Posted 02 August 2012 - 12:18 AM
I reread what I wrote and realized that Chapter 2's way too long. . .so I'll post what I've done, which doesn't even reach 2-2. ;/
Day turned into night, and night into day. With each passing month, the events of the war felt less real. That is, until Nepheenee showed up on his doorstep clad in armor.
"We got trouble." Brom listened to what she said, then nodded in agreement.
"Wait 'ere. I need to get my armor on."
A group was gathered in the center of the village, with some young buck or other riling them up. Brom and Nepheenee exchanged looks as a slip of a girl made her way up to the head of the rabble. What was this stranger doing?
"Oh excuse me, where am I?" she asked the lead troublemaker. He turned to her, a cocky smile on his face.
"You're witnissin' the start of a revolution, girl!" he replied heartily. The crowd cheered him on. If the girl had heard him, she gave no outward indication of it. She cocked her head to the side, a slight frown on her face.
"You mean to wash this land in blood again," she accused. Her voice had changed from a girl's voice to one that almost sounded like an angry old woman. She stood up straight, and blinked. "Wh-what just happened?"
"GET HER!" the leader commanded. His followers were only too happy to comply.
"Y'all speak of revolution, but yer only good for bullyin' little girls!" Nepheenee yelled.
"What did you say?" Brom swallowed hard as the crowd produced weapons.
"She said that you are nothing but a windbag!" The man holding the girl yelped as she stepped hard on his foot. She closed her eyes and began chanting, as the enranged mob rushed forward.
"I knew I 'eard that before. Cover yer eyes, Neph!" Even though his back was to the spell, the light still washed out Brom's vision.
"Oh, right, Ike 'ad a lad who could do this," Nepheenee mumbled. Brom's sight slowly returned. He saw something hazy next to the girl.
"Hey, you, let her go!" Brom yelled at the new figure. He heard a woman chuckle.
"Oh, ever the chivlarous one, aren't you? I'm simply rescuing her!" came the reply. She screamed. "That HURT, you jerk! Fine, have it your way!" He heard a gurgle from the general direction of the mob.
"Kill them. KILL BOTH OF THEM!" the leader yelled.
"I ain't standin' around for this," Nepheenee grumbled. Brom's heart sunk as he saw two men rush towards her.
"I don' wanna kill my own, but they're not givin' me a choice," he grumbled back. One grunted painfully as he ran into Brom's shield. Before he could regain his senses, Brom cleaved his skull. The other man stood in shock. Nepheenee's lance found his midsection.
"You too, Brom and Nepheenee? It matters not. KILL ALL WHO RESIST US IN THE NAME OF LORD LUDVECK!"
Nepheenee sank to her knees. She'd hoped to talk some sense into them, but they came after her, one after another. None of the original mob remained. A shadow passed over her. The girl who had started it all stood over her.
"Your hands are covered in blood, but your eyes tell me that you're not a murderer. Thank you, miss," she said quietly.
"Why. . ." Nepheenee felt tears come to her eyes. She'd fought against Daein, but despite all the enemies she had killed, she had never felt as awful as she did right now. They had no training, or proper weapons, yet we cut them down.
"We got bigger problems," Brom said quietly. The families of the fallen stood in front of them, murder in their eyes.
"Hmph. These guys don't know the proper way to thank a gal. Let's get moving," the woman who had helped them said. She staggered a ways before leaning on a nearby wall to rest. After a few moments, she started down the road again. The wall she had rested against sported a large blood stain.
"Oh dear, this won't do at all. Hey, miss! Can you wait a bit?" The woman gave the girl an odd look as she paced back and forth. "Ah, so that's what happened. Can you hold still, please?" The girl closed her eyes and placed her hands on the woman's back.
"My back. . .it doesn't hurt any more. Thanks!" The girl chuckled weakly.
"Your fingers drip with gold, but you're--" She collapsed into a heap. The crowd backed away as Brom picked the girl up.
"Sorry fer causin' ya problems. We'll be off," he addressed them. "Hey, miss, you comin'?" The woman nodded, as the group set off down the road.
Once they were out of sight of the village, Brom placed the girl down on a grassy spot. Now that they were out of danger, Brom took a better look at the unconscious girl. She barely had any meat on her bones, and her dark clothing made her look even skinnier than she was. Her hair, however, was as pale as her clothing was dark.
"Forgive the, erm, intrusion," the woman said. "My name is Heather, and I just happened to stop by your lovely village. I saw those men bothering that girl, and I couldn't help but step in," she explained. Brom and Nepheenee looked at each other and shrugged. They quickly introduced themselves.
"Oh, soldiers from the Mad King's War? Those villagers sure know how to treat their heroes! Now that we're no longer welcome there, what are you two gonna do? I was headed to Melior, to do some shopping," Heather said quickly.
"Someone's gotta tell th' queen about this mess," Brom stated. "We got nowhere else to go. I guess we're goin' to Melior, too." Heather laughed.
"I get to travel with this pretty young girl? Oh, I feel so very lucky!" Nepheenee's face paled. Before she could say anything, the girl woke up.
"Wh-where am I? What happened? Oooh, my head!" Heather put a hand on the girl's shoulder.
"You healed my back, and we took you out of that horrid village. We're going to Melior. Wanna join us?" The girl smiled weakly.
"The captial of Crimea? Certainly, if I won't be a bother. I'm sorry, I never introduced myself. My name is Micaiah, and I'm looking for someone. He's important to me, but that's all I remember."
"Beggin' your pardon, but y'know what he looks like? We've been all over, an' we might've seen 'im somewhere," Nepheenee cut in.
"I wish I did! Sometimes, my mind will go blank. Next thing I know, I've got people angry with me, and my memories are a mess. I've been forgetting a lot lately," she said apologetically.
"Never fear. I'll keep an eye on you, so you'll always have someone who can help you out of a jam!" Heather volunteered. Micaiah's face went red.
"You are a very, um, interesting person, miss. Thank you." Brom chuckled. This Heather seems like the type that's sweet to girls. I'd best keep my darlin' Meg away from her!
The nobles are discontent. They think I am a poor leader, so they question my every move. I feel like they're prodding me for weakness. Me! I wasn't supposed to be in charge of this country. Somehow, everything went wrong, and here I am, trying to quell unrest within my own ranks. Perhaps Begnion senses weakness in Crimea; just the other day, I had to fend off some stray dracoknights from our skies. Why. . .why can't I run my country in such a way that we have peace, and everyone else leaves us alone?
Elincia leaned against the wall in her room, her head in her hands. She'd just finished lunch, and wanted nothing more than a few more moments to herself. A knock on her door ended her break.
"Excuse me, Your Majesty, but some visitors just arrived with disturbing news."
I must remain calm. I must remain composed. I cannot show signs of weakness. Elincia was so focused on keeping a straight face that she jumped when she heard her name.
"Are you okay?" Geoffrey inquired, his brow furrowed. "It's not like you to daydream during an audience."
"I--I'm fine," stammered Elincia. No, I'm not. Why are they rebelling? Am I doing my job wrong?
"This is the first concrete evidence that Duke Ludveck of Fellirae is planning a rebellion. Before this, all I heard was rumors," Lucia explained. "Please accept my apologies."
"It's okay, Lucia. You're doing a superb job. This internal strife says far more about me than anyone else." Silence greeted Elincia's words.
"That look doesn't suit your pretty face in the least!" Everyone turned around abruptly as Heather strode forward. She stopped when she stood in front of Brom and Nepheenee.
"Beggin' your pardon, Heather, but now's not the time for this," Brom stated.
"Be quiet, you. What this damsel in distress needs is encouragement, not some oaf standing up for her. M'lady, I've been around Crimea quite a bit, and almost everyone I met said good things about you. I was quite surprised to hear that mob myself. It's as if they've never had a proper lady look after them before!"
"Have you no manners, woman?" Lucia snapped. Heather chuckled, and winked at Lucia. The latter kept a straight face.
"As crass as ever," a small voice cut in. Micaiah slipped past Brom, and stood next to Heather. "But I will second Heather's tale. I have seen nothing but joy in the hearts of most of the Crimeans I met."
"By your leave, Your Highness, I can escort these two--" Geoffrey started.
"They're with us," Nepheenee said hastily. "The girl's Micaiah, and th' other one's Heather. They were 'n the village durin' the uprising."
"I see. Sending them away after all they've been through would be cruel," Elincia stated. "Thanks to the rebellion, they no longer have a home. Malicia, I want a room prepared for these four. They are my guests."
"Yes, Your Majesty," the maid responded, before scurrying off to fulfill her orders.
"R-rooms in the castle? What'd we do to earn this?" Nepheenee asked, incredulous.
"You four are firsthand witnesses to what appears to be a rebellion in the name of Duke Ludveck. It would be most unfortunate if you suddenly. . .disappeared," Elincia explained. "This also means you will be confined to the castle until further notice." Micaiah's shoulders slumped.
"Now how am I gonna find him?" the girl grumbled. "I'm pretty sure Sothe isn't in this castle!" Five people looked up at each other in shock.
"Sothe? You mean that lil' squirt of a thief that joined us? Why didn't ya say somethin' sooner, girl?" Brom said sharply.
"You know him?" Micaiah asked, hope in her voice.
"I remember him," Elincia said, with a small chuckle. "He'd be dogged by that redheaded mage all the time. Somehow, they managed to work together on the battlefield. I wonder how they're doing now?"
"So he's not here?"
"I believe he went back to Daein," Lucia stated.
"If you want to know more about him, ask Astrid. I believe she spent the most time around him," Geoffrey added.
"Thank you! Oh, this is the closest I've been! I--" Micaiah's smile turned into a frown.
"Can you let go of yourself for the sake of your country?" Brom, Nepheenee, and Heather paled. Micaiah spoke with the voice of an older woman.
"I--what do you mean?" the queen stuttered.
"Elincia cannot stop the rivers of blood. Only the rightful ruler of Crimea can." Micaiah stood up straight for a moment, then sank to her knees in front of the throne.
"No, not again. What just happened?" The older woman's voice was gone, replaced by the girl's one. The silence in the room was broken by a sob.
"I. . .I can't do this!" Elincia buried her face in her hands and sobbed. Geoffrey and Lucia glared at Micaiah, who stared back, confused.
"This happened in Ohm. It's what got the mob goin'," Nepheenee said glumly. "She said they'd wash the land in blood."
"The more I'm around people, the more this happens. Can I be alone for a while?" Micaiah slowly stood up, and dusted herself off.
"I'll have Malicia show you to your room," Lucia said, irritation evident in her voice. Everyone watched silently as the two left the throne room.
"Dreadfully sorry, Your Highness. We didn' mean to do that to ya," Brom apologized softly.
"No, it's not your fault. That girl didn't seem to mean any harm, but. . ." Elincia trailed off.
"By your leave, Your Highness, I would like to go to Felirae myself to see if I can uncover more of this plot," stated Lucia.
"Very well. Please be careful, Lucia." The turquoise-haired woman bowed, then turned to the three remaining guests. "This means you three are coming with me."
"I like a bold woman," Heather said with a crooked smile. If Lucia heard the comment, she ignored it.
"Yes m'lady," Brom and Nepheenee chorused.
Lucia's grand plan was for them to escort a heron princess to Felirae. The two women were to be the princess' maids; Brom was there under the guise of a guard. Lucia had also asked Lethe and Mordecai to accompany them, as "envoys of Gallia". After Lucia had filled them in, they were more than happy to come along. Nepheenee tugged at the collar of her dress. It itched horribly. Heather glared at her.
"Concentrate on the surroundings. You'll give yourself away if you keep doing that," the older woman whispered.
"This darn thing's too tight! I can barely breathe!" Nepheenee whispered back.
"Then be glad you're a farmer by trade, and not a maid. We're coming up to the guards. Remember your role!" Nepheenee sorely wished she could change back into more familiar clothes. The cloth gloves didn't quite fit right, but they were the biggest that could be found on such short notice. The dress was barely long enough to be called such. Worst of all, she was without her familiar helmet, and the sun burned on her head.
"We will let the Duke know right away. We'd like you to leave the names of everyone that is with you, for accountability purposes," the guard droned. Nepheenee felt the blood leave her face. She'd give herself away with her accent! Before she could move, Heather stepped in front of her.
"Such a diligent guard! My name is Heather, and I am but a humble servant to Princess Leanne. My companion over there is Nepheenee, who lost her voice to an illness." The guard's gaze fell on Nepheenee, who did her best to smile.
"A shame that such a pretty girl can't say anything. Next!" Once the trio was past the guards, Heather grinned like a kid.
"Nothing that a little sweet-talkin' can't fix," she said with a chuckle. "Men can be so stupid!" Had Heather been paying attention to her "charge" she would've seen the princess give her an odd look.
You are very lucky that beorc can't see into hearts like me, or your ruse would not work. Can't you find another way to protect people besides lying?
As planned, the entourage, now dressed in more familiar clothes, snuck into a storage area. Lethe stood guard near the cave entrance. Laguz senses were far better at scouting than beorc ones.
"This--this is what I've been looking for! Everyone, we're leaving!" A hiss from the entrance echoed through the cave.
"I suppose this is where we show off what we're worth!" Heather said enthusiastically.
"Why're you gettin' all worked up?" Brom asked, annoyance in his voice.
"You didn't have the guards hitting on you," she replied sourly. Leanne said something, but only Nealuchi understood her. He did his best not to chuckle.
You were quite fond of the attention, miss Heather.
Lucia hurried everyone back to Melior as quickly as possible. She did not want to risk being ambushed on the way back. Luckily, the party made it back to the capitial without incident. Much to her surprise, she saw Elincia chatting calmly with the strange girl that had insulted Her Highness a few days back. As if on cue, the girl looked up.
"Oh, hello Lady Lucia! Since I'm having problems with my memory, Queen Elincia suggested that I keep a diary. It's such a neat solution to my problem!" Micaiah said with a big smile.
"I see," Lucia said uncertainly. "About that errand you sent me on. . ."
"Oh, I think Lady Astrid is finally back in her quarters. I'll see if I can talk to her!" Micaiah bowed to Elincia and Lucia before running out of the room.
"She sure knows how to take subtle hints well," Lucia said dryly. She handed the documents she'd found to Elincia, who read through them.
"This mentions everything. Furthermore, it gives the names of the villages that were to be targeted, including Ohm. It's settled. We need to stop this, now. Lucia, what's wrong?" Lucia bit her lip.
"The guards at Felirae took our names, and I didn't instruct them to use fake names. I'm not sure how many survived in Ohm, but if Brom and Nepheenee left on bad terms--"
"--then it's possible their own village could betray them," Elincia finished.
"I'll assign permanent guards on those four. You work on bringing Ludveck under control." Elincia nodded at her friend's suggestion.
"Thank you, Lucia. When you are done, can you please tell your brother that I'd like to see him?"
Astrid looked up in surprise when she heard a knock on her door. The people who would usually visit her had been assigned elsewhere for the day. She opened the door hesitantly. An unfamiliar girl stood at the other end.
"I'm sorry, is this a bad time?" the girl asked. Astrid shook her head.
"There's someone I've been looking for, and I finally remembered who he was. I heard from Sir Geoffrey that you talked to this person." Astrid stared at the girl silently. What was this girl rambling about?
"Oh, I forgot to introduce myself again! My name is Micaiah, and I'm looking for someone named Sothe. Does that sound familiar?" the girl rambled on.
"Nice to meet you, Micaiah, but I don't think my doorway is the best place to discuss this," Astrid said calmly. Micaiah squeaked out an apology, before settling on one of the stools Astrid had in her room. Astrid sat on the edge of her bed.
"You're looking for Sothe, right? I did talk to him a bit, but he didn't tell me where he was going after the war. I'm sorry. Uh, what are you doing?" Micaiah scribbled something in the book she carried.
"This is my diary. I'm writing things down, so I don't forget them," she responded. Her eyes were back on Astrid, but the book lay open.
"You seem far too young to have memory problems," Astrid joked lightly. The girl's smile faded for a moment.
"Where has that kid run off to? I've been looking high and low for him, with no luck," Micaiah grumbled. She thumbed through her diary and sighed.
"I'd imagine he'd be back on the streets somewhere. He complained about the nobility a lot." Astrid sighed as Micaiah continued to write in her diary. "Is all of this really necessary?"
"The last time my memory blanked on me, I forgot who I was searching for! I don't want to go through that again!" the younger girl cried out.
"Uh, sorry about that," Astrid said quietly. If her memory's that bad, then what is she doing out on her own? A knock on the door caused Astrid to jump off the bed and peek outside. This time, it was one of the castle guards.
"Her Majesty has ordered a guard on Micaiah at all times. This means that--" the guard started.
"But I already have a guard!" Micaiah interrupted. "I'd much rather have Astrid watch over me!" Astrid felt the blood rush out of her face. She'd heard that the Queen had some guests recently. To insult such a guest would probably have dire consequences. Even if she was hesitant about this, personally, her job came first.
"W-well, if Her Highness is willing, I'll accept," Astrid stammered out.
"Uh, I'll, uh, check on that," the guard mumbled, before hastily leaving. Once the door had been shut, Micaiah let out a little squeal.
"That's wonderful! You can tell me ALL about what Sothe told you!" The female knight sighed. What had she gotten herself into?