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Aberration

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Ask yourself this question, and don't lie to me.

How would you react if you were transported to another world? Not only that, but a world you knew intimately. One you had spent countless hours thinking and learning about.

If your answer is anything positive, I don't think you quite understand what it would actually be like.

Chances are, the world is a death trap. Even if you have knowledge of the world, you are woefully unprepared for it.

And chances are, it was better off without you in it anyway.


If my head hits the glass one more time, I think I'm gonna get a concussion.

Just as I thought that, the bus I was on jostled again and my head tapped against the glass of the window for the umpteenth time that day alone. Groaning slightly, I moved my head away from the window, and just silently watched as the countryside outside went past the bus in a blur.

All in all, a normal day in my life.

Wasn't gonna be that way for long.

I saw the gas station fly past us, and I pulled the cord that ran the length of the bus, causing a light at the front of the bus to ring and light up. The bus driver, an elderly guy I had seen about a hundred-thousand times, saw said light, grunted, and moved towards the bus stop. After a few seconds, the bus stopped just in front of the traffic lights, right next to the sign of the bus stop.

I hoisted my backpack on and walked towards the front of the bus. "Thanks." I said, just like always.

"No problem," He replied, "See ya later."

Nodding, I walked down the steps and onto the asphalt-

-Only to hear the sound of grass underneath my step.

I blinked.

Huh?

There was truly no other way to describe it.

I wasn't staring at the side of the road. I was staring at what seemed to be a forest with nothing but trees for what seemed like miles.

…Sleep deprivation is one hell of a drug. Guess college'll do that to you.

"Uh… okay?" I said flatly, my face falling into a frown. "You seeing this too, man-?" I turned around, but the bus was gone. Not even a trace of it was left

This is the type of shit you only see on the X-Files, Jesus Christ!

From where I stood, I could see what looked like some sort of small settlement, surrounded by fields. Trying my best to ignore the pounding of my heart in my ears and swallowing down my anxiety at the situation I found myself in, I began to walk.

My backpack felt heavier than usual.


Dear God if I've stepped back in time…

That was the only explanation I could come to. Either that, or I had had an aneurysm on my way off the bus and was in the final stages of brain death.

Houses, most of them made out of a combination of slightly irregular stone and wood, were practically bustling with people going to-and-fro. What I could assume were shops lined the cobble streets, with the merchants of said shops advertising their wares, which included everything from food to very real-looking swords and axes. So much for 'small settlement'; the place looked more like the beginnings of a wealthy medieval town.

Dear God if I've actually just died...

Well, my phone had about 40% battery life left. Might as well have been a paperweight for all the good it would have done me.

And that wasn't even getting into all the shit I had in my backpack.

"Oi, young'un," I jumped, startled by the gruff, gravelly voice. "Ya lost?"

I turned to my right and saw an old man on an even older-looking chair on the porch of a poorly-maintained house. A scar ran from his forehead to his lip, going over one milky eye and another blue one. His face was the very definition of grizzled, and even at his age it looked like he'd be able to put up one hell of a fight.

"More than you know…" I muttered darkly.

"Whas 'that?" He asked in an unidentifiable accent, but he still quite clearly spoke English.

Or, at least, what I thought was English.

"I said yeah, I'm lost. You have any idea where I am?" I asked curtly.

"Aye, thought so, ya look like you ain't from 'round here. This here be Southtown, largest town in southern Ylisse-" He stopped once he saw my expression. "Ya okay there, son? Ya look like ya done seen a spirit."

"You could say that-!" I managed to squeak out. I looked around again, regarding the medieval architecture, the cobblestone used for most of the roads…

It was all painting a picture of where I was, but when I heard that name, I realized I may not have traveled back in time but traveled to another world entirely.

One that, last I recalled, I was still trying to grind my units so I could take on the Future Past DLC.

Jesus-everloving-fucking-CHRIST!

"By Naga, forget seein' spirits! Ya turned into one yesself!" The old man exclaimed. "Ya gonna be okay, son?"

I wiped some of the sweat off my brow, trying to feign being exhausted. Really, all I wanted to do was to run into the darkest alley in town to try and gather my thoughts. I was in no position to do so at that moment, especially with so many people around.

People who, now that I was looking at them and not the building, gave me quizzical looks as they walked by.

"I-I'm fine!" I stuttered, perhaps just a little too loudly. "Just… uh… Just a little tired. It's… It's been a long day."

"Damn, don't I know it. Lissen, son, there be an inn just a little on yonder. See it?" He raised his arm and pointed gnarled finger down the street. "Just down that road a little ways, cheap, but decent room and board. Me 'n the boys used to get drinks there after a good hunt, ya know. Best beer in town they say! Pah!" He spat in disgust. "Taste like old, rancid deer piss, it does! Stay away from it, if I was ya!"

"Uh, thanks." I responded quietly, already inching away from the old man, "Bye."

"Take care yesself, son!" The old man said.


Shit, fuck, shit, fuck, shit, fuck, shit, fuck-

Those words resounded through my mind every time I took a step. The sun felt just a bit too hot, my clothes just a bit too heavy, it felt like I couldn't get enough air into my lungs.

I didn't make it to the inn the old man mentioned. I walked into a quiet alleyway between two houses, and sat the fuck down, and took deep breaths.

How in the fuck where in the fuck and WHY in the fuck!?

I was either in Fire Emblem Awakening, or I really had suffered a fatal brain aneurysm.

I took one last deep breath to calm myself down, but my heart was still thumping in my chest like a jackhammer. I went over it in my mind. I was in Fire Emblem Awakening. Most likely with nothing but the clothes on my back, a half-dead cellphone, my wallet, and a backpack that had nothing in it besides a psychology textbook and a binder filled with papers which were no doubt completely useless.

Unless I found a way home, of course, but that didn't seem likely.

I narrowing my eyes at the small sliver of sky available to me from the alleyway before looking down once more, my hands curling into fists.

My papers weren't the only ones completely useless in this scenario.

I decided to shuffle that thought away; self-deprecation would get me nowhere.

Even if I was in Awakening, there was no guarantee I was near the time of the attack in the prologue. For all I knew, I could have been in the far future or the distant past. Far from the time period of Chrom and the Shepherds. Far from anything really familiar.

So really, this could have gone down in one of two ways.

One, I really was in the far past or future of Awakening, in which case I was fucked. I had no skills that could conceivably help me in a medieval-stasis world like the Awakening one. Or two, I was in Southtown just before the attack, in which case Chrom, Lissa, Robin, and Frederick were nearby, and would see the smoke from the soon-to-be burning town. In that case, I had a better chance, but I was still most likely fucked.

That didn't even open the can of worms that was the worst-case scenarios for option two. I could be in the doomed future and would have no way to stop it.

Hell, what if there was no Robin? Or at least a character that was the 'Robin' of this universe?

At that point I decided to operate under the assumption that option two was the more likely of the two: that there was indeed a Robin-esque character in this universe, and that I was not in a timeline which in a few years' time would be completely and utterly annihilated.

In my mind, I had the best chances of survivng with the Shepherds,. They had the resources and the people. They were also destined to save the world. I had to admit the idea was romantic- saving the world, that is. Even if I was never going to be the main character, I would be happy to have done something like that. Something interesting, a purpose other than the one I had back home. And, with their resources, I might find a way back home.

It helped that I knew most of them. Not personally, but from the Support conversations in the game. I knew that Chrom was physically incapable of abandoning a person in need. So if I told him my story, after helping him defend the town…

There was so much that could go wrong with that plan. So many paths that could have resulted in my untimely death. Honestly, I would have been better off just trying to find work, gathering gold, and travelling to the Outrealm gate to see if I could get home.

My fatigued mind was unable to come up with a better plan.

If I was to join the Shepherds, I would have to prove myself somehow. Show them I at least had potential. I wasn't a thin or fat. I had a good deal of muscle thanks to working out with my dad the past few months before I found myself in Southtown. It wasn't anything amazing, certainly, but it was something, at least.

Certainly better than nothing, right?

I would've had to kill people, though.

I'd have to kill a lot of people, most likely.

I wondered if I'd be prepared to handle that. To take another person's life. In essence, I would have to become a soldier.

I stared at the rock to my left. I didn't trust myself to hold an actual weapon without hurting myself more than my opponent, nor could I just buy one either, considering the only money I had on hand was dollars. Hell, they'd probably be confused that the money was made out of paper than anything else. It was better to have something more simple, something more primitive. I placed my backpack down, and noted the area we were in. It would only slow me down.

And really, what was more primitive than beating someone to death with a rock?

I grabbed the side of the rock and pulled it out of the ground. It was actually slightly bigger than my hand, but it would do.

I wouldn't be using it for very long, anyway.


It only occurred to me later, again, how stupid and scatterbrained the idea I cooked up in that alleyway was, but it wasn't really hammered home until the roofs of several houses burst into flames, and the screaming started. At that point, whatever courage I'd built up was promptly stomped out.

At least it answered the question of what time period I was in. I was definitely around the time Chrom and Co. saved Southtown.

Too bad I wasn't likely to survive until they arrived.

I hid behind the corner of a building, rock clutched so tightly it almost made my hand bleed, waiting as I heard footsteps from nearby.

"Damn, Garrick, burnin' the entire town to the ground? I 'ate them as much as you but least I'd do is loot the damn place! Someone oughta take you off yer pedestal…" The apparent Plegian bandit grumbled, his heavy footsteps almost in tune with my heart.

I'm gonna die of a heart attack at this rate, fucking hell!

I felt the sweat roll down my face, as the air around me felt almost unnaturally still and quiet.

He's a bad guy. He's a bad guy. It's either you or him. It's either you or him.

Once I heard the bandit take one last fateful step just out of my sight, I charged straight out of the corner, shouting as loudly as I could, rock held high in the air.

"Gods' damn, mother of-!" The bandit shouted out in turn, the lance in his hands aimed to block a sword or axe blow.

Fucker wasn't expecting a rock to nail him on the noggin, I can tell you that much.

The rock I held came down on his head, just above the temple. A large gash was visible, along with the sickening sound of hard, sharp rock against bone.

The bandit himself was nothing overtly special. No helmet, with furs and leather gauntlets and leggings, along with a crude-looking lance. Other than that, he was average-looking, and slightly shorter than me.

I didn't wait for him to recover from the blow to the head. I reeled back my arm and hit him again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

The lance he held clattered to the ground loudly as he fell to the dirt of the road, blood going down the side of his face and one eye forced shut from the trauma. I was near hyperventilating as I saw him go down, eyes wide and looking from left to right. Had to make sure no one else saw my first murder, after all. I dropped the bloodied rock in my hand.

Oh dear lord.

Between the pounding in my ears and the blurring of my vision, I was surprised I was able to see his chest moving up and down shallowly.

He wasn't dead.

Not yet.

One part of me wanted to run away at this point. My hands were, figuratively, clean, if not literally. Of course, the nasty head wound I gave him would probably have killed him eventually, considering how much it was bleeding. However, I didn't think about that. All I thought about, was getting out of there. It was a mistake to think that I could do it, wasn't it? That the 'plan' I'd come up with had any merit whatsoever. I could've run away. I could've done anything.

And yet, I picked up the lance the bandit had aimed it at his chest, just where his heart was.

This was it. The pivotal moment. What I did would affect me forever.

I drove the lance into his chest.

He stopped breathing a moment later.

I pulled the lance out of him with a wet 'plunk', my hands visibly shaking and pale.

Well, it was easier than I thought, but nowhere near as easy as I would have preferred. He was a bad guy. Hell, he was talking about looting and burning a town of innocent people for no other reason than… what? Because Gangrel told them to? I wouldn't've put it past them if they were going to raid Southtown even without that incentive. They seemed like the kind of person to do it.

Still, I had taken a human life. And that was irreversible.

"Oh God…!" I murmured, backing against the wall

Scratch that, it was not easy in the slightest.

My eyes were glued to the body on the floor as I tried to suppress the rampant guilt and emotion that clouded my thoughts. I clutched the lance in my hands so tightly I was surprised it didn't snap in half. I saw the blood on my hands. His blood.

"Oh hey! Chrom, this one's already- Oh. Oh no." A light, feminine voice said.

Despite my wanting to, my eyes didn't move from the body on the floor. A moment later, I felt a hand on my shoulder, and I finally forced my eyes to look up.

"Hey there, you okay?" Lissa asked soothingly.

And it was Lissa, I could tell. Blonde hair in twin-tails, big blue eyes, a staff held in one hand with another on my shoulder, along with the usual get-up she wore in her portrait. She was also drop-dead gorgeous for someone who was probably only around 15 or 16, but I didn't really focus on that on account of murdering my fellow man for the first, and definitely not last time.

"I killed him," I said simply. "I killed him."

She took one look at the body, winced, and looked back at me pleadingly. "It's okay! Don't worry about that right now! Are you hurt? I can use my staff to heal you!"

I looked down at myself wordlessly. The blood on me wasn't mine. Still, as Lissa suggested, I elected not to worry about that at that moment. "No… No, I'm fine. Actually, who are you, miss?"

Have to keep up appearances.

"Hmm? Oh, I'm Lissa! Just gotta… wait, where's Chrom? CHROOOM! Get over here!" She shouted suddenly, causing me to jump slightly.

"Gods, Lissa! What have I told you about running off like that!? Frederick! Robin! This way!" Matt Mercer said, showing up with two familiar faces.

Well, I said 'familiar faces' but seeing three people in the flesh when all you've seen of them beforehand was highly stylized drawings, and, well, I barely recognized them.

Chrom himself was definitely the easiest to recognize. Ain't no way in hell someone back home could pull off that natural blue hair of his. With Falchion in hand, and that badass cape, there was no mistaking him for anyone else. Frederick was harder to recognize, considering his features were rather plain when compared to Chrom, with his dark brown hair and eyes. Only way I was able to identify him was from the armor he wore, as well as the horse he rode in on. Robin (fucker actually existed thank CHRIST), rode in as a passenger on Frederick's horse, looking a little lost in all honesty. Only way I was able to recognize him was from his stark white hair and dark coat.

And yeah, he was a guy. No F!Robin for this universe, it seemed.

"S-Sorry! I just heard a lotta shouting from this direction and thought someone was hurt. I found him, though! His name is… Wait, I forgot to ask for your name!" Lissa said, in exactly one breath.

"I-It's Alexander." I replied breathlessly, still a little bit stunned to have four previously fictional people standing nearby, as well as, you know, having killed someone. "Alex, for short."

Once I stop suppressing that shit is gonna hit me like a fuckin' dump truck.

"Alex, then? A pleasure to meet you. My name is Chrom, and these two are Frederick and Robin." Frederick the Wary Jagen regarded me with open suspicion, while Robin settled for a small wave. Chrom looked down at my clothes, slightly perplexed. "You're a foreigner, aren't you?"

I looked down at my clothes, and then regarded his own. "…What could have possibly given that away?"

He chuckled slightly. "Well, the fish out of water look makes you stick out. A lot like our friend Robin back there."

"Milord, I suggest we make haste if we are to save this village. The bandits are still running amok." Frederick interjected.

Chrom's face became stern once more, while Lissa held her staff close. It seemed like almost everyone had forgotten that the town was literally on fire.

"You're right, Frederick. We have to keep moving. Let's go!" The four of them began to move away.

Without me.

"Wait!" I shouted suddenly, without a clear plan in mind, which I soon realized when they stopped and turned back around expectantly. "L-Let me come with you!"

Chrom raised a brow at that. "Are you sure? This is a battle we're going into, and… I won't try to make it sound better; you could die."

I looked at the body on the floor for a moment, sighed, then looked back to Chrom. "Better than doing nothing at all. Rather do something about this shit than just cower behind a shed or some crap like that."

"You, a foreigner, would willingly put your life on the line for a people not your own?" Frederick asked, his voice deeper than I remember.

"Aren't I doing the same thing, technically?" Robin queried, talking for the first time. Frederick looked back and gave Robin the stink-eye. "N-Not helping my case, am I? Sorry."

"Like I said, better than doing nothing, right? I'd rather die helping people than just stay behind twiddling my thumbs." I reiterated. "Besides, you have a healer, don't you? That's the most important thing here."

Lissa puffed her chest out in pride. "At least someone gets it!"

Chrom looked me over one last time, smiling. "Anyone who'd risk their life for others is welcome company. Now, let's go!"

At his lord's word, Frederick said nothing, but his suspicious gaze never wavered, on either me or Robin. It was actually more comforting than annoying, in my opinion. Meant things were more or less how I remembered them.

The five of us left that alleyway, and my first murder, behind.


"Gwahaha! Keep at it, lads! Show these Ylissean runts how to really fight!" The leader, Garrick, if I remember his name right, guffawed. I was sure anyone could hear his voice from miles away.

"We have to stop them, before anyone else gets hurt…!" Lissa whispered sharply from our hiding place, a stall just in front of a large river.

"Don't worry, Lissa, once we're done with them, they won't hurt another soul again." Chrom murmured darkly.

"Fuckin' look at them all. There's several in the square alone." I observed.

The area was a lot like the first level, with some added 'realism' thrown in. A town square, it seemed, with a bridge that lead to the big bad of the prologue chapter. I was sure, considering our numbers and the general quality of the people besides me, that they could simply plow through the bandits. Unfortunately, this was real life, not casual mode, so the chances of someone dying were infinitely higher.

Not to mention there were no turns in real life.

"Milord, it may be prudent to plan an assault. The longer we dawdle here, the more time these brigands have to destroy and slaughter." Frederick said.

Chrom seemingly examined the battlefield. "I see no way out of this other than a full-on charge. If we can surprise them, then we will have an immediate advantage."

"Uh, wouldn't that mean we'd have to cut through all those guys down there just to get to Mr. leader guy over there?" I pointed in the direction of the big bad, shouting and barking orders at his bandit compatriots. "I mean, I'm not sure about you guys, but taking on that many people just doesn't seem practical."

"Well, we have to do something, don't we!? We can't just let them keep killing people!" Lissa all but shouted.

"I-I have a plan." Robin said, causing everyone to go silent.

"You do?" Chrom asked? "Then share it with us, Robin. We need all the help we can get right now."

"Yes… Hold up a moment…" Robin went through his coat for a moment, a pulled a map from one of the inner pockets. He flattened it out on the ground so that everyone could see. "Interesting… It would appear I was on my way to Southtown when you found me in that field, Chrom."

"You have a map of the very town that is currently being invaded. Milord, I must implore you to reconsider what I told you when we found this man." Frederick warned, eyeing Robin warily with a hand gripping his lance firmly. Robin winced under Frederick's glare.

"He's helping us save lives, Frederick. If he wanted to harm us or the town, he's had plenty of chances to do so." Chrom said, with Frederick bowing his head in acquiescence. "Now, Robin, what is your plan?"

It was around this time that I realized I was essentially a side character, and I was mostly fine with it. I listened closely as Robin explained his plan.

"Here," He pointed one gloved hand at a bridge on the map, "This bridge is somewhere downstream of here. From the area in which the fire started, I assume that there is, at most, a small number of bandits in this area. While a group of us fight here to keep their attention on us, someone else will travel down this road, cross the bridge, flank their leader and take him out. The rest of the bandits will scatter once they realize their leader is gone."

"Cut the head off the snake…" I mumbled.

"Essentially." Robin agreed. "Since Frederick has a horse, he can make that journey in half the time any one of us could, so I suggest he be the one to do it."

"It would minimize casualties if we were to bring an end to this quickly." Chrom said. "Frederick, I'm sure you're willing to put aside your suspicions to do this?"

"If milord wishes, then I shall do so without complaint." Frederick replied.

"Good. You heard Robin. The rest of us will hold here and gather as much attention as possible. Lissa? Stay close to one of us." Chrom ordered.

"Will do, Chrom!" Lissa said.

"Now then, let's show these dastards what happens when you raid villages under the watch of the Shepherds!" Chrom shouted finally, Falchion raised high. "Charge!"

The situation finally caught up to me once we blew our hiding place.

Oh shit oh fuck oh shit oh fuck oh shit oh fuck-

Robin pulled out a tome, a quizzical expression on his face for a brief moment before a ball of lightning shot out of his hand, hitting an unassuming bandit straight in the chest. The smell of cooked meat hung in the air as the bandit fell to the ground limply. Frederick dashed down a road, shining lance held to his side as he disappeared from sight. Chrom surged forward, catching a bandit off guard before Falchion lodged itself deep into the side of his chest, and fell to the ground in a bloody heap.

It was brutal.

It was absolute carnage.

Brutal carnage I was woefully unprepared for.

And yet still, despite the panic that gripped me, the rapid beating of my heart that was getting rather annoying at that point, and the sweat and wide eyes that I could feel, I got up, the lance from my first murder in my hands pointed forward, shouted as loudly as my lungs and vocal cords would allow, and charged.

It helped that Robin and Chrom going before me seemed to scatter the bandits quite a bit, so I had no problem finding one next to a tossed-over stall. Before he could see me coming, the tip of the lance went right into his chest, right next to what I assumed was his sternum.

None of these guys were wearing armor, besides the furs they wore around their shoulders and the skulls they wore as improvised armor of some sort. Most of them, including their chests, were bared to the world.

Not that I could say I was much better. All had for protection was a t-shirt, after all.

The bandit's eyes widened in surprise as the lance went through his chest, a small dribble of blood coming from his lips afterwards. He fell backwards onto the broken stall, which was the only thing keeping him up. He gritted his teeth and raised his axe high. "Y-Ylissean scum…!" He growled out.

He was still alive, and the axe was coming down straight onto my shoulder. Luckily for me, my stab had done a number on him, as it was quite slow. I was able to move out of the way successfully, and my lance dislodged itself from the wound as he fell to the ground. His shallow breathing felt like it was the only thing I could hear.

I stabbed him again, through the back, silencing him for good.

That's two now. Quite the murderer I am.

I wasn't able to ponder my newfound talent for murder before pain exploded in my side. Shouting in agony, I looked down to see an axe sticking out of my side, before painfully wrenching itself free. I fell to the ground right next to the man I murdered, looking up at my soon-to-be killer.

"Yer gonna pay for that, you Ylissean dog!" The bandit spat, his face red with rage.

I tried to get away, but a quick boot to my wound stopped me from moving. I screamed in pain then. I looked back up through the tears that were starting to form in my eyes to see his axe held high, ready to split my head in two.

Well, I gave it a shot, didn't I?

I waited for the axe to fall, but it never did. Instead, a blast of bright lightning struck the bandit in the chest. The place the lightning hit turned black as smoke coming out of his nose. He fell on top of me, like a sack of potatoes.

I weakly tried to pull him off of me, to no avail. Luckily, a pair of gloved hands helped pull the body off of me.

"Gods! Are you okay, Alex?" He asked.

First proper conversation with the character that is supposed to be your stand-in. This is gonna be surreal.

"Fuckin' peachy!" I groaned. "Is… Is Lissa anywhere around here…?"

"Yes, she should be… Lissa! Over here!" Robin shouts, waving his arm to his right. "He's wounded, badly!"

A few light footsteps later and Lissa was right next to me, her healing staff held near the wound I couldn't quite see.

"Hold still, okay? This might feel… uh, uncomfortable." She warned, before the staff started glowing.

"Wait, whaddaya mean uncomfort- Gkh!" I stopped as the feeling hit me.

Imagine you cut yourself a thousand times, only you felt the full brunt of the pain first before the cut sewed itself shut. That would be the closest thing I could compare.

I clenched my teeth together so hard it almost felt like they would shoot straight outta my mouth. A few moments later, and she was done. I looked down, and while the blood was still there, my pale flesh was unscarred.

I breathed a sigh of relief at that, and tried to stand up, but my legs refused to budge.

"Hold a moment, I've got you." Robin said, slinging my arm over his shoulder and essentially acting as support.

"You really shouldn't be standing up like that!" Lissa warned.

"I'll be fiiiine. 'Tis but a flesh wound!" I reassured, inwardly laughing at my own reference, all the while still high from my near-death experience.

"I think we'll all have a great deal many flesh wounds if Frederick doesn't do his part…" Robin said, looking all around us.

I did as well, and I could see we were surrounded. Chrom was in front of us, a blood-stained Falchion pointed at least a dozen bandits all around us.

"Gyahaha! Lookee what we got ourselves here, boys!" The boss said, from his safe place on the other side of the bridge. "We got ourselves a couple heroes we do! Why don't we show 'em what happens to heroes, why don't we-!"

Garrick stopped the instant a lance shot straight through his back and out through his chest, splattering the ground beneath him in blood. His limp body fell to the ground in a heap. Frederick was there, a stone cold expression directed at the remaining bandits.

"B-Boss…?"

"The boss is dead!"

"They killed 'im!"

Chrom took this moment to charge again, cutting another bandit down before the others began to run, despite the numbers advantage they still had. They ran down alleyways and through streets, until only the bodies of our enemies kept us company.

The battle was over in just a few minutes.


I grunted as my knees buckled beneath me. I fell on a rather sturdy crate, with my back propped up against the wall of a building. The bucket I'd held in my hands fell to the ground, the last bits of water within spilling out onto the dirt.

It had taken hours to put the fires out. That's just what happens when you have no fire department and a single river.

Chrom, Lissa, and Frederick spoke with who I assumed was the town leader, or chief, or whatever the hell you wanna call him. I could imagine it then, what they were saying to each other.

Chances are, if they were talking about what I think they were talking about, I'd have to do a lot more walking before I got proper rest. I heard footsteps to my right and looked up to see Robin approach me.

"Mind if I sit here?" He asked.

I stared at him for a few moments, a bit confused, before shrugging and scooting over a bit. Robin sat down. It was a few seconds later, time he took to think of a conversation topic, I was sure, before he spoke.

"How's your wound fairing?" He gestured to my side, now covered by a green tunic gifted to me by one of the villagers, which caused me to wince and put a hand over the it. "A-Ah, if you didn't want me asking-"

"Nah, it's fine, man." I replied quickly. "Just… a little tender, I guess? First time I've ever really been injured quite that badly. What about you, though? Heard from our mutual friends that you have amnesia or some shit like that?"

"Mhm, cannot remember a thing from before Chrom found me in a field just a little south of here." Robin agreed, red eyes having a lost look to them.

"Shit, that's rough, bud." I said awkwardly, trying to find a way for the conversation to continue. "Least you found someone like him, huh?" I pointed towards the blue-haired prince, who laughed as Lissa sputtered at something said between the three of them.

"Indeed, he seems to be a good man. I'm sure very few people would be willing to lend a hand to a random stranger they found in a field." Robin responded.

"Yeah, well, you were able to do something, at least. Me? Take out one guy and just get destroyed the one time someone fought back. Fucking hell…!" I spat, feeling the old self-loathing resurfacing again. "Actually kinda pathetic when you think about it. Some bumblefuck foreigner with no clue where he is tries to fight alongside others and gets absolutely annihilated in the process. The hell am I even doing here…"

Just go ahead and blurt out your entire life story while you're at it, bucko.

Robin looked at me strangely for a moment. "Yes… You and I are really similar, in that way." He chuckled.

"…Huh?" I looked at him oddly, the same way one might look at an alien or bigfoot.

"Well, we're both clueless, apparently. I mean, did you see me try to use that Thunder tome? I was almost certain I would direct the orb at myself rather than my enemy. Almost feels like luck that I got the hang of it as quickly as I did!" Robin said quickly. "In all honesty, I felt like I was a bumbling fool for a moment."

"But you made fucking lightning flow from your fingers and kill two people!" I blurted out. "You're awesome!"

"And did you not use a lance to kill a man before he even knew what was happening? Only taken down because of a small lapse in judgment?" Robin asked rhetorically. "You may not have, as you said it, 'made fucking lightning flow from your fingers' but you certainly did something, did you not? And that is more than some can say."

"But… That's not… I went down like a moron!" I argued.

"Then I suppose that makes me a lucky moron, because I narrowly avoided a blade to my own flank simply because I had moved in another direction without noticing him. In the end, I suppose we're both clueless fools." Robin said.

"…Hrm." I hummed, looking off to the side like an edgeboi. There really was nothing I could say to that. My expression became neutral once I realized something.

Did… Did Robin and I just have a fuckmothering Support Conversation!?

"Ah, there you two are." Matt Mercer's smooth voice said.

I could not, and never did, get that thought out of my head. I looked forwards to see Chrom, Lissa, and Frederick approaching us.

"Ah, it's Chrom and the gang. Want your turn on the Crate of Truth?" I asked suavely.

"Uh… What?" Chrom replied, perplexed.

"I'm glad you asked!" I said, getting up and gesturing toward the crate. "This crate has been magically infused with the power to connect two people who sit on it! Ya see, I was planning on selling it because I'm a broke-ass motherfucker, but if you're willing to use it…?"

Chrom chuckled. "Thanks, Alex, but I think I'll pass."

"Damn." I clicked my tongue, sitting back down. "Worth a shot."

"Was there something you wanted to talk to us about, Chrom?" Robin queried, attempting to get us back on track.

"Yes. I would like to thank you both for helping us save Southtown. Neither of you had any reason to do so, yet you did anyway, and that takes a certain kind of character that I look for in people." Chrom said.

Ah shit, here it comes. Can't really remember how this went down in the game; did it go like this? Or did he not join until they reached Ylisstol? Honestly can't remember…

"I'm here to ask if both of you would like to join the Shepherds. You," He looked at Robin. "appear to be a skilled tactician, as shown by the strategy that won us the day, and you" He looked to me. "have a lot of potential, I'm sure of it. You're free to decline, of course." Chrom finished.

He was being extremely formal, and I could not tell if that was because of his unfamiliarity with us at that point in time or if it was because of something else. Frederick was surprisingly silent, but his gaze was ever unwavering. He was honestly creeping me out, but if I knew anything from the game, he was slow to trust. I doubted he'd make an exception for me. Lissa, on the other hand, was grinning like an absolute madwoman.

Robin got up. "I don't have a lot of places to go, now do I? I accept your offer, Chrom." Robin held out his hand, and Chrom shook it.

Then their attention was on me.

"What about you, Alex? Like I said, you don't have to." Chrom repeated.

I was thinking I was gonna be the one to ask him, not the other way around. Funny how life does that to you.

Despite the fact that almost everything I'd done in Southtown up to that point was to make Chrom like me, I hesitated. Everything I said to him when we first met, despite how awkward I put it, was to make an impression, and clearly it had worked. I was on the precipice of, in a way, doing something great.

Or something irreversibly horrible. Besides that, there wasn't eve a guarantee that I would be able to do anything great, or to fulfill that long-held childhood dream of romantic ideals.

Old fears were dredged up in a moment. There was a high probability of death. Death and pain. A shit ton of pain if what I felt when that axe got stuck into my side was anything to go by. And that was only a taste of what could happen.

It was a medieval-like world, after all. A medieval world with magic. It was likely that death wasn't the worst thing that could happen to me.

I'd also have to kill other people, just like I did earlier that day. This wasn't a game, I kept telling myself. These were real, breathing people. Even if they were objectively mostly scumbags, they were still people.

The shit I'm probably gonna do is gonna haunt me for the rest of my natural life.

Yet, despite that, I still wanted to join. Maybe it was the romantic ideals that I'd almost completely forgotten about before arriving in Ylisse. Maybe it was the chance at a more interesting life that I'd also always wanted. Maybe it was because I felt like a needed stability in a world that I knew yet had no real connections in. Maybe it was out of the hope that the Shepherds could help me get home or, if I really started to like it there, give me a chance to say goodbye.

In the end, I made my choice.

"Well," I said, standing up as well, and holding out my hand. "Not like I have much else better to do, right? Might as well do something with my life instead of just coasting along like I have been. Count me in, Chrom."

Chrom shook my hand with a grin on his face. Damn was he strong, it felt like his grip would crush my hand. "Great! Welcome aboard, both of you!"

"Hehe, this is great! I'm not the newest member anymore!" Lissa gave us a mischievous smirk. "Don't worry, I'll be sure to show you the ropes once we get back!"

I couldn't help but laugh.