1386: Fire Emblem: ReAwaken – Chapters Twenty-Two and Twenty-ThreePosted: April 14, 2016
Hello ladies and gents, and welcome to what will hopefully be the final installment of Fire Emblem: ReAwaken.
Sura T’Lenya: I guess we’re doing this without Crunchy?
You bet, Sura. You bet. Let’s not waste any more time: it’s time to finish this.
So we start the next chapter with this:
Avoid. Attack. Avoid. Attack.
It was the most basic and redundant of strategies that I could think of, but it was serving me decently well, though as more bandits began to surround me and my small militia group, the avoidance part became harder and harder, and with my record of successfully blocking axe strikes at an all-time low, that was not a good thing.
Then perhaps you shouldn’t think with game mechanics when writing fight scenes? I know myrmidions tend to be very jump-out-of-the-way dodge in the Fire Emblem games, but I’m pretty sure even the characters don’t mind blocking things once in a while.
ST’L: Like when they get “No Damage” in the games?
Yeah, like— Wait, how do you know that?
ST’L: Picked up Fates the other day. Gotta say, I’d date a guy like Xander.
Oh, so you went Conquest, I see.
ST’L: Yeah, figured I’d get the renegade path out of the way first.
Fair, fair. But yeah, that doesn’t tend to happen with axes.
ST’L: There are worse cases of that, you know.
True… Eh… Still, Kale, this isn’t a game, so you can afford to learn how to block things a little more. Or was that something Arashi forgot to tell the Doppelganger in his infinite wisdom?
Anyway, we get a summary of what happened when Harker’s men first showed up, and we get Kale shouting instructions to the men. It’s of course not that interesting—
One deep stab to the chest later, and I’m wondering why it seems that no one who uses axes wears body armor. At least the sword and spear-bandits have tunics and what looks like some kind of leather armor on. Who the hell thought it’d be a good idea to run into battle half-naked?
Oh, I dunno, aesthetic design? Like, who the hell would do that?
ST’L: Wait, are you really gonna complain about this:
ST’L: … I’ll take that as a no.
So then we get more fight scene, more fight scene, random villager, blah blah, go to the village to get patched up—
A pained scream from behind me catches my attention, and I turn in time to see one of the villagers – one of my men – fall to the ground, clutching at his arm. The bandit who injured him raises his sword to finish him, only to have a hatchet planted in the back of his skull by another villager. I run over to them, slashing at whatever bandit decides to get in my way, and kneel down to pick up the fallen villager. “Head back to the village! Krysta’s there, she’ll patch you up!”
ST’L: Why isn’t she in the battle? She can just handle it there.
Because medics don’t go into battle, apparently? Which makes no sense, but hey: let’s not let a little thing like logic dictate things, amirite?
Anyway, we get more fight, more gore, a villager dies, he punches a dude in the throat, and—
A hand grasps my wrist, and I look down to see the bandit looking quite a bit bluer in the face, a desperate look in his eyes. He wants me to finish him off, I realize. “No,” I say simply, and I can practically hear him pleading with me to finish him just by the look in his eyes.
ST’L: Well… at least he’s got a better grasp of anatomy than the Kye Jen guy?
… Goddammit, Sura. I was stopping there to talk about how cruel it is that—
I boot him in the side of the head as I get off of him, already deciding on my new plan of attack. Dodging and weaving around works, but it leaves too many openings; a bandit could easily slip in and kill someone else! I see an enemy approach out of the corner of my eye. I twist around on my foot and stab forward, piercing through his stomach. No, I’ve got to stand my ground and fight to the end. Taking a step back to group up with my villagers, I look out over the crowd of bloodthirsty warriors and take in a deep breath, a steady mantra forming itself in my head.
Protect the villagers.
Kill all sons of bitches.
ST’L: So… should I start playing the Imperial March?
Be my guest.
Anyway, we cut to Marco, and we get more fight, blah blah, Caine goes in, blah blah, he apparently knows Marco is a prince, blah blah, Marco demands answers but Caine is like “bitch, we’re in battle” before running off, before Marco realizes:
It didn’t occur to Marco until after the raven-masked man had left, but hadn’t he been in charge of a group of men himself?
“Please don’t let them already be dead…”
ST’L: Well, Marco at least has the right idea. Means he cares more about his men than Awesome McSwordsman over there.
Wait, why are you using Awesome McEvil terminology on Caine?
ST’L: Because it’s quickly turning into someone trying too hard to give him moral ambiguity?
… Fair point. Though, I don’t think we have Antihero McEdgelord just yet…
Anyway, Marco gets stabbed with a spear tip, and villagers come, and—
Two villagers quickly appeared at his side, awaiting orders. “Snap the spear off near the tip – don’t take it out, you’ll just end up doing more damage!”
Like letting me bleed out! Which is a very real danger with wounds, though I don’t know if MaesterDimentio realizes how big combat spear heads tend to be…
The two men didn’t argue, and quickly got to work. Marco felt blinding pain as the spear was snapped, but he bit back a scream and slowly got to his feet. He found that he couldn’t put much pressure on the leg without causing himself pain, but seeing the small army around him he resolved that he wouldn’t let that slow him down.
And that’s exactly why Krysta needs to be there. Gee, aren’t you guys just so fucking happy she’s hiding behind the gate with everyone else?
ST’L: I’m not.
That was rhetorical, Sura.
Anyway, he then bitches about father’s axe a bit, before we cut to Daven. And guess what we get with him?
ST’L: More fighting?
Yep. And for all the fighting they’re doing, it’s not advancing that much plot.
Anyway, Daven notices some of the bandits are rushing towards the village, he manages to stop them with his men, we get Daven being all “I’m not used to fighting men”, and—
ST’L: Does anything actually happen?
ST’L: Skip it.
We then cut to Albert who is shouting at them to—
“Damn you all!” Albert growled through gritted teeth as he pulled Ally away from the waiting spears of a group of bandits. He rode back to where his men – three of them archers, the last two holding a hatchet and a butcher’s knife – and pointed his spear at the group of bandits. “Aim to kill! Don’t think of them as people; they sure as hell don’t care about you!” At his order, his three archers nocked arrows and released them, managing to at least hit some of the group, though none of the shots were fatal.
“Oh for Naga’s sakes!” Resisting the urge to throw his spear down in anger, the ex-soldier of Ylisse had to remind himself of how hard it must be for these men – peaceful villagers one day, a makeshift militia fighting for their lives the very next.
Oh hey, random villagers recruited into an army with no combat experience aren’t being very good at killing for once!
ST’L: Yeah. I’d complain, but… well, let’s face it, with only a few fighters at their disposal what other options have they got?
It probably wouldn’t help them to use arrows, though.
ST’L: But why not? They could be hunters, you know, and they could have those on standby.
True, and they are hitting targets, so… It could be worse.
Anyway, nothing else really happens, except that Albert notices reinforcements and shouts it out to everyone else. We then cut to Caine, and then—
Caine paused his whirlwind of carnage long enough to look for where the cry had come from. Quickly scanning the area, his eyes narrowed beneath his mask as he finally caught sight of armed bandits coming out of the trees. “Well,” he muttered, “this just got interesting.” Pulling the knife from the now-emptied eye socket of a bandit, he flicked it clean before sliding it into his bandolier. Whether it’s the good or bad kind of interesting, I’m only sure of one thing: it’s time to see where this whole ordeal goes. Sparing another quick glance towards the oncoming foes, he turned from the battlefield and sprinted towards the village.
Marco’s blood froze at those words, and he had to stop himself from outright collapsing under his own weight when he accidently stepped down on his injured leg. “More bandits? Wasn’t this enough already?” Grima himself must be cursing us… I honestly can’t think of a better explanation! His mind immediately snapped to Myra and the others, all back Ponlac. Fear gripped his heart for the third time in 24 hours, and it took all his willpower – and the reminder of his injured leg – not to break away then and there to go to her. Looking over his shoulder, however, he saw the equally-mixed looks of fear and surprise on the faces of all of his men, and he realized what he had to do. “Fall back! Retreat to Ponlac!”
“Really!?” Daven cried out in shock, only to cough heavily a moment later. “Not… now…!” he rasped. Naga, I swear I think I’m just a plaything to you sometimes. A hand gripped his shoulder roughly and he was hoisted to his feet, coming face-to-face with a rather concerned villager. “Sound the retreat. We need to get a more defensible position, and the village is our best bet,” he told the man, who slowly nodded. Daven gave him a quick glare that sent the man on his way, which he became thankful for when another hard cough made him stumble. I am the epitome of bad luck, aren’t I? he wondered momentarily, before starting to make his return to Ponlac.
ST’L: Well! I’ve seen disjointed point of view before, but that…
No kidding. I can honestly say: at least it’s clear, and at least no POV tags were used. Also, the line breaks were in good places in the actual posting of the chapter.
ST’L: Yeah, he’s pretty good about no POV tags, I’ll give him that much.
Anyway, we then cut to Kale, and we get more inner monologue, blah blah, he bumps into Caine, and then Caine comments about how—
“You’re really not used to fighting like this, are you?”
“Is it that obvious?”
He nods. “I’ve experienced more than my fair share of conflict. I’ve seen how quickly those new to it can burn themselves out, too overzealous or anxious to effectively manage their stamina.” His mask twists towards me.
ST’L: Hey, he’s not wrong.
Then why do I get the feeling that this isn’t why—
“But… that’s not why you’re exhausted, is it?” He’s quiet for a moment. “…I see that none of my men are amongst our motley group.”
“I… I’m sorry,” I say, lowering my head in shame. My stomach’s twisting in knots just thinking about it. “Three of them died.
And there it is!
One was injured, and the last took him to get treated for his injuries. I couldn’t-”
“If you dare say this is your fault, I will leave you for the bandits.” Whoa. There was… some serious steel in his voice just then, and he stiffened up the moment I was about to apologize.
Because if anyone is to blame for their deaths, it is me and myself alone!
“We can’t talk much now, but I will tell you this: if anyone is to blame for their deaths, it is me and myself alone.
ST’L: At least he’s self-aware enough to know when he’s being a dick?
Not much of a comfort, but hey, I’ll take it.
Caine then tells Kale to hurry it up, and Kale is like ‘yeah, sorry’. We then cut to Hugo, who is still obsessing over Myra. He hears battle, but then notices that there is still fighting even in the midst of their retreat. Of course…
Turning around, he looked over the heads of his men – all of whom had also turned to see where the sounds of fighting were coming from. His eyes narrowed dangerously as he saw what appeared to be a group of his own men attacking their comrades, cutting them down one by one. Then he saw more men coming out of the trees, weapons at the ready, charging towards his own group of bandits.
He growled in further annoyance, seeing that part of his plan was beginning to unravel.
And this, Harker, is why it’s a terrible idea to randomly send your men to kill a traitor without making sure he actually betrayed you first! I believe there is a Darwin Award with your name on it.
ST’L: No kidding.
Despite not being the sharpest sword on the weapon’s rack, or the most eloquent of speakers, Hugo was far from being a complete fool. He had known full well that by going after the witch instead of returning to Harker, he was likely to incur the wrath of his leader – scratch that, ex-leader, if what was occurring now was any indicator.
Then, to put it in the words of TacoMagic, why the fuck did you stick around if you knew he was going to throw a rage fit and try to kill you? I mean, I know you’re not the brightest bulb in the box, but even people with mental disability (as I suspect MaesterDimentio might be attempting here) can figure shit like that out!
ST’L: Careful, the pillows are getting thinner.
Shut up, Sura.
Anyway, we then get a whole thing of how Hugo needs to kill Myra, and then we get this whole thing about how Hugo managed to get some of the bandit camps to go along with his plan to follow Myra and kill her against orders from Harker. He then assumes the bandits from Harker’s remaining camps, before Hugo shouts at the bandits under his control to kill Harker’s bandits, or—
“Or I’ll kill you!”
ST’L: Making threats to kill everyone, are we? That’s poor form.
Every one of Hugo’s bandits immediately complied. They weren’t even sure what was more terrifying: a murderous Hugo or an angry Harker. The only difference was that Hugo was right there with them to carry out any threats he put out. In their minds, it would be better to go with whatever option meant that they got to live a little longer, even if their foreseeable futures all looked rather bleak.
And so, the Battle of Ponlac began anew.
Welp, I guess it’s a good thing our heroes will ultimately be saved by the stupidity of our two McEvils here. Crunchy would be proud.
ST’L: Really? I thought he would be more annoyed.
Crunchy cares about what’s over the top, not what makes any actual sense.
ST’L: I guess that’s true.
Anyway, we cut to Kale, who asks Krysta about how long staves take to work in the town hall that’s been converted to a hospital. Krysta is like “shut up, let me work on your wounds”, and then as she heals his wounds Krysta apologizes for her behavior earlier that day. Kale says:
“Nothing to be sorry for. You weren’t the one going around spreading rumors.” All you did was believe them, I add mentally, a bit hurt by the reminders of how everyone had practically tiptoed around me all day.
Then again, if I’d heard someone say Marco had been the one to say those things, I’d be kind of anxious around him too.
Aw, he’s learning!
ST’L: Much more than a certain someone else, I take it?
Yeah, true that.
Anyway, we then get Kale going on about how stressed he’s been lately, before he reassures Krysta that the dream was terrifying for him to, and that he wouldn’t willingly hurt his friends. Genevieve then comes in with all these chicken feathers in her hair, and then she’s like “someone needed these eggs”, before she eventually reveals…
Immediately a smug smile crosses her face, and I have a feeling that she’d be striking some sort of ‘Ah ha!’ pose if it weren’t for the eggs she was holding onto. “Ah, that, my dear Kale, is my weapon of choice in this horrid verbal war against Garrett. Once again he has disgraced my name by shortening it to the vile ‘Genny’, something that I have repeatedly requested him to never do. Yet, much to my chagrin, he continues! Therefore, as a counter, I have chosen to shorten his own name to ‘Garry’ until the time comes that he addresses me by my full name!”
And like that, a void of silence enters the room as normal human brains try to comprehend that which is Genevieve.
“…Well, good luck with that,” Krysta offers, finally breaking the silence. Seems like it’s enough to satisfy Genevieve, because the thief nods and walks off towards one of the back rooms – probably the one Garrett’s been resting in.
… *shrugs* Yeah, I can’t think of any other way to reply to that.
ST’L: Neither can I.
A moment later, there’s a very feminine screech that makes both of us jump, followed by what sounds like someone retching heavily. I hear Garrett say something, though whatever it is it’s muffled, and Genevieve shouts something back at him. There’s another quick exchange of words and suddenly the door flies open and Genevieve walks out, looking a little green around the gills. “That… was horrid.”
“They were just eggs!” I hear Garrett call, followed by an extremely loud belch.
Genevieve shudders and walks past us. “I… think I need to lie down now,” she mutters as she heads for the basement of this place, where we’ve hidden the majority of the villager. As she goes, I swear I catch the words ‘repulsive man’ and ‘egg eating’.
Ew, Garrett, why the fuck would you eat raw eggs? You know that shit gives you diseases, right?
ST’L: But Herr, he’s a badass!
Still! No badass gets fucking digestive system skullfuckery when they’re needed! Jesus fuck!
Anyway, we then get some conversation where they’re like “shouldn’t you be asleep”, where Garrett is like “no, not really”. He then nonchalantly talks about eating the raw egg.
Kale’s reaction is completely reasonable.
And I think I may just vomit. I’ve been in chicken houses. I’ve had to handle chicken eggs before. I’ve seen how nasty an eggshell can get. It’s why I don’t eat eggs!
… Wait, he didn’t even have the decency to crack it open first?
ST’L: *cringe* Oh, that must hurt!
Though I wonder how that could get you to just not eat eggs at all. Like, even cooked?
ST’L: Can we not concentrate on that and instead think about how the badass here is all “look ma, no egg, period”. That’s got to be painful!
Anyway, Krysta freaks out a bit, they start yelling about it, Kale goes outside, and then he bumps into Daven who alerts everyone that the bandits are fighting each other. Kale… pretty much sums it up perfectly:
This, ladies and gentlemen, is an act of DIVINE INTERVENTION.
ST’L: And here I thought fics were above lampshading their Deus Ex Machinas.
Well, here you have it, Sura!
Kale expresses his excitement, before Caine tells him to knock it down three pegs and then is all “let’s wait here for the remainder to come to us”. We then get another line break, and we cut to later, where we get some summary as to what happens during the whole thing, and then the fighting dies down. Everyone is ushered back in, and then Kale and Garrett find themselves waiting for an inordinately long amount of time.
Finally, Kale is like “is this normal”, before Garrett is all “no…”, and then they—
“I mean, none of Harker’s guys have ever been the type to think things through, ‘specially not Hugo. The only real tactic they’ve got is to run in and attack.” He shrugs and rolls his head from side-to-side, cracking his neck. “Course, it’s been a while since I ran with the Hounds, but I doubt they’ve gotten all that smarter.”
Oh hey, Taco, this is Harker in another life:
Kale asks what they might have done, before Garrett is like “well, they can’t have gone back because that would’ve menat they’ve killed Hugo”, to which Kale gets very hopeful that Hugo died from his injuries. Kale makes a note about his boot lace, before—
Come on, we almost got through this chapter without any onomatopoeia! Why must you dash my dreams?
ST’L: I don’t know what you were expecting, kiddo, but I kind of saw it coming.
Oh shut up.
Anyway, Kale has a near-death experience, Garrett warns people of attackers and… Well, take a wild guess as to what happens next.
ST’L: More fighting?
And you, asari, have just won a free vacation to the Bahamas. So yeah, more fighting, and—
“Heads up!” I hear Garrett shout, and turn around just in time to see a lance coming towards me. I move a bit too slowly, and a new wound opens up along my side as the weapon’s tip manages to bite into the flesh there. I grit my teeth, doing my best not to start crying from the burning pain, and counterattack with an overhead slash that gets blocked by the shaft of the spear. We struggle against one another in a brief deadlock until he kicks me in the shin hard enough for me to stumble to the ground. Expecting an attack, I look up…
…and realize all the fight scenes look exactly like this?
…just in time to see Garrett lob the bastard’s head right off his shoulders! “I said ‘Heads up!’ What, you hard of hearin’?” he asks, offering me a hand and a smug grin.
Come on! That pun was bad, and you should feel bad!
ST’L: … I should tell that to Valentine. Too bad he won’t ever get his hands on that lightsaber.
OH COME ON!
I take the hand and get roughly hoisted to my feet. “You gonna be alright with that?” He points to my bleeding side, and I look at it for a moment.
“It’s just a flesh wound,” I finally say – Oh wow, I actually got to say that in a fitting context! And I didn’t even mean to say it! Ha, it’s worth the pain just for that!
No, it would just be a reference if you were missing half your limbs. Which you’re not. So what’re you going on about?
Anyway, we then get some more stuff, we then cut to Daven and Caine chatting a little about swordsmanship, and—
“Will the two of you stop treating this so casually and take us seriously!?” one of the few living bandits shouted as he and the rest of his group circled the pair of swordsmen, who were currently standing back to back and engaging in idle chatter.
ST’L: I love how he says that as if he’s not going to die soon.
Right? You gotta love people like that!
The bandit goes on a bit more, and then Caine makes a boast that they pose no threat to him or Daven. The bandit tells the guy to charge, before, guess what, Caine owns them all. Then Daven and Caine go on talking like nothing happened, and then we cut to Marco, who is resting in the town hall waiting for the spearhead to get removed by Krysta or someone else. He bitches about not having gotten it removed, and we get some more inner monologue from him. Albert speaks up as they watch the fight from the window, and we get an infodump that—
Albert had informed everyone that he and Ally weren’t very good at fighting in close quarters; the horse was simply too big to navigate the streets of the village while also avoiding enemies.
Really? In Fire Emblem? Bitch, those Fire Emblem maps can have you routinely put wyverns indoors! I don’t know what the fuck you’ve been smoking that a horse is suddenly a huge problem (or indeed, that Albert would have problems fighting on foot (particularly when you consider that Awakening was one of the first Fire Emblem games where you could actually step off a horse after promotion)), but it isn’t good combat training, I’ll tell you that much!
ST’L: But commentary!
Anyway, they chat a bit more about how they don’t like bandits, before—
Oh come on!
Both men jumped as the sound of wood splintering echoed through the room, and both looked at the wooden double doors of the town hall. There was a large axe blade embedded into the wood, and with a low growl the owner of the axe tore the weapon free. There was another crash, and another, and another, until finally a sizable hole had been made. Albert and Marco both froze as they saw the face of the man responsible for creating the hole as he looked through it, trails of drying blood covering his body.
What Hugo should’ve said:
What he actually says:
“Kill the witch!” Hugo screamed before smashing his axe into the door again, outright knocking it off of its hinges.
*shrug* Well, at least he didn’t leave his hand open to getting slashed by terrified housewives.
ST’L: And there was none of that weird screeching violin, either.
ST’L: What, I’m just—
Sura, don’t. It’s not just a screeching violin, it’s an entire army of screeching violins. Get it right!
Anyway, Marco and Albert figure out he’s after Myra pretty quickly, and then they try to stop Hugo’s rampage, before someone cries out. Hugo starts to go down a stairway to follow the sound, but Marco ain’t havin’ it as he actually manages to wound Hugo while his back is turned. So they fight some more, Hugo knocks Albert out of the way, Marco notices Hugo is about to kill him, and—
Hugo, upon recognizing the voice, immediately lost all interest in Marco and turned to face the one he’d been pursuing for so long. There she stood, in the frame of the shattered door, with what could only be described as pure fury on her face. Her red eyes seemed to be alight with actual fire, and for a moment Hugo was reminded of the feeling of searing heat and the stench of smoke.
“Get away. From. My BROTHER!” Myra shrieked, raising her hand and throwing out a ball of fire. The magic struck Hugo directly in the chest, making him stagger and bat at the flames, but this time, when he looked up at her, there was no fear in his eyes. He looked at the white witch before him with pure hate, intent solely on killing her, on making her pay for what she had done to him.
With a guttural growl, he charged her.
“Burn, damn you!”
The fight was on.
ST’L: And if it’s anything like the previous few times this has happened, Myra’s going to need a big, strong man to save her. Again.
Probably, but you never know.
Anyway, we cut to Kale, who’s like “oh shit, I saw Hugo charge towards it”. He rushes into the town hall, and—
Instead, I found… something I honestly was not expecting.
ST’L: If it’s Myra actually being a badass for once, I’m going to eat my hat.
You don’t have a hat.
ST’L: Oh, wait, that’s literal?
… Oh, uh, no, it’s not. I just didn’t expect you to—
ST’L: Really? Come on… *shakes head*
Myra was running about the room, Hugo hot on her tail. She flung Fire spells out every chance she got, ducking and sidestepping the man’s every attack. A lot of the spells, being flung out in a haste, went wide and had struck the walls of the building… which were currently starting to catch flame. Not that it seemed to register in Myra’s mind; she kept throwing them about in what I could only describe as reckless abandon.
She should really consider getting a wind tome. Faster, and much easier to use.
ST’L: Also comes with less of a chance of burning buildings down.
Marco calls out to Kale, and then Marco is like “we need to stop Myra!” When Kale looks, he’s all “oh shit, you’re right about Myra needing to be stopped”, before he commands Marco to warn the villagers inside the place, get Albert out, and then find Garrett and Caine over there.
ST’L: Not necessarily in that order.
Kale then runs over to Genevieve and then tells her to get Krysta and evacuate everyone out of there. Genevieve asks what Kale will do about Hugo, and he’s all “well, I’m just going to worry about grabbing Myra and—
I hear a cry of pain that sounds distinctly feminine – Myra! “Get everyone and go!” I don’t even bother looking back to see if Genevieve’s doing as I asked; within a few seconds I’m back in the main room.
Myra’s clutching her arm, the red line running up it obvious against her pale skin.
ST’L: *facepalm* Of course. Of course he had to go in with that.
Her Fire tome’s been knocked to the ground, and Hugo’s steadily advancing on her, ready to deliver the final blow. The fire’s spread even more, to the point where the majority of the room’s an inferno; I can hear wood splintering from the heat and smoke fills my lungs almost immediately. Hugo rears his axe back just as I start to sprint towards Myra.
I’m halfway there as the axe starts to fall.
It’s about to hit as I dive in front of her, sword up to take the blow.
My sword takes the blow, not shattering – no, that would be a mercy. Instead, I’m flung backwards, not helped by the fact that I was already in mid-air as I intercepted the blow. I slam into something hard, back-first, and immediately the world starts to darken around me.
Just as I slip out of consciousness, I hear Myra scream my name.
ST’L: I’d ask you to start a damn counter, but—
It’s not worth it so close to the end?
ST’L: No, no it’s not. *growls*
… Okay, note to self; asari growl.
We then cut to Myra’s point of view, and we get a long narrative rambling about how Myra feels, and then…
She felt that, and the cold fury that was building up in her chest.
“You…” she spat, turning back to Hugo, who had been glaring at the fallen young man with pure disgust. The giant’s head now snapped back to her, his savage grin faltering upon seeing the look on her face. Her expression was vacant, not betraying any emotions, save for her eyes; there was no mistaking the burning hatred that was in them for anything else. “Rebecca, my brother, and now my friend: you hurt them all, and for what? For your master? To get at me?” She reached into her robes, a soft click echoing out over the crackling of the flames. She pulled a small book from out of her robes, the cover black as the night’s sky with purple arcane symbols covering it. “Well,” she said with a chuckle, flipping the book open. “You want me? Then come get me!”
ST’L: … Well, nevermind.
You’re still not worried she needs to be saved?
ST’L: Well, the one who frequently saves her ass is currently unconscious and probably dying from massive internal hemorrhaging, so…
Anyway, what is this little black book.
Hugo snorted and raised his weapon, only to stop when he saw the rings of golden light surrounding the witch’s hand. Various symbols and runes floated around her outstretched hand, twisting and flowing as if they were alive. He stepped back, some part of his brain screaming at him to be careful, that this was not different, that it was not right. He didn’t notice the almost identical ring of magic appearing at his feet until it was too late.
The golden light around Myra’s hand exploded, as did the ring at Hugo’s feet. Suddenly, everything went dark for the massive man as what could only be described as a wave of ice cold water washed over his body. He let out a silent cry of terror as he felt his energy, his very life, start to wash away from him, carried away on this dark wave. He could feel his very consciousness begin to fade, as if he were drowning, when it suddenly vanished as quickly as it had come.
Oooooh, it was dark magic all along! How about that?
ST’L: Wait, dark magic is a thing in Fire Emblem?
ST’L: But there’s no dark magic in Fates!
There is in Awakening, though. So of course…
Myra allowed a small victorious smirk to cross her lips as she watched Hugo collapse to the ground, sweat covering the man’s body and his face white as bone. “I hate having to use dark magic,” she said, holding up the tome. “It’s so different from regular magic. You have to let your own negative emotions, your worst thoughts, and darkest desires bubble up from inside you. It’s why there are so few who can actually use it – most can’t take the emotional toll it puts on them.” She lowered the tome and glared daggers at the man at her feet. “Right now, though? All I feel is hatred, all I can think about is revenge, and my greatest desire right now is to tear you to shreds. It’s more than enough for me to use Flux.” Her hand began to glow again, and another ring of gold formed around Hugo’s body. “It’s more than enough for me to end you,” she stated coldly, preparing to unleash her spell.
Uh… Are you—
ST’L: *stands up, clapping* Yeah, you go girl! Show that son of a bitch what’s coming for him!
… Okay then!
Hugo did nothing, the sheer terror he’d felt from the spell still fresh in his mind. But, at the same time, he could feel something else. Something brought about by the sounds of crackling fire, the scent of smoke, the feeling of embers falling on his skin.
And then we cut to…
His world was covered in fire. Thick clouds of black smoke choked the air and himself. He screamed, desperate for someone to come and help him, to get him away from the heat. He stumbled through the house, crashing into everything in his attempt to escape.
Um… a flashback!
So he calls out to his mother inside a burning house, and then he faintly hears her and shit.
It was faint, but he would recognize the sound of his mother’s voice anywhere. Gods help her, she was still in her room! He rushed into the hallway, ignoring the searing heat. When he reached the end, where his mother’s room was, he tried the door, only to find it stuck firmly. He pushed against it with all of his might, as though he may force it open, but he could only move it an inch. There was something in front of the door, keeping him from opening it and getting to his mother!
And why the hell are you still in there?
ST’L: Jeez, no wonder Harker used this guy. He’s got the brain capacity of a literal lemming.
So then he finds his mother, and of course, he’s not in time to save her, so she tells him to run and save himself in what I imagine was probably a heartbreaking scene in the author’s mind that is just standard and clichéd in actual execution. Hugo throws a fit, and then the mother leaves Hugo there and he just zeroes in on his mother’s final words, which get funny after…
Suddenly, there was a loud crack, followed by the sound of something crashing. He looked up and screamed as a wooden beam fell towards him, rapidly engulfing his vision until it crashed down onto him. The floor beneath him caved from the increase in weight, and he fell through the newly formed hole to the floor below. His consciousness began to fade away as he heard someone outside crying for help, but he didn’t care.
All he cared about were the last words his mother said to him.
“Goodbye, Hugh. Now please, go.”
“Goo…e, Hugh. N.. ….se, go.”
“…., Hu… … …, go.”
ST’L: Um… that is one very strange thing for your mother’s last words to do, even considering you got conked on the head by a falling floor beam.
No kidding. I know it’s likely Hugo sustained very real cranial damage from such a blow, but come on.
Anyway, we cut back to Myra, where—
Myra prepared to unleash her spell when a loud crack echoed out from above her. She looked up just as a wooden cross-beam, weakened from age and the fire, began to fall towards her. All at once, any fury she had felt vanished and was replaced with mind-numbing shock. Before she could be crushed, however, a pair of strong arms wrapped themselves around her middle and picked her up and began to run. The wooden beam crashed into the floor, leaving a gaping hole in the floor where she stood only moments before.
ST’L: Oh, for— *headdesk*
And now you’re doing it! Ha, what was that about the headdesking pillow, Sura?
ST’L: Shut up.
Okay, fine, I deserved that. Anyway, she spends some time addling about, wondering about Kale. She then sees he’s out, before she turns to her savior and…
Her surprise upon seeing Hugo looking down at her, a smile on his face, was immeasurable.
And then he spoke, surprising her even further.
“You are welcome.”
Then, the giant fell forwards, his injuries and exhaustion finally taking their toll on him.
And now, Harker would be justified sending the bandits out. When none of them are looking.
ST’L: Well, hey, nothing says that like a sudden change in heart, right?
Hugo falls unconscious, and the villagers think about killing him, before Caine steps in and points out Hugo just saved Myra and Kale before threatening to kill anyone who dares touch Hugo. They then all start heading off to go sleep, and…
Sleep, Myra realized, sounded actually quite nice at the moment.
She was hardly aware of Marco catching her as she collapsed to the ground, exhaustion finally catching up to her.
That night, she would have pleasant dreams, the first she’d have since this business with Harker had begun.
And that ends that chapter. So to whit, it was a ton of fighting, and not much plot.
ST’L: I don’t know what world a Heel-Face Turn and a plot-critical flashback would be considered “not much plot”…
Fair point. Anyway, we’re almost at the end of this fic. Shall we move on, Sura?
ST’L: Yes, please.
Yep. So we start our next chapter with this:
It would be incredibly nice to wake up for once and not have something be wrong. No marching to look forward to. No one screaming in terror. No monsters or bandits trying to attack us. No friends laying drunk on the floor of an inn. No tired or over-exerted muscles. No soul-crushing, agonizing, burning pain that seems to cover my entire midsection and makes it hurt to just breathe even slightly.
I just want to wake up, pain-free, without any troubles brewing in the vicinity.
Why do I get the feeling that’s a complete impossibility considering my current life?
Because situational irony? Trust me, I’ve been there before: it’s pretty fun.
Anyway, Kale wakes up, ponders about his pain, and we get a long narrative rambling before he realizes “wait, shit, Myra!” Krysta shoves Kale back to the bed, and then she tells him how much she’s been doing. She then gives him a little water, and asks about casualty:
“Aside from a few members of the militia, no one died.”
ST’L: Something tells me you don’t know what “no one died” means. It means absolutely no one died? Unless the villagers you had to recruit out of necessity don’t count as casualties, for some reason? Which, if that’s the case… *pistol whips*
I bet you feel very strongly about that.
ST’L: No shit, Sherlock.
Anyway, Krysta moves on, and then Krysta mentions off-handedly that Daven…
The rest of us all came out pretty much unscathed, though I did notice Daven kept rubbing his chest and coughing.”
Rubbing his chest and coughing? Now why does that sound familiar…? Wait… Oh no, please don’t tell me he managed to inherit my asthma! Well, there’s one of my worst fears confirmed: a child of mine managed to inherit one of the many things that’s wrong with me.
Wait, you’ve been asthmatic this whole time?
ST’L: Well, thank God he’s not fighting in a time period with chemical weapons in it. He’d be screwed otherwise.
It’s still quite a thing to mention just out of the middle of nowhere! Like, how did Kale’s throat not manage to constrict and limit his breathing until now?
ST’L: At least he’s not trivializing serious mental illnesses this time.
Small fucking comfort, Sura.
Kale asks what else is wrong with him, and Krysta is like “well, I couldn’t find anything else wrong”, and then he asks about himself. Krysta then says she was waiting for him to wake up so she could complete her diagnosis. In response to “how badly are you hurt and where”, Kale says this:
I don’t hesitate with my reply. “I feel like a stampede of cows ran over my ribs, it hurts when I breathe, I can’t lift my arms, my legs are stiff as wood, and my neck is killing me.” I pause, looking up at the ceiling to make sure I got everything. My stomach proceeds to growl, as if telling me not to forget about it. “Oh, and I could probably do with some food.”
Krysta, surprisingly, takes all of this in stride, not batting an eye as I list off my – admittedly somewhat exaggerated – symptoms. “All right, then let’s start off with your arms. When you say you can’t move them, do you mean you physically can’t, or are you just too tired to move them.” I give it a quick try and realize that I can move them, they just feel incredibly heavy. I tell her as much and she nods. “Muscle fatigue, if I had to guess. Probably due to how much fighting you were doing. Your legs are probably exactly the same, though that’s more from the running than anything else. As for your ribs, well, I’m not sure. Did anything happen that may have hurt them?”
I think for a moment. “Would Hugo smacking me into a wooden pillar because I decided to play hero and block a hit meant to kill Myra count?”
ST’L: Ah, always the joker even when he’s horribly injured. Pallin would like this kid.
Even when his anxiety comes out and he runs from assignment?
ST’L: Let me rephrase that: Pallin would like this kid to a point.
So then Krysta gives her diagnosis of bruised ribs with one possibly cracked rib, and then she recommends bed rest. Kale asks why she can’t just heal his ribs with her staff, before she says:
She frowns and lets out a frustrated breath. “The amount of people who ask that question is ridiculous,” she mutters. “Healing magic isn’t a cure-all. It can only do so much, and for it to even work the caster has to be able to see the injury. It’s possible to heal a broken bone but it takes a lot more skill and practice than I have.
Okay, that’s fair. I guess I can see how—
And that’s not even counting that using too much healing magic on a person can have fatal results.”
That’s some news to my ears. “Wait, hold on a moment. Are you actually saying that healing magic can kill someone?”
She shrugs. “Of course. Anything can kill you if you have too much of it, and magic can be really bad about it.” She puts a finger to her chin and closes her eyes in thought. “If I remember correctly, an overdose of healing magic makes the body reliant on it; it can no longer fight off disease or injury without it. It can also lead to abnormal growths on a person’s organs, usually the heart, brain, or kidneys, which will eventually prove fatal.” She opens her eyes, looks down, and freezes at the horrified expression that has covered my face. “That only happens with extremely high doses of healing magic, though!” she hastily says, raising her hands defensively.
So basically, healing magic can work like a drug overdose.
ST’L: So basically, invented information that’s not supported in canon.
Well, to be fair, I guess it would have been an interesting idea to explore, if it did need a little more finagling than this. Fire Emblem’s game mechanics mean you can’t really see anything like this over the long term, but IIRC there really isn’t anything in canon that explicitly goes against this interpretation of healing magic’s long-term effects…
ST’L: So you’re not totally against the idea.
I think it would need a lot more fleshing out to work, but I don’t see why not.
Anyway, Kale decides to start resting. Krysta leaves, and then he realizes something big:
Did she say she had to patch up Hugo?
ST’L: Wait, she did that?
Yeah, it was in one of the bits of dialogue we skipped in the interest of saving time.
ST’L: Ah, right.
Anyway, we then cut to Albert as he talks to Ally about Pa and how he’d disapprove of how much tie he takes to groom his horse. Genevieve then bumps in, being like “ooooh, do tell”. Genevieve then goes on about—
“I was actually resting in here when I heard you and Alexandria come in. I was going to excuse myself, but found my eyes captivated by how kindly you groomed her.” She smiled broadly and brought a hand to her heart. “Oh, to see such a noble knight taking care of his valiant steed, the bond of trust and affection forged through blood and fire – what a sight it is to behold!”
ST’L: Careful there, sweetheart: you might run out of ways to say the night sky soon enough.
Albert then rebukes the whole noble knight thing, before Albert is like “wait, why are you here, a bed would’ve been more comfortable!”. Genevieve disagrees, and then she calls Albert delusional after he’s all “um, what”. The horse agrees (much to Albert’s chagrin), and then Albert tries to prove it was just a coincidence.
Albert smirked as he looked at his most trusted companion.
Shit, this could be bad. Especially since Taco actually likes you, Albert…
“Ally, do you think that I’m delusional?”
The horse’s head bobbed up and down once more.
Face turning beet-red in embarrassment, not helped by the fact that Genevieve had been taken over by a giggling fit, Albert let out a noise that sounded like a strangled growl. “Okay, you just got doubly lucky there, but let’s see how you like it! Ally, is Genevieve delusional or crazy in any way?”
Well, I mean, anyone who talks in constantly purple prose and who also whines and bitches about the fact nobody knows who she is despite the fact that thieves really shouldn’t aspire to that is crazy, so I would say yes.
ST’L: Hopefully the horse catches that.
Ally did nothing but flick away an errant fly with her ear.
ST’L: I have a horse to shoot.
Sura! Come on!
ST’L: What was that for?
Threatening to shoot a horse! Come on!
Genevieve then laughs at this, before she then tells Albert:
It was your flat and utter refusal to see the truth that stares back at you every time you see your own reflection! How could you not see a noble knight in your character? Just because you left the knighthood hardly means that you aren’t qualified to be a knight, and it surely doesn’t mean that you aren’t noble.”
Aw, Genevieve actually meant the delusional comment well.
ST’L: Huh. Isn’t that something?
Albert rebukes that, before going on about how he probably should have stayed home, but wanted to do something ‘important’ with his life. Genevieve then promises to break Albert from that, before leaving.
We then cut to Garrett as he wakes up to a commotion outside his window. He rebukes himself because he went on instinct and was thinking “shit, gotta defend myself”, and he then ponders what could have caused it. He opens the window and asks what it’s about, before someone informs him that Rebecca woke up. He says that’s good, before telling them to pipe down. He then gets philosophical about it, before we cut to…
With a groan, he ran a hand through his hair as memories of a few nights ago came back to him.
ST’L: Another flashback?
We then get a flashback of Garrett standing guard over Rebecca as he contemplates what Harker would do at that moment. He then thinks about how strange it is Rebecca got hurt way worse than he did and yet he seems more broken out about it, and then—
Guilt. One word. A single syllable. Five little letters. Yet it had such a power, an infinite amount of incredible power, all held in that one five lettered, monosyllabic word.
ST’L: Okay there, buster, lay off on the fancy wording. We don’t quite need that now, yeah?
We then get a long rambling about Garrett and his relation to guilt, and how it was never as bad as this while guarding Rebecca. It takes a while, but it’s relevant to the action so I won’t call it a Maxie-boy style rambling. So then Garrett goes on about that, blah blah, could it have been the guilt was worse because Harker, could it be anything else, and then…
…No, that wasn’t it, and he knew it wasn’t. He could say the guilt came from this or that, but in the end it all came from one word, a name. Her name.
“Another Rebecca,” he sighed, the first time he’d made a single noise in the entire time he’d been acting as her sentinel. “Gods just love to torment me, don’t they? What, the first two weren’t enough?
ST’L: Wow, isn’t that a contrived coincidence? He’s guarding a girl named Rebecca, and there were two other women in his life also named Rebecca.
At least he’s lampshading that the gods hate him?
ST’L: Still, that’s a hell of a contrived coincidence that three people with varying importance of degrees in his life all had the same name.
Gotta send a third my way, just as I’m changin’ my ways?” He chuckled bitterly and hung his head, bringing his hand to his head as those painful memories started to flood his mind. “It… It was never supposed to go this way. All I wanted to do… All I was trying to do was help! Make things a little easier on us!” He snapped his eyes shut, furious at himself for allowing tears to start to build up.
So the façade is about to crack, right?
Oh, thank you Rebecca.
ST’L: We thought he was going to wax more lyrical for a second.
We then get Rebecca talking in her sleep, all terrified and shit. Garrett of course is right there, and as he holder her hand she calms down, and Garrett is like:
“But… maybe the gods aren’t tryin’ to torment me with this one.
“Maybe they’re givin’ me a second chance.”
Which is when we cut back to:
Second chance? Hah. More like a fat chance; I blew my second chance long ago. The gods don’t have enough patience to deal with me anymore. He looked up to the ceiling, a bitter smile on his face. Now, if only I could actually convince myself that were true.
ST’L: Well, this is a bit on-the-nose for a redemption arc, isn’t it?
We then get a couple brief things on that, before we cut to Marco as he bears witness to Keith crying like a baby at the fact his granddaughter is okay. We get a long thing on that, Rebecca apologizes, and then Keith is just like “shaddap, girl, I’m proud of ya for standin’ up to him, and I won’t do a damn thing if you do anything that foolhardy again!”
ST’L: Hey, I wouldn’t either. I mean, if I knew that my daughter had run off to do something foolish because she could make a difference… Well, actually, if she ever came back, I’d chew her out on that and then tell her I’m proud she’s actually got the guts to stand up for what’s right. It’s what dad would’ve done…
Yeah. I guess she’s lucky it all worked out and Kale bumped into her at the opportune time, right?
So Rebecca talks a bit about how she managed to spit in his eye, and she and Keith have a good laugh about that before they notice that Marco’s there. Marco tries to excuse himself, but Keith is like “come back in”. Marco introduces himself, and then he calls Rebecca brave.
She shook her head, though Marco did notice her visibly relax. “I’m afraid you have me mistaken for someone else. I am hardly brave; foolish would be a much better term to describe me.”
ST’L: Yeah, but fools can be brave. The two aren’t mutually exclusive, you know.
This time it was Marco who shook his head, chuckling a bit as he did. “You know, recently I’ve started to see how the two can overlap; granted there is a fine line between the two, but I think sometimes you simply can’t have one without the other.
ST’L: Thank you, Marco, for talking sense!
He then goes on about Kale and all the stuff he did, and then Rebecca thanks Marco for all they’ve done. She goes on about how “I wish I’d been successful”, and then Marco tells Rebecca about the battle of Ponlac and how they have a plan of attack which he says:
We have a plan of attack, now, and a straight shot to Harker’s fortress; none of which we would have if not for your actions.”
ST’L: And the fact that we bumped into you at exactly the right place at exactly the right time. That too.
Marco knew that he was stretching the truth a bit. True, the attack was a direct result from Rebecca’s actions, but in the end they may have caused a bit more trouble than what was worth. Still, in the back of his mind, he couldn’t help but think that this girl deserved some kind of break, a bit of good news or encouragement, after all she had been through. He only hoped she wouldn’t see through his words.
Hm… Yeah, considering she was tortured and almost crucified…
ST’L: You’re being unusually kind right now.
What gave it away, the lessening of my barbs?
ST’L: Pretty much. I have to say, it’s actually kind of refreshing.
Anyway, Rebecca doesn’t catch on, and then asks Marco to finish what she started. Marco agrees to do so.
Everyone started slightly as Garrett stepped into the doorway of the room. Marco was surprised by the look on the man’s face. He seemed nervous, in the way one seems nervous when one has to deliver bad news. “Sorry to interrupt. Saw the crowd gathering outside and thought I’d see how she was doin’ for myself.” He idly rapped his knuckles against his thigh, clearly trying to find something to say. “I’m, uh… I’m the guy who used to work for Harker – I’ve worked for a lot of guys like Harker – er, well, not exactly like him, but still pretty bad.” He paused, his lips forming a thin line as he stared down at the ground.
ST’L: Is this an attempt at making the badass… awkward? Because if it is… well, I’m not gonna lie, it’s kind of adorable.
Oh goddammit, Sura.
Marco asks Garrett if he’s alright, before he excuses himself randomly, before looking at Rebecca and leaving. Rebecca comments how he doesn’t really act like a bandit, and then Marco goes off to check on Hugo, making a comment under his breath that Rebecca and Keith both manage to catch.
We then cut back to Kale as he is unable to sleep about the whole “HUGO IS HERE AFTER SAVING MYRA WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS!?”
ST’L: Well, that’s an overdramatic way to put a reasonable reaction to that.
It’s called rule of funny, Sura, why do you think I’m skipping it?
ST’L: Fair point.
Anyway, Kale ponders on why that happened, about how Krysta doesn’t explain what happens, and nobody’s come to see him and—
Daven hasn’t even been by! I mean, come on, I’m his father! …Technically. I mean, I will be his father, just not right now, even though he’s here and I’m here, and technically his mother is too, I just haven’t met her – ah, you know what? Screw time travel, it makes everything confusing. But still, he’s my future-self’s flesh and blood, meaning he’s my flesh and blood, so he could at least swing by and see how his currently-not-that-old man is doing.
ST’L: And on the off chance he’s injured himself?
I think Krysta might’ve explained he wasn’t?
ST’L: Oh. Yeah, that would justify this, ten.
Anyway, Caine then comes back in and comments on this, before Kale vents about his Hugo-related fears. He apologizes, and Caine is like “it’s fine”, and then they get into an argument about the semantics of “a small army” before Caine tells Kale not to concern himself with Hugo, considering that:
He is indisposed of, his weapon and armor was confiscated, and we have him under heavy watch.
ST’L: Not that it would stop him considering all the build-up we had to him basically being a walking tank, but points for trying, I guess.
Caine then turns to the conversation of the three militiamen who died, and Caine points out they were his responsibility, and that—
They were given to me to lead, and I failed them all because I am so used to fighting alone, not with a group.” His head tilts down, and I can guess that he’s looking at the floor. “Truthfully, I should have objected to ever being given command over any member of the militia. My record for keeping those who follow me safe… it’s nonexistent. I was never meant to be a leader, yet I still allowed those five men to follow me. Now, three are dead and one has been wounded, all because I couldn’t put aside my pride and say that I didn’t have the ability to lead them.”
ST’L: Bit late there, big guy. Still, I’ll take it: at least you’re owning up to that. It’d get your ass fired by Pallin, but you’re owning up to it.
Kale then is all “but that doesn’t mean it’s totally your fault”, before Caine asks him if it’s foolish to blame himself. Kale goes on about how people are their own harshest critics, and how he’ll blame himself for fallen men. Caine points out it’s impossible to protect everyone, but Kale is all ‘it’s still my fault’.
“…I see now.” There’s an extended silence between the two of us until I finally hear Caine stand up from his seat and start to walk away. “You’re an even greater fool than I thought you were,” he says, catching me off guard. I twist my head to look at him, standing just in front of the door with his back to me. “The desire to protect everyone – what a sad desire to have. You’re willing to subject yourself to such pain all for the sake of an impossible dream, one that you even admit to being impossible?” He shakes his head and laughs. “You need to realize that something like that can only exist in dreams. Find a new reason to fight for, one that can be achieved, and you’ll find yourself living a happier life.”
He leaves after saying that, and I’m left to dwell on his words.
ST’L: Well, Renegade Shepard, way to stomp on the dreams of little children.
He’d be right at home in a Kamen Rider: Ryuki fanfic, I’ll tell you that much.
Anyway, we cut to Rebecca as she sees Hugo sleeping. We get some stuff about how she hates him and how she wonders if it’s even justified considering:
She wasn’t sure if her hatred for him could be considered petty or justified: after all, he hadn’t been the one to brutalize her, to burn her flesh, or to maim her. No, he’d just been the loyal pet of the man who had, never trying to stop him. Even when she’d begged, pleaded for her life, he’d ignored her, and he would have undoubtedly nailed her to that tree had it not been for Marco and his mercenaries stumbling upon her.
Besides, why shouldn’t she hate him? How many innocents had he killed in his time serving Harker? How many families were torn apart because of him, how many villages destroyed, how many lives ruined? No, this wasn’t petty hate that she felt for Hugo, it was something more. It was a righteous loathing that made her want nothing more than to see his blood spilt.
She tightened her grip around the hammer, readying herself to strike.
ST’L: While she is jumping the gun a bit here again, I can’t help but feel some amount of satisfaction that, once again, it’s somewhat justified.
Yeah, that’s fine.
So then we get something about how she had gone around getting the hammer, planning how she would get close to Hugo, and all that jazz. She then primes to strike the blow, but…
Before she could strike, however, a hand snaked out from behind her and grabbed her arm, twisting it painfully behind her back and forcing her to drop the weapon from her grasp. Her cry of pain was cut off by a hand covering her mouth, and her assailant began to pull her from the room. She struggled furiously, clawing at the hand that covered her mouth and kicking at their legs, but to no avail. Eventually they came to a stop and the assailant spun her around, all but throwing her towards a wall. She winced from the impact, but attempted to stand straight again.
A sword being leveled at her face, however, made her think twice.
“It would be advisable to leave now, before one of us makes a serious mistake,” her assailant, a man dressed entirely in black wearing a mask resembling a crow, said.
Holy offscreen teleportation, Caine, where did you come from?
ST’L: Hey, it did say time had passed, didn’t it?
True… Baaah, you win this round! *shakes fist*
Caine says his disappointment about how Rebecca was the only one to try to kill him, before Rebecca is all “I can’t let him live”. Caine points out that he saved two people, but—
“He’s killed so many more, though!” she cried, trying to get this man to see reason. “Why would you defend him? What possible reason do you have to protect him?” She held up her hands, still bandaged from where the nail had been driven into them. “Look what he did to me!” Lip quivering, she began to pull away the bandage that had been laid across her eye. “Look what he took from me…”
“Did he take that from you, or did Harker?” the man questioned.
“What does it matter? He was there! He helped him!” Before she could stop herself, her hand shot out and struck him across the face. He didn’t even flinch, but simply used his free hand to gently push hers away. Shocked by her own actions, she looked away. “…I need to do this…” she whispered, clutching at her hand. “People got hurt because of what I did. I need to do something to prove that it was worth it, that my efforts weren’t in vain!”
ST’L: What, by killing his lackey and not the actual guy who did that stuff to you? You have a weird definition of validation, girl.
Also, what was that about him being under heavy watch? If he was under heavy watch, shouldn’t someone else have seen this and tried to stop Rebecca?
ST’L: Drama, Herr.
“Will taking the life of a helpless man do that, however?” The man slid his sword into its sheath – one of two, she noted – and walked towards the hallway leading to Hugo. “What does killing a sleeping man prove to anyone, other than that you were too afraid to confront him face-to-face? If you kill him, someone who can’t fight back… Hmm, hurting people who can’t fight back. Why do I feel like I’ve heard of someone like that before?”
It took her a moment to understand what he was saying. “Are you… Are you trying to tell me that I’d be just like Harker?” He shrugged one shoulder in a noncommittal way, but the context for what he was saying was there.
Ah, yes, “let’s kill a man who is a danger to others and was the lackey of someone dangerous”, versus “let’s kill a woman who spat in my eye and actually tried to stand up to people”! Totally comparable situations!
She glared at him, anger twisting her features. “How… How dare you compare me to a monster like him!?”
ST’L: See, even she sees that this comparison is stupid.
“So you admit that he is the monster, and not Hugo.” The man turned around to face her again. “Do you know what the difference between a monster and a man is, in my own eyes at least? A monster can never be redeemed for their actions; they will always be a monster, no matter what they choose to do. A man, however, can work to be redeemed, and though he may never reach it, it won’t stop him from trying. You asked me why I would defend Hugo. The answer is quite simple: as a man trying to find redemption, I can only hope he would want the same. Him saving those two from the building last night may have been the first step on his road to redemption, and I would like to give him the chance to start on that journey.”
ST’L: Oh, that’s better. Only slightly. Still a stupid comparison, though.
No kidding. Rebecca then asks Caine ‘what if he’s wrong’, though her conviction wavers a bit. Caine acknowledges he could be wrong, but he would take solace in trying. He then tells Rebecca to go sleep, before she asks Caine’s name. He gives it to her, and then she leaves after making it clear she will hold him accountable if Hugo turns out to be a monster. Caine accepts that, and then we get this once Rebecca leaves:
Seemingly satisfied, she walked away, disappearing into the night as she returned home. Caine watched her walk off, wearing a solemn expression beneath his mask. “I will not try to protect everyone. To do so only invites a life of heartbreak and pain,” he said to himself. Walking back into the house, he entered the room where Hugo slept and watched the giant for a moment. “Instead, I choose to protect those that I can, and to cut down all who would threaten them. I have to wonder if you can share my convictions or if you will shatter them with your own. Whose are stronger, mine or yours?
“Kale… I look forwards to seeing if you can prove me wrong.”
And we end it on that note… without even getting to confront Harker.
ST’L: Whoah, wait, it says there’s one more chapter to go.
Nah, that’s just MaesterDimentio’s apology for not updating. And also the whole thing where he ended it off. So we’re not going to snark it here.
ST’L: … So we don’t even get to the Disc 1 final boss.
Nope. And we still have the weird pacing of this thing, right?
ST’L: It was… a bit slow, yes.
*shrug* Well, at least it’s over. Now we can move on to other pinnacles of badness, yes?
No kidding. Anyway, I’ve been Herr Wozzeck, I’m joined by Sura, and stay tuned for next week when we move on to something different!