Chapter 1: You May Call me Marc
That was all I was doing.
Sprinting for my life.
I had to get to the light, had to get away, had to run, because if I didn't, those jaws would consume me.
I clenched my hands and gnashed my teeth as I heard the horrifying roar of the fell dragon. I desperately pushed myself to keep going, to not turn back, to not stop, as I paid little attention to my short breaths and pained chest.
I then felt the ground reverberating and lost my balance. I collapsed on the ruined floor and slightly scraped my bare hands on the scattered rubble and stones. Again, my ears caught the familiar roar.
My body felt cold all of a sudden, and began to shake. "Don't stop!" I panted to myself. "You can't stop here…..you can't stop, you need to change fate!" I didn't know why I was yelling to myself, and I didn't know what was going through my head when I talked out loud.
As I breathed heavily, I clumsily stood up and sprinted to the light. In a desperate attempt, my hand outstretched to the light, wanting to grasp, wanting to capture, and afraid that the last hope in front of me will be snuffed out. I bathed myself in the bright light, and my body suddenly felt like a feather, as I was floating in the air.
My eyes were shut, as I was blinded by the powerful glare surrounding me. There was no footing, no solid ground for me to stand. I panted heavily from the run and began groping the air, trying to find or grasp some sort of object to keep me from moving, but to no avail. As I was flailing my arms, I then realized that the light engulfing me felt warm; it soothed my heart and calmed my mind from the fear, horror and unbearable amount of stress. I stopped myself from struggling as I let out a sigh, and tried to slow my breathing. My heart was still thumping, still racing from the escape. I began to immerse myself in the soothing air, drifting in the sea of light.
I couldn't tell how many seconds, minutes, had passed as I was lost in the sea of light. I then heard a small whirring cry, and focused my hearing on the lone noise. The sound grew louder to my ears, and I began to realize that I was drifting towards the sound. I outstretched my hand again, this time in wonder and curiosity. As I touched the source of the noise, I then felt something warming my hand.
Little did I know, little did I realize of what would've happened when I touched the source of the sound.
A sudden freezing feeling was blasted on my body, telling me that I've left the light's warmth. I slowly opened my eyes, and I was utterly shocked by the sight. Instead of expecting solid ground, I was falling up high in the air!
"OH GODS!" I cried in surprise.
Down below me, I saw a blanket of blue. The Sea, I briefly thought to myself.
It didn't take a second thought for me on where I needed to land into.
I held onto my wind tome that was pocketed in my black coat. I mumbled a small incantation and felt a surge of magic bursting within my right hand. I flipped myself and was diving down. "Elwind!" With a simple cry, blasts of wind burst out of my hand. Using the recoil of the wind magic, I positioned myself above the water. Steeling myself, I got into a diving position, and held my breath, as I dove into the water. The water muffled my hearing and clamped my clothes closer to my body as soon as I was wrapped around with the sea. Beneath the blue blanket, I clumsily swam up to the surface.
As soon as my face resurfaced, I gasped and coughed from the salty seawater. My entire body was bombarded by the iciness of the sea, and it stung. I looked around, and spotted a nearby ledge. Without wasting another second, I swam over to the ledge, and climbed up. As I got out of the water, I collapsed face-first on the ground, and breathed heavily. I felt the dampness of my clothing, and the slight wind chilled my body. I shivered violently in response to the coldness.
"Good Naga….." I groaned.
Not wanting to stay on the ground any longer, I pushed myself up, and wobbled to stand. My head was spinning along with my vision. I trembled and crossed my arms, trying to fend off the harsh cold wind. I then breathed into my palms and rubbed them together.
I stopped rubbing my hands, and noticed there were a few cuts, most likely from my fall back in the castle. I took a look on my coat pocket holding my wind tome, worried about the damage from the water. As I pulled out the green tome, the book emitted a soft glow. Curious, I opened the leather bound book and the pages flipped in response, with the cold wind blowing at my face. Realizing the glow was the magic protecting the tome, I sighed in relief that the tome was physically okay.
I looked around, and noticed that I was in an area surrounded by blue. Blue sky, blue ruins, blue water; everything around me was blue. "The Ruins of Time…." I whispered. I glowered as I glanced around, trying to find the exit, only to spot it on the other side. "Great…achoo!" I sniffled and shook against the cold air bombarding my body. The wind felt like a thousand needles stabbing into my body heat each time a soft breeze blew to me. Oh how I desperately wanted a fire tome.
I noticed a nearby scaffolding to my right and wobbled to it. Upon closer inspection, there were rune markings, unknown to my knowledge. I began to ponder at the rune markings only to be interrupted by a noise.
My mind realized the all-too-familiar scream. I flinched and whirled around, spotting a few Risen charging towards me, with their axes and swords held up high. I grit my teeth and got into battle position. As I waited for the oncoming strike, I rolled over to the side and began to enchant another spell. I stood up and blasted a single blade of wind onto the Risen.
Seeing the wind blade come in contact with the corpse's chest, I then twisted my hand, and rotated the wind blade, making it hit the other Risen in its path. I managed to defeat one of the undead and as they dissipated in smoke, they dropped their sword from my magic attack. Taking the initiative, I stuffed my magic tome back in my coat pocket and ran over to the sword.
Just when I was about to the grasp it, one of the Risen suddenly jumped on my side, and held up their axe, with its blade glistening by the sun's rays. I gasped and rolled over while picking up the dropped sword. But as I tried to dodge the ambush, I felt my leg was grazed by the blade.
I picked myself up, and as I got into my battle stance, I winced at the flesh wound. The Risen's screams then brought me back to my senses. I quickly scanned the number of Risen against me; there were two fighters, and one myrmidon. I stayed in a defensive position, and waited for their attack once more. The Risen then rushed towards me, their intent of killing me visibly clear.
As I waited for the oncoming attack, my fingers began to fondle at the leather-wrapped handle. The blade from the cold steel was pointed at the Risen, and I felt the familiar slight, hefty, weight in my hands. It felt nostalgic, as if I was separated from a long, lost companion.
The axe user and sword user were in front of me, and I gripped on my sword. As the fighter was about to drop their axe down, I twirled to the fighter's side, and swung my sword across its neck, successfully decapitating it. The Risen fell, and I rushed to the other axe-wielding Risen.
The moving corpse in response held its axe over its head.
Upon realizing this, I steeled myself for the next oncoming attack, and carefully watched the swing of the axe. I stopped in front of the Risen, as it was about to bring down its axe on me. In the next moment, I then jumped back, making the fighter lodge its axe on the ground.
Successfully parrying the attack, I rushed at the Risen once more, and sliced off its head. I looked behind me, spotting the last Risen:
I swung my sword and took a battle stance. "Come at me!" I challenged.
Answering to my taunt, the myrmidon dashed towards me. As it was about to strike me, I lowered myself, and jumped high in the air. The Risen became awed by my jump. I held my blade over my head and twirled in the air, as I came tumbling down.
With a single strike, I successfully slashed the myrmidon in half.
Silence filled the air, telling me there were no Risen in sight. Just when I was about to stand up, I collapsed to my knees. "Urgh!" My leg cried out to me in pain from being pushed too far. I instinctively held onto the cut, and raised my hand. The deep-ruby color painted itself on my small palm. I breathed heavily, and tiredly groaned.
"Damn, I don't have any vulneraries with me." I angrily whispered to myself. With the use of my newfound sword, I leaned on it and got up. I stared at the exit again and tiredly sighed. "Here we go….." I mumbled.
I begrudgingly trudged onward, enduring the harsh sensation from my cut. I gripped on my sword as I moved onward, and felt the slight, numbing pain in my hand from the tiny gashes. I felt glad to finally find a sword in my escape, but at the same time, I felt scared to go into battle once more. Though my sword and tome were my only companions in battle, the injuries I've endured, no matter how small or insignificant, still scared me all the same. In order to endure, I had to fight back. In order to survive, I needed to pursue great strength. In order to live another day, another hour, another minute, I needed to become stronger. I needed to protect what little time I had left. That was the principle I've solely followed during the harshness of war; but even as I did, it was still terrifying for me.
Because the more strength I pursued, the more I was closer to death.
Somebody proved it to me when I was child, and it was then that I realized it during my first fight in war.
Each step I took felt heavy, dead and empty; the burden that was rested on my shoulders became more and more demanding than I have imagined it to be. Especially…..
"Get out of here…..Morgan….."
"I mean it! Go!"
"If you don't go now, you will die! Now do as I tell you and get out of here! Quickly!"
"I'll defend you! Now go!"
"Urrgh!" I collapsed on my knees and dropped my sword. The blade clanged loudly on the ground as I lost my grip. I panted heavily as beads of sweat began to trickle down my forehead. My body fiercely shuddered as my head jumped back to that murderous moment. Stop….stop it already….. I didn't want to recall that death scene again. I didn't want to be reminded of that horrible loss once more. I inadvertently gripped on my head, and ruffled my short hair, still feeling terrified of the previous events.
I glanced at the sword beside me, and shakily reached out to it. But as I held onto the handle, I dropped it again, hearing the lone clang a second time. I shook my head, trying to clear my thoughts but to no avail. I hesitantly reached out to the sword again, and tried to grip it. The steel sword shook along with my body, looking like it was trembling with me in fear.
"Get it out of your head Morgan." I angrily said to myself.
I silently marched onward, hoping to walk off the memory.
I continued the monotonous journey and spotted something on the ground. Curiosity taking my mind, I approached the items, and picked them up.
It was a satchel and coat.
I inspected the satchel and noted that it was empty. Disappointing to not find any vulneraries. I then turned my attention to the coat.
Dyed with royal blue while mixed with jet black, the coat appeared similar to mine and looked worn out. Golden threads that were carefully stitched on the black parts of the coat brought out an intricate design, while the royal blue complemented its beauty. Overall, it almost looked like it belonged to a noble's regalia. The coat was so simple, yet the thread and colors all blended perfectly together.
I was so entranced by the design, I inspected the inside. I then noticed that the inside was stained with something, and as I took a closer look, I realized that the stain was a dried red color. It didn't take long for me to realize what the stain was.
Though the outside was picturesque, its inside with the harsh truth was grotesque.
I inwardly sighed and frowned, suspecting that the coat belonged to someone whose life was taken away recently. "I'm sorry," I whispered, as if praying to the deceased owner. "But I need to use this," I glanced at my wet coat, noting the many purple lines and patterns. "I can't let the others know me. I won't let your death be in vain, I promise." I switched my black coat for the blue one and covered my face with the cowl. I sighed in relief by how warm the cloak was. I pocketed my wind tome in my new cloak and I placed my black cloak within the satchel; finishing, I continued marching forward.
The ruins gave a calming atmosphere in the air. My ears caught the sounds of the moving waves, and occasional chirps of birds, while the scent of salt hung in the air. The ruins looked peaceful, yet empty and lonely at the same time. My mind began to go back to the Shepherds. The first thing I needed to do was to find and catch up with them. However, I would have to put that on hold considered my current situation. No gold, no food, and wet clothes to make it worse.
As I tried to recall more of what I remembered about the Shepherds, I heard another blood-curdling screech.
"Damn, not again…." I swore silently. I turned around and glanced behind me, spotting the Risen once more, however there were a larger number of them; some even had mounts as well! I cursed at myself and ran away. There were too many for me fight against!
As I increased my distance from them, I heard the sound of flapping wings. I looked above and feared on what I had to fight against. Just as I suspected, a Wyvern Rider Risen appeared before me. Shocked by the sudden appearance, I skidded on my boots, gasping in horror. I gritted my teeth and warily watched the undead Draco Knight. Clinking armor, and stampeding hooves and feet resounded behind me, telling me that I was surrounded.
My mind began to rack itself for an escape route when an idea suddenly clicked on my head; it was risky, but I needed to lessen the numbers as much as I could. I gripped on my sword and crouched, waiting for the attack. Just as I predicted, the Draco Knight commanded the wyvern to blast me with its flame breath. I jumped to the side, barely dodging the flame breath, making it hit the Risen behind me. I cheered inwardly as I saw the scorching flames consume the mounts and foot soldiers.
"Protect me, Elwind!" I switched from sword to tome, and blasted the Draco Knight with torrents of wind, knocking them out. I began to sprint away once more, desperate to escape. As I sprinted away from the horde and ran for the exit, I then spotted a group of travelers, fending off the Risen.
My eyes widened as I saw many familiar figures and faces. "The Shepherds." I breathed. My legs began to sprint over to them before I could even think. Roars and war cries from both sides resounded in the air, as swords sliced the Risen, arrows pierced their corpses, and tomes blasted the undead away. I weaved through the crowd, trying to find them. Outbursts of confusion passed my ears as I passed through the heavy crossfire. Amongst the flurry of weapons, I spotted two recognizable individuals. They fought off the corpses surrounding them with ease.
The azure-colored swordswoman sheared at the undead fighter with great speed and accuracy, purposely wearing the moving corpse down. As the Risen were caught off guard by her flurry of swings, she jumped to the side, and a fast and furious lightning bolt penetrated its chest. Another Risen approached them, and the swordswoman rushed in at the moving corpse, sending another barrage of strikes. Just as she finished, she stepped aside and the cloaked man followed up with a lightning bolt again.
The cloaked man was about to summon his lightning bolt once more, but an undead fighter appeared from behind and began to approach him. I gasped in horror and sprinted to them. As the fighter closed in on his back, the corpse began to rise its axe.
"NO!" I roared.
In a desperate attempt, I tackled the cloaked man and shielded him with my body. The blade left a wide gash on my right arm and I screamed in agony.
"Hey!" Cried the cloaked man.
"Robin!" Yelled the swordswoman.
We both collapsed on the ground and as I shielded the mage, the Risen began screeching at us. Even though it was just a moving corpse, I could tell that that thing was angered by my interference. I looked up at our attacker and realized that it was about to strike us again. I was about to raise my hand to blast it away with my wind magic, however my arm suddenly disobeyed me. "Ugh!" I glanced at my arm and dumbly realized that my arm held a giant gash. The cut was so painful, it felt like it was paralyzing it. The fighter dawned on us and as I looked at its glowing, scarlet orbs, panic began to fill my head.
I could only whimper and look away, bracing for the next strike, until-
I looked back at where the Risen was, and my breath hitched at the sight of her back. Her long locks of cobalt hair billowed in the wind, and as her azure hair swayed aside, the Brand of the Exalt that was sewn onto her blue cape revealed itself. I could only stare in agape as I watched her cut down the Risen in anger.
After it dissipated in smoke, I lifted myself off the cloaked man and grunted at the gigantic gash. She turned around and worriedly approached us. In the corner of my eye, I could tell that the tactician was panicky pulling out some sort of item in his coat pocket.
"Are you two okay?" She asked immediately.
"Lucina; I'm fine, but this one took the hit for me," He answered ashamedly. "Hey."
Underneath my cloak, I locked eyes with the tactician. Fear, concern, remorse, and guilt were clearly etched on his younger-looking face. I was too dumbfounded at the sight of him and was immediately silenced upon seeing that familiar face once more.
"Are you alright?"
I could only nod silently in response, as my mind suddenly blanked. A soft popping sound caught my ears, and I realized he was uncorking an elixir. He reached his hand out to me.
"Show me your arm; it's my fault that you got injured. We can't leave it," I saw his eyes glance down. "Especially your leg." He added.
I almost forgot about the other cut and looked down. The cut was still fresh, but the skin looked a little pale. I looked back at the younger version of my father. His eyes immediately told me that he wasn't going to leave me with these gashes, and so I hesitantly showed my injuries to him.
He poured half of the elixir on my arm, and poured the other half onto my leg. The burning feel of the cuts dissipated and I felt relief wash over me. I moved my arm and leg; it felt a bit stiff, but the wounds became more bearable. The younger version of my mother outstretched her hand at me. I grabbed it, and she pulled me up. As I got a closer look on her face, her Brand of the Exalt in her left iris caught my eyes. I looked at the two in wonder and gave a slight bow, silently thanking them.
"You're welcome," he replied, understanding my actions. "But what's a traveler like you doing in the Ruins of Time? You don't look like a treasure hunter."
I lowered the pitch of my voice to a monotone, masking it. "…..Just a wandering tactician. I came here to map the area, but Risen ambushed me."
I noticed a sudden look of surprise on his face. "You're a tactician?" he echoed. I could tell that he had a tone of expectation in his voice.
I nodded at him.
"What's your name?"
Underneath my cowl, I glanced at my mother. I was reminded on how she masqueraded as the Hero-King before revealing her true identity to Grandfather Chrom and Father.
"You may call me Marc."