Actions

Work Header

Deal with the Devil

Chapter Text

The sky seems to grow more red by the day, at least, the parts of the sky that aren’t covered in a near endless source of clouds. Nighttime wasn’t much better, in fact, it looks worse, with the way the red from daytime mixes with the darkness of night, creating an atmosphere that crushes any sense of safety. That’s just how it is, though, the ever looming feeling of hopelessness, never being able to get a decent night’s sleep, approaching paranoia from the near daily attacks from the Risen. They never stayed long enough to kill or even maim, it didn’t take a renowned tactician to know how they were being ordered. If Grima wanted them dead, he could have came himself, crush them beneath his massive feet, obliterate them with a single spell, or even throw them all down his throat, but he didn’t. He thought them a waste, so why bother? Just keep pestering them, let exhaustion and starvation kill them off.

It made Lucina’s job as commander an endeavor that no leader should face. How can she convince the remaining Shepherds that they can win? When their supplies run low, with over half of them ready to collapse from exhaustion? Her best… their best fighters were losing muscle, the rations were too few to spare for extra training sessions, there were more healers than staves. Yet, they kept pushing, to give in meant there would be no chance at all. Her eyes glaze over her troops, the ones who look up to her, who counts on her. “Father…” She startles herself from her own thoughts, she forces the tears to stay unshed. She can’t bend, she can’t show weakness, she can’t…

“Just a few more days.” Morgan, probably the only reason they are still capable of movement, says in a manner for comfort. Being versed in magic meant he was already relatively skinny when compared to such powerhouses like The Vaike, but the lack of food really shows, even if he tries to hide it behind his mother’s cloak. His already over sized Grimleal cloak seems to swallow even more of him. “We can make it.” He smiles at her.

“I know, we have to.” She finds her stomach tightening, not from any illness, but the mere sight of his gentle smile. Before Father married his childhood friend Sully, it was known that he harbored deep feelings for Robin. Yet, she denied any advances, it was a relationship that would be doomed to fail, the commander simply couldn’t be with the tactician. However, Lucina found herself falling down the same road, she’s the commander, but she finds herself attracted to Morgan, he just has that aura about him. Unlike Robin, he doesn’t show any signs of wanting it to stop, if anything he encourages her. “How is the Convoy fairing?”

“As tight as ever,” He falters, he seems to have been expecting a different question, “Our only saving grace is that the Risen aren’t taking the wildlife from us.” His eyes look her over, “How are you?”

“I’m well.” It was an obvious lie, she couldn’t hide the fact that she looks thinner, but it’s a lie that must be told. She can’t show weakness. “And you?”

“Well enough.” Unlike everyone else in the army, Morgan seems to be running on something that keeps him going, he can sit in his tent the entire day, reading his books over, and still be ready for the next fight. Was it part of being a Manakete? Nah shows similar signs, but she occasionally gives in to exhaustion. It doesn’t mean she actually sleeps, her eyes always dart around the camp, her body always tenses. Perhaps it’s her improved senses? She, Yarne, and Morgan are all that remains of the Shifters, and they always inform the Shepherds of an attack several minutes before it actually happens.

“Another staff ran out of magic.” He informs her, “We’re down to one.” He looks ashamed, he doesn’t need to say it, because she knows. He’s blaming himself, he takes in every mistake, even if he had no part of it. It’s something he hasn’t learned from his mother yet, something he can’t learn from his mother now. He’s still so young, he simply lacks the experience, but here he is, thrusted into a position without warning, just like her. “Perhaps…”

“You’re doing what you can, Morgan.” She interrupts him, before he starts berating himself, “Have faith in your abilities, we wouldn’t have made it this far without you.” He looks away, unconvinced, then reaches for his hood, ready to hide. “Morgan…” She extends her own hand to stop him.

“I can’t keep doing this.” He lacks self-esteem, despite the fact that he acknowledges his own achievements. His eyes land on her hand, which hovers a few inches from his, “Lucina…” His face flushes, before he ends up pulling the hood over him anyway, but this time it’s to hide his increasingly red face, rather than fade away from the entire world.

“Yes, you can.” Her hand brushes his over sized robe, but even that provides a warmth she craves. “We need you, Morgan.” She stops herself from saying what she wants to say, what she wants to get off her chest. I need you.’

“If I were more like mother,” His self-deprecating attitude resumes, “We would be so much better. We might have already made it. I’m…”

“Morgan.” He steps away from her, the way he flinches sends a pain that no sword can match. He turns away and walks off, she doesn’t need to ask to know where he’s going. His mother’s tent, to drown himself in books. “Gods…” She looks up to the nighttime sky, still tinged with red. Her eyes widen as Grima himself soars past them, it’s nothing more than a fright tactic, to remind them of just how bad their situation is. His presence alone does more damage than any of the Risen attacks. She can almost make out his laughter, or maybe that’s in her own head. “We will stop you!” She shouts to the sky, bolstering her own courage with the clearly insane declaration.

And as if in response, Grima makes a second pass, his head turns towards the princess and she can see his six red eyes boring into her, causing her to lose grip on her sudden rise of courage.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Risen attacks had stopped as the Shepherds start their march up Mount Prism, Fire Emblem in tow. Each and every one is weary, more so than ever before. Why is Grima letting them go this far? Is it so he can turn around and crush them? Those are the types of questions running through everyone’s minds, but none ask. Lucina shifts her weight to better support Morgan, whose boundless energy has finally seem to have ended. As expected, he is out cold, nothing is getting through to the boy. He literally passed out and his head landed on a rock, but he didn’t cry out in pain, as he was already unconscious before he even hit the ground. The last staff was used on him and Brady assured her he simply passed out, there’s nothing serious.

The temple is within sight, just a few more minutes and… the red skies darken as Grima makes another, no. He is actually slowing down, his massive body shakes the ground as he lands between them and the temple. “Children…” His voice echoes, a tinge of disgust in it. Every Shepherd’s weapon is out, they ready themselves, despite their target is the Fell Dragon himself, and her Falchion isn’t blessed. “I was hoping you all would give in by now.” He sounds disappointed.

“Get out of here, you dummy!” Severa’s ever defiant voice rings out.

His eyes round on her, but she doesn’t falter, her body is being fueled by adrenaline, ready to... “Or else what?” Grima asks, “So you can prove how inferior you are to your mother?” That statement struck a nerve on her, the mercenary's stance falters for a half-second.

“The words of a villain mean nothing to us!” Cynthia is up next, “Good always triumphs over evil!” Her ever optimistic outlook raises morale, the Shepherds’ forms become more energized.

“Tch.” Grima scoffs. “I came here in a rather good mood, I was hoping to strike a little deal, but if you…”

“You have nothing to offer us, fiend!” Owain steps up, “Any deal you offer is as unwanted as bull’s shit!” The ground shakes as Grima slams the ground with one of his feet.

“I care not for your thoughts.” Lucina is unsure why he still hesitates, if he means to stop them, then why not just do it? Why even bother with a deal? “The commander is the one I wish to speak to.”

“You won’t get anything from me.” Lucina gently lowers Morgan down and unsheathes her Falchion. “Even if it means Morgan’s survival?” The princess grimaces as his voice goes straight to her head, “The only thing I desire of you is your death, Fell Dragon.” She fights through his taunting mental laughter. “I’ll allow you access to your ‘Awakening’ Exalt.” Still she stands strong, unwilling to budge. “Very well.” Grima roars, the sound is enough to almost pierce her ears.

“I do not understand why you push yourselves so.” The Dragon’s voice leaves her head, “But, if you are unwilling to negotiate…” He raises a foot once more and shakes the ground, “Then show me your resolve.” With his taunt, the Shepherds charge… and he just stands there, seemingly amused as spells and blades bounce off of his scales. Cynthia and Gerome take to the skies, they hope to get a decent strike in and he just lets them fly around. “I’m still waiting for you to attack.” The confidence in the durability in his scales is far past being cocky.

Lucina takes the opportunity to rush towards the temple, if she can slip… “Will you truly leave Morgan alone?” She falters as his voice enters her head once more. “I’m not asking for much, Exalt.” She pushes past his offer, despite her curiosity growing. She shakes her head and resumes, ‘He has nothing he can offer me.’

“Cynthia!” Gerome’s voice echoes as the princess looks towards the skies, the Pegasus Knight is falling and the Wyvern Rider swoops down and saves her, but where is her Pegasus? Lucina returns her gaze to Grima, whose mouth is slightly parted, just enough to show off Cynthia’s Pegasus, the majestic beast is trapped in a cage of teeth. The Fell Dragon keeps his mouth like that, enough to trap it, but not enough to crush it. “Lucina?” His voice still swims through her head. “If you don’t cooperate, I might have to actually start doing something.” Why is he acting like this? Why bother? “One small favor for the safety of your Shepherds.”

No, she refuses to bend, she can’t show weakness, she can’t… a loud crunch echoes as Grima’s maw snaps shut, Cynthia’s scream follows soon after. “Disgusting.” The Fell Dragon spits the beast back out after shredding his teeth into the corpse several times. The pegasus lands on the ground, gashes are strewn across its body, one of its wings is almost torn off, the head is bent at an unnatural angle. “Well?” And still he persists. ‘I can’t give in, no deal with Grima will turn out good.’ She finds her will wavering as she tries to keep walking. “Stubborn fools.” The Fell Dragon roars as one of his feet looms over Severa, and as with Cynthia’s pegasus, he presses just enough to prevent movement. Kjelle attempts to slice into the underside, going with the assumption his scales would be weaker there, but his scales are still too tough… or maybe her sister just lacks the strength.

“It’ll take… more than that!” Severa pushes back, doing everything she can to keep the massive foot from turning her into a puddle. ‘No…’ Lucina has yet to feel this hopeless. Her legs lock, unable to make the intended destination, “That spell should keep you there, princess.” Lucina notices a dark cloud surrounding her legs. She feels the presence leave her mind, giving her a moment of reprieve, ‘That voice is nothing less than horrid.’ The Fell Dragon stands there, almost in a contemplative stance if he could perform such a thing.

“Hmph.” Grima scoffs once more, like he’s losing interest in toying with the Shepherds, “I had hoped to at least get your consent, princess. But, given the circumstances…” He removes his foot from Severa and his wings start moving, “I will get my due.” He… takes off, and a sigh of relief washes over everyone.

“Good to see you are as stubborn as ever, sister.” Kjelle smiles at her.

“I won’t ever give in.” The dark cloud has faded and she resumes her trek towards the temple.

“Why is he letting us go?” The question is finally brought up, it’s from Yarne.

“I’m going to perform the Awakening, now.” Lucina deflects it, preferring not to think about it. “This will be interesting, princess.” Grima’s voice echoes through her once more. She shivers, what does he have planned? Why does he spare them? Why did he sounds like he cares about Morgan? Lucina pushes all of her questions away, now’s not the time. She has a duty to perform, after all. Steeling her nerves, she walks into the temple and requests for Naga. Now is the moment of truth.

Chapter Text

It was necessary, a lie that must be told, her father can’t learn of her true identity. Luc… Marth looks over her… his shoulder as he fends off another one of the Grimleal looking to assassinate the Exalt. His heart leaps as Chrom shows his expertise with his own Falchion, the man seems like an unstoppable force of nature, while Robin is the wind that guides that force, the two truly seem like they can do anything , so it serves to only baffle him more when he heard that the Shepherds had to retreat as both Chrom and Robin were lost. ‘Focus, I know him only through legends.’ He shakes his head and deflects another attack, he can’t stay too long, cracks might start to show, and commanders can’t show such weaknesses.

“No, you aren’t supposed to… know.” He hears Validar’s voice say as the High Priest stands across the room from Chrom and Robin, “How did you know?” He scowls as he pulls out a Dark Tome. Chrom has his Falchion ready while Robin, almost lazily, opens Thoron tome, ‘At least, I think it’s Thoron, I can never remember the difference from the cover alone.’

“Marth!” Aunt Lissa… no, just normal Lissa’s voice shrieks, snapping him out of his thoughts, just in time to avoid being beheaded. ‘Focus!’ He internally chides himself as he ends the Grimleal’s life. “Hold on, I got ya!” Lissa’s staff glows as Marth feels the soothing sensation of the Cleric’s magic. “Whew.” He looks down and just notices that part of his armor had been torn into, the area around it is bloodied. Gods, he was too distracted to even notice being struck? Validar’s dying voice fills the room, and Marth allows himself a sigh of relief, the Exalt has been spared, it’s time to go.

“Wait, Marth.” Her fa… no, Chrom calls out to him, “At least give me the time to thank you, before you disappear again.” There is no trace of any negative emotion, “So, thank you. Your timely arrival saved my sister’s life. If there’s anything I can do…”

He makes sure to keep his distance, he can’t afford to give in to emotions, he has a duty to perform, “Seeing my mission completed is thanks enough, Chrom.”

He falters, but smiles, “Very well. Safe travels, then.”

“And to you and your army, Chrom.” He offers a short bow before leaving, before the emotions start to show. ‘Please, be safe.’
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Traveling alone is almost painful, the thought passes by Luci… Marth as he stokes the campfire. He has grown so used to seeing the Shepherds that, ‘I’m alone, so I have time to…’ She puts her head in her hands and lets the tears fall out, the stress of being someone she isn’t takes a toll on her. A toll that becomes even more horrible when she’s lying to her father’s face, it hurts being called Marth, she wants to hear him call her Lucina again. She wants to be held again, to hear his voice, to see that look of determination.

But she can’t, that isn’t a comfort she will ever get again, because once the threat of Grima has been thwarted, she’s leaving. She can’t stay, there isn’t a place for her here. A branch snaps and she forces her… his face stern once more, he wipes the tears away and draws the Falchion. “Show yourself!” He demands with as much authority as possible.

“...Lucina?” His heart freezes as the name, and out of the bushes comes Nah, her face partially covered in berry juice.

“Nah?” He… she looks her over, “I-I mean, my name is Marth.”

The half-Manakete narrows her eyes, there’s no use fooling her. “As you say, ‘Marth’.” Donning Marth’s name was a move that confused a number of the Shepherds, but after she explained herself, they understood. “It’s… good to see you.” Nah somehow looks even worse than she did before they time traveled, ‘Why is she so skinny?’

“Have you been eating well?” The cracks form and her concern breaks through, the half-Manakete’s clothes have yet to be mended and her Dragonstone is just barely glowing.

“Well, yea.” She waves off the future Exalt’s concern, even as she reaches for part of her outfit when it tries to slide off.

“Nah…” Lucina frowns at the state of her friend, “Honestly, you look worse than you did before.”

“I said, I’m fine.” Her sudden shift in attitude catches Lucina off-guard, “I look fine, I feel fine, I’m fine.” She says that, but her attitude shifts again and she backs away, her eyes wide.

“Nah, what’s wrong?” Lucina approaches her, while she isn’t as perceptive as Morgan or Laurent, she can tell Nah is experiencing something horrid. “Grima won’t win.” She assumes how their…

“Gr-Grima is n-nowhere near th-the worst thing.” Her entire body is trembling and she starts coughing, suddenly looking sick. That piece of her outfit slides off, revealing just how bony she is right now, there are several spots that look terribly infected.

“Gods, Nah!” She rushes to her aid, “We need to get you to a healer!” Nah’s breath chokes and she ends up vomiting… “Dirt?” Lucina can’t believe her eyes, “Why is there dirt…?”

“Stop yelling… please.” Was she yelling? “I’ll do it, just stop yelling.” Her eyes look so far gone right now, like she isn’t really here. “I miss momma, she was always nice.” Nah isn’t responding to Lucina’s touches.

“Sh, Nah.” She coos, “I’m going to lift you, okay?” She sheathes her sword and gently lifts the half-Manakete up, then makes her way back to the castle town. “You’ll live, Nah.” She assures her.

“Momma?” Her eyes are still glazed at she stares at Lucina, the princess slows down to share a glance, “Please don’t leave… daddy hits me when you’re gone.” The future Exalt freezes from that statement. ‘Is she more afraid of… wait.’ Something isn’t adding up, granted it was something that took her years to properly wrap her head around. Nah and Morgan have two mothers, Robin married Nowi and somehow they each had a child. So, why is Nah talking about a father? Is she referring to… no, that sounds so unlike Robin, or Nowi. Another violent cough breaks her from her thoughts, ‘Not now, she needs help.’
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Luci… Marth makes his way back into the castle just as the sun rises, there is only one healer he has strong enough faith in for anyone that is in the state that Nah is in right now. ‘Please be here, please be here.’ He snakes his way into the bashed hole in the wall, making sure the half-Manakete doesn’t bump into anything. ‘Fa… Chrom!’ As he should expect, the man is practicing his swordplay before the sun has even shown itself, “Lord Chrom!” He calls out.

“Mar… gods!” His expression turns from happy from Marth returning, to absolutely mortified at the near-dead girl in his arms. “What happened?”

“Where’s Lissa?” Nah doesn’t have time for pleasantries, something Chrom picks up on.

“Frederick! Get Lissa!” While Marth couldn’t see the Great Knight for himself, he just knows that the man is there somewhere. “We’re going to the clinic!” Chrom nods at Marth, “Let’s go!” Marth nods and follows the Falchion-wielder, “Do you know her name? How did…?”

‘Why did he have to word the question like that?’ Marth has no idea what was going through their heads when they named their daughter Nah. Part of her wanted to lie and give her a reasonable name, “Nah, N-A-H.” Chrom understandably stops for a half-second, before moving once more. “She came to me while I was camping.”

“I see…” No other words were shared as Chrom almost ripped the doors off of the clinic, where both Frederick and Lissa were already waiting. “Sister.” He grimly greets as Marth approaches one of the cots.

The first thing that comes out of Lissa is a shriek, before her healer attitude clocks in and she goes to work immediately. “Marth, is there anything you can tell me about her?”

“Nah insisted she was fine, and even responded aggressively.” Marth recounts the details that happened no more than an hour ago, “After that, she suddenly retreated into herself, vomited up dirt and she…”

“Dirt?” Lissa interrupts.

Marth nods, “Yes. Afterwards she was lost in her own world, talking about her youth, I guess.” Those were details Marth would rather not remember.

“You poor thing.” Lissa gently moves some of the half-Manakete’s purple and light green hair. “The purple looks kinda like Robin’s.” She absentmindedly comments as her staff works near wonders on Nah. ‘There is truly a difference when a healer has access to a good staff.’ Marth recalls how much effort it took Brady to mend even a moderate slash by the end of it all. “Frederick, could you get some broth made for her? Just broth, nothing else.”

“At once, milady.” He strides so quickly out of the room that Marth only registers the door closing before he notices he is already gone.

“I never saw anyone is such a horrible state than her.” Lissa’s magic has already done their job, further cementing just how talented she is as a Cleric. The perky princess is now cleaning up what she can of the half-Manakete, “Oh, I bet your hair is wonderful when it’s clean.” She giggles, but her statement sends a chill down Marth’s spine, ‘Now that she mentions it, I never seen Nah without some sort of dirt caked onto her. Her hair was always looked a bit greasy.’ It’s a strange detail, considering how much she cares for her books. ‘She takes more care of her books than of herself.’

What did she go through in their timeline?

Nah’s recovery went very slowly, Lucina could tell the half-Manakete was malnourished, but it wasn’t until Lissa went over the specifics for her to understand just how bad of a state she was in. The Cleric was genuinely surprised Nah was even alive. “Sadly, that means she has grown used to being like that.” The very idea of Nah consistently in a state of starvation twisted Luc… Marth’s gut. ‘She said that Grima isn’t the worst. She claims that there are people more evil than he. I kind of get it now.’ It still made no sense, this isn’t something Robin or Nowi would do, ‘Did Nah just… not live with them?’ “It’s going to be a long time before I can clear her for travel, I think.” The Cleric admits. “I know how you are with not staying and all, but…” She taps her staff.

“You’re right, I can’t.” She admits, “But I can also go with the knowledge that Nah is in the best hands for the job.” She offers a smile.

“Believe me, I want to stay, but…” Marth’s heart drops, “King Gangrel is holding Maribelle hostage, the Shepherds and I are going to free her.” She looks away, “I can’t be in both places at once and the Shepherds need me, too.”

“I… understand.” So, Nah is going to be in the hands of the castle staff, ‘She’ll be fine, they’re trained to be the best, anyway.’ Marth levels a look at her, “You trust the staff though, don’t you?”

She nods, her mood lightens, “Of course, I’m going to make sure she gets our best, she needs it.”

Marth’s heart settles, “Good.” She looks at Nah once more, the infections are gone, she has a new outfit, color is returning to her skin, ‘All she really needs is a new Dragonstone.’ Marth gets up, “I’ll take my leave then, there is still so much I need to do.” She hesitates before actually leaving, “And when she gets better, if you can, get her a Dragonstone. I give you my personal recommendation that she is a talented fighter.”

“You fought with her?” Lissa gasps, “You betcha, I’ll see what I can do!” With the Cleric’s smile embedded in her memory, Marth leaves the castle again. She needs to distance herself again before the cracks show.

Mar… Lucina barely even made it to her previous campsite before the Shepherds were already marching out. They never really get a good break in, it seems like there is a fight for them after every corner. She watches them from a distance, holding back the urge to throw her facade away and run into her father’s arms. “Gods…” She tears her eyes away and resumes on her own path, alone.

Chapter Text

Sleep never came easily for Nah. Not since being shoved into the hands of her adoptive family on that farm. With both of her mothers gone and her brother missing, for the first time, she truly felt alone. She spent Naga knows how long there, every day she spent there just blurs together. Truth be told, the coming of Grima was a welcome reprieve. That day was the day she could leave that accursed place.

No other memory inspired such terror in her than those. Day in and day out, she was on the receiving end of insults, beatings, starvation, and exhaustion. The only times she could obtain the serenity of sleep was either through collapsing from exhaustion, but that had to happen at nighttime, or else the ‘father’ would force her awake again. The other, and more dreaded way, was if she made too much sound at night, and that was defined of anyone woke up for any reason other than the toilet. The ‘father’ would all but tear through the house and either beat or choke her until she passed out.

So, it's no wonder she actually praised the day Grima returned and his Risen overran the farm, giving her the taste of freedom. She took that and ran, adrenaline fueled her near constant sprint to Ylisstol. Yet, she didn't even need to go that far, as she encountered Lucina and the remaining Shepherds along the way. They all immediately assumed she had just been on the run, so she found no reason to share…

Not even when her brother showed up. Nobody wants that type of information.

She traveled with them, savoring the long desired companionship of the others. It wasn't enough to dispel her memories, but it was enough to keep them at bay. Even when they reached Mount Prism, when Grima landed in front of them, in that moment, she had no regrets, if she were to die, then she would rather go down with everyone else.

But the Fell Dragon didn't fight, he simply claimed to have a conversation with Lucina and when she denied him, he left. Cynthia’s pegasus was the only one that died. Lucina went through the Awakening and ended up taking them back in time…

Where Nah ended up alone in a forest. With no one to comfort her, she fell back into her old routine, eating random berries, twigs, even dirt. She washed in whatever water she could find, her clothes became more tattered, her Dragonstone became more depleted. Yet she pushed on, in the increasingly vain hope that she would find someone.

She did, on her worst day, she knew she was close to dying, but she picked up Lucina’s scent. She approached her, but the woman claimed she was Marth. The fool’s idea to keep history from changing too much. All she really did was made herself a stranger to her own allies. All she did was kill off Nah’s only beacon of hope she found in days.

So she lashed out when the ‘Hero-King’ asked if she was okay. She remembered getting really angry, then sick, before it all went into a haze and she lost consciousness.

-------------------------------------------------------

When Nah finally woke up again, she was in some sort of high quality clinic, the smell of herbs and other medicinal products filled the room. However, that isn't what caught her attention…

Lucina wasn't there, nobody she recognised was there, they were all just the castle’s staff. Why did Lucina leave her alone? Was Nah not worth her time? Or was she too focused on ‘saving the future’ that she forgoes tending to her troops personally? Nah let out a scream, as much as her damaged throat would let her. ‘She left me behind!’ Some of the staff went to her, but she backed away, falling off of the cot.

“Get away.” She warned them, her Dragonstone glows dimly. She won't be able to stay in her dragon form for long. “Don't touch me.”

They halt, but show no signs of leaving, “We’re under princess Lissa’s orders, Nah.” One of them has the nerve to…

To… Nah shrinks back at the mere sight of his face, ‘He looks like a younger version of the ‘father’.’ The half-Manakete snarls, ‘But I have my Dragonstone this time.’ “Stay away.” She warns her future abuser.

“We’re here to help you.” He dares takes another step.

“No,” She shakes her head, her Dragonstone is glowing as bright as it can, but that isn’t saying much, since a basic fireball can produce more light. “You won’t hurt me, I won’t let you.” Her sight wavers as she focuses on her near depleted Stone.

“Hurt?” He repeats out of shock, “Miss Nah, please, I assu…”

“Shut up!” She snaps, “You will pay for what you have done to me !” The room around her fades as it is just the ‘father’ and her. The familiar comforting glow of shifting envelopes her. The man is shouting something, but his body is frozen in fear, he seems so much smaller after she shifts. She feels her form faltering already, ‘No, not until he pays.’ She pushes through the pain, summoning her inner fire will cost too much, but simply skewering him is too good. A single dark thought passes by and she makes her decision. Nah opens her maw and snaps it around him, skillfully avoiding most of his body, his feet and arms are snapped off. She tilts her head back and forces him down quickly, before her Stone shatters. No scholar has ever provided an explanation why a Manakete in dragon form can eat its fill, but not turn into a balloon when they shift back…

She doesn’t care, as long as the ‘father’ takes a long time to die, to suffer, then she’s fine. She feels the discomfort of swallowing a live target as he continues to struggle on his way down to his final destination. She sucks down a near mouthful of saliva to help him on his way. It isn’t until she feels him squirming in her stomach that she stops pushing herself, the Dragonstone shatters after she shifts back, its power is spent. Nah lets out an undignified burp, letting the last of the air escape her, sealing the fate of the ‘father’.

She then cries out as something bites into her, the room around her returns and she sees almost an entire platoon of guards surrounding her. “Don’t move.” What she assumes is the commander states.

She shrugs and complies, as long as the future threat dies, she doesn’t care. She raises her arms and lets them shackle her. ‘I’m not coughing him back up.’ Besides, his protests have stopped, it’s too late to save him.

Nah is placed into a jail cell, apparently she will be held prisoner until the Exalt and the Shepherds return. It’s clear they want her executed, but what they don’t know is she has already experienced events worse than death. She isn’t afraid of the axe, she isn’t afraid of Grima. As long as she never has to return to that farm, she won’t ever fear of anything again. The half-Manakete curls up on the rock bed, so she can sleep off the rest of the meal, and to be honest, he was the most filling meal she had in months. Her eyes close as she drifts to sleep, with her tormentor gone, she can finally get some rest.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
She opens her eyes and looks around, she seems to no longer be in that cell, but rather a room. Completely made of wood and it just feels…

Wrong, she shrinks back and bumps into the wall, ‘I shouldn’t be here!’ There’s no doubt in her mind that this is the ‘father’s’ room. ‘Gods, if his sons find out I am here… and that I killed him.’ She trembles in place and moves to leave, but her eyes catch a stain on a chair. ‘Even if I didn’t make that stain, they’ll blame me anyway… and I don’t have my Dragonstone anymore.’ She scrambles over to the chair and starts rubbing it with her fingers, since there isn’t anything else she can use. ‘Please, go away.’ Her rubbing becomes more frantic as she applies some saliva on it, in hopes to make it easier. ‘Please, wash off.’

The stain stubbornly stays, like it’s mocking her. This is something she needs to remove, so she rubs even harder… and it grows larger. ‘No, no no no.’ Seeing that only fuels her panicked state, her fingers sting as she applies even more force, the stain only seems to get worse. ‘Please, please, go away.’ She switches fingers, and at first it seems to work, but then it grows even more. ‘NO! Why won’t it go away?’

The door opens and she freezes in place, but what she sees isn’t one of the sons… but the ‘mother’ of the family. ‘But, she died.’ Nah could only observe from the window as the only kind soul in that house took her last breath. “Momma?” She cries out, wanting to believe what she sees.

‘Mother’ hesitates, but then she smiles, “Nah?” She sounds uncertain. ‘I’m in the past, so this is before she dies. She doesn’t know me, either.’

“Momma!” Nah throws herself at the woman, half-expecting her to be an illusion, but no. She’s real, she’s back. Somehow she’s back! “Please don’t leave me again. Th-they always hit me when you’re gone.” She never spoke of those things to her, but ‘Mother’ knew. “I tried to be a good girl like you wanted me to, but it was so hard.”

“Shh…” Her voice coos as she strokes the young half-Manakete’s hair. “You’re safe now.” A pause, “Care to tell me what happened earlier?”

Nah grips ‘Mother’s’ dress tighter, “I… ate him.” She admits, suddenly feeling extremely guilty, “I finally got my Dragonstone back and… he showed up, I got really angry, then I ate him.”

“Gods…” ‘Mother’ sighs.

“Please don’t leave me again.” Nah repeats again and again, until her tears tire her out.

“Are you sleepy?” She asks, her tone as gentle as ever. All Nah could offer is a nod, “Would you like to sleep with… momma for a while?” Again, she sounds hesitant, like she’s unsure of herself. Nah nods again and she feels ‘Mother’s’ arms wrap around her, securing her, she holds her in a cradle position. Nah buries her face in her ‘Mother’s’ dress.

For the first time since her parents’ disappearance, she feels safe.

Chapter Text

When the Shepherds returned with the Exalt, Maribelle, and Ricken in tow, the castle was in an uproar. The main rumor is that a wild animal made its way into the castle and ate one of the workers. Chrom doubted such a thing, how could an animal sneak in? And it would have to be quite large to down one of the staff in a single go. Miriel wasn’t able to provide anything concrete from rumor alone, Robin seems just as baffled, Frederick said something about increasing guard count, surveying the surrounding area, and even suggesting a size restraint placed on any household pets. Chrom only approved of the survey.

“Tch, some commoner probably fed it.” Maribelle scoffs.

“Something large…” Lissa’s eyes glaze over the castle as a horrid thought crosses her mind.

“Lissa, darling?” Her best friend’s voice grabs her attention, “Your face paled, is something the matter?”

“Haha…” She nervously tries to laugh it off, “Oh, don’t mind me. We can’t go assuming the worst, right? It’s obvious that a guard just missed their post, that’s all. Yup, nothing else.” The prim and proper woman lets the matter drop, but telling from her gaze alone said she didn’t believe a word Lissa said.

“Exalt.” A guard rushes towards Emmeryn, before kneeling, “I humbly request your presence, there is a matter that needs your attention.”

The ever kind ruler nods, “Of course. Chrom, Lissa, please excuse me.” She takes her leave, seemingly radiating peace around her. A peace that does nothing to stave off the sinking feeling growing in Lissa’s stomach. ‘Nah wouldn’t… would she?’ A number of scenarios ran through her mind, by no means did the princess want to leave the critically injured Manakete alone, but she had no choice. To stay there would deprive the Shepherds of their only healer. Marth assured her that once she recovered, Nah would be a valuable unit, but with how damaged she was, perhaps the wounds were more than physical?

Then she remembered something Marth said, it didn’t seem too important at the time, ‘Marth said Nah started talking, referring to her… youth?’ Lissa’s heartbeat slowed, ‘Gods, she must have experienced something traumatic… and I didn’t tell the castle staff about it.’

“Lissa?” This time it’s Robin’s voice that frees her from her thoughts, “I’m no healer, but you look under the weather. Your face went almost white.”

“I… need to go and check up on Nah.” She bolts away, not caring to send even a single farewell.

“...Nah?” Robin echoes, “What’s a Nah?” She looks at the others.

“Oh, uh…” Chrom starts, “Marth arrived back at the castle before the sun rose with a dying girl in her arms. She said her name is Nah and we left her in Lissa’s care, who had to leave her duties to the staff.” He crosses his arms, “She’s in good hands, Lissa is the only person in Ylisse who is better than the royal healers.” Maribelle gives a refined and polite cough, “Maribelle and Lissa are the only two people in Ylisse who are better than the royal healers.” He amends his statement.

“I do agree.” The Troubadour smiles, “Now, I should make sure my dear Lissa won’t have to get her nails dirty.” She’s the next to walk off.

“So… Nah is her name?” Robin’s mouth twitches upward, “What in Naga’s name was going through her parents’ heads?”
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lissa arrives to one of her most dreaded internal outcomes, the clinic is not holding Nah. “Where is she?” The princess asks the nearest healer.

“Princess Lissa,” A different one addresses her, “Nah…” The healer stops, looking rather sick.

“She claimed our lead cleric was going to harm her.” A third one speaks up, “Nah also claimed that he hurt her in the past and will hurt her in the future.”

“And? What did she do?” Lissa has the distinct feeling she already knows the answer, especially when some of the best healers’ faces start to turn colors at the mere thought of answering her question.

“She turned into a dragon and swallowed him whole.” It took several minutes, but the first one answers, “Only his feet and arms were spared.”

“Gods…” Lissa’s stomach revolts at the thought. “And? Where is she now?” It’s her fault, she should have pried for information from Marth, she should have told the staff.

“In the dungeons.” She replies, “She let herself be taken by the guards.”

“Thank you!” Lissa gives them her best smile and turns to leave the room. After she opens the door and takes a few steps, she rams into a sudden wall. “Owie…”

“Lissa, darling?” Maribelle’s voice sounds out, who then helps her best friend up, “Do watch where you’re going.”

“Sorry, but I need to hurry.” The Troubadour’s face shows pure concern, but Lissa pushes past it and makes her way to the dungeons, in hope of somehow comforting the Manakete. Once down in the dungeons, she rounds on the guard at the entrance gate, “Where’s Nah? She’s a Manakete.”

“Exalt Emmeryn had recently taken her,” He calmly replies, “I… overheard her saying something about taking a nap together?”

“Thank you!” Once more she darts out, praying to Naga that her big sister’s peaceful nature is keeping Nah from… “Ow!” And for a second time, she runs into Maribelle.

“Lissa, would you please tell me what’s troubling you?” She helps the Cleric up, “Running around the castle without a care for what’s around you. Is there something I can do? Is it this ‘Nah’?”

Lissa takes a breath, then nods, “I was in the clinic when Frederick came in with a small girl in his arms. She looked so horrible, scratches, infections, malnutrition, and so many more things. She was so close to dying!”

“I see…” Maribelle nods.

“But as I was healing her, Marth came in, she told me something that I didn’t really think about. She said that Nah was mumbling things about her ‘youth’ on her way here.”

“I thought you said Frederick came in with her?” She points out.

The Cleric nods, “Well, Frederick was the one that came in, but apparently Marth carried her all the way from the woods. Anyway, I took care of the worst of it before I had to leave with the others and well… now we’re back here.”

“May I ask why you ran to the dungeons, then? Is she a criminal?” Her question is innocent enough.

“Oh, I forgot to mention she’s a Manakete,” The detail just popped in, “And I fear she might have…” Lissa trails off, leaving her worries unspoken.

“I see…” Thankfully, she picks up on the unsaid portion. “And where are you off to, now?” The Troubadour seems satisfied and Lissa frankly feels better on telling her the concerns that had been eating her up.

“Big sister’s room, the gate guard told me he heard something about her taking a nap with Nah.”

“Then let us go together.” She offers, “I’m sure the Exalt is safe.” With that, Lissa walks with her, already feeling so much calmer with her best friend by her side.

“Hey, Maribelle,” She starts, “Thank you, that really helped me.”

“Anytime.” She replies with a smile.

The trip was mostly silent, but Lissa’s mind was anything but quiet, she needs to get to her sister, to make sure everything is okay, to… “We’re here.” The Cleric didn’t realize it until the words left her mouth. “Big sister?” She gently knocks on the door.

“Lissa?” Her voice is quiet, before the door opens, “I take it you are here to see Nah?” She smiles.

Lissa looks past her sister as the door opens, Nah is sleeping soundly on the Exalt’s bed, looking more at peace than she has seen anyone. “Well, and you too.” She finally replies, “I’m glad you are both okay.”

A frown forms for the shortest of time, “Physically she’s fine. But her mind seems to be far from reality, she claims the lead cleric was… or will be her ‘father’. When I arrived to her cell, she claimed I ‘will’ be her ‘momma’.”

“Gods,” Lissa sighs, “I had the feeling the damage was more than skin deep, but I didn’t think…”

“You are still learning.” She offers her best smile, “I’m going to work on making sure his family is…”

“I’ll do it!” The Cleric offers, “Nah was under my care first, it’s only right that I do this.” She can feel the approval from both her sister and her best friend, who remains silent.

“You have matured so much.” The Exalt nods, “Very well, I will at least remain here until she wakes up and we’ll go from there.” With that, the Cleric makes her way out to find out just who the lead cleric had for family, her best friend always by her side.

Marth might have given her recommendation as a fighter, but does she know about Nah’s mental health? She has done so much for Ylisse and the Shepherds, it seems absurd she would willingly do something like that. ‘There’s something bigger going on here.’ Lissa isn’t sure what it is, but she knows something is off.

Chapter Text

The discovery of Nah being the one who ate the lead cleric unsettled the Shepherds, but at least they managed to prevent it from going public. The Manakete was clearly suffering from extreme emotional distress, as she keeps insisting the Exalt is her ‘momma’ and that the lead cleric was her ‘father’. Nah is usually seen clinging onto Emmeryn’s dress, as if letting go will kill her. A number of the Shepherds have attempted in consoling her, in hopes of working out what eats away at Nah’s mental health, but nobody who volunteers can seem to get through to her, if they can even get her to talk.

Robin intends on being the one who can see through her. She just needs to read through body language, specific words, like Miriel did. Miriel made the most progress, before her knack for complicated words drove her away. “Good luck, Robin.” Chrom smiles at her, something far more than the normal friendly gesture.

“Thank you, Chrom.” She knows he is falling for her, but even he doesn’t seem to realize it, so she doesn’t bring it up. There’s no need, perhaps if she deflects his advances, he’ll find someone else. Someone who isn’t the tactician… who doesn’t waltz around in a Grimleal robe, whose tanned skin shows off her Plegian heritage. Despite earning the trust of every Shepherd, despite showing that her allegiance is to Ylisse, there are still those who doubt her… who demean her. She stopped traveling to any Ylissean town alone, the first time she did someone mugged her, it was only through the grace of Stahl that she got her gold back. The one time she entered a restaurant alone, she was charged an outrageous price, some vendors even outright deny her gold.

All of this and more has slowly chipped away at her own mental security while slowly igniting a fire that burns away any good will for Ylisse. She started a habit of locking herself away in whatever place she can shove her books in, completely convinced that no matter what she accomplishes, the people of Ylisse will forever hate her. She never brought it up to any Shepherd, her stubborn nature demands she fix it herself, ‘Besides, Plegians don’t complain,’ but she lacks the tact to talk to people politely. The harsh reality of being the ‘Greatest Tactician’ demands she acts coldly, so she can make the calls required for victory, a trait that has bled into her social life. She speaks her mind without considering feelings… she can’t consider feelings. With that, she has made a truth for herself.

She’s a lost cause. As long as she lives in Ylisse, she won’t ever find happiness, she won’t marry, or know the joy of having children, like almost all of the other women in the Shepherds will. Even Sully entertains the idea more than her. She’s an outsider in a place that despises her kind and she will be forever reminded of that fact. She’s done trying to convince everyone, she decides it’s better if she just locks herself away reading her books. As long as the ‘cursed Plegian’ is out of sight, then Ylisse can continue as normal.

There is a part of her that calls out for Plegia, despite not remembering most of it, but traveling with the Shepherds has knocked a few things loose, at least. She remembers the heat, that fact came when Lissa pointed out her wearing her cloak with a sweater underneath, ‘Ylisse is too cold.’ Non-Plegians would complain about the unrelenting heat, the dryness, almost no greenery, but those are the things she wants again. ‘Plegia is the harshest of mistresses, but she isn’t unfair.’ Plegia makes her inhabitants resilient.

Another thing she remembers is the warmth of a person, though the body and name alludes her. She knows that this person cares for her, probably even loves her, she can clearly recall the times they spent side by side in bed, ‘But this person is just a haze, a distorted figure…’ Her heart aches from this missing person. ‘Maybe… they’re dead? Is that why I ran?’

She was so lost in thought that she didn’t realize she was at her destination before her face smacked into the door, doing one of the most painful knocks one could ever perform. “Ow…” Another reminder of how different she is as her nose bleeds. Physically speaking, she’s weak, more so than Miriel. Her magic is a spark compared to the likes of said mage and Ricken. All she has is her tactics, the only thing keeping the Shepherds from kicking her out.

“Hello?” The voice of who she assumes is Nah calls out.

“I’ve come to talk.” She flinches at her own response, ‘Be nice, be nice.’ Robin half-expected for Nah to dismiss her from the sheer coldness.

“R-Robin?” The door cracks open, showing a Manakete who looks even smaller and weaker than her. ‘But she can actually fight, given she has a Dragonstone.’ Part of Robin burns with jealousy, but it quickly changes to surprise as Nah pulls her into a hug and starts crying into her robe. ‘Well then.’

“Uh, Nah?” The girl continues to cry, “Pull yourself together!” Once more the cold nature returns, and again she expected Nah to push her away.

Yet she pulled her into the room, like she’s used to Robin’s way of talking. The door closes and the girl half her size has no trouble pulling her to the bed, “Don’t leave me again.” The statement startles her, ‘That’s the same thing she apparently told the Exalt.’ How far gone is Nah? That she’s now seeing Robin as her ‘momma’?

“Would you explain yourself?” She spits out as Nah pushes her onto the bed and is now curled up next to her, calming down instantly.

“...time.” Is all Robin could make out, her voice is so small. “...know me.”

“Nah!” The Tactician is losing grip on her patience, her carefully tailored plan unravels as the Manakete’s behaviour continues to baffle her.

“Mother.” She grips her robe tighter, “Where’s mommy, Mother?”

Now she is getting confused, “The Exalt isn’t here right now. Why are you calling me ‘Mother’?!” Her harshness is stuck, she can’t find the will to be nice. ‘This is getting ridiculous!’

She feels Nah shake her head, “You’re ‘Mother’, Nowi’s ‘Mommy’, future farm woman is ‘Momma’.”

Robin is now at a loss for words, “That makes no damn sense!” She snaps.

Nah flinches at her outburst, her attitude shifting again, “I’m sorry, please don’t hit me!” She backs away, “Please don’t be like… him.”

“Explain yourself. How am I your mother? Who’s Nowi? Why are you calling the Exalt a farmer?” Nah seems to calm down and her eyes are glistening.

“Oh, right.” She seems to have remembered something, “None of that has happened yet.”

“Come again?” Is she claiming to be a far-seer like Marth? And if she is, how is she even alive? She can’t be here if… if… “You’re from the future?” It’s an absurd idea, but it’s the only explanation she can think of.

Nah nods and smiles, “I knew you would figure it out, Mother.”

But even with her approval, she rejects the idea, “Nobody wants me, Nah. I can’t be your Mother if I’m not with anyone.” She narrows her eyes, “Ylisseans hate me, the Shepherds are the only reason I’m not being attacked on sight.”

“...You haven’t met Mommy yet.” She says as she crawls back up to Robin. “Mommy loves Mother.”

“Hold on, no. No no no.” She repeats, becoming even more confused, “You’re saying I became pregnant from a woman? Gods, you really are damaged.”

“Mommy gave birth to me, and you had my brother.” She seems unbothered again.

Robin shakes her head, “Listen, you are obviously still recovering, so just go to sleep…”

Nah flinches again, her eyes widen and she covers herself in the bed, “I’m going to sleep, please. Just give me a few minutes.” Robin gets up, her patience depleted, “Come on body, sleep, please…” She hears Nah whisper to herself. ‘What in the gods’ name is wrong with her?’ The Tactician leaves the room, pushing any thoughts about Nah behind her. ‘That was a complete waste of time.’

Chapter Text

The difference was immediate, Robin noted as she and the Shepherds traveled the deserts of Plegia, and it wasn’t just the heat. ‘But by the gods did I miss it.’ Ylisse always felt too cold, even during the brightest of days. Plegia felt nice, to her at least, the rest made complaints about the ‘relentless sun’, but no, that isn’t the biggest thing, she could travel alone to towns again, they welcomed her, treated her nicely, even discounts rolled her way. It was literally the opposite of the people in Ylisse. Her mood went up from the constant treatment from town to town.

A mood that always soured when she had to travel again, hearing the endless non-verbal complaints about how the Plegians were ‘rude’, the sun is too ‘hot’, how can ‘they’ survive here. ‘They are too pampered with Ylisse, it’s no wonder their military had such trouble with Plegia.’ Robin traveled with her cloak on, the combination of it and the sun gave her a comforting warmth, a temperature that is just right. She wants more time here, to go from town to town, enjoy her time with her homeland…

But they weren’t here on a leisure trip, Gangrel had his dirty hands on the Exalt. Despite being Plegian, Robin detested the Mad King as much as any other Ylissean, he was simply unfit to rule. However, if her plan goes smoothly and the Shepherds return to Ylisse, one of the first things she’ll do is return here. ‘Perhaps it’s good I had that amnesia, so I can experience how great Plegia is all over again.’ She takes a breath of the air, it’s hot, slightly humid, and a grain or two of sand accompanies it, ‘Perfect.’

However, being the only one used to it meant she was also the source of their information, ‘thankfully’ her amnesia didn’t cause her to forget crucial details, like spotting a mound of sand that looks like the others, but is actually a hidden stash that the locals would use to deposit spare water or dried rations. She warned them to not take too much, it’s meant for the locals, everyone else has to deal with the scarce resources. ‘Plegia simply cannot sustain Ylisse’s population.’ Where Ylisse had numbers, Plegia had power, the smaller quantity lead to better quality. Plegians were naturally tough, resilient… which makes it all the stranger why Robin felt so weak. Was she sent away? Perhaps her memories were sealed so she wouldn’t return? Why bother? It’s not like they casted a spell to change her origin. Did she have a family?

“Hahahaha!” A cackle is heard from the distance, the other Shepherds couldn’t see him, but Robin could, with her eyes naturally accustomed to the sandy environment. The grains of sand did nothing to inhibit her, but more importantly, mirages meant nothing, she could be on her last legs, but she wouldn’t be fooled by her mind. “Grimleal, get them! Bring Chrom’s head to me!” Robin and the mad Grimleal leader shared a look, his face practically screams, ‘I’m evil!’

Robin scoffs, another waste of a life, but more importantly, Plegia had no room for such people, he needed to be killed, so that he wouldn’t waste her homeland’s precious resources. “Shepherds, ready yourselves!” Chrom shouts out, now that the Grimleal are within their eyesight.

------------------------------------------------

They suffered more injuries than normal, but thankfully no deaths. Robin is the only one who came out unscathed, the rest are obviously hindered by the land. At least, most were simply injured…

Lon’qu is pale beyond measure, his breathing is hoarse, out of all the Shepherds, he’s dealing with the heat the worst, being raised in a land almost always covered in snow is showing. Yet, he trekked on without complaints this whole time…

If he were Plegian, Robin would have found him attractive. Well that and if didn't have his phobia of women. Regardless, the man is dying and the closest town is the last one they went to, over a day ago. She knows that it'll be even longer before they encounter another one of they continue forward though.

“We need to get him to a town, we’re…” Lissa starts.

“Pointless,” Robin interrupts her, “We've to turn around, there aren't any more for three days at the least.”

“Do you remember this area?” Chrom asks.

She shakes her head, “No, and I don't need to. See those?” She gestures towards a plant that only grows in Plegia, “It's a cactus, reinforced with magic, planted by the locals. It means that there are no sources of life. They plant those as a means to safely travel these distances.”

“But, that means…” Lissa frowns.

“He'll live.” Robin makes her way towards the plant, “I did say they are magical.” She reaches into her bag and pulls out a necessity any Plegian traveling the desert has, a thick leather glove. “But I need to make sure this one is ready.”

“It looks like the rest.” Miriel walks closer. “Literally exactly…”

Robin scoffs, “Yes, they look the same,” She touches a spine on the top side of one of the arms of the cactus, it bends, “Paper like, this one regrew recently.” She goes to the other arm and repeats, “Tougher, but it bends too easy.” Miriel stays behind and pokes the spines as the Plegian rushes to another. “Close, it's strong, but brittle.”

“Why do the spines matter?!” Lissa asks, “No, come on, breathe.’ Her attention returns to the unconscious man.

“I'll explain… ow!” She smiles, “Perfect, tough as steel.” She gets a good grip on the arm, “Someone, cut this off.” Chrom is the first there, “Near the base.” She adds and the Lord does just that. “Good, almost done.” She sticks the severed cactus in the ground, the closed end in the sand, “One more thing.” She starts digging a small hole around it, “Okay, the recent sandstorms have been favorable.” She channels some old Plegian magic into it, causing a gust of near freezing air to rush out. “Now, finally. Bring him here.” Robin puts the cactus arm in the ground. “Scoop some out and have him drink it.”

“Alright, you're the local, here.” Lissa dips an empty water skin into it, then pours some into the man's mouth.

The effects are instantaneous, he coughs, but his eyes open and he already looks better, “Get all the water we can carry, its magic won't last long in the sun.” With her advice out, the Shepherds fill their own pouches. “Now then, I'll gladly explain on the way.”

Chapter Text

Tharja would be telling a huge lie if she said Plegia felt as warm as it should,  the Dark Mage even got to the point where she actually wore more clothes to deal with the lack of heat. Plegia isn’t meant to be even remotely cold, just intense repressive heat all year around, but that’s something Plegians are used to… that is how she likes it. So, imagine her surprise when Robin just so happened to pop up in the rescue party for Ylissean’s Exalt. However, she looked miserable , Tharja knew that something horrible happened to her friend. Her smile was gone, her form was more rigid, she seemed so cold.

She had to fix that, so she broke rank and called out her name. It seemed to have taken Robin a moment, but when she realized who was running towards her, ‘That smile.’ The Plegian sun intensified once more as Tharja took her place by Robin’s side. “I missed you.” She whispered into her ear, “The sun has lost its bite when you vanished.” She wanted to hold her like she used to, but there was a battle to be won, and with Robin by her side, they would win. No, they would dominate like they always did. She knew Robin always had a talent for tactics, but all of her vocal orders were for those Ylisseans, Tharja needed no orders, she just knew. She had a bond with the Grimleal-raised Tactician that no one else could claim.

“I hadn’t realized what I was missing until I returned to Plegia,” She starts when she had a moment to talk, “I suffered… Chrom and Virion, Wyverns!” Even now, she could cast spells, give orders, and hold a conversation, she is more than they deserve, “amnesia when I woke up in the fields of Ylisse.”

“You’re back, that’s all that matters.” However, Robin did not return that particular smile, “You… aren’t staying?”

“Not until the Mad King dies. Surely you understand that he does not deserve to live.” She has point, she always does.

“He is a waste of resources.” Tharja nods, “Nosferatu!” The commander of the Plegian forces drops like a rock, “Satisfied, Robin?”

“Dark Magic was always your strong point.” Robin smiles, the smile that makes the sun burn brighter, “Of course, it’s good to have you back.”

“And tactics yours.” She compliments, “How much have you remembered?” She needs to know if Robin remembers… them. If she knows what they had, if they can still be what she said they would be so many years ago.

“Tactics, surviving Plegia’s harsh environment,” She pauses, “Some of the history lessons still stuck, and you.”

Her eyes light up, “Do you remember what we promised each other?”

Her smile drops, “I’m… sorry, but no.” She looks away, ashamed, “I know it’s something important, but.” her gaze returns to Tharja, “Don’t tell me, I want to remember…”

“On your own,” The Dark Mage finishes for her, “You were always more stubborn than steel. It’s okay, I can wait.”

“...Robin!” Chrom’s voice cuts through the conversation, the man is desperately looking at the Tactician.

Risen with bows surround a number of Pegasus Knights, who Tharja assumes are the ones meant to rescue Emmeryn, she looks back at Robin. She can practically see her process hundreds of methods on the spot, but she shakes her head. ‘There are some things even my Robin can’t save you from, fool.’ Personally, they don’t deserve her, she’s far beyond the Ylisseans. Sure, she may lack the visible fortitude most Plegians have, she may lack the darker skin tone too, but all of that is made up in her tactics.

Tharja expected him to lash out, or call her a liar, but he accepts it. The man looks ready to bolt the second he can, and it wasn’t until the Exalt splattered against the ground that the Risen vanished. Gangrel’s sick laughter filled the air, ‘Nothing but a waste of resources.’ Plegia can’t sustain nearly as much as Ylisse can, which is why her homeland has taken to assaulting Ylisse.

It isn’t out of spite, or even revenge for what Chrom’s father did, it’s simply survival. It’s subtle, but the ancient magic casted by the founders of Plegia is fading. Without that magic anchored in the ground, the precious cacti will break down, preventing any long distance travel, anyone who lives on the far side will die, and it will be a mercy if it comes from starvation or dehydration. The smart ones will end their own lives, because there is a death far worse than those…

The sandstorms. However, these aren’t normal weather patterns, the very magic that sustains this barren country, that infuses their precious cacti, is the same magic that causes sandstorms to become so deadly, it was an unforeseen consequence. But it’s something that the people won’t undo, they need the magic in the lands, so they just adapted.

“Mark my words, I will make every last damn Plegian pay !” Chrom’s vicious proclamation sends Tharja on edge.

“Chr-Chrom?” Beside her, Robin shakes, her breathing has become shorter and unshed tears sting her eyes.

“Um, brother?” She hears Lissa ask.

The man turns around, then notices Robin and Tharja, “Oh… gods, I didn’t…”

“Have you forgotten who else is a ‘damn Plegian’?!” Robin screamed… she actually screamed. Tharja has never seen her lose her temper, she has came close, sure, but never actually lost control.

“Robin…” The Dark Mage coos at her, in an attempt to calm her old friend down.

The Tactician seems to remember herself, and takes a breath. “I worked my ass off for you, I took the brunt of your people’s hostilities, all in the hope that maybe, just maybe I would be accepted!” It dawns on Tharja what has been nagging at her, ‘Ylisseans had mistreated her.’ Robin was still talking, but a rage boils in Tharja, to see her friend so distraught... ‘She did have a knack for being a bit too willing to help.’

“I swear, I…” The fool tries to apologize.

“Find someone else to lead your people.” Robin snears, “Come, Tharja.”

“Of course.” She starts to walk, but then notices a shift in the distance, “Robin…”

“Yes?” Her tone quickly becomes friendly.

“Do you remember the Old Magic?” She asks.

“Some, like chilling the magic near a cactus, why?” Robin truly doesn’t notice the signs?

“Sandstorm.” Tharja simply replies, “Don’t worry, I can keep you safe.” Tharja’s aptitude for magic far surpasses Robin’s. “I should at least tell them, death by sandstorm is one of the worst ways to go.”

“...You’re right.” She concedes, “Only a Burial Worm would be worse.”

“Find shelter.” Tharja warns them, “A sandstorm comes, perhaps if you move quickly, you can form a wall with those bricks.” A last bit of advice, only a madman like Gangrel would wish such a death on someone. Every Plegian fears dying in a sandstorm, in fact, if a traveling Plegian doesn’t know how to cast the Old Magic, they would use their self-defense daggers to end their own lives. Better to have a quick and clean death, than experience the feeling of having your skin torn off… to have the sand rip through your entire body. Or even worse, survive that and have the Plegian sun boil you alive.

Tharja and Robin love their homeland, but Plegia is the harshest of all the mistresses, the weak have no place here. “We should get as much distance as we can.” Robin states. “But, where do we go?”

“You… don’t remember your home, either?” Tharja asks, receiving a ‘no’ along with Robin shaking her head. “I could take you to mine, then.” Her heartbeat increases, it’s been so long since she had Robin to herself like this.

“That sounds nice… I need to collect myself, anyway.” She offers her hand, to which Tharja eagerly takes, ‘She’s colder than normal.’ “You’re so warm…” Robin smiles.

“No, your own fire isn’t burning as hot as normal.” She counters, despite the flush forming, “You have returned recently, right? Your body must still be adjusting.”

The Tactician shrugs, “I guess, I just know I was freezing to death in Ylisse, I had to sleep with everything on, in addition to throwing extra blankets on me… and don’t get me started on Regna Ferox.”

“You went there?!” Tharja is nothing less than surprised, “And lived?”

“Must be my stubborness.” She looks back at the ruins, “And it happened the other way around, too. They have a sword-wielder from Regna Ferox with them here, he somehow managed to push himself here.”

“Hold.” She stops and starts to draw runes with a special powder, something that won’t fly away when the sandstorm hits, “I need to start now.” Robin lets go of her hand and Tharja works quickly, “The closer you are, the less magic I’ll need to sustain this.”

“Now?” She asks.

“Now.” A hum of magic fills the air and the invisible shield forms, Robin latches onto to Tharja, burying her entire body to her form. Tharja wraps one arm around her friend and raises the other against the fast-approaching sandstorm. “Hold tight.” With that last piece, the initial wave of sandstorm hits, the magic-infused grains of sand pounds against the shield, ‘Something is wrong, this doesn't feel like the typical magical sandstorm… Gangrel, you are playing with magic that shouldn’t be used. Mad Fool.’

Chapter Text

Something went horribly wrong, had Lucina interfered too much? The Shepherds were missing a number of people when they left the Plegian Deserts. Nowi, Gregor, Tharja, and Robin were all absent, they didn’t… die, did they? No, that is impossible, not all of them. And what about Nah? Was she so injured that even over a week’s worth of rest wasn’t enough? She wanted to run out and ask, but that would likely lead to her blowing her cover. Regardless, their next destination should be in a plains bordering Ylisse and Plegia, perhaps she should spend that time to at least check up on Nah. ‘There is something terribly wrong.’

She arrives to Ylisstol to see it in a state of mourning, and who they’re mourning causes her to take a double check. ‘The Exalt? How?!’ She failed… sparing her that night seems to have done nothing. Her grandmother died regardless, but… at least the Fire Emblem is safe, right? Shaking her head, she makes her way to the castle, where the guard count is lower than usual, but in the place of the normal guards are the Elite ones. The toughest of the guards, all of them are men who are the very definition of masculine, only The Vaike can compare to the Elite’s muscles, one of them is worth at least four normal guards. ‘The standard guards must have been given the day to mourn, because I know I never seen an Elite show anything besides a scrutinizing glare… maybe a scowl.’ Sure enough, they stare her down as she approaches.

“State your business.” The one guarding the entrance demands.

“I’ve come to see a girl recovering here, her name is Nah.” She suddenly feels so small.

“You’re Marth, then?” The glare never fades, as if he is incapable of anything else, “Come to fix your mistake?”

“I… sir?” Lucina stumbles over her words, “What mistake?”

“The lead cleric’s blood stains her hands, and since you brought her here, his blood is also on yours.”

“Wh-what? Nah would never…!” Her protests fall on deaf ears.

“Just get her and leave.” He moves aside, “Now.”

Driven by his sudden hostility, Lucina enters, ‘Gods, what happened?’ She walks the halls alone, looking for any sign of her comrade, ‘Nah, where are you?’

“What are you doing here?” The princess turns to see Nah, who looks nothing less than angry, “Did you come just to abandon me, AGAIN?”

“What? No, I had…” Lucina starts.

“No, let me guess, ‘things to do’?” The half-Manakete’s eyes narrow, staring daggers into the other, “Is that how much I’m worth to you? You carried me here, but ran off the second you had ‘something to do’?”

“You were in good hands.” She counters, “The royal…”

“Screw them!” She shouts, “I woke up to a group of strangers around me. You weren’t there, neither was Lissa, or Mother, or Mommy!” She snarls, but Lucina notices the lack of a Dragonstone.

“Nah…” She tries to comfort her.

“Leave me alone, I don’t want to see you again, Lucina.” She calls out her real name. “After what you did to me? I hate you!” She walks away, leaving the future princess stunned.

“Gods… how did all of this go so wrong?” She asks herself. “Was this the price of going back?” She slumps against the wall, drained. “I need to fix this, but how?” Nah needs time to calm down, that much is for sure, but what about the Shepherds? Why were so many missing? How was the Exalt killed?

Why are things going so wrong?
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lucina opens her eyes, she hadn’t realized she fell asleep, still slumped against… a cold brick wall? She looks around, this isn’t the hallway, wait. ‘I was jailed?’ For what? Yelling? ‘His blood is on my hands, too.’ Were they really going to charge her with murder? How was she supposed to know Nah was going to react the way she did? On top of that, why is Nah even allowed to walk around like that? She lowers herself onto the stone bed, then notices one of the chairs, it has large blood streaks on it, along with bits of skin, like someone had tried to remove something with their fingers. She looks away, the familiar weight of her father’s Falchion is gone, all she has is her clothes. Did they see her Brand? How would she explain that?

“I’m sorry, who’s here?” It’s Chrom… father! “Yes, I know about what Nah did, but Marth didn’t know, she has no right to be locked up. I SAID release her!” She startles at the sudden yell. He too, sounds off, tired. Footsteps follow and she sees the version of the man that hasn’t died, “My apologies Marth, but the castle has been wired up since my sister had been executed.” Oh, that explains his behavior then.

The door opens and she is free to go, “How are you?” She asks from the stone cot, unwilling to move.

“Wonderful.” He lies through his teeth, “Come.”

“I’m better off in here.” Tears form as she berates herself, “I’ve done enough damage as is.”

He enters the cell, taking a seat next to her, thankfully the dim lightning prevents him from seeing the Brand in her eye, “Are you referring to Nah? How were you supposed to know she would react like that?” He practically says word for word what she was thinking earlier.

She avoids the question, “No, my very existence has caused so much more pain… all of this wasn’t supposed to happen.”

“Hm? What are you talking about, Marth?”

“I shouldn’t have went back,” She continues to demean herself… kind of like how Morgan would do, actually.

“Went back from what?” He presses.

“How are the rest of the Shepherds?” She dodges anything that could be related to how she got here.

“Marth…”

“Please, just indulge me.” She pauses, “I noticed you were missing a number of…”

“Robin.” He looks so distant now, “We… I lost Robin and with her went a friend she calls Tharja.”

‘Wait…’ “Did you encounter no one else while in Plegia?”

“Well, we recruited Libra, but other than that, no.” He admits.

“A man named Gregor? A Manakete named Nowi?” She presses, ‘Did my presence cause this?’

He shakes his head, “Never heard of them.”

“...Oh.” She looks away, preferring to stare at the wall.

“I got angry,” He suddenly says, snapping her out of her thoughts, “After my sister fell to her death, I swore revenge on Gangrel… but my word choice was poor.” He takes a breath, “Robin took it as the gravest offense, she and Tharja left soon after.”

“...What did you say?”

“I would make all of the ‘damn Plegians’ pay.” He looks ashamed, ‘I never remember Robin being so connected to Plegia.’ “But they still gave a bit of advice before they left, and that is the only reason the Shepherds even returned alive.”

“I’m sorry, what?” She is now confused.

He raises his one sleeve, showing off a set of blood-soaked bandages, “Tharja told us to find shelter, before a sandstorm hits. The Shepherds and I did our best to throw as many bricks together as possible… but I never realized it would hit us that hard. They weren’t joking when they said that those sandstorms could tear through even a Great Knight’s armor.”

‘Plegia has sandstorms? Since when? Robin never spoke of such things, why is she so different?’ Lucina starts to doubt herself. “What is your plan now?” She wants something else to focus on.

“Track down and kill Gangrel,” He states, “Then I want to find a way to make amends with Robin, the Shepherds need her with us again. This fight will be, without a doubt, the toughest one yet.” He looks straight at her, “Which is why I want you to join, we need every person we can get.”

“Me?” She is taken aback, “I…”

“I’ll clear any crimes that the Council can throw, just take up your sword in Ylisse’s name, that’s all I ask.”

‘Crimes? What can they pin on me?’ She reluctantly nods, her will fades as the very idea of fighting by her father’s side brings her to a joy she hasn’t felt in a while, “Very well Chrom, my blade is yours.” ‘Ironic, considering it is his sword.’

Chapter Text

She kept telling herself this isn’t something she should be doing, she didn’t come to the past to spend time with a family she lost, she’s here to change events, to make sure Grima doesn’t succeed. ‘But, I’ve already messed it up enough as is, I can’t just keep working from the sidelines.’ With nearly a half of a dozen less people than the Shepherds should have had by now, they travel towards a grassy field bordering Ylisse and Plegia, the last bit of greenery before it gives way to the desert. ‘I need to fix my mistakes.’ Thankfully, she was able to procure another mask and her hair is tied up once more… she can at least hide as Marth. They may already know she’s a woman, but her outfit allows her to build her wall, the disconnect she needs to stop her from running to Chrom or Sully and spilling out everything.

Chrom… he looks so far gone, Lucina could never imagine Robin turning her back on Ylisse. ‘Something else my presence has caused.’ The future princess puts all the blame on her, was this the price of changing things? Could it even be turned around for the better? Robin is a necessity, she’s the reason the Shepherds went through all three wars without a single casualty. She’s a living legend, her keen gift of tactics is second to none.

But she’s in Plegia now, traveling with Tharja, it seems. She sincerely hopes this is something her father left out when he shared his war stories with her, she sincerely hopes this won’t last. ‘Everyone knows that the ‘true’ story is told by the victors, so they tend to leave out unfavorable details… like Robin leaving.’ It’s a statement she is swearing herself by, this is something that he simply left out, it has to be.

“Heya, Marth!” Aunt Lissa cheerfully greets, “You’re looking grumpier than usual!” She starts walking beside her, “Is something wrong?”

“No, there isn’t. I’m just merely sorting through what will happen.” She falters, ‘What might happen.’ Do they still trust her? After all that has happened?

“Is there anything about this battle?” She asks.

“Far-seers don’t see all, Princess Lissa.” She gently deflects the question, “I’m afraid I have no insight on this particular battle,” ‘The next one I know of is the Valmese invasion.’

“Aw, that’s okay.” Her continued optimism raises Lucina’s mood, “We’ll be fine, I mean R…” She freezes in place, as if she remembered something crucial, then looks around. The future princess has a good idea on who she’s looking for, “Chrom has never failed us yet.” She quickly amends. “...Marth?” Her voice drops as she continues walking.

“Yes, Princess Lissa?”

Then she pouts, “Okay, first off, stop calling me ‘Princess’, just say Lissa.” With her short rant out of the way, the air turns grave, “She’s… coming back, right? Please tell me you can predict that.”

What should she do? Lie? Gamble on the hope that Robin does return? If she lies and the Tactician returns, then great, but if she doesn’t? Lucina shakes her head, “Again, I’m sorry, but this isn’t something I can foresee.” She pauses and quickly adds, “But I have foreseen more victories with her, so I assure you while she might not return now, she will return later.” There it is, she lied. Robin is supposed to be here now.

“Whew, that’s a relief.” Then her face scrunches, “Wait, more victories? Like, skirmishes, right? No more wars?”

‘Gods… I could have worded that better.’ Her calmness is slipping, the wall she built is crumbling, she has spent too long in her family’s company. “I… was hoping to spare the details until after the Mad King’s end, but yes. Two more wars, but rest assured, you all will have over two years of peace after this one.” At least, that is what she hopes will happen.

This is all her fault.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The battlefield is steeped in blood, both Ylissean and Plegian bodies litter the ground, and while the Shepherds suffered no casualties, there have been a number who were forced to fall back… a few suffered life-changing injuries. Lucina’s blood ran cold as her own mother had to turn her horse around, several gashes were across her body, her face was so pale and her left arm seemed limp. The second one who suffered such severe injuries was The Vaike, the powerhouse lost his hand from a brutal strike that a Wyvern Rider managed to land. ‘The difference a single Tactician can make.’ The only solace is no one died.

The Mad King stands on the far side, laughing as if this is all a play, rather than a battle, his Levin Sword is raised high, mocking the Ylisseans with declarations on the late Exalt. She could see Chrom struggling as hard as he could to stay in formation, fighting to make sure no one else became as injured as Sully or The Vaike. “Oh, how her body made such a lovely sound!” Gangrel continues to hound the Shepherd’s leader, “Young Chrom, I know you can hear me. Perhaps you could shout to the gods what you told me that day? That sent your prodigal Tactician scurrying away?”

He struck a nerve, ‘He still cares for Robin.’ Gangrel had only been mocking the Exalt, and now adding Robin to the mix, Chrom charged, Lucina quickly moved to fill in the empty spot, “GANGREL!” He shouts, dodging a bolt of lightning with ease, the two are now locked in a duel, Prince against King.

“Close the ranks, we need to be tighter!” Came Frederick’s booming voice, while the man is not nearly on the level of Robin, his dedication to Chrom assured that he has at least some tactical knowledge. Lucina stops a Plegian sword-wielder from moving with one skilled thrust.

“Show me your true nature, Chrom!” She can hear Gangrel taunt, “Show me how you are no different than your father! How you are no different than me !”

“Watch our flanks and move towards Gangrel, we finish this now!” Frederick orders as the last nearby Plegian drops.

Lucina moves in formation as Chrom continues to push Gangrel back, or… no. Gangrel is letting himself be pushed by towards the desert, ‘Why?’ “Hurry now, princeling, you don’t want to lose your footing, do you?” He ran… he actually ran away…

And Father followed him, her resolve snapped, “FATHER!” She could hold back no longer, Lucina charged, Gangrel had something planned, and he wanted Chrom alone. Thousands of question came and went, she was trying to figure out what he is planning, why was he running into the desert, why…

The ground shakes as Gangrel casts some sort of spell on the ground, the sands start to shift, ‘Quicksand?’ No, this is no quicksand, the Mad King deflects a blow from Chrom, who is too focused on Gangrel to acknowledge the shifting sand. “That’s right, strike me, fool!”

Then the sand parts, a massive tubular beast rises, its body is wider than several horses packed together, its maw is wide open, teeth lined the inner walls, each looking sharper than steel. ‘What is that?’ She has never heard of such a monstrosity. The thing pushes itself out of the sand, “FATHER!” Lucina bursts into a full sprint, knocking both herself and Chrom out of the way as the beast slams the ground with enough force to part the ground, taking Gangrel with it.

“...Father?” Chrom asks, before the ground shakes again.

“Not now, MOVE!” They were no more than three footsteps away before it bursts out of the ground, ‘The ground, it…’ The once green plain turns into sand before her very eyes, magic pulses from the monster. This time, however it remains above ground, its magic isn't pulsing as strongly.

“Shepherds!” Chrom rallies his troops. “Looks like we got an uninvited guest.” The thing lets out some sort of roar, green saliva exits the open maw. ‘No, that's not saliva.’ The liquid burns straight through the ground.

An arrow zooms past Lucina, but all it does is bounce off of its skin. Sumia swoops in and strikes with her lance… still nothing. ‘It's like Grima all over again.’ Except this isn't a Dragon feared by many, but some unnamed beast. The worst part came in when even Frederick’s well loved Silver Lance left a simple scratch. ‘How can something like this exist?!’ Only her and her father's Falchion is stronger than the Great Knight’s weapon of choice.

As if attuned to her thoughts, Chrom lashed out at the beast… scoring only a little more than Frederick’s. “What is this thing made of?!” Her father yells.

Unlike the Fell Dragon however, this beast had no intention of remaining idle. It launches itself at a speed that defies its size. It was only though years of combat did she manage to avoid sharing the Mad King’s fate. It still remains above ground though. ‘Not that it matters, how can we even damage this thing?’

There has to be a way.

Chapter Text

Robin may have not been as attuned to the Old Magic as her close friend Tharja is, but even she could tell something was terribly off. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but the sands below weren’t right, things were happening that shouldn’t be. But what? “That sandstorm wasn’t natural.” Tharja’s smooth, sultry voice breaks her out of her thoughts, “That fool is messing with magic that should stay uncasted.” After the sandstorm ended, the Dark Mage insisted on following the Shepherds, but more importantly, Gangrel.

“I’m afraid I’m not following, I thought the Old Magic was lost when the Ylissean Blood King brought war to Plegia.” The ‘Blood King’, Chrom’s father, the previous Exalt. His ruthlessness brought a dark age on the Plegians, forcing them to lash out more violently… this is when the Grimleal rose to power. It was a matter of survival and Plegians refuse to die, no matter the cost. Only the strong are worthy of living in the care of Plegia’s seemingly uncaring arms. No, her homeland isn’t harsh to spite them, it is for their own good, the world cares not for Plegia, Robin saw that herself in her time in Ylisse. So it’s better to be whipped into shape by the sands than to crumble before opposition.

“It has.” Tharja agrees, “The Blood King’s worst offense wasn’t the slaughter of our people, but the day he assaulted our ancient library, without those books, we have lost all concrete information on performing the Old spells.”

“And the Old spells require very specific movements and ingredients.” Robin recalls, “The Old Magic is volatile, as dangerous as Plegia herself, so we must handle it with the utmost care.”

“Correct.” The Dark Mage flashes her a smile that warms her body, “But anyway, no. Gangrel isn’t using Old Magic to stir the sands, he uses Dark Magic, which can be worse.” She stops for a moment, before resuming, “There are a few Dark spells that should never be used, and he must have found a tome that contains one of them.”

“He would kill off Plegia for… gods, that idiot!” She knew he was wasting resources, but to weaponize Plegia? He truly deserves the title of ‘Mad King’.

“Robin, Plegia has been dying for a while now, we are doing what we can to prevent that, but without the Old Magic, we need to find another way to stir the sands safely.” Robin shivers from the idea of her homeland becoming lost.

“We… won’t lose Plegia, we can’t.” No, she refuses, any competent Plegian would say the same.

“...Do you know of the undrawn section of the Plegian map?” Tharja suddenly asks.

“Well, yea. It’s unexplored territory because it is considered sacred grounds, it’s where Burial Worms came from. Why?” The Tactician is nothing short of confused.

“That is partially true.” The two stop for a moment, and move for a cactus, “That is what the common people are told, it’s easier than explaining what really happened.”

“...Right, you were training to learn the Old Magic, before I showed up in your life.” Tharja nods as she checks one of the cacti, “I still can’t believe you switched to Dark Magic just to be with me.”

Tharja remains silent for a moment as she cuts off a cactus arm with magic and places it in the ground, as Robin did before. “The truth about that land is… it’s lost to us. A reminder of what happens when the magic in the grounds spur out of control.”

“Out of control?” She echoes.

“How much do you know of the Burial Worms?” Another seemingly random topic, how are they related?

“We don’t, it’s not like we can travel under the sands and observe them.”

She smiles, but it’s hollow, “The magic used to chill the cacti water is originates from an abandoned Burial Worm nest.”

Tharja timed that so Robin was already drinking some, the Tactician chokes on it, “Tharja!”

“While the sandstorms were an unforeseen consequence, the Burial Worms are a necessary evil. They circulate the magic in the sands, making sure the levels remain stable. The smaller, younger ones travel closer to the surface, while the larger and older ones work much lower.”

Robin nods, “Oh, that’s right. The young ones occasionally overrun the sands and we have to kill some off.”

“Again, partially true.” Robin raises an eyebrow, ‘How much of the truth is kept hidden?’ “We don’t kill them specifically to cull their numbers, but to prevent them from attacking each other. Simply put, the females birth too many, and if there isn’t enough room in a given area, they will kill and eat each other. Burial Worms feed on the magic, so their bodies are also infused with magic, if they eat each other, then they grow much faster than they are supposed to.”

“Alright, but I still fail to see where you are going with this.” She gets some of it, but…

“They grow faster, they don’t age faster. But they still follow their rules, after a certain size, a Burial Worm will dig deeper, but since they’re traveling earlier than normal, the newer worm will clash with the older one. Due to its youth, the new one will end up eating the older one, who has far more magic…”

“Then it grows larger and travels further down. I can understand that.” So, there are ‘levels’ for the worms.

“But they only go so far down, and if the lowest levels hold too many adult ones, then the rest are pushed up. The middle levels will fill up, and the younger ones are pushed up, but they will also be larger than normal, because the lowest levels will be stirring up too much magic.”

“And without anywhere to go, they travel above land, and are devoid of the magic they survive on.”

Again, Tharja nods, “After that, they simply begin to starve and attack humans. That is what happened to the unmarked portion, the area is completely overrun with Burial Worms of the largest size. The amount of magic being stirred up has risen so much that we can’t do anything about it, the largest Burial Worms reside there. It’s safe to assume that the youngest ones are as large as the oldest ones here.”

“...The largest ones here are said to be larger than the average house.”

“And Gangrel has stirred that very magic. It’s a chain reaction, the sandstorm is the first thing to happen.”

Robin looks to the distance, where the Mad King has ran off to, “Tharja, what do you fear will happen?”

“I fear he wishes to weaponize the strongest beast in the entire world. I fear an adult Burial Worm will rise.” With that, they remain silent for a moment, “Ready to go?”

“...Yea.” They store the rest of the cactus water and resume their journey, ‘You… fool! Is revenge so desired that you are willing to disrupt the balance? To further send Plegia into chaos?!’
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tharja’s fear were confirmed as they made it to the plains, they were too late. A massive Burial Worm rampages on the surface, the Shepherds are all that stands between her and Ylisse. “She’s enraged, we only have one choice.” Tharja’s tone sends chills down Robin’s spine. “How acquainted are you with Dark Magic?”

“I only know a few spells.” Once more, she fails to see where the Dark Mage is going with this.

“Goetia?”

“No.” She shakes her head.

“I hope you can learn on the fly, then.” She pulls out the mentioned tome, “Honestly, I hate to put the pressure on you, but the Raven Lord isn’t stationed here right now.”

Raven Lord… Henry, the single most powerful Dark Mage to have ever lived. “What do you need me to do?”

“Cast Goetia with me.” Her reply is simple, “I know it’s a high level spell, but…”

“I’ll do it.” Robin smiles, “As long as you are with me, I’ll be fine.” Her face flushes.

“Robin…” Tharja breathes, but shakes her head, “Not now.” The two approach the field, “Just copy…” She pauses as Robin’s hand overlaps Tharja’s, “You don’t need to be that close.”

“Are you complaining?” Robin’s hand is outstretched, as is Tharja’s.

“...Plegians don’t complain.” With her piece said, the channel begins.

“Marth!” Robin calls out as the woman dodges another lunge, “Lure the Burial Worm over to us!” Robin breaks her attention on the distant field and focuses on the spell. ‘Dark Magic still feels really weird. It’s sort of slimy.’ Marth is running their way, her mouth is moving but she hears nothing, she needs to focus.

The Burial Worm approaching is, in fact, no smaller than a house, the width is longer than several horses. ‘And to think, the ones in the unmarked portion are even larger.’ “Robin.” Tharja simply states and she nods.

“Goetia!” The two exclaim at the same time and a single, huge spike of Dark Magic sprouts from the ground, skewering the Burial Worm. The Dark Magic seems to clash with the Old Magic, causing her to spasm, before finally falling still. The Tactician slumps back, magically drained.

“Robin!” Lissa squeals, “You’re back!”

“Thank the gods, Robin.” She tenses as Chrom approaches.

“I didn’t come for you, Ylissean.” The Grimleal Tactician pushes past her exhaustion, “I came here to fix Gangrel’s mess.”

“Robin?” He falters, “I swear, I didn’t mean what I said, I was angry.”

“Words won’t fix the damage done.” She spits back.

“Please, Robin, the Shepherds need you, we…”

“Plegia needs me too, your point?” The two stare each other down.

“If there’s anything I can do as Exalt to mend the relations…” he starts.

“Turn back time.” Tharja speaks up, “Undo what your father has done to Plegia.” Marth startles at the declaration.

“I…” The man steps back.

“Then there is nothing you can do.” The Dark Mage rounds her anger on him, “The Blood King took things that can’t be restored. He has inflicted a wound we have no way of stopping. Plegia is suffering a slow, ruthless death because of him.”

“...This wasn’t supposed to happen.” Marth whispers, barely audible.

“We miss you, Robin.” Sumia steps up, “Chrom is a wonderful leader, but we need you here.”

“Camp ain’t the same without your tent there, with the smell of books and ink leaving it.” Sully adds, her left arm looks alarmingly pale.

“There’s a saying, ‘You don’t know what you have, until you lost it.’ I find it most applicable in this situation.” Miriel chimes in.

Perhaps they were expecting to appeal to her emotions, “What did I just say?” Robin grits her teeth, “Words won’t fix the damage done.” She stares each of them down as best as she can, “I meant it, find yourself someone else to be your Tactician. I’m done with Ylisse.” She turns to leave.

“You can’t!” Marth steps in front of them. “The Shepherds will fail without your tactics! The world will fall!”

“Alright, ‘far-seer’,” Robin scoffs, “Let’s say I play along, do you foresee Plegia healing?” The woman’s hesitation is all the answer she needs, “Then the world will fall with Plegia. I’ve no desire to assist the people who shun mine.” Marth stands there frozen, as her and Tharja walk past.

Chapter Text

More changes to the timeline, none of this should be happening. Robin has made it very clear she isn’t coming back. What else is going to happen? Will anyone else be missing? What about the other ones who came with her?

Her true identity is also out, but that means little, she has… nobody has any free time. It’s like her time all over again, but they haven’t even fought Valm yet! And this is all her fault, coming back had to have cause all of this, somehow. She made things so much worse. ‘And where are all of the others? Nah is the only to have shown up, and she is only is recently getting a grasp on reality.’ Nah hasn’t taken back the words she said to Lucina, but she also isn’t trying to be aggressive, either.

She needs to find the others, they need every fighter… they need Morgan. She needs Morgan. If his mother won’t help, then he will. I need him.’ She misses everything about him, the smile, the laughter, the dedication, even his self-doubt. She accepts it because she… she loves him. ‘I’m sorry, but I need to find him.’ She makes the internal declaration to find her love… the Tactician. ‘The Shepherds come first.’ It pains her to put him through yet another situation like this, ‘And when he finds out where his mother is.’ What is she supposed to do about that? She can’t lie, he’d pick up on it too easily.

Where’s Nowi? Gregor? There are so many people missing. Lucina looks at her belongings over, “Father, forgive me.” She grabs her stuff and gives the castle one last look as she leaves, “I need to find them.”
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The future princess merely picks a direction and goes with it, gods know where the others ended up. She directs the horse along the path, “It seems you are lost, princess.” Lucina pulls the reins back and nearly topples off the horse, no. ‘But… he.’ Was this another consequence of going back? Did it somehow cause Grima to resurrect? No, he needs the Fire Emblem to come back, “My offer is still open.” She shakes her head, willing his grating voice away, ‘No, I refuse. No deal with you will end well.’

“I know where he is.” His voice starts to sound so alluring, but she refuses to acknowledge it, “I know where they all are.” She trembles, the guilt of what’s happened has been chipping away at her defenses, and now suddenly his voice returns? “Morgan longs for you, too.” She grits her teeth, “Get out of my head!” She shouts as she sends the horse into a gallop, “You want to see him, hold him.” At this point, she stops thinking about it, she can’t break. Even through the worst of times, she must remain strong, “One simple request and they will all be safe.”

“You’ve already lost, surely you aren’t so stubborn as to deny it? Robin has broken off, you’re missing a number of the Shepherds, all of these little pieces add up to something big. Valm will crush you without help. I can offer protection, Ylisse will remain safe.” Lucina hadn’t notice the horse stopped until just now, “Lucina, your lover calls.” Her hands tremble, she can’t break, she can’t give in, she can’t, she can’t, she can’t ...

‘Where is he?’ She’ll resist, she won’t do whatever wicked things he asks, but if she can swindle Morgan, then their chances of winning are all but assured. She can hear his laughter as information floods her mind. ‘He was so close, too.’ She could have. “You were heading in the wrong direction, princess. I… gently nudged your horse in the right direction.” The horse neighs in approval, was she not in control of her own steed?! Her breath catches, Morgan. The horse enters a gallop once more, ‘I’m coming for you, love.’
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Following the foul-given information, Lucina arrives at a temple of sorts, “Morgan?” She calls out the second she steps onto the strangely cold stone. ‘It feels… wrong.’ Something isn’t right here, gods… she let her desires get the best of her for one small moment and…

“Arcthunder!” She can feel the electricity in the air as a boy’s voice echoes through the halls, “Back off!” Morgan!

She dashes in without a second thought, and in the main room, a small group of bandits are in there. Looters, probably. Not that it matters, “Leave him alone!” She declares as she draws her Falchion.

“Lucina…” Morgan smiles, that smile that warms her heart. ‘I won’t give in, I won’t give in.’ This is something he must never learn about…

It’s just another secret she’ll have to keep. “For Ylisse!” With her battle cry out, she charges the nearest one, deftly avoiding his inexperienced flailing and thrusting into the man’s chest. ‘They aren’t even combat-ready. Just a group of looters.’ Their swords are kept terribly, some of them are rusted, others are duller than the stone she stands on… one poor guy’s armor doesn’t even fit him. She stops herself, no, this is wrong. “Leave.” She says, “Or I will be forced to cut the rest of you down.”

The looters share a look, each of them is trembling in fear, ‘This has to be their first fight…’ They all look older than even father in her time. One of them mumbles something incoherent, but bows, ‘Can they even talk?’ She suddenly feels sick for running the first one through. “Morgan.” Her attention returns to the Tactician, her love. “You’re safe.” She quickly sheathes her sword.

He runs to her and throws himself into her embrace. “Lucina… gods, it was so scary.” The boy trembles, he still feels terribly skinny, but not nearly on the level as Nah. “H-he kept taunting me. H-he made it s-so hard to th-think straight.”

“He?” Lucina has a sinking feeling she already knows.

“Grima.” He confirms, “I’m not as strong as you, but I really tried.” His eyes are tear-stained, “I don’t think I could have lasted another day.”

“Sh… You’re stronger than you think, Morgan. I mean, we’re here, and you didn’t give in, right?” It’s not a lie, as long as she can avoid him asking the same question.

“R-right.” He holds onto her tighter, the tightness in her chest grows, she needs…

She can’t break, she can’t give in, but she did. She failed him, she’s a hypocrite, “Morgan, I have something really important to tell you.” But she’ll be damned if she loses him. “I should have said this so much sooner.” The hug break and she stoops down slightly, making eye contact, “Morgan, I love you.”

His tears stay, but he smiles, “Lucina… I love you, too.” He opts for another hug, and he buries his head into her chest, “I’ve waited so long to say that.” His crying slowly dies down and his breathing evens out. “Can we go home?”

“Of course.” Home… will it be home to him? Robin is in Plegia, Nowi is nowhere to be found, and Nah hates Lucina. Will her presence alone be enough for him to call it home? She doubts herself, her presence, her need to fix the past has caused this mess to happen. Her willingness to interfere with time did this. “Let’s go, love.” She has a horrible feeling he will turn her away once he finds out.

The embrace breaks once more, Morgan gives her a smile, one that she doesn’t deserve. The two head out, “I will get my due, princess.”

Chapter Text

Both sweat and blood pours on the stones of the Regna Ferox port. Chrom lets out a wearied sigh, his future daughter wasn’t even slightly exaggerating, the Valmese are trained well. Their calvary almost did them in… and this was only the vanguard, not even the bulk of the army. “Gods…”

“Heh, still kicked their asses.” His wife, Sully, snorts, “Good thing Luci came with Morgan, yea?”

Morgan, apparently one of Robin’s children. Like Robin, he has a gift for tactics, but unlike Robin, he doubts himself, he needs constant reassurance. The other of Robin’s children, Nah, finally took up a Dragonstone and now fights with the Shepherds, albeit reluctantly. Without her mothers here, she is torn. Nowi has yet to show, Robin is still in Plegia. There is also some sort of animosity between Nah and Lucina and while the two don’t lash out at each other, the air between them is always tense.

“Exalt Chrom, did you hear me?” Morgan’s timid voice sounds out.

“I’m sorry Morgan, what did you say?” Gods, he was lost in thought again.

“We need ships, if we can catch them at sea then the advantage is in our favor.” He pauses, then adds under his breath, “I think.”

“Ylisse has no naval defense.” And why would they? Ylisse isn’t connect to the ocean. Well, to be more accurate there aren’t any spots where they meet, that also aren’t treacherous cliffs.

“That explains why they assaulted this port, then.” Basilio’s voice booms, despite being a highly experienced fighter, even he suffered cuts and gashes from the assault. “This is the only port we have! Any further north and we’ll be docking ships in ice.”

“If that’s true, why not build a defense here? Can’t our mages whip something up? They are forced to strike here.” Sully asks.

“Unless they want to detour all the way to Plegia, sure.” Basilo nods, “But this ‘Conqueror’ wouldn’t stick his neck out here unless they won, so we would just be fighting back endlessly.”

“Plegia…” Morgan echoes, “Mother…” He eyes become distant.

“Frederick!” Chrom exclaims, “Send a letter to Plegia’s current ruler, we need to strike a deal.”

“Milord.” He bows, “Let us pray their new one is more sane that the last.”

“Father?” Lucina hesitates.

“We’ve no choice,” Morgan speaks up, “I think, anyway. It would take too long to build enough ships to get to Valm.”

“But Plegia is so far away.” The future princess counters.

“...Let’s hope they’re willing to meet us halfway, literally.” Chrom states.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The new Exalt was surprised when the letter returned, they were willing to go further than halfway, but the destination did his instincts no good. “Carrion Isle?” It isn’t far from the port, as it’s located in a crook between Regna Ferox and Ylisse. He looks at the place in question, it practically screams ‘death trap’. But what choice does he have? The only other option is set up a fort at the port and build ships for a counter attack, but the time that would take…

“Exalt Chrom…” He stiffens as that witch, Aversa, greets them. “Please, come in, our queen is ready and waiting.”

The man takes a breath, forcing his diplomatic skills forward, “It is good to see you well, Aversa.” It practically burns to feel those words exit him.

“You as well.”

“May I ask more about Plegia’s Queen?” He attempts, “The ceremony must have been kept tight-lipped, I didn’t even know you all had someone on the throne until now.”

“Oh, I assure you, she has held the throne for a while now.” She smiles, but it is everything but friendly. She stops at a pair of grand doors, “We’ve arrived.”

Chrom could make out a pair of voices, but that’s about it. The door seems to open on its own, “Oh, joy.” Tharja? What is she doing here? “Hello, Exalt Chrom.” She seems bored out of her mind. The throne still stays empty.

“Greetings, Tharja.” He tries to be nice. The few select Shepherds behind him are as rigid as he.

He awaited a response, but receives nothing, “Tharja, do return courtesies.” A figure enters, the voice is feminine, but he can’t make out a single physical detail. He assumes this is the Queen, but why hide behind two layers of clothing? The first and outer robe sends an even worse dread through his body, it’s a Grimleal robe, but far more detailed than what Robin wore. The red that lines the eyes seem to be made of small rubies, the yellow trims shine with gold, the purple cloth looks to be of silk. ‘The amount of gold that must have taken to make.’ The inner dress, faintly visible behind the Grimleal robe shows off a more rugged look. He can make out some light brown, but that’s really it. The Queen seems to favor her role in the Grimleal more than of Plegia.

“My apologies, greetings, Exalt Chrom. I hope you fared well.” Tharja’s tone lacks almost all emotion.

“The Exalt Chrom, hm?” The Queen takes a seat, “I must commend you, being so brave to ask more of my homeland, considering recent events.”

‘She’s even less diplomatic than me…’ At least Chrom is trying, she doesn’t seem to care at all. “I hope we will be able to reach favorable conditions again in the future.”

“And when has there ever been ‘favorable conditions’ between mine and yours?”

“Milady, you may be…” Frederick jumps to the defense of his charge.

“Silence, servant!” Within a half second, she starts secreting an aura that screams ‘authority’ and ‘power’. “You, Exalt. What do you have to offer my people? The ones that Ylisseans have trampled over for years?”

Chrom is finding it very hard to stay calm, “Peace, trade, gold, there are few things we won’t offer.” An exaggeration, but he is trying to get on her good side. ‘At least try to be nice.’

“Peace, trade, gold…” She repeats, “The mother Burial Worm Gangrel so foolishly took caused an epidemic in her nest, will your ‘peace’ fix that? The Blood King destroyed my people’s only source of Old Magic, can ‘trade’ restore them? The sands are shifting more violently due to the instability caused by the other issues, can ‘gold’ buy it back?” Chrom flinches, his patience starts to run thin, “It can’t. Ylisseans know nothing of the hardships my people go through, how Plegia is slowly dying. All of the recent problems have one. Single. Source.” She points a finger at Chrom, “Your father, the Blood King of Ylisse.”

“Times change, Queen.” Chrom tries again, “We truly mean to make amends, I ask you give us a chance.”

The Queen of Plegia rises from her throne, walking towards Chrom, each step seems to echo a sort of power. “And how desperate are you to patch the wounds?”

“Valm will crush Ylisse without help. If there is anything I can do.” The Exalt is at the end of his patience, if…

She raises her Grimleal hood just enough to show off a smile, but this smile is not of friendship, it’s predatory. “Anything?” She echoes, her mood suddenly growing joyful. It took a few seconds before the realization slammed Chrom, ‘She was waiting for that line… gods. Was all of this an act? Does she want to see me beg?’ The hood drops to its previous position and she claps her hands, “Do not concern yourself, Exalt. I’ve no intention of asking for anything drastic. Ylisse is yours and Plegia mine.”

Chrom grits his teeth and tightens his fists, “In the name of peace.” He can’t believe he let himself be led along like this, if Robin were here…

“I will ask two simple tasks, but nevertheless of the utmost importance.” She turns and walks back a few steps, before turning around to face him once more, “One, Ylisse will adapt a number of Plegian customs of my choosing.” She pauses as the words sink in, “I do not jest when I say Plegia is dying. There is nothing I can do to prevent her from being lost, I merely seek to lessen the blow. To get my people ready for when they are forced to leave.”

“You wish to merge our kingdoms?” Or does she mean to take his over?

“I’ve no choice. My homeland will become uninhabitable.” For the first time since the conversation started, emotion creeps into her voice. “But no, Plegia will remain its own people, she’ll just have her people living in your land. I can only hope that either time will heal the damage done by the Blood King, or we can find a way to restore her some other way.”

‘Well, she could have asked for more, so…’ He nods, “I’m sure Ylisse can accommodate.”

“I thought so.” She acts like he knew he would say that, “The second, I need you to prove your determination for the ‘change’ you assured me.”

“Are words not enough?” He suddenly feels on edge, “A document, even?”

“So it can conveniently burn later?” Her words lash out, “Tharja, Aversa, just like I told you.” Chrom holds a gasp in, ‘She planned all of this?! How? How does she know so much?’

Aversa steps up and with her magic, a map of Plegia forms. “My Queen wishes you to go through a very important Trial. This Trial means to show that the person can deal with the worst and come out alive,” Tharja starts, “The Trial of the Sands. It is simple,” Her magic reaches out and highlights a… crater? It hits a spot that isn’t recorded at all, it’s a big black dot. “This area is the single most dangerous spot in the world. Outside of my Queen, Aversa, and I, you will be one of the few who will know the truth of this spot.”

“And that is?” They are willing to share such a secret?

Tharja’s magic causes the black to fade, a picture of one of those Burial Worms show, but it is so large that it wraps around the spot several time, “My Queen spoke of how Plegia will become uninhabitable, this is why. When the Old Magic in the sands isn’t regulated properly, the Burial Worms will grow, they become so strong that we can’t even cull their young. And it’s a domino effect, the Burial Worms stir the magic deep in the earth, so when they overpopulate an area, even more magic flows and… well, that .”

“You… aren’t asking me to kill one of those, are you?” He recalls how his Falchion just simply scratched the skin of the one Gangrel brought.

“No, your destination is roughly here,” A line highlights, about a mile away from that death trap, “A literal wall of cacti lines the area, unlike the others, these bear fruit. They overflow with the Old Magic. Bring one of these back.”

There has to be something else, a catch. “Of course, you won’t be performing this task, Exalt.” Aversa is next, “Ylisse can’t afford to lose another Exalt. You will appoint one of yours, not family, to champion it in your stead.”

“Plegia is a harsh mistress, but she isn’t unfair,” The Queen speaks up once more, “And I strive for the same, whoever you choose will know what they will face. The tools required to succeed will be provided, they will be given knowledge of how to deal with the land, it will be up to them to properly use them.”

Chrom turns around and looks his Shepherds over, ‘No family.’ Who should he choose? Someone quick on their feet? He doubts they’ll be able to use a flying mount. He thinks everyone’s… “I will.” Morgan steps up, “If you will have me.”

“Morgan, I couldn’t ask you to do this,” Chrom tries to dissuade him. From what he learned, the Plegia Lucina and the others know of do not have the same terrors of this one. Besides, he isn’t…

“I can do this.” The half-Manakete Tactician levels a gaze at Chrom, challenging him.

Chrom stoops down enough to even the eye level, “Morgan…” He sighs, before matching his gaze, “Stare me in the eyes and tell me, that without a doubt, you can do this.” If the boy falters for even a fraction of a second, he will deny him.

“Exalt Chrom, I Morgan, assure you that I will perform the Trial of the Sands successfully in Ylisse’s name.” He never wavered.

Chrom smiles, “You know, for a moment, I saw your mother, when she would assure us that the plan she thought of on the spot would work.” He rises up, “Queen of Plegia, I appoint Morgan as Ylisse’s champion.”

“Very well.” She sounds like she doesn’t care, “Tharja, teach the boy.” Her gaze directs to Morgan, “Considering our current location, you will be provided transportation to and from Plegia… I am eager to hear how you will fare.” The Queen looks the rest over, “The castle is free to use as you see fit, bed where you please, or not. I don’t care if you choose to stay, but know that everyone here will be accommodated.”

Chapter Text

Robin lets out a heavy sigh as she opens the grand bedroom’s door, ‘I should have known he would be that stubborn.’ She takes off her Grimleal High Priestess robes, then the Plegian royal garb. “This place is too humid. It needs to be drier.” She mutters to no-one. She further strips down and makes her way to the personal bathing area, ‘Still, I have more to do, more pieces to put into position.’ She doubts Chrom has figured it out, he won’t unless she does something that is very Robin-like. Frederick might have noticed, but other than him, ‘Miriel, maybe?’

“High Priestess.” Aversa greets.

“I can wash myself.” She checks the water, nothing less than scalding, perfect.

“Do you think he’ll succeed?” Robin pauses at her question.

“The Trial of the Sands is more of a mental test than anything. Speed, strength, and agility are good to have, but they won’t get the task done. Morgan will need to have a resolve stronger than steel, along with the sharpest wits.” She says, “I believe he has a fair chance.” Robin reaches for the admittedly expensive shampoo. “Arrange a private meeting with the Exalt later. I fully intend on making sure who’s in charge here.”

“Of course, anything else?”

“Keep the others in the dark, it is of the utmost importance that not a single word leaves that room.” She smiles, “I am going to make some very precise movements on my guests, it will be risky. But if I pull it off, then I’ll have a number of new pieces to add to my board. Plegia will live on.”

“...And of the Grimleal?” Robin nods, Tharja represents Plegia, Aversa has the Grimleal, and Robin has both.

“I told you I would make sure the Grimleal are properly repaid if you could get me on the throne. It may take time, but it will happen.” She finally responds, “Valm is a very real threat, I can’t let them have Ylisse. The Halidom will fall to my rule in time. The Grimleal will have the satisfaction of tearing down all Naga-related designs. Is that worth the wait?”

“Yes.” It is a simple reply, but it’s more than enough. “When do you want your meeting?”

“About an hour, I need to make sure I look my best, after all.” Aversa leaves and Robin has a predatory smile, ‘Now Chrom, let’s see how much you are willing to do for peace.’
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This is probably the best she has ever smelled or looked. Robin smiles at her reflection, ‘Alright Chrom, let’s see if I can really be ‘prim and proper’.’ Call it petty, but she hasn’t exactly let that comment slide, perhaps if he weren’t Ylissean she would. She reaches for her garbs and robes, ‘But I can’t let him know… not yet.’ She needs to bide her time, reveal herself at the right time. With both the Plegian Queen and High Priestess robes on, she…

“My Queen?” Tharja knocks on the door.

“Come.” The Dark Mage lets herself in, “We’re alone, drop the formalities.” Robin leaves the hood down.

“Robin…” She breathes.

“Tharja, you know my body is yours,” The Queen starts, “But I’m afraid I need to reserve a portion of it for the Exalt.”

She nods, “For the future of Plegia, I suppose I can let it slide.” She smiles, then lets out a small squeak as her love pushes her against the wall, claiming a kiss.

“Gods, I love you, Tharja.” Robin breathes into her ear.

“I love you too, Robin.” The two break the embrace, “...When you get back?”

“Of course.” She pulls the hood up once more, time to stop being ‘Robin’ for a bit. “Now, I have some… negotiations to make.” Robin leaves without another word.

The High Priestess makes her way through the hallways, to a side room, a private dining room. She lets herself in, where Chrom is already waiting, he’s pacing, in fact. ‘Too easy to read.’ “Queen.” He does a half-bow. “Was there something you needed?” He’s on edge.

“I simply wished to share a few minutes with you.” She takes a seat at the table, “I would have been kinder earlier, but my people view the Leader as the embodiment of Plegia, harsh but fair.”

“And what of your Cult?” There is a tinge of disgust in his voice.

“Do not be too quick to judge the Grimleal merely because Grima is our patron.” She counters, “The oldest records we had ,” She places heavy emphasis on the past, “states that the Great Dragon gave the Old Magic to the lands of Plegia.”

“Naga teaches he is the embodiment of evil.” Gods, how could she forget how hard-headed this guy is?

“She teaches you to hate Grima? Funny, considering Grima holds no similar counsel.”

“Then what is the truth of Grima?” At least he looks genuinely curious.

“If I share, will it fall on deaf ears?” She starts, but doesn’t wait, “Regardless of how Plegia came to be, it doesn’t change the fact that resources are limited, it is nothing more than a fool’s idea to waste them. Only men like the Mad King would do such things. The Grimleal originated in Plegia, so they share a number of Plegian customs, managing resources is one of them. What use does waging war do? When we could use those same materials to better survive Plegia’s harsh dangers?”

“Then why there is a legend where Grima attempted to destroy the world?”

“Who won that battle?”

Her question caught him off-guard, “The Exalted ones, of course, we…”

“And who is history written by? The victors or the losers?”

“Are you calling my bloodline liars?”

“I’m calling the legends biased. Allow me to ask this, then, how do you think the Ylisseans view Plegians?” She leads him on, “Evil? Violent? The Mad King was driven by revenge, he fell to the sin of it, he forgoed the Plegian ways to get his way. Plegia didn’t want the war, it was a waste of resources, my people suffered. Sandstorms started eating away at homes who couldn’t repair, my people were being ripped apart.” Robin takes a breath, before she loses herself, “Answer me this, and be frank, who do you believe is the villain? The ones in the wrong?”

“Regardless if you personally had a hand in it, the most peaceful person this world has ever seen was murdered, Plegia is at fault.”

She smiles, “Go further back, the Mad King wouldn’t have fell to… well, madness had a certain event not happen. The reign of your Blood King.” She pushes further, “And before that, when was the last recorded war between Plegia and Ylisse?! There is none! If anyone were to be labeled ‘evil’ it is Ylisse, your father caused this. Your father started this chain of events that led to your sister’s death… and you, you and the Ylisseans, have the gall to call my people evil?”

He falters, the leader of the Shepherds finally cracks, ‘That’s right, just a little push now, and you’ll be all mine, Exalt.’ “I am not my father, my sister was not my father. His actions were his own, my people should not be judged for his bloodied hands.”

“Hypocrite.” She simply replies, “With that logic, my people should receive the same treatment, the Mad King’s actions were his own, my people should be innocent.”

“Your King was mad!”

“Because your King sent Plegia to a very slow damnation! He committed a sin far worse than genocide, his actions will cause Plegia to be uninhabitable, he didn’t just kill of my people he killed an entire country. Plegia will be wiped off the map!” He remains silent, her point seems to have finally broken any other counter-arguments, “But I’m not the Mad King, as you are not the Blood King. I’m willing to broker a peace. I simply want Plegia to live, even if it’s not in my own homeland.” She leans in closer, “And I will do what it takes to ensure my people’s survival, would you not do the same?”

His eyes glint, “What are you asking for? Ylisse will adapt the traditions, we want peace. I even sent Morgan off, what else do you want?”

She pauses, “I suppose it’s about time to share a secret, but one more question, if you don’t mind. When you asked for Sully’s hand, what did you promise her?”

“The words I vowed…” He starts.

“You are the sword at my side and the wind at my back. We’ll make a world together, you and I.” She utters the words he told her a few years ago. “Am I wrong?”

“How did…”

“Does she know? That the words you so carefully threaded were actually just recycled? That you said the same thing to another woman? Well!?” At last, she pulls her hood down, “And how do you think she’ll react if she found out, hm? No one else knew of your proposal, they just assumed things ‘ended’.”

“Robin?!” He found his voice after several moments, “You, but…” His smile flickers, unsure if he is truly happy to see her.

“Does she know?” He falters and she flashes her predatory smile, “Ylisse caused me much grief, every citizen shunned me, even as I proved my worth as a Shepherd time and time again. I pushed myself to show that Plegians could be ‘good’. But no one wanted to see that, they wanted to live in that bubble where Plegians are ‘evil’.” She closes in, “And now? I have you right where I want you, Exalt. You said you would do anything, and I will make sure you truly mean it.”

“And you said you wouldn’t ask anything major.” He tries to find his footing.

“I’ll ask what I please. I’ll take what I want. I’ll do what I can to ensure Plegia’s survival. And if you want my support, you’ll keep your mouth shut and do as I say. Am I clear? When we’re in public, this is an alliance. But behind closed doors? You. Are. Mine.”

“...There has to be limits.” ‘Gods, I just broke him, how does he have any bit of stubbornness left?’

Robin rises from her seat, “How much do you care for Ylisse’s existence? How much do you desire this ‘peace’.” She walks up to him, “How much do you still desire me?”

“I…”

“I can destroy your precious marriage,” She warns, “I have the tools I need to rip Ylisse from your hands. So, if you want her to remain in your hands, you will listen to me.”

“...What has happened to you?” He rises as she closes in.

“How much do you still desire me ?” She repeats as he backs into the wall. “If you wanted me then, I doubt that spark just vanished, even after all that time.” Her body presses against his, ‘Right where I want you.’ She leans in closer, “I’ll let you have me, she won’t know.” She gently whispers into his ear as she snakes her arms around him.

Chapter Text

Simply put, Sully hates the Queen of Plegia’s guts. Who does she think she is?! Waltzing around in the throne room, insulting Ylisse, her husband, and sitting on her high horse, saying Plegia is so much better. ‘It’s stupid! Ylisse doesn’t have death hiding under the ground! They deserve those worms and sandstorms! They worship Grima!’ The Cavalier slams the training dummy with her lance, working herself up mentally, taking the frustration out physically. She isn’t even use her lance properly, she’s better off grabbing a hammer, all because of this ‘Queen’s’ attitude. Screw her! Screw her connections to the Grimleal and her ‘holier than thou’ attitude. She deserves nothing less than a lance shoved straight up her…

“Mother?” Lucina’s voice cuts through her thoughts.

“‘Sup, kiddo?” The very sound of her future daughter’s voice removes the anger so easily. “Need somethin’?”

She smiles, but looks away, “I was hoping you would spar with me?”

“Hell, why not? But I gotta warn ya, I’m not holding back.” Sully returns her smile.

“Well… that’s why I asked. Is it safe to guess you’re frustrated, too?” She takes a practice sword, Sully decides on the same.

“Frustrated doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel. What’s your opinion on that power nut on the throne?” She readies herself. “And screw moderation, tell me how you feel, don’t hold back.”

“I don’t like her.” She frowns.

Sully snorts, “That’s it? ‘I don’t like her’? Doesn’t she piss you off? She’s walking around bad-mouthing Ylisse, my husband, your father, and you ‘don’t like her’?”

“Well, we still need Plegia’s support so…”

“Luci girl, just because we need their help doesn’t mean we can’t shit talk them when we get a chance.” Sully stretches her muscles once more, “Now, come at me!”
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Nothing like a good spar, Sully breathes a sigh of relief, all that tension built up from Queen Ass has left her. Lucina actually gotten pretty vicious, too, after Sully goaded her enough. ‘She’s no joke, she knocked me on my ass a few times.’ Sully briefly wonders what her future self was like? She really hopes she never let up on training. Okay, maybe a little, but only if it was to spend time with her kids. ‘I’m supposed to have another daughter, she’s more like me.’ Lucina excused herself, and Sully goes through her cooldown stretches, lest she get a cramp.

“Lady Sully.” The Cavalier holds back a snarl as Aversa pops her stupid head in, “The Queen wishes to see you.”

‘The Queen can go kiss my horse’s ass!’ She sighs, “Fine, where?” The Grimleal leads her through the halls, ‘This better be bloody important.’ She ends up in a bedroom, looks sort of fancy, like a place for two. “Queen.” She keeps her voice even, ‘Don’t even know her damn name, either.’

“Queen Sully.” She replies.

“Oh, hell no. You ain’t using my name if I can’t use yours.” She’s already tired of being with this prick.

“I’ll give it careful consideration.” The Queen is calm… right now anyway. She takes a seat at the table and Sully takes the opposite side, while also opting to throw her legs on the table, ‘Screw etiquette, if I have to listen to this wench, I’m doing it on my terms.’

“So, whaddya want?” Sully isn’t even trying to be formal, not after how she insulted her home… her love.

“Talk.” She simply replies, “Like I told the Exalt, I have an appearance to keep up in court, Plegia is harsh, my people expect their ruler to be the same.”

“Seriously?” She raises an eyebrow, “What kind of half-ass excuse is that?” She pauses, “But that doesn’t give you the right to shit-talk my homeland!”

“Why? So you can do the same to mine? Hypocrite.”

“Take off that damn hood, look me in the eyes, and say that again.” She’s really ready to punch her face in.

“How was your trip to Plegia?” She calmly avoids her provocation… almost like she knew.

“Tch, looking for feedback? I’m not going to sugar-coat it.”

“Good. I expect nothing less.” Okay, there’s something about her that’s… wrong. The Queen is not nearly as aggressive, is that how Plegia wants to see their Queen? An asshole? Who the hell wants that for a ruler?

“Bunch of pricks, kept bumping into the Shepherds, charging us more for services, want more?” Simply remembering it is causing her blood to boil again.

But she calmly nods, “Any Plegian would tell you the same of their trips to Ylisse.”

Sully’s legs swing off the table and she slams it with her fist, “Your people are a bunch of violent dicks! You deserve no less!”

“...I’m not the one losing my temper.” She can just barely make out a smile under that gods-forsaken hood.

“That’s what happens when you provoke people. Stop talking shit about Ylisse and maybe we can have a civil discussion!”

“Very well. I won’t needlessly provoke you, Queen. Now, this is something I asked of the Exalt, not in the same words mind you. Who is the initial aggressor? Who is evil?”

“Plegia, you killed the Exalt!”

“Ah, so you share the same view as Chrom.” She leans back, satisfied, “But that could have been avoided…”

“If your people weren’t a bunch of violent dastards!”

The Queen sighs, “The Blood King came before the Mad King, there was no confrontation until your father-in-law spilled Plegian blood. The cause of this is Ylissean.”

“Is there a point to all of this? Pointing fingers go nowhere.”

“I’m just listing the facts.” She is being so, ‘Ugh…’

“Suppose we’re done, then?” Despite asking, she moves to get up, ‘So sick of this lil pampered bitch!’

“A shame, I do have some rather… interesting information on hand.” Sully tries to shrug it off, ‘She’s just trying to mess with me. Well, not this…’ “On the subject of Chrom.”

“You keep his name out of your mouth! You don’t deserve anyone, ya hear me?” She rounds on her.

“He is rather handsome, isn’t he?” She continues to prod, “Charming, strong. I can see why you like him, but I fail to see what he sees in you . A woman who acts more a man.” Sully doesn’t respond, she is simply far too angered, or at least, she doesn’t talk with words. The red-hair throws a punch at the object of her fury, only to feel a surge of magic as she catches her fist with a single hand. “Brute strength gets you only so far, King Sully.”

“Ah!” The Queen channels more and it brings the cavalier to the floor, “Piece of…”

“Sit back down. I’m not finished.”

“Hell no, I ain’t gonna stay here and get needlessly bad mouthed by some wanna-be ruler!” She forces herself back up, rips the door off of its hinges, and storms out of the room, ‘That… fucking asshole!’

Chapter Text

Things in this timeline were going wrong enough as is, Plegia and Robin were the two biggest changes, but it seems to be spreading. Something has happened to Mother and Father, they are tense beyond all rational reason. They no longer share the intimate, if brief touches like they used to. While Sully wasn’t much on such things, it is something that would bring a beautiful smile to her face…

That’s gone. Was this the Queen’s doing? If so, then why? Does she intend to take Chrom away from Sully? The very idea hurts Lucina in a way that probably won’t ever be fixed. ‘And it’s all my fault, if I hadn’t traveled to the past…’ This ‘Queen’ is driving a wedge between her parents and under normal circumstances, the future princess wouldn’t stand for it, but there’s one crucial problem.

They need Plegia’s support, a support that rests on Morgan’s shoulders. ‘Why did he volunteer?’ It shattered her heart when she heard him volunteer himself, was he trying to prove himself? Was he still that insecure that he felt like he needed to take a task that almost guaranteed death? Why? Why!? Why are things going so badly? Why can’t things be like in her timeline? Every day makes Grima’s return less and less horrid. Her thoughts flashback to her reunion with Nah… there are things worse than Grima. Is… is that why Grima is willing to broker a deal? To spare them from a fate even worse than he? At least Grima would assure a swift death.

No! Why is she thinking this? Grima needs to die, the Queen isn’t looking to end all life… right? Lucina’s forehead hits the nearby wall, she has never felt so hopeless, so broken. It’s far worse than how Grima made her feel. Grima is evil by nature, he holds no sympathy, he doesn’t care.

The Queen chooses to be cruel, she can hold sympathy, she cares for Plegia. ‘Perhaps… there are worse things than Grima.’ Tears stream down her face, “And at last, you realize.” His voice tears through her mind. Were this to happen even a few weeks ago, she would deny him, push him away, but now? She’s no commander, she’s broken. “Are you finally willing to hear me offer, princess?” She should deny him, she’s of the Exalted bloodline, the exact opposite of Grima’s Fellblood.

But does she have the will? After all that has happened? At least Grima sounded like he cared about the Shepherd’s children back in her time. Maybe he can offer something easier to swallow… ‘What do you want?’ With that one question, she sealed her fate. Turning her back on the very ancestors she idolizes. Marth would be ashamed, Chrom would be ashamed…

But they still have the will to fight, she doesn’t. She wants to lay down her sword and give in. “You’ve already done what I desire. You gave in.” She can hear his mocking laughter, ‘You aren’t going to kill me?’ Death would be more desirable, “Morgan wouldn’t like it if he found out his love died, now would he?” Morgan… her love, her resolve broke one time when he was involved, when she needed to find him. Does he still look up to her? View her as a beacon of strength? Does she even deserve his love?

Why would he? She gave in, she lost the battle. She’s willing to trade the world if it means this torture stops. Her parents being pushed apart was the last straw. “Gods…” Her tears are renewed as she slams her fist against the wall again and again. “Make it stop, please…” The door to her room of choice opens, and now someone will see her in this state.

“I didn’t even get a chance to talk and you’ve already gone and made yourself look like a fool.” The ‘Queen’ says.

“What do you want?” She doesn’t bother looking, doesn’t bother wiping her tears away. “Haven’t you done enough?”

“I’m willing to give Plegia’s support.”

“At what cost!?” She lashes out, “What did you do to my parents?”

The hooded Queen closes the door and approaches her, her very form instills a fear into Lucina, ‘She’s the High Priestess of the Grimleal and Queen of Plegia.’ When she walks to her like this, she can almost taste the power she holds. “Everything that has happened has been brought on them. They willingly accepted my demands in exchange for the peace they desire. However, I need to make sure none of you get even a notion of disrupting it. So Lucina, what are you willing to do in the name of peace?”

“Nothing.” The Queen can’t break her, she’s already broken. Her will is gone.

“You would sit to the side?” She sounds… intrigued?

“...I’ve nothing left to fight for. I’ve seen… no, I’ve been through the end of the world and it is merciful compared to what’s happening now.” She admits, the Queen will be the first one to know, that isn’t a Shepherd, of the fact she isn’t of this time. “I had hoped to change the course, and it seems I got my wish… it just turned out far worse than before. If you seek to gain some sort of joy from seeing me suffer, then take a seat. You won’t have to do anything.”

“Pathetic.” Her words do nothing to Lucina, “To think you’re Chrom’s daughter.” Still nothing, “They are under my control, I treat them how I want, if I want to share my body with Chrom, then I can do just that.” Lucina remains blank, silent. It seems the Queen did indeed come to get a rise out of her. “That’s it? Silence?” Lucina gasps as the Queen lands a strike on her side, “What if I were to string them up?” She grabs her shirt, “Skewer them? Throw their corpses to the Worms?” She is getting angry, “Well?! Do you not care for you parents!?”

“Yes,” She finally responds, “But I can no longer find the strength or the will to fight. I know you haven’t experienced hopelessness. I have, it is what I feel now. An everlasting numbness, everything has been taken from me once and now it’s going to be taken again. I don’t deserve this, I can’t change things. So I give, I’ll put my blade away and take what is dealt, that’s all I can do.” The Queen seems at a loss for words, like she came in here with a grand plan, but it’s unraveling before her eyes. She spits and lets go of her shirt.

“I’ve never dreamed of someone being as broken as you.” She says, her attempts at provoking Lucina are becoming less refined and more of basic insults, “Worthless, unwanted.” She leaves and the future princess stays where she is. She stood for so long that her legs gave out, the stones below her served as her bed that night.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
She wakes up when the door opens and hits her head, but she feels no pain. ‘An everlasting numbness.’ It was no exaggeration, she cared for her parents, but she felt nothing. There is no warmth in the thought of them, “Lucina? Lucina!” Whoever opened the door obviously didn’t notice the abrupt stop, “Morgan has returned!” She can’t even tell who is talking… or feel the tightness in her chest at the mention of Morgan, ‘He deserves someone better.’ “Luc… gods! Are you okay?” She barely registers the presence of arms lifting her up, her vision is distorted beyond reason, ‘Is this how Nah felt? Is this how she saw things?’ The blur before her shakes her body.

“I’m fine.” She shakes it off the same way Nah did so long ago.

“You look horrible, what happened? Why were you on the floor, why…”

“I said, I’m fine.” It occurs to her she’s acting the same way Nah did, but she’s too numb to care, “I look fine, I feel fine. I’m. Fine.” Almost word for word, too.

“No, you don’t… LISSA!” The voice echoes out.

“Gods, stop yelling!” Lucina staggers back from the sudden increase in tone.

“I WASN’T YELLING!”

“Then what are you doing right now? That’s called YELLING!” She lashes out.

“I’M HERE!” Another, even louder voice shrieks. “LUCINA?!”

“Back. Off.” She takes a step back, her Falchion drawn, “Stop yelling. I’m fine. Leave me alone.” The two blurs stay where they are. “LEAVE!”

Chapter Text

Plegia was without a doubt, far different than he remembers it in his time. He knows the sun wasn’t this hot, his mothers and sister had somewhat frequent trips to Robin’s homeland. Not once did anyone mention sandstorms that ripped through skin or underground worms larger than houses. Why was this Plegia so different? Ylisse and Regna Ferox is pretty much the same. Where is Nowi? He misses her playful attitude, he remembers how should would sprint through camp and give him a tackle hug, giggling like she was the happiest person alive. Why was Robin so different? He was told she left the Shepherds for Plegia… that she despises Ylisse.

He forces the tears back, no. He needs to be like his love right now, strong, he can’t break. He said he would complete the ‘Trial of the Sands’ and he will. He has a second reason for doing this, Lucina. He has no right to deserve her love, as much as he craves it. He is weak, his magic is subpar, and his ‘gift’ for tactics is nowhere near his mother’s. What did she see in him? A boy that needs to be protected?

Not anymore, he will brave the Trial, he will return, secure Plegia’s help… cement his love for Lucina. He will be strong, he can’t break. He looks back at where the Wyvern Rider was, before he took flight, leaving him alone. One water skin, a thick leather glove, and a sword, that’s all he obtained for physical items. He has all the knowledge he needs, the tools required to use that knowledge, all that leaves is for him to pull this off. He needs to do this.

The sun bores down on him, far worse than the harshest summer day he has ever experienced in his time. Sweat rolls down in waves, but he pushes on, ‘I’m strong like Lucina, I won’t break. I need to be like her.’

“Is she that strong?” He nearly stumbles at the voice that barges into his mind, he hasn’t hear it since before traveling to the past. ‘She’s stronger than you think.’ He shouldn’t acknowledge the Fell Dragon, but he won’t let him demean her. “Cute, perhaps when you see her next, you can ask how she gave in… for you .” No, no no no. ‘Liar! She won’t break, she would never give in.’ Morgan pushes on. “Ask her of the day she found you, then. Observe her reaction.”

Morgan ignores him, he’s… he’s a waste of resources, like how these Plegians believe. He’s better off using his energy to focus on the task.

The journey so far as been a matter of enduring the sun, though he has had to cut down a cactus arm. As an act of mercy, Tharja did try to teach him the method of chilling it with the ‘Old Magic’, but it failed. He couldn’t channel it, despite matching her movements and chanting one-for-one. Chilling the water wasn’t required, the Queen said the Trial is harsh, but not unfair, any Plegian could undergo it. Yet, she also turned around and said they had no need to, despite how desired the fruit is. She said it was the very temptation of greed, if the Plegians could harvest it on a regular basis they would be so much better off.

But to do so would risk so many lives. He shivers as he remembers Tharja going into, honestly, unnecessarily detailed lengths of the Burial Worms. That’s another difference, his time’s Tharja was not a historian of sorts, she practiced Dark Magic and that’s it. Nothing of this ‘Old Magic’.

The sands shift, it was subtle, but his Manakete heritage let him pick up on it, ‘Burial Worm’ . He slowed his steps, making absolutely sure he was a silent as he could be. He has long since left the ‘safe’ boundaries, the cacti are becoming more frequent, and according to Tharja, more cacti meant more Burial Worms. The Old Magic is being whipped around more, which causes the Worms to grow faster and populate the area more, which leads to even more Old Magic being thrown around. It’s a cycle that feeds itself, the very reason why Plegians are forced to kill the young.

If the young are too many, they will start attacking each other, then eat the corpse, and with a Burial Worm’s body holding so much Old Magic, the victor will grow faster, leading to this. An area no person should be in. It seems he reached it earlier than expected… or, the second reasoning made his blood run cold. ‘It’s expanding.’ No! He needs to be brave, he needs to be like Lucina, he will be strong, he won’t break. With that mental mantra, he pushes on.

Something in the distance is becoming visible, it looks like a… line? A wall? His heart leaps, a wall of cacti? He forces himself to keep his steady speed, to rush now means his death, he would cause too much sound, agitating the Burial Worms. Unlike the ones closer to the towns, these are crazed, they are not as docile, the excess magic damages their reasoning. At least, that’s what Tharja told him. He stops as the sand suddenly shifts violently, was he too loud? Should he have moved…

He saw it in the distance, far past the cacti. The Burial Worm he saw was just that large, and there was another one, slightly smaller. He could see the smaller one’s skin melting as the larger one assaults it. Before his eyes, the larger one consumed the smaller one, growing even larger before burrowing under the sands once more.

The difficulty of the Trials isn’t the task, it’s keeping himself calm in the face of death. One misstep could cause a Burial Worm to come out below him, sending him into its stomach with ease, ‘And the only worse death than a Burial Worm is a sandstorm.’ Sandstorms… the other reason that makes this trip so daunting. There’s no buildings out here, nothing strong enough to withstand the sandstorms, which are supposed to be even stronger out here, due to the Old Magic being tossed around. It always seems to come back to the Old Magic.

He takes a silent breath and moves forward. Almost to the cacti.

As he approaches the Plegian plant he can feel the magic pulsing from it, despite being unable to channel that same magic. He carefully reaches out and pulls… the twig that holds it snaps and his blood runs cold. He freezes in place, unwilling to even breath. Nothing… he waits a few more precious moments. The sands are still, he places the fruit in his pouch and steadies himself, he needs to leave. Now.

He… did it. He’s out of the Burial Worm zone. Somehow, but he can’t rest, he needs to get back to the exit point before…

He should have known he wouldn’t be this lucky, he looks behind him and sees a massive cloud lingering just over the desert’s sands. ‘Sandstorm.’ Tharja said the more noticeable it is, the stronger it will be, and that cloud is nothing less than dense. He can’t even see past it. Now what? There’s no way he has the magic to repel it on his own. Is this it? Death by sandstorm? Tharja said any smart Plegian would end their own life first, it’s simply that painful.

But he can’t, he has a duty, he can’t fail. His mind races as he tries to figure out just what to do. The only option seems to be a barrier, but how long will… the fruit. ‘It has too much magic, mages can die from taking in too much magic, just like how one can die from eating too much.’ What other choice does he have? He shakes his head, his mind is set. He’s going to have to gamble, he can only hope he can burn enough of the excess magic to live.

He can’t bend, he can’t break, he will be strong like Lucina.

Chapter Text

Aversa was delighted when Validar told the Grimleal it was time for the plans to be put into motion. The revival of Grima is coming, the pieces are in place. Except for one, Robin, the woman chosen to be Grima’s Vessel, was missing. The high priest assured her she will be found and that they should focus on their assignments.

Aversa held no love for Gangrel, the man was a half a step away from looking a fool, but she had her orders, subtly manipulate the King. Not that it was hard, he was so focused on revenge that he said ‘yes’ to her proposals without a second thought… ‘Fool.’

Things progressed as planned, that is, until the night that the Fire Emblem was to be taken. The force Validar himself led had fallen, the high priest died. It was a blow that all of the Grimleals felt. Now what? Was the unified question. Aversa was next in line and as such, she knew. Continue regardless, Grima won't be denied.

So they did, she continued her role to deceive the Mad King… And when the day came to execute the Exalt. It all came together. Robin was part of the group, it seemed to be the moment of truth, she would betray them and take her spot as High Priestess. It might have happened, if the Mad Fool didn't provoke Chrom into ‘damning all the Plegians’ which caused her to abandon the field, along with a Dark Mage named Tharja. ‘The fool.’

She was not there for the final battle, Gangrel outlived his usefulness. They needed someone competent on the throne. But who? Gangrel was the last of royalty, he had no wife or children.

Grima himself answered her plea, as Robin returned with Tharja in tow. She claimed her position as High Priestess, then commanded she be named Queen of Plegia as well. Aversa obliged, as Validar himself made absolutely sure that Robin would be the one. And once she assumed command, there was no doubt left, Robin would lead the Grimleal to victory.

Still, some of the plans she had honestly went over Aversa’s head. Robin was clearly in a league in of her own. She could execute tasks with such precision that Aversa truly thought she was not of this world.

Perhaps Validar’s death was meant to be? Maybe she isn't meant to understand, just follow orders. However, things started to shift once she became Queen, which is to be expected, of course, as she now has to manage both Plegia and the Grimleal.

And when she became Queen, Aversa had the authority to lead in any political absences, something Validar wouldn't do. Tharja, apparently a friend she made sometime after vanishing but before she arrived in Ylisse, held a role similar to hers, but hers was for Plegia, rather than the Grimleal.

Then her strangest request came, she received word that Ylisse were wanting a peace treaty… And she obliged, her eyes lit up and a confident smile graced her face, like she was waiting for this moment. For the first time, Robin, Tharja, and her left Plegia to Carrion Isle. “They want to establish peace? I'll make them beg.” There was a certain tinge of hatred that even set her on edge. “I assure you both, by the end of this ‘negotiation’ Ylisse will be ours in all but name.”

The question on Aversa’s mind was, how? From what she saw, Robin left the Shepherds on venomous terms. Tharja seemed no better off. Then, Robin explained, strangely only telling them the bare minimum.

But she trusted her.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It worked, she has no idea what Robin did, but she did it. The Exalt is her plaything, not only that, but she also fractured Chrom and Sully, weaving just enough room for her…

Then the topic of their daughter came up, “I don't get it.” She was livid when it was time to discuss this part, “Something broke her, far more than what I wanted. I have no use for her. She stands there and takes every hit. She. Does. Nothing.” Robin slams the table. “Someone else is moving pieces. My pieces. And when I find out who…”

“Do you want me to search?” Aversa offers.

“No, this person managed to get to Lucina while under our watch. But there's no magic leftover, no messengers.” She can practically see the scenarios flying through her head.

“Then we wait?” Tharja speaks up, “Let this person think we don't know, they'll be bound to do something more risky if they think they're unseen.”

“High Priestess?” Aversa asks.

“We will wait.” She speaks after several moments. “This person will slip up.” She taps her fingers on the table, seeming strangely anxious. “Aversa?”

“Yes, High Priestess?”

“Do make sure no one bothers this room for say… half an hour, okay?” She actually forms a flush as her gaze casts over to Tharja.

“Of course, High Priestess.” Aversa gives her the privacy she desires. ‘Someone who can slip by both Tharja’s and my magic? Just who are you?’
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Aversa was genuinely surprised when Morgan returned, but he looked… different. Physically speaking, on the outside, he was torn up. His Grimleal robes have been shredded in large chunks, leaving enough clothing to make it into a shirt. His skin didn’t fare much better, she could see muscle and in some spots, even bone. While she, thankfully, never experienced it herself, she knew exactly what happened to him. ‘He survived a sandstorm.’

Despite all that, what drew her attention was his demeanor, he held himself with an aura of confidence, of determination. He did his best to hide his stagger, or the pain he was undoubtedly feeling. Before he left, the High Priestess had doubts on this boy, he claimed he was Plegian, but she practically laughed at it behind closed doors. Now? Now he’s proven himself.

“Morgan…” The Queen greets him, a small portion of the Shepherds are also in the room, including the likes of Princess Lissa, who is almost fighting to get her staff to him, “I said, sit. Down.” Her gaze turns to said Cleric.

“He needs healing!” She counters.

“Get her out of here.” She looks to Aversa, who immediately complies.

“Come, Princess Lissa.” The Grimleal tries to remain nice, but she ends up forcing her hand, “My queen wishes for you to leave, and you will.” She sighs as the girl continues to place her role as healer over everything else.

Then she drops, still, but alive, “What a nuisance…” Tharja’s voice echoes as the distinct flair of Dark Magic surrounds her. Nodding her thanks, she takes the woman out of the Throne Room and into the Cleric’s own.

“...left the danger area, soon after I saw a dense cloud approaching from where I came from.” She hears Morgan’s voice as she reenters the Throne Room.

“I’m more interested in how you survived,” Tharja speaks up, “You were unable to cast the Old barrier.”

“I can still form a magical shield.”

“It’s less efficient, the sand is more liable to break through, which is why you are partially torn up.”

“I had more than enough magic to spare.” A short silence follows his words. “Here, your highness.” He produces the fruit from his bag…

“You ate some?” Tharja is the first to notice, “Bravery or foolishness? You could have died just as easily from magical overload.”

“You said it yourself, the worst death is by sandstorm. If this worked, I would be able to return. If not, my body would implode.” He calmly responds, “I was spared the death of a sandstorm, either way.”

“I’m impressed, Morgan.” Robin finally speaks up, “Chrom, your champion has succeeded. The naval fleet of Plegia is yours.”

“May I ask one more thing… Queen?” He still has the nerve to ask for more? The glare from the Queen is nothing less than judgemental, “The battles against Walhart will be brutal, and I lack the…”

“No.” She cuts him off, “I have a nation and a cult to oversee. I’m not joining you.” She raises a hand before he retorts, “However, I’ll send someone else in my stead. I am not boasting when I say this, he is the world’s single most powerful Dark Mage, we refer to him as the Raven Lord, his actual name is Henry. He will answer to you Chrom, and only you. His spells are nothing short than devastating, the common soldier may just end up being obliterated rather than just dying.”

“...Very well.” He seems unsatisfied, he clearly wanted Robin’s tactical knowledge, rather than raw power. “Thank you for your support, Queen.”

Chapter Text

The future princess was lucid enough to notice him return. His body was torn in ways that didn’t bother her at all. How could it? She felt nothing, she didn’t even bother to hold a mask of bravery, of fortitude. She meant what she told the Queen, she has nothing left to fight with. She could have been in the room with her family, but she chose not to. She sat alone, in the borrowed room, doing nothing. Her back is against the wall and she sits in an awkward position, at least she think she is, it’s not like she can feel anything.

Her once beloved Falchion lies on the floor, the same place where she tossed it after she finally managed to get those two people to leave. She’s done, she has nothing, the same thoughts kept repeating. She tossed her garments away, another reminder of what she failed to do, who she isn’t, and what she actually is.

A failure, no… worse than a failure, since she actually made things worse . She could have ran away, if she could find the will to even care. Maybe she should just get herself killed? She wouldn’t be a waste of resources then. Or maybe she’ll just stay here until starvation kicks in and takes her, she doesn’t deserve a quick death, not after all she’s done, all she’s caused.

“Lucina!” The cheery voice of Morgan calls out, “I have great news!” He lets himself in without a second thought. She catches a look before he notices her, his wounds were healed at least. “I did the… Lucina?” Then he notices her, the future princess’s gaze has already shifted away by then. “Lucina?” His good mood fades and he approaches her, “Gods, what happened?” His touch is there, but there’s no warmth, none that she feels. His hand strokes her face, nothing, she can’t even shed tears, there’s nothing left. “Lucina? Please say something.”

“You should find someone else.” She dismisses him, he deserves more.

“What are you talking about? Come on, love. You’re worrying me.” His hands continue to check her over.

“Morgan, you deserve someone better.” He stops at that, “I’ve already screwed up so much.”

“Lucina? Lucina!” He grips her bare shoulders, “Don’t talk like that, please. What’s wrong?” She refuses to respond, “Gods, Lucina! I want you . I need you … I did this for you !” A flicker comes and goes within her, “If anything, I’m the one who didn’t deserve you. I was weak, I had nothing for me except my little talent for tactics. I never knew what you saw in me. I wanted to be strong, like you and…”

“I’m not strong, Morgan.” She interrupts him, “I’m not the beacon of strength like you think I am.”

“Th-That’s a lie! You stood up against Grima, you fought against…”

“I gave in.” She finally admits, but it’s emotionless as ever, “Before I found you. I was so worried then. All of these changes happened, Plegia, Robin leaving. At the time, I just wanted you… I took Grima’s help, I wanted to hold you again. He pointed me to your location and I finally had you again. Things were getting better.”

“Lucina…” He frowns, clearly disappointed, but that couldn’t free her from the unending numbness. For a moment she thought he was going to leave, to pursue someone worth his time, not some failure, a broken woman. Then he hugs her, even if she couldn’t feel the body heat, she found her arms slowly wrapping around him, “I’m not leaving you. So what if you had a moment of weakness? We can get you out of this, nothing is set in stone. Not even a deal with the Fell Dragon, anything can change.”

He spoke with the conviction that she once had… that her father had. “...I’m holding you up to that, Morgan.” To her, they were empty words, she doubted that would happen… but he did do the Trial of the Sands, he survived a sandstorm. Maybe, just maybe this would work out to, in the end.

Chapter Text

The new High Priestess was an absolute mastermind, Henry almost felt sorry for Validar… almost. He laughed when he found out how he died, ‘It seems like he is was the one who got assassinated!’ And then there was Gangrel! ‘The fool became lunch to his own plan!’ He happily smiled as the Shepherds boarded the ship, “Hey, Mr. Exalt sir!” His face looks nothing short of happiness, ‘I wonder if they know about my killing streak?’ He does a half-bow, “I ‘sea’ you made it safely. Would you care for me to take another ‘bow’?”

“Gods… don’t tell me he is the one?” He hears Chrom sigh. “Are you, by any chance, named Henry?”

“Aw… I was hoping you would call me the Raven Lord, but yes. I’m boring, plain old Henry.”

“I am not calling you Raven Lord.”

“But you just did!” He raises a finger, “Nyahahaha, got you!” The man actually walks away, ‘Aw, he’s a stick in the mud type.’ Henry shrugs, ‘Oh well, let’s see if his army is any more fun than him.’ The Dark Mage takes the golden opportunity to walk around, the first to catch his eyes is a perky woman with pigtails, perfect! “Hey, my name is the Raven Lord, mind telling me yours?”

She half-smiles, “Hi Henry, I’m Lissa.” Wow, is his nickname like… boring? Why does no one want to use it? “You’re the Dark Mage the Queen assigned to us, right?”

“Yes ma’am! You’ll find no one stronger than I.” As an example he lets just a bit of his magical aura pulse, “I would do more, but I worry it might send the ship flying!”

“...An exaggeration, I’m sure.” Well, at least her mood hasn’t soured like Exalt Grumpy. “Y’know, you seem kind of… happy for a Dark Mage.”

“Ah, you mean I should be more like Tharja?” He receives a nod, “Nah, we’re…”

“You called?” Some tiny girl walks up to him, her eartips are like… really long, ‘Ooo, Manakete.’ “Who are you?”

“I’m the…”

“Henry, he is name is Henry.” Lissa interrupts, ‘I think I’m going to change my nickname.’ “Henry, this is Nah, N-A-H, Nah.”

“Wow, weird name.” He openly admits, “I would think of a nickname for you, but ‘nah’.” He starts laughing at his own pun. “Hey… do you have a brother named ‘yeah’?”

Clearly unimpressed, Nah walks away, leaving him and Lissa alone. “I think you need to work on your jokes… anyway, you were going to say earlier?” She smiles again, ‘Ooo, I think I like her.’

“We’re Dark Mages, not Gloom Mages. My service comes with a smile. It really brings up the atmosphere.”

“Still, I hear Dark Mages have some pretty… ugly spells.” She flinches as she thinks of something.

“If my spells are ugly, then they are ugly and proud!” His good mood never diminishes.

“...Hey, Henry?” She hesitantly asks.

“Yes, Lissa?”

“Do you mind… you know, staying happy like that? The mood has been kinda low recently.”

Henry raises an eyebrow, “Only if you keep your own smile on!”

At that, her smile forms, “Deal.” She actually hugs him, “That means so much to me.” She breaks the hug and skips off. ‘Huh… she’s kinda cute.’ He whistles as he walks away, ‘So, Valm? Wonder how well they will take to my spells?’
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The answer? Not too well, at least not the cavalry. The Shepherds arrived at a beach, where some woman was backed against a wall, pinned by three Knights, but somehow she still manages to dodge every strike. “Henry, save her!” ‘Ooo, first mission!’ With his smile still on, he blasts away a poor horse rider who thought he could get the better of him. ‘I wonder if they know about me?’ His mind seems to be on everything except the battle at hand, and why should he? This is too easy, these ‘Valmese’ clearly spend more time working on their physical defenses, his spells cut straight through them.

“I’m about to ‘caw’ out your death ‘crow’!” He laughs as the first of the three Knights melts inside his own armor, without a second to scream. “Death, it’s what’s for dinner!” The second drops as his body implodes, leaving the inside of his armor a gory mess. “A feast for the crows!” The third is paralyzed, then Henry uses his signature spell, summoning a murder of crows, ‘I clearly summon crows, so why do they call me the Raven Lord?’ Did people just not know the difference? Maybe he should start summoning ravens instead, or maybe, ‘No, that's it! I'll start calling myself the Crow Caller… Wait even better, The Crow Cawler!’

“Thank you.” Oh, that lady walks up to him, “I’d rather their deaths not be so…” She trails off, “But you still have my gratitude.”

“Wherever the Exalt points his finger, I kill. I’m just doing my job!” His smile never leaves and it seems to unnerve her. “Hey, mind calling me The Crow Cawler?”

“I… what?”

“Henry, stop.” Exalt Spoilsport walks up to them. “Pardon his childish manners.”

“Wait, Henry? As in the Raven Lord Henry?”

“The Crow Ca…”

“Yes, but when he is under my orders, he is just Henry.” Cranky Pants sounds crankier than usual, ‘Is that nickname so bad? I think it's great! Ooo, I should ask Lissa.’ The Dark Mage only takes one step before Chrom places a hand on his shoulder, “Where are you going?”

“Gonna ask for an opinion about the new nickname to Lissa.”

“If you do even one inappropriate thing to my sister…” The man lets the threat hang, ‘Ooo, a mysterious and unknown ending. I wonder what he'll do? Considering his nature, it'll probably be something boring, like a single stab. I mean, why stop at one?’ With his hand gone, Henry proudly walks over to the smiling princess, Lissa. ‘I should have a backup name, hm…’

Chapter Text

Simply put, the mood just keeps dropping and Lissa has ran out of ideas! Pranks aren't having an effect, she isn't exactly a good joke teller, and it is never a good idea to sneak up and start tickling someone. So, all she can do is put on a smile and try to be that beacon of happiness. It's honestly the hardest thing she had ever done… even healing the near-death Nah was far easier. ‘I know things aren't going well, but if could all smile, laugh, and joke like they did when…’

Her determined smile fades, “Robin…” Why did she leave? Chrom didn't mean what he said, everyone knew that. She misses the Tactician’s smile, but even that was rare. Then recently, there was that meeting with the Queen. She was so rude! She didn't seem to care about the Valmese coming at all! At least, not until her brother said he'd do anything. Then her attitude flipped, she used his anger against him, she knew exactly what buttons to push… like she knew him.

What raised her suspicions was that veil of magic over her, something today prevented her own magic from ‘connecting’ to. She was somehow concealing her identity on a magical level. It was all just pumping out the wrong signals. Who is she? Even Nah and Morgan had no clue, they said that her scent was being hidden, too!

And on top of all that, after Chrom chose Morgan to be his champion for that absurd ‘trial’, gods know she doesn’t want hear a thing about another Burial Worm again... her brother, Sully, and Lucina were… gone. Not gone as in they left, but they just weren’t themselves. Chrom became incredibly tense whenever either Sully or the Queen was around. Sully looked more worked up than usual around Chrom or the Queen. Lucina, gods that woman, she looked dead , almost like, no even more than Nah did. At least the half-Manakete responded in some way, the future princess didn’t.

The rest of the Shepherds were somewhere between silent and serious, or were on the borderline of depression. When Morgan came back, he was the only one who wasn’t in that same mood, in fact, the once self-deprecating Tactician became the most confident one, something happened on that Trial, well something besides being almost torn apart by a sandstorm. ‘And the Queen had the absolute nerve to deny him healing until he handed her the fruit!’ Of course she fought back against that, she’s a healer and healers heal! Becoming a healer just causes one to form some sort of automatic response to wounds, just like how training with a weapon causes one to attain reflexes.

Then there was that really strange question Chrom asked before the Queen interrupted, ‘Why did he want her to join us?’ Frederick looked even more concerned, Sully looked disgusted, and she was baffled. She declined and told them that she would send the ‘Single Strongest Dark Mage’, the Cleric had to resist the urge to roll her eyes. Surely no one could be that powerful, right? Apparently he was already at the port, waiting for them, but it took her a while to recognize just who he was.

He was happy, genuinely happy, which she found really weird, she thought he would be more like Tharja, but no. Smiling, making admittedly bad puns, but at least he tried, and he laughed. The first person who joined their group who at least had a smile on a face. So, he was weird, but he was weird and happy, she found herself wanting to talk with him, and she realized just how bad she missed seeing people smile. Chrom didn’t seem to like him, but she did.

Anyway, when the Shepherds landed on the Valmese beach, she finally got to see firsthand how powerful the ‘single strongest Dark Mage’ is and… gods, it was no exaggeration. One spell would rip through any given enemy, followed by… crows? The birds would pop out of nowhere, and it wasn’t until the fifth murder of crows before she realized they were conjured, magical crows. She never heard of such a spell, ‘So, why did they call him the Raven Lord if he summons crows?’ Brother sent him to rescue some poor woman cornered by three Knights and he just tore a path straight to her.

By the time he rescued her, the rest of the Shepherds had cleared the battlefield, and as such, she, Maribelle, and Libra immediately started tending to the wounded. It wasn’t as bad as normal, but she still wished Robin were here, they could have made it without any major wounds. ‘Gods, I miss her.’ Not to say that Morgan was bad! No, he did a great job, but even with the confidence boost, it’s clear that he and Robin are on different levels.

“Heya, Lissa!” Henry greets her after she finishes with her portion, like he was waiting patiently before saying anything.

“Hello, Henry.” He has a smile on his face, like normal, and so she returns it with her own. Her smile isn’t even forced! She is genuinely happy to see him. “You uh… weren’t kidding about the ‘strongest Dark Mage’ thing.” Some of the deaths got… messy.

“Yup! R-...” He coughs on… something, “The High Priestess doesn’t joke around.”

‘High Prie… oh, right. The Queen of Plegia is also the High Priestess of the Grimleal. I wonder how she pulls it off? Leading two separate things at once?’ Frankly, the Grimleal left a bad taste in her mouth, but she tried really hard to be more like her sister, so she gave the Queen a chance. “I can tell, but… could you maaaybe cut back on the, you know, ‘explosions’ some?”

He pauses, in thought, “That kinda makes my spells start ‘blowing’, and I think you all need the extra oomph, so, sorry.” He looks apologetic, at the very least.

Still, she giggles from his pun, “Well, I tried.”

“That’s all that matters!” As usual, his smile has yet to leave his face, “Oh! Right, I wanted your opinion on something. You know how I’m called the Raven Lord? Well, I was hoping to change that, since…”

“You summon crows, right?” She interrupts and his smile somehow doubles.

“Exactly! See, I knew you would get it! I was thinking something like the ‘Crow Cawler’.” Ah, of course he would make a pun out of it.

“It’s cheesy and the pun is horrible,” She gives him her best smile, “So it’s perfect!”

“Awesome! Look out Valmese, here comes Henry, the Crow Cawler!” He laughs and she joins him. “Anyway, I should probably get going, can’t keep you distracted, right? A healer’s work is never done and all that.”

He takes a few steps, “Hey… Crow Cawler.” He stops and turns around, a huge smile adorning his face from the nickname, “Could you, I dunno, maybe make some time to spend with me?” She turns away, a small flush forming, “I would like it a lot.”

He places a finger on his chin, exaggerating the effort, “Sure thing!” With that, he leaves.

‘I wish more of us would smile like you do, ‘Crow Cawler’.’ The smile stays as he leaves. “Ah, my darling Lissa.” Maribelle approaches her, “It’s good to see that wonderful smile on your face again.” Her best friend’s face also lights up.

“Of course! It’s always a good idea to keep a smile on!” She giggles.

“You are quite right, camp has been dreadfully dull without your shining smile to light the world. Ah, but I almost forgot, would you care to join me for a cup of tea later?” She asks that, but Maribelle knows Lissa wouldn’t decline.

“That sounds wonderful!” Lissa’s bright smile remains as her best friend takes her leave, ‘Now, I need to plan something for Henry, but what?’ She may have suggested it, but she really doesn’t know what he likes, other than puns of course.

Chapter Text

The short reprieve on that beach was the only one the Shepherds had for days . Conqueror Walhart seemed to have the entirety of Valm on patrol, there were multiple skirmishes every day, even when they tried to take the roundabout paths. As such, Lissa and Henry had to delay her much desired time together, there simply wasn’t enough time in the day. She usually went to bed exhausted, magically that is, but being magically depleted would bleed into physical exhaustion, it’s something all magic users learn. If you use too much magic, you’ll end up using your own stamina, and in the worst case, you can even end up dying. The Shepherds needed another healer, as Maribelle, Libra, and her could only go on for so long.

Traditional healing methods started becoming the recommended path, while major wounds received healing. While that relieved the stress off of the healers, it meant they took longer to heal. One day, Chrom told them of a village in need of help, but there was another reason. Apparently there was a report of a person that caught Morgan’s, Nah’s, and Lucina’s attention, someone the boy claimed was part of the Shepherd’s children, the idea brought good will to the group. Another fighter, someone else to aid them. After that fact became known, the group was reenergized, it would be worth the detour. Since after Nah had completely recovered, she proved to be a force to be reckoned with, if they could get a few more like her…

When they arrived in the village, the elder pointed them towards another closer, but abandoned, it’s supposedly been overrun by bandits. He also said some man that ‘wasn’t quite right in the head’ charged off, claiming he could ‘free them of their dastardly ways’. His wording caused the other future children to feel even more confident that this man is one of them, but they refused to disclose who the parents are. Morgan gave a very convincing reason, of course, but that didn’t stop Lissa’s curiosity. Still, she managed to contain it, they had a battle to prepare for.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The bandits were a bit of an issue, but with the help of the mystery child, they were taken out. True to the elder’s word, he seemed… eccentric. Like he read one too many heroic stories, he shouted his attack names, and talked about his ‘aching blood’ and ‘twitching sword hand’. Morgan, Lucina, and Nah were obviously used to his antics, and while the other Shepherds found him a bit too much at the time, Lissa found it adorable. Which made sense, because when he saw her, he ran up to her…

“Mother!” The man, Owain, gave her an embrace that meant the world, his attitude crumbled when he came to her. “Gods, I missed you so much.”

She returned his hug, “It’s okay, momma’s here.” Even though this was the first time she met him, she felt like she has known him her entire life. Chrom and Sully mentioned a similar feeling, but now she knows what they meant. She could make out a number of hairs that matched her color, but the others? ‘I was kinda hoping they would be white…’ No, it was more of a dark brown-red color. ‘But it doesn’t change the fact that I’ll love him with everything.’

“Y-Yes, of course!” His composure forms once more when their hug ends, “I, Owain Dark, hereby vow to defend you and the others with all my might, fear thee my blade villains!” She smiles at his antics. Later that night, the Shepherds finally earned another moment of peace, Chrom took up the elder’s offer of staying the night. While they need to move, it would be a bad idea to push themselves so much…

Which meant she could finally have her night with Henry! Gods, she has been looking forward to this for so long now, she never even had the chance to talk to him since that day. She had just been sooo busy. So, with a determined stride, she set out to search for the ever-smiling Dark Mage. First she went to the tavern, where a number of the Shepherds were getting some well-earned ale in, Sully was one of them, and she looked so relaxed. ‘I knew we needed this.’ It was the perfect remedy, they were all so happy, and even if it was just the alcohol, Lissa was glad to see them like that. Though the Crow Cawler wasn’t there. ‘Alright, maybe the market?’

The market had about an hour or so left before the merchants would take their leave. She saw the likes of Cordelia, Sumia, and Miriel out there, but still no Henry. However, she did catch a glimpse of Cordelia and Sumia holding hands, and not in the typical friendly way, ‘Wow, I didn’t know they were together.’ Normally, she might have pointed it out and teased them, but now’s not the time. She knows she wouldn’t want her time to be interrupted, they needed the break. So, she moved on, perhaps he was simply walking around?

She gave the town one quick look-over, nothing. ‘He didn’t call it early, did he?’ Starting to feel worried, she checked the increasingly smaller town as more and more people started to go into their homes, spending the rest of the day with their families. Where was he? He didn’t forget, right? It was probable he did, since it’s been over a week since they made that promise, and every battle was so intense. “Lissa darling, what are you doing at this hour?” Maribelle must have some sort of magical connection, because she seems to have appeared out of nowhere. “The sun has almost set, you might catch a cold, wandering around here like this.”

“Oh, I’m just looking for Henry.” She admits with no shame, she knows Maribelle wouldn’t tease her.

“Henry? I saw him in the markets earlier, but the stalls have closed by now. Would you care for me to help you search?” She offers.

“Yes please.” She smiles as her best friend walks by her side.

“Pardon my curiosity, but may I ask why?”

“Of course I don’t mind telling you. You see, when we got to Valm, after the beach, I asked to… well, I wanted to spend some time with him, and we haven’t had a break really, not without me being exhausted. I’m kinda worried that he might have forgotten by now.” She looks away, “I don’t blame him, of course, it has been over a week now.”

“I see.” She nods, but otherwise stays silent. The two give the town two swift patrols, but it sadly ends up being fruitless, “Darling, I would love to look through every nook and cranny with you, but we should really get into the inn.”

“...Yeah. It is colder here than Ylisse. Not as bad as Regna Ferox though!” Her heart feels heavier. “Thanks anyway though, we haven’t had the chance to do this recently, either.” She smiles.

Another nod, “I agree, most of our time ‘together’ is spent in the clinic, sharing a few sentences as most.” The two enter the inn, the fire from the fireplace making it feel so much better, “Well, have a good night, Lissa.”

“You too, Maribelle!” She waves as they go to their respective rooms, but as she entered hers, nearly asleep, she could have sworn she caught a glimpse of a deep purple cloak. ‘Probably Morgan.’ The boy is known for his restless nature. Shrugging it off, she heads to the bed and goes to sleep, too tired to even bother changing into proper sleeping attire.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
When she woke up, she felt rested, but not really rested. Like she never really fell asleep, it was a really strange feeling. “Hope it’s just a day of marching.” It will be much easier to find Henry if they end up camping. Regardless, she smooths out her dress and readies herself for the day. The tavern is lively once more, morning chatter fills the air and the smell of coffee almost consumes the first floor. The chirpy princess walks out, as the crisp morning air does a much better job with waking her up, even if it’s a bit too chilly.

“Ah, good morning mother!” Owain is stretching… in the middle of town. “I hope that the night demons have not bothered you?”

She smiles, “Nope. Did you sleep well?”

“Of course!” His smile matches hers, “They dare not interfere with me, as even the most vile of creatures know to fear… AH!” She holds back a giggle as his theatrical behaviour kicks in, “No! I must… stay my sword hand! There are no demons here… I must, contain myself!”

“Owain…” She calmly starts, briefly breaking his exaggerated ‘pain’, “I love you.”

His face flushes, “M-Mother…” He looks so cute when he is embarrassed, “I, love you, too.” Giving him her best smile, she walks off, getting back to the Convoy, where only a few Shepherds… ‘Ooo, Cordelia and Sumia, trying to be so sneaky, hiding there.’ Granted, they aren’t really ‘hiding’ but they are also not in plain sight.

Letting her curiosity get the better of her, she listens in, “...you faring?” It’s Cordelia.

“Oh you know, tripping on air, breaking my nose, the usual.” The clumsy Pegasus Knight sighs.

“Oh, I’m sorry I wasn’t there to catch you, again.”

“No, it’s okay, you can’t always be there. I just… gotta stop being such a clutz.”

“Sumia, you may be a clutz.” The air feels… different, ‘I should go, but…’ “But you’re my clutz.” Lissa squeaks as a flush forms, ‘Gods, they really are together! How cute !’

Her mind races, “Lissa?” She didn’t even notice the two approach her, ‘Busted.’

“Uh, look! My toad is hopping away!” The princess chases the invisible toad, taking a turn as soon as possible.

Even though the Shepherds didn’t engage in a battle that night, Lissa still couldn’t find Henry when they camped. ‘He’s… not avoiding me, right?’ She didn’t mess up, right? He’s not hard to find, if his white hair doesn’t cause him to stick out enough as is, his laughter is really hard to miss.

Chapter Text

Sumia exhales, part sigh and part exhaustion, as she picks herself up off the ground, again… for the third time today. ‘Just… why?’ Put her on a Pegasus and she can perform miracles, put her on the ground and she trips on thin air. She has no idea what Cordelia sees in her, because all she can see is some goofball that can’t do anything right. ‘Gods know I don’t need to be reminded of burning down Frederick’s tent.’ Still, she tries her best, just like everyone else.

Owain joined their group recently and he’s… certainly something. He shouts about ‘aching blood’ and ‘twitching sword hands’, but he’s undoubtedly an expert in swordplay, and he’s Lissa’s son! Sumia doesn’t recognize the dark-brown and red hair color, just like how she doesn’t recognize the light-green color in Morgan’s and Nah’s hair. Lucina’s hair is all blue, like Chrom’s. She simply wonders if they just haven’t met their fathers’ yet. She wonders what they are like…

She wonders what her child is like, who she ends up marrying. Oh, and Cordelia! She wonders what her child is like, who she married. The topic of future children started becoming a recurrence, a much needed break from all the thoughts of war and battles. Not everyone shared the same sentiments, but a few did. Cordelia, Maribelle, and… that’s it, actually. The three women would get together and share their ideas, gossiping like the friends they were. It would be nice if more joined their little sessions… she knows that the one person who could figure that is…

Robin. ‘Gods, I miss her.’ Everyone did, it’s an unspoken fact. Even Owain, who tries to hide behind his persona. She can only imagine how respected the Tactician was in their time, because there was apparently one, but huge, difference in their time. Robin never left the Shepherds, she was there for it all, the war against Plegia, against Valm, and even the impending war against the Grimleal. It’s awful how one change caused all of this, Chrom swearing revenge on the Plegians. But, she doesn’t blame him, he was angry, he didn’t mean it. Morgan is a great Tactician, and his skills only grow day to day, but is just isn’t the same, the two are very similar, but Robin had this… aura about her. Sumia wonders how she is faring, if she regrets leaving, if she even knows they’re in Valm. She wonders how she would react to knowing about Morgan and Nah, how she would…

But she won’t know, because she isn’t here. “...Sumia?” Cordelia’s voice snaps her from her thoughts, “You looked pretty focused on the horizon, is something the matter?”

“Hm? No, just thinking.” She pauses as Cordelia stands beside her, “About… if Robin never left.”

“We all miss her, Sumia.” The Pegasus Knight immediately picks up.

“Do you think… she’ll ever come back?”

“Some wounds can only heal with time. We all know Chrom didn’t mean it, but even so, it clearly hurt her terribly. She just needs time.” Cordelia sounds so confident, so assured.

“What do you see in me?” She finally asks, “I’m such a goofball, I always mess everything up. I…”

“Do you want the honest answer? The truth?” She interrupts, a heavy flush on her face.

“Well, yeah. Because there are so many other people out there better than me.” She closes her eyes and sighs…

“Sumia,” The clumsy Pegasus Knight opens her eyes and turns towards the other, the setting sun suddenly makes her seem so much more… radiant, like the gods themselves recognize how much better she is, “it’s because well.” She coughs, “Sumia, I love you. I’m in love with you.”

Wait, what?! “You…?!” Sumia wasn’t sure if she heard that right, “Did you just say that… you, me? You don’t just, you know, like me?” She fumbles over her own words. “And not like like, but like you really like like as in…” She is cut off by Cordelia’s lips, the action speaking more than any word can.

“Does that answer your question?” She seems to glow even more, Sumia’s heart races.

“Y-Yes!” Her flush doubles, “I… don’t know what to, wait! I do know what to say, but… gods, I’m…”

“Take a breath, clear your mind.” She calmly replies.

Taking her advice, she breathes, “Cordelia, I didn’t realize until just now, but… I love you, too. Even if… no. I’m glad to be your clutz.”

She giggles, “No, I’m the clutz, here. Since I’m the one who fell for you.”

Sumia pauses, before she starts laughing out loud, “I… I guess you’re right.” A short moment of silence, “Can you uh, do that again? The kissing part?”

“All you need to do is ask.” The two share another kiss, wrapping around their arms around each other, completely entranced by…

A nearby branch snaps and Cordelia is on the defensive in a second’s notice. “Oh, sorry.” It’s Henry, but… he looks so serious, ‘He’s been like that for about a week now’ , the smile is gone, “I honestly didn’t realize you two were around here, pardon me.”

Concerned, Sumia calls him out, “Hold on, Henry.”

“Yes, Sumia?” The lack of a smile disturbs her more than any spell he has ever casted.

“You know Lissa keeps looking for you, right? She was really upset when she couldn’t find you.”

“...I know.” He frowns.

“And you know that hurts her, right?” Cordelia adds.

“...I know.” Something is off, if his lack of cheerful demeanor is anything to go by.

“Is that is? ‘I know’? Come on, where did you laughter go? Your and Lissa’s smiles brought so much joy to the camp, but now you’re both frowning. What happened?”

“The High Priestess orders stated that I obey every command Exalt Chrom gives.” There is zero emotion in his voice.

“...Wait, what !?” Sumia squeaks, “Chrom… ordered you to? That’s…” She gasps, “That’s so wrong!”

“...I know.” He shrugs it off, “But it’s his wish, so I obey. I don’t question, I just do.” He is obviously bothered by it, but his loyalty to follow what is ultimately the Queen of Plegia’s orders is second to none. He is even willing to discard what he loves doing to follow them. “Again, I’m sorry to have interrupted your moment together. Please, excuse me.” He leaves.

“I’m telling him.” Sumia states after he is out of earshot. “Wait no, I’m telling Lissa. She’ll get to Chrom the best.” She looks at Cordelia, a serious look on her face, before it turns to a smile at the very sight of her love, “We… can do this later, right?”

“All you need to do is ask, my love.” Sumia’s heart skips a beat, My love. Gods, she loves me!’

Chapter Text

Lissa idly pokes her tea-time snack, letting out a sigh. It’s official, Henry is avoiding her. She literally hasn’t seen him since they arrived. And she knows that regardless of how strong he is, there is no way he never got injured. But, she has never seen him in the clinic, no laughter echoes through the camp, nothing! What did she do wrong? Maribelle sits across their small table, Sumia and Cordelia are also absent, but Lissa has a pretty good idea on what they’re doing. The small baked good is starting to get stale from sitting out for so long, her tea is lukewarm at best.

“Lissa, darling?” She knew Maribelle would say something, but her best friend was waiting for her to speak up first, “Mind telling me what has your mind so consumed?”

“It’s Henry.” She lets out another sigh, “He’s avoiding me. I don’t know what I did wrong. Was it too early to ask for time together? It’s not like it was going to be a date or anything. Maybe it…” She stops herself.

“I wish I could help, but I haven’t seen skin or hair of him, either.” It clearly bothers her, “Despite him standing out so obviously, he has some sort of invisibility spell… like Kellam.” She levels a look, “Trust me dear, when I find him…”

“Don’t.” She interrupts, “Please don’t threaten him or anything, just let him know I really want to see him again. I want to see his smile, hear his laughter, and…”

“You like him, don’t you?” She smiles, “Lissa darling, it sounds like you might have a crush on him.”

“I do, don’t I?” A small smile forms, “But, how can I not? It’s probably the smile… and the laughter… and his puns. Okay, it’s everything except those messy spells.”

“Sorry we’re late!” Cordelia and Sumia walk in and by the looks from their hair, Lissa’s suspicions are confirmed. They both see Lissa and are immediately concerned.

“Ah, nice of you to join us.” Maribelle smiles, “It was becoming dreadfully dull without all of us here.”

Lissa forces a smile, “Yea! We couldn’t think of any good topics without you two!”

Sumia and Cordelia share a look, “Lissa,” Sumia starts, “We saw Henry.”

Her eyes light up, “You did?! Where?”

“Lissa darling, your manners.” Lissa noticed she just knocked her tea aside. “But, considering the topic, I can excuse it… this time.”

“I… promise you won’t get too worked up, okay?” The clumsy Pegasus Knight looks rather nervous.

“What? Of course I won’t. I just really want to see him again.” Gods, she sounds so desperate.

“Well, you know he is to follow every single order Chrom gives him, right?” It’s Cordelia this time. “We managed to get him to say that he was ordered to stop being so cheerful, and…” She lets the rest hang.

“He… what?!” Lissa feels nothing less than hurt, “Brother, ordered him to? That’s… why I outta.”

“You ‘ought to’ sit for a moment, darling.” Maribelle’s voice cuts through her anger, “Take a moment to collect yourself, then approach your brother.” Lissa takes a breath and nods, ‘She’s right.’
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
By the end of their tea party, Lissa’s stress has left her, she excuses herself and goes to talk to her brother, feeling much better. It was a terrible idea to go to him immediately, she didn’t want to go and say something she would forever regret. “Frederick!” She spots the Great Knight before her brother, “Where’s Chrom?”

“He is in a war meeting with Morgan. Do you wish for me to relay a message to him?” Ever observant.

“Yes please, I just need to talk to him, but it’s not super urgent, I can wait until he’s done.” Her heart says it’s more important and if she hadn’t waited, she would have had Frederick get him now. But that wouldn’t be the smart thing to do, better to wait.

“Of course milady. May I ask where you wish to meet him? Or would you have me ask him to wait in the war room?”

“War room, I guess. Just lemme know when he’s done, okay?” It honestly doesn’t matter to her, but to Frederick? Every detail matters… just like the weeds he plucks out of the ground.

“At once, milady. Anything else?”

“Nope, thank you, Frederick!” He returns his courtesies and she takes her leave to sit by the campfire, ‘It’s way too cold here.’ She remember how cold Robin always seemed in Ylisse. ‘She never took off that robe of hers, even when she had both a sweater and coat under it!’ She didn’t understand how she was so cold, until the princess walked the deserts of Plegia. Robin was simply accustomed to the overbearing heat of Plegia, but it didn’t change the fact she wore her cloak everywhere, but at least she seemed comfortable then.

Over an hour passed in silence before Frederick finally returned, her brother was finished with the meeting, with more thanks, she made her way to the tent, where Chrom patiently waited. Though he did look more tired than usual, ‘The war must be getting to him.’ He looks up from the map and gives a weary smile, “Hello, Lissa. Frederick told me you wanted to talk?”

Gods, she can see the bags under his eyes, “Yup.” She tries to cheer him up with her smile, to little effect. “You should try to get more sleep, y’know. It’d be bad for you to fall asleep during a war meeting or something.”

He chuckles, “Did you really take time out of your day to mother me?” At least he laughed.

“Well, no, but I couldn’t help it.” The air turns a little more serious, “Chrom, it’s about, well… you know. Your new command thing with him.” He furrows his brows as he processes her admittedly vague statement. “You know, the thing the Queen said you could do.”

Then he scowls, “Henry? He didn’t pester you, did he?” Gods, he really does dislike him. “I told him…”

“That’s just it!” She tries to keep her mood upbeat, “Chrom, he’s the first one to bring a smile to the camp in sooo long, but then you tell him to stop, why?”

“We can’t afford to lose focus with that.” Oh, what a pitiful excuse.

“With ‘that’? Were my pranks and jokes ‘that’ as well, then?” She pouts. “And you told him to avoid me too, why?” He pauses, unable to form a good reason, “It’s because he’s Plegian, isn’t it? Well you know what? I don’t care. I like it when he smiles, I like his laugh, he brought the mood up. Even Sumia and Cordelia agree, I think he should be free to laugh and joke. It really hurt morale when you told him to stop… it really hurt me, too.”

“He’s Plegian, he…”

“Is that it?!” She cuts him off, “Gods brother, are you even listening to yourself? You can’t just go around saying you hate someone just because they are Plegian or whatever! It’s just not right!” She pauses, takes a breath, but is still considerably irritated, “I… I might not have known him all that well, but it’s claims like that… that.” Another breath, “Make you sound like our father!” She recoils the moment she says that.

A beat passes, then two, “...You’re right.” He relents. “Gods, I was sounding like him, wasn’t I? I’m sorry, Lissa. I’ll go to Henry and retract that order.”

She smiles, “Thank you, brother.”

“Of course. Again, I’m sorry, it’s just… since that day with Gangrel.” He stops himself, “It’s hard, you know? I’ve always viewed Plegians in a bad light, but it was hard not to. They would raid Ylisse, burn down villages, then Gangrel came along and… gods.”

“Hey, it’s alright. We just got to make amends, right?”

“Amends… right.” Strangely, he tenses.

“Chrom…?” She doesn’t like the way his fists are clenching.

“It’s nothing. You should get to sleep, I’ll tell Henry to be himself tomorrow.” He walks out, his steps are stiff. ‘What did I do wrong, now?’

Chapter Text

It didn’t take her long to figure things out, she’s too observant, too keen, and after squeezing that last bit of information out of Lucina, she knew what was going on. They say hindsight is 20/20, and she agrees. Nah was telling the truth, she is Robin’s daughter from the future, and Morgan is her future son. At first she dismissed the idea, even disowning them, but now? After Lucina just broke down? She knew. There’s only one person in the world who can disassemble someone like that.

Herself. Her future self is out there, somewhere. “Robin?” Tharja picked up on her worries.

“High Priestess?” Aversa adds.

“I need to go.” She can’t leave as the Queen, the High Priestess, or even as Robin. All three would leave a trail to her. There weren’t many places to hide, not from herself. “The person who broke Lucina was me, a future me, she came with the other children.”

“Are you sure?” Aversa is doubtful, but Robin understands that.

“Shall we come with you?” Tharja asks.

Robin’s heart says yes, but, “No. I need you two to watch over your assigned duties.” She levels a look on them, “I’m going to Valm to buy a ring.” She utters in the most serious manner, “When either me or that other Robin comes in, make sure you, in some way or the other, ask what I was doing. If I don’t respond with that, observe, send reports when you can. Don’t give yourselves away, the more I know, the better.”

“As you wish, My Queen.” Tharja nods, “Where are you going, exactly?”

“Valm.” She says, “I’m joining up with the Shepherds, I need to attend to my pieces personally, make sure the future me doesn’t mess with them.” She looks over her luggage. “And I’ve no choice but to go as Robin, as risky as it is.” Her High Priestess robe and Queen dress lie to the side, while she has her old Grimleal robe back on. “Aversa, can you contact Henry from here? I need a location. I say ask for about a week ahead.”

“I’ll let you know within the hour, H… Robin.” She takes her leave.

“Tharja…” Robin breathes, “I can’t seem to stay still, can I?”

“I will wait until the end of time, if I have to, love.”

The Tactician pauses, “You will have to restrain that love, you know? Apparently that Robin married a Manakete named Nowi.” She frowns, “But I’ll make it up to you.”
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
She can’t believe it, she’s actually going to rejoin the Shepherds. If Chrom knows what’s good for him, he will have kept the secret that the Queen and Robin are the same. She can’t have that getting out. She takes a breath as she disembarks the boat, ‘I wonder how they’ll react?’ She essentially destroyed every bridge with Chrom and Sully, there’s no way she’ll ever make up what she’s done. ‘Which is why I have a direct order from the ‘Queen’.’ She’ll force her way in, if she has to. She needs to make sure they succeed…

She needs to make sure she remains in control, this future Robin won’t have them, they are her pawns. Nobody else will move her pieces. A few days away, apparently they took a detour to some village or whatever, ‘Yep, sounds like something Chrom would do.’ They only went further south from there, to another village needing help. ‘Gods, I’m getting a headache just thinking about it.’ The Shepherds will lose the war if they keep scampering around and helping every single little godsdamn village. She will fix that, Chrom will have no say if she orders it.

After all, the peace between Plegia and Ylisse is at stake.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
As a single unit, she is easily able maneuver around the many patrols the Valmese has. Day after day passes without incident and before long, she catches up to them. Their camp is on the horizon, it seems they have already wasted their time in the second village and are going to their original destination. Sending her horse into a gallop, she closes the remaining distance. ‘Well, here I go.’

Her presence was announced by Stahl, who had first watch, along with… some woman. Henry says her name is… Say’ri? “Robin? Robin!” Most of the Shepherds welcome her en masse, somehow still willing to accept her. Henry stayed his place, since they technically haven’t ‘met’ yet. Chrom leveled a glare, before putting on a fake smile to prevent suspicion.

“You’re here!” Lissa is the first to approach her, “We missed you so much!” Robin got off her horse and lets the perky princess hug her, “It’s been way too long.”

“Robin.” Chrom nods, “It’s… good to have you back.” A clear lie, but he knows better than to speak his mind. “How did you know where we were?”

She pulls out the letter, “My Queen ordered me to join you.” Chrom refuses it, and simply nods in response.

“R-Robin?” Morgan and Nah were next, their eyes have widened and they approach with caution. There was a difference between them, however, Morgan stood with the confidence of a Plegian from this time, Nah did not. ‘The difference is so obvious, and all he had to do was go through the Trial.’

For a moment, Robin was unsure how to greet them. With Morgan being so upright and confident, she has no problem calling him her son, but Nah? She’s still timid, unsure, scared, such things would be more than enough to throw her into the deserts. Plegia is a harsh mistress and she has no room for those who can’t handle her. If you can’t bear Plegia, then you have no right to use her resources.

“Morgan, Nah.” Her eyes switch from affectionate to Morgan, to an indifference to Nah. ‘I can’t accept you, Nah. Not until you prove yourself as Morgan did.’ Her gaze travels back to Chrom, “So, shall I see the map and hear of your recent endeavours?”

“Of course, Robin.” His voice is still stiff, she’s going to have to do something about that. The two travel to the War Room, where Robin both closes the flap and places a Silencing Ward on it. Knowing Chrom the first thing that’ll happen is, “Now, why are you here?” Yep, she knew that would happen.

“Walhart needs to be stopped.” She crosses her arms, preparing herself for whatever he will sling her way.

“I used that reason on that damn island, try again.”

She shrugs, “Fine, I needed to keep an eye on my pieces.”

“Is that all we are to you? Pieces?” One of his hands slam on the table, “Friends? Comrades? Family? That’s what we call each other, why don’t you? And don’t you dare use that flimsy ‘because I’m a Tactician.’ You did just fine when you did care when you joined and Morgan was doing just fine now!”

“At least I’m willing to keep you alive.”

“Oh really? So you can what? Beat us into submission later?! So you can place a leash and collar to guide us wherever the hell pleases you?” Ah, there’s his temper.

“You’re right, I don’t care. I won’t care. But I’m also not going to sit idly by while some imposter runs around using my board.”

He falters, “Imposter?”

“You think I’m sadistic? Look at you, you still have will left, I made sure I didn’t go too far. Now, take a look at Lucina, she’s further gone than Nah was. And with the bits of information I have collected, I know , not just think, I know that there is a Robin out there from this ‘future’ timeline. She broke Lucina.”

“Another Robin?” He echoes, “Well, at least this Robin actually had the heart to fall in love with someone. Someone who brought two wonderful children into being.”

“Are you implying you would rather let the other Robin lead you?” This… idiot!

“Perhaps.”

“Tch.” She waves him off, “Fine, Exalt. When she shows up, I’ll be sure to leave this spot wide open, but until then. Do your part and listen to me . What’s the situation?” She turns her gaze to the map.

“The Shepherds assisted two villages, each having a child from the future, Owain and Cynthia.”

“The yelling fanatic boy and the heroic chirpy girl.” Henry had told her of them.

“You…”

“Anything else?” It’s going to be a long day.

Chapter Text

Mo… Robin’s back! Morgan was overjoyed, but that immediately turned to sadness, ‘You’re no son of mine.’ That was the worst thing he had ever heard, Nah received the same treatment. She thought him too weak, ‘Plegians don’t complain.’ He was weak, his tactics were subpar, his magic needed work. All he hoped was to at least receive praise, that at least he tried, but that isn’t enough for this Robin. He didn’t know what to do.

Her attitude changed when she saw him this time, in Valm. He saw it in her eyes, compassion. He wasn’t sure what he did, but he felt so much better. Mother and Chrom went to the War Room, while Morgan went back to his tent to visit Lucina, who still seemed nothing more than an empty shell. “Lucina? Love?” He gently asks as he pokes his head in… she’s still lying on the bed.

“Morgan.” Still as hollow as ever. “Hi.” At least it looks like she’s trying to be emotional.

“Mother’s back.” He whispers as he takes a spot on the bed.

“Robin? I thought she…?” Even curiosity seems to be dulled.

“I guess she heard about the Trial of the Sands.” It was the only thing he could think of, “How are you?”

“...Does it matter?” She pulls back, “Morgan, you should really find someone else.”

“Then why do you choose to sleep in my tent?” He counters, “Are you wanting me closer or farther?”

“I don’t know.” She admits.

“Closer it is, then.” He gives her a smile as he snakes his arms around her, giving the future princess a tight hug, “I’m not leaving your side, Lucina.”

“...I know.” She sighs and stays silent afterwards, the two eventually end up taking a nap in that position.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Morgan woke up to see Lucina gone, his bed is empty once more. ‘Lucina…’ He gets up and stretches, deciding to head out. The camp is still relatively quiet, with the exception of Lissa’s and Henry’s laughter, the two have come to care a lot for each other in the short amount of time. “Ah, Morgan! The son of the ungodly skilled Tactician.” Owain approaches him.

“Don’t describe mother as ‘ungodly’, please.” It didn’t sit right with him, and as he looks the man over, he seemed... “No, we haven’t seen Gregor yet. Or Nowi and Panne.” It was a rather random selection of Shepherds, something that piqued Morgan's interest. Of course, Nowi is his mommy, so he is obviously concerned for her, but what of the other two? Where's the connection, if any? He would have said because of their enhanced senses, but Gregor isn't included in that list. “Are you bothered that…?”

His facade of ‘Owain Dark’ crumbles, “I had hoped to see Father again, but… as long as Mother is… happy.” A few specks of tears form, but that’s really it, the man keeps himself calm, “I won’t interfere, if, if destiny chose them in this time, then they shall be together.” His eyes bore straight into Morgan, “And what of you? How does the absence of Nowi affect you?”

He actually manages to get a chuckle out, “I think the camp would be affected more by Nowi than me. Remember the time she burned down the Mess Hall?”

Owain smiles, “Oh, right! She said she was starting the fire for the cook-pot, and used her dragon breath.” Nowi… wasn’t exactly allowed to cook after that. “Frederick gave her another chance though, right?”

“Yup, and she ended up charring the food.” That was the point she was banned from cooking, ‘And now that I think about it, she probably did it on purpose.’ His mommy is too free-spirited to be tied down by cooking. “I wonder how Yarne will react? Wherever he is.”

“We’ll find the rest of our comrades, not even the darkest of Dark Magic can keep the Shepherds apart!” He pauses, “Er, speaking of Dark Magic, what of Tharja?”

“She’s in Plegia, apparently appointed the Queen’s advisor for Plegian matters. Aversa is her Grimleal advisor.” Another difference, Validar didn’t become king and lost his high priest status. “Other than that…”

“Morgan.” Mother’s voice calls out from behind him, he turns and she seems… upset, angry? She takes a breath, her frustrations are clearly not directed to him, at least, “Mind joining me in the War Room?”

“Of course!” He nods, “Talk to you later, Owain!” The half-Manakete Tactician walks with his mother over to the War Room, where they are alone. ‘Chrom must have left earlier.’  “Did you want a complete report on what happened recently?”

Something in the air changed, Robin’s presence feels nearly overwhelming, ‘Mother…?’ “Sorry, it’s…” She waves it off, “No, I wanted to know every little detail you can remember about your timeline.”

“I… don’t understa…”

“I’m not asking you to understand, just do it.” He resists the urge to flinch at her sudden harshness, “Well?”

He nods and takes a breath, “Alright, I’ll start with what I know, then with what I heard, okay?”

“Works for me.”

Chapter Text

Brutal, there is no other way to describe the war against the Valmese. Robin makes the victories smoother, but it’s getting to the point he’d rather have Morgan be his tactician. Chrom has become nothing more than a morale booster, as nearly every decision is processed through Robin. If she doesn’t think they can afford the resources, they skip a village. He loathes the idea, there are people out there who need help! This is exactly the type of thing that makes Plegians complete… complete what? ‘Gods.’ Robin is too crafty to work against directly, if he were to confront her about anything, she’ll probably end up on dangling the ‘peace’ treaty before him, reminding him of ‘his’ place. She has him under her control and she makes sure he doesn’t forget.

And if that’s not bad enough, Sully is being pushed away again. The damage caused by Robin’s ‘Queen’ persona had just been mended and now she’s at it again ! Apparently in the ‘future’ timeline, he was already supposed to be the father of two, Lucina and Kjelle. The lack of intimacy assured that he is currently lacks children, he simply hadn’t the time. If it isn’t one thing, it’s another.

“Exalt.” Her voice rings out, her body is using his bed, because Sully had to go out on a ‘mission’. “You’re skulking again.”

And she’s always on this ‘holier than thou’ attitude. “It’s hard not to when the collar is smaller than my neck.”

“Are you…”

“Am I?” Less than a minute has passed and he is already getting livid.

“Exalt…”

“Queen.” Robin is sitting up and the two are staring each other down. “Or do you prefer High Priestess?”

“I’d prefer you to stay your tongue.” Despite having almost zero magical talent, Chrom has learned that each Mage has their own aura. Miriel’s has a sort of ‘refined’ feel, Ricken’s is youthful and bouncing energy, Henry’s has a sort of slimy feeling to it, but Robin’s? The longer he’s known her, the more… foreboding her aura shifted. It’s almost like their magic has a direct relation to their feelings and as of right now, Robin’s was nothing less than malicious.

“I’d have no problem listening to you, but only for the Robin I knew back in Ylisse.” He’s starting to lose his temper again, because she knows exactly what buttons to push.

“I’m only returning the ‘hospitality’ I gotten in Ylisse.”

“They were civilians, the Shepherds never done such things to you!”

“Then what is the Exalt? Just a title? Do you not represent your land?” She counters, her own anger rising. “I’m meant to act harsh, that’s how Plegia raised me, while Ylisseans were hand-fed meat straight from your damn Divine Dragon.”

“And your Dragon means to end the world.” Chrom wasn’t exactly the religious type, but he did hold Naga in high regards, he is of the Exalted bloodline, after all.

“I won’t let him.” That statement cut through any anger he had, ‘Wait, what?’ But, she’s a Grimleal, she worships Grima, “I refuse to help anyone who shuns my people, god or not.”

“Then… why? Had you stayed with the Shepherds…”

“Then the Grimleal would have overran Ylisse during the war.” She states, “Legends state that now is the time that He will rise, and my ‘Plegian’ ass is all that stands between the Grimleal being content, to rushing Ylisse to get their hands on whatever they need to bring the Fell Dragon back.”

It sounded… no, after what she did to them? His army? His family? He won’t be fooled, not anymore, she’s trying to pull the strings that will make him sway to her tune, her dance. “We’ll worry about Grima when that time comes.” He starts off, “Until then, we worry about this war.”

She seemed to have gotten the wrong idea, since a smile shows, “Finally willing to understand my way?”

No longer will he be a puppet, “We’re doing this my way. The Shepherd’s way.”

“If you…”

“Let me guess, peace is at stake?” He cuts her off, “Plegia deserves no peace. I am the commander for the Shepherds, not you. I will not continued to be controlled by you.” He glares at her,  “Now, there is a village that is nearing the edge of collapse, and we are going to help them. You will draw up tactics, or I will have Morgan take this position again.”

“...Very well, Exalt.” She relents, almost too easily. Chrom makes a mental note to keep an eye out for her and Henry’s behavior.

Chapter Text

Oh, things are going super great lately! Well, excluding how tough the Valmese are… and the tension between Chrom and Robin… and how her mother isn’t with her father. But, other than that, things are wonderful! Owain is even already here! She admittedly has fallen for him and his dramatic flair. How could she ignore such a heroic presence? They do have some disagreements on some of the finer details of heroism, the main one being the importance of living through the battle versus a ‘heroic’ sacrifice…

There’s nothing heroic about dying. How can a hero protect their loved ones if they aren’t alive? Besides, haven’t the Shepherds lost enough? She would really rather everyone stay alive, but even that seems to have already went wrong. ‘Where’s Nowi? Gregor? Panne?’ The camp seems so quiet without them, namely Nowi and her endless energy.

Why was mother not married to her father yet? Cynthia was supposed to have been born by now, but she isn’t… or she, ‘Ugh, time travel can be so confusing!’ One day, she decided to clear her head by dropping by a village in Valm to go shopping, ‘I really wish Severa were here, she had the eye for fine cloth!’ Once you got past the external aggressive behavior, Severa is a really awesome woman. She has this like, ‘love-hate’ attitude, it’s kinda weird, like she’s mean because she cares. But she has different kinds of ‘mean’, so there’s this ‘mean mean’ where she is actually angry, but then there is this ‘nice mean’ where she’s concerned while looking angry. She even has the ‘eh mean’ where she doesn’t care for either, but still looks angry.

Now that Cynthia thinks about it, Severa is practically always looks angry. ‘I wonder if she’s angry while sleeping? Does she count angry sheep to fall asleep?’ The very thought causes her to giggle as she imagines a sheep with furrowed brows and a scowl. Wait, where was… oh right! Shopping! She stops by a clothing store and goes through their wares, ‘Skirts, stockings… panties? Ooo, dresses!’ It seemed like this shop is more ‘adult’ than the others. ‘I wonder what Owain would like to see me in?’ Her face flushes as a sudden dirty thought comes and goes, so she shakes her head to push it away. ‘It’s too early to think like that!’ She gasps as her eyes land on this super cute frilly dress. It has these tiny Pegasuses… Pegasi? It has these tiny Pegasi sewn into it. She quickly pulls out her coin purse, ‘Aw, Pegasus poo… I shouldn’t have gotten that extra dinner earlier… but I was really hungry then.’ She wonders if her mother or father might have a bit of spare change? She isn’t that far off… ‘But then again, Valm was supposed to be the toughest war. But then again, then again, I won’t know if I don’t ask.’ With her resolve set, she marches back to camp while humming one of her favorite tunes.

On her way out, she catches a glimpse of her mother… with Cordelia… again. ‘It hurts to see her without father.’ The two are holding hands again, standing waaay too close to just be ‘friendly’. Then she holds back a gasp as they share a kiss, as they pull each other closer. It’s almost like they don’t care they’re in public as their hands start… ‘Nope. Moving on!’ Yet, she can’t get herself to move, as her heart shatters from the sight on just how intense the two are. ‘Mother isn’t going to be with father… is she?’ The two Pegasi Knights slowly break their intense embrace, both of them have a full-blown flush on their face. ‘Why are things so different?’ Holding back some tears, Cynthia continues walking back to camp… she would hum a tune, but she doesn’t feel like it right now. Maybe later…
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
She manages to put on a smile as she approaches Gaius, who is popping some candy in his mouth, like normal. “Daddy!” She leaps and hugs him. Despite them not being together, he still accepts her… if a bit readily. It’s kinda weird, since he isn’t acting exactly all ‘fatherly’. She can’t quite put her finger on it, but…

“Heya, kiddo.” Still, he’s smiling, and she enjoys seeing him smile, like, his smile warms her up. Like, really warms her up, Valm no longer feels cold with that smile. ‘I wonder if the others feel the same?’ She never really asked, since she assumed it’s normal. Regardless, she came here with a mission in mind, so she goes over what happened in the village. He eventually agrees, ‘He is even willing to part with some of his candy money!’ She still doesn’t feel too great about that, but it just goes to show how much he loves her!

She cheerfully guides him through the village, ‘I only tripped two times…’ He caught her for the second time, ‘He’s stronger than he looks.’ Unlike men like Frederick, Gaius looks thin, but he has more of a lean build. “This one!” She giddily shows it off.

“You sure it fits, right?” Cynthia gasps, ‘I didn’t think about that, I just saw it and I was like…’

“Good point, I need to try it on, first.” How could she have forgotten that? She makes her way to the dressing room and quickly, but carefully switches her armor for the dress, ‘Aw… it’s just a biiit too tight. Stupid butt... I need to lose some weight.’ Carefully weighing her options, she decides to get it, anyway, ‘I’ll just have to watch what I eat for a bit.’ Switching back to her armor, she proudly walks out. “Alright, I’m ready!” He nods in approval and she ends up getting it! “Thanks a bunch!”

“Hey, you hungry?” As if to punctuate his question, both his and her stomach growl, almost in unison, “Well, then…”

She giggles, ‘I just ate though…’ Oh, she’ll just get something small, then. “Just a little bit, I need to drop a few pounds.” She shamefully admits, “I think I ate a bit too much candy.”

“Eh, don’t worry about that.” He shrugs off her concerns, ‘He was always so carefree.’ The two end up in a tavern, where she ends up just getting an appetizer, whereas Gaius gets a whole meal. “Uh, you drink?”

“Like… alcohol?” She pauses, “I miiight have snuck a sip or two in, didn’t really like it.” Sometimes even the greatest of heroes have a moment of weakness.

“Well, if you’re like me, then you’ll enjoy a good mug of mead.” He suggests.

“Wait, let me guess… with extra honey?” She hits the nail on the head as he nods. ‘But I need to watch… oh, just one.’ “Good point, but just one.” Okay, maybe two moments of weaknesses. After that though, it’s back to being purely heroic. Within a minute, the mugs are presented and she takes a sip, ‘Ooo, that is good.’ She does have a sweet tooth, after all.

“How’re you feeling, Cynthia?” He asks. “Did you get enough?”

She was expecting just getting the dress and going back, but not all this! It really seems like a bit too much, but he really didn’t mind. “Yup! Thank you so much!” She feels really good, like really really good. “I’ll work extra hard to make sure you… hic!” She claps her hands over her mouth as she suddenly lets out a hiccup, her face is flushed in embarrassment.

“Can’t handle much, huh? Sorry, should’ve gotten you a cup instead.” His concern is touching… was his smile always that alluring? Maybe she did have a bit too much, it is warm in here.

“Even heroes can overdo it a bit from time to time.” She tries to play it off, then moves to stand up. “Woops.” She trips on the first step and she lands on the floor, which is so much warmer than… ‘Oh, he caught me again.’ “Okay, maybe more than I thought.” She shamefully admits.

“Let’s get you some rest first, then. Since we’re marching tomorrow.” He offers, his smile is soooo…

“Good idea!” She steadies herself on the table as he goes to purchase some rooms for the night, ‘Wow, I don’t think he did… or rather, the ‘future’ him didn’t do this much.’ With her bag in one hand, and his hand over her other, they walk up the steps and into the room. “Thanks.” She smiles. “So… see you tomorrow?”

He coughs, “Well, uh… didn’t have enough for, you know…” He trails off.

You know…? “Oh!” She gasps, “Sorry.” Did they really spend that much?

Still, he shrugs it off, “Eh, it’ll be fine.” He starts to walk off…

“Wait, no, uh… Maybe you could cuddle me to sleep?” Her face flushes, “I know I’m too grown up for that, but…” A sudden aching hits her chest, “I missed you, you know? First I lost mother, then you… then my mother’s Pegasus, and I woke up here alone and…”

“Sure thing.” He is suddenly so close to her, “I promise I won’t leave you alone again, alright?” He pulls her into a hug. He’s so warm and… she’s really warm. Why is her heart beating so fast? It’s like… ‘No! Bad thoughts!’ It finally hits her. “You okay?” His concern is so touching.

“Uh, it’s… I, you,” She takes a breath, “I’m just super tired and…” She looks up at him, “And… and.” This is wrong, she shouldn’t be… “Could I… get a goodnight kiss, too?” She just missed him, that’s all, it’s… “Eep!” She squeaks as he kisses her cheek.

“Better?” He is so nice and handsome and…

“One more?” His smile shows and he gives her a second, “A-Again?” Her breathing comes out shorter, “A fourth?” Unlike the other three, this one lands on her mouth, “Mmm…”

“Feeling better?” He asks as he pulls back.

‘I shouldn’t be feeling like this, but I… and he isn’t stopping and…’ Their eyes lock, “Daddy, I feel weird.” Her body trembles as his arms wrap around her armor. “Tingly, kind of, but…”

“I can help, if you want me to…?” She isn’t that oblivious, she knows what she’s feeling, it’s that same weird thing when her core aches to be touched, ‘He’s my father, but…’

“This is wrong, I…” She frowns, “Right? I shouldn’t feel like this.”

He runs a hand through her hair, “If that’s how you really feel, then there’s nothing wrong with it.” His hands deftly glide to her armor straps.

“Then, could you… since. Well, you and mother aren’t and…” If he isn’t going to be with Mother, then… “Can you… sleep with me?” With that question, he starts to undressing her, ‘Gods, I…’ Her gauntlets were the first to go, to which he guides her to the bed, ‘His hand is soooo warm.’ It didn’t take him long to get the rest off, his own clothes fall off and her face starts to burn a brilliant red, ‘Oh, oh…’ Gaius starts planting kisses across her, causing shivers to run across her body, “Eep!” He ends up biting on her collarbone, ‘That felt really good.’

“Hey, relax, alright?” He looks rather concerned, “I’ll be gentle, okay?”

‘Or, perhaps I’m not as ready as I thought I was.’ “U-um… Gaius?” She starts, “Maybe we could hold off? I’m having second thoughts and it’s not like I don’t want to, but I don’t think I’m quite ready, but I will be some other time and I…”

She was interrupted with a quick kiss, “That’s fine with me.” He assures her as he gets into the bed with her, “I’m not going to force it on you.”

She smiles as she wraps herself around him, “Good night.”

“Good night.”