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They were a formidable duo, the Crimson Flash and the Beloved Dancer.

During skirmishes they were always together, looking out for each other. Marisa cut down anyone who dared to get too close to Tethys, and Tethys danced for her hero, giving her the energy to continue fighting. Sometimes they were accompanied by Gerik and Joshua, but they mostly worked alone, not needing the help of anyone else. Marisa thought that she could take the enemy on alone, for she was the one dubbed the Crimson Flash, the woman who could take out any villain in a flash.

Until one day, she was proven wrong.

“Marisa, behind you!” Marisa quickly turned around, too late, to see an axe coming right at her. She managed to dodge it, but the brigand swung the axe to the side, effectively knocking her down with the flat side.

She rolled on the ground, losing her shamshir in the process, and hissed a soft ‘fuck’. The axeman stepped towards her, smiling menacingly, axe held high and ready to execute her. She tried to scramble back up, maybe I can get my killing edge and end this man, but the brigand mercilessly kicked her down in the dirt. She rolled onto her back, fear absent from her eyes for she'd not let this ugly man have his fun, until she remembered, Tethys, she's still out there, maybe she's getting help, hopefully she's safe, Tethys, I'm sorry, Tethys--

There was a flash of red behind the man, accompanied by the sound of footsteps, light footsteps Marisa knew all too well. The brigand turned his head to the source of the sound, lowering his axe, which was Marisa’s cue to get up and draw her killing edge to end the man. But it seemed that someone had already done so before she could.

Marisa watched in horror as the end of her shamshir stuck out of the brigand’s chest. He made a gurgling sound and clutched his wound with both hands as he slowly fell to the ground and eventually laid still. Marisa looked up to see no other than Tethys, one hand in her side and the other holding her bloody shamshir. She had a look in her eyes Marisa hadn't seen before. As soon as she saw Marisa, though, that look disappeared.

“Marisa.” Tethys ran to her side, extending her unstained hand to her. “Oh, god, Marisa. Are you alright?”

“Yeah.” Marisa accepted Tethys’ hand and stood upright. She dusted off her skirt and legs, and wrinkled her nose at the mud stains. “Thanks to you, I'm fine. Thank you, Tethys.”

“But of course. He had it coming.” Tethys smirked confidently. “After all, no one's allowed to hurt my sword princess.”

Marisa felt her face get hot and she smiled. She has learned to accept Tethys’ compliments, but that didn't mean she had gotten used to them. She took out her killing edge and looked in the direction of the fort they were supposed to conquer. “Alright. Let's go, Tethys.”

“Ah, wait.” Tethys held out the shamshir to her. “I still have your sword.”

“Keep it.”

“Hm?”

“It’s more useful when used by you to defend yourself than when it's with me, sheathed and unused. Besides,” she added with a small giggle, “you certainly have swordfighting skills from what I've seen. Not everyone can perfectly pierce through a person’s body, unless they have some knowledge of where to stab with the sword.”

Tethys turned the shamshir in her hand and snorted. “Let's just say I had to do more than just dancing to keep Ewan from dying.”

Marisa cocked her head to the side. “You don't have to tell me if you don't want to. I understand if--”

“I want to.” Tethys looked up at her with a smile, and took her hand in her own, warm one. “But not now. After this fight, I'll tell you everything you want to know.”

Since then, they fought together, protecting each other. Tethys still danced for her hero, but now took a sword in her own hand too, after Marisa had frequently asked her to.

Outside of the battle they were always found together, whether they were training or just hanging out. Whenever Tethys practised her dance moves, Marisa was always there with her to watch or to give her opinion on a new move. Neimi had once found the two dancing close together when she went to get them for dinner. Too flustered to talk to them, she just left them be. They had emerged two hours later with flushed faces and Tethys’ braid undone, and Neimi couldn't help but smile.

They were always sitting together with dinner, often accompanied by Joshua and Gerik, and sometimes Ewan and Ross or even Innes. To Tethys’ surprise, Joshua and Marisa got along really well, and she herself was often in conversation with Gerik. When Innes tagged along it was mostly showing off between the three guys, and when Ewan wanted to be with his sister it was to show her how much stronger he had become. Sometimes he'd show them a new spell and try it out on a frog right in front of them, ruining everyone’s but Marisa’s appetite. Whenever Ross sat with them it was because of Ewan, but the boy actually got along well with Gerik. Ross had called Tethys ‘sister’ one time, and she couldn't stop smiling for the rest of the evening.

When Marisa was sparring against Gerik or Joshua, Tethys was watching her, cheering her on or nursing her injuries.

“What's going on between you two?” Gerik had asked one time, while Marisa and Joshua were slashing away at each other.

“The same thing as between you and Joshua.” Tethys had replied with a knowing smile, eyes still on Marisa. Gerik had crossed his arms and frowned, but he never asked her again after that.

When they were done training and had time to spare they were still spending time together, either by doing daily chores like polishing swords or washing clothes, or by just lazing about and talking. When Ewan asked Tethys if he could braid her hair, he asked Marisa if she wanted to accompany them, and the two would often engage in small talk while Tethys listened with a smile.

“Marisa, what's your family like?” Ewan had asked her once, carefully placing flowers in Tethys’ braid as he went on.

“My father was a stern but fair man. He has passed on, though.” She was carefully crafting a flower crown, skilled fingers easily intertwining the flower stems.

“So does that mean you don't have a family?”

“Ewan,” Tethys warned.

“...That's correct.”

“Then… can I be your little brother? So that you can still have a family? Would that be okay, Tethys?”

Tethys smiled, relieved that Ewan didn't push the family topic. “Of course. But you'll have to ask Marisa if she wants an up-to-no-good boy like you to be her little brother.”

Ewan let go of Tethys’ hair and turned to Marisa. “Well? What do you say? I'm pretty cute, and really good at dark magic. I'm really smart, too! I have a lot of riddles, so you'll never be bored. So? Do you accept me as your little brother?”

Marisa giggled, and placed the now finished flower crown on top of Ewan’s head. He gave her a big smile, and Tethys looked at her with a smile as well, undone braid and all. Marisa felt warm inside.

“Yes, I accept.”

After the war, Tales of the Crimson Flash and her Beloved Dancer spread throughout the entire land, making brigands shake in their boots. While the two would still fight brigands at times, they had mostly retired to a small house in Jehanna. The two of them lived there together with Ewan, who had taken it upon him to take in any harmed animal and nurse it back to health. Tethys objected when the fourth fox with a broken leg was brought home, but to her surprise Marisa asked her to let Ewan be. It seemed that it wasn't only Ewan who felt bad for those poor animals.

Sometimes Tethys would get requests from countries far and wide to dance somewhere, and Marisa would always accompany her. Ewan took that as a perfect excuse to hold a sleepover at Ross’ much to Garcia’s dismay, but after seeing his son so happy when he saw his old friend again he couldn't say no. After Tethys had danced men would try to approach her, but Marisa was always immediately at her side, pressed up close and arm casually slung around her waist. She'd lead her away while Tethys giggled as the men glared at them. “You're so mean, Marisa,” Tethys would say, and Marisa would just stick out her tongue and say, “I'm the worst.”

Joshua would often invite them to his castle to have dinner together like they used to do, and at some point they just came in without invitation or announcement, and neither Joshua or Gerik had a problem with it. “Do you understand now?” Tethys had asked when Marisa was helping Joshua hone his skills because hey, despite being king now Joshua was still a very skilled swordmaster, and Gerik had fidgeted with the ring around his ringfinger and answered with a smile, “Yeah, I think I do.”

“What are you two whispering about?” Joshua had asked, but Gerik’s attempt at an answer was interrupted by a guard running in, wildly exclaiming that a red-haired demon child had set half the garden on fire, followed by Tethys bursting out in laughter.

Despite the war and all the hardships they went through, the two finally found peace in the end. “I'm so glad I got to meet you,” Marisa whispered one night, when they were sitting outside and watching the stars together. Tethys took her left hand, not as calloused as it used to be and now adorned with a ring finger, and kissed the tip of each finger. “So am I,” she said, and intertwined their hands as she leaned in closer.

“Me too!” A loud voice rang out from behind them, and Marisa giggled as Ewan charged at her from behind and hugged her. Despite her frustrated sigh, Tethys smiled. Maybe Ewan could stay at Gerik’s palace, she thought. After all, the guards really seemed to like him.