feral ones?” Gavina said, all of her tactics coming into play. Ike watched the horde of cats, tigers, hawks and ravens gather, with the three royals at the head.

“Sounds fair,” Ike said.

Ranulf jumped in front of Skrimir, shaking like a leaf. This was not the first time he found himself facing odds bordering on lunacy. Yet here he was, staring down a Skrimir that had only gotten stronger, more durable… and less merciful. To call Ranulf afraid would be a massive understatement. Yet he did his job well, allowing Lethe, Lyre and Kyza to make their approach… up until Skrimir jumped forward and grabbed Ranulf. His teeth carved a massive hole in Ranulf’s side before Lyre pushed Skrimir off. Kyza jumped into action, fighting Skirmir with little input from Lethe, while Lyre began licking Ranulf’s wounds. Ranulf smiled hazily, wondering how Tibarn and Naesala were going. His thoughts turned to Janiyah before he eventually passed out.

The archery plan went only marginally better. Leonardo and Oscar were scoring the most hits, but their arrows weren’t exactly doing much more than slightly agitating the hawk king and raven king. Leonardo closed his eyes, and allowed instinct to take over. He tossed his arrow into the air, jumped, and fired directly into Naesala. The blow knocked him to the ground, and then everything went downhill about as fast as Leonardo. Leanne gave him an impressive strike, before rushing to Naesala’s side.

“Naesala? Naesala?” Leanne asked.

“Um… Leanne?” Gavina asked. Leanne looked between her and Naesala.

“Oh… right…” Leanne said. “Force of habit.”

“…Try and keep it under control. Trust me, it’s just as hard for me,” Gavina said. Leanne looked up at Tibarn, and her jaw dropped.

“Come on… you can help me take on a bunch of feral hawks. Hopefully, these ones came from the same place Izuka did,” Gavina said. Leanne smiled, and the two headed off.

“This isn’t good…” Soren said, having finished healing Ranulf to the best of his ability, before blasting a few Ignis spells in the direction of the beasts.

“We can’t hold out forever… we need to flush out Izuka. And quickly,” Ike agreed.

“We can help with that,” Janaff said, dragging Ulki over beside the pair. Ike nodded. Janaff’s eyesight and Ulki’s hearing would be of use.

“Izuka! Show yourself!” Ike called.

“Now just why would I do that?” Izuka asked, cackling. Ulki pointed, and Janaff spotted Izuka in a set of bushes. Ike signalled for Oscar to fire his bow in that direction, which he did. With a whirr, Izuka vanished in a prick of light.

“He’s not going to make this easy, is he?” Ike asked.

“There is no reason for him to. And it’s kind of hard for us to make one for him,” Soren said.

“…Can we get any positive news out of today?” Ike asked.

“Staves break. HEY GENIUS! I CAN STILL SEE YOU!” Janaff said. Izuka warped again, the glint of light denoting his presence still in Janaff’s field of vision.

“Now, if you’ll excuse me, there are rewarp staff uses to burn,” Janaff said. He shot into the air, and started calling out, causing Izuka to flee to a distant, although still visible by Janaff, place.

Ike, meanwhile, found himself facing against Skrimir. While Ike had eventually fought Caineghis on one of his many wanderings, Skrimir was an unknown foe. While Caineghis brought great fortune, Skrimir was a beast of resolve. Ike was almost positive the two fights would be different.

“I’m going to be honest: this was a match-up I never saw happening after you became sane,” Ike said. Skrimir roared.

“…Yeah, I guess you’re right,” Ike said, before immediately launching into his Aether. He cut a large slice into Skrimir, a slice Skrimir didn’t even notice. Skrimir jumped on top of Ike, and Ike found Ragnell sliding away. Much like his match against Caineghis, Ike realised this would become a battle of physical strength. And unlike his match against Caineghis, he would probably die if he lost… and Skrimir seemed to be getting stronger by the minute.

“Wow, you’re right… this is kind of therapeutic,” Leanne said, defeating her tenth hawk in a row with her magic.

“Speak for yourself, Leanne,” Gavina called back. Dispatching hawks was becoming a sore spot for her, due to the population problems Phoenicis was having. The pair heard a pair of shrieks, and froze in place. The sleek form of Naesala appeared in front of Leanne, and the tough form of Tibarn in front of Gavina.

“…When did Naesala wake up?” Leanne asked.

“…Don’t. Make. Any. Sudden. Moves,” Gavina said.

“O. K,” Leanne said, not willing to move when a manic Naesala was staring at her. Gavina grabbed her hand, and Leanne was suddenly gaining an idea on what her plan was.

“I thought you said-” Leanne started, before Gavina dived from naught to nigh two hundred in an instant, jolting Leanne’s shawl and veil out of place and causing a few knots in her stomach, but she’d probably find that preferable to being savaged by her husband. Gavina quickly pulled out of the dive, keeping a speed somewhere around a hundred, while Tibarn and Naesala pursued. They were accelerating much more naturally, but accelerating nonetheless. Leanne started singing the Galdr of Vigor. She’d hoped it’d be enough.

“Hehe… finally…” Izuka said. His Rewarp staff had broken, as had his two spares, but he had finally thrown that hawk off his scent. All he had to do was make his escape and he’d have wiped out those short-sighted fools without a doubt.

“Greetings, wretched human,” a calm voice said. Izuka froze, before slowly turning to face Janaff.

“How… How…” Izuka asked.

“Your Rewarp staff is very visually distinctive… I commend you on your diversionary tactic, Izuka. However, you made one mistake... you should've run away when you had the chance. Now all that matters is how to punish you,” Janaff said. Izuka tried casting Balberith, but Janaff struck him and took the tome, tossing it far away.

“You are a beorc, so I could put you in front of a jury of your peers… keeping in mind that your peers are savage monsters that attack without reason, I’m going to say this doesn’t end well for you. Laguz use ostracisation… but I’d think you’d enjoy that. There’s my variant, ostritcisation, that Tibarn never let me use. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work on beorc. I could tear you to shreds on the spot, but Gavina did that, and look where it got you. I’m running out of options… I can only think of one thing to do with you, Izuka,” Janaff said.

“…No way… Impossible! You’re bluffing!” Izuka said.

“I’m not sure what you are, but for everyone your Feral Ones have made to suffer the same fate… I’m not looking forward to this anymore than you are, meatbag,” Janaff said.

Gavina and Leanne slowed their rush after hearing a few thuds. They turned around, and noticed all of the hawks and ravens dropping like flies. Gavina hurriedly dived with Leanne in tow, looking for Tibarn and Naesala’s corpses in the pile. Gavina looked up, to notice Ike pushing Skrimir from his body, but everyone else being mostly all right, with a few scratches here and there (some severe, but all survivable).

“Gavina! He’s over here!” Leanne called. Gavina rushed to Leanne’s side, to see Tibarn and Naesala on the ground. There was minute twitching, but it was obvious the pair were on their way out of this world. Leanne began singing a tune to help the Feral Ones return to wherever it was they came. Gavina noticed, for the first time, that Leanne accompanied it with a dance. Smiling slightly, she turned to her husband, as he faded away, the faint remains of a smile etched onto his hawk beak. Gavina started shedding tears, before Ulki and Janaff soared beside her.

“What happened? Why did the Feral Ones stop?” Gavina asked.

“I found Izuka, and we had a chat,” Janaff said.

“Ended with him in pieces, I assume?” Gavina asked. Leanne chuckled lightly.

“Well… guess you could say that. He’s mostly dust, now. Now I regret that decision… *Erk*!” Janaff said. Gavina quickly pieced together what Janaff had wound up doing, and gave an empathy retch. Ulki and Leanne looked between each other, and shrugged.

Ike looked at the field where the Feral Ones had attacked. There wasn’t much different from before, save for a few smatterings of blood leaked by Ranulf, mostly. Lyre was holding onto him while he was still woozy from the pain.

“…Gavina, does that count as us conquering the three royals?” Ike asked.

“In terms of us matching Pyres? Probably not, though I do have my suspicions about what this battle could teach us about Pyres… and his weakness…” Gavina said.

“Weakness?” Ike asked.

“Pyres is accumulating magic… which must mean that it is not his. I could think of other reasons, but this seems most appropriate. If the magic is not his, we could take it away… and you saw what happened when we took away the Feral magic,” Gavina said. Ike took a moment to think about it.

“…I’ll take your word for it. But if you’re right… we do have a chance. And no matter how slim… I have always won every battle that ever mattered,” Ike said.

“And this Spirit killed your wives. This battle might be more important than any other you ever fought. I know how you feel,” Gavina said.

“…Thank you, Gavina,” Ike said. He resumed the march, after making sure everyone was fighting fit.

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Chapter 16: Night Light Fright

Raigh, the Dark Charmer, has been defeated on Dread Isle. Relief courses through Elena, for whom the experience has been both terrifying and educational. However, almost everyone expects at least one other mage to have taken up Spirit Charming, and no one has any clue of where to start.

On the way back to Etruria, Roy offers the suggestion of heading to Biran, and visiting Queen Guinevere. Her powerful magic, learned from Lilina herself, would surely have attracted attention by now. He decides to take a route through Sacae to arrive at Biran, a route that sets Hector’s teeth on edge. However, he refuses to answer questions when prodded, a tacit sign of approval.

Kalen watched Elena and the Circlet talking amongst themselves, that night at camp. They were somewhere around the Etruria/Sacae border, and the camp had been divided roughly into Circlet, Tellius, Magvel and Elibe fires, with Ayra joining the Circlet. The Circlet seemed to be laughing at something Ayra had said, with Livia and Emilyn sitting by Elena’s side.

“What’s the matter, Kalen?” Astrid asked, taking her seat beside him.

“…Elena just seems so happy…” Kalen said.

“And there’s a problem with that?” Astrid asked. Kalen turned to Elena again, noticing her giving a hug to Livia for some reason.

“You like her, don’t you?” Astrid asked.

“Yeah… I’ve proposed to her, but-” Kalen said.

“AHAHAHA! Oh, that’s so funny… are you sure you actually did that?” Astrid asked.

“What do you mean by that?” Kalen asked.

“Elena never had any time for boys. It was always the Circlet when she was friendly, or fighting. I have a hard time believing she’d even think about accepting something as hare-brained as that,” Astrid said.

“Are you mocking me?” Kalen asked.

“Depends. Do you know the real Elena?” Astrid asked. Kalen opened his mouth, before closing it again.

“Wait, what?” Mist asked, looking up.

“Elena’s not interesting in boys in that way. You know… like her father,” Astrid said. Mist shrugged, and went back into Rolf’s arms.

“Well… she accepted my proposal. Does that count for anything?” Kalen asked.

“When did you ask?” Astrid asked.

“Just after we got to Elibe,” Kalen said. Astrid looked at Elena, who was currently being stroked on the back by Livia and Emilyn.

“…No, it doesn’t count,” Astrid said.

“Aw, come off it! I got her to seriously consider getting married! Does this seriously not count?” Kalen asked.

“No. Especially not after the bonds between the Circlet got reignited, between Elena and Emilyn especially. I don’t doubt that she’ll be staying by the side of her sisters in the Circlet rather than looking for a husband,” Astrid said.

“…I’m seriously still in a rivalry with Emilyn over Elena’s hand?” Kalen asked.

“And losing,” Wright said. Kalen whipped his head around, to see Wright drinking some coffee cheekily.

“Weren’t you in my corner?” Kalen asked.

“I never said that,” Wright commented.

“So, anyway… I was watching Eliwood fight off Ephidel back on Dread Isle…” Ayra started.

“Yeah?” Elena asked, looking up.

“Ninian did this dance, and Eliwood was fighting with the strength of several men,” Ayra said.

“Someone mention me?” Ninian asked, approaching. Everyone jumped, and made room for her arrival.

“Oh… we were just talking about your dance. What brings you here?” Ayra asked.

“Oh… no reason in particular. I just… wanted to see how the Circlet was going…” Ninian said.

“Eliwood and Hector are arguing?” Aderyn said.

“How did-” Ninian started.

“I can see it from here. Janaff has been teaching me some vision,” Aderyn said.

“Anyway… Ninian, is it true your dance can invigorate one person to do the work of many?” Ayra asked.

“Yes… it’s a talent many dancers perfect, like Queen Lalum of Etruria. It’s nothing special,” Ninian said.

“…On our continent, the ability for one man to do the work of two is reserved for the magical talents of herons,” Penelopy said.

“I think Sylvia could do it, too, back on Jugdral… though that might’ve just been… other reasons…” Ayra said.

“I’ve always said chauvinism was highly flammable,” Emilyn said.

“Wait… now I’m curious…” Elena said. She looked between Penelopy and Ninian.

“What if you two inspired each other to do the work of two people?” Elena asked. Penelopy and Ninian looked between each other.

“You know… I think that might just be a sight to see…” Penelopy said. Penelopy and Ninian got to their feet, and began their respective acts- Penelopy sung her galdr, and Ninian spun and waved her veil. The two began dancing and singing faster and faster.

“…I may have started something…” Elena said.

The pair watched the camp in the shadows.

“There’s trouble ahead… but they’re dancing. Not a lookout in sight. They’re easy targets,” the younger one said.

“Don’t be so sure… the lookouts are meant to be hard to spot,” the older one said.

“Hm… true. Well, you know what to do. Let’s see if we can’t strike them in the heart,” the younger one said. She knelt to the ground, and with an imperceptible impact on Mother Earth, the fires had all been doused. The older one got to work, while the younger one kept an eye on him.

“What? What’s going on?”

“Who turned out the fire?”

“Are they still dancing?”

“This is so not my good day!”

Everyone in the party was having a mild panic attack, the darkness having appeared so suddenly. Those more attuned to the battlefield had drawn their weapons, but in the darkness, they were wary of waving them. Yune honed her eyes, and started combing the darkness. After the adjustment period, she could see through the darkness almost as well as she could sunlight. A red-headed assassin was making his way to the camp.

“This doesn’t look good,” Yune said. She walked around the camp, and tossed a shuriken to where the assassin was standing. The assassin didn’t seem to notice, or if he did, his dodge made her throw seem pointless. She heard the faint mewl of jungle cats, as Janiyah and Kezhda transformed. Beasts could see in the dark… this was going well. Kezhda jumped forward, grabbing the assassin by the arms, and pinning him to the ground.

“Get off me, stupid cat…” the assassin said.

“Wait… I recognise that voice…” Hector said.

“…Kezhda! It’s all right! That’s just Jaffar! What brings you here, friend?” Eliwood asked.

“…” Jaffar was silent.

“Come on… you can trust us. I promise Nino’s safe…” Hector said.

“We can’t promise that!” Eliwood said.

“Nino is safe,” Jaffar said.

“Oh… she’s not a Spirit Charmer, is she?” Eliwood asked.

“…” Jaffar said.

“This can’t end well…” Emilyn said.

“I have only one law. I am bound to the Black Fang. As of today, the Black Fang is Nino. I shall obey Nino’s word as if it were law. And Nino seeks retribution,” Jaffar said. Hector clapped.

“…What happened?” Livia asked.

“I think this is the longest he’s ever spoken,” Hector said.

“He and Marisa would make great conversation partners,” Joshua said.

“Talking time is over,” Jaffar said. He vanished, and everyone began backing away. Jaffar was making his way through the camp, approaching Tormod. Yune tossed a shuriken, which Jaffar dodged. The shuriken was lodged in Tormod’s arm, and Tormod was knocked to the ground. Jaffar picked him up, and made his escape.

“Oh no you don’t!” Yune called out.

Yune, Janiyah and Kezhda all ran forward, running after Jaffar. Yune continued throwing shurikens, Jaffar dodging each. Yune growled, and threw five at once. Jaffar dodged them, but lost his footing and stumbled for a moment. Janiyah jumped, and pushed him forward, sending Tormod falling to the ground. Kezhda scooped him up, and ran back to camp. Jaffar made to give chase, but Yune stopped him. She grabbed him by the arm, and focused. Her skill… she was draining Jaffar of his strength.

“What now, Jaffar?” Yune asked.

“…” Jaffar remained silent.

“Not a talker, are you? What if I told you I could guarantee Nino would die a painful death if she continues on the path she has chosen?” Yune asked.

“…I will defend her. I will always defend her,” Jaffar said. Yune leaned closer.

“If you can kill the threat that looms over her head, I guarantee we’ll be thanking you for it. It’s not us Nino needs to be scared of,” Yune said.

“…Nino is not scared of you,” Jaffar said.

“True. If you want your friend to survive… I suggest you convince her of her folly. Get her away from her Spirit before it’s too late…” Yune said.

“…I have been watching since you arrived on this continent. Waiting for the time to strike. I have seen the fate that befell the older twin. Nino does not know,” Jaffar said.

“Jaffar… against my better judgement, you will leave this battlefield. You will help Nino,” Yune said.

“…” Jaffar was silent, as Yune let him go.

“…Tormod must pay for his crimes,” Jaffar stated.

“Crime? Tormod did not commit a crime. He escaped a terrible fate. We have witnessed three Charmers befall that fate. I do not want to witness a fourth,” Yune said.

“…Your words will be considered. But no more,” Jaffar said, vanishing.

“You should’ve killed him,” Janiyah said.

“I don’t think killing him now would’ve done much,” Yune said, turning to head back to camp.

Yune and Janiyah returned, to see Tormod being tended to by Livia, and Penelopy and Ninian still dancing. Everyone else was fixing up the ruffles caused by the scuffle.

“Seriously, you two? Neither of you is tired?” Yune asked.

“Nope,” Ninian said simply. Yune nodded vaguely, and headed to the Circlet. Janiyah sat by Livia, and Livia gave her an affectionate stroke by the ears as she was finishing up.

“They go right for the gut…” Tormod said.

“Nino… for some reason, that name feels familiar,” Lugh said.

“I’ll guess we’ll have to meet her to know what’s going on for sure,” Eliwood said, giving Lugh a bit of a tousle. Everyone started heading for bed, Penelopy and Ninian finishing their dance reluctantly. It was a good experience.

“’Night, Elena,” Emilyn said vaguely. There was no reply.

“Elena?” Emilyn asked. Everyone jolted, and started looking around. There was no sign of Elena anywhere.

“Where is she? I’m… I’m scared…” Emilyn said.

“It’s going to be all right…” Livia said.

“But we’re going to have to change course. We’ll continue on through Sacae to the old territory of the Lorca. There’s an old friend there that’ll be able to help us find Elena,” Eliwood said.

“…We don’t need Sacaean help! We can do it on our own!” Hector said.

“Hector, these plains are vast. If Elena is lost, a Sacaean would be able to track her easily. If she’s kidnapped, a Sacaean would be better to contact than using ourselves,” Eliwood said.

“Let’s just call her dead and-” Hector started, before Emilyn gave him a massive whack over the head with her book.

“…Fine. Roy, do you know any Sacaeans?” Hector asked.

“Yeah, why?” Roy asked.

“Lilina… we’re going to visit your mother,” Eliwood said.

“And this strikes no one as a bad idea?” Hector asked.

“What happened, Jaffar?” Nino asked.

“…It… It happened…” Jaffar said.

“…D’aww… but now is not the time for romance. That Laguz must pay. You know this…” Nino said.

“I know…” Jaffar said.

“…We’ll regroup, and focus on the Essence. I’ve left a few traps… we should have enough time to make what we need,” Nino said.

“Understood,” Jaffar said.

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Chapter 17: A Plain Duel

Elena has disappeared. The surprising nature of it causes everyone to enter a flurry of doubt. Why, exactly, had she disappeared, and more importantly, when? And most importantly, where? Eliwood believes that, to answer this question, the group must head to the home of the Lorca tribe.

The Lorca tribe was wiped out by the Talliver Bandits a good few years prior. The only remaining survivor was the secret daughter of Marquess Caelin, Lady Lyndis. Lyn eventually returned to Lycia for a short while, before eventually returning to Sacae. As of now, it is known only that she resides in the plains with her friend Florina, of Ilia.

Elena stirred, and awoke, groggy from whatever had happened last night. She woke up, to see a girl sitting on a chair beside her bed. She had long black hair, and her face was sunk into a book. Elena determined her name was Beth.

“Where… where am I?” Elena asked.

“Oh, you’re up. What’s your angle?” Beth asked.

“Uh… angle? I don’t really know who you are,” Elena said.

“Listen, girl. I know you’re with you-know-who. Don’t try to hide it from me. What is he planning, coming to Sacae?” Beth asked.

“Tormod? So you’re one of Pyres’s minions? Then I have nothing more to say. Taste my… where’s my blade?” Elena said, realising her sword was missing.

“Are you really so dumb as to think I’d let you keep your sword?” Beth asked.

“Listen. I don’t know what you want… unless you work for Pyres, in which case you can just kill me now. My sisters will get you, you know,” Elena said.

“Pyres? Is this some kind of code?” Beth asked.

“Beth? Are you being nasty to the guest?” a voice asked from outside the door. It opened, and Elena’s jaw dropped. A beautiful woman entered the room, with a nice blue dress, neat green hair not unlike Livia’s, and an elegant blade at her hip. She smiled softly when she saw Elena, before turning to Beth.

“Seriously, Beth? Even if you-know-who’s up to something, that’s not how to get information,” the woman, a girl named Lyn, said.

“I… Lady Lyndis… I… I apologise,” Beth said, stepping out of the room in deference.

“L-Lyn…” Elena said.

“Sorry about her. Brilliant tactician, but she can get a little paranoid easily. And according to her, you were travelling with… him… but regardless. What brings you here to Sacae?” Lyn asked.

“…I’m… I’m looking for someone… a mage. They are serving an evil Spirit… and I’ve got to stop them,” Elena said.

“Father Sky and Mother Earth…” Lyn said.

“…So, what are you thinking?” Elena asked.

“I… I want to help you… but I want to gain an idea of your companions… if it’s not too much trouble, could you remain with us?” Lyn asked.

“I’d… I’d like that…” Elena said.

“Would you like to meet my other friend? She’s nicer than Beth…” Lyn said.

“…Sure…” Elena said.

Lyn led Elena out of the Sacaean tent, and to a small training field. There, a woman with purple hair was flying about the skies on a pegasus, striking a variety of dummies. Elena noticed a lot of generals amongst them.

“Florina! The guest is awake,” Lyn said. Florina heeled her pegasus, and descended down to face Elena. Florina dismounted, and shyly faced Elena.

“…You… you’re his friend… aren’t you?” Florina asked.

“Who’s friend?” Elena asked, looking between Florina and Lyn. Both looked between each other, and then away.

“...Someone from the Campaign of Fire? I don’t think I’m travelling with many of them… just two, actually. Eliwood’s… nice, I guess. Never really liked Hector, though,” Elena said. Lyn and Florina turned away, tears marking their eyes.

“Oh… bad things with him?” Elena asked.

“You… have no idea… but if you don’t like him, I guess then we don’t have too big a problem. But we will have to face him again, I guess,” Lyn said.

“…Him…” Florina said.

“It won’t be that bad… I promise,” Lyn said.

“Thank you… Lyn…” Florina said.

“Hey, I think I just saw Rath! Can we ask Rath for help?” Hector asked. The group was trudging through Sacae on Eliwood’s hearsay.

“No, Hector. We know where she is. And she will be able to help us,” Eliwood said.

“Listen to yourself. Her helping us? That wretch would kill me on the spot first,” Hector said.

“You complain one more time, and she won’t have to,” Emilyn said. Ever since his slight about wishing Elena was dead, Emilyn’s patience with Hector had become much shorter.

“That’s enough arguing… we’re almost there, and then you can apologise to Lyn for what you did, Hector,” Ninian said.

“Apologise? For what?” Hector said. All of the men cringed upon hearing that, as several women immediately shouted. They were all saying different things, so their message was lost in the din, but Hector got the gist.

“Ahead… wyvern riders!” Eliwood said.

“Biran… Guinevere…” Roy said.

“Oh, come off it, you. It’s not her fault, and if it is, I’ll magic her until it isn’t,” Lilina said. Everyone started running forward, except Hector and Eliwood.

“Aren’t you coming?” Eliwood asked.

“I’m not helping her. Besides, she’d kill me as soon as she sees me,” Hector said.

“…We will see her eventually,” Eliwood remarked, cantering towards the wyverns. Hector continued his walking pace. In fact, he even slowed down a tad.

Lyn took to the field in front of her tent, looking at the assortment of wyverns and other soldiers wearing the armour of Biran. Elena, Florina and Beth followed behind her, Elena having nicked the Sol Katti for her own use (to Lyn’s amusement).

“What do we do?” Florina asked.

“We’ll hold the fort until we can take out the head,” Elena said, trying to pick a head. By looking at wyverns and getting a read on names (or lack thereof), she could eventually deduce that two wyverns Narcian and Gale would be said heads.

“…Elena, hold the left. Lyn, the right. I’ll stay here, and defend from the rear. Florina, dart in, annoy the enemy, and dart out,” Beth said.

“…Beth, there’s a force over there. They don’t look like they’re with Biran…” Florina said.

“If they come close, we’ll see just who they think they are,” Lyn said.

Livia led the group up towards the wyverns, who were assailing a Sacaean tent. Two swordmasters, a mage and a pegasus knight where fighting to defend it. Livia thought she recognised one of the swordmasters…

“We have to move forward!” Livia called out. Everyone with wings ascended into the sky, while everyone with horses rushed forward to make sure that the swordmasters were well defended. Everyone that fit neither category focused on the closest enemies. Innes took his time to snipe three enemies from the sky.

“Of course, no one’s better at archery than me,” Innes remarked. Lucita grinned, before shooting down five wyverns in as many seconds, also shooting one of Innes’s arrows to secure that fifth kill.

“Do you mind not comparing headcounts?” Lucita asked. Innes grunted, before the two resumed a more methodical approach to shooting.

Livia approached the fort, and dodged a blast of wind sent her way almost immediately.

“Whoa!” Livia called out, causing the swordmasters to turn.

“Livia!” Elena cried out, waving. Livia waved, but Elena had jumped up and hugged her. Livia smiled slightly, and nudged Elena to the ground.

“Is this a companion of yours, Elena?” Lyn asked.

“Yes, Lyn. This is my sister… uh…” Elena started.

“Princess,” Livia said.

“Really? Still? Anyway, this is Princess Livia of Crimea, and my sister,” Elena said. Lyn beamed, and held out her hand. Livia shook it, before gesturing and pulling back to start fighting a few wyverns again. A trio of wyverns descended on the fort, and Elena brandished the Sol Katti.

“I’ve got this,” Elena said. Elena stepped forward, and focused. She divided into five, and lunged forward, her five copies hacking and slashing in a haphazard-looking fashion before reappearing back where she started. Only then did the wyvern knights start dropping to the ground.

“Impressive…” Lyn remarked.

Perceval and Cecilia came up to one of the wyvern lords leading the attack, one of the Dragon Generals of Biran- Narcian.

“So… being defeated once was not enough for you?” Narcian asked.

“I’d say the same about you, scale-breath. What brings you back to harass us?” Cecilia asked.

“S-s-scale-breath? How dare you insult my most beautiful visage! You foolish being… Perceval! Attack her!” Narcian said.

“Joining you the first time was the greatest mistake of my life… why should I join you a second? Narcian, I put you down today!” Perceval said. Cecilia held up her hands, and cast some odd Aqua spell on Perceval. A thin veil of water enveloped Perceval, although he was able to breathe. Perceval charged in, slamming down on Narcian’s wyvern’s wing, and grounding him, as well as some extraneous damage. Narcian raised his runesword, striking at Perceval. The water sheen disappeared, but nothing else appeared to have happened.

“What?” Narcian asked.

“Aquarma,” Cecilia said simply. Perceval got off another strong strike, and Cecilia added an Aircalibur. Narcian dropped to the ground, leaving his runesword.

“Aquarma? I’ve never seen that spell before,” Perceval said.

“It’s a powerful tactic I found studying with Lord Pent and Lady Clarine, when we found out about Aqua magic. It highlight’s water’s utility as a magic family,” Cecilia said.

“And I guess you took to it like a duck to water?” Perceval asked.

“…Why not? Let’s go,” Cecilia said, Aircaliburing Narcian’s dust again, before turning and leaving.

Gale watched Narcian fall, without much care for the fact. Narcian was egotistical and only good in combat because of his gear. He blinked, and noticed a javelin having just missed his flank. He turned, and noticed a wyvern knight facing him.

“Who are you?” Gale asked.

“Nobody much. The daughter of the sister to one of the greatest heroes on a continent you’ve never heard of. Really, if I told you I was Sheeta Gawain, would you care?” Sheeta asked. Gale opened his mouth, before closing it.

“Exactly. Aunt Jill taught me much about wyvern riding techniques… I can guarantee that this will be a fight worth remembering!” Sheeta said. Sheeta pulled out a pair of javelins, and threw the first. Gale dodged it, favouring his right-hand side. Sheeta grabbed another javelin from her sheath, and tossed it again. Gale performed the same dodge, and Sheeta tossed her second javelin such that Gale was struck dodging. Gale pulled the javelin out of his shoulder, still able to fight, but with some difficulty.

“I admit… that is a great move. Your Aunt Jill must have been a great wyvern lord. But greatness alone isn’t going to be enough,” Gale said, pulling out his axe. Sheeta’s eyes widened briefly, and Gale swung his axe into her. Sheeta’s armour softened the blow, but the impact was enough to knock her from her saddle. She dropped to the ground, and Gale landed beside her. He readied his axe, considering his options. A spear appeared in his thigh, and he looked up.

“Hands. Off,” the halberdier said, readying another spear. Boyd looked rather impressive.

“Hm… impressive throw,” Gale said.

“I will defend my sister with all I have,” Boyd said.

“Interesting… then I won’t be needing this,” Gale said, dropping his axe to the ground. He pulled out his lance, and thrust it forward. Boyd spun his lance around, disarming Gale, before thrusting forward and dusting him.

“…Sadly, on-foot lance battles just aren’t as impressive as sword duels,” Boyd said. He turned to Sheeta, who was getting to her feet.

“You all right to keep fighting?” Boyd asked.

“Of course… I’ll just need a vulnerary or a healer,” Sheeta said.

“Here, take one of mine,” Boyd said, tossing forward a vulnerary. Sheeta smiled, before hopping back on her wyvern and continuing her attack.

Elena sheathed the Sol Katti, the forces of Biran having been thoroughly dusted. Elena smiled slightly. She’d probably have to resharpen the blade later, but her foes being made mostly of dust made it nice and easy to clean. Lyn gave an approving smile, before gesturing to head over to her friends’ group. Elena smiled, approaching them.

“Everyone… this is Lyn. She’s a Sacaean princess, this one… Lyn… I don’t expect you to get started on memorising everyone,” Elena said. Lyn beamed, and Beth and Florina appeared behind her.

“…Oh, hey, Eliwood! How’s everything on your end?” Lyn asked, waving. Eliwood hustled to the front.

“Lyndis… nice to meet you again,” Eliwood said.

“Nice to meet you, too… though I don’t say I miss him, did Beth not tell me-?” Lyn asked. Right on cue, Hector leisurely strolled up behind the group, making his way to Eliwood. He froze halfway there, suddenly realising Lyn was there. Elena looked at Lyn. Her face was impassive, and she slowly approached Hector. Astrid and Ephraim grabbed her just before she struck Hector, the Mani Katti almost leaping from the scabbard of its own accord.

“Let me go! Let me go! He needs to die! Let me GO!” Lyn cried, but Ephraim’s grip was nice and solid. Hector was stepping back carefully.

“What did I even do?” Hector asked.

“Seriously? SERIOUSLY? You don’t know what you did? In one move, you ruined your best friends’ wedding, you destroyed all the effort we had put in to helping Florina’s fear of men, and you ruined her mother’s favourite dress… Do you realise how much you’ve done? You… you unrepentant liar!” Lyn said, struggling against Astrid and Ephraim. Elena had come up from behind, and was adding her own strength.

“Yeah… you punched me in the face. I’d say that calls us even!” Hector said.

“You think THAT was even? I’m seriously starting to consider whether letting you look after Lilina would just be cruel to her!” Lyn said.

“Um… about that…” Lilina said. Lyn turned her head to face Lilina. Elena got on her toes, and whispered something into Lyn’s ear. Lyn stopped struggling, and Astrid and Ephraim let go of her.

“Lilina?” Lyn asked.

“Mother?” Lilina asked. Lyn held her arms open, and allowed Lilina to run up and give her a massive hug.

“Oh, Mother… I’m so sorry for what my father did to you before. But he got better with age. He died fighting off Biran dragons, and gave Roy everything he needed to turn the tides of battle against Biran,” Lilina said. Lyn looked up at Hector.

“Is this true?” Lyn asked.

“Um… well…” Hector said. Lyn stared at him, before turning back to Elena. She smiled, before turning back to Hector. Her smile vanished just for him.

“All right, Hector. I’ll overlook that incident just this once. Let me make this perfectly clear: I haven’t forgiven you. Not at all. Don’t come anywhere near Florina or Beth. And don’t try to talk to me. I’m not going to watch your back. May Father Sky have mercy on your spirit,” Lyn said.

“Wow…” Hector said. Lyn turned on her heel, and strode back to her home. Everyone took that as a sign to rest at the house. Beth cut her pace to meet up with Lilina.

“…Don’t be mad, but thanks for showing up. I wasn’t looking forward to telling Lyn I have no idea where the infant you went,” Beth said.

“Thank you so much for looking out for my well-being,” Lilina said.

Night fell while everyone was resting up in Lyn’s home, so they decided to retire there that night. Lyn was quick to state that she wanted Elena only to share her room, conceding only Ayra. Florina and Beth invited Livia to come with them, and Livia gestured for Janiyah to follow.

“So… you’re…” Beth said.

“We’re called laguz. We can transform into beast, bird or dragon. I’m a beast, a cat, to be precise,” Janiyah said.

“Wow…” Beth said.

“We fight with great pride and strength, but it can be tiring, holding our form for an extended period of time. It takes practice for a laguz to hold their form shoddily, and further practice to hold it perfectly. I don’t mean to brag, but I’m the first non-royal laguz to master the technique. I could hold my form all day. Or, in what I think Livia wants, all night,” Janiyah said.

“Interesting… I’d have to make a note of that. My mind’ll be swimming with strategies tonight!” Beth said. She opened the door, and let the three into Beth’s own room. While Beth and Florina took the bed, Janiyah transformed, and curled up on a softer patch of ground. Livia smiled, and snuggled into her.

“…They must have a great companionship…” Florina said, smiling.

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Chapter 17x: Temple of the Sacred Sword

Lyn joins Elena’s team for Elena’s benefit, making it very clear to Hector that she wants no part in his shenanigans. With this rather uncomfortable settlement, everyone readies themselves to take a break at Lyn’s home, turning into an overnight stay with Hector in an outdoor tent.

In the middle of the night, or thereabouts, Lyn rouses Elena, and gestures for Elena to follow her. Accompanied only by Ayra, Lyn leads Elena through a complex part of Sacae that wakes Elena up. No matter what this endeavour leads to, Elena is curious as to the result… and the means.

“How far?” Elena asked, an odd feeling coursing through her body. Lyn continued walking through the plains of Sacae, naturally unhindered. Elena was following her patterns and developing a sense of space, although Ayra was quickly abandoned.

“Not far now… in fact…” Lyn said, before stopping. She was standing outside a small, rather shabby tent. Ayra came running, to see Elena still staring at the tent in shock.

“You mean to say… you dragged me all the way out here… for this?” Elena asked.

“What? Oh… the shabbiness. Forgot… come inside,” Lyn said. She pulled back the flap, and disappeared into the ground. Elena looked at Ayra curiously, before the pair followed her. They were going down what seemed to be a natural stairwell, leading to an impressive stone door. Lyn was standing in front of it, looking a little pleased with herself.

“…Lyn, it’s late, and I’m not even from Elibe. What am I looking at?” Elena asked.

“This… is the Temple of the Sacred Sword. This is a special place within Sacae… it can only be entered by those who study the blade in its purest form. Swordmasters only, though I have entered several times… Great Ladies seem fine,” Lyn said. She held the Mani Katti skyward, and the stone door opened. Elena and Ayra copied with their respective blades, and followed Lyn into the chamber. Statues of great swordmaster heroes marked the halls. Elena was surprised to see Mia’s likeness, as was Ayra to see two twins bearing marked similarities to herself.

“I don’t know where those statues come from. They weren’t here before I birthed Lilina. Elena, over here,” Lyn said. Elena followed Lyn, to see a scroll held firmly within the grasp of a great statue. This statue was larger than all the others, and depicted a fierce female warrior. In her right hand was a sword much like those swordmasters favoured.

“Thu, a legendary warrior in Sacaean legend. It is said that she was a physical representation of Mother Earth… kind out of the field of battle, but on it, a warrior with unrivalled ferocity and skill,” Lyn said.

“Wow…” Elena said, taking a good look at her posture. Even in statue form, Elena recognised the basic pose for a stationary swordmaster to assume. No doubt Thu had designed it in Elibe.

“That scroll she carries is said to bear all of Thu’s notes on combat style and technique. Elena… I have been all through this room, learning from the treasures within, but I haven’t the courage to take this one last prize. I want you to take it,” Lyn said.

“Me? But…” Elena said.

“Yeah, I know, I’ve just met you, this is crazy, blah blah blah. You’re worse than Kent. I’ve seen enough of your fighting to know that this scroll will accept you reading it. I think whatever is on it will do you good in combat,” Lyn said.

“...I was going to say the last thing I need is more power, if I can lose all my self-control like that…” Elena said.

“The Berserk staff? Elena, according to your sister, Berserk staves are unknown in Tellius. Why would you willingly forsake the strength to protect your friends and serve Crimea to the best of your ability for the sake of a staff you might never encounter again for the rest of your life?” Ayra asked.

“Well… when you put it like that…” Elena said. She leaned forward, and grabbed the scroll. The statue of Thu’s grip seemingly loosened, and Elena could pull the scroll backwards.

“Very nice… ver-y nice indeed! That sacred sword of seals has lied in wait here, within the clasp of the shadow dragon, deep within these sacred stones, for many a year. But now, your genealogy of the holy war has brought about a brilliant path of radiance for me to obtain it! Heroes of light and shadow collide… and a brilliant radiant dawn shall shine bright over this gaiden story. May our fates be aligned in this brilliant awakening… but my blazing sword will win the day. THRACIA!” a voice said from behind them.

“That was overly dramatic…” Lyn said.

“Regardless, this is trouble,” Ayra said. A figure stepped out from behind a statue, and Elena learned his name- Odin.

“Relax… I have a great code of honour. I would never harm a woman unnecessarily. Once there’s a battle, all bets are off. But I guess we can progress past that. Just give me the scroll. Give me the scroll, and I won’t have to resort to force,” Odin said.

“You cannot claim the scroll, swordmaster,” Lyn said.

“Then… I have no choice,” Odin said. He stepped back, and let out an impressive roar. Several of the statues, the ones that depicted familiar faces, jumped from their pedestals, and drew their blades. The only units on this battlefield that weren’t swordmasters were Lyn and Elena- and they were great ladies, units that weren’t far off.

“This looks fun,” Elena said. Before Odin could give a command to attack, the door opened behind the group, and three figures appeared. All of them swordmasters.

“Who are you?” Lyn asked. They stepped closer, and Elena recognised them. Well, recognised Joshua. The two people behind him, Guy and Fir, she knew by name only.

“King Joshua of Jehanna. I saw you sneaking away, and thought to follow you, in the interests of safety. These two started following me of their own accord,” Joshua said.

“Walking through Sacae on your own is just plain dumb,” Guy said.

“Besides, I’m pretty sure this would wind up as desecration of a temple… you know, more than it already is,” Fir said, looking at the statues. She noticed a similar-looking pair, and charged at them, furious. Joshua and Guy advanced closer to Odin, while Lyn turned to Elena.

“Elena… this is going to sound weird, but I want you to read that scroll. I want you to learn as much as you can. I don’t know what’s on there, but I’m sure that it will help you defeat this man,” Lyn said.

“Uh… OK, but shouldn’t I be fighting?” Elena asked.

“I’ll stay by your side. Just read that thing,” Lyn said. Elena unfurled the scroll at last.

“It’s blank,” Elena said.

“What? Hm…” Lyn said. Elena began thinking. The parchment was too plain for it to be a mirror and a ‘test of inner character’ lesson… there didn’t seem to be any sign of ink damage on the back… Elena turned back to the statue of Thu, and looked closely at it. It didn’t seem becoming for a woman of her legend to have left behind an artefact designed to instruct and not provide any hints. She studied her face, a scar lining her cheek… a scar. No sculptor would’ve consciously added a scar to a woman’s likeness. Despite the fact she found the scar attractive, there had to be a reason for it. Elena reached up and touched the scar. A thin slit in her face, not indicative of any hidden treasures, but it did give Elena an idea. She pulled out the Sol Katti, and pricked her finger carefully. A left finger, of course. She touched the parchment with it, and the blood soaked in quickly, leaving no trace. The parchment shone brightly, and the text appeared.

Great Lady, the time has come at last.
Your time is coming, your legacy is fast.
To become a Dame is not just about the horse you ride
It is about the strength of your dragon hide.

Becoming fast and skilled is well and good
But it is all for naught if all strikes can be withstood.
And just as being nimble can dodge all pain
If a single blow can fell you, there can be no gain.

Those are your strengths, and one must also mind
That a bow is a handy tool, I think you’ll find.
My legend is passed down, for you in the future time.
I hope you remember it well, because that’s why it’s in rhyme.

As soon as Elena had finished reading the rhyme, it had faded. Elena looked up at Lyn.

“I solved it, but only briefly,” Elena said.

“Interesting…” Lyn said. Elena turned back to Thu, and noticed something odd. She reached behind it, and pulled out a bow.

A bow is a handy tool, I think you’ll find.

Elena’s thoughts began swimming, and the sight of Lucita, of Rolf, of Innes, of every archer she had ever met, all firing their bows. She turned to Odin, and focused. An arrow appeared in her hand, and she nocked it. She pulled back on the string, a thousand thoughts reeling through her mind. She released, and in her heart, she realised her shot was good the moment it was loosed. The arrow sung through the air, and struck Odin in the leg. Odin roared, and tugged the arrow out. Elena slipped the bow onto her back, knowledge rushing to her mind about how she should unstring it first, but she wanted to face Odin in single combat.

“How… how have you gotten so strong…” Odin said, before his eyes turned to the scroll. He reached out and took it, pulling it from Elena’s grip. He opened it, and put some of his blood onto it. The blood soaked in, and text appeared. Odin’s eyes crossed it, before he threw the scroll at Elena. Elena pulled it away from her face, and checked it. Blank, but she faintly caught sight of a fading word that was hardly ladylike.

“Looks like it doesn’t work for swordmasters,” Elena said.

“This… this isn’t fair… why should you be able to master the blade, and I not?” Odin asked.

“Because I’m not a Swordmaster,” Elena said. The Sol Katti jumped from the quiver, pointed straight at Odin’s throat. Odin’s sword came to counter it, but Elena held her grip.

“I’m a Dame,” Elena said. She waved the Sol Katti threateningly, before vanishing. She shot up beside Odin, and slashed him one two three four five times in rapid succession, before jumping up and cleaving down on him, appearing as two, before the real her appeared, jumping upwards. She suspected the manoeuvre was intended to remount a horse. Odin dropped to the ground, and the statues ceased moving.

“…Wow… Dame Elena…” Lyn said.

“Not Dame. Elena will do just fine, Lyn,” Elena said.

“You have truly learned what it is to be a master swordsmistress,” Lyn said.

“No… I’m not a Trueblade. I am a Dame. Next chance we get, you’ll need to show me a good Sacaean mount,” Elena said.

“You’re mounted now?” Lyn asked.

“Lyn? This might sound mad… but could you be my teacher? I didn’t know anything about archery, about horseback combat, about dealing heavy blows, about taking blows. The scroll has taught me much, but I don’t know if I can handle all that extra knowledge,” Elena said.

“Very well, Elena. I will be glad to help you become the best unit you can be,” Lyn said.

“Well… let’s get back to everyone else, shall we?” Joshua asked.

“Yes… let’s,” Elena said. Everyone left the Temple of the Sacred Sword, Guy and Fir parting ways to their own lives. Elena’s head was still spinning. Lyn had shown her the Temple of the Sacred Sword… and she had unravelled the mystery of Thu’s tale. She had even defeated that Odin fellow. She had to become stronger. Not for the sake of being stronger… for the sake of being well-rounded.

And, she realised with a slight sense of surprise, to protect Emilyn and Livia.

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Chapter 18: Burning Passion

The Sacaean Temple held many mysteries, only some of which were solved by Dame Elena. She returns to Lyn’s home with this success in her mind.

With Elena recovered and Lyn on the team, the party decides to head to the source of the wyverns. Biran was a nation with more military prowess than other nations- much like Daein. Sitting on the throne is Queen Guinivere, having been put there by Roy in the Dragon’s War. Guinivere would never have attacked Sacae. However, Roy recognises the tactic of striking Sacae- the Mad King Zephiel attempted something similar. Roy leads the party straight to Castle Biran, hoping to strike a blow to Biran contributions to the Spirit Charmer’s influence.

There was no other word for what Castle Biran was doing. It was looming. Typically, whenever Elena found something was looming, that was not a good sign. She was worried for Guinivere. She also realised that there would be a despot on the throne. Zephiel would be the most logical guess.

“…Focus, Roy,” Roy said. Guess it wasn’t just her that was terrified. He stepped forward, and looked up at the castle gates. They began to slowly open, and Roy stepped back. Stepping out from behind the gates were Miledy and Guinivere, by Elena’s reckoning.

“Thank goodness… Roy, it’s so nice to see you again!” Guinivere said.

“As it is to see you. What happened?” Roy asked.

“It’s… it’s Zephiel. He’s come back… and he’s taken the throne by force. Judging by his reaction to seeing me, he remembered that he used up the last of his patience in the Dragon’s War…” Guinivere said.

“So you’ll be in danger,” Elena said.

“Well… Lilina has been teaching me magic, but we are outnumbered by Zephiel’s forces,” Guinivere said.

“Hm. Being outnumbered is just another way of saying more experience. We’re in,” Elena said.

“Elena… you’re not getting overconfident, are you?” Lyn asked.

“I don’t think it counts as overconfidence here, wouldn’t you think?” Elena said.

“…Ignoring that massive insult to Biran’s proficiency… Zephiel would’ve prepared for battle the way he did in the Dragon’s War. There are two switches that need to be stepped on at once, and then the Fire Emblem is needed to open the throne room,” Miledy said.

“…Anyone here know how to summon Pyres?” Elena asked.

“…Not that Fire Emblem, Elena. Ours,” Roy said. Guinivere reached into her pocket, and pulled it out.

“Roy… you need to take on Zephiel again,” Guinivere said. Roy took the Fire Emblem thoughtfully, before handing it to Elena.

“Roy?” Guinivere asked.

“She’s got a horse now. And from what I’ve seen of her training with Lyn, she’s better with it than I am with mine. I think this is what she’ll need to put her new skills to the test,” Roy said.

“Roy… I’ll do you proud!” Elena said, raising the Sol Katti.

Elena led the force into the Biran Castle Keep, diving the forces to the left and right, before beginning her charge straight forward. Lyn groaned, before beginning her pursuit. Roy and Lilina split apart, each leading one squad to each side of the castle for the switches.

Lilina’s group was comprised largely of magical units, and more than a few laguz, for defensive reasons. Lilina was blasting a hole in Biran’s defences, thunder, earth and fire magic alike causing building to crumble and soldiers to fall. Livia chuckled, wondering what Guinivere would have to say about the holes, before seeing her galloping behind, adding the wind, water and ice magic to the main charge. Apparently not much.

“A healer! On a pegasus! Just my luck!” a Biranian archer said, holding his bow forward. Livia gulped, watching in horror as the archer spun his arrow in preparation. She couldn’t dodge: there wasn’t room in the halls. She closed her eyes, and awaited her fate. She heard the twang of the bow and the song of the arrow, and then the thwack of the arrow biting armour and the thud of someone falling off their horse. Livia opened her eyes, and noticed the Biranian archer was, at least temporarily, without arrow. She fired a quick Arcӕther spell, before dropping to the ground to tend to the target. She was quite surprised to see Wright.

“Wright… what are you doing?” Livia asked, grabbing a small knife of hers to quickly cut the arrow out of his chest. Luckily, his armour had protected it, and Livia was certain there’d be no major damage.

“I heard a pegasus-riding healer was in trouble, and I came charging,” Wright said.

“Wright…” Livia said, blushing slightly.

“But that’s enough sentimentality. We have a job to do,” Wright said. Livia looked up, in the direction of Elena’s charge. Yes, there was a massive effort she’d need to exact.

“We’ve made contact with the first switch!” Lilina called out. Natasha was fighting a hero for control of it. Livia nodded, and turned in the direction of Elena again.

She couldn’t be too late.

Roy and Eliwood led the charge on their side, the mostly physical warriors following behind them. Roy was shooting blasts of flame from the Sword of Seals, and Eliwood was adding Durandal’s might to the closer foes. The two soldiers met the end of the charge, though, at the hands of a dragon rider. Sitting astride the dragon was

“General Vaida!” Eliwood said.

“Oh, Eliwood? Marquess of Pherae? What brings you against Biran?” Vaida asked.

“We’re here hunting Spirit Charmers. But we found Biran was in a spot of trouble with its king?” Eliwood asked.

“King Zephiel? Why should he be a troublesome king? He was so kind! Besides, it’s not like you to go and assassinate him, especially not after all that trouble I heard you went through saving him,” Vaida said.

“She’s right, you know. Squirt, after everything that we’ve been through, why should I believe Zephiel’s a bad king?” Hector said.

“He killed you. I’ve said this alread-,” Roy said. Hector disappeared from sight, giving Roy pause. Eliwood looked up, and let out an exasperated sigh. Hector landed on Vaida, smashing her wyvern’s skull in, and dealing heavy damage to her. He lifted Vaida up by the scuff of the neck, and tossed her to a corner roughly. He stood tall on the switch.

“He’s a corpse,” Hector said.

Elena stood tall in front of Zephiel’s throne room, the Fire Emblem presented before her. Two lights lit up on either side of her, depicting a bishop and a general. Natasha and Hector had reached the switches. The Fire Emblem shone a brilliant golden hue, and the door to the throne room slowly opened. Sitting… no, lounging on the throne was Zephiel. Several manaketes, standing so still as to almost be statues, dotted the sides of the room. A tall trident stood beside Zephiel.

“Zephiel… the Mad King of Elibe,” Elena said.

“Mad, am I? For wanting to return Elibe to its rightful owners, the dragons? For this, I am branded a madman?” Zephiel said.

“…My father earned his name in the history books by defeating a Mad King,” Elena said, drawing the Sol Katti. After her training with Lyn, it didn’t feel so unnatural in her hand.

“Your father? Are you to be defined by the actions of your father?” Zephiel asked.

“…Your father not the best?” Elena asked.

“That is neither here nor there. Desmond’s name shall not be mentioned! You wished for a fight? You’ve got one!” Zephiel said, getting to his feet, and taking the trident. Elena pulled out her bow, and focused. Zephiel was running towards her, so she fired two arrows quickly. One struck his flank, the other just missed. Elena cursed, as Zephiel stood right beside her. Elena tossed aside her bow, and gripped the Sol Katti. Zephiel, meanwhile, had raised his trident, turning it into the Eckesachs, before spinning around on the spot. Elena tried to push back, but wound up in the path of the long blade still. Elena was pushed off the horse, her left arm in tatters and blood coursing down her arm, but the Sol Katti remained in her right. Despite losing her bow and horse, she was still a Dame.

“I fight with the pride of a Dame. I assure you, this is not the day of your victory,” Elena said.

“Lowborn cur. This should not be taking nearly this long,” Zephiel said.

“Wow, what a jerk,” Elena said. She jumped up, and reached Zephiel. She slashed several times over, each time plink, plink, plink, plink. Elena was not to be discouraged until Zephiel’s wave of the sword bit into her right side, dropping her to the ground. Elena’s grip on the Sol Katti remained tight, as she got back to her feet.

“You… shall not… survive…” Elena said.

“Neither will you. Regardless of what you manage to do in the next ten seconds, before Eckesachs delivers the final blow,” Zephiel said. A clatter sounded, and Zephiel looked around. Just in time to see five Lyns surrounding him, before dropping to the ground in a vertical slash. Lyn landed beside the horse, turning to Elena.

“What were you thinking? Better yet, were you thinking?” Lyn asked.

“Zephiel…” Elena stammered out. Lyn turned to Zephiel.

“As for you… we trusted you. We defended you from the Black Fang, and it took us everything we had… Raven died because of you. And this is what you have to show for it? If I had known, we would’ve left you for dead,” Lyn said.

“Foolish plainswoman… I don’t remember you,” Zephiel said.

“…After everything I did in that battle… I nearly died that day. I nearly died to make sure you survived to see the morrow. May Father Sky and Mother Earth have no mercy on whatever soul you have,” Lyn said. She raised her blade, and struck. Zephiel caught it in its trident, and morphed the trident to Eckesachs. Lyn dodged the blade, and struck the side of Zephiel’s armour. Zephiel staggered back, raising his sword, and descending it upon Lyn. Lyn dodged, the blade cutting her dress only. Lyn spun her sword around, and pierced right through his armour. Zephiel shuddered, taking a few steps towards Elena. Elena delivered a few strikes to Zephiel’s ankles, dropping Zephiel before Elena could be crushed. Lyn turned on to Elena, pulling out a few emergency vulneraries.

“Lyn… manakete…” Elena said. Lyn turned, to notice the manaketes approaching, all transformed. Lyn reached for her sword.

“Lyn… give them… hell…” Elena said. Lyn decided against it, and turned back to Elena. She was starting to rapidly realise Elena had no options. Bleed out now, wrong end of manakete breath, or die from being carried away. Lyn started reaching under her, hoping the third option would be the least dangerous, before hearing a whoosh overhead.

“Hope we’re not too late,” Livia said, smiling. Emilyn jumped off the horse, and started lighting everything up. Using both fire and light magic families. Livia pulled and pushed overhead, summoning massive blasts of ӕther. The dragons weathered the magical attacks, but Lyn recognised that the dragons were distracted. She began rubbing the vulneraries all over Elena’s wounds, before bandaging them up and staunching the blood flow. Bleeding would now be the least lethal option.

“Elena… that was reckless. I don’t even think you-know-who would try that,” Lyn said.

“Probably would,” Elena said.

“…Admittedly, but do you really want to be compared to him?” Lyn asked. Elena’s face fell.

“…I just… I just want to be the hero. Like my father,” Elena said.

“…Not everyone can be your father, Elena. You’re a hero to us… to me, to Emilyn, to Livia. You don’t have to prove your worth at every turn,” Lyn said.

“Lyn…” Elena said.

“That’s enough talking, for now. Just take a nice rest, and allow your body to start getting to work on fixing those wounds. Livia’ll have a look later, too, I presume, if Emilyn hasn’t done so by then. I’ll just check on the horse,” Lyn said, turning to tend to it. Elena smiled, and got to her rest.

When Elena woke up and looked about, everyone was gathering in the throne room. She winced slightly as she got to her feet, her wounds doing a bit to her, but she felt fine enough to walk. She headed over to Lyn’s side, and she looked around. Wright had cleared a space around him, and pulled Livia forward. Elena’s heart got caught in her throat.

“So, Livia… I’ve saved your life, you’ve saved ours,” Wright said nervously.

“Yes… Wright, what’s going on?” Livia asked. He wouldn’t…

“Livia, I’m going to stop beating around the bush…” Wright said. He dropped to one knee, and pulled out a ring. It definitely wasn’t a Guiding Ring, an Energy Ring, a Body Ring, or any other kind of Ring that could be used to increase potency… and he was kneeling…

“Livia, will you marry me?” Wright asked.

“Wright… I…” Livia said nervously. She turned to Janiyah, who smiled encouragingly.

“Yes,” Livia said. Everyone gave a bit of a clap, as Livia helped Wright to his feet, and offer him a kiss.

Aw… how sweet… a voice said sardonically. Livia and Wright broke apart, and everyone looked around. Lyn was the first to realise it was coming from below. From Mother Earth.

And how nice of you to go fight off Zephiel while I was preparing. I really do wonder what might’ve happened had you not saved him, all those years ago… but I digress. You fighting off Zephiel while I made my way to the most sacred place in all of Biran… why, that made things a lot nicer, the voice of the Earth said.

“You’re… you’re a Spirit!” Elena said.

Spirit of the Earth. Terrus is the name. My Charmer has charmed her way into the heart of Jahn, and soon, my Charmer will have acquired more Essence than she’ll know what to do with, Terrus said.

“PYRES IS USING YOU!” Elena called out, hoping Terrus would believe her.

Silly human. Spirits cannot overthrow other Spirits. Well, gotta help my Charmer. Toodle-oo! Terrus said. Everyone looked between each other.

“Jahn? Sacred place in Biran… I know where she is,” Roy said.

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