How to Breathe For A Moment
Lunch between me and Stahl was a pleasant time. I mostly sat and sipped at the soup while listening to Stahl fill the silence with idle chatter. I always found it nice to just have Stahl around - especially mealtimes. Neither of us said anything when he only gave me a half full bowl and ate his lunch straight from the pot. I honestly didn’t know if Stahl’s crazy fast metabolism was a blessing or a curse in disguise.
Stahl brought me back up to speed while I was trapped in this room. I had been ill for nearly a week, but Yuriel had the gall to tell Stahl that I should rest easy for the rest of it. I swear I’d rather rot in the library than in my own room, thanks.
Ricken had been roped into doing a few errands from the scholars that pop into the library from time to time. Emm had gone about her usual routine, and apparently, she did visit me a few times.
The remaining Shepherds did what they could in their barracks and the castle. Stahl did a few of his duties before Yuriel snatched him out of them. I knew that Lissa was gone, so Maribelle had helped around in the Infirmary. She was someone I talked to every once in a while in the barracks and shared a pot of tea. Her upper class attitude always had me on the edge though (“Tame your hair,” she would say in a sharp tone and a narrowed glare, “Ill or not, it is unsightly and improper in front of a lady.“).
And Sumia... well, Stahl said that she was fine. Hopefully, someone would help her (could be read as “pity”) even when she didn’t seem like she needed it. Accidents always happen. Vaike did the smaller missions around town, of what, I didn’t know. He could be chopping wood as early preparation for winter as far as I knew.
“Want that walk now?”
I was already half asleep when Stahl’s voice drew my attention. Though my body still felt like utter crap, I nodded once. The wave of nausea kicked me, but I clamped my mouth shut and took Stahl’s outstretched hand. He placed my mother’s coat on my shoulders and gave me a smile, “Ready?”
I returned his smile with huff of laughter, “yeah.”
Stahl settled me under the shade of a tree and sat right by me. I can tell he was on his guard, even as he chatted about random things. His eyes would sometimes sweep the area and his hand was never far from the sword strapped to his waist. We both had learned a long time ago that I was never actually safe - not even the gardens or the library.
I honestly didn’t mind Stahl chattering away. It was better to hear him loud than quiet.
It was nice to relax in the calm of the garden. Flowers bloomed from the neatly trimmed bushes, and the grass was a healthy green. My mother’s coat kept me warm from the slight chill in the air and the nausea I had earlier faded away. There was still a slight ache in my bones, but I was able to loosen up at least. My mind eventually wandered as I looked up at the skies.
The clouds were soft today. Really soft. I almost wanted to reach out and touch them. I could almost imagine how comfy and fluffy they would probably feel- or at least I wished they did. As far as I know, clouds were as cold as ice, but it was nice to dream.
“Gods - Robin?”
I tore my eyes away from the soft clouds to see Chrom frozen in mid-step. His mouth gaped open like a fish without air as I waved at him, “Oh, welcome home, Chrom.”
The odd spell that seemed to wash over him suddenly broke as he hurriedly strode over to me. His mouth suddenly ran faster his mind, “Emm told me you got sick, but - I was only gone for a week and you look like you’ve been hitbyapegasus- are you okay?”
I huffed a wheezing laugh, half hacking up a lung in the process, and grinned at his frowning face. In a cracked strained voice, I answered, “Ye-ah.”
“He’s okay, Chrom.”
Thank Grima Stahl was still here.
Chrom sighed as he rubbed my back to ease the wet cough, “I swear you’ll be the death of me, Robin.”
“Heh, don’t count on it,” I retorted.
Chrom looked over to Stahl with a shake of his head, “Don’t tell me you had to put up with this the entire week.”
The knight laughed with an easy wave of his hand, “Nah, he’s getting started.”
“Enough of that,” I interjected as I patted the empty spot next to me, “How was your trip?”
Chrom took a seat next to me with a slight huff. I noted that he was still in his traveling gear; complete with his tattered cape and one sleeveless arm. “Well... it was fine - no, I’m sorry, it was alright. There’s a new threat that appeared, and Emm is sending the Shepherds to Regna Ferox.”
“Regna Ferox?” Both Stahl and I said with surprise in our voices. Chrom nodded with a bit of a determined look on his face.
“Turns out those reports about Plegian soldiers posing as bandits were true. We encountered a group of them attacking one of the villages. Fortunately, with some help, we were able to take it back. At this rate, if we don’t form an alliance with Ferox, Ylisse might fall the instant a war breaks out,” he told us. I narrowed my eyes. I hated being right sometimes.
“That would mean that we would have to leave as soon as we can,” Stahl mused.
“Yes. We’re leaving tomorrow.”
“Already? You just got back,” I said. I won’t deny that I was upset about it. Chrom probably hadn’t even been here for any longer than a few hours. Heck, he probably came to see me as soon as he finished his report.
“Sorry about that, Robin, but Emm is counting on us.”
I shrugged my shoulders with a sigh of defeat, “Well, responsibilities are responsibilities.”
Yes, I knew. That was very rich coming from me.
Chrom’s face darkened a little, “Besides the sudden diplomatic trip, there’s also a possibility of a bigger threat.”
“Bigger than a possible war?” Stahl asked with his eyebrows raised.
Stahl and I had absolutely no clue as to what he talked about, so we both stared at him in disbelief as he launched into a practically unbelieving tale. He explained how he camped with a potential new member of the Shepherds (he didn’t really elaborate on that person, other than the fact that they were pretty good with a sword) and all hell broke loose. The earth shook (Stahl claimed that there no one in the capital felt it) and split with fire bursting in the air.
I could hardly believe him when he straight up told me that moving dead bodies (”dead and rotting,” according to him) fell out of the sky. Those things could apparently move and attack people. The name “Risen” seemed completely fitting. He also told us about this man rushing in to save Lissa at the last second. It was hard to believe that he was named after the Hero King Marth. I made a mental note to thank him if I ever got the chance to meet him.
“Oh, Grima - First Plegia and now some sort of monstrosity called Risen?” I huffed as I leaned on my propped knees, “I really don’t like the sound of this.”
I really didn’t. Something was off.
If what Chrom said was true, then something bigger was about to happen. And it probably wasn’t just a war that could possibly happen. The Risen sounded like something that came right out of Plegia’s myths, or tall tales - something that usually related to Grima. I knew quite a few of them from my mother, since most of them were told rather than read, but they were a bit hard to remember.
But there was one thing I was sure about.
I certainly didn’t remember Risen being used to attack people without a good reason in stories. Contrary to popular Ylissean belief, us Plegians didn’t view Grima as something evil - well, somewhat. Mother had always taught me that Grima was the Fell Dragon that protected our people in his own, destructive way. He would never hurt us - he would never hurt my sister and I especially. Mother told us we were a bit different from everyone.
The Grimleal belief wasn’t as extreme as most people believed it to be. Not all of us were fanatical enough to sacrifice an entire village to the Fell Dragon. If anything, that was against Grima’s Doctrine, but over the centuries, a certain branch of the Grimleal began to stray from those teachings and rewrote the original. It was almost terrifying to see how the old traditions of just the simple act of prayer and a drop of blood to Grima turned into desperation and human sacrifices.
Well, at least, that was what I was taught outside of my father’s training. It was hard to balance between my parent’s teachings, since they clashed with each other. Of course, I believed my mother, and I still did.
If I told anyone in Ylisse that, I’d probably be dead the next morning - and not by Grima’s wings, for sure.
Maybe Grima was angered or sad. If I was the Fell Dragon, I would grieve over the twisted lies our country suffered. That was the only explanation I could think of.
“On another note,” I began as I changed the topic, “are you sure you should go? You aren’t exactly the best Prince with diplomacy.”
Chrom spluttered while Stahl laughed.
“R-Robin! That’s - Ugh, I can’t even deny that...”
I hummed in amusement. We all knew how Chrom could be brash and straightforward. It was one of his best traits, but one of his worst at the same time. The laughter died down when a frown crossed Chrom’s face.
“Right. Robin... there’s - actually, I think... no, wait, I may have...uhmmm...”
He trailed off, completely unsure for some reason. Stahl and I shared a look before the knight got up.
“I’ll... take my leave,” Stahl announced.
Chrom immediately looked up, “Wha - Wait, Stahl! It’s alright - it’s nothing confidential.”
“Confidential or not, I actually have to see Yuriel and prepare for the march tomorrow.” Stahl placed a hand on his growling stomach, “And have something to munch on. I’m sure I’ll be briefed by someone soon. Besides, now that you’re here, Robin is in good hands. I’ll see you around, Robin! See you tomorrow, Captain!”
I knew the Yuriel part was probably a lie, but I didn’t call him out on it as Stahl walked away. He was very considerate when it came to Chrom and I.
As soon as he was out of earshot, I turned to Chrom with a wary smile, “Something happened.”
“Something happened,” Chrom echoed as he stared at me with a slight frown on his lips, “And I don’t know if you’re going to believe me.”
I leaned back on my hands and got comfortable, “Try me.”
Those lips pressed together before Chrom finally said something.
“I think I found your sister.”
I never got up so fast in my life.
“Hey! Take it easy,” Chrom snapped as he leapt to his feet to steady me, “I only said I think I did. It probably isn’t - ”
I grabbed his arms and looked at him in the eyes.
“Where is she? Is she here?” I demanded. Chrom had a strange look on his face as he answered me.
“Yes, she’s here. Lissa’s probably showing her around the Garrison, but - ”
I didn’t let him finish as I suddenly took off.
I didn’t wait. I freaking ran out of the garden and turned a corner that led me toward the Garrison. My sister- my one and only sister...!
The sweet girl who danced in shallow rivers in my memories was alive...
The sweet girl devoured by those shadows in my dreams...
She was alive.
After so many years of fearing the worst, she was actually in my reach! I could hold her and never let her go ever again! I could protect her again, support her, just be there for her!
We could finally be reunited..!
I barely made it out of the inner castle walls before I felt strong arms wrap around my waist. I yelled when my feet lifted off the ground and kicked.
“Chrom, let me go!” I cried as I hammered at his arms, “I have to - I have to see her!”
“Robin! Stop it,” Chrom’s voice sternly told me, “You can’t just rush in there!”
“What are you saying?! Why are you stopping me? She’s my sister!”
“She doesn’t remember anything!”
I took a few moments to process it as I struggled to get out of Chrom’s grip. When it suddenly hit me, I froze.
The grip around my waist tightened and Chrom just held me in a protective hug. “I - We found her in the middle of a field, passed out cold. When she woke up, she - she didn’t even remember her name at first.”
I eventually stopped struggling against him and turned my head to the side in attempt to look at him.
“I saw her, and I had a feeling that she was it - but, she - Gods, Robin.” He rested his head against my shoulder with his hair rubbing against my cheek, “Robin - Gods, I’m sorry - I’m so, so sorry.”
The sudden rush I felt earlier left me and a heavy weight of realization and shock dropped like a sack of sand. My legs gave out, dragging Chrom with me. Just like that, we both clambered to the ground, in the middle of the hall full of arches. I rested against him, taking in the sunlight that rested on me while my vision blurred significantly. My hand shook as I brushed Chrom’s hair. He kept muttering apologies, even as the warm tears soaked my tank top.
I felt my mouth open and close over and over, but nothing came out. I couldn’t find the words to say. Actually, I had nothing I could say. I thought I found my sister - I thought she finally returned to me. She was literally right there in the Garrison!
Could I handle her treating me like a stranger?
The heavy weight of relief and grief tore at me. I should be happy (but how). I should be relieved (but why). She was here - She was physically here.
That should be enough.
The reality of our situation practically screamed and yelled at us. Yet, all I could hear were Chrom’s broken apologies, and the sound of my own grating coughs from the sudden stress. Despite it all, I kept running a hand through his hair, because at that point, I didn’t know if I was just trying to comfort him...