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Doctortear

Fire Emblem: Brave Unknown IC

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Forrest user posted image

There was something charming about the way Jordan could go from having a blank expression one moment to exploding with energy the next. Forrest giggled not unkindly as Jordan introduced himself.

 

“Jordan, huh?” Forrest tasted the name on his lips. It was a foreign name, that was for sure, but it was strong, durable. Forrest’s eyes briefly roamed down Jordan’s body and ah, yes, it did fit him, didn’t it? Names were as much of an accessory as clothing was; both could define a person, inform someone of their personality and history without requiring said someone to even speak to them. Jordan was a quiet, yet powerful sounding name. It was a name that belonged to a prestigious figure whose ambitions allowed them to achieve whatever dreams they may hold. If Forrest looked at Jordan from a distance, he could have probably guessed his name if he were more acquainted with it. At least, that’s what Forrest thought.

 

“Jordan’s a lovely name,” Forrest said. “Heavy, but good. ”Forrest tilted his head as he tried to meet Jordan’s eyes before the poor boy decided to deny eye contact entirely. “Really, you’re being too harsh on yourself, darling. If I didn’t enjoy talking to you, I would have made that evident earlier.” A pause. “You’re doing fine,” Forrest said, more gentle this time. “Trust me.”

 

Although Jordan had absolutely no way of knowing where King Garon’s villa was, he apparently didn’t want to spend another moment standing around fidgeting his feet about. If Forrest was anything like his father, he might have just let Jordan wander off on his own for a minute or two, just long enough for him to realize he was alone and didn’t know where he was going before Forrest came galloping to his aid. Forrest pressed his lips into a line. He was not his father.

 

Forrest tugged gently on Ethlyn’s reins. The mare snorted in response, shaking her head as she turned her attention to her owner.

“Good girl,” Forrest said. He patted Ethlyn’s head affectionately before tugging her reins after him as he began to follow Jordan. The crowd had dispersed somewhat since Jordan and Forrest began talking. The clicking of Ethyln’s hooves was warning enough to those who weren’t paying heed to their approach and even then those absent minded folk weren’t great in number. The city was beginning to quiet down. The lunch rush was sure to have ended, making the traffic on the road more bearable. If luck was on their side, they’d be able to reach the villa before too long.

 

"Uh......so. This villa...you said your grandfather owns it? So, yanno, if that's the case, and you do the voice things...are you royalty or something?"

 

“Oh…” A wispy sigh escaped Forrest before he could realize his lips were moving. He hesitated, his gaze momentarily diverted to the ground before he could manage a soft chuckle.

“Ah, a bit on the nose with those assumptions, aren’t you?” Forrest flashed Jordan a grin although he wasn’t sure what exactly he was grinning about. It wasn’t that Forrest was trying to keep his royal status a secret. He had learned over the years that people treated you differently when they learned that you had divine blood in your veins. It would be simple to just shake his head and claim to be a noble, but Forrest wasn’t much for lying. He had done plenty of that as a child vying for his father’s approval. It wouldn't hurt to tell Jordan the truth, and besides, Forrest was quite done with lying.

 

“Why, I can say no one has called my, ah, manner of speaking ‘voice things’ before,” Forrest said. He hummed pleasantly, hoping it would smother his awkward pause. “You’re quite clever, you know that?” Forrest said with a tender smile. “Nohr’s royalty is quite expansive. Well, it used to be quite expansive if you count all the princes and princesses that never got to grow up.” How many aunts and uncles (gods, or whatever gender they were) could Forrest have had if their necks weren’t slit? Or if Hoshido hadn't taken them? Or if they hadn't fallen in battle? "If you count Princess Camilla’s adopted children, which most people don’t but I see no reason in not counting them, you easily have over ten individuals in the Nohrian royal family.” Forrest purposely closed his mouth, allowing for a fleeting moment of silence. Most people did not react well to realizing they were next to royalty, and Forrest, as with everyone he told, hoped Jordan wouldn’t be one of them.

 

“My father is the second prince, ah, third prince if you count King Corrin, of Valla,” Forrest said as though it was the most casual thing in the world. He didn’t mention that his father most likely wasn’t the second prince of Nohr, but the skeletons of his brothers couldn't dispute that. “Don’t make the mistake thinking that my status says much of me. I didn’t set foot in the capital, let alone Castle Krakenburg until I was eighteen.” Forrest realized that he was giving away a bit too much personal information, but he honestly didn’t care at this point. What would Jordan even though with that information? Sell it to bandits? Sure, and deal with Aunt Camilla on his tail? Or any of his other family members who would be up in arms if one of their own was taken from them? Forrest shook his head at the thought. No, Jordan seemed far too… skittish to do something as devious as that. Besides, he seemed to have a kind heart. As foolish as it might be, Forrest did not see a reason to suspect Jordan. He did not seem like someone who would enjoy plunging a dagger into someone’s heart, let alone be willing to do so.

—————

Takumi user posted image

Leo wasn’t stupid, far from it actually. Prince Leo was one of the most intelligent and articulate individuals Takumi ever had the pleasure of knowing. Leo made it his mission to be rehearsed in as many subjects as he could. Even if he was presented with some foreign matter, Leo was prepared to adjust to any given situation and use his wits to accomplish whatever was needed of him. Sometimes, Takumi was reluctant to even entertain the thought, he thought that Leo’s intellect surpassed his own. That said, at the moment, Takumi couldn’t help but think Leo was acting like a slack-jawed fool.

 

“You’re kidding, right?” Takumi said. He spun around, eyebrows raised. A forced chuckle escaped his throat as he looked up at his friend. “We’ve been on a first name basis ever since the war? This shouldn’t be a surprise to you. Has she seriously not talked to you about our letters?” Takumi searched through his memories for a moment when he and Camila spoke with one another while Leo was present. Did he seriously never speak to any of the Nohrian siblings when they were near one another? That certainly didn’t sound right, but it could be possible. What was not probably was the idea that Leo didn’t know Takumi and his sister spoke. Really? Takumi had spent nearly a year in the Nohrian castle for diplomatic nonsense, and the thought that he and Camilla didn’t at least become decent acquaintances never occurred to Leo?

 

The more Takumi thought of what Leo had said, the most disturbed he became. Alas, he did not have the time to dwell on the strange accusation. He was more than glad to drop the subject in light of the situation they were in.

"I am of accordance. It's very ... hot. Perhaps they are people of this land?" Takumi grunted in agreement.

 

“I’d enjoy a nice long bath when we get the chance,” Takumi mumbled as he frowned down at his clothes that were gradually becoming damp with sweat.

 

"How do you suggest we approach them, Prince Takumi?"

 

There was a distinct pause before Leo spoke again. The hesitation caught Takumi off guard. He squinted as his friend, silently pondering what on earth could have made Leo hesitate before asking for his advice. Was the heat really so bad that it was making him doubt his own judgment? Was that why he was acting so weird? If that was the case, the sooner they got out of the sun, the better.

 

“Well,” Takumi said as he craned his neck to get a better look at the strangers. “If they’re native, they’re probably more suited to this environment than we are.” Takumi drummed his fingers nervously along the Fujin Yumi’s slight window. He was wearing too much clothing to fight comfortably in the heat, and Leo was buried in armor as was Viktor. Still, Takumi had no doubt the two of them could easily handle whatever the strangers threw at them. A wild card and a sorcerous prince working together. Yeah, even if they were at a disadvantage, no one could take them down if they stood back to back.

 

“I think we should advance,” Takumi said. “If they’re friendly we can reason with them, and if they’re hostile, we dispose of them. Simple as that.” Tightening his grip on his yumi, Takumi motioned his head towards the strangers and began walking forward. Together, the two princes had nothing to worry about.

—————

Inigo/Laslow user posted image

It was hard to decipher Gerome’s expression what with his face being covered constantly. Even after all these years, Inigo couldn’t see beyond the dark mask that granted him a reserved mien, making him look disinterested in whatever was happening around him. The prolonged silence was deafening. Inigo felt his fingers twitched as the corners of Gerome’s lips curved downward every so slightly. Gods, they had barely spoken for five minutes and already Inigo was screwing everything up. What did that frown mean? Was he annoyed with Inigo? Perplexed by the situation? Disappointed that even after years of being in a foreign land, Inigo was still shameless and as disgustingly inexperienced at speaking with him as always? No, Inigo needed to remind himself just as Xander had, he couldn’t think so harshly of himself when disaster had yet to strike. He needed to calm down, let Gerome say what was on his mind, and go from there.

 

“Surely you haven’t--” “IN- LASLOW!”

 

Just as Gerome began to speak, a very familiar voice rang over him. Inigo glanced over towards the source of the boisterous voice and, sure enough, he spotted Owain charging down the road. Inigo had to cup his lips to prevent dust from floating in this mouth as Owain suddenly halted a few feet in front of him, saluting, of course, because he was Owain.

“It’s good too, gah, see you too, Odin.” As relieved as Inigo was to see his cousin, he couldn’t help but wish Owain was a bit more aware of his surroundings. Even if his mouth was safe from the infernal dirt, his eyes weren’t so lucky.

 

“This is no time for fun and friendship, Owain. We need to find my daughter. OUR daughter." Inigo rubbed the dirt out of his eyes as Severa (of course, if Owain was here, Severa couldn’t have been too far away) spoke up. "Laslow, have you seen Ophelia anywhere?"

 

“Ophelia?” Inigo’s eyebrows knitted together, frowning. “You mean to say she’s not with you? Weren’t the three of you sitting at the same table before—” Inigo wasn’t sure how to describe the situation they were in. What could he even say? “Hey, weren’t the three of you eating breakfast together before we all got magically transported to our homeland? How come you can’t find your daughter, but I could find mine?” Severa would break him in more ways than one if he even entertained the thought of criticizing her parenting skills.

“I think ... I think you've mistaken me for someone else. I apologize, but I have no idea who ... Laslow and Odin are."

 

What?

 

Inigo’s hand dropped back to his side. Gerome backed away from the group, his hand placed gently on Minvera’s back. The wyvern gently spread her wings open in response to the touch. Inigo had seen Gerome mount his precious wyvern far too many times to misunderstand what he was about to do. Inigo’s mouth felt dry and the lump in his throat made it too hard to breathe.

 

“Now h-hey, now!” Inigo’s mouth opened before his mind could process the clutter of thoughts racing through his heads. He didn’t consider what he was doing when he jogged up to Gerome, grabbing him as tightly as he could manage without bruising.

 

“Can you at least give me—no, us—a chance to explain ourselves?” Inigo asked in a tone that was far more desperate than he’d like. “I mean—” Inigo paused, gasping softly as he attempted to gather his thoughts. “I’m not sure how well I can explain everything. I-I’m not entirely sure I know exactly what happened, but I couldn’t dream of giving you a satisfying answer if you won’t even listen!” An exasperated breath escaped from Inigo. He licked his lips nervously before continuing. “A-And if you’re not happy with what we have got to say, you can go. It’s just… I just—” Feeling the anxious knots in his stomach slowly unravel, Inigo briefly noticed that his hand was warm. Glancing down, he found his hand was tightly gripping Gerome’s. Even with a glove on, the warmth of Gerome’s hand was permeating onto Inigo’s. Miraculously, Inigo’s hand was still intact. Gerome hadn’t broken it just yet.

Yet.

 

Inigo panicked.

 

“Oh! S-Sorry!” Inigo said. He snatched his hand away from Gerome and took several steps back. If there was one thing Inigo learned about Gerome, it was that he didn’t like being touched and he was not afraid to teach an unruly stranger a lesson if they got too physical with him. How could he have been so foolish? Inigo exhaled, running his fingers through his messy hair. Gods, he was just desperate to reunite, wasn’t he? He couldn’t recall how many nights he spent staring up at the ceiling wondering if his friends and family were thinking of him just as he was of them. It was a blessing that he even remembered to let go of Gerome’s hand. If it was Lucina or one of his parents standing in front of him, he doubted he’d be able to conjure a single coherent thought. He’d probably fling himself against them and cry into their shoulder, mewling like a kitten who lost its mother for hours on end. He couldn’t let himself go weak. He was awed by his friend’s presence, but he needed to remember himself. There was someone counting on him now, and he couldn’t show weakness even if for a moment.

—————

Soleil user posted image

Dad really was emotional, wasn’t he? Soleil, with her hands on her hips, shook her head as she watched her father paw at the strange masked man. She didn’t know who the stranger was, but Dad seemed to be attached to him. Maybe he was an old friend Dad never spoke about? Dad always talked about taking her to his homeland to meet all the wondrous people who shaped him into who he was, but he never mentioned anything beyond that. Perhaps this man was part of that enigmatic homeland Dad spoke of only in clandestine whispers.

 

“Oh!” Soleil exclaimed as she suddenly remembered who was standing next to her. “Aunty Selena, Uncle Odin! Do you know what happened?” Just like her good ol’ Dad, Soleil couldn’t keep her hands to herself. Instinctively, her arm wrapped around Selena’s. The familiarity of hanging onto someone else, especially someone she admired and respected like Aunty Selena, put Soleil at ease, allowing her a moment to breathe.

 

“There was, like, this big flash of light!” Soleil said with a wide hand gesture. “Then we were on the ground in this weird place.” Well, weird wasn’t the right word to describe the field she had woken up in. It was a very ordinary field with very little distinctive features. What was peculiar was being transported from a cafe into a bland field that was devoid of any personality or landmarks.

 

“Oh and uh, Aunty Selena,” Soleil moved her head closer towards her aunt, speaking in a low whisper. “Do you know who the masked man? Or that girl behind us? Dad’s never mentioned them before and that masked man is kinda creepy. Can we trust them?”

Edited by Doctortear

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[ gerome ; northroad ]

 

Just as he could feel the gentle rush of wind behind him as Minerva spread her wings, Gerome prepared to turn and mount his wyvern to fly off into an unknown land, a little more than a bit puzzled and utterly alone. Having said his farewells, the masked rider fully prepared for the small group to fade from his life--and with time, from his memory. It was clear now that something was going on; something that he didn't quite understand nor felt he was given the correct information to process, and Gerome cursed whatever black magic Lucina had conjured in order to get them to the past. Was this some kind of witchcraft? Some magic spell that alternated between worlds?

 

How cruel was it, to show to him the very people who could have been his friends, if given enough time, and then isolate him completely like some sort of outsider. Cruel magic was at play, indeed.

 

He heard Inigo's approach and prepared himself to answer any questions that may be posed, but Gerome's carefully planned façade fell away when he felt another hand envelope his own, fingers wrapping around his in a warm embrace.

 

He registered exactly none of Inigo's words, too caught up in the sudden realisation that Inigo had grabbed his hand. Gerome's eyes, though hidden, widened as he felt his pulse drum so violently against his skin he was sure Inigo could feel it.

 

He had a hand placed on Minerva, and the other was held tightly in Inigo's grasp. How had he come to this situation?

 

Miraculously, he was aware Inigo had stopped talking and was waiting -- for what, exactly? An answer? Gerome wasn't sure he could even form coherent thoughts.

 

However, he didn't have to. Inigo dropped his hand, looking rather panicked, and gave a quick apology. What? Had it been a heat of the moment action? Gerome wasn't sure how to feel about the fact Inigo's first thought in a panic had been to grab his hand -- surely if it had been anyone else he would've reacted rather violently, opposed to being touched and held as if soothing words was going to protect him from a wartorn time. However, with another who had grown up the same way, and especially with Inigo ...

 

"It's alright," he said briefly, unsure what else to say. He let his hand drop to his side, eyes flickering to the strange stares of the unfamiliar bystanders. A nudge from Minerva, however, broke his thoughts and Gerome looked to see his wyvern's eyes gazing at Inigo, a straight stare. A childhood of growing up better friends with beasts than humans had thought Gerome enough to read their body language, and the masked rider smoothed his hand across his scales.

 

"You think so too, hm," he murmured, quiet. A heartbeat of a moment passed, and Gerome placed his hand -- the one that had previously been held by Inigo, as if the world wasn't taunting him further -- on the handle of his axe, and felt Minerva settle behind him as she folded her wings and bat the ground, once.

 

"Very well," he dipped his head, looking across at the strange scene before him. Never before had he felt like such an outsider, but ...

 

If Inigo asked him to stay, he would.

 

"I'm listening," he said. I would always listen to you.

 

--

 

[ leo ; border sands ]

 

The Hoshidans had quite a mind for humour, did they not?

 

Leo looked strangely at the other's words, and the mention of being on a first name basis with the enemy since the war was almost humourous. Still, Leo did not want to break the momentary truce they had accomplished; he has spent far too long fighting for the will of others, and diplomatic means were still a new, albeit welcome, strategy. He would let this go for now, even if it was a conversation that he felt surely had to come up later.

 

Well, perhaps not. Leo had no plans to accompany the archer prince any further than was necessary; it seemed unreal to consider even the situation he was in at the moment.

 

He hummed in agreement to the other's words and tugged on the reins slightly, feeling Viktor exhale underneath him. Of course, Leo was all too aware of the scorching heat that made his collar heat up his skin, and the prince felt almost as if he was being boiled alive. Wearing armour in the desert--or at all times of the day-- really wasn't the best way to go about doing things, especially long term travel.

 

"Almost there," he murmured to his steed, giving Viktor a quick pat on the side. He himself could bear any hardship thrown at him in the course of war--and he has--but he felt all too sympathetic for his cavalry companion, and could only imagine the stress of having to carry both him and tonnes of armour in this heat.

 

Viktor turned slowly, flicking his head. Ahead, he saw Takumi turn and began advancing.

 

A civil discussion? That would welcome as opposed to initiating battle immediately, and Leo pondered the thought. Realising it would seem awkward to approach unknown strangers both an entire horse's height taller than his ... companion, and that Viktor was already exhausted enough from the heat, Leo dismounted from his steed, easily stepping down as he felt the sand give slightly before his feet. He took hold of the reins with one hand, and his tome with the other. Approaching Takumi, he made sure to side by the prince's side so there was not a giant horse between the two of them.

 

"As you wish," he replied. "I certainly hope they won't be on the offensive immediately, but I suppose these things can't be predicted."

 

 

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Ryuusha: Nightmare of the Future's Past

 

The elder king moved swiftly across a terraforming earth, the stones and pavement of Nohr turning and twisting within themselves. Castle walls plummeted off the edge of the world, into the abyss. To try and describe what Chrom and Ryuusha were seeing was... almost impossible. It was as if three worlds were merging into one - all at once, melting and forming like a puddle that would not stop rippling, as if a thousand stones were dumped into its depths and left to erode.

But Ryuusha seemed unphased, as though he had seen this many times before - as if he hoped he would never see it again.

 

"Long ago, two nations were born of two separate backgrounds. A kingdom of darkness and one of light - neither inherently evil or good." Ryuusha explained, as another castle formed around them, the walls born of nothingness to turn to stone. "One, born of plenty, with a creed of honor. The other, born of less, with a creed of necessity."

 

He stepped through the castle, the walls melding and fusing with themselves. It was almost as if one could hear the laughter and cheering of a thousand dancers, merged in a grand ballroom. The crying of nobles and jilted lovers. The sounds of training.

"This land is born of three timelines, mainly, born of those two kingdoms and their war - a war I won. A war I fought. A war I did not want to see again. I lost two dear friends in that war, and I could not save them. But apparently, there were other timelines in that war - ones where I chose a side."

He stopped in front of a grand throne, forged of gold and ivory.

"All of it, based on this throne, really, and the sword I bear. Chrom, you may not know it yet... but the weight of a kingdom is held within its crown. And I bear that crown above my forehead, even now, and remember the centuries of fights. I remember the war, that much is certain. Blood stains my hands, Chrom. I hope it never stains yours."

He turned to the throne, and gripped the sword firmly. He knew what he had to do. He had to challenge his father's rule. He had been afraid. He had not wanted to sit on the throne, no matter how many times the nightmare had put him here.

But with Chrom behind him, his resolve began to firm. He stepped towards the throne, armored steps ringing through the halls.

 

As though to show what he was doing, the castle began to darken around them with every step he took, shadows clinging to paintings and the wall itself. But he did what he was meant to do, for all that he had done.

He sat upon the throne.

 

-----

 

In a reality far away, Selkie gripped her chest tightly, falling to her knees again, as pain wracked her body - as though something that wasn't supposed to happen had happened. She held out a small talisman, as though it would give her comfort. Ryuki ran to her side, trying to help her calm down.

"....He has done it... he has altered what was meant to pass... as he was meant to do... But I fear it has not ended yet." Selkie whispered, smiling under her anxiety. "There is so much more to do.... And he needs my help... He needs Kana as well..."

She stood back to her feet, walking through the grass and trees as though she had become a specter. The spirits around her began to morph, becoming far more emphasized.

They were hunting something - someone.

 

----

 

"So you have finally chosen to do something."

A great voice boomed through the shattered castle. The throne shook as Ryuusha gripped the sides of it, unwilling to give in. It was obvious the throne was giving him pain.

"That is a chair... you do not deserve, my son." the voice said, as a being manifested from the shadows around them. "And no amount of courage within you shall ever make that true. You know you do not deserve to sit where you do now. That is why you are here, why you came back to your dear father, correct?"

Anankos, in his full draconic glory, was before them, large and intimidating.

 

"I once questioned my right to rule, my right to call my life as happy as it was, my right to live on when all others had died, yes." Ryuusha said within his chair. "I questioned if I was worthy of taking the place of a dragon such as you to lead a people. And I was worried, and nervous, and anxious of what the future held. But now I know that I was right."

He narrowed his eyes, furious.

"You did not deserve to hold the rank you did. You did not deserve this throne. The only thing you deserved was a blade within your chest to purge you of the filth you had become. You are not Anankos. You are a demon in his skin. And I will cut you from him again and again until you are a figment within the abyss you were born from, you censorkip.gif*** child of the void!"

 

A long silence permeated the room before a corrupted voice emerged from Anankos' throat.

"You speak words from the depths of your soul, and if this were some story, perhaps that would have been enough..." the dragon spat, moving towards them both. "But this is reality, and this is your Hell, your inferno. You will not escape, no matter HOW MUCH BRAVERY YOU POSSESS!"

 

Ryuusha gripped the sides of the throne until his knuckles were white and then stood up from it, drawing Yato from his side. He pointed this at the dragon, the blade shining in what little light remained.

"YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO REMAIN AN EXISTENCE, DEMON!" he roared, even more fiercely than the beast before him. "YOU SEPARATE ME FROM THE ONES I LOVE - THE ONES I GAVE EVERYTHING TO PROTECT! I WILL CULL YOU! I WILL SEE YOU PURGED! IF YOU DESIRED FURY... then I will GIVE IT TO YOU!"

 

He ran forward, the titanic dragon sweeping his claw across the throne at him. He destroyed it, sending chunks of stone across the floor and breaking the wall. Soon Ryuusha was bearing his blade in a familiar, swordsman's stance, his slightly aged form unwavering even now, as though he was centuries younger.

He darted between strikes, cleaving across corrupted flesh as the beast continued to try and assault him with breath and claw. But Anankos would not be defeated so easily. Great tendrils of darkness grabbed at Ryuusha, one whipping him into the air by his leg before the maw of the dragon lay below him.

"Sing with me a song..." Ryuusha whispered, remembering this moment long ago. She had been with him then. THEY had been with him then. All of them had been together, to save a land they loved. All of them had given so much, and he felt as though he hadn't given enough.

But if the world was spared. If it was saved. No matter how much was given... they all had won. Ryoma. Takumi. Camilla. Hinoka. Sakura. Elise. Leo. Xander. All of them. Every single member of royal blood, and all the others who had joined him under one, united banner against a common enemy.

"We chose a side..." the others of him said in unison as he began to fall into the dragon's mouth. "We chose a family over the other. We made the wrong choice. To choose a side is meaningless. To say that one is better than the other is foolish."

 

Ryuusha descended, bearing his sword with the full might of those emotions behind him.

"THERE ARE NO SIDES! THERE IS NO BETTER OR WORSE! THERE IS ONLY WHAT IS DEAR TO ONESELF AND THOSE AROUND HIM!" Ryuusha shouted furiously as he punched a fist into Anankos' mouth, above his jaw. "To seek peace, FOR EVERYONE, for ALL those you tormented and put in such dire straits, THAT is what my final goal TRULY was! Not a throne! Not victory! But it was not all!"

 

----

 

She stood at a crossroads, smiling warmly.

"...He's... finally calling to me again, willingly. He's finally calling to me like he did all those times, long ago..." she murmured, holding a hand to her face. The spirits around her grew warm, and pink, leaping around her happily.

"Do you hear it, Ryuki?" she said happily, turning to him. "Do you hear his heart singing of what he truly desires?... It's so beautiful, isn't it?"

She held out a small talisman, the writing on it written in ink, but the meaning far more important.

 

 

"I will always protect you..." she had promised, "I want to play with you forever, even ages from now, even when we're old and gray... and you'll always do the same, right?"

"Of course, my dearest." he had responded, laying a hand on her face, so warm and kind. "When this is all over, I will never let you out of my sight, even after the battles are all won."

"Then take this. Mama taught me how to make it." she said, shoving a paper in his hand.

"A protective charm?"

"More than that. As long as you hold it, my spirit and yours are bound, and if you ever need me.... you just have to want to see me again.. If we are ever separated... But, that won't happen right?"

 

----

 

"SHE was what I truly fought for! A family I wanted to have of my own! A life beyond all of this! A kingdom she and I would rule together, in your name, to honor what you once were!" Ryuusha said as he laid another fist into its massive face. The beast reeled back, hissing. Air began to be pulled into festering lungs. Ryuusha ran forward, but the flame began to spew.

Yet no fire touched him, no flame bore upon his armor. He stood, stark still, as the most important being to him stood before him, holding up her hand. A ward kept them both safe, created by her magic and talismans.

"You remembered..." she said, turning slightly to him. "You finally remembered..."

"I never should have forgotten." Ryuusha said. "....I never should have questioned it."

She smiled whimsically, the dragon horrified at what had happened.

"No... None should be able to enter this domain! How ... HOW DARE YOU!?" it screeched, swinging a massive claw at the maiden before him. But a sword blocked his entire arm, held up by a King who had found his way again. Steel clashed against steel in that moment, sparks flying from the impact.

But it was not a face of fear. It was not a face of uncertainty, which that king bore.

It was a face of resolution.

He kicked the arm away from himself, and jumped forward. If Chrom had been watching, it would seem a familiar pose, as though harkening to something he himself would one day do.

There was a brilliant flash of light as the sword pierced the dragon's chest, deep within its ribcage, into its heart. A hole blasted out of the back of the dragon, darkness spilling as though it was blood.

"......Your fear.... I was.... to be immortal...." the dragon said weakly, forlorn. "I was... I was to be...."

It stumbled backward, caught in the throes of death, as Ryuusha landed on the ground with his sword and body covered in the blood of the creature. The dragon clutched at the hole in its body as light began to spill from it. It pointed at him, furious.

"You are ... STILL... a sinner... and a villain of patricide... No matter how you try to... word it... I will always... be within the darkest of your... memories... You cannot... escape...."

Light shrouded its entire body before it finally exploded into dust and debris.

Ryuusha turned to Selkie, then sheathed his sword.

"...Dearest fox maiden, may I request of you something? Perhaps... a reassurance?"

"...It depends upon the request, dragon king." Selkie put a finger to her chin, grinning.

"Will you still accept my sword, even after all these years, even after-"

"Oh, don't be like that." Selkie said firmly. "No more of that. No more regrets. You still have me, and I still have you. We have many more years ahead of us... and a new adventure to do. We have no time for that, right?"

He stepped towards her and took her hand in both of his, and nodded his head.

"My Queen, you are right. We must be off."

"Chrom!"

Ryuusha and Selkie turned to see a third party rushing towards the blue-haired king.

"Chrom! CHROM!" Ryuki shouted, leaping to his friend and embracing him. "Gods, it's been far too long! What are you doing within this darkened realm?! And where are we-"

Before he could finish, a great shard of the ceiling fell to the ground, revealing light beyond.

"We are in a place that no longer matters." Ryuusha stated firmly, taking Selkie's hand. "We have much to do, and we must forget about this land."

The two stared at the new sun before them as the realm collapsed around them, revealing the truth - they had been within an infinite-looping bubble of memories, stationary, and currently at the same crossroads Selkie and Ryuki had approached. The grass before them welcomed Ryuusha happily, and he looked at the fields with desire.

"Where is Kana?"

"Still missing, unfortunately. I thought she was with you!" Selkie said. "But she's safe. I feel her life force, and it is still calm."

"Then we have time to search. Chrom, will you join us?" Ryuusha asked, turning slightly to the king, as bewildered as Chrom probably was.

Ryuki nodded, looking at his best friend.

"Will you? It should be exciting. And have you seen Lissa? I cannot find her."

 

----

 

Severa made a disappointed noise as Inigo sheepishly tried to explain himself to Gerome.

"Ugh. For gods sake, that dragon dude's promise only applied to those lands, idiot." she crossed her arms. "Gerome. I'll say it once, before he keeps stumbling over his damn words.

We got pulled into another world by some dragon guy or something who wanted us to protect his heart from darkness so it could kill him. Turns out, his heart was some kid named Ryuusha who we joined together under new names so no one could find out who we were. We had an adventure. Things happened. And we had a kid too. Who is CURRENTLY my greatest concern and the most precious daughter in existence."

Owain nodded, slightly saddened she didn't say it with more flair. At Soleil's question, he turned towards her.

"Oh. That's Gerome, the son of the wyvern rider, Cherche, from the future." Owain replied casually. "Like us. It's complicated."

"It's really not. Time travel gets boring when you do it like twice." Severa rubbed a finger in her ear nonchalantly. "Anyway, can we please get back to finding OUR DAUGHTER before something happens to her?"

She looked at Owain with irritation.

"....Well why don't we ask Gerome or Inigo to help us?" Owain suggested.

"But we don't NEED them!" Severa protested. "We NEED our daughter, and EACH OTHER! Let Inigo have his crazy adventures with that dragon-riding stick in the mud. We don't need his mother issues! We already had MINE! Or did you FORGET that you promised to support me, no matter what?"

"But dearest lady of the mooonliiiight, your maternal troubles are a thing of the past as you said, and perhaps Gerome has also overcome such things? And if not, why don't you tell him how you did? Certainly it would be rude to leave an old friend behind so cruelly?!"

"GAH this is INFURIATING! I'm going to look for OUR daughter, and you can talk to them if you want! I can't stand around while she's in-"

There was a loud, magical noise like a bubble popping as a girl fell from the sky and landed in front of Severa and Owain, on her face. She made a groaning noise.

Severa's face immediately contorted into confusion, and then relief, and then utter joy, as she ran to Ophelia's side and lifted her daughter from the ground, squeezing her tightly to her chest.

"OH MY GODS OPHELIA YOU'RE OK! IS IT REALLY YOU!? IT IS! RIGHT?" Severa asked, holding her daughter out to inspect her. "IT IS! IT IS!!!"

"Ma... Mother dear? Is it really you? Oh thank the gods..." Ophelia murmured, exhausted. "I was..."

She began to cry and Severa held her a moment.

"Who hurt you my precious baby?"

"MOTHER IT WAS SO SCARY! I didn't have my p-powers! And Dad died! And you died! OVER AND OVER! YOU WON'T DIE AGAIN, RIGHT?!"

"No." Severa stated firmly, holding her tight. "You can hug me. I'm not going anyway. Don't worry. I will never leave you again."

"Neither will I, DEAREST OPHELIA OF THE DUSK!" Owain made a pose, then hugged them both. "Are you TRULY alright?"

"Yes but KANA IS STILL WITHIN THAT DARKENED REALM!" Ophelia said quickly, pulling away from them both. "She saved me! She saw the opening and she pushed me to it! She assured me she would be fine but there was a great horde!"

"...KANA?" Severa and Owain said at once, concerned. The daughter of their leader? What had she been doing...?

"But she was older! It was weird. She was an adult. She looked older than me!"

"...That can't be our Kana." Severa and Owain nodded in agreement.

"But it was! She knew the secrets of the ages I had told her when I asked her because I had to be sure it was truly her, in the flesh!" Ophelia stated firmly, indignant. "It really really was, Odin Dark! I swear by the Moon of the Void!"

There was a moment of silence.

"....That is a very heavy vow, Ophelia of the Dusk. To lie under the light of the Moon of the Void.."

"...is to forsake one's own soul." she finished, holding a hand on her chest. "I know!"

"What should we do?"

"We now focus our attempts on Kana. For Ryuusha of the Dragon's Dawn and Selkie of the Forbidden Spirit's sake."

"...Those are their titl-"

"No questions honey this is important. YOU THERE, GEROME OF THE FLYING DESTINY AND INIGO THE DANCING BLADE!" he turned, pointing. "Will you join us in this great escapade? This DARING JOURNEY?"

Edited by Thaelasan

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Inigo/Laslow Soleil user posted imageuser posted image

 

Usually, Inigo would impulsively say whatever witty retort his brain thought of first. Between being flustered by grabbing Gerome’s hand, his heart still fluttering from his panic, and Minerva staring him down like she could see his very soul, Inigo finds his lips sealed and his mind blank.

 

“Um,” he said intelligently. Inigo glanced at something incredibly interesting to his left, blushing so furiously that the tips of his ears grew red. Behind him, he could hear Soleil shout, “Aunty Selena! That’s not nice!” Inigo bowed his head, rubbing the back of his hand with his thumb.

 

“In summary, she’s right,” Inigo said. There was no way Gerome was going to be satisfied with the vague explanation Severa gave but, there was no way Inigo could do anything better with his mind so fuzzy. He decided to compromise.

 

“We made a deal with the uh, ‘dragon guy’,” Inigo said. “In exchange for leaving this world to help his, he promised to revive the scorched lands we left in the past. He couldn’t bring anyone back from the dead, but he promised to give proper burials to those who didn’t make it. O-Of course we didn’t see him do it!” Inigo waved his hands in a sudden rush of energy. “But…” He diverted his gaze to the ground for several heartbeats before meeting Gerome’s eyes (or where he thought his eyes were). “Truth be told, I don’t know if he actually did it. I mean, he wasn’t human for what it was worth so it’s possible he had the power to do it. I just… wanted to believe he did, y’know?” A small, dreamy smile appeared on Inigo’s face. “Even if I can’t prove it, I’d like to think there’s a rose bush growing next to my parents’ tombstones. Maybe they’re buried under a dogwood or an oak tree overlooking a beach or a field or… something atmospheric.” More quietly, he added, “They deserve at least that, all of them do.”

 

Inigo didn’t realize he had been standing in silence for several seconds before Soleil suddenly choked aloud.

“T-Time travel?” Inigo’s eyes widen as he turned around to see his daughter balking at Severa and Owain. “The future? What are you…?” Soleil looked at her father with confusion plain on her features. Inigo swallowed in an attempt to dislodge the lump in his throat. It looked like he would need to explain himself to more than one person. Well, maybe he could rope Owain into explaining the time travel to Soleil. He might be a bit theatrical in this explanation, but Severa was pretty good at simplifying his dramatic statements.

 

“I-I’ll explain later!” he called to Soleil. His daughter raised an eyebrow but made no comment. Sighing, Inigo turned back to Gerome, staring blankly for a second before realizing what he said prior. “Oh! Oh. I’m so sorry!” The panic that Inigo had managed to coax earlier came back in full force. “I was just thinking about our parents, well my parents not yours— Oh no, I’m sorry that sounded insensitive I didn’t mean that in a negative context or anything! I just wanted to think they were buried and stuff, but of course you probably do as well and I’m going to stop talking before this gets too out of hand.”  Inigo, face as red as a tomato, forcibly clamped a hand over his mouth to keep himself from saying anything else ridiculous. Gods, it was like he was talking to a girl except if he was talking to a girl he could rely on them never speaking to him again, but Gerome? Gerome was probably judging him right now. Inigo silently wished that Gerome hadn’t claimed that he would listen to whatever Inigo had to say because oh boy, did Inigo not want him to remember whatever blabbering mess just came out of his mouth.

 

"But we don't NEED them! We NEED our daughter and EACH OTHER! Let Inigo have his crazy adventures with that dragon-riding stick in the mud. We don't need his mother issues! We already had MINE! Or did you FORGET that you promised to support me, no matter what?"

 

Thank Naga for Severa. If she were not so blunt and if Inigo hadn’t known her since he was little, he might have felt a bit bad for spinning around and glaring, or as much as he could glare at his own family member, at her. He needed an outlet for all that bundled up energy threatening to burst out of his body. If he didn’t spend that energy on something else, he’d end up embarrassing himself in front of Gerome for the third time in the last twenty minutes.
Focusing his attention on something else was incredibly helpful, but having Soleil open her mouth the same time as Inigo might not have been as helpful.

 

“Crazy adventures?” Inigo said as he narrowed his eyes. “Everything we do is a crazy adventure!”

“You don’t need us?” Soleil said not too soon after her father, her lip quivering. “Aunty Selena, how could you say that?” Just after Soleil closed her mouth, Inigo opened his.
“He’s not a stick in the mud! Well, I guess—”
“You have mother issues? Since when? Uncle Owain, why didn’t Aunty Selena—”
“We all have mother issues and father issues for that matter! You have a dysfunctional family, I have a dysfunctional family, your husband has a dysfunctional family, we all have a dysfunctional family!!”
“Geez, are you—”

 

Whatever Soleil was going to say was cut off as a girl materialized in the air before falling not so gracefully to the ground. For a heartbeat, neither Soleil or Inigo spoke as they processed what had happened. It was only when Severa and Owain ran to their daughter’s side and began bombarding her with questions and hugs. Soleil recovered from the confusion much quicker than her father.

 

“Ophelia!” Soleil scrambled down onto her knees and embraced her friend as soon as she squirmed out of her parents’ hold. “Are you okay? Are you injured? Do I need to beat someone up for you?” Inigo, now partially realizing what had happened (did Ophelia seriously appear out of nowhere), cleared his throat before glancing over Gerome.

“I know I said I would explain everything, but I don’t think I can explain this,” Inigo said with a gesture to the small group surrounding Ophelia. “I know who she is, but I have no idea how she got here.” Inigo was worried for his niece’s safety as much as his daughter was, but he didn’t think she needed someone else to crowd around her when she was so obviously flustered.

 

Although Inigo wished to voice his concern for Ophelia, he could not help but raise an eyebrow as Owain stood up and asked if he and Gerome wanted to help them find Kana.
“Hey wait a minute!” Inigo said as he glared at his cousin. “Since when did I become the Dancing Blade? I thought we agreed I was Inigo of the Indigo Skies—wait, I-I mean…” Inigo chuckled nervously, coughed into his hand, and started again. “What I meant to say was how exactly do you plan on finding Kana? Granted, Ophelia was just in the same place as she was—by the way are you okay Ophelia I just want to make sure—but we have no idea how to get there. Not to mention, if the five of us got teleported to this location, who knows what happened to everyone else!” Inigo didn’t want to entertain the thought of any of his fellow soldiers, the royals or, Gods, Xander getting thrown into Ylisse. There was too much for him to explain and too many emotions he bottled up for him to properly handle a situation where he had to explain his origins to more of his colleagues let alone his liege. He could barely handle what was happening currently.

 

“B-Besides,” Inigo continued, hoping to distract himself from his own thoughts. “It’s midday, we’re all confused, and this isn’t the sort of conversation best had on the side of the road. Unless I’m mistaken, there’s a town not too far away. Maybe we could retire there while we get their bearings. It’s going to be dark soon and I get the feeling that launching straight into a search for Kana won’t do well if we don’t look at our options and decide on a plan beforehand.” Inigo didn’t mention that there was no way Soleil was going to let him or her aunt and uncle go on a search without a proper explanation of what Severa meant by time-travel. He also didn’t mention that he highly doubted Gerome would even consider joining the search, let alone stay around if Inigo didn’t tell him about his the trio’s time in Nohr. Inigo dragged a hand across his face sighing. How could suggesting something as simple as heading to a town be so exhausting? Maybe being teleported tired him out or maybe the stress of the situation was finally weighing down at him. Gods, how could a little speech wear him out? Even if his parents were taken from him before he could learn the basics of being a royalty, he was a prince for goodness sake! He doubted Father handled unfamiliar events as poorly as he did.

 

—————

 

Chromuser posted image

Chrom had no idea what he was doing or what he should do. The world around him shifted and molded into what Chrom assumed to be a throne room. It looked as though the room was melting into an oozing pile of color and abstract shapes before merging together into a comprehensible room. Ryuusha didn’t seem phased by the fact that the fabric of reality was quite literally bending around him so Chrom opted to stay quiet and ponder if Lissa decided to add hallucinogens to her arsenal of pranking tools. Chrom listened to Ryuusha’s monolog, nodding with furrowed eyebrows as he tried to grasp its meaning. Ryuusha didn’t appear to be more than a few decades older than Chrom, but he claimed to remember centuries of fights and with the confusion of his previous statements still lingering, Chrom wasn’t sure if he was referring to the historical centuries Ryuusha’s kingdom may have fought in or if he himself was centuries old. Chrom didn’t manage to gather up the nerve to ask the question before Ryuusha sat down on a throne moments before a figure manifested before them.

 

Chrom didn’t assist in the battle against what he assumed was a dragon. He drew the Falchion, poised in a defensive stance with his sword held in front of him, but he never struck a blow. He could say he didn’t that he could undeniable see that the fight between Ryuusha and his father (he hoped his father just so happened to be a manakete with a very large dragon form) was incredibly personal and therefore did not want to interrupt. Chrom could confess that he was utterly overwhelmed by what was happening in front of him and didn’t manage to do anything beyond leap out of the way of flying chunks of the broken throne before Ryuusha ended the fight surprisingly quickly. Both were technically true.

 

Chrom seethed his sword, blinking in bewilderment as two figures emerged from… somewhere. Considering everything that had just transpired, Chrom shouldn’t have been so surprised that one of the strangers had fox ears and the other appeared to be a dread fighter of all things.
“So uh,” Chrom began elegantly as he took a step towards the couple (they were a couple, right?). “Any idea on how we get out of—”

 

“Chrom! Chrom! CHROM!”

 

Chrom jolted backward as the dread fighter launched himself into his arms, grinning gleefully. “Gods, it's been far too long! What are you doing within this darkened realm?! And where are we-" Of course the ceiling cracked before the stranger could finish speaking. Beams of sunlight, because of course the sun decided to exist again, shone down from the crack down onto the floor of the throne room. Chrom squinted his eyes up at the ephemeral light, trying to see if there was anything beyond the light.

 

“Then we have time to search. Chrom, will you join us?"

 

Snapped back to attention, Chrom blinked at Ryuusha in confusion.
“I—”


“Will you? It should be exciting. And have you seen Lissa? I cannot find her."


Was he going to get the chance to speak? Chrom looked over at the stranger with the quizzical look. “Lissa?” Chrom cocked his head to the side. Was this stranger from Ylisse? Speaking to someone from the same country as him would be an improvement for Chrom. “She’s mostly stayed in the castle since the funeral,” Chrom said. “She only started coming out of her room a month ago why do you—okay wait a moment.” Chrom took a step backward from the stranger, shaking his head. “Forgive me for forgetting, but I don’t remember who you are. Ryuusha,” Chrom glanced over at the man he had met less than an hour ago. “Look, I’m more than happy to help you, but this is the most bizarre situation I’ve ever been in and I really don’t know what’s going on. Who’s Kana? Where are we going? Gods, where even are we? I’m sorry but I really need to know what’s going on before I continue. Do you even know how I got here?” A thought struck Chrom and, realizing the implications of that thought, he panicked. “Actually, is it possible that anyone else like me might have come here? I-I had a dear friend near me before I came here. Is it possible that he ended up here as well?” The last thing Chrom wanted was for Robin to get mixed up in this mess. He adored the man greatly and would love nothing more than his companion, but not at the risk of his safety.

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Severa, Owain, and Ophelia

 

 Severa stood for a moment and turned back to Soleil as the young girl asked her so meekly if she was being honest - that she really didn't need her. Severa grimaced, feeling like absolute trash for what she had said to her niece. At the time, it had made so much sense - when she had been distraught and anxious. But now..?

She turned to Soleil and knelt in front of her, and embraced the young girl, sighing. Lissa stared for a moment, concerned. But she was currently speechless by the arrival of her granddaughter.

"No... I do need you and your father. Much as I hate to say it-" she gave Inigo a stern gaze. "-because... of my own weird... selfish... appearance reasons. I.. I do need you guys, almost as much as my idiot of a husband. And I love you. And I'm sorry. You're an amazing niece and you're my family. I just... I was worried for my daughter, alright? And I handle anxiety in a really... bad way."

She stood back to her full height and gripped the hem of her cloak uncomfortably.

"...Again, I'm sorry." she said, blushing heavily. It was obviously difficult for her to speak. Meanwhile, Owain stared at her, proud. And even Ophelia was confused.

"...Mother! You used the Apology Speech! It's super effective!" she said, hugging her mother. "...I'm proud of you."

"Thank you..." Severa said sheepishly. But Owain was not finished yet.

"In other news.. YES. TIME TRAVEL!" Owain flourished his hands, dark energy flowing around him from seemingly nowhere. "You see, WE, FROM A TIME BEYOND TIME, fought together as heroes, but were pushed back!" 

He fell to his knees theatrically.

"Yes, it was such a saddening display." Owain said, jumping next to Lissa as she moved back a bit. "FOR MY MOTHER AND HER FRIENDS - HER COMRADES - TO FALL TO THE FEL DRAGON GRIMA! And leave us behind, in a destroyed world..."

He leaned against her, crying.

"Oh woe was us... to be left to fend for ourselves, when our beloved parents had given so much! But Naga, in her glorious rays and visions, GAVE US AN OPPORTUNITY!"

He threw out both hands, holding them to the heavens.

"FOR SHE, THE GREAT ONE, GAVE US A CHANCE TO CHANGE IT ALL, AND SENT US BACK IN TIME, TO BEFORE OUR BIRTHS!" Owain spun in a circle. "And thus, one day, I will be born again, and so will Severa... children of an age that fell!"

He stopped in front of Ophelia, who was currently befuddled.

"WAIT, YOU GUYS WENT THROUGH TIME FOR REAL?!" Ophelia screeched, excited.

"INDEED, MY BELOVED CHILD!" Owain picked her up, spinning her in a circle. "AND YOU ARE THE PRODIGY OF ONE WHO HAS TRAVELED THE EPOCH!"

"ODIN DARK AND SEVERA OF THE MOONLIGHT! TRULY THE GREATEST!" Ophelia laughed, her worries forgotten for a moment.

He set her back down, then turned to Lissa.

"And yes, this is your GRANDDAUGHTER, my dearest, amazing mother! Does she not have your-"

"MY GRANDDAUGHTER!?" Lissa ran to the girl, touching her face and hair. "Really!?"

"Grandmother?!" Ophelia asked, patting her mother's face. There was much face touching.

"We look identical!" Lissa said in awe.

"Every beautiful feature of yours is shared by me!" Ophelia said, surprised.

"YOU ARE MY GRANDDAUGHTER!" Lissa screamed, grabbing the girl and holding her close. "Oh we have so much to discuss. Your Dad, in fact, is such a weirdo. You gotta hear some of the stuff he did, and your MOTHER-"

"....We can do that in town." Owain said, interrupting her, his face slightly forlorn. "Mother please don't embarrass me."

"You do it well enough yourself." Lissa said snidely. 
"...Ouch."

 

-----

 

Ryuusha, Ryuki, and Selkie

 

"I'm sorry if we're being a bit overbearing, Chrom, but-" Ryuusha began, but he was interrupted by Ryuki. 

"Chrom... do you really not remember me?" Ryuki said, concerned. He looked absolutely crestfallen. The last shards of the Nightmare Realm turned into dust around them. 

"How do you not ... remember?" Ryuki continued. "We fought Grima together! Gods, we fought Valm, and the Mad King! Chrom!"

He removed his hands from Chrom's shoulders, depressed.

Ryuusha started to speak, but Selkie waved him down.

"It's because he is not your Chrom, and you are not his Ryuki." Selkie suddenly said, smiling.

"What?" Ryuki began, concerned.

"Haven't you noticed? This land... it is not bound by time... any time... or our time." Selkie went on, gesturing to the plains around them. "It is hovering in between many timelines... The spirits here are not ones I know of, or will ever know of."

She thought for a moment.

"Spirits, you see... have a certain vibe. My mother taught me." Selkie whispered, holding Ryuusha's hand. "They sing, a different way. They move a different way. They have a certain... taste."

She licked her lips slightly and Ryuusha gave her a glance.

"Not like that, dearest. More like.... something you can't forget." Selkie said, gesturing with her free hand to Chrom. "But he has yet to know any of us. Or maybe he never would have. I don't doubt it. But if that's the case, that just means we can meet him again."

She walked over to Chrom and bowed to him.

"I am Selkie, nice to meetcha." she stated, but her casual tone still showed through. "Kana is our daughter, who we are searching for. But... We have not seen anyone else here. My apologies. What did they look like? Your friend, I mean."

 

 

 

Edited by Thaelasan

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[ gerome ; northroad ]

 

A deal with a dragon? Gerome had thought Lucina's plan of going back in time to prevent catastrophe was impossible, but now it seemerd there were far wilder forces at play than he could even possibly imagine. And furthermore, a sacrifice of their own identities in order to benefit the land Gerome had long deemed worthless ... truly, Inigo's dedication to a place that never felt like home for the wyvern rider was something that Gerome both admired and could not stand about the duelist. There seemed to always be a certain aspect of Inigo that remained an eternal mystery, his way of thinking so completely foreign to the masked rider and the philosophy by which Gerome lived his life. The idea that these people, the very friends he had grown up with, experienced the horrors of a homeland long abandoned by any hope, would sacrifice personal gain in order to prevent their personal demons ... Gerome could not possibly hope to rival that passion.

 

Gerome swallowed heavily as Inigo's eyes met his; though the wyvern rider was aware the mask hid most of his inner feelings, as it was intended to, there was still something about the way Inigo spoke, in the nervous spikes of his voice contrasting the dreamy expression flickering across his features as he imagined his parents at rest--it was all a part of something Gerome could never understand about the other, and the sharp mystery of Inigo to him made Gerome forever curious of the other, of his mannerisms and thoughts and carefully planned actions. He wanted to know Inigo in the best of ways, in a way between two that Gerome never could find it in himself to hope, much less suggest.

 

As inigo was distracted, Gerome took the time to reflect on everything he had been told. It was few precious seconds, sure, but he was accustomed to thinking under pressure. Of course, that didn't mean he was an expert by any definition. 

 

He held up a hand, stopping Inigo as he noticed the other growing continously more red, just as Inigo clamped a hand over his mouth. Gerome, ever the more awkward one, simply placed a hand on his axe and hummed, drawing up a way to reply. 

 

"My parents are dead," was what he came up with, and, truthfully speaking, probably not the best way to intiate a reply. "That much is the truth. I'm not offended by any reminders." He paused, wondering how best to continue. "I ... I'm afraid i don't quite understand the timeline. From what I remember, you were by my side just as we entered the portal to go back in time, which was only hours ago. And now you say you've been away in a faraway land for years?"

 

The more Gerome thought about it, the more this seemed silly; and yet, he could not bring himself to not believe Inigo--because, for as long as the other spoke, Gerome would continue to listen. It wasn't as much a matter of truth as it was he wanted to understand the realities by which Inigo spoke of, the world beyond his imagination that Inigo had appeared so familiar with. Most of all, he wanted to escape from this isolationistic feeling that had come into existence with the realisation of watching Owain, Severa, and Inigo--all familiar faces, yes--interact. For so long it had been him and Minerva, and the wyvern rider was hesitant to accept a mission with terms he could hardly comprehend. Even so--if Inigo went, he would follow, and that much was truth. 

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Inigo/Laslow, Soleil user posted imageuser posted image
Inigo clamped his mouth shut when Gerome raised his hand. Gods, what was he thinking? Of course, Gerome wasn’t offended by the mention of his parents. He had probably accepted their fate long before Inigo learned to stifle the whimpers that rose up whenever he heard Mother’s name. Inigo bit his lip, swallowing against the hard lump in his throat. No, he could never be as emotionally stable as Gerome appeared no matter how many masks he wore.

 

“Wait,” Inigo said with a startled expression. “You just came out of the portal? That’s…” Inigo paused, biting his lip as he diverted his gaze. How come Gerome could only remember his time before entering the portal when Inigo had memories of the two fighting risen alongside younger versions of their parents? There was no way Gerome would have just forgotten the time they spent in the past nor was it likely that he had amnesia considering what Inigo knew of his father’s own tactician’s memory problems.

 

“I…” Inigo glanced down as he tapped his fingers together nervously. “I’m not sure I understand the timeline either. I have distinct memories of you after we all got teleported here. I-I don’t think I could have made those memories up.” Inigo managed to courage to look back at Gerome only to glance away after a few seconds of eye contact. His grabbed a tuft of his own hair and curled his fingers around the locks, biting his lips as he narrowed his eyes in concentration. “No… the Grima of this world was dead by the time I left,” Inigo said. “There’s no reason, well should be no reason, why we don’t remember the same thing.”

 

Inigo turned his attention to his cousins and his daughter. He could see Soleil relaxing into Severa’s arms before covering her mouth with the back of her hand to cover up a soft sob. Severa and Owain certainly remembered defeating Grima if Owain’s story was to be believed. Inigo’s memories of Gerome weren’t false so why did Gerome claim he just got out of the portal? Could it be that the timeline wasn’t messed up? What if the trio had arrived back in Ylisse before Grima had been defeated and Gerome had been quiet about it the entire time? No, Lissa recognized Owain and Severa so that couldn’t be possible, could it? Inigo bit the upper joint of his thumb as he stared thoughtfully into the open air. What did happen?

Not too far away, Inigo could hear Soleil, who was staring at her family with a puzzled look.


“Wait slow down,” she said as she made a motion with her hands. “Who’s Grima? Why did you have to travel back in the first place? You said Naga sent you back, who’s that by the way, but how did she do that? Heck, if this isn’t Nohr, how did you get there from here? Was it by boat? Why didn’t any of you tell us about this p—”

 

“Soleil darling, let’s save the questions for once we reach the town.” Inigo, now realizing that Soleil was bombarding Owain and Severa with more questions, spoke up as he walked towards his daughter. He placed a protective hand on her shoulder as she turned to him. She opened her mouth as to argue but closed it a moment later.


“Okay,” she said with a nod. “As long as I get answers eventually.” Inigo internally sighed with relief before throwing his signature smile on his face.
“Anyway,” he said in a chipper tone. “We should be heading to town, should we not? It’s getting late and I’m sure there’s a lot we can discuss in the comfort of a warm building with food in our stomachs.” Inigo shot Gerome a knowing glance as though to say, “We’re not done either” before looking back to his cousins or an answer.


—————

Chromuser posted image

Oh no, he didn’t just forget someone who cared deeply about him, did he? Chrom’s lips pressed into a line as a devastated look he had ever seen fell upon the stranger who was in front of him. Gods, did he forget his childhood friend or something? Were they playmates at some point? Did they fight alongside one another? Was he one of those servants a teenage Chrom had kissed when Father wasn't looking? No, no, Chrom didn’t like blond hair so not that or his build now that he was thinking about it. Geez, where did he know this person from and why was he bringing up Grima? That dragon had been defeated thousands of years ago. Why bring it up?

 

"It's because he is not your Chrom, and you are not his Ryuki."

 

Who was Ryuki?

 

"Haven't you noticed? This land... it is not bound by time... anytime... or our time. It is hovering in between many timelines... The spirits here are not ones I know of, or will ever know of."

 

Okay. That made absolutely no sense but okay. Chrom blinked at the strange lady as he approached him.

 

"I am Selkie, nice to meetcha. Kana is our daughter, who we are searching for. But... We have not seen anyone else here. My apologies. What did they look like? Your friend, I mean."

 

“Your daughter?” Chrom felt his shoulders rise at the mention of Kana. Did they lose their daughter? Like a small child or a baby? “I may not understand the situation, but if a child is in danger, I’ll be sure to lend my assistance.” At the mention of Robin, Chrom let out a soft, wispy sigh. “He’s of average height,” Chrom began. Of course, he could detail every part of Robin from memory. He could see the image of his friend crystal clear in his mind. “Short, messy, white hair, light brown eyes, fair skin… Oh! He’s got a strange cloak! Indigo with purple stripes. He’s got a, uh, brand of eyes on his hand as well.” Chrom didn’t mention that the eyes were symbols of an organization he would prefer to distance himself from. It didn’t matter with Robin had been associated with Grimleal in a past life. That didn’t define him and it certainly didn't come to Chrom’s mind whenever he saw his friend.

Edited by Doctortear

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[ gerome ; northroad ]

 

Distinct memories? Gerome blinked at Inigo's wording, a sudden unease rising in the heart of the wyvern riding. It was an uneasy feeling, to realise that Inigo possibly held memories of him that he had no idea ever occurred. Something foul was at play here, brought forth by the mention of dragons and secret pacts that made Gerome feel as if he was no longer part of the same world that Inigo and his -- their -- shared friends occupied once. There was the feeling of segregation again, so commonly self-inflicted by Gerome in his past to prevent a repeat of losing his parents in a future that no one could control, and yet the wyvern rider did not think he would be so isolated upon returning to the past as well.

 

There was some cruel god at work here, jokingly laughing down at their misfortunes. 

 

"Then the man you remember is not I," he declared, resting a hand on his axe. "Just as the people in this world are not our parents. Separate timelines and memories stand between you and I, it seems." A certain tightness began to grow in his chest. "Even so," Gerome said, his voice softening. "I do not think that would interfere with our friendship ... ?" There was a certain rise to his voice, as if he wanted Inigo to confirm that they were not falling apart like flower petals hit by a heavy storm.

 

Ah, to head to shelter? Truth be told, Gerome would rather fly off and find solace in a cave somewhere he could collect his thoughts, but Minerva's warm hide at his side reminded him to be brave. He would see this to the end -- he had spent a lifetime running from Inigo in fear of confronting his emotions: no longer. He would resolve this issue without allowing his cowardice to ruin any chance he had once more. 

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A soft blush spread across Jordan’s with Forrest’s compliment. Honestly, what a thing to tell someone he’d just barely met. His name was...good? Heavy? Those felt like the defining traits of strength. No...his mind relented against his kindness again, You’re just...saying that...I’m not anything like that. You can’t tell anything from a name anyway. But hadn’t he done just the same for Forrest? About how suitable, how complimentary his everything was? Gah, he rubbed at his cheek and neck as though to ease away the heat growing there, This is silly. Don’t people give meaningless compliments all the time? Sheesh, me acting like this is some revelatory thing or somethin’...

 

But Jordan would be lying if he didn’t wish Forrest was right.

 

Something about the way he reassured him was almost enough to accomplish that, too, and Jordan leaned even more into himself as his sheepish inclinations won him over. He must’ve been trained how to do this…

 

Though, his question seemed to throw the man a bit as he followed, but to Jordan’s growing expectation, he merely laughed it off.

 

“Ah, a bit on the nose with those assumptions, aren’t you?” Jordan seized slightly and managed to stumble on a bit of cobblestone. Was he too on the nose? W-Well no, he reasoned, it’s just deductive reasoning, right? At least, that’s what his mother had always said “overthinking” was. But he wasn’t wrong, right?! Not just everyone and their brother owned a house, let alone an entire villa! There were just a couple kids he’d known in the future who were of that level of prestige, and although his mother had been far from poverty, she was in no way wealthy. That was the same for now--just he and his Dad, living off his good work and the coffers Momma had left behind. The insecurity slowly morphed into a burst of incredulous expression, and it took every fiber of his being not to interrupt Forrest as he continued.

 

“Why, I can say no one has called my, ah, manner of speaking ‘voice things’ before,” Forrest said. Jordan only wadded his jacket in his hands in response, stealing a few chancy glances to make sure he hadn’t ruined his image with a lack of word retrieval.

 

“You’re quite clever, you know that?”

 

But Jordan was too dumbstruck to form even the simplest dismissal after that, so he resorted to finding any exciting and new cracks in the road and giving them his undivided attention. His face was certainly on fire.

 

“Nohr’s royalty is quite expansive. Well, it used to be quite expansive if you count all the princes and princesses that never got to grow up.” That caused Jordan to straighten up. ‘Never got to grow up’? But Forrest seemed disinterested in elaborating and was swift to move forward with the discussion. "If you count Princess Camilla’s adopted children, which most people don’t but I see no reason in not counting them, you easily have over ten individuals in the Nohrian royal family.” A pause that Jordan could not decipher, and then, “My father is the second prince, ah, third prince if you count King Corrin, of Nohr. Don’t make the mistake thinking that my status says much of me. I didn’t set foot in the capital, let alone Castle Krakenburg until I was eighteen.”

 

A silence came between them, and it was clear that Forrest was done. So Jordan had been right--Forrest wasn’t just royalty like a duke or something, he was a prince. And no doubt to an especially well-off family, too. But that went without saying, he imagined. All princes are well-off. I guess. I don’t know. Never met a beggar prince before. He composed himself quick enough to see Forrest shake his head a bit but said nothing. Walking alongside this prince on his steed was like the stuff of fairytales, stuff his Momma loved and composed for him for his most restless nights. He did his best not to stare, but he couldn’t help but be awestruck. Most princes were ruggedly handsome men of great build, warriors of destined birth seemingly formed by the cosmos to act out the age-old tale of bravery and heroics. Some had their princesses, some had their empires and blessed sacred maguffins, but all were the same in one regard: they were stone-rigid, unmovable and emotionless. But in Forrest he had seen something completely unorthodox, more like the heroes of his handmade storybooks than those of public circulation.

 

Forrest was kind. Forrest was gentle and...Jordan’s insides churned at the admission but...Forrest was…

 

Gods. He felt tears trying to blind him. Nooo...it’s too...guh. What’s wrong with me?! He pushed down such a shallow and reactionary observation. I can’t go thinking like this. He’d think me so low he’d probably have me executed. I mean, maybe he’s used to the compliment, but--Jordan shut his eyes tight and distracted himself with an unrelated image of a pillar. Just something random, anything to stop himself before his mouth betrayed him. He pulled up his eyes to Forrest’s and decided to channel that emotion into something a little less damning, but equally true:

 

“I mean, I don’t mind! I don’t really know anything about that stuff, so I don’t have any opinion.” His lips twitched into a shaky smile. “I mean...you’re a really cool person.” A misplaced stone was kicked away, Jordan watching after it as a small distraction from his earnesty. “Or that’s what I think so far. I don’t care where you’re from or whatever. You don’t act like you’re better than me. You’re so nice and you dress so nice...and you’re talking to me like I’m a person.” It was a miracle Jordan was keeping his composure at this point. Who knew what all this was coming out like to him? Was it too forward? Didn’t people always do this sort of thing? The why does this feel so personal? It was inexplicable. Raw.

 

“I don’t know why, but I want to keep talking to you--i-if that’s okay? Like, I just think you’re probably interesting, and I don’t have anywhere to go, but I completely get if you don’t want to?” Is this pathetic? Am I even doing this right?

 

Jordan sighed frustratedly and wrung his hands a bit before delivering his final statement.

 

“S-so, what I’m trying to say is...is that I feel…” Comfortable? Is that what he could call this neurotic mess he was devolving into?

 

“I feel like I want to know more about you? And that you shouldn’t be worried about what I think or anyone...if you even are worried. Because you’re a person first, not your station. Or that's what I believe.”


 

Every part of himself prepared for the disgust.

Jordan wanted to crawl into a hole and die.

 

------

 

Now the wind began to settle. The two forms were perfectly clear, so Ike took a quick second to size them up. Starting with the mounted mage, there wasn’t much more to discover aside from a noticeably noble air about him. Mostly due to his raiment and crown, but there was no doubt from the look of his steed that he was from a position of high renown. The poor thing though...it looked like it was about to melt right off its own bones in this dreadful heat. Hopefully, he and his companion would be amiable enough to take pity on them all and move toward shelter. Even with the wind, Ike's clothes clung to his tingling skin, and though Soren hadn’t complained it couldn’t be any better for him. And by the look of the mage’s armor and his wilted appearance, he wouldn’t be able to take much more himself. I can’t underestimate them though. I don’t care how miserable it is.


Ike switched his attention to the archer next, now sure of Soren’s observation for himself. But what neither of them had noticed was the archer’s bow, a graceful thing with the shapes of wings made into it, conspicuously lacked a bowstring. How was that possible? Maybe it was broken at this point?


He felt Soren’s eyes on him and knew this must have crossed his mind, but something in his expression read more intrigued than what just a missing bowstring could entice. Ike forced his eyes forward and tried to focus on the two in case of sudden movement, but that tiny detail coupled with the lack of arrows bothered him. Soren had likely put two and two together, but there was a silent agreement between them not to lose their advantage at any cost, even if it meant he was left completely in the dark. He’d have to rely on his intuition for now.


Ike would do his part in turn. He threw up an arm and called out to the foreigners.


“Hey! You’re the first signs of life we’ve seen out here so far. You wouldn’t happen to be travelers from these parts, would you? We seem to be lost.”


Beside him, Soren stayed quiet and withdrawn, keeping a step or two ahead of him in ruse. If he was drawing upon a spell, he didn’t know--he couldn’t feel or tell it. He looked all the part of a humble priest or maybe even a mysterious augurer, not even a fraction as dangerous as he really and truly was. And if all went well, the two men before them would be none the wiser. It was underhanded, but only as underhanded as need be. Hopefully, they’d all come past this in a couple minutes, and the need for disguises and veiled intentions would be over.
 

Edited by Sugar-Free

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Forrest user posted image

 

If Jordan was making any attempt to hide the heat slowly rising in his face, he was doing a poor job of it. Forrest did his best not to grin as he saw his companion become captivated by something interesting on the floor while his face turned red as a tomato. Forrest chuckled under his breath, shaking his head as a comfortable silence filled the air.

 

Forrest was not ignorant to how his compliments could fluster whoever he was flattering. Both Nina and Ophelia had been entirely unprepared for a constant stream of praise from someone they felt nothing but unwavering adulation for. It had taken months of his retainers balking whenever he flattered them, as well as several accusations of flirtation before Ophelia and Nina finally learned to accept the fact that Forrest was never going to stop complimenting them. It was easy to understand why Jordan could barely look Forrest in the face when the prince’s own retainers had felt the same.

 

Forrest looked down at Jordan and meet his eyes right before Jordan began to speak.

 

“I mean, I don’t mind! I don’t really know anything about that stuff, so I don’t have any opinion. “I mean...you’re a really cool person. Or that’s what I think so far. I don’t care where you’re from or whatever. You don’t act like you’re better than me. You’re so nice and you dress so nice...and you’re talking to me like I’m a person.”  Forrest blinked as Jordan rambled on. Part of Forrest wanted to avert his eyes before a blush crossed his own face, but he couldn’t find the will to look away from Jordan when their eyes were locked on another. Forrest’s insecurity must have slipped through his words because there Jordan was, reassuring him that his social status didn’t affect Jordan’s opinion of him. Despite remembering that Jordan hadn’t even questioned his fashion choice which was by far a bigger source of anxiety for Forrest than his social standing, Forrest couldn’t help but be a little surprised. His eyes fluttered in shock, his lips parted slightly as Jordan continued.

 

“S-so, what I’m trying to say is...is that I feel… I feel like I want to know more about you? And that you shouldn’t be worried about what I think or anyone...if you even are worried. Because you’re a person first, not your station. Or that's what I believe.” The sheer honesty in Jordan was baffling, to say the least. Everything from his shaky voice to his timid mannerisms told Forrest just had candid Jordan was being. Forrest wasn’t sure if it was uncertainty that forced Jordan to be so open or if there was some innate sense of candor that kept Jordan from holding back his feelings.

 

It took a moment to sort of the various feelings bubbling in his chest before Forrest could name what he felt. He was… grateful? The momentary shock that had registered on Forrest’s face melted as a tender smile took its place. A delighted chuckle left Forrest’s lips and he couldn’t help but glance away as that blush he was trying to hold back finally spread across his face. How could he ever think someone so sweet and honest could be sent to hurt him? Father’s paranoia must have been catching up to him.

 

“Thank you,” Forrest said softly before looking back at Jordan because really, what was the point in hiding his face when both of their faces were tinged pink? “I deeply appreciate your words, truly.” Relief flooded Forrest as the realization that Jordan was fine with him, with whom Forrest really was, hit him. Forrest could barely count the number of times someone figured out he was a man dressed in frilly clothing or a prince under disguise and then immediately proceeded to treat him differently. After having to deal with Father, who took nearly two decades to finally accept Forrest, it was absolutely exhilarating to meet someone who so readily accepted who he was.

 

“It would be a pleasure to get know you better, Jordan,” Forrest said, dipping his head respectfully. “Don’t cut yourself, darling. You’re more than pleasant company.” As happy as Forrest was to oblige Jordan’s request to get to know one another better, something he said was nagging in the back of Forrest’s mind. It was obvious that Jordan was a shy individual, a bit nervous of his surroundings. Forrest didn’t want to ruin the amicable atmosphere between the two, but he couldn’t stop himself from opening his mouth.

 

“Ah, I’m sorry if this is crossing a line so please do tell me if this topic is out of your comfort zone,” Forrest began. He paused, trying to find the best way to phrase his words without offending Jordan. “When you said ‘talk to me like I’m a person’ was that just referring to an expectation that a prince would treat you poorly or is that referring to something else?” Forrest was sure to keep his tone delicate, not sympathetic per say but caring. Forrest was too empathic to ignore such a minor detail even if Jordan was little more than an acquaintance at this point. Forrest didn’t want to make Jordan uncomfortable, but if there was something bothering Jordan, he wanted to help out in any way he could.

 

—————

Takumi user posted image

 

Takumi looked over his shoulder and eyed Leo with amusement as the prince dismounted his steed.

 

“What, don’t think we’ll be able to handle them if they turn out to be hostile?” Takumi asked in a teasing tone. It wasn’t surprising to hear that Leo was wary of the strangers’ intentions, but surely he was confident that they could handle an unwarranted aggression? “I think we can handle them easily,” Takumi assured his friend. When they worked together, Takumi and Leo were an unstoppable duo. Takumi had memorized Leo’s battle tactics long ago and had spent countless hours sparring with his companion so they could better learn to work together. On the battlefield, they moved together as one. Takumi flashed Leo a confident smile before turning back around. What could these two strangers possibly do to them?

 

It only took a few minutes until Takumi was close enough to the strangers to take in their features. There was only two of them, just as Takumi had thought when he glimpsed their silhouettes from a distance. The taller man, a warrior Takumi assumed, was the one to wave his arm and call out to the princes.

 

“Hey! You’re the first signs of life we’ve seen out here so far. You wouldn’t happen to be travelers from these parts, would you? We seem to be lost.”

   

It was hard not to notice just how muscular the warrior was. Takumi’s years of working with a bow had granted him brawny arms of his own, but he couldn’t call himself nearly as burly as the stranger. The stranger’s well-built body accompanied by that worryingly large sheath was enough to make the thought of fighting the strangers harder to bear.

 

The warrior’s companion wasn’t nearly as intimidating. He appeared to be a mage or priest of some sort. He hadn’t said anything after this companion spoke so Takumi assumed that he was either quiet or was planning on letting his companion speak for him. Either way, it didn’t matter. The princes would hopefully not have to interact with the strangers any longer than necessary.

 

“I suppose you could call us strangers,” Takumi admitted. He placed his free hand on his hip as he pressed Fujin Yumi’s lower limb closer towards him. “Truth be told, we sorta got—” Takumi paused, trying to figure out a way to word himself without making the strangers think he or Leo was pathetic. “We’re pretty lost ourselves,” Takumi finally settled upon. “We were hoping you two would be familiar with the area.” The corners of Takumi’s lips twitched downward. So all four of them were lost? How exactly did that happen? Takumi gave Leo an expectant look. As chary as Takumi was when it came to asking for help, he didn’t really know what else to do in the current situation. Leo had always been better with strangers than Takumi which wasn’t that great of a feat considering how aggressive Takumi could be. If one of them knew what to with the strangers, it had to be Leo.


—————

Inigo/Laslow user posted image

 

Despite a small voice in his head telling him to ignore Gerome’s comment until they reached the village, Inigo couldn’t help but turn around as the wyvern rider spoke. Inigo shifted uneasily under Gerome’s gaze. He averted his eyes to the ground, biting his lip so his traitorous tongue wouldn’t spout out the first thing that came to his head. Inigo would be lying if he said he was wholly comfortable being with a Gerome that wasn’t his. It was entirely possible that they had come from two different realities. Lucina had mentioned the possibility of Morgan, what with her amnesia, had come from an entirely different timeline than Inigo or the other children. The idea that the Gerome standing before Inigo was not he Gerome he had grown up with was completely possible.

 

Yet…

 

Hadn’t Inigo thought similarly when he first came to the future. As overjoyed as he had been to meet his parents again, he couldn’t help but feel detached from them. The Chrom of the past had not died by his best friend’s hand just as the Olivia of the past had taken an axe to the chest just so Inigo could run to safety. Ingio didn’t believe he could love the ghosts of parents, and yet, he did. When his mother held him, her skin so warm and so very real, Inigo choked on his own sobs while hot tears streamed down his face. The Olivia of the past might not have died protecting him, but if she would have made the same choice if their places were swapped. The Olivia of the past was just as loving as she had been in the future. At that thought, Inigo realized that the same could be said of Gerome, right?

 

Confidence swelling up in his chest, Inigo raised his head as he walked several steps towards Gerome.

 

“This changes nothing between us,” Inigo confirmed. He knew he really shouldn’t considering how Gerome usually reacted to physical contact, but Inigo couldn’t help but place his hand on Gerome’s shoulder. Gerome had been fine with Inigo holding his hand earlier. Surely this was fine. “Even if we aren’t from the same timeline, you’re still the same friend that I remember from my childhood,” Inigo continued. “There’s no reason to treat each other like strangers when we were clearly friends in our respective timelines.” Inigo smiled at Gerome, giving his shoulder a reassuring squeeze before removing his hand.

 

“Well, we don’t have all day!” Inigo said. He waved over at his cousins and daughter before nodding towards the general direction of the village. “Shall we?”

 

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Elise pushed the door open. "Big Sister!"

 

The figure in front of her turned, dark blue hair brushed back with a gloved hand. "Elise? What brings you here?" The Vallite Queen - for that was who the figure was - stepped towards the youngest Nohrian princess.

 

"I wanted to see you, Big Sister." Elise fidgeted, and stole a glance back. "And... well, I missed you." Elise looked up. "Say! Weren't you coming to Nohr for the Festival of Bonds?"

 

The dragon queen blinked in confusion. "Festival of what?"

 

"The Festival of Bonds! We celebrate our bonds of friendship, and we have plenty of decoration." She twisted a strand of lavender hair around her finger, before skittering a bit closer. The Queen of Valla barely had time to react before the princess grabbed her arm. "And I was hoping you'd come!" Elise let go and beckoned for her sister. "It's in a few days - I came to get you."

 

Celeste stood still for a moment, touching her arm where Elise had grabbed her. She mustered up a smile. "O-of course. Just let me pack some things, then?"

 

"O.K.! I'll go wait outside." Elise devlared. She turned on her heel and darted off. Her twintails bounced as she dashed through the castle. She was excited - Big Sister was coming. And Elise did feel like maybe Celeste needed a break from governing Valla. The Nohruan princess had sat in on enough meetings to know running a country could be very taxing.

 

-

 

When Elise came out, there was a slight wind. Her horse, Tristan, was grazing. He was still tied up this time. Elise had to delay leaving last time when Tristan had gotten loose to track down some wildflowers... though, they were pretty. She had done in her room now. The smell was pleasant today, and there was a spring in the princess's step as she approached her horse. With deft movements trained by war and invasion, Elise unhooked her horse's rein and had them ready before climbing up herself.

 

She squeezed her knees against the horse's sides, and Tristan began to move. Grinning a bit, she guided him into a circling trot while they awaited Celeste -

 

And then there was light. Elise cried out and squeezed her eyes closed. It faded moments later, and Elise found herself at the outskirts of a bustling city - Macarath, she realised. But she'd just been in Valla! Her face scrunched up a bit. There wasn't anyone nearby she'd seen with a Warp staff or anything.

 

Elise frowned and prodded Tristan into motion. As she cantered down the street, she caught sight of a boy in a heavy coat and.... Elise did a double take. As far as she could tell, they were a girl, and her clothes reminded the princess of Elise's own. "Hmm." The princess rode closer, curious about who she was looking at. When she finally caught sight of the girl's face, the Nohrian noticed that he was actually a boy whose features reminded her of ...Leo? She couldn't resist investigating now. "Ahh! Oh, who are you? You remind me of someone I know."

Edited by DuskOfTheStars

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"Thank you."

 

Jordan gasped, nearly choking on his own throat from the surprise those two simple words brought him. He looked to the ground, looked to the horse, and then looked back to Forrest who looked back, eyes honest and face dappled with what appeared to be the beginning of a blush? A complicated sensation twisted in his chest, and he brought his hands up to his chin, barely resting his fingertips there. But what exactly did he plan on doing with this? What, am I gonna hide behind these? That’s moronic! He’s gonna think I’m a kid! But it was enough to help cope, and if that’s what it took at the cost of his minuscule pride, then so be it. Jordan forced his mouth shut and listened eagerly, carefully, to the rest of what the man had to say.

 

“It would be a pleasure to get know you better, Jordan,” Forrest continued with a respectful bow of his head, “Don’t cut yourself, darling. You’re more than pleasant company.”

 

And as if he were a pin-pricked balloon, Jordan slowly deflated his guard with a raspy, relieved sigh. “Oh, thank Naga,” he breathed, more for himself than the other, That makes me feel a whole lot better. Finally, finally he was starting to believe it. Somehow, he’d been convinced at last. There was no way Forrest was lying to him--he couldn’t be. He was too sweet and genuine. His words didn’t stink of a manipulator’s lull. And most importantly, there was something completely candid about his sparkling laughter and refined, but easy carriage. Jordan would fondly recall this moment later as a major display of Forrest’s character, but for now, he was awed and grateful. He slowly lowered his arms down to his side and let them hang loose, fingers brushing his coat as they continued on, lips busied in a sheepish smirk to let any words flow forth. He really is a good guy...sheesh, and here I was flippin’ out over nothing. Sorry about that.

 

Jordan figured that, instead of apologizing, he might do the one thing that made sense: thank him back. His mouth felt for the phantom sounds, preparing himself for the responsibility of saying them. It took a bit of internal pep-talking, but he was ready to do it. It wasn’t hard or complex, it was just a matter of saying it.

 

“Um...thank you.”

 

And it was the best he could manage for now. He hoped it was enough.

 

 

So satisfied with his prevalence over his anxiety, Jordan didn’t anticipate Forrest’s next question.

 

A sudden creep of cold started inward up his stomach, making pains along his insides until he felt it in his heart. Damn. He’d went slip with something much deeper than what he’d intended, said something much more complicated than words could even describe. This is why I shouldn’t talk, he remembered the old scolding, This is why I…

 

His vision wavered, and the image of black veiled his vision again. Sounds...voices...clamorous, chanting...he could smell the iron in the air, taste the taint in the drink he shared…

 

Jordan inwardly shook off the voice and grounded himself in reality again. It’s okay. This isn’t the first time you’ve done this. Just appeal to his expectation and it’ll all be fine. But what answer could he give Forrest? It’s not like he was some scrub from the town or anything--he’d dedicated a presence to him. He could feel him waiting expectantly, and though his offer to drop it wasn’t lost on him, he wondered if it could be enough. Can you see it? His fingers clutched at his sleeves, but he forced them to free. Can you see if I’m lying? If I tell you it’s because you’re a prince, will you realize that I’m lying? His eyes narrowed a hair at the realization of what that would cause. No, no, I can’t do that. I just said I don’t care. I’m not going back on that just to save my skin. Letting the topic drop would have to do.

 

But then you’ll know. You’ll ask and you’ll prod at me for the answer. It’ll never leave your mind. And then, you’ll pick and pick and pick at that spot until I bleed. You won’t stop until you find out. And then…

 

And then…


 

“It’s nothing,” came his response, his voice sounding flat even to him. There. Now, can we not talk about this?

 

Maybe Jordan should have supplemented with a more naturally-expressive follow-up, but he couldn’t. There was no satisfaction in lying to Forrest. He wasn’t going to start now. Even though I’m making it worse by not saying it, and saying ‘it’s nothing’ is technically a lie, at least I don’t have to commit. The thought of drawing Forrest’s concern was anguishing enough--to indulge in the preposterous idea that he would even want to bear the truth was disgusting and selfish. And to think that I just thanked you...and now I’m just a sorry mess again. Why would you ever want to get to know someone like me?

 

If there was one plus to this, it was that his deprecation gave him the guilt to clarify.

 

“I don’t want to talk about it, okay?” He softened the blow of his admission with a quiet, apologetic tone. Jordan prayed he wouldn’t get the wrong idea. I just don’t want to ruin this. He’d ruined plenty of things over his lifetime with incessant whining and tears. Even if it means me keeping it down, I won’t let you get involved.

 

 

"Ahh! Oh, who are you?”

 

 

A voice from behind, cause Jordan to spin. Approaching quickly was a girl, probably younger than he, all dressed in blanks and pinks. Jordan drew a vague resemblance in their clothing and their looks to the point he could swear they were related, but swiftly pocketed the notion in favor of sheer terror. As she neared, he found himself breaking past the invisible wall he’d built between him and Forrest and magnetizing to his side.

 

“You remind me of someone I know."

 

Though she’d clearly aimed that at Forrest, he couldn’t help but sweat at all the implications. His world was getting too small for him to breathe again. He was getting closed in. The noise of the market and other townly necessities once dimmed in their conversation now rose up to deafening levels, swaddling them in some hellish cocoon of attention and expectation. The sound of hoofbeats made his hands tremor, each one closer and louder, and his knees began to give. I have to breathe, his mind cobbled together the most sense it could manage, I’ll pass out if I don’t breathe, and he forced his lungs to expand to his count of six...hold for the count of four...out to the count of six...

 

 

And in a moment of clarity, he managed: “Who?”

=================

 

 

Ike could hardly believe his ears. All four of them were lost?

 

“You’ve gotta be kidding me. Not a single soul here has a clue where we are?” The corners of his mouth turned down into a deep frown, much more serious than the one he’d been chided for a thousand times. This is no good, he started to think, We don’t have any water and the shelter’s pretty scarce. If we don’t get on the ball, we’re all going to roast alive out here. He began to rake the tips of his fingers over his scalp before Soren stopped him with a warning grunt. Ike looked at him, just barely making out his skin under the hood below him, and tried his darndest to coax some sort of direction out of him, but Soren yet denied him. He sagged a little, but he didn’t let it bring him down too hard; it wasn’t like this was the first time he bade reticence. He’d just grown used to the opposite. Ike would just have to press these two until they came to a solution.

 

“Then how did you get here? People just don’t go wandering out into the elements for no good reason.” He nodded at their clothing, “You’re openly armed, and not like a couple wayward nomads, either. I’d bet money you’re soldiers of some sort, aren’t you? Isn’t there a military base nearby? A fort?”

 

Ike waited, but the longer he did, the more unsure he became. Come to think of it, they are pretty pale. There’s no way these guys are native. He gave his companion another glance, expecting nothing. His eyes widened a touch when Soren gave a subtle nod. In light of that, he resolved his expression and held his impression firm. I might not be exactly right, but I don’t think I’m wrong, either. Those two statements don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Their dress...the style and the impression their arms lent...their apparent lack of intuition about the area...it was a stretch to consider, but was it possible?

 

...I have a feeling we have more in common than they realize.
 

Edited by Sugar-Free

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Ryuusha, Ryuki, Selkie:

 

"...Eyes, eh." Ryuki said, holding his hand a moment as he gazed upon it. Certainly, he knew what Chrom referred to. A dark clan, a cult he didn't even remember, and didn't want to. When he discovered it, it had been Lissa who had comforted him the most, who had told him that it was not his fault, or who he was now. When all others had doubted him, she had still loved him and trusted him. He had wanted to protect that faith, that happiness, no matter how cheesy it sounded. He looked up at Chrom, and remembered that moment when the Exalt-To-Be had stood with him, in one of their encampments, looking at him with certainty.

 

"I... I don't know about all this Grimleal business... and I barely know Grima, but... I know that you're my friend, and soon you'll be my brother. I've seen you fight to protect those I love, especially my sister. I've watched you raise your sword against the cult you once swore allegiance to, without an inch of hesitation. I may not be the wisest but I know when a sword isn't raised falsely. And I also know what determination is. I accept you, Ryuki, as you are, and no matter what happens, I'll stand by you if you'll stand by me."

 

"You may not be the Chrom I knew.... and... I must accept that." Ryuki began, putting his arm to his side. "But I can still see in your eyes what that Chrom had. A sense of... hope. A want for the world to be better, no matter how much work it took. A Chrom who rose his blade not for sport or for spite, but because if he lifted it, it would cut a brighter path to a future for not just himself but his people. I remember once, surrounded by Grimleal, I was back to back with him, and it was just us against them all. And we were both tired. But Chrom... you just chuckled."

He smiled at the memory, sighing.

"'Looks like Lissa's going to be mad we're late for dinner again.' you said. 'Hope Olivia's not too upset..'"

Ryuki shook his head, pleased.

"But I digress. Maybe the Chrom I knew... is somewhere around here. Who knows. Anything can happen in this weird reality, right? Besides, we need to find your daughter, Selkie." Ryuki turned to her, gesturing. "And my wife. I think that should be our first mission. But, I'm just a tactician." 

He turned to Chrom, smiling. 

"We have two leaders here, I think. What's your take on it, Chrom?" he asked, giving him a thumbs up. "After all, you did manage to make the best ideas, even if they were sometimes naive."

"I like naive." Ryuusha said. "After all, the greatest outcome of any fight is that everyone survives. Even if it's a harder way to do it, it is the PROPER way. After all, a King must always hold the lives of his subjects above his own."
He turned to Chrom as if to ask for his opinion on the matter. Selkie nodded, smiling whimsically. For some reason, it seemed she knew more than she let on.

 

-----

 

Ophelia, Owain, Lissa and Severa:

 

"A small rest within a safe haven before marching off again into beautiful adventure!?" Owain said proudly, pointing to the village theatrically. "OF COURSE! Surely here may we find more information about our next destination! Inigo, your choice-making abilities are sound! Onward!"

He began to march forward, unabashed. Severa grabbed his collar, frowning.

"Not so fast, Hero of the Epoch. Have you not considered that not all territories may be friendly?" she stated flatly, holding him firm. 

"Oh whatever could you mean, Severa? Did we not save Ylisse and Valm long ago? Surely, we'd be given a hero's welcome, especially after our long absence!" Owain said, but something began to itch at his brain as he spoke. "There would... should be no reason..."

"Gerome doesn't remember us, and things haven't added up since we got here. I remember this town being one of the ones we fought in - it got destroyed." Severa went on, driving the last phrase hard. "Don't you remember? Grimleal cultists fought us outside this town but your Dad got a good report about them advancing so he and your Uncle managed to get a good amount to evacuate. Remember? You helped many of them out of the city while protecting their lives."

Owain stared at the village again as Lissa walked up, nodding pensively.

"...Yeah, I ... She's right. I had to heal a lot of the wounded. Chrom was so mad the city was lost..."

Owain backed up slowly as the memories hit him and he became far more cautious. Ophelia looked at the three of them, confused.

"....If the city was destroyed, then.. maybe Dad did time stuff again?" she asked, hopeful. "We have a chance to save the city?"

"....That's what all signs point to. But then our camp was outside the city a week before the attack. Gerome was nowhere near here before then." Severa put a finger to her chin, rubbing it thoughtfully. "In our timeline, we had sent him to scout in the OPPOSITE direction. There would be no reason he'd be heading this way.... Ughhh... This is infuriating. I don't like not knowing the situation."

"Then maybe this is a timeline where we already succeeded?" Owain suggested. Severa shook her head.

"No. There would still be signs of war. These trees couldn't have grown back like this. This grass would still be burned. The Grimleal magic leaves a mark, remember? That can only mean one thing - the battle never happened."

Owain began to grow anxious, turning to Lissa, and then to the rest of the group, then back to his close family. 

"So then... what? We... We left after ALL of this... how could we return to a point.... and not even that, one where the Grimleal never even existed?! If it hadn't been for them... Mother couldn't have met.... My father wouldn't exist!" Owain said, nervous. "And you-.."

"If not for the war, Dad wouldn't have met Mom.... I wouldn't have been born either.... So that means neither of us..." Severa said sadly, then looked up at him. "In this time, we never existed either."

Owain stared at her for a long moment, letting all of it sink in.
"Then how... why would we be pulled here?" Owain asked, and Ophelia looked at them both with a crestfallen face.

"NO NO NO... YOU HAVE TO EXIST! Odin Dark is in ALL timelines and he's ALWAYS followed by Selena Moonlight!" Ophelia protested, hands in front of her. "There has to be another explanation! B-Besides..."

"Gerome doesn't even seem to recognize us, and he seems to be FROM this timeline." Severa replied, concerned. "It just fits."

"N-No matter." Owain said suddenly, surprising the rest of the group. "We are here, NOW! To make OUR mark upon this timeline and save it from whatever threatens it! Mother, Beloved, and Daughter, no matter if we were meant to be here or not, we shall save-"

"...Uh, I'm from this timeline and I know you're my dweeby son." Lissa said, holding up her hand. "I mean, I think I'm from here, anyway."

"Was there a flash of light for you before you showed up here?" Severa asked, concerned.

"Uh... yeah, but... Wait, you're right. Ugh." Lissa said, putting her hand back down by her side. "But at least I know who you guys are. That's a good thing, right?"

"...It's comforting, yes." Owain nodded. "Thank you, Mom."

"Not a problem." Lissa waved him away, grinning.

"So then... should we... even enter the town? We have no idea what it's like in this timeline." Owain said, turning back to the city. "Severa, I fear you may be right."

"We'll just be more prepared." Severa said, patting his shoulder. "Come on."

With that, she began to stride her way towards the city walls, leaving Owain and the family to keep pace with her. Owain turned back to Inigo, Soleil, and Gerome, curious.

"Are you coming?"

 

 

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Forrest user posted image

There was something that twisted inside Forrest when the saw the joy, the utter relief, on Jordan’s face dissipate as soon as Forrest asked the question. Forrest wasn’t sure if he could identify the feeling scraping against him from the inside of his chest. It was a gnarled amalgamation of self-repugnance, sympathy and, perchance, some form of disappointment. Despite his innate lenity, Forrest couldn’t help but feel a twinge of frustration as he watched Jordan look away as though he couldn’t bear to look at Jordan. Forrest couldn’t be upset with Jordan. That was unfair to him, especially considering that he seemed to be naturally skittish. No, Forrest was upset with himself for ruining what had been a cordial atmosphere. It took time to nurture his relationship with Jordan until the stranger had become visibly comfortable. It took one question to thrust Jordan back into his shell and Forrest couldn’t forgive himself for that.

 

“It’s nothing.” It took effort not to slump his shoulders when Jordan spoke. Forrest silently thanked Father who insisting he learned how to keep his face steady when his mind was caught in a whirlwind of emotion. It was clear that Jordan’s additional comment was meant to smooth over the roughness of his previous statement, but Forrest knew better than to think that everything was fine. Internally, Forrest berated himself. He should have been more careful. He knew that most people didn’t open up easy so why did he pry? Forrest pressed his lips into a line, forcing his lips to not turn downward. He might have ruined whatever pleasantry there was between him and Jordan, but he wasn’t going to turn down an olive branch when it was handed to him.

 

“That’s fine,” Forrest said softly in a tone that read more as understanding than pitiful. He managed to draw a small smile upon his lips. It wasn’t nearly as warm as the one he had on when the blush grew on his face, but it was still genuine. “Forgive me, I shouldn’t have prived.”

 

“Ahh! Oh, who are you? You remind me of someone I know.”

 

Almost as though to rescue Forrest from the awkward situation, Aunt Elise’s cheerful voice rose up from beyond him. Surprise flickered across Forrest’s face before he tugged at Ethlyn’s reins. The mare spun around, letting Forrest take in the view of his aunt. He couldn’t stop the warm grin that appeared on his face when realized that yes, she was here. Both of his aunts were such lovely people who were intent on making Forrest comfortable with the family even when his father rejected him. Elise, in particular, had been extraordinarily amiable when Forrest first left the deeprealm. It was unfortunate that he and Elise had such little time together what between the war and Father’s not too subtle way of giving Forrest a task whenever a family member wanted to interact with him.

 

“Aunt Elise!” Forrest said as he motioned for Ethlyn to take a few steps forward. “I haven’t seen you in—” Forrest paused, searching through his memories for the last time he had seen Elise. “Actually, I can’t recall our last meeting, but it is of no consequence. How have you been? I didn’t realize you were in Macarath.” If Elise was here then maybe she knew about the sudden light that dragged him into the city. It hadn’t been from any spell he knew of, but Elise was more knowledgeable than him about magic so perhaps she knew. Realizing that Jordan was excluded from the current interaction, Forrest glanced down at his companion with a gentle look. “It’s fine,” he mouthed silently to Jordan before looking up expectantly at Elise.

 

Takumi user posted image

Instinctually, Takumi’s grasp on the Fujin Yumi tightened as the mercenary let out an exasperated sigh. Although Takumi had been learning how to better manage his emotions ever since the war ended, the current circumstances left him on edge. He didn’t like being faced with strangers what with one obviously a fighter with a sheathed sword by his side and the other so tightly wound in their cloak that Takumi could scarcely see their face. Takumi most certainly didn’t enjoy being dragged out into the words via a powerful spell he didn’t know existed or perhaps by a warp staff used by someone who had been watching him from the trees of the hunting grounds. That thought alone caused the edges of Takumi’s lips to turn downward.

 

Narrowing his eyes, Takumi snorted as the strange man’s barrage of questions.

“I could ask the same of you,” Takumi said as he placed his free hand on his hip. “Your companion may be dressed appropriately, but you aren’t properly dressed for trekking across a desert without a mount.” Takumi pressed his lips into a line, considering his options. His knee-jerk reaction was to tell the strangers to bugger off so he and Leo could figure out what to do next. Considering that the at least one of the strangers was armed, that probably wasn’t the most rational approach to take. That aside, Takumi knew he shouldn’t tell the strangers too much about himself especially considering the abnormality of the situation. Who knew what the two strangers would do once they realized they were alone with two princes. There were no witnesses, no way for them to be traced. The desert was a ripe environment for assassination.

 

“We are—were—soldiers,” Takumi said, willing himself to relent and give away some information least the strangers suspect him further. “The war we fought in ended a while back so if there are any military bases or forts in the general proximity, I wouldn’t know.” A pause. “I was never stationed in a desert.”

 

Takumi looked over the strangers, taking in their faces, the way they looked at him. The last thing he wanted them to know was that he was disorientated and didn’t know where he was, but, at the same time, he did need help even if he loathed asking for assistance. Hadn’t he approached the strangers under the guise of asking for directions? If they could figure out where they were and how to get back to Hoshido, then Takumi would never have to interact with them again. It took effort, far more effort than it should have, but with his fist clenched, his nails digging into his skin, Takumi managed to swallow his pride.

“I got here via some sort of spell,” Takumi said, lifting the hand from his hand to make a vague motion. “A warp staff more likely, I’m not entirely sure. I’m unfamiliar with what kind of spell causes a flash of light before teleporting someone somewhere different.” Takum lowered his hand and looked between the two strangers. “How did you two get here? Have you been aimlessly wandering the desert for a few days?”

 

Chromuser posted image

Everything seemed to freeze as Chrom watched Ryuki raise his hand. The Brand of the Fell Dragon was very clearly imprinted on Ryuki’s hand. Chrom’s breath caught in his throat as he realized that the brand was exactly identical to Robin’s. It was the same color, the same number of eyes, and it was in the same location. Chrom’s hands opened and closed, his eyes fluttering as his lips parted. Was Ryuki—

 

“You may not be the Chrom I knew.... and... I must accept that." Ryuki spoke before Chrom could. The prince found himself staring at the stranger, eyes glued to his face as he began to talk about how Chrom—his Chrom—acted. It was strange to hear someone Chrom didn’t know speak so fondly of him or rather a different variation of him. Everything that Ryuki said his Chrom did certainly sound like something Chrom would do. The only thing that seemed out of place was Ryuki mentioning Olivia would be upset at Chrom for being late to dinner. He had only spoken to the woman a few times so they were acquaintances at best but who knew. Maybe the other Chrom was good friends with Olivia or something.

 

When Ryuki finished speaking and both he and the other two strangers looked at Chrom expectantly, Chrom couldn’t help but feel a little overwhelmed.

“I’m…” Chrom frowned, closing his mouth shut as he tried to figure out what to say. For starters, he had no idea where he was. He was happy to help aid Ryuusha and Selkie find their daughter, but he had to figure out where they were before they could even begin to search for clues. “First off, we have to figure out exactly where we are,” Chrom finally said. “I doubt we can find anyone in an environment that is constantly changing. If we can get somewhere more...solid then we can start looking for other people.

 

Inigo/Laslow, Soleil user posted imageuser posted image

Listening to his cousins and aunt discuss time shenanigans, Inigo placed a hand on his hip and frowned at the homely looking town in front of him. Severa was right; the town was little more than smoldering rubble when she, Owain, and Inigo made for Nohr, but, then again, they had been gone for years. The draconic power Anankos had granted the trio had faded away by the time the war started. Inigo remembered feeling the power fade away as he spent years at Xander’s side, serving another prince under a fake name. It was funny now that he thought about it; spending half of his life fighting in a ruined future only to the past to save it and then spending the other half leaving all that behind to serve a man greater than he’d ever been in yet another war.

 

Gods, Inigo and his cousins had been gone for, what, a decade perhaps? Even longer maybe. Wouldn’t the town have rebuilt by the time they got back? Inigo looked over the town, taking in the sight of each and every building. The buildings were strikingly similar to how they looked before the attack. If the town had been rebuilt from the ground up, then whoever was in charge of reconstruction deserved a reward.

 

Inigo’s eyes settled upon the trees on the outskirts of the town. They were tall trees, white pines if Inigo wasn’t mistaken, with countless branches shooting out with green leafs that were just beginning to yellow. Looking beyond the beauty of the collection of pines, Inigo realized that when he had last seen those trees they were little more than ash littering the ground. White pines grew fast, sure, but it took decades for them to grow nearly as tall as they currently were. Inigo reeled back, narrowing his eyes at the realization that there was no way those pines could have matured as quickly as they did in his absence.

 

“I thought you said you knew what was going on.” Inigo was thrust back into reality as he registered Soleil’s hand that was delicately gripping his wrist. He turned to look at his daughter, internally cringing when he saw the concern that spread across her face.

“The situation may be more complicated than I had originally imagined,” Inigo admitted. Not wanting his daughter to worry—he needed her to placid before he could calm his own nerves—Inigo flashed Soleil a comforting grin. “We’ll figure it out,” he assured her. “I still know where we are even if everything doesn’t look the same. Besides, there’s so much I have to show you!” Inigo winked at Soleil with a knowing look. “We still need to get our bearings, but once we know what’s going on, I can show you around.” Soleil blinked at her father wordlessly before nodding enthusiastically much to Inigo’s relief.

 

“Are you coming?" Inigo glanced up at Owain who was staring at him expectantly.

“Of course,” Inigo said, nodding at his companions to follow before walking to Owain’s side. He stared at Severa’s back, a frown tugging on his lips as he watched her walk towards the city.

 

“I believe Severa is onto something when she said that this city shouldn’t be this well built,” Inigo whispered to Owain soft enough so Soleil couldn’t hear. Inigo rubbed his hands in unease, diverting his gaze to the ground as his grin fell off his lips. “Have either of you considered that maybe this is our own timeline, but we were just…. I don’t know. Sent back to the wrong point?” Inigo rubbed the back of his head, biting his lip as he tried to conjure the right words to describe what he thought was going on.

 

“I mean,” Inigo started. “Gerome knows who I am. Before you, Severa, and Lissa arrived, he said that his last memory was him, Lucina, and the rest of us heading to the past for the first time. I was confused as to why he looked so young when we had been gone for so long, but maybe the reason he looks young and the reason we don’t share all the same memories is that we came to Ylisse before this village was torn apart and before Grima was defeated.” Inigo lifted up his head, staring at Owain as he waited for an answer. He wasn’t sure if his theory held water, but it was the only logical explanation he could come up with. Of course, if it turned out that Inigo was right, then the implications of there being two adult Inigos, Severas, and Owains in the same frame was concerning. Inigo tried to shake the thought away. That was a problem for another day. Right now, they needed to figure out what was going on.

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When Elise rode up and called out, things happened in quick succession. One of them - the one who didn't look familar - startled. Elise's hand tightened on her horse's reins as he queried "who?" The Nohrian princess was unsure whether he meant who she was, or who the other boy reminded her of, and the boy's fear made her concerned. She would've gone to ask if he was alright, but the other boy there started talking. He seemed happy to meet her, and she smiled back, though his words swiftly confused her.

 

"Aunt Elise!” The rider's horse stepped forwards, and Elise's thoughts were abuzz. He's not Kana, and Kana's the only nephew I recall having - though he does look like Leo... wait. Another Leo's child? Or a different Nohrian royal sibling? There are other dimensions, the Deeprealms at least, who's to say there couldn't be other versions of us? “I haven’t seen you in—” He was still talking, and Elise noticed him pause before continuing. He seemed slightly subdued as he continued. “Actually, I can’t recall our last meeting, but it is of no consequence. How have you been? I didn’t realize you were in Macarath.”

 

The Strategist fidgeted with Tristan's reins before deciding. To the boy with a blade, she asked "Are you alright?" She still had the other boy's question to deal with, though. It threw her off somewhat that he was so familiar with her, but that couldn't be helped, and so she returned to faving him. "I was visting Celeste in Valla before the light took me here." Elise paused, before continuing, "Unfortunately I'm not sure what that was, given the Warp skill I've seen used doesn't create that light. Though... I'm not sure if I'm the same Elise you know." She was a bit nervous now. Of all the things she'd thought she'd run into, she hadn't expected to meet someone who looked so eerily like Leo. "I have a question - are you related to someone named Leo?"

Edited by DuskOfTheStars

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A grievingly-heavy weight of shame hoisted itself upon Jordan's eyelids with the girl's query. Of course he wasn't 'alright'! Of course this wasn't how people were supposed to react! She knew that! He knew that! Everyone around them knew that! Instead of answering such a ridiculous question, he nodded and turned his head away, withdrawing closer to Forrest and slouching, making himself more onesome with the murk and shadows. Honestly, it'd be more ideal to just run for it: just find a dark spot in the walls and hide there until the danger of this "Elise"'s presence disappeared. Yes, but wasn't that more like where he belonged? Down with the pitch and cess? Down where the cobs would scuttle into his clothes, the thin film of greasy mold staining his knees through torn breeches? Not here--not where the people were. This was a place for humans, shelled by industry and souled by a hundred and more interlocking, interwoven lives, bolstered with the promise of typicality: giddy wit, sly glances, and most important, the sense of being, of belonging

 

Not unsightly accidents. A chill in the wind stole away his breath and made his ribs shudder with strain. He brought his hands up and crossed them close together, digging his nails into his forearms to produce some sensation for the numbness slowly building from the cold. More than anything, Jordan wished he wasn't here right now. As Elise and Forrest conversed, all Jordan could do was wish more than anything that he could escape, bolt away from all this rush and throw open his door to the soothing chant of spellwork, the scratch of pen on paper, the crackle of a dozen entirely unnecessary candles lit around the mantles and the floor, just for the dance the flames provided.

 

'There's power in subtlety, Jordan,' she said, and held her parchment up to the light, 'Things don't have to be so garish, or even have a mandated purpose.'

 

...oh how he wished. How he wished for sunset to the tune of nightbirds' cries, the eventide orchestra outside his window. How he longed for the safety of his bed, or how heavy the rust-red and green comforter he had was and how content it made him to feel it swaddle him in its embrace. When the disquieting darkness--not of night, but of mind--descended upon him, it was in those silky threads he found some shelter, curling into it so tight it nearly smothered him, drawing in the smell of the tiny purple-bloomed flower that was infused there long ago----

 

 

His eyes fluttered, and like a dam breaking open a torrent of warm driplets found their way down his cheeks. He gasped quietly, both surprised and disgusted, and turned from the others, rubbing his face on his shoulders--his hands would be too noticeable and would surely garner a comment from either if they saw--and subduing his overwhelming desire to sob. I won't, he thought, swallowing over the tight ring constricting his throat, It's bad enough I'm so weak. If I make a spectacle right here, there's no doubt...they'll probably just...But Jordan didn't really know what they'd do. Leave? He sort of doubted that. Yell at him? Maybe Elise would, but Forrest didn't seem the type. I've been wrong before, that's for sure, but he felt unreasonably safe assuming that. Maybe it'd be worse...maybe they'd take him along out of duty, and then he'd be subject to the worst treatment possible, so much worse than any beating or assault he'd ever taken before: toleration.

 

Yes, toleration. An action characterized by disconnect between any one person and another or others but hidden with forced friendliness. Just the idea of having to go through it again was sickening, and so Jordan chose to take the high road for their sanity and his. 

 

 

He gathered ever mite of his nerve and stepped away. He tilted an ear back to make sure the flow of their dialogue was not interrupted by his leaving and made out toward the middle of the square, edging between the outer rim of the fountain in the courtyard and the massive crowd of people communing near it. The smell of their bodies as he pushed and wove between them was nauseating, but he'd been whisked away before Dad came home so there wasn't much in the way of food in him to expel in the event he did upchuck. He just kept swallowing away the acid taste on the back of his tongue and held his breath whenever he could, keeping his eyes locked forward at the objective he'd locked himself on before he'd made his advance--a shop entrance, framed with lanterns flickering with flames that caught in the bright, faceted danglings of wind chimes suspended from a display being peddled by an old woman. He wasn't particularly interested--he did enjoy the work she'd put in them, though--but what he was drawn to was a certain waft in the air. It was the only thing he could even vaguely describe as "clean" about the whole town so far, but that wasn't the only reason it drew him. Like a beacon it broke through the hazy, buzzing landscape of him mind and reigned in his senses, and his body was more than happy for the sudden composure. Jordan had  no way of telling if that was where it was coming from, but he had his intuition. And if nothing else, out of the billions of possibilities his anxiety could conjure, at least one of them had to be reliable.

 

He stepped around a discarded bottle of ale and darted inward.

 

Immediately, he knew his observation had been right on the money, and just like that all the knots that had wound his limbs and torso tight released, leaving him feeling exhausted and a little breathless, but good. So...so very good, for the first time in what felt like an eternity. This was a poultice shop he could tell just from the smell alone, with brackish undertones and a hint of spice and ash everywhere he walked. Short cases displayed many a variety of herb and tincture under the protection of their locked glass windows; books bound in lizardskin were plenty and stylish amongst the rough-hewn shelves of driftwood; a low roil of an alembic could be heard, and it took little observation to find it accompanying a mortar and pestle on a rune-covered pedestal. Jordan would've liked a better look inside, but his view was obscured by an absurdly tall man conversing with a much, much shorter, heavily-bearded man. The latter cupped a greenish potion in his sausage-like fingers, propping up like a showpiece to the goliath before him.

 

"Very much, so, yes, I can assure you." The sausagey man spoke in an surprisingly shrill and speedy voice for his girth. Jordan had expected something a little more...husky. "Pexacoila mostly. 98% proof, and at your asking price that's more than fair. Top purity, too! Got the best alchemists this side of Nohr on me. Ask anyone--they'll tell ya!"

 

"I trust you, friend, I trust you!" The goliath exclaimed loudly, though Jordan found it entirely unnecessary given the proximity. "I may not know my alchemy as well as you, but I've read the energies of this place and found them most positive. Empowering, even! And when I look at you, I feel a sense of calmness, certainty...and that's how I know it," He pointed a finger at the man with a flourish, "You, sir, can be no liar!" 

 

The shopkeeper only laughed back, dipping his head in an almost humble manner, but Jordan could see something the hulking idiot couldn't--the blankness in his eyes as he'd said that, the one-sided grin that cut across his mouth as he landed the ruse. You moron! Can't you see a hustle a couple inches from your face?! 

 

"Then do we have a deal?" 

 

"We do" and the vial traded hands with a sizable sachet of coins. The shopkeep stuffed it away under his taupe vest and shook hands with him. "Thank you again, friend. Know that with this mixture, you've brought me one step closer to true strength. I'll be sure to lend it to you in your time of need." Jordan tried to get close, to give the man a warning or something, but as the shopkeep walked away after giving his thanks, another round of customers began pouring in off the street, displacing him back toward the tool stand as they crowded him. They came in such volume that Jordan was nearly toppled; he thanked his decent reflexes for keeping him from death by trampling. But Jordan was determined not to let the man leave just yet. He grunted and shouldered through the crowd and found a glimpse of his wild blue hair above the other heads, knowing it was him from the dark green headband trailing down his back. He braced his hands on another patron's back and sidled through. He was so close, but the man was walking fast. The shop wasn't very big, so if he lost him, it'd be for good. Macarath was turning out to be larger than Jordan expected, moreso than he was comfortable walking alone, and in this ghastly atmosphere he was likely inches closer to a gutting than he would've liked. Some of the people finally cleared away from the exit to converse with the sausagekeeper at the side desk, so, Jordan took advantage of the space allotted and squeezed through. Footfalls falling sloppily as he stumbled over a leg, he grabbed ahold of the natty mini-cape he sported and tugged. 

 

"W...!" 

 

And to his horror, the words refused to come. His hand fell uselessly to the side as the man turned, and Jordan craned his neck upward to see an incredulous, stubble-adorned stove-shovel of a face looking back. His fists drew up to his chin and he squeaked.

 

Oh, no..no no no no no!

 

He'd completely forgotten! But how?!

 

I can't speak! Not to a total stranger! And not one he'd just tried to manhandle!

 

Jordan cowered helplessly as the man began to search him up and down, probably ready to punch his lights out or sic a guard on him or something. Oh, gods, please don't kill me, or you'll be about 2500g poorer! Think of the gold! Everyone's a greedy b@stard on the inside!

==========

 

"Easy, now," Ike said, taking note of the strain in the archer's fist as he bit back with a response. "We're just asking some questions. Keep fingering that bow and I'll start thinking you're gonna pull it." For all he didn't know, it was growing more and more obvious to him that this silver-hair fellow was the more aggressive of the two, the impression owed in part to the relative silence of his partner beside him. Maybe he was worse--the one with the mount--but he hadn't opened his mouth to prove otherwise. It was manageable for now, but if  both of them started, he wouldn't put up with it. But under the harsh  rays of the sun, tempers were almost certain to rise; he'd keep level for now and not let the archer's body language upset him. In a way, it was almost funny--these two people, one collected and calm, the other easily agitated and sort of spittish. Ike thought they must make an interesting team, if indeed they were one.

 

The man continued talking as Ike pondered their proximity, his attention catching on a key piece of information at the end of his pause. Then we're in the middle of a desert with two people who've probably never even seen one before. GreatThat meant Soren and he were at the mercy of their own experience. Granted, it was good news to hear they were seasoned veterans even as young as they appeared to be, but surviving a desert was a whole other beast. Ike couldn't even say his knowledge of the situation was terribly expansive, but at least he'd taken a few jobs in the climate to know the gist of what was required to survive.

 

What was even more interesting was what the archer said next, confirming his suspicion that at least he wasn't from the area. The other man's origin was yet to be revealed, but given Soren's recognition of him from their draconic companion, he'd since theorized that that had to be true for him as well. The land she'd described had been utopic and ideal, not some sandy hellscape like where they were now, and she'd made no mention of such in reference to her brother. That, and the aforementioned skin tone was enough to solidify it: if the three of them had arrived under similar circumstances, the fourth must have as well. It can't be a coincidence. 

 

“How did you two get here?" He inquired, that tone of vague exasperation still thick in his tone. "Have you been aimlessly wandering the desert for a few days?”

 

Ike was about to open his mouth to answer when an equally tart voice interjected.

 

"Our business isn't any of your concern," Soren spoke at last, "As I'm sure even you can tell, we don't have time to sit around spinning yarns like this is a friendly camping trip. We need to formulate a plan of action immediately." He turned slightly to Ike, looking at him and  back the the duo informatively. "Though our destination be unknown, myself and my guard have experience navigating deserts. That being said, we'll take charge of the expedition toward civilization, as originally intended." He looked between the archer and the mage once before continuing.

 

"If you agree to these terms, then take the rear and keep your weapons down. If not, then I suppose you can simply stand here and bait the birds away."

 

Though he'd seen it plenty of times before, the level of confidence Soren  spoke with would never get old to him. It had a habit of provoking people, but at least he didn't sugarcoat things, a trait most people didn't highly appreciate but he found endlessly refreshing. As admiring as he was for his strategist, he did feel the need to soften the blow a little. He didn't like the way the silver-haired one's hand fidgeted, and he didn't dare underestimate the speed with which he could nock with it provided the ammunition was hidden somewhere on his person.

 

"We'd appreciate the cooperation, and you skills could come in handy. The faster we get moving, the more land we'll cover before it drops to freezing tonight." And it seemed counter-intuitive to suggest that, but given their lack of supplies, waiting until night to travel just wouldn't be an option. 

Edited by Sugar-Free

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Ophelia, Owain, Severa, and Lissa

 

"Hmmmmm....." Owain muttered softly, rubbing his chin with a gauntlet-shrouded finger. "HM! Perhaps you are indeed correct, Inigo of the Dancing Blade." 

He whispered softly, somehow actually understanding that Inigo was trying to spare the feelings of those who didn't need to worry about these events, or couldn't perhaps understand them at the moment.

"However, regardless of if that is the case or not, the point remains that we need more information before we may continue on. My father taught me to always learn your environment first and establish a perimeter. That way, you have a place to return to as you learn more." Owain held up a finger to Inigo's face, his own face pleased. "As he was our Tactician, I was actually very interested in his work, especially after Morgan began to learn from him as well. It was a game we played, even though I was more interested in the battle and theatrics of it. After all, a great story needs a greater hero to finish it! Or... in this case, a greater hero PAIR, and family." 
He pointed at Soleil, then at Severa and Ophelia, and then at Lissa.

"I'm just pleased we seem to all still know each other. That's all that matters. When we went back in time the first time, did we not do it so we could save our families? That is ALWAYS most important!" Owain spun, flourishing. 

"Besides, I'm ALL for adventures." he whispered, patting Inigo's shoulder. "In any form. I've been to many other lands and seen many sights. It never gets old. So let's do another one together, huh?" 

With that, he walked ahead of Inigo to catch up to Severa.

 

Ryuki, Ryuusha, and Selkie

 

"Just as you would have said. I knew you'd say something like that." Ryuki said, arms crossed, nodding. "Very well. I'll get to laying out the land and developing strategies based on key points. We'll find a good place to start." 
He began to wander around with a notepad in hand, sketching several things with some form of idea in mind. Meanwhile, Ryuusha turned to Selkie, holding her softly in his arms. 
"It appears we're now on another journey, my fox maiden." Ryuusha said quietly.

"It's going to be fun, I'm sure." Selkie replied coyly, holding his hands close to her. "Especially since you're with me."

Ryuusha turned to Chrom, smiling. 

"Let's give Ryuki some time to do what he's working on. In the meantime, care to talk?"

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Forrest user posted image

Forrest nodded as Elise began to explain where she had been before arriving in the city. He didn’t know who Celeste was, probably some friend of Elise he hadn’t met, but now didn’t seem like the time to ask about her. The blinding light that had teleported both Forrest and Elise to Macarath being from a Warp staff or Warp ability made sense. Although if both of the nohrians had been transported via a Warp staff or ability, then someone had to have purposefully used it on them, right? Forrest didn’t know who would do such a thing, but the crown had many enemies. Maybe a jealous noble was trying to off some of the royal family in hopes of dragging down morale. Perhaps it was vengeful hoshidans who wanted revenge for the actions of Nohr underneath King Garon’s rule. Maybe it was—

 

“I beg your pardon?” Forrest asked, blinking in rapid succession. What did Elise mean when she said she wasn’t the same Elise Forrest knew. He didn’t know anyone else with the name Elise and it wasn’t like Elise had an identical twin. Forrest balked at the statement, tightening his grip on Ethyn’s reins as Elise further startled him by inquiring if he knew someone named Leo. A wave of unease washed over Forrest as he diverted his gaze to the cobblestone road. It had been painstakingly obvious that something was amidst as soon as the blinding light filled Forrest’s vision. He knew that something was wrong, and yet despite everything that happened since he arrived in the city, Elise’s question is what bewildered him the most.

 

“He’s… my father,” Forrest said slowly. He spared a glance back up towards Elise, his ears searching her face for a reaction. “I know we’ve only met a handful of times, but you didn’t really forget about me did you, Aunt Elise?” Forrest nearly cringed at his own sorrowful tone. He didn’t mean to sound distraught, but the thought that his aunt could so easily forget him when he had thought they had gotten along made Forrest’s throat dry. His heart became heavy, almost as though it had turned into stone. He hadn’t been that dull, had he? Surely he couldn’t be so painfully soporific that Elise could scarcely remember who he was?   

 

Before Forrest could let his ever-growing distress distract him further, his eyes flickered downward to where Jordan was standing or, rather, where he had been standing. Forrest blinked and glanced around, thinking that perhaps he had mistaken where Jordan had been. To his astonishment, Jordan didn’t appear to be anywhere in sight. For a moment, Forrest thought that perhaps he got pushed away from someone in the crowd. Forrest’s shoulders tensed at the thought, but relaxed within seconds as he remembered that no one had walked even remotely close to him since he began speaking to Elise. If Jordan hadn’t been bumped into, then what happened to him? Did he just walk away?

 

“Forgive me for abruptly changing the subject, but did you see where my companion wandered off to,” Forrest asked as he looked back at his aunt. If Jordan had slipped away of his own accord then that was his decision to make. Forrest was fully aware that he had made the boy uncomfortable. If Jordan wanted to find help elsewhere, Forrest would respect that decision. Still, Forrest wished that Jordan had at least said something before he ditched him.

 

—————

Takumi user posted image

Despite a lifetime of training with the art of royal etiquette, Takumi somehow always managed to find somehow easily overcome the hundreds of lessons beaten into his head by exasperated teachers. Takumi’s nostrils flared at the stranger’s command to calm down, his eyes narrowing.


“Don’t tell me what to do,” Takumi hissed. Although his tone filled with annoyance, bordering on hostile, his fingers did cease their drumming along the Fujin Yumi. He knew better than to start a fight with two strangers who, for all intents and purposes, hadn’t proven themselves to be a threat. He wasn’t going to attack them for sassing him or being concerned about their own safety. Takumi knew trying to argue with the strangers was ridiculous considering their circumstances. They needed help if they wanted to survive especially considering that Leo was probably melting in all that armor.

 

Despite knowing that working together was the best option, and despite every ounce of logic in Takumi’s body telling him to lay off of the strangers, he couldn’t help but bristle as the cloaked stranger scolded him.

 

“Excuse me?” Takumi said, his grasp around the Fujin Yumi tightening. “Do you really think I’m going really going to just follow the orders of some strangers with my bow concealed?” Takumi glanced between the two strangers with a scowl. “Why should we trust either of you in the first place?” The stranger’s offer, while blunt, did seem useful. Unfortunately, Takumi was naturally wary of strangers and the war had only hardened him. He didn’t know much about surviving in a desert, true, but he wasn’t just about to follow the lead of two strangers who, for all he knew, were the ones who teleported him and Leo to the desert in the first place.

 

—————

Inigo/Laslow, Soleil user posted imageuser posted image

Inigo pursed his lips together, nodding mutely as Owain continued to speak.

“I suppose… it doesn’t really matter if he is our Gerome or not,” he said slowly. He glanced back at the wyvern rider, letting his gaze linger for several heartbeats before looking back at Owain. “You’re right,” Inigo said, his tone notably more chipper. “We’re all still in this together.” Inigo grinned at his cousin. “It would be an honor to partake in another adventure with you, old friend.” Watching Owain run ahead of him, Inigo turned around and beckoned both Soleil and Gerome to follow him before turning around and walking forward.

 

When he caught up to Owain, Inigo paused and looked up at the city walls. It was no surprise that the cultists had an easy time taking over the city with how unimpressive the walls were. Honestly, Inigo was pretty sure he could burn the walls down if he actually tried. Thankfully, that’s not what he was there for.

“So,” Inigo said as he placed his hands on his hips. “Any idea of where we should head first? I mean, we’re obviously going to find an inn, but there should be other shops as well. Should we grab some vulneraries first or something?”

 

—————

Chromuser posted image

Chrom nodded idly as Ryuusha began jotting down notes onto a notepad (where did he get that notepad?) before walking little ways off. Chrom exhaled, running his fingers through his hair as he tried to gather his composure. Today had been extraordinarily weird, even more than usual. He knew he’d feel awkward what if visiting his sister’s grave, but not even in his wild dreams did he think he’d get whisked away to some foreign world full of strangers who seemingly knew who he was.

 

"Let's give Ryuki some time to do what he's working on. In the meantime, care to talk?" It took Chrom a moment to realize Ryuusha was speaking to him.

“O-Oh!” he said, lowering his hand as he blinked owlishly at Ryuusha and Selkie. He glanced over at Ryuki momentarily before looking back at Ryuusha. “Of course,” Chrom said. He walked towards the king holding onto his sheath. “Did you need something?”

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Soren's immediate response to the boy was a surge of impatient anger, quickly followed by a sharp rebuttal, "Because you currently aren't at the luxury t--", but Ike was swift to deter him with the slight motioning of his hand. Soren nearly reached to take it--a reactive response, a soothing gesture--but just as quickly composed himself and set his mouth shut. Wasn't it he who'd just run through exactly why they had to avoid these sorts of reactions to Ike? He stood and resigned to quietly chastising himself as his companion took the reigns.

"What we're trying to get at here," Ike suggested as gently as his body or voice allowed, "is that, like it or not, we know more about what we're up against. More men means more firepower between us--literally, in you two's case. If it makes things easier between us, we can just say we both have our secrets and we'll work them out later." He regarded Soren as he spoke the last of that sentence. "Does that sound agreeable?"
 

Soren was hesitant to reply at first, shifting weight between his legs, but ultimately decided it was for the greater good. Things were still according to form, as discussed, and whatever would allow them safe passage moving forward was acceptable. Even more pressing was the sky above, and if Soren wasn't nearly at wit's end entertaining this miscreant, the deplorable heat was about to send him tumbling and screeching into it.

 

"Alright, and I'll suppose that goes for both of us," Ike said to the two with more that a little intent. "But I'll say this: neither of us has the means or the motive to be teleporting anyone anywhere. Otherwise, wouldn't we have just warped over to the place instead of walking through this wasteland?"

Edited by Sugar-Free

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Takumi user posted image

Unbridled anger bubbled inside Takumi as the black-haired man spun around and snapped at him. A snarl upon his lips, Takumi opened his mouth with the intent of enlightening the mage as to why telling an armed stranger what to do was such a poor idea. A hand clasped onto his arm, anchoring Takumi back to reality. He spun his head around, readying himself to bark at whoever grabbed him so roughly, but to his surprise, he was met with the stern, earthy eyes he had grown accustomed to. Leo’s lips parted almost as though he wanted to say something, but he closed them when he saw how Takumi’s anger simmered, his face losing the intenseness it held previously. Takumi mumbled a soft “fine,” under his breath before turning his head to look at the blue haired man. There was a flash of confusion that crossed Leo’s face that Takumi had not fully understood, but he said nothing as he left Leo released his arm, his arm suddenly absent of warmth. Leo knew one look from him was enough to settle Takumi’s frayed nerves, so why did he look so perplexed just then? Takumi shoved the question into the back of his mind. He could simply chalk the expression to be a part of whatever was causing Leo’s strange behavior. Takumi would question his friend later when they weren’t melting in a desert with two strangers.

 

“We understand your concern,” Leo said, having now dismounted Viktor in favor of keeping the stallion steady by standing by his side and holding his rein. He glanced at Takumi from the corner of his vision, silently asking for him to concede. Takumi made an annoyed huff, folding his arms against his chest defiantly. Pleased that Takumi didn’t argue, Leo dipped his head respectfully at the two strangers. “While I would like to reserve judgment as to how we got here until later, I will agree that it would strange for you two to trap yourselves in the desert if sending us here to perish was your original intent,” Leo said. “However, I do hope you understand our reluctance to sheath our weapons in the current situation. We will keep our weapons down, but do pardon us if we still feel the need to keep them within arm’s reach.” Takumi hummed in agreement but said nothing else as Leo tugged at Viktor’s rein. The two men waited for the strangers to walk a distance away before they moved forward and dredged through the desert after their more experienced companions.


--

 

Having only ever seen the Wind Tribe’s huts huddled among the crevices of a coastal mountain range with smaller buildings scattered within the desert, Takumi wasn’t sure what to what to expect when arriving at a village smack-dab in the middle of the desert. The four companions had arrived at a small town with a short rock wall weathered by sandstorms surrounding it. Takumi could make out the shape of buildings from the entrance of town. They were all beige in color few distinguishing features beyond shop signs hanging above the front doors of several buildings. Much to his relief, Takumi spotted one sign with a picture of a mug with foam bubbling out of the top on it: the universal sign of a tavern. Takumi’s relief was only momentary as he realized that he wasn’t sure if he had money on him to pay for the rooms. He shot a glance over at Leo who gave him a side look before simply shrugging his shoulders.

 

Takumi sighed, running his fingers through his hair as he glared at the backs of his “companions”. Leo, for whatever reason, had been uncharacteristically distant the entire walk to the town. He hadn’t been rude per se, but he spoke as though the walls Takumi had torn down years ago when they first met had suddenly been put back up; he treated Takumi like he would any other stranger and that infuriated the Hoshidan prince to no end. It didn’t help that he was already irritated by the situation at hand as well as the companions he was in the company of. Deciding that he wasn’t just going to sit back any longer, Takumi huffed in frustration before marching up towards the men in front of him.

 

“Hey,” he called to the men as he approached (Leo, who suddenly realized the prince had left his side pulled at Viktor’s rein and followed him). “It’s great that we found a town and all, but do we even know if they’re going to let us stay here?” Takumi placed a hand on his hip and glanced at the two strangers. “We don’t even know what continent we’re on, let alone what currency they will accept.” Takumi didn’t want to stick with the two strangers for any longer than he had to, be he assumed they would stick together at least until morning came. The sun was already setting on the horizon and the last thing Takumi wanted to do was fall asleep in the desert and wake up the sun’s unrelenting rays while laying in hot, coarse sand.

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It was the chirrups of the late fall finches that first brought Priam around to consciousness. One’s first instinct would to be to shrug out of the covers after likewise shrugging off sleep’s veil, but he was more of the sort to revel in the veil’s comfort that disturb it. Such was his mindset regarding all of nature; instead of turning and disturbing the pallet below, he lay still, breathing slow and tasting the scent of dew and pine. It was early--that much he could tell without opening his eyes--and the seasonal chill had left his barren shoulder frigid without the protection of the pelt. Not a problem, he liked to say. Everything had a place and and a purpose, and if his was to lay out in the elements with mild discomfort, than so be it. Why rectify what wasn’t a problem? After all, there was no place else he’d rather be than where he wanted, and no place had proved too inhospitable for him to lay his head yet. It was to nature’s benevolence he owed the favor, so when an appropriate amount of time had passed, he finally aroused and crossed his legs one over the other and placed his worn hands on his knees in silent prayer. In and out his lungs drew and pushed the essence of the sky and wind, and with each breath the roil of the fire internal was both fed and quenched.

 

The internal fire: his birthright and his core, the element of his soul and the impetus of his ambitions. It was a queer thing, the flame--it had been many years since he’d discovered it, and at the time it had been less than just an ember among coals, but ever since it’d made its hearth, he’d made it a goal to provide it with a sturdy foundation to house its ever-growing radiance.

 

What the flame lacked in heat it made up for in vigor. Though not malevolent, the fury of Chaos was not to be trifled with, and were he to infringe on the ethereal boundary between himself and it...well, he would not be the first to fall victim to its “unhinging” effects. But if Priam was careful, he could peer through the veil and see it: a war-bled battlefield across a grey-white expanse. He, in the eyes of the legendary hero--beaten and cut to the marrow, but standing strong aside both family and friends as they raced to the foot of a great tower to confront Judgement; anyone could recount the tale better than their own name, so renowned it was. And he...well, he was living proof of its legitimacy, and for his adherence to the legacy had been gifted with the blue flame the hero had become remembered for.

 

The Radiant Hero...the name sent shivers down his spine and prickles across his skin. So great was the measure of the man that for anyone to try and truly match him was ludicrous at best and delusional at worst. He’d been more to the continent of Tellius than a general, or a mercenary or a figurehead or what have you. No, he’d been something more intimate, more venerable and more whole than what titles could name him--he’d been a helping hand, a sure mind and strong voice. A friend. And still, all across the lands, his name echoed from the lips of the lowest thief to the highest crown, none with naught a bite of venom to the words that followed--and they always followed, yes. Someone’s uncle who’d shaken his very hand, another’s grandmother who’d stood beside him at the goddess’s gates; the stories were aplenty. And wherever Priam trod along the ephemeral path--a “Path of Radiance”, as he’d coined the invisible strand that tugged him across time and space--many more were sure to follow, starting with a crook of a smile or a fond chuckle in reminisce before they recounted their story. If it weren’t spiritual decree pushing him forward, Priam would relent that maybe, just maybe, it was all those warm faces brightened with recognition that kept him moving, seeking, extending his progenitor’s legacy.

 

After standing up and giving himself a good stretch, Priam quickly slipped into his clothes and donned his armor, as needless as it’d proven to be. The mercenary lifestyle he’d long endured he’d all but left behind, choosing spiritual attunement over monetary gains, supplementing the little, but good, he could do for people along the way. Still, danger could still creep in the shadows even in these days of peace, but what of it? What Priam sought far outweighed it, and he’d long since endeavored to overcome hardship with nothing but the breath in his lungs and the fire in his soul. With the sky awatch and the earth sturdy underfoot, he’d come to fear little. “Come what may” he’d once told his illustrious mother before leaving home, never seen again by her eyes--much like the man before him. He slung a light pack of assorted dried goods over his shoulder and situated his weapons into place, taking up the stakes he’d planted and leaving the pelts folded for another wanderer in need.

 

“I will never cease.”


 

And so it was, with the whole world out before him and the flame ablaze and assured, Priam stepped out amongst the conifers and white-frosted grass and toward the brave unknown. Overhead, the morning spread in the colors of the goddess’s hair, bright and benevolent, and it felt so much like the future was certain, even in uncertainty.

 

So when the very fringes of reality, once so thickly banded together, snapped apart and pulled with such drama that its eldritch stuffing came pouring out under the ravels, Priam was unfazed. As he went tumbling through the void, it wasn’t fear that consumed him. It was anticipation.

 

Another world in need...fine then. I’ll test its better hand.

 

Priam fell...and fell……..and fell…………………

----

 

For the remainder of their trek, with the strangers relenting to their concerns and falling back as asked, Soren and Ike were left astride each other by their lonesome. An excellent opportunity, it turned out, as the proximity of their assumed roles allowed them some privacy under the billowing cover of sporadic gales. Ike very slowly inched toward Soren as they created comfortable distance between them and the strangers. There was agreement between them to keep silent on the specific details of anything they noticed until they were in private quarters, but the nagging inconsistencies just couldn’t allow Ike to stay entirely silent. Instead of indulging in it too deeply, he asked Soren as simply as possible:

 

“You noticed it, didn’t you?”

 

A singular nod in response was all it took.

 

“I have my suspicions. And call it conjectural, but I’m almost certain I’m right.”


 

As the day wore on and the heat intensified, the two grew too far worn down to trade many more observations outside of a grunt and a nod in a general direction. Ike remembered exactly two--the first when the outskirts of a desert village rose up on the horizon, and the other wordless, but plenty noticeable to someone used to watching for it. For the entirety of the time they’d spent traveling, Soren’s eyes had been darting all over the sand, as opposed to Ike’s stony, fixated stare focused straight ahead. He didn’t ask, mostly because he was too exhausted to and he knew the answer would come eventually, but still, he remained curious. Soren hardly ever strayed from the most present of concerns, so anything that commanded Soren’s attention outside of it was immediately of interest.

 

It wasn’t long until the small group could finally call themselves “arrived” in the foreign village. From what Ike could see-- which was becoming less and less, what with the light reducing his sight to a blurry simulation than a running observation of reality--it was a well-industried place for the location, complete with a tavern and a a couple shops being run by men and women dressed so much more suitably to the environment. He saw similar patterns in their colorful clothing that hearkened back to the nomads of Hatari, but yet they were still imperceptibly foreign in their details in cut that they could not possibly be of that territory’s descent. Looking closer, there were details along the ground that implied roads, and for what little the village offered, there were a fair deal of people either lounging against buildings off to the side of them or walking along them with cloth, produce, or water in tow. Ike reached up to palm the sweat from under his eyes, immediately taking notice to how, almost upon entering, the winds had calmed their previous furies. It was still a little early to down his hood, but given the looks upon the faces of the locals, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to ease their fears. Yeah, the last thing we need is to come off like shady hostiles. We’d never get a bed then.

 

Just as if on cue, the man with the silvery hair came up as Ike and Soren turned to notice him. He voiced a similar concern, and was quick to compile a myriad of other before Ike could answer to them. “It’s great that we found a town and all, but do we even know if they’re going to let us stay here? We don’t even know what continent we’re on, let alone what currency they will accept.”

 

And those were fair points. This wasn’t Tellius, after all. It couldn’t be. “I know. And even if they accepted gold, we’re short to the point of being completely broke when it comes to money.” If only he’d known; he would have grabbed the coin sack out of the nightstand if he’d known. Maybe he could be forgiven for not expecting the outside of their house to be instantly inverted to the point of comedic implication, but that didn’t leave them any richer. “Maybe we could try selling some of our belongings. We don’t have much, so we’ll have to divvy out the burden if we go that route.”

 

Even as he said that, Ike was having a considerably difficult time trying to figure out what was even worthwhile to the market here. His few armor pieces? A natty cape and a well-worn headband? Selling Ragnell was out of the question. He wasn’t disarming himself willingly, not when danger loomed ever-present in their blind spots, not when he had people he had to protect. To tell the truth, Ike had few skills outside of his battle experience, and if nothing else, it was what he knew he could safely offer--defense. He wracked his brain trying to come up with something to give, not taking notice to Soren heading toward the tavern just a few yards away.

 

“Hey, wait up, Soren,” he called out to him, and then waved the other two men with him as he followed along.

--------

 

The moment the suggestion was made, Soren had the solution the group needed. The tavern he’d spotted was a joint building, sporting what he could rightfully assume was an inn included in the topmost addition. Ike was right: they had no gold. They had few belongings, and what they wore was essential to their survival. Given what he’d surveyed, what the locals valued was of the jeweled variety, which was in scarce supply. However, that wasn’t to imply it was entirely absent.

 

He shrugged through the door, feeling the eyes landing upon him like stones striking his skin. It was a familiar sensation, not one Soren was sensitive to, but not one he enjoyed either. He brushed it off though, as though it were little more than pollen, and made his way to the counter where the barkeep tended the resined top with a polish. He was a gruff one: dark skinned, hearty in the beard in moustache. The voice that greeted him was equally as coarse as the hair upon his large head.

 

“Yeah?”

 

Excellent. The man spoke Common. One less trial to overcome.

 

“Yes,” Soren half-responded and half-corrected. “I’d like a room for myself and three comrades. We’ve just arrived in town and require lodgings and food.” The man stored away his bar cloth under the fold of a sash and leaned to speak closer. Just like the other tenants, the man’s eyes were roaming him; he assumed it was just as much curiosity as it was the revulsion that came with outsiders.

 

“You don’t look like merchants. Don’t think just ‘cause you’re light in the pockets that I’ll knock down the price.”

 

Soren had already calculated the risk and reward of his decision, though. He most certainly did have leverage. He downed his hood and reached up to his right ear, working his fingers over a little object previously hidden under his dark locks. What he produced in his hand was a silver cuff with intricate, ornate filigrees, bearing a triad of dark red garnets that shone even in the relative murk of the inner tavern. The man was quick to snatch the little ornament up from the bar to examine it, producing a lense for a better look. Soren was unfazed--he knew the value of the cuff, both sentimentally and monetarily. The sets were the genuine deal and the silver was pure. And if I’m correct, this man knows it just as well as I do.

 

It was a few minutes before the man was satisfied with his findings. The silver cuff was hidden away, a woman was called over and spoken to in a garbled language Soren couldn’t understand, and before he knew it he was being beckoned toward the upstairs lodgings with food in tow. He looked back at the others, hiding the unpleasant bubbling of disdain from rising up from his chest to contort his face.

 

“That ought to handle at least a few nights of security for the four of us. I’ll stay with my partner, and you two can work out your own lodgings.”

Edited by Sugar-Free

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