Invisible Ties

Chapter 3

Robin limped lightly along beside Chrom through the busy streets of Ylisstol, the capital city of Ylisse, and apparently where the Shepherds were based, his ribs still sore from the battle that morning despite Lissa’s best efforts. The streets were packed, but the air in the city was one of every-day life, not of ‘Oh gods there’s fire and monsters falling out of the sky!’ like they had been expecting. Despite their initial relief, though, Chrom had still set a punishing pace through the city towards the palace.

“It seems that the capital was spared the destruction that passed last night,” Robin remarked to Chrom.

The tactician nimbly side-stepped a lady carrying a tray of bread who was hurrying off to… well wherever ladies carrying trays of bread in the morning went. Hs eyes followed the steaming loaves, his mouth practically watering as the scent tickled his nose and his stomach growled.

He, Chrom, Lissa and Fredrick were off to the palace with the intention of warning the local ruler; Virion and Sully had returned to the Shepherd’s barracks somewhere in the city. Virion was still doing his best to chat the young knight up the entire way, Robin listening in until their voices faded into the crowd. Virion’s voice had faded first, of course; he could continue hearing Sully’s shouted rebukes, threats and curses much longer.

Robin could see why Virion was so infatuated, though; Sully had a certain vital charm about her and was surely easy to look at, even if her masculinity was a little off-putting. She had arms bigger than Robin’s legs, if he were honest. The tactician definitely respected Virion’s daring and commitment.

“Yes, thank Naga,” Chrom said, relieved, but clearly tired from the pre-dawn battle.

The blue haired Captain had pushed the group relentlessly, only slowing once the capital was in sight and they had confirmed it hadn’t burned down or suffered any other destructive fate. Fortunately no more of the mysterious creatures had assaulted them either, and they had reached their destination unmolested by mid-morning. Of course, there had been no sign of ‘Marth’, either.

Fredrick had dismounted and allowed Lissa to ride his horse after the battle. The poor girl had been close to dropping like a stone after she had healed both Robin and Sully; she had apologized profusely at not being able to completely heal Robin’s wounds, but he waved her off, hopping on one leg to show her he was well enough to travel. Once they had entered the city proper, though, Fredrick had helped Lissa from the horse, and Sully had taken its reins and promised to lead it to the Shepherd’s stables. Robin assumed it was near their barracks; wherever that was.

Ylisstol was a massive, sprawling city. The buildings had eventually spilled from within the high walls of the original castle town, and many different wards and residential districts expanded around the circular wall in all directions.

The crowd became thinner as they passed into the more wealthy area of the city near its heart. They passed a grand cathedral, a towering building with four large belltowers that Robin somehow knew without memory was a church dedicated to the Divine Dragon, Naga. They passed by it, Fredrick holding his hand to his brow and then his heart as a sign of devotion to the church as they passed. Robin could see the towers of the Exalt’s palace rising above the surrounding buildings now, pegasi coming and going from the largest of the towers, which was obviously where their roost was.

“So who is this Exalt?” Robin asked conversationally, matching Chrom’s pace so they could talk. “Should I be aware of any courtly-manner-things that might get me executed for screwing up?”

“What?” Chrom laughed, his worried expression melting into a smile. “No, nothing like that. Exalt Emmeryn is a kind-hearted ruler; she’d more than likely sit you down and explain the rules of the court to you than have you executed; I’ve been on the receiving end of one of those, though, and execution might be the preferable option to that boredom. She cares more about her subjects than any other ruler we’ve ever had, our Father included.”

“Huh,” Robin said. “She sounds truly benevolent.”

“Yeah, and she’s the best big sister anyone could ever ask for,” Lissa chimed in from behind them as the quartet reached the palace steps.

“Yeah, I’m sure she would be,” Robin said distractedly, studying the palace’s architecture and being simply awed by the elegant simplicity in its design. It seemed like the palace would also double as a heavily fortifiable stronghold in the event of a siege, especially if…

“Wait, did you say ‘big sister’? And… ‘Father’?”

Lissa giggled as she and Fredrick overtook Robin, who had stopped dead, mouth hanging agape.

“You mean you and Chrom are…?”

“Yes,” Chrom said after laughing at Robin’s gobsmacked expression. “The prince and princess of Ylisse.”

Wheels turned in his head for a few seconds as Robin tried to process this unexpected information, deciding on automatically dropping to one knee, head held low as he begged for forgiveness.

“Milord, milady, please, forgive my dreadful manners!”

The other three burst out laughing, even Fredrick. Robin glanced up timidly, hoping he wasn’t about to be shackled and led off to the dungeon for being so irreverent.

“You mean to tell us you remember milord’s name but not his title?” the Knight asked, his ever-present suspicion returning after the laughter subsided.

Chrom reached down, pulling Robin up by one arm.

“Please, Robin, Emm isn’t the only one that hates courtly manners and the like. I’m just Chrom to you.”

Robin looked up, making eye contact again and nodding, still slightly nervous.

Chrom nodded, satisfied. “Come on. We shouldn’t linger; Emm needs to hear about what happened last night.”

They were met at the great oak doors to the main hall by an older man in plate armour similar to Fredrick’s, but much more ornate, with a blue tabard over the top depicting what Robin assumed to be the symbol of Ylisse and a matching blue cape fanned out behind him. He had a great red beard which was on its way to grey, and a receding hairline pulled back in a ponytail that hung to the collar of his armour. Robin didn’t doubt he was probably one of the most deadly warriors he’d ever come face to face with, judging merely from the way he held himself.

“Knight-Commander Cullen!” Chrom greeted the man, shaking his hand.

“Prince Chrom. Princess Lissa,” the Knight-Commander greeted the two seriously, offering a nod to Fredrick. “Please, follow me. The Exalt is waiting for you.”

Chrom fell into stride beside the man, Fredrick close behind. Robin followed feeling ignored, Lissa matching his speed as the tactician looked around in wonder.

The Great Hall lived up to its name; it was a cavernous space with a ceiling that seemed to reach the heavens, held up by great carved marble pillars, each intricately detailed with mosaics of Ylissean royalty and victories. Paintings and statues lined the walls, spoils of war or simply commissions for the royal family, Robin couldn’t tell. In the centre of the hall, reaching almost to the high ceiling was a massive statue of what Robin assumed to be the hero-king Marth; the statue staring benevolently into the distance, sword held point down at rest in front of him. The beautiful throne at the end of the hall sat empty, the Exalt no doubt waiting for them further inside the palace.

“That’s the Knight-Commander,” Lissa whispered explanatorily, seeing Robin’s gaze linger on the older warrior. “He served our father during the war with Plegia, and watched over us when we were children after Father died. He also commands the ground forces in the Ylissean army, which is split equally down the middle of ground and aerial units because Pegasi breed so well in Ylisse. The leader of the aerial group is…”

“Wing-Commander Phila!” Chrom called out in greeting to a stern looking woman in lighter armour standing at the rear of the great hall.

She had harsh, angular features offset by a black beauty spot under her right eye and steel coloured hair pulled back in a tight bun at the back of her head. Her armour was a deep polished bronze colour, ornate like Cullen’s. She was a slight woman, much smaller than her male counterpart; obviously a veteran flier from her lighter armour and bowed legs. Again, Robin didn’t doubt she’d have no problem wiping the floor with him if they were to duel. She bowed slightly from the waist in greeting to the Prince and Princess before ushering the group into a smaller back room, giving Robin a curious look. Robin simply shrugged and followed Chrom and Lissa, Fredrick behind them.

Cullen led them through a series of passageways, past more soldiers wearing variations on Cullen’s or Phila’s armour, the Knight-Commander leading, the Wing-Commander taking rearguard. It was a sound strategy, Robin noted, and bespoke of lifetime soldiers that slipped into battlefield tactics off the field out of habit.

At one point they had to press themselves against the wall as a squad of pegasi knights trooped past in full battle-kit. They were obviously veterans by their more ornate armour and heavier weapons, and Robin noted the way their legs were bowed, too, from sitting astride their mounts for so long. They passed by, the others of their group waiting patiently, Cullen explaining to Chrom that they were sending scout-parties out to watch the Plegian borders.

Robin noticed absently the way the youngest looking of the squad’s eyes lingered on Chrom before the tactician did a double-take.

The youngest member of the squad was gorgeous; long, lustrous red hair, a slim figure, regal bearing, soft features, long, lithe legs, ample breastplate… The sun was behind her, casting a halo about her, making her red hair almost seem like flames, dancing as she averted her gaze when Chrom looked her way.

Robin tore his eyes away before the others noticed him staring, almost certain he’d been drooling. Judging by the way Lissa was trying and failing to stifle a fit of giggles, he had failed. At least none of the other others had noticed…

If the concentration of attractive women around here remains so high, I could definitely see myself hanging around a while, Robin thought to himself as the group started moving again, Fredrick and Phila looking confused, probably trying to figure out why Lissa was giggling so hard.

Chrom hadn’t noticed; instead too busy talking to Cullen about something in hushed tones. Frederick just shot them both a dirty glance as he walked alongside a softly grinning Phila.

They passed through what was obviously the palace’s barracks and through an almost empty courtyard, a young mage that was more hat than anything else practicing with his wind magic alone against wooden practice dummies. The mage offered the group a cheery wave, which was only returned by Lissa. They went up a staircase and passed two guards that saluted smartly as Chrom and the Commanders passed; the younger of the two guards in forest green armour offering a wink as Lissa walked by.

They were obviously in one of the royal apartments now, Robin guessed as Cullen told them to sit and wait; it was a comfortable sitting room, not at all like Robin had been expecting. Soft looking couches sat around a low table with a crystal pitcher of water and a bowl of fresh fruit on it, and bookshelves lined one wall, all crammed to bursting. A fireplace sat empty on the wall opposite the shelves, but it looked clean and well-maintained; the whole palace had.

Lissa flopped onto one of the couches in a relaxed, un-princess-like manner as Chrom sat with a relieved sigh and helped himself to some of the water. Fredrick and Phila stood flanking the door they had come through, all military precision.

Robin couldn’t help but feel like he stood out, Chrom glancing up at the still-standing man and grinning.

“I told you not to worry, Robin; she’s not as scary as all the knights and the big palace make her seem.”

Fredrick ‘humphed’ at the Prince’s comment, but Phila remained silent.

Robin gingerly made his way to the sofa and, after ensuring the back of his coat was clean and dust free, sat down. Chrom offered him a glass of water, which he took, cradling the fine crystal glass with both hands, terrified of dropping something so clearly valuable.

“I am so out of place here,” he muttered to the prince, eying the knights at the door.

“Believe me when I say I feel the exact same way,” Chrom muttered back conspiratorially, grinning as he did so.

They sat in silence for a few minutes, Chrom staring wistfully into the empty fireplace, Lissa on the verge of falling asleep on the sofa, and Robin taking in the surroundings.

“This was my parent’s apartment, once,” Chrom said quietly so only Robin would hear. “I have fond memories of sitting in front of that fireplace with them when I was younger; my father would read us stories while my mother would teach Emm to sew. They were better times.”

Robin nodded melancholy.

“At least you have memories,” he said, his voice low but full of as much forced cheer as he could muster. “My oldest memory is thinking ‘gee that girl is loud’ a day and a half ago!”

“I heard that,” Lissa mumbled from the other sofa, making Chrom and Robin try to laugh in hushed tones.

Fredrick looked none too pleased, but Phila seemed to be trying to hide a smile.

Robin assumed that the Wing-Commander was another of the people that had watched over the young royals when their parents had died and come to care deeply for them.

Luckily, before Chrom could slip into further memories, Cullen opened the doors opposite from the ones Phila and Fredrick stood at; both of whom snapped to attention.

“Presenting the Exalt, her highness Emmeryn,” Cullen said with an air of someone who was proud to be able to announce such a thing.

Emmeryn strode gracefully out of the other room, her cream and beige robes rustling regally as she moved, long blonde hair not unlike Lissa’s done up in braids and plaits that framed her face. She was definitely related to the other two, seemingly combining the best features of Chrom and Lissa’s faces for her own. The thing that Robin noticed most, though, was the symbol on her forehead the colour of scar tissue; the same symbol on Chrom’s bare shoulder and central to the Ylissean coat of arms he had seen all over the palace. He resolved to ask someone about it when the chance came.

“Please Cullen,” Emmeryn beamed, her voice soft but still filling the whole room like the chimes of a bell. “We are all friends here; there is no need for formalities.”

“Sorry, your grace,” Cullen said, bowing low, his cheeks darkening slightly. “Force of habit.”

Emmeryn smiled as Lissa shot up and exclaimed “Emm!” and ran to her sister, throwing her arms around the older woman’s shoulders.

“Hello, Lissa,” Emmeryn said, laughter in her gentle voice. “I trust camping with Chrom and Fredrick was fun?”

“Yeah!” Lissa said enthusiastically, before sobering. “Well, it was until the whole attacked by monsters thing happened.”

Emmeryn seemed to expect this, and stroked her sister’s hair.

“It’s okay; there will be a war council as soon as this greeting is over to determine how best to deal with this new threat.”

Chrom approached his sister, giving her a light hug.

“Hello, Emm.”

Emmeryn smiled at her brother, who was slightly taller than her, Robin noticed, before turning on the tactician.

“I do not believe we have met.”

Cullen seemed to take notice of Robin for the first time, too, and his bushy eyebrows shot up in surprise.

Probably wondering what kind of baseborn fool is stupid enough to invite himself into the royal chambers… Gah! I’m so stupid!

“This is Robin,” Chrom said for his new friend. “We found him… well, we found him passed out in a field with amnesia.”

Emmeryn’s perfect eyebrows shot up in surprise, but her smile never faltered.

“However,” Chrom continued, ignoring the perplexed faces on his sister and the Knight-Commander, “He’s fought valiantly by our sides to see us returned to Ylisstol and has earned my respect with his martial skills and knowledge of tactics; in fact I intended to ask him to be the Shepherd’s official tactician after the war council.”

“Your grace,” Robin said, doing his best imitation of a courtly bow before what Chrom said sunk in.

What!? Tactician!?

He snapped up, confusion in his eyes as Chrom smiled apologetically at him. It was the same sort of beneficent smile his sister had, Robin noted absently.

“Your Grace,” Fredrick spoke up from his position at the door, “I feel it necessary to point out that we know nothing about this man besides his name and that he claims to have no knowledge of his past. We cannot rule out the idea that he may be a foreign spy.”

Emmeryn looked at Robin, her gaze cryptic, before turning to her brother.

“Do you trust this man, Chrom?”

“I do, sister.”

“Then that is enough for me,” Emmeryn said, smiling at Robin again. “But we really must prepare for the council.”

“Well,” Lissa said, grabbing Robin by the arm quickly before anybody else could speak, “We should get out of the way, what with the war council and all.”

Lissa all but dragged Robin, who was still trying to process what Chrom had said, to the doors, which Fredrick opened for them, scowling at Robin.

“You all have fun!” she said as the doors closed. Through the doors Robin could see Emmeryn holding a hand to her mouth in an attempt to stifle her laughter while Chrom smiled and shook his head. Once the doors had closed Lissa let out a relieved sigh. “Oh thank Naga you were here to get me out of there; I hate war councils.”

Robin stood staring into the distance, the word ‘tactician’ rolling over and over in his mind.

“Anyway, let me show you the Shepherds’ barracks! It’s not far from the palace,” Lissa said, still leading a shell-shocked Robin by the arm.

The Shepherds’ barracks and stables were indeed side by side as Robin had guessed earlier; Sully was in the stables brushing down her horse and spared them a very girlish wave as they passed, looking entirely out of place on her muscular frame. Robin waved back, wondering if Virion had finally given up his ‘pursuit of love’ for the day.

The barracks was a few blocks away from the palace district near the city wall, surrounded by what Robin assumed were the other barracks’ for the Ylissean army proper; obviously what Robin had seen in the palace were just the royal guard. Judging from the amount of soldiers Ylisse was indeed a martial state like Chrom had said.

They entered the squat barracks building and Robin looked around, almost disappointed by how simple the place seemed; rooms along the back with four cots apiece; a kitchen area; an area to store weapons and armour; and a simple common area occupied by Virion and four other strangers eating various forms of lunch.

Virion was reclining casually, a tea cup in one hand hovering above the saucer in the other, still dressed in his exceedingly fine battle-wear, ruffles and all; the ‘archest-of-archers’ nodded greeting to Robin as he and Lissa approached the group.

“Hi everyone!” Lissa exclaimed cheerfully as they entered.

One of those eating lunch, a prissy looking blonde dressed similarly to Lissa, but in pink riding clothes of fine quality and looking about the same age, leapt up, running to Lissa and barging Robin bodily out of the way.

“Lissa, my treasure!” she said in a refined voice that Robin thought screamed nobility as she grasped both of Lissa’s hands in her own. “Are you alright? I have been on pins and needles waiting for word of your safety!”

“I’m fine, Maribelle,” Lissa smiled tiredly, extracting her hands gently, her demeanour changing to something akin to nobility for the first time since Robin met the girl. It didn’t last, though, as Lissa winked and said “I can handle a battle or two, you know. You worry too much. I did eat a bear, though.”

A tanned, shirtless man with spiky blonde hair and chiselled muscles stood, walking over to them.

“Hey squirt,” he said. “Where’s Chrom? You guys keep running off and having all the fun without the rest of us; I didn’t think he’d be able to handle himself without ol’ Teach there to bail him out.”

Maribelle rolled her eyes empathetically and Lissa snickered.

“Oh, it’s ‘Teach’ now, is it?” she asked, still giggling. “Here I was thinking you had to be born without brains, but you can teach it?”

The tanned man puffed out his chest proudly. “Don’t be underestimating Teach! Hey… wait, was that an insult?”

Before the teasing of the tanned man could continue, the slight brunette woman standing to the back stepped forward. Something about her screamed timidity and inexperience to Robin, but she was still wearing light bronze-coloured Pegasus-rider armour, so he assumed she had at least some skill.

“Beg pardon, but when can we see the Captain?” she asked, her voice betraying nervousness.

Maribelle rolled her eyes again, and Robin found himself beginning to dislike the girl’s haughty bearing.

“Poor Sumia. She’s been absolutely beside herself with concern. Her eyes never left the horizon, waiting with baited breath in the hopes of seeing you and your brother.”

The Pegasus rider, named Sumia apparently, blushed.

“Aw, that’s so sweet,” Lissa chirped.

“Well… I, that is… He’s our Captain… so, I… Uh…and the Prince, so of course I was worried!” she stammered out, flustered.

Robin had to hold back laughter of his own as the two other girls giggled. The tanned man was making exaggerated retching sounds.

“So who’s the new guy?” ‘Teach’ asked after Lissa and Maribelle stopped their giggles.

“Oh!” Lissa exclaimed, remembering Robin’s presence, apologizing to him with her eyes.

“May I introduce Robin! The Shepherds’ new Tactician! You should see all the awesome tricks he has up those sleeves!”

“Oh yeah? Can he do this?” ‘Teach’ asked, bumping his chest and letting out a hearty belch.

Robin barked out a quick laugh, before exaggerating a bow. He decided he liked the other man.

“I can see you have much to teach me in the arts of belching, o illustrious Teach. In any case, it’s a pleasure to meet you all.”

“Vulgar,” Virion muttered, not looking up from his tea.

“That’s Vaike,” Lissa said, trying not to giggle as Maribelle glared at him.

“Vaike, that was abhorrent! Must you baseborn oafs pollute even the air with your buffoonery?!” she all but shouted, before turning on Robin. “And you! Do not encourage his behaviour! I had hoped you were cut from finer cloth!”

Yep Robin decided as Maribelle ‘hmmphed’, turning up her nose and striding out the side door that Robin assumed led to the stables. Definitely don’t like her.

“Don’t take her behaviour to heart,” Sumia said to Robin as they all returned to sitting around the low table, Robin taking the chair Maribelle had vacated. “She… warms to people slowly.”

“Or burns too quickly,” Lissa added, plopping down on a stool, her tone joking.

“Here I thought she was just a prissy snob…” Vaike muttered low enough so that only Robin could hear it.

The tactician smiled. He definitely liked Vaike’s attitude. Virion snickered lightly too, obviously having overheard.

Robin jumped slightly as he noticed a fifth man sitting at the table with them in heavy armour, heavier even than Fredrick’s.

“Hi. I’m Kellam,” he said, holding out a hand, which Robin took, shaking it and exchanging greetings.

How did I miss this guy? Robin thought as the others began talking amongst themselves. He’s not a little guy. Maybe he’s just one of those faces that blends into the background. Maybe I should keep an eye on him; just in case.

They spoke about inconsequential things; Lissa and Robin filling the others in on the attack on the village by the Plegian bandits and the encounter in the forest with the strange creatures, Virion occasionally interjecting on the later with points and facts that Robin was surprised to admit were pretty observant; they talked about the Shepherds’ numbers and skills, filling Robin in on who he would be working with; apparently there were a number of other part-time Shepherds he had yet to meet.

They sat and talked for a long time, Lissa making light sandwiches for herself and Robin (who realised how hungry he was as she did; they had skipped breakfast, after all). Maribelle had come back in long enough to say goodbye to Sumia and Lissa, pointedly ignoring the males in the room. Vaike stuck his tongue out at her back as she left. Sully joined them after a time, removing her armour and sitting in her beige riding clothes that she wore beneath the red plates as far away from Virion as she could.

“Where’s Miriel?” Lissa asked, crumbs flying from her mouth as she ate her second sandwich.

Vaike shrugged, scratching at his ear. “Probably holed up in the royal library, nose buried in some book, ignoring the rest of us again.”

“Probably wouldn’t hurt you to do a little reading,” Lissa teased, the others chuckling at Vaike’s expense.

“So when is Chrom getting here?” Vaike asked conversationally with another shrug, reclining lazily on his chair, one leg hanging up over the arm rest. “Teach is itching for some action.”

Robin made a mental note to find out who this ‘Miriel’ was.

“Well, you shoulda’ come with me last night then,” Sully said, sipping from a mug of ale. “We kicked ass!”

Vaike blew her a raspberry.

“Teach is fit, but he can’t keep up with your horse, and Ruffles was hogging the back seat.”

“My name is Virion, oaf,” the archer deadpanned over the rim of his fifth cup of tea. “Vir-i-on. Even someone as dim-witted as you should be able to get it right.”

Vaike rolled his eyes, muttering about uptight nobles.

“Well, we woulda’ been toast without this guy,” Sully grunted, slapping Robin on the shoulder.

“Indeed,” Virion nodded, grinning appreciatively.

“Oh, come on guys, I didn’t do that much. All I did was get stepped on.”

“Don’t sell yourself short. We wouldn’t have made out so well without your tactical advice.”

“Chrom!” four voices exclaimed at once as the Prince walked through the door, looking tired. Lissa and Sumia jumped up, Vaike leaning backwards to look at him upside down.

“Ah! Captain,” Sumia exclaimed, “I was… I mean we were…”

As Sumia hurried over to Chrom her foot caught something on the floor and Robin cringed as she face-planted with a loud thunk. She pushed herself back up quickly, blushing heavily as she dusted herself off.


“Sumia!” Chrom said, alarmed. “Are you okay?”

The Pegasus rider nodded, awkward.

“Those boots still bothering you?” Chrom asked kindly, taking her chin and gently forcing her to look up at him as he inspected her face to make sure she wasn’t hurt.

Robin looked on with an eyebrow raised, Vaike making what could only be described as silent ‘kissy-faces’ from his position upside down in his chair.

Chrom seemed to remember where he was, stepping back and blushing slightly. “At least you’re not hurt.”

Sumia nodded mutely, blushing heavily and staring at the floor.

“Our orders, Captain?” Virion asked drolly in the awkward silence, pouring another cup of tea for himself.

“Ah! Right,” Chrom said, straightening. “At first light tomorrow morning we march for Regna Ferox to petition the Khan for soldiers.”

The others seemed satisfied with these orders, activity breaking out as they began to make their preparations.

“Uh… Regna Ferox?” Robin asked, his memory blank on the subject.

“Ylisse’s Northern neighbour, a unified nation of barbarian tribes that dwell in the mountains,” Sumia explained. “They have an official military alliance with Ylisse, so we usually include them whenever we march to war.”

Sumia had accepted Robin’s story about losing his memory instantly and without question, going out of her way to explain the history behind whatever the others were talking about to him. It was refreshing; after Fredrick’s behaviour he had been worried the others would react the same way, but apparently Lissa’s good word was enough to get around that as no one else hassled him about his memory. Well, Vaike had asked a series of vulgar personal questions about whether he had any memories of sexual experiences, earning a slap in the back of the head from Sully, but no serious hassles.

“Typically the Exalt would go to make this request in person,” Chrom added, “But given the current political climate the council felt it best for her to remain in Ylisse. They’re worried the people might panic, so we’ve been given the duty instead.”

Chrom turned to address all the present Shepherds.

“Now this mission is strictly voluntary. I’ll not force anyone…”

“I volunteer!” Lissa interrupted him.

“Me too!” Vaike added, flexing his arms. “Just try to ditch me again, I dare ya!”

“I’m in,” Sully said simply from where she was inspecting the haft of her lance.

“I suppose I should accompany you,” Virion said, finally putting down the teacup and saucer. “It would probably aid your case to have a certain modicum of nobility with you.”

“I’m in, too!” Kellam said from the back of the room, making Robin jump; apparently no one else noticed the big soldier, despite the thick armour. Even Robin had forgotten he was there.

Robin shrugged as Chrom’s eyes fell on him.

“Can’t let you charge off without your new Tactician now, can I?”

Chrom’s eyes lit up as he clasped the other man’s shoulder. “I was hoping you’d accept my offer.”

“How could I refuse when you asked me in front of all the Ylissean military leaders, not to mention the Exalt herself?” Robin deadpanned.

“Call it ‘incentive’,” Chrom joked, grinning wide.

“I… I, um…” Sumia mumbled, wringing her hands together.

“Yes Sumia?” Chrom prompted, turning to face the woman.

“I’d like to come along, too. But I don’t feel… I mean, I don’t think I’m quite ready… for combat… yet… I’ll probably just get in the way.”

Sully snorted from the weapons rack, Lissa shooting the woman what Robin felt was a rather withering glare for such a young lady.

“You can just keep to the rear and watch us,” Chrom offered kindly. “But there will come a time when you’ll need to be ready to fight, Sumia. Just stay close to me and you’ll be fine.”

“Yes, of course!” she exclaimed happily, her whole countenance changing as she smiled. “I… I mean, yes Captain!”

Robin rolled his eyes.

Great, he thought. I’m barracked-up with a bunch of love-sick teenagers.

The soldiers made their preparations, readying armour and weapons as the afternoon turned to evening and Lissa and Virion set about making dinner.

A princess that makes dinner for the soldiers, Robin thought with wry amusement. Don’t need memories to know that’s unusual.

Robin had opted to sit and take a closer look at the spellbook he had found in his pouch; with some quick comparisons to the ‘thunder’ spell he had been able to pick up on so quickly he was able to figure out how to read the rest of the spells. The Tactician made some small notes on an extra piece of parchment Sully had found for him, and was interested to note that the entire book was in his own handwriting. Judging by some of the more complex spells towards the end, he had been quite the accomplished mage before his memories failed him. There were still a few that he couldn’t understand beyond the titles at the top of the page, though; Flux, Nosferatu, Waste, Goetia… Something about those four spells, separate from the rest in the book, felt sinister to Robin. He decided that he didn’t necessarily need them and focused more on the lightning magic he obviously had an affinity for, going over his scrawled notes on a page for a complex spell called Mjlonir. His notes said something about ‘hammer of the gods’, but his handwriting was atrocious. No way he’d be able to perform it any time soon, though, but perhaps with enough practice…

Robin was practicing the hand movements for the spell when Chrom’s shadow fell over him.

“I have a present for you,” the Prince said, holding out a sword.

Robin marked the Mjlonir page, setting down the spellbook and standing, taking the sword and drawing it from the deep blue scabbard.

It was smaller than Chrom’s broadsword, but just as elegant; a thin bladed rapier, with a beautifully sculpted golden knuckle bow and hilt. The blade, slightly thicker than the average rapier, Robin noted, again having no idea how he knew, gleamed in the light from the various oil lamps, and Robin could see his reflection in it. It was a weapon fit for a Prince.

“It was given to me to train with, but I prefer to spend my time mastering Falchion; I figured you could get some use out of it,” Chrom said, confirming Robin’s suspicion of its origins.

“Chrom, this blade is… It’s too much, I can’t take it.”

“Consider it an apology for dumping the whole tactician thing on you. I want you to keep it.”

Robin nodded, giving the blade a few practice sweeps. The others noticed and stopped to watch, Sully wolf-whistling appreciatively as Robin stepped away from Chrom and began running some light drills.

“Told you he could use a sword,” Lissa said to no one in particular.

“Lookin’ good, man!” Vaike called out.

The rapier was perfectly balanced, and Robin had no problem running the drills that came to him automatically. Robin nodded, sheathing the sword. The other Shepherds all burst into applause; apparently Robin had made a good impression.

“Well then, your highness; I accept your apology.”

“Please don’t call me that,” Chrom said, rolling his eyes. “Consider it a royal decree.”

Soon after they all retired to bed; the girls in one room, Chrom in a room of his own, and Robin sharing with Vaike, Kellam and Virion. They would have to be up early in the morning to march, and Robin was looking forward to some actual rest.

That was before Vaike started snoring.

So much for sleep, Robin thought, pressing his pillow to his face, trying to block out the sounds. Maybe I’d be more comfortable in the stables?

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