It had been two whole years since the Summoner had tumbled into her life, and Anna was all the better for it. With Kiran's help, the Order of Heroes had managed to push back the kingdom of Embla, and the recent war against the mad Surtr of Múspell had finally reached its end with his demise. Many lives had been lost over the course of these wars, but many more had been saved. Askr, it seemed, was finally at peace.
… For now.
Even so, Anna found herself struggling with a new battle.
The battle of Alts.
Perhaps it seemed petty and childish, but Anna had been downright livid when she realized she was the only Anna among the many Lucinas and Lyns and Camillas in their ranks. She loved her friends and comrades, truly, but the notion that not one of her sisters had ever stepped forward to join the Order tore her up inside. Their ranks had grown tremendously in two years, and yet… Anna felt more demoralized than ever. Lonely, even. Not even cuddling with Feh seemed to help anymore.
"You're being too hard on yourself," Kiran told her from the desk he sat at. His nose was buried deep in a novel entitled How to Train Your Wyvern. "Hm… Cherche would like this one…"
"Pfft." Anna blew a loose strand of red hair out of her face, laying on her bed. She then sat up and threw her hands into the air in frustration. "I just don't get it! What does Camilla have that I don't?!"
Kiran grinned and opened his mouth to say something and was immediately met with a pillow to the face in response.
"Jerk," Anna said before sticking her tongue out at him. She reclined and folded her hands on her stomach with a bitter sigh. "Sorry… It just… It really hurts, y'know? I get that the other guys and gals are popular, I get that, but..."
Kiran looked over at her and gave her a somber half-smile, the only part of his face visible. "Anna…"
Kiran rested his elbows on the table and folded his hands together in silence. This wasn't like Anna at all… Perhaps the whole "not having an alternate version of herself" thing was really getting to her after all. Kiran couldn't relate; most days, he felt that just one of him existing was one too many.
Still… How could he help?
A funny noise caught his attention, and it was then he noticed that Anna had dozed off. Kiran decided to be prudent and show himself out; it was getting late, and he shuddered to think about the rumors someone would inevitably start if they saw him here.
As he walked back to his own room, a plan began to form in the back of his head, and he smiled. It would most likely require breaking the very boundaries of time and space, but… He'd do it. For her. After all, she was kind enough to take Kiran in when he was sucked into this world in the first place. Maybe he'd have to go home someday, but for now… He had a debt to repay.
"Okay," he whispered, rubbing his hands together as he found himself in front of the Summoning Pillar. "Time to get to work."
As numerous Heroes chatted the morning away in the mess hall, a certain redhead was exceedingly flustered as she dashed all throughout the eatery. She nearly knocked over several Heroes in the process, earning some glares.
"Kiran?" Anna called, cupping her hands around her mouth. "Kiiii-raaaan! Where are you? … KIRAN!"
Gaius flinched, unfortunate enough to be sitting at a table near the Commander. "Crivens, lady, settle down! I'm sure he's just takin' a bath or something!"
"Kiran always meets with me every morning at this exact time," Anna protested. "It's not like him to take unsanctioned baths!"
"... Really? He smells fine to me."
"Bah! You're useless!"
Gaius felt a tear well up in his eye as the Commander left the mess hall. "I… I'm not useless…"
"Woah!" Lissa yelled as she walked over to his table with a festive Chrom, tray in hand. "Gaius… Are you crying?"
"N-No! I'm not crying, you're crying!" he argued, pointing at her.
"Hey! Don't you point at me, mister!"
When it finally occurred to her to check the Summoning Room, Anna couldn't believe her eyes.
Beside Kiran stood not one, not two, but four Annas, each with their own story to tell. There was an Anna in a jester-like outfit, an Anna in a beret, a younger-looking Anna with a bow… Gods, was that one wearing a trench coat?
"Kiran!" Anna Prime shouted, more out of confusion than anger. Eyes darting between the various red-haired girls, she fumbled over her words. "What… Who… Huh?!"
"Hiya!" the youngest-looking Anna greeted, waving. "I'm Anna. I'm from Nohr originally. Hey, you look kinda like me! And my sisters, come to think of it…"
The jester-Anna took a step forward, examining the Order of Heroes' commander carefully. She stroked her chin, circling the Heroes' Commander for a few moments, before finally coming to a conclusion. "Mm… She doesn't look like much to me."
"R-Rude!" Anna Prime cried with balled fists. Kiran folded his arms and stifled a chuckle. "And just who might you be?!"
"I'm Anna," came the snarky reply. Gesturing to the others, she said, "That's Anna, Anna, and Anna respectively. Don't mix up Anna with Anna, though; she hates that."
"Uh… Which one?"
The beret-wearing Anna coughed, breaking the tension in the room. Unlike the other Annas, she was considerably more round and three-dimensional in appearance. "A-Anyway, hi! As you can plainly see, I'm Anna. I'm from the kingdom of Aytolis where I helped the lemonhead twins save their world from the evil dragon, Velezark!"
"Right…" Anna Prime smiled and nodded, though she had no clue what her strange counterpart was referring to. She did have a pretty cute hat though, so she couldn't be all bad, right?
"Psst," the younger Anna whispered to her older Ylissean counterpart. "She's kinda funny-looking, isn't she…?"
"Oh, definitely," Anna whispered back. "All those curves... It's enough to make me jealous!"
"... Well, I guess it's about time I introduce myself, eh?"
Kiran and the Annas turned their attention to the Anna in the red trench coat. She wore a matching fedora and spoke in a fast voice, her accent vaguely familiar to Kiran. "Now listen and listen good, see. I'm Anna Manson. In my world, the year is 1933 and I'm an accomplished saleswoman. I practically own the streets 'a Boston! Ya lookin' to buy somethin'? I'm ya gal!"
She paused and tugged on her collar bashfully. "Just, eh… No refunds though, yeah? Business is tight and all…"
"Uh… N-Nice to meet you," Anna Prime said, her voice wavering. She definitely knew that there were other Annas besides the ones in her home world, but… To meet so many new ones, and all at once to boot? It was like something from one of Sumia's novels!
"It is nice to meet me, ain't it?" Anna Manson chimed, winking. To the others' shock, she pulled open her trench coat to reveal a bunch of gadgets and doodads. The other Annas' eyes widened at the shiny devices, but Kiran recognized them as simple pocket watches. "Can I interest any 'a you in one 'a these lovely state-of-the-art watches? Time told instantaneously! The future is now! And the future, ladies and gents, why it smells 'a fortune!"
From above them, the group heard a scoff. "Ha. Imagine dedicating your life to peddling wares…"
Naturally, every Anna took offense to this.
"Look here, see! Who do you think you are?!"
Another chuckle. Kiran looked up and spotted a figure in the shadows before smiling. "All according to plan…"
"What?! What plan?!" Anna Prime cried.
The shadowy figure leapt from their hiding place and began to fall towards the floor. The other Annas watched in amazement as she shot her wrist upwards at the ceiling, causing a thick web-like substance to cling to it. The resulting rope slowed her descent to a crawl, allowing the others to get a better look at her. The red ponytail was nothing new, but the skintight red-and-black bodysuit was… odd, to say the least.
At last, the spectacular Anna landed on her feet with the grace of a cat. She stood up and addressed her fellow Annas with a casual smile and wave. "Hey there. The name's Anna Parker. Don't ask too much about the webs; they're genetic."
Nohrian Anna was the first to speak. "I… What… How?!"
"I too would like an answer, good lady!" Anna Manson cried, a hand on her hat.
"Didn't I just say not to ask? I've given that same origin story so many times by now I'm starting to get sick of it," Anna Parker replied, groaning. Despite her words, the corners of her mouth began to turn upwards, if only a little bit. "Buuuut, if you lot really are that interested… I suppose I can make an exception."
The rest of the Annas sat at their friendly otherworldly counterpart's feet, Anna Prime in the center. They wore anxious grins, and Anna Parker made eye contact with a nodding Kiran before sighing. "Okay, okay… Let's start at the beginning one last time. As I just said, the name's Anna Parker. Believe it or not, I'm actually from the land of Magvel."
"Ooh! Ephraim and Eirika are from there!"
"Hey! Who's tellin' the story here, huh?"
She cleared her throat. By now, a sizable group of Heroes had gathered nearby, taking in the spectacle. Anna Parker paid them no mind and continued her tale. "Like I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, I'm from Magvel. I was an ordinary saleswoman until I got bit by a magically-enhanced Bael. You know, those giant spiders that nobody likes."
"Giant spiders?! Eek!"
"Yes, they were giant. And gross. And eww," she deadpanned, "but that's not even getting into the interesting stuff yet! See, I woke up the next day and my hands were all sticky - "
There was a snicker courtesy of Nohrian Anna, prompting one of the others to punch her in the arm. "Ouch…"
Anna Parker slapped a hand to her forehead in frustration. This was not going to be easy. "Anyway, I found out that sticky hands were the least of my troubles. Between learning how to swing on webs and climb on walls, I also had some other problems to deal with. I became known as a freak, I lost my job because no one in Grado would trust or hire a sticky-fingered saleswoman in such dire times, I lost my house, my husband and I… split up."
The other Annas' eyes widened in sadness as they continued to stare at her. Their storyteller noticed this and made a desperate attempt to cheer them up. "B-But don't worry! I handled it like a champ!"
'Just don't tell them about the time you locked yourself in the bathroom and cried for an hour…'
"A-Anyway, I figured I would start using my powers to help people. There was a big earthquake in Grado, I saved some people and their kids, they started looking up to me as a hero, I started being called 'Spidanna', believe it or not - Clever, right?"
She shrugged, smiling once more. "Somehow... It just sorta stuck. That's not even getting into all the books and novels they wrote about me. Not to mention the plays and figurines and costumes… Did I mention someone actually wrote a theme song for me?"
By now, however, most of the other Annas were practically drooling at the thought of so much merchandise being made in their technical name. And all that merchandise could only mean one thing at the end of the day; money. Lots, and lots of money.
"Ooh!" two identical voices yelled in unison. Everyone turned to see none other than Owain and his Nohrian counterpart, Odin Dark, staring at Anna Parker with eccentric smiles.
"Actually," Odin began.
"That was us!" Owain finished. "During my - our - journeys across the Outrealms, we became enamored with a real-life superhero like the legends of old! The others laughed at us and passed it off as mere imagination, but you… You're real! You've inspired millions across various worlds, and we'd like to show our appreciate here and now."
He turned to the ever-growing legion of Heroes watching. "I need a lute!"
A purple-haired mage walked forward. "I am Lute, yes."
"Er… N-No, I mean the instrument."
"I like to consider myself an instrument of - "
"NOT. YOU!" Owain shouted. The Annas blinked in surprise as Odin quietly hid his face in his hand.
"... Well. There's no need to be rude," Lute replied brusquely. She walked back into the audience, and a couple minutes passed before someone was able to find Owain a serviceable lute.
Anna Prime shot Kiran a befuddled gaze, and the hooded Summoner merely shrugged in response. How was he supposed to know this would happen? All they could do now was sit back and enjoy the show as both Owain and Odin took turns singing.
"Spidanna, Spidanna/Former saleswoman Spidanna/Doesn't fear, copyright!/Defends Magvel in day or night/Look out!/Here comes the Spidanna!"
The superhero and storyteller in question blushed as the odd pair finished their song. "Whenever you're in trouble/She'll be there on the double/Here comes the Spidanna!"
Their song was met with much applause from both the other Heroes and the Annas. Spidanna looked particularly smug as she took a bow, and Anna Prime felt a new sensation burn within her. This feeling only doubled in intensity when she caught Kiran leering at her successful counterpart.
"... What?" he questioned innocently.
"Forget it." She shook her head before addressing her counterparts and the other Heroes present. "Everyone! This is a most joyous day! I… Er, we have some lovely new companions joining us for the time being! Let's all give them a warm welcome!"
"This calls for a celebration!" Sharena cheered, already wearing a party hat for the occasion. "C'mon, everyone! Party time!"
The castle's ballroom hadn't seen this much excitement since the Order's first anniversary. Several Heroes sat at many tables while even more cut a rug on the dance floor. Alfonse and Sharena shared a dance with Fjorm and Veronica as Anna sat quietly at her own table, fuming in silence. Kiran had been approached by both the Awakening and Nohrian Annas for a dance, and the Commander could only shake her head and glare daggers at them from afar.
"Look at them," she spat under her breath before downing her drink. "Disgusting…"
"Why so dour, Anna?" Robin inquired as he sat down next to her. The Commander said nothing, causing him to follow her gaze. Kiran stood in the middle of the dance floor, an Anna clinging either of his arms. "... Oh."
"Yeah." She shook her head, pouring herself another drink. Maybe Felicia had picked up on her mood and left her the entire bottle on purpose...
Robin sighed. "So you haven't told him yet."
"Eh?!" she blurted, turning to face the white-haired man and nearly choking on her ale in the process. "Urk... H-How did you…?"
He tapped a finger to his temple, smirking. "Well, you know how the Shepherds are... and when you're named their official tactician, you become very adept at reading friend and foe alike. I've seen the way you look at Kiran. It's hard to tell with him sometimes... or, all of the times... but I think he feels the same way."
"... You really think so?"
Just like that, a weight was lifted from Anna's shoulders. There was a chance! Granted, she'd never witnessed Robin's allegedly legendary matchmaking skills, but... If he was anything like Old Hubba, she still had a chance! Anna grinned and giggled merrily. "Hehe… Thanks, Robin."
"It's what I'm here for," he said with a shrug, returning the smile.
"But… If you don't mind me asking…"
"How do you know so much about love?"
Robin tugged on his collar nervously. "Ah… W-Well, you see…"
The pair nearly jumped when they heard someone clear their throat. Looking up, they could see a familiar Sacaean girl with long green hair standing in front of their table. She smirked at them, hands on her hips, before making direct eye contact with the tactician. "You still owe me a dance, Robin."
"Ah… Heh. Yes, dear," Robin agreed, rising from his chair. The pair bid farewell to a surprised Anna and made their way to the dance floor, hand in hand.
"... Heh. What a strange couple." Anna shook her head. Perhaps once her "sisters" were done hogging Kiran, she'd ask him for a turn. For the time being, however, all the redhead could do was sit in silence and watch the other Annas mingle with the Heroes. "...Hmm..."
Anna Parker breathed a sigh of relief once she was a fair distance away from the ballroom. She'd been to her fair share of parties in her lifetime, but this was all too much for her. She had no idea that people outside of Magvel had even heard of her, let alone believed the tales. To say nothing of those singing blonde twins from before…
"Yeesh," she groaned, leaning against a nearby wall and rubbing an arm. Anna was about two or three autographs away from pulling her hair out. It was certainly a good problem to have, what with having the adoration of hundreds and all, but the chaos that came with it almost made her want to hang up her suit and go back to being a normal saleswoman.
'Or a pizza delivery woman,' she thought, grimacing in disgust. 'Ugh...'
Anna shook her head in an attempt to clear her mind, but all it succeeded in doing was letting more bittersweet memories rise to the surface. Memories of the Jake of her world flooded her head, her heart sinking with every memory. The first time he entered their shop, their first kiss, the time he found out about her freakish powers, the time he married her in spite of her freakish powers…
And the time she couldn't save him.
By now, the young hero was curled up into a ball, arms wrapped around her knees. Dull blue eyes stared fruitlessly at the tiled floor in front of her, but there were no tears to be shed. She'd long since cried herself dry, and Anna was so lost in her thoughts that she failed to notice a second, younger Anna sit down next to her.
"Hey," Nohrian Anna greeted quietly.
She was on her feet in an instant, fists raised up in defense. "Ah! … Oh, it's just you."
The younger girl giggled. "Yep. Just Anna! I'm surprised I scared you, though. Don't you have some sort of 'Annie-sense' or something?"
"Pretty sure we all do, actually. The only difference is that my senses pick up danger, not gold."
"Yeah… You're kind of a weird Anna, that way," she teased back, giggling.
"... Seriously? It's not the web-slinging or wall-climbing, but the fact that I don't chase after money like the rest of you?" the older Anna asked. "That's what strikes you as weird?"
"Mm... Yep!" came the cheery response. "To be fair, though, all that junk you said before isn't that much weirder than being possessed by a time-traveling, dimension-hopping dragon hellbent on destroying humanity."
"I... well, maybe you're right, kiddo." Spidanna chuckled, sitting back down beside her.
They sat quietly for a few minutes before the younger Anna began to speak again, this time in a wavering voice just barely above a whisper. "... Do you ever miss your home?"
"Anna, we've been here all of one day. Besides, I'm pretty sure Kiran would send you back home if you asked him to."
Her eyes widened. "... He can do that?"
Spidanna shrugged nonchalantly. "If he could drag all of us here from various other worlds, sending us back should be a snap and a half."
"What's all this about homesickness? If those Nohrians are to be believed, it can't be that good of a place to live, right?"
"Well, I know… I just miss my sisters is all. Ours was a considerably poorer family, so many of us turned to a life of crime in order to make ends meet," Anna explained somberly. She fidgeted with her hands, refusing to meet her heroic counterpart's gaze. "I… I'm…"
Now, Spidanna was no fan of thieves; she'd stopped many a brigand across Magvel, most notably in Grado after the earthquake stopped and the looting started. Crime doesn't pay, she often said to herself. When she looked at this poor girl, though… This uncanny reminder of who she could have been had the fates not been so kind to her…
Spidanna wrapped a comforting arm around the other Anna's shoulders, surprising even herself.
"It's alright. I… I'm sure you had your reasons," she said in an understanding, almost motherly voice. "Just… try not to steal anymore, okay?"
Spidanna started fumbling with the pouch strapped to her leg. Unfortunately, her suit lacked pockets, so she had to improvise with regards to emergency money. At last, she detached the pouch and brought it towards the other Anna. "Here… I'm not sure how different your world's currency is from mine, but… It's gotta be worth something, right?"
"Anna, y-you really don't have to - "
"You're right. I certainly don't have to." She smiled, handing the other Anna the modestly-sized pouch. "... But I want to."
Nohrian Anna pressed both of her hands to her mouth as the tears began to leak from her eyes. "I… Oh, gods… I don't know what to say…"
"Just take the damn gold," Spidanna snarked, rolling her eyes with a small grin. "And stop with the waterworks!"
"Hehehe… Thanks, sis. You really do have a heart of gold."
"... Oh, gods. I think I'm gonna barf..."
Somehow, the party had lasted well into the evening, with Kiran and Anna staying behind to clean up everyone else's mess per norm. The Summoner and Commander took turns sweeping and mopping the floors, only stopping when the room was cleaner than it was the night before. Cleanliness is next to... something or other, Frederick had once told them. In truth, neither could remember the last bit.
"Ugh… what a day," Anna moaned, pausing to yawn and stretch. "Who knew that Heroes liked to party so much?"
"Uh, I did. Remember the time we finally managed to get Veronica to join our side? The whole crew celebrated for weeks on end. I don't think I've ever seen Xander smile so much before… Or at all, for that matter."
An awkward silence filled the room as the two began to put away their cleaning supplies. As they finished up and locked the ballroom for the night, Anna couldn't help but steal a glance at Kiran. She'd only been able to sneak a peek at his face once or twice before, but the Summoner didn't exactly have anything hideous under there. If anything, he was downright handsome from what she remembered...
She shook the thoughts out of her head. "So, uh… How'd you even manage to recruit all those other Annas in the first place? Are they staying here permanently?"
"Yeah, they could." Kiran scratched his chin absentmindedly. "I mean… Unless they'd rather return home. I'll ask them all tomorrow morning."
"Good plan," Anna said with a wink. She remembered how eager two of them had been to dance with Kiran and felt her heart leap into her throat. If she really wanted to keep him for herself, it was now or never. She just wished her wobbly knees would get the message. "Um… K-Kiran?"
"Yes, dear?" he flirted.
Her face matched her hair instantly as she glowered at him. "St-Stop that! I'm trying to be serious here, you know!"
The Summoner laughed, throwing his hands up in surrender. "Alright, alright… What's eating you?"
For the first time in her life, Anna was at a complete loss for words. Even with their duties to the Order as Commander and Summoner, they now had more than enough allies to ensure victory wherever the road took them. By no means was she opposed to the idea of being in a relationship with Kiran, but… How was she supposed to go about telling him? Should she just come out and say it? Scream it at his face before running off? What if he said no? What if he had already fallen for one of the other Annas?
Kiran tilted his head and raised an eyebrow, the action unbeknownst to her. The way she was staring at him made his heart nearly leap out of his chest, and it took all of his willpower to maintain his composure even as the heat made its way to his ears. "I… Look, if you need a healer, I'm sure one of the girls can - "
"... Love you…"
"I… I love you!" Anna blurted, the blood pooling in her face. No going back now. "I… I think I always have…"
Beneath his hood, Kiran blinked not once, not twice, but three times. Did she really just…?
"... Pftch… Pfft…"
"What… What's so funny?!" Anna demanded hastily, glaring at him.
"Pffffft." Kiran finally snapped, doubling over as he continued to laugh. "Ahahahaha!"
Well, that was certainly uncalled for. Did he honestly have no idea what she had just said? Did he not even care?
After a few more laughter-filled moments, Kiran finally settled down, still grinning. "Oh… okay, okay, c'mon," he urged, moving his hands for emphasis. "Where's the real Commander Anna?"
"Like you don't know," he said, stifling a chortle. "C'mon. You and I both know Anna would never love someone like me. Funny prank and all, hahaha, but - "
"Kiran! I'm Commander Anna! Me!" she yelled in exasperation. "I get that we all look alike, but sheesh!"
Kiran nodded slowly, seemingly understanding. "Oh… Oh, I see…"
"Y-You do?" Anna questioned him softly, a hint of hope in her voice.
"Sure do. This is the part of the dream where I wake up, right?"
A palm made its way to her forehead immediately as she grit her teeth. "Kiran… Why don't you believe me?"
"Because there's so many other talented guys here? Brave, strong, handsome men that can actually defend themselves in battle?" Kiran suggested. "Because they don't call upon others to do all the fighting for them? Because they're not a freeloading bum who's too afraid to show his face?"
Anna felt every fiber of her being flare up with anger. "Kiran, that's enough. You're not some freeloader! I… We care about you a lot, you know? Alfonse, Sharena, Feh… Everyone! Especially me. You… You're worth so much more to us than you think. If something ever happened… If we ever lost you… Don't you know how devastated we'd be?"
Kiran opened his mouth, but not a single sound came out. All he could do was stare at his friend and commander with stunned eyes. He couldn't remember the last time Anna had ever been this emotional. She was never the stoic type, but this… This was a different beast altogether, and Kiran felt a wave of guilt wash over him.
"Look," she said, breaking the silence. "It's alright if you don't feel the same way. Really. I'm not trying to guilt trip you into doing something you'll regret, and I'd never try to force you to. We can just… forget this never happened, okay? Commander's promise."
Anna turned to leave before he could say anything else. She'd made herself look foolish enough as is; if he saw the tears fall, her pride would be irreparably wounded. Naturally, Anna was more than a little surprised when he reached out and grabbed her wrist softly. She turned back to him with large eyes, the tears receding from view. "... Kiran?"
"Anna… I'm sorry," he apologized sincerely, bowing his head in shame. "All this time... I stayed silent because I was afraid. Afraid that the others would talk about us. Afraid that one of us might fall in battle. Above all else, though… I was afraid that you might not feel the same way."
Her jaw dropped. "... Huh? Then… Does that mean…?"
He let go of her arm and took a step back. She was about to question him before his hands reached his hood and pulled it off entirely. Her heart thumped loudly in her chest as she made proper eye contact with Kiran for the first time since meeting him.
"Anna, I love you too," Kiran affirmed with a boyish, almost dorky smile.
"R... Really?" she asked, her entire face lighting up.
He nodded. "Absolutely. I just... I'm sorry it took me so long to - "
She cut him off and threw herself into the Summoner's arms immediately, arms wrapping around his neck. It was like an entire flock of doves had taken flight inside of her heart. Two whole years of uncertainty… Gone just like that. In their place would surely stand many more years of happiness. No longer would they care what the others might have to say; their love was true, and nothing would stand between them any longer. Not a mountain, not a valley, not even a river could come between them anymore.
The pair met each other's eyes, and it was Anna that ultimately took the initiative. She leaned forward and met Kiran in the middle, their lips meeting for the first of many times. They stood in silence for a few moments, savoring the sensation as Anna ran her hands through Kiran's hair. When they finally pulled away, their foreheads met and they gazed into the other's eyes in pure bliss.
"Hehehe… Sooooo cute!"
"So cute, aren't they?"
"Nghh… H-Hey! Stop moving around so much, see! They're gonna notice us - "
Anna and Kiran looked up at the ceiling in surprise only to see a gaggle of Annas caught up in a web on the ceiling. Anna Manson tipped her hat at the lovebirds and smiled. "Hey, fellas. Glad ya finally managed to tie the proverbial knot. As ya can see, we're tied up in some knots of our own 'ere!"
"Annas," Anna began with a sigh, "... what are you up to?"
"The ceiling, obviously!" the jester-Anna japed. "As for what we're doing, on the other hand..."
"... You could say we're just hanging around!" Nohrian Anna giggled.
Kiran cringed and shook his head, pointing his thumb downwards for emphasis. "Boooo."
"I dunno, youse gals," Anna Manson said, "I'm thinkin' with all this booin', we should start headin' into the ghost-huntin' business!"
The webbed Annas all shared a laugh before their combined weight proved too much for the webs to handle. A barrage of Annas tumbled to the floor in a painful heap, and Spidanna lowered herself from the shadows in a more graceful manner. Anna, ever the strict Commander, rested her hands on her hips and glared at the web-slinger. "Heh… Sorry. We kinda had to stick around to see how this would play out, y'know?"
"Really? More puns?"
The new couple gazed upon the tangled mess of arguing Annas before letting their eyes settle on each other once more. Anna blushed as Kiran reached forward and pushed a loose strand of hair from her face. This past day had been by far the strangest either had ever lived to see, but one thing remained perfectly clear.
It was all worth it in the end.
The clock struck midnight in the Castle of Heroes as everyone was sound asleep. Within her chamber, Anna and Kiran snuggled together peacefully in bed, blissfully unaware of the trouble yet to ensue.
Back in the Summoning Room, the familiar stone pillar began to tremble as its five stones - all cracked - began to illuminate the entire room in an overpowering ray of light. When the light dissipated, a massive cloud of smoke was left behind, an imposing feminine laugh ringing from it. Out of the plumes stepped a familiar red-haired woman, only she was dressed in robes befitting a Plegian grandmaster. She took in her new surroundings with a wicked gaze.
"Ah… So this is the Order of Heroes I've heard so much about," she declared dramatically, resting a fingernail on her chin. "Keeheehee… They shall soon know the meaning of the word 'fear', and who better to give them a complimentary lesson than I? Indeed… They will bow before the might of Grimanna! The true Fell Dragon! Ahahahahaha!"
"Hey!" a gruff voice called out from in front of her. "I'm walkin' here!"
Grimanna's crimson eyes trailed downward until they came upon the most bizarre organism she had ever seen before. Barely coming up to her knee was a furry, spiky red creature with white gloves and eyes that were disturbingly similar to her own. The creature rested its hands on its hips and stared up at the villainess, foot tapping impatiently.
"What… the fuck…?"
"Oi! What's your problem? Never seen a talking echidna before?" it challenged belligerently. "Well, that's Anna the Echidna to you, bub! Now get outta my way!"
"Oh!" another voice called, this one belonging to a blue-haired girl in merchant garb. Her voice and features were remarkably similar to a certain Ylissean princess, but that ponytail was all too familiar to Grimanna. "Your name is Anna too? What a pleasant surprise! Well, my name is Lucianna, really, but most people call me Lucy or Anna for short."
"Eh?" Grimanna yelped in confusion. She took a step back as the two strangers before her shook hands. "Wh… What sorcery is this?!"
"Hey, gals," a pointy-eared Anna greeted, waving a hand in front of her face. Grimanna nearly did a double-take upon seeing her. Was… Was that a tail?!
"... This is madness!" the Fell Merchant yelled, stamping her feet and drawing everyone's eyes to her form. In a frenzy, she began to point and scream at the others. "You're Anna, you're Anna, you're Anna… I'M Anna! Are there any other Annas I should know about?!"
She froze in her tracks when her gaze fell upon an army of Annas hiding in a corner of the room, most of them looking fairly different from each other aside from their red ponytails.
"... What?" one of them asked her peevishly.
"... Fuck it, I'm leaving."