Chapter 24 – There Are No Friends In War
“Ah… I have awakened to the sight of Felix first thing in the morning.” Sylvain’s bliss was short-lived, however, as without warning he had a strong urge to run to the loo. “Urk… Felix, I gotta go do something!”
“Sigh…” Felix sat down as he sharpened the Sword of Zoltan. “Great. Nothing like getting ready for the march to Enbarr, sharpening my strongest sword, only to hear 19 people puking out their guts in the nearest bathroom.”
Sylvain had come back surprisingly quickly. “Did you say… march to Enbarr? Is that today?”
“And I had to get drunk the night before! What will His Highness say-”
“SYLVAIN!” Felix dragged his fiancé back to the bed, but not too roughly.
“Relax! We don’t start marching for another two weeks.” Felix spoke as he eased Sylvain onto his back. “You’re going to spend today recovering from your hangover.”
“I guess I don’t mind being sick if you’re the one taking care of me. You’re playing the part of housewife very well already.”
“Gee. Thanks.” Felix was terse as he wrung a wet towel over a bucket.
“And I can’t wait until we’re married so you can do this for me every day.”
Felix lightly whacked the redhead’s forehead with the towel. “You’re not going to get drunk like this ever again, and that’s final!”
“Okay, okay…” Sylvain sounded annoyed, but deep down he appreciated Felix’s level of concern. Wanting to change the direction of the conversation to something lighter, he said, “So, um… Who won the drinking contest? Do you know?”
“From what I hear, it was Annette. I only found out because Gilbert look very concerned in the dining hall this morning at breakfast. Miraculously, she didn’t even suffer a hint of a hangover this morning.”
“Such a cute girl can hold her alcohol well… Looks are deceiving, aren’t they?”
“Oh, and speaking of breakfast, you feeling well enough to eat?”
“Yeah. My stomachache is gone; I’m just a bit sweaty and I have a headache, is all.”
“Then here. Some sautéed pheasant and eggs.”
“It tastes… perfect.” Sylvain liked this dish so much that he took the rest of the plate from Felix and fed himself.
“Good.” Felix looked down to hide his blush. “Because I cooked it myself; Dedue taught me.”
“Well, I’m glad that Dedue is ‘associating with us’ more. I don’t want to hate him and I don’t want him to hate me either.” Sylvain put his empty dishes on the shelf nearby.
“Okay, that’s enough talk from you, hon.” Felix took these dishes and turned for the door. “Have a nice nap.”
“Hehe… He called me ‘hon!’” Sylvain giggled into the corner of his bed.
“Shut up! I’m going to go train.”
So spoke Felix as he exited Sylvain’s room that day. And the day after that. He found that long after Sylvain had fully recovered from his hangover, he enjoyed staying in the redhead’s room for the night. He noticed, too, the frequency of the soldiers’ visits to the cathedral as the decisive battles drew near. But he wasn’t too keen on praying to the goddess – in fact, he was hardly keen on anything except training and Sylvain.
Felix had started a walk to the training grounds, but as he passed the Goddess Tower, he heard a loud sneeze come from the top. Instinctively pointed his sword towards there, he threatened, “Demonic Beast, wait right there, so I can-”
“Whoa, there, cowboy!” the very much human voice sounded. “Gee, is that what my sneeze sounds like?”
“Sylvain? What are you doing up there?”
“Just waiting for you to pass by. Care to join me?”
Silent on his walk up the spiral stairs, Felix sheathed his sword. “So. Is something eating at you?”
“What? You still hungover?”
“Felix, I’m not that weak. Come on.” Sylvain walked back out to the balcony and stared at couples going to their bedrooms.
“Is it because we start our final march tomorrow?”
Sylvain gripped the balcony and looked towards the starry sky. “Just when Dedue stopped hating me… Just when I started to patch things up with my brother… Oh, goddess, I don’t want to die. Not after I’ve felt such strong camaraderie in this army.”
“Dummy.” Felix flicked Sylvain on the head.
Felix wrapped his arms around Sylvain’s neck, and for once he had a tender look in his eyes. “You’re going to live, man. If only to get a taste of Mercedes’ wedding cake. If only to see the flowers Dedue has grown himself.”
“Felix…” Sylvain felt a tear roll down his left cheek, letting Felix wipe it.
“If only to become my duke.”
“I… beg your pardon?”
“I’ve just thought of something… If your brother is going to take House Gautier, then I figured… Well, maybe we can inherit Fraldarius.”
“I would love that, but-”
“If Dimitri has anything to say about it, I’ll tell him something a wise man once said: ‘suck it.’”
“And there are many poor, Crestless orphans out there… Even if it’s just one, I want to give them a loving home, free of war. You remember that little girl whose doll Dimitri mended all those years ago?”
“I remember you telling me about it, yeah.”
“I’ve heard that she and her infant sister lost their parents to Hubert not too long ago. They were just common citizens of Gautier, too.”
“You’re dumb as a brick on the surface, but you’re a kind man. Quite unlike myself. So yes, I will help take care of those kids, if they are willing.”
“I know I’m being suuuuper needy – and a little random - right now, but… Before the Battle at Gronder, when you were still fighting for the Alliance, I had a dream that we confessed to each other at the Goddess Tower. …Can we have our wedding here?”
“I actually had the same dream.” Felix happened to have the toy lance on his belt, and took it out. “With this, too. So yes again, Sylvain… Yes to everything.”
It was just Sylvain’s luck he woke up late for the morning of the march. It was just Felix’s luck that thanks to his fiancé, they spent the night there at Goddess Tower. It was just Dimitri’s luck that Hubert decided to bring the fight to the streets of Enbarr in a surprise attack, even after one final attempt at parley with the emperor.
Sylvain, of course, didn’t let this apparent string of bad luck get him down. Not after what happened at Goddess Tower the week before. Trying to ease a bit of the tension, he asked Dimitri, “I heard that you tried to parley with the emperor. What did she say?”
As they approached the border of Enbarr, Dimitri responded, “She told me that she wants to get rid of the Church of Seiros and the Crest system in the name of the weak. She didn’t consider how her actions benefit only the strong, and how she is blind to the suffering of her people because of her ambitions. It was just then that I realized how different our ideals are. We’ll never see eye-to-eye, so we must settle our conflict in the ancient way – a battle to the death. I gave her back her dagger, too… I know that she’ll fight for what she believes in, and so should we.”
“But if I have to fight my own stepsister to end the suffering of Fódlan’s people, then so be it.”
But you’re blind to your own suffering too.
Sylvain was no more eager to hear about Dimitri’s horrible family problems than he was to hear Hubert declare, “Hahaha… Well, if it isn’t the Saviour Prince, your hands stained red with blood. Why don’t we give him a royal welcome? Artillery, fire at will when the enemy is in range!”
“True, my hands are stained red with blood… But you and your emperor have the blood of innocent people – even many of your own citizens – on yours.” Dimitri, knowing full well that the emperor was within his grasp, gave the order to charge full speed.
Ingrid drove her pegasus forward, and though Dorothea managed to catch up so far, she suddenly halted, prompting Ingrid to ask, “Dorothea, what’s wrong? This isn’t the time to be spacing out!”
“It’s… Petra…” Sure enough, Dorothea saw her old friend when Petra cut down the five soldiers blocking her path.
“Dorothea…” Petra showed only this brief moment of weakness before saying, “Ferdinand is dead. Bernadetta is dead too. And you… They are dead because of your killing.”
“Petra, this is war, and Edie has gone mad!”
Petra ignored Dorothea’s reaction and simply walked forward. “This is for Adrestia… and for Brigid!”
“Aah!” Dorothea fell flat on her butt, but her hand was more than strong enough to draw the sigil for Agnea’s Arrow. “If it’s our destiny to kill each other, then…”
“I will be killing you!” Petra continued to charge, but a mountain of soldiers – Empire and Kingdom soldiers alike – impeded her.
“One of us has to die!” Dorothea declared as an enormous arrow of light ran from the sky, ripping through Petra’s body.
Unable to stand – and knowing her time was at an end – Petra lay prone on the ground. “Edelgard… I will not be keeping my promise… Give me forgiveness, please…”
Dorothea gritted her teeth, and after one last look at Petra, she ran ahead and summoned a barrage of Sagittae spells at her oncoming foes. She chanced upon Sylvain, who had defeated a circle of enemies but not without suffering a gash on his dominant arm. “Oh, Sylvain! Wait just a bit… I’ll patch that up for you.”
“Thank you!” Sylvain circled his arm around while the Opera Company Volunteers refreshed them again.
“Just think of it as my apology for being unable to help you at the Battle of Derdriu. Now, come!” Dorothea and Sylvain ran up the stairs together. “We’re almost at the gates of the palace!”
“And don’t forget that our main enemy on the way is-”
“I’ll cut a bloody path!”
Luna Λ found its way to Dorothea and Sylvain before they could find who cast it. Dorothea, of course, knew that voice well. “Hubert! Get out of the way!”
“A fat chance.” Hubert held another Luna Λ at the ready. “You and your brute of a prince are no match for Her Majesty!”
“Hubie, please… I don’t want to kill you too… Not after all the friends I’ve had to kill in the name of this war.”
“Friends? Ha! There are no ‘friends’ in war! It’s either serve your liege’s every wish or die!” Hubert flung the dark spell, intended for Dorothea, but hitting Sylvain instead.
“G-Gah…” As Sylvain’s legs took the hit, he fell on his hands and knees. “What’s the point… in living… if all you do is act as someone else’s puppet? You, who’s never shown kindness to others, wouldn’t understand… You, who would just kill innocent people because your ruthless emperor said so! It’s because of you that… that girl’s parents… are…”
“Hmm? I don’t know who you’re talking about.”
“You sick fuck! Die!” Sylvain attempted to swing at Hubert’s legs from the floor, but the head of House Vestra stomped on his wrists, digging his heeled shoes into them. “Oooooww!”
“I live only for Her Majesty! It’s you who doesn’t understand how I feel! Not that you need to.”
“Dorothea…” Sylvain whispered as waggled his index finger, attempting to formulate a Seraphim spell. “While I’m distracting him, you’ve got a clear shot. I know you’ve got the strength in you for another Agnea’s Arrow.”
Felix was almost on the other end of the street and could only see a flick of Sylvain’s red hair. Still, he ran as fast as he could while readying a Thoron in his right hand. “Sylvain! You bastard Hubert, you’re done for!”
Dorothea formed another magic circle, nearly ready to unleash it.
“Dorothea! Come on, strike him down!”
“H-Hubie…” Dorothea began to cry as her magic circle flickered. “I… I can’t…”
“Hahaha… I suppose all you’re ever good for is singing, Dorothea! You’ll be singing your swan song now!”
Just then, a woman’s voice sounded from behind, shouting, “Burning Quake!”
Hubert didn’t even have to turn around to see the woman who attacked him – or the Lúin lance that pierced his chest. “G-Gah…”
“Hubie, forgive me!” Clenching her eyes shut, Dorothea sent the Agnea’s Arrow in Hubert’s direction, searing Hubert even more intensely than it did Petra.
“Glory… Glory to… Her Majesty…”
Felix didn’t arrive at the scene until after Hubert had already died. “So, you’ve killed the emperor’s lapdog? Ha!” He stuck the Sword of Zoltan into Hubert’s throat. “Good riddance!”
“Felix! That was unnecessary!” Sylvain scolded.
“What? I’m just making sure he’s dead. Plus, he’s the one who killed that girl’s parents, isn’t he? Weren’t you the one who called him a ‘sick fuck?’”
“But you don’t have to glorify killing someone so much! Please, my love… You’re better than this.”
Felix wouldn’t have dropped the matter for anyone else, and simply said while leaving for the palace, “Yeah, whatever. Come on, we have a clear path to the emperor!”
While mostly everyone else followed the others into Edelgard’s palace, Dorothea knelt at Hubert’s corpse to weep. “Hubie… It… didn’t have to be this way. Edie was so kind to me at the Officer’s Academy… and even you were, too.”
Dimitri chanced upon her as she mourned. “Dorothea, we need to get moving, while some of the army holds back the remaining forces. Come, up you get.”
“Yes, Your Highness…” With one final tearful goodbye, Dorothea spoke, “Farewell, Hubie.”