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Chapter 10 – Our March

“Sylvain! Felix!” Though he resided on the first floor, Ashe had been tasked with waking up all the Kingdom soldiers that morning. “We’re about to start marching for Fhirdiad! Wake up!”

“Hm?” Felix noticed that voice almost instantly.

“What is…” Sylvain took a little longer to awaken. “Something… about Fhirdiad?

“Never you mind!” Felix frantically began to dress. “Our cover is blown if Ashe gets here before we do!”

Despite being told such, Sylvain felt no sense of urgency, and dressed slowly, without even bothering to brush his hair. Even though Felix was out the door much faster than his boyfriend, he could not dodge Ashe, who shouted, “Felix! There you are! I tried looking in your quarters, but… So you were just sleeping over at Sylvain’s. That’s nice.”

Felix nonchalantly replied, “Sure.” Believe whatever you want.

“Oh, hi, Ashe.” Sylvain showed up past his door. “What about breakfast?”

Ashe tossed a couple of satchels and water flasks at Sylvain and Felix. “Sorry, but since we need to go right now, I cooked some super-spicy fish dango this morning. You two love it, right?”

“Yeah.” Felix took a bite of the dango and smiled. “Thanks a lot, m’dude.”

“You finally smiled a genuine smile! You know, it seems like-”

“Like what?”

“Oh, nothing.” And with that, Ashe continued his morning duties.

“Man…” Felix finished the light breakfast and sipped at the water while he walked. “I’m glad he’s dense as hell.”

“Is that how you talk about your comrade?” Sylvain frowned. “And one who cooked us great breakfast, at that?”

“…Well, I’ll give Ashe props for that, at least.”

“Hey, hey!” Annette greeted the pair when they had reached the fishing pond – by throwing another satchel at Sylvain.

“Oh, what- This is a sweet bun trio,” Sylvain remarked. “Thanks.”

“Sorry, Felix,” Annette sounded apologetic. “But I know you don’t like sweets, and I don’t know how to make spicy foods very well. Mercie doesn’t, either. Oh, but I heard Dedue and Ashe have stayed up late last night cooking some food for the trip.”

“Eh, it’s the thought that counts.” Felix cringed slightly at the mention of Dedue’s name.

“Hmm?” Unfortunately for Felix, Annette noticed his displeasure – and so did Mercedes, who had just left her dorm. “Was it something I said?”

“Er, well… Never mind that. So, um… What’s this whole business about Fhirdiad?”

“I don’t know, but apparently, His Highness said we needed to go there as soon as possible,” Ingrid joined in. “Let’s just let His Highness speak first.”

“Oh, speak of the devil.” Sylvain pointed to the top of the marketplace stairs, where a crowd started to grow.

“My friends…” It was evident that Dimitri felt nervous – not that the suspicious, cold stares helped. Even the least of these gathered around to listen his speech. “I know I have done the unspeakable…”

A young woman cuddled closer to her family, her stare at Dimitri hardening.

“But I want to atone for my sins. I want to prove it to you…” Dimitri paused to make his expression more serious. “…by reclaiming Fhirdiad.”

Those words sparked discussion among everyone in the marketplace, even those without loyalty to Faerghus.

“But… But isn’t the capital occupied by Cornelia?” a young man whispered to his neighbor.

“Dunno, man,” the neighbor spoke passively, poking at his ear with his pinky. “I don’t keep up with that kind of stuff.”

“I know I have neglected my duties… I know it’s been so long since I’ve acted like a real prince. But I beg of you… I want the chance to act like one. We as Faerghus citizens deserve a life – a free life, without the tyranny of Cornelia – and the Emperor.” Dimitri cast a sorrowful look downwards for a spell. “Don’t get me wrong, I still hate the Emperor Edelgard, and I still want her head. But I won’t let my past plague me anymore. I won’t let the Tragedy of Duscur plague me anymore! We will take back the capital!”

A short silence ensued before an older man spoke up. “Yeah! Long live Faerghus!”

A younger man followed with, “Long live Prince Dimitri!”

Before long, monastery residences of all ages chimed in with cheers of their own, lifting not only each other’s spirits but also those of the army. Sylvain, however, said nothing, but looked up to his prince in admiration. Dimitri…

“There is not a moment to lose! Come, my brothers and sisters, let us begin our march!”

And with a hearty “Yaah!” the Kingdom army started. Even thought the rest of the army moved quickly, Ingrid felt no rush as she called Sylvain over. “Hey, Sylvain… May I have a word with you?”

Sylvain let the question get to his head, speaking in a proud voice, “What, you’ve come to tell me what an awesome job I’ve done lately?”

Ingrid’s face wrinkled. “No… It’s something more serious.”

Sylvain’s happy expression dropped in an instant. “Um… Then, what?”

The future Countess Galatea thought a few seconds before saying, “You know, I heard you guys last night.”

“Last… Last night?” Sylvain stuttered, growing more worried.

“Well, to be fair, it was mostly Felix. Look, Sylvain, I personally have no problem with it if you have that kind of a relationship with him… But please practice more prudence. And I would certainly not let His Highness know.”

Sylvain’s somber expression cracked into a smile. “Thank you, Ingrid. I’m just… I need time to figure out how not to inherit my house.”

“Did you try to talk with your father about it?”

“…No. I’m afraid of his reaction if he found out.”

“You know, you could just refuse the house. It wouldn’t be the first time a noble has done it. And you do have several cousins and illegitimate siblings that could take over Gautier if push really came to shove. After all, having or not having a Crest shouldn’t matter, right?”

“Eh, heh…” Sylvain, for once, was thankful that his father was also a playboy in his younger days. “You’ve got that right. But… to just outright refuse like that?”

“Just a suggestion. I know it’s an extreme one…” Ingrid mounted her pegasus, who still remained on the ground. “But maybe give it some thought. It wouldn’t be good for the people, either, to have someone who doesn’t want to be there leading them. Oh, and Sylvain, one more thing.”

“What?” Sylvain replied as he finished making sure he had all of his equipment ready.

“Just don’t cheat on him, or… Well, you know what will happen.”

As Ingrid’s Pegasus charged ahead, Sylvain thought, Could I… Could I really refuse my duties?

Sylvain contemplated a moment before shaking his head, readying the Lance of Ruin, and charging forward. No… Naw, I could never.