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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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Chapter III: Familiar Bonds

There was nothing more shocking than what the Fell Dragon saw in that moment once the light faded and his eyes adjusted to the sudden lack of bright light.  As Caleb was adjusting to what he was seeing he felt fear creep into his veins. This wasn’t right somehow. He was trying to keep his fear in check at the sight before him.

 

A silence fell over the crowd, a hush unknown.  He stood staring at the most strangest of situations, staring at the man before him, a white coat similar to his own, though it did not have any familiar markings on it.

 

The man had a desperate expression, and the relief on his face evident, “Oh thank god!” He said smiling, “We finally got the guy we needed!  Now we can put down those annoying red units out of commission!”

Caleb looked at the man confused, searching for his wife, fear creeping up his veins even more now as he couldn’t find her, “Where's Lucy?!” He said as panic started to show.  The man in the white coat gave a sympathetic expression,

“She's okay, I'm sorry to have pulled you from your home, but we need your help.” He said, “I'm Kiran, what's your name?”

The man's voice was gentle, and Caleb tried to relax, drawing in a deep breath of air.  Without Lucina however it was proving to be almost impossible

“Caleb.  I'm Caleb.” He said eyes closing briefly, “Why do you need my help?” He asked looking at the man again.  Kiran looked seemingly sad at Caleb’s question but he seemed to understand the need to know what was going on,

“Askr, which is where we are- is at war with another kingdom called Embla.” Kiran explained, “I...am the tactician here but I'm not that great...I however have the ability to call upon heroes for help, which is great and all, but-”

Caleb hummed softly, “I guess I can at least try to help you.” He said at last, “At least until you no longer need my help.”

Kiran let out a small sigh of relief, “Thank you.  I am grateful for your help Caleb.” He said as he showed Caleb to the barracks.

 

The world was strange.  Caleb figured out fairly quickly.  He could fly, which he didn't expect, though to be fair he was still figuring out how to actually fly, something the so called ‘beast units’ were finding amusing, though Tibarn was kind enough to help Caleb learn.

 

Kiran was pretty patient with him, which was surprising as Caleb encountered two other Fell Dragons that made him decidedly uneasy about that.  Both were curious about him, while he kept his distance from them mostly because he didn’t want to cause any fighting between them, him being the more gentle to be around.  He spent most of his time oddly enough talking with the Masked Lucina Kiran had summoned, but he simply wanted to help her, rather than pursue a relationship.

 

She wasn’t the only Lucina he got to meet.  The Easter Lucina was very sweet and he wondered if he’d ever be able to see his own wife be as happy as she was.  The Brave Hero Lucina was certainly something else again, but he enjoyed helping her learn how to use the lance, one that he’d swore he’d seen before.  He also was able to speak with the ‘regular’ Lucina as well and she was the closest to his own wife, though he knew she wasn’t the same. Still he found it nice speaking with her.

 

Archer Lucina was a bit harder to talk to, though Caleb had picked up that she needed a healer and had insisted he at least carry her since it was the kind of injury that was going to get worse if she didn’t get it seen to.  It did change things between them. Though Caleb was sure that she still didn’t fully trust him she at least knew he was looking out for her. That had to count for something.

 

Caleb followed his role in the team, as a ‘blue sweeper’ or whatever it was that Kiran referred to him as.  He learned odd skills aside from his natural Ignus. He doubted the skills would stay with him but they were something at least, and he was able to make some new friends as well, a nice change from his usual more recluse type of lifestyle.  Still it saddened Caleb that there had to be a war in the first place.

 

By the time the war was over, Caleb had promised he wouldn't forget Kiran.  He also added that the Summoner was more than welcome should he chose to come and visit Caleb’s home world.  Of course it was a sad time, Kiran sniffling and nearly close to tears. Sharena bursting into tears and Alfonse looked like he was going to cry until Caleb gently but firmly gripped both the Askran royals’ shoulders and said rather calmly, “You do realise you can come and visit whenever you like.  Friends are always welcome, no matter what world they may be from.” Caleb smiled softly, “I’m sure you’ll be able to find us. We’re not exactly hidden.”

Alfonse sniffled, “You’re right.  Very well we’ll do our best.”

Caleb smiled calmly and as he left them, he had to wonder, what is this world that pulled him there as a so called Hero.  Caleb was no hero. He was just a Fell Dragon who chose the path of peace instead of war like his other two counterparts.

 

~*~

 

There was an air of disbelief from some of the people present, hardly surprising given what had just transpired.

 

Caleb was in a state of disquiet and discomfort.  A state that wasn’t exactly helped by the fact that he could sense risen making their move to arrive to his present location.  Risen after all favoured the presence of a Grima. Which Caleb was.

 

He looked down at his hands and felt a fist form.  He should have thought of that. Risen were a lot harder to deal with if there was a Grima around.  He should have known, given how easy it was for a Grima to order the risen to their bidding. Though Caleb had not wanted any fighting he had a bad feeling that the risen, like the assassin he’d put down earlier might not listen to that command.  Especially if this world’s Grima was still remotely connected to it.

 

Then there was the added problem of Robin.  Not his risen Robin as she was long dead and didn't have the pure fellblood like the Robin of this world.  That Robin carried Fellblood to the purest degree according to Arilon. A Grima could easily exploit that if it wasn’t seen to properly…

 

Caleb let out a low sigh at the thought.  “Well that was quite the show.” said a familiar voice which had Caleb tense slightly, “Too bad we didn’t get to see it all though nya, ha, ha, ha.”


 

A rather lithe, white haired man arrived with a large grin on his face.  On his shoulder was a red eyed crow, his sorcerer robes looked like they’d seen better days- his left sleeve hung loosely at his side partly torn and exposing a fleshy stump.  He had a tome strapped to his hip within reach of his right hand, though Caleb knew that this particular man had no need for the tome, it was there to provide the extra magical punch.

 

The scars on the man’s face were deep, cutting through his right eye and down to his jaw- for Caleb- they were the most familiar and welcome sight as this was beyond doubt, the Henry he’d grown up with, right down to the scars on his neck, visible despite the collar Henry was wearing.  Of course as Caleb spotted Henry himself, he also saw who was leaning on him, a small worried look on her face, though she did smile at him.

 

Sumia of course still had the scars she obtained when she got injured in the Valmese War.  Her hair was shorter than most other versions of herself, coming to her chin with the wing clips attached just above what was left of her left ear.  She was also missing her right leg and had a crutch that she was using to help herself stand.

 

Henry spoke, “I would have assumed maybe it was Grima, but no Fell Dragon would be trying to avoid conflict like that.” He grinned, “Nor would a Fell Dragon take on such a human form.  The wings look awesome. Might take a bit to get used to the extra eyes and all buuuut…” Henry grinned widely, “I'd say caws for fun, wouldn't you...Caleb?”

Caleb sighed, “Master...this isn’t the time for puns…”

Henry pouted in response, “Aww, I had some really good ones!” He then spotted the Wanderers and grinned, “Still nice to see things are interesting and not outresting.”

Caleb groaned, “Master Henry please…” The young Fell Dragon pleaded,

Henry chuckled, “Alright, alright…” He said as he grinned widely, “Glad to see that even in an awakened state you’re still as you.  So then, who’re these guys. I see some unfamiliars-”

“Henry don’t go there please love.” Sumia pleaded trying to stop him before he really got going with his puns, “I’m sure we’ll have plenty of time for introductions...right now we need to make sure that everyone is okay, especially with the risen that are in the area.”

Caleb winced and flinched, “Great…” He muttered as Lucina stood beside him, eyes wide,

“Ohhhh, that reminds me, there’s this really nice joke I’ve been meaning to-”

Henry…” Sumia said firmly now and Henry let out a low huff,

“At least let me tell it!” He said eyes wide and pleading,  though one seemed to be a bit discoloured compared to the other,

“We have slightly more import-”

“MOTHER?!  FATHER?!” Cynthia suddenly cried in shock, and Henry grinned at their daughter's perfect timing to cut her mother off unintentionally,

“There’s our little Pega Pony Princess~!” He said and Cynthia sniffled, half bolting towards them and nearly knocked them over in the process as she nearly tripped up over her own two feet in her eagerness to reach her parents,

“Mother!  Father!” She cried, burying her face into her mother’s and father’s arms.  Henry smiled,

“All the more reason to tell a good joke.” He grinned, Sumia sighed but she smiled at Cynthia,

“You’ve grown so much…” The youthful woman said with a smile, close to tears, “You all have.” She said smiling at Caleb, “You, Lucy, Noire.  I don’t see the others...did they?”

Caleb looked down and spoke softly, “They’re with the Shepherds.  They chose to stay in the past.”

Sumia looked a little bit sad but she motioned to the young dragon, “I see.” She said calmly, “I can’t believe how much taller you are.” She smiled at Caleb and pulled him into a one armed hug.  He was only up to her shoulders, Grima’s height was not his to have, it seemed, “Though I guess I should have expected that much. I guess we’ll have to get used to the new look.”

Caleb felt a blush on his face and went to pull his hood up, his usual response to embarrassment.

 

“So, uh…” Caleb tensed again as Marita spoke up from where the Wanderers were standing, “Who are they?” 

Caleb didn’t know what to say but it was thankfully Henry that spoke up although his master seemed to miss the point of the question slightly, “Oh it’s frightfully simple.” He grinned, “Sumia and I got pulled out of our world by some...now what did he say he was...or who he was...?  I don’t really remember too well, he, he, must be my age starting to creep up on-”

“Summoner.” Sumia said calmly clearly trying to get her husband on track,

“Kiran?  Eclat? Ekurado?”  Henry frowned as he continued as if Sumia had simply not spoken, or rather as if continuing his thought, “I didn’t catch the guy’s name, but it didn’t matter that much because I got to have fun tossing fire balls at bad guys.” He grinned, “Which is always a heap of fun.”

“Henry…” Sumia sighed, though she seemed to be well used to the chipper attitude of her husband.

“SO!  As I was saying we kinda got pulled into another war and may have got side-tracked but,” Henry drew in a deep breath and Caleb was worried for a moment, “Turns out I just had to help them train up a different version of myself.  Ah, the puns we shared. Good times…it was almost so sad to leave, but as we say in Plegia, a Fell Dragon needs to fly sometimes and the skies are always open-”

Sumia smiled softly, “After we did what we could to help the Askrans helped us find Caleb, since we figured if we found Caleb, we’d find everyone else.” She added, “Though we didn’t quite expect to be here of all places.  I mean this isn’t our Ylisse.”

Caws we couldn’t just go back to where we were from tee hee!” Henry laughed, Caleb smiled softly.  He was glad that they were as he remembered them. Still he could see a few people looking at Henry with a bit of concern- mostly those who were not used to such a chipper person no doubt, but Caleb knew that his master was a very tricky man to read.  Especially when he wasn't so chipper and his smile took a more sinister appearance.

“So, I guess we have quite a bit to catch up with, though we can probably worry about that later, as I said before, there are risen in the area.” Sumia spoke calmly and repositioned herself to lean on the crutch.

“Aww.” Henry whined, “We could have so much fun!  Though I think-”

Caleb felt the slow burn of anger start to course through his veins.  The risen were beginning to annoy him. “They shouldn’t have been made in the first place.” Caleb growled, anger bubbling up until an aura of dark magic surrounded him.  Unthinkingly he pulled out the strange blade and it glowed even more brightly as Caleb's aura flared to life. A small flick of Caleb's wrist was all it took to send flying shards of crystals that for some reason didn't actually appear to harm anything at first glance, but the sudden miasmic fog that rose and faded as well suggested otherwise.  Caleb's aura subsided and he felt a dramatic decrease in his energy levels and near collapsed. He was lucky enough however to have Lucina catch him.

“That was awesome~!” Henry chirped, “Though that spell…” he lifted the remains of his left arm and realising he had the wrong arm chuckled softly and instead used his right hand to rest his chin on, “That's actually a very ancient spell.  Certainly not the easiest to cast like that…”

Sumia however cast a worried expression, “He's not hurt from backlash is he?”

Henry gently lifted Caleb's head as the young Fell Dragon was regaining his breath, “It doesn't seem to be the case.” Sumia heaved a small sigh of relief, it was clear she cared quite a bit for Caleb, almost as if he were like a son to her.

“We should probably make sure that the people in the next town are alright.” said Robin and Arilon replied,

“Are you sure Robin.  I mean, people are probably going to need some reassurance since Caleb did change into-”

“It wasn't like I wanted to do that!” Caleb suddenly interrupted and Robin winced slightly as if he felt part of the guilt Caleb was trying to hide as best he could from the others, Caleb looked down, “I...was hoping to...not have that happen.  At least...not like it did…”

Robin nodded and said, “We can at least reassure the townspeople that everything is alright.” Caleb looked down and Robin added, “We won't have to go through there if that's what's worrying you.”

Caleb nodded but said quietly, “I'll be fine as long as I'm with Lucy.”

Lucina seemed to know how upset Caleb was and she gently took his hand and held it in her own, “It might be best if we travel in two groups for a short while.  Or we wait for a group to-”

“But that will take too long Lucy, and I don't think it's fair to put you or Caleb at risk!” Cynthia cried out, “I mean I get Caleb's upset but it isn't fair!  Just because he's got power like Grima shouldn't mean he should feel like he can't be near anyone!”

“Cyny…” Caleb winced.  She had a point. Though he couldn't trust himself not to hurt anyone.  He felt a slight burning sensation and realised he was fairly close to being a sniffling mess again much to his chagrin,

“Well that is interesting…” Henry's grin widened slightly, “I thought it might have been a simple spell but is it off the charts of complexity!”  He grinned, “And not just Caleb but Lucy too.  Nya, ha, ha, I wonder how long it'll take for the effects to start cropping up with Lucy as well!" He grinned,

“Wait...Lucina’s affected as well?!” Cynthia cried worried now,

Henry sighed, “Well based on observation and what not, Caleb wasn't the only one to have his blood fully awakened.  That kind of a spell is extremely difficult to pull off, and to couple with the complexity literally no human mage can do it.  You'd need the power of a god to pull off that kind of magic. And the materials would need to be in top shape and in perfect condition for the spell to work properly.” Henry said calmly pulling his signature grin.  “It's the kind of magic that is kind of...forbidden magic, even by Grimleal standards and those guys don't hold back on their research.  Of course if it was able to be pulled off...assuming there was enough Mana to do it...maybe you'd notice some...minor changes depending on which spell was actually physically used.”

Caleb spoke softly, “In order for blood to be awakened two must become one…

Henry tilted his head and then he spoke, “Huh, now what makes you say that?”

“That...was what...I...he said.” Caleb said and Henry rested his chin on his stump,

“Hmm...that is...uncanny…” Henry mused,

“We really should…”

“Yeah, we should go check on those townspeople.” Henry spoke up, “We can talk magic later.” He said calmly another grin forming, and he looked at Arilon and Robin, "As I always say, you don't want too much blood from anyone but the bad guys~!"

 

~*~

 

The town they travelled to was fine- uneasy about the “Grima” sighting- but luckily fine.  The travellers ended up continuing to a quiet part of forest as dusk came. Caleb hadn't spoken since earlier that day and as the young Cleric kept casting worried glances at him but she ultimately couldn't speak if she wanted to.  She was confused clearly as she seemed to expect him to act differently to what he was.

 

As it was near dark, the campsite was chosen in a relatively large clearing.  Caleb focused on the expansion hexed tent and as they set it up, Henry had grinned, “Nice work~!” the sorcerer praised, “You guys did great!” He smiled.

Caleb felt a small smile at the praise and did his best to hide his blush.

 

Sumia insisted she cooked for everyone.  She wasn't the least bit hampered in the Mess tent and moved with practiced ease despite her missing limb.  She hummed as she worked. The supplies were enough to make a good meal for everyone and she was well on the way to having it ready when Henry arrived, “It'll be ready soon love.” Sumia said smiling, her husband Henry, who it turned out, was not the only one to arrive at the mess tent at that moment,

“Oh boy I'm starving!” a young man she wasn't familiar with said smiling widely as he seemed to want to be first in line to the food, “It smells soo good!!”

Sumia giggled, “It won't be long, I promise.”

Caleb arrived not long after the boy, “Miss Sumia…” she spotted the shy expression and smiled, typical Caleb, any time he remotely smelled her cooking he would materialise out of nowhere, no matter how introverted he wanted to be and tonight was no exception.  Clearly he missed her cooking a bit more than he let on.

“Don't worry Caleb, it's nearly ready.”

He blushed and smiled shyly, Sumia's cooking was one of the few things to really draw Caleb out of his shell.  Especially since she made one of his favourite meals. Bear meat and vegetable pie. Plus her famous custard tarts.  She also made a few different types of pies for everyone else as well, in case they didn't like certain flavours. But she knew by the way Caleb was near drooling that the pies were not going to last long at all.

 

Soon the mess tent was full of people.  Everyone talking as they tucked into Sumia's  delicious pies. Conversations were lively to say the least and Sumia was with her husband as he was talking with his other self, (“So many puns so little time to share them…”) Caleb was predictably tucking into his favourite type of pie with a very blissful expression on his face sharing it with Lucina.  Old habits seemed to die hard clearly and Sumia chuckled. Caleb was always the one who shared. She noticed the little one tucking into it as well and grinned.

 

~*~

 

Caleb wasn't quite full but that didn't matter right then.  He was unusually in the mess tent, but to him the smell of Sumia's delicious pies were too good to ignore no matter how self conscious he may have felt.  That and they were freshly cooked. Caleb was doomed from the start. He teleported another one and Lucina it seemed wasn't feeling so unwell tonight, a good start.  He noticed how lively people were and as he ate, became filled with a sense of nostalgia he couldn't really help. It was...nice for a change. It reminded him of the Shepherds and a time where he wasn't so...different.

 

After dinner Sumia's custard tarts were a huge hit.  Caleb spotted Bard's blissful expression as he bit into it.  Caleb grinned knowing just how good it was and the sheer pleasure it was to eat them, and it was also a massive weakness of his.

 

Soon there were none left.

 

Stomach pleasantly full Caleb headed out with Alana and Lucina to an area just clear of the camp where they wouldn't be in the way and where the fell dragon could teach his daughter about the stars.  The air was nice and cool. The stars were bright and clear, easily spotted even by the warmth of a fire. Caleb was aware of the camp settling down.

 

~*~

 

“See there, that's Marth's star, and he's always got Caeda beside him.” Caleb said pointing to the two stars then he continued, “And over there is the hero Ike, and his sister Mist, she's always got her staff on hand.” Caleb said as Alana leant on his stomach, tiny form bundled underneath his coat but able to see the stars, a little yawn told Caleb his daughter was sleepy,

“Daddy…” Alana yawned suddenly,

Caleb chuckled softly, “We can continue another time sweetheart, because it seems to me that someone's tired.”

“I is not!” Alana said fighting sleep as Lucina chuckled softly,

“Well it is well past time for a little tactician to be up.” Lucina said with a soft loving smile, “Though I think we should probably all head to bed.”

Alana yawned widely as Caleb tenderly picked her up, small head pressed to her father's chest, tiny limbs all limp due to a lack of energy.  Caleb cradled his small child and smiled softly. As they headed back he saw Arilon and nodded, though he could hardly stay and chat as he carried Alana to her bedroll.

 

Once she was laid into the roll, there wasn't much protest.  Caleb made sure she was comfortable and the small child was asleep almost as soon as she laid down.

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Chapter IV: Bonds

The cool air of the predawn was quiet.  Morning dew covered all of the grass and the air was damp as a light shower had taken place the night before and it was into this early morning that Caleb hastened to escape his dreams that both concerned and upset him.  He spotted Henry- his Master also up and moving.

 

The Sorcerer was gently rubbing his stump and Caleb knew that it was causing him some pain- it often did when the weather was cooler- and quietly came to stand beside him.  Henry chuckled softly, “You’re up early.” He grinned, “Normally we’d have to pry you out of the bed roll.”

Caleb smiled softly, then he heaved a sigh.  Henry tilted his head and Caleb spoke, “Master…”

Henry pat Caleb’s head,

“One of those types of days?” Henry asked gently, “No need to worry.  Caws we’ll have lots of fun, just like old times.”

Caleb gave Henry a small smile, “Why do I get the feeling it’s going to involve a lot of curses on my end?” he asked,

“Nya, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.  Oh slay me that was a good one~!” Henry grinned, “Besides I’ve got to see where you’re at Caleb.  Call it what you will, I’m curious to see what my best student has learned tee hee.”

Caleb was glad his master was in such a chipper mood, it was nice for some normality to return after everything that had happened.  “Well...I’ve managed Thoron-”

“Ohhhh.” Henry grinned, “Nice, how’s Rexcaliber coming along?  I know wind was always your weakest element.”

Caleb sighed, “As terrible as ever.” the young Fell Dragon grumbled, “Alana seems to be able to handle wind better than I did.” he smiled softly,

“The little one?” Henry asked, then he gave Caleb a conspiratorial wink, “Seems you and Lucy got quite busy huh?”

Caleb flushed a brilliant shade of red, “M-Master Henry!”

“Nya, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.” Henry howled with laughter, “I’m totally right aren’t I?”

Caleb let out a weak sigh, “Yeah…”

Henry grinned, “Looks like ol’ Vaike owes me.”

Caleb grinned, “I guess he does.” It was a bittersweet memory to be sure but Henry didn’t seem to mind as Caleb felt himself lower his head slightly,

“Well then when the time comes I’ll make sure he knows, heh, heh, heh, heh.” He said then the pair looked over the dew laden clearing.  “I’m sure she’d be proud of you Caleb.”

“Master?” Caleb asked confused,

“Robin.”

Caleb looked down, “She...I couldn’t…” he began, voice soft yet it carried enough for Henry to hear him perfectly well.  Henry knew what Caleb likely meant. That he had failed to save the past version of his mother.

 

Henry gently pat Caleb’s head, “Hey, no one’s perfect Caleb.” Henry seemed more serious than Caleb had ever seen his Master, “We all make our own mistakes, you did what you could and that’s all that matters.” Henry said, “You’ve grown so much I almost feel jealous!”

“I don’t think I ever grew that much Master.” Caleb admitted and Henry snorted,

“You have.  You’ve certainly come a long way from that little one who wanted to be the best tactician that the world ever saw.”

Caleb smiled softly, “Have I though?” he sighed painfully, “It certainly doesn’t feel like it sometimes.”

Henry looked at Caleb and he smiled softly, “Well from where you view it mayhaps...but...from where I stand- you’ve grown a lot.” Henry spoke calmly, “Dare I say it, you’ve long since outgrown having to call me Master, Caleb.”

Caleb shook his head, “But-”

Henry chuckled in amusement, “As stubborn as ever huh?  Well, okay, but just know where I stand alright Caleb.”

 

Caleb sniffled and ended up in a one armed hug.  Henry suddenly grinned extra widely, “Now why don’t we have some fun tossing some fireballs and continue where we left off the last lesson for old time's sake, shall we?  That always cheers me up when I’m down, nya, ha, ha, ha!”

 

~*~

 

Caleb was in a much better mood once breakfast came around, though training with Henry was certainly the reason for that.  He came to sit beside Lucina and she smiled softly when he drew in for a small hug- her scent helping Caleb to relax further.  He watched as Alana once again seemed more interested in figs than actual breakfast and chuckled softly as Bard was upset that there wasn’t anything left from last night, though it was a testimony to Sumia’s amazing cooking that there wasn’t anything left over.  Caleb considered her the cooking goddess and anything that came close was certainly rare and worth eating as much as possible of if he could. Severa was in his mind the closest to Sumia's skill.

 

He noticed that Arilon was missing and frowned but decided that perhaps he had something to take care of.  Caleb hoped that the Wanderer was alright. It would hurt him if something were to happen to the man, though why the young Fell Dragon did not know.  Perhaps it was because he owed the man and felt he should repay the debt. Though how Caleb didn’t exactly know yet. There was something however that he’d come across in the library that could possibly help the Wanderers in general and Caleb felt it might be repayment enough...if what he saw was of any practical use- as well as the object he'd found.  He decided to see if he could research it further once he got the chance, he had some time to after all and it would be best if he did.

 

With breakfast done they continued their trek to Plegia.  The journey a little slow, because they were on alert for risen now- though Caleb couldn’t feel any and he wasn’t exactly comfortable about that.  Had he really wiped them all out in that single move? It seemed that Robin too was uneasy as well doubtless because of the partial link between them, though Caleb guessed Robin was uneasy because of the lack of risen more so than any theoretical connection between the two Fellbloods.

 

It was around lunchtime when Caleb was sat across from this world’s Robin going through a strategy simulation.  Robin was fairly predictable, though Caleb tried not to move too far ahead from what was happening it was difficult as he saw what moves Robin was going to make- though how he did not know particularly.  He frowned and twice avoided the traps Robin set by sheer dumb luck. Or rather Caleb wanted to think it was luck and not him actually noticing them with his other eyes, or however a Grima might notice such things as that.

 

It was a little disconcerting to say the least but he also noticed the crowd that had begun to gather as Robin frowned- apparently they expected Robin to be able to handle the match- Caleb felt that Robin had the better odds after all.  The frown was the give away that the King had not quite had an opponent of a skill level quite so closely matched (apparently), though Caleb didn’t doubt Robin’s daughter had a similar skill level she’d not been in the same level of pressure that Caleb, nor Robin had - though Caleb had a whole different kettle of fish to deal with coming from the ruined future after all and that...well that made a tactician or broke them.  It also made a tactician hesitant but quick to capitalize on mistakes much more readily - Caleb wanted to believe so at least as he didn't want to face the memories just yet.

 

Caleb could project ahead enough to know when Robin was making feints and reacted accordingly.  Unlike most Grimas- Caleb was sure of this- he used a combination of what he’d learned and what he’d inherited.  At least that was the goal. Though it was hard to tell as Caleb found himself unsure of how he was picking things up like he was.

 

Robin frowned again and he said, “I almost wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes.  Looks like that’s the end of that.”

Caleb looked over the board and frowned, “I thought...there’d be at least twenty more moves or so…” He said,

“Really?  With the commander down that wouldn’t be possible.” Robin pointed out and Caleb shook his head,

“I guess I was lucky then.”

“Luck had nothing to do with that.” Robin said firmly, “I didn’t think that it was even humanly possible to have someone push harder than Morgan can when she’s focused.”

“Daddy won?” Alana asked and Robin nodded,

“Yes he did.  I thought he’d fall for a couple of feints and yet somehow he saw through them, well, all of them, actually.” Robin explained.

“How?” Alana asked curiously.  Caleb knew Alana would be an amazingly gifted tactician when she was ready, she was always asking questions and trying to learn how to be a tactician- albeit a flying one like she insisted.  Caleb grinned softly. He was proud of his little one and wondered how long it would take her to over take him in terms of skill.

“I'm not sure how.” Robin admitted to her calmly.

 

Marita said they were going to travel for a bit more before setting up camp.  Caleb didn't mind and decided he'd feel better on his own two feet for a while as an uneasy feeling grew.  To the point where Caleb wasn't sure he should be riding Storm. Surprisingly, Marita also seemed uneasy, glancing back the way they’d come several times over the course of the day, and he’d noticed her looking frustrated out of the corner of his eye. Whatever Arilon was doing, it was taking longer than she’d expected.  Even so, Caleb knew that they would have to trust the man. Worse case detour and see if they could help.

 

~*~

 

As it turned out things were about to get much, much worse, depending on how one thought about a Fell Dragon having a destructive episode, though in reality it wasn't a true episode by any stretch of the imagination.

 

Caleb had of course not been aware that it was going to keep happening until he had a major destructive release of the energy that had been progressively building up, though as far as he was aware the Tempest had been finally destroyed- though he did not know that was what it was as he'd yet to see and encounter one for himself and even Grima himself had not encountered one despite the journeying he'd done and the length of time he'd existed.

 

A vicious snarl rang out before Caleb shot off, his only goal to get far enough away he wasn’t going to hurt anyone or at least he felt it was better for all involved not to be too close to him right then.  He was afraid of what would happen if he did lose it so close to the others.

 

~*~

 

Lucina was lucky to hear Caleb’s snarl.  She had half leapt up onto Storm’s back before anyone reacted to it and urged the stallion upwards to the sky hoping to see where Caleb had gone.  She then had a thought and wondered if it was something that had upset Caleb’s fragile balance of control again…

 

~*~

 

Caleb barely got clear of others before he lashed out with dark magic burning the earth where he stood, a small circle of destruction compared to the ravaged earth from back when he'd not been fully able to at least think about reining it in as best he could.  A vicious snarl escaped Caleb again as his ears picked up the sound of fighting- and a scream made Caleb’s mind up for him. He moved towards the sound. He knew he was going to regret it later but for now...he wasn’t exactly thinking straight let alone in a controlled manner as instincts reigned supreme.  He would be lucky if he didn’t kill someone at this rate.

 

He (as luck would have it depending on how one chose to look at the situation) was not too far from a group of bandits trying to capture a small child who looked for all the world like she was running for her life- it had been her scream that Caleb had heard and now reacted to.

 

The girl had long dark purple hair drawn up into a sizeable bun at the top of her head.  Her clothing was unlike anything Caleb had ever seen. She wore a large blue bandanna around her neck, her clothing was clearly a combination of amour and a little skirt over a pair of dark leggings.  She wore a pair of long white gloves and her feet were completely bare- much like Panne's- the small child did wear some leather guards on her shins. Her grey coloured eyes were wide with fear and the most telling trait of all the pointed ears of a manakete, which told Caleb this little one was in danger, that and her scent at any rate which really gave the game away and if he wasn't already moving towards her, he most certainly was now.

 

She was running as fast as her tiny legs could carry her and the bandits had come to a halt when Caleb suddenly landed nearby as they didn't expect to see a grown male Fell Dragon- though perhaps they had no idea that was what they'd just encountered given the awed stares that they were giving him.  A snarl escaped the Fell Dragon and the small girl skidded to a halt eyes wide with fear as the sound was a warning, a warning the little one was intent on heeding though not aware it wasn't for her. Caleb scented the air cautiously and the child glanced back towards the bandits, then to the Fell Dragon, unsure if he was with them or not.

“We got ‘er now boss!” One of the men yelled not heading Caleb's warning snarl and would have gone forwards, if not for the clear leader making the man stop.

“Stand down you fool!” An overly muscled man yelled, clearly the leader of the little bandit group “We ‘ave another one an’ ‘e looks more dangerous then th' las' one we 'ad t' kill 'coz 'e was too weak!”

Caleb growled again his hood off his face now and the bandits were grinning, “That one would make us a fortune!” The nearest one howled, “What kinda dragon is it?!”

Caleb pulled out his tome, or rather would have if not for the manifestation of the tome he'd taken from Validar, “Fools…” he said softly allowing himself to open a pathway for the child to escape.  It was then that it seemed to click to the girl that he wasn't a threat to her and he was most certainly not with the bandits that had been chasing her. “Being as pathetic as to try to make a child your slave...humans like you sickens me to no end.”

The small girl dived for Caleb's right hand side.  She sort safety from what was to come. And what was to come...was slaughter, there truly was no other words to describe what was to happen as Caleb prepared to deal with the bandits, all while the child was hiding behind his right leg, barely level with his hip, grey eyes widened in fear.  She instinctively knew that death would befall the humans and felt that the safest place for her was where she stood near the Fell Dragon.

 

Caleb gripped Grima's Truth in his left hand as he put down the entire group of bandits in one blast wave of dark magic, the screams of their pain only was because they were impaled by spikes- a part of the spell Caleb used that in a sadistic Grima would have bought them down to near death- though in his case killed them all outright turning the bandits and their weapons into instant dust that sprinkled the ground like a fine layer of dirt.

 

Caleb heard the sound of hooves and running- he tensed, prepared for another battle before he scented the air and smelled Arilon and Lucina heading from two different directions.  Caleb turned to see Storm trotting calmly with Lucina on his back, her expression worried, “Caleb?”

He gave her a small sheepish smile,

“I'm okay…”

Lucina heaved a sigh of relief before dismounting, “You really should-”

He sighed, “I know...I just didn't feel like risking lives, sorry…”

The small girl poked her head out from behind Caleb's leg and Lucina blinked in surprise before she slowly knelt as not to upset the child who was clinging to Caleb's leg with a look of fear on her face “It's alright, no one is going to hurt you now.”

The little one sniffed the air and decided she didn't mind Lucina's scent, though Caleb wasn't sure if that was because Lucina had knelt to the child's level or because she wasn't in any danger.  Or perhaps a combination of both, he decided as the girl seemed to calm down.

 

“Where…?” Caleb said as Arilon and arrived with a small group of people.  Caleb's nose drew in unfamiliar scents and he frowned. The Wanderers were a much larger group than Caleb realised.  Arilon it seemed had not heard the earlier snarls and for that Caleb was relieved. He didn’t think it would be a good idea to have them see him losing control again.  He sighed,

“You guys okay?” Arilon asked and Caleb bit the inside of his lip,

“Yeah.” He said quietly, none too happily.  He hated it when he got...Caleb tensed as new scents hit his nose, unthinkingly a snarl escaped him and he half turned only to notice there wasn't anything there in his line of sight.  He heaved a sigh, “Nagadamnit.” He muttered, as he realised that there was a thin layer of what looked like dirt where the bandits had been. He'd turned them and their weapons into literal dirt.  He grimaced at the thought that he’d done that, though really he shouldn’t have been as surprised as he was.  It was to be expected that a Grima could do something like that when they put their mind to it...and it made Caleb uncomfortable at just how easy it was.  It sickened him.  He paled unbidden.

“Are you sure you're okay?” Arilon asked Caleb and Lucina spoke,

“Caleb?”

“We should head back to the others.” The Fell Dragon sighed, “Marita probably wants to see you're well Arilon, since she was from what I noticed quite worried over you.” Caleb spoke calmly, avoiding the issue entirely as he wasn't sure the strangers would fully understand everything just yet.  The little girl tugged on Caleb's sleeve and he knelt down to her level, “You should come with us little one, that way you won't have to worry about bad people chasing you while we look for your parents.”

She looked at Caleb with her grey eyes seemingly close to crying, “Papa...Mama day wouldn't wake up.” She sniffled and Caleb blinked, “Mama and Papa...wouldn't wake up, I tried ebwy fing but day wouldn't wake up…” Caleb gently held the tiny child and she finally cried, the kind of crying that was fear, mixed with grief.  He knew that at her current likely age, she wouldn't have processed that- at least by the sounds of it- her parents were dead, her sobs continued as the whole story seemed to tumble out, “De scawy people chased me…day say scawy fings...Mama and Papa...day wouldn't wake up...eben doe de scawy people chased me...” the child cried in ernest and Caleb knew what had to be done.  He spoke gently,

“I see...in that case, maybe it would be best if you travelled with us then.”

“Caleb…” the protest wasn't from Lucina, but Caleb knew in his heart at least what the right thing to do was,

“We can't leave her here, it's not safe!” He said somewhat firmly, “I can't in good conscious…not while she's so vulnerable.”

Lucina nodded, as she agreed with Caleb.  “Then we’ll look after her, since she needs someone to care for her.” Lucina suggested, “That way we know she's safe.”

“I had a feeling you'd say that Lucy.” Caleb said softly, and he just knew she heard him.  She nodded again.

The little girl cried softly and Caleb gently held his hand out to her.  She grabbed it after a moment and said, “I stay den. I id Kana.” Given her tiny frame Caleb was surprised by her much better grasp of speech compared to Alana at about the same age- if he was correct in his estimate at least.

Caleb hummed softly, “Well then Miss Kana, I’m Caleb, and this is my wife Lucina.” She looked at the pair and he knew she was very tired as her tiny body looked like it was about ready to collapse from the strain of running like she had, “You can rest easy little one.” He said gently scooping her up deciding it was best to carry her for now.  Apparently Kana didn't seem to mind being carried as she said,

“Fank you.” Before her head rested on Caleb’s shoulder and she fell asleep right there, a sign that for the time being at least she was content.

 

Lucina and Caleb shared a look and then Lucina spoke,

“We should head back.”

Caleb hummed, “Yes.” He said quietly and Arilon seemed to be lost in thought for a moment but as they turned to head back to camp the small group followed.  It was weird to be guiding them for a change. Perhaps Caleb could put the whole uncomfortable thing behind him. Though he doubted that.

 

~*~

 

The camp was lively as everyone prepared for dinner and general shenanigans.  Sumia was relieved when she saw Caleb and Lucina come into view with Arilon, only for the couple to then move towards the expansion hexed tent.  She was surprised by the group travelling with him but assumed that those that were with him were yet more of the Wanderers. She leant on her crutch as the young man who'd been upset at the lack of food after she'd last cooked was practically begging her to cook again and Sumia giggled softly, “Well I can as long as everyone else is alright with it.” He pouted at her response reminding her of a certain other young man.  She couldn't help giggling. She spotted Henry as he cheerfully told as many puns to his other self as humanly possible, and she could see their grins getting progressively wider as each broke out his most favourite puns. She sighed but knew ultimately that he needed it. Especially since they'd been through a lot.

 

Slowly she hobbled along to the mess tent to talk with whoever was going to be on kitchen duties.  It was then that she was taken by surprise.

 

She'd only seen Caleb's little girl a few times before and hadn't really been able to talk to her.  The little one had been playing with another small girl whom Sumia guessed was a manakete. She smiled as she thought of the times Nowi used to run about and play in the Shepherds’ camp.

 

Alana bounced over to Sumia and having noticed that the pretty lady in the light coloured sage robe had stopped gently- and rather shyly- pulled on her sleeve, “Miss ‘Mia, I’s can't finds Daddy.” She tried not to look too worried but it was difficult.  However Alana knew that this lady was a safe person, much like almost anyone in the Wanderers. She watched as the lady gently lowered herself to the little one's level. Soft brown eyes filled with a warmth that Alana knew she could trust,

“I'm sure he's not too far, but if you'd like we can find him together.  How's that sound?”

“Yes please!” Alana cried and Sumia gently held the little one's hand and the pair wandered the camp a little while to see if Caleb was where Sumia thought he might be.

 

Caleb stood back as he admired his handiwork.  The new ‘room’ for little Kana was between Alana's and Cynthia's.  She was tucked into a spare bedroll that Caleb had found. He carefully pulled the curtain across to give Kana some privacy and turned to see Alana and Sumia come in.  He smiled softly, as Alana let go of Sumia's hand and said, “Daddy! Can yous teach I's tactics?”

Caleb smiled softly, “Magic word Sweetheart.” he said calmly,

“Pleeeeeease!” He had to grin at that,

"Well alright sweetpea." Caleb said with a smile,

"With little sis too Daddy." Alana said and Caleb blinked.  He looked at Lucina, and then Alana tilted her head, "Did I's say something funny?"

Caleb suddenly realised what his daughter had said and said calmly,

"No, sweetpea.  We'll have to ask her once she's awake.  She's had a lot happen in one day."

Alana frowned, "But Daddy-"

Caleb gently patted his daughter's head and lowered himself so he was level with her, "She's sleeping and needs to rest.  I know you want to help her too, but right now Kana needs to rest."

Alana pouted but she nodded.  He smiled gently, and Lucina said, "We should probably head for dinner."

 

~*~

 

The tent was full and Caleb decided that he wasn't particularly comfortable as he looked for a place that wasn't too close to anyone who might find his presence disconcerting.  He let out a sigh and noticed that there was a lot of wanderers who seemed to be catching up with the group who'd been with Arilon, and while Caleb knew eavesdropping was rude with his hearing the way it was...he couldn't help it.

"...So then what happened?" Caleb wasn't sure who asked but he noticed the royal purple haired woman seemed to be the one telling the story to the others,

"Well we did end up in a very different Ylisse from here, our travels taking us to Ylisstol.  The Chrom there was adamant about us staying for a while to rest- and I must say they were very kind in helping restock our supplies while Bloom was helping with a small boy-"

Caleb blinked but another conversation caught his attention, "Aww, man I was kind of hoping Miss Sumia was going to cook tonight..."

"Bard, I'm sure she needs rest just as much as we do-"

His eyes closed as he simply let the voices float over him.  It was far more pleasant than the last month or so of his journey, perhaps helped by the fragment having completely merged with him, allowing Caleb to be much calmer than what he’d been thus far.

"...So we going to train together tomorrow?"

"...Hey don't ask me I don't know what happened."

"...That sounds kinda cool…"

It was refreshing for a change especially from the cries calling for destruction, Caleb could almost get used to this kind of peaceful atmosphere, it did wonders for his mental state to be sure.  It was something he wished he’d been able to enjoy for as long as possible. The peace that came when no one fought and there was no war to trouble them...

"Caleb…"

The young fell dragon had all six eyes closed and was content to simply stand where he was in an unobtrusive spot where everything could move past him.  He was enjoying the peace and calm. It felt so nice...

"Caleb…"

He was so focused on the atmosphere that he almost would have relaxed enough to lower his guard more than normal-

"CALEB!"

Caleb's eyes snapped open as he jolted from barely concealed shock and saw Arilon standing not too far off.  The fell dragon made a quick once over of the tent and said softly, "My apologies, I uh...got a little distracted." He felt his face heat up.  That was one way to put it, though in truth he’d not been so close to lowering his guard like that ever, even before the journey to the past with Lucina.  It hadn’t been since before he’d lost his mother…

 

He subconsciously went to take a step back but was barred by the tent wall.  He gave Arilon a sheepish expression and Lucina had managed to pick some food for them with Alana eagerly trying to help her mother,

"There's something I wanted to ask, but-"

Caleb blinked and sighed, "Not now, please.  I don’t...want to talk..." His voice was quiet but the point got across, he was aware of a few curious looks but Caleb had his reasons, he simply wasn’t ready to deal with everything that had happened yet.  His appetite waned drastically and he knew that the sick feeling was to do with the thoughts he’d had swirling around his mind about those bandits. They hadn’t stood a chance against him and that made Caleb sick.  He may have been a Grima but that did not mean he took pleasure in harming anything like his other self- no his fragment might have. That he’d killed them was bad enough.

 

Arilon frowned but seemed to thankfully drop the subject as Caleb made a beeline for Lucina and Alana, both of whom were with Cynthia and Noire having got their food.  The ambiance was calm once more but Caleb was in another world entirely. He was stuck thinking about just how those bandits had died and their horrified expressions would stay with him for a while he knew.  And they were not the only ones to disquiet Caleb. He knew that his other self- the fragment took many lives in its search for him. Lives that could never be atoned for- though Caleb understood the chains that had bound Grima far more now than before...

 

~*~

 

There was a stillness in the night as Caleb tried not to over think about Arilon's question that the young tactician had cut off.  It could have been any number of things. Like Forneus quietly shuffling around the camp doing little more than tasks given to him by various people- picking this box up, moving that tent pole there, carrying staves to the supply tent- or how Risen Chrom and the risen form of his mother had shown up again, or…

 

He sighed.  It wasn't his place to over think things like this though at least it provided a distraction from the less welcome thoughts that were in the back of his mind.  After making sure Alana was safely in her bedroll for the night as she slept, Caleb found himself unable to sleep and he left the expansion hexed tent seeking a quiet place to think under the stars as his mind was dwelling on less than helpful thoughts, as if he was meant to be out this particular night.

 

The cleric as far as Caleb knew was doing her own thing, she had not left the tent and Noire had said she ate the food that was bought to her, so at least the young woman wasn’t starving to death...though Caleb had to wonder why she’d not left the tent in the first place.

 

He heard the sound of footsteps and judging by their sound figured Arilon was likely doing a patrol of the camp, a bit late but then again the fell dragon should have been sleeping himself- it was quite late after all.

 

Caleb guessed that in Arilon’s case it was because he was on night patrol duty.  Arilon's voice had broken the half concentrated state Caleb had found himself in.  Caleb sighed and decided not to move because he didn’t need to,

"Hey." Arilon appeared to Caleb's right and somehow the fell dragon knew there was doubtless a question, "So...is now-"

Caleb sighed, "As good a time as any, I suppose." He said with a sigh interrupting Arilon, his knees pulled up as his arms folded over them.  His chin sat on them and Caleb simply gazed into the clearing. There was an owl perched in the tree just in front of them, but given how dark it was, Arilon wouldn't have seen it without some form of light that humans could see, yet for Caleb the night was as bright as the day and he guessed it was one of his sets of eyes that made it easier to see in darkness.  Arilon came and sat on the log beside Caleb,

"Something tells me you're not happy about something." He said after a moment and Caleb sighed,

"That obvious?" He said quietly with a half rueful grin,

Arilon blinked but otherwise didn't seem to startled, "I suppose.  Though to be fair it's not like I haven't had to kill people before."

Caleb let out a cold laugh, the kind that lacked any humour, "Even now...I still…" he sighed, eyes following the owl as it hopped along the branch, the creature looked him full in the eyes and Caleb said quietly, "Is there even a world where I won't be such a problem to be around without putting people at such a risk?" It was more a question to himself than to Arilon, and Caleb's eyes looked down from the owl and it hooted.  He wondered if that was-

"I don't think that's entirely true Caleb." Arilon broke the young dragon's musings, "I can't speak for the others but from what I've seen-"

Caleb chuckled softly, "Seeing is different to truly seeing, Arilon." He said surprising himself as he said something that doubtless was from the memories of Grima’s past, "Humans don't see the way a fell dragon does." Caleb said as the owl decided it had found food and silently swooped down to catch a foolish mouse that was moving in the leaf litter below, Caleb saw it but Arilon didn’t, again with human eyes one wouldn’t see it, but then again, he knew that Arilon would have heard the faint rustle of the leaves and little more.

"True you are different from most humans," Caleb said softly as the owl flew back to its perch to eat its prize and thus nurture its own body to survive another day, "So perhaps you are a rare kind of human." He half smiled ruefully, "Even so…"

Arilon frowned, "What exactly are you saying Caleb?"

The fell dragon sighed as his mind became slightly clouded as his thoughts were not exactly easily followed, "Maybe...perhaps, what we see isn't what we see." He said after a moment, and a pregnant pause filled the air as Caleb struggled to make sense of what he was actually thinking.

"A Fell Dragon- if Validar is to be believed- is nothing but a being of pure destruction." Caleb said honestly, though he wasn't sure if that was from what Lucius had told him or Grima’s knowledge of how Validar was or both, "Meant to destroy all in their path, even the divine dragon Naga.  Nothing is meant to stand in the way of a Grima." He sighed, "And yet…" Caleb's grip on his knees tightened slightly, "I can't help but wonder...how true that really is...or...is it a lie?" He couldn't help the pain in his voice as he continued, "What if...a blood pact to reincarnate Grima was just that, strictly to reincarnate him...me I guess?  But somehow, someone acted like...the foolish sorcerer and tried to twist the vow into such a thing as destruction…" Caleb sighed as the owl finished gulping down the last of the mouse and returned to looking for more food,

“I’m not following-” Arilon said and Caleb spoke,

“In Plegia, there is a legend as old as her,” Caleb began, “It’s one that is told to younglings when they are of an age that they can make their first blood pact.” He said, “A sorcerer desired Grima’s power once and he gave the dragon his blood, but the sorcerer was deceitful and tried to cheat the dragon.  Hoping to gain Grima's power without giving the Fell Dragon what he asked for.” Caleb explained, “So Grima took the sorcerer’s daughter and made her into his bride as punishment. She ended up bearing a child and that child had Grima’s power- Grima fulfilled his part of the blood vow but the sorcerer didn’t fulfil his thus he was not granted Grima’s power which he craved so.”

“And how is this-?”

“What if…” Caleb said interrupting, “What if that sorcerer bound that child to a blood pact of destruction?  After all that would explain the reason why people can control a Fell Dragon to a certain extent.” Caleb said quietly, “Being bound to a blood oath is no small thing...and it’s ancient magic to be sure…” Caleb sighed then and said, “But that still doesn’t explain…”

Caleb let his legs fall as he’d felt a slight numbing in his feet.  His wings ached suddenly and Caleb sighed. Then as he sat lost in thought he spotted something of interest.

 

A shadow moving rather slowly and he gave a brief sniff and knew it was the risen version of his mother.  He lowered his gaze. He supposed it was time for him to focus on the next task. Something that would help the wanderers.  He rose and said, “I don’t suppose you have a spare moment. There is something I think you might find helpful.” The young fell dragon offered.  He had a feeling that with three worlds worth of knowledge that Arilon might indeed find something.

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