It was almost time for Morgan to be born into this world. That meant that things were getting quite hectic in Smash Brothers Mansion. The farther Robin was along in terms of her pregnancy, the more she lashed out at everyone. She had tried to keep it together, but that's simply not how it worked. Her brother Rob was not helping her temper though who decided to avoid her the closer the due date was.
Shulk and a few others noticed that Rob was starting to distance himself from his sister after promising that he was going to start helping her get through this. They settled their differences and were able to make up. The male tactician suddenly shutting himself off came out of the blue. The Monado Boy had volunteered to get to the bottom of Rob's issue seeing as how Rob was his boyfriend. Rob would more likely speak to Shulk about his problem instead of Chrom or anyone from his world. Shulk had asked Henry to lay off on the hexes until he found out what was wrong.
The blond had gone into his room where Rob had isolated himself in and locked the door behind him. The white haired magician would have nowhere to go and would be forced to speak to Shulk. Rob had noticed that Shulk had entered the room, but said nothing. He sighed knowing what Shulk wanted to talk about just from a simple glance.
"…Sorry Shulk. I'm not in the best of moods now."
"You haven't been in the best of moods for weeks now." Shulk corrected him. He folded his arms as he continued to stare at his boyfriend's head seeing as how Rob wasn't going to look him in the eye. "You're worrying not just your sister but everyone who cares about you. The baby is coming soon and you've been moping around."
"Robin can't ask you what's wrong because of her health. She has gotten to the point she can't move around now…and you won't even visit her in her room."
"Sorry. Had a lot on my mind." Rob muttered. "I remembered something from my past…and I didn't want to deal with my sister now."
"At a time like this?"
Shulk wanted to believe Rob had a better reason than this. He was willing to pry just to make sure that Rob wasn't upset over nothing. The male tactician obviously wanted to keep his feelings to himself. If Shulk was going to hover over him with judgmental eyes, he might as well be open about it.
"…Hey Shulk…can you keep a secret?" Rob asked to break the tension that was building in the room.
"Does it have to do with why you're avoiding Robin?" Shulk responded with another question.
"…Yes it does." Rob admitted. "I don't want her to know…because I feel like it would ruin her health even more."
The blond wondered what it could be. Rob urged Shulk to come closer to him. Shulk assumed he wanted to whisper what the problem was when in actuality, it was to reveal something he was hiding from the Monado Boy and everyone in the mansion.
"…I assume that because I've been under a lot of stress that it decided to rear its ugly head back…"
"What is it?"
As Shulk sat down next to the shorter Smasher, Rob rolled his sleeves down revealing a marking that resembled a tattoo. The visionary had never seen a mark like this before. Such a fascinating mark…yet Shulk knew it wasn't good news judging from the gloomy expression Rob wore when looking at it. Rob looked ashamed having this mark all over his arm.
"What is this?"
"…The Mark of Grima." Rob answered darkly. "It never went away. Even though my sister had defeated Grima once and for all…his power never faded away. I was so glad my sister was able to destroy her connection from Grima…but now it's on me…and I'm supposed to be the failed vessel of Grima…"
"Didn't you just say that it would only show up when you're stressed out though?"
"I assumed that. It doesn't show up when I'm in a Smash match at all. But sometimes after a match, I'll look at my arm and see the mark is still plastered on my body reminding me of what I am." Rob explained. "This is…very troubling…and this is why I can't talk to my sister now. Until I found out why it has returned…"
Shulk ended up sighing. Rob looked up annoyed that Shulk wasn't listening to his concerns.
"Rob, I asked you why you think it is stress that is causing the mark appear. If it doesn't show up in battle, then you're not upset in battle even if you have every right to. Do you think that reminiscing about the past is causing you to remember painful memories and allowing it to return?"
Rob had considered that. There was not much he could do though if that was the case. The more he thought about his past, the more he recalled about all the close calls in the past. The more he thought about his past, the more he thought about how things could have been different. The more he thought about his past…
"Rob, Bionis to Rob, are you there? Rob!"
"Y-Yeah…I am Shulk…just…"
Again, Shulk sighed at how shut off Rob was being. Was this how his friends felt back at home when the seer kept things to himself?
"Rob, I'm lending an ear to you. I'm interested to hear what is on your mind that would cause the mark to show up."
"…It was just a blunder in my past that made Chrom and the others aware of my status as a potential vessel…" Rob finally admitted. "It was a false flag that allowed Validar to take advantage of the situation later…"
The incident happened after several notorious incidents such as recruiting Tiki into the party, finding Gerome, the future child of Cherche and Virion and the battle in the volcano (not in that particular order). Despite the odds, Robin had led her army to victory against Say'ri's brother Yen'fay. This victory was so crucial to turning the tides in Chrom's favor against Walhart that they were recruiting allies left and right afterwards now that the people knew that Chrom's army had a chance against the conqueror. Robin would be busy trying to find the best way to battle Walhart, but there was one thing she did know. Before the battle, she wanted everyone to take a break and restock on supplies before they marched tomorrow. It was going to be a tedious march back to Valm Castle. They needed to be rested and ready to go.
Rob had decided to spend his time with Tiki again. After many failed attempts at trying to woo the other girls, the male tactician was going to give up. However, he actually seemed to hit it off with the Manakete. She was so patient with him in comparison to the other girls in the army that Rob actually thought he was in love with her at the time. The only thing that was preventing him from taking it a step farther was Tiki's fascination with the Hero King Marth. At that moment, Rob couldn't compete with someone as amazing as Marth. If he knew about how Marth acted during Smash though, he would have been infuriated that she liked someone as cocky as the Hero King.
So there they were in the shopping district of the small town they were in. It was a miracle this place hadn't been destroyed by war. The town wanted to remain neutral no matter what to the conflict, but there seemed to have some promise going on. They would provide food to both sides if they were left alone. It must have been some sort of strategy on Walhart's end to not attack the place. Now he would regret it allowing Robin's army to go there without the fear of spies seeing as how everyone on the south side of the continent had switched sides after that heated battle.
Despite it being a small town for trading, there were many valuable items that they had. Rob felt his heart skip a beat seeing how there was a small store that was selling wedding rings. He was tempted to buy one, but he resisted the urge. Unlike Chrom, he wouldn't propose in the middle of a war. He had to prioritize winning the war with his sister and surviving instead of thinking of life after the war. He wanted that to be a thing originally, but everyone he knew already hooked up with someone and he was stuck alone. At least he wasn't his sister though who was fawning over Chrom, but kept it to herself. She paid for it when Chrom proposed to Olivia in the short time he knew her. Talk about a fairy tale ending to end the war against Gangrel…
They ended up going to the item shop where Tiki was debating whether or not to use the Second Seal that was obtained recently to class as something that would benefit in battle more than her dragon form. Rob advised against it simply because she was bulkier as a dragon than she would be if she were to class herself as a mage like Ricken. It didn't stop Tiki from looking at all the tomes that were on sale though.
"I need to purpose another tome that won't break." Rob had muttered out loud. "It's going to break soon."
He had kept two tomes on him in battle that were both pertaining to wind: Wilderwind and Elwind. The former broke easily but it gave Rob an advantage against flying units (and he was good at getting the critical hit in). Elwind had been a very reliable tome for him despite the lack of power it had. As long as he was able to finish off the enemy with it, he was fine on the battlefield. Unfortunately, it got to the point where a few more uses and it would burn up on him. Tomes in general were odd like that seeing as how it was a book of magic. Tomes shouldn't be able to break in combat, but such was a rule of magic. How he wished he could get a tome that didn't break in battle.
"Might I suggest you get a Rexcalibur? You're very efficient with how you handle the wind tomes."
"I could, but I prefer a tome that lasts longer over one with power. Plus, my sister won't be pleased if I spent my money on something that she feels isn't necessary."
Rob still prioritized his sister's feelings over his need. Tiki had noticed how insecure he was with his position in the army. Robin was the main tactician even if he came up with similar or great strategies too. They switched out often in the past, but due to the high stakes of this war, Robin was appointed the chief tactician and he was forced on the sidelines with everyone else. Rob tried to hide how bitter he was about it especially since his sister was achieving great results so far.
Tiki couldn't help but frown when she saw Rob look toward the healing staves. She knew he had considered switching classes due to his issues, but hadn't told his sister yet about using the Second Seal.
"Are you still considering hanging up your tactician robe for something else?" Tiki had asked. "You had this identity crisis before according to your sister…"
Rob flinched at the memory of jumping between classes to figure out what he was good with. He got a scolding from Chrom for trying to go to a class with an axe when he was simply incapable of wielding one. It was fine being a priest for a period of time, but Rob had to admit he was leaning toward a sage more and more when he realized he would be better of healing from a distance than to try to steal Robin's glory.
"Well…my healing skills are better than my sword skills." Rob admitted. "My sister is just so fluid with the blade that I can't compare. Lissa and Maribelle told me my healing abilities are exceptional, so I considered a class that could benefit everyone…and I don't think that's because of my ego…"
"I think you should not let others sway you to what you think is right."
Again, Rob flinched at what he didn't want to hear. The grandmaster class belonged to his sister. He could never hope to wear the robes as happily as his sister if Chrom's army didn't think he was good enough to be a tactician like his sister…
Rob's thoughts were soon interrupted by loud screaming.
"RISEN!" He could hear the people crying which caught the attention of many people outside.
Rob's heart sank. Risen coming into the village? Why now?
"Tiki, prepare for battle." Rob warned her as he realized he would have to wait to buy the tome later. "Or at the very least prepare to run back to my sister."
"Yes, it would be bad to fight near the shops…" The green haired Manakete stated. "…Do you intend to lure the Risen away?"
"That was the plan." Rob admitted. "There isn't much we can do. My sister should have caught wind of the situation and should be attempting to remove the Risen without the casualties rising."
As the two left the shop, the two immediately noticed that there was more than just the Risen here. Rob's eyes narrowed seeing members of the Grima cult in this very village taking advantage of the chaos. Heck, they might have been the reason the Risen were summoned here in the first place.
The Risen were more interested in destroying their surroundings than attacking the living. Some Risen simply weren't interested in killing. Rob had learned first hand that some would rather just ruin farms than hurt the people who were growing the fruits and some just wanted to steal money rather than fight. This might have been another situation where it was just property damage instead of intentionally harming the bystanders. The minute Rob stepped out of the shop though was when the Risen turned their attention to him. He frowned wondering why they noticed him and ignored everyone else. One of the Risen lunged toward him with an axe. Rob ended up separating from Tiki as he shot an Elwind from his hand. The Risen died almost immediately. Another Risen was heading his way. It rushed past Tiki, ignoring her presence and only focused on the male tactician. Rob felt like he could use this to his advantage if they were only after him.
"Tiki, change of plan. Find my sister and warn her of the situation. If she's already aware of it, tell her to come find me."
"They're after you though…and your book is going to burn…"
"I'll be fine Tiki. A good tactician has nothing to fear after all."
Tiki sighed at his overconfidence. Now was not the time to get arrogant, but maybe he needed this confidence boost. He even referred to himself as a tactician despite seeing himself as a simple sage.
"…Be careful." She murmured as she quickly made her escape. The Risen paid no heed to the Manakete and only cared about harming Rob.
"Come on. Stop ruining the hard own goods that these people made and come after me!" Rob shouted as he ran away from the Risen. They gave chase allowing the area to be cleared out rather easily.
The Risen were rather weak though. Rob was able to take them out with one spell. He was able to save his spells overall. The more powerful Risen were farther into the town and Rob stayed clear of them. Instead, he focused more on helping the citizens who were still walking around instead of going back into their homes.
"It's too dangerous to be outside. Go back inside where it's safe." Rob had ordered mothers and children who would take their child and hurry back inside. "If you're injured, let me help you."
Rob still had a heal staff on him that allowed him to heal any citizen that had been injured not by the Risen but by simply falling over and hurting themselves. He was proficient with saving their lives that Rob was starting to convince himself that he was better suited staying in the back with Lissa and Maribelle.
While he was distracted by his thoughts, the Grima cult had noticed Rob fighting the Risen and healing the injured. Their plans would have been thwarted if they didn't get rid of the short mage. Rob unfortunately, was not able to hide the marking of Grima on his hand when helping transferring injured people into their houses. Once the Grima cult saw that, they made it their goal to grab Rob and flee the area.
Rob had taken notice that the cult members were paying attention to him now. He only counted three members giving him a dirty look. He glanced at his tome and thought he would have enough to finish them off before going off to help others while waiting for his sister to arrive.
"Can I help you?" Rob had asked in a negative tone. "I'm busy attending to the wounded. If you want to live, stay indoors where the Risen won't see you-"
"You are a vessel of Grima, are you not?"
"Come with us and meet your God."
Rob glared at them as a response before casting Elwind in their face. He had no time to waste with this pathetic bunch. The cult members were taken off guard, but the spell did not kill the guy in one hit. Rob cursed to himself for thinking these cult members were not resilient. He had to hit the man again just to make sure he stayed dead. The problem now though was watching his back. They had their swords and tomes of their own ready to bring Rob to his knees.
I guess I have no choice but to flee…
Rob suddenly took off causing the cult members to shout at others hiding in the area to not let the vessel of Grima get away. Rob knew that was impossible. Even if he had the marking, he was still a failure. Rob knew this very well, but kept it to himself. He wasn't going to let them expose the mark to anyone…especially his sister. He needed to kill them now before things got out of hand.
Sadly, Rob made a fatal mistake. The Risen were working with the cult members thus Rob had to use his tome to not be cornered by them. At some point, his Elwind did break leaving him with a healing staff that was not meant for fighting. The white haired magician paled realizing how his probability of escaping was getting lower. He had to get to his sister immediately.
That was where the second blunder occurred. The Risen weren't that fast. He should have been able to outrun them and then meet up with his sister. If he studied the town better, he might have been able to do so. Unfortunately, he took a wrong turn when the Risen emerged in front of him. He ended up in a dead end alleyway without a weapon to defend himself. His heart sank realizing the bad situation he put himself in.
"Oh no…I'm trapped."
Laughter was coming from the cult members that were approaching him. Rob held his breath as he found himself backed up against the brick wall behind him.
"You're not running anymore. Come. We shall take you to see Grima now."
Robin should have been there to save Rob at that point after routing the enemy. Instead Rob would find out that she had let her guard down at that moment after killing the last member of the cult. She thought her little brother was safe, but she was dead wrong. His scream caught her attention as she foolishly ran away from the group to pursue the sound of her brother's voice. She was too late to save him as the cult had already grabbed her little brother and escaped. The Risen appeared from the ground to stop the female tactician in her tracks. Chrom and Lucina's voice could be heard as they demand Robin to stop running ahead of them.
Shulk was left rather speechless at this point of the story. He was used to hearing stories of the accomplishments Rob has done (that were ignored in favor of his sister) that hearing Rob mess up at least somewhere during his journey in his world was a surprise.
"That was the biggest screw up I had as a tactician." Rob growled. Recalling the memory only gave him a headache and reminded him why he wasn't the main tactician in Chrom's army. "A tactician needs to pay attention to their weapon duration. One cannot enter a battle without a weapon in hand. If I was fighting anyone else but Grima's stupid cult, I would have died."
The blond wondered what he should tell Rob. Should he remain quiet and allow the white haired tactician to continue his story, or should he try to comment on the situation. Shulk cursed to himself for picking the latter option.
"Maybe being kidnapped was good then. You were able to live another day because of it."
Rob snarled at the comment causing Shulk to visibly flinch. It was one thing for the male magician to be annoyed, but his anger being directed at the Monado boy actually scared him. Rob realized what he was doing and looked away ashamed.
"I wish you wouldn't put it that way…" Rob muttered. "Because of my blunder, my sister nearly jeopardized her plans to storm Valm Castle."
"We were only going to stop by this village before we took everything back the next day. Chrom may have been leading everyone, but Robin was still the tactician that planned everything out. We were lucky to find that village that was allowing us to restock on items before battle." His expression darkened at the thought. "I learned that my capture had Robin ignore the war in favor of me. She had to beg many people to let her go alone if she had to. They couldn't afford to lose her or Chrom, but…she managed to convince them to lead a small group to save me." Rob sighed in defeat realizing how pathetic it was for Robin to prioritize him over the army and the war.
"But, that proves your sister really loves you." Shulk told him. "She cared more about your wellbeing than…the war…"
"That's the problem! I'm one person! Robin had a reputation to keep and she nearly lost it because of me! Besides…" Rob continued to stare at the markings on his arm with disdain. "They had the wrong guy anyway…"
The Grima cult had dragged Rob away to an isolated area not far from the town that was attacked. The only problem was that it was on a different course than Valm, so there would have to be some sidetracking if anyone wanted to follow them. Rob had kicked and screamed the entire way until the leader of the Grima cult got tired of hearing Rob's voice and ordered him to be tied up and gagged. The members had done so if only to get some time of silence. Rob continued to struggle even when he couldn't speak or move his arms. They found it amusing that he refused to give up even as he was moving farther away from his sister.
This is really bad. Rob thought to himself as he attempted to find a way to get the rope off his wrists. I need to think of a way out of here before they do something to me…
Rob couldn't remember clearly where he was taken. All he knew was that it was a place with an altar that was a good enough substitute for one of the many cult locations in Plegia. He did remember that the place was abandoned for many years and only recently was the cult using it to gather members under the banner of Grima.
The cult dragged Rob toward the top floor. At this point, they just carried him without the need to use the Risen. They held him by his legs so he couldn't kick. Rob was simply forced to allow them to treat him like baggage. The tactician wished he wasn't put in such a humiliating situation. What would Chrom and the others think if they found him like this? They wouldn't let him live it down.
Eventually, they threw him into the corner of the room while they started preparing for the ritual. The corner of the room was a blessing in disguise if Rob was able to find something sharp against the wall that could be used to undo the binds. The cult could care less if Rob was able to free himself and speak again once Rob was able to remove the gag on his mouth. Rob had nowhere to run and no weapon to defend himself. The sharp object in the corner of the room wasn't a weapon of any sorts and it was stuck in the wall anyway.
"You scum…what do you intend to do to me?" Rob ended up asking. He wasn't in a position to ask or demand answers, but he refused to let them see him in a vulnerable state.
The leader of the cult turned around and smirked at the young male. "You are one of the chosen ones. You are someone who Grima will notice and grant you exceptional power. The Mark of Grima would be proof of that."
"You got it wrong…" Rob muttered. "This marking means nothing…"
"That's what they all say, but we see it. You remind us of our king. You have the same expression as him, and he is the one that blessed us with a vessel that would allow Grima to return."
"That's not me…" Rob began to speak but stopped himself. There was no way he would incriminate his sister in front of them. "You're delusional. I have nothing to do with Grima. Release me now, before I find ways to kill you horridly."
Threats did nothing against a cult detached from reality. The leader and his men just laughed softly amongst themselves before the leader spoke.
"You are the one that needs to forget about the life you are currently living. The only life you should think of now is the life as a vessel of Grima. Life as a mortal is pointless. Accept the power of a God."
"No! Never! I will not be part of your cult!" Rob snapped as he searched for a way to escape. There really was no way for him to leave this place without a fight. If only he had a weapon…
The cult ended up ignoring him as the leader turned his attention to his comrades. He spoke of branding Rob and a few others into their culture before asking if the clothes were ready. The male tactician didn't realize he would be backed against the wall so soon. In front of him, he noticed that some people from the lower floors were kicking and screaming as they were being forced upon the table. One guy had a fire tome out ready to brand the person that was put on the table. Rob shivered seeing it was a young man that looked slightly older than him. He was begging for mercy, but the cult wouldn't hear any of it.
"Repent in the eyes of Lord Grima!"
Rob's eyes widened hearing the sizzling sound of the person's face being burned. The man let out a terrified scream as he tried to get away from them. He was held on the table against his will as he was being accepted into the cult. Rob started to tremble realizing he would be next if he didn't leave. The leader had grabbed at his wrists while he was distracted by the horrible image.
"N-No! Let go of me!"
"Come. You cannot keep Grima waiting. You must change into something more suitable before we can begin the ritual."
Rob didn't realize that he yelped when he was yanked away from the wall and pulled toward the table. The cult members had surrounded him and grabbed at his robe. Another terrified shriek came from Rob's mouth after hearing the sound of something tearing. He could only watch as parts of his robe was thrown toward the ground and he would soon be naked in front of his captives…
At this point, Rob stopped talking the more he thought about the incident. His head was seriously hurting just remembering it and he wanted to end the conversation right there.
The air in the room was suffocating for the two Smashers. Shulk needed to choose his words carefully this time. He didn't want to set Rob off and then not hear the rest of the story. He just needed to pry into his memories a little more just to understand what is going on with his boyfriend at the moment.
"No." Rob quickly interrupted. "They didn't…if that's what you're thinking." His cheeks were red with shame. The topic was making the tactician tense as he wanted to lie on the bed in fetal position and kick Shulk out of the room. "My sister and I…we…after our mother died…we took any job we could to survive. Sis doesn't remember anything because of Grima and my memory is hazy because of him. I recall that we made a promise that there was one job we would not do even if it paid a lot…"
"Prostitution…" He seemed ashamed utterly that word. "We're really old school when it comes to the teachings of Naga…I mean…it's not the same now, but back then…the first time is important…umm…"
He was a stuttering mess now. Shulk remained silent not because he wanted his boyfriend to calm down, but mainly due to the fact that he was equally embarrassed too. "Sacred first time" sounds incredibly dumb and some of the Smashers (Pit came to mind) laughed at the idea that you saved yourself for the first person that you fell in love with. Pit and a few others would say it was just an excuse to make sure the younger generation didn't have kids at an early age, but Shulk saw it as choosing your partner carefully so you don't regret it later.
He and Rob had yet to share a passionate first time. Something was stopping Rob from going all the way to the end. Kisses were fine. Going on dates and even groping in public was okay, but the minute they were alone in the room and they were ready to take the next step, it was the male tactician who froze at the thought. Maybe he was still upset with himself about that comment about not having a proper family with Shulk because he was a male.
Slowly, Shulk moved closer to Rob on the bed and placed his hand over Rob's hand. The blond gasped at how cold his hand was.
"Sorry Shulk…I'm making this more awkward than it needs to be." He murmured as he desired to move away from the taller male. "I'm almost done with the story."
"If you want to stop, you can…I won't force you."
"No, it's fine. I need to continue." Rob slowly inhaled before he continued to speak. "They didn't assault me, but they still stripped me down. They wanted me to wear the clothes meant for a vessel of Grima." He shook his head thinking about it. "I doubt a kimono from Chon'sin was what they wanted, but it was close enough…"
The Grima Cult had forced Rob into a white kimono that came from the country they were staying in. If they were in Plegia, they would have given him that attire and put him on the altar. They had prepared to drag him to a substitute altar had it not been from the sudden attack outside of their lair. Rob sighed in relief realizing that his sister was the one attacking. A sense of dread clouded his head as well. Chrom's army needed to prepare for the attack on Valm Castle, yet his sister was here to protect him. Was it the entire army, or was it the Shepherds?
"Dammit, who dares interfere with our ritual? Never mind! Take them out, quickly!"
"But one of the members looks like our vessel. She seems to be their tactician!"
"Grab her too! We will not have anyone who defies Grima stand in our way!"
While they were too busy fighting, Rob had attempted to sneak away despite the awkward clothes that he was forced to wear. He wanted to find his robe and reunite with his sister, but he still had no way of defending himself. It was why even when he had an idea on how to get out and get his sister's attention that he would be put in a bad situation again.
The Grima Cult was very persistent with keeping their vessel in check. Rob cursed how the Risen were back to grab him. Even if he ran, he wouldn't get far. The door to the lower floor where his sister was locked, and no matter how many times he played with the door handle, there was no way he was getting out without a key.
"Come back to us."
The leader was insistent on letting his men and the Risen do all the work while he stayed in the back. Rob hissed as he rested his back against the door before looking around to see if there was anything he could use to protect himself. How could there not even be a knife for him to use in here?!
Again, Rob found himself charging toward another side of the room. It would be a dead end like the last time, and there was nothing he could do about it.
"You have a great affinity for walls." The leader of the cult snarked before he grabbed Rob by the arm and yanking him away from the wall. "Your presence is needed at the altar."
"Guh…get your dirty hands off me…" The male tactician threatened. "I swear if you keep this up I'll-"
"Save your breath." The cult leader cut in. "You'll need it."
Rob glanced back at the door and frowned. Robin was so close to him, but she needed either Gaius or Anna to open the door for her. Why didn't she bother saving that Master Key? They were short on money, but Rob had insisted she keep it in case they raided a castle with valuables. Robin told him to focus on the enemy and not the goods and let the thieves in the army pillage for them. She was probably regretting those words now.
The male tactician kicked and cursed at the man the entire way. If he was lucky, the man would just give up and abandon him. It could have been worse though. The Risen could have picked him up and carried him back up the stairs faster than the leader was. He was growing impatient by the minute with how much Rob resisted. This wasn't helping with how he was getting fewer reinforcements. Robin's small army was too strong for this rather large group bundled in this one area and he was seething with rage.
The cult leader had ordered his men to tie Rob's hands up so he wouldn't flee from the room again. Try as he might, Rob was helpless against a group of men tying his hands behind his back. They then pushed him onto the table so he was resting on his back. The kimono was still slightly opened and would be more so when they were done with him. Rob's heart skipped a beat. He knew his sister was almost here, but would she make it before they did anything?
"Are you done resisting us now?" Mocked the leader. "You were so full of spirit coming up the stairs."
"…My sister will come." Rob responded coldly. "You should be the ones praying to Grima for your lives to be spared. You'll end up like the rest of the corpses outside."
Rob would do anything to bide time. He had to. If he remained silent, he was as good as dead. The leader hissed as he took out a fire tome hidden in his robe and pointed it toward the white haired mage. His eyes widened seeing flames coming out of the book.
"I hope you're ready for the ritual to start."
Rob gulped seeing where he wanted the flames to go. He tried to move off the table, but the other cult members held him down. There wasn't anything else he could do but wait for the branding. Rob cursed to himself in a moment of weakness as he felt the temperature rise in front of his face for only a moment.
A powerful Thoron spell went above his head and hit the leader in the arm. His spell was nullified by the attack and he ended up dropping his tome. Rob should have been happy to know that his sister had arrived to come save him…but he noticed something was very wrong when he was able to take a glimpse at her.
Robin was by herself. Normally, she would have Chrom or Lucina by her side. They were nowhere to be found. She must have run up the stairs all by herself despite the fact it would be dangerous to go alone. A dark purple aura was radiating from her body. Her tome was shaking in one hand and her Levin Sword was ready to zap her enemies in the other. Rob had noticed that blood was dripping at the tip of the Levin Sword.
"Give me back my brother…" She hissed as she prepared another Thoron attack. "Give him back…"
The cult members didn't stand a chance against an overprotective sister. She made sure to sizzle her opponents especially the ones who laid a finger on her brother. Rob wanted to move, but he couldn't in that moment. Robin was approaching the table slowly, and the cult leader wasn't going to let her ruin his plans.
"This is perfect. The vessel and failed vessel of Grima are here. Now, we can work together to summon Grima and, hng-guh?!"
Robin wasted no time chatting with him. She took the Levin Sword and shoved it through his neck. The man let out a startled cry at the sudden attack. The younger twin knew his sister was ruthless, but he had never seen her indulge herself in such violence. The other members wanted to run, but Robin wasn't going to let them.
She shot another blast of Thoron that the remaining members in a row. It was like watching a stack of Dominos line up in front of the female tactician only to get knocked down by a strong dose of electricity.
Rob was certain something was residing deep within his sister's heart. Something dark…
"Sorry it took so long. The army was giving me hell."
Robin's voice wasn't exactly back to normal either. She was attempting to smile in the darkness, but it was difficult to see. The female mage simply used her Levin Sword to cut the rope even though Rob could feel a jolt run through his body. He hissed at the pain, but it was better to be shocked than to almost be branded.
"…I didn't think you would come for me."
"What? Just because I'm Ylisse's number one tactician doesn't mean I'm going to abandon my only brother to the pack of wolves. We've went over this."
"We may have Chrom, Lucina and the others, but we're the only ones who…"
"I know…sorry to worry you, sis."
Rob was just glad that his sister's embrace was warmer than the dark presence still around her. At that moment, he didn't think much of it, but it should have had been a sign of terrible things to come.
Rob ended the story here feeling like he was done explaining the bulk of what happened the night before the march on Valm Castle. Even if he wasn't raped, Shulk could still see how this incident could have traumatized him if he had to watch others be sacrificed to the Grima cult and nearly being branded due to having Grima's blood in his veins.
"…I had to explain to the others where the mark came from after that." Rob groaned recalling how everyone started to eye him suspiciously to the point other members in the army had accused him of being a spy for Plegia all along. "I was the flawed vessel, so the marking means nothing. It never ceases to amuse me how they not once questioned my sister. Her markings were proof she was the one chosen to be Grima's vessel, but because those assholes made a big deal out of it with me…"
"I'm sorry that happened to you." Shulk murmured. "It must have been painful."
"…My sister suffered more when she found out the truth. She promised me that she wouldn't let anything happen to me. She didn't care what everyone else thought of her. Even if I brought the end, she said she would protect me…so when she found out that she was the vessel and not me…she wanted to give up on everything." Rob's expression darkened at the thought. "She was always the gifted one…but Validar used that gift against her when he controlled her…"
"Does this have to do with why you're avoiding her?"
"…A little." Rob admitted after thinking about his story and why he even bothered talking about it besides getting it off his chest. "I guess…I'm scared."
"My sister was able to chase Grima out of her body…but I feel like it was too good to be true. I think…Grima is inside of me…waiting for me to mess up. I feel like he's waiting for me to rebuild my relationship with my sister again so he can return and mess her up. I can't…risk that."
Rob wanted to believe this was a logical explanation to why he would avoid his sister after trying so hard to rekindle their old bond. The male tactician could have admitted he was scared for his sister's life was well. Because of her declining health due to Grima, he feared that giving birth to Morgan would kill her. He didn't want to address it especially when the baby was so close to being born. Shulk might have noticed in his eyes.
"If Grima were to return…" Shulk started to say before Rob cut him off.
"No…Grima will return…I just don't know when…"
"I will be there to stop him."
Rob's eyes widened at how easily Shulk was able to say those words with such confidence.
"Not just me, but Chrom, Lucina and everyone in the mansion. You guys have defeated Grima once. You can do it again, and you have us to back you up."
"But this isn't some monster of the week…" Rob muttered. "This is the dragon of despair that has the powers of a God. He has brought ruin to many timelines in my realm!"
"Powers of a God, but Grima is no God." The visionary reminded him as he went over to embrace the white haired tactician who was starting to tremble in his arms. "It will be a difficult battle, but I will make sure no harm comes to you. As your boyfriend, I swear to protect you."
It was nice to have such a kind hearted boyfriend like Shulk. Rob really regretted insulting the blond concerning his inability to produce kids due to being a male. Gender didn't matter, and they could just adopt anyway. All Rob did was make Shulk feel ashamed of himself when he didn't need to. Even now, he felt like Shulk was putting up a mask to hide his disappointment with him. The male tactician just wouldn't admit that Shulk had some confidence he built up over time while in the mansion for him to voice his feelings so openly.
"You're really cheesy Shulk…" Rob muttered as he wrapped his arms around the taller male. "Why do you put up with me?"
"Why? I'm your boyfriend."
"I'm not perfect. I let my ego get the best of me and I end up hurting the people around me. Even though I promised to help my sister out, I'm just running away from her now that her life is going to change again…"
"Then you'll simply have to apologize to her later." Shulk answered as he stroked the back of Rob's head. He whiffed the shorter male's scent and could smell the soap that he used to shower earlier this morning. The smell never went away even when the day was almost over. "She'll understand if you voice your concerns."
"But it's Grima…I don't want her to stress."
This conversation would go back and forth. It had to be resolved between the tactician twins. Shulk could only push him in the right direction concerning this. Unless he got a vision showing Rob turning into Grima and extracting revenge on Robin, there was no reason to be afraid. He still needed to keep his guard up, but he felt like if he had Rosalina and Palutena's assistance, he felt like things would be okay.
"And to answer your last question, I love you despite your flaws."
"I'm a failed vessel."
"But you're still you. I wouldn't have you any other way."
The shivering stopped. That was a good thing for Shulk, but now he would have to put up with Rob snickering into his chest and making odd noises like he was crying (he certainly wasn't).
"You really are cheesy…" Rob mumbled into his chest as he allowed Shulk to continue stroking his hair. I'm really glad I met you though…someone who is ready to help me if my fears become reality…someone who has looked past my mistakes and accept me for who I am. Yeah…this is the love Tiki once spoke about…