Snippet #2786555

located in Fódlan, a part of Fire Emblem: Apotheosis, one of the many universes on RPG.

Fódlan

A continent divided into three different factions: The Adrestian Empire, The Holy Kingdom of Faerghus, and the Leicester Alliance.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Senka Rinaldi Character Portrait: Mercer von Riegan Character Portrait: Cyril Eisner Character Portrait: Sorcha Blaiddyd
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I.Y. 1180 - Verdant Rain Moon - Friday the 8th
Marketplace - Evening - Muggy
Mercer von Riegan


Mercer rubbed the back of his neck and yawned. He was supposed to be shopping for supplies, but he wasn't really in the mood. He was slightly sore from Wednesday's events. He hadn't realized how much of a chore it would be to try and teach Amalthea how to swim. She wasn't bad at it, for a beginner, but when he tried getting her to go into the deeper parts, she almost drowned him. For someone so small, he forgot how strong she was. He was just glad that the others were able to keep him from drowning, but it had been a bit of a sore-spot for him. No doubt Vi would use that against him, somehow.

As he made his way past the blacksmith, a familiar shade of blonde caught his attention, and he felt himself grin. As usual, though, Senka was with Sorcha, so sneaking up on Sorcha would be difficult. Rolling his eyes to himself, he decided he'd at least see what they were up to.

“Hey, guys," he greeted, pulling Senka's attention from the vulnerary she was looking at.

“Good evening, Mercer," she replied, inclining her head towards him. “Are you here for supplies as well?" she asked, causing him to nod his head.

“Yeah, I figured I might as well stock up on a few things before the mission this month. Since we really don't know what we're going up against, and Teach's trainings have been a little... overkill," though that was a lie. They weren't as bad as they usually were. It was just trying to learn something new that was giving Mercer trouble. He wasn't quite used to a partner, yet.

Sorcha, of course, was the partner in question, as the two of them were the group's only fliers, so it made sense. She simply nodded, though, certainly not disagreeing with him about the difficulty of the new exercises. “I'm sort of used to teamwork being... well more like a bunch of individuals doing the same thing, or joining forces if it comes up. Working as an actual team from the get-go, and developing tactics around it... that's something I've never done before."

On a certain level, it wouldn't be that useful after graduation. After all, most of them would be returning to very different places. But on the other hand, knowing how to develop close teamwork couldn't hurt, even if the particular partner had to change.

“True. It's something none of us has done, so I think that was the reason Teach wanted us to learn," he replied with a light shrug of his shoulders. “It's not all bad, I suppose," he added. “Speaking of Teach, is that him in the distance?" he stated, narrowing his eyes. It almost looked like Teach in the distance, however; he couldn't be too sure. What caught his attention, though, was the woman standing next to the Maybe-Teach. Mercer felt his stomach twist a bit.

“Uh, Sen, do me a favor and stand over here. Right in front of me," he stated, causing Senka to furrow her brows. She didn't comply with his request, though, and the woman glanced in their direction. He could see a grin forming on her face as she mouthed something to the Maybe-Teach. She waved at him, though, as if trying to summon Mercer to her. He pretended not to notice.

“Mercer von Riegan get your ass over here!" she shouted, causing almost everyone in the market to turn in his direction. He groaned.

“Do you guys mind?" he asked Sorcha and Senka. He really didn't want to go alone to see the woman.

Sorcha snorted. “Friend of yours?" she asked, turning without protest towards the woman, tilting her head as if to prompt Senka to do the same. Senka followed wordlessly behind.

As they got closer it became quite clear that Maybe-Teach was in fact actually Teach, and he looked the faintest bit bewildered by the woman. This didn't stop him from lifting a hand in greeting as the three of them approached, however.

“If it isn't my little Mercer!" Judith stated, causing Mercer to purse his lips together.

“Judith, what are you doing here?" he questioned, earning a flat stare from the woman.

“That's Lady Judith to you, boy. I told you, until you're in charge, I expect you to address me with all due respect." Mercer pursed his lips at Judith as he regarded her with a flat stare. What did she want, anyway? “Anyway, I'm here to retrieve you. Duke Riegan's condition has taken a turn for the worse." That explained what she wanted, at least. Mercer sighed heavily as he groaned.

“So... are you saying gramps is on his death bed, now?" he questioned. Duke Riegan had varying health issues. He would be fine one month, and deathly ill the next. Mercer knew that Riegan was likely just wanting him around for some reason or another. Judith, however, shook her head.

“No, it's not that bad," she began, placing a hand to her forehead, “but in the state he's in, he won't be able to participate in the next roundtable conference." And there it was. Mercer wasn't too sure if he wanted to, but he didn't have much of a choice, he supposed. “He wants you to go in his stead, and I volunteered to play the messenger."

“Gee, thanks. Oh," he glanced at the others, “I guess I should introduce you. This is Judith, my mother." Judith inclined her head towards the group and grinned.

“So, you're the friends I've heard so much about. Tell me, how much trouble has he given you?" she asked, the grin never leaving her face. Mercer inwardly groaned.

“You call your mother by her first name?" Sorcha's eyes widened in rather comical surprise, like she'd never even realized such a thing was possible, let alone considered actually doing it. She glanced between them, initial surprise fading into thoughtfulness. Likely, she recognized the family resemblance, which while not especially strong, was definitely there to some extent.

“Ah, um. Please forgive me, Lady Judith," she said, bowing rather formally. The motion was deep enough to dislodge her necklace from its place beneath her uniform jacket. “We might have actually met before, briefly, though I was very young at the time. I'm Sorcha. Sorcha Blaiddyd. This is my friend, Senka Argyris." She rose from the bow.

Senka bowed, though not as deeply as Sorcha had. Judith seemed rather amused by it, however; her eyes landed near where the necklace lay. Her eyes narrowed, and Mercer knew that she recognized the gem. “You little shit," she stated, glancing in his direction. Mercer took a cautious step backwards, and raised his hands in defense. “You told me you lost it!" she nearly shouted, however; her attention went back to Sorcha.

“Did he give that to you?" she asked, though she seemed rather curious than angry.

Sorcha's surprise took on an element of apprehension. “It's yours? I'm so sorry! I—the wrapping can come off, I mean if you need it to—um." She cleared her throat, fingers folding carefully around the stone, as if to protect it from something, despite her apparent expectation that she'd be giving it back. “Yes, he did. It was—it was honestly my fault, though; I—well apparently I was making quite a nuisance of myself and it made a rather good distraction, so if there's fault, it's mine."

She pursed her lips, throwing an uncomfortable glance at Mercer and for some reason studiously not looking at Senka.

Teach only looked curious at this development, arms folded over his chest and one eyebrow ever so slightly arched.

Senka drew an expression Mercer hadn't seen before. It looked almost sly, if the way her lips tilted up was anything to go by. She didn't say anything, though, but Judith laughed rather loudly. “Well I suppose at one time it was mine, but I gave it to the boy a while back. It seems it's yours now, though I suppose I couldn't want a more adorable daughter-by-marriage," she stated, grinning at Mercer.

“She'll make a beautiful bride for you, one day."

“What?" was the only thing he could say. Senka seemed amused by the sudden turn of events, and her eyes were on Sorcha, now.

“That stone is known as an engagement stone in Almyra. Your dad gave it to me, and I gave it to you. I told this to you when you were old enough to understand; the woman you give that stone to is your intended. It's an Almyran custom, but it still holds merit in the country," she explained, crossing her arms over her chest.

“So, that means Sorcha is to be Mercer's fiancée?" Senka asked, as if confirming the statement. Judith nodded her head.

An amused sound escaped Teach; it sounded like the kind of snort that was meant to keep back a laugh.

“What?" Sorcha repeated, blinking wide eyes. She seemed to have caught the idea, though, from the way a brilliant scarlet blush rose to the surface of her skin. For some reason, she rounded on Mercer, whacking him in the arm in that way she had that didn't really hurt. Unlike when Amalthea had nearly drowned him, she seemed to at least understand how to check her strength. “You idiot, why would you give me something that important?!" Her voice had pitched up to something high and nervous, but well short of shrill.

“I mean it can't count but still!"

“Why does it not count?" Teach asked. Reasonably, since he didn't know all the details of the story.

At least the question distracted her from the enterprise of trying to beat him up very gently. She paused in her motions and sighed. “Oh, right. Well, we were both young children, and I didn't know what it meant, so I'm sure I don't count as having accepted it. Also, Faerghus doesn't recognize the custom, or I assume they must not, because I already have a fiancé."

“Hm, afraid not, kid," Judith spoke. Mercer was still at a loss for words, though. “Faerghus has to recognize the agreement. That means they are either ignoring it, or they really want to piss off the wrong people. Whether or not you were kids, unless the boy, here, takes back the gem, the engagement still stands. When Mercer takes the title Duke von Riegan, the two of you will be married."

“I can't take something back that I gave someone. Plus... wait you have a fiancé?" Mercer stated, focusing in on that one statement for some reason. He didn't understand why, but he was... something felt hot inside of him. Was he jealous? Why would he be jealous?

“You can't legally bind me with something I didn't know!" Sorcha protested, before glancing sideways at him and sighing. “Well... yes. It happens sometimes. The nobles can't seem to decide whether they believe my uncle is going to settle down and have any sons with Crests. When they think he is, they tend to leverage my position into advantageous arrangements. I've had three fiancées—my uncle isn't really the settling type, and none of his bastards have had the Crest yet. They're hopeful for the next one, though, so... I'm engaged to Duke Gloucester."

She spoke of it as though the circumstances were perfectly normal.

“What happened to the other two?" Teach tilted his head, clearly unsure if normal was the right word.

“Well, uh." Sorcha pursed her lips. “Glenn died, and I threw wine in Viscount Kleiman's face at a dinner once and in the last break between them he got married to someone else."

“This is news to me; Gloucester never mentioned an engagement to you," Judith stated, her eyes narrowing suspiciously.

“Doesn't matter, though, because she's stuck with me," Mercer replied almost immediately. He was not going to let Sorcha marry Gloucester. “We'll have your engagement anulled to him, and announce at the summit you're my fiancée; you are not marrying that pig," Mercer stated, his eyes hardening in Sorcha's direction. She deserved happiness in her life, and if she married someone like Gloucester, a known rake, well... Mercer was certain he'd poison the man. On purpose this time.

“We'll also notify the regent of Faerghus about it so that he doesn't try anything else."

“What makes you think they will let you annul her engagement, Mercer?" Senka asked in a curious fashion.

“Because what's better than a lord of the Alliance than the actual Duke?" he replied, completely serious about the matter.

“Who died and left you in charge of me?" Sorcha snapped, glowering up at him. She set her hands on her hips, eyes narrow and mouth set in a scowl. “I don't suppose anyone cares what my opinion on the matter is?" She looked around at all of them, jaw tightening and glare accusatory.

“I'd rather be married for political advantage than pity, just so you know." Drawing herself up as tall as she could, she gave Judith a very brief, very queenly, nod. “It was nice to meet you, Lady Judith. If you would excuse me." She did not, however, wait for actual permission, turning on her heel and stalking off.

“Sorcha, wait!" Mercer called after her, cursing himself and his mother for saying what she did. But he was also grateful she did, otherwise he wouldn't have known her situation.

“Go get her, boy!"

When he managed to catch up with Sorcha, he moved so that he was completely in front of her and blocking any other way she could leave. She'd have to go back if she wanted to get away from him. “I didn't mean it like that," he stated, eyes fixed with hers. “Of course I care about your opinion in the matter, but..." his jaw tightened somewhat as he fought the urge to sigh.

“It's not out of pity that I said those things. You don't understand how Gloucester is. You'd be miserable, and I... well, you're my friend, Sorcha. I wouldn't want to see you that way. If you really would rather marry Gloucester, then I won't say anything about it, but... don't you deserve the chance to choose who you actually marry? If you're engaged to me, it won't change anything. I can call it off whenever you want, and if you... find someone you want to be with, then I'll be happy for you, Sor. But..." he paused.

“What do you want?"

“Time." She didn't look too pleased with him for blocking her path, but she did draw to a stop. Quite close, actually, almost enough to be in his face, though even frustrated as she clearly was, she wasn't quite that rude about it. Still, she was close enough that he could've counted her freckles if he wanted to. “I want time. I just—this was suddenly sprung on me, and Lady Judith acted like I have no choice and this is the kind of thing that could start wars if we're not careful, Mercer, depending on how much she and my uncle's advisers are willing to push, or how insulted Duke Gloucester might be."

She expelled a heavy breath, turning her eyes to the side. As if by some old instinct, she gripped the pendant at her neck. “I... appreciate your willingness to do this for me. It's... kind. At least now that it doesn't feel like you're trying to tell me what to do." She managed a little bit of a smile at that.

“But honestly I doubt there's anything to worry about. I haven't even met the Duke yet. I'm sure once I do, he'll revoke his agreement just like Kleiman did." She shrugged.

Mercer ran a hand down his face. “I'm sure he wants to, already. Gloucester isn't the marrying type, but... I will respect your wishes," he replied, taking a step back to give her some space. She wasn't wrong, though. Judith shouldn't have phrased it the way she did, but there was some merit to it, he supposed. The wars that would be started, though, would be of Faerghus' own doing. Almyra wasn't a country you just ignored. You didn't ignore a custom from a nation that was likely as large as all of Fódlan, however; he would do what he said. He was going to respect her wishes.

She winced visibly at the part about Gloucester already wanting to rescind things, a dark little huff of laughter escaping her.

“If that is how you really feel, then... I'm not going to force the issue, however," he stated, eyes going towards the necklace. “Keep that hidden for the time being. I'm not going to ask for it back; it was a gift from a stupid kid trying to make another person happy."

Sorcha hesitated, there. “Maybe you should take it back, then?" she asked quietly. “I mean neither of us knew what you were doing, and all this could be avoided. It—it did make me happy. But if what it's doing now is causing so much trouble..." She shook her head. “I don't think anyone would be happy if there was a dispute over something so easily-rectified?" She seemed to think that the primary issue would be one between Faerghus and the Alliance; then again, she only knew of his status within the Alliance, so that wasn't unreasonable of her.

“Sorcha," he began, grabbing her chin lightly and forcing her to meet his eyes. “I need you to understand something," he continued, face set in a completely serious expression. He wasn't sure if he should tell her this, but he needed her to understand something. “It's not something that is easily-rectified. Not when it's someone like me. I am half-Almyran, you know this, but..." this was all or nothing. What he said could likely put himself at more risk, more danger, but he wanted her to know. And to understand why he was doing what he was.

“I am Almyra's Prince. My father is King of Almyra. Do you understand why I am telling you this? Why something like this custom cannot be so easily-rectified? Faerghus would be insulting their royalty if they refused to annul your engagement with Gloucester, and that jewel... it's yours now. Keep it."

“You—but—" she stuttered, seemingly at a momentary loss. Whether it was from the words or the way he'd delivered them or some combination of the two was hard to say. “Lady Judith said it would be fine if you just took it back...?"

Her thoughts seemed to jump from one track to the other quite abruptly, though. “And prince? What—why is Almyra's prince in Fódlan? I don't—I don't understand any of this." She was obviously distressed, but she oddly made no move to step away, nor to free herself from his gentle grip on her face.

He huffed a little. He supposed he should have expected that reaction. “I'm here because I am Duke von Riegan's only living heir. They don't need me in Almyra, yet. And Judith says whatever she wants that she thinks will be of benefit to her. I don't think she was lying when she said she liked you," though that wasn't quite the way she'd phrased it.

“Don't... think too much on it, Sor. I'm still me, Mercer, your idiot friend, alright? I'll... explain more when there's time, but... I need to prepare for the trip to Derdriu. We'll talk when I get back, alright? That is... if you want."

“I... all right." Sorcha still seemed a little troubled but she gave him a small nod. “I don't know exactly what they'll have you doing, but... good luck, Mercer."

He grinned at her. “Thanks, love."

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