Soren: So that’s how much we spent… Supplies are running low. We need dried meat, fresh fruit… Ike? Are you listening?
Ike: Huh? Oh, sorry. I wasn’t paying attention.
Soren: I would have never guessed.
Ike: Sorry, Soren. Look, could you run the report by me again?
Soren: You’re tired, Ike. You need rest. Go find a cot somewhere.
Ike: You can tell?
Soren: Of course. When you’re not feeling well, your left eye twitches.
Ike: That’s…odd. I never noticed.
Soren: Get some sleep. I can manage things for a few hours.
Ike: Well, I am pretty beat…
Ike: You know, Soren? You’re not nearly as insensitive as the others say. Deep down, you’re a big softie.
Soren: Excuse me?
Ike: Oh, nothing. I’m going.
Soren: Mmm. Don’t let the bedbugs bite.
Ike: Do you have a second, Soren?
Soren: What is it, Ike?
Ike: What’s wrong? You’ve been quiet and moody for days. What’s going on?
Soren: Um… Well, it’s…
Soren: …It’s nothing. … …You’ve never worried about who you are, have you? Your family? Where you come from?
Ike: Who I am…? Well, not really. No. I guess I don’t understand what you’re getting at. I had a father and a mother. I don’t remember much about her, but otherwise, no complaints.
Soren: It must be…nice to have loving parents. You need people to experience your childhood. To help shape the person you will become. Without an adult around to affirm and support them, a child can’t know which path to take. Or who he really is.
Ike: Don’t you have any memory of your parents?
Soren: No. The woman who raised me was not my birth mother. And she wasn’t all that fond of me, anyway… My earliest memories are of her saying, “Why me? The world isn’t fair!” or “Stay away from me, child!” No love. No affection. She took care of me out of some sense of duty that she didn’t really possess.
Soren: When I was about four, a nearby sage came by and asked to take me in. He said I possessed rare magical talent. I remember the day clearly. My caretaker was delighted to give me up. In fact, she seemed almost delirious with pleasure. Smiling like a madwoman as she handed me over… The sage even gave her gold as compensation. Not that it was necessary.
Ike: Oh, Soren… I had no idea.
Soren: The sage was old, and knew that death would soon come for him. His only goal was to teach his art to an apprentice. As time was short, he put me through terribly rigorous magic training. We worked day and night, without cease. I didn’t even have time to think about who I really was. But it was still a better life than I had ever known. When the sage died two years later, I had acquired much magical skill. Perhaps too much for a child of my age… At any rate, once I had eaten all of the food in the sage’s hovel, I left and walked for days to find help. Upon reaching civilization, I came to another grim realization… I couldn’t speak. Not a word.
Soren: Oh, I could read and write better than most of the villagers. And I could understand what they said. I just couldn’t talk. I couldn’t help it. The woman and the sage both used to hurl words at me. Unkind words, usually. But I never needed to answer, so–
Soren: Huh? Oh… I apologize, Ike. I should not have made you listen to such nonsense…
Ike: Soren, it’s no nonsense! It’s awful! It’s the most terrible thing I’ve ever heard! Where did this happen? Was it in Begnion?
Soren: No… But, there’s more. I haven’t told you… About my parents… No, that’s enough. I’m sorry. Excuse me…
Ike: Wait, Soren? Soren! Blast!
Ike: Hey, Soren.
Ike: I’ve been thinking a lot about what you said the other day, and there’s something I still don’t understand. You survived. You’re strong. Why would you feel insecure about who you are? Tell me. Tell me everything.
Soren: Curse you! Why can’t you leave me be?! I don’t have any friends, Ike! I don’t have anyone else! If I tell you and you turn on me… I… I… I don’t think I can survive it.
Ike: That’s why you have to tell me, Soren. You’ll never tell anyone else. And if you don’t tell anyone, you’re just going to keep suffering. Look at you! You’re a mess! Come on. Talk to me.
Soren: Ike… I… I…
Ike: Soren, it’s me! Trust me. I don’t give two figs who your parents are! I’ll stand by you.
Soren: Ike, I…sniff… No, I won’t… ..sniff…Ah, Ike… …I’m… Branded. I’m one of the Branded.
Ike: A Branded? What’s that?
Soren: It’s a cross between a beorc and a laguz. Such a taboo union violates every teaching of the goddess. And of society. We are untouchables. Abominations. Condemned to a life of hatred and shunning from both races.
Ike: Wait, wait. Hold it a second. Let me make sure that I follow you… You’re part laguz?
Soren: Yeah. This mark on my forehead is the proof. I learned about it while researching ancient books at the Mainal Cathedral. I always thought it was a birthmark. Others thought that it was the mark of a Spirit Charmer.
Ike: What’s a Spirit Charmer?
Soren: Magic comes from interaction with spirits. If you let one into your body, it will give you tremendous power…for a price. That’s why the old sage was so interested in me. He thought I had struck such a deal. But instead, I was just a filthy Branded.
Ike: All right. I understand. So?
Soren: …What do you mean, “so?”
Ike: So, you have laguz blood in your veins. So, you have a mark to prove it. So… What’s the problem?
Soren: What’s the problem…? Don’t you find me repugnant!? I work beside you, eat beside you. I’m nothing! I don’t belong anywhere! Doesn’t that sicken you?
Ike: No. It doesn’t change anything. You’re still you, Soren! You’re a capable officer of our army. And my friend. We can’t keep going unless you are with us.
Soren: …Ike… I thought… I thought you…
Soren: It was Gallia. The sage lived in Gallia. A few beorcs had settled there and…
Ike: Gallia? Are you saying…
Soren: When the sage died, no one would help me. I couldn’t speak. Couldn’t find food. I was dying. You were the only one who helped. You and your father. That’s why you’re my friend. My…only friend.