When Gangrel caught Morgan standing anxiously by Nisha's tent one morning, he knew something was up.
"You in trouble?" the trickster asked by way of greeting. The young man jumped at the sound.
"Ah, father," he replied, taking in a shaking breath. "You startled me."
"On edge? You?" Gangrel teased, ruffling the thief's red hair. "Never thought I'd see the day."
"It's my challenge for Mother today," Morgan explained, a tad exasperated. "I'm hiding one of her possessions somewhere in camp."
"Really? Big thick book? Blue cover? Probably has something to do with tactics?"
"Yes, I-hold on..." Morgan turned to face his father. "And how would you know that?"
"You might want to check that bag you're carrying," Gangrel said innocently.
The thief immediately dropped his hand to the satchel before he pulled it open to look at an empty space. He gaped at the older man, who brought out his prize.
"But...h-how did you—? How didn't I know?"
"And you call yourself a thief," the trickster said smartly.
"Where did you learn that?"
"Taught myself out of necessity," Gangrel answered smoothly, handing the book back. "People like to think they're smart, but they're easy targets once distracted. The art is making the distractions subtle. Which, really, is just being loud and casual."
Morgan put the treatise back into his satchel, ensuring it was safe.
"How long did it take to get that good?" he asked. "I mean, I've been practicing, but my skills are more in tactics and lock-picking as opposed to thievery; I could never be as good as you."
"Few years," the Mad King shrugged, folding his arms. "On the streets, begging for food only works until you're about ten—maybe eleven if you're lucky. Skill's faded some—too many years of living well—but not bad for an old man."
"You're not that old," Morgan interjected. "At this point in time, I'm probably not that far behind you in age."
Gangrel laughed at the thought. The boy stood impassively for a minute before joining in.
"Hey kid, do me a favor," the trickster requested, coming out of his humor. "When you've finished with Nisha, tell her to come find me; I have something I need to show her."
"Of course, Father," Morgan replied cheerfully. "If I'm done with her before sundown."
As the young man strode off, he paused, glancing back.
"Father?" Without waiting for acknowledgment, he rushed on. "What did you mean when you said begging for food only works when you're young?"
"Exactly what I said. When I was growing up, fewer people gave me food the older I got. But that's a conversation for another time."
Morgan looked as though his opinion differed, but he didn't protest, trotting off to look for his mother. The Mad King ran a hand through his hair. He couldn't hide it forever; his past was just another part of him that the boy would eventually discover. But hopefully he could prolong the inevitable for just a bit more.
Nisha had finished Morgan's little "challenge" in less than five minutes but the pair had been practicing strategy ever since then. By mid afternoon, Gangrel had begun to think Morgan had forgotten his promise. Of course at that exact moment, his lover had emerged from the tent with her son.
"All yours," the red-haired thief said brightly as he passed. The Mad King smirked and clapped the kid on the back before stepping forward and capturing his beloved in his embrace.
"Morgan said you have something to show me?" the tactician inquired, raising her eyebrows. Gangrel chuckled and kissed her forehead.
"Straight to the point. As you wish, my lady."
Taking her hand in his, the Mad King strode purposefully out of the camp and through the hilly fields.
"Where are we going?" Nisha dared ask. The trickster shook his head, grinning.
"If I told you, it would ruin the surprise. We're nearly there."
The pair mounted one of the largest hills and it was then that their destination became visible: a small stone Temple—hardly bigger than a large house—resting in the valley. Gangrel took a side glance at the tactician beside him and was pleased to see she seemed intrigued.
"What is this place?" she asked as he guided her towards the old structure.
"The Temple of the Unknown God," the trickster answered. "I heard about it in the last town. Supposedly, there was once an almighty god worshipped here, but one day all the statutes and images of this god vanished and even the devouts forgot his name and purpose. Hence the title of 'unknown'."
"But why bring me here?" Nisha pressed, sliding closer. The Mad King shook his head.
"See if you can guess," he told her teasingly. Tugging her along with him, he climbed down the hill, not stopping until they reached the stone steps. It was then he released her hand and gestured for her to enter. She raised an eyebrow, but smiled as she walked in, the trickster right beside her.
Her jaw dropped. Gangrel chuckled to himself; he'd had just about the same reaction when he first saw the interior. It was a brilliant work of human architecture and engineering, every wall covered in elaborate carvings and decoration, stained glass decorating almost every window, and an altar made of what looked like gold gracing the center of the Temple. Just to create this masterpiece would have taken a King's wealth or the sacrifice of countless amounts of resources on the part of the devouts.
"Sweet gods above," the tactician breathed, crossing the room, going in circles as she went trying to take it all in. "I...I don't even know what to say."
She stepped up the dias and placed her hand on the golden altar. Gangrel smiled as he watched her. When she glanced behind, she saw that grin and raised an eyebrow.
"What?" she inquired.
"You fit right in," he said reverently, dropping to one knee on the dias and taking her hand. "If I didn't know better, I'd say this Temple was built for you, my lovely goddess." He bowed his head and let his lips brush against the back of her hand.
"What are you up to?" Nisha asked suspiciously. "This is...an unusually sentimental gesture for you. Why? Why would you do this?"
Gangrel slowly rose, keeping his face impassive as he kept his hand on hers.
"You're right," he said lowly, bracing his hands against the altar to trap her there. "This seems a bit more...me."
With a single finger, he tilted the tactician's face upwards and joined their lips together. Her arms locked around his neck as she returned the gesture.
As one hand tangled into her dark locks, the other trailed down the curve of her spine. Nisha's back arched under his touch and a thrill of involuntary excitement shot through Gangrel's nerves, accompanied by a craving for more.
"Gangrel," she breathed, parting from him."Please, not now."
It was difficult, but the trickster stopped his wandering fingers and just held her, breathing in her scent.
"Why not?" he asked, stroking her cheek gently.
"I'm not comfortable with it," she murmured, color flooding her face. "It's...embarrassing."
Her answer took him so by surprise that Gangrel started to laugh. Nisha blushed harder, which only amused the Mad King all the more.
"As you wish then," he conceded. "Though, here's a heads up, my dear tactician: I'm going to keep trying until you don't resist."
"Thanks for the warning," she replied sarcastically. Gangrel loosed a single laugh before he glanced out the windows at the horizon.
"Sunset," he remarked. "If I recall correctly, you make a point to watch the sunset every day. Care to join me?"
"I'd love to, kind sir," Nisha said back, nodding at him as though he were some noble and royal Lord. They took a moment to appreciate the joke as the Mad King offered his arm and lead her back outside.
The sky was painted with vibrant streaks of orange, red collecting around the horizon as the flaming sun sank lower in the sky. The tactician sighed audibly when she saw it, loving the beauty of the view. The Mad King watched how the light contoured her face, her smooth features creating valleys of shadow and highlight. As Nisha sat in the grass, Gangrel laid down beside her so he could look up at her rather than down. From this angle, she looked so regal. It was hardly a wonder that she had Grimleal ancestry—they did still carry the blood of ancient rulers, and she was the proof of it.
"The stars are already coming out," the dark-haired woman remarked, turning her face up as well. And indeed they were: little pinpricks of silvery white shining in the darkening sky. The pair was silent as the world continued its transition into nighttime. As the last traces of light slipped away, Nisha laid down perpendicular to him and rested her head on his chest.
"Miriel says that not all stars are the same," she remarked. "She says that some of them are bigger than others and have all sorts of different properties that she's observed through telescopes. She even said that our sun is just a star that is really close to our world."
"Well I don't know anything about that," the trickster replied, "but I do know that they are lovely. Almost as lovely as you."
"It's so strange to hear you say things like that," Nisha laughed. "Sounds like something Stahl would say."
"Do you not like it?"
"No, I do. It just seems a little...out of character."
"How can I help it when I'm going mad with love?" Gangrel asked teasingly, resting his hand on her head. "How else can I express these feelings that are too strong for any other words, cliche though they may be?"
"I like the way you usually do it," the tactician smiled. "Physically. When you're not being overbearing or insistent."
"Oh? Do you want me to do it more then?" the Mad King inquired, raising his head so he could see her better. "Because I would have no objection to that."
He stretched out his arm so his fingers brushed against her hip and she snatched up his hand, putting a stop to it.
"That's what I mean by insistent," she scolded him gently, resting their entwined hands against her chest. Gangrel turned his gaze up to the stars, smirking. He stopped thinking and just allowed himself to exist, feeling Nisha's head rise and sink in time with his breathing, the beating of her heart under his captured hand. It felt good to detach, to be a nameless speck among the expanse of the stars. The trance was broken when he looked down and saw that his beloved tactician had fallen asleep, her deep eyes closed to the world. Stroking her cheek with one finger, he whispered the words he's been wanting to say all day.
"You are my heaven, you are my passion. You are my wish, you are the peace of my soul. You are the calmness of my life, you are the heartbeat of my heart. I don't know anything else; I know only this: that I see my god in you. What should I do? My head is bowing down to worship you, what should I do? I see a goddess in you, what should I do?"
The words were smooth, like a poem or lullaby. Before he was even aware what had happened, he had dropped off into the realm of dreams as well.
Gangrel awoke the next morning feeling a bit stiff from sleeping on the ground. As he stretched, he felt some weight shift a little on his chest. He opened his eyes and saw Nisha's sleeping features right in front of him. It took a moment before he remembered how she had gotten there and he smiled at the memory, running his fingers through her silky hair. She stirred at his touch, opening her own eyes to gaze up at the sky.
"Good Morning," he whispered. She jumped a little at the sound of his voice, then smiled when she saw it was him.
"Gangrel," she greeted him in return. She looked around in confusion. "How did we get out here?"
"We were stargazing," he reminded her. "You fell asleep. Me too, by the looks of it."
They laughed together and Gangrel continued to stroke her dark hair. Then the tactician sat bolt upright, taking the Mad King completely by surprise.
"We stayed out all night," she said, sounding horrified.
"Yeah. So?" Gangrel inquired, sitting up himself.
"Oh no...no no no no..."
The trickster stared at her not comprehending why she was so worried. And then he realized what was wrong.
"Oh come now, tactician," he scoffed. "We can't be the first couple to do this."
"But it's against camp rules!" " Nisha stressed. "I've told off so many people for doing this and now...now I'm a hypocrite!"
"They'll forgive you. Me on the other hand..."
"But I'm the tactician," she protested. "I'm held to a higher standard! Ah, what will Chrom say?!"
Gangrel watched her get up and pace with slight amusement. He shouldn't be enjoying this but...
He let her continue on this vein for another five minutes before he decided to speak up, rising to his feet as well.
"Nisha," he said, sighed theatrically, "really, who cares what they think? You're worrying over nothing."
"Nothing?!" the tactician nearly shrieked. "You think this is just a small issue?!"
"I can't believe you!"
The Mad King watched her rant with slight awe—this was an unfamiliar side to her—but she had gone on long enough.
When she came by on her next pass, Gangrel took her by the shoulders and pulled her into a sudden kiss. Nisha froze in surprise before she slowly began to relax. Then the tension returned and she pushed him away.
"Gangrel!" she snapped. "You can't just kiss your way out of this!"
"Who says I can't?" he asked wryly, stepping forward and snaking his arm around her.
He silenced her with another kiss. Though she broke away again, the third time he initiated the gesture he felt the resistance drain out of her. He took advantage of the moment to slide his fingers down her arm. The movement was stopped as she caught his hand with her slim, strong fingers.
"Nice try," she told him when they had finished, "but this is not over; we will discuss this later."
"Very well," Gangrel murmured in her ear, grinning. She had been completely distracted, thinking only of him for the whole night. Mission accomplished.