Fire Emblem: Path to the Dawn

Chapter 17

Walking next to the rolling carriage Matthew wondered when they'd reach the Crimea-Begnion border. They had already been on the road for six days and Ike said that if they traveled at a good pace they should reach Melior in just over two weeks. Having never seen a map of Tellius Matthew didn't know how large Begnion was compared to the smaller nation of Crimea.

They were approaching a village according to Janaff so Elincia was once again in the carriage acting the Queen that she was. Elincia was a Queen that seemed to be very hands on. When they set up camp she helped out just as much as anyone else much to Geoffrey's dismay. The General of Crimea was not happy that his Queen was reducing herself to menial tasks. Lucia tried to assure her brother that it was fine but it didn't take. Geoffrey tried to treat Elincia like they were still in a royal setting and not amongst friends.

A faint touch on his arm grabbed Matthew's attention. Sveta had linked her arm through his as she came back to walk by his side. She had gone to talk with Lethe the two having similar traits had gotten off on a good foot. Matthew suspected that the two girls were discussing more than just the similarities between Beast Tribe laguz and Beastmen. Whenever he asked Sveta though about this she told him they were talking about girl stuff and other things he'd have no interest in. He didn't doubt her but still had the feeling in his gut that something more was being discussed.

Rief, Amiti, and Rhys spent a good portion of each day comparing notes about the human anatomy and in the Adepts' case they were getting the rundown on the anatomy of the laguz. Both thought it was a great way to spend the time finding new information to use in their healing abilities. While Rief and Amiti were only limited by the amount of Psynergy they had when it came to the amount they could heal the Mercury Adepts could be bested by the far reaching powers of the Physic staff.

Eoleo, Gatrie, and Boyd had all become fast friends. Without constant threat of attack, and no Himi, the pirate had revealed himself to be just as much a womanizer as the Marshall. Boyd seemed to be along for the ride and threw in a couple of jokes that kept the three laughing.

Matthew spent his time with Ike, Soren, and Reyson mostly. He knew from the stories that Ike had been the leader of the group during both wars and Soren was the tactical genius behind it all. Matthew wanted to absorb as much knowledge from the two as he could. During his travels to end the Grave Eclipse he had felt he wasn't ready enough to deal with the situations forced on him and his friends. Reyson was a joy to talk to also. The Heron would always answer any question Matthew had about Tellius. Sometimes Reyson would even bless the group with a song. He didn't sing a galdr but just a normal soothing song to help pass the time for the weary travelers.

Geoffrey was never far from Elincia's side. There were only a few times he actually left her alone. Matthew felt sorry that Elincia had to put up with it even. Lucia wasn't far behind her brother trying to get him to leave the green haired queen alone. As the days had progressed the two siblings seemed to argue more and more. Lucia always telling her brother to leave Elincia in peace while he made it quite clear he was going to be by her side until she was safely back in Melior.

Janaff was close to Reyson most of the time watching after him like Tibarn had asked. The Hawk wasn't going overboard like a certain Silver Knight but you could tell that Reyson was annoyed anyway. When Janaff wasn't checking in on Reyson he was up in the sky trying to spot the next village or town. The person that Janaff talked with the most, or tried to, was Lucia. The True Blade didn't have time to talk with the Hawk though as she rushed about after Geoffrey.

Traveling in the back of the line was the merchant caravan. Muston, Aimee, Daniel, Jorge, and Ilyana. Matthew never heard much from any of them other than Aimee and Ilyana. The former always hanging around Ike after camp was set up and the Sage begging for food whenever she could. Even though he'd been warned Matthew couldn't help but offer the toothpick sized girl a small part of his meals. He did wonder where it all went though. With as much as she ate she should be too large to walk around and yet Matthew was sure he could lift her one handed.

"Alright we're in sight of the next village." Soren informed the group.

Not sure if the Lethe and Sveta would be accepted by the people of the town they had at first decided to put cloaks on to hide their bestial characteristics. Janaff and Reyson with their wings couldn't simply just toss on a piece of clothing and expect to be hidden. Instead they got to join Elincia in the carriage until the passed through the town and were out of sight. Nasir was easy enough to hide as dragon laguz looked the most human.

The hardest part about hiding the laguz actually wasn't about any laguz at all. Sveta refused to wear shoes. Everyone had tried nicely to get her into a pair but she simply would not. Soren had taken to yelling at the beastgirl that if she didn't they would cause a scene and their trip could be greatly delayed by angered masses. Sveta argued that if she walked in the middle of the group next to other people no one would notice her lack of footwear. Not wanting a larger argument to break out Elincia offered to have Sveta come into the carriage along with the Bird Tribe members. This appeased everyone as Sveta was hidden and she didn't have to wear shoes.

The large carriage had more than enough room to fit the four people inside. Hell they could fit Geoffrey's armored horse in it and it'd still have room for a person. A small window on the side could be opened to let the people see Elincia without revealing the other three inside.

They entered the village which was rather small consisting of only a handful of houses. The people of the village stopped what they were doing to stop and stare at the group. Small groups of women clustered together and pointed at the carriage. Matthew could easily guess what they were saying. No doubt they wanted to know who was inside. In answer to their unasked question the small window opened up and Elincia waved to the people.

"Do you guys hear something?" Lethe asked her more sensitive ears picking up the sounds before the beorcs or even Nasir.

Soren gladly pointed that fact out. "What do you hear Lethe?"

"I don't know. I've never heard this sound before." Lethe told the tactician.

From inside the carriage everyone could hear movement.

"Sveta where're do you think you're going?" Janaff's voice asked.

"Janaff please move out of the way. I know that sound. It is a Tuaparang airship and it would be wise for us to get out there to help our friends." Sveta said in a kind voice.

"Well why didn't you say that in the first place?" Janaff kicked open the door of the carriage and jumped out stretching his wings. Reyson and Sveta soon followed along with Elincia the Amiti blade in her hand.

The sight of the two laguz and beastgirl drew a gasp from the townsfolk. Any thoughts they had though were soon crushed as the Tuaparang airship came into sight. It was a smaller than the ones that Matthew's group had seen cross the sea. In fact it looked like this one could fit inside the ones they had seen before. It was grey in colour and had blades on top of it spinning in a circle. Ropes came out of the sides of the flying machine and Tuaparang soldiers came down to the earth below.

Matthew let himself grin as now the Tuaparang had made the mistake of coming in range of his Psynergy. Yeah that was the downside to being a Venus Adept. He really only had one attack that could hit flying foes. Ragnarok and Odyssey, it just depended on how many Djinn he had set. Even then it would take skill to get Ragnarok to pierce the airship on its way to the ground.

"Alright everyone to arms we got some Tuaparang to get rid of!" Ike shouted.

Taking Ragnell of his back Ike led a charge towards the black clad soldiers. Matthew followed the Vanguard the Sol Blade in his hand glowing with the power of the sun. Feeling the power of Megiddo ready within the blade both Matthew and the Sol Blade let out a cry. A small meteor appeared in the sky above Matthew. Jumping up towards it using the power granted to him by the Sol Blade he smashed the rock into a group of Tuaparang soldiers.

Next to the crater were Lucia, Amiti, and Gatrie. The Marshall was walking forward protecting the True Blade and Aqua Master from the crossbow bolts. When they got close enough Lucia would dash out from behind Gatrie's armor and with speed unique to her class dispatched the soldiers with swift precise slashes. Amiti would freeze the soldiers allowing Gatrie in his slow moving armor to finish them off with his lance.

Sveta, Lethe, and Janaff had all transformed and were dealing devastating blows to the enemy. Try as the Tuaparang might they could not keep up with the Hawk's speed each of their arrows missing the brown feathered blur. Distracted by the flying enemy they were mauled by Sveta and Lethe.

Nasir stood back protecting both Rief and Rhys who were launching ranged attacks at the soldiers. Ice fell from the sky as Rief let loose and Ice Horn attack. Orbs of light converged on the enemy as Rhys finished chanting the spell for an Ellight. Anyone that happened to get close to the healers met a swift end by the White Breath of the dragon laguz.

Geoffrey on his horse stood back blocking Elincia from rushing into the fray. The Silver Knight wasn't going to let here take part in the battle is he had any say in the matter. Elincia informed Geoffrey that she had been taking lessons with Lucia and could fight at a Swordmaster's level while on the ground. Even still he would not let her past. With so many heroes on the field not a single Tuaparang managed to get near the two anyway.

Reyson and Soren were a duo no Tuaparang wanted to mess with. Using his galdr to keep Soren from feeling the fatigue of spellcasting the Arch Sage unleashed powerful ElWinds using his Flare ability. They weren't alone though as Eoleo and Boyd stood close by. The two axe wielders both were trying to one up each other as they made their way around the battle field.

The fight was over almost as soon as it had begun. With a loud whirring noise the airship pulled the ropes back in and flew off. It seemed as if it was just a random Tuaparang attack.

"What was that all about?" Boyd asked no one in particular. "Why would the Tuaparang come to this place?"

"Most likely they wanted another town under their control for more soldiers." Soren said. "With the few people here it wouldn't be hard to force the men into service. It stands to reason they pick on small villages like this to avoid attention."

"I can see if any of them had orders they were following." Sveta offered back in her humanoid form.

"How?" Soren asked. "We dispatched of all the ones that repelled down."

"My Spirit Sense can read the last thought of the dead." Sveta said. "It is not a particularly pleasant experience but if it is important to know why I will do so."

"It's not that important." Matthew interjected. "Soren is probably right anyways. It seems like something the Tuaparang would do anyways. Another dirty handed trick for them to bolster their ranks."

"If Sveta can confirm my theory though it'd be best." Soren told Matthew. "It's better to know something for sure rather than simply speculate."

"And I'm telling you it's not that important." Matthew said again more forcefully.

"I agree with Matthew." Rief said walking up to the two. "It's not worth having Sveta read their last thoughts. They will most likely be about their deaths anyway. These were all grunts after all. If one of them was higher ranked in the system it might be worth it then."

"Fine!" Soren said storming off. "We need to be moving on anyway."

"Matthew I was fine with reading them. I offered to do it there was no reason to get so angry with Soren." Sveta said.

"Sveta I don't like it when you use Spirit Sense on the dead. You retreat into yourself for hours afterwards. Who knows how many deaths you'd see before you found something we could use and that's saying that you would find something." Matthew told her in a concerned voice.

"I will not do it this time Matthew but only because we are leaving. If I offer to do something like that Matthew I know the consequences that may happen and I trust you to have faith in me." Sveta informed him.

"I.. I'm sorry Sveta" Matthew said hanging his head.

Sveta snuggled into him propping his chin on her head. "It's only because you care. I will try to remember that my actions affect you more than the others." She promised him.

"Hey break the little love fest up over there. We're moving!" Boyd shouted

Matthew felt Sveta move away from him and he let out a sigh. He was going to get Boyd for interrupting their moment. It wasn't often they got the chance to share things like that. It was hard to get privacy when you were with a large group of people. Janaff and Lethe made it even harder with their keen eyesight able to spot the two if they tried to sneak away. Following after everyone Matthew contemplated how best to get back at Boyd.

Now that the town people had seen the laguz save them not a single one had a look of hatred in their eyes. Instead a healthy dose of fear was seen there. They all moved quickly out of the way letting the heroes pass without so much as a thank you. Matthew wondered what was wrong with them. Had their group not just saved them from slavery? He wasn't expecting them to be shouting praise but even just one expression of gratitude would have been welcome.

As they reached the edge of the village one of the villagers did speak up. Yet he didn't say anything Matthew wanted to hear.

"That's right. Get those mangy sub-humans out of here!" a man shouted throwing a stone. The small rock hit Reyson in the back of his leg.

Janaff, appointed protector of Reyson, had to be held back by both Ike and Nasir. Lethe and Sveta both let out soft growls at the man. Sensing that he had made a huge mistake in tossing the rock he fled into the safety of his small home.

"Let me at him guys. I'll teach him not to chuck rocks at the White Prince!" Janaff shouted trying to escape the grasp of his captors. Ike and Nasir held strong though as they took a beating from Janaff's flapping wings.

"Some humans will never learn Janaff." Reyson said using the laguz slur for beorc. "If they haven't accepted us yet they never will. We simply have to wait for the next generation and hope people like Elincia and Ike are more plentiful."

Janaff calmed down and stopped trying to get away. "I'm fine now guys you can let go. Still want to break a few bones of his but Reyson's right."

Ike and Nasir let go but stayed close in case the Hawk changed his mind.

"Are we ready to continue then?" Geoffrey asked his voice uncaring. "We must get moving if we hope to reach the next town by nightfall."

"Another night in the wilderness won't hurt any of us." Ike said as he motioned for everyone to get moving.

"Sir Ike is right Geoffrey. We may all want a bed for the night but sleeping on the ground won't hurt anyone." Elincia said to the man.

"Of course Your Majesty." Geoffrey said with a bow.

Matthew fell in step next to Sveta who again wrapped her arm around his. The entire caravan of people was soon on its way to Melior once more.

-PttD-

The white walls surrounding the town of Melior came into sight during the afternoon of the fifteenth day after the Tuaparang attack on the small village. Soren was still peeved at Matthew for not letting Sveta use her Spirit Sense on the fallen soldiers. On their way to Melior they had stopped in a village called Ohma where they had met with a man named Brom, his daughter Meg, and a woman named Nephenee. Elincia warned them of the Tuaparang and told them that if they wanted to there were high ranking spots for both of the adults in the army should they wish to fight. They had all declined and said they would stay and protect their home should it fall under attack.

"It feels good to be look upon my home once more" Elincia said from atop her horse. "I hope Uncle Renning has been fine in my absence."

"Your Grace you should enter the carriage now." Geoffrey said.

"Of course Geoffrey we can't let the people see me riding on a horse like a commoner now can we?" Elincia asked in the most sarcastic tone Matthew had ever heard come out of her. If he hadn't watched her lips move he would have sworn someone else had spoken the words.

The sarcastic tone was lost on the Silver Knight though. He beamed as his Queen did what he thought was right with no argument. Jumping off his own horse he rushed over to help Elincia off her own. Elincia swatted his hand away though and got off all on her own like she had done numerous times before. The carriage stopped and let the Queen enter. Once the door was shut they took off again.

Two guards stood outside the gates leading into the city. When they spotted the General of the Royal Knights they called for the gates to be opened. With a loud rumbling the gates were opened in enough time for everyone to make their way into the city.

The capital of Crimea was filled with wooden buildings. Many people were bustling behind the safety of the tall white walls. Unlike the other towns they had passed through there was no need to hide the laguz from the citizens. Many stared at the group but Matthew thought it was more at the fact their Queen had returned then the sight of the group itself. So he thought until a few pointed towards Janaff and Reyson. Apparently Bird Tribe members where rare in Melior.

With Geoffrey leading them through the streets Matthew looked around the city as best he could. There were stores and a few scattered taverns throughout the entire walk towards the castle. Every store had to be on the main path and all the houses were farther back and not visible form the main road. The hustle and bustle always stopped when the group came into sight. Elincia of course had her window open and was waving to her people.

Slowly they made their way to the castle gates. Unlike the gates down at the wall these ones were already opened. Matthew got the feeling they were only closed during a siege. Elincia seemed like the person to have the gates open so her people could come and see her. Walking through the gates they were met with a group of soldiers clad in Crimean white. They were all happy to see the safe return of their Queen.

Walking out of the caste was a man with a regal air about him. His hair was a darker green than Elincia's he had a small mustache and beard. His face looked hard at first until he looked at the Queen climbing out of the carriage. He brightened and even in his heavy black and gold armor he walked swiftly over to her.

"Uncle Renning" Elincia said hugging the man.

"Sir Renning" Geoffrey said with a bow.

"Good to see you Sir Renning." Lucia spoke up giving him a bow like her brother.

"Where's Bastian?" Elincia asked. "He was here when I left."

"The Count of Fayre had to go to one of the eastern nobles. There were rumors of laguz slaves and Bastian went to investigate." Renning told his niece. "Now would you be so kind to explain to your uncle what all these people are doing here?

"Of course. But let's go inside for that alright uncle?" Elincia more told him then asked.

Everyone followed the two towards the castle. Those with weapons had to surrender them at before entering the halls though. Well everyone but Ike, Geoffrey, and Lucia. It's also hard to remove all the weapons Adepts and laguz have. So really the only ones that suffered where the Mercenaries.

The halls of Castle Crimea were nowhere as lavish as the halls of the palace in Begnion. They still showed that it was the castle of nobility with a few expensive looking items. For the most part the castle looked like an extremely large stone house.

"You guys don't have to come with us if you don't want." Elincia told the group. "I will just be explaining what Soren has already told all of you and I do not think you want to hear it again."

"Thank Ashera." Boyd let out. "Alright I'm off then. Gatrie Eoleo you coming with?"

The pirate and Marshall followed after their partner in crime and headed back out the castle. What was still a little shocking to Matthew was the conversation that happened when Janaff approached Lucia.

"So are you old enough to go out without a chaperon yet?" the Hawk asked her.

"What?" Lucia asked truly confused.

"Back during the Mad King's War remember? You said that once Crimea was rebuilt we should meet again. Well from what I just saw of the town I'd say you're pretty well rebuilt. It's been a few years now so are you old enough for your father to let you out without a chaperon?" Janaff reminded the confused True Blade.

"I am but this isn't the time Janaff." Lucia said regaining her composure though still a little flustered. What Janaff was proposing was dangerously close to sounding like a date.

"Oh sure it is." Elincia told her friend. "Just think of it as you helping form relations with the Bird Kingdom."

"Great. Now that your Queen's given you permission lets go. Show me what you beorc do around here for fun. My offer to pay still stands even." Janaff said pulling the blue haired woman down the hall.

Elincia giggled. "They'll make a cute couple."

Geoffrey turned ghost white as what his Queen had just said. Many people looked at each other as they realized that Janaff had just basically dragged Lucia to a day on the town. It seemed laguz beorc relations were going to do well between the Bird Kingdom and Crimea. The tension in the air though turned tangible as Ike stole a glance at Lethe. The Cat just glared back causing the Vanguard to turn his head away quickly. Next to Matthew Sveta let out a barely audible sigh. He was going to have to find out what the two girls talked about sooner or later.

-PttD-

The sun was setting over Melior a few stars were visible to the enhanced eyesight of Sveta. Ike had offered to refine Matthew's swordsmanship so Sveta was spending her time with Lethe. Sveta felt sorry for the feline laguz. She herself understood what it was like to fall for someone of another species. Beastmen and humans were as different as beorcs and laguz.

After learning from Lethe what happened to a laguz after mating with a human Sveta understood how much it hurt her when Ike didn't return the Cat's feelings. Lethe had offered her entire self to Ike. Had Ike returned her feelings Lethe very well could have lost a large portion of her identity. She could have lost her laguz powers and be shunned by her people. Not only her but any child that could have come for the relationship would forever be looked at as a creature that didn't belong.

Most of their conversations revolved around the differences between beorc and laguz that would make the relationship hard anyways. For example Lethe may look to be around twenty years old but laguz age slower than beorc. Lethe didn't give her exact age to Sveta but she understood she was significantly older then Ike.

The door to Lethe's room burst open as a short pink haired girl with blue eyes and a smile came into the room. She wore a white blouse and pants and she seemed filled with energy.

"Alright Lethe!" the mysterious woman shouted. "Elincia said that you've been moping about the entire trip here so I'm taking you for a girl's night out. You should be happy about this Elincia and Lucia are coming to."

Sveta backed out of the woman's way as she marched to the chair Lethe was sitting cross-legged in. She stood in front of the feline hands on her hips and glared right back at Lethe.

"Go away Marcia." Lethe told the woman. "I rather not go out."

"Not an option! I'm under orders from the Queen to get your tail out of the castle. So you can either go willingly or tied up and tossed on my Pegasus." Marcia informed the Cat.

"Um excuse me." Sveta said quietly from her spot in the room.

"Who said that?" Marcia asked whipping around to face Sveta. "Oh sorry didn't see you there. I tend to focus on my mission and ignore things. I'm Marcia the Seraph Knight of the Royal Guard. You must be Sveta one of the Adepts that came with Ike."

"Yes I am. Are you really under orders from Elincia to get Lethe out of the castle?"

"Yeppers. OH! Do you want to come along to Sveta? Can't be much fun hanging around with so many guys around here got to have some quality girl time after all." Marcia said getting excited at the prospect of having another person for her to drag along.

"I-I guess." Sveta stumbled. "Come on Lethe it could be fun."

"Go if you want Sveta but I'm staying right here." Lethe said stubbornly.

Marcia grinned. "I was hoping you'd say that." Marcia turned to the door and shouted. "She's putting up a fight!"

Lucia walked into the room holding a rope in her hands.

"See Lethe we take orders from our Queen very seriously. You can understand that can't ya?" Marcia asked Lethe. "We really will tie you up and toss you on my Pegasus if you don't come willingly."

"For the love of Ashera alright I'll come." Lethe growled getting up out of the chair.

Leading the group Marcia paraded out of the room and down the halls. Sveta was behind her beside a reluctant Lethe. Lucia brought up the rear in case the Cat decided to make a run for it. They met up with Elincia who was dressed very casually in a simple green dress to go with her hair. Rather than have her hair up it was let down giving the Queen a very different look.

"We got her Elincia!" Marcia informed with a salute. "Brought Sveta along to, hope you don't mind."

"Not at all the more the merrier after all." Elincia said.

"So where we going?" Lucia asked from the back of the group.

"There's this new place on Market Street called Fire and Ice. It's supposed to be the coolest place ever. It gets even better though. Tonight is a girls only night!" Marcia told the True Blade. "No men to try hitting on us as we party!"

Again leading the other women Marcia continued her march towards Market Street. Lucia and Elincia where in the back of the line talking with each other about something. Sveta's could pick up the conversation as they walked down the street.

"How did you manage to escape Geoffrey?" Lucia asked.

"Simple I asked him to go and train with Matthew and Ike. Told him he best learn how to face an Adept in case any of those Umbra Adepts come to Crimea. He jumped at the chance to prove himself. After he left I dismissed the other guards telling them I was going to visit you." Elincia told her sister-like friend.

"You have learned a lot of deception these past few years Elincia. I fear Bastian has taught you too well." Lucia commented.

"He only taught me what I need to know in order to deal with the nobles. I wish there was no need for such tactics though." Elincia said truly sad she had to deceive people.

After a few minutes of walking Marcia let them know that they had arrived at the tavern. It didn't look like anything special other than the sign in the window that read Girls Only Night. Opening the oak door the four women and one teenage girl entered.

The place was practically deserted. There was three other girls in the place all sitting around a circular table. A counter was off to the right hand side and a fire place directly across from the door. Behind the counter was a tall woman with gold blonde hair kept in the same style as Marcia's. She had a pair of gold colored eyes set in a soft tanned skinned face. A tight fitting red revealing dress was her outfit of choice. She was cleaning the counter as she waited for more customers.

As the door closed behind Lucia a small bell rung letting the people inside know that someone had entered. It wasn't as if the cold night air rushing into the warm building was announcement enough. The woman behind the counter looked up to see the set of new potential customers.

"Welcome to Fire and Ice the Crimea building." The woman said.

"The Crimea building?" Elincia asked.

"Yeah my brother and his wife run a tavern exactly like this in Begnion. I'm Mika by the way. Our signature drink is the Volcanic Glacier! So strong it comes with a warning." she bragged. "Does great in Begnion, knock the socks right off the soldiers and then knocks them onto their asses."

"Sounds great! Give me one." Marcia ordered.

"Alright sweety. Not a laguz are you?" Mika asked.

"Nope I'm a beorc why?"

"Cause the warning is for laguz only really. Those Dragons are sneaky. Got to pay close attention to find their tell. But I see you have two laguz in your little group. Cute little cat girls it looks like." Mika said with a wink.

Mika turned around opened a book and followed the instructions as she prepared the drink. You could tell she wasn't used to making it as she had to go back to the book after every step. Once she was finished she turned around and offered the glass to Marcia.

"Got to warn you it's mighty powerful. Really has a punch to it." Mika said as Marcia took the glass.

"That's fine. Tonight's about partying and getting Lethe here to cheer up." The Seraph Knight said as she sipped the drink. "Oh goddess that's cold."

Mika held up her hand and counted down from five with her fingers. Once the last finger went down Marcia started to sweat.

"Wow! It's like a furnace now. You have got to try this!" Marcia said holding out the cup for the others to try.

"Wait! If the Cats are trying it you have to know that you can't transform for twenty-four hours. The secret ingredients, which are protected by law thankfully, tend to have laguz go a little crazy in their transformed state.

"How is that legal?" Lucia asked. "Anything that like that shouldn't be allowed."

"I don't know why don't you march up to the castle and ask the Queen?" Mika shrugged.

Elincia leaned over to Lucia and whispered. "We'll check the laws tomorrow. Tonight is supposed to help Lethe get out of her bad mood remember?"

"Fine" Lucia whispered back.

Each of the older women tried the drink. Sveta kindly passed it up saying that she wasn't ready to drink something that might not let her transform. Lethe was the last one to take the glass and downed the remaining half a glass.

"It takes more for us laguz to get drunk." Was her explanation. "Clearly that's what you want me to do."

All three women had shivered as the liquid went down their throats and then started to sweat the five seconds later.

"Hmm a drunk Cat could be fun." Sveta heard Mika whisper to herself. Then loudly enough for everyone to hear she asked. "So what's the occasion ladies? Why we trying to cheer up the beautiful feline?"

"Yeah Lethe what's got you so down?" Marcia prodded. "You can tell us. Not like it'd be anything shocking."

"Order me another one of those and I just might." Lethe said licking her lips at the remaining taste of the drink.

Mika held out another glass already ready. "On the house hun. Tonight seems to be about you after all."

A few more orders of drinks were placed along with a meal for those who were hungry. A few rounds into the night the older women were a little loopy. Mika had seemed to have the ability to see into the future and know exactly when one of them ran out of their drink.

"So Lethe what's got you so down?" Marcia asked again her speech slightly slurred.

"The bane of women everywhere Marcia. Men." Lethe responded.

"I hear you there hunny." Mika said patting the Cat on the shoulder.

"What man has caught your sights Lethe?" Elincia asked sweetly.

"The same man that you have your claws in." Lethe growled. "Don't worry though Ike doesn't feel anything for me. So just let him chase after you. You have my blessing" Lethe had a few tears falling down as she spoke the last bit.

The three beorc women stared at Lethe slack jawed. Once they managed to pick their mouths up off the floor Elincia spoke up first.

"I didn't know you had feelings for Ike. Am I the reason he doesn't return your feelings?" the Queen asked.

"Wait hold on a sec. Ike? Hero of the Blue Flames and the new standard for men everywhere Ike?" Mika asked. "Always thought he'd chase after Queen Elincia. Know I would."

The drunken minds of the women didn't exactly process what Mika had said. Sveta however knew that she was going to have to tell them a very interesting story the next morning. After she asked Matthew about it of course as Sveta didn't know for sure if this was just common interaction between human females. She wondered how many other women were like Mika as she sat there and listened to Lethe explain more to her friends.

"Ike's been hounding after you like you were a cat in heat and him a great big tiger." Lethe informed the green haired woman. "I don't know what I thought telling him I had feeling for him. Clearly I wasn't in my right mind at the time."

"No no Lethe." Lucia said. "Ike's just hard headed. You got to take him on and make him see reason. You two would have the cutest kids." Lucia didn't get drunk very often but when she did she became extremely relaxed and very very feminine.

"Auntie Mika!" a small voice came from upstairs. A young girl holding a stuffed dragon doll came down the stairs. She had black hair and gold eyes just like her mother Luna. She had on a blue dress and walked over to Mika barefoot.

"You said you'd read me a bedtime story an hour ago! You said you were going to close early to spend time with me tonight." The small child pouted.

"Ack." Mika let out as she dropped down to the child's height. "Sorry Tsuki I forgot. Your Auntie Mika got some customers tonight and it was a slow day so I had to let them stay. Go on back upstairs I'll be there in a minute I promise." Mika held out her pinky finger which the little girl then wrapped her own around before trudging sleepily back upstairs. "That one is all fire just like her mother."

"She was so adorable!" Marcia said. "Who are her parents?"

"My brother Solaris' and his wife Luna's. She's staying with her me, her favorite Aunt, for a few months for certain reasons of the child producing kind. But you heard her gals. Finish up so I can close up shop."

The women passed up on finishing their drinks saying they had actually drunk more than they had intended. Sveta finished up the last of her meal and hopped of the stool she had been sitting on. The four older girls had troubles walking in a straight line but were assisted by Sveta on the way out the door. With a sigh Sveta instantly felt like she was the oldest one of the group at age sixteen.

On their walk back up to the castle the girls ran into a very big problem. This problem came in the form of four men. Renning, Geoffrey, Ike, and Matthew. The first two looked pissed and rightly so. Their Queen had snuck out of the castle to get drunk with her friends. Ike looked mostly confused as to what was going on and worried that Elincia and Lethe were together. Matthew just looked relieved he had found Sveta.

"Lucia how could you let Elincia out of the castle without an escort?" Geoffrey asked his sister.

"Geoffrey it's fine." Ike chuckled. "I mean look at them. Clearly they had a good time. Never seen Lucia and Lethe look so happy before."

"That's the final straw Ike!" Geoffrey shouted. "I will not let you brush me off anymore! Draw your blade now. We will settle this bad blood between us now."


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