Lethe woke up to find herself lying on a stone floor. A roaring headache reminded her of what she had done last night. For the third time in her life Lethe swore never to get that drunk again. She went to pick herself up off the floor but found that she lacked the strength to do so quickly. Her muscles screamed at her as she moved into a sitting position. Lethe had her eyes closed preventing the light of the torches from assaulting them.
"It's about time you woke up." A deep voice resounded. "I take it from the look on your face you don't remember what happened last night?" the voice asked her.
Images flashed in Lethe's mind. Marcia and Lucia with a rope, her along with others in what looked like a tavern, Ike holding Ragnell in his hands, and then Ike clutching his side as blood poured out. After that the only thing Lethe could remember was feeling intense rage and pain. What had happened last night certainly was not a clear picture in her mind.
"I don't" Lethe admitted to the voice.
"Then allow me to remind you. You along with Elincia, Marcia, Lucia, and the young girl Sveta went to a tavern. There you had a few drinks and everything seemed alright. Ike, Geoffrey, Matthew, and I came and found the five of you. All but Sveta were quite drunk and had a hard time standing up." The voice continued to tell her.
"I can remember going to the tavern. The next thing I remember is Ike with his sword." Lethe said hoping to speed the story up.
"That was because Geoffrey challenged Ike to a duel. Geoffrey was angry with Ike and felt the need to work his aggression out physically. Ike accepted the challenge and so we escorted you girls to the castle and you all wished to see Ike fight Geoffrey so we let you come with us. If we knew then what we knew now we would have sent you all to sleep." The man said with deep regret that he hadn't done so.
"Ike of course won the duel. Great as Geoffrey is with a lance he was no match for Ike. As Ike walked away though Geoffrey stooped to a low no one thought he would. With Ike's back turned to him Geoffrey stabbed him in the side. That was when you leapt up and transformed. Unprepared and weakened Geoffrey didn't stand a chance against your attack. You killed Geoffrey Lethe. You killed a man who was like a brother to the Queen of Crimea and the General of our armies."
Lethe sat there letting the words the man, who she had finally identified as Renning, sink in. As they did a few memories of the night flashed in her mind. Vaguely she could remember standing atop the Silver Knight and using her claws and teeth to tear him open. The rage she had at him for attacking Ike had been the only thing present in her mind at that moment. Try as she might Lethe couldn't believe that she had truly done such a thing. A few tears left her closed eyes as she knew she had to come to terms with what she had done.
"It doesn't stop there however." Renning continued. "It took Sveta and Matthew working together to weaken you enough for Amiti to incase you in ice. If I remember right Sveta had a bloody arm from when she held you down. You will stay in here and await trial. I cannot say what the outcome may be but you best prepare for the worst Lethe."
"Renning. Is Ike ok?" she asked.
"Rief and Rhys have been with him throughout the night making sure that he won't suffer any lasting damage. With both Psynergy and magic healing him he will make a full recovery. He may feel some pain for a few weeks afterwards but he will be back to normal."
"Thank you Renning" Lethe said.
As much as she wanted to Lethe couldn't feel happy that Ike was going to be ok. The fact that she had caused the death of a friend weighed to heavily on her mind. Lethe let her body fall to the ground ignoring the pain that shot through her as she landed on the unforgiving stone. She finally opened her eyes and not for a second did she regret the pain that the light brought to her head. Lethe truly felt like she had hit rock bottom.
Today was not going to be a good day. Solaris just came out of his sister's tavern, another version of the one he ran back in Begnion. Apparently Mika had severed a laguz girl named Lethe one of their signature drinks and she had transformed, gone berserk, and killed Sir Geoffrey who just happened to be Crimea's General. The real kicker was that everyone knew that Queen Elincia treated Geoffrey and his sister Lucia like siblings. What Solaris didn't understand was that the Volcanic Glacier drink shouldn't have affected Lethe in the way it did. The drink didn't make them go berserk, at least not in that way, unless the drink was prepared incorrectly. Knowing his older sister there was a slightly good chance she messed it up.
Pinching the bridge of his nose Solaris walked up to the castle. He was going to argue on behalf of his tavern. After all the drink was his creation so he should be held responsible for the trouble it caused. He told the guards that greeted him what he was there for and they let him pass. Every fiber in Solaris' body prayed that Queen Elincia was still overcome with grief and he'd have to deal with Renning.
"Your Majesty" a guard said as he poked into the room beyond the doors Solaris stood in front of. Solaris groaned as he realized that Renning wouldn't be addressed as "Your Majesty" and that he was going to have to deal with Queen Elincia.
"There is a man out here to talk to you about what happened last night. He says he is the creator of the drink Lethe had."
That cinched it. Today was not the best out there. Already he had dealt with an overzealous daughter at the excitement of seeing her parents. He'd dealt with his older sister hitting on his wife. He along with Tsuki had cowered in fear as the women argued about Mika's lack of responsibility. Now the cherry on top of the cake was going to be dealing with an emotional Queen as he talked with her about the death of her brother.
"The Queen will see you now." The guard said opening the door fully.
Gathering his thoughts together Solaris walked into the room. Sitting on her throne was Queen Elincia alright. She was wearing a black dress fit for a Queen in mourning. Her eyes were slightly red as is she had just stopped crying a few minutes ago. The normal radiance people said Queen Elincia had was not there.
Solaris himself was dressed in black robes that hung over his slim mage frame. They honestly looked about three sizes too big for him but it was what people in his occupation wore as mark of their power.
"Queen Elincia" Solaris said with a bow. "My name is Solaris and like the guard said I am the creator of the Volcanic Glacier."
"I have one question for you before we begin. What made you create such a drink with dangerous consequences?"
"Yes well the drink doesn't actually make laguz go berserk quite like that. Our warning simply states the go a little crazy. Or that is what Mikaela was supposed to tell you. Unless the ingredients are mixed incorrectly the most you are going to get is a... well... you're going to get a frisky feline is the best way to put it." Solaris stammered out the last part not really sure how to put it. That was exactly why the warning simply stated a 'little crazy' as he never wanted to tell anyone it makes sex crazed laguz.
"What are you saying exactly?" Elincia asked him innocently.
Solaris was sure both Ashera and Yune had abandoned him at the moment. He was going to have to say it. Not only that, he was going to have to say it to what seemed to be a slightly innocent Queen.
"It means that our drink should only cause a transformed laguz to seek a mating partner for the next few hours." A feminine voice said from behind Solaris.
The Goddesses hadn't abandoned him yet! The voice belonged to his wife Luna. Her bluntness was going to save him for once!
Luna walked in the room shrugging off the guard trying to hold her back. She had on a green chest plate over a white shirt. A matching green knee length skirt flowed out from under the armor. Her long black hair was pulled back into a high ponytail.
"Sorry Queen Elincia for barging in here like this but my husband here isn't exactly a good at speaking with others. It's why I run the front part of our tavern back in Sienne." Luna said.
Solaris hung his head. Eight years they had been married and still she brought up his inability to speak with the general public whenever she could. The real reason that she worked the front of the tavern was because she couldn't cook worth shit.
"So you two are saying that Lethe shouldn't have gone insane and attacked Geoffrey?" Elincia asked to clarify.
Solaris spoke up again having this part of the conversation already planned out in his head. "Well she's certainly not the one responsible for his death. Sadly the cause of Sir Geoffrey's death is more accurately put on my sister's shoulders." That's right Solaris just gave his sister up. "As I had said before the drink if mixed incorrectly can make a laguz start attacking people instead. Mikaela most likely either forgot a step or read them out of order."
"I see." Elincia said. "You are saying that your own sister should be the one to pay for the murder of my General then?"
"Well technically no. See Crimean law prevents imprisonment or death for these such incidents. Normally the circumstances apply to apothecaries but there is nothing in the law books that state my drink doesn't fall under that safety net." Solaris told the Queen. He felt like the world's biggest ass for shoving the Queen's own laws in her face to exploit a loophole but Mika was his sister.
"Very well you seem well versed in Crimean law Solaris." The voice of Renning said as the man entered the room.
"Thank you Sir Renning. Knowledge is power they say after all. I have studied many subjects in my years." Solaris said with a bow to the Gold Knight.
"Your robes. They mark you as a Summoner do they not?" Renning questioned intensely.
"Yes they do. Begnion has lifted the ban on such arts though. I am once again free to study the powers of the darker side of magic." Solaris said his voice gone cold his eyes narrowed.
"Since you and your creation have caused the death of our General I think drafting you into our army will be your sentence." Renning told the practitioner of the dark arts.
"Uncle Renning. As sad as I am about Geoffrey's death Solaris is right. He, along with his sister, are protected under Crimean law and we cannot bend that no matter what." Elincia said in a commanding voice.
"It's fine Queen Elincia." Luna said once again talking were Solaris felt uncomfortable. "There's a reason I've donned my armor and Sol his robes. We planned to enlist in your army anyway. After learning about this group called the Tuaparang we thought we could lend a hand. Begnion has enough of an army that we aren't worried about them. We're only two people but we want to help out here."
"And what can you do exactly?" Renning asked Luna.
"Glad you asked Sir Renning." Luna said with a grin. "I studied scrolls that Sol here gave to me years ago. My class is the old Hero class. I have a matching shield that carries my sword or axe. I'm slower than Trueblades but I back more of a punch. Magic butt over here needs my protection though so if you do take us in we have to stick together."
"You are welcome additions to our army. But Solaris I know what a Summoner can do. You best stick to your tomes alone and no using the other part of your magic." Elincia told the magic user.
"If that is what you wish Queen Elincia. I can use staves also." Solaris informed them.
"Then you are dismissed to go and practice with the other members of our army." Renning said.
Rief stood next to a sleeping Ike. Both he and Rhys had worked through the night in turns making sure that the wound didn't get infected. The powers of Rhys' staff were a sight to see that was for certain. The Mercury Adept wondered if the power came from the crystal set on the staff or if the entirety of the staff was needed for the powers to work. It was clear words were needed to activate the healing powers much like the chants of Psynergy. As he had watched Rhys work Rief could have sworn that some of the words were the same ones he used in his Ply Psynergies.
Castle Crimea's infirmary was a joke though. If his mother was here she'd have a cow. Whoever was in charge of this place was not doing their job and Rief wanted to meet the person so he could have a conversation about how to store herbs. Rief had gone through the cabinets with Rhys looking for something to help stop the bleeding. A few of the plants Rief had recognized and others he had to ask Rhys about. Both the Angle and the Saint threw out more than half of the stocked items. This simply meant that Rief had to dig deep and use his Psynergy to help stop the bleeding rather than using a simple herb.
A woman in a white dress walked into the room. She looked like she knew where she was going so Rief let her move about the room undisturbed. It wasn't until she started opening cabinet doors and slamming them shut that Rief started to get annoyed. Ike had finally fallen asleep and that woman was going to disturb him if she kept making such a racket.
"Where are all my herbs?" she asked turning to both Rief and Rhys.
"We had to throw them out." Rief said. "Rhys helped me and found that most of them were either prepared wrong or stored wrong and would more hurt the soldiers than help them. We did you a favour."
"I am the healer here and you have no authority to throw out my perfectly good herbs." She informed him.
It was times like this Rief wished he could command Fire instead of Water. He would singe the dress of the idiotic woman before he informed her once again that she was putting lives as risk with her "perfectly good herbs".
"I was asked by Renning to come here and look after Ike. If you have a problem with me being here and saving lives then you can go and take it up with him." Rief replied coolly.
"Rief is right miss. Many of your herbs were stored incorrectly. Some were even mislabeled which could be very harmful to a person. If you have a problem with us trying to save people than please talk to Sir Renning or Queen Elincia." Rhys said backing his fellow healer up.
"I will talk with them. No two-bit little wannabe healer is going to come in here and throw away my herbs without their being consequences." The woman said before storming out the room slamming the door.
Of course the loud noise had to wake Ike up. Rief internally raged at the woman as he moved over to Ike. Rief checked the wound first to make sure that nothing had happened while Ike stirred. A wound as large as it had been could easily just open right back up and then they'd be back to square one. Ike groaned as he opened his eyes.
"Rief?" he asked "What happened? Last thing I remember is dueling Geoffrey. Then Lethe transforming and rushing by me."
"You shouldn't be worrying about others right now Ike." Rhys told him. "Geoffrey dealt you a rather large wound. Rief and I are doing our best to make sure that it heals properly and that you won't be affected by it."
"Rhys I'll be fine now you guys tell me what happened. I'll be able to sleep better if I know what happened." Ike said to the two healers.
Rief and Rhys exchanged worried looks. They were both seemingly asking each other if they really should tell Ike what had happened. Rief took his glasses off and unnecessarily cleaned them. It wasn't going to be a pretty story to tell the man lying on the bed. With some help from Rhys and what they had heard from Renning the two healers told Ike what they knew had happened. Ike seemed to take it all well until the very end of the story where he went to get up.
"Ike you have to stay in bed." Rhys told him trying to hold Ike down gently.
"I have to get Lethe. She doesn't belong in the dungeon." Ike said pushing against Rhys.
Rief came up on the other side and helped Rhys keep the Vanguard down on the bed. "Ike I will personally go and get Lethe if you promise to stay here." Rief bartered with the man. "You are way to injured to be up and moving for whatever reason."
"Fine. If you aren't back with Lethe in the hour though I'm getting out of this bed." Ike grumbled as he lay back down.
Rief let out a sigh. How was he going to get Lethe out of prison exactly he didn't know. What mattered though was that Ike would be in bed for another hour or so depending on if he fell asleep or not. Rief made sure that Ike was lying nicely on the bed and again checking to see if the movement had caused the wound to open back up. After his double check Rief left the room and went to go find Renning.
Asking around Rief found out that Renning was last spotted in the throne room and that he should head there if he wished to fine him. Walking at a brisk pace Rief set off for the throne room. The layout of Castle Crimea was a simple one to memorize for the young scholar. Like he lived there his entire life Rief made straight for the throne room.
At the doors to the room he asked the guards outside if Renning was still there. They informed him that Rief had actually just missed the man and that he was heading towards the dungeon next. Hoping that Renning was going to anything drastic to the laguz Rief left the guards and practically ran towards the dungeon. If Renning hurt Lethe then the man was going to need a healer himself after Rief was done with him. No one got in the way of him helping is patient and right now that feline was the only thing that was going to keep Ike in bed. Rief couldn't help but chuckle at the fact a girl was going to have to keep Ike in bed.
Skidding to a halt at the dungeon entrance Rief spotted Renning walking down the stairs. Seeing his goal so close Rief stopped running and started walking after him catching his breath a little at the same time. When Renning was talking with the guards Rief made his presence known.
"Excuse me Sir Renning." Rief said.
Renning turned to face him. "Oh Rief what is it how fairs Ike?"
"He's fine for now. However he found out that Lethe's down here and he's only waiting an hour for me to bring her to him before he's going to try coming down here on his own." Rief informed Renning.
"Well Ike can rest easy. Lethe has been cleared thanks to a man named Solaris. Guess in our anger and grief we forgot about the drink they she had. I'm here to let her out in fact you can take her directly to Ike then." Renning said with a half-smile. He clearly thought that someone needed to be punished for the death of Geoffrey but the law was preventing him from taking such actions.
The guard Renning had been talking to led them to Lethe's cell. Rief stood next to Renning as the guard unlocked the cell. Inside lying down staring at the ceiling was Lethe back in her human form.
"Alright Lethe your free to go." Renning said to her.
The feline humanoid slowly got up and looked at Renning with red puffy eyes. Like many others Lethe had been crying.
"Evidence has come up that has let us know that you were drugged and no longer in control of your own actions. Elincia has made it clear that had you been in control you wouldn't have killed Geoffrey. For now though you will need to accompany young Rief here to the infirmary. Ike has demanded to see you and threatens to come find you should you not appear in his room within the hour." Renning said in a voice of cold emotionless logic.
Lethe just nodded her head and let herself be led by the Mercury Adept. As Rief walked with Lethe he could sense the depression coming off of her. He could only imagine what she had thought about while she laid in the cell with nothing but her thoughts. If only Rief had one of Eoleo's Mars Djinn as Lethe seemed to enjoy the Fire Elementals. He hoped that whatever Ike said was going to help Lethe to.
Entering the room only twenty minutes after he had left Rief walked in to find the white dressed woman packing. With any hope Elincia had fired the woman and Castle Crimea would get a real healer to treat the wounded. Ike was still on his bed thankfully with Rhys sitting on a chair watching his sleeping patient.
"You actually got her" Rhys said somewhat amazed that Lethe was out of the dungeon.
"Yeah she was drugged really so it wasn't her fault really." Rief told Rhys what he'd been told.
"Lethe?" Ike asked waking up. "Did Rief get you out of the dungeon yet?"
Rief motioned for her to walk up and talk with Ike. Lethe silently shook her head no and stayed in her spot next to Rief out of Ike's line of sight.
"Listen Lethe I can only imagine what you're thinking about yourself right now but I need you to go and talk to Ike. You must care about him if you changed to attack Geoffrey in the first place. The first thing Ike wanted after he woke up was to know what'd happen. Right after that he demanded to see you. He cares about you to Lethe. He just has a problem showing it." Rief said to her giving her a slight push to Ike.
"How do you know?" Lethe asked him quietly.
"You'd be surprised what people say when you're healing them." Rief chuckled. "It's how I know Matthew and Sveta would end up together long before anyone else. Now get a move on."
Rief gave her more of a shove and the unsuspecting woman was pushed into Ike's line of sight. Rising his hand over his head Rief motioned for Rhys to follow him. Together the two walked over to the white dressed woman linked her arms on one of theirs and lead her out of the room.
Lethe looked down at Ike unsure of what to say. She wasn't ready to face him yet. In fact Lethe didn't feel like facing anyone just yet. Regardless of what any of them said she knew they would blame her for the death of Geoffrey.
"Lethe it's not your fault. I know you have heard this already but you have to believe it." Ike said to her his voice somewhat strained as he fought down the pain from his wound.
She had heard many times in the past few minutes. What Lethe couldn't bring herself to do was believe it. Drugged or not as they say she was it was her own claws that had ended the life of the Crimean General.
"Why Lethe? Why did you transform in the first place?" Ike asked her.
Violet eyes flashed to Ike's bandaged wound. It was a question Lethe had asked herself while she was in her cell. What had made her transform and attack Geoffrey? Only one answer had come to her while she had been lying in the cell. She wanted revenge on the man who had attacked the one she loved so disgracefully. Could she tell Ike that though? He already knew her feelings about him but how would he think of her if he learned it was those feelings that had caused her to lash out?
"Lethe?" Ike asked her quietly. It wasn't the kind of quite that an injured person spoke in but the quiet of understanding.
"Because he attacked you while your back was turned." Lethe told him. "I couldn't just stand by and let him get away with it. You may not return my feelings Ike but I still feel that way about you and it clouds my thoughts sometimes."
Lethe had told him her reasoning and she no longer felt like being there next to him. In fact she wanted to go to her room and just lie down for a while. As she went to walk away though she felt something grab her hand. When she looked to see what it was she found Ike's own gloved hand holding fast onto hers.
"Lethe. I thought that might be the reason." Ike told her. "I have something to admit to you though. When I first figured that you felt that way about me I was shocked. I gave you the first excuse that came to my mind on why we couldn't be to together."
"Ike don't lie to me." Lethe pleaded as she tried to pull her hand out of his grasp. Either Ike was stronger than Lethe even in his weakened state or she didn't really want to pull away.
"When have you known me to lie Lethe?" Ike asked with a smile "Remember back during the Mad Kings War when you were training to me to fight like a laguz? You agreed that if I ever came to Gallia you'd continue to train me. Lethe I looked forward to that trip. I was happy that you agreed to continue to train not because you were a familiar face. I was happy because deep down I had a crush on you. Still do."
"Then why Ike? Why didn't you tell me that back in Begnion?" Lethe asked him no longer faking trying to pull away.
"Like I said I was afraid. All the implications of laguz and beorc relationships came to my mind. Lethe you're a warrior. Would you really give that up to be with me? You know as well as I that it's possible you'd lose you laguz powers if we started actually dating." Ike told her with a frown.
"You idiot." Lethe said her voice more it's normal self. "Do you think I hadn't thought of that myself? I knew what could happen when we spoke back in Begnion. I knew the possible outcome of what I had suggested."
"I'm sorry Lethe. If you are willing to forgive me though, I'd happily return your feelings."
"Get better first and then after I remind you which of us is stronger we can 'date' as you beorc call it." Lethe said.
Matthew walked down the halls after dinner. Today had been an uneventful day for the Venus Adept. He knew that Lethe had been cleared and he was happy with that. Not as happy as Sveta had been when she found out her friend had been freed.
The only thing Matthew had done today was gone to the practice yard to find a woman in a green chest plate with a matching shield and skirt. A practice sword was in her hand and she was thoroughly beating her opponent. Seeing a chance to get some good practice in Matthew asked her if she'd mind sparring with him.
It was one of the tougher matches Matthew had ever been in. The woman was balanced in speed and strength. Not only did she strike out with her sword but she used her shield as a weapon just as often bashing him. Matthew still won but barely. He still had a bruise on his left shoulder where her shield hit him hard. If it wasn't for his Djinn increased power though he would have lost. If Tellius had more people like that woman, who he found out was named Luna, then they had nothing to fear from the Tuaparang.
Opening his door Matthew walked in and found a sight he wasn't exactly sure how to feel about. The gentlemanly instincts that his parents had drilled into him yelled at him to avert his eyes. Another more beastly and teenage part of Matthew screamed in joy. Standing in his room in nothing but a nightgown was Sveta. The white gown fell down to her knees and was the lowest cut thing he had ever seen her wear. It actually exposed the tops of her breasts. Even in her bedclothes Matthew's yellow scarf was around her neck. Matthew felt that he had to have been staring for an hour before she spoke up.
"I hope you do not mind Matthew but I moved my things into your room." Sveta said in a calm voice though her face was slightly red. "It is too lonely in my room. I am used to listening to someone else sleep in a bed near mine.
Matthew was flabbergasted. Sveta had just up and moved into his room. He could see her travel bag set next to his the Umbra Goggles resting on one of the bags clasps. Her normal outfit was hanging up neatly in the opened closet. Had Matthew walked any faster he would have walked in on her changing.
"Besides," Sveta continued, "I quite enjoyed sleeping next to you last night. Your heartbeat is very soothing. Do you have a problem with me just moving in here Matthew? I could leave if you wish."
Sveta looked down and her ears followed. Matthew tried to get his mouth and mind to work together to let her know that it was fine that she moved in. He was ecstatic about it in fact but since he wasn't saying anything Sveta moved to the closet and started to gather the clothes she had hung up.
"Sveta it's alright." Matthew finally got out. "You just shocked me is all. I didn't exactly expect to come in and see you in a nightgown after all."
"Thank you Matthew" Sveta cried with joy as she ran over and hugged him dropping the clothes in her hand to the floor. "I was worried that Janaff was wrong when he said I should try moving in with you."
"Wait what?" Matthew asked in shock
"Janaff, the Hawk Laguz, said that with us a couple it would be alright that I did so." Sveta said.
"Well normally humans wait a little longer but I have no complaints." Matthew assured her.
The two talked about what they had done during the day and Matthew showed Sveta the bruise he had gotten from that Luna woman. Sveta had grinned and told him that's what he got for underestimating her. What was annoying was that Sveta was right. Matthew had gotten that bruise because he was sure he could win against her.
"Oh Matthew I wanted to ask you last night but I forgot. When we were at the tavern the person there was a girl and she kept flirting with Lethe. I think actually that she was flirting with the others to. Is it normal for human girls to do such a thing?" Sveta asked like it was a normal everyday question
Matthew burst into laughter. He couldn't decide what was funnier. The fact Sveta wondered if it was normal for girls to hit on one another or the fact that four women had been too drunk to notice they were being hit on by another woman.
"No Sveta it's not exactly normal." Matthew said between fits of laughter. "From the sounds of it this Mika woman is what's called a lesbian which is just a fancy word for women who find other women more attractive and uh other things, then men. Normally they aren't so obvious as Mika was but that's because many people think it's wrong for two women to fall in love with each other."
"Why did she not hit on me then if she was so forward with the others?" Sveta wondered aloud.
"Probably because you're constantly wearing my scarf and give off the taken vibe. Or simply you were too young for her." Matthew said. "Alright with that explanation out of the way I'm calling it a night."
The two teenagers climbed into the bed and fell asleep Sveta wrapped in Matthew's arms.