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TheSilentChloey

The Shadow Tactician: To Challenge Fate

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Chapter XXVI: The Dragon's Wrath

You're kidding.” Lissa said shocked, “Robin! Why?! Why are you holding your tome. You know that you can't fight in your current condition.”

I have to do something Lissa.” She said firmly, “I can't just sit around and do nothing gods damn it!”

Lissa sighed, “I can do an intensive healing session to heal you as much as I can...but you won't be fully healed at any rate.”

Then do it.” Robin said firmly, “I won't tell Chrom if you don't.”

Why do you want to keep my brother in the dark?” Lissa asked,

It's necessary. Besides I can handle any healing that you can throw at me.” Robin said calmly, “I've had to bare much worse magic to my body than that and if I'm being honest it would be quite a sight easier to deal with that what I've had done in the past.”

Wait..what?”

Robin gently held Lissa's shoulders, “I suppose I should to explain. Being former Grimleal, my body was subjected to intense amounts of dark magic. It makes for an intensely painful experience that I was forced to endure for a very long time. So an intensive healing session isn't the worst I can go through.”

If you say so Robin...I'll try my best to help you.”


 

Excellus grit his teeth in frustration. That second tactician did not play fair. Not only did the brat successfully take out Pheros but also her replacement in a very short span of time if the scout who had managed to escape Fort Steiger was to be believed. He'd not been amused at the slightest. To make matters worse Excellus' scouts were reporting that the Shepherds were everywhere in Valm! Even more worse one of the scouts had a message from Pheros stating that the Shepherds were making a full retreat back to the coast and had casually made his way to the Sage's Hamlet with his wife, news that made Excellus groan in annoyance. It did sound like something Pheros would do, sending a wife with a husband if the wife was insistent enough on wanting to go along. He couldn't tell which was true so he'd sent out more scouts to search for and take out the Shepherds if they were found. Which is why he had three scouts in his office, “Well, where are they?!” Excellus snapped,

Sir Tactician,” The head scout spoke carefully, “we were attacked en route to the Mila Tree. Most of our company didn't make it Sir...”

WHAT?!” Excellus yelled angrily, “YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE LOOKING FOR THE SHEPHERDS!”

We were Sir...they attacked us without warning and practically all but killed most of the company before we could ascertain their exact position.”

So they are to the North then?” Excellus asked calming,

Yes Sir.”

No matter Walhart will have them wiped out before the winter even hits. You're dismissed.”

The three men bowed and Excellus calmly began to compose the letter. If he could wipe the Shepherds out...he'd prove that Aversa was a fool. With that in mind he wrote to her with care. Then he contacted his network to see if he could get a more accurate location on the Shepherds. It was such a pain to scry the entire continent of Valentia just to find that brat. Plus Excellus couldn't wait to gloat about how he'd kill the brat's Master...then he had an odd thought. What if the brat was counting on him to think that? What if the brat was in a tactical position to actually make a decent shot at Walhart? Well it wouldn't change Excellus' plans much if the brat did. He planned to kill Robin anyway. Preferably in cold blood in front of the little brat. Make the boy lose his mind to grief...the thought was even more delicious than the thought that he could kill Say’ri whenever he wanted to keep Yen’fey under his thumb. He was certainly very excited about the prospect indeed.


 

So then, we've got half a day to make it to Demon's Ingle.” Chrom said tired from the hard travel that they had been doing since the early hours of the morning,

Half a day of trouble ahead.” Caleb groaned from his seat in the saddle. Lucina was asleep in the wagon that Caleb was riding beside. Brady had firmly said that since Lucina was ill she would need to rest. Lucina had protested but Lissa had heard and when she was told that Lucina had eaten the breakfast Sully had made she insisted on Lucina resting for the rest of the trip to recover. So Caleb had ridden alongside the wagon. Chrom rode with him as Frederick was every part the busy body that Caleb had come to wish wasn't doing it. He always wondered why he missed Frederick's fussing as the Knight went over board again. “Frederick!” Caleb called, “Have you seen any good camp sites yet?”

The knight reigned his horse in and the mare snorted, “Negative Caleb.” Frederick informed the tactician, “So far there isn't a clearing useful enough for the convoy to set up camp.”

Sumia! Cordelia! Cherche! Are the three of you able to do any scouting?” Caleb asked them as they rode over to the tactician,

Lovebird is still pretty fresh.” Sumia said, “So she should be fine.”

I don't think Constellation is up to it. She got hurt in that last battle.” Cordelia informed him as she led her pegasus saddle-less but wearing a halter, “She's been lame all morning.”

Caleb frowned and gently reached to pet the pegasus' nose. The mare sniffed Caleb's hand, “I'll have either Lissa or Maribelle see to her then.”

Actually Panne helped me put some salve on her wounds...”

Salve won't be enough for healing her injuries Cordelia.” Caleb informed the Falcon Knight, “If she's lame then she will need a healer. Hopefully though they won't need to do much since the salve will have at least kept her wounds clean if nothing else.” He looked thoughtful, “Hey Panne,” He called, “Do you mind going with Frederick to scout on ahead please?”

Panne came in her humanoid form and tilted her head, “To what end manspawn?” The Taguel said,

I would appreciate it if you're able to help us find a camp. Perhaps with your heightened senses we might be able to find a place where we won't be found as easily by the Valmese if they have enough sense to patrol this area.”

I suppose I can do so.”

Caleb smiled in relief, “Thank you Panne.” He then said calmly, “Oh since I'm on cooking duty tonight would you like some carrot stew as recompense?”

Panne actually smiled a little, “It would.” She said and then she came to stand near Frederick's horse. Caleb prepared for her to transform and tightened the reins just a bit. Panne slammed her arms onto the ground and the light that shone from her beaststone made her disappear. When the light faded a large rabbit rolled and then landed on its fours.

I always wondered how the beaststone’s magic did that.” Caleb said quietly and the rabbit's ears twitched. The horse beneath him tensed and Caleb gently pet its neck, “Easy boy...” Caleb soothed, “She won't hurt you.” The horse snorted and started to shy at the creature before it,

It's going to bolt.” Panne said and Caleb already had the reins tightened,

Easy boy...” Caleb said again soothing it as best he could. His voice was calm and the horse's ears twitched towards him, “Easy...there's no need to be afraid.” Caleb soothed,

Interesting.” Panne said and she came forwards slowly and stopped as the horse seemed to tremble,

Easy boy...” Caleb said stroking its neck,

The horse snorted and started to back up, “It thinks I will eat it.” Panne said unamused,

Easy boy.” Caleb said as he gently gave the horse time to smell Panne. The horse's ears flicked towards Caleb's voice again and the horse let out a loud snort. Odd horse indeed. Caleb thought to himself. Panne stood there for a full minute as Caleb kept muttering soft calm words to the horse as Sumia had taught him when he was a boy. Eventually the horse calmed and Panne moved alongside Frederick's horse. Cherche spoke,

Minerva and I could most certainly scout ahead, and I do believe that there are some old abandoned mines in the area that we could make use of as an emergency camp should the need arise to hide the army.”

Aye.” Said Say'ri, “It shames me that I did forget about that though to be fair it isn't in Cho’sin’s borders.”

Well now that sounds like it might work.” Caleb said, “Though how far are they from where we are currently?”

A couple of hours flight I believe.” Cherche said,

'Tis a risky place to go though.” Say'ri said, “The mines mayhap still potentially come with their own risks. It could be an Imperial camp after all.”

Nothing a little magic enhancement can't fix.” Caleb said calmly, “Or a stealth operation to take them out if they're there.”

Fie…‘tis a rare thing to have such a quick thinker I'd wager. Though it begs a question of just how much knowledge that you have on this.”

Well I'm used to doing it when push comes to shove so it's not going to be a difficult process in the slightest.” Caleb said and there was a shock that came from the Shepherds, “Sometimes we didn't have much choice. We had to get it right. Magic and all. If we didn't then we'd flat out have to fight for our lives because the Risen would be ambling forward and killing everything in their path...”

Well is there anywhere else that could work?” Chrom asked after Caleb's quiet self reflection that quite frankly scared Chrom quite a bit due to its dark nature,

I'm afraid not.” Say'ri said, “Not in the immediate area where we're going.”

Then we don't have much choice then.” Chrom said with a sigh.




 

The light slowly faded as the sun began to dip below the horizon. Of course it was a gruelling trip. They eventually found the mines like Say'ri and Cherche had said that had been. The mines were in alright condition and thanks to Tharja's and Henry's expansion hex they were able to fit all of the Shepherds in quite comfortably.

Wow...” Chrom said in shock. “How in the name of the gods did you two do this?” He asked Henry and the dark mage grinned,

It's easy~!” Henry said with a laugh, “We just had to play reinforcements to the natural landscape. That and expanding the space was lots of fun~!”

It's child's play to expand spaces.” Tharja said looking at her nails, “It's one of the first hexes a dark mage learns since it rarely goes wrong.”

Still...” Chrom said confused, “How?”

Magic is difficult to explain to a non mage.” Caleb said as he pulled out a sword from his coat,

Wait...how in the hells did you fit that into your coat Caleb?!” Chrom said shocked,

Expansion hex on the coat of course.” Caleb said, “Oh and I think Mother did it on the wagons as well...”

Chrom looked rather pale in that moment, “So that means...”

It means if a linking hex is applied to you for example, and you wanted to get something out of the convoy, you would only have to think of what you want and you'd be able to take it out of the convoy.”

She used dark magic...” Chrom said pale,

An expansion hex doesn't hurt anyone and it is damn useful. A linking hex used with an expansion hex means that you are the point at which the Shepherds can access the convoy in mid battle.”

I...well I guess that explains a few things...” Chrom said with a frown. “So that er...'linking hex'...how does that work?”

Caleb smiled and said, “Mother made it to work in battle only. Right now you would have to go to the convoy to get anything. Plus you can only really do it to one person for it to work properly.”

And she chose me for that.” Chrom said trying to grasp what was going on,

Yep.” Caleb confirmed, “The fact that you're the one that actually leads us in battle is reason enough in my mind.”

Oh joy.” Chrom muttered. He wasn't too happy with the current events. This was not going to be fun.




 

Three days. That was how long it had taken them to get to Demon's Ingle near which their current camp was located. Caleb had his hands full with keeping everyone on the move and marching at a fairly rapid pace. So much so that he was almost ready to fall out of the saddle. Still he had to admit it wasn't just hard on him but on the rest of the Shepherds as well as they'd pulled an incredible distance in those three days. He was ready to fall out of the saddle by the time they came to their new camp location. He grimaced with a bit of pain as some areas had literally gone numb from the lack of movement. Definitely not the best way to spend the day. Lucina managed to get down and Caleb envied her seemly inexhaustible stamina. He let out a low grunt of pain as he got his feet out of the stirrups. Then he winced as he stretched his legs out, “Caleb are you alright?” Lucina asked him with a concerned expression,

Gods Lucy your stamina amazes me.” Was all Caleb said as he lent forward to rest on the horse's neck. The horse let out a snort and Caleb began the painful process of getting off its back. As soon as his feet hit the dirt he let out a low curse in Plegian. He ended up half gripping the horse's side as he could barely stand due to the pain that was running up his legs and in his knees. The horse seemed to be well aware of its rider's condition and it stayed put as Caleb let out a low sigh,

A word, Caleb.” Frederick chose that moment to come over to the couple as he needed a word with the tactician,

Make sure that the horses are cooled off before you give them any water.” Caleb said leaning on his horse trying to get the feeling back into his legs and not shake like a leaf in the wind, “Also if there is anyone who needs to rest let them. We've just covered a huge amount of ground in three days.”

Roger!” the knight said and immediately set about spreading the word surprised that Caleb was thinking of that.

Are you not feeling well Caleb?” Lucina asked him worried. Caleb smiled at her and he struggled to fully stand on his feet,

I just need some time Lucy.” Caleb said lightly as he could since he didn't want to seem as tired as he truly was. Then he looked over the rest of the Shepherds, “As will some other people I'd wager.” The tactician sighed, “We need to give them what rest we can. Likely tomorrow we'll be forced to battle.”

You're sure of that Caleb?” She asked,

Yeah. Walhart'll want revenge for having Steiger comprehensively flattened.” Caleb said with a sigh, “Word has it a mysterious force flattened it not long after we got the hell out of dodge.”

A rumour?” Lucina blinked in surprise,

Something like that.” Caleb said calmly, “Though it was an Anna that said it so more than likely there is a grain of truth to it that we can't ignore. Annas do not lie.” Caleb sighed as he began to lead the horse towards the makeshift stables that were being erected hobbling alongside the horse as he had yet to recover fully from the epic ride. Its ears flicked and it snorted. Caleb frowned and followed its gaze. He sighed. Perhaps he was seeing things again? A shake of his head and Caleb continued on his way. He guessed it was just a random soldier going about their business. Then he paused. No that wasn't a Shepherd. He gripped the reins and cast his gaze over the camp again. His mind had to be playing tricks on him. Unless there was intruders in the camp where they should not be. That was a worrying thought for the tactician.


 

As far as Caleb was aware there wasn't anyone who could have come into the camp but his eyes were telling him that was the case. He heaved a sigh. No doubt about it there was definitely someone odd in the camp. The tactician still came to the stables with a very cautious air. On guard and certainly more alert than he’d felt since they’d marched such a long way (though he’d ridden and riding for him was not easy given that he didn’t have the physical stamina to keep up with everyone else) however there was a slight problem with that. He could have swore that someone was there. He could feel it though how wasn't a question he had answers to right then. Caleb let out a low grunt of annoyance as he was sure he was just being paranoid about it. He’d have to see Lucina by their supply wagon or perhaps more likely in their tent if she was there. He made sure that the horse was comfortable and he left the stables once a stable hand came to remove the horse’s gear so that the animal could be rugged up for the night as doubtless the mine in which they'd made camp was bound to get cold over night.


 

Caleb went right to where Lucina was. In their tent no thanks to Lissa’s insistence that she rest and not their supply wagon like he'd hoped. Caleb had a feeling that Lucina wasn’t exactly telling the truth about why she was unwell as yet however he had nothing to say what it was. He had however a feeling that he was possibly being followed...


 

DADDY!” Alana cried as she spotted her father. The little girl ran and suddenly grabbed her father’s arm,

Alana?!” Caleb cried in surprise and then he sighed as his little girl looked up and smiled widely,

Hehe I founds you Daddy.” She smiled,

You sure did.” Caleb said with a warm smile. Alana was as bouncy as ever and as they headed towards his and Lucina’s tent it was clear that the little girl was excited, “I trust that you had fun with Miss Sumia?”

Yes! Miss Sumia gots me a peggshish.” The little girl’s eyes lit up and Caleb felt a chuckle in the back of his throat,

I see.” Caleb said,

Is a dark peggshish.”

A dark one?” Caleb asked surprised,

Yes Miss Sumia says she’s no scared of magic.”

Caleb chuckled, “Oh so she’s a special pegasus huh?” He asked her, and Alana frowned,

Whats you mean Daddy?”

See there are two types of Pegasi,” Caleb explained, “The most common of them are the white ones. Those are usually able to resist magic being used on them, but they tend to get skittish when mages try to ride them.” Caleb said, “The white ones usually don’t mind healing staves because the magic is localised and not so...potent.” He said as he tried to explain to his daughter, “However sometimes in a pegasus herd there is a very special kind of Pegasus with a dark coat. Those are pegasi that do not shy around magic as much as the white ones. Those with dark coats are normally bred specifically for mages. Not only do they stay calm around magic, they actually love it.”

Why Daddy?” Alana asked curiously,

To them magic is soothing in a way.” Caleb explained as they travelled through the camp. Caleb noticed it again. Another one? No his eyes had to be playing tricks on him. He continued explaining to his daughter about the only Pegasus that would allow a man on it’s back, “The more mana the person who rides them has the calmer that they’ll be.”

Wow…” Alana said eyes wide, “But Daddy…”

Some men can ride them.” Caleb said, “However pegasi normally prefer a woman to a man and will throw those that they deem unworthy from their backs.”

Has you ever ridden one Daddy?” Alana asked surprised and Caleb went a little pink,

When I was...very...little.” He said flustered slightly, “It’s not...something you should mention to some of the...uh...other shepherds alright?” Caleb spoke with as serious a tone as possible, “I get the feeling that someone might try and test that theory...and it’s not something I’d like to try again at any rate because it wasn't exactly the most safe thing I could have done...”

Okay Daddy.” Alana said understanding that it was a little secret between her and her father. “I wont tell.”

Caleb smiled and gently ruffled his daughter’s hair, “So does your new friend have a name?” He asked and she grinned,

I calls her Sweetie.” Alana said, and Caleb smiled,

Sweetie huh? That’s a very cute name.” He smiled,

She likes apples and sugar cubes.” Alana informed him.

Ah so that’s where she got the name from.” Caleb grinned and Alana giggled as they entered the tent. Lucina looked tired and she half smiled when she saw them both,

Mummy!” Alana said cheerfully and Lucina sat up and Caleb threw her a worried look. She hugged Alana and the little one spoke of her new friend that Sumia had arranged for her. Alana was onto the part where she named her friend when Caleb suddenly tensed again and quickly made another look outside of their tent. He frowned,

Caleb is something the matter?” Lucina asked concerned and Caleb gave her a look that she knew. Lucina was quick to get to her feet,

Mummy? Daddy?” Alana looked at her parents confused

Alana,” Caleb said calmly, “Stay close.” His tone had a warning in it that Alana understood. He gave Lucina a nod and she gripped Falchion. The pair carefully left the tent and Caleb made his way to where Kjelle and Yarne were on sentry duty. He had not intended to raise an alarm just yet but...he paused as he saw Kjelle in combat. He was quite quick to pull the dark magic tome from within the depths of his coat, “Mire!” the tactician cried as he aimed to limit the foe’s movement and perhaps give his comrades a breather from their fight. The spell acted as he’d hoped but the opponent was faster than he anticipated managing to dodge the spell just enough to get clear of being caught in the slime,

Caleb! What the hells?!” Kjelle yelled and Yarne gripped his beaststone and transformed into his beast form and quickly prepared to be the lead fighter,

I got sharp pointy teeth!” Yarne said springing forwards and Caleb yelled out,

STAND DOWN KJELLE AND YARNE THIS ONE'S NOT AN ENEMY!”

Yarne skidded to a halt and Kjelle managed to get back onto her feet, albeit a little shakily as she'd narrowly missed getting hit by Caleb's Mire spell. “The hells?!” Kjelle yelled gripping her lance as she wanted to give him a piece of her mind about what he'd just said,

I said, this one isn't the enemy.” Caleb's sharp tone had an immediate effect on the pair. Kjelle lowered her lance slightly pale as she didn't like it when Caleb got even the slightest bit mad. Lucina cast a worried look at Caleb and Alana was gripping his coat. Caleb spoke calmly,

You,” He said looking at the man Kjelle and Yarne had been fighting, “Who are you?” The tactician asked his tone calm voice level and not the least bit mad, at least not yet any way, “A true foe would have been much more willing to harm these two.” Caleb said as he casually held Mire in his left hand. He knew that there was no need to use the tome. Kjelle and Yarne looked from Caleb to the man and back again in mild confusion. Alana was busy gripping her father's coat with a look of concern at the man that they had somewhat cornered. The man spoke rather cryptically,

I'm what's left...or maybe all there ever was...” He said calmly and Caleb frowned,

I don't quite understand what that means but-” Caleb began uncertain as to the point that the man was making, he was interrupted

When one wanders; without purpose, without drive, without goals...is he what’s left of a man? Or all Man ever was?” The man said and Caleb sighed inwardly. His exhaustion was catching up with him and he wasn't in the mood to be dealing with cryptic responses right now,

So you're a wanderer?” He asked calmly trying to ascertain what the man was doing coming right to their camp and trying to essentially sneak in without fighting.

You could say I'm a wanderer.” At least that's what it sounded like to Caleb as he was a bit on the tired side. He wanted to curse Grima for how tired he was.

How many of you are there?” The tactician asked as his gut feeling said that there was more than just this man.

What makes you think that?” The man asked with a raised eyebrow. Caleb replied rather simply,

I’m more observant than you think. Why do you think I had the one Shepherd who would be able to smell out intruders as sentry tonight?” Caleb informed the man as Lucina lowered Falchion but refused to let go entirely while keeping an eye on her husband's movements. She knew Caleb well enough. He never used dark magic if he could help it. The only real time he'd used it was because he'd had to use Nosferatu. Caleb had gained some horrific injuries and would have died had he not used the tome to heal himself just enough for Brady to finish healing him. She couldn't help but be tense as she kept an eye on him. Caleb was tired and that was dangerous. She watched as Caleb's grip suddenly tightened on Mire, “So how good are you at hitting targets from a distance?” Caleb asked the man.

When I use a weapon I prefer a sword.” The man replied with a frown and Lucina realised what Caleb was saying and she quickly tugged Alana back.

Mummy?!” Alana cried in surprise and Caleb turned on his heal, tome pages flying open as he focused the magical energy in the palm of his hand. Alana gasped as she was getting a front row seat of how to cast magic.

Mire.” He hissed softly as the spell took on its true incantation the slime conjuring much faster than what he'd done with the man as Caleb wanted to make sure he incapacitated his target entirely. Caleb felt the magic hit the target he intended to deal with. With a sigh he lowered the tome. Alana looked awed,

Daddy...” Alana was wide eyed but it seemed that the little one had learned something from her father's spell casting.

That's one of them.” Caleb said with a frown.

That magic look scary Daddy.” Alana gripping his coat again,

Sorry Sweetpea,” Caleb said regretfully, “I didn't mean to scare you.” He gently pet her head and Alana seemed to calm down a bit. Caleb paused and Yarne spoke,

I smell 'em. There's two more enemies in camp.”

Which means that Chrom could be in danger.” Caleb said seriously without much of a pause from when Yarne spoke, “Kjelle, Yarne, you two get to Chrom; he’s probably their target, they must be trying to do what the group at the Ylissean palace failed to accomplish. Tell any others you run into we’re looking for Grimleal specifically - I don’t want any fights between anyone with our friend here and the Shepherds breaking out.”

On it!” Yarne said as he came to stand beside Kjelle, “I can carry you Kjelle, we'll be faster that way.”

R-right.” She said climbing aboard her husband's back and trying not to grimace as she did so since she wasn't quite as good at riding since her mother hadn't really taught her. Thankfully however Yarne was a pretty good teacher in this form. Yarne moved swiftly away and Caleb knew that they'd be fine. He also felt that subtle hint of concern for his other battle pairs who were all right now likely resting in camp. Right now however Caleb had a task to do. He'd contain the Grimleal quickly and cleanly,

You're not going with them?” The man asked surprised,

I don't have to.” Caleb said calmly, “I know that Kjelle and Yarne will be fine, even if they don't seem to be the most...bonded of partners.”

Lucina still had Falchion in hand as Caleb carefully made another glance over the camp. She knew her husband's expression. He was looking at a battlefield. Caleb sighed,

Caleb?” Lucina spoke and Caleb looked to his wife,

If Yarne and Kjelle engage the other two Grimleal, they’ll try to get out the same way they have to have got in, meaning they have to come back this way. I just...wish I knew how they got past undetected in the first place.” He said stowing Mire away. He looked to Lucina, “How many uses does that Arcthunder I gave you have left?” He asked and Lucina frowned,

Uh...I'm not so sure.” She said sheathing Falchion and pulling out the tome in question, she gave it a once over, “Not a lot left sorry.”

Hmm...” Caleb frowned, “We'll have to make it count.”

Excuse me, but will this help?” The man spoke reminding Caleb that he was there and he tossed a tome towards the tactician and Caleb did a double take once he'd caught it,

Mjölnir...bu...but that tome was lost in our time!?Caleb reverted to Plegian due to the shock. He wasn't even aware that he was doing it, “How the hells did you find that?! Th-there's no way! That tome was destroyed in our world!The tactician missed what the man said to Lucina as he was too busy checking the tome over, “Where did you even find this?!” Caleb said reverting to Ylissean though he was still surprised,

...Let’s just say I have good connections.” He said calmly and Lucina noticed that Caleb seemed to have recovered from the shock, “I got it from an acquaintance I made during a trip - she had no use for it any more and I thought it’d help.”

You have our gratitude friend.” Caleb responded.

~


 

Kjelle nearly fell off Yarne as the Taguel ran from where they'd left Caleb. Yarne was running about the pace of a galloping horse which made for a pretty concerning sight. Kjelle just held on tight as Yarne leapt near the mess tent. “Hey!” Vaike yelled as the pair almost ran into him, “What's the rush?”

Is the Commander safe?” Kjelle shot at him and Vaike frowned,

I'm perfectly fine.” Chrom answered as he came out of the mess.

Yarne had picked up the scent of intruders to the camp.” Kjelle said bluntly and Yarne tensed,

They've changed their movement!” He said and Kjelle frowned,

Where?!”

They're going towards Caleb!” Yarne yelled back.

Stick to the plan!” Kjelle said sharply, “He told us to protect the Commander.”

Frederick!” Chrom called out and the knight came with his lance in hand, “Apparently we have some intruders in the camp.”

Milord?”

Clearly we need to expel them.” Chrom said, “Rally the Shepherds!”

At once Milord!” Frederick said and made his way to all of the Shepherds who had sufficient rest to fight.


 

~

In addition…” The man folded his arms as he spoke with the young tactician. “They didn’t sneak through the front.”

Huh?” Caleb tilted his head confused at first as to what the man was saying

The Grimleal.” He explained calmly. “This mine is older than your little girl at bare minimum - there’s no way you were thorough enough to seal off every one of the mine shafts in only one check, so they must have found one you missed. Otherwise, I would have dealt with them before trying to enter the camp myself.”

Hmm...thank you for the info. We’ll have to have them rechecked-” Caleb said somewhat lost in thought as he was pretty sure he'd done that already. Still he supposed a second check couldn't hurt matters. He was about to say something else when the man suddenly cried,

Watch out!”


 

Caleb didn't even have the time to think as he ducked from the attack of an assailant that had struck him as he was talking to a man that as yet Caleb didn't know who he was. It didn't matter as the young tactician had reacted accordingly. He'd used his small stature to roll out of the way of the first strike that the Grimleal man made and he retaliated with a well timed thunder spell to the man's heart. He barely registered the man falling when another one managed to get a dagger to his throat. Caleb had to curse his exhaustion right about now. He knew that if he so much as moved to open the tome in his hand that he'd very well end up with an injury that wouldn't help matters. He'd have to go entirely tomeless. 'The joys of being an idiot to not move out of the way...' Caleb thought and he closed his eyes. Mentally he was running through the rough size of the man that had the dagger to his throat. Caleb would only get one shot. He drew a breath and quickly raised his right hand. A snap of his fingers and the man suddenly screamed in agony and dropped the weapon. Caleb felt dizzy but he guessed it was because he was so tired. He heard a rush of footsteps and heard the wet sound of the man being stabbed in the chest with a blade. Caleb half staggered forward and he barely heard Lucina's voice crying his name as he crumpled to the ground. He felt an arm catch him and wondered if he was hearing the clanking of armour or not. Caleb decided that he didn't particularly care. He'd figure out the mess later as his body took over and his mind forcibly shut down.


 

When Caleb finally woke up he felt like he'd slept forever. Lucina sat alongside him face pulled taunt with worry. He sighed helplessly, “H-how long was I out.” Caleb croaked and Lucina visibly softened with relief burying her face into his chest. “Caleb! Thank the gods you're alright!” She said and he reached to hold her in his arms even if they felt a little heavy. “You-you almost could have died!” Lucina sobbed, “You know not to use tomeless magic like that!”

He sighed, “Sorry Lucy I didn't have a choice.” Caleb said weakly and he groaned inwardly, “Alana is she...?”

Fine.” Lucina said, “Though she was and is worried about you.” She admitted and Caleb sighed and leant up to kiss her gently.

Right and that man?” Lucina's eyes widened, “The one who gave me Mjölnir, is he...?”

He and his friends left almost as soon as they could. I did however find this in the Grimleal that one of his group took out.”

Caleb frowned, “No...that's not...” He frowned,

A dagger?” Lucina supplied and Caleb took it from her and turned it over in his hand,

This is...this is a Black Fang Dagger or a damn good replica.” He said at last. Lucina frowned,

Caleb?”

Do you remember anything from our old history lessons?” Caleb asked, “Before you know...Grima turned everything to shit and wrought his destruction?”

Vaguely.” Lucina admitted, “Though Father would know more about it...”

Caleb sighed, “The Black Fang were a group of feared assassins who were known to show no mercy to their targets. So much so that there wasn't a single book that didn't speak of them. Even in this world. This dagger...if it is indeed one of theirs...”

And one of our mysterious visitor's friends just so happened to have that dagger?” Lucina mused, “Then there was that odd comment about our Grima...as if he'd faced another one.”

Possible.” Caleb said with a sigh, “If I'd hazard a guess that means Outrealm shenanigans.”

Wait...do you...think that they might be...?”

Who knows.” Caleb said as he felt the verge of a throbbing headache, “It's the only thing I can think of to explain that Grima comment and the seemingly perfect replica of a Black Fang dagger.”

Well if that is the case than that will explain Cordelia's uh...doppelgänger as well then.” Lucina spoke uncertainly, "That's...what she told Lissa at any rate."

It's not like we have time to worry abo-” Caleb clutched at his head and Lucina cast a worried eye over him as his breath slowly came back to normal. “Gods anyone would think I didn't get enough rest.”

You were out for half a day.” Lucina informed him, “Thankfully our scouts have yet to see Yen'fey's forces so...”

Really?” Caleb frowned, “That doesn't sound right...they should have been within two or three days of us. Or was that scout we speaking with telling the truth and we might actually get a week to set everything up?” He sighed, “So then anything else I need to know?” He asked his wife and she scooted onto the cot he was resting in,

Well...” She said, “Frederick found some food in a chest and Cordelia is making a full recovery from her wounds and apparently she's expecting this world's Severa and Sully is expecting this world's Kjelle.”

Damn it!” Caleb groaned, “More fighters out of commission!” He lent into Lucina's shoulder, “Who's the father of this world's Severa?”

Virion of course.” Lucina informed him and Caleb raised an eyebrow,

What the hells?He said “Not Gregor?! No way!

You know I don't know Plegian, Caleb.” Lucina said and Caleb sighed,

Right I'm going to give you a crash course once this damn war is over. Then your mother won't understand a word we say.” He grinned,

Caleb!” Lucina laughed and then he kissed her again.

And since we've got time to spare I might as well get some more work done...” Caleb said with a calm expression crossing his face. Lucina sighed and then she kissed him,

Not alone you won't.” She said firmly,

Whoever said I'd be alone Lucy?” He asked and nestled into an embrace with his wife. He would have to rest for now. After all he was going to need his strength for the upcoming battle when it came.


 

~


 

An explosion of magic could be heard throughout the entire palace. “YOU FOOLS!” Grima roared attacking the nearest of the Grimleal who had just so happened to annoy him that particular moment. He had of course wanted to spend the morning relaxing with his puppet in the folds of silken sheets. Not being woken to be meaninglessly informed of deaths that in the grand scheme of things didn't actually matter since he'd just create more risen to finish the job. The humans cowered as Grima flew into a full blown rage. No one knew what set him off but they had learned extremely quickly to back away slowly lest Grima turn on them and make their life-force his well before the appointed time.


 

Validar saw the mess of blood and knew that Grima had flown into one of his more infamous rages. He grimaced at the thought but he did have some news that Grima had been rather anxious to hear. Validar weighed up his options and decided that he'd take the risk. A knock to the bloodstained door was all it took. He gulped inwardly as it swung open. He was almost not wanting to go in to the chamber. Too late now he knew and Grima hated it when he was disturbed. “Enter.” The raw dark magic that flowed out from the room was enough to make Validar's skin crawl but he entered the chamber. Already there was a lot of blood. Clearly Grima had been very angry. Validar stepped carefully. He noticed the rather strange looking woman at Grima's left. She had her head resting in his lap and Validar lowered his gaze quickly. He'd never seen the woman before yet there was something about the blank stare that unnerved him. He however had to steel himself. He spoke,

We have located the gemstone Master Grima.” Validar spoke,

Then you know what to do.” Grima said stroking the woman's hair like one would stroke a pet, “I trust you at least, have enough brain to perform your role, Validar.”

Validar blinked in surprise but he noticed that Grima's eyes still had that look in them. Anger burned in the glare that Grima was giving him. He however bowed and said, “It will be as you have commanded Master Grima.”

Grima kept stroking the woman's hair. Validar turned to leave when Grima spoke again, “Send for some entertainment.” He wasn't asking and Validar knew that he couldn't refuse his master.


 

~


 

Caleb sighed, “Did the others check…”

Yes and Frederick said that there were two passages we’d missed on the first inspection that Henry and Tharja have now sorted.” She informed him,

Well that's good news.” Caleb sighed, “We wouldn't want more of the Grimleal now would we?”

No but it does make me uneasy Caleb.” Lucina admitted,

I know Lucy.” He said quietly, “I get the feeling that they won't be the last we'll see either.”

Do you think...could he be...” Lucina said not quite able to put the words out and Caleb sighed,

I don't know.” Caleb said at last trying to soothe her as much as himself, “He knows we're here. He knows we're trying to stop him so if anything that means he sent those men for a reason. I don't know what that reason is but...”

We'll have to be even more on guard in future.” Lucina supplied for him and Caleb nodded,

Yeah. Whatever happens we have to stop Grima.”

~

The room was lit by an almost white light as Grima raised his hand and made a bolt of Mjölnir hit the admittedly useless entertainment that had been sent in. Oh well, at least he got his anger out on something that wasn't as useful a pawn as Validar. Blood spilled on the floor and he felt the subtle smirk came across his face. Ah yes. Taking the tome had been necessary. Making the vessel assume its destruction was important since Grima didn't want Caleb to have that power just yet at that point in time. The boy would be ready for it now Grima reasoned. Though not yet Grima's Truth. He needed to grow more. The heart needed more time to get more powerful otherwise Grima would ruin a perfectly good host which he didn't want to do like the other foolish versions of himself floating about the outrealms. Honestly they had one good host and sprung an unready host and for what? To bring about destruction sooner and regain their lost power? It was a fools errand which was why he'd simply sat back and not wasted his power that he did have. Should he have gone for Caleb right away the boy wouldn't have coped with his power overwhelming him and it would only serve to drain Grima of his power and besides he could wait as long as it took for the heart to grow. True his present body wasn't ideal but he had his ways to prepare his new host. Using the boy's dreams had desired effect and for that reason Grima had kept to the boy's dreams for now. He'd spent most of them teaching the boy all of the skills that he needed. All of the magic knowledge that he would require for a much smoother rise than what had happened with this body. Hopefully with a smooth transition Grima wouldn't feel so out of balance.


 

Grima smirked as the fresh blood pooled underneath what would soon become a new risen to be added to the new guards that he was making to protect his puppet should he ever have to leave her side for an extended period of time. Gods help the Grimleal if they dared to force him to do that he'd kill them in a heartbeat.

He snapped his fingers and the light in the room dulled, “Now then. You.” He barked at the Cleric, “It's time for you to earn your keep. Fetch the mask and don't drop it!” The dragon snarled.

The poor cleric let out a stifled scream. He watched as she fetched the death mask that he'd spent a good hour making. She looked disgusted and would have dropped the thing he was certain. Still she bought it to him and he inspected the thanatophage within it. It was undamaged, “Good girl.” He purred and the cleric lowered her head. She did not want to incur Grima's wrath and she most certainly did not want him to press himself inside of her again. It was a process that she did not want to repeat ever. Grima hummed to himself, “Now then...”

The process gave him time to think. Once he gestured to the cleric that she could go back to the corner where he often sent her his other puppet was quick to move. She knew what he wanted and as he made the last checks to the death mask she'd moved the body so that it was facing upwards. Blood pooled on the ground and he calmly walked towards it and placed the death mask on it. As he did so a thought crossed his mind.

The intruder that was with his vessel could fight. If he gained control over the vessel...perhaps he could make a consort worthy of her god not just to bare fruit should that be a possibility but to be able to fight should the need arise. She could be what he'd always wanted.

A true Queen worthy of her god.

He smirked at the thought and paused. He had to wonder why his Puppet never learned how to. Perhaps, Grima decided it was partly his fault. He never let her get near the battlefield for one and two...Grima felt much more at ease when he knew she was protected, though if she'd been able to defend herself that would not have been a bad thing.

As such the risen he was making would be another guard to protect what was his. No point in wasting energy on combat if he didn't have to. The Grimleal also were useful (for now) guards and had been in times past. He thought back to the first Validar he'd killed. If not for him they would have had their first fruit born. He would have the perfect little warrior. Grima felt annoyed but that was the host's memories interfering again.

No.

He'd focus on making this world come to ruin first. Knowing that the risen was going to take some time to wake Grima turned his attention to his puppet. She was still for now but he was not. A hand movement was all it took and she pressed herself into his chest knowing what he wanted of her. Her silence was welcome. He had no need for words with her. Nor would they ever need them again.

~

Robin let out a low grunt. She'd done what she could and was now making her way to join with the Shepherds. She'd passed a few different places and thanks to the trace hex she was using it gave her enough of an idea of where she needed to get to. She was riding a dark pegasus. Far easier for her than a skittish white one. The added advantage was that the beast was calm due to the massive amount of mana Robin had. Flying ahead of her unit and telling them to make their way back to the Mila Tree Robin was aware of just how much ground the Shepherds had covered. She frowned as she landed in a clearing that looked like it was the place. She spotted Panne and Frederick,

Robin?!” Frederick said shocked,

Hello Frederick, Panne. I take it I'm in the right area?” She asked sheepishly,

You are.” Panne said calmly, “You do not seem...as injured as before.”

Well you can thank my skill in using dark magic for that.” Robin admitted. “Now then I need to see Chrom do you know where he is?” She asked

Ah.” Frederick gave a nod, “He should be in the mess.”

Thanks Frederick.” Robin said calmly and she made her way towards the mess. She stopped as Chrom gaped at her, “Well looks like I'm feeling better than ever,” She grinned, “50G please.”

Robin?! Gods. I think you might want to see Caleb.” Chrom said motioning her to follow him as he handed her a pouch with fifty gold in it.

What happened?” Robin said picking up on something that wasn't right.

Well Lucina said Caleb cast two spells tomeless and...”

What...the...fuck...?!” Robin gasped out, “What the fuck happened?!

Well...I guess it might be a bit hard to explain but we had some Grimleal cause a bit of trouble and Caleb killed at least two of them single-handedly.”

Robin felt her breath come in gasps and she said, “No...he's not hurt is he?!”

Caleb is fine.” Chrom assured her, “Just a little tired. Lissa gave him a full check with Maribelle.”

I see...” Robin sighed, “at least Caleb is alright.” It didn't stop Robin from worrying about her son however.

Well here we are-” Chrom said opening the flap to the medical tent where Caleb was and Robin walked in, “Hey Lucina, is he...”

I'm awake.” Caleb said and Chrom saw the young tactician was sitting up. Robin spoke to him softly in Plegian and Caleb responded calmly. She sighed,

Well it seems to me that we have a full four days before we have to deal with Yen'fey's forces.”

Good it will give them time to recover.” Caleb said thinking of what and who could be fielded in the upcoming battle.


 

Four days as it turned out was more than enough for them to recover. Caleb had even gotten in some training with the new tome he was given. He did not draw too much on its power and added it as yet another tool to his kit. Mjölnir would be of a great help. Too bad he couldn't properly thank the man for his help. Still Caleb had to wonder if there was a way. With a sigh the young tactician eventually decided to drop the thought. Should he come across the man again he would thank him for the assistance. The young tactician knew he had much to learn and as such once he was ready to he would continue his training. A tactician had to be ready for all eventualities. Caleb sighed and then returned to his duties.

Edited by TheSilentChloey
chapter update...

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Chapter XXVII: Hell Hath No Fury Like A Fellblood...

He made his way to the strategy tent mind working on what he had to do. His mind was focused on the information he'd got from his mother about Yen'fey's movements. Caleb was a man on a mission and for now...he'd focus on what was the most important thing. Getting the Shepherds through this battle. Not to far from where he was working Alana was busy, Caleb guessed she was amusing herself but he couldn't be sure. He however made himself focus on the maps before him. As he carefully worked out the best place for them to engage Yen'fey's forces he made a couple of notes on what needed to be done. He was scanning the maps and then he was surprised by Alana speaking, “Daddy, look what I did!”

Caleb turned to see a rather...interesting picture to say the least. A smile touched his face, “I see someone was busy.” He smiled and even though he knew he had work to do he couldn't help but indulge his daughter just a bit, “Are these your battle plans?” He asked and she beamed at him,

Yes!” She said enthusiastically, “See, the mages go here-” She pointed to an odd looking squiggle of lines, “And the knights go here to keeps them saves.” She grinned widely and Caleb noticed another missing tooth. She really was growing up.

I see.” He said lifting her up so that she was sitting on his lap and laid the “battle” plans on the table, “Like this?” He asked moving the figurines that represented both mages and knights together,

Yay! That's perfect Daddy!” Alana grinned and hugged him. Caleb smiled,

Ah but we don't know the enemy's formation.” Caleb said looking serious, “Though to keep the mages safe we lead with the knights. Clever little one.” Caleb praised and Alana giggled and Robin came into the tent,

Who's clever?” She asked and she spotted the small girl on her father's knee,

I is Grandmummy!” Alana said with a smile,

Oh.” Robin said sounding surprised but she smiled, “Of course you are. You're learning from your Daddy after all.” Robin said ruffling the girl's blue hair in a warm manner. “And one day you'll be a great tactician, just like your Great Grandma.”

Alana giggled and reached to hug Robin. The Grandmaster winced slightly but she was able to hug the small girl. “Are you alright Mother?” Caleb asked worried,

I'll be fine.” Robin assured him, “Though I would be lying if I said I didn't miss this.” Caleb chuckled and Robin then said mischievously, “So when is Alana going to have a sibling huh?

Caleb went bright red, “M-mother!” He spluttered and Robin laughed,

I really need to teach you how to lighten up Caleb.” She sighed after a moment and Caleb sighed,

Why do I get the feeling like that isn't the last time I'll be hearing about that?” He asked resigned.

Come now.” Robin said with a warm tone, “I told you I was jesting...unless you two really are...” She said looking hopeful. Caleb felt himself blush,

We're not Mother.” He said levelly,

Very well.” Robin sighed, “But you'll at least tell me if you two are?” She asked,

Of course. Chrom and Maribelle as well.” Caleb said knowing how well that was going to go.

Hmm...well I suppose that might be the case.” Robin hummed, “Keeping it to close family is a wise idea.”

Of course Mother.” Caleb informed her. “Any ideas on how to make a crack at Yen'fey? Alana and I were working some out together but three tacticians might just be able to see what one will miss.” He sighed.

Hmm. Well I can't really say.” She said calmly, “I however think that we need to look at making maximum use out of our other units, Snipers, Bow Knights, Paladins that kind of thing.”

I'm thinking Sully should be a Great Knight once she's got Aegis.” Caleb said, “Stahl a Paladin. It should work out right?” He mused allowed and Robin found herself wondering what Caleb was thinking,

Now why would you do that?” She asked,

Well I think it might be worth it is all.” Caleb admitted, “Plus there are more skills that they might find useful.” He said with a sigh,

Well I'm sure that you'll figure it out Caleb.” Robin smiled, “For now though how about we figure out what to do for this upcoming battle together?”

That would be the most important thing.” Caleb sighed, “Though I think we'll have to see what comes since the battlefield is not an easy thing to predict.”


 

True to Caleb's suspicions the fighting was brutal. It was almost as brutal as the past from whence he and Lucina had come. Both fought with a grace that was not often seen. They knew how the other was likely to react and yet again they showcased that knowledge. Lucina ducked as Caleb sent out a swipe of Thoron. The rider who had been hassling Lucina was quickly no more. The Paladin clearly did not expect a mage to hit him with enough force to send him and his horse into the lava. The scream made Caleb feel sick but it was necessary. He had to. Otherwise the man would have hurt Lucina. They were much further ahead of the rest of the Shepherds and for the time being at least they were sticking to the plan. He used Rexcaliber to push the riders to their doom. Lucina took lapses in Caleb's spell throwing to give another equally powerful knock back of her own for them. They almost didn't notice that they were actually closing in on Yen'fey.


 

In another place there was the rumble of thunder as lightning flashed across the sky. He could feel it. The storm was coming and he was excited by its movements. Beside him was the quiet presence of the woman who at that point it time had become one of his most treasured possessions. He still did not know why even as he absently wrote in the pages of the book sat on the desk before him. Plegia rarely had rain but when it did...He grinned as he waited for the ink to dry. He cleaned the quill and came to stand at the edge of the chamber that he'd called his. She rose slowly and came to sit at his side and he grinned, “A perfect storm.” He said with a laugh. “They'll have their moment soon enough. I wonder...how many of them will be killed this time? I hope they all die, it would be fun don't you think?” He asked as she merely clung to him, “No it wouldn't be would it? Our fun comes from killing them right here doesn't it?” He spoke to her absently and ran a hand through her hair, “They said that they'd bring something nice to play with. I however don't think they will.” He said as the woman tilted her head at him in the most endearing way, “All the more time for us don't you think?” He mused and her hand snaked up his leg coyly, “Yes...all the more time for us indeed...”


 

Caleb leapt back avoiding the Swordmaster's blade. With a grunt of effort he almost spun on the spot to deliver a blow of Rexcaliber. The man dodged it and Caleb suddenly realised that he wasn't the intended target. Shock filled Lucina's face as she hastily bought Falchion up to protect herself. Not fast enough as Yen'fey used a two handed grip to slice at her side. Caleb righted himself and watched in horror as Lucina crumpled, forced to use Falchion as a brace on the one bit of the ground that wasn't burning. “LUCY!” Caleb screamed and tore forwards. He cursed himself for being too slow. Fury rose as Caleb leapt between Yen'fey's next strike and Lucina. A cry of pain escaped the young tactician as he more than certainly protected her. She was shaking but Caleb knew he didn't have time to rest. He swung on his heal, the brave sword in hand, “You...” Caleb was shaking with rage. He wasn't sure if it was the wound on his back, or that Lucina had been hurt but he was starting to see red. “YOU'RE FINISHED!” Caleb roared as flames rose around him. They were orange coloured and petals could be seen although where the petals had come from was anyone's guess. Caleb's eyes glowed crimson and Yen'fey leapt back very quickly. Caleb however closed the distance between them with ease and the brave sword was coated in black flames as dark magic ran along its length. Yen'fey had about five seconds to block the attack...


 

Four strikes cut through the Swordmaster. His intended target having out sped him, not just once but four times. The dark magic burned worse than any pain the man had ever felt and as his blood sprayed over the ground drying almost instantly Yen'fey knew that he'd made a grievous error concerning his enemy. The boy had unnatural and almost godlike powers...Yen'fey almost felt like he was facing the Fell Dragon Grima...


 

An explosion of dark magic made Robin stop in mid fight with a Griffon Rider. She turned and gasped in horror as the blast wave hit at least twenty or so men at once with Yen'fey being in the epicentre of it. She didn't understand what had happened but she felt pure terror course though her body. It was almost like Grima was right there! She noticed that the Griffon Rider was quickly getting the hell out of there and she didn't blame him. She ran towards Chrom. She was terrified.


 

The first thing Lucina noticed when she awoke was that there was an air of darkness. She groaned as she tried to stand properly, “C-caleb!” Lucina called shakily trying to see through the darkness as best she could. She almost fell down again if not for gentle hands holding her,

Shhh,” His voice was gentle and she coughed in pain, “Lucy, where are you hurt?” She rested her head on his shoulder,

My...side...” She groaned quietly and was shaking,

Don't worry Lucy,” He said tenderly, “It won't bother you for much longer.” He promised and she could feel her arms gripping his coat,

What...about y- AH!” She cried in pain and felt him stroke her hair gently,

Sorry Lucy.” His voice sounded slightly different like he was beginning to feel tired, “It won't take much more time.” And like that the pain faded away. As did the darkness Lucina noticed. She saw Caleb half collapse beside her and caught him before he hit the ground. She looked around them and saw that the enemy had decided to go after them. A curse slipped out and she quickly carried Caleb and sheathed Falchion. She wasn't sure where to go until the flapping of wings alerted her to a Pegasus.


 

Mummy!” Alana cried having given Lissa the slip. She had felt it. She knew that her Daddy was hurt. She knew it. So she took Sweetie and flew to where she was told specifically not to go. She didn't care. She had to save her parents. She could see that Mummy wasn't happy but Alana knew where they could go and Daddy would be able to recover safely, “I knows where we can goes and the bad guys won't find us!”

Alana!” Lucina cried and watched as her daughter gripped her wind tome, “Where.” Lucina knew that there wasn't time. Caleb was injured and she had to get him off the battlefield. She didn't have time to figure out how Alana had done this. She would figure it out later. She followed her daughter to what had to be a passage. Alana had switched to a fire tome and lit the way, “You are going to be grounded when we get back to camp young lady.” Lucina said at last, “Though I can not deny you had pure intentions.”

Sorry Mummy.” Alana said quietly, she could hear the disappointment in Lucina's voice, “But Yous and Daddy needed help!”

I appreciate that Alana, but you still did the wrong thing by not listening to us when we said you needed to stay in camp.”

Aww...Lucy...cut her...some slack...” Caleb groaned from his position of being carried on his wife's back, “She...was only doing...what she thought was right. She's no younger than us when we didn't...” Caleb let out a low grunt of pain and Lucina sighed,

Caleb...can you stand?”

I don't...think so Lucy.” He admitted, “Though I should...have an elixer...in my medical pouch.”

Lucina sniffled suddenly and Caleb sighed, “Daddy?” Alana said quietly

We'll be...fine. We've got each other...don't we?” Caleb said with a small half-hearted attempt to laugh. Light poured out from the passage way and Alana said,

There!”

Lucina looked ahead and gasped, “Hot springs?! Alana how did you?!”

Daddy showed me.” Alana grinned widely with a couple of missing teeth clearly visible.

Ah so you...saw the map...heh...like father...like daughter...”

Caleb? Which pocket is that medical kit in?”

Third on...the right...” Caleb said his grip slacking and Lucina felt a stab of concern. She looked over the springs and noticed that there seemed to be an abandoned building. She made a beeline for it while Alana rode beside her. A look inside revealed the building was indeed abandoned only recently. With haste and Alana's help Lucina managed to find Caleb's medical supplies. She found the elixer that Caleb had said was needed and she carefully applied it to his cut. The wound wasn't as deep as Lucina feared. She knew however that Caleb needed to rest. They would work out what they needed to do later. Right now she would watch over him.


 

He felt it. Sweet gods did Grima feel it. He felt it when Caleb reached for the power of Fell Magic and it was enough to make the Fell Dragon know that Caleb was almost ready to merge. Grima almost felt like he'd orgasmed it was that good of a feeling. Grima however was also concerned. True Lucina had been hurt and he'd felt the reaction justified but he also had to admit it was...reckless all the same. Grima sighed. He should have guided Caleb better but what was done was done. He'd not expected Caleb to reach out on his on volition. In truth Grima had expected the Heart to hold off for a while longer. Still Grima had to admit it was good to lead his strength to Caleb...to his Heart to rip apart the fool that harmed Lucina. The Dragon frowned and wondered where the thought had come from.


 

He was currently waiting on Validar to bring something for him to rip apart himself. Grima lent on the chase lounge and noticed that the room had become darker somewhat. With a frown the Fell Dragon wondered if he should open his other eyes and for a moment decided against it as his nose told him that there was a human in the room that wasn't Grimleal. He was impressed that the human managed to get into the chambers without raising the alarm and having the Grimleal panicking about an intruder. Grima grinned as he mused about the last person who wasn't a Grimleal to stand before him. Of course his Lucina did not count naturally, nor did his creator whom he'd killed a very long time ago. Grima noticed that the man didn't seem to care much that the chair that he was sitting on was covered in blood. Grima was interested to see what the man wanted and why he was there. The dragon grinned as his Lucina was quite quick to sit on his lap, head resting on his left shoulder, hands gripping his coat. She was in the perfect position for him to rest his arm around her waist and he did.

Who are you?” Grima asked with a very serious expression.

Something of a fan of your work.” The man said

My work eh?” Grima said, “If you’re referring to her-” he indicated to his Lucina, “she’s not worth the admiration boy.” Grima grinned, “However if you really want to see my work, then you might find this to be more to your liking.” A snap of the Dragon's fingers was all it took for the risen to come into view,

So what about that then?”

Grima stroked his Lucina's hair and spoke calmly, “This is a masterpiece. It’s different to any other I have created. Mind you it was quite alive when I got my hands on it and with the grip the body had on its soul...made my job easier than normal. I didn’t bother to preserve much of its mind outside of following my commands, not worth doing for it since it’s worth more to me in its current state. Besides it’s more of a...decoration than actually useful at present. I have...a few of them floating around that are like that. They’ll be made useful when I feel like bothering to and when I will have the need to.”

Brain-dead slaves are all well and good but-” The young man pulled out a card of some sort out and threw it towards Grima, the latter catching it and looking at the card curiously,

Is this...who I think it might be?” The grin on Grima's fading to a considering frown as he took in the detail of the card, “Chrom...I haven’t seen him ever look like this before. Is this really him?”

The young man laughed, “In the cold dead flesh.”

Grima knew what he was feeling. A familiar darkness of soul that he wasn't sure he liked, “And this came into your possession how?” The Fell Dragon asked, only to have his question waved off. He felt the bottom-most pair of his eyes open and regarded his guest with all six eyes. The young man was undisturbed by the shift in the Dragon's form,

Have you ever thought of having a more willing servant that is stronger than it is currently to do your bidding?”

Oh?” Grima's six eyes widened slightly, “And pray, tell me how you’re intending this conversation to go? I assume you want to leave here alive for one. Else you would have come with more than the Einherjar unit if you were looking for death.” He spoke calmly but there was the thinly veiled threat of darkness of a greater magnitude than before.

“I came,” The man said, “To offer my services. Considering you don’t seem too keen on doing such a thing yourself I would assume that someone else doing would be favourable to you?”

Is that so,” Grima replied, “I suppose you’ll expect some form of payment for said services rendered?”

Heh, I’m glad to know that you’re smart enough to know that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. I appreciate payment for my work. Though it’s not something I can do before others...”

Grima laughed. The man clearly was interesting. Though when it came down to it Grima really didn't care. To him it was child's play to do what the man was offering. Still it would save him having to expend power but even then for the risen it wasn't worth it. He could feel that his Lucina was not liking their guest at all. He was amused by that. Conversation then turned to other things and Grima learned who it was that he owed a debt to and he grimaced at the thought. He did not like owing any human. He watched as the visitor disappeared then he felt safe enough to stroke his Lucina, “Now, now,” He spoke soothingly to her, “You know I can’t tell anyone just how precious you are to me.” She pressed herself to him and he chuckled lightly, “I am the Fell Dragon after all.” He then had a thought, “Though between us…” He let the statement hang and he thought he saw her smiling. Though he didn't have long to think about that as she yet again acted on her own volition and he realised that she was up to something. What that something was he didn't really care as he felt waves of pleasure.

Edited by TheSilentChloey

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Chapter XXVIII: The Death of an Empire

Caleb groaned as he came to.  He'd taken a heavy blow and for now he was certain that he needed to at the very least get up and get moving since they were on a battlefield and...he looked around and frowned.  This wasn't a battlefield. Lucina was asleep beside him and Alana was also asleep on a makeshift bed roll. “Lucy...” Caleb croaked and Lucina moaned in her sleep.  Caleb sighed and decided he had to get up fully. He carefully looked around and realised that they were in a strange building. He felt like he could barely move his body but as he slowly made his way towards what looked like a door he managed to get his eyes opened enough to realise it wasn't quite a door that he was used to opening.  He found that it slid and he saw that there was the early morning light filtering through the steam of what looked to be hot springs. Caleb frowned as he tried to figure out what had happened and he turned to look back at Lucina. She was sleeping peacefully and he sighed. Then he remembered rather suddenly when he saw the tear in her tunic on her side.  Anger rose like bile in Caleb's throat. Yen'fey got off very lightly indeed. The tactician jolted at the thought. Since when was he so possessive of his wife that he had to kill the man that hurt? Caleb sighed and carefully closed the door as he made his way outside. The rocks were slippery and he found himself wondering just what he'd done back there. He stared at his reflection in one of the pools and he saw himself stare back.  Caleb sighed and continued his little excursion to see if he could find any supplies to help them both find the Shepherds and get back to them. He knew it might take a while but he was used to it. Caleb closed his eyes and wondered if there was something he needed to be doing.

 

Once the young tactician had woken his small family they decided to do some training for the morning and to move out come the afternoon to begin finding the Shepherds.  For the most part Caleb focused on teaching Alana tactical knowledge as Lucina and he sparred. Alana had to be able to read her parents' moves and she was improving. A part of Caleb was pleased with her progress.  Another part was worried that he was teaching his daughter how to kill people.  It wasn't that Caleb didn't want her to know how to protect herself he just felt...sick at the thought that she was following in the footsteps of essentially murdering people like her father had.  Caleb shook it off and pushed himself to focus on helping Lucina train. They were well used to each other now. He knew for instance that his wife hated to use underhanded moves. He tried to be as random as possible to make her quick to react to magic and swipe it away from her body before it could hurt her.  He could never hurt her but Thunder gave her enough of what she needed to do when it came to stronger spells and dark magic.

 

The little family travelled to were Caleb had plotted the next move for the Shepherds.  He found that they were making very good time. He wasn't sure how fast his mother would move the Shepherds or if she'd go looking for them but if he stayed on track to what he was planning he was sure that she would think that they'd do that.  Still it wasn't easy. Alana was on her pegasus riding with her parents walking on either side of her.

 

The first sign that night was coming was that Alana from her Pegasus started to yawn as she'd been up quite a long time.  Caleb had only just noticed it and he sighed, “Normally I would love to rough it but...”

“CALEB!  LUCINA!” Caleb turned and saw Yarne in his beast form barrelling towards them,

“Yarne?!” Lucina cried surprised,

“Oh thank gods I found you both!” Yarne cried sobbing with relief, “We'd set up camp not too far ahead.  Robin said she wanted Mother and I to try to find you both. Oh I'm so happy!” Yarne cried, “I thought...I feared the worst when I smelt all that dark magic!” Yarne said and Caleb winced.

“Dark magic?” He said,

“Yeah...it was really strong.” Yarne informed them.  “Oh and Robin said she wanted to see you Caleb like, really really badly.  Said it was super important.” He said shivering slightly, “She was really mad.”

“I don't doubt it.” Caleb sighed, he'd really only thought of protecting Lucina and nothing else since the rest of the Shepherds were not in immediate danger.  “Wait...did you say she was angry?!” Caleb asked quickly,

“Yeap.” Yarne said, “I feared extinction was upon me!” He shuddered and Caleb sighed.  She wouldn't...couldn't understand how he felt. He had to protect Lucina no matter the cost.  She was his everything.  Her and the rest of the Future Shepherds.  People that Caleb cherished above all else.  His family.  A family that to be honest was practically one he'd raised with Lucina's help once all of the adults had died.  He would do it again if that was what it took. He walked quietly with Yarne sneaking glances at him every so often and Caleb sighed,

“What is it really Yarne?” Caleb asked and Yarne sighed,

“We were all worried when we couldn't find you both.  Brady's been in his tent and I think he was crying.”

“Well then I think my Mother can wait then.  You guys always come first.” Caleb said firmly

 

They entered the camp and some of the Shepherds practically swamped Caleb and Lucina all asking if they were ok and how the lucky the pair and Alana were to be alive and Caleb waved them off saying that they were fine and he'd intended to keep following the route he'd drawn to meet up with the Shepherds any way and most applauded his wisdom.  Lucina spoke gently, “I'll see Brady once I get Alana to have something to eat.”

“Okay Lucy.  I shouldn't take long with Mother and I'll join you both soon.” He said kissing her on the forehead and leaving them as he quietly approached the strategy tent which had the light of a candle setting the tent aglow.  “You wanted to see me Mother?” Caleb asked and he saw Robin almost jump from the desk.

“Oh thank Naga!” Robin sobbed pulling her son into a tight embrace while she was practically crying.  “What in the gods' name were you thinking with a stunt like that?!” She yelled in Plegian pulling back to look at her son.

“I did what had to be done Mother.” Caleb replied levelly.  And Robin was still crying,

My son...you could have...

“I'm fine.  Lucy took good care of me like always.” Caleb said with a smile and Robin sighed.

“Well at any rate here's the current situation.” Robin said as Caleb came to regard the map.  “Excellus showed his face and Say'ri...well Say'ri is quite upset. Walhart is retreating and Basilio's life was the cost to make that happen.”

“...” Caleb looked at the pieces on the board, “You didn't pass the word to anyone else?” He asked her,

“Well I had to.  Walhart intends to pull us to his capitol.”

“Good.” Caleb said, “We'll finish him off in front of all his people.” Caleb said calmly, “We need to hit them now.  We won't get another chance to really drive the point home. We defeat him and he'll lose the support of the Empire. If he won't yield Lucy and I will make him yield.” Caleb said oddly calm

“Caleb...are you sure that is the course of-”

“It is the only way.  You and Chrom need time to recover from the last battle.  Lucy and I will be fine to make the main push here,” Caleb said shifting the figures across the map, “Then we'll make a second strike right here-” Caleb moved more pieces and Robin was surprised, “Then we go right here.” Caleb said finally and she saw a lethal pincer on the capitol.  “If I'm right in what I'm thinking the rest of the Resistance will help us and can really pin Walhart here.” Caleb said knocking over Walhart's representation.

“Alright then what if they don't?” Robin asked and Caleb said,

“With the way the war has turned I don't think they will.  They've just lost one of the most powerful generals of Walhart's forces.  You tell me how they're going to act knowing they're going up against potentially an enemy far more powerful than Walhart himself?”

Robin paused, “Well it is true he's lost two key generals but-”

But nothing Mother.  He has no cards left to play and Excellus is a fool.  He will not see this coming because it's using his own strategy against himself.

“You mean to-”

“They'll be panicked and know it's only a matter of time before we come for them.  We do not have time to fuck around.” Caleb said bluntly, “Every day we waste is more time for Excellus to worm his way out of the hole he's dug.  Or worse more time Walhart has to gather supplies. We’d do well to take him out as soon as possible, Mother.”

Robin sighed, “You have a point.” She admitted, “Alright I'll talk with Chrom and let him know we're going to close in on the capital.” She said sheepishly, “Caleb...you should likely have something to eat as well.  I don't want you to collapse from the strain.”

“I can handle it Mother, but I appreciate your concern.” He smiled at her and Robin realised that her son had grown.  Not in terms of height but in terms of his confidence. That or he seemed to already know how the next fight was going to go.  That worried Robin since it was said that Grima possessed the ability to see into the future. Though Robin always thought of it as a myth.  She sighed. She was worried about her son.

 

Caleb joined his small family and ate with them.  Alana was tired and Caleb guessed his daughter was going to sleep well.  Caleb had mapped out a route that was the quickest to get to where they needed to go and that would likely take them a week.  He accounted for the fact that they had to rest and guessed that they'd make it to the capital in relatively good condition and be much stronger than Walhart's troops.  Caleb knew that they had to make very certain to deal a full blow to Walhart's pride. A dint that would serve to break the man's belief that he was invincible. It would be a sweet victory if he could do it without a loss.  This was his first real war since his mother had stepped down as the main tactician. As such he had yet to loose the lives of his own men on his orders. In their future Caleb had never been allowed to make tactical input until all the other Royal Ylissean Tacticians were killed.  The losses they had were staggering and even in such a dark time Caleb still managed to get the thirteen lives under his care to safety. Even so Caleb had work to do. He would end this war.

 

Excellus cursed as yet again his plans were ending in failure.  That bitch Robin was back and yet she wasn't the problem. The little brat tactician had become his bane.  He’d yet to hear from the scouts as to what was going on, so far they had been racing to prevent the Ylisseans from gaining a foothold but with Yen'fey gone things were difficult to say the least.  Still Excellus was sure they'd win. That or he’d escape to the winning side. He had to survive...he had to.

 

The march was easier than Caleb had anticipated.  They reached the capital with three whole days to spare.  He supposed it was because there were actual roads on which they could travel making their journey much easier than before.  Still he had to wonder why they'd yet to meet any Valmese. He guessed that they would be waiting for them. He knew that they had to thin the numbers down.

 

Two days rest and the Army of Ylisse was facing down the last (but rather massive) force of the Valmese.  Walhart was amused that they thought they could defeat him. He was invincible, undefeated and certainly the Ylisseans were about to play out their biggest loss.  Walhart rallied his men and they fought. He watched in shock as only a small force came to meet his lead by a young woman with the most striking blue hair he’d ever seen.  Beside her was a Plegian in a Grimleal coat. Not a sight Walhart expected to see. He watched on in shock as the pair easily made short work of his men.  The Plegian frequently raising flames around his body as his magic practically slaughtered all of the men in front of him.  The woman duck weaved and sidestepped her way through the Plegian’s magic so smoothly one would have thought they were a well oiled machine.  He frowned as they approached.

“Yield.” The Plegian said firmly, “You will not see victory on this battlefield.  You're weaker than us.”

“Does a dog submit to a flea?  I think not. You will fall by the wayside!”

 

Caleb sighed, “Fool.  Here's how it's done!” and in an instant Walhart was blown off his horse,

“Protect the Emperor!” someone yelled as a meat shield prevented Caleb from making the killing blow.  He and Lucina fought all of the men before them as Walhart was taken into the palace.

“This is getting ridiculous!” Lucina yelled, “Caleb!  Hat trick now!”

“Sure thing Lucy!” He replied and pulled out Mjölnir.  “You're finished!” and several men lost their lives in a instant as Caleb used the spell to hit as many of them as possible as the rain started to fall.

Amateur!” Alana yelled suddenly blowing apart the gates as the Valmese tried to shut them.

ALANA WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?!

Both Caleb and Lucina yelled at the same time as the little girl smiled sweetly, “Some one hads to break the gates.” she said innocently and Lucina shook her head,

“What did we tell you-" Lucina began weakly and then she gaped at the damage to the gate,

“I hads to help Mummy!” Alana whined, “Besides Grandmummy’s been keeping me saves.”

Robin gave the couple a guilty look, “What are you two waiting for!  I'll keep little miss here safe. Go!”

“We’re going to have a word later Mother.” Caleb said irritated.  He and Lucina were quick to turn and chase after the retreating Valmese as the sky opened up with rain falling rapidly.

 

There was a group of the Shepherds who broke through not long after Caleb and Lucina did.  Chrom and Maribelle were near the young couple as Caleb blasted the palace doors open with an Ignus fueled Mjölnir.  In an instant the rest of the Valmese tried to stop the young man but Caleb showed no mercy, knocking them unconscious with ease as he, Chrom, Maribelle, Lucina, Gaius, Tharja, Henry and Sumia all came into the main entrance.  Caleb was quick to direct Henry and Sumia to take the left corridor, Gaius and Tharja the right. He and Lucina fought alongside Chrom and Maribelle as they took the main corridor, the young tactician swapping the lead unit of their pair up at regular intervals.  Those Valmese that were left were too weak to handle the young couple and Chrom and Maribelle were having an easy time of it as well.

 

Caleb was the one to square off against Excellus.  The killing blow was too easily placed to the man's chest.  Caleb guessed Walhart made him stay and fight and he watched as Chrom finally ended the man.  The war was finally over.

 

The Valmese were quick to surrender once Walhart had fallen.  Caleb heaved a sigh of relief as finally he had his first true victory as a tactician.  It wasn't easy however. Say’ri bought out Vert and Caleb marvelled at its green colour.  He’d never really had a chance to actually see the gemstones properly since they weren't able to get all of them.  Vert and Sable had been missing when Lucina performed the Awakening ceremony to call on their Naga.  They would have at least a week before making haste to Ylisse. Of course Severa also ended up giving birth not long after the battle ended.  She and Owain had a healthy baby girl, whom they'd named Ophelia after Owain's Grandmother. Caleb wasn't able to stay as he and Lucina had to do the more pressing job of going through the post war manifest.  He wasn't looking forward to it.

 

Chrom was surprised by the number of survivors of this war.  True Robin had significant losses but ever since Caleb took responsibility the number of those that had died were none.  It was shocking to think that Caleb really surpassed his mother like that. Every unit Caleb commanded came back merely injured at worst.  Of course there were people who had gone against the young tactician's orders, those didn't make it. But for the ones that did follow Caleb's instructions, they lived.

 

The quiet of the night saw Caleb walk through the Shepherds’ camp.  The war in Valm had taken a total of six months. Now they were headed back towards Archenia and Ylisse for a well earned rest.  Caleb knew however that they would not be able to. He’d not told Chrom what was to come...Caleb knew what was going to happen next.  They would be intercepted on the way back to Ylisse with a message. Chrom would find the contents very much suspicious. After all how would Plegia know about the location of the final gemstone?  Much less want to present it to them?

 

Caleb decided that for now he would act oblivious.  He knew that they had been followed. He also knew that somehow something wasn't right.  The tactician sighed.

 

Just before they arrived at port, Caleb was ambushed by the Shepherds’ resident Anna.  He of course had been working on supplies for the trip back to Port Regna. He did not expect Anna to practically try and sell him baby supplies.  He heaved a sigh and told her to take it up with Chrom.  “I'm not the commander of this army, you're wasting time talking to me.  Either speak with people who actually need that kind of stuff, or Chrom.” Caleb said escaping Anna finally.  Only to have Alana come bouncing along and grab his arm.

“Daddy~!” Alana said having been grounded for three days thus far for not listening to her parents, “Is I out of trouble yets?” she asked looking at him innocently.  Caleb sighed. He was already beginning to feel tired and did not have the capacity to deal with anything other than the task at hand.

“I don't know Sweetpea, did you ask Mummy?” he deflected and Alana frowned in thoughtful concentration.  After a moment she shook her head. “Hmm. Well I suppose if you wanted, you could help me with making sure we’ve got enough food for everyone…” he suggested.  It was a fairly simple task that doubtless would now take even more time but he knew Alana loved helping however she could.  Seeing his precious little girl smile was something Caleb knew he couldn't really resist. He blamed her general adorableness on that.  Sure enough her little face lit up with one of her cutest big grins and she squealed in delight, hugging Caleb's middle as tightly as her little body could manage.  Lucina wasn't going to be amused but it would be a valuable experience for Alana. Plus Caleb was around her age when he started helping his mother.  He smiled as they checked over the supplies together.  Alana would occasionally pipe up with, “We gots (this thing) Daddy…” as he told her what he was looking for or, “We needs (this thing) Daddy.” if the thing listed wasn't in the supplies.

 

Robin frowned.  She'd asked Caleb to check the supplies an hour ago.  He should have reported to her by now and yet...for such a simple task he was taking an awfully long time.  A patter of running feet and a childish giggle caught her attention. She frowned as Alana opened the door and heard Caleb half call out,

“Alana!” and the girl giggled

“I beats Daddy here!” she giggled.  It was only once Robin got a good look at the girl that she noticed how much the child's hair had grown.  It was almost as long as Lucina's now. Of course as she had that thought Caleb finally came up to the door and Robin did a double take.  Alana had grown very quickly over the course of the war.  In six months the girl went from little to not so little.  She was almost already level with her father's shoulders. Not that Caleb was a very tall man to begin with; Lucina was taller than him by half a head.  Alana had when Robin first met the child only just come up level with Caleb's waist. Six months of growth and she was pretty close to matching her own father!  Robin heard Caleb quietly clear his throat.

“We have a few more supplies that we need Mother.” he said at last, “I have the list.  Anna should be able to help with some of them.”

“That she should.” Robin mused.  “Alright now that's sorted...we'll need to see Chrom about what we need to do once we get back to Regna Ferox.”

“Of course.” Caleb replied as Alana eventually settled on making her own amusement.  She was behaving well. Perhaps he would need to talk to Lucina about it.

“ROBIN!”

Both tacticians jumped as the door opened again to reveal Chrom and Lucina both with concerned expressions on their faces, “Chrom?” Robin made an unspoken question,

“You uh...might want to see this...both of you.”

Caleb frowned but he came and took the paper from Chrom.  He read it and felt as if the room was suddenly a lot colder than before.  He shakily read, “To the Acting Exalt of Ylisse,

Firstly my congratulations on your victory against Walhart.  I truly hoped for this outcome and praise be to Grima it is. I send you this letter in the hopes it finds you well.  My request is simply of a meeting so that we may present to you with one of the gemstones which took us much time and effort to locate.  We anxiously await your arrival to Pleiga at your soonest convenience,

Regent Validar.

He handed it to his mother and she read it as well and frowned.  “This is...suspicious.” Robin frowned.

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Chapter XXIX: Bonds Give Strength


 

Caleb spent three hours arguing with Chrom to bring the Shepherds with him when he left for Plegia, an argument which was the first time Caleb had ever had a yelling match with Chrom. Lucina had not dared to intervene as she saw both her husband and father argue their points and knew it wasn't her place to. She knew that an angry Caleb was a frightening one (despite her husband being the shorter of the two of them), yet Caleb wasn't actually angry, he was pleading with Chrom to see reason in the young tactician's line of thinking. He didn't want to risk Chrom getting caught in a trap. His voice cut across the room and the desperate edge did little to change the fact that Chrom firmly did not believe it was needed,

“I don't need a second Frederick!” Chrom had yelled back,

“Chrom for gods sakes just listen to me!” Caleb yelled in response, “I'm not saying to bring about another war with Plegia! I'm saying that you should at least be prepared for trouble! What if this is a ploy to get to you to steal the Fire Emblem?”

“You think they would do that?!”

“They did it in our time! They used that message to drag both you, my mother and Maribelle to your deaths!” Caleb cried out in desperation.

“You're just being as paranoid as Frederick!” Chrom yelled back, angry now,

“I'M NOT! DON'T YOU THINK I HAD ENOUGH TIME TO FIGURE OUT WHAT HAPPENED TO THE THREE FOR YOU?! HAVE YOU NO CAUTION?!” Caleb snapped violently and Lucina shuddered as a dark aura took over the room. She instinctively went to hold Caleb's arm and he seemed to calm with her touch. His voice was soft and sad, “They are not to be trusted as Frederick has said. They intend to take the Fire Emblem. This would be their only shot at getting it if you are fool hardy enough to forget that they summoned the risen that attacked you on Carrion Isle. Please Chrom at least bring the Shepherds in case you get ambushed, then you'll have enough soldiers to assist you should things turn for the worst. If Validar is being honest then you can easily explain it away as us being on the way to Ylisse and wanting to have time to heal from the war. He will not be able to refuse you.” Caleb said, “At worst all he'll have to do is cater for a few more guests who mostly are prepared to look after themselves anyway. I know that having the Shepherds present might not be ideal for you, Chrom but please. For your safety at the very least let the Shepherds travel with you. Send the rest of the army back to Ylisse as you'd planned. Have them set up at the borders to keep the people safe as you and Mother had already planned.”

Chrom heaved a sigh and knew that Caleb was to a point right. He sighed, “Fine. I'll have the Shepherds prepare for a direct trip to Plegia. The rest of the army will return to Ylisse.” Caleb heaved a sigh of relief, “We'll leave at first light.” Chrom said firmly, “Caleb I want you to organise the rest of the Future Shepherds, they'll be coming as well.” He sighed,

“Of course Chrom.” Caleb lowered his head as he turned to follow his commander's orders. Lucina sighed and she followed Caleb as the young tactician moved to make sure that the rest of the Future Shepherds were ready as Chrom had ordered him to do.


 

The boat that would take the Shepherds to Plegia was a large vessel, which could hold all of the Shepherds (future ones inclusive) and their mounts. Caleb had done his duty as the tactician and for the moment he and Lucina were enjoying a quiet walk along the beach before they were to leave in the morning. It was Caleb's idea to take her there since in their time she'd never actually been on a beach untouched by the ruin that Grima had done to their world. Caleb noticed that the sunset was a beautiful red colour and he sighed inwardly. He hoped that they were doing the right thing. Even so he knew what was likely to happen. Having a break from one war before the real one started was only a small thing. However Caleb would have to consider his date with Lucina a success. She was having a good time and they enjoyed the beauty of the land before them. Tomorrow they would begin their trip to Plegia with the rest of the Shepherds. He held her hand as the waves washed the beach. It was a soothing place and it allowed them a moment of quiet. Lucina lent into an embrace with Caleb and he smiled. He wouldn't trade this experience with her for the world. As he softly kissed her, the young tactician didn't notice that they weren't alone. Nor did he care. He was with his wife, content and happy.


 

Chrom wanted to talk to Caleb but it was clear the young man was having a moment with Lucina. Chrom sighed when the pair kissed. He turned to leave them with a shake of his head. Clearly they needed this time together. He wondered how their bond had become so strong in such a short space of time. Then he frowned as he thought about it. No they were pretty close before they'd joined the Shepherds. This war had bought the pair closer if anything else. He sighed. The trip was going to be a shorter one than when they'd left for Valm as the boats would be carried by the winds and they now had more mages to make use of Wind to push the boats to travel faster should they have to. Chrom sighed. This was not an easy trip to be sure. In more ways than one.


 

~


 

Grima let out a contented sigh as he stretched. Another day's work completed in what he felt was perfect time. He was well aware of the whispers coming from close quarters as the Grimleal all didn't understand what he'd planned. He had mostly been fairly busy with the task at hand, preparing a couple of rituals. A few actually. He'd been dipping into his library where his Lucina was currently spending her time since he wanted to keep her as safe as possible while he wasn't present to protect her himself. Sometimes he'd curl up with her there and read to her in their favourite lounge. Others he'd spend time going through the books he'd collected trying to find the information that he wanted to make use of for the rituals that had to be undertaken to see if there were substitute ingredients that could be used with the same effect.

Old magic was in some of the books and as Grima flicked through the book he'd been looking for he knew that he'd found what he needed. A quick look at the ingredients made him frown. He'd have to get the Grimleal to fetch some of them as they would take him too long to get on his own without having his Lucina at his side and he did not want to risk moving her as it would undo at least three rituals he'd done on her already. He kept reading and made a note of some of the most important things he needed that he could get on his own and double checked the others. He cursed his luck as some of the ingredients were...troublesome to acquire. He would have to get the Grimleal to get them and that was beginning to look suspicious as the rituals were not ones that they understood. If only he could ask for someone who was reliable enough that would not question him and smart enough not to speak of what he'd planned. Someone who would be competent enough to get what he needed as fresh as he needed it to be. He growled as he looked through another book. A blood oath would be ideal but who would make one with the Fell Dragon except a fool of a human? Unless...he had a plan in mind but it would rely heavily on the fact that he would have to sink as low as to actually trusting a human to do the task. He left the library once he was sure his Lucina was there. He paused for a moment and went back to her swiftly. She was reading again. He snaked his arms around her waist and she turned and smiled at him. Actually smiled at him. The effect was strange. His heart beat a little faster. He placed a chaste kiss on her cheek and she pressed herself into his chest. He sighed, “Soon we'll be quite busy.” He said quietly, “I won't be long. Not this time.” He saw hope in her eyes and he smiled, “When I come back we are going to have some fun.” He said decisively and he nuzzled her gently. His body reacted but he couldn't do that now. He would ravish his Lucina later (just the way she loved him to it seemed) and gave her another kiss making clear his meaning of what “fun” they would be having upon his return and she seemed to understand fully what he had planned for the evening. He didn't even know how but she was the only human that got him even remotely like this...and he didn't care. He knew he was feeling very strange emotions when it came to his Lucina, feelings that he found intoxicating as much as they bought such a strange desire born of the way they'd bonded over three worlds and some time together since his awakening.


 

As Grima made his way out of the chambers he snapped his fingers and summoned the guards he'd made specifically to keep his Lucina well protected. The risen he'd made now finally came into their usefulness. When the young man had first visited Grima, he'd not been in the mood to do anything with the risen he'd made yet as they needed time to develop. Of course he could have sent them off as soon as they'd come into consciousness but he didn't. He let them amble around in the cells below where he'd made them since these were special risen. Only now did he assign them to guard his Lucina as they had finally grown competent enough that they were more than a nuisance to fight. These risen were competent to the point that if Grima told them they would single-handedly take out an entire country in five days if they had the right conditions. Most average humans would find them to be quite the challenge due to their power. However the risen were not invincible. They were weak to blessed weapons and Grima knew a competent human with one of those weapons could cause a lot of trouble for him if they found these particular risen and destroyed them. In response to the weakness of his risen guards Grima kept his trips as short as possible. He did not want to leave his Lucina longer than needed while he was away from her for any length of time. Besides he didn't have time to make more of his risen guards since they were very high quality risen. The kind of risen that he couldn't make very often because the humans that they were made from had to have an extremely potent life-force and he practically had to kill them himself for the best results. The kind of humans that were extremely rare. The kind of humans that the Grimleal wouldn't find because they couldn't sense what Grima himself could. At best the Grimleal had managed to only bring Grima humans that made mediocre risen as their souls did not cling to their bodies long enough after death due to their almost weak life-force.


 

Still it amazed Grima how easy it was for him to slip away when he did. However now he wanted to make an “official” outing. Which was looking to be unlikely as the humans who saw him practically panicked and started blurting nonsense about it almost being time for the evening meal or something equally useless. Grima chose to ignore them for now as he had a task in mind for a specific human and he wanted to seek her out directly. She would not be easily found since Grima wasn't entirely sure what she smelled like and he didn't want to interact with the worms in his way. With an annoyed scowl Grima let out a growl snapped his fingers and killed the twenty or so humans in his way. The blood smelled divine and he noticed with some satisfaction that the rest of the worms all hastened to get out of his way making his task a lot more simpler than before. With them out of his way he could see where he needed to go and walked casually in that direction.


 

It was a normal enough day for Aversa. She'd done everything Master Validar had demanded of her and now she was looking forward to resting for the evening. What she did not expect was the scream from within one of the corridors near where Lord Grima resided and rarely if at all left. She therefore was not prepared for the hand that took her arm ever so casually, “There you are.” Unfamiliar yet very obvious voice spoke and Aversa practically leapt where she stood eyes widening in first shock then horror. Standing right beside her was none other than Lord Grima. She was so shocked that she couldn't even formulate a response let alone mind her manners that Mistress Alsha had demanded she adhere to. Lord Grima let out a low and rather musical chuckle, “Hmm,” His crimson eyes glinted with a hint of amusement, “It seems that the wyvern has got your tongue. No matter, I am certain you're more than capable for the task I have for you.”

“A-a task Lord Grima?” Aversa said finally finding her voice, only to see that the Fell Dragon's grin still had not dropped and his eyes took on almost a predatory gleam to them that quite frankly disquieted her more than she cared to admit as she had not actually been this close to Lord Grima before. Her body was screaming at her to flee and get as far away from him as possible yet her conditioning told her to stay and do his bidding to the letter, lest she lose her entire family for her disobedience as Mistress Alsha had threatened to do when she was bought in by one of the Grimleal all of those years ago.

“I suppose most would jump at the chance to do my bidding.” He said then the smile faded, “There is perhaps a...couple of requirements I may have.” He looked at her again and slight pressure on her arm told her that she had better move with him or else. She hesitated and began to walk alongside him. His continued in an absent minded manner as if the Fell Dragon ever did anything absent minded. “There are some...ingredients for some hexes I've been working on. Perhaps you would have the time to get them for me?” Though Aversa did not think it was a request as they walked down the corridor to the main hall, “Of course the others will not and should not pester you while you're working on the task I have for you, but to be extra certain they won't, you wouldn't mind a little blood pact would you?” He asked eyes glinting again

“O-of course not Lord Grima!” Aversa squeaked, “I would be happy to serve you!”

“Very good.” his voice purred and the dark flier had to wonder just what Lord Grima was getting her to do that required a blood pact of all things. She then felt her blood run cold at a very frightening thought. What if he was planning on a Blood-binding oath?


 

Grima grinned inwardly. Ah the girl was a good obedient one. She would be ideal and that she had a mount that could move freely in the Plegian desert was another plus. She was certainly smart enough to know what he wanted from her. Of course as he headed to make certain his little human friend would be free to do what he wanted who should he run into but Validar? The man was quite surprised to see him out and about but Grima made it clear with a single glare that Validar was not to disturb him. The fool didn't get the hint, “Master Grima! What a pleasant surprise.” He said and Grima frowned,

“Validar.” Grima said irritation colouring his tone. It seemed that the man got the message,

“Forgive me Master, I simply did not expect you were feeling well enough.” He hastily bowed and Grima raised an eyebrow amused,

“Then perhaps you can make yourself useful and get the Dagger of Ruin.” Grima said at last and Validar blinked

“Master?”

“I have a task that requires my companion undertake a little blood pact.” He said calmly and Validar suddenly seemed to regain some sense,

“Of course Master! I shall fetch it at once!”

Grima lead the way to the chamber where he knew by the smell alone that blood oaths, pacts and vows were made. The girl stiffened and he smirked in amusement. He knew her name wasn't really Aversa. Still the pact would protect her for the time being from the foolish machinations of Validar for a while. Hell it could even end up becoming an oath if all went to plan.


 

~


 

Caleb sighed as the salty air bought a distraction from the nightmares he was having. The war was a difficult thing to put out of mind as they came ever closer to what had began their future. He found that the dreams were surfacing more and more frequently now. They were strange dreams mostly. The kind of dreams that were not normal for him. Dreams where a man kept trying to kill him. Caleb woke in a cold sweat as every time it stopped at the point where his right arm ached as magic shot out of it. A magic that was dangerously suspicious. Magic, Caleb thought that was an awful lot like Grima's magic...the kind of magic Caleb had only seen twice in his life ever in the physical world. Each time it had been powerful and had destroyed everything before it. Caleb was beginning to wonder what was going on.


 

The rest of the journey was calm, though they were travelling towards Plegia and that was not a good thing. Caleb was relieved when at last they were able to set foot on solid ground. He was pretty much relieved to be clear of the confines of a ship. Though having to use wind magic the whole way had been the most draining part of the experience this time as they had to race ahead of the storms that were common cutting down weeks worth of a trip into a few days. Funny to think that using wind magic could cut the length of time that a trip could take. Even so he was glad it was only done in short shifts and not long stretches at a time. Caleb was relieved that they'd made it to land and as he came to talk with both Chrom and his mother he noticed that there was an odd stillness in the air. There was a storm coming.


 

As they arrived at the Plegian Palace Caleb spotted the soldiers and came to stand near Chrom, “I told you so...” He whispered, “Soldiers, lots of them. Still believe this isn't a ploy?” Caleb asked his father in law.

Chrom's eyes widened and he realised that Caleb was right. He sighed, “Fine, I get it.” Chrom hissed back as Lucina came to stand by Caleb's side her hand drifting to Falchion as she nervously glanced at the soldiers. Caleb was already working on an escape route out of the building when he heard the sound of footsteps and turned.


 

The young tactician came face to face with a tall man. The man's hair was dark, his eyes an almost crimson-like colour. Caleb felt uneasy. The man wore a smirk upon seeing the young tactician. Caleb felt sick just looking at him. This was his father?! What kind of lie was Robin pulling say this man was his father when Caleb didn't look anything like Validar? The tactician met the man's eyes and for a moment he could only think of one thing...a snake. The man spoke with Chrom and as much as Caleb hated the thought that Validar was his “father” there were some things that truthfully seemed to match up. Caleb was lithe like Validar and he also had to inherit Vengeance from somewhere. Caleb felt Lucina hold his arm. He noticed that Validar was looking at him with an almost gleeful expression and then he spoke, “What a pleasant coincidence that the future version of my son should find his way home.”

Caleb winced, “What the hells do you think you're talking about!” The tactician snapped a flash of anger cutting across as he noticed that Validar was making a move. The strike wasn't intended for Lucina. It hit Chrom. Caleb gaped, “What the...” Caleb was open mouthed and suddenly realised exactly what was going on, “You...” Pain made the tactician almost fall to his knees if not for Lucina bracing him,

“Caleb!” She cried worried for both her father and her husband. Caleb groaned in agony and felt on the most basic level that something wasn't right. He could only watch in horror as his mother opened spell fire at his 'father' and the pair quickly broke into a vicious battle that was cut short when a woman arrived on the scene and said rather scathingly,

“Oh look if it isn't the deserter.” Caleb saw her look at him and she smacked Validar across the back of his head, “Fool! You know Master Grima said to leave the Heart alone!” She walked over to him and forced his head up, “At least it's not permanent damage.” She then let his head go and then took the Fire Emblem off Chrom, “Honestly if I wasn't here...” The woman said flicking her blond hair off her shoulders. It was only then that Caleb recognised her dress. A female Plegian sorceress. He was still shaking slightly, “We have the Fire Emblem, praise Grima.” She said, “It is time for the ritual to begin.”

Caleb froze. That was not good. The last of the pain subsided and he felt Lucina's grip tighten. He looked to Chrom who was only just getting up thanks to the quick thinking of Maribelle and Robin. Caleb met her eye and she gave a determined look. They would have to retreat for now.


 

By the time the Shepherds escaped Caleb's pain had mostly subsided though he still felt fairly weakened. Lucina was scared and he didn't blame her. He spoke, “We know what we need to do.” He said, “We're going to the Dragon's Table. With or without Chrom and the Shepherds. We have to stop them.”

“A bold statement.” Chrom said, “However you won't be going alone.” He looked at Caleb expression serious, “We will not let them awaken Grima.”

“So then we'll need a plan.” Caleb said looking thoughtful. “Chrom, last time...well in our time it was just you, my mother and Maribelle. Whatever happened it was something that blind sided either you, mother, Maribelle or all three of you.”

“From what I do know, Grima needs a physical vessel to awaken.” Robin said at last, “Though what happens has never been explained.”

“Well he's got one.” Caleb said darkly, “That other man...” He grimaced, “We have to stop them from doing the ritual.” Caleb explained, “If we stop it...”

“Then we stop Grima.” Chrom said. “We'll move out first light.” He said, “We obviously need to hurry.”

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Chapter XXX: Grima's Truth


 

The Shepherds all heard what happened. Their captain and the young tactician both crippled by Validar as the snake had stolen the Fire Emblem. They didn't need much prodding to march on the Dragon's Table.


 

“We have the Fire Emblem.”

“Then you know what to do.” Came the short reply. He was stroking her hair again, “Prepare the ritual.” He said and she nestled close to him. They would not trouble the pair. He'd got everything he needed, all that was left was the Heart and his Consort. Grima half smiled. It was almost time and he could feel it.


 

“So then what's the plan?” Chrom spoke as he, Robin, Maribelle, Lucina and Caleb all stood not too far from where Plegians were gathering and acting oddly,

“We go to the Dragon's Table and disrupt Validar from completing the ritual.” Caleb said with a frown. “They're already stating to gather the ingredients for it.”

“Everything points to Grima awakening.” Robin winced, “This is not good.” She absently twirled her hair exposing her practically destroyed eye.

“Then we need to move, now. Robin do you know what else they'll need?”

“Well the Fire Emblem needs to be complete, since they can use the power to break the seal on Grima. That's what Naga's power does. And at this point the seal is weakening.”

“Of course Naga can only seal Grima away, so at best you're looking at a very powerful spell to try to keep Grima at bay.” Caleb said quietly, “He already has the vessel, so that seal's going to be even weaker.”

“How much time?”

“Given the number of people heading to the Table....Three hours.” Robin said at last,

“Then we need to do something to head them off.” Chrom said, “Or just get moving. If we killed Validar would that be enough?” Chrom asked

“It might be.” Robin said. Though she wasn't sure.

“Then we need to move now. Everyone mount up!” Chrom called out, “Ground Units behind your mounted partner. We need to make haste.”

“Caleb...” Lucina came to stand by his side, “Do you mind if I ride Bluebird?”

“You gave our strange buddy a name?” Caleb asked surprised then Lucina blushed,

“I tried it and he liked it.”

“Well then I guess that means you should ride him.” Caleb teased but the smile faded quickly, “Alana, I-”

“I wants to help.” The little girl said firmly, “Daddy I can help. I know magic.

“Just be safe. If there is any danger get away as fast as you can.” Caleb said gripping his daughter's shoulders. “Do not look back, do you understand?”

“Yes Daddy.” Alana promised but Caleb didn't see the crossed fingers behind her back. Lucina hopped up on Bluebird as the rest of the Shepherds began to shift. Those with mounts helping their partners up behind them, or in some cases helping up allies who didn't have mounts like Kellam, who was riding behind Cordelia since Virion had a horse he could fight from. Panne and Yarne didn't need mounts but Yarne chose to carry Kjelle. Once they were all mounted up Chrom gave the signal and everyone immediately rode with haste to the Dragon's Table.


 

Alsha stood ready. She had a tome in hand and knew that there was preparations that needed to be done and as such she told her son to do them. She would delay the Heart long enough for the ritual to be ready. She spotted the arrival of the doomed servants of Naga with the deserter among them. She knew that for now at least the foolish girl would eventually meet her end and Alsha was ready to do what needs must. She called upon the Deadlords Master Grima had given her to use as she saw fit. She would make sure no harm came to the Heart. The rest had to die.


 

Caleb glanced over the battlefield that suddenly appeared. He saw a sight that he'd hoped to Naga he'd never see again, “LUCY! DEADLORDS STRAIGHT AHEAD!”

Lucina pulled Bluebird up and the horse snorted, “Oh gods...NO!”

“What are those things!” Lissa screamed from behind Frederick,

“They're Deadlords.” Caleb explained quickly, “Extremely dangerous risen. More dangerous than any other risen. They were...” Caleb winced as his head throbbed. He did not need a headache to start now, “They were instrumental to bring down the Shepherds in our time.” Caleb said, “They...they were powerful and they killed a lot of the Royal tacticians...”

“Oh gods.” Lissa gasped,

“We need to deal with them.” Chrom said firmly, “Caleb. Do you know any weaknesses they might have?”

Caleb looked over the risen and frowned, “If we can use weapons that are advantaged against them, like the Blessed Weapons, we might stand a chance. A skilled soldier with those kinds of weapons could very well take them out.”

“Right then, Everyone you know what you need!” Chrom yelled as the Shepherds gathered to get their weapons. Caleb gripped Mjölnir and he looked to Lucina,

“We're going to need all of the mages to carry fire power. Everyone needs Thoron. No exceptions.” Caleb said seriously, “I've got this tome so I'll be fine. Mother, you know Rally Spectrum? We're going to need you to use it.”

“Right.” Robin said gripping Thoron, “Everyone who knows a rally skill be prepared to use it!” She caught onto what he son was thinking. “We need to use pair up for this fight as well. The boosts will help everyone.”

“Right, you heard them! Let's do this!” Chrom said as they all drew their weapons and prepared to fight.


 

Alsha had to admit her Grandson was truly something to behold. Grima's blessing on the boy was incredible. She watched as he went toe to toe with the deadlords. She noticed that there was a girl riding a horse behind him and it clicked in her mind when she looked closer. The girl looked almost exactly like Master Grima's Holy Consort. She guessed that this girl was going to join her other self as Master Grima's new Consort. It made sense to Alsha after all. If Master Grima wanted the girl Alsha would be happy to hex her into submission for him.


 

Caleb ducked and dodged as Lucina made clean strikes from atop Bluebird. He frowned as the deadlords were...oddly weaker than he'd anticipated. His mother used her rally skill and it helped immensely. As did the other rally skills that they were using. He came toe to toe with the Paladin who he knew would not be easy to deal with. “Lucy!” Caleb yelled and his wife was quick to get the message. She had Bluebird charge forwards with the Blessed Lance hitting the Paladin in the chest and knocking him down,

“WELL DONE CHILD...” The deadlord said as he faded into smoke.

“Impressive.” Said a female voice. Caleb frowned as the blond sorceress was there waiting for them, “A worthy Consort indeed.” She chuckled and Caleb frowned,

“Lucy get behind me now!” Caleb yelled sensing the dark magic rise. Lucina was quick to obey knowing Caleb's tone well. Caleb created a barrier that easily held off the spell,

“My goodness.” The sorceress giggled, “It's quite cute really it is.” She made another movement when there was a yell,

“NO ONE HURTS MY MUMMY OR MY DADDY! CHECKMATHE!” Alana roared as flames rose around her tiny frame. The resulting strike took the Sorceress by surprise and made her stagger backwards,

“Grr, annoying little brat. I'll-”

“HERE'S HOW IT'S DONE!” Caleb roared as Ignus rose around him. The orange flames came much easier than the last time Caleb had used the skill and the flower petals appeared equally as rapidly. The woman could only gape as Master Grima's aura flared to life around the Heart. She hoped he'd not be angry with her for pushing the Heart to go this far. The strike of magic hit home and she felt her body hit the dirt.

“I...should...have...known...” She groaned and snapped her fingers weakly teleporting off the battlefield.


 

“Lady Alsha!” Cried the voices of her attendants,

“He's ready...” Alsha giggled as they hastily worked to heal her, “The Heart's ready!” She felt more giggles bubble up her chest. “It will be as Master Grima has dictated! Fate can not be cast off!” She giggled, “Praise be to Master Grima!” She giggled deliriously, laughter ringing in the off hall of the Table's healing quarters. A figure came to her and touched her forehead with a tenderness that she wasn't expecting. She saw his crimson eyes and her body realised a sigh of relief, “Has my time truly come? Master please! Let me serve you! In life and in death!” She cried and the figure grinned,

“My loyal one.” His voice soothed, “You will and you are.” His words music to her ears, “Rest for now, and when you wake you will continue to serve me.” She didn't notice the odd card he had in his hand. She felt her eyes close as magic rose around her. She felt herself fall ever so slowly.


 

Grima grinned. Alsha had been truly deserving of this fate. He'd figured out how Chrom was made and now he'd do the same to Alsha. She was dying of course, the wounds inflicted by his Heart had done their job. As the bindings of the card worked their magic Alsha would sleep until he had need of her. Likely after he'd merged with his heart. A shame that since he really wanted her to see the merge happen. Still he knew he couldn't really be a chooser in this case. She was going to take a full week to preserve like Chrom had. Another couple of seconds to be sealed into the card and then preservations would begin. The Clerics looked on in mild alarm but they knew she was in the process of dying anyway so all they'd done was give her the pain relief while she died. They looked to him

“Lord Grima?” He smiled

“A new piece of magic I was working on.” He said simply,

“Is there anything else we can do Lord Grima?” They asked cautiously,

“Not for now. Try to keep the ritual on track for me.” He asked calmly and they bowed and did as he ordered.


 

“A word Chrom.” Caleb said quietly,

“Caleb?” Chrom looked surprised that the young tactician was seeking him out but it was within reason he supposed, “Something the matter?” He asked

“Sort of.” Caleb sighed. “It's about Alana. I don't know how she's doing it but...well...”

Chrom gaped, “What?!” He then realised what Caleb was saying, “No! There's no way!”

“She got on the battlefield again.” Caleb informed him.

“Impossible! Lissa was keeping an eye on her the entire time!” Chrom said,

“Well, I suppose that's really all that needs to be said really.” Caleb sighed, “We don't really have the liberty of time on our side.” Caleb admitted,

“Right.”

“Well at least you got Alsha out of the picture.” Robin said, “She's the one I'd avoid at all costs thanks to her hexing abilities.”

“Let me guess, she's Validar's mother.” Caleb said and Robin sighed but nodded, “This day just keeps getting better and better.” He said sarcastically and Robin winced,

“I should apologise for all of this mess.” Robin sighed,

“Why? It's not your fault.” Caleb said deflecting to the real matter at hand, “You were trying to protect me from all of it and that is not an easy thing.”

“Caleb...” Robin winced,

“We need a plan. Likely Validar has had time to work the ritual so we need to put an end to it.”

“Of course.” Chrom said, “So two teams then?”

“Yeah.” Caleb said, “Lucy and I will be with you and Mother. Alana,” Caleb called to his daughter, “You stay with Maribelle.” He said firmly, “You are to be her shadow understood?”

“Yes Daddy.” Alana said,

“Bluebird and Sweetie will need to rest. Kellam, do you think you can?” Caleb asked and the knight said,

“Of course I can take them to the temporary camp to rest for a while.”

“Good. Then we have our plan.” Caleb said. He was well aware that there was a lot that needed to be done. He and Lucina both prepared themselves. His first stop was the supply tent to make sure that he had what he needed. As he checked over his tomes he replaced the Nosferatu he'd nearly broken and watched as it fused to another Nosferatu tome. He took a fresh one from the box and moved onto the next box. He'd need some healing supplies and as he dug around in the box he found what he needed. Medical supplies restocked Caleb then checked to make sure his swords were in top condition. He was about ready to leave the tent when he saw Lucina come in.

“I thought I'd find you here.” She smiled and he sighed,

“That predictable huh Lucy?” He grinned and he calmly came over to her and kissed her cheek which made her smile,

“A little yes,” She said teasingly, “far better that than me not being able to find you when I need to.” She hugged him and Caleb felt himself relax,

“We'll change fate Lucy.” Caleb said to her, “I know we well. Together we're more than when we're apart remember love?” He asked and she blushed but smiled,

“Caleb...you never cease to amaze me you know that?” Lucina asked him,

“I don't think so.” Caleb said teasingly and Lucina responded by kissing him and Caleb felt light headed, “Gods Lucy,” He sighed, “I don't ever want to be without you.”

She chuckled, “I could say the same myself you know Caleb.” She said and their smiles faded,

“I just...” Caleb sighed, “I think all of this pressure is starting to get to me.” He grumbled, “Gods...if only we didn't have such a decisive battle ahead.”

“I know.” Lucina sighed then she kissed Caleb again. He noticed that there was an edge to it, yet he couldn't bring himself oddly enough to pull back or to stop where it was heading. His hands slid down to his wife's hips and Lucina let out a little gasp of surprise, “Caleb!” She spoke softly but the tone was there,

“Opps.” The tactician blushed and Lucina “Sorry, I'll- mmph!” He blinked in surprise but then he decided that sometimes improvising was the way to win. “Lucy!” He half whined, “What's with the mixed messages?”

“I wasn't expecting you to be so eager.” Lucina said teasing him.

“If this is meant to be a distraction it's not working to well.” Caleb smirked and Lucina giggled,

“Well then I'll just have to try harder then won't I?” She said with a teasing grin that was soon lost when he kissed her,

“Or just let me take care of it.” He murmured softly and she felt a pleasant shiver up her spine at the tone his voice was taking. It was unusual for Caleb to be so forward. Lucina however wasn't one to complain about it as she let him build the moment.


 

Caleb had no idea what caused him to be so forward but he noticed that Lucina seemed to like it. He kissed her and allowed his hands to wander to reach under her tunic and he felt her press closer to him. His heart hammered in his chest as his senses started to be progressively robbed, though he was fairly aware of what was going on. He felt her moan softly and he knew instinctively what had to be done. He was not going to let the moment slide as he felt the fire build. He felt her hands slip downwards and he inhaled a sharp breath. He let out a low groan and Lucina hastily lowered her clothing as he loosened off his belts. She was quick to brace against one of the crates as Caleb kissed her. He was pressing against her. 'To the hells with it!' He thought as he thrust into her keeping her moans from being too loud. Lucina's legs were quick to grip around his sides as she entered a state of euphoria.


 

She tried to keep her moans as quiet as possible as Caleb had never been this rough before. She didn't want him to stop at all and she did everything she could to egg her husband on. He seemed to know what she wanted as he kept hitting a spot that Lucina didn't know was such a sweet spot, “G-gods, Caleb!” She squeaked suddenly, “D-don't stop!” She begged and Caleb grinned,

“Th-that good huh Lucy?” He purred and kept the blistering pace as best he could. Lucina gripped his shoulders and she knew they were being very bad...and yet there was a degree of erotic excitement from them just having sex for the sake of having sex. She moaned as he hit her sweet spot again. “I'll take that as a yes.” He chuckled then kissed her as a wanton moan nearly escaped the confines of the tent.

“Gods I'm close!” Lucina let out a half whimpering cry keeping her voice as quiet as possible but knowing she was going to lose that battle. Her body started to twinge from the repeated thrusts from her husband and she knew she was very close and starting to get to the point where she would not be able to walk too surely if he kept this up. She almost didn't care.

“Lucy...” Caleb moaned softly as he felt his wife tighten around him. He knew it was a lost cause but as he felt his release he felt Lucina pull him tighter to her, breath in gasps her legs shaking around him. He was panting heavily sweat dripping down his back. He would have to tidy himself up and likely help her to as well. He felt the subtle hint of guilt but as it was...he needed it.


 

They were extremely lucky none of the others noticed what had happened between them. It took Lucina a full five minutes to stop her legs shaking enough that she could stand on her own. Caleb had already tidied himself up and helped her to do so as well. She spoke softly and he blushed a violent shade of crimson at her request, “Maybe,” He replied as the flap opened, “So long as you're alright with it Lucy.” He said and Robin coughed,

“Get a room love birds.” She said rolling her eyes and Caleb flinched,

“M-mother!” He said red in the face,

“Now's not the time for that. We need to get moving.” She said with a serious expression assuming she'd caught the beginning of an amorous exchange that would lead to love making and not a post love making session.

“Of course!” Caleb said quickly, “Lucy?”

“Yes, we were just going to get something to drink.” She said and her traitorous body started shaking again,

“Are you alright Lucina?” Robin asked,

“I'm fine.” Lucina said with a smile and she and Caleb left quickly while Robin frowned. She really was concerned that Lucina was so unsteady on her feet. She frowned and got the supplies she needed. Something wasn't right.


 

Caleb heaved a sigh, “That was...too close Lucy.” He said supporting her as her legs started to shake again. “Gods damn it.” He sighed,

“I suppose it was a little close.” She admitted and then she blushed happily, “But all the more...exciting don't you think?” She asked shyly.

“I could do without the heart attack from my mother.” The tactician groaned. Then Caleb admitted, “Though I see the appeal in spicing things up on occasion.”

“I for one am looking forward to it.” Lucina smiled and Caleb blushed,

“Yo, Bluenette, Bubbles.” Gaius said and Caleb turned to see the thief had a few sweets on hand,

“Hey Gaius.” Caleb said as Lucina had another round of shaking.

“Here.” Gaius spoke handing Lucina a small pouch, “You look like you could use some sugar in a big way.”

“I'm fine,” Lucina insisted politely declining the sweets, “We were on the way to get a drink.” She said,

“If you say so Bluenette.” He said with a grin and turned to Caleb, “Bubbles, you want some?” And Caleb replied,

“The offer is appreciated but not needed Gaius.” He said and the thief grinned,

“Fair enough, see ya Bubbles, Bluenette.” He said and Caleb got the feeling that Gaius knew more than he let in on. Caleb felt another blush take over. Yes they were very reckless indeed. The tactician groaned inwardly.


 

They made it to the mess hall where Henry was up to some sort of shenanigans that gave Caleb some cover to get some drinks for him and Lucina. Sumia chatted with Caleb for a little while and he felt relieved to talk about the books he'd planned to read after the battle. It was refreshing to have such a thing to think of even though Caleb knew a real fight was on the horizon.


 

They came into the Temple that made Robin feel physically sick. She could still smell the blood that had been shed and taste the dark magic in the air. Robin trembled as it all came back at once. She gripped her head as the fear rose higher and higher. She just wanted the memory to be gone! She thought that she'd processed what had happened to her and yet...she saw him waiting for her. Sickness rose up her throat as she beheld her husband in the same robes he'd always worn, they had never changed. His crimson eyes fell on to her and she winced as the magic had enhanced his Fellblood but not her own. Her remaining brown eye stared right at him. She could remember what it felt like and she knew that today. Today fate would write a different tale. She would stop Grima from awakening. She would save Caleb from the fate which the Grimleal had planned for him. Alsha wasn't there and Robin felt smug satisfaction that she wasn't going to ever come back


 

Validar looked over to Robin and frowned. Did his wife not see? She was merely delaying the inevitable. Master Grima would awaken. He would bring about the ruin the world needed in order to be cleansed.


 

Caleb bit his lip when Validar spoke. The man unnerved the tactician a lot. He felt Lucina grip his hand and her turned to her, “You have bought the vessel, how wonderful.” Validar's voice made Caleb feel sick,

“He means...oh shit...” Caleb blanched,

“You're far more clever than that vixen is.” Validar said with a smile, “Now then be still.”

“LIKE HELLS!” He said pulling Mjölnir rapidly,

“Heh, you have my courage.” Validar chuckled, “Very well pup come at me, know that there is no damage I can do that can't be undone.”

Caleb took aim at what he saw was a weak point in the roof and Validar leapt back only just as rubble started to fall. Caleb saw the spell fly at him and Lucina's blade snapped up rapidly, “I'll keep you safe!” She cried and Caleb leapt forwards. He cast a shot of ruin and Validar grunted from the impact,

“Heh, so you know tomeless magic huh?” He laughed, “Well, well, well do wonders ever cease?”

Caleb felt the air around him go dark and leapt back quickly as Mire exploded. Validar was an advance sorcerer, he knew. Caleb also knew that he had to counter Validar before the man wore him out. The tactician looked to Lucina and she nodded Falchion gleaming as she ran forwards. Chrom and Robin also moved to attack while Maribelle and Alana tried to escape but to no avail, “Something's wrong!” Robin yelled,

“A barrier!” Caleb yelled back, “Mother you, Chrom and Maribelle do what you can to break it! Leave Validar to Lucy and I!” Caleb yelled turning his attention to his father. Robin looked at her son and then did as he commanded. The rest of the Shepherds were all busy fighting the rest of the Grimleal and Robin had to guide them as best she could.


 

Caleb ducked another spell and Lucina grunted from the effort of fighting. Validar had more experience with fighting that much was clear and he knew how to pace himself to cope with Lucina's attacks. Caleb however didn't give up just yet. He would defeat the man before them. Wordlessly Caleb pushed Lucina behind him as a blast of magic shot across the now battlefield. Caleb readied himself and used Mjölnir to make the blast dissipate. He noticed a slight look of pride on Validar's face, the begrudging pride, but pride none the less as Caleb matched his father spell for spell. Caleb focused on the tomes he had in his coat calling on each one's power to cast his spells and save his physical strength for as long as possible. He knew he had to hold off the tomeless casting since it would drain his energy levels faster than fighting with his tomes on hand but...he cast a look at Lucina who was fighting rather well all things considered. She met his eyes and he knew what they had to do. He dived and managed to get behind Validar as Lucina pressed her attacks with Falchion whistling in the air. She kept Validar focused on her and Caleb closed his eyes and focused. Ignus was a skill that blurred the lines between his mana and his physical strength. At least that was always how he saw it. Yet there was more to it than that. He felt it activate and yelled out,

“TIME TO TIP THE SCALES!” And Validar barely whipped around quickly enough to stop the brunt of Caleb's skill hitting home just like it had with the Sorceress. Caleb's shot of Thoron missed Validar's chest and Caleb cursed, but it did strike hard enough to send Validar flying and hit the ground with a sickening crunching sound. A clap of hands jolted them,

“Wonderfully done.” Said a voice that sounded almost exactly like Caleb's. He blanched and turned to see the hooded figure approach calmly, “I could not have devised anything sweeter...well...to put Validar out of commission like that at any rate.” He said and Caleb noticed that there was a woman who was walking just behind him, “Isn't it beautiful Lucina?” He asked and Caleb gaped as the woman giggled softly, “I was about ready to kill that fool for the third time. Of course you won't let me will you?” The woman came into clear view and Caleb felt weak as he saw the other Lucina possessively grip Grima's arm. His Lucina was uneasy and naturally drifted closer to Caleb,

“What is the meaning of this!” Caleb's Lucina barked, “What kind of game-”

“My, my...” Grima chuckled, “One would almost think you were being serious.” He then pet his Lucina and she smiled at the contact, “Of course, there is little that can be done, the fragment will stay sleeping but not for much longer. As such, there is only one real option left to me now. And thankfully it is an option that doesn't need the complete Fire Emblem.”

Caleb gaped, “Impossible...”

“No not really.” Grima replied, “As such this is going much better than I'd hoped it would. I do recall distinctly that you were not particularly good around risen, a shame that...but sometimes we have to work with the hands we're dealt. Unlike the other versions of us, I think we're going to be just fine.” Grima said with a smile, “And with Validar out of commission I can do exactly what needs to be done.”

“Wait what?!” Caleb cried out shocked,

“We can be a little daft sometimes but I suppose that happens when we are not paying attention, right Lucina?” He asked the woman who was clinging to his arm. She nodded in response, “Darling please do try to use your words.” She shook her head and Grima sighed, “Very well. I suppose I should have expected that.”

Caleb frowned and then the world suddenly went black.


 

Lucina gasped as magic surrounded them, Grima smiled under his hood and Lucina watched in shock as his Lucina started to fade. “What the hells?!” Lucina cried and fell to her knees,

“The merge is beginning.” Grima said his voice softening, “Her memories are your memories now. Her essence is your essence. Two must become one before the blood can be awakened.” He explained as she glance to see where Caleb was, only to find him gone. “He is safe, and you will be safe. That is all that matters.” Grima said calmly. Lucina gaped as the Fell Dragon lowered his head, “It took a lot of work for this magic to be done.”

Lucina didn't know why but she knew. “Then why?” She asked and Grima smiled at her,

“Because I knew it was the only way to break that man's curse.” He said quietly, “And you're the key to assist in that. We...no I need you Lucina. Not because of your connection to Naga, that has nothing to do with it. Your bond with me...it gives me the strength I need to break that curse. A curse that I could not have broken otherwise and Naga most certainly would not and even now refuses to help me break. She does not want me to exist. She wants the world to have a villain to hate more than herself. She claims to care about the world but look at what she did to her own child.” Grima said his voice quaking with anger, “It's almost on par with being killed by your own creator!” The dragon snapped and then he sighed, “It matters little.” He sounded tired, “Lucina, please...don't-”

“I can't hate you.” Lucina said sadly, “Promise me, please, that you will let Caleb be himself...I don't want...”

“My dear Lucina,” Grima smiled, “I am as much he as he is me. We are one and the same though I will admit quite freely the Fragment you know as Caleb is far more powerful than I am, thus I will simply become the part of him that I was always meant to be.” Grima informed her. She knew then in that moment what was going on.

“Grima...”

“Don't be afraid Lucina.” He said oddly gentle, “Trust in our bond. Just,” A tear appeared in his eye, “don't forget that sometimes I need to destroy things...and that might not always be...helpful to a situation. Don't be afraid to reign it in.”

“Of course.” Lucina said surprised that Grima was actually crying,

“Thank you...” Grima smiled and suddenly there was a white light, “Lucina...” She felt her eyes close and then she opened them to see the light fade away and she looked frantically for Grima or Caleb. She saw then a prone form at her side,

“CALEB!” She cried and instinctively moved to be at his side. She was still reeling from the magic that had flowed through both her and the other Lucina who was now as Grima said a part of her. She heard a weak groan and he spoke,

“L-lucy? It...hurts...”

“Caleb.”

Her voice bought him back from the brink and his head was pounding insanely bad, “It hurts Lucy!” Caleb half whimpered from the pain. His body refused to move at all,

“Caleb...it's alright, I'm here.” Her voice was a gods' send as it soothed away the raw pain. He saw her using her Falchion's healing ability and he groaned as the pain abated. She couldn't keep it up he knew and sure enough the pain rose again. His back burned and he saw black flames rise around them,

“Lucy!” He cried panicking,

“I'm right here Caleb.” He felt her hold his arm as something broke from his back. Caleb felt the world spin for several seconds then at last the spinning stopped,

“Ma-”

“Alana.” Caleb saw his daughter looking at him with a worried half fearful expression, “Thank the gods you're alright.” Caleb said shakily, then he knelt before his daughter, “Please...don't call me Master. I'm your father.” He said gently, “Papa or Daddy is what you call me, Precious One.” He told her in Plegian.

Alana sniffled and suddenly cried, “D-daddy! D-daddy!” And buried her tiny form into his arms as he clung to her. It was a moment that Caleb wanted to last but he knew it wouldn't. He felt something trying to put both Lucina and Alana in danger and that had to be dealt with at once. A low growl escaped his throat and he moved both his wife and daughter behind him.


 

It was still. The Grimleal all looking towards the alter and the Shepherds unsure of what to do. Robin couldn't believe her eyes. Grima had awakened. This was not good. Worse still he had Lucina apparently under his control as well as Alana which really she should have expected given the girl had Fellblood in her veins. “Chrom!” She cried and she saw her commander draw his sword uneasily.


 

No one was prepared for what happened next. Validar having recovered from being knocked out used Robin's momentary distraction to try to hurt Lucina. Caleb saw it coming and a vicious growl escaped his throat and without hesitation he snapped his fingers. Validar was instantly turned into a pile of flesh and Caleb barely registered what he'd just done unthinkingly. He saw that Chrom had his sword drawn and the tactician cursed inwardly. Of course they thought he was Grima now. Of course...Caleb groaned inwardly and watched in surprise as a pair of peculiar risen appeared. Lucina spoke soothingly to him while the risen held off Chrom and Robin. He was too hyped up on adrenaline but as Lucina spoke to him he felt himself calming. They needed to get out of there. He did not want to fight the Shepherds, nor was he comfortable fighting the Grimleal as well. He gripped Lucina's arm, “We need to leave, now!” Caleb said firmly, and the risen that Caleb noticed looked like his mother raised a magical barrier, “Leave the Fire Emblem.” Caleb said quickly and it...she came with a tome and handed it to him. Caleb grimaced at the irony. He gripped the tome and it disappeared once it touched his hand and Caleb felt it become a part of him. He then turned to one of the seemingly normal looking walls and snapped his fingers as a passage appeared. He saw the pair of risen race ahead and he followed them with Lucina and Alana both doing their up most to keep up with him.


 

The passage opened to a rather open oasis and he sighed. They were too close to the Shepherds' current camp right now and needed to get as far away from them as possible. He looked back to Lucina and Alana. He had to protect them both. He then turned and was surprised to see that the pair of risen had bought Bluebird and Sweetie. “Thank you.” Caleb said sensing that they didn't have much time,

“Milord!” The flap of wings made Caleb turn and he froze as Aversa came to land before him, “I've created a diversion at Origin Peak.” She panted, “Just as you requested.”

Caleb had to hand it to his other fragment that was a good move, “Right, thank you Aversa.” He said, “Right we need to get moving. Our best bet is to head to the Outrealm gate.” Caleb said

“Milord?” Aversa said, “What of the others here at the Table? Master Validar was insistent that you needed them.”

“They should be able to come to their senses soon.” Caleb informed her. “I have...I have to leave this world before Naga's power is awakened. The last fragment...” Caleb let out a low growl, “It won't be here.” He said frustrated. “Aversa, you do not have to stay with us. Our journey will not be an easy one.” Caleb said calmly,

“I will stay Milord.” Aversa said. “You protected me and my family, I owe you as much.”

“Very well Aversa.” Caleb said, “We must gather supplies. We should be able to leave Plegia within the next week or two to get to Ylisse. We're going to have to travel light.”

“Well we could use an expansion hex on our gear.” Aversa suggested, “That way we could carry a convoy worth of supplies.”

“We might have to do that.” Caleb said looking at Bluebird's saddle bags. “That might have to do.” He said and he cast the hex. Then once Lucina was safely mounted up he said, “We'll need to travel as inconspicuous as possible. We need to find Lucy a coat or cloak of some kind. And I'll need to bind these damn wings.” He grumbled.

“How about the young Mistress and I be the main supply gatherers Milord?” Aversa asked, “I will of course do everything in my power to keep her safe.”

“We may have to do that. Very well.” Caleb agreed,

“We too, will stay with Master.” Said one of the risen that Caleb recognised as Chrom. The voice was gravelly for Chrom but Caleb found he didn't mind

“Thank you, both of you.” Caleb said to the risen. The one that resembled his mother smiled,

“I...always...protect...Master...now...and...forever...” She said,

“Right where's the nearest place to get supplies?” The tactician asked and Aversa said,

“Goetia City.” She said, “Three days from here, if we travel quickly.”

“Right then let's go.” Caleb said moving to walk alongside Bluebird who snorted at first until Caleb spoke soothingly, “Easy Bluebird, you're not going to get hurt from me.”

Lucina tugged the reins gently and they moved off. The group of five travelling as quickly as they could away from the chaos behind them. Caleb felt guilty for leaving them but he knew that it was for the best. The last thing that they needed was him among them when they clearly thought that he was Grima...which in a way the tactician realised wasn't too far off the truth. He was Grima. Yet he was Caleb, the son of Robin. He wondered for a moment who he really was and realised something important. Yes he was Grima, but his name was Caleb. It would always be Caleb. He sighed. He supposed he could accept that. He half chuckled. He was going to have to accept it since that was the truth of the matter.

Edited by TheSilentChloey

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Chapter XXXI: Twist of Fate...

 

“Well, well…”

A man in a long cloak stood outside the Dragon’s Table, chuckling softly to himself.

“So the Dragon played me for a fool in the end...I do love surprise twists. However...I can’t very well have it get out that I helped the good guys, now can I?”

He turned, addressing this question to a young Grimleal woman he’d…'picked up’ for lack of a better term, in the chaos. Under normal circumstances, he would have waited for permission from the Dragon but seeing as how that didn’t seem likely - and that it wasn’t like the Plegians would have let the Grimleal survive when for the most part they hated the Grimleal as the Rigelians had hated what the Duma Faithful had become - he couldn’t let such a lovely young lady go to waste.

“Of course not, Master.” She replied, bowing her head. “You have a reputation to keep up.”

“That I do and besides, I can probably mess with him while I’m at it. When was the last time I ignored an opportunity for that?”

He turned, watching the Shepherds come rushing out of the Table. Likely just now being informed that the horse and pegasus had been stolen, thus learning that wherever the kid was going; he was in a hurry to get there.

“...The question is...do I head the fleeing Dragon off at the Gate? Or do I give the others a speed boost to catch him?”

After some consideration, he laughed.

“Hell, why not both? I’ll tell Chrom where he’s going and give them a bit of a boost, then head for the Gate and wait there. Let’s see just how much I can make the kid despair, eh?”

 

Chrom raced into camp, confused and uncertain as to what was going to happen. Robin insisted that they go to Naga while Grima seemed to be giving them the chance to and the Blue haired lord was inclined to agree with her if not for the words that confused him. Why would Grima leave the Fire Emblem behind to allow Chrom to perform the awakening. Thunder started to gather and he noticed that the very air was filled with a darkness he'd not expected. He shook his head and thought to himself, 'We need to get to Mount Prism immediately!'

“Milord!” Frederick came running then, “Two mounts are missing.” He said panting from the running,

“That is the least of our worries.” Chrom informed him, “We need to move now!”

“Of course Milord.” Chrom then turned to Maribelle who had bought her mount out,

“Darling, I don't know if we're doing the right thing.”

“We are...I trust Robin's judgement and if it is Grima then we're going to need Naga's help as well.”

“I can't help but wonder...” Maribelle mused, then she sighed, “We don't have time. We must hurry.”

“Right.” Chrom nodded and quickly joined his wife, “Frederick spread the word, we're going to Mount Prism to ask for Naga's power.”

Almost at once everyone mounted up and practically galloped past the figure who frowned in annoyance as he'd lost his chance.

 

Robin laughed inwardly. Foolish Chrom had done exactly what she'd told him to do. Her plan was coming together perfectly and nothing was going to stop her now. Of course she knew that Grima would be the biggest obstacle as he'd more than likely smell her out and know that she wasn't really the woman she claimed to be but having taken her place was the easiest thing to do. And the fool gave her the opportunity to in Valm! Of course killing the real Robin was out of the question as she had needed the girl to be alive to keep herself alive as well so as such the pain she was to control didn't matter as she would soon get the hit on Grima that she wanted. The Exalted Falchion would do its job of weakening the Fell Dragon and then she could destroy him entirely! She'd finally get rid of Forneus' little creation once and for all and it made Robin giddy with excitement. Fellblood would be shed soon and she'd be the one to do it! After all she'd only need to steal the blade at the right time once it was awakened and go after Grima herself.

 

Caleb ran alongside Bluebird as Lucina pushed the horse to a gallop. He didn't expect that he'd be able to keep up with the horse at the pace it was going but he could and the speed he was running...Caleb felt like he could go even faster if he wanted to. High in the sky above them were Alana and Aversa, both carrying Risen Chrom and Risen Robin. Or RC and RR as Caleb came to think of them as. He really needed something better than that. It was hard to think of them as Chrom and Robin because in a way they weren't Chrom and Robin...well the ones he knew at any rate plus he was feeling very uncomfortable with what his...fragment had done. He also found in his coat a few more things than he'd put there and took a guess that they were in his coat before the merge. Caleb decided that the extra supplies wouldn't hurt for the time being. He noticed that Aversa was motioning with her magic and he spoke, “Lucy! Pull up here!”

Lucina's response was to pull the reins and Bluebird neighed in annoyance but stopped as swiftly as Caleb did. The flapping of wings alerted Caleb to descending fliers and Aversa landed with Alana landing not too far behind her.

“We're nearly at Goetia, Milord.”

“Already?” Caleb asked surprised, Aversa giggled,

“Why yes. If we keep this pace up we will be near enough to the city by nightfall.” Caleb frowned as he knew that Bluebird, Sweetie and Aversa's Pegasus were all heaving and huffing. He felt a little winded himself now that he'd had the time to stop for a moment.

“We should find somewhere sheltered to rest.” Caleb said and Aversa looked thoughtful,

“There is an Oasis not too far from where we stand currently and if we all stick to the ground it will be enough time to get there and have everyone be sensible with the water.” She suggested, “An additional bonus is that there are trustworthy people near there.”

Caleb knew for some reason who Aversa was speaking of. “Very well. We will go there then.” He decided not realising that they were very much about to out manoeuvre the Grimleal who had been following them since he'd left the Table. He slowed to a walk and Lucina gently clucked her tongue to encourage Bluebird to walk forward. The group travelled on the ground as both Risen Chrom and Risen Robin moved to guard them. Caleb was starting to feel tired and it was not helped by his wings that were exposed to the sun. He tried folding them but they refused to obey his brain. It was almost like they were ornamental but he knew better since they twitched a lot and caused him pain when he'd grabbed a feather and pulled on it. He could almost imagine Henry grinning and wondering how to replicate them for himself and for a moment Caleb felt a smile on his face, then it faded. Gods he missed his Master. Not the Henry of this world but the Henry that taught Caleb magic when he was a small child. Caleb felt his energy dip and turned to see how the others were holding up. Lucina seemed to be fine and Alana was busy concentrating on Sweetie. Caleb then turned his attention to ranging out from where they were. It was quiet but he wondered how long that was going to last. He noticed the Oasis that Aversa was talking about and could smell something that made him sigh with relief.

 

When they arrived the animals had sufficiently recovered from their surprisingly rapid pace, though travelling as light as they had was bound to do that. Of course they let the Pegasi and horse drink while Caleb practically collapsed in the shade. “Caleb?” Lucina's voice spoke near his right and Caleb let out a low groan of pain. His body was aching again,

“I just...need a minute Lucy.” He sighed,

“Here, you need it.” Lucina knelt by his side and Caleb heard the opening of a water skin.

“Thanks.” He said weakly and took a deep gulp of the water. He held it to her and Lucina chuckled,

“Even in this state you still worry about us.” She giggled, “I'm fine Caleb.”

“Milord,” Aversa spoke, “My family are here. They have agreed to help with your requirements.”

“Ah, of course.” He groaned and tried to get up,

“Milord please...you must rest your body.” An unfamiliar voice spoke, a male voice that had Caleb opened his eyes to see a Sage in deep purple robes with the mark of the Grimleal that had a red cover to them. “We would offer our blood but I feel you already know of our intentions.” He said with a grin.

“Somewhat.” Caleb admitted and Lucina giggled. The man's greying hair made Caleb think that he was in his mid forties to early fifties,

“We can only provide temporary relief for the pain I'm afraid Milord but it should be enough to help you have some degree of comfort.”

Caleb hummed in response and he watched as Mend was raised. The relief was welcome as it allowed him to stand without pain, even if it was only for a short while. Aversa's father was a skilled healer, a rare thing in Plegia. Even so Caleb knew that they had much to do. They would need to gather supplies and try to avoid too many people coming into contact with him lest Chrom and the others be alerted that Caleb was on the move...he felt the crushing weight come back again. If only it were that simple. In truth the fragment had been well aware of how difficult the task would be and had prepared as much as it could. Right down to pleading with Aversa for help, something it would not have done normally but given what it was trying to achieve, Caleb didn't blame it. As such he had a buffer that he needed. He turned to Lucina and knew that her being here was the most important piece. His bond with her kept him from being too dangerous to be around for the time being though he was well aware of the fact he was still somewhat dangerous to be around. If not for the blood oath Aversa had made with his fragment things very well could have been much more difficult. Still he didn't understand why she was willing to make the oath with his fragment but he got the sense he could trust them. Perhaps because his fragment had saved them? Quite possible given that Caleb had a lot more...memories floating around in his head than before and they sometimes caused a degree of pain if he wasn't careful.

 

Lucius frowned as he took in Lord Grima's condition. He was concerned with it as it seemed that the Fell Dragon had put quite the pace to leave the Table and doubtless he'd pushed quite hard to get this far in such a short space of time. Lucius sighed as he spoke with Morgarna in low tones. She explained that their lord preferred to be called Caleb over Grima. Of course the Sage had done what he could to ease the likely pain his lord was in. They had to get him to a safe place and his Consort wisely kept close to him, a sign that she knew how dangerous he was without her at his side. He knew Morgarna would be leaving them. His eldest daughter had chosen to serve Lord Caleb and travel with him to lend him her power. Lucius was surprised by how...kind Lord Caleb actually was. He could see why his eldest chose to serve the Fell Dragon. If he was this kind to his allies then Lucius could see why the original Grimleal had pledged their blood to him. Following them was a small child. Lucius noticed that she was currently gripping Lord Caleb's arm and chattering away in Ylissean as best she could. He blinked in surprise when Lord Caleb pet the child's head and said something in Ylissean that made the little girl poke her tongue out at him and she said, “Daddy! That's not fair! I wanna ride Sweetie!

And he could admit the girl looked like a pleasant mix of both Lord Caleb and his Consort. He smiled at the cute scene and lead them to his home. He knew that his wife Mia would be busy and Inverse would be out training with his younger sister Lucia. He could see the sun starting to lower over the horizon and knew that night would fall. A night's rest would do his lord some good before he doubtless had to travel again.

 

Mia was making food in the kitchen when she heard Lucius announce his arrival. She poked her head inside the main house and upon seeing the dark coat of Lord Grima she immediately assured him that they had a room where he could rest. He'd arrived a little sooner than Mia had expected but she was still as ready as she could be. She naturally saw to it that he and his Consort would have a very comfortable bed to rest in and was glad to help him how she could. She spoke with her husband as Lord Grima cautiously sat down on one of the chairs at the table. She saw him struggle to pull his wings closer to his body and heard a mutter about bindings. She giggled softly in relief once his Consort joined him. Then she saw the small girl who was the most adorable little thing she'd seen in a while.

 

Caleb sat down at the table while Lucius spoke with his wife. Caleb's wings simply would not move to his will and no amount of tugging at them seemed to do anything. He was well aware that there was food being prepared and his stomach growled in hunger. He frowned as normally he would not have been able to smell this well. There were so many other scents that he could pick up. It almost felt...homey. Caleb half closed his eyes as Alana talked with her mother. He wondered if this was the kind of life he needed, just him, Lucina, Alana and any siblings the little one might end up eventually having...Caleb jolted suddenly. He heard something. He tensed for a moment and a low growl left his throat.

“Caleb.” Lucina spoke gently and whatever it was passed. Her voice was a soothing balm and he relaxed again.

“Milord?” Caleb turned and saw a woman who looked a lot like Aversa, “I wasn't sure what you might like, but...”

The food smelled amazing and Caleb heard his stomach growl appreciatively, “I think I'll be fine with almost anything.” He admitted and she smiled.

 

Of course the rest of Aversa's family showed up for dinner and Caleb enjoyed himself. The atmosphere was pleasant and Caleb felt it was the kind of atmosphere he could live with. He kept trying to resist sharing too much with Lucina but he couldn't help it as the old habit died hard. She giggled and he really did get the odd sense that this was almost like the life he wanted. Of course both the Risen didn't need food so they simply guarded the house. Caleb wondered if they needed rest but according to Aversa they did not need sleep. It did explain a few things from Caleb and Lucina's time that he'd wished they'd been aware of sooner. He could have saved lives...

 

Once dinner was done Caleb was pleasantly surprised when Mia showed him and Lucina to a comfortable room. Of course Caleb thanked Mia and she'd said it was no trouble at all. He felt relieved when the door closed. He heard Aversa suggest that she and Alana have a little “slumber party” and smiled. He was glad that Alana was safe. Relieved that they had somewhere to rest and had good food. He saw Lucina stretch and he didn't know why but there was something about the way she smelled that was highly arousing. With a blush at the thought of giving into her earlier request to repeat what they'd done in the storage tent before this mess happened, Caleb crossed the room and hugged her waist eliciting a small giggle, “I'm glad we have this time to rest,” Lucina said leaning back into his chest, “I think Alana will be out like a light soon.”

Caleb chuckled, “Yes I have a feeling she might be.” He said then he kissed her softly. Her scent had started to become mildly intoxicating and Caleb felt his body start reacting. He felt a strange instinct starting to rob him of his control and he felt Lucina turn to face him,

“Somehow that doesn't surprise me.” Lucina said and he managed to kiss her. Gods something was going on! He wasn't sure he wanted to be so forward but he couldn't help it as his body had other ideas,

“Lucy...” Caleb began and she tilted her head. Even in the low light of the room Caleb marvelled at how easy it was for him to see her. He however was quick to realise that there was no magic being used to light the room. 'Care for the simple answer or the more complicated one?' Caleb blinked, 'We're becoming more dragon-like and yes those wings of ours will be controllable and allow for flight in case you were wondering. Once we get the fragment we'll be both human and dragon fully. And I'll be nice and quiet because you'll understand on your own without me quipping like this. Seriously though, relax. She's the complete version of what we'll be like, plus our wings of course. Also why are you hesitating to mate with her? She's on heat kid, the best time to mate with her and it feels the best. Go on. You know you want to.' Caleb felt himself go red in the face. 'Naga damn it! I don't-you do-oh fine to the hells with it-that's the spirit kid~!-' He thought and then he kissed her,

“Caleb...” Lucina panted when they broke apart to breathe, “Would I be considered too forward to want -MMMPH~!”

“No...” He replied, “You wouldn't be.” He said and he felt the heat build. He knew who's voice it was that might have egged him on but then again the fragment did have a point. Lucina had just said what she wanted albeit with him interrupting her with a kiss but he had a feeling given the way her hands were wandering he knew what she wanted. He let her steer it only moving when she gave her express permission for him to do so.

 

Their clothing hit the floor and Caleb felt a pleasant shiver. There was something about her scent that was driving him wild and if it was the fact she was “on heat” so to speak he wasn't going to complain. His length free from the confines of his small clothes throbbed and ached a little as she pulled him over her.

He didn't even hesitate in teasing her as their naked bodies hit the bed. She let out a low moan and Caleb quickly kissed her. They would need to be quiet. Though he wanted to throw caution to the wind and have her scream out his name he felt that was not a...wise idea.

His wings twinged again and he let out a low moan of his own. The damn things would have to be bound but right now that wasn't his concern. His concern was making his beloved wife come undone under him whimpering his name as he pleasured her with everything he had. He focused on pleasuring her. The steady rhythm that they'd begun was enough but even so. Caleb did not feel entirely comfortable with pushing a blistering pace, though he knew that she would enjoy that immensely he wasn't sure that he was ready for it...he sighed inwardly as guilt began to settle in his gut. He was starting to feel his control slip and knew it was going to slide further unless he got a handle on it.

“Caleb,” Lucina murmured softly and he saw the look in her eyes. He groaned inwardly as he knew exactly what she wanted. She didn't even have to say anything. “please...”

He kissed her and gave into her entirely. The feeling of euphoria was quick to take over and he kept as quiet as he could, muffling their moans as best he could. He wasn't sure how long he'd been held in the carnal pleasure but eventually his release came. His wings trembled and he was panting heavily. The afterglow made him acutely aware of just how beautiful his wife was as the faint light of the moon lit the room, though it made it seem like the middle of the day to him. A contented sigh escaped him and with what strength he had left he used a tomeless wind magic to cover them with the blankets and curled up to her with another contented sigh. Caleb felt relief as he slid into the world of dreams. He however had an odd thought. He felt the presence of a small child playing with Alana. A boy whose hair was blue like Lucina's a boy that Caleb knew was theirs. The boy turned to Caleb and said, “Daddy!”and he felt an intense feeling to protect that child as much as the feeling was to protect Alana. The tactician had to wonder...was the boy a manifestation of his mind? Or had he truly the ability to foresee what was their first born child? Caleb felt a moment of tension as he wondered. Had they just conceived their first child? Or would they conceive their first child soon? Or was it just a figment of his imagination and desire to have a child with her that created that mental image he didn't know?

 

The morning saw Caleb wake to his wife's sleeping form. The first rays of sunlight made him aware that they would have to move out soon. He closed his eyes and sighed. His mind knew what needed to be done but he almost didn't want to. He heard voices drift up and felt the hum of life around him tell him that they would need to get up soon. He lent to kiss his wife and as his lips brushed her forehead she squirmed in her sleep. “Lucy,” Caleb spoke softly and stroked her hair off her face, “We need to get ready. We have to move out.”

Lucina rolled over and opened her eyes as the vestiges of sleep slowly released her from its grip. “So soon Caleb?” She half sighed,

“I'm afraid so love.” He said tenderly, almost regretfully, “We can't stay in this world...not while I'm a potential risk like I am.”

“Caleb...” Lucina said feeling sad for the pain he was going through. Honestly if her father's default reaction wasn't to pull Falchion they would have been able to explain what happened but now that seemed unlikely. It was unfair that things had to turn out this way. She felt as if there were a lot of memories in her mind and she wondered if Caleb felt the same.

“I'm sure we'll figure out something.” The tactician said calmly and he sighed, “I have got to do something about these damn wings.” He groaned and Lucina noticed that they were still refusing to fold despite Caleb's repeated attempts to fold them. “This is going to drive me crazy.” Caleb half-growled and Lucina sighed just as there was a knock to alert her to the fact that they weren't likely going to be decent enough if someone were to come in. She hastily grabbed her tunic and threw it on and Caleb pulled his pants on so that they were at least half dressed and not completely naked.

 

“Daddy, Mummy are yous up yet?” Alana asked softly and she didn't know why but she swore that there was a sigh of relief. The door opened to reveal her mother with her tunic and her father in just his pants.

“Alana, can you do a very big favour and ask Aversa for some bandages?” Her mother asked her, and Alana suddenly realised what it was for.

“Yes Mummy!” She said and raced off. She went to Aversa and noticed that Aversa's mother was making some breakfast. She spoke, “Miss Avie, Mummy wants some bandages plwease.”

“Oh dear...no one's hurt are they?” Aversa asked and implication flew over the small girl's head,

“They is for Daddy's wings.” Alana said and Aversa chuckled. She found it amusing that the little one had no idea what she'd been implying. Her mother laughed. They were well aware of what happened last night between Caleb and Lucina. It was fairly obvious despite the couple's best attempts to keep it quiet. Still they figured a God needed his outlets and had tried to keep the disturbance to a minimum and allow the couple to enjoy themselves for the night without the headaches that they had to deal with. Aversa gave Alana what she needed and the little girl raced back to her parents and was mindful to knock on the door again.

 

“I is back~!” Alana's voice cooed as Caleb was doing his belts up and Lucina was fully dressed,

“Come in Sweetpea.” Caleb called and the door opened as Alana tumbled into the room,

“I gots the bandages Daddy.”

“Thank you.” Caleb smiled as Lucina came over to him. Alana hesitated and Caleb sighed, “You can touch my wings if you want Alana.” His little girl hesitated but eventually she did,

“They is like Sweetie's wings Daddy.” She giggled,

“Yes, well...I'm sure that eventually they might behave like that too.” Caleb said with a soft smile as Lucina began to gently fold them. Caleb winced but he did his best not to let the pain be too obvious.

“How about you help me Alana.” Lucina suggested, “Just press here carefully-” Alana put her hand in place of her mother's as Lucina moved the other wing. Caleb let out a sharp gasp of pain, “We need to keep them in place while we wrap them. Caleb are you feeling alright love?”

“F-fine.” He said breathing slightly rapidly due to the pain. He could manage it...he would have to if he hoped to not be so obvious. Lucina gently and carefully wrapped his wings,

“You can let go now Alana, the bandage should be able to keep them in place.” Lucina instructed and Alana's little hands moved away. The wings strained against the bandages but they stayed in place. Caleb let out a low hiss of pain as Lucina progressively had to wrap his wings to his torso. Caleb didn't have much of a choice. He closed his eyes as the discomfort reached a point where he could deal with it as long as needed. He then was able to put his shirt on and that made him feel a little bit better.

 

Once they were fully dressed Caleb felt the need to pull his hood up. He decided it was for the best and he put his coat on. The familiar weight was welcome and for the time being at least he was more like himself. His hood up he followed Lucina to where they had a light breakfast. Mia explained that they packed enough into Bluebird and Sweetie's saddle bags for the journey ahead as well as providing Lucina and Alana with a cloak each. The fabric mimicked his coat in colour and the hood of the cloak would hide both of their faces. It was as good as they were going to get he knew. Of course there was plenty of reasons that Lucina and Alana had to be hidden. Doubtless if they were seen they very well could have been in danger, something Caleb did not want. He knew however that there was more to what was going on than met the eye. With their stocks full Caleb knew that they could make their way to the Outrealm Gate. They doubtless would have to resupply at some point but at least they were able to make their move as calmly as possible. Even so Caleb knew that the journey that they had ahead was going to be a difficult one.

 

They left the oasis and travelled towards Mire City, a trip that would have taken a normal human almost two weeks but one that Caleb managed in a little over a week pushing a punishing pace for both himself and the animals. It was that, or he would drive himself crazy with the urge to destroy everything that was slowly getting progressively weaker as they travelled (part of the reason that Caleb pushed such a pace). When they at last arrived at Mire City, Alana and Aversa had left Caleb, Lucina, Risen Chrom and Risen Robin clear of the city as Caleb had snarled moodily and Lucina felt it was best to keep him clear of having to be around humans. A wise choice she would later come to realise as Caleb had been giving her all of the warning signs that he was losing control.

 

They were under the shade of a palm tree when it happened. Caleb had tensed and Lucina heard an animal-like growl. At first she didn't even realise that it was Caleb. The only warning she had was that he practically leapt forward and attacked a couple of Ylissean soldiers taking the poor men entirely by surprise as doubtless they were told that they shouldn't expect too much resistance from the local population. Not that they would be facing Grima who would kill them almost instantly with a snap of his fingers

“Caleb stop!” Lucina cried gripping his right arm before he went any further out of control and alerted any other people to their presence. He growled but he didn't cast another spell. “No. No more.” She said trying to ignore the bodies burned beyond recognition as the Fell Magic had hit the men too well. She saw his mouth tightened and regret started to make itself known, “Come on,” She pulled him away and he let her lead him away, “this way.” She said. Those two men were scouts which meant that the Ylisseans were likely not too far from where they were. Lucina sighed and she felt Caleb's hand shaking.

“Lucy...” His voice was trembling and she knew he was upset at what he'd just done,

“Caleb.” She stopped and was taken by complete surprise when he desperately pressed himself to her. The shaking got worse and she pulled him into an embrace. She knew that destruction was a part of him. He was Grima. She saw both risen arrive and she said, “Chrom. Robin. I need the two of you to make sure that there are no Ylissean soldiers in the area. We do not need to engage them at this stage.”

“As you command Mistress.” Risen Chrom bowed and Risen Robin tilted her head,

“Mistress...soothe...Master...he...needs...Mistress...”

“I will but I need you to make sure that it's safe to do so.” Lucina said as she felt Caleb's grip tighten.

“As...you...command...Mistress...” Risen Robin said and she ambled off after Risen Chrom. Once Lucina was sure that there wasn't anyone in sight she focused on calming Caleb. She noticed that he had his head resting on her chest.

“Caleb?” She spoke softly and he said very quietly,

“Why...?” He whimpered softly, “Gods why...?”

“Caleb...it's alright.”

“It's not alright Lucy!” He said pain etched into his face. “Those men had families! They had lives!”

“Caleb...” Lucina was at a loss and then she sighed, “They also were a threat. Maybe not to their own allies but they were to us. They would have reported back to the Chrom of this world and what would you have done then?” Lucina asked him and Caleb looked down. She was right,

“I-I don't...” Caleb whimpered and he clutched Lucina, pressing into her embrace, “I don't want to fight them!”

“Then you did what you had to.” Lucina said to him gently as the crunch of sand alerted her to the arrival of both Risen Chrom and Risen Robin,

“None were present.” Risen Chrom said calmly, “The men were travelling alone.”

“Good. Let's head back to where we were waiting lest Aversa worry.” Lucina said and she led Caleb back to where Bluebird was patiently sleeping on his feet in the shade.

 

The second week of their journey saw them come to the small town of Hex. Caleb had thought the urge was taken care of but he was wrong. A group of bandits had taken residence not far from the town and all it took was the smell of blood in the air and Caleb was off again. The good news was that the bandits wouldn't be troubling the town ever again. The bad news...Caleb almost destroyed the bandit's entire camp. Luckily Lucina had stopped him again and seeing a pattern spoke, “Caleb listen to me.” She said turning his face so that he was looking into her eyes, “If you need me to help you, tell me.” She said having started to learn Plegian, “Let me help you be calm.” She told him,

“Lucy...” Caleb sniffled and buried himself into her embrace. As luck would have it they got a couple of tents out of it that were not too bad. Although they didn't have much in the way of supplies. Aversa suggested that they move on and Caleb had agreed. Hex was close to the border of Ylisse, but there was an obstacle that not even Caleb could really travel past at breakneck pace.

 

There was a series of mountains that they had to travel though since travelling by boat wasn't possible as the boats would take too long; there was the risk that they would get caught out with Caleb's magic being too dangerous to risk such a journey. Not to mention the confined quarters. Lucina and Caleb both agreed to make the journey over land. It was the most perverse kind of home coming Caleb could ever have imagined as he was practically the “bad guy” now. He felt a stab of emotional pain as the familiar greenery and mists enveloped them.

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Chapter XXXII: The Power of Grima...


 

Cynthia's feet hit the dirt as she stormed off from the latest meeting of the Shepherds. Anger rose in her veins at the horrible things being said about her big brother. She almost didn't care that she'd not tripped once the way to the temporary stables. They knew that Caleb was likely at the Outrealm gate even though Robin insisted that he was at Origin Peak. She paused for a moment to look at her mount and the mare snorted. She knew what had to be done.


 

Cynthia was often called many things, naïve, idealistic and a little bit of an airhead since she started the hero stuff. Right now though, she was about to do something that was completely not heroic. She was going to see Caleb and warn him about what Robin had planned. She guessed that something was off about Robin and that made her suspicious. She knew she'd have to pack light and that Brady wouldn't speak to her ever again. She was ready for that. She sniffled and remembered what her father taught her about expansion hexes and drew in a deep breath. She'd not actually used dark magic before and wished she had Caleb to help her, or her father.

“You need to relax...” Cynthia half leapt and spun around,

Noire?!” Cynthia gulped and Noire lowered her gaze,

I...I want to come with you. He's my brother too.

Cynthia felt her heart hammer in her chest, “You're sure? They'll chase us when they find out what we're doing.

I know. But we know our big brother. It was him at the Table...I know. He was so hurt...Cynthia, I want to help. I-I know I'm not much good at things but...

Right, well we'd better hurry before Robin catches wind now.” Cynthia said unsure why they were talking in Plegian,

“As I said, you need to relax with magic, remember that's what he used to tell us.” Noire said and Cynthia smiled,

“Good always triumphs!” Cynthia said making it seem like the two were playing around, and Noire grinned,

“J-justice PREVAILS!” Noire responded to the Cabal's rallying cry and Cynthia turned her attention to the hex. Noire walked her through the motions and together the girls tested the saddlebags. Cynthia carefully put in a thunder tome. They watched in bated breath as Cynthia kept pushing the tome into the bag and didn't seem to be reaching a limit. Cynthia looked at Noire and she pulled her bow out and it too fit into the saddlebag. The pair then knew what they had to do. Noire gathered supplies under the pretext of needing some. Cynthia meanwhile waited patiently for Noire's return as she sorted out what she had to do in her head. She saw this world's version of her father casually taking a stroll when Noire returned with enough supplies to get the pair going. A tent, two bed rolls, a couple more weapons since they were likely going to need them, elixers, and a set of clothes each. Cynthia gave Noire a nod and they continued carefully packing the expansion hexed saddlebags. By the time the pair were done, they had a surprise visitor in Henry, he didn't stay long but did give Cynthia a book of all things, “For when you might need it” He'd said,

“Thank you Fa-Sir.” Cynthia said and Henry tilted his head,

You can call me Father you know.” He grinned then it faded, “I know you have to do something pretty important, so try not to die, okay? That'd make me sad.

Cynthia cried and suddenly hugged the dark mage. Henry smiled softly and gently rubbed her back, Cynthia rubbed her eyes vigorously and then he left them. Cynthia saddled up her Lovebird and led the mare out of the stables. The camp was calm, quiet even for people racing towards Naga's shrine for help. Cynthia gave it one last look before she mounted up. Noire needed a hand to get up behind her and as Cynthia did the familiar motion of clicking her tongue she saw Frederick head towards them, “Fly Lovebird!” She commanded and the Pegasus broke into a trot, “Fly.”

The mare switched to a canter, hooves beating in a rhythmic three-beat pattern, “Miss Cynthia!” Frederick cried out in shock,

NOW LOVEBIRD!” Cynthia cried as the mare hit her perfect stride to fly and her wings opened up. The mare leapt into the sky and Cynthia naturally leant forwards with the movement. Noire gripped her waist as the mare took off swinging in the sky with the skilled ease that Cynthia had come to know so well. As they flew she felt...free...and then uttered a prayer that she would reach her big brother in time. I'm coming Caleb, Lucy! I'll help save you both like the Flying Hero!

Meanwhile Frederick frowned. Cynthia didn't normally take to the sky like this. It was concerning to see, though to be honest the knight thought little of it. He assumed it was one of her joy-flights to help her calm down. Little did he know that she was going to alert “Grima” of Robin's plans. Had he known what the young woman was setting out to do he would have called for archers to shoot her out of the sky.


 

Cynthia commanded Lovebird to fly high once they got airborne. She was of course well aware of archers and would not mistake getting Lovebird hurt. Noire held on as the mare soon picked up a thermal and soared even higher than normal. Cynthia knew at this height they could cut travel time down. Lovebird had flown this high before when she carried Chrom and Sumia out of range of the Feroxi in Regna Ferox, or so Sumia's story had gone. Cynthia knew that they needed to go higher still to get out of the range of archers.


 

By the time they had got clear of the Shepherds Cynthia was on the lookout for Alana and Sweetie. She knew that Caleb would likely have the little one flying high. Still she didn't think it would take them two and a half weeks to catch up to Caleb. Cynthia had been flying almost non-stop with Lovebird hitching every thermal she could for an entire day on the wing when Noire had yelled, “Down there! Land Lovebird near that cave!”

“Right!” Cynthia said giving the mare the signal to land, “Alright Lovebird, ease down!” The mare's ears twitched and she dipped gracefully circling the the area not far from the cave where they spotted two risen, acting as sentinels. Cynthia shivered from the cold and Noire did what she could but neither had anything warmer to wear and they were pushing it.


 

Caleb was pacing the full length of the cave waiting impatiently for the rain to pass, tension growing by the minute. Alana had bravely done her best to keep up with Sweetie but the rain proved to be too much, even for Aversa. He was surprised when he heard Risen Robin draw her tome. “Someone's coming.” Caleb said suddenly and Lucina held his arm. The last thing they needed was pursuers. He heard the clatter of hooves as likely a Pegasus had landed. He frowned. The rider wasn't coming any closer. Whoever it was they'd pulled their mount up and Caleb poked his head around the rock wall and gaped in shock. It could not be...surely it wasn't...and yet...

He ran past the two Risen, “Cynthia!” He yelled. Then he saw who was behind her, “Noire!” He knew that they wouldn't have long. He didn't care right then that they could be a trap sent by the Shepherds. They were his sisters and there was no way Caleb would let them be harmed, “Easy Lovebird,” He said carefully well aware of the mare's laboured breathing, “Easy girl.” He lowered the tone of his voice and the mare whinnied weakly, “Good girl Lovebird,” He said as he slowly inched to her reins, “Good girl Lovebird.” Caleb said again gently encouraging the mare to follow him, “There's a girl.” He turned to his two guards, “Robin, Chrom. Bring the girls inside the cave now. They need to be warmed before we lose them!” Risen Robin carefully got Noire down and Risen Chrom took Cynthia with great care. Both sensed that the two girls were important to their master and thus had obeyed rapidly. Caleb led the now riderless Pegasus into the shelter of the cave to both dry off and get warm.


 

Lucina blinked in shock when she saw the two girls. Aversa was quick to help her in getting the pair into something warm and dry Caleb had his back to them while the pair of women worked. “How did they...?” Lucina asked fearing for both girls.

“I don't know Lucy, but their intentions are pure.” Caleb said from where he was standing. “They almost would have frozen to death if not for Lovebird and her impeccable timing.”

The mare was currently being dried by the Risen Robin. Lucina spoke, “Well they somehow managed to cast an expansion hex on the saddlebags. They had some things with them. I don't know if I should be proud of them or mad at them for their naivete.”

“Yeah.” Caleb said staring out at the rain. He was getting better at ignoring the voices of the Grimleal the further that they got from the Table but it was still difficult to drain them out entirely. The rain was relieving but Caleb also noticed that there was a subtle change in Lucina's scent. He wasn't sure what it meant and simply dropped the matter without talking to her about it. After all he wasn't sure if he was assuming things or not. He waited a while longer.

“They're decent.” Lucina confirmed and Caleb cast a worried eye over the two girls,

“Gods...” He said with a wince. They both looked peaceful now and Caleb was relieved to see that they were not harmed thank gods. He sat by the fire watching over them. His heart ached seeing them like that. What had they done?


 

The rain held up for a good while longer but Caleb watched as slowly the pair woke. Cynthia did the little thing where she wrinkled her nose and roll before she woke. “Hello sleepy head.” Caleb said without thinking, Cynthia sat bolt upright and as soon as she saw him she practically crossed the cave as quickly as possible and threw her arms around him sobbing,

Big brother! Big Brother!” her cries eliciting a soft smile from Lucina as Noire woke herself.


 

By the time the rain had slowed to a shower Caleb was well aware of what his mother had planned and he was not happy. Still they didn't have much of a choice as they needed to leave the world that they were in. Of course Cynthia explained that likely she and Noire would also be pursued by the Shepherds and Caleb sighed, “Well then it looks like you'll have to travel with us. We can make do with another Pegasus Knight and Archer.” Caleb said calmly still a little surprised that Cynthia had called him “big brother” after a very long time of not doing so. Still he guessed in a way he was. A very dark big brother. Caleb sighed as at long last they were ready to continue their journey as the rain cleared.


 

There was a new life almost as they made their way across the plains of southern Ylisse. For Caleb there were so many scents to take in it overwhelmed the urge to destroy and for the first time since he'd merged with Grima, Caleb felt like he stood a fighting chance in keep those urges, those voices in check. He'd smiled and as they made their way towards Southtown Caleb almost felt he could make an excursion to the town without attacking people, plus he was pretty sure that Southtown wasn't quite as aware of what was going on. He however did not realise that it was too soon to think he would get almost a full week without any destruction...


 

The three week journey that Caleb had been through was a fairly serious one. Still as Caleb made his way through Southtown he had to admit the place was nice. The people went about their normal business and he smiled at the fact that children were happily playing in the streets, shouts and giggles soothing in a way. He noticed that the adults were calm and for the first time in his life Caleb felt he could afford to relax. Of course the people didn't notice the pair of travellers in Plegian coats any more than the merchants whom Caleb knew they would have to deal with. He and Alana walked through the town towards the Merchant's Square. Caleb had hoped to pick up something to read and maybe a couple of hair pins for Lucina and Alana since both deserved that much and Caleb felt happy at the thought of doing something nice for them both. He let Alana wander with a small pouch of gold and he found himself at a loss. People moved around him and he felt slightly light headed...

“Hail traveller!” Said a merchant and Caleb took a deep breath, “You don' look like yeh from around 'ere.” Caleb sighed,

“I was raised near Ylisse a long time ago.” He said simply, “With the way things are in Plegia I thought it would be safer for me to...steer clear for a while.”

“Ah, yeah. Plegia's bin a royal mess.” The merchant said, “They says them Grimleal doin' some sorta ritual they is.”

“Really?” Caleb asked surprised,

“Oh yeah. They says that summat wrong happened wif Grima's awkenin' load o' pegasus dung I reckon.”

“Yeah.” He said shivering at the thought.

“So yeh in th' market fo' anyfing?”

“Well.” Caleb blushed slightly, “I was...looking for something nice for my wife.”

“Heh, wha' luck! I got jest th' thin'.” The merchant smiled and pulled out a pendant of some kind and Caleb felt the urge creep up a bit more than he was prepared for, though it seemed more...territorial than anything else. He took a deep breath...

“Daddy!” Alana cried suddenly grabbing his arm and Caleb focused on what his daughter wanted, “Can I has this please Daddy?” Alana held out some little trinket that appealed to her and Caleb didn't have the heart to turn her down,

“Sure Sweetpea.” He said tiredly, “We should probably-”

He paused. What was that sound? “Daddy?” Alana asked her sweet voice breaking Caleb out of his thoughts,

“Sorry sweet heart, Daddy's just very tired.” he said patting her head, “You know what, why do we get this for Mummy.” He said and Alana looked at the pendant the merchant had bought out,

“Mummy will love that Daddy~!” Her voice was so sweet to his ears. She held out the pouch Caleb had given her and the merchant chuckled,

“Well now...ain't she a sweet little thin'. Tell yeh wha' I'll throw this here little pendant in fo' the little one and this one for five gold.” He said and Caleb helped Alana pull out five gold from her pouch. He was certain he heard fighting. The pair moved on and he spotted an Anna with some books. Caleb was cautious when it came to her. Annas were the lifeblood of rumours and also tended to know when people were hiding. He was about to look elsewhere when the Anna spoke,

“Well, well, well.” Caleb tensed, and she spoke, “I never thought I'd see the day.”

Caleb gulped and he didn't know what to do. Alana had no such qualms, “Does you have some books Miss Anna?” She asked innocently and Anna was surprised,

“Well now, I can't just leave a sweet little one like you empty handed now can I?” She smiled and Caleb knew he should have expected to deal with an Anna at some point since his merge with Grima. Alana grinned and Anna spoke, “As it so happens I have plenty of books in stock, all in mint condition as well~!”

Alana turned to Caleb and he felt powerless to resist her pleading look, he sighed, “One book.” He said and Alana pouted, “One.” he said sternly, and his daughter's adorable pout almost made him smile. Not what he needed right now but he would rather deal with Alana's pouting then the alternative.


 

Anna looked between the man in an obviously Grimleal coat and the little child in a cloak that also reeked of Grimleal. She noticed the man sounded rather tired, like he was in desperate need of rest. She wondered where she'd heard that voice before. She however noticed that the man was fidgeting in place and seemed to be very much looking over his shoulders. She noticed that he suddenly sighed and the little girl spoke,

“Two!”

“No, one.” He said firmly and Anna noticed that he was trying his absolute best to not smile. It seemed to her like someone was being the 'least favourite parent' by the looks of things,

“Two! Plwease Daddy!” And Anna could hear the poor man sigh heavily,

“One Alana.” He said and Anna frowned. To be fair the name Alana was fairly common in Plegia as there were those that were fans of the old Grandmaster Alana so....

“But Daddy!” The little girl grabbed her father's arm and Anna saw him shake his head,

“Remember that Mummy's waiting for us.” The man said and the child bounced,

“Then one book for me and one for Mummy~!”

The man groaned, “Fine.”

“Yay!” The little girl cheered and Anna saw the man smile ruefully. He watched as the girl picked two books up and sighed,

“Twenty gold~!” Anna said cheerfully and the man dug into the pouch his daughter was holding and paid the money,

“Alright then, now let's get back to Mummy and your aunties.” The man said relieved and seeming to want to get out as quickly as possible. Anna was surprised at the man's strange behaviour but chalked it up to the fact that he was likely travelling with a child and children tended to be a little demanding on their parents sometimes.


 

Caleb was quick to get out of Southtown and felt tangible relief once he was clear of the confines of the town. So far he'd not had any incidents, no snarling, growling or otherwise causing any harm. It was a relief to know that he could be around humans that didn't have weapons without the urges being too overpowering. Still Caleb felt it unwise to push himself any further and he and Alana made their way towards where the others were waiting for them.


 

Once they arrived to where the others were waiting Caleb took a moment to still himself. He'd done well. A week without causing destruction of anything. He was watching Lucina pack away their supplies when the urge to destroy suddenly became almost overwhelming. Caleb clutched at his head as he heard the sound of weapons clashing and the shrieks of the dead and dying starting to break through his control. He felt his body start to tremble and a bestial snarl slipped out unbidden. He did not want to have to resort to burying himself into Lucina's embrace to stay calm. He wanted to stay controlled over himself without having to do that. Another snarl. No...he wasn't going to do it. Risen Robin said rather slowly, “A...fight...Master...want...to...deal...with...it…”

A shriek of agony and Caleb snarled as the urge finally took over entirely. He was going to kill all of the fighters, rip them apart, rend flesh from bone and destroy them all. There was the promise of destruction and ruin and Caleb wanted it so badly that he didn't even have to think about it. He moved rapidly towards the sounds of battle...


 

Lucina cursed sharply when she realised that Caleb had lost control again. She called out, “Chrom! I need your help! Cynthia you take care of the supplies! Aversa keep an eye on Alana, Noire you too!” She commanded quickly coming to stand by Bluebird's side as Risen Chrom came and quickly lifted her up unto the saddle and Lucina urged the horse to gallop after Caleb. She should have noticed the snarls. She gripped the saddle with her knees praying that she would reach Caleb before he did too much damage. Caleb had spent the three weeks they'd travelled from the Dragon's Table fighting the urge to destroy things and now that control was gone for the third time. Lucina feared that she wouldn't make it in time to stop a potential rampage on Caleb's part. Hell she expected that he'd probably slaughter all of the people who were fighting unless she got there as swiftly as possible and tried to stop him before he killed too many people.


 

When Caleb arrived at the place where the delicious screams were coming from he was in a state of mild euphoria. He subconsciously registered that Arilon was there. At least that was who Caleb assumed his friend was called. He however had another more important itch to scratch and the enemies before him made Caleb's choice an easy one as he still had just enough control to know who was the enemy.

 

With a simple snap of his fingers, Expiration blasted across the battlefield easily killing all of the fifty or so enemies before him. Their deaths satisfied Caleb's desire to destroy and kill only a fraction. He however could smell the rapid approach of his wife. Her scent bought Caleb back to his senses as he realised there were quite a few humans around Arilon as well as some dragons. Caleb hesitated as he weighed up his options. He did not want to fight them. No it wasn't because he was scared. It was because he didn't want to do any more damage than he'd already done as the guilt started to creep in making him feel awful for what he'd just done again. The clatter of hooves made him turn towards where he knew Lucina was and he realised that he'd half knelt in a circle of destruction. Guilt ate at him as Lucina practically pulled Bluebird up and dismounted rapidly, moving to create a buffer before Caleb did anything worse. He felt awful again. Well, partly awful but now that Lucina was here...Caleb knew she was worried, “Caleb! Why would you run ahead like that?” She asked equal parts stern as she was scared. It was like a deep painful blow to his heart. “What if my father had made it here, or the others?”

Caleb couldn't even look at her for the moment and cast his gaze downwards submissively, he sighed sadly, “I'm sorry Lucy,” He hated himself for he'd nearly done again. “I had to...and...at least I kept it to a small area...” He justified weakly and he heard Lucina sigh,

“Caleb, I keep saying this: If you need me to help you, then tell me immediately. No matter what I’m doing, no matter where we are. I want to help you, but if you won’t let me…”

He cringed inwardly, “But Lucy-”

“No. No buts. It’s not worth the risk to everyone and everything around us to be worried about something happening to me.” Lucina spoke sternly and Caleb almost felt like sometimes he really was a terrible person even if she said otherwise. Then again...

“At least I managed to repay the favour.” He said guilt finally catching up with him entirely.

“Caleb…”

Lucina came and pulled him close, holding his head to her shoulder and stroking his head, “I’m just glad you’re ok, and that you got the destruction out of your system. Things could have been much worse, we’ll have to just accept that it happened and try not to let it happen again.” She spoke softly “You're safe and that's the main thing. I'm not sure how much power you have but I'd rather not risk you getting hurt Caleb.” Lucina felt him relaxing. She heaved a sigh of relief. Caleb was getting back to controlling himself. Caleb assumed that the Wanderers stood open mouthed at what they were both hearing and seeing. Caleb guessed they like the Shepherds before them had made an assumption that he was Grima, a correct assumption to be fair, though perhaps they'd more likely assumed as the Shepherds did that Caleb was hell bent on destroying the world. That wasn't what the tactician wanted. No he’d rather live his life quietly, away from humans so that his powers wouldn't be used for evil as Validar had tried to do. He could almost taste the confusion from the other people and dragons present. Odd to think his senses heightened that much. He felt his wings which he'd bound earlier twitch against the bindings uncomfortably and sighed. He wanted to stay as human in how he looked as possible.


 

Three sets of crimson eyes, wings with purple feathers and of course the fangs in his mouth were all the hallmarks people needed to know that he was an awakened Fellblood, or to assume that he was Grima since most Fellbloods didn’t actually have their blood “awaken” as such, all of them had Grima take over their bodies completely and not merge with them in body and soul.


 

On the plus side was that he didn’t appear to look like a Manakete so it was possible not to have people want to hunt him down at the mere sight of him if he concealed enough of his features that they couldn't see them.


 

In short Caleb was very uncomfortable. He however chose to have himself in a state of discomfort. In sheer desperation to not draw attention to himself as an awakened Fellblood...as an awakened Grima. He shuddered as both the risen arrived at the thought he was having,

“Weapons down both of you.” Caleb said not even bothering to look up from his head resting on Lucina's shoulder her arms around him as she worked to soothe him. He heard Chrom sheath his sword and Robin put her tome in her coat.

 

“Wait...so...” Caleb heard what sounded like the “other” Severa speak. Her tone told him she wasn't happy. He felt himself groan mentally, “You’re saying that you married a Fellblood, knowing what was probably going to happen, then let him become Grima’s host, and you haven’t tried to seal him yet?”

“...S-sevva, don’t…” A second voice spoke that Caleb couldn't quite place. He felt Lucina's grip tighten and he heard Lucina speak,

“Severa? What...Owain?” Lucina was definitely surprised,

“They're not the same as ours.” He spoke calmly as he could, “They're different versions of them from another world.” Caleb said tiredly,

“From a world where we thankfully had Arilon to beat Grima even if Robin and Chrom had died like yours have!” Severa said angrily. “Why are you trying to fix him? You can’t!”

“Sevva, please…”

“Their Chrom, at least, hasn’t died, Luna.” Caleb heard Arilon speak for the first time and he felt Lucina keep a firm grip on him. He knew she was doing her best to keep him distracted from what was clearly an altercation. He was so very glad she was there. “That Chrom is holding a dark version of Falchion. If Grima had successfully turned Chrom into a Risen and corrupted the Falchion, why would he be running from the Shepherds?” Arilon spoke calmly then turned to Caleb and Lucina. “You did say you were worried about them finding you, right?”

“Yes. They...they think he’s a monster.” Lucina explained sadly.

“Oh, really, I wonder why that might be.”

“Sevva, stop!”

Caleb felt the stab. That hurt. True he was an awakened Fellblood but he wasn't a monster...Caleb felt Lucina redouble her efforts to soothe him. Severa however wasn't done, “Maybe,” She continued ignoring the other girl who was trying to stop her in typical Severa fashion. “Maybe it’s because the last time he woke up he wrecked two continents! Does that sound like something a reasonable person would do?”

“He doesn’t want any more fighting!” Lucina said firmly as she had something Severa did not. She knew Caleb very well. Merging with her otherself only drove Lucina to be more determined to help him and Caleb wished he could get a handle on himself feeling annoyed that he wasn't like he used to be. He would have-

“Of course you’d say that, you’re his wife!” Caleb heard Severa step forwards and felt Lucina move to put some distance between him and the young mercenary. Lucina sounded mildly furious, odd for her,

“Don’t touch him!” She commanded

“You’re not my Lucina, you can’t tell me what to do!” And Caleb heard the one sound he did not want to hear. Anger rose as he'd had enough. Lucina refused to let him go and Caleb knew he couldn't hurt her.

“I won’t let you hurt him!” She cried out fiercely and Caleb was now preoccupied with trying to worm his way out of her arms because he knew that things could get bad really quickly...

“Why are you still protecting the thing that destroyed your home?!” Severa's yell made Caleb see red. Furiously he managed to break free of Lucina's grip, snarling viciously the emotional pain finally being released,

“BECAUSE I'M NOT THAT GRIMA!” Caleb bore his fangs for the first time. He was well aware what the sight was like. Six crimson eyes, and the fangs. Not to mention his wings which were still bound. All the hallmarks of an awakened Fellblood. Of a Grima...“YOU THINK I WANTED TO LOOK LIKE THIS? YOU THINK I WANT THE VOICES IN MY HEAD TELLING ME TO KILL EVERYTHING IN SIGHT? YOU THINK I WANT EVERYONE I KNEW TO TURN ON ME BECAUSE THEY JUST BLINDLY FOLLOW NAGA NO MATTER WHAT LIES SHE SAYS?” It was like a catharsis as finally Caleb fully emotionally snapped. Lucina had a sharp intake a breath and she knew how much it hurt him. She winced and was too slow to stop Caleb as he stepped towards Severa. He was more than ready to take her on. She could have her catharsis and he could allow himself to get rid of his pent up anger. He was over it. It wasn't Lucina that got between them and Caleb jolted as the injured Dragon made a desperate move to get between them, he almost could not believe his eyes. Idunn, the Demon Dragon from the Elibean Legends which his mother used to drum into him when he was a boy, mostly their tactics as she'd often done with him. Caleb almost missed what she had to say. “No fighting!” Idunn said, her voice sounding strangely scratchy doubtless because she was injured. “You’ll hurt the baby!”

Caleb frowned confused. Did she just say...what he thought she just said. “Baby? What...what baby?” Caleb heard Severa ask in as much shock as he felt. He was glad to know that this version was a lot like the Severa he knew. And judging by how snappy she was and how she smelt it was likely she was menstruating. 'Poor Sev.' Caleb thought but knew she wouldn't want his sympathy.

Idunn spoke again, “She has a baby, you'll hurt it if you fight.” She said looking right at Caleb's wife. Caleb was at a loss. There was no way she could have...he heard another dragon speak,

“Are you sure Wyrm? I don't smell it.”

“When I attacked those Terrors…” Idunn coughed, but continued. “I could pick it up for just a moment.”

His surprise was short lived as he went back in his mind and suddenly guilt started setting in again. He was unstable and he'd just got his wife pregnant. He had even worse timing than their Owain when he and Severa had conceived Ophelia. Caleb really was one to talk...“...I can smell it too.” He said after a moment, slightly shaken. “I...never realised Dragons could do that.”

“It takes a lot of practice,” Arilon assured him. “Looking closely, yeah, they’re right, I can detect it too.”

Caleb wanted to curse his luck. He wasn't supposed to get her pregnant just yet! 'And here I was thinking that was what you wanted' his other fragment quipped and Caleb saw that Arilon got Severa to stand down to his relief. He really did not want to fight anyone right now.

“Well, that could have gone really badly,” Arilon sighed. “Sola, will you keep an eye on her? I don’t want her doing anything drastic, and you’re the only one here she might tell what her deal is.”

Sola, Cordelia's doppelgänger nodded and went after Severa as Arilon turned to face the tactician and his wife.

“So, given your insistence on not wanting any of this, I assume you still want us to call you Caleb?”

“Yes, thank you.” Caleb said with a sigh, thank gods he wasn't pulling a blade on them or trying to fight.

“Ok, you don’t appear to be hostile, so...oh crap, the Gate-” Arilon seemed to be quite worried

“I closed it during your conversation.” Caleb tilted his head as he heard another person...he frowned. Limstella? He frowned as he struggled to know where he'd heard the name before and his fragment spoke though no one would hear it except him, 'A creation like us.' The fragment said and Caleb saw Arilon sigh with relief.

“Ah, thanks. Anyways, Wyrm, come here, I want a look at your throat.” Arilon spoke to Idunn and Caleb knew it was to see what damage had been done in the battle. He could hazard a guess that her throat was hurt but other than that...he wasn't sure. Still he guessed that there were some things that even a Grima would not know.

“Caleb?” Lucina spoke to him and Caleb turned to see her looking shaken slightly. He could only imagine the shock of hearing that you were expecting a baby with your incredibly unstable husband could do to a person. He sighed,

“We need somewhere safe to go until our child is born.” Caleb sighed heavily, “At least until we can find the last Fragment.”

“So we are going to do that Caleb?” Lucina asked surprised,

“It’s the only way.” Caleb said at last, “Possibly with the last fragment I won't be such a risk to be around.” Caleb said quietly.

“I suppose so, but where?” She asked,

“I don't know Lucy.” Caleb said sadly, “Gods...I really am a hypocrite.”

“Caleb!” Lucina sighed, “Stop it. Stop being so hard on yourself.”

“What would I do without you Lucy?” He said suddenly and couldn't help but wish there was something he could do about the present situation to make it better. Arilon chose that moment to speak

“So yeah, is there anything we can do to give you guys a hand? I’m not sure how we would have dealt with those Terrors without that burst you threw at them, so if there’s something you need that we can help with, we’d be happy to.”

Caleb shrugged, and Lucina shook her head.

“Right now we’re just trying to get away from the Shepherds. The Grimleal are after us, too, so unless you know somewhere we can go to get away from both groups for now…” Lucina was the one to speak and Caleb was glad she did.

“Oh, that’s right, you mentioned something about them blindly following whatever lies Naga throws out...care to explain?” Arilon spoke and Caleb knew that the man had a right to know, though pulling from the mess of memories in his head made it difficult to explain, Caleb sighed.

“I’m not...certain of all the details. I...the Grima of Thabes...reached out to Naga to request assistance with something...I think he wanted her to save him?” Caleb frowned as he struggled to recall in exact detail even with the fragment helping him, both knew it was a tough ask, “It’s a bit fuzzy...but Naga instead chose to influence events in such a way that Alm was led to the Thabes Labyrinth and ended up attempting to kill me...him...with the Valentian Falchion.” Caleb noticed that he was almost there to seeing those memories clearly, “It didn’t work, but Grima was still sealed away for a long time. I’m not certain exactly why, but...Naga intentionally led a wielder of a Falchion to Grima then,” Caleb said he knew that from the old stories but he wasn't sure how he knew that, “and considering what the Ylisseans were taught about Grima for so long, she probably still wants his bloodline destroyed.” Caleb spoke as calmly as he could as the memories were so difficult to grasp for some reason. He guessed it was the pain that they created that caused Grima to try to push them away from himself. A bitter taste rose in his mouth as he continued, “The Future Shepherds initially came back to prevent Grima’s awakening and destroy him if we could - they’ve probably explained that goal to Chrom by now.” His voice betrayed the pain he felt, knowing what he'd been through with a destroyed world and believing the same lie. The Grima that merged with him had done so in an effort to change them. The Grima who for the very first time seen something that had changed the way he wanted to live. Whatever that thing was...Caleb was surprised by Arilon's choice in words,

“Huh...that's strange.”

“What even is strange any more?” Caleb asked him. “I’m not sure I know what the word means at this point.”

“Eh, even you’ve got a lot to see before you truly understand weird. In the meantime, you mentioned needing to get away from both the Shepherds and the Grimleal...huh…not sure I know a place like that.”

“But we do, Commander!” Caleb blinked as the other Owain spoke up and he couldn't really help but wonder about how he had the same flair as the Owain Caleb knew so well. It almost hurt to be reminded of it, “True, perhaps, one might not find such a haven...in this world. In another world, however, search this one though our foes might, they shall never find what they seek! Perhaps the answer is to bring yonder Fellblood and cousin of mine through the Gate with us, to our fair Ylisse, which no longer fears the Fell Dragon!” Caleb felt his jaw drop. Owain...sweet naïve Owain was suggesting to...

“He’s got a point,” Caleb recognised almost immediately who it was that spoke. He remembered how he'd once read a book on the “Thunder Goddess” Ishtar and he was in awe. He resolved to ask her some of his childhood questions later. “We already dealt with Grima there, so it’s not like people would really panic if they saw him, since they know we could just deal with him again.” He sighed as uncertainty took over,

“I don’t know…” Caleb spoke up. “When I’m not around Lucy...it’s harder to keep from destroying things, and being in areas with lots of people doesn’t help matters either.” He only had to think back to what almost would have happened in Southtown and that was a small town. He could only imagine how much worse it would be in Ylisstol...

“Well, there’s Gulld’s home – Plegia.” The Tharja doppelgänger spoke up now, adding her own opinion to the matter, “After all, our Grima destroyed most of the land there, and Risen are still fairly common - almost the entire country is under quarantine, so it’s not like there would be an abundance of people to worry about.”

Caleb frowned. His only concern was protecting his family. Lucina was going to need a midwife at the very least to help her when the time came to have their child and Cynthia and Noire were not healers by any stretch. Alana and Aversa certainly weren't either and he couldn't really do all that much to heal people since Fell Magic was not really a viable healing option as it caused just as much pain as if the person had been injured twice. Caleb felt multiple gazes on him and he sighed, “We really couldn’t, we’re...also looking for someone and need to hurry.” Which was close as he felt comfortable saying that they were looking for the last Soul Fragment. The worst part was Caleb wasn't even sure what form it would take. Though...

“Dude, I don’t know if you’ve caught this fact yet,” Arilon folded his arms. “But you’ve got a pregnant wife - whether you want to or not, you’re going to have to put your stuff on pause until that baby gets born at earliest. I’d probably advise another couple months to a year after that to be safe, though I couldn’t stop you if you wanted to rush it, but you’re looking at several months of being stuck in one place either way - might as well be somewhere people can help you, right?”

Caleb frowned. Arilon did have a point. Lucina was going to need a safe place to have their unborn child but there was still the issue...he spoke, “I suppose, it’s just...I...Grima...we’re used to having blades pulled on us on sight. The idea of going somewhere we won’t be alone in…” It wasn't that Caleb wanted to be difficult but he was really scared. Fear settled its way into his gut as he tried to work out what should be done. In the end it seemed that Arilon understood his hesitation,

“Hey, we can make it work.” Arilon assured Caleb. “How about this: Come with us, we’ll get you a place set up, then leave you alone until it’s time to deliver the baby. We’ll have people there to make sure Lucina and the baby survive the event, and once that’s done, you can decide if you want to leave immediately or chill out for a little longer.”

Caleb's eyes flicked to Lucina and she noticed he was looking to her for her thoughts on the matter. Caleb might have been a tactician but he always looked to those whom his strategies would affect. Lucina in this case. “I think we can do that,” She decided after some thought. “And if it really is quarantined, you could let off some of the need to destroy things too without worrying about hurting people.”

“Yeah, that’s true too, you can blow a couple craters in the ground if you feel like it - the place is already pretty trashed, a couple more banged-up plains won’t make it much worse.”

“Well...ok.” Caleb nodded not locking them into anything just yet. “At least until the baby is born.”

“Alright, then. In that case, you can go grab your little one and anyone else you may have tagging along for the ride, we’ll get our stuff together, and we’ll head through the Gate and make camp in the other Ylisse.”

The couple nodded and turned to head back to where Alana, Aversa, Cynthia and Noire all were. Caleb hoped that they would be fine.


 

As luck would have it nothing had happened to them and they were relieved to see that Caleb and Lucina were fine. It had been a surprise to hear that they were going through the Outrealm Gate, but no one argued with Caleb and Lucina's choice. Alana climbed aboard Sweetie (with some help) and everyone else all got ready to move out. Aversa had Noire behind her this time as Lovebird needed a little break. Risen Chrom was recalled to his card and Risen Robin walked with them. Caleb looked at Chrom and he sighed, he knew that he'd be able to call on the risen whenever he wanted but he felt another three cards in his top inside coat pocket and pulled them out. He noticed that there was a card for Risen Robin. Caleb repeated the process for her as he'd done for Risen Chrom and sure enough Risen Robin recalled to the card. The third card made him frown. Alsha was there. She looked like she was in prayer. Then he saw the fourth card, a cleric. The cleric was unusual as he noticed it looked like she was sleeping. He resolved to figure it all out later and shook his head and placed the cards back into his top pocket, a good a place as any to keep them. A tactician, a sorceress, a sword wielder and a healer. So they at least had someone to heal them if it came to that. Not exactly ideal but he supposed he'd make do with what he had. “Well at least he had some forethought to the whole thing...a battle cleric is not the most ideal thing, but I guess beggars can't be choosers in this case.” Caleb murmured.

“We're ready Caleb.” He heard Noire speak,

“Right then, this way.” Caleb said leading them towards where Arilon and the Wanderers were waiting. He felt the edge of something. Something not quite right and the territorial urge rose a fraction.

“We’re about ready.” Caleb informed Arilon as he turned to see the smaller group join him.

“Cool, give us a bit longer - we have to make sure things are right to move...it.” Arilon said

“It?” Lucina asked confused

“...” Arilon looked back at the gate and Caleb knew that all was not well with the man. He however waited to see what Arilon would say before coming to conclusions. He eventually answered, “...You guys ever had to bury a friend?”

Caleb realised what Arilon was saying and asked sympathetically, “You lost an ally?”

Arilon spoke carefully, “During the attack on Steiger, yes. I miscalculated the enemy’s position and numbers. We would have lost Orvar - our Owain - but she sacrificed herself for him.”

“I’m...I’m so sorry.” Lucina spoke and Caleb noticed that Arilon seemed to be amused by her words,

“Death is a part of life.” Arilon shrugged. “I never understood those who cried for the dead - they’re in a better place, almost every time. The living, though…” He seemed to be lost in thought for a moment before continuing, “That is who the tears should be shed for - the families left behind, not the dead who leave us.”

“Who was she?” Caleb asked after a beat of silence. He saw Arilon smile and the tactician noticed he seemed to be thinking about his words,

“You ever heard of the Blade Princess of Jugdralian lore? Ayra, of Isaach?”

“The first wielder of Astra?” Lucina asked. “Yes, why?”

“I guess now’s as good a time as any to tell you…” Arilon drew in some air and continued, “The Wanderers are composed of warriors from across time and space. Ayra joined our group during our travels, and eventually came to Ylisse with us, where she met one of the Shepherds.” He looked like he was reliving a memory that was a happy one almost. “She married him after Gangrel fell, and eventually they had children.”

“So...Larcei and Ulster?” Cynthia chimed in making a guess. Of course Caleb and Cynthia had often read hero stories as children so it did not surprise him that she'd remember that.

“Yeah, but then one more - Ka’ri. Quite the personality, that one - raised on tales of battles of yore, she eventually convinced herself she was the reincarnation of the Sword Demon, Karel. To be honest, after Steiger, I’m not sure she isn’t.”

“What did she do at Steiger?” Caleb asked almost immediately,

“You heard the rumour?” Arilon asked the tactician and he replied,

“Everyone except unarmed Clerics and those who surrendered were killed.” Caleb said

“Yeah...anyone say what happened to General Reider?” Caleb frowned, that name was not familiar but then again he'd not seen the Valmese manifests so he could be forgiven for not knowing,

“See...there wasn’t enough left of him for anyone to realise it was him.

“What?”

“She literally shredded him. Like bear meat over a campfire. It...I wish I hadn’t seen it, to be honest. Also, over half the casualties sustained by the Valmese during that battle occurred during the thirty or so seconds after Larcei died - all done by Ka’ri.”

Caleb blinked surprised. Though to be fair no normal human could achieve that kind of destruction...still he knew how much Ka'ri would have been affected by the loss of her sister. He knew how much it hurt to lose his own mother back in the Ylisse he was from. Caleb looked to Lucina and saw she was thinking the same thing. Arilon laughed but there was something about it that told Caleb it was out of reflex than anything else. Arilon continued,

“Yeah, I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t watched the carnage myself. Any ways, sorry for bothering you guys with that, it’s not really something you all needed to hear or anything, I just thought I’d explain we were headed to our Ylisse any ways, in case you guys thought you were making us go out of our way or something - when a Wanderer dies, we take them home to bury them, and since Ayra married Lon’qu, Larcei’s home is Ylisse.”

Caleb understood. He would have done the same thing if his...he halted the thought. Too many people had died for his liking already. Fell Dragon or no Caleb didn't want to be some mindless being of destruction and destroy for the sake of it. Arilon spoke again breaking the tactician out of his thoughts,

“...Anyone ever tell you guys what the words on the Gate say?” He asked and Caleb frowned, “It says ‘To those who know themselves, the path home is plain’ or something to that effect. Every single Dragon’s Gate - or Outrealm Gate, if you want to call them that - carries the exact same words, and believe me, I’ve seen a lot of them so I’m not just blowing hot air here. Words to ponder, I suppose.”

Caleb tilted his head as Cynthia looked awed. She and Noire both looked to him and he shrugged. He didn't really know Arilon that well, but then again, he'd have an eternity to figure out what the man meant if it came to that. He noticed that the rest of Arilon's Wanderers arrived at this point and Caleb's eyes fell on the young girl holding the stretcher that her dead sister was on. He knew she was hurting. There were no words that the tactician could say to ease that pain. Arilon spoke,

“Hey, Gate…” He pointed to Larcei as the Gate began to glow. Caleb heard the pain in his voice as he spoke the next three words “Take her home.”

And just like that, Larcei was taken by the Gate's magic as her body was carried by her sister and Owain back to her home. Caleb looked forwards as he watched them fade. Too much death had happened. There had to be a way for people to live their lives out in peace and not to be killed by the whims of war.


 

The figure grinned. The Fell Dragon's guard was down. It gripped the ill gained blade and rapidly closed in on its target. It was time to strike at the Fell Dragon while he was at his weakest. It knew he needed to regain his power so that he tried to leave this world was of little consequence to it.


 

Caleb knew that something was wrong. He felt it. So when he suddenly spun on his heel and moved rapidly from the Wanderers (those who had yet to go through the Gate, like Arilon) with a bestial snarl all hell almost broke loose. If not for the fact that Caleb was putting a bit of distance between them so that he could fight properly without hurting any of them. A hand motion was all it took,

“Stay back!” Lucina cried, knowing what Caleb intended to do and he snapped his fingers.


 

To his horror the living version of his mother was frozen in place thanks to the spell he'd used. He knew what had to be done and snapped his fingers again. The sword fell from her grip as Robin rather gracefully collapsed to the ground. Now that he'd removed its crutch the creature decided to focus its essence into making a form for itself.

Long green hair spilled into the open as the androgynous form took shape. The pointed ears of a Manakete appeared and for a moment, a laughable moment Caleb thought it would have backed down. However the parasite grinned and bared its fangs, “Well, well, well.” It cooed making Caleb's Fell Aura flare to life as he knew it had hurt Robin and that was enough to infuriate him, “I suppose I should have...hmm...expected you to sniff me out so easily. Forneus always was skilled at making decent cadavers. Though for you to be so advanced...that is not what I expected; you should only have two fragments...It should not be...you should not be so controlled.” the parasite frowned as its teeth started gnashing, “You should be absorbing the powers of this world, draining it! And yet….hmm...what's this? An unborn? No! No! This should not be! A synthetic like you...producing offspring?!” The parasite growled and Caleb felt the urge to kill it. An overwhelming desire to make it burn. His fingers snapped and the Parasite avoided the worst of Expiration, “Tee, hee. Ah refreshing to know you're still out for my blood. Too bad little synthetic. I will end you!!”

Caleb knew where it was moving and he smirked, “Naive fool.” He grinned as the Fell Aura rose higher from what it was from his previous attack the air almost being tainted by the raw dark magic coming from him. And this time Caleb didn’t seem to care as he had a more durable enemy before him and instinct told him to kill it, “You're finished!” An explosion hit the parasite dead on though Caleb had been focusing on destroying just the parasite, the explosion still had a lot of force and as such it would have been a miracle that he'd not done any damage as the residual dark magic wouldn’t stay contained that much. Caleb was beginning to feel his wings strain against their bindings even more.

“Caleb!” Lucina cried and he realised the parasite was on the move looking for a new host as it managed to survive the hit. Caleb felt the thrill of the hunt almost start to take over. A wicked bestial growl escaped his throat. As if he couldn’t make it any clearer he was a Grima...

“I don't think so.” Caleb said snapping his fingers again locking the stupid thing in place. The parasite writhed against his magic in a futile attempt to escape and he felt pride surge at the raw power he had. “You've lost this round fake Naga. Our little fight is over.” A final snap of Caleb's fingers was all it took for the parasite to turn to ash. He watched as its essence finally faded for good.

“Curse you...Fellblood...curse...you…” The last of the parasite’s strength voiced the dying words.

“Holy mother of Naga!” Someone exclaimed but Caleb couldn't tell who as his Fell aura suddenly faded as rapidly as it had rose. The hunt was over his prey dead. He felt himself relax a little then a whole new worry took over his mind.


 

He was quick to focus on the prone form of his mother, “Robin!” He called quickly sliding to her side carefully lifting her to cradle her in his arms. She was unconscious and Caleb knew he needed to be careful. She had a frail body and his current strength could do more harm than good to her. “Robin.” He tried to wake her without jostling her too much but she was entirely unresponsive. Even if he used Fell Magic to heal her it could very well break her mind. The last thing he wanted to do to her. Caleb saw Lucina come to stand beside him. Her face taut with worry as she took in Robin’s condition,

“Is she…?” Lucina asked voice trembling,

“She’s unconscious, but she will be fine.” Caleb replied as he heard the faint beating of his mother’s heart. “We must make sure she's safe. The Shepherds...they'll be able to help her. There's nothing I can do.” His eyes met Lucina’s and she knew what he wasn’t saying. He wouldn’t be able to help Robin without hurting her in the process. Fell Magic was not meant to heal, it was meant to hurt. As such if he tried to heal his mother her body would likely reject his magic since the body’s natural reaction was to fight dark magic, not work with it. Which would result in physical pain. Given Robin’s current state she wouldn’t be able to cope with it and it could very well end up killing her.  The only thing that would help Robin now was a Fortify staff or Recover, both of which were held by the Shepherds healers and not staves that Caleb could use in his current state, even if he had the mana to make them work. Caleb groaned inwardly cursing his inability to properly help his mother.


 

Lucina saw her Father's sword and frowned. She wondered why it was there and for a moment it was as if there was something not quite right about it. She had to wonder what it was doing there. She realised then what was wrong when she picked it up and it flashed and disappeared. “Then what Caleb?” Lucina asked with a frown.

“I may have a plan. It would involve however some finesse because at this stage we can’t really do all that much. We'll have to leave her here, for her own sake. She won't remember what happened and that is for the best.” Caleb said. Then he carefully lifted the prone form of his mother...well sort of mother and carried her to a place where the the ground was softest, where she would at least be comfortable. Carefully he lay her there and Robin groaned slightly but did not wake. He stepped back and turned to Arilon, “We need to leave now.” He couldn't help but cast a last look at Robin. She looked peaceful. He burned the image into his mind before turning back to Lucina who was preparing to mount up now that Caleb had done what he could for his mother (not all that much admittedly). Calmly he held the stirrup to the off side of Bluebird and Noire gave Lucina the much needed boost to mount up. Alana had the entire time been on Sweetie’s back and the dark coloured Pegasus snorted. He sighed and made his way forwards. Caleb spoke, “Lead the way, Wanderer.”

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Chapter XXXIII: To Break a Curse

 

Caleb stepped forwards quietly, well aware of what he'd just had to do. There were eyes on him now and as such he didn't want to go there. He had to leave Robin since he knew that the Shepherds would arrive in time to help her. Arilon seemed to hesitate for a moment but lead the way through the Outrealm Gate. Caleb following quietly. He felt a faint hitch in his breathing and knew that he was going to cry. He soon felt Bluebird come to walk beside him as Lucina seemed to know how he was feeling.

 

As they moved through the Outrealm Gate Cynthia was quick to check the words on it. Caleb however was more interested in the time difference than anything else. Arilon spoke, “Well, here we are.” He informed them, “We're going to camp here for the night and get started tomorrow. You’re welcome to use some of our tents to sleep in if you want, and the public tents are of course open for your use too.”

“I think we have our own tents, but thank you for your offer.” Caleb replied as he was starting to feel an almost noticeable decrease in the desire to destroy things. A good sign he hoped.

“Cool. Feel free to set your stuff up as close or as far from the main area as you feel comfortable staying, we’ll make sure to have enough food ready for you guys too.” Arilon said calmly and Caleb noticed he headed towards what was the centre of the camp with two of the larger tents. Caleb turned to the others,

“So how are we going to set up?” Caleb asked a yawn escaping him. He didn't think he'd feel like sleeping so soon but perhaps it was a good thing to have time to rest,

“Hey Caleb, do you mind walking me through the expansion hex lesson again?” Cynthia asked and Noire smiled hopefully,

“Huh? Why?” Caleb asked surprised, “I don't mind!” He said quickly as they looked like they were going to be upset and he just couldn't do that to them, “I'm just curious is all.” He said with a bit of a smile. Cynthia regained her smile and Caleb felt relieved,

“Well I was thinking we could make one tent fit all of us comfortably, with privacy of course!”

“Oh. Yes I suppose we can do that.” Caleb said, “Though that would require some materials, preferably fabric and some bed rolls...” Caleb said looking thoughtful,

“We could use the other tent.” Noire suggested and Caleb looked to her. Noire ran a hand through her dark hair, “Plus I did my best to put all of Father's lessons to use. I did a pretty good job of picking up supplies unnoticed.”

“Well then, let's get started.” Caleb said with a smile, “We'll have to set the tent up first.”

 

After some work Caleb was glad to say that they achieved enough room in a single tent to comfortably fit their entire group inside. It had technically five tents in one, Caleb having made an area to serve as their main entrance. Aversa was the first “room” on the left. Noire had the next one, his and Lucina's was in the centre and Alana's was the second on the right while Cynthia took the one right across from Aversa. By the time they set up bed rolls it was almost time for the evening meal. Caleb waved the others off, “Go on, I'll stay here for now as I'm not actually that hungry yet.” He said kindly, “Besides I have a...couple of things I need to do.”

“Are you sure Caleb?” Lucina asked and he nodded, “Alright, we'll be back soon.” She told him and he smiled,

“Go eat.” He said waving and Lucina left with the others leaving Caleb on his own. He sighed and went through his coat.

 

Caleb had the four cards in the top pocket, Risen Chrom, Risen Robin, obviously Alsha was also a risen since Caleb had killed her that day and he had Grima's memories in his head. The Cleric wasn't a risen but the magic on her was such that she was in a deathlike state and would be until Caleb woke her up. He then replaced the cards in his top pocket where he had them and moved onto the rest of the left hand side of his coat. He knew where his weapons of choice where on the inner left pocket near his waist. He knew his battle tomes were there as well as his brave and levin swords. He felt another sword and pulled it out. It was a really odd looking sword. It wasn't like any blade he'd ever seen and he carefully weighed it in his hands. The grip had intricate patterns and was long enough that Caleb could fit both his hands holding it comfortably. It certainly was equally comfortable being held in one hand and Caleb guessed that was how the blade was meant to be used. The guard was fairly odd, in that it had what appeared to be a dragon's wings in an almost circular shape where an opponent's blade could get caught and broken if there was enough force applied to it. The actual blade itself had an almost lightning like glow it it. The pommel was intricately designed with a deep purple gem set in what looked like dragon's claws. The sword resonated with magical energies and Caleb guessed it was a more durable levin sword. Though it unlike the levin sword could be used as an actual working sword instead of being used as a magical aid. It was light like his brave sword. Caleb noticed that it was one that his fragment had picked up in its travels through its Plegia, a sword that was made especially for it, him really. Caleb replaced the sword and decided that he would save it for when he had need of it. Then he turned his attention to the right hand side of his coat. He checked the top pocket and noticed his tactical notes were still there...as well as another book filled with his fragment's notes as well. Useful he supposed. He put the two books back and went to the second pocket. One that he'd not really had a use for. He felt a box under his fingers and frowned. He did not know at first what it was but as he pulled the box out he noticed that it looked like a reeking box at first but he sat it on the floor of the tent and gave it an absent minded tap. The box suddenly expanded in size to his shock and the lid opened. Caleb looked inside and bit back a gasp. The magic to make the box work was insane and his fragment had done an amazing job of giving Caleb something to work with. He noticed the stairs in the box and knew it was expansion hexed as well. He closed the lid and the box shrunk rather easily back to the size it was before and Caleb put it back into his coat. He'd look it over in more detail later. Then the tactician reached his medical supplies which unsurprisingly to him had extra things. A couple of vials that held tonics came to Caleb's attention. He knew that those would come in use later. That done Caleb decided that he would head outside.

 

The sky looked a little more like night; though Caleb could see perfectly fine he knew a human would begin to have a degree of difficulty. He made his way to what appeared to be a quiet clearing. The Wanderers last Caleb was aware were settling down to have a meal and he didn't feel like he should be near them. In truth he wasn't even sure that it was a good idea to come to this Ylisse and he felt he needed some time to think things through. Besides the fact that he was duelling with some unpleasant thoughts, Caleb also felt that technically being a Grima was reason enough not to join them, besides he felt like they needed some space from him at least. He wondered if Lucina was enjoying her meal and hoped she was. He found what looked like the ideal spot to sit and gaze up at the stars, something he enjoyed doing when things were peaceful like they seemed to be now. He took in a deep breath prepared to enjoy it for a while when he heard the sound of footsteps. He knew without a doubt that it was Lucina. He was surprised that he could tell that so easily now.

 

He'd been worried ever since he'd realised that she was with child. He watched as she came and casually sat beside him. He looked up at the stars and sighed, “What's wrong Caleb?” Lucina asked him gently, and he turned to face her,

“Do you think we should be doing this Lucy?” He asked her frowning,

“Are you worried?” She asked knowing without words what Caleb was saying.

“A little.” The tactician finally answered weaving his fingers into hers as he held her hand. He relished the warmth they were sharing for a moment before he continued, “I know that they've offered to help but...” He sighed again eyes looking down. Lucina spoke,

“We need allies Caleb,” She started to use her thumb to trace soothing patterns on Caleb's hand gently, “though I do understand your concern.” She spoke calmly, “You really shouldn't have snapped at the other Severa...I'm sure she has her reasons to be upset. She has after all been though what we have.”

Caleb felt guilty. A sniff broke the silence and he spoke firmly, “You could have gotten hurt Lucy!” His growl was bestial, “I almost could have lost you!” He couldn't help it, really. He couldn't stand the thought of harm coming to Lucina. “I almost could have lost both of you Lucy.” Caleb's voice became pained, “I don't want that! I don't want to lose you!” He almost cried, the patterns soothing him only a fraction. He scooted closer to her, wanting, no needing more physical contact with her,

“It wasn't serious Caleb.” Lucina said calmly and the tactician said sharply,

“BUT IT COULD HAVE BEEN LUCY!” Caleb pressed himself against her, clinging to her in a desperate attempt to maintain calm. Lucina froze for a moment then she moved to embrace him. This was the one thing that worried her. Caleb had become so much more protective since Grima had merged with him. Admittedly she liked it to a point but it did cause some problems...like now. She knew he was trying to ease off the possessiveness but it was clearly still very difficult for him. She could only hope with the final fragment his animal-like possessiveness would settle to a more normal human-like level and...she realised what was wrong. He was upset again. She sighed and held him. They would work through it together and she knew that he would be fine. So long as no one drew their weapons on him, Caleb would not really fight. It seemed that the memories from Grima carried some very deep scars. She really should have thought of that. She would have to be more careful in future. Very careful.

 

It took Caleb a while to calm down, thankfully not as long as it did in their Ylisse, a sign Lucina hoped that they'd made the right choice. As it turned out Lucina had been looking for Caleb as it was around the time that Alana should be tucked into her bed roll and the little one had begged and pleaded for her father to read her a bedtime story and Lucina had not known where he was. Caleb wasn't surprised that his earlier efforts with Cynthia had worked perfectly. He came in past the tent flap and saw Alana was dressed in her nightclothes already. “Daddy!” She cried eagerly and hugged his middle,

“Shouldn't you be in your bed roll young lady?” Caleb asked his daughter. He could hear people around camp and knew that there was the possibility that they could hear what was going on. It mattered little to him. Alana for her part gave the most innocent look she could muster and said,

“I is waiting for a story.” She grinned and Caleb chuckled,

“Well then, hop on in and I'll read you a story.” He said as he conjured a fireball. Alana held out a book that Caleb was well familiar with and he would have laughed. It was one that his mother used to read to him when he was her age. Alana sat in her bed roll eagerly and he carefully opened the book to the first page and began to read, “Once upon a time there were two brothers who lived with their mother and father. One chose to take up the sword while the other chose the way of magic.” He began and couldn't help but wonder why this book? He continued, “The brother who took up the sword mastered it with a grace unmatched and it was said that he was blessed by the gods. The brother who took up magic chose to apply himself as a healer and healed all the sick. Of this brother it was said he had the kindest heart.” Caleb noticed his daughter was laying in her bed roll eyes wide as he continued, “One day the brother who wielded the sword came across a beautiful maiden as fair as a goddess. She was being chased by an evil man, a man who wanted to kill her. Unthinkingly the brother rushed to protect her. The evil man was defeated but the brother was hurt. Luckily for him his brother had also seen what happened and came running with his staff to heal him.” Caleb knew it was a simple story. He saw Alana yawn and he turned the page, “The maiden was so surprised by the brother's efforts that she asked them what they wanted in exchange for helping her. The brother who wielded the sword said, 'Good maiden, we need no repayment. My brother and I cannot stand those that seek to hurt others.' His brother spoke softly,

'Please allow me to heal you milady. It simply won't do to have you hurting. Besides for us it is the ability to help others that gives us strength and happiness.'

The maiden smiled and spoke, 'Then you are the children I have been seeking.' and the maiden turned into a dragon, 'For your kindness a blessing. To you, child of the sword; the power to protect that which you care for the most. To you, child of magic; the power to heal those who need it most.'

The goddess left the two brothers to ponder what their blessings were...” Caleb looked up from where he was reading and smiled as Alana had fallen asleep. Lucina yawned and Caleb carefully lifted the blankets up so that Alana was fully tucked in. He lent then and kissed her forehead. He guessed he would have to continue the next night. He placed a bookmark into the book and blew out the fire ball. Alana was content and he didn't really need it to see his daughter's cute little face. He turned to see Lucina come with a tray and some food. His stomach growled and he sighed, “Thanks Lucy.” He said gently and he sat near their bed roll and stripped to his waist. He knew what came next and Lucina set the tray down and began to remove the bandages. He was fine until they were loose enough that his wings snapped open out of them and Caleb bit back a muffled moan of pain. He honestly didn't know what the wings were for if he couldn't fly. He sighed and ate the stew that Lucina had bought him. The wings were the most pain inducing part of the whole thing, Caleb decided. They hurt when out, hurt while bound and just caused a lot of hurt. He didn't notice Lucina gently rubbing them to help with circulation since he was too busy trying to eat despite how much the pain waned his appetite. They were safe for now, Caleb thought and he supposed that would have to do for now.

 

It was about the middle of the night when he woke again. A groan broke from his lips as he felt the need to get a drink. Seeing Lucina asleep, Caleb decided that he would have to go and get it himself. He saw little reason to wake her and as he worked to free himself from the blankets he managed to at least not wake her. He cast a look over her sleeping form and sighed. He was uncomfortable and his throat felt hot. Caleb made his way out of the tent and the scent of the night time animals hit his nose. It sounded like everyone was asleep. He shivered slightly but didn't think to grab his coat since he reasoned it was only a short trip and he did not intend to stray too far from Lucina. He glanced around to make absolutely certain that there wasn't anyone else up and he used his sense of smell to guide him to water. He came upon the Wanderers' mess tent and noticed that it was lit up by a flickering candle. He sighed and cautiously approached. He pulled the flap back but couldn't smell anyone there. With a sigh he took in the sights and noticed that there was thankfully a barrel of water which was there for everyone to drink. Caleb stretched for a moment and felt his wings ache again and sighed. He spotted a clean mug and poured himself some water being conscious of the fact that it would likely have to last for the next couple of days he poured half of the mug. He was about to take a sip when he heard footsteps and he frowned. Who would be up at this hour? He sniffed the air carefully and winced. Severa was closing in on where he was. Caleb sighed. He didn't want to deal with her right now. He had a feeling he knew what it was that had her up. With a sigh he set the mug on an empty table and poured out another one for her. He waited head tilted as he calculated exactly where she was and sure enough the tent flap opened to reveal her. She gaped openly, “Couldn't sleep?” He asked careful to keep an extremely neutral tone, lest she explode in anger,

“...” She glared at him and Caleb sighed,

“Here,” He used wind magic to float the mug over to her, “I have a feeling you might want some water.” He said not meeting her eye. He knew that to meet her when she glared was a sign of confrontation. He heard her scoff but she did take the mug,

“Thanks.” She said sarcastically. He knew that was as good as he was going to get from her and picked his own mug up. He was about to take a much needed sip when she said, “Don't think us friends just because Arilon told me to stand down-”

“You wouldn't have stood a chance any way.” Caleb said quietly, “I'd rather not argue with you Sev.” He said and realised what he'd just said. She glowered at him,

“The hells!” She said furiously and Caleb face-palmed. Then he decided to do something very stupid,

“I mean it. You're one of the few people that I have no desire to allow harm to come to and had we fought...” He shuddered at the thought, “I don't think I could forgive myself for that.” He said his voice lowering, “I know you just want to think that I'm the bad guy Sev.” He sighed, “But the world isn't so black and white. Not all Fellbloods are what they seem...but then again you wouldn't understand because you're not a Fellblood. Nor, thank gods is Validar your father like he is mine.” Caleb said glaring at the mark on the back of his right hand. What he wouldn't give to not be like this. To be like her. She was oddly quiet but Caleb continued. Quiet meant that Severa was considering his words, “There are those that want to destroy the world for real. Doubtless your Grima...he or she chose not to fight the curse.” Caleb said at last.

“Curse?” Severa said sharply and Caleb sighed,

“Think about it, the Grimleal use dark magic to reach a Grima, imagine then what a roar of voices sound like all telling you to do the exact thing you don't want to do but you don't have anyone to help you drown them out.” Caleb said and he looked at the mug, “Eventually you'd just give into it after a while...anything to drown them out just to get a mere moment's peace.” He paused and then he heard the sound of more footsteps, Lucina's to be precise and Caleb heaved a sigh and got up. He drained the mug and carefully set it with the others that needed to be cleaned. He then came out of the mess tent and Lucina spotted him.

“Caleb!” She was quick to draw in close to him, “Where were you?”

“Just getting something to drink Lucy.” Caleb said calmly as he pulled his wife into an embrace. He drew in her scent and the anxiety faded away, “Sorry, I didn't want to wake you love.” He said softly.

“Yes well...” Lucina began,

“Lucy.” Caleb smiled softly and swept his wife off her feet, “I'll be fine.”

Lucina smiled and drew in close to him and yawned. “I think...” She said desperately trying to stop a second yawn, “We should go back to bed.”

“That we should.” Caleb agreed.

 

Caleb woke to the first rays of the sun peaking through the tent flap and he sat up. Lucina had yet to wake so Caleb decided that he'd read something to keep himself busy. He read the story about a spy who found out that he wasn't doing the good that he thought he was and was about to find out what happened next when he heard the sound of footsteps. They were not familiar to him and Caleb was quick to shut the book and look up. He couldn't smell anything that seemed off so he carefully set the book down and disentangled himself from the bedding. He stuck his head out of the tent and cast a quick glance around the camp. It was still as the first light shone with it's subtle golden glow. Caleb frowned and felt his wings twitch and throb painfully. He carefully emerged from the tent and sniffed the air again. There wasn't any scents out of place and he blinked confused. Nothing seemed out of place and he sighed. Maybe he was imagining things? The tactician decided to just go for a small walk to check the perimeter of the camp just to be on the safe side. He figured that Arilon would have posted a sentry so if Caleb checked in with whoever it was then maybe he'd be able to make sure that he wasn't just being paranoid. 'We're not being paranoid kid. You did pick something up. How about trusting our instincts?' He grunted in annoyance but knew the fragment had a point, 'Just shut the fuck up for a minute Naga damn it!-Hey! I'm trying to help you!-Then help me figure out what the fuck we just heard!-Ah...that...well it could be...huh? Kid you feel that?!-Feel what Grima?-THAT!' Caleb frowned and then he felt it. A cold feeling swept over him and he turned in place. He wasn't sure why but he felt the presence of another. A...a woman.

The woman wasn't very tall, in fact she was shorter than Caleb himself was. He felt his nose twitch, 'Yeap. Another Grima.' His fragment said, 'she hasn't awakened but she's stripped herself of her memories from herself-Is that even possible?-Yeah, it's an extremely complex piece of magic, she'd have knocked herself out from doing it. Plus she's a complete soul not fragmented like we are-Well shit-Still can't hurt to talk to her. I have a feeling she's seen where the missing fragment is. She's likely going to point it to us so...' The woman tilted her head and pushed her purple glasses up her nose.

“Sorry to be a bother,” She said, “But...I...well...I think I may have seen you before. I-”

“Well this is awkward...” Caleb said crossing his arms over his chest as he gave the woman a proper once over. She wore her long blond hair down and wore purple glasses that clearly corrected her vision. She had a mole of the left corner of her mouth and she smelt like him though her scent was nowhere near as powerful as his. She wore sorcerer robes underneath an almost exact copy of his own coat. She seemed very...young...compared to him.

“Only as awkward as you chose to make it.” She quipped and Caleb knew he liked her,

“Right...so, I take it you've somehow wound up Outrealm without meaning to?” He asked and she sighed,

“I'm not entirely sure, oh and Grima don't you dare say that to him. That's just stupid.”

'Holy shit she can hear me?!'

“Yeah. Not too well but I can sort of? I don't really know how...”

“You're a Fellblood aren't you?” Caleb asked and she winced,

“Yeah.” She said at last, “So any idea what's going on. I mean I really just want to wake back up in my nice warm bed with my husband and all...”

“Not really. I mean...I don't really know but my fragment has a theory.”

“Oh. Wait...you mean that boy who was being chased by some crazy man chasing him with a wyvern slayer?” She asked,

Caleb's eyes widened, “A boy?”

“Yes. He was really freaking out and told me that I was...well...”

“You're Grima.” Caleb said, “Like me.”

“B-but how?! I don't...I don't want to cause the destruction of my daughter's future!” She cried shaking and Caleb spoke,

“Neither do I believe me.” She looked at him uncertain, “Lucy and I know what kind of destruction a Grima can do. I lay that blame squarely on my father Validar.”

The woman shuddered at the mention of the man, then frowned “You know my daughter and you're Validar's child like I am?”

Caleb frowned, “Who did you marry?” He asked and the woman said without hesitating,

“Chrom.” Caleb's jaw dropped for a moment, she then said, “You?”

“Lucy.” He said and she tilted her head,

“Hmm...I guess that makes sense.” The woman said with a thoughtful expression, “But it doesn't explain how we're both...”

“Like we are?” Caleb asked and she nodded,

“Quite.” She looked to her right hand where her mark of Grima resided and she held her hand so that Caleb could clearly see it. The mark wasn't purple like he'd expected but jet black,

'She's a complete Grima that has yet to awaken her powers.' Caleb held his own up and she seemed to understand,

“The boy I saw...he pushed me through the Outrealm gate of his world. I think that means he'd be travelling the Outrealms.” She said.

“Then I guess me staying here will suffice.” Caleb said and he realised something, “I'm Caleb.”

“And I'm Chloey.” The woman said with a grin, “I should probably get back to my Chrom. I don't like being too far from him.”

“I understand. I feel the same about Lucy.” Caleb said and Chloey giggled,

“Well here's hoping that you and Lucy have the luck you both need.” Chloey said, “It's been a pleasure to meet you, Caleb. You give me hope.”

“The pleasure's mine.” He said with a smile, “Safe travels Chloey.”

“The same to you Caleb.” Chloey said turning to find the Outrealm Gate.

 

She walked back through it and like that her scent faded entirely. She wasn't physically there anyway. Caleb sighed. The fragment was in a humanoid form. That was good news, though Caleb knew that it would be a while. He could afford to wait. As Caleb headed back to where they'd set the tent up he paused when he saw Arilon without his coat, or indeed his boots or socks walk out onto the water of the lake that was a stone's throw away from where Caleb saw the woman. He frowned as he saw what had to be an ancient form of magic on display. Caleb felt the morning air against the bare skin of his chest and shivered slightly. This magic was unusual but not unlike how he cast tomeless magic. He frowned as he didn't recognise the figure Arilon had summoned, nor did he recognise the weapon it seemed to create. The tactician frowned. There was something wrong with Arilon's numbers. He could see them but they were not...they were obscured somehow. He focused on the man for a moment longer and then realised what it was that was throwing him off. Arilon's numbers were not his true numbers. Caleb suddenly realised that Arilon's true numbers were masked by the ones Caleb could see. The man clearly meant what he said about weird. Still Caleb assumed a number of around thirty for each of Arilon's stats was no laughing matter as most of the enemies Caleb had faced were around there at the very least. Still Caleb had to wonder why there was this strange disconnect with Arilon's stats. He watched the fight for a while longer and then noticing that he felt tired decided to go back and check on his wife. He'd had enough excitement for one morning. He made his way back to the tent and saw that Lucina had rolled over to her left side and had only just began to search for the warmth of him. He scooted back to the bed roll and lay beside her and she suddenly nestled close to him. Caleb heaved a sigh and gently wrapped an arm around her waist. He decided to try to sleep for a while longer.

 

The next time he woke it was to discover that Lucina had left the bed roll this time. She came in with a tray of food and Caleb stretched and yawned. “Good morning sleepy head.” She chuckled and Caleb sat up. “Arilon wants to talk with you later,” Lucina said, “Well both of us really. He said that there was something he wanted to ask us.”

“Oh?” Caleb said surprised. He wasn't sure he'd caused that much trouble. Surely not. Unless Severa...no she would not have taken offence to his words he knew. Maybe the bit where he'd said he'd be able to beat her in a fight. Though he knew the numbers he'd seen. They were fairly high, granted but they were not high enough to match his own. He had her beat as he was essentially holding three Grimas' worth of power inside his body, and one Grima worth would have been a match enough for her, not counting his skills. Limit Break, Ignus, Rightful God, Dragonskin and Armsthrift. It had been that way ever since the merge. Plus he had Grima's Truth which he'd absorbed into his body. A combination that Caleb wished he didn't have to deal with but knew he would.

“Yes. He did say it wasn't too serious just something he wanted...well needed to know.” Lucina said calmly then she sat behind him and started massaging his wings again. Caleb let out a low moan of pain as she reached the joint where the right hand one bent. “You really should be leaving them out Caleb.” She said and the tactician grumbled,

“I hate them. All they do is cause pain.” As if to prove the point Caleb's left wing twitched and he let out a gasp of pain and winced.  “At least...at least it doesn’t hurt as much to have them bound.” Caleb said with a shaky breath. Lucina sighed.

“I still don't think you should keep binding them like that Caleb.” Lucina said voicing her opinion. Caleb ate as much as he could (unsurprisingly not a whole lot thanks to the pain) and felt...oddly tired again,

“Lucy...” Caleb yawn suddenly and Lucina frowned,

“Caleb are you feeling alright?” She asked and Caleb sighed,

“I...I don't...” Caleb mumbled already laying back down on the bed roll. He felt something was off, though he didn't know what that was just yet. It was as if he felt the overwhelming need to sleep.

 

Lucina was worried. Caleb wasn't normally like this and now...she was beginning to get worried. Caleb should not have been so tired already and he seemed to rest plenty the night before...She carefully reached to touch his forehead and almost yelped with how hot it was. Concern for her husband was definitely growing...she called out calmly, “Cynthia? Do you think you can see if they have any medicinal staves?”

“Huh?” Cynthia frowned, “What's wrong Lucy?” she asked,

“I need one please Cyny.”

“Oh, okay.” She came to stand just out past the curtain and pulled it back, “Is Caleb still asleep? Wow, he doesn't normally sleep for this long.” She said then she realised what Lucina was saying, “Oh...oh! Right! Of course!”

 

It was several minutes later before Cynthia returned with the staff Lucina needed. She knew she could serve as a healer in a pinch and she used the staff to check over Caleb. Nothing seemed to be physically wrong with him. Lucina did her best to remember all of her Aunt Lissa's training as best she could. She frowned. Something was going on. Caleb was not normally so tired as this. Nor did he run a fever like this. All she could do was treat it.

 

Caleb stood in the centre of an odd field. It wasn't one he was familiar with. A small boy stood overlooking some hill. Caleb cautiously approached and the boy said, “I should thank the girl for helping me to find you at long last.”

“Huh?” Caleb asked surprised, “Who...what...what do you mean girl?  Was it that woman I saw at the Outrealm Gate? Did you somehow use her to find me without alerting me to you?”

“I clung to her essence and waited for her to find you.  She's a completely different type of Grima. A guiding Grima that helped me escape Forneus’ wrath, she stopped me from shedding his blood, from walking the path of evil.  We...you...will have to decide what you do when that day breaks. When that day comes and Forneus comes for you. You must decide. Do you kill him before he kills you or do try to avoid it.  I know what your answer is.” The boy said calmly, “I knew the moment I asked. You are the Heart.  Thank gods you're unharmed.”

“We're together now. All of us.” Caleb whipped around,

“Grima!” He cried, “What's going on? Where's Lucy?!”

“She's taking care of our body.” Said a very small child, “We...we're going to have to become one. We are all here now so that's what we're supposed to do right?”

The boy grinned, “Yes, yes we are. Each of us are a fragment of the true Soul. You Caleb are our Heart. You are the main piece of the soul. The one that controls us all. The one Validar was trying to destroy. All Grimas hearts are what keep them from destroying everything. Unfortunately for them, their hearts are destroyed by Validar, or even by themselves.” The boy said calmly, “But we...we learned from that. We knew that you'd be our true self, so we protected you.”

“Grima” hummed, “Quite.” He said with a grin, “And we can thank Lucina for that. Her bond with us...it strengthens you. We are all Grima, we are all Caleb. We are the Heart, the Mind, the Body and the Soul.” Caleb watched as the tiny child walk to him,

“I am the Body.” he said, “The form that we will take.” The boy's form shifted and Caleb saw that he looked kind of how Caleb's physical body looked now, save for a key difference. His eyes. They were not crimson. They were like Caleb missed them. The three on the left were brown, the three on the right blue. Caleb was blinded for a second when the light faded he noticed the boy was gone.

The next boy spoke up, “I'm the Soul. Though I am bound to you and the body. My powers are your powers.” He said and once again the tactician was blinded,

“I swear to Naga...” Caleb bemoaned,

“Now, now.” “Grima” chuckled, “It won't be much longer.” He said as Caleb felt himself tremble,

“So then...you're what?...the mind?”

“Grima” grinned, “A logical assumption. Though that is all that is left. As you know, I carry our Memories. All of them. From our very beginning up until we merged physically.” He said calmly, “You no longer need my quips. Though we've worried her enough, we'll be fine. We have her, and we have them, those that we've chosen to bond with to give us strength...”

“My family...” Caleb said softly as the light blinded him again.

 

When he woke it was to Lucina using a medicinal staff. He felt the vestiges of pain fade away. Absently he noticed his right wing half splayed on the bed roll and watched in surprise as it started to move. He was aware of feathers brushing his back and he blinked a few times. He sat up. His mind was foggy and he felt like something odd had happened. He felt rather dizzy.  His first instinct was to embrace Lucina and he lent on her shoulder.

 

Lucina almost jumped when she felt Caleb lean on her. She'd thankfully bought Caleb's fever down. She noticed that his breathing was calm. “When are we going to travel?” Caleb asked and Lucina frowned,

“Caleb.” She said surprised, “You just had a fever and-”

He pulled back and looked at her. Lucina almost couldn't stop the shock from appearing on her face. Caleb's eyes had changed colour he spoke,

“I feel fine.” He said, “Though I suppose we should talk with Arilon first right? You did say there was something that he wanted to ask?”

“Maybe after you've had a bath.” Lucina said,

“Ah, yes that would be a good idea.” Caleb admitted then he frowned, “Though that does beg the question...how am I supposed to clean these?” His wings opened with that statement and Lucina smiled,

“I'll have to help you with that won't I?” She giggled, relieved that Caleb seemed to be alright. She wasn't sure what caused this change and she decided to wait and see what the change meant before she jumped to hasty conclusions.

“Lucy...” Caleb sighed. He hated the fact that he was having to rely on her so much for just the most basic of things and she was carrying his child. This was so frustrating on so many levels.

“Who knows maybe we could have a bath together for once.” Lucina smiled and Caleb blushed. Then he replied, slightly embarrassed that he didn't think of that,

“Yeah...that sounds like...a perfect idea...” Caleb knew that was a step he wasn't sure he was ready for but seeing the way she lit up at the thought...Caleb sighed. He supposed that was just another part of their relationship. He noticed that Lucina stretched and she headed out to prepare their bath. As she headed outside Caleb found himself actually wondering why he'd resisted bathing with his wife. He was aware that others were starting to wake for the new day and he sighed. They would be bound to see him in his full form at some point. Still Caleb was extremely self-conscious and it made him very uncomfortable. He wondered how the hells they were going to take seeing the wings. Though he was aware that there was a physical change that had taken place, Caleb had yet to figure out if it was a good change.

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Chapter XXXIV: A Grima's Vow

 

Caleb decided that he'd grab his coat and head to join Lucina in the bathing tent. He almost forgot about his shirt and when he realised that he quickly back tracked to get it. Carrying it in hand was his only option for now and as he moved towards where Lucina's scent was he was aware that someone was following him that was not one of his own group. Caleb made a quick turn of his head and his other eyes helped him see what was going on. He frowned as the person that was following him was out of sight then he sighed. He really needed to relax. Logically there was no reason that the Wanderers would harm him if he didn't show signs of harming them. He continued to where Lucina's scent trail lead him and Lucina poked out of a tent to his right, “Caleb! I was about to get you.” She smiled and he blushed. Was he really, really going to bathe with his wife? He steeled himself. He was going to bathe with his wife and there was nothing wrong with that. Besides they'd seen each other without clothing before so what was the water going to do?

I must have perfect timing...sometimes...” Caleb sighed as he thought about the new life that was growing inside her. He had perfect timing alright...

Caleb.” Lucina sighed and he tilted his head as he stepped inside the tent with her, “Stop being so hard on yourself.” She rebuked him,

They could do with an expansion hex on this tent you know.” Caleb joked and Lucina actually giggled at that one,

And why might that be?” She asked and he allowed his coat to fall,

Well all the more room for people to bathe.” He said with a shrug. Oddly enough his wings had stayed folded on their own. It seemed to Caleb that they were much easier to conceal than having to go with the bandages and they seemed not to hurt him. He set his shirt on his coat and Lucina kicked off her boots and started to work on the rest of her clothing. Caleb tossed his belts onto the pile he was making and his boots were sat beside hers. He'd just got down to his small clothes when there was a commotion outside. It seemed that Severa was yelling about needing a sparring partner or something like that. Either way Caleb didn't care since it wasn't his concern. He pulled off his small clothes and hopped into the water as his wife finished undressing.

 

The warm water made Caleb sigh with relief. He watched as Lucina came over, “Is the water warm enough Caleb?” She asked him and he nodded in response, “I wasn't sure how warm to make it.” She said and he chuckled,

Well no complaints over here.” He said as she climbed in. Caleb decided to see if his wings were going to move and was surprised by the feeling of them actually moving when he wanted them to. Of course he noticed that Lucina had the soap so he instead focused on dipping under the water for a few seconds. It was enough to soak his hair and wings. That done, Lucina started working on cleaning his wings. Caleb let out a low contented sigh as she cleaned them rather expertly in his opinion. He almost fell asleep it was that nice. He heard her giggle and he felt the bottom set of eyes look at her, “Hmm...I could get used to this.” He said absently,

Really Caleb?” Lucina asked surprised as she moved onto his other wing working with the direction of his feathers and cleaning the actual skin under them. Caleb let out another contented sigh and Lucina giggled, “I suppose that means we're doing this on a more permanent basis then?”

Caleb made a non committal noise and felt his wings stretch so that Lucina could reach his back, “As long as you don't mind, then yes.” He said enjoying the feeling of her hands moving over his skin. He was about ready to fall asleep for certain again and he turned to half face his wife, “However, it should only be fair that I at least return the favour as best I can.” He caught her right hand and got a hold of the soap. Lucina let out another giggle and moved so that he could get to work on her back,

You don't have to Caleb.” She said moving her long hair out of the way and Caleb began to clean her back,

Did you ever stop to think that maybe I want to do this. I mean instability notwithstanding, I should at least be able to do something to help. Right love?” he asked leaning forward so that he could press a sneaky kiss to her cheek. Lucina blushed and he chuckled. She was just too adorable. He could see where Alana got all her cuteness from. Then he had a thought. What if that was because he found Lucina attractive in the first place? Caleb wondered if that was relevant to what he was doing and put the thought aside for now.

 

By the time they were done Caleb felt a lot better. He pulled his clothing on and Lucina was also fully dressed. He came out to Alana practically throwing her arms around his middle and saying,

Daddy~! Can we do magic practices plwease?” She looked at him with an adorable smile and Caleb felt like Cynthia was behind this. Then he remembered what he'd promised her.

Of course Sweetheart.” Caleb said patting his daughter's head. “Lucy,” Caleb said calmly, “Alana and I are going to do some magic training-”

Well then I'll come and watch.” She smiled and Caleb chuckled,

Yay! Mummy's coming too! That's so cool Daddy! Now I can shows Mummy how cool I is!” Alana cheered,

Of course you can.” Caleb said with a smile, though he wasn't sure that they should be doing magic training now, especially since everyone seemed to be packing up camp. Then again Caleb knew that Alana needed it...“We'll need to pack up our tent first though.” He said and his daughter pouted, “Then we can do our magic training, alright.” Caleb offered and Alana smiled,

Alright Daddy~!” She said with a smile and Caleb heaved a sigh of relief. One disaster averted. With that done he and Lucina worked with Cynthia, Noire and Aversa to pack their expansion hexed tent up, the bedrolls having been already packed up. They were almost done when Caleb spotted Arilon head on over,

Hey, Caleb!”

Oh. Good morn.” Caleb said neutrally, “We should almost be ready to move out.” He said then turned to see Alana pouting at him, “Sweetheart...” He said to his daughter,

Daddy, yous promised magic training!” She pouted and Caleb sighed,

Alright, alright.” He said patting her head, “We'll have to keep it simple today.” Alana looked less than pleased, “We have to travel soon and you don't want to be too tired to ride Sweetie now do you?” Caleb asked and Alana's eyes widened,

Yous is teaching I tomeless magic!” She exclaimed excitedly and Lucina couldn't help but chuckle,

Oh! I wanna learn too!” Cynthia said suddenly and Caleb grinned. Their enthusiasm was contagious it seemed.

Of course. We'll start with wind magic, since that is the least destructive magic to work with.” Caleb said calmly, “Both of you need to find a small rock about the size of your cupped hands,” He told them, “Any smaller and it'll be dangerous and larger will tire you out much too quickly.”

Casting a quick glance Caleb found what he was looking for, and picked up a stone of the right size. Alana and Cynthia returned and Arilon spoke, “Is now a good time to talk or...?”

Of course. This won't take long as they really only need minimal guidance,” Caleb said, “I can handle doing both things.” He turned to the pair and said, “Do you both know the words for 'Wind'?”

Yeap!” Cynthia said and Alana nodded,

Right, normally you'd call upon the tome's power but this is a little bit different. You need only call upon your mana like you would the tome.” He said making the stone float above his hands, “This kind of tomeless magic does drain your energy but this exercise helps to increase your mana reserves. In turn allowing for more complex spells to be cast.”

Alana tilted her head and Caleb saw her try to cast the spell without the tome, Arilon spoke, “Look, I can ask later, I don’t want to mess you up here-”

You're wondering what that thing was that attacked us at the Outrealm Gate.” Caleb said and the Wanderer started, “It would be a question I would ask in your shoes at least. From what I could tell it's a parasite that feeds off the life-force of other beings in order to survive, though I am not sure why it does, or indeed where it came from. The only way to rid someone of that thing is to do what I did to Moth- Robin.” Caleb quickly corrected himself. He knew better than to call her that any more, he didn't have the right to call her that. He sighed as there was the smallest of stabs of pain in his heart. Alana and Cynthia were not making much progress at all. He expected as much. Carefully he removed his right hand and the stone floated above his left, “Remember to say the words to 'Wind' in your mind.” He said quietly, “You need to be able to focus the magic around the stone.” The tactician said calmly and Alana looked like she was having a lot of trouble.

How yous do that Daddy?” She asked slightly frustrated with her lack of progress,

Firstly I take a breath to calm my mind,” Caleb said, “Then I focus on the spell itself.” He was simplifying it a bit but the point got across to the small girl,

There's a reason I didn't stick with magic.” Lucina said dryly, “My mother made it the worst and complex experience possible. 'It's all about the forms darling.' was what she used to say.”

Which is why I preferred Moth-Robin's teachings.” Caleb said making an accidental slip up for the second time in one morning, “If you think of your mana as a river of water that flows inside your being all you're really doing is directing where you want that 'water' to move to.” Caleb explained, “A bit like how I'm keeping this stone a float.” He added, “Thought of that way you could say that the force of 'water' is enough to keep the stone in place.”

That's what Father always used to say too~!” Cynthia said and she managed to get her stone to lift off her palm, though not as easily as Caleb since she wasn't used to the exercise and was showing signs already that it was a tad much. The stone was there for a grand total of three more seconds and fell into her hand. Cynthia had a sweaty face but she grinned, “I got it! Now to do it every day, right Caleb?”

Yes.” Caleb grinned, “Though once you reach a certain level there are other ways to train your mana to utilise tomeless magic.” He said with a smile.

Alana looked horrified, “Every day?!” She cried,

Yes Sweetpea.” Caleb said with an amused chuckle, “Daddy used to do this every day until he got strong enough that he didn't have to.”

Alana suddenly looked determined, “I is getting this perfekt.”

One step at time.” Caleb said amused, “All tacticians need to make sure they get the basics before they go to advance things.” He said.

Alana finally managed to get her stone off her cupped hands and held for a mere second before the stone plopped into her hands. “Great work Alana.” Lucina praised and Alana looked very tired,

I dids it.” She said happily and stowed the stone in her pocket.

Yes, you did.” Caleb said letting his stone fall into his hand. He knew that it was the easiest way to teach tomeless magic to a girl Alana's age and it would help her in the long run. He had Robin to thank for that lesson. It was one of the few things his mother had taught him before she was killed. Caleb winced. Gods he hated the memory. He shook it off and continued with his next task, getting ready to travel.

 

Once he was sure that the others of his group were ready to travel he set about his next mental task he'd set himself. A check to make sure there wasn't any hostile forces (old habits died hard clearly) and once he was satisfied that it was safe he came back towards the centre of the camp. He was about to head to where Arilon was to let him know that he and the others were ready for travel when he felt an overwhelming sense of danger. He swung around and noticed that Severa was about to be in a lot of trouble...

 

He didn't know how but he managed to get beside her, “GET DOWN!” Caleb said unthinkingly shielding her with his own body. He felt the deep bite of a blade. The pain was enough to make Caleb gasp in shock. Severa was momentarily too stunned to do anything and as Caleb turned quickly to see who it was he felt a deep feeling of hatred. The man leapt back from his first attack and Caleb turned to face him. It couldn't have been possible...Forneus stood stone-faced and indeed confused,

What's this?” He said frowning. “I believe that I made you specifically to kill people, not protect them.” He looked annoyed, “You were created to destroy, so then why is it that you're fighting what is your nature? Oh...I see.” He said eyes looking up and down the tactician who was bleeding profusely from the wound caused by the Wymslayer in the alchemist's hands, “I suppose I should deal with a failed creation.” Caleb suddenly was aware of the man's intentions. Forneus was quick to make his move, dashing forwards. Caleb didn't know why but he was rooted to the spot. A single thought ran though his mind,

'I don't want to kill him,' The tactician thought, 'If I did, I'd be no better than him.'

I already knew your answer the moment I asked. In truth I always knew. I knew because in truth I didn't want to be like him I didn't want to kill and destroy, I just thought...that was what he wanted me to do.”

Caleb was vaguely aware of the dark magic rising around his body, vaguely aware of the fact that his very body was changing form. If he could hazard a guess he was roughly the size of two Ylisstol Castles. The pressure on his mind was too much. He couldn't lift his head, let alone roar like the Grima who'd attacked Ylisstol. He noticed that Forneus was frozen with a look of fear on his face. Caleb tried to lift his head up and growled as best he could. He knew he couldn't roar, that would take up too much effort on his part. He hoped the growl would be enough to scare off Forneus. He saw to his relief the growl worked as Forneus dropped his weapon screaming and ran as fast as his legs could carry him back to the Outrealm Gate. Caleb could feel the wound stinging, his right wing was cut fairly deeply and his shoulder as well. Caleb wondered if he'd stay in the form he was in. As that thought crossed his mind he felt the dark magic rise around him and his body revert to human form. The tactician was on his hands and knees panting heavily.

 

CALEB!” Lucina cried racing forwards as she saw the dark magic fading. Not a single person had been hurt by Caleb's dragon form, and Lucina had seen all the tiny adjustments that he'd made to try and avoid destroying anything. What worried her though was the blood she'd seen. Lucina held a heal staff in hand and once she reached his side she heard a chuckle,

Sorry...Lucy...” Caleb said panting for air, “I...only...thought...of...scaring...him...off...”

Well I can say that it worked.” Lucina said surprised at Caleb's blasé attitude about the entire thing.

Gods...that...stings...” Caleb said as Lucina worked the staff as best she could.

I can't believe that you did that!” Lucina said pleased to note his wounds were fully healed and resigned herself to fixing his coat later. She looked over towards the rest of the Wanderers and noticed a few shocked faces. This was going to take some explaining...clearly.

 

Well, well,” Arilon folded his arms and Caleb felt like he'd done something very wrong, “No wonder you didn't want to fight the Shepherds- there's no way you wouldn't have hurt someone had a skirmish broken out.”

Caleb wanted to correct Arilon on that. He didn't even know that his body could do that! He however said, “You're...not surprised?”

Surprised, shocked, and horrified are very different things. You startled me, sure, but...I’ve seen bigger.”

Huh? Bigger?” Caleb asked surprised by that Arilon had said. The idea that there was something bigger than Grima...than Caleb's dragon form...the tactician frowned. He lent on Lucina since he'd not yet recovered from the pressure of taking his dragon form. “What could possibly be bigger than a Grima the size of a continent?” He asked.

“You ever heard of The Beast Quetzal?” Arilon asked Caleb

“The Beast...Quetzal?" Caleb frowned quickly trying to find any memory related to the potential creature, "No…”

“Probably for the best. All you need to know is that it made you just now look small.” Caleb was concerned by those words.  Though he felt something that he couldn't quite understand. He noticed a young woman, one of the Wanderers come over

“We should probably get going.” She said. “Someone on the mainland’s bound to have seen him, and people might panic if there isn’t anyone reassuring them everything’s alright.”

Caleb winced.  He really should have thought of that...guilt was quick to spread then he chewed his bottom lip as a plan started to form.  What if he...he frowned, no one had heard of a "harmless" Grima. Not one and people wouldn't believe him...maybe?

“Commander!” A yell caught Caleb's attention, the the pair who were near the Outrealm gate returned looking annoyed.  Caleb however knew that Forneus escaped through the gate so had not worried about it

“He escaped through the Gate. It looks like it’s activating again, though.”

“That might be the others. We’ll check to see before heading out.”

 

Arilon led the way to the Gate as Caleb wondered about the feeling he was getting, an odd feeling that he didn't know. Caleb noticed some people had began to draw their weapons and he felt very uneasy, “Is there some reason you guys have your weapons out?” He asked not yet ready to make a move.

“There’s always the possibility of another force finding a Gate and attempting to use it.”Arilon explained. “We like to be prepared to intercept, and if necessary contain, anything coming through should it prove hostile, like we had to do with the Terrors back in your Ylisse. Looks like it won’t be necessary, though…”

Caleb paused as a small girl with wings came through the Gate and he saw them sheathe their weapons. She was one of their allies then. The girl, a manakete, ran towards Arilon and cried out, “Arilon!” Happily hugging the man and Caleb felt a small smile. He hadn't realised that the descriptions would be...he wasn't sure but his reading did indicate...

“Hi Dee! You found us!” Arilon seemed glad to see the girl and Caleb tensed. Would she be afraid of him? He hoped not.

“Yep, I win!” She looked up at Arilon, eyes bright. “Miss Avia said it was a game like hide-and-seek, and we had to find you! I found you first, so...I win! Hahaha!”

Arilon looked surprised, “Weren’t you with Shaman?”

“Huh?” Dee looked around, confused. “Miss Avia said she was with you.”

Caleb saw Arilon look worried slightly he spoke to the girl as calmly as he could though Caleb knew that he was concerned about something, “If Shaman wasn’t with you guys, then who was keeping an eye on you?”

“Oh, Miss Avata was watching me, she read me lots of stories!” Dee said brightly.

“Where’s Avata, Dee?” Arilon asked his heart suddenly beating much, much more panicked,

“I ran ahead of everyone, but they’re coming too! I-?” The girl looked at them and Caleb was mentally prepared to see her face morph to one of fear. He felt Alana move to hide behind him and he was slightly worried for her...

“New friends! Hi!” Dee waved, quite eager it seemed to meet them, Caleb felt relief, she wasn't scared and that did wonders for him. “What’s your names, new friends?”

“I’m Caleb, and this is my wife Lucina, and our daughter Alana.” Caleb replied, making sure to draw to the little manakete's level so he didn't look so big and scary despite the bravery the little one was showing. He guessed her to be around two or three hundred years old, and apparently very much unaware of what a Fell Dragon was.

“Ca-leb? That’s a funny name for a Dragon. I’m Fae!” Dee said cheerfully and Caleb was surprised. Fae? As in the Fae of Elibean legend? “I mean, I’m Fae, but you have to call me Dee - that’s what Wyrm told me. Wyrm!” Dee spun to face Arilon. “Where’s Wyrm?”

“Wyrm stayed back where we were camped.” He told her. “She’ll be happy to see you, but she hurt her throat and can’t talk very much, so don’t make her talk, ok?”

“Wyrm’s hurt?” Dee looked worried. “Can she still play with me?”

“I think so, but you’d better ask her just to be safe.”

“Ok! Let’s go find Wyrm!” Dee spun again, running off in the general direction of the camp.

“Uh, Anya, you wanna keep an eye on her?” He asked the young woman who Caleb was glad to know the name of. “I don’t want her to get lost.”

She nodded and went after Dee as Caleb turned to Arilon,

“She seems energetic.” He almost felt a smile. He wished the old books on Elibe told him that particular detail. He supposed he'd have to ask the little one about Roy later; assuming that she knew who Roy was.

“Dee’s...a kid.” He shrugged. “That’s really the only way to describe her. She’s a full-blooded Dragon, so she’s older than she looks, but, uh…”

The Gate glowed again, and Caleb saw Arilon look happy, but then...the scent hit his nose. Caleb felt ill. It wasn't possible for Naga to have a physical form like this. The woman however wasn't any form of Naga that Caleb knew. He winced as fear started creeping in. Would she attack him on sight because of what he was? Caleb let out a low warning growl at the figure not to get too close. He instinctively pushed Lucina and the rest of his group protectively behind him.

“Is he alright?” The odd Naga asked and Caleb stayed tense, not wanting any of his family to be in any danger of a potential fight. Even if the Naga seemed to be peaceful there was no telling how long it would take before she tried to attack him possibly so he had to stay on guard ready to protect himself and his family. Then he realised she was concerned and allowed himself to relax, drawing in the air slowly, but by no means did he lower his guard,

“That...would probably depend on what you meant by alright.” Arilon said, rubbing the back of his neck. “A-anyways, would you please go check on Wyrm for me? Her breath attack backfired and burned her throat a bit, and I was wondering if there was anything you could do for her.”

The Naga walked past and Caleb made another low growl, not a threatening one, just one that told her he didn't trust her thus requested his own space. She graciously enough kept clear of him and he allowed relief to course through him. That was too close.

 

“Hey, Avia, glad to see you’re ok too. It looks like we got split up more than I thought - Shaman’s not with us, and it looks like you’re missing Marita. Mind if I grab a headcount before you report?”

“Of course, Commander, take your time.”

“Oi, Commander!” A Pegasus Knight with dark purple hair called as she saw Arilon, “You trying to run out without payin’ up?!”

“What, me? Come on, Anna, you know me better than that. I was wondering what possessed you to run off without your pay!”

“Anna?” Lucina asked confused, as she worked to calm Caleb pressing him into where her scent was strongest, much to Caleb's relief.

“She’s not Anna by blood, but she’s definitely enough of a moneygrubber to deserve the name.”

“Aww, come on, Commander, you know you love me!” Anna laughed.

“Even discounting her heart set on gold, I’ve yet to meet an Anna that hasn’t taken to her immediately, so...Anna.” Arilon shrugged as another Wanderer stepped up.

“Chief. Glad to see you’re alright.”

“Thanks, Scarlet, glad to see you’re good too. You mind taking rearguard position again? I know I ask it of you a lot…”

“It’s fine, Chief. I’m just glad I can help with something.” Scarlet walked away as Cynthia stared after her.

“Is that...the Crimson Flash from the Magvelian tales?”

“Marisa? Yeah, that’s her - but please, stick to the Wanderer Names while we’re in this Ylisse, I don’t need any of this world’s Shepherds realising who all my troops are. She’s Scarlet while we’re here, ok?” Arilon said seriously and Caleb knew he'd obey that request. He saw Cynthia nod.

“Arilon, you’re alright!” Lyndis...the Lyndis of Caelin the very Lyndis of legend, said happily. “Avia said you needed a headcount. Are some of the others still missing?”

“Yeah, so far I haven’t seen Bloom or Thorn, which is a pain since I needed Bloom for something, and it looks like several of the others are also still gone, Marita included. Thanks for making sure I knew you were here, though. You mind taking rearguard with Scarlet, or should I ask Edge or Falcon instead?”

“Mmm...I think I could. Let me know if you change your mind, but I’ll assume I’m with her in the meantime.”

“Cool, thanks Caelor.”

As she walked off, Lucina turned to Arilon, Caleb knew that his wife was in shock...he was too.

“Lady Lyndis of Caelin. I assume you’ve heard of her?” Speechless, Lucina nodded. “She’s a lot friendlier than the legends made her out to be, you know, so feel free to ask her any questions so long as we’re not in an area where people might overhear and realise who she is.”

Caleb was surprised but he decided that he'd save questions for later as yet another new smell hit his nose. A giggle- a very enthusiastic and happy giggle came from behind Arilon, “Arilon! Where’s Thorn?”

Arilon smiled and turned to face the young girl...woman? Caleb wasn't sure at first but he was still assessing how old she was.

“Hey Petal! I’m afraid Thorn’s not here with us - it looks like we got split into more than two groups. Bloom’s missing too, but if they’re together then we don’t have anything to worry about. In the meantime, Anya’s here, she went back to the camp to help keep an eye on Dee, so you’re welcome to let her know you’re here. Is Cai with you?”

“Yeah, she went on ahead.” Petal replied. “Oh, hey! Who are these people, new recruits?”

“No, not exactly. This is Caleb. He’s in a similar situation as Robin was the last time we were here, so we’re taking him and his group to Plegia where they can be alone for a bit until they can get things figured out.”

“Oh, alright! Nice to meet you guys, I’m Petal, Arilon’s little sister!” Petal dropped a curtsy, and it wasn't long before the confusion set in for some of the others. Caleb however guessed it was like how Cynthia and Noire were his sisters, not by blood but by bond. He assumed the same of the small woman before she ran off.

“Hey, so if you guys aren’t comfortable with dealing with so many new people, I’m not going to be offended if you guys need to get some space - we’re happy to save any introductions for later if you need it.” Arilon told Caleb. The tactician was uncomfortable but he felt that he needed to stay. At least while the Naga was floating about their camp he couldn't go there and thus decided to stay close to Lucina.  He did however give the man a grateful nod. Lucina pulled him away with a gentle tug on his arm, not near where the Naga was but enough to give him some space at least to calm him down.

 

He took five minutes to fully calm back down and was relieved when Arilon said they'd be moving out. He stayed close to Lucina on Bluebird and absently wondered what they were going to do when Arilon bought them to Plegia. Caleb noticed that the group was about the size of the Shepherds and he felt odd. It was a while since he'd travelled in a group of that size. He was sure however that there was something off. A quick glance to his left and he started, unsure of what to say as Severa met his eye Caleb gave a neutral response. She would say her piece when she was ready and not before. “Thanks.” She said after a few minutes silence, “For before.” She clarified, “I...well you know...”

“It happens even to the most experienced of soldiers,” Caleb said soothingly, “No one would blame you for reacting that way Sev.” He noticed that she frowned, “Oh...sorry, force of habit.” He said, “I suppose you'd prefer Luna...”

“You must have been pretty close to her then.” She frowned as she voiced out what was clearly on her mind and Caleb couldn't help himself, he pat her head like he used to do when his Severa was upset. He was quick to retract his hand since even though she might be like his Severa...she wasn't the same,

“Sorry.” He said again, “She...my Severa used to frown when she wasn't happy. She said I was the worst comforter ever...but...”

“She'd let you do that.” Severa supplied and Caleb nodded with a sigh,

“Yeah. It was the only thing she wanted when she was upset. Well that or Owain's stories.” Caleb said as the memory took over he closed his eyes and sighed heavily. It hurt just to think about them. He noticed that Severa was still looking at him. “She used to always gripe about how terrible they were but it was all we had.” Caleb looked down then, “I...I did what I could to keep them safe. Though the Council never listened until all of the other tacticians were killed off. It was...very painful to watch...” Caleb's expression shifted to extremely pained, “So many were lost in such a short space of time. We barely escaped the risen...and we lost Yarne's older sister before I could...” Caleb winced, “That was the final straw for Lucy. She chose to do the Awakening, even though at that time we only had three of the gemstones.” He frowned, “We were ambushed by risen. I still...remember the vanguard fighting them as we had to move into the past...” Caleb shuddered as the memory started to take over.

 

Caleb! We need to move now!” Lucina cried, “We don't have time!”

But Lucy the vanguard! They're hurt!”

A pained expression hit her face, “We have to go. Naga won't be able to hold the portal for much longer!”

Caleb turned back as one of the vanguard, an old man took an arrow to the chest. The risen were too powerful and he winced. There was nothing the tactician could do and he knew it. They wouldn't listen to him and charged blindly against the risen, “Caleb!” Severa yelled and the tactician saw that Lucina was moving. Unthinkingly he ran behind her. He knew that their Naga was giving what they needed. The ability to stop this from happening. Caleb wasn't sure how time travel worked but he sure as hell wanted to do what he could to stop those that died.

“Caleb. Are you alright?” Noire's voice bought Caleb back to the present and he smiled sadly,

“I'm fine Noire, it was just an old memory.” He said and she hugged him suddenly. Caleb's six eyes widened in surprise. She'd not done that for quite a long while. He smiled gently and looped his arm over her, “Really, it's nothing to worry about.” He said and she spoke, her voice muffled by his coat,

“I'm with you.” He chuckled,

“Thanks Noire.” He said with a smile. He let her decide how long she wanted to be hugged and easily let her move away when she was ready. He guessed that his sisters were pretty shook up about what had happened with the Shepherds so they needed him to be there for them. Caleb knew he would always be there when they needed him.

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Chapter XXXV: The Small One’s Awakening

 

Caleb was towards the rear of the main group when they were informed that they'd be heading to ride a boat across the channel to mainland Ylisse. He blinked in surprise but as he turned to Lucina it was clear that she was fine with it. He chose to seek out Arilon without the company of Lucina since he had a feeling that the dark haired man had a question that wasn't...for company, though Caleb wasn't sure if he knew what that question was.  He got the intention behind it and had tried to spare the man from asking it earlier as Caleb heard all the signs that Arilon wasn't comfortable asking his actual question. He gave Lucina a look and she understood what he was saying without a spoken word. She called out to Alana and the girl came to ride alongside her mother with Sweetie, they then pushed far enough ahead that Caleb could still signal Lucina if he needed her help, but they wouldn't be able to hear the conversation if it came to it.

 

Caleb fell back to where Arilon was. He spoke softly, “Arilon.” The man didn't seem to hear Caleb at first so he politely cleared his throat, “Arilon.” He repeated and the man started, “Sorry, I didn't mean to startle you.” He said calmly, “You had a question that was not for company earlier?  Is now the time you would feel comfortable asking it?”

“How do you...?” Arilon asked confused, Caleb frowned and tilted his head,

“Your heartbeat wasn't calm.” Caleb said reminding Arilon he had pretty sharp senses, “It was slightly fast and like you were uncomfortable with something.” The tactician supplied.

“Right...” Arilon said with a frown, “the Gate was used three times this morning I wasn't sure if anything hostile came through-”

“Ah. So that's what it was.” Caleb said slightly amused, “Well you can take comfort that two of those were a harmless woman who was drifting between realms and returning to her home.” Caleb said calmly, “The third time...possibly him.” Caleb shuddered involuntarily. He did not like Forneus at all. He was about to add more when he saw a familiar group of humans with his most bottom left brown eye. He turned his head to see better and he realised that he knew the humans that were coming towards the Wanderers calmly. Caleb could see that they were in good health, but he could smell their sadness. He didn't know what caused it. He noticed that they had three dark Pegasi with them that were riderless, though he could tell two of them were foals; weanlings likely.

 

It was hard to tell if they'd been hurt before they got here, but once Caleb saw Mia, he knew what had happened, “Mia, Lucius, Inverse...Lucia. What...what happened?!” Caleb could smell their grief and it was the sage who spoke,

“Milord, forgive us.” He said ashamed, “My family were under threat from the Old Order...they threatened to harm us and-”

“Lucius.” Caleb said gently, “I would not expect you to have to pay such a steep price for helping me.” The tactician's voice trembled slightly. It was his fault that Lucius' family was put into danger, then Caleb realised what they were saying, “Old Order?” He asked,

“Those who follow Validar's teachings.” Lucius explained and Caleb let out a low growl. Lucius continued, “They've been hunting down...deserters or so they'd said.”

“And your family got caught in the crossfire.” Caleb winced,

“Actually we preferred to join Morgarna.” Mia said, “We felt it would be better to stay together as a family.” She said with a warm smile. Caleb felt a small smile,

“Then I can't say no can I?” He said with a sigh. “I'm sure Aversa will be most glad to see you all alive and well.”

“Oh that's right!” Inverse said from his mount. The young dark knight grinned, “We brought these three specialist Pegasi that we'd bred with us since we don't want them in the hands of the Old Order. They're best left to mages than Lucia-”

“Inverse you jerk!” Lucia snapped and Caleb chuckled slightly, “Ah! Sorry!” She said blushing,

“I suppose there's a reason why you bought them along?”

“We felt they would be suitable for Milord.” Lucius explained, “Well Storm would be at the very least. The other two are his foals.”

Caleb went bright red. He'd not ridden a pegasus since he was around ten or so years old and his mother had yelled at him for it. Caleb cleared his throat, “I see.” He said, “This is Storm?” He asked holding his hand out to the one next to Mia's Pegasus. The stallion sniffed Caleb's hand as the tactician spoke softly to him in Plegian.

“That one is Storm yes.” Mia confirmed. The armour the Pegasus wore mimicked Caleb's coat in colour and the Pegasus in question gazed at Caleb's six eyes calmly. The other two were smaller and had the knobbly knees of foals that were weaned from their mothers. It was about then that Lucina came over on Bluebird and said surprised,

“Mia! Lucius! I certainly wasn't expecting to see you both again!” She was happy to see them,

“Milady, it would be poor payment for us not to eventually come with Morgarna.” Lucius said calmly. The man adjusted his robes and pulled out a recover staff, “Praise gods I thought to keep this old staff on hand.”

“Mister Lucius!” Alana cried happily and Aversa came on her pegasus,

“Oh my.” Aversa said looking surprised, “Father...I thought...well...”

“We had a change of plans slightly. The Old Order...they are not true Grimleal anymore. They are something as twisted as Validar was. Lady Alsha would be ashamed of them all.” He said with a frown, “Worse still they have managed to only incite a bitter civil war. They'll come to their senses in time, but we felt it for the best to leave. We almost lost Sheva but the old girl wasn't going down without a fight.”

“Mother...” Aversa said surprised, “I never thought you'd ride again! And on Sheva!”

Mia laughed lightly and pet the Pegasus' neck, “Sheva wouldn't give up, so nor should I.” She said, “I don't suppose you'd be able to fill us in on what happened?” She asked as Noire and Cynthia arrived,

“We'll have plenty of time for that Mother.” Aversa smiled and Caleb turned to Arilon,

“Can we bring these four with us?” He asked then added, “They are capable in battle if it comes to that.”

“Yeah, it’s fine. I’m Arilon, nice to meet you all.” Arilon replied and introduced himself to the group,

“The pleasure is mine, Sir Arilon.” Lucius bowed, “I am Lucius, this beautiful flower is my lovely wife Mia, my son Inverse and my little flower Lucia. I believe you've met my daughter Morgarna, since she is travelling with Milord Caleb. ”

“Glad to have you all along.” Arilon replied, then he spoke. “It looks like we’re set to cross to the mainland, if you guys will just bring your stuff on board we’ll be on our way in no time.”

“Mainland?” Cynthia asked. “I thought this was the mainland.”

“No, your Dragon’s Gate is a bit of a unique one - most Ylissean Dragon Gates are on an island a short trip out from the mainland. What’d you think we were putting everything in the boats for, eh?” Arilon replied amused it seemed

“Oh, right. Alright, give us just a minute!” Cynthia said heading to Lovebird to make sure her pegasus was ready to travel.

 

Once aboard the boat Caleb noticed a few questioning glances and then he sighed. Lucius was the one to speak and his voice was soft as he explained what happened, albeit in more detail than what he was able to tell Caleb before, “As most of you are likely aware, we are Grimleal, but not the malicious kind. We serve our Lord's will, as Lady Alsha did. Not the will of destruction.” He said and continued, “As such there are those that are still blinded by Sir Validar's teachings, that Grima is to destroy the world and everything in it. He of course is universally condemned for harming the Holy Consort by all Grimleal.”

Caleb winced, “So how did they end up becoming factions?” He asked,

“Those that follow Sir Validar believe that Grima, that is to say, you Milord; is displeased with them since they haven't done the 'correct' procedures to ensure a smooth awakening.” Lucius said calmly, “As such the situation has been rather hostile. We were lucky to leave when we did.” He said, “It was a difficult journey, one that I must admit was made all the harder with the Ylisseans on alert.”

Caleb winced at the thought, “What of...the little ones? Are they...?”

“No harm has befallen the younglings.” Lucius said, “They have enough protection hexes to keep them safe.”

Caleb heaved a sigh of relief. His and Lucina’s younger selves would be safe...for now.

 

Towards the end of the journey Arilon came and spoke with the group as a whole, “You guys might want to wear something a little less obvious as disguises. Just to be on the safe side.”

Caleb sighed. Then he turned to the others. Mia spoke, “I should have some slightly less obvious coats somewhere...”

Caleb rolled all six eyes in annoyance. He did not want to be without the familiar weight of his coat...and he belatedly realised he'd not bound his wings. However they seemed to hug his back staying out of view so he supposed it was a good thing. He sighed as they checked to see what they could do. Then a stroke of genius hit the tactician. The best disguises were the ones hidden in plain sight...

 

By the time they stepped off the ship Caleb had his hood up and was pleased he'd thought to alter his coat's colours. Now it didn't look quite as “Grimleal” as before though Caleb merely made the change a temporary one. He managed to pull it off for the rest of the group and Cynthia had her own coat as well. The white haired girl was unsure about wearing a cloak but it had to be done.

“Sir, it appears a squadron of troops is advancing on our current position. They appear to be something of a local militia?” The young woman spoke. Caleb didn't know who she was just yet but he was sure he'd eventually find out,

“Oh, in that case, we’re fine. Just go meet them and say you’re one of the Wanderers and bring them back here.”

She saluted and rode off, and Arilon turned to face Caleb. The tactician spoke, “A local militia? I assume it’s your version of the Shepherds?”

“Kind of. Grima’s gone and all here, so Chrom’s busy being the Exalt. His daughter leads the current Shepherds.”

“So...this world’s Lucina?” Caleb assumed until a familiar smell hit his nose. It wasn't the same as he was used to but he knew it was Kjelle. A Kjelle that was apparently the daughter of Chrom...their world was certainly different to what Caleb knew.

“Arilon!” Kjelle called and Caleb frowned. The clothing she wore was similar to Chrom. Strikingly similar. Dare Caleb think it it was...“I’m glad to see you - we received reports of a massive creature that looked like Grima out where the Outrealm Gate is, so we came to check and make sure everything was alright. You seem to have picked up some new faces.”

She said and Caleb was glad he'd thought to have his hood up. A wise choice given that she could very well attack him. Her numbers were even lower than Severa however so Caleb knew he could handle her if a fight broke out. “Yeah, we’re fine, Kjelle. Where were the guards? We didn’t see anyone the whole time we were out there.”

“They’re back in Ylisstol, father called them back for the celebration.”

“What’s the occasion?” Arilon asked seemingly surprised by the news,

“Andrea’s back!” Caleb frowned. He knew Chrom would only do something as stupid as pulling guards to celebrate if it was...

“Andrea came back?!”

“Yes, she came back to visit us all, and brought her brother too, all the Shepherds were pulled off duty to celebrate, which included the guards posted near the Gate.” Which made Caleb wonder how much of an idiot this Chrom was acting. He supposed it fell to the tactician to fix such a serious breach of...“So, you’ll have to introduce me to everyone. Who’s this?”

Kjelle's voice broke Caleb's line of thought as he'd already began working out how to better station guards to keep Ylisse safe. Not a good idea for someone who was Grima but...“This is Caleb.” Arilon explained saving the tactician from having to speak. “He and some others are looking for somewhere secluded to stay, so I’m bringing them up to get Chrom’s permission to let them stay in Plegia.”

“Plegia? Did you tell them about the Risen?”

“Yeah, they said they don’t mind.”

“Well, then, on behalf of my father, the Exalt, I welcome you to Ylisse!” Kjelle offered Caleb a handshake.

“Left hand.” Arilon said suddenly and Caleb would have laughed. Did he really think that Caleb would be so foolhardy as to leave his Mark exposed under any circumstance knowing full well the risk it would put him under if anyone saw it? The vambrace on his right arm had a cover that concealed the whole back of his right hand. No one would be able to see his Mark, let alone move the vambrace to check for it since it had a small strap under his middle finger to keep it from moving. Caleb however changed hands. He didn't really care either way. He wasn't “ambidextrous” as Arilon had said, a lie that would get the Wanderer in hot water later if he wasn't careful. He listened to the exchange that was meant to be out of earshot apparently.

“So what happened on the island? People don’t just see a mirage Grima every day, you know.” Kjelle said her face looked calm but Caleb could tell she was concerned

“That’s not something I can share until I’ve talked with Chrom about the full situation at the earliest.” Arilon said seriously

“Hmm. So something did happen, then?” Kjelle asked

“You could say that. It’s not Grima, I can assure you of that - at least nothing like the Grima we had to deal with. The Fell Dragon is involved somewhat, though.”

“...And you can’t share this until you speak with my father?”

“Nope.”

“Well...alright. We’ll trust you on this.”

“Thanks. By the way...we’ve detected evidence of a tracking hex on one of Caleb’s group. We’re not sure who’s after them, but keep an eye out for anything suspicious - we might need you to back us up.”

“Alright, you can count on us.”

Caleb froze. A tracking hex? He frowned and then realised that he would have to trust the Wanderer. This was not an ideal situation but...

The tactician grimaced. Could it be possible that the “Old Order” Lucius mentioned were looking for him? What of Alana and Lucina? He cast his eye over his family as Cynthia was talking with Lucia in Plegian. He had to protect them. Naga be damned if he let any harm come to them.

 

Due to the size of the group it was decided that they would set up camp near some ruins as they had a long way to go and due to the children had to set up camp fairly quickly since the little ones (Fae and Alana) had started getting grumpy because they were tired and hungry (if Alana's snappiness was anything to go by). What surprised Caleb however was the fact that he could have swore that Lucina was fine this morning and judging by how pale she was looking...Caleb sighed. He, Lucius, Cynthia, Noire, Inverse and Lucia all worked to make the expansion hexed tent even more roomy than the first night with the centre “room” still being Caleb and Lucina's, Alana's beside them should she need anything and Cynthia next to Alana since she didn't really know the others. Lucia was next to Cynthia and Inverse next to Lucia. Lucius and Mia were next to Aversa and Noire was to the right of Caleb and Lucina. This time they were a fair distance away from the main camp, their mounts in makeshift stables that Lucius had managed to bring.

 

Caleb had just settled the rather pale looking Lucina when Alana came in and practically buried her face into her father's chest crying. Caleb felt worried and spoke gently in Plegian, “Alana, what's wrong my precious one?

She sniffled and said, “It hurts Daddy! It hurts!” Caleb frowned,

What hurts Sweetpea?” He asked and Alana looked up tears leaking from her eyes. Caleb gently pet her head as soothingly as he could,

I's back! It hurts!” The little girl wailed and Lucina though unwell looked worried,

“Caleb?” She asked softly,

“Alana says her back is hurting.” He said softly as the small child sobbed into her father's shirt.

The main flap was open and Caleb smelled the approach of Lucius; Caleb spoke to his daughter gently, “Did you fall from Sweetie at all?” He asked and she shook her head, still crying. Caleb then frowned as he noticed something off, “Sweetpea, can you show me your back?” He asked and Alana nodded and pulled off her cloak with some difficulty and then her shirt so that they could see her back. Lucina helped her and Caleb felt his blood run cold.

 

Alana had wings...just like her father...

 

~

 

Vasta grimaced. “Do we have to?” She asked the figure in Grimleal robes, “I mean I know we want to make sure Lord Grima is safe and all but what if those bastards figure out we sent Lucius and his family?”

The figure sighed, “Vasta, my dear, you really must relax. As long as we obey Lord Grima's will we will please him. It is as Lady Alsha knew. Once our Lord has found a suitable place, we'll be able to come and help protect him. Remember what happened at the Table. Our Master chose not to fight the Ylisseans and the Holy Consort is one of them. We must ensure that the young boy lives his days by the young Consort's side as this is Lord Grima's will. He has chosen not to destroy this world, which means in turn that we must do what we can to follow our Lord's example.”

“I know, I know...I just...Sir Validar...”

“You are not alone my child. Many have fallen to his deceit.” The figure said calmly, “We will await Lord Grima's call. The day we hear it we shall come to his side in his hour of need. For now let us pray for the good health of the Consort, for she needs our good will.”

“Yes Father.” Vasta said lowering to prayer. “We call upon our Lord Grima for his mercy...” The young Griffon Rider began,

“Guide us our Lord to your will in all things.” The Figure continued, “Call us as you will to serve in life and in death.”

 

~

 

Caleb was grateful when Lucius arrived with a medicinal staff to help. Lucius was quick to help Lucina feel a lot better and Caleb did his best to soothe Alana while Lucius checked her to see why she was in such pain. The old sage sighed, “There is very little I can do Milord.”

Caleb winced, “Thank you Lucius. I suppose all we can do is try to make her comfortable.” He sighed,

“A bath should work, though not to hot.” He said gently. He then added, “Likely it was the exposure to the dark magic at the Table that's caused this to happen.”

Caleb sighed, “So her blood was awakened as well then?” He asked softly, though he could smell Arilon just outside the tent and thus the Wanderer would be able to hear every word spoken,

“I'm afraid so Milord.” The Sage lowered his staff, “Though perhaps that she has the blood of Naga in her veins as well has slowed the process down somewhat. It does mean she'll be in potentially more pain however.”

Daddy...” Alana whimpered again and Caleb felt a deep pain in his chest. This wasn't good.

“Is there...Is there any way to stop this?” Caleb asked, Plegian slipping out and Lucius sighed,

It is impossible to tell. She may not be in pain for long, but we have never encountered a child with both Fellblood and Exalted Blood. Had she just Fellblood in her veins she would undoubtedly have the same form as Milord in time. However it also be that because she's so young...the changes are not so easily noticed since her body is still growing. I'm afraid there is little I know on this...we'd need a library to see if there were any incidents of it...

Caleb's eyes widened and pulled at the box he'd kept in his coat, “This might be the answer.” The tactician spoke seriously, “I think...this would be a library we could make use of.

Lucius was surprised but as Caleb set the box down and gave it a tap it did the same thing it did before, “Caleb is that...?”

“Only the most important library in all of Ylisse.” Caleb said with a wave over the box.

“It's expansion hexed...” Lucius said surprised. Caleb picked Alana up and carried her as he entered the library. Lucina was close behind him with Lucius lighting the way with a fireball that quickly flew to touches on the walls. Caleb followed the stairs down.

 

When they at last came to the last step rows upon rows of shelves filled their vision. Caleb looked around and gaped at all of the books. “And here I was thinking everything was destroyed. I guess that even a Fell Dragon keeps his library neat.”

Lucina giggled and wandered looking for anything that could help with with Alana's condition, “These books...they're all in Plegian!” She said with a frown. Lucius let out a gasp,

“My gods...they're not just Plegian Milady, they're in...a language I don't understand myself!” The Sage said running a hand through his hair. “This place...it is incredible indeed.”

“This is three worlds worth of scholar's material.” Caleb said suddenly, “The works to the right are comprehensive studies on dragons, we should look there.”

Lucina smiled, “Well I won't argue with that.” She said and Caleb turned to the shelves that he'd said were what they needed,

“Third from where you are Lucy.” Caleb said and she carefully pulled out the book that Caleb had told her to. It was large and thick. Caleb noticed that Alana had stopped whimpering but that still worried him, “Alana?” He asked softly and she didn't respond. Caleb carefully lay her on one of the chase lounges in the room as Lucina placed the book on one of the tables.

“My goodness this might take a while.” Lucius said with surprise. Caleb came and opened the book from the midsection and upside down to the book carefully flicked through it until he came to what he was looking for,

Exalted Blood. This is the section we need.” Caleb said as Lucina and Lucius both came in to see where Caleb was pointing.

“Caleb what's it say?” Lucina asked hesitantly. Caleb began to read,

Few instances of Fellblood and Exalted Blood offspring have been recorded in history. Those that have tend to lean towards their Exalted Blood Ancestry; however there have been cases documented in other Outrealms that suggest that if the child in question is born to an Awakened Fellblood then the child will be a mix of the traits of a Fellblood and Exalted Blood.”

“So then...?” Lucina asked and Lucius spoke,

“It is well known Milady that Milord has the ability to see those who are no longer with us, he always has.” Lucina and Caleb both looked to one another, Caleb surprised as she was but Lucius continued, “The form he has currently is also a very important indicator of his state. As an Awakened Grima, Milord has the ability to fully control the Risen at any given time, create them and take on his dragon form. The form of course requires time to adjust to it since it is quite mentally draining according to the old Grimleal texts.”

“So that was why I couldn't hold it for long...” Caleb said with a frown, “And I could only growl...”

“Well then that means we can confirm that text in question if we could find it.” Lucius said calmly. Alana stirred then and Caleb came to sit beside her,

“Are you feeling alright Alana?” He asked gently and she shook her head,

It hurts...” the little one said and Caleb winced, “Daddy hurted too.

“Yes, I did.” Caleb said softly. He couldn't lie to her. She buried her face into his shirt again, “We'll need to head out. I think it's almost dinner time.” Caleb found it odd that he wasn't hungry again, “I'll stay with Alana.”

“Right, I'll get us something.” Lucina said calmly and they left the library with Caleb carrying Alana in his arms again. She hugged her father's shoulders as best she could. Once they'd got back to the tent Caleb closed the box lid and tapped it back to it's small size. Cynthia came into the main area and said,

“Hey so dinner's on and...” She saw Alana's wings and said softly, “I'll stay with Alana too. Noire should be saving a place so-”

“We'll have dinner here.” Lucina said, “Where it's quiet.”

“Okay I'll let her know.” Cynthia replied. “I'll help carry some!” She added and Lucius followed them both.

 

Caleb stayed close to his daughter as Lucina did what she could with a recover staff. There was little that they could do and as they curled on the bedroll with her still gripping Caleb's shirt the tactician smelt Arilon return with Caleb assumed Petal and another person.

“Hey, so I came by earlier and heard the little one’s in some pain. I thought I’d bring by some of our stuff in case we can help. Mind if we come in?” Arilon asked and Caleb felt mildly surprised but relieved. He was grateful for the offer if they'd be able to help his little one...

Caleb blinked when he spotted the second young woman come in behind Arilon, she was surprised by the expansion hex done to the tent, the other “rooms” had their curtains open so they could be seen into. “Whoa, this tent’s huge inside!” Nino, a former member of the Black Fang said, looking around in awe. “How’d you do that?”

“There’s a special hex you can use.” Petal explained. “We had a couple rooms like this back home.”

“So we brought you guys a Restore and a Sleep Staff, in case she needs help getting to sleep through the pain.” Arilon explained to Caleb as Nino handed the Staves to Lucina. “And we also brought some herbs and stuff in case any of you guys know how to do stuff with those. I’d offer to have a medicine put together, but our resident apothecarial expert is one of the Wanderers still missing. Petal knows a little, but not very much.”

“I did make this stuff on my own, though!” Petal pulled out a jar that smelled rather interesting. “It helps numb the area it’s applied to, so we thought it might help. If it’s a surface injury or an infection, this lets you get right into the area and even clean it out properly without hurting too much!”

Caleb hummed softly, mostly to soothe Alana as the little one whimpered again, Lucina spoke, “We're not entirely sure what's caused the pain and Lucius said he couldn't even figure it out either.” She said quietly, “We've been trying just about everything we've got. So if this will help...” Lucina sighed. It pained her to think that her daughter was suffering like Caleb had. It was bad enough having her own husband being cripple by the pain his wings caused, let alone seeing a small child suffer like this. Something in her voice must have given away her worry as Petal came to sit beside her,

“It will.” She said gently,

Hurts...” Alana whimpered in Plegian and Caleb carefully lifted her so that she was pressed to his chest,

Easy my precious one,” Caleb soothed stroking her almost exact same hair as her mother's, “Petal's got a special ointment to help stop the pain Sweetpea.” He gave a nod to the blonde, and Lucina was quick to give the young woman a cloth. Alana's grip tightened on her father and Caleb could help but wince as she started sobbing again. Petal seeing the consent of the parents to help opened the jar and Caleb kept soothing his daughter with soft Plegian. It was all he could do for her right now. He winced as the wings made more growth out of Alana's back. They must have been doing that all day. No wonder Alana was in so much pain and so snappy,

“We're back.” Cynthia said carrying in some food with Noire and the others behind her, “How is it?”

Not much better, hopefully Petal can help.” Caleb said feeling suddenly very tired. Doubtless his worry for Alana was draining him of energy,

“Okay. Hey Ali, would you like some figs?” Cynthia asked the little one and Alana sniffled.

“Figses?” She asked then smiled weakly, “Yes pwease Aunty Cynfia.”

Petal dabbed the cloth into the jar and gently began to rub it onto the red raw skin of Alana's back around her newly emerging wings and Cynthia gave the little one a fig to eat. Alana lent against her father's chest after the fig and closed her eyes exhausted. Caleb sighed, “Rest little one.” He said softly holding her as her little wings twitched. She was close to sleep until a whimper broke from her throat. Caleb knew that the pain must have been immense for such a small girl and he wished he could help her better.

“So I didn't know what to get so I got a bit of everything.” Cynthia said, “Oh and you should try this Lucy, it's really tasty.”

Lucina giggled softly. She was glad that Cynthia was as optimistic as ever. In the meantime, they would keep watch over Alana. “Quiet is what Alana needs now.” Lucina said, “We'll be able to better keep watch on her.” She watched as Caleb gently eased Alana down on their bedroll, “We're going to have to stay with her until the worst of this subsides.” Caleb nodded and he brushed the hair off his daughter's forehead.

“I suppose we should-” Caleb began then his stomach growled. “We should have something to eat and rest.” He said calmly and for now it seemed Alana had settled again. That was good. She needed to rest as much as possible.

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Chapter XXXVI: An Intervention

 

“I’ll leave you guys to it, then.” Arilon turned and opened the tent for Petal and Nino, who went out first. “Let us know if there’s anything else we can do for you. In addition...sorry for not warning you about Avata, I wasn’t thinking about how you might see her. I promise you don’t have to worry, and I’ll try to explain why when you guys get some downtime. I would have explained it about now, but…” He glanced back at Alana. “You’ve got enough to get through for the time being.”

Caleb nodded, and Arilon stepped out, following Petal and Nino back to camp.

 

There was quiet in the tent as everyone ate what food they wanted and Caleb made sure that they were all comfortable as gradually curtains were pulled across the rooms as one by one everyone else went to sleep. He lay awake listening to his daughter's hitched breathing. He could only pray she was able to rest. Caleb knew that he couldn't stay listening to her muted cries of pain. He sighed and got up carefully tucking the blanket around the relatively tiny frame of his daughter. Lucina was asleep at Alana's side and Caleb could breath easy knowing that. It still hurt to have Alana in such pain. Caleb eventually came to the mess tent to see one of the Wanderers were up. He noticed it was one of the Dragons. The boy froze when he saw Caleb. “Hey, don't mind me.” Caleb said with a wave, then he sat at one of the empty tables resting his head in his chin as a sigh broke out.

“You okay?” The boy asked carefully after a moment,

“I'm fine...though my little one isn't.” Caleb said as a fresh wave of guilt coursed through him. It would have been better if he wasn't a Fellblood. “You're an Ice Dragon, right? You're so lucky not to have to deal with the pain of having wings.” Caleb mused after a while and the lad's eyes widened in shock,

“Huh?!”

“Well the shock of having wings suddenly sprout from nowhere and causing nothing but pain for all involved. I don't blame the other dragons for being driven crazy if that's what happened to them as well.” Caleb sighed.

“I...I don't know what to say.” The lad said at last as he sat across from Caleb,

“It's nothing, really.” Caleb said at last, “Besides, I'm sure there will come a time when they might be useful to me.” He scoffed. 'As if!' The tactician wanted to say and it seemed that the lad got the implication he was making.

“I was always...annoyed I didn't get wings...” The Ice Dragon said quietly,

“Trust me you're better off without them.” Caleb said calmly, “You don't have to worry about extra limbs for Wyrmslayers to cut and hurt you in either form. Oh, and the itching.” Caleb said hands motioning, “The itching right where you can't reach to drive you further insane!” He said and the Ice Dragon tilted his head, “Seriously.” Caleb said and the pair were across from one another. The Ice Dragon blinking in surprise the Fell Dragon eventually sighing again. It was strange. Caleb thought to be talking to another Dragon, but then he supposed it was something he'd not expected to have to do.

“Hey you want some of this tart?” The Ice Dragon asked, “It's really good!”

“Thanks.” Caleb grinned and then his six eyes widened, “CUSTARD TART?! Oh sweet mother of Naga may I fall into the nine heavens right now!” Caleb cheered. The Ice Dragon laughed and the pair shared a moment of mutual love of food. Caleb saved half for Lucina. He knew his wife would appreciate it.

 

By the time he got back to his tent he heard muffled sobs and sighed. Poor Alana. He came in and saw Lucina stretch, “Hey, I got you something Lucy.” He said softly as not to wake the little one.

“Thanks. She's still sleeping. I think her wings have stopped growing for now.”

Caleb carefully looked at the red raw skin and noticed the quills were starting to form. “She'll have feathers by the morning if this pace keeps up.” Caleb frowned handing the custard tart to Lucina. “We may be able to-” He said softly and Alana's soft sobs faded again.

“I'm kind of worried, what else could happen to her?” Lucina asked and Caleb looked thoughtful,

“I'd have to check the library again.” He admitted, “I think though she might just be lucky enough that the wings will be the only thing. If not...” Caleb winced, “I can only pray she won't have to worry about it too.”

 

The first light shone through the opening of the tent. Caleb had yet to wake but Lucina found it a nice change that she was awake first. It was also soothing in a way seeing Caleb's left wing draped over Alana protectively. Alana had not sobbed in a hour and it seemed that the worst of the pain was over for the small child which had Lucina heaving a sigh of relief. She heard a low sigh and saw Caleb's eyes open. “He'll be here soon.” Caleb said with a yawn stretching to reveal Alana's feathers had began to grow. They were like the down one found on a bird chick. Caleb sniffed the air carefully and said calmly, “They won't cause her trouble for a while now.”

“How long?” Lucina asked softly,

“Until they fledge.” He replied, “Hopefully not for a few years.” Caleb sighed as the little one yawned.

 

At first Caleb feared she'd start crying all over again but when she said, “I's hungry.” He heaved a sigh of relief. It seemed the worst thank gods was behind them.

“Alright...is there anything you feel like eating Sweetpea?” Caleb asked aware that the Wanderer was there.

“Figses!” Alana cheered and Caleb sighed,

“Figs are dessert. Not a breakfast.” He said and Alana pouted

“Pwease Daddy!” Alana pleaded,

“Ali...” Caleb sighed, “After you've had something else.” He looked to Lucina for help,

“But!” Alana pouted at her father again and Lucina spoke,

“Ali,” She saw her daughter pouting and gently ruffled her hair, “As your father has just said, you need something other than figs.” Alana continued to pout, “We're not saying that you can't have figs, what we are saying is that you need to have something else first. Then you can have figs.”

She ceased pouting and smiled, “Okay~!” She cheered again then she looked thoughtful, “But whats a breakfast food?” She said looking between her mother and father. Caleb chuckled,

“How about we have some bread and butter with figs?” Caleb suggested to the small child and Alana looked like Naga's Day had come early,

“Yes pwease Daddy!” She cried happily and Caleb felt a smile touch his face. She seemed to not be in pain. A good sign he hoped.

 

Caleb stepped outside of the tent to see Arilon making what appeared to be morning rounds. “Hello.” Arilon's heartbeat betrayed his surprise,

“Good morn.” The tactician half smiled as the rest of the camp had the sluggish early morning 'when is it breakfast time?' atmosphere. He could already see people beginning to head to the mess tent, Caleb chuckled softly, some things never seemed to change. For a moment he thought he saw Stahl making his usual beeline to the mess tent; then Caleb realised it wasn't Stahl at all. It was the young Ice Dragon. He wasn't sure what the young one's name was...though Nils came to mind for some reason. Caleb let out a heavy sigh. The old memories were really doing his head in. Though he decided it could be worse. He could have ended up with amnesia. He almost jumped when Arilon spoke, “How's Alana doing?”

Caleb took a small breath to recover, “She seems to be pain free for now.” He admitted calmly, “Thank gods.” The tactician said his own wings slack against his back, visible since he'd yet to dress properly. He made them stretch out fully as there was an annoying itch he knew he couldn't reach...and he blinked when Lucina came out and suddenly scratched it. He let out a noticeable sigh of relief. Then Caleb spoke again, “So, you said you were going to explain why I didn’t need to fear...Avata, right?” He asked,

“Yeah, and I noticed some of you guys looking at Kjelle’s Falchion curiously, so I thought I’d explain that as well.” Arilon confirmed “There’s actually a special chamber here in the ruins I also thought you guys might find interesting that helps the explanation a little, if you guys are up for a walk." He then added, “I would most likely be bringing Avata herself too, though, just as a heads-up. Go ahead and eat breakfast first, though, I assume Alana at least is hungry.”

"Well as long as we're not too closely together, I'll be fine." Caleb said as calmly as he could. He didn't say a word about how strong his concern was about a potential fight breaking out between him and the Naga. He did not want to have to fight her; he'd already been well aware of the bad blood between both Naga and Grima, he did not want to be the Dragon that caused more of it...

 

“Alright, then, don’t let me keep you guys any longer.” Arilon said with a smile as Alana decided to follow her parents out of the tent “Go grab something to eat, then we’ll go exploring.”

“Explowing?” Alana asked, curious but still distracted by the smell of food. “Explowing where?”

“There’s a really cool area here in the ruins.” Arilon explained. “It has this neat little room and...well, I won’t spoil it all, you’ll have to decide if you want to come along and see it for yourself. For now, though, go eat.”

Alana pulled on Caleb's arm and he saw her little fluff of purple wings and he couldn't help but say,

“Ali, are you forgetting something?” She pouted,

“Yous is too Daddy!” She said and Caleb feigned surprise,

“Am I now?” He said with mock relief, “Well, a good thing we both remembered then hmm?” He said as Lucina bought their coats out.

“Actually it's better that I remember.” She said with a giggle.

“Mummy to the rescues!” Alana cheered as Caleb had pulled on his shirt where he stood.

 

When they arrived at the mess Alana grabbed her father's arm, “Daddy where's the figses?”

“Not yet Sweetheart.” Caleb said firmly, “Remember what I said earlier?” He asked and Alana sighed but giggled at the food she could see. For Caleb it was a bit much. All of the people in the tent made him mildly uncomfortable. He focused on Alana who had practically pulled her parents to where the Tharja look a like was working on the meal. Caleb was quick to get what food was needed and get to the least offensive spot when,

“Hey! Caleb! Over here!” The Ice Dragon called and he sighed. There was another one with him and he seemed cheerful enough. The tactician gently guided his daughter to the table, and Fae spoke up,

“Hey~!” She said and Alana smiled shyly,

“Can I's sits there pwease Dee?” Alana asked the young dragon and Fae smiled,

“Sure~!” Caleb saw a friendship beginning and he smiled. He was glad to see his little girl be happy. Caleb could have done without being stared at, but he supposed he should have just left. Lucina held his hand under the table and was rubbing soothing circles into his palm and that did help a bit. He noticed that Arilon arrived after a while and it was just as Fae started to join Alana in a chant,

“Figses, figses!” The two cried and Caleb noticed the empty plates. Alana grinned and Caleb noticed that there was another tooth missing. A grand total of three. He sighed. She was about the age where it would happen and he was relieved that her teeth seemed to act more like a normal human than a dragon. Good she wouldn't be sixteen and still loosing teeth like Nah. It was relieving to know that even with her awakened blood she still was more human than dragon. Caleb sighed as the two kept up the chanting and Idunn looked over at him and he spotted where there were figs and cleared his throat,

“Alright, but only if you both say the magic word.” Caleb said and Alana blinked. Everyone was watching now almost wondering what he meant. Alana frowned for a moment then said,

“Pwease!”

Caleb smiled, “I can't say no to that now can I?” he asked and Fae suddenly said,

“Please!”

Caleb snapped his fingers and the two squealed in delight as he used a simple teleportation spell to make the figs seem as if they appeared from nowhere, though really he'd merely summoned them for the girls to eat. “Thank you~!” Dee cheered and Alana said,

“Thank yous Daddy~!”

There were a few whispers but Caleb figured it was more to do with the fact that he'd summoned the figs and not because Alana had called him 'Daddy'. Though to be fair most people would not have expected him to even be there...Caleb sighed inwardly.

 

By the time the morning meal was done, Alana had decided she wanted to play with Fae, the two young ones under the watchful eye of Idunn which Caleb was grateful for. It was tough though to let Alana out of his sight. Noire said she'd stay with Idunn and Caleb felt more relieved. He was glad one of Alana's aunties were there. He, Lucina and Cynthia were the ones then to join Arilon as Lucius and his family had offered to help pack things up to be ready for the day's travel. Caleb tried not to think about the fact that the Naga was coming with them but it was difficult to say the least. He'd not felt so uncomfortable in a while. There was something about the ruins that made Caleb uneasy. For a moment he wondered why that was but as Arilon lead the way Caleb instinctively hesitated. There was something about this place that made him very uneasy. The tactician held his wife's hand as they went inside.

 

Arilon showed them into a room that Caleb almost felt throw him off and in that moment he saw Alm holding the Valentian Falchion, blade glinting in the light as he stood prepared to seal the young Fell Dragon away. The deep hurt in Caleb's chest was almost overwhelming him. This was what he got for pleading to Naga for help! How dare something as impure as a Fell Dragon be allowed to live! Caleb clutched Lucina's hand and she made soothing motions against his palm but the memory became sharp and clear...

 

He was so small. Tiny in fact and already in so much pain. At that time he was desperate, he wanted to understand his place in the world. He didn't know it was wrong to harm others; his creator killed thousands of people, their screams oddly unnerving to the tiny creature as somehow he knew it was wrong, though he thought it was because he was being a bad creature to not be able to endure the screams. He saw the Creator gaze upon his tiny form and frown. He tried to reassure the Creator that he'd be the perfect creature, he'd kill all the humans his Creator wanted, anything to see the Creator smile, anything. He clung to a small hope that maybe when he was larger he'd be pleasing to his Creator. He begged for someone to help him. A tiny voice in a great void. And he grew. By the time he was large as a...what was the creature again? A...puppy? He thinks, he showed his Creator how strong he was becoming, hoping that would make the Creator happy. He was shocked then when his Creator tried to harm him. Shocked and Angry. What had he done wrong? He only did what his Creator wanted him to do! In hurt he'd lashed out and the smell of blood scared him. Had he a human voice he'd have screamed.

 

He wasn't sure how much time passed. He was lonely with the dead walking about, shuffling as they moved. He was beginning to not be able to fit in the room which he was trapped. Again his voice cried out to the void for someone to help him, someone to save him! He cried, the sound other worldly than what he'd known. He'd begged for someone to help him and still no one came or even answered him. He was beginning to lose all hope.

 

He was nearly the size of the chamber and everything hurt, there wasn't enough room for him. He couldn't tell the time that had passed. He'd already consumed his Creator's corpse to sustain himself and he was so hungry and so very scared. He heard strange sounds, sounds of fighting, clashing of steel and cries of pain. He was trapped. The doors of the chambers opened suddenly and the smell of blood hit his nose. The light almost blinded him,

Gods what is the monstrosity!” A male voice cried and he felt like correcting them,

Forneus' work clearly.” Said a female voice, “Disgusting.”

He winced and tried to communicate. It wasn't his fault that he looked like he did. His eyes fell on the humans for the first time. These people were unlike anything he'd ever seen. He had no idea that they intended to harm him. The man had a sword that glowed and somehow he knew it would hurt him. He tried to protect himself when the man lashed out with the blade. A shriek of pain escaped him as it cut through his body. Agony...never ending agony...that was Naga's answer to his plea. He learned the hard way that humans were not to be trusted as he was sealed away. He could never trust a human...and, most importantly of all he could never trust Naga to help him. She would never help him.

 

“...his wife...died”

“His wife died?” Caleb asked shaking the vestiges of the memory's hold on him for a moment,

“Yeah, and that was when he made his life’s two goals to create an army using the dead and to create the perfect lifeform. I assume his reasons were so that nobody else would lose a loved one, at least not in battle, and so that he could have a companion who would never leave him behind, being perfect.” Arilon shrugged. “Unfortunately, he was so hyperfocused on those goals that he eventually went crazy about them, hence the records that state that the Naga who was Tiki’s mother died in Thabes and his notes we found, which stated that he obtained Divine Dragon blood, but had to take a terrible risk to do it. It’s not explicitly stated, but the two events seem rather suspiciously positioned in relation to one another, so we assume he attacked and somehow killed her, following which she was reincarnated in the Alterspire. Anyways, the point I was getting to is that frankly, even if Forneus did kill her to make you - er, Grima - Avata recognises that wasn’t your fault, and has no intention of taking retaliatory action against you or your family, so you can stop acting like you think she’s going to...I dunno...bite Alana or something.” Caleb growled at the mention of Forneus. The man stirred up hatred beyond measure for Caleb and yet. He heave a sigh. Arilon continued, “And while we’re at it, we also explained that situation to Tiki, so she also won’t have anything against you if or when you meet her, in case you were concerned about that. As for our current Naga, I have absolutely no idea what she thinks of the situation, but I actually don’t give a crap about what she thinks, so that doesn’t matter. Even if she tries to set the Shepherds on you like your Naga did, we’re not gonna let them do anything, even if that means I have to deal with her myself.”

Caleb heaved another sigh as Avata spoke calmly,

“We can not let the shadows of the past take hold over the future, Caleb.” She said his name quite pointedly, “Perhaps, in another life, we might have found ourselves enemies, as Naga and Grima, but here and now I am simply Avata, the Wanderer, following my Commander, and you are simply Caleb, husband of Lucina, and a man looking for a place for his wife to have a child. I have no reason to hurt you, and you have no reason to hurt me, so if you are alright with it, I would consider you a friend.”

The tactician stilled his mind for a moment before nodding then said quietly, “Very well.” Caleb then frowned as the memory rose again, “I...don't know what it is about this place but...” Caleb felt his eyes close as the phantom pain made him shudder.

“Something wrong Caleb?” Lucina asked gently,

“It was...one of...” Caleb didn't have to finish as Lucina pulled him to rest his head on her shoulder,

“...One of?” Arilon asked slightly confused,

“Our Grima's memories.” Lucina said calmly, “A painful one clearly- it was probably triggered by the statue of Alm.”

The others frowned but they seemed to understand as Cynthia said, “Wait? Caleb has Grima's memories as well?”

“Sort of.” Caleb said twinging as the left wing decided it wanted to be itchy, he then said irritably, “Damn wings!” And half threw his coat off. Lucina realising that Caleb was trying to get to his wings again raised an eyebrow. Caleb gave her a pleading look and she held out her hand for the clothing that needed to be removed. Caleb sighed and pulled the shirt off holding out his left wing as Lucina started to scratch it where he couldn't reach it. Cynthia blinked,

“Oh. I guess that would be a problem huh?” She said as Caleb let out a low sigh of relief, “Hey, you mind if I-?”

“Go ahead.” Caleb sighed, “They're both irritating me right now.” He as Cynthia gently started to scratch his right wing. Caleb felt his eyes close briefly as mild bliss crossed his face. He could definitely get used to this kind of thing, even though his wings thus far had been nothing but an irritation...

 

Cynthia moved the feathers and said, “No wonder you're not having fun with them!” She said, “Looks like you've got some more to come through!”

“Nagadamnit!” Caleb groaned.

“Aww, don't worry Caleb, Lucy and I have just the thing!” She said with a grin, “Lovebird gets this problem too. Looks like the flight feathers are starting to come through and that's what's causing the itch.”

“Great.” Caleb grumbled giving his thoughts on the matter as Cynthia let out a giggle. Lucina tilted her head,

“Sarcasm and I don't mix Caleb.” She said and he let out a low sigh,

“Of course Lucy.” He said pressing his head to her shoulder as both wings remained open, for now as Cynthia was gently moving them to see if there were more feathers that needed to emerge. He felt a slight tug and growled softly, “Cyny...” He warned and she said,

“Hmm...they're firmly attached so that's good. She pulled out something that smelt odd, “Right so just a little sting-” Caleb snarled, “Okay, big sting, sorry!” Lucina firmly pressed Caleb's head to her shoulder, “Well that's one done.” She said and Caleb's wings were quick to try and move away from her, “Seriously brother?” Cynthia said, “Don't move them. Otherwise I can't put this ointment on properly.

Caleb growled, he tried to keep both wings open. Lucina was surprised, “Which one is this one?” She asked,

“One of the ointments Father used to make for Lovebird. It does sting but it helps feathers to grow properly. I usually put this on Lovebird's wings after she's had a bath.” Cynthia said and Caleb said rather sarcastically,

“She loves it I bet.”

“There! Done.” Caleb blinked and looked at Cynthia suspiciously,

“Really?” He asked wings folding.

“Yup~!” She smiled then she tilted her head, “I see you didn't lose that scar.” She said and Caleb looked to his left shoulder,

“Yeah it's still there.” Caleb said with a sigh. One of the numerous scars he had it was the nastiest looking due to the fact he'd used Nosferatu to heal. It looked as if his shoulder had been torn open at some point which wasn't far off what happened. Wings soothed for the time being Caleb threw his shirt back on and his coat. “Now then. We should probably get back to the others and...”

“I actually had one last quick comment on our history lesson.” Arilon reminded them, and Cynthia nodded, remembering.

“Hey, yeah! You skipped the third Falchion so you could explain about Avata!”

“Yep, it’s right over here.” He led them into the chamber.

 

“Hey, it’s another woman this ti-uh?” Cynthia stopped and a funny look crossed her face. Lucina looked to Arilon surprised. Caleb frowned slightly tilting his head.

The woman depicted wore clearly Archanean style gear, and had her hair cut shorter than they expected, but the Falchion in her hand, and the Brand so carefully etched into her eye, told it all.

"Lucy..." Caleb said softly, "But not Lucy. Not my Lucy." He corrected quickly. Caleb frowned. This world he decided was weird. He barely heard what was said at all. In fact he was more focused on watching the other two react.

 

Arilon grinned at the reactions of both Cynthia and Lucina, Caleb could tell the Wanderer was...excited? Then the man said, “Let's get back to the others,” he grinned, “and then to Ylisstol to speak with Chrom. After that…” he seemed to be smiling widely, “You guys wanna meet the Hero King?

Caleb knew Lucina was shocked but the possibility was appealing to her. He gave a small nod to affirm he didn't mind since Marth was something of a childhood hero of Lucina’s. Caleb tried to ignore the itching from his wings again. It was proving difficult, though the ointment Cynthia put on did make it less annoying...Caleb sighed inwardly. He'd be fine. Besides seeing Lucina this excited...it made Caleb happy. He could only hope to help her smile like that again.

 

By the time they'd arrived everyone was indeed ready to move out. Caleb opted to ride Storm to see how the Pegasus would respond. Well aware that he would have to call upon all of his riding experience.

 

The Pegasus stallion seemed to calm almost the moment Caleb was in the saddle, what he said about the kind of Pegasus Storm was rung true. Storm was bred specifically for his tolerance to magic. The ride was actually kind of enjoyable, at least until they started getting closer to Ylisstol.

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Chapter XXXVII: To Regain Hope

 

At first Caleb had assumed that he would be fine however the closer they made there way into Ylisstol the more it was like Southtown. He had to admit that destroying things was the last thing on his mind as he watched the people go about their daily lives. The tactician wanted to smile but he was too busy gripping the reins tightly and staring at his white knuckles as his hands started to shake. Storm stood still as Caleb struggled to breathe. It was hard as he couldn't help but see Ylisstol in ruins...and he felt sick. In another world, their Ylisstol lay in ruins and he could still smell the smoke, death and decay...

“Caleb?” Lucina pulled Bluebird to a stop alongside him and Storm, “Is it another one?” She asked softly and the tactician nodded numbly, “It's alright, you know it won't happen here, you've got this.” Lucina reassured him, “We'll take as long as we need.” She added gently patting his arm. “One step at a time.” Lucina soothed,

“R-right.” Caleb said shakily and for a moment he almost wanted to back away entirely.

“I mean it Caleb.” Lucina said calmly, “I'll be right here, beside you.” She assured him and Caleb took a shaky breath. He tried to relax his hands when Lucina reached from Bluebird to place her hand over him, “Would it be easier if I rode with you?” She asked gently and Caleb nodded, “Lucia, would you mind holding Bluebird?” Lucina asked the young myrmidon calmly,

“Of course Milady.” She said with surprised expression,

Alana tilted her head having little Fae behind her since the young girl wanted to share her Pegasus with her new friend. It amazed Caleb how quickly Alana had made friends with the little dragon, not that he was complaining it was nice that Alana had someone close in mental age to be friends with. As it was Alana spoke, “Look Mummy's riding with Daddy!” She said happily and Caleb was glad that Lucina got a leg up from Noire and was settled behind him. Caleb relaxed once her arms were around his waist. She lent close and said softly,

“One step at a time love.” And Caleb nodded, her closeness helping to soothe him. Storm let out a low whinny and Caleb noticed Idunn came over,

“Everything alright?” She asked and Caleb half sighed, half groaned,

“Sorry.” He said quietly, “I'm just...a little overwhelmed...”

“Ah.” She understood without Caleb have to say more, “Well then, I'll stay with you if that's fine by you.”

“Thank you Wyrm, we appreciate it.” Lucina said working on loosening Caleb's vice grip on the reins, it took Caleb another five minutes before he was calm enough to gently nudge Storm's sides. The stallion seemed well aware of his master's discomfort and calmly plodded along, hooves clacking against the stone road. As his wings rested on Caleb's legs and over Lucina's. The ring his shoes made had a soothing edge to it as Caleb focused on Lucina pressed to his back, her scent nice and close to his nose. Idunn helping to keep watch on Fae and Alana as the group bought up the rear.

 

It took Caleb to the point where the sun was practically down and everyone was rushing to their homes before he finally made it to Ylisstol Palace. Idunn didn't hurry the pace which was most welcome. Fae and Alana had giggled and made shapes in the clouds and Lucina had kept her hold firm around his waist. Of course being the last to arrive wasn't Caleb's intention but he supposed it was far better to be safe than sorry since the last thing they needed was him having a destructive episode again.

 

“Hey, you guys alright?” Arilon had come over as Caleb finally hopped off Storm.

“We're fine.” Lucina said smoothly, “Though we might need some time.” She said as Fae and Alana both looked ready for some food and sleep.

“I for one,” Caleb yawned exposing his fangs for the second time ever, “Might need some sleep.” He said tiredly,

“Silly Daddy!” Alana giggled, “Yous need dinner first!”

Caleb chuckled tiredly, “I suppose I do.” He said though he didn't feel up to eating and actually felt a little ill...he sighed, “Maybe later.”

“So I hope you guys don't mind but-” Arilon began only for Caleb to mildly interrupt as he was losing patience due to his current lack of energy,

“If you've arranged for us to speak with Chrom, I hope you chose a morning slot.” Caleb said a bit sharper than intended and Arilon frowned, “Because I don't think...” Caleb suddenly yawned again his body screaming at him to rest now, “I'm in any condition to stay awake for much longer...”

Lucina sighed, as she knew that Caleb was tired but to be so tired as to lack social graces wasn't a good sign. She hoped that there wasn't a destructive episode on the horizon.

“How’d you get so tired? It wasn’t that long of a march.” Arilon asked her as he wasn't aware of anything that could make a Fell Dragon lose strength so rapidly, Lucina frowned for a moment before she explained calmly,

“Caleb is not good with crowds, couple that with whatever memory hit him when we entered Ylisstol and his natural fear that he would have hurt people...” She trailed off as Caleb yawned again. He'd not said a word the entire time and was already starting to sway on his feet as his exhaustion started to set in.

“So why didn’t you say anything? I would have gone a different way for you guys so it was less of a problem.” Arilon asked concerned,

“You travelled too far ahead. I was worried because Caleb had Storm at a standstill and I knew that wasn't a good sign. I probably should have rode with him from the start but...” She sighed as Caleb's swaying took a worrying turn. She quickly pulled him to her shoulder, “I forgot.” She said guiltily, Caleb let out a low whine and she gently stroked his hair soothingly. She spoke, “We should probably go...” Lucina began, “I asked about setting up camp in the corner of the palace, since Cynthia and Noire both wanted to at least stay within the city-”

“Yeah, about that.” Arilon interrupted Lucina. “I gave Chrom and Sully the basics of how long you guys needed to stay in Plegia, and Sully about lost it when Anya told us you guys were thinking of staying in tents - to quote her exact words, ‘Not while she’s carrying a baby she’s not, she’s sleeping in a real bed tonight, and I’d like to see her husband say otherwise, Grima or no Grima’ so they’ve insisted you guys stay in the rooms they’re providing.”

“...That sounds like Sully…” Caleb mumbled sleepily from his wife’s shoulder.

“You haven’t let them past the entrance hall?” Chrom's voice spoke calmly to greet the new arrivals and his eyes fell over the group, “Come on, Arilon, you’ll make them think they’re not welcome!”

“I was getting there, I was getting there.” Arilon grinned back at him. “I just finished telling them you guys insisted they take some of the guest rooms.”

Lucina frowned, unsure of what to say. She looked to Alana and the little one understood at least that she wanted the child close. Alana of course had her wings hidden like Caleb's so they weren't visible. As it was Chrom spoke, “Perhaps you'd like to join us for dinner?”

“My apologies,” Lucina said suddenly stiffening, “though the offer is appreciated, I'm not sure that we should. Caleb needs to rest and I can't risk leaving his side.” Sighing inwardly she gently coaxed Caleb to a more wakeful state, only to have a rather annoyed growl in response as his arms suddenly gripped her waist,

“Geez kid.  Lighten up!” Sully said, wincing, “Who told you to be so formal?”

“I am not at liberty to discuss that.” Lucina spoke firmly as she was unsure what she should do or say, especially given how badly Caleb needed to rest...Chrom spoke then,

“Then what are you able to say?” He asked her and the young former Exalt sighed heavily. She knew that for now at least they needed to rest. She was just as tired as everyone else. This was not going to go well. She felt Caleb's grip tighten around her waist and wondered if he was able to move or if she'd need help getting him to,

“I am not the best to explain the situation.” Lucina said bluntly, “The one who can is currently in no condition to do so.”

“Well then how about this, you all stay in the guest quarters for the night and we talk over breakfast?” Chrom suggested and Lucina chewed her bottom lip, a nervous habit of hers,

“I...”

“We should do it Lucy.” Cynthia piped up, “We'll get to stay in proper beds and we can relax.”

Lucina sighed, “Very well then.” She said at last and saw relief on a few faces, “For tonight at least.” She said moving Caleb's hood to protect him from the sudden cold breeze that came through the courtyard. A couple of stable hands came and lead their mounts to the stables. Lucius spoke then,

“He's not as asleep as you might think Milady, just in a half sleep state.” The sage explained, “He will follow us of that I have little doubt.”

Lucina gave a nod as Alana came over by her mother and Lucina wrapped an arm around Caleb's waist. He let out a low noise of displeasure but as she moved sure enough Caleb followed her, his two four eyes closed, the bottom-most pair open to see what was going on she assumed. His walk was a little unsteady but he seemed to maintain his balance.

“Something wrong?” It was Sully who spoke,

“Caleb's just tired.” Lucina said simply, “We've been travelling for quite a while now.”

There was a look that passed between Chrom and Sully that Lucina missed, though to be fair she was as tired as the rest of the group.

 

Cynthia, Noire and Lucia all lead with Aversa standing alongside Lucina should Caleb need the extra support. When they at last came to the chambers, Lucina guided Caleb to the bed and he collapsed on the right hand side of the bed. His low sigh told her he was more than willing to stay there for the time being. She almost would have left him there but then a thought stopped her. She felt the edge of a memory from her other self and sighed inwardly. If she left him now it could be dangerous. She resolved to simply to ask if food could be brought to them.

 

That done Lucina removed Caleb's boots and coat and was preparing to join him when Cynthia came in, “Hey Lucy,” She said softly seeing Caleb's wings strain against his shirt, “He must have really wore himself today.”

“Not just today.” Lucina said quietly thinking back to the last time they'd had a proper bed to sleep in. It seemed like a lifetime ago. “He's been pushing himself for a long time.” She sighed. They had never had a peaceful moment with Caleb in his current state. A newly awakened Grima like Caleb should have been destroying everything in his path and most would with very little encouragement. Their Grima had been an exception to that rule. He might have killed, torn apart and generally destroy things but he was also willing to be stopped. Lucina sat lost in thought as the memories she had weighed on her mind.

“I don't get it Lucy.” Cynthia said as Noire came in with some food for Caleb, “I mean Noire and I knew something was off when...well he awakened at the Dragon's Table...but are you saying...?”

“Our Grima was vastly different to what we knew.” She said, “I suppose I should know. He spoke to me directly before he merged with Caleb.”

“He what?!” The two gasped, “No way?!”

“He did. He said...that I was the key to something. Though he didn't really explain it that much.” Lucina explained. She was aware that Caleb was moving in his sleep. She took the plate from Noire and she held the plate of food. Lucina saw Caleb's lower set of eyes half open, “Caleb,” She said gently, “do you want some?”

He groaned and the rest of his eyes struggled to open, “Please?” He asked forcing himself up,

“Here,” She said offering the fork to him. Caleb ate, quite slowly though given how tired he was it wasn't surprising, “We're apparently meant to join Chrom and Sully come the morning.” She said and Caleb made a non committal noise, “They want to know what's going on.” He sighed,

“Of course they do.” He said taking another bite of food, he seemed to be regaining energy, or more likely humouring her into thinking he'd regained it,

“How much is needed?” She asked softly and Caleb sighed. He set the fork down on the now empty plate,

“I don't know.” He said at last with a yawn, “I suppose we go with the basics and answer the questions as best we can.” Caleb rested his head on her lap eyes closed and Lucina let out a small sigh as he pretty much fell asleep again. She ran a hand through his hair soothingly. Caleb had been through a lot. It was too much to ask him to have to relive memories that were painful. However she knew that they would need to explain the story sooner or later...and perhaps if this Chrom was willing to try and understand, then maybe...maybe her father could as well. She hoped so. She set the plate aside and gently moved Caleb to a pillow so that she could rest beside him. Cynthia had taken the plate and she and Noire left the room as Lucina settled alongside Caleb. She knew that whatever happened Caleb would have her at least. She would always be at his side.

 

The early light of morning revealed the chambers where Caleb and Lucina were staying were empty. Caleb had predictably; gone for a walk to clear his head in the pre-dawn light. Lucina was with him. They reached a point of the Castle that overlooked Ylisstol and Caleb lent on the open balcony taking in the sunrise with Lucina at his side. The pair had enjoyed the slow rise of the sun and for the first time Caleb allowed himself to feel hope. The fresh morning air cut through his shirt as Caleb had neglected to put his coat on. His wings were folded under the fabric and making him wish he'd forgone the shirt as well. He was about to ask Lucina if she could help him when he smelt the presence of what had to be another Fellblood. Caleb turned to see where the Fellblood was and Lucina for her part came to stand closer to him. “You can come out you know.” Caleb said and there was a chuckle,

“Hmm, you picked me up from quite a distance.” The male voice replied, “Sorry, I didn't want to encroach on your moment since I thought I was far enough away not to disturb you.”

“You weren't really encroaching on anything really.” Caleb said at last, “Though to be fair this is a fairly public place so...”

“I see.” The man said and Caleb noticed he was familiar yet different. The same snow white hair, though his eyes were brown and not odd like Caleb's. His hair was different as well. Straight and short the man was taller than Caleb and wore similar clothing to what the young Fell Dragon himself wore. The man came to stand back a bit and Caleb returned his gaze over Ylisstol, “I take it you felt like coming to this spot?” The man asked and Caleb laughed softly,

“Is it that obvious?” He asked back,

“Well...more of an educated guess than anything else.” The man said amused and he came to stand near Caleb's left, “I find it a peaceful place I must admit.”

“Yes, it's the only way to see the whole of Ylisstol for a start.” Caleb said, “Then there's also the fact that it's a great hiding place from Frederick...mostly.” He couldn't help the small smile that came on his face. “Then of course you won't find Vaike up here because he hates heights...which is funny because this used to be the only place we'd ever find Gerome until that awful day Minerva came back without Cherche.”

“If you don't mind me asking, how old are you?” The man asked,

Caleb frowned, “Well, I was born a couple of years before Lucy so...” Caleb's frown deepened,

“Wait...a couple of years before Lucina was born?!” the man was shocked,

“Yes.” Caleb replied, “I was. I was a part of the group of that travelled back in time to stop Grima from awakening.” He explained and the man looked surprised

“Anyway,” The man spoke, “Breakfast is almost ready and Chrom was wondering where you two were so...”

“I suppose we should join them?” Caleb asked the man,

“They did say we could explain everything over breakfast with them.” Lucina said while Caleb looked mildly uncomfortable to say the least

“Well I suppose I better not put this off.” He sighed, “We'll be a few minutes. I will have to be at least half presentable.” He shuddered slightly thinking about what he'd need to do to make himself “presentable” for company with the Exalt. He knew Chrom wasn't one for formalities but the lessons Robin drummed into Caleb meant that he couldn't exactly just go as he was. He would have to bathe and have to tame his mess of waves. He wasn't looking forward to this one bit.

 

Caleb folded his wings and tucked his shirt in. It was odd to pull on his full tactician garb (newly washed and dried). Mia had done an amazing job at making his clothes good as new. She was clearly a skilled seamstress. Caleb had bathed and as he gave himself a once over, he felt mildly uneasy about the extra eyes. He couldn't really do anything about it. He was in the middle of fussing over his belts when Lucina came in and said, “Caleb are you feeling alright?”

“I...I think I'm as ready as I can be Lucy.” he said his reflection frowning at him. “Gods...” He moaned as the collar wasn't straight,

“Caleb,” Lucina spoke soothingly, “Your collar is fine,” She smoothed it, “I'm with you.”

“I know.” he said holding her hand gently, “I can't believe...that we're even going this far Lucy. For the sake of our family...”

“I know,” She said, “We have to. That's why we're doing this.” She said and Caleb sighed his hood pulled up for now. He wasn't comfortable showing his face too obviously since he was still uncertain about the extra sets of eyes. He kept holding his wife's hand as they headed to join Chrom and the others for breakfast. Caleb's nose guided the group as well as their memory of Ylisstol Castle. The layout was actually almost the same, though this one lacked some of the secret passages that Caleb was familiar with he was able to find the way to where they needed to be. The white haired man met them about half-way to their destination and he lead them the rest of the way, Caleb didn't mind his presence, perhaps because the man smelled like himself in a way, the white haired man wasn't Grima, rather he was a carrier of Grima's blood. Different to the young Fell Dragon but it did give Caleb the sense he was bound by blood oath at least to help protect this man, since that was the ancient agreement. Caleb watched as Alana skipped ahead a little and a warning growl from him was enough to make her fall back. He didn't want his daughter out of his sight.

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Chapter XXXVIII: A Grima's Story

 

Caleb and his group were the last ones to arrive with the white haired man leading them to the dining hall.  Caleb froze for a moment as he saw the people present. Some he knew, others he didn't know at all. That caused him to mildly panic.

 

Chrom and Sully were obviously at the head of the round table, with their Kjelle and the other Lucina on the right hand side of the table.  To the right of Kjelle was Lissa and an unfamiliar girl that made Caleb uneasy almost at once. He was quick to reach for his Lucina’s hand as subtle as possible as he didn’t want to let them be aware that he wasn’t comfortable as he felt he shouldn’t have been so on guard.  Next to the girl was Anya, a familiar face at least.

 

On the left of the table there was an empty spot doubtless for the white haired man as an Anna was sitting to the left of that.  By Caleb’s best guess the Anna there must have married the white haired man as the young woman next to her reminded Caleb of Alana, though the scent was slightly different.  The young woman wore her red hair in a ponytail- similar to Anna’s though not as long- her Fellblood nowhere near as strong as her father’s. Doubtless Caleb could safely assume that the man was meant to be a Grima, but obviously he didn’t end up becoming one in the end.  Caleb wondered about that but he decided not to worry about that particular detail. It was the least important thing at the present moment in time as Caleb had more pressing things to worry about.

 

Next to the young woman was another one, that appeared to be another Arilon, at least that was what Caleb was assuming.  The young Fell Dragon frowned slightly, the similarities between the woman and Arilon were very strong; to the point of them possibly being blood related, or even twins.  Though that alone couldn’t explain their similarities to such a deep extent...

 

They smelt very similar as well, with Arilon having a slightly more bitter scent than the woman, as all men seemed to have.  Caleb assumed that difference was because of the differing hormones in the body that made men smell just that slightly less appealing to him, though to be fair, he could say the same of the other Lucina present in the room in comparison to his wife.

 

The one called ‘Andrea’ had a different scent to his Lucina.  Less...Caleb wasn't sure what it was. Perhaps it was the fact the other Lucina smelled of Sully- thus unappealing because of that fact- or because she didn't smell like she was even close to his Lucina (and perhaps Grima’s Lucina considering the pair were merged), Caleb didn't know.  He supposed it was a mystery for him to solve at a later time.

 

Arilon was next to Palla, one of the White Wing Sisters of Macedon for memory; a part of Celica’s army when she recruited them.  Or so the book went that Caleb had studied as a boy under his mother’s strict tutelage. He could tell because of Palla’s scent- which no matter how it was looked at was only something he'd know if he were the Grima of Thabes...so perhaps their Grima had remembered the scents from back then?  It would be a very long time to remember something like that but it was possible. Hells the mere sight of Alm was enough to trigger that memory from Thabes Labyrinth...so who was to say that their Grima wouldn't have recalled the scents of the humans that fought to seal him away the first time?

 

Caleb could feel a few eyes on him as he stood quietly holding his wife’s hand, trying not to be too obvious about his discomfort.  He noticed that Alana was being pretty close to them now as well. She wasn’t sure what to make of some of the people present and it seemed to him that she wasn’t particularly comfortable with the other Lucina’s presence even though said Lucina wore her hair shorter than his wife, whose hair was now almost down to her hips in length.  His Lucina wore a dark blue dress that was similar to her usual tunic, except it had loose sleeves and she had Falchion strapped to her waist like normal. No matter what Lucina was almost never able to part with the blade, given that it was the only thing of her father’s she had left...Caleb knew the feeling. He still had his mother’s Thoron tome and her pendant, a pendant he’d hoped to give to Alana when she was older.  Of course their daughter wore the tiara of her actual mother (since that didn't disappear when Caleb's and Grima’s Lucinas merged), and a blue dress that had the right hand sleeve with the purple Eyes of Grima, the left with black Eyes of Grima, a change that Mia had made to his coat as well as lining the shirt he wore with some silk to keep his wings from driving him mental since cotton apparently was more likely to ruffle them than silk, something that so far was working.  Caleb's feathers were not ruffling and driving him to distraction as they'd been doing in the past.

 

Caleb eventually was seated between his wife and daughter, facing all of the people present, much to his mild chagrin, but he supposed it was the polite way to do things. Servants came with food and Lucina hesitated. Of course Caleb didn't move, silently waiting for the food to be served having been taught so by his mother, his eyes downcast slightly as the old memory took over...

 

Mama!” Little Caleb whined as he sat at the most exquisitely carved ebony table with all the trappings of Plegia, “I is hungwy!” He was looking to his mother in the finest silken robes, white hair still covering her left eye as always, the tiara on her head a delicate black colour with purple gems set into it. She wore the trappings of a Royal consort, and Caleb himself wore the dark mage clothing he was expected to wear as a Prince of Plegia,

Be still!” Robin snapped and he flinched like he'd been slapped. His father Validar sighed and said,

Patience my son.” The man's smile not reaching his eyes, “You'll have plenty to eat, it will not be long.”

I is hungwy!” the tiny prince would have thrown a tantrum if not for the fact that both his parents had just told him to wait. Even so he was voicing his frustrations at his parents, tiny fists balled and magic starting to appear on its own. He should not have been able to use magic at this age, and the surprise from both parents were apparent, pride flickered across Validar's face briefly the king pleased to know that the young Prince was already able to access magic, they would be able to do the ritual soon, for now though he needed to calm the boy down,

It will come when it comes, my son.” Validar said calmly, “Surely you can wait a while no? Besides we have guests we must wait for first.”

I wants now!” Caleb demanded, “I hungwy!”

Enough!” Robin snapped and the small child flinched, “You will wait. A Prince does not complain.”

While Caleb was trapped within the memory Lucina was speaking with Arilon, “Do you want to explain things Lucina?  Or would you rather Caleb go over the details?”

The former Exalt paused.  On one hand she was able to explain some of what happened, Grima’s merging with Caleb and the effects that had on him, but there were somethings that she felt should come from Caleb, given that he was the only one who could really explain it, “I think Caleb has a better grasp of the situation to be honest.” Lucina said, “I...am still trying to understand some of this myself.” She then turned

Arilon nodded, “Sounds good.  Caleb?” He asked.

 

Caleb was brought to by a gentle nudge from Lucina, “Huh?” The young Fell Dragon jolted slightly,

“We’d like to hear you story, if you’re up to sharing it.  Arilon gave us the basics-”

“Some of us, anyways.” The Arilon-like woman stated in a low tone that Caleb easily heard,

“But we’d like to hear it from you yourself, if you don’t mind.” Chrom finished.  Sully was quick to add,

“If it’s too much for you kid, we don’t mind.” Caleb would have smiled at it sounded very like the Sully he’d once known, the one that he grew up with at any rate, “We know the gist and we’ll help you either way.”

The young tactician spoke fairly quickly then, though he did not have much confidence in his own words, “No, it’s...it’s fine.” He replied, “It’s just a long story that may take some time to tell.”

Chrom spoke after a few beats of silence as those around the table who had yet to hear what had bought Caleb to this point with his wife looked at him, “That’s alright,” Chrom said calmly, “Take whatever time you need.”

 

Once he composed himself Caleb unthinkingly spoke in Plegian, “I’m not exactly sure how best to explain this however...our Grima was different it seems from other Grimas.”

Chrom frowned, “I’m, not sure I follow.” Chrom said and Caleb suddenly winced and cringed noticeably.  He just had to talk in Plegian.  Not a good start at all.  Thankfully the white haired man came to the rescue, and Caleb did see Arilon's döppleganger smirking and tried very hard not to notice that.

“If it’s alright with you, I can translate for them.” He offered, “Sometimes it’s easier to use one’s native tongue.”

“You have my gratitude.” Caleb said relieved,

“Are you sure Robin?” Chrom asked and Robin replied,

“I am Chrom.  Besides I wouldn’t have offered if I didn’t want to.  So you were saying that your Grima was different to the others?”

Caleb continued where he left off, “Not many Grimas can claim to have a self awareness that ours did. So while he might have been destructive to a degree our Grima was also aware that there was something off with himself. He had travelled his world for a long time trying to find that answer and it eventually lead him to the Outrealms. He observed all the other Grimas in their Outrealms and discovered a pattern among them all he had no desire to repeat. In short he found out that they were fragments of souls. As soon as he found that out, he began to work on figuring out why that was the case. Of course he'd done all the research he could and when he came into our world with his Lucina, he continued his research. He came across a potent piece of Dark Magic, something that would change fate. I guess in a way our Grima wanted to end the animosity between him and Naga once and for all, though Naga wouldn't let him.

“Why?” The female Arilon shot out suddenly as Robin translated what Caleb had said. Caleb continued,

She needed him to exist in his fragmented state, for reasons I do not know. What I do know is that our Grima trialled the spell in our world to pull from the power that was at the Dragon's Table and store it within him until he was able to do a Soul-repair. To do that he needed the Heart, me essentially, to be unharmed.” Caleb explained calmly. There was a collective frown as Robin calmly translated. The table was silent for a moment when Chrom spoke and said,

“I don't quite understand what you're saying.” Caleb continued,

There are four main parts to a soul, the Mind who bears all of a being's memories, the Soul, the one who carries all of the being's powers, the Body that carries the being's form and the Heart that controls the being's actions. Of course the fragments can take on just about any form. It would be almost impossible to track them all down.

“What happened next?” Again, Arilon’s ‘sister’ (Caleb assumed at least)

Rather than do that our Grima did what he could in the meantime to prepare for the soul-repair. He used every amount of dark magic he could to keep Lucy and I safe.

“Hang on...why did that protection extend to Lucina?” The female döppleganger asked, “I thought Grima didn't like the Exalted Bloodline.”

Caleb gave a small humourless laugh, “See, here's the thing. I'm not sure if you know it, but the one that the Heart binds to is very important. They are what keeps the Heart strong enough to resist the other fragments taking over. If the Heart is damaged or destroyed by an outside force then the being will turn into a very dangerous thing. They will destroy without end until the Heart is either reincarnated or repaired. If there are more than two fragments the being might be able to be held back, but only if you have the key. Lucy, that is what he meant. He knew you were the key, the one to stabilise the soul-repair and allow it to work properly. Had Validar been able to disrupt that process, the repair wouldn't have worked and of course it would have been a disaster for all involved. That's why Validar had to be killed.

“I wonder why...” Lucina said softly and a little darkly, Caleb continued his explanation to the others,

Usually the other fragments won't harm the key or allow harm to come to the key. That is especially true of the other Lucina. Grima's Lucina was the key and he kept her close for a reason, to keep her from being killed. He also was bound to her by blood oath, which means he is magically bound to protect her. As I am bound to protect those who call themselves the Grimleal. It is an ancient magic that not even Naga herself can break. No god can. Once the oath is made it is for the life of the being who made that oath. As well as their bloodline. So long as their blood still lingers they are duty bound to protect those that they are bound to. It is the most difficult oath to break and can only be “broken” when the conditions of the oath have been met. If one is bound in a marriage blood oath, however...that will never be broken.

“So then how come you ended up having to leave your Ylisse?” Chrom asked and Caleb sighed and for a moment it was like he wouldn't answer that one but in reality he was trying to work out the best answer to that question, he spoke choosing his words carefully,

Our Grima merged with me fully, in both physical body and soul.” He tried not to let the others see how difficult it was for him to speak of this. They needed the truth no matter how painful it might be, “My blood therefore was fully awakened as a result.” His response continued in the same measured way, “There has never been a fully Awakened Fellblood in any Outrealm. Most of the others have all been binding the fragment to a physical form and the result is of course to bring 'Grima' to awaken to destroy the world since that is what they believed the oath was.” Caleb explained, “The Shepherds of our world of course hold to the firm belief that 'Grima' is to be destroyed, as commanded by Naga. In her eyes a Fell Dragon is not to exist no matter how gentle or peaceful they might be.” Caleb sighed, “The Fellblood line is to be exterminated and that is Naga's decree. It is all our old stories talk about and indeed all we'd ever been told.

Silence followed Caleb's words and Alana decided that she had enough sitting next to the other Lucina.  She hopped off the chair (clearly she had her limits as to how long she’d deal with things) and buried her head in her father’s chest to his lack of surprise.  He knew she wasn’t particularly happy and he shifted so she could sit on his knee comfortably. Then the moment was broken when Robin said calmly in Plegian, “It must have been a very difficult trip for you.

Perhaps, but it was for the best.  The only show of goodwill I could do given the circumstances was to allow them to awaken our Chrom’s Falchion.  I don't know if they have yet or not.

Robin was surprised, “You let them have the Fire Emblem?  That's...a bit unexpected…

They have no reason to trust me.  Indeed, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if they thought of me as Grima, that was how they reacted when they saw me.  We had little choice but to leave when that happened. Though to be fair it wasn’t like I was in any state to be around without anyone who wasn’t my family potentially getting hurt, a risk I pray to the gods won’t happen again….if it had I would not have forgiven myself for it.” Caleb sighed sadly,

“Uh, Robin?” Chrom spoke and Robin said calmly,

“He says that he let their Chrom keep the Fire Emblem, to awaken his Falchion.” There was a collective look of shock at the table as Robin continued, “Caleb also said he wouldn't be surprised if their Shepherds saw him as Grima since he wasn’t quite safe enough to be around for anyone that wasn’t his family.”

“Why?  He doesn't appear to be in the slightest!” Andrea said slightly shocked, Caleb heaved a sigh,

“If you looked like I do…” He gave his Lucina a small look, as if seeking her support and he carefully pulled off his hood.  He had his eyes closed but Robin said calmly,

It's alright, they're not going to draw their blades.

And Caleb opened them.  There was a collective gasp, and Caleb knew why.  He could see that it was disquieting to some of the people present; he couldn't blame the reaction.  Instinctively he looked down, “They were crimson before.” Lucina explained, “Which made matters much worse and didn’t exactly do him any favours.”  Chrom frowned,

“I’m... finding it quite hard to believe they'd see him as Grima…” His voice uncertain, though to be fair he was only seeing Caleb in his current state and not what had happened at the Dragon's Table,

“This is the calm.  The storm...well it's not pleasant to try to work with.” Lucina replied, and Caleb visibly shuddered,

“It's...not exactly...easy…” Caleb’s voice quivered as the images of destruction came to mind, “To not destroy things...though the further we've been from the Dragon's Table in our world…the...I won’t say easier because that would be a lie, but...the less insistent...the urge has been.”

Alana chose this moment to speak, “Theys don’t understand,” She said mixing her Ylissean with Plegian, “Daddy hates hurting people.  He keeps us saves. He always keeps us saves.” She said and Caleb said softly,

“The word is safe Sweetheart.” Alana turned to look at her father, he spoke slowly, “Safe.”

Alana frowned, “Sa-afe?”  She tried again, “Safe!” Caleb smiled and pat her head,

“Clever girl.” He praised his daughter and Alana gave a big grin that showed off her missing front teeth, the eight year old girl liked making her father proud.  Alana's grin made a few people chuckle. She of course was calm, now that she had her father's attention. Caleb smiled at his daughter. She was one of the people he knew he would do anything for.

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Intermission: A Grima's Grief

Pain...anguish...what was the point of fighting it?  What was the point of struggling. Robin felt as if her body wasn't her own and as she saw the horrified look on Grima’s face she had to wonder...was it truly Grima, or was it her son, Caleb that was looking at her with such pity?  This wasn't something to ponder as blackness enveloped her, yet it was. Part of her felt as if there was something not quite adding up, something not quite right. If it was truly Grima, then why wasn't he destroying the world as Validar said he would?  If it was truly Grima, why would he allow them to have the Fire Emblem to awaken Chrom’s Falchion?  If he was truly Grima, why would Lucina, Cynthia, Noire and Alana stay by him without dark magic?  If he truly was Grima…? No matter how she sliced it, Robin never truly knew Grima.  Never truly knew Caleb.  If it was truly her son...a sick feeling crept into her gut.  If this was her son...then she had failed as a mother.  She had failed to protect him when he needed her the most and that made Robin be filled with regret.  She should have been the one protecting him...and yet...she'd failed him. She had failed this version of her son in ways she did not understand.  In ways she'd not been able to prevent. That...thing...had a hold of her body, forced her to face a truth she'd never thought possible.  She should have fought it harder. Should have killed it somehow...she should have...and yet she could not.  She was bound to it like a fly in a web, no escape from it as it skulked around her body, gaining control and strength that really she'd not been able to believe and now...Robin paid the price.

 

She wasn't sure how long she lay there, but the gentleness from Grima, no Caleb...Caleb, was like handling the most delicate of vases, one in which the glue had yet to set with the broken shards still able to move.  Robin was more aware than he may have known. A part of her hearing the pain in his voice, a part of her wishing she could ease that pain.  To tell him she believed he wasn't the monster he saw himself as, even so she couldn't. Her body was completely drained and there was nothing she could do about it.  He was forced to leave her. Doubtless hoping to avoid conflict as best he could. Her son...her son leaving because of what he was. It was painful to think about it.

 

When she was finally able to move it was only after Lissa and Maribelle had healed her.  She looked at Chrom then, “We need to get back to Ylisstol, now!” She said, “Caleb and Lucina will be in danger if we do not.” Robin told them.  If she could not atone for one of her sons, she could at least atone to the one she birthed. She could only pray he'd be safe,

“Are you sure Robin?” Chrom had asked and she nodded,

“Definitely.” She said.  “Caleb's at risk, as much as Lucina.  Doubtless there will be Grimleal who will see him as Grima and they're likely to try and take him.  As well as Lucina since they'd see her as the Holy Consort. Especially since Caleb practically is considered to be Grima and his actions will have created a rift around the Grimleal.  That said I fear the worst.”

 

The Shepherds would have raced back to Ylisstol if not for Naga herself appearing and saying, “Forgive me, for the one you thought was Grima is not, had the signs been much clearer you could have helped him better.  He struggles even now to keep from harming others. Even so, the little ones have help to keep them safe, the Grimleal have fragmented, there are those that you can trust.”

“Naga...is there any way…?” Robin asked and the divine dragon knew Robin's question.  She was wondering if there was a way that she'd be able to see her son, Naga simply said,

“I'm afraid not.  Though do not despair, for there is one who can help him, that is helping him, in ways I could not.”

A thought that Robin should have had and yet she was having it...even so...why was she down and afraid.  What was it about the fact that Caleb was Grima that frightened her? What was she to do? The pain of losing her son was almost overwhelming.  To know that she would never be able to see Caleb again...the pain of losing the future version of her son was almost too much to bare, even if he was being helped by others.  Robin let out a low wail of despair, “Robin, darling…” Maribelle spoke as soothingly as she could, “We must hold to our hope. One day maybe he will return, think how wonderful that day would be.  He has done what he felt was right and we cannot begrudge him that. We must keep praying for them both.”

 

How Robin came to regret not spending more time with the future version of her son…had she spent the time with him, maybe she could have saved him...and maybe, just maybe she'd get to know the mystery behind those different coloured eyes, just maybe Robin would have got to know him properly before he was snatched away from her by forces outside her control...yet the Ylissean Grandmaster could not afford to think on what could have been.  She had to focus on what was. The son she gave birth to needed her now. One day she would atone to the son she lost. She could only hope that much.

 

The anguish ran deep as she did what she could to protect the baby she'd birthed.  The small child's pain eating at her as slowly he too was made to suffer because of the blood within him.  Her son's cries echoing long into the night as his tiny body changed.  Wings sprouting from his back, slowly agonizingly growing as the toddler screamed morning and night.  All they could do was provide temporary relief. If not for the young woman who called herself, Bloom and her travelling companion's arrival; Robin would have gone so far as to use dark magic to try and relieve her son's pain.  Bloom was a gentle woman with ruby hair and an accent Robin couldn't place, however it didn't matter to the distraught mother and pained toddler, as the young woman offered to help. Robin was quiet as the clear healer (by the Grandmaster's assumption) did what she could with herbs.  The little boy stopped crying and for the first time in a month, little Caleb was finally sleeping peacefully. Robin near wept with relief, hastily sniffling as Maribelle smiled, “Thank the gods.” She said gently placing a blanket over the tiny child, “We are truly indebted to you.”

Bloom blushed, “Please, it was the least I could do.  I'm glad I was able to help you, especially since you've gone to so much trouble for us.”

“Darling,” Maribelle smiled, “It's the Shepherds’ duty to help those in need.” She said and Chrom came in holding little Lucina who was fussing,

“Yes, we're happy to help,” Chrom said and as he set the little baby next to her friend, Lucina calmed and made little movements before she too fell asleep, “You seem to have had a very long trip.”

“Quite,” said Bloom's companion, “And we've got a while to go yet.”  the royal purple haired woman frowned though as she looked at the little Caleb, “At least the poor dear is no longer in pain.”

“We'd be happy to give you the supplies you need.” Chrom offered,

“That's very kind of you.”

“If you do see the...well other two of these…” Robin began,

“So you had time travellers as well?” Thorn asked and Robin nodded,

“Yes, my son...my son Caleb was the one who was meant to be Grima...please...if you ever do see him.  Tell him I'm not mad at him for what he did, and please,” the mother choked on a sob, “Tell him I'm sorry...I- I shouldn't have listened to his father, I should have listened to my gut and what it told me.”

“What's to say you won't be able to see him yourself?” Thorn asked and Robin looked pained,

“I know that the others don't like talking about it all that much but I know my time is limited.  I won't be alive for much longer. No amount of magic is going to save me. My very life force was drained by that...thing so I have at best a few years, at worse…”

“Robin…” Maribelle said and spoke firmly, “We won't let the worst come to pass!”

“Perhaps, but I know I'm on borrowed time.  I think he knew it.” Robin said sadly. “I think he knows it.  That's why...that's why, he left me as he did. Partly because we thought him Grima and he didn't want to fight but partly because...he didn't want to lose me again…”

 

By the time the visitors left, Robin knew she wouldn't see them again.  She wouldn't live to see them again.  She smiled as much as she could, and tried to distract everyone to the fact that she was  dying. She focused on stopping the Grimleal from causing problems and helped Maribelle implement her plan for fair justice for all.  She was often seen with little Caleb and taught her son everything she knew about battle tactics and strategies, everyone wondered how long Robin was going to have.  The Grandmaster refused to step down as her body gradually and painfully began to fail her. Caleb was five years old when his mother began to train him to be her apprentice.  Lucina often visited Robin's office, mostly to hide from her nursemaids and to play with Caleb. The pair were Robin's “helpers” and it wasn't long before the Shepherds had a baby boom, as all of the members started to have children.  Not long after Henry and Sumia had Cynthia Robin came to visit with her son.

 

Caleb was about seven by this stage and he was a bundle of energy like a normal boy his age, “Mama!” the boy giggled as his wings flapped about and Robin barely had the strength to keep up with him, “Are we seeing Maspher Henry?”

Robin smiled wanly, “Of course my precious one.”

“Do this mean I get to learn magic Mama?” Caleb asked all six of his eyes focusing on his mother,

“Yes, my dear one.”

“Mama...why you so sad?” Caleb asked her eyes brimming slightly with tears and Robin knew she would have to tell him, she pat his head, “Mama?” Caleb asked and Robin said gently,

“I'm sad because one day I won't be able to see you grow into a man.” She said softly, “One day Mama won't be with you like she is now.” she pulled her son into a hug and Caleb sniffled, “One day, Mama will be like the pretty lady back at the castle.”

Caleb suddenly started crying, “WHY?!” The boy, the young Fell Dragon sobbed, “Why Mama?!”

“Because people live for a while, then they die.” She explained, “They become a part of the world's life force.”

“But...I don't  wanna lose you Mama!” Caleb cried,

“It is the way of the world my dear one,” Robin said gently, “The world needs life to make life.” She said thinking back of the words of the Grimleal, “At the appointed time, the Fell Dragon will awaken,” she said softly, “He will bring about an eternal night…I wonder if that is the correct words…”

 

Henry smiled and welcomed the pair in.  He of course knew why Robin had come and he was also aware of what they had to do.  He would teach the young Caleb how to use his magic, but Henry was also preparing to move into Ylisstol Castle with Sumia and baby Cynthia to take care of Caleb.  They found out from Inigo that in the world the Future Shepherds came from had seen that happen and while it was painful to think about, it was for the best. Caleb loved it when Henry came to visit, and Chrom couldn't always keep an eye on the young Fell Dragon.  Even so...Henry had to wonder how long Robin truly had left. He hoped she'd be able to hold out a little longer. He had yet to make good on the hex he'd been working on. One that would allow her to see the other Caleb. Somehow he got the feeling she wasn't going to last it.

 

Caleb played with little Cynthia while Sumia made some tea for Robin.  The pair talked for a while and after a while it was time for Caleb to leave with his mother.  Robin coughed suddenly and Sumia was quick to grab her staff. Robin waved off the offer and said as brightly as she could, “We have to get going.  I promised Chrom that Caleb and I would join them for dinner.”

“We is having bear meat!” Caleb chirped happily, “Lucy love bear meat!”

Henry saw the slight pain on Robin's face.  She hid it well, “Yes, she does.”

“Caleb make sure you do your magic exercises for me okay?”

“Yes Maspher Henry!” Caleb smiled widely and the sorcerer smiled.  He sure was growing up quickly.

 

As it turned out Robin held on for three more years, three years where she had an extremely rapid decline in health.  Little Caleb did everything he could to help. From gathering ingredients for Stahl's tonics, to trying to heal his mother with Lissa and Maribelle.  Everything. Maribelle frequently found the child by his mother's bedside, crying his little heart out. She sat with him, offering what comfort she could.  She lost count of how many nights she had to carry Caleb to his bed chambers as his mother became progressively weaker.

 

In the end, they knew when Robin finally died when a loud wail sounded.  “Mama!” Maribelle had been in the middle of duties when she heard the wail.  She immediately excused herself and came running as quickly as she could with little Lucina, having explained to Miriel that Lucina was not to have lessons for the rest of the day.  The Sage understood at once and also came as quickly as she could.

 

Chrom heard the cry and he leapt from his desk.  He knew what was going on and before Frederick could ask Chrom gave the knight a look that was all too clear.  Frederick followed Chrom as the pair made their way to Robin's, now Caleb's quarters.

 

It was to a sad scene that the Exalt arrived to.  Caleb was crying in the embrace of Lucina, Maribelle holding both Caleb, Lucina and toddler Brady (who only knew that everyone was sad and not why).  Chrom knew instantly what had happened and he knew that the other Caleb likely would have known...if what the Grimleal said was true at any rate…

 

Chrom looked at the sobbing children and knelt to offer what comfort he could to the grieving boy.  He could only hope that if the Future Caleb knew that he would know how worried they all were for him.  Chrom uttered a low prayer and held the sobbing child. He could only hope that wherever the Future Caleb was, that he and Lucina were safe.  It was all that he could do. That and hope one day to mend the rift between them. If only, thought Chrom, he'd not pulled Falchion that day.  Had he not maybe things could have ended differently.

 

Elsewhere a soft sob could be heard as the Fell Dragon Caleb felt a single tear run down his cheek.  He knew of course that his mother had perished despite his best efforts to save her. The tear was seen by his wife and she moved to gently wipe it away, “She's gone.” He said softly, “She's gone Lucy…”

Are you alright, Caleb?” Robin asked and Caleb said without hesitation,

I'm fine.” He knew if he said the truth...he'd break down crying.

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Behind the Scenes

 

So then, you’ve made it to the sort of end of our adventures for now...and this is where the fourth wall gets broken?  I think that’s what Chloey would say I guess. And yes she did tell me about that and said, “Caleb please don’t break it because Chrom’s bad enough with his smashing of it!” and I have to admit I didn’t think I would but...eh, I don’t care.  I wanted to break the fourth wall for a while and I couldn’t exactly do so...at least not easily. Lucy knows what’s going on and well...we haven’t done much in the way of breaking it like Chloey and Chrom, though the fact you’re getting a full few lines from me is...well about as good as it’s going to get before Chloey comes back to notice that I’ve done this.

 

I must admit this is fun.  Though I can’t really spoil too much of what is going to happen just know that you’ve seen nothing yet.  I mean nothing yet. I uh...may have...a few more semi destructive episodes to go and uh...well Lucy’s yet to have our baby so there is that...oh and um...well...my...mother’s gone...sort of...again…

 

So yeah that happens and all but I’m sure the real reason you’ve held out this far is because I’m at least mildly interesting, possibly blown your theories out of the water a few times and will likely a few more, if I don’t go too crazy come the next leg of the journey that needs to be done, but aside from that there is one...pressing thing I think you might need to think of...and for the life of me I haven’t quite figured it out yet...I mean I know Chloey would have a secret and huge revelation in store for you come the next installment of my adventures as well as hers...opps!  I shouldn’t be spoiling for Invisible Ties!  Though to be fair some Grimas are not the same as the others...that’s the only hint that I’ll give you for Chloey’s adventures that are still far from finished and-

 

Caleb what are you doing?-

 

Oh just talking to myself Lucy~!-

 

I doubt that…-

 

Did I ever tell you how beautiful you are Lucy?-

 

Caleb…-

 

She’s so cute when she blushes like that~!-

 

So Caleb what are we going to do?-

 

Eh, well we already have some time to spare to relax and Alana can do some more accurate Plegian training-

 

Magic training?-

 

Yes Lucy, and I’m looking forward to it because a certain someone is coming back after being...well not back and…-

 

Oh, Caleb!  Don’t tell them that!  Chloey said not to talk about that-

 

Aww.  But Lucy!  I am so excited!  I seriously can’t wait!  I mean we thought that he was killed and all but-

 

Yes but still no reason to spoil that.-

 

*Sighes* Well alright, I won’t spoil it too much.  Just know that it’s a couple of someones that we thought were dead and are not that are going to be coming back.  Not from my younger self’s time, no...from our time.  I’ll leave it to you to guess who it might be and if you think dark magic...well you wouldn’t be too far off…-

 

Hmm so what a slip up...all this fourth wall breaking stuff is a pain in the arse to write...huh…?  Eh, well this is a treat...I do wonder...who it is that Caleb’s told us is coming back...I wonder indeed...

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