The first person I saw when I arrived in the past was Aunt Lissa. It wasn’t the best meeting, with her being trapped against a tree, a risen ready to cleave her in half. It was only my high movement speed that allowed me move before it was the risen’s turn, to block the attack.
Time may have changed them to how I knew them, but Aunt Lissa was still the same: blonde hair pulled into pigtails, although these pigtails were higher, not bound regally. A staff with green stone clutched in her hands. She had been bracing for the attack, and when her eyes opened, there was fear in them.
But all I saw was her proud eyes as she watched my cousin and I. Her eyes dancing in laughter at something my father did. Her eyes focused on the problem before us. Her eyes, tears filling them as she forced Owain and I away, the last time we would see her eyes filled with life.
She gave a small gasp, eyes wide. Fear of the risen behind me. Fear of me. Fear of the mask that covered my face. But if I took it off, she would see the mark of her family in my eye. And my mission could fail.
I was nearing my limit. I couldn’t take much more of the pressure. This Risen was so strong, and I wasn’t able to stand for much longer.
“H-Help!” I yelled, feeling the dig of Falchoin in my back as the risen pushed against with it’s axe. I braced my feet against the ground, straining. Falchion could not break, but I could. Then the pressure vanished, and I glanced over my shoulder.
The second person I saw was my father. He was charging the risen, Falchion gleaming. There wasn’t a moment to waste, as Father slashed down the risen’s midsection, I swung upward at it’s unprotected neck. It cried out, and collapsed in the dirt, vanishing in a cloud of toxic smoke.
The danger had passed, and the battlefield faded away. Aunt Lissa scrambled behind Father, who held his Falchion at the ready. I straightened, sliding my Falchion into it’s sheath.
“Quite an entrance.” It was the same voice that I knew, that I had heard so many times. All of a sudden, I wasn’t in this burning forest. I was in the castle yard, a training sword in my hands, Father opposite me.
“Good work, Lucina.”
“What’s your name?” And reality set in, pulling me from those happy times. My head rose, and I glanced over my shoulder. Father. Younger, but still Father. Father, alive. Father, giving me big hugs, spending afternoons in the training yard.
“Remember Lucina, the sword is an extension of yourself.”
Father, showing me hidden spots in the castle, a hidden exit behind a tree.
“It’s a secret between us, Lucina.”
Father, enveloping me in a hug, the last moment between us before Falchoin arrived at the castle alone.
“I love you, so much, my princess.”
“...” Could I speak without my voice breaking? Could I give an answer, keeping my heart guarded? Could I open my mouth and not call him ‘Father’? Could I? Could I?
An inhuman scream filled the air, saving me.
“More of them.” Father said, grip tightening on Falchoin. I agreed silently. This fight was far from over. This war had just begun. Horses were approaching, support for the battle that was about to start. I plunged into the forest, drawing Falchoin, hoping to distance myself before the battlefield emerged again.
“Time to change my fate.”
The third person I saw was Uncle Frederick. Standing next to Father after the battle, checking his horse for injuries. I knew that horse, an ancient mare in my time, Uncle Frederick teaching me how to ride her. I saw him taking me out to the stables with Cynthia and Gerome when Aunt Sumia shooed us out of the castle. I saw him overseeing my training, pointing out flaws and openings to be fixed. I saw his future horse, a dappled stallion, arriving at the castle with a bloodstained saddle and without a rider. One of the first to fall in the war.
A war I will prevent. I chose that moment to approach, Uncle Frederick eying me warily.
“Peace, Frederick. He’s an ally.” Father placed a hand on Uncle Frederick’s arm.
“Yes, he saved me earlier!” Aunt Lissa appeared from behind Uncle Frederick’s horse. “Um...I never got to thank you, for before. So...thanks. You were very brave.”
“There is no need for thanks.” I want to protect your future.
“No, you saved my sister’s life.” Father held out his hand. “My name is Chrom. Might I ask yours, so that we know to whom we should remember?” I had to stay aloof, to not show my true feelings. Ignoring the hand, ignoring the pain in my heart, I said,
“You may call me Marth.” That is the name that they must know. Especially since...she was here, and if I was not careful, my disguise could be destroyed by Tactician insight.
“Marth? After the heroic king of old? You certainly fight like a hero.” Warm feelings inside my stomach at the praise, but I pushed it down. “Where did you learn your way with a sword?” From you.
“I’m not here to talk about me.” You can do it, Lucina. “The world teeters at the brink of a horrible calamity. What you saw tonight was but a prelude.” Uncle Frederick, lance held tightly in his hands. Aunt Lissa, disbelief showing on her face. And Father, concern. For who? “You have been warned.” I turned, prepared to leave.
And the fourth person I saw was Mother. She emerged from the forest, tome in hand, and I was thrown back again. I could see was her sitting in the library, the “twins” and I sneaking over to watch her work. I heard bronze and steel clashing as Father and Mother exchanged blows, Morgen and I cheering them on. Sitting on Mother’s lap, listening to stories of how the Great King Marth and his Tactician overcame the Fell Dragon. The bloodstained sleeves of Mother’s robe wrapped around Falchoin’s hilt.
They were watching me, no recognition in their eyes. No care in their eyes. But they were still Mother and Father. Still my beloved parents-I had to get out. I had to escape. Mother, Father...both alive. I couldn’t stay, I would do something I would regret. I was Marth now. That was all they could know.
“Who was that?” Mother’s voice reached my ears, and I flattened myself against a tree.
“Be careful, Lucina. There are those who would cry if you were hurt.”
I wanted to run out, to embrace Mother, to allow Father’s big arms to draw me close, to hold our family together. I wanted my family to be whole, no I needed my family to be safe. They had to stay safe; that was why I was here.
“His name is Marth, and we owe him a debt.” Father.
“Yeah, we’ll probably see him again!” Aunt Lissa.
“It appears his skills lie elsewhere. I wager we’ll hear his name again.” Uncle Frederick.
“We owe him?” Mother. She knew. Or she suspected. She was always so insightful, so wise.
“Yes, he saved Lissa’s life. As Shepherds, we remember those who assisted us, so that we can repay them one day.” Oh Father...so kind.
“Especially life-debts!” Aunt Lissa...still the same.
“Milord, we should make haste to the capital.” Uncle Frederick...always on top of things.
“Right, Emm needs to hear about this.” Footsteps, walking away. Footsteps, carrying them on the path to the future. To the future that I would help save. “Miriam, are you coming?”
“Yes...right behind you.” Quick footsteps from the clearing where they had been standing. Mother had been so close, just a few steps away.
When had I started shaking? When had the tears started to escape, absorbed by the mask I wore? When had my breathing become so shallow? I had known it would be hard to see them, but this...but this... My knees gave out, and I crumpled to the ground. Mother. Father. Uncle Frederick. Aunt Lissa. Uncle Robert. Those I had not yet seen, but knew were here. Those who I loved, and those who depended on me. They were safe. They were alive. I had made it in time. I could save them. I could save their future. And all it would cost me...was my future. To come from a future that had to be destroyed meant that I would be destroyed.
But this is the path I chose. This is the path I walk. The path that will save our future. The path that will help keep my family whole. So they never need cry. We all agreed upon it. We all know what this will cost us. Yet I was uncertain, not ready to sacrifice it all. And now... I rose, first unsteadily, then brushed the dirt from my clothes, to be able to see them smile, to be safe and happy, knowing that their future will be safe, that is enough. The smiling faces that I saw will carry me forward.