The Adepts and Mercenaries were back at the army camp having just woken up from sleep. They were gathered into small groups talking about what they had done during the battle. Tyrell was quick to tell of how he helped Felix blast the ballista and gate apart. Mia and Eoleo were telling everyone about the boring search of the basement. Titania and Mia stood with the people who had been in the room where Yune appeared. Flint and a few other Djinn were scattered around. He had explained the entire workings of the elementals to the Mercenaries the night before.
"So now that we have a goddess with us what changes?" Felix asked Soren.
"Nothing. We will have her act like a Mage. You are all to treat her like another member of the group. We cannot let the Tuaparang know that Yune is fighting with us.
"I still can't believe she gave Felix the Alondite." Mia huffed.
"If it'll make you feel better you can use the Gaia Blade." He said trying to reach peace with the Trueblade.
"Guys focus." Matthew told the older two. "And can she really use it? She isn't a Venus Adept?"
"Just a formality that a Venus wields it." Felix told his nephew.
"So we know that the Tuaparang want to capture Yune back in Lehran's Medallion but we are still unsure why correct?" Titania asked making sure she understood what was going on.
"Yep the best guess is that they want to use me as some sort of battery." Yune told Titania.
"Battery?" everyone asked in unison.
"Power source." The child informed them.
"What I don't get is why they bothered to take over Fort Rogold I the first place." Soren pondered. "They gained nothing in doing so. In fact we were the only ones who actually benefited from it."
"Then most likely they have troops elsewhere." Titania reasoned. "If they came here with no reason then they must have others working on something in secret."
"It fits the Tuaparang." Matthew agreed. "They got us to activate Luna Tower from behind the scenes. We don't even know if Alex is working with them."
"Wait Alex is alive?!" Felix shouted. "He was sent down with Mt. Aleph by the Wise One. How did he survive?"
"Don't know exactly. All I do know is that he was with us on top of the Apollo Lens. He did fight off Chalis and Blados for a while but either he ran or got beaten by them."
"If this is the same Alex he more than likely let ran and let them deal with you so he could farther his own goals." Felix said coldly.
"Let's not go adding more enemies until we are sure they are there." Yune said.
"We have to be careful though. If there is someone else we have to take that into account when we make our plans. Felix what can you tell me about this Alex?" Soren questioned the older Adept.
"Egotistical, cold hearted, wants immortality and the powers of a god. He tricked the whole village of Prox into thinking he just wanted Alchemy restored to our world. He also tricked the Warriors of Vale into thinking the same thing. By the time we knew differently we had no choice but to grant him his wish. Thankfully the Wise One had a countermeasure in place. We didn't learn that till weeks after we got back to the remains of Mt. Aleph."
"We can assume that he had to get at least some power from the Golden Sun. If you and the others on the Mars Lighthouse gained immortality we can only guess what power he got from the event." Sveta reasoned.
"So we're in agreement that this Alex is powerful and working against us?" Ike asked for clarification.
"Pretty much." Matthew said.
"We should ask the royalty to send out scouts for more of these soldiers." Soren said. "We can head home and wait news there. We don't know how long it will take for them to find others or if they even will."
"They will. I'd bet my life on the fact there are more Tuaparang out there." Felix wagered.
"Yes let the regretful immortal bet his life." Yune giggled.
"I thought you said you weren't going to mention my immortality?" Felix questioned the girl. "Or was that not a part of your apology."
"I forgot" Yune said sheepishly.
"Right" Felix mumbled.
"You two need to get along." Matthew told his uncle. "She's a god I wouldn't want to tick her off."
"I'll get along with her when she learns her manners."
"I could just smite you right here and now." Yune offered.
"You aren't the smiting kind." Felix countered
"How would you know you big meanie?!"
"You're too much of a brat."
Hearing the argument coming from Yune and Felix Karis walked up. "Lull help us out here will you?" she asked her Djinn. The little elemental popped out and started his tune. Peace one again came over Felix and Yune.
"You know normally I have to use Lull against charging monsters that want to eat us. Next time I'll have Waft knock some sense into you both. Goddess or Warrior of Vale doesn't matter to me."
Karis then walked away back to resume her conversation with Mist and Rolf.
"She scares me" Yune said.
"You aren't the only one she scares." Matthew said.
"Is anyone other than me worried about why Tibarn didn't come to fight?" Ike asked the group. "I can't imagine him sitting in Serenes Forest while there was a fight going on."
"It is odd that there wasn't a single member of the Bird Tribe here." Soren agreed. "There might be Tuaparang there preventing them from leaving. With their crossbows they would have the Bird Tribe at their mercy."
"Why would they be attacking Serenes Forest though?" Titania asked the Arch Sage.
"If they want to seal Yune back into the Medallion the best way to do it would be to capture Lehran or any Heron for that matter. I'm certain that they plan to capture at least one Heron and force them to assist in the capture of Yune."
"Looks like we're going to be paying a visit to Serenes Forest then" Ike said.
"Tibarn will be happy to see you Ike. I think every member of the Laguz Royalty has been anxious to see you again. They all complain about there being no beorcs strong enough to fight." Titania told the Vanguard.
"Let's get going then. I want to find out if the Tuaparang are really what's keeping Tibarn occupied."
After informing the rest of the group they started to pack up their supplies. Seeing as how the Adepts came to fight the Tuaparang Soren "allowed" them to come with the Mercenaries. It was an uneventful day as the entire army was packing up just like the group of heroes.
"Oh Ikey" Aimee's voice sounded over the shuffling sounds of the troops. "Muston overheard that you will be heading to Serenes Forest. We just happen to be heading the same way."
Both Ike and Felix let out a groan. Clearly the merchant group wasn't heading the same way and it was really just a way for Aimee to stalk them. It wouldn't have been hard to talk Muston into following the Mercenaries as they had always been a good source of income. For this same reason Ike couldn't argue and welcomed the caravan to come along with them. As Soren told him the Mercenaries needed new equipment if they were going to be doing anymore fighting. Already Boyd's axe and Rhys' staff needed to be replaced.
After everything was loaded up into Muston's wagons, another reason no but Ike and Felix complained, they headed off toward Sienne. There they would lose the merchant caravan and head towards Serenes Forest to check on the Bird Tribe.
That night as they made camp Aimee was beside herself with glee as she sat between Ike and Felix. Mia was sitting next to Felix eyeing the Alondite strapped to his back. While Soren was talking with Ike going over plans should they run into the Zenith Tribe in the forest. The three green haired siblings sat together along with Mist and Himi. Shinion, Gatrie, Eoleo and Tyrell were getting along well. For Shinion that means he wasn't making a lot of rude remarks and tolerated the Mars Adepts. Eoleo would stare over at Himi as if to check and make sure she was safe. Matthew, Sveta, and Karis were sitting with Titania, Muston, and Ilyana. The latter begging for more food even after she scarfed down her dragon laguz sized dinner. Daniel, Jorge, Amiti, Rhys, and Rief made up the last group. Yune just bounced between groups going her own way.
As they were eating Sveta's ears twitched alerting her to the presence of four approaching figures. With her beastman eyes she could see into the night around them. The four figures were Volug and the beast laguz that had found her and Matthew in the forest. Seeing them in their humanoid forms and not being threatened Sveta could see how people confused her for one of them. The only thing she was missing was a tail. Other than that she could easily pass for one of them.
The woman named Lethe walked into the camp all business. She went straight past Sveta and towards Felix's little group of people. When she got to the group she seemed to be talking with Ike about something. The sounds of the people next to her and the crackling fire were too loud for Sveta pick up what they were saying. From the looks of things though Lethe wasn't entirely happy and Ike looked plain confused. Soren picked up the conversation for his commander and Lethe walked over to the food and grabbed herself a bowl. Picking her own spot off alone she sat and started to eat the remaining stew. Seeing their leader do so Mordecai and Lyre followed suit and got their own bowl and sat with Lethe. Volug simply changed into his wolf form and lay close to the fire silent as normal.
Everyone went into their tents and grabbed some much needed sleep that night. Everyone woke up an hour after sunrise. They made a quick meal and continued on the road. Curious as to what Ike and Lethe had talked about last night Sveta walked up to Felix. The Venus Adept seemed lost in thought as he walked.
"Um Felix." Sveta said quietly. When she didn't get a response she tried again but didn't succeed in getting his attention. Matthew walked up to aid her.
"Hey Uncle" Matthew said much louder than Sveta did.
"What Matthew?" he asked looking at the boy.
"Sveta was trying to talk to you."
Felix looked at the girl walking next to his nephew. He noticed that the two always seemed to be near one another. The last time he had seen to people stick so close together was during his quest to bring Alchemy back to Weyard. Once Isaac's group joined his Jenna always seemed to be near him whenever she could. Felix wondered if these two even knew how they were acting.
"Sorry Sveta I was just thinking about how Weyard is now going to have to deal with the other lands I've seen. What is it you wanted to ask me?"
"What were Lethe and Ike talking about last night? I saw her come into the camp and go straight to him. She seemed mad at him about something and then she just went and sat down."
"Ah that. Ike left Tellius and his duties behind when I was traveling with him. Come to find out those duties involved being an ambassador to Gallia, the country Lethe comes from. She isn't too happy about that. You might say she is a little too angry about it." Felix told the girl.
"Wait. Are you saying that Lethe likes Ike?" Matthew asked his uncle.
"It's possible. You don't live for forty-eight years and don't learn something about women. I'm just saying that either Lethe takes her loyalty to her country way to seriously or she has something for the Hero of Blue Flames."
Both Sveta and Matthew questioned Felix on who the mentioned Hero was. Telling the two kids the story of what Ike did and how he earned that title took long into the day. In fact lunch had already come and passed by the time Felix was finished with what he knew of the story.
"Who knows what Ike left out in that story though. He's not one to talk about his deeds. It took me a few weeks to get that all out of him." Felix told the group of Adepts that had surrounded him as they overheard the story. Walking among a group of teenagers acting as a storyteller made Felix feel like a grandpa. This feeling was dampened by the fact he looked younger than Eoleo who had also started walking with them to hear the story.
"Wow Ike's a real hero." Tyrell said in awe. "He killed a god without any Psynergy."
That night around the campfire a few questions were asked of the Greil Mercenaries about the two wars that led Ike to become the hero that he is. Every one of the Mercenaries was fine with being asked the questions and gave answers the best they could. In some cases the person, Boyd and Gatrie, would brag about their power in battle.
Once again everyone went to sleep and rested to be ready for the next day's walk. After another quick breakfast they headed towards Sienne. If they didn't run into any problems, it would happen to these guys, they would arrive in Sienne two hours before sunset.
Despite all odds against them nothing eventful happened. The only thing that happened was Felix becoming even more certain that his nephew and the former Queen of Morgal had feelings for each other. Oh and Lethe seemed to become less angry though no one could tell you why. Maybe it was Ike's people skills that calmed the cat. Other than that nothing happened.
"Ok let's find an inn big enough to hold us all." Felix joked as they entered the city.
"Nope we're going to see the Apostle and get rooms in the palace." Mist told him. "It's great having a hero status in every country. We never have to worry about inn's while in the capitals."
"Do you think we will be able to get a bath there?" Karis asked hopefully.
"Of course. It's a palace they have like three baths for women in there." Mist told the Jupiter Adept.
"Just because it is a palace does not mean it is out fitted with a bath. In Morgal if you wanted to bathe you went to the river. Even the members of the royal family washed this way." Sveta informed Mist.
"Why did you have to do that?" Mist asked.
"It was too much work to keep the tubs free of fur. Even harder during the sheading season." Sveta was a shade of pink at the embarrassment of having to explain why Morgal didn't have baths.
"I thought you were like the laguz and changed into a beastform." Rolf said.
"Most of my people live don't have a human form like me. No one knows why I have a human form. Kraden said that it was most likely the effects of the Golden Sun that created my people granted me stronger Psynergy. The Alchemy that would have given me only one form changed into Psynergetic powers and limits my beastform. That was all he could come up with." Sveta's ears drooped with her mood.
"It must be difficult to be so different from the rest of your people." Mist said in a comforting voice.
"It made it easy to go into other countries though. I just needed to wear a hood and shoes and I could pass for a human." A smile appeared on Sveta's face as she remembered the trouble she would get into whenever someone found out she had done just that.
"Volechek almost had me imprisoned because he thought I was a human walking around the palace like that. He was sick so he could not tell it was me. The guards were very confused as to why Volechek wanted his sister tossed into the dungeon."
The four had been talking long enough that by the time they finished they were at the gate to the home of Sanaki. Once the guards recognized that it was the Greil Mercenaries standing outside they opened the doors letting them in. They were all led into the Throne Room where they found Empress Sanaki sitting looking rather board. She still wore the clothes that she was always seen in. They were just as much a part of her rank as a crown was for Crimea. She was taller as one would expect after three years. Her growth spurt was enough to let her stare over Himi should the two stand face to face.
"Goddess Yune" Sanaki said getting of her throne and fall down on one knee.
"Oh get up already. You know it makes me uncomfortable to have mortals bow to me" Yune said pulling the Apostle up.
"You are the Goddess it would be improper." Sanaki said with formality. Turning to the other people in her presence Sanaki addressed Ike. "I going to guess that you're here to take advantage of my hospitality?"
"If you wouldn't mind." Ike chuckled knowing full well that she wouldn't.
"Fine you'll have to sleep two to a room though I don't have enough rooms open for all of you."
No one could complain at having to sleep in pairs. Their group was over twenty in size. With a snap of her fingers a man dressed in fine clothes came into the room. Sakai told him to get the rooms ready and to tell the chefs to make sure they made enough to feed a small army. The sad thing she wasn't joking with the last part. With four laguz, Sveta, Ike, Felix and around eighty Djinn they would need a lot of food.
When they were taken to the dining hall everyone's stomachs were growling noisily. They sat down to a five course meal. The Djinn had popped out of the Adepts and sat on the table stuffing their faces into the food quite literally since none had arms. When the first one appeared Sanaki was enthralled with the little Mercury Djinn. Dewdrop had settled itself next to Sanaki's plate and was being fed like a favoured pet. Even Lethe had taken a liking to the Djinn. It was really evident by the fact Brand was sitting between her ears. Mordecai's gentle soul had attracted Djinn of all elements to him. There were at least six at any given time with the tiger. Everyone at the table had a Djinn sitting with them. The Djinn were treated somewhere between kid and pet. In other words everyone loved and doted on them.
Dinner wasn't all fun and games though. Ike and Soren gave a report about the battle at Fort Rogold. Even though Sanaki's army would be there in a day or two she wanted to know at least the gist of what had happened. The Apostle was also informed to be on the lookout for more of these soldiers as they tended to work behind the scenes. Soren told her their guess at what the Tuaparang were after and how they were going to Serenes Forest to check on the Bird Tribe. Sanaki assured them that nothing was going on in the forest that she didn't know about. There had been no reports about anyone going in. Nonetheless Ike told her that at least he wanted to see his friends in the tribe.
After dinner the Djinn reset themselves on their Adepts much to the disappointment of Mist, Yune, and Sanaki. Servants led them to their rooms. The girls were in one wing the guys in another. After they found their rooms they all took baths specially heated by "cute little" Mercury and Mars Djinn as the girl called them. The guys had to give up their Djinn to the girls for that to work. When they got their Djinn back Tyrell and Eoleo questioned their Djinn on how the girls looked. Either the Djinn just didn't understand or they had been sworn to secrecy. Either one was probable. Once cleaned they all hit the sack and slept soundly in soft beds.
Late in the morning the sounds of a person running through the halls could be heard. To the servants of the capital of Begnion the sight was something new. A red haired man with a black sword on his back was being chased by a green haired red faced girl wearing just enough clothing to be out in public. The servants moved out of the way of the two teens. They all thought it would be best to stay out of a lover's spat.
"I'M GOING TO KILL YOU TYRELL!" the girl shouted as she chased after the red head.
"I'm sorry Karis. I didn't know you were getting dressed! Matthew sent me to wake you." The boy shouted back at her.
"Haven't you heard of knocking?!" she screamed back.
"I thought you were asleep though!"
"You're dead do you hear me?! D-E-A-D! Dead!"
Tyrell rounded a corner and came upon the group of his waiting friends. He spotted a certain blonde haired Venus Adept holding his sides as he was laughing.
"You set this up didn't you?!" Tyrell shouted at him as he dove into the crowd of people.
"How would I know you would walk in on her changing?" Matthew questioned him as he pulled Tyrell out of the group.
"How did you know that's what I did?" Tyrell asked both scared and angry.
"It is hard to not hear Karis' voice echo in this place." Sveta said with a smile helping Matthew push Tyrell towards the fury of Karis.
After a very bloody assault leaving a broken Tyrell on the ground Karis headed back to her room to fix her hair and grab the rest of her belongings.
"You beorc are a strange group." Lyre told the laughing crowd of humans.
As they waited for Karis to return Tyrell question Matthew as to why he had sent him in the first place. There were nine girls that he could have sent to get her instead. Matthew just told him that the female laguz, Mist, Titania, Mia and Yune didn't know Karis well enough to deal with waking her up. Sveta and Himi had been eating at the moment and that he had volunteered to go and get her.
"It's your own fault for not knocking on a girl's door." Mia told the young Adept. "Didn't your mother teach you anything?"
"Yes she did I just happened to forget it." Tyrell said trying to be innocent.
"Tyrell's too much of a hot head to remember manners." Amiti observed.
As they all picked on Tyrell for not doing the obvious Karis had enough time to come back. She was dressed in her normal clothing her bow in its case on her back and the quiver hanging off her hip. Matthew half expected an arrow to find its way into Tyrell. In fact Karis' fingers were hovering over the quiver as if she was ready to grab one.
With a good-bye to Sanaki the group headed out of the palace. The sun beat down on the city. It was going to be a hot day. As they moved through the city people stopped and stared at the group. A few knew that it was the Greil Mercenaries that were walking by. A few women shout obscene things of what they wanted Ike to do to them. This caused the well-traveled hero to turn a deep shade of red and attempted to hide in the center. Gatrie hung his head as Ike was getting all the attention. The womanizer got no love.
Serenes Forest was close enough that it took only most of the day to reach the edge. Between trying to get a famous team out of a big city and how late they woke up it was already dark. Not knowing what they would find in the forest they all agreed it would be best to wait until daybreak to enter.
"Lieutenant there seems to be a group of people camping outside the forest." A Tuaparang soldier said bowing.
"I see. Do any of them look to be Adepts?" the low voice of the lieutenant asked.
"Yes. Just like in the report there are nine of them sir. Psy Grenades are ready along with the Vortex inducer."
"Good. They may want to help these sub-humans birds. Our orders are very clear. No one is to get in."
As the Tuaparang soldiers talked a shadowy figure stood in the trees above them listening. With a beat of its wings it took silently to the air and flew deeper into the forest. The soldiers were never aware that their plans had been overheard.