Chapter 1: Prologue: A Good Tactician Always Has a Backup Plan
“Hey boss! How long ‘til we get some action?”
“Yeah, my axe is just dying to cut into some Ylissean flesh!”
Garrick merely huffed in exasperated amusement as his gang harped their impatience. The King of Plegia hired his and other ruffian groups to cause mayhem amongst the smaller villages around Ylisse in order to instigate a war between the two haildoms. The only snag in the the King Gangrel’s plans was the current Exhalt of Ylisse and her unwillingness to take the bait. Not that Garrick could care less over the politics. As long as he and his men had work, he didn’t mind if her royal high horse-ness continued her passive ways for as long as the Plegian-Ylissan War lasted.
That change of course, when the Mad King had offered nearly four times the gold he was originally paying Garrick for an extra special job.
It seems the King’s already short patience have run dry and decided if the current Exhalt won’t indulge his desire for blood and murder, he would have better luck with her dimwitted brother, who was sure to take the throne should anything happened to his dear sister. Yes, there was no doubt young Prince Chrom would rise to Gangrel’s taunts, especially if it’s to avenge his poor peace-loving elder sister.
Again though, Garrick didn’t give a Pegasus dung about all the politics, but he was never one to pass up a fat sack of gold. All he and his men had to do is make their way to Ylistol, the Ylissan capital, and cause as much h*ll as possible as a more subtle team made they way into the castle and dispatched Exhalt Emmeryn. They’re already just a couple villages away from their target and the sound of coins practically jingled in Garrick’s ears.
“This village here looks like a good mark if I ever seen it. Who’s with me!”
Of course, his all men did share a bit of the king’s bloodthirsty rage against the Ylissans and were getting understandably restless.
“Our main concern is the capital. We shouldn’t let ourselves be sidetracked so close to our destination.”
Well almost all of them.
Garrick and the rest of the gang’s eyes fell on their latest addition, his men glaring daggers at the odd man’s remark putting a damper on their potential pillaging. He was a strange one for sure. He wasn’t dressed in the usual garb mages wore and rarely was seen without the hood of his raggedy cloak pulled over his head. He had heard that Garrick’s gang was one of the squads chosen to invade Ylistol and all but hired himself into their ranks, even sweetening the deal with a sack of gold. Not that Garrick wouldn’t have considered the man if he hadn’t bought his way in. Since joining, his uncanny intuition was what gotten Garrick and his men so deep into Ylisse to begin with.
The barbarian still felt that the man’s height was wasted on a brainy mage though.
He was also quiet and sometimes easy to forget was there, well, at least he was until he opened his mouth and made himself enemies with the rest of the ruffians. Still he made a fair point. What’s the point of pillaging a village for pocket change compared to the goldmine their current job offered?
“It’s such a small village! No one will bat an eye until they off the Exhalt! That way Ylissan can REALLY get their small clothes in a twist for hitting so close! That’ll probably make the king even more giddy. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if he doubled our earnings for that!”
And just like that the jingling in Garrick’s eyes brought a wicked grin on his face. The prospect of a even larger purse was too tempting for the money hungry barbarian. He was already brandishing his axe.
“Nothing wrong with a little detour!” Garrick laughed out, the adrenaline of a good slaughter filling him with glee. Perhaps he did share a bit of his king’s bloodthirstiness after all. “READY MEN!”
Garrick and the other ruffians missed the way the hooded man’s posture stiffen as he withheld a sigh. He truly hoped to keep this squad in line long enough to get to the capital, but it seems that wasn’t the case.
Oh well, that’s why any good Tactician has a couple of backup plans up their sleeves.
Chapter 2: Just Wait
On her first patrol as a on field healer, Lissa finds herself in a dangerous bide and receives assistance in the most unexpected way.
Posting the second chapter with the Prologue because I for the life of me, can’t figure out how to make Archive show that this is an incompleted work otherwise. Don’t expect such generous updates in the future, I’m honestly only have like two other chapters written at the moment.
If it weren’t the fact that she was sure it would get her killed, Lissa would have screamed. The young princess trembled, overwhelmed with the situation she found herself in as she sound of cries and flames roared around her.
This was only supposed to be a simple routine patrol around the neighboring villages near Ylisstol. That was the only reason Frederick and Chrom allowed Lissa to travel alongside them. She had been so desperate to have actual experience on the field, but even she didn’t expect such a large scale attack at a village so close to the capital. At most, she thought she would get to heal Chrom after her brother got himself a scape or two from some common thieves, but this was far more than any that she could have anticipated.
Amongst the unexpected chaos, Lissa had gotten separated from her brother and their retainer. No doubt they were searching vigorously for her, but the flow of battle was not allowing them the chance. All she was armed with was her heal staff and a few vulneraries. She was defenseless.
She heard a painfully young voice cry for help, causing her to grip her staff in frustrated fear. She was the princess of this haildom, and her people needed her. Braving herself, Lissa took a peek around the corner of the wagon she had taken refuge behind. An injured young boy, maybe even younger than her, was cornered by some of the ruffians while the much larger one watched on. An axe was being held against his face, and Lissa can make out the stream of tears flowing from the boy’s eyes onto the weapon.
She... she needed to do something...! Anything!
As Lissa willed her legs to move, she risked another peek at the ruffians only to see the larger one wearing a hood seemingly glancing in her direction. Just like that, all of her nerve left her body and she took cover back behind the wagon. It was as if she can hear her own blood pulse all throughout her body, unable to even register anything happening around her. It was not until the cries of the boy grew closer that she snapped out of her panicked frenzy and she found the large man standing right beside her with the boy’s collar in one hand and a bronze sword in the other.
Before she can even probably react, the man threw the young boy against the ground, pinning him with a heavy foot before his sword struck down and blood gushed and pooled onto the youth’s chest.
Lissa’s own chest froze in shock. Despite the horror she faced since coming into the village, she’s actually haven’t seen a person die. She’s helped heal the Sherpherds and they returned from a hard battle, so she knows just by looking that there was nothing her and her staff can do with a stab would right in the chest. This boy... this child had died right in front of her and she couldn’t do anything!
At the moment, Lissa didn’t even care if they did hear her scream and was ready to do so.
A hushed voice from above paused her grief and made her to look back up. This close she can make out the man’s eyes making contact with hers even under his hood. Something about his voice didn’t match his appearance. It was gentle.
“Just wait.” Was all the man whispered before removing his foot from the body... wait. Lissa’s eyes widen when the boy’s eyes met hers, looking just as frantic and frazzled as she felt. While there was blood on the boy’s chest, she can see that there wasn’t an actual wound.
The man returned to the other two as they snorted and clapped him on the back. The words ‘you had it in you after all’ and ‘Ylissan scum’ leaving their mouths, but the man didn’t pay their congrats any mind as he herded the himself and the men away from the area.
As they walked on, Lissa finally noticed the steady blood trail that seemed to follow the tall man as he walked. She then realized what she witnessed earlier was the man stabbing his own foot rather than the boy underneath it. Bewildered, the princess watched until the three completely left her sight before turning her attention back to the injured boy.
Whoever that mysterious man was, he just saved this boy’s (and probably her own) life. This was her first experience as an on field healer, and she was sure she would never forget it.
Chapter 3: The Sudden Turn
The raid upon an innocent village continues as Chrom fights the ruffians off all while trying to locate his missing sister. Perhaps he and his retainer, Frederick, will find the tides tip in their favor.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Chrom’s mind was going a mile per minute.
What had meant to be a simple patrol to get Lissa’s feet wet has somehow morphed into a full scale invasion. Who would have thought such a large group of ruffians would make it so close to the capital? To make matters worse, the chaotic battle had forced both he and their retainer Frederick to be separated from his inexperienced sister, who could be anywhere in this burning village.
The Ylissean Prince cursed himself for not bringing more of his Sherpherds with them, but before he could further regret that decision, Chrom dodged a close range thunder spell from his current opponent. He then brought his sacred blade, Falchion, down onto the hooded man, but was narrowly blocked by a bronze sword before jumping back to avoid the next thunder spell that was mid charging.
Whoever this man was, he had a completely different fighting style than anything Chrom was used to. Mages normally depended on attacking from a distance before melee fighters can reach them. They also hardly ever wielded a weapon other than a tome or two that could possibly weigh them down. His opponent, however, did not seem to have a problem with breaking those norms, using his blade more like a shield and having no qualms with trying to blast Chrom at point blank range.
The prince had singled out this man as the brains of this group. It was hard to miss the way the others kept an eye out for any signals thrown their way from him. Chrom had hoped taking him out would scatter the others and make their movements less vexingly precise. Unforunately, it seemed that action was yet another trap laid by this man, and Chrom blundered into it.
The prince grunted in frustration as their lethal dance continued. He was no fool, the prince knew that the other man’s objective was to keep him in one spot as the others surrounded the experienced Great Knight. As powerful and wise as his retainer is, even Frederick the Wary would have difficulty holding off a squad of rushing axe users all attacking at once, especially while dodging another mage’s wind spells.
Thankfully, despite the obvious disadvantages, Frederick was still Frederick and managed to fell a good number of his foes, but the danger was still far too real for both he and his lord’s liking. Suddenly a cry of a young girl broke the rhythm of battle and Chrom’s blood ran cold.
“Lissa!” Chrom cried out as he watched in a mix of rage and horror. His little sister was struggling to escape the grip of a barbarian with a wicked sneer on his face. Her thin neck was entrapped by his much larger forearm, threatening to snap it in two. In this state, the prince did not noticed how his former enemy stiffen at his shout. “Damn you! Let her go!”
“Lissa?” The barbarian questioned with mocking glee. “You mean to tell me this little lass is the second princess of Ylisse, Milord?” The man laughed as he hold only tightened, with some of his henchman joining in. “Well ain’t this day just getting better? Not only does the Prince of Ylisse comes to us on a silver platter, but he even brought his bratty kid sister’s head to sweeten the deal!”
“You will unhand the princess at once!” Frederick, protective as he is, took down even more of his foes, but was forced to freeze when the man pulled out his tomahawk and rested it close to the princess’ neck. “You scoundrel...”
“Drop your weapons.” The barbarian ordered as he pressed his axe closer to Lissa’s head. “It’d be a shame to cut down a lass as cute as this one. Not without a little fun first that is...”
As the others hooted and hollered, Chrom only gripped his trusty Falchion harder. The dastards’ obnoxious noises melted into the background and all the prince could register were his sister and that infernal axe. Even though he knew such a move would only end in disaster, Chrom wanted nothing more but to cut down that man with his own hand. His thought process was broken however, when the voice of his most loyal knight rang out in alarm.
“Milord! Attack from behind!”
Chrom let out a swear at his negligence. With Lissa’s life threatened, he had completely forgotten of his clever foe, and only had the time to turn before the surge of pure energy blasted... safely passed head. The battlefield that was once filled with mocking laughter was now dead silent.
Curiousity won out as Chrom turned to see just what the man hit. Lissa, eyes widen in horror, but for the most part was left untouched, but her now late assailant lied on the ground with smoke coming from his head. The prince was sure Lissa’s shock face was shared with all the others on the battlefield, himself included. Well, mostly all of them.
Wasting no time, the mysterious man turned to fell the wind mage he had tasked to keep the Knight pinned before the their shock could wear off. His back was now to Chrom as he held his sword in front as he tome laid open in his other hand.
“Secure your sister.” The man’s light voice didn’t match his tall statue. “I’ll cover you.”
Not having to be asked twice, Chrom rushed over to his shaken sister as the roar of battle rang anew, stronger than ever. Without the wind mage Frederick was now able to freely slay the rest of his adversaries. Whenever the words akin to “traitorous dastard” were shouted, they were almost always answered with the crackling release of a thunder spell. Just as Chrom predicted this man was no doubt the brains of this group, and now that he had turned on them for whatever reason, it was only a matter of time until the rest were slain.
With Lissa trembling form safely back into his arms, Chrom couldn’t help but send the man a grateful, yet considering look.
It wasn’t long until the wretched ruffians were dispatched and the surviving villagers slowly made their way back to the open. Chrom looked around, thankful to see a reasonably large crowd. Regrettably, there had been some lost to the raid, but there was comfort in the fact the majority of them still breathe. The calm after the storm was only fleeting, however, as his trusty retainer dismounted from his steed and brought bladed point of his lance to their enemy turned ally’s throat.
“Frederick!” Lissa gasped out in mortified shock. She attempted to leave Chrom’s side, but the prince found that he couldn’t just let her leave the safety of his arms just yet. Perhaps the shock of seeing his little sister so close to death hit him even harder than he previously thought. “What are you doing? He helped us!”
“Forgive me, Milady, but it’s clear that this man was in cahoots with the ruffians.” True to his title, Frederick the Wary kept his eyes on the mysterious man. “The fact that he even turned on his own only further proves we shouldn’t be so quick to trust him.”
A rumble of scattered agreement emerged from the crowd. Some saying they saw the man blalantly giving orders to the ruffians throughout the attack, even going as far as assuming that he must be the leader. The rumble morphed into loud calls for justice as the mob mentality took over the village, calling for death to the corwardly boss who sold out his own men the moment things looked hairy, but a rather unladylike shout silenced further assumptions.
“Shut up and let me speak!” The princess took a deep breath to recover the air lost from such a shout after catching the crowd’s attention. “Sure he may seem like to be one of them, but he stopped others from noticing me when I was alone earlier!”
“T-the princess is right...!” A young boy limped to out of the crowd. On his chest was a large blood spot, but he look relatively unharmed. “He saved me from some of the other invaders and left me to be healed.”
Soon others escaped from the crowd to say their own piece. A mother who was hiding in a back room with her children was spared because it was the man who found them, but didn’t report them in. Those who claim that the fire caused by some of his spells helped mask the escape some villagers made to the surrounding woods. A man, barely clinging to life, being left with a vulnerary well the others looked away. These testimonies seemed to calm the crowd somewhat, but the lance remained by the man’s throat regardless.
“All may be true, but it doesn’t change the fact that this man still poses a threat to us.” The Knight explained, his eyes severe in case the stranger attempted anything. “Drop your weapons.”
The man slowly complied as a simple thunder tome and a bronze sword fell to the ground. As he held his arms up in a passive nature, he finally decided to speak once more.
“You truly live up to your reputation, Sir Frederick.” His voice, while soft, still held a monotoned edge to it. Frederick only brandished his lance tighter. “Hardly any cause to be so alarmed. There aren’t many that haven’t heard of the feared Great Knight of the Ylissean royal family. Will you let me say my piece?”
The lance lowered, but was still pointed to the man’s neck. The knight held a glare to eyes barely visible from under his cloak. The man let out a cough before continuing.
“I was merely hitching a ride with this group for protection until I made it to a specific destination in exchange for my tactical prowess.” Chrom couldn’t help but perk at the last bit of the man’s words. “It was never my intention to to invade any village, but I was hardly in any position to complain. Besides,” the man made an attempt to turn to the royal siblings, but the sharp movements of the lance convinced him otherwise, “affairs in this kingdom are horrid enough as it is, I shudder to think how much worse things may become if some no named thugs killed most of the remaining royal family.”
“And this destination would be?” Frederick questioned with hard eyes.
“Regna Ferox.” The man replied back, just as plainly.
“I hoped to get in touch with an associate who resides there.”
“And you marched through the heart of Ylisse to get there because?”
“Their boss Garrick, the gentleman with the smoking head over there, decided the route. I had no part in that.”
“That’s enough Frederick.” Chrom finally stepped in, correctly assuming that the man’s callous reference to the boss he betrayed would put the knight more on edge. “He safe guarded the villagers as best he could and, if I understood right, he saved Lissa’s life twice today. I believe that is enough to allow him some trust.”
“... Very well, Milord.” Though eyes were still steel, Frederick’s lance finally was removed from the front of the hooded man’s neck. The man in question took a step back from the knight, not reaching for his belongings just yet. Darting pass his guard, Lissa approached with staff in hand.
“Now let’s take a look at that foot at yours!” Lissa, while still a bit shaken from her ordeal, managed to send a playful pout up towards the much taller man. “What kind of guy with ‘tactical prowess’ stabs himself in the foot mid battle!?”
Frederick wordlessly collected the one tome and somehow worn bronze sword off the ground as Chrom followed after his sister. The knight showed exasperation at hiw the young princess acted so friendly with a mere stranger so quickly, while the prince eyed the exchange somewhat amused as his ‘delicate’ kid sister ordered a man over a foot taller than her to kneel down so she could check for more wounds.
A smirk grew on his face as the man reluctantly complied after a short staring contest.
I’m still pretty new to how formatting works on Archive. If there is any trouble with this chapter, please let me know. Of course, if there are any comments about anything in this story, I would love to hear them regardless. ^^