The Summoner is a hooded man.
For a clean minute or two, that's about all there is to him. Far closer to a puddle than an aquifer.
But such munificent fruits are not enough for him, no, his contentious claim to fated wish-fulfillment in a fantasy wonderland apparently entitles him to more, so much more. What's more, his contract—a miles-long manifesto detailing his terms of endearment, is disclosed from the innards of his left sleeve and left to unfurl around the perimeter of the castle grounds. It utilizes "conventional" idioms foreign and virtually unheard of to everyone aside from himself, references concepts and ideas that seem far too fanatical to be anything more than malarkey to the common Zenith denizen (wagons without horses?), and generally reads like the self-indulgent ramblings of a man obsessed. A nut in every sense of the word.
Commander Anna skims through it, what little she can read anyhow. Evidently the Summoner is proud of his blurred, ambidextrous chicken scratch, it's poorly-written both figuratively and literally.
Still and all, Askr is desperate for sellswords of any kind at this point and his tact for tactics is on a whole other level, a differing plane of reality that starkly contrasts his modernized ego. Against her better judgment, Anna concedes to his conceited conditions, and recruits him for their cause.
Subsequently, the Summoner trades in his generic handle in favor of 'Kiran'. He insists time and time again that it's a genuine name he's had eyes on for eons, and not something 'cool' crafted on the spot (either spin sounds just as sad). Regardless of its origins, the label alone pales to what else is bestowed upon him.
Kiran is a hooded man. With a fully-loaded cross-dimensional revolver.
For King Corrin, this is just a little too eccentric—even for him.
That's another thing. One moment the prestigious (juvenile) king of Valla is tending to his individually-named and personified magnolias, the next, he's blindsided by a swarming, all-consuming portal that instantaneously catapults him halfway across the reaches of the multiverse before abruptly spitting him out of the smoking barrel of a magic, tragic, microtransaction device.
It's the start of an incredibly volatile relationship, to say the least.
Corrin doesn't even comprehend what a gun is, let alone one that casts contractually-bound soldiers otherwise known as 'heroes'. A victim of his own era, the closest thing to such a spectacle from his perspective would be a ballistician's cannon—and those are enormously cumbersome, take ages to set up, and are typically reserved for old, wrinkly, curmudgeonly codgers. Just the thought of a man possessing the convenience of a handheld cannon that can pack lead faster than one can say fuck is enough to make the king shudder and plead to the gods to be warped back to his mechanically-inept safe haven. At least when push comes to shove there, the worst that could happen is getting incinerated by spell-entwined tomes.
Yet as it turns out, such a fiery fate is the least of his concerns, for Corrin is among the first to be siphoned from his respective realm and curtly enlisted into a war whose existence he wasn't even aware of prior to his grand old 'kingnapping'. It's unabashed abduction at its finest (deja vu, much?), and he's far from alone. Over the days that follow, an overloaded plethora of dazed and confused mercenaries flood in by the dozens to join him, each one whisked away from their various homelands to drop every little thing in their lives and obey the will of a hooded egotist.
Corrin actually recognizes a scant handful of them as peons from his own world's peanut gallery, the unfortunate downside in that regard being that he doesn't care for any of Kiran's personal recommendations.
"S-Stop staring at me, I'm just as confused as you are!"
The king blinks, gaze ignorantly locked on the dancing duelist.
'Has Laslow always sounded like that?'
In short note, no one particularly eye-catching.
An amalgamation of snowflakes if there ever was one, Kiran wastes no time in assuming the position of the dominant force behind the ranks of the ever-growing Askr army, a crowning achievement given his adamant stance of staying as far away from the frontlines as possible. Commander Anna, in turn, is reduced to little more than a benched figurehead that occasionally spits out feathers. Contrary to the gimmick of her cross-dimensional counterparts, nothing of value is lost in the coup d'état.
For Corrin however, it's a bench too far, a step over the line, a horse too beaten, an analogy too many. Having endured more than enough straws on his back, he decides, right then and there, that he doesn't enjoy being ordered around by such an oddball—an oddball who speaks and acts as if he were a second-rate performer attempting to mimic the mannerisms of the cronies around him, rather than a genuine member of the troupe. Truly a foreigner by any other name.
Driven by his burning, draconian desires to return home, tend to his flora, and not-tend-so-much-as-belittle Flora, the fated king boldly throws all caution to the wind and steps up to confront the Summoner—right in the middle of a less-than-charitable summoning session, no less.
"Excuse me!" Corrin exclaims, approaching the gate with the best scowl he can possibly muster (a bad one, obviously). "Mister Summoner, head, uh, commander sir! I-I'd like a word!"
'Gah! Huh!? Son of a—!" alarmed by the interruption, Kiran slips and inadvertently fires his weapon—the "Breidablik" as he calls it, a made-up moniker just as fictitious as the last—a second too soon. The unfocused, premature shot promptly escapes his control and manifests into a wormhole that carelessly dunks Odin into a stockpile of orbs.
"Hoy there, your invisible majesty!" he beckons to Corrin, an orb rolling off his empty noggin. "It is I, fell crux of the shadows and dim forger of brimstone, Odin Dark of the Low-Ranking Tiers! To what do I owe this most humble shanghaiing?"
The blood-boiling dramatic turns about as many heads as he did the last fifty times he was regrettably brought forth. Unbeknownst to him however, zero multiplied by fifty is still an emphatic zero.
"Blegh, another one of you.." the Summoner scoffs under his breath before turning his attention to the albino intruder. "Cripes, and you, gods above—don't even get me started on you, we'll be here all bloody day. You want a word? Certainly, but why stop there? Here's a whole sodding lecture: Respect the privacy of others! Common decency, have your pointy ears heard of it?! I mean, really, do you have any idea how agonizingly overpriced a single pull from this damnable rock is!? I've got like, dozens of these scantily-dressed chastity druids lining the barracks as is! I don't exactly have room for one more bronze paperweight, and certainly not enough patience to deal with any fruitless distractions in-between!"
"By the gods.." Odin gasps in fleeting awe. "I'm a paperweight!"
Kiran aggressively motions to the mage, a point so unceremoniously proven it requires no further vocal commentary on his part.
In respect to what little dignity Odin has left, Corrin spares him further humiliation by stringing the back-and-forth right along. "Hold on," he begins, hand raised. "You have to pay a toll in order to use your own weapon? Excuse me for this, but what the hell does the army even pay you for!?"
Corrin rarely, if ever, steps into outburst territory, but this is a level of absurdity even he cannot match, and all Kiran offers in response is a shrug and a smug observance of his scrutiny.
"Good question," the Summoner retorts, his tone adjusted to one suitable for addressing a child. "Honestly, even I would be hard-pressed to reach into the rabbit hole and drip feed you an accurate explanation. Who knows? Who can say? And as far as I'm concerned, who cares? It just so happens that by some stroke of luck or divine miracle, I'm the only person capable of wielding Breidablik for one reason or another, the only person with the spiritual know-how to conjure the heroes that make up the brunt of our forces, the only person that keeps this otherwise defenseless kingdom from being yesterday's news. In your or anyone else's possession, this relic may as well be a hunk of junk with some admirable inscription work."
Kiran turns away from the king, eyes set on the abnormally large slab of stone situated before the both of them, also sporting palatable engravings. "Confusing, isn't it? Pretty to look at, sure, but far be it from me to decipher it. Anyway, seeing as only I can wield, use, and summon from the Breidablik, my services are highly imperative to the resolution of this war. Ergo, Askr pays me a rather paltry sum of twinkly balls for every leg of our campaign that we emerge victorious from, I hoard these ephemeral offerings like a dirty pack rat until they pile up to say, oh I don't know, twenty-five, thirty? Somewhere around there, depends on the focus. Once it reaches that pivotal amount, I stand up to this illegible rock, stimulate it like a poonhound with anywhere from five to twenty of those sparkly little spheres, it in turn resonates with the Breidablik in the form of a catalyst, and just like that—I have a weapon that launches live human fodder for all of ten seconds."
Needless to say, Corrin is at a loss of what to draw from the counter-intuitive explication beyond sheer bemusement. "They pay you.. so that you can pay this stone.. so that you can abduct people like me?"
"I prefer the term 'summon'—but yes, that's how it works, to disappointing results more-often-than-not," a pause follows as Kiran closes his eyes, catches his breath and jaded sentiments, and turns around to face the king once more. "Alright, there's your skeevy little economics lesson for the day. That's it. Piss off. I have tri-starred magicians to send home. It's sad really, the sap can make anything disappear except for his virginity—"
"A-Ah, wait!" Corrin calls, suddenly remembering exactly why he stepped into this neck of the woods in the first place. "That's actually what I wanted to ask you about, Mister Summo—"
"M-Mister Kiran—or just Kiran—Kiran sir! I wanted to ask you if, if.." Corrin halts, gathering all of the spirit and sincerity he can muster, before speaking his heart out. "—if you could send me home as well!"
". . ."
Moments pass between the two without a word, without a sound, it's as if this is a completely different tale. Time slows to a feverish crawl, entwining the duo in a staring contest of unpredictable proportions.
And then, after what feels like an eternity and a half, the Summoner speaks.
And Corrin is understandably ticked.
"What?! Wh-Why not?! Even after I spoke from the bottom of my heart, it's still a no!? You clearly possess the power to do so, there's no reason to hide it now. You already spilled the beans, so why does Odin get a free pass and not me!?"
"My prestige holds greater merit in the eyes of the Omnipotent Orbphile than the King of Silent Voices and Pleas Unheard!" Odin exclaims from his seat in the background. "Blood ever aching.. my power level grows stronger with each passing day!"
His remarks are ignored, as they should be. "My my, touchy, aren't we?" Kiran hums with the slightest of grins. "You want to know why? I'll tell you: As much as it pains every ounce of my essence, you're far from a liability. You know what that means, right?"
"Liability.." Corrin mumbles, rolling the word off his tongue. "I'm not a hindrance?"
"In the confines of the battlefield, no. Far from it, in fact. You're an ample fighter. Every time I deploy you, I die a little inside, but at the same time, it guarantees a victory on our end. I'd loathe to lose such a team player, so keeping you corralled here is well-within my best interests."
The king isn't sure what to feel at this point, his emotions teetering between contented and contested.
"I.. see," he ultimately chokes out. "And Odin?"
"The fact of the matter is, your majesty: I get far more mileage out of you as is, than the meager return in feathers if I were to send you back."
Corrin has no idea what feathers have to do with anything. Instead, all he can think about is something far more meaningful.
"But.. but my friends, my family, those I care most about! You took me away from them against my will and expect me to accept that with a straight face, expect me to pick up a sword and risk my life, knowing that I'll possibly never see them again!? I can't accept that, Kiran, I won't! I—"
"Well, if you're going to be such a whiny little cock about it, I suppose I can cast them over."
The Summoner crosses his arms, exasperated as all hell. "You heard me, I still have use of you. Therefore, if you cannot be brought back to your wretched kin, why not consider bringing them to you?"
"You.. You would do that for me?" Corrin breathes, his anger dispersing into a faint glimmer of hope.
"If it gets you to shut up and slay some Emblians for me, yes," Kiran sighs. "I'd much prefer a swordsman who can kill a man than one who preaches and pitches philosophy to them."
Eyes lighting up in that unmistakable Corrin-esque way, the fated king nods gracefully. "Y-Yes, of course! I'll do whatever it takes to see them again, Kiran!"
"Right, then hop on your bike and fetch me some orbs, cockatrice! We can't very well play family reunion unless I have the energy to do so, can we?"
"O-Of course, Kiran! Right away! I won't let you down! Mark my words, I will see my loved ones again!"
Invigorated by a brand new endeavor coursing through his veins, Corrin makes his exit by figuratively pedaling on a bike crafted from bonds everlasting and unbroken ties. Kiran groans.
"What a pissant. Ah well, at least it'll keep him busy and hopeful. I probably should have told him that there's only a three percent chance of even pulling his mouth-breathing brethren at all, but.. eh. Tomorrow's problems. Hopefully they can fight half as well as he does, if they do, we're in business.. "
Leaving the matter behind, Kiran returns to the backburner and finds that yes, Odin still exists.
"Greetings, fellow avatar! I see you too have learned to embraced the art of faceless features and hooded coats! I sing only praises of you, praises delivered on wings of darkness!"
"Those wings wouldn't happen to be made of one-hundred and eighty feathers, would they? Because that's what you're about to bargained for."
"Is this true?! Then fear not, my embittered cohort! For I will return in due time!"
Kiran pinches the bridge of his nose, staring into the void as the void stares back.
"Oh, I know.."