Chapter One - Revel in the Past
The last twelve days journeying by foot, similarly-bound caravan, and the occasional portal past impassable terrain on a straight line toward Western Regna Ferox had comprised of more than twice the sum total happiness Lucina had expected to experience in this timeline.
Just yesterday, Lucina and Robin had crossed the Longfort in the company of a merchant convoy. They’d bartered passage in exchange for Robin’s skills as a storyteller to pass the time. The mostly irreligious merchants thought she had a gift for the art of humiliating the gods. The truth was as amusing as it was disillusioning: she merely recited stories of her own experiences with them.
“Okay, okay,” Robin said. “I’ve got another one. This one is about Tiki, Naga, and the Fell Dragon. The latter two had just returned to the Mila Tree from Elibe to catch Tiki in the midst of a tryst with Kurthnaga. Apparently, the kids thought Tiki’s mom wouldn’t be home for a few more years or decades. You know how the gods are with time. Ask them for rain today. Three years later, they think, ‘Am I forgetting something?’ and send a flood to compensate for the lost time.”
There was a great deal of grumbling mixed in amongst the laughter.
“Now Naga didn’t mind, of course. The gods know she’s not an innocent, blushing virgin waiting for marriage. I mean where else did Tiki come from, right?”
As far as Lucina knew, Grima had been some laboratory experiment gone wrong. Who really knew how gods were made?
“Of course, Naga wanted to make sure Kurthnaga was good enough for her little girl. After all, he was only the king of an entire nation of dragons, although he did earn major vanity points for being named after her.”
Lucina rolled her eyes but quietly and guiltily joined in the snickering.
“At this point, Naga turned to the Fell Dragon and asked how Kurthnaga might prove himself worthy. ‘Well,’ the Fell Dragon replied, ‘my daughter once had many suitors vying for her hand, but she loved her father too much for anyone to catch her eye. To rid herself of them, she challenged them to bring her mother’s murderer to justice.’”
Lucina shifted uneasily. If true, she really didn’t like what that implied about her previous future self.
“Naturally, this challenge was impossible for the suitors to win,” Robin continued. “The Fell Dragon’s daughter killed her own mother. Many men wasted their lives investigating. Whether this amused or disappointed her is a mystery. However, it gave Naga an idea.
“‘Bring me my daughter’s heart upon your hand, and you may do with her as she pleases,’ Naga proclaimed. Kurthnaga accepted the challenge. Anyone want to guess what he did?”
One of the many Annas in the world spoke. “Easy. He married her then came back with a ring ‘upon his hand’.”
Robin smirked. “Nope. Tiki turned him down. The trap was that, as far as her love life was concerned, she didn’t feel accountable to her mother. She banished him from her bed that night for being a ‘foolish male’.”
Anna let out a bark of laughter. Another merchant asked, “Is that the end?”
“Nooope,” Robin said, dragging the word out with an ever widening grin on her face. “The next morning, Kurthnaga apologised and explained that he just wanted Tiki’s mother to like him now that their relationship wasn’t a secret. Moved, but not swayed, she agreed to help him.”
“So they did get married in the end.”
“Not even decades later,” Robin said. “Tiki still refused to marry him over what she considered a load of nonsense. ‘Kurthnaga,’ she said to him, ‘I have an…alternative solution.’”
Lucina quietly tittered at the uneasy reactions of the men in the wagon with them to Robin's honeyed voice.
“Now Kurthnaga is hemophobic, absolutely terrified of blood. Imagine his reaction when Tiki asked the Fell Dragon to use a little necromancy to literally remove her heart from her chest and handed it over.”
“You did what!” Lucina gasped. Fortunately, no one but her mother paid any attention to her. The only answer she got from the woman was an amused snort and a smirk.
“Kurthnaga walked through the Mila Tree as rigid as a rock, barely holding himself together. When he finally found Naga and stuttered out a few words, she of course flew into the whole divine retribution shtick, and that was it for him. Passed right out and didn’t wake up for days.”
While everyone else laughed, Lucina considered that maybe having Grima for a mother instead might actually not be all that bad.
Robin fought through her own laughter to say, “Come on, guys, you’re bleeding me dry here. Save some stories for another time.”
After enough effort, Robin managed to get the group to let her off storytelling duty for the rest of the day. Eventually, she plopped down across from Lucina with a mug of frothing ale in hand. She guzzled her way through half of it, ultimately culminating in a refreshed, “Ah!”
Lucina really had no idea what to say.
“This is the life,” Robin said. “I spent so many years preparing for my leap back in time, I forgot how enjoyable it is to wander about and meet people.”
“How much of that last story really happened?”
“Oh? Curious about your future?”
Well, there was that, too. “I meant more the…” Lucina made a grabbing gesture. “Heart removal.”
Robin chuckled. “Good times. Naga finally admitted it was funny a year later.”
Robin quirked an eyebrow in question.
“Don’t you think that was a bit…much?”
“Heh. No, all the stories I told today? That was the tame stuff. Let me tell you about the Divine Surfing Contest.”
“What’s surf–” Lucina cut herself off and said, “No, wait. I really don’t want to know,” but it was too late.
“Basically, you grab a plank and ride atop it along the waves of the ocean. Naga and I were touring Tellius and met up with Ashunera for a drink.”
Reaching for the obvious distraction before what little remained of her faith shattered, Lucina asked, “Who’s Ashunera?”
“Ah. She’s… Well, Naga and I are what one might call minor goddesses.”
“Minor?” Lucina weakly echoed, her voice no more than a whisper on the wind. She’d felt so powerless struggling against Grima in her original timeline, and he was a minor god?
Lucina made a strangled shrieking sound.
Heedless to her daughter’s distress, Robin continued, “Ashunera is the major goddess, creator of all things. I’ll take you to meet her when I go to introduce myself. You’ll like her.”
“Uh – uh-huh…” A thought occurred. “Could she dispose of Grima for us?”
“Did she before?”
Lucina frowned. That was an obvious enough point, but the important question remained. “Why not?”
“Lots of reasons, actually,” Robin said. She nursed her mug with a pitying expression on her face. “For one, Ashunera is a creation goddess. She’s not good at unmaking; destruction is more my thing. Also, she’s…like taking a long sword to a problem that needs a butter knife. She certainly could deal with Grima for us, but she’d destroy most of Ylisse and Valm in the process.”
“Oh. I, uh – I advocate solving the Grima issue by ourselves before she decides to involve herself.”
Robin chuckled. “Your growing mastery of strategy will soon put me out of work.”
“I'm sure,” Lucina said sarcastically. She then asked, “Was what you said about me really true?”
That question sobered Robin immediately. Perfectly serious, she said, “Do you really want to know?”
“Very well. Chrom died young without a direct heir in one of his wars against tyranny and left the throne to you. Nah told me you buried yourself in your work and had been on a self-destructive spiral before then. History remembered you as one of Ylisse's greatest queens, but your personal life was nonexistent. I don't know why, but you did, in fact, place a standing offer to marry whoever avenged your mother's death. If anyone ever figured out you did it or even who I was, they never came forward. In the end…”
Lucina sighed. She could guess how her story ended. “I burnt myself to death with Ignis, didn't I?”
“You did.” Robin took a large swig of her ale. “And I felt it. Couldn’t stop it.”
With nothing to say, Lucina kept quiet and averted her eyes.
“If you ever do that again, I’ll bring you back as a risen and ground you forever.”
“Please do not,” Lucina firmly said.
“Supposed to be a joke,” Robin mumbled into her mug. “Guess it was in poor taste. Sorry.”
“It’s okay.” Lucina would be the first to admit that her sense of humor was rather underdeveloped. But an idea occurred to her. In a sweet voice, she said, “Although if you want to make it up to me, you could unground me.”
An instant answer.
“This and that are two entirely separate things.” Robin tilted her head back and polished off what remained of her drink. “Although I might as well start teaching you how to cast magic without a tome.”
Lucina’s eyes lit up in surprise and delight.
“Lesson one: light.” Robin held up a single finger, and a tiny but bright ball of light appeared above it. To Lucina’s disappointed frown, she added, “Hey, you’re skipping past over a thousand years of research and multiple cases of divine intervention. Don’t look so unsatisfied.”
Attleburg, the western capital of Regna Ferox, stood tall untouched by the troubles of the future. In its prime before Valm and before Grima the city truly was a sight to behold. Lucina had known in some abstract sense that Western Ferox had once been the continent's primary supplier of coal, metals, and ironwork, but this was history brought to life.
The artisan district endlessly rang with the thunderous clang of a hundred hammers upon a hundred anvils. The thick smoke of burning wood and coal drifted lazily away in the sky above. The air grew noticeably warmer – warm enough, even, that Robin had shed her ever-present coat and wrapped it around her waist.
Even though Lucina already possessed a half-awakened Falchion, she very much felt like a young girl in an Ylissean candy shop again. Much to her mother's eternal vexation, she always had and probably always would prefer swords to sorcery.
Although that space folding trick might make me reconsider…
Out of the corner of her eye, Lucina noticed a shiny new lance, and the thought was gone.
Hmm… I have always wanted to try my hand at mounted combat. A lance would fare me better than a sword on horseback. My reach isn't what I'd call long.
As tall as her father was, her mother was equally short, and Lucina had unfortunately inherited absolutely none of the former. This was usually not a problem, as she compensated for her poor reach with agility, but that meant nothing on a horse.
“Play to your strengths, Lucina,” Robin idly commented.
I suppose she's right… With a sigh, Lucina moved on to browse through more mundane creations. Nails and farming equipment could be seen everywhere alongside horseshoes and other miscellaneous household parts.
Lucina noticed her mother looking on as though the materials had somehow offended her. Curious, she asked, “What is it?”
“Nothing.” Robin sighed. “Just thinking about how many decades it's going to take to kick-start an industrial revolution and get to replaceable parts and mechanization.”
Oh, future tech stuff. There would be time for that later. “Is there anything we should be doing right now?”
“We have a few free days, but if you want, you could go oust Lon’qu from his position as Western Champion early. Even with my absence from the Shepherds, he won't be enough to defeat Chrom.”
“I'll cheer you on, if you wish.”
I'm going to assume Mother knows I'll win and has some reason other than laziness for me to do it. “Very well. But don't we want Father and Khan Flavia to win? I'd originally intended to come here only to prevent Lon'qu from being injured.”
“Do you honestly believe Basilio won't ally with Ylisse?”
Lucina admitted that was a fair point.
“And if he doesn't, then I'll just have to be more aggressive and inelegant in my grab for power. It shouldn't be a problem, though.”
I certainly hope not for Basilio's sake. I don't want to know what Mother's idea of inelegant is. She sacked Valm and called it the cumulation of her magnum opus. “I think I'll look around a little more before challenging Lon'qu.”
“Then I'll rejoin you later. I'm going to go start building a reputation for myself by unleashing crucible steel into the world.”
“Halt! State your business, traveler.”
Lucina stopped as commanded and carefully sized up the pair of guards protecting the gate to the castle housing Western Ferox’s central government, such as it was. Diplomacy in this country usually meant punching someone’s face in and sharing a drink afterward. She doubted gaining an audience with Lon'qu to challenge him would be any different, but she would try. In all honestly, she should have asked Robin what the protocol for this was.
“My name is Marth,” Lucina said. She would have come as herself, but she remembered Lon’qu having a problem with women. When she beat him, she wanted it to be in a fair fight, even if that meant pretending to be a man for another day or two. “I’ve come from Ylisse to claim the title of Western Champion.”
The two guards looked to each other. One even had the gall to laugh.
“Go home, little boy. Lon’qu doesn’t have to waste his time fighting every brat fresh off his mother’s teat.”
Lucina’s eye twitched. “You asked for my business, and I’ve given it. If you would direct me to where I might find Lon’qu–”
“Fuck off, Kid. Come back when you can lift more than a sack of apples and shed that stupid mask.”
They did not just insult my mask. These two uncultured swine clearly had the fashion sense of a drunken blind man. Very well, if that’s how they want to play this. “Tell me what I wish to know, or I’ll be forced to make you.” She placed a hand upon Falchion’s pommel.
This time both guards laughed. “If you can, be our guest. But maybe you should come back with your grandmother. We’d have a harder time against her than you.”
“Fine then,” Lucina growled. “Have it your way.” She resisted pulling out her mother’s tome to cast a fiendish curse and instead drew Falchion.
That got both guards to ready their spears.
Lucina’s sword engulfed in her mother’s fire got their attention. It was weaker than expected, and the air didn’t distort around it from the heat she’d never herself felt, but better that than drawing on the power of a non-exhausted, slumbering Grima. It would do just fine. The guards’ attitudes had already flipped straight around. Where once lay amusement, Lucina saw excitement with just a hint of genuine fear.
She would have to fix that.
One guard struck out at Lucina’s sword hand, apparently eager to separate her from her weapon. She easily sidestepped the thrust. Her second opponent timed his strike perfectly in sequence with his partner to press her back. Had she been anyone else, it might have disarmed her. Instead, she dashed past his guard, forcing him to give ground.
Another thrust. This one Lucina found herself perfectly positioned to swipe at with her sword. Between Naga’s power and Robin’s, Falchion easily cut through the wooden shaft, leaving the guard with a useless quarterstaff. A very short duel left his partner in the same situation.
Of course, each guard had a backup sword for close quarters combat, but now they understood just how outmatched they were. One looked to the other. A head frantically shook back and forth.
“Well, gentlemen? Would you care to tell me where I may find Lon’qu now?”
“So this is home, eh?”
Robin, informally dubbed ‘the Third’ by her future self, gazed upon Livadi from atop a hill overlooking the town. It’d been a long walk from Southtown, as it was almost as far away from Plegia as one could get without leaving the continent entirely. The ocean rolled up in gentle waves to meet the edge of town in its harbor. Off in the distance, she could see a few boats at sea presumably out for the day catching fish.
This seems like a nice place to go into hiding. Although if my future self was right, I have less than a year before Plegian assassins find my mother here. How troubling…
After a few more minutes memorizing the layout of Livadi, Robin set off into town. The market was busy, thriving, and reeked of fish. The harbor fared no better, but at least there she got to walk past foreign merchants peddling exotic goods and curios. Still, she was glad to leave both behind. The smell finally abated as she traveled further into the residential district.
“Excuse me, I’m looking for Ava Sumera.”
“Could you direct me to the Twilight Bakery?”
“Three lefts, then a right, correct?”
The warm, sweet scent of honeyed bread filled the air. Robin had to give her mother credit for choosing an excellent place to live. Two buildings away from a bakery was as perfect as perfect could get in a small town like this.
Unfortunately, seeing the house returned no memories to Robin. She’d not expected it to. Optimism never suited tacticians. But she’d hoped.
Powering through her growing nerves, Robin approached the front door, knocked, and waited.
Maybe she’s not home.
It was the middle of the day. Presumably, Ava had a profession she practiced.
Maybe the assassins already found her.
Robin frowned. Beyond the obligatory response of, ‘Oh no, my mother,’ she felt nothing at the thought.
I hate amnesia.
At last the door opened. An older woman who looked much like Robin herself stood in the opening with a look of surprise on her face. Nonetheless, she soon pulled Robin in for a hug.
This feels so…awkward.
Robin did her best to return the hug without giving up the charade just yet. Of course, Ava could obviously tell something was wrong. Her expression said everything for her.
“What are you doing back here so soon?” Ava asked. “Don’t tell me the Shepherds rejected you.”
“Um…” What was Robin supposed to say to that? She fought beside them to kill some of her own countrymen only for her future self to send her home? Yes, that would go over so well. “Not exactly. A lot happened, and I’m not sure how much of it you’ll believe.”
“My little fledgling, I’m not sure how much of my life you would believe.”
Robin hesitated but ultimately said, “Probably all of it.”
“Oh dear. Well, let’s not stand about in the middle of the door.”
The inside of what Robin assumed was her home held a surprising amount of weaponry. A half-dozen swords hung displayed on walls, and two whole bookshelves stood dedicated to magic tomes of all varieties. Another full half-dozen bookshelves overflowed with other books on all manner of subjects from history to tactics. The fireplace sat cold and empty, but the mess of blankets and cushions nearby suggested it saw heavy use when winter set in. From what she could tell, spring had only just begun, and the mess had yet to disperse.
No memories came back to her, but Robin smiled nonetheless. She could be very comfortable here; this was definitely her home.
“I’ll make some tea for us, fresh from Chon’sin,” Ava said. “Such a shame it’s getting harder to obtain in this country. But one question first. Validar didn’t find you, did he?”
Who? The name sounded familiar. Oh, my father. “No, but someone almost as bad did. I…suspect I have an invitation to join the Shepherds, but I think the prince would protect us regardless if we only asked.”
“Do we need to run?”
Robin shook her head. “We’ll be safe here for some time. Certainly long enough for tea.”
“Alright.” As Ava disappeared into the kitchen, she tossed back a, “Make yourself comfortable. I’ll be a moment.”
As bidden, Robin browsed through the bookshelves looking for something to read to pass the time. She pulled a particularly well-worn book on historical military battles and was soon lost to the world. Despite remembering all of the material, the book still felt new and engrossing.
“Robin, the tea is ready.”
The girl in question jumped in surprise when a hand fell on her arm and pulled her back into the real world. More than a little embarrassed, she quietly closed the book and replaced it upon its shelf. It’d only felt like a few seconds had passed, lost in the text as she’d been.
“So,” Ava began once they were seated, “what happened that brought you back here?”
I wanted to meet my mother. Wisely or not, Robin chose not to lead with that. Instead, she decided to test Ava’s willingness to entertain the unlikely. “I encountered a god. And met a goddess.”
“Oh? Which ones?”
Okay, surprisingly, so far so good… “That’s a little complicated. Would you believe me if I said they were both from the future?”
Ava leveled a scrutinizing gaze upon Robin, no doubt searching for a sign she was lying. Finding none, for there were none to find, Ava said, “I believe they made such a claim. That begs me to ask why you believe it.”
After thinking about how to reply for far too long, Robin decided nothing she could possibly say would sound any more or less credible than anything else. She did, however, recall that her future self had told her that Ava knew about the plan for her to become Grima, so perhaps that was the correct place to start.
“The first one was the Fell Dragon, Grima.”
Ava’s hand holding her tea noticeably shook, but her voice remained level. “I see. Was he in human form?”
Robin gave a silent nod in answer.
Without a word, Robin refilled her cup of tea.
“After that, I met the Fell Dragon, Robin.”
Ava’s eyes opened wide in shock. The only word she managed was a weak, “What?”
“In her timeline, which would have been this one, she, and I quote, ‘ate Grima’ and became the new Fell Dragon. She was quite nice and very helpful, if perhaps a little…off.”
“That’s…good.” Ava nodded, although it felt like the act was mostly for her own sake. “Yes, that’s good. You win in the end, then.”
“She did say events mostly worked out in her and the world’s favor.”
“Good. Good.” Ava’s hands still possessed a slight tremor as she held her tea with both, but it was much more under control now. “But then why did she come back in time?”
“That is the question, isn’t it? I don’t pretend to understand the whims of the gods.”
That pulled a small smile out of Ava. Not wanting to unload even more on the woman today, Robin decided to keep the issue of her amnesia to herself until another day – tomorrow perhaps. Still, she was curious what had brought her future self back in time.
Lucina gazed up at one of the largest man-made structures in the world in awe. Attleburg Arena stood almost as tall as Ylisstol Castle and nearly as wide in diameter. Grand, colorful tapestries a dozen times Lucina's height hung from the upper reaches. Even from a distance, she could hear the roar and feel the energy of the crowd gathered within.
Despite the mask hiding her face, Lucina knew she looked like a tourist, but that was fine. She was, after all, a tourist twice over in both time and space. There was no hiding that, nor did she care to. She'd once spent an entire day doing nothing but cloud watching from the back of a wagon with her mother simply because the sun and sky had been a long forgotten novelty.
I’d best get to work before I idle away the day and Lon’qu returns to the castle.
Lucina entered the arena and went through the bureaucracy required to issue a formal challenge for Lon’qu’s title. Khan Basilio had the final say on who his champion would be, of course, but official matches historically held a lot of weight with the man. Fortunately, even with approaching tournament, the wait list was nonexistent. No one wanted to challenge the reigning champ, it seemed, or at least not yet.
I suppose I’ll have my hands full defending my position for the next few weeks if I proceed now. After considering the matter for a little while, Lucina decided to issue her challenge anyway. It’ll be good practice. I’ve been feeling a little sluggish since Mother messed with my soul. I may have gotten too used to being a…a semi-demigoddess.
Within the hour, Lucina found herself standing across from Lon’qu on the arena floor with a massive crowd in the seating above. Most of the audience consisted of other warriors who’d been training in the arena, but she could pick out a sizable number of civilians mixed in. Word of her match must have leaked to the outside world.
A referee quickly summarized the important rules. Killing and maiming were allowed but heavily frowned upon. Any choice of non-living weapon was acceptable – apparently, someone had once tried to pass off a dozen brigands as a ‘weapon’. Poisons had to have antidotes on hand. Disabled and downed opponents were considered untouchable. A yield promptly ended the match. One could, in fact, be brought up on murder charges.
From the stories Lucina had heard of Regna Ferox, it all sounded rather typical, perhaps even safer than normal. But then with the tournament to choose the high khan so close, it would only be prudent to prevent sabotage.
“Ready?” the referee asked. Lucina nodded, and he repeated the question to Lon’qu, who responded similarly. “Then begin!”
Dashing forward, Lucina drew Falchion from its sheath and met Lon’qu in a clash of swords.
‘And that’s why you and Maribelle need to learn how to use the warp and rescue spell. I’ll foot the bill for the staves myself if I must, but I don’t want to hear of my sister-in-law dying in easily preventable circumstances again because the Shepherds have the budget of a ham sandwich and a rusty sword. I swear, the number of problems shouting, “Lissa, rescue!” or, “Maribelle, warp!” could have solved…
‘Sigh… Sorry for the rant. It’s been centuries since I last saw my time errant daughter, and I’m nervous and feeling a bit scatterbrained. She's had a terrible life and rather justly blames me for that. Here's hoping I remember how to be a mother.
‘Anyway, Lucina and I will see you again sooner than you think. Love, the Fell Dragon, Robin Lowell.’
Lissa carefully folded the letter Robin had given her and replaced it within its envelope.
It read like a prank. It even challenged Lissa to a prank war. Sure, Robin might not have used those exact words, but what did she expect with a preemptive threat of retaliation? Then again, the thought of having a live frog conjured in her stomach left Lissa feeling a little queasy. She would need to step up her game to take on the dragon.
And speaking of, if everything contained within the letter were true, how wise was it to trust a self-professed Fell Dragon? Why not call herself a Dark Dragon or something? A Time Dragon, maybe? The Dragon of Fate? That one sounds cool and not at all evil. Goddess of Fate, perhaps?
Lissa shook her head. She'd gotten off topic.
Robin knows too much about me to pass her off as just a fellow prankster. Lissa hummed in thought. Come to think of it, she was crazy strong after we left Southtown. Although I suppose her behavior before then could have been an act instead of a different Robin. I'm not really the best judge of when someone is holding back.
But there was someone who'd fought beside the Robin in Southtown who might be able to answer that question. Lissa would need to phrase it just right to not give the game away, but that was no trouble at all. So resolved, she sought out her brother in his office.
Lucina brought Falchion up to block Lon'qu's slash. The blow came heavy and pushed her back, but she endured. As soon as the initial force of the strike dissipated, she lashed out with a kick to put distance between the two of them.
The reprieve was short-lived. Lon'qu recovered quickly and pressed the attack once more. Tiring but not ready to call him the better master of the blade, Lucina rushed to meet him in their struggle for dominance.
And a struggle it was. Without resorting to magic or divine powers, which tended to kill and maim, Lon’qu was a truly worthy opponent. He was stronger, almost as fast, and he had far more experience fighting against people. The vast majority of Lucina's combat experience had been against risen, who did not fight like a living being. Really, she had no business winning this fight, but she refused to lose.
Lon'qu thrusted forward. Lucina gracefully sidestepped the attack but did so too slowly to capitalize on the opening. She was growing tired. The good news, however, was that her opponent had also grown sloppy. She was wearing him down faster with her apparently superior endurance. That was how she would win this.
Indeed, as she forced the fight to continue at the same intensity, Lon’qu's blows weakened. His breathing grew ragged, and openings crept into his defense.
Having lost more than one duel to feigned exhaustion, Lucina kept the match going until she was sure of her advantage. A slow slash came. Lucina blocked with Falchion in one hand. The other delivered a solid blow to Lon'qu in the gut, knocking the air from his chest. She followed up with a sweep at his legs, knocking him down. Lastly, she stomped on his sword hand, leaving him unarmed.
Lucina positioned Falchion above Lon'qu's heart for a killing blow. She suppressed a flinch as the memory of her doing the same to Robin flashed through her thoughts.
“Yield,” Lucina commanded.
Lon'qu returned the demand with an unreadable expression. Eventually, however, he did as directed. “I yield.”
A deafening roar met the statement. Lucina spun to meet the threat only to find nothing. A second passed, and then two. Only after did she realise it was the crowd cheering her. Cries of support and congratulations filled the air without a care in the world. Some people threw coin Lucina’s way. She even noticed one or two women behave most inappropriately.
Lucina could barely hear herself think. An electrifying feeling shot through her as though she’d just returned from a battle against risen without a single casualty. This was…new. The energy washed over her and filled her tired limbs with newfound strength. Brady’s healing had never been so effective, and that some something real.
Lucina thrust Falchion to the sky. The crowd roared.
I love the past!
After meeting Khan Basilio and going through all of the formal bureaucracy to be named the new Western Champion, Lucina left the arena for the day with a skip to her step. A cheery song hung on her breath as she wandered the city and headed in the general direction of the inn she and Robin had stayed at last night. She wore a lovely sash displaying her new status for all to see at a glance. Life was good.
I wonder where Mother is. She never showed, and she did say she would come cheer for me. What kept her?
Shrugging, Lucina pushed the thought from her mind. She would find out later tonight when they met up at the inn. For now, she intended to simply enjoy whatever Attleburg had to offer.
The smell of genuine Feroxi food assaulted Lucina's senses. Her stomach growled. The question was did she wait to eat with Robin or did she eat now?
Lucina shuddered at the memory of many of her meals en route to Attleburg. She'd consumed far too many things neither man nor woman was meant to eat. Some days she just hated her parents. It was one thing to eat whatever happened to be around in the future, but the past had standards.
Right then. Eat now. Convince Mother to burn everything edible we have later.
And so Lucina stepped inside to purchase a delicious roasted chicken. She found a warm place to rest nearby in a market square and then sat down to eat.
“So good!” Lucina moaned through a full mouth. She denied any possibility of tears in her eyes. “I swear by Naga I'll never eat bear, or squirrel, or strange little mouse things again.”
A thought occurred. What or who do I swear by now? Does Lady Tiki swear by her mother? Herself? Can I swear by myself? That would certainly be amusing.
Mid-bite, a body crashed into the square from above. Lucina only got a brief glance, but the boy looked Ylissean and approximately her age. Unlike in the Halidom, however, the crowd parted to make room for the conflict and looked on at today's entertainment instead of calling for the guard.
Lucina sighed, glancing between her meal and the small, clearing dust cloud ahead. She should probably intervene. It would be the right thing to do.
“Foul demon conjured from the very pits of the netherworld, face me in fair combat!”
Lucina's grip slackened. Her chicken leg fell to the ground with a weak splat.
“Oh? You believe yourself worthy to cross blades with me?”
Despite herself, Lucina looked up. Sure enough, Robin gracefully descended through the air into the square with Ignis blazing about her. The fell fire stole the light of day, drowning the square in ominous shadows. When her feet touched down, she held out a single arm parallel to the ground. A sword flashed into her grip in a burst of black flame that just had to exist purely for dramatic effect.
And of course the sword also just had to be a replica of–
“You fiend! That blade belongs to me! Return the legendary Mystletainn to me, and perhaps my sword hand might see fit to grant you a swift death.”
A condescending laugh met that demand. “A sword such as this is not meant for pitiful mortal hands such as yours. Bow before me, worm, and I might forgive your transgressions and permit your corpse to join my ranks.”
Lucina discarded her food and pushed her way through the crowd. She needed to intervene now before this got any worse.
“Villain! I would sooner cripple my sword hand than bow to you. Now face me! Your evil stands no match to my blazing light. Radiant Dawn!”
The crash of metal upon metal filled the square alongside the cries of the crowd. They utterly lacked any true context for this fight, as otherwise they would have run in fear, and so they cheered, and jeered, and stood in the way as they saw fit. Lucina cast aside the last vestiges of respect and began to shove people out of her way.
For a moment, Lucina watched the horribly one-sided fight before her. Robin let her black flames flow freely about her and follow in the wake of every sword strike, dredging up terrible memories of her time under Grima’s thrall. Each of her blows came fast. Without intimate knowledge of her style, Lucina would have a hard time just keeping up, let alone pressing an offensive.
On the opposite side stood Lucina’s cousin, Owain. The intensity of the battle had knocked all sense of flair out of him in favor of pure survival. In all honesty, Lucina was surprised his sword had yet to shatter or melt from the near constant clash with divine fire.
Cursing the crowd for its proximity, Lucina drew Falchion instead of tossing a fireball between Robin and Owain. She instinctively drew on her mother’s flame and rushed forward, inserting herself between the two. Falchion rose to block Robin’s strike, and Owain took the opportunity to catch his breath.
“Lucina,” Owain panted out. “Thank Naga! You’re just in time. Help me vanquish–”
“Stop. Both of you.” Lucina turned her gaze to Robin. “What are you doing?”
Thankfully, Robin toned down the evil goddess voice and replied, “Playing with my nephew.”
Lucina slapped her free hand to her forehead. “Did you considering talking to him?”
“He attacked me,” Robin protested. “He then declined to engage in civil conversation.”
I hate my family. I hate my family. I hate my family! Lucina turned to Owain. “Put your sword away.”
Rather than obey, Owain took a half step away and readied his weapon. “Dearest Cousin, is this not the very demon we’ve pierced through the veil of time itself to destroy?”
“No! Well, yes, but not – it’s complicated!”
“I see…” Owain took another step back.
Lucina followed Owain’s gaze to Falchion, which was still bathed in cursed fire. The very same fire that currently surrounded Robin. She hastily made a conscious effort to extinguish her sword.
“That was really not what you’re thinking,” Lucina tried to explain.
In a terribly serious tone lacking any of his usual rhetoric, Owain said, “Lucina, Your Grace, you’ve been down this road before. Please. Remember what happened to Yarne.”
“This isn’t the same!” Lucina said, ignoring Robin’s question. “I really know it’s her this time.”
Owain’s cautious expression fell into a sorrowful frown. “You yourself led us in a vow to destroy the Fell Dragon at all costs. I've even forced him to reveal his true colors early.”
“Forced?” Lucina glanced at Robin.
“He pierced a lung. Being a goddess admittedly makes one somewhat careless amongst mortals. Losing this body wouldn’t kill me, of course, but I would have needed to possess you to communicate my need for a new vessel.”
Owain thrust forward his free hand as if to say, “See!”
“I know that sounds bad–”
“Oh, tell him how I'm planning to take over the world with your support and approval.”
Lucina whirled on Robin and shouted, “You are not helping, Mother!”
Without a hint of shame, Robin said, “It's important to be honest with family.”
“At appropriate times!” Lucina said in exasperation. “Owain, look–” The space her cousin had once occupied was empty.
“Ah,” Robin deadpanned. “The hero ran away.”
“I can see that,” Lucina grumbled. She then added, “Can you please turn off the fire now?”
With nothing more than a shrug, Robin obliged the request.
“Thank you.” Lucina let out a long sigh. This was going to be a problem. She’d expected to have more time to settle in and prepare before her fellow time travelers started appearing.
“Do you want me to chase Owain down?” Robin asked.
That would certainly help. Owain could do a lot of damage if he found the rest of their friends before Lucina did. After thinking about it, though, she shook her head. “So long as I’m accessible, he’ll come back to talk to me at least once when I'm alone.” I hope. “Let’s let him cool off on his own.”
“Very well. You know him better than I.” Robin banished her sword in a burst of fire back to wherever it'd come from. As she did, her eyes fell onto Lucina's new accessory, and a grin grew on her face. “You beat Lon'qu.”
Lucina breathed deeply and pushed the matter of Owain from her mind for now. “I did,” she replied with her own smile. “I didn't even have to use magic or my gender.”
“Hm?” After a moment, Robin said, “Oh, yes. Gynophobia. Well done, my little light. Your father would be proud.”
Blushing at the compliment, Lucina mumbled a quiet, “Thank you.” The coloring of her cheeks only worsened when Robin rubbed the top of her head. She weakly protested, “Mother!” but subtly shifted nonetheless to make it easier for the affection to continue.
“Did you have fun?” Robin eventually asked.
“I thought so. I'm glad to see you happy. Looking forward to your much delayed rematch with Chrom?”
“Yes. Very much so.” It would not be the same against Chrom's younger, less experienced self, but the idea of matching up against her father again in any form still sent a thrill racing through Lucina.
“Good. Now please remind me, who's Yarne?”
“Panne’s son, remember?”
Robin gave Lucina a blank look.
Still no recognition came.
“The last of the Taguel?”
“Oh! The laguz tribe that moved to Ylisse before Ashunera flipped out. Sorry, it's been a few centuries.”
“It's alright.” Lucina knew Robin and Panne had never been particularly close.
“Let’s head back to the inn. I think I need you to refresh my memory of our circle of friends and acquaintances.”