Ike left the training grounds feeling annoyed. Not a one of Begnion's "finest" had managed to land a blow on him. He was going to have to have a talk with Sanaki about the state of her army. If they were going to be facing the Tuaparang and Umbra Adepts the army was going to need better trained soldiers than what he just fought. After his three years traveling with Felix Ike had found that his swordsmanship had only improved. The Venus Adept was a great sparring partner and could even beat Ike. While he wanted to fight Felix at the moment and face an opponent that could actually defeat him Ike knew Felix would be hiding out in the town until his afternoon match with Mia. Even as dense as he was, and yes Ike knew he was dense, he could see something going on between Mia and Felix. Whether she had real feelings for him or just awe based on his skill Ike wasn't sure.
Walking away from the palace Ike wandered around the city. His feet had taken him to the Tower of Guidance. The looming white stone structure seemed to stare at him. Looking up at the tall building memories of what had transpired inside came back to him. It was in there that he had finally avenged his father and defeated the Black Knight. It was in that tower that he used the powers of Chaos to slay a goddess. It was at the base of that tower that, where he stood now, that he had decided to leave Tellius and search for adventure elsewhere.
Part of Ike now knew that to be a mistake. He should have stayed back and helped his friends rebuild Tellius. There were people here that needed him like his sister Mist. Two of his friends even offered to come with him but he declined out of selfishness. Standing at the base of the tower brought these mistakes to the forefront of his mind.
The other part of Ike though was glad that he had left. He had met new and exciting people. Seen things that he never would have thought could exist. There was one land that had just recovered from an attack by an evil king. The hero was a blonde haired teen clothed in green. Rumors said that he had traveled through time in order to defeat the monster that destroyed his country. He used a legendary blade and with the help of six sages and a princess the evil was sealed away.
Ike and Felix had spent a few months trying to track the hero down but they never did find him. It wasn't until they had decided to leave that they even caught a rumor of his whereabouts. He was supposed to be on a farm working as a ranch hand now. Both Felix and Ike understood the desire to be left alone and left the land never meeting the Hero of Time.
As he stood in the green grass looking up at the tower before him his warrior sense alerted him to an approaching figure. He turned and came face to ears with Lyre. Much like her sister had been recently Lyre did not look happy. Her light violet eyes that looked so much like Lethe's glared up at him. Not many things unnerved Ike like the glare from a girl. He could handle angry guys you just beat sense into them. Angry girls though shook him to his core.
"What does she see in you?" Lyre whispered quietly enough Ike couldn't make out the words. "You need to make things right with my sister Ike." She hissed loudly enough for him to actually hear. "I don't know what is going on between you two but you need to fix it so my sister can be happy again."
"It's not my fault she's still mad Lyre. If Lethe wants to hold onto her anger about my leaving Tellius then that's her decision." Ike told the younger sister. Not like I could really change Lethe's mind about that anyway.
"You will go and talk to her today if you wish to continue living. Hero of the Blue Flames or not I will kill you if you don't fix things between you and my sister." From her tone of voice Ike had no doubts he'd find a very angry Cat mauling him in his sleep later tonight if he didn't.
"What exactly makes you think I'm the problem Lyre?" Ike asked her.
"Because I know my sister that's why!" Lyre told him forcefully. "There is no getting out of this so you best get it over with now."
Ike put up his hands in defense. "Alright I'll go talk to her."
"Good." Lyre said before walking off leaving a very confused Ike behind.
What is going on with Lethe? Is Lyre right does it have something to do with me? Ike questioned what exactly he could have done to make Lethe so pissed. Sure there was the fact he left for three years but Lethe should have been over that by now. She was a warrior and didn't let the small things get to her as much as others. It was one of the reasons he was glad she was here to help them fight the Tuaparang. That and her fighting ability of course. She was as fast as any Trueblade Ike had faced and just as strong.
Ike headed back towards the palace figuring it'd be the best place to find her at. She was normally training or in her tent when they had traveled across Tellius. He didn't think there was anyone in Sienne that Lethe would bother to visit at the moment either. Hell he wasn't even sure she had a friend in Sienne. In fact now that he thought about it he didn't really know Lethe beyond her warrior aspect and cold glare she gave people.
And she fought alongside me in two wars. You're a class A act there Ike. Actually I'm more an S class act.
Ike walked up the white marble stairs leading to the palace entrance. The guards noticed him and opened the door without hesitation. Ike asked the guard if he knew were Lethe might be found and was given a swift no for an answer.
It wouldn't do good to simply wander the halls of the palace he could very easily miss Lethe. He'd either need to just wait for lunch where they were all invited to eat in the dining room or find another laguz, maybe Sveta, to track her down. As Ike walked through the castle to the training grounds again he was met with one of the Adepts' Djinn. It was blue marking it as one of the Mercury Djinn.
"Geyser get back here" came Rief's voice from the corridor the Djinn hopped out of. The young healer had his hair in a mess as he bent over to pick the Water Elemental up. "I really wish Tyrell would control his Djinn." Rief said fixing his glasses. The Mercury Adept turned and noticed Ike standing there watching him.
"Lose something Rief?" Ike asked.
"No not really. Some of the Mars Djinn were picking on poor Geyser here so he ran away."
"I see. Have you happened to see Lethe around though?" Ike asked not really expecting for Rief to have actually seen her.
"Well no." Rief told him.
"I did!" Geyser squeaked from his hold in Rief's arms practically bouncing. "She was heading towards the west wing and boy did she seem angry. I wanted to ask her to help deal with the Mars Djinn but she was saying something about a "stupid blue haired idiot". I know she wasn't talking about Rief so maybe it was Amiti she was talking about?"
Ike left out a sigh. Apparently Lethe still had some issues with him. "I don't think it was Amiti she was talking about Geyser." Ike informed the Djinn.
"Oh yeah you have blue hair to!" Geyser said with a bubbly laugh. "Well you know what Rief says to do when you get a woman gets mad? Hide. Let her cool off than talk to her alter."
Rief shoved the elemental into the folds of his robes preventing him from talking anymore. "I mostly use that with Karis and sometime my older sister Nowell." Rief informed Ike.
"Wish it'd work with Lethe. She seems to constantly mad at me though."
Taking one hand away from Geyser Rief again adjusted his glasses as if in thought. "Maybe there's a specific reason she's mad at you. It seems if her anger never subsides it would be best to get it over with fast. Kind of like how it's best to rip a band-aid off so you don't feel much pain."
"Thanks Rief. You to Geyser." Ike said to the Adept and Djinn before heading in the direction of the west wing.
With a warrior's determination Ike headed off towards the other side of the palace. He walked through a few of the white halls before he came across his target. She was sitting underneath a tree arms crossed. It looked as if she was talking to herself about something. Ike chuckled a little at the similarity between the two of them. Sitting under a tree to work out his frustrations was something Ike had done often. Knowing better than to sneak up on her Ike made sure he created enough noise to get her attention as he walked towards her.
Ike could have sworn he heard her groan as he got closer. From the look in her eyes Ike had one choice. Get mauled by Lethe now or Lyre in his sleep. Deciding that the mauling he could see would be easier to defend against he kept his pace.
"What do you want?" Lethe asked coldly a twinge of hurt in her voice.
"Lyre sent me to talk to you. She says that I'm the reason you're so angry recently. From what Geyser said you're still mad at a 'stupid blue haired idiot'."
"Well looks like the Djinn knows what it's talking about." Lethe sneered.
Ike sat on the ground in front of Lethe looking her in the eyes. It was always better to be looking someone in the eyes when you talk to them. It's even more important when the conversation is a more serious one such as the one Ike was about to engage in with Lethe.
"Alright Lethe what's you problem with me?" Ike asked in a calm voice. "It can't just be because I left Tellius for three years and shirked my duties as ambassador either."
"You are wrong that is exactly the reason." Lethe said adamantly
"Alright if that's what you want it to be about than what can I do to fix it Lethe? You're a good friend and I don't want to lose that."He told her trying to assure her that he really did want to fix things between them.
Lethe's tail made a very small twitch when Ike had said "good friend" but he didn't notice as it wasn't visible to him at the moment. What he could notice was the fact her ears drooped ever so slightly. While normally they stood straight up alert to any sounds they now were down farther. Just enough that if Ike was a bit more observant he would have actually seen them move.
"What makes you think you can fix it Ike? You left for three years Ike! Do you know how your friends felt watching you walk off? It hurt us a lot." Lethe got up hands on her hips glaring daggers down at Ike. "So many people wanted you to stay behind. Ranulf and Soren offered to go with you and yet you turned your backs on them! Did you even consider my feelings when you left for your stupid adventure?!" realizing she said "my" feelings Lethe's hands shot up to her mouth.
Even Ike had caught the "my" that caused her to react so. This time Lethe's ears fell enough you'd have to be blind to miss it.
"Lethe is there something you want to tell me?" Ike asked in his most soothing voice. Lethe clearly didn't mean to reveal that bit of information. She also looked like she was going to bolt at any given second. Ike continued to simply sit and wait to see what Lethe would say or do.
"There's nothing" she said turning away from him.
"Lethe lying won't help matters." Ike said a little sternly.
"Fine Ike you want the truth of the matter?! I LIKE you but you're too dense to see it! I've liked you since we took down Ashnard you idiot. But you were too busy looking at that beorc, Queen Elincia." Lethe practically spat the name Elincia. Ike tried to say something but the Cat wasn't done yet. "Then you came and helped the laguz fight against Begnion and once more we got to fight alongside each other and I was happy again. Mordecai said he saw a change in me whenever I was around you Ike! My subordinate could pick up on my feelings for you. Why couldn't you?"
"Then I got assigned to be the ambassador and left Tellius… Lethe I'm sorry I didn't know." Sincerity could be heard in Ike's voice as he told her.
Lethe turned back to face him her eyes holding back tears. She looked scared. More than Ike had ever seen her before in the time he had known her. "Ike what are your feeling towards me?"
There it was the question Ike feared the second the conversation turned this direction. How did he feel about Lethe? Sure she was a great warrior and she wasn't that bad looking honestly. Did he care for her like what she was talking about though? No he didn't. Ike simply just didn't feel anything more than friendship with Lethe. Ike looked up at Lethe his realization written on his face plain as day.
"I-I see." Lethe said. "No need to say it Ike. I'll just be going then." Lethe turned and ran away from Ike weaving through the garden pathways and even jumping over the last row of flowers disappearing into the maze of the palace corridors
"I'm sorry Lethe I just don't feel the same way you do." Ike said to the retreating figure. "It's not because I feel for Elincia though, not anymore."
Elincia had made it very clear after the Mad King's War that she didn't have any interest in Ike. No her eyes were on a certain blue haired Paladin. Lucia though had been the one to point out the love between Princess and her knight to Ike. His heart was crushed before he even fully realized what he was feeling. Now Ike sat in one of the many gardens of Sienne's Palace were he had broken the heart of one of his friends.
Standing up part of Ike wanted to follow Lethe and go comfort her but he knew that it'd only cause more hurt. The Vanguard walked slowly out of the gardens and headed in the opposite direction of Lethe and out once again to the city. Outside Ike looked up at the sky to see that the sun was approaching its midday spot and that the members of his group would be heading in towards the dining room for lunch. In fact as Ike walked down the stairs leading into the city he noticed Sveta and Matthew walking up the beastgirl wearing the boy's scarf.
Great! As if I didn't feel bad enough about not returning Lethe's feelings it looks like those two decided to hook up! Ike brooded as he made his way into the town.
There was one tavern that Ike had frequented during his stay in Begnion six years ago. Shinion and Gatrie, well Gatrie really, had been the ones that'd taken him to it saying he needed to find a gal to take his mind off their quest. It was called Fire and Ice and was run by a couple in their early twenties. For the life of him Ike couldn't remember their names but he only heard them that first night. Gatrie had made sure that Ike was drunk enough that he didn't remember much of the first night other than the name of the tavern. Titania either knew what the two men had done and let them take Ike or they had managed to sneak him out.
Ever since Ike had gone with Gatrie to Fire and Ice during his first stay in Begnion he made sure to stop by at least once each time he found himself in the town. The patrons of the tavern were always nice and in high spirits as they drank their ale or what have you. The tavern even had its own drink called Volcanic Glacier that would definitely put some hair on your chest. It went down like ice cubes but it soon exploded in your stomach and you felt heat seep out of it. Ike swore that magic had to be involved in its creation.
Standing outside the stone tavern with its red and white-blue sign hanging above him Ike pushed open the door and was met with a well lit room. Circular tables spotted the room with benches against the wall and a fireplace on the right-hand wall. The bar was a straight shot from the door with there being a pathway created by the tables and chairs. There were four of the tables filled members of the beast tribe. Not a single beorc could be found sitting in the tavern. Other than Ike the only beorc in the room was a woman standing behind the bar. Glasses and bottles of various types of alcohol lined the shelves behind the black haired woman. The woman was pretty to look at in her dark green dress with an apron over it. Raven colored hair fell straight down her back ending just below her waist. Her most striking feature was a pair of gold colored eyes staring at Ike from behind her bangs.
"Oh a beorc." She gasped. "Or are you just a well-disguised dragon? Either way my name's Luna what can I get you?" she asked in a friendly voice.
"I'm a beorc and I'm just looking for some lunch." Ike told her. Luna pointed to a board were the meals were listed by price. Ike selected a roast and Luna walked over to a door on the far side of the bar.
"Hey Solaris one sweet style roast beorc sized!" she shouted. Walking back up to Ike who was had taken a seat at the bar she leaned back against the counter. "Anything to drink?"
Ike ordered some regular ale and paid for both the drink and roast as it was cooking. Sipping the frothy drink he waited for his food. As he waited he watched the people inside the tavern and watched them leave. Other laguz walked in but Ike never did see a single beorc walk in. There was one Cat that walked in that Ike knew instantly. Ranulf the right hand of Gallia's current king walked in. He still wore his, for lack of better term, hat that covered his ears but did nothing to hide his light blue hair. Like everyone else Ike had seen he found them wearing the same outfit he'd seen him in last.
"Oh hey Ike!" Ranulf said as he spotted the beorc sitting at the bar. "Bet you're wondering what I'm doing here."
"Yeah everyone's expected to arrive in few days. We just sent the call out yesterday after all." Ike told his old friend.
"Well that's exactly it. Once the messenger appeared, caught us off guard by the way gave both us and the messenger a fright, Skrimir sent me ahead to see if you actually were here. If I don't come back to Gallia by tomorrow then it means you are indeed here and for the King to make his way on to Sienne."
Luna walked up and took Ranulf's order yelling into the back room before she had to act as a waitress and leave the bar.
"So Ike what's got you down in the dumps?" Ike went to try to deny the fact he was feeling down but the male Cat stopped him before he could make an excuse. "It's obvious Ike. Soren would look like a kid with a new toy next to you right now."
Ike proceeded to tell his friend about the incident that happened between him and Lethe. During this time both roasts managed to come out of the back room. They were carried by a brown haired man with eyes just like Luna's. He wore a simple brown shirt and apron. Unlike Luna's the man's apron was covered in flour and other cooking ingredients. One of the roasts he carried was about twice the size of the other. He put the larger meal in front of Ranulf and the small beorc sized one in front of Ike. Without so much as a "there you go" the man, presumably Solaris, headed back into the kitchen.
"Next time I'm getting the laguz sized." Ike sighed as he continued his story between bites.
After his story Ranulf didn't look the least bit surprised that Lethe like him. "So she finally told you, well sort of."
"You knew?" Ike questioned
"It's the worst kept secret in all of Gallia Ike. Try as she might Lethe couldn't keep a secret from her sister once she got back after the first war. Lyre is a gossip and before you knew it the entirety of Gallia knew that the 'cold-hearted' Lethe wanted to be tamed by the beorc hero."
Ike preformed one of the world's most classic comedic bits, the spit take, as Ranulf said "wanted to be tamed by the beorc hero". The implications of such wording was more than he could take.
Clearing his throat Ike spoke up. "So now I have to deal with the fact that I broke her heart and we have another war to get through together."
"Well honestly Ike why not Lethe?" Ranulf asked. Ike looked at him in awe and confusion. "Stop giving me that look. But really Ike think about it why not Lethe?"
"I only know her as a fighter Ranulf. Unlike you I didn't spend any time with her between fights. Any time that I did actually spend with her was spent practicing. Besides the fact that even if we did get together we couldn't have normal kids Ranulf they'd be Branded."
"And that's what won her over Ike. Lethe is a warrior. She doesn't have any real hobbies outside of fighting and training the new recruits. Sounds like a certain beorc I know that swing a two handed sword around like it's a feather."
"You know Felix?" Ike joked.
"I'm going to assume that's one of the Adepts and move on. Now stop brooding here in this tavern and have some fun Ike. Whatever it is you do when you want to have fun go do it. If you can't think of anything then show me around Begnion. Weren't you a noble here for a while?" Ranulf asked trying to pull his friend out of the small depression he had gotten into.
"Alright Ranulf you win." Ike conceded with a small grin. "If I'm showing you around Begnion then we might as well start here. Luna could we get two Volcanic Glaciers please."
The woman mixed a verity of drinks together she even pulled a bottle from underneath the counter to top the two drinks off. "Alright" she pointed at Ranulf "no transforming for the next twenty-four hours or you risk going berserk while shifted."
Both Ike and Ranulf wondered what went in the drink that made it come with a warning for laguz. Ranulf shrugged and downed the small glass of alcohol. Ike did the same and felt the freezing drink rush down his throat. It hit his stomach and the fire started. Ike honestly thought that if he opened his mouth he could pretend to be a dragon laguz and breathe fire! Ranulf was floored by the power of the drink and lay down twitching as it coursed through him.
Luna passed Ike a glass of water which he quickly drank and the heat from the drink soon left him. Luna was crouched down next to Ranulf pouring a glass down his throat. She helped the Cat back onto his feet and warned him again not to transform for another twenty-four hours.
"Holy Ashera." Ranulf said holding his head. "Why didn't you warn me about that?!"
Ike laughed. "That's the fun of bringing someone here who's never had a Volcanic Glacier. Shinion and Gatrie did that to me six years ago. I was nineteen and it was the first alcoholic drink I ever had. Besides the warning Luna gave you wasn't enough?"
"That was about shifting not that it'd knock me down." The laguz replied. "Goddesses above what's in that?"
"Can't tell you. Tavern secret." Luna smiled.
"Alright Ike other than knocking your friends out with drinks what do you beorcs do for fun?"
"Same things the laguz do I'm guessing. I've been a mercenary for a while so my time has been spent fighting or getting ready to fight. Along with many odd jobs." Ike added the last as an afterthought.
"So you missed out on the whole 'normal' lifestyle haven't you?"
"Sightseeing it is than Ike."
"Wait didn't you decide that before the drink?"
"I did? Great not only did it knock me down it messed with my memory! If it hinders my ability to aid my king I'm coming after you first Ike." Ranulf threatened.
"Warning received. Now what's in Begnion that you haven't seen yet?"
The two friends left the tavern and headed into the city. The barkeep Luna was cleaning the glasses the two had used smiling to herself. "We really should get a sign made up with a warning for this." She said as she stared at the clean cup.