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Welcome to Shadow Tactician: To Create Fate.  The Feedback thread is here if you would like to leave feedback.  Thank you for reading.

Recap...

Exalt Lucina traveled back in time to stop the Fell Dragon Grima from destroying the world.  Her mission was to save both her father and the Shepherds, a mission that she wasn't alone in.  Travelling with her was her ever loyal tactician, Caleb.  Caleb was of course determined to succeed in the mission, fully aware of the risks that they would have to go through to achieve their goal.  Of course Caleb wasn't the only one to accompany Lucina.

Her younger brother Brady, her cousin Owain, the young duchess of Rosanne Severa, the young Pegasus Knight Cynthia, the shy Noire, the flirtatious Inigo, the level headed Laurent, the ever responsible Nah, the strong willed Kjelle, the moody and mysterious Gerome and the last Taguel Yarne also followed her.

 

This brave group were all that was left of the Shepherds.  Though unbeknownst to them, they were followed by Grima and his Lucina to ensure that the Fell Dragon survived.

 

Grima instead of using the Grimleal's Awakening ritual used a more powerful spell that bound him to his soul fragment, none other than Caleb himself.  In the process Grima also managed to merge both his Lucina and Caleb's.

 

The resulting chaos caused by the merge forced Caleb to flee as he sort out the last remaining fragment with the help of his wife, Lucina and their daughter Alana.

 

As they fled the Shepherds became divided as Robin, Caleb's mother was taken over by a parasite hell bent on destroying Caleb.

Caleb meanwhile was soon joined by others, first Aversa who was bound by blood oath to assist Caleb, then Cynthia and Noire joined Caleb as they both still believed in him.

 

Caleb eventually met with Arilon, who had given Caleb Mjölnir during the war in Valm.  Arilon agreed to help the young Fell Dragon to find a safe place as Caleb discovered his wife was expecting a child.  After some deliberation, Caleb decided to join the Wanderers as they traveled back to their Ylisse to bury a comrade whom they had lost.

 

It was agreed that they would accompany and guide Caleb to their version of Plegia, as it was a safe place to have a young and seemingly destructive Fell Dragon to stay.

 

However in order to do that, they needed both the King of Plegia and Exalt of Ylisse's Seals to take the young Fell Dragon and his family into Plegia, and so they traveled to Ylisstol to discuss the situation with both men...

Edited by TheSilentChloey

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Chapter I: The Journey Continues

“I am not bound to you any longer.  Dead oaths hold no power when they are spoken from dead lips.” The Fell Dragon said to the shock of all present, “I no longer bow to you Forneus, contrary to your beliefs.  You broke the vow the moment you tampered with my soul and you know it.” Caleb’s voice echoed as his jaws moved. It was hard to believe he had such a mastery of his dragon form, but given how large it was now, it was only a matter of time before he was seen from Ylisstol easily and he’d not wanted the people to panic, though doubtless they would.  Caleb hoped by staying low to the ground he could avoid such trouble but he knew it was impossible, especially at his current size and the fact that he’d easily be seen for miles around did not make things any easier for him. The question became how long until so much panic was caused that an army would come...not a comforting thought in the slightest.  Caleb would have winced but this wasn't the time. Forneus had thought he could use the old broken oath to make Caleb attack his own wife and Caleb had refused to obey the order as the oath itself was broken long ago and he could easily resist it. Lucina stood near his head shock on her face as Caleb continued, “A worm like you has no right to tell me what I should do, least of all where my wife is concerned.  Clearly you do not hold the understanding of magic you thought you did and now, you will pay for your arrogance.  I will not kill you. Such a fate I think is unbefitting for you.  I will however give you a fate worse than death since you crave it so.  Three times you have tried to end my life; thrice I have spared yours.” Caleb sunk into human form and Forneus frowned,

“What are you doing?!” He cried, suddenly realising that he was caught in a trap, Caleb looked on sadly,

“What I should have done from the beginning.  Bound you so that you could never again bare a weapon to harm anyone without prior provocation.” He sighed, “Well as a free willed being at any rate.”

“What are you doing to me?!” Forneus screamed as pain started to creep up his body,

“A very potent piece of dark magic.” Caleb informed the man, “Something similar to the magic you used to create the thantophages, if I recall correctly.  Though you never bothered to make proper use of it.”

“You would have me be one?” Forneus asked and Caleb shook his head,

“No.” Caleb replied, “You would become little more than a voiceless puppet.  A fitting fate for a man like you. A true risen.”

“What the hells?!” Forneus cried, fear filling his voice as it rose in pitch and volume as the panic began to spread rapidly through him as he began to realise exactly what his creation was doing to him,

Arilon asked, “Why would you do that?”

“It’s the only way.  He won’t be as...dead as a normal risen, but rather in the same state as Alsha is.  Her soul intact to a body that cannot be destroyed but bound to my will of course.”

“You...would control him?” Confusion crossed the SoulWeaver’s face,

“I won’t have to control him.  He’d simply follow orders when they’re given and spend the rest of his time shuffling around harmlessly unless he's attacked.” Caleb explained facing the man before him with a neutral expression on his face.  He showed none of the inner turmoil within himself. This wasn't the easiest solution to the problem but Caleb felt it the wisest given the circumstances, however that did not mean that he had to like it.

“And you’d really do that?” Arilon asked

“I see no other alternative.” Caleb admitted, “At any rate it would stop these attacks for a start.  Had I the option I wouldn’t have to do this, however since I don’t and I’d rather him not harm anyone else.  Then this is my choice.” Caleb said as the dark magic enclosed the screaming Forneus, “You’ll be able to get the truth out of him once I am done.” Caleb told the Wanderer, “I give you my word I will not harm him.”

“How can you with-”

“The magic is similar to the thantophages, a preservation magic that preserves the natural state of a being.  A particular spell well within a Fell Dragon’s scope of magic. It won’t hurt him that much...though he’s being melodramatic.” Caleb said rolling all six eyes as a scream pierced the early night air.  “Really melodramatic.”

The screaming stopped and the magic faded.  Forneus stood like a silent sentinel, eyes down as Caleb let out a sigh, “Master, can I be of service?” Came a feminine voice, “Is there anything at all I can do?”

“Make sure that no one got hurt Alsha.” Caleb said, “Send Hilda to heal them if they are.”

“As you command Master Grima.” The female sorceress bowed her long blond hair forming a curtain over her face her dress having seen better days,

“Be sure to see Mia to be outfitted with some new clothing.” Caleb said and Alsha bowed,

“Of course Master Grima.” She turned and left leaving Lucina, Caleb, Arilon and Forneus.  Lucina came to hold Caleb’s arm and he managed to hold her hand in his. Arilon was staring at Forneus who looked rather odd.

 

The man had short mousy brown hair that was seemingly windswept in its appearance and he looked for all the world like the old dark mages.  His red eyes looked from the SoulWeaver to the Fell Dragon and Caleb made a dismissive motion with his hand. Forneus moved then, to do as Caleb had non verbally commanded him to, “That’s mildly unsettling.” Arilon said after a moment,

“It can be.  I guess it works.  I should go and make sure that Alana is alright.” Caleb said softly.  “And get Lucy to rest.”

“I’m fine Caleb!” Lucina protested,

“Lucy.” Caleb said tenderly, sweeping his wife off her feet, “Please at least let me appear to be able to help.”

She sighed and leant into his chest, “I’m not glass Caleb.” She said at last,

“Yes dear.” Caleb said laughing softly, nuzzling his wife’s hair and drawing in her soothing scent.  He smiled. Times like these made the instability barible.

~~~

“I still don’t see how they could assume Caleb here is Grima.” Sully said at last.  “No offense but you don’t have that same aura that Grima did.”

“None taken.” Caleb said calmly, “Though I guess I’m not quite the- garden variety Grima let’s say.” Caleb eventually said, “Which I guess wasn’t noticeable at first when the merge happened.  And Lucy’s right, my case wasn’t exactly helped by my appearance, the result something that has since sorted itself out.” Caleb explained, “For now at least.” He said aware of the fact that he was still a risk to be around, though nowhere near as much as before.  That and he had the fragment he'd needed. So in theory they could rest for awhile, he hoped and he’d not be as dangerous to be around once he adjusted to the fragment. An adjustment he seemed to be actually coping with much better than he thought. Maybe he’d be able to stay a bit longer...though he wasn’t sure that was the right thing to do given the circumstances and him being essentially a Grima meant he wasn’t exactly in the best place right then.

“So how handy are you with the blade?” Kjelle suddenly shot out and Caleb groaned,

“Kjelle,” He spoke unthinkingly, “Do you have to ask such a ridiculous question?”  He levelled his gaze at her, “Three times.” He groaned, “ Three .  You really need to not ask that Kjelle.”

Kjelle frowned, “I hadn’t asked three-”

“If you must know I've always preferred magic.” Caleb said sharper than he intended as a raw nerve was hit, “A sword does not ever compensate for Nosferatu.  Ever.” He frowned, “Especially given what our future was like…” It was then that there were a few confused looks,

“Wait...you’re from the future?” Andrea asked surprised and Caleb nodded,

“I was born two years before Lucy was in our world, my mother, Robin having fled Plegia before I was born.  Of course my father is Validar like your Fellblood.” Caleb explained as he could see some degree of confusion from some of the people present, “I guess she had all the reason in the world to leave the Grimleal at that time.  She lost her eye in that escape attempt and ended up as the Shepherds’ tactician.”

“That’s...rather strange…” Chrom said frowning,

“Only as strange as you make it.” Caleb said, “Every world can be both similar yet different at the same time.  I suppose the Outrealms are the place for it to happen.” He frowned, “In our world I just happened to be born later than your Fellblood is all, probably by a good ten years at least, possibly fifteen if I were to be generous.  That difference is apparently a key one.”

 

“When do you think you’ll be heading out for Plegia?” Robin asked changing the conversation calmly, “I of course don’t mind travelling with you if you’ll have my company.” He offered and Caleb figured that somehow Robin seemed to know how the young tactician was feeling.  Caleb gave a brief look to his wife while his daughter was fiddling with her dress sleeves. Caleb gently brushed her hair off her face as Lucina spoke,

“I think it would be best to start immediately.” She said  and would have said more if not for Arilon who replied,

“I’d be inclined to agree,” He folded his arms, “However, we have to take care of Larcei first. We also have a small snag - Bloom and Thorn are still missing, and I need to at least get a headcount so I know who might be with them. If we need to we can leave without waiting for them, but if it’s not absolutely necessary I’d prefer to make sure they’re alright.”

“Not to mention Narcissus and Huntaire don’t know Thorn isn’t here yet.” Arilon's twin interjected. “They’re...let’s go with...ah...extremely devoted retainers. Like, sometimes they make Freddo look tame.”

Caleb blinked at the name but knowing Frederick the way he did...he knew too well what Frederick was like.  It was almost laughable to wonder then, how upset the others might be that Lucina essentially chose Grima over them...not a thought Caleb wanted to have since it hurt.

 

“Anyways,” Arilon continued. “At the very least we’re doing Larcei’s funeral before we leave. We should, however, be able to finish that today. When exactly we leave will probably depend on how quickly that is taken care of. If you guys decide you need to leave early, we can always just catch up, since you’ll have Robin with you and he’ll know the way.”

“I would also be happy to accompany either group.” The blonde haired young woman added. “Truth be told, Commander, my divine spirit has felt restless from lack of battle lately - ‘twould be a welcome relief to journey across the land once more, even but for a short time, and should we happen upon any of the foul monstrosities still roaming the land I’d have a chance to unleash my holy fist and cleanse this world of some of the beasts.”

“I mean...if they’re down for it, she’d be a help I guess.” Arilon's twin shrugged. “What do you guys think?”

Caleb winced as it was far too close to home given how similar it sounded to Owain...much too similar for comfort right at this moment in time.  “I'd rather not…” He said suddenly, and there was a look a surprise from the table from all but his wife and Alana as both seemed to pick up on his discomfort,

“He and Owain were...very close friends before all of this happened,” Lucina explained quickly, “Truth be told...I think it would be best if we go, though we'll need to speak with the others first to see if they're ready to leave now or later.  I have little doubt that we might not be able to leave as soon as the hour is done.”

 

Caleb was naturally accosted by Alana almost immediately after her mother said that, “Can we do magic training then Daddy?” she asked innocently and Caleb sighed inwardly,

“Of course Sweetheart.” the Fell Dragon conceded, “Though perhaps we should wait and see if Aunty Cynthia wants to join us as well.”

Alana grinned widely now happy by the turn of events.

“This might sound a little weird, but Arlon said that Alana's like me,” the young red haired woman, “How…?” she asked frowning, “I mean no offense but...shouldn't you guys be...well…”

“Older?” Caleb guessed and the girl nodded, “It's fairly simple.  Alana was born to our Grima and his Lucina.”

Shock followed Caleb's words and the girl frowned, “That's...not what I was expecting.” She admitted, “I guess I thought...she'd be like me...with the whole amnesia thing…”

“Not as far as we know,” Caleb said calmly, “We don't have anything to suggest she's lost any of her memories.” Caleb explained calmly, “Though to be fair we don't know if her mind has ever been tampered with…” Caleb added, calm though he felt sick at the thought of something like that happening to Alana, he felt it needed to be said.  Alana pouted and he sighed. She'd obviously hoped that they could go now and he wasn't exactly ready to yet.  He was waiting for the unspoken cue that the day was to begin.  Lucina rose first and gently placed a hand on Caleb's shoulder,

“I think we should go see if the others are ready.” She suggested and Caleb nodded slightly, and Alana jumped off his knee and bounced around her parents,

“Then we is doing magic training?” Alana said eagerly, forgetting to act cute for the moment and talking as properly as she could.

“Of course.” Caleb said gently ruffling his daughter's hair, Alana already relaxed at the thought of time with her parents.  He caught a look from Andrea and knew she was lost in thought, a look he knew well given how often his Lucina wore it and Caleb sighed inwardly.  She wasn't his Lucina...so it fell onto Robin or indeed Chrom to help her, even though Caleb wanted to, he felt it wouldn't be fair or right.

 

As they left Caleb sensed something was off and paused.  His whole body tense as he quickly pulled his hood up Caleb didn't move and Lucina paused and gave him a worried look.  Caleb spoke, “We should take careto inform our friends that there might be trouble afoot.” He said and Lucina knew the cryptic message and she gripped Falchion, her frown smoothed out and she said,

“Of course, Caleb.” She nodded and the couple left with Alana happily bouncing around them.

 

By the time they found Cynthia, Caleb was in the entrance hall with Alana tossing a ball of thunder between them as part of Alana's tomeless magic training, a game Caleb used to enjoy when he was a boy.  It turned out that Alana had gotten a lot better thanks to the Wind magic training he'd got her to do, even though the thunder spell kept fizzling out and occasionally zapping the girl as she tried to toss it back at her father the first few times.  After the fifth such time Caleb said calmly, “You need to relax Alana, you don't need to cast the spell just use your mana to push it away.” He explained with a small smile. Alana pouted and he chuckled lightly. She would do fine he knew, it wouldn't take her much once she figured it out.  He saw Cynthia come over and she joined them. The wanderers were still busy burying their ally, a painful reminder to Caleb about how fragile life could be and how fruitless war was in general.

 

A couple of hours passed and Lucina was more than ready to at least make a start on preparations for the trip and she placed a gentle hand on Caleb's shoulder.  He knew without her speaking what she was asking though she asked anyway.

“Do you think we should start getting ready to leave?”She asked softly and Caleb gave a nod,

“We might as well.” He said at last, “I’m sure they’ve got through most of it by now although we did agree to wait for them.”

He rocked back on his heels and wondered what it was that made him feel so uneasy.  He was sure it wasn't the Owain like girl, (Ophelia, Lucina told him her name was) or the fact that he missed the others (painful though that was to admit, he’d rather they didn’t see him like this since they'd be deeply disturbed by his current state)...surely it wouldn't be because he was in this world…

 

Then it hit him.  A horrible thought he'd not want to have.   Surely not !  Not her!  Almost anyone but her not after the painstaking effort to preserve her life as best he could!   No...no…no!

 

A small sob escaped the tactician.  Deep in his heart Caleb knew the truth.  He looked to where Noire was preparing with Cynthia to head off, Alana was bouncing around her aunts happy to be out and being able to wear her new clothing that Mia had made for the girl while they waited for Larcei to be buried, a cute little Dark Flier outfit  that Alana loved from the moment she saw it and was quite happy about.

 

Caleb felt Lucina gently wipe away the tear that had formed on his upper right eye, “She’s gone Lucy…” Caleb said softly, voice pained, “ She’s gone …” And like that Caleb felt another tear run down his cheek, and Lucina moved to gently wipe it away as Caleb struggled not to keep crying, though it was proving difficult, especially since there were six times the potential for tears to run...

“Robin?” She said and Caleb nodded.  Lucina looked down for a moment. “You did what you could Caleb.” She said softly.

“I know.” He said pained, “I know Lucy…” He felt his head lower as a combination of guilt and grief eat at him, “I know…”

“Hey Caleb?” Caleb felt a hand on his shoulder.  He jolted slightly, “You alright?” Robin asked and Caleb said,

“I'm fine.”  He tried to be as cheerful as he could, though he doubted the man that stood there bought it.  Robin said nothing as horses and Pegasi were all being prepared for their trip,

“We’re almost ready to go.” Robin said and Caleb gave a small nod as Robin’s hand left his shoulder, “We’ll be ready to move out in an hour by my guess.” Robin added, “Arilon and the others as well.”

“I see.” Caleb sighed.  He wondered if his mother was in pain.  He hoped not.

 

Noire came to Caleb after that with her bow in pieces.  Caleb saw and winced, “Caleb,” Noire said sniffling, “My- my bow…”

He gently held the pieces and sighed, “Looks like it finally broke.” Caleb said sadly,

“I don’t have any other ones.” Noire sniffled, “And- and-”

Caleb sighed, “Oh, dear…we’ll have to see if it can be repaired.” Caleb said at last.  It had been the bow she had carried on their journey. The bow she'd had ever since her mother had died.  “We'll have to get you a new one.” Caleb frowned,

“But-” Noire began and he sighed.  They didn't have much in the way of gold, and Noire knew it, “We couldn't...not on that…”

Caleb noticed that Arilon and his ‘twin’ decided to arrive at this precise moment, “Hey Noire.” Marita (Caleb thinks is the name Lucina had told him) said brightly, clashing with the fact they'd lost an ally.  Perhaps she was putting on a brave face for the sake of the others...

Caleb looked between them, then he steeled himself, “You wouldn't happen to know where we could get Noire’s bow repaired would you?”

The pair were surprised for a moment until Arilon looked at the pieces in Noire's hands.  Caleb knew how much that bow meant and figured that was the best option. Arilon frowned, “I’m...not sure that bow is worth repairing, to be honest.”

Caleb winced at the devastated look in Noire's eyes.   Noire sniffled and Caleb was quick to pull her into a gentle hug, and Arilon spoke,

“Actually, we do have a Bow she could have instead if you guys want- it won't break, you won't have to worry about that.”

Caleb looked at Arilon shocked, “Like Falchion?” He asked trying to keep from being too surprised. While it wasn't unheard of for some weapons to have a powerful magic on them to keep them from breaking, they were quite rare.  How in the world did Arilon manage to find such an object and a bow no less? Caleb saw Marita grin and for not the first time since meeting her wondered if she was grinning because he'd made another mistake or because he managed Ylissean this time.  Hopefully not, Caleb found himself thinking

“You could say that.” Arilon explained, “Wait here for a moment and I'll go grab it.” He left and Caleb had to wonder what it was.

“In the meantime,” Marita said after a moment, as though an idea just occurred to her, “I can ask Sillva to put the pieces together somehow - I mean, maybe we can’t repair the Bow, but she could probably make a talisman or something out of what’s left, so you don’t have to throw the pieces away. Want me to ask her?”

“That would be a most welcome idea.” Caleb said softly, knowing how much the bow meant to Noire.  Noire gripped the pieces tighter and Caleb gently took her hand, “You'll have it back very soon.” he promised, “In the meantime, if you don't feel comfortable, you can hold my arm, just like when we were younger.”

Noire looked relieved and reluctantly relinquished the bow pieces, only once she had Caleb's left arm in a near vice grip.  Caleb didn't seem to mind in the slightest. It was...comforting in a way and Noire giggle at how much taller she'd got since then.  A part of her was relieved that Caleb was still like himself. She was happy to have his comfort. She remembered when they were children…


 

The small dark haired girl whimpered as lost the last parent she had- her father.  She was scared and she didn’t know when her mother was going to come back. She had held onto one of the only Plegians in the Shepherds left.  A boy, roughly five years older than her. His eyes looked a little funny but that didn’t matter to the girl. She gripped his arm as they came to the crumbling mess hall, “We’re almost ready for dinner,” He said in Plegian, “Did you want to sit near me or Master Henry?” He asked and the girl saw a white haired man with three scars along his face,

“Nya, ha, looks like we’ve got a new recruit.” He grinned and Noire gasped, “Aww, don’t worry about these,” He said pointing to the scars, “Those I got from a really nice group of risen.  Too bad they didn’t last long enough for me to figure out what makes them tick though.”

“Henry!” A woman with long brown hair rebuked, “Now isn’t the time to tell horror stories!”  She gave Noire a kindly look and limped over to the girl, “It’s alright sweetie, Henry likes to make lots of jokes and tease everyone.  Is there anything you’d like to eat?”

The man chuckled, “A pie~!” He grinned, “One of your best Sumia~!” He giggled and Noire couldn’t help but smile a little,

“Oh you…” Sumia as it turned out the woman’s name was smiled.  Her limp was pretty bad and for a moment Noire wondered how she got that hurt.  A girl with dark blue hair came in,

“Caleb!” She cried hugging the Plegian boy happily, “Did you see it?!”

“See what?” He asked grinning,

“Velvet!  She transformed!” The girl grinned,

“That sounds awesome.” Henry spoke up, “We should have pies to celebrate!”

Sumia giggled, “Pies it is then…” She smiled slightly sad .

 

“So we have this bow.” Arilon said holding the strange bow out, and Noire hesitated to touch it.  A shaking hand reached to touch it, “It’s called Thögn-”

 

Noire didn’t hear the rest of his words as she weighed the bow in her palm.  She had let go of Caleb’s arm and she decided to test the bow to see if it would suit her.  She heard Caleb say, “I, for one, find it to be a rather interesting bow, the design is unlike any I’ve ever seen.  Though to be fair it’s not like I’ve been able to see any legendary bows. Still...it has some interesting effects. I'm sure that Noire will make good use of it.  It's a good thing it won't break.”

 

Noire gave the string another stronger pull, checking to see whether or not it would hit her leather wrist guards.  She let go at just the right moment, and the string did indeed strike her wrist guards as expected. Noire drew in a deep breath.  It was a powerful bow, and she did hear Caleb mention it was a legendary one. All the more reason to take care with it. She spoke softly, “I thank you very much for this gift.” She bowed to Arilon, “I will take good care of this bow.” Noire promised, grateful for the gift, but also a little guilty, she heard most of what Caleb had said after all.  She turned to Caleb and said in Plegian, “ I just need to fetch Bluebird and last I knew Inverse and Lucia were both helping their parents.  I’m sure they’re ready to go, but should I let them know to be ready? 

Caleb gave a nod to show he heard her. “ Yes, let them know.  I’m sure that the Wanderers will be ready to head out soon as well .” Caleb replied in Plegian.  Noire nodded and left to get her mount for the journey as well as rounding up the rest of the group for Caleb.  It was funny how she always seemed to like doing things like that. It was a nostalgic but welcome feeling.

 

~~~

 

Caleb spotted Sillva not too far from them frowning slightly as she looked at the pieces of Noire’s old bow, a bow she’d carried for a very long time.  He spoke partly to explain but also because he felt it needed to be said, “It was the last thing she got from her mother, Tharja...our Tharja before she passed on.” Caleb said quietly knowing the woman heard him.  “She imbued it with a hex to make it last as long as possible. However I think that the magic finally wore off.” He explained, “If I was as good as Master Henry…” Caleb heaved a sigh. “If I were as good as he was then the bow wouldn't have got to this state.” Caleb bit his bottom lip between a his upper and lower fangs- a habit of his whenever he was stressed, though Arilon didn't know him well enough to know that.  Lucina did however and she gently took his hand in her own and did her best to soothe him quietly, “Unfortunately, even with the knowledge of a Grima, I am very limited by what I know and can do.” he added. Arilon frowned but Sillva seemed to understand what Caleb wasn't saying, that he wasn't quite ready to go to the fullest depths of the memories within him as he did not have the time needed to go through them.

“That would explain why the pieces resonate with an unusual amount of magic.” Sillva mused as she turned a piece of the bow in her hand

Caleb nodded, “Yeah it was one of Our Tharja’s specialties.” Caleb explained, “Between her and Master Henry...they explored all kinds of dark magic.  They were pretty close friends.” he added, “Though I always got the feeling that being two of the only dark mages in the Shepherds had something to do with that.”

“Master Henry?  Why Master?” Marita asked and Caleb looked mildly surprised,

“You do know that in Plegia, it’s rude not to call your teacher Master, right?” Caleb asked frowning at her slightly an expression compounded by his extra eyes, “Tharja insisted I not call her Master so I don’t.  That is just the respectful way to be.”

“And Henry?” Marita asked.  Caleb chuckled quietly,

“Didn’t really care since he’s the closest I had to a father figure alongside Chrom.” Caleb smiled softly, “The ‘Master’ label was impossible to drop no thanks to Moth-” Caleb sighed again, this time in annoyance for slipping up as he did, “Robin,” he corrected himself for not the first time, “making it clear I wasn’t to refer to Master Henry as anything but.  In her words, I wasn’t allowed to be too informal with the Shepherds since it was unbecoming of a gentleman.” Caleb added with a low snort of amusement,

“That...sounds really strict.”

“Well our Mothers were good friends so I guess it would make sense Robin would be like that, no?” Lucina spoke up with a roll of her eyes, “Two peas in a pod our mothers were- both in how strict they were and their expectations of us...”

“Yeah, and they never thought to try to get us together!” Caleb laughed softly, “Gods I swear that was a good thing!”

Lucina smiled softly, “It was and is, though I wouldn't have minded personally.”

Caleb gave a mischievous grin, “Yes, I would hate to think what my dearly departed mother would think if she knew her son married her best friend’s daughter, we'd never have heard the end of it!”

“Caleb!” Lucina chuckled, “You saw how bad it was when their other versions found out!  It would be a nightmare if they were really here!”

“Yeah.” Caleb said all six eyes managing to roll at the same time, “Not even being a Fell Dragon could spare me from Maribelle’s anger, let alone Robin.”

“She’d be just as mad at me.” Lucina pointed out,

“I don’t know Lucy…” Caleb said calmly, “Maribelle would've thought I’d used some hex or other just because I’m Plegian- we are known for being particularly good at dark magic.”

“I doubt that.” Lucina said firmly, though there was a playful smile on her face, for once she felt like she could get the joke.  Arilon cleared his throat.

 

“Anyways, we're about ready to go.” Arilon began and Caleb nodded,

“I guessed as much.” the Fell Dragon spoke calmly, “I…” Caleb frowned, then as he struggled to get control over his sudden sense of unease taking over once more, Caleb paused, unsure what to say and unsure what he should tell them both, and he saw Alana walking beside her pegasus, Sweetie, “Ah, never mind.” he said quickly, he tried to keep his thoughts off of his unease and it wasn't working.  So in the end Caleb decided to go see if Alana was alright with Lucina closely following. He was aware of the two siblings looking at him with a worried eye but he chose to ignore it, after all he didn't feel that it was that important to tell them about what was probably a superstition and nothing else.

 

“Daddy, can I ride with yous and Mummy?” She asked and Caleb smiled and ruffled her hair,

“Is Sweetie going to have a rest is she?”

Alana nodded and Caleb sighed mentally.  Of course he should have been aware of the fact that Alana would seek comfort from her parents after that episode with the other Lucina- with Andrea and he spotted Inverse and Lucia, Caleb caught the girl's eye and made a cryptic command that had her come over, “Is there anything I can do Milord?” she asked and Caleb said calmly

“Sweetie's having a break do you think you'd be able to look after her for Alana?”

Lucia smiled and her brother snorted, “Well it's that or hold the foals huh.”

“Shut up Inverse you jerk!” Lucia snapped clearly annoyed by the teasing.

Caleb chuckled softly, he knew it was just a display.  In truth the siblings loved one another despite their teasing and Caleb knew it, “I'm glad to see you're both having some fun.” Caleb said calmly and they both blushed, “Try not to be too nasty all the time.” he advised, “You're stronger together than apart.” he said and they nodded at his words.  He then spotted Lucius leading Storm and felt a small sigh escape him. Not long now, Caleb thought and he closed his eyes as an old memory hit his mind.

 

~~~

 

“Caleb!  Run!” the woman's voice cried and the small child groggily got up, “You have to run Caleb!”

Caleb winced as he struggled to get the last of sleep out of his system, “Miss Sumia why?”

The woman grimaced in pain, “You need to go!” She cried grabbing the packs and handing them to the small children, “The risen are too close.”

Caleb trembled.  He hated Risen. They made him feel sick and his head hurt, “But what about you and Master Henry?!” the boy cried, fear racing in his veins and the woman's expression did little to ease his fear,

“We'll be right behind you.” A male voice spoke, confidant and calm, “Now go with Cyny and get her to Ylisstol Palace okay?”

The boy winced but nodded gripping the white haired girl's hand in his own.  A crash sounded and the man kept smiling, “Master-”

“Go on,” He grinned at the boy, “You'll be just fine.”

A snapping sound could be heard and the boy could smell smoke, he however had practiced this before and he walked with the girl.  They were calm as they walked, not aware that the pair who sent them on were looking at a grim fight ahead. They aimed to hold the risen off long enough for the boy to get to Ylisstol Palace with their daughter.  The man looked at the risen and sighed, “Sorry Robin...I know I promised to look after him but…” A blinding light pulled the pair away…

 

~~~

Caleb opened his eyes and mounted up.  Lucina sat behind him and Alana sat in the front of the saddle even though she was a little big too.  Caleb chuckled inwardly. This was going to be a long trip. In more ways than one, the tactician and Fell Dragon realised as he could hear the others start to get ready for the trip.  He wasn't sure he'd manage the trip at first but knew ultimately he would have to trust his family, keep his hood up and hope like the seven hells that no one really saw his face. He could only imagine what the regular people of Ylisstol would think if they knew that a literalFell Dragon was moving through their city.  He shuddered slightly and saw Arilon give the order to move out.  He drew in a deep breath and caught both Lucina and Alana's scents, he could smell Cynthia and Noire and he felt for the moment at least, calm, even if he knew it wouldn't last.  He would try to be as calm as he could. Yes this was going to be a long trip alright.

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Chapter II: A Grima's Intuition

 

The trip out of Ylisstol was no better than heading into the city, though with Lucina and Alana riding with him, Caleb could say it was a lot better than the first go.  At least he wasn’t riding on his own and he had Lucina’s soothing presence to help keep him calm. He still didn't like it and was tempted to fly out of the city, a move he'd contemplated in advance and been forced to admit wasn't a good one since it could cause more harm than good.  Caleb felt the gradual discomfort increasing as they travelled and when they finally left the city he felt relief, the sun was going to dip below the horizon by Caleb's best guess (since his eyes were much sharper than what they used to be) and he eventually pulled up as Arilon approached, “We're going to have to set up camp around here.” he explained and Caleb nodded,

“Right.” The young Fell Dragon replied mind elsewhere, distracted as there was the intense feeling of something being not quite right that he couldn't put his finger on and it was starting to eat at him.  He barely noticed that Cynthia landed on the ground with a loud yawn and Noire was climbing down from Bluebird, Lucina was less coordinated and she was looking pale, though not enough for Arilon to notice because humans didn't have the sensitivity required to sense that kind of thing.  Caleb gave a half nod and busied himself with the task at hand which was setting up the expansion hexed tent.

 

By the time there was the call to dinner, Caleb was half laying beside Lucina as she wasn't feeling well at all.  Worry kept the Fell Dragon at his wife's side and nothing was going to make him move as long as she was unwell. He knew that Cynthia was getting some food for them as she kind of felt Caleb's need to keep away from the Wanderers for his own reasons.  That Lucina wasn’t well put Caleb on edge, coupled with the uneasy feeling that he’d been getting since before they left...Caleb let out a low growl and tried to get Lucina comfortable, fussing over his wife, “Caleb I’m not made of glass.” She sighed,

“I can’t help it Lucy.” Caleb admitted, “There’s something putting me on edge.”

She immediately became worried, “Do you know what it is?” She asked him and Caleb shook his head,

“I...I don’t Lucy.” He said and he could smell the presence of both Arilon and someone else (a scent Caleb was unfamiliar with perhaps one of the wanderers he'd yet to meet?), though he guessed that they were not too far away and likely hearing what was being said, “I just...I get the feeling something bad is going to happen and I don’t know what.” He said finally.

“Something bad?” Lucina asked frowning, “Wait...you don’t think...Forn-” Caleb couldn’t help the near vicious snarl that escaped his throat at the mere mention of the man that had tried to destroy him and his other fragments, “That man,” Lucina said gently stroking his cheek to calm him down, “Is involved?”

Caleb looked down at the bedroll, “He could be, however-” Caleb began and his eyes met hers,

“You think it’s Robin?” Lucina asked and Caleb let out a low strangled sob,

“I don’t-” He said gripping the bedding below him, “I don’t think it is.” Caleb said as his control started to slip and the emotional pain began to overwhelm him, “I don’t want it to be her!” He cried suddenly the pain at the thought of his mother dying cutting in deeply and for a moment it was still, then the tears came along with helpless sobbing as his emotions finally spilled over beyond his ability to keep them in check for not the first time since the merge.

“Caleb…” Lucina murmured softly pulling him into an embrace as he cried.  She wasn’t sure how much more he’d have to let go of but she knew that this was long overdue, and that Caleb should have cried a hundred times over.  Yet there he was quiet and calm, always finding a way to keep his emotions under lock and key and hiding his true feelings until he couldn't anymore and broke down as he was presently doing.

 

She did her best to soothe Caleb knowing that he needed it.  He’d held off crying for a long time, bravely shouldering more than his share of a burden she didn't like to see him have to carry on his own.  She could hear the sound of footsteps while Caleb sobbed in her arms. She stroked his hair as he kept sobbing, unable to even speak as sobs choked out his words.  She guessed it was a testimony to how upset he was that all six eyes were releasing tears at the same time.

 

~*~

 

It took Caleb almost half an hour before he eventually stopped crying.  He was weakened and his head felt heavy. It was then that he fell asleep alongside Lucina, refusing to leave her side and not wanting it to be obvious that he'd had another emotional meltdown in such a short span of time.  Getting angry was one thing- crying was something he couldn't afford to do, though he knew Lucina was the only one who'd really understand best he felt it unwise to burden anyone else with it.

 

Lucina sighed as she gently tucked him into the bedroll.  She heaved another sigh as she moved to lay beside him. At least she’d feel a little better when she did.  She half smiled at him sadly and stroked his hair again. It hurt to know he was suffering like this.

 

He really wasn’t much different to what she had known their entire lives and he seemed to be coming back to what she knew best.

 

A gentle hearted man who loathed having to fight, yet she knew their battle was only just beginning.  It was a wonder Caleb chose the sword and tome over the stave. Though to be fair he didn’t have much of a choice. Lucina shuddered at the thought and she heard the arrival of Cynthia, Alana and Noire,

“Hey Lucy,” Cynthia said as she came into the main area of the tent, “How are you holding up?”

Lucina let out a low sigh and said softly, “As well as can be expected.  Caleb’s fallen asleep.” She said softly as not to disturb her Fell Dragon husband.

“Uh oh…” Cynthia said suddenly becoming worried, “That’s not a good thing is it?  Is he okay?”

“Yes, he’ll be fine.” Lucina said softly, “He’s just...had to have some time to deal with a few things.” Lucina informed them, aware of someone walking past the tent as she spoke, though unlike Caleb she couldn't tell who just yet.

“Oh...yeah that would be hard.” Cynthia said and Noire spoke mournfully,

“He’s always been there for us, even if he’s like this.” Noire said quietly coming to sit by their side, “We need to be there for him too.”

“Right.” Cynthia nodded, “It's the least we can do.” she said.

 

~*~

 

The light of the early morning woke Caleb, as well as the calls of birds.  All six eyes snapped open, body tense as he woke from a frightening dream he had no desire to repeat, though he didn't recall what it was exactly.

 

He struggled out of the bedding and carefully made his way to the camp.  The air was still, a cold chill that was predawn by his best guess. He looked around and guessed that the others were still asleep.  He moved softly as not to disturb them. He had a feeling, more a premonition that something was going to happen soon and he came to a clearing not too far from the camp.

 

A small lake had birds gliding along its surface and for the moment, all was peaceful.  Caleb sighed and pulled out his odd blade. Now that it was exposed to the light, he noticed that the entire blade was a very dark purple colour.  He frowned and was aware of a presence but chose to ignore it, whoever it was wasn't a threat and he didn't feel the need to focus on that. He took the stance that Chrom had taught him, closed all six eyes and focused on his breathing.  The mist swirled around the Fell Dragon as he began to become more focused, scents in the air reminding Caleb of a more simple time long past and gone.

“Remember to breathe Caleb.”

Chrom’s voice sounded crystal clear in his mind and he drew in the air as deeply as possible as he continued to focus on his breathing, as his mind kept Chrom's voice in sharp focus for some reason.

“Relax your mind and remove all unneeded thoughts.  You have to be able to make the movements second nature, or else you'll get hurt.  Now, take your stance.”

Caleb shifted slightly, he was calm.  It was almost as if he was training with Chrom again, the Chrom he'd grown up being trained by...

“Good, now then, let's begin.” Chrom's voice instructed.

 

Caleb swung the blade out in front of him, his wings free in the morning air to move as they pleased as he ran through the most complex exercises he knew with the blade, all designed to warm his body up and counter the cold chill of the early morning air as the sun slowly began to rise in the sky.

 

Caleb flipped in mid air and landed on the balls of his feet.  His heart was beginning to race and his wings were quivering slightly as new muscles began to warm themselves, aching slightly.

“Don't forget to stretch Caleb.”

Chrom’s voice said sternly in Caleb's head.  The Fell Dragon snorted to himself but went through the stretches.  His wings screamed in protest as he pushed them to reach as far as they could.  He gave a few vigorous beats and he knew that they were stronger than he thought.  He then moved onto the next set of movements with the sword in hand. The most complex series of strikes, parries and guards he knew.  To the amateur sword wielder it looked amazing, but to someone experienced with the sword...there were a lot of self taught moves that were evident, as well as gaps- where Caleb would use his magic naturally- between the movements of the sword which began to glow slightly.

 

The moves were not efficient in some places, though Caleb wasn't as bad as some of the Future Shepherds.  He had managed to be old enough to be taught by Chrom and remember the teaching still.  He moved and tried to stay as close to what he knew, though he couldn't be so certain it was right.

 

By the time he completed that, he opened his eyes and sighed.  Then he sheathed the sword and headed back quietly to check on Lucina to make sure that his wife was alright.  His guest having left with the new dawn light. He didn't care. It wasn't like he could spar with anyone without hurting them, no matter how hard he tried to hold back.  Caleb just couldn't trust himself to just yet. He still had to adjust to the changes his body had made.

 

Lucina lay in their bedroll, and he knew that she wasn't well.  With a sigh he gently brushed his wife's hair off her face and he felt sad.  He wondered what to do and he pulled his shirt on deciding to at least be half decent.  He would watch over her for now and make sure that she would be alright. He could hear the rest of the camp stirring as a new day began.  They were likely going to move out soon as they could. A feeling of unease settled over Caleb again and he was pulled by two instincts as his wife stirred, “Caleb…” her soft voice bought the Fell Dragon to attention,

“Lucy.” Caleb lent and softly kissed her forehead,

“I...feel like bear meat...” She said softly, half asleep, Caleb wondered how long it would take to get her what she wanted.  He couldn't leave her…

“Master...have...orders…” Caleb jolted and saw Robin, the risen Robin and he relaxed slightly, she looked as calm as ever, he spoke,

“Could you bring some bear meat?” He asked implying that it should be cooked though he did not think to mention it.  Risen Robin bowed and left the tent surprisingly quickly. Caleb checked his coat and pulled out the cards. He was still feeling uneasy and would have to at least do something about it.  He was uncertain about what to do.  He looked at the cleric and frowned.  He had two options and while he didn't know what to do, for the most part he had to make a choice.  Caleb sighed and gently held the card. He had a feeling he would need this cleric. No sooner did the thought leave his mind then did the magic keeping the cleric in the card broke.

 

At first she was still, eyes half opened then she shook herself, then she stopped when she saw him, gulping slightly.  He sighed and she couldn't believe what she was seeing. The girl hastily looked down. He spoke, “Please stay with Lucy.” He said and the girl looked up shocked.  Caleb tried to look as non threatening as possible, “I won't be long, you should be safe here.” He spoke gently and the girl actually seemed to understand. She nodded and Caleb couldn't help but sigh inwardly.  He left them both for the moment and went to see Arilon as his unease got progressively worse. He paused and said, “Chrom, you should stay with them too.”

Sure enough Risen Chrom appeared and bowed to his new master's wishes.

 

Caleb moved through the camp looking for the leader of the Wanderers.  Eyes flicking left and right as he scanned for danger. The day was a perfect cloudless blue, nothing physically out of place but for the tactician it was hardly the issue.

 

He came to a stop as he realised that Arilon was in danger.  Caleb scented the air, smelling where the man was and Caleb wondered how he knew that.  He then bolted as quickly as possible to where Arilon was once he realised what it was and cursed his stupidity to not factor in one very important detail.  He was Grima.  Any risen would naturally be drawn to him, just because he was there and they would seek out him for orders.  He practically slid as he struggled to stop, right hand digging into the dirt creating a deep gouge almost down to his elbow from the force he was pulling to stop as quickly as he did.  Were he a normal human the force would have broken his arm.

 

Arilon!” the Fell Dragon cried out, “Look out!” He leapt from his crouch and quickly created a magic barrier blocking the arrow from the risen assassin's bow.  Caleb let out a vicious snarl. The assassin flinched at the sound. “Back off!” He growled and the risen gripped its bow more tightly.  Caleb was on hyper alert. When the creature started to pull on the string again Caleb snarled. “I said back off.”

The assassin hesitated again but Caleb knew it wouldn't obey.  The risen wouldn't unless Caleb put it in its place. Another vicious snarl escaped him and Caleb erupted into dragon form, though he did not recall wanting to change forms, or wanting to fight for that matter, all he wanted was to stop the risen before it harmed anyone.

 

The risen almost dropped its bow as it suddenly came face to face with a massive dragon that appeared from seemingly nowhere.  Caleb was vaguely aware he was larger than the previous time that he’d taken on his dragon form. He guessed at least four times the size of when he first changed.  That however didn't matter as he became vaguely aware of something not quite being right and he couldn't put a finger on it. The risen tried to shoot him but Caleb was quicker.

 

The Fell Dragon managed to move his head at a shockingly fast speed and snapped his jaws inches from the assassin.  The risen turning to dust as Expiration blasted at it, though how Caleb did it, he'd not known. Caleb growled as he caught a scent on the air that concerned him.  His body moved quickly as he raced to make sure his wife was safe. Arilon and the warning was forgotten below him as he raced to protect Lucina from harm.

 

Caleb made it to their tent quite quickly, though at his current size it was easy.  He sniffed the ground scenting to make sure that Lucina was safe. He smelled a scent that he did not like and a low growl escaped him.

 

“Caleb!” Lucina's voice cried and Caleb lowered his head, his brown eyes all looking at Lucina, while his blue ones were all checking for danger.  She looked scared but for Caleb it helped calm him that she wasn't hurt.

 

Forneus stood not too far, seeming to strain for some reason and Caleb growled,

“Begone!” He managed to force out as the sound of weapons and running told him the others would arrive on scene.

“Why...why isn't the spell working?!” Forneus growled “The oath…”

Caleb growled and silenced the man as he spoke, “I am not bound to you any longer.  Dead oaths hold no power when they are spoken from dead lips.” To his surprise, Caleb was actually able to talk and he heard the running stop fully and knew they'd be close enough this time to hear the exchange, “I no longer bow to you Forneus, contrary to your beliefs.  You broke the vow the moment you tampered with my soul and you know it.” Caleb’s voice echoed as his jaws moved. It was hard to believe he had such a mastery of his dragon form; given how large it was now, it was only a matter of time before he was seen from Ylisstol easily and he’d not wanted the people to panic- though doubtless they would.  Caleb hoped by staying low to the ground he could avoid such trouble but he knew it was impossible, especially at his current size and the fact that he’d easily be seen for miles around did not make things any easier for him. The question became how long until so much panic was caused that an army would come...not a comforting thought in the slightest.  Caleb would have winced but this wasn't the time.

“How dare you!  I created you!” Forneus cried angrily,

Caleb let out a roar that shook the man where he stood to complete silence,

“A mere worm like you has no power over me.” Caleb said, “Clearly you do not hold the slightest understanding of magic.  You will pay for your arrogance.”

“The hells I will!  You will obey me!” Forneus yelled and Caleb's jaws snapped closed with enough force to send the man staggering backwards.

Fool!” Caleb snarled, his eyes flashing crimson briefly, a mere second of a lapse in his control as his jaws snapped near the man again, Forneus quivering where he stood, Caleb struggled to maintain his control, to calm himself.  “You are a fool Forneus, a fool who will pay the full price for your foolishness.”  His eyes flicked back to their normal colour and Caleb regained his control fully, finally breaking the hold the Alchemist had on him.  Caleb could feel his body shift back to his human form and knew that he'd win this round. Forneus hadn't even noticed the spell and Caleb felt himself curl up as he changed back, “I will not kill you.  Such a fate I think is unbefitting for you.  I will however give you a fate worse than death since you crave it so.  Three times you have tried to end my life; thrice I have spared yours by choice.” Caleb said in Plegian as he took on his human form fully.  Forneus frowned and Caleb felt vindictive pleasure at what was to come.  It was a difficult spell to pull off, for a human. For a Fell Dragon like him however...it was child's play.  He watched as the initial disconnect was past and Forneus yelled in shock,

“What are you doing?!”

Caleb looked on sadly, “What I should have done from the beginning.” He said, “The very beginning.”

“The hells?!” Forneus cried, and Caleb simply continued as if the man had not spoken,

“A very old piece of dark magic, magic you taught me, while those poor children begged for their lives.  To bind you so that you will never again be able to harm without provocation.” Caleb said calmly, “You will no longer have a will of your own, you will be little more than a voiceless puppet.”

Lucina came and held his arm as Arilon spoke, “Well...that’s an interesting choice of punishment. Any reason you chose this over something else?”

“It’s the only way, Arilon.  He won’t be as...dead as a normal risen, but rather in the same state as Alsha is.  Her soul intact, a body that cannot be destroyed but bound to my will all the same.”

“You...would control him?” Confusion crossed the Soul Weaver’s face,

“I won’t have to control him.  He’d simply follow orders when they’re given and spend the rest of his time shuffling around harmlessly unless he's attacked by anyone foolish enough to do so.” Caleb explained facing the man before him with a neutral expression on his face.  He showed none of the inner turmoil within himself, how much he realised that he hated this as he wasn't like their Grima in that way.  This wasn't the easiest solution to the problem but Caleb felt it the wisest given the circumstances, however that did not mean that he had to like it.

“And you’d really do that?” Arilon asked

“I see no other alternative.” Caleb admitted, “At any rate it would stop these attacks for a start.  Had I the option I wouldn’t have to do this, however since I don’t and I’d rather him not harm anyone else...then this is my choice.” Caleb said as the dark magic enclosed the screaming Forneus like a shroud, “You’ll be able to get the truth out of him once I am done.” Caleb told the Wanderer, “I give you my word I will not harm him.”

“How can you with-”

“The magic is similar to the thantophages, a preservation magic that preserves the natural state of being.  A particular spell well within a Fell Dragon’s scope of magic. It won’t hurt him that much...though he’s being melodramatic.” Caleb said rolling all six eyes as a scream pierced the early morning air.  “Really melodramatic.”

The screaming stopped abruptly and the magic faded away to reveal the alchemist.  Caleb had only done what he felt was necessary but it disquieted him greatly. He wished he never, never had to do something like that ever again.

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