Snippet #2790913

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.

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Character Portrait: Jeralt's Journal
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I.Y. 1186 - Harpstring Moon - Wednesday the 21st
Olin Village - Evening - Heavy Rain
Reynard Voigt


Reynard was currently unaccompanied in the dingy village tavern, but that wasn't so bad. It meant he could blend a little easier, pick up on the quiet words the patrons exchanged with the waitstaff, observe the bartender's watchful vigil over the room, and just sort of let himself melt into the background of the tense tapestry before him.

The marching army had stopped in this, the largest town between Myrddin and Gronder Fortress, with the intention of garrisoning part of their force here to defend it in the event Gloucester had tried something clever, like setting up an ambush. The reserve could be summoned and arrive within half a day, and so they would be reasonably protected from unexpected flanks even when they couldn't do much with their main formation to prevent them. Gronder was very open, after all, with only really the one big hill in the middle for concealment, and even that only worked from certain angles, as Sorcha had once so aptly demonstrated.

If only the fighting they'd be doing this time was so low-stakes. Reynard had almost found the Academy charming, in that way. There'd been plenty of life-or-death, also, but when the Archbishop remembered that it was a school and not just the garrison of her private army, there had been something almost... nice about it. He supposed he'd attended much later in his life than most of the students did, which sort of explained his perspective on it. He'd in fact been older than his own teacher, though not, he thought, more experienced, despite his own extensive initiation into matters of war.

Exhaling a cloud of smoke, he glanced briefly out the window, its pane half-open to evacuate his smoke. Rain fell steadily outside, a sudden spring storm of the kind not uncommon in this part of the world. If it kept up like he thought it would, Gronder was going to be a mire by the time they reached it. He hoped Gloucester's forces were feeling a little of the misery of it, though neither the beasts nor golems were likely to care a whit.

“Is this seat taken?" a familiar voiced called out to Reynard. Alaric was standing near his table, glancing at one of the empty seats but seemed to be waiting on Reynard's permission, for some reason. “May I, if it's not?" he continued.

Reynard didn't know how he could have missed the Duke's entrance; he was hardly a subtle man. Maybe he was slipping.

He cursed himself for the little jolt he felt in his chest when he realized who it was, but he wasn't in the habit of deluding himself. He knew what it was, and for as long as he'd tried to fight it, he'd lost. Well and truly. Were the gods merciful, it would have been the sort of thing that faded after a while, as feelings sometimes did, but insofar as Reynard had ever bothered with the gods, he'd taken the Flame Spirit as his patron, and that particular being was as intense in his passions as in warfare.

He was, in other words, quite fucked.

Or not, which is the prob—

"Have a seat," he said simply, cutting off his own thoughts. He was technically here on reconnaissance, which would be harder to do unobtrusively with Alaric present, but he hadn't heard anything he didn't already know, and he doubted he would. Might as well give it up and do more than sip at the beverage in front of him. "It's a shout your order at the barkeep kind of place; probably not your usual haunt." He lifted an eyebrow, more than willing to put in the other man's order if he found his manners a bit too genteel for that kind of thing.

Alaric huffed lightly, though, and shook his head. “I'm not here for the drinks, exactly," he spoke, taking a seat and folding his hands in front of him on the table. He regarded Reynard with a soft smile before he finally turned his head and actually placed an order. Seemed to be just for a regular beer, but he turned his attention back to Reynard.

“From what Mercer says, we'll be leaving behind a reserve of troops," he began softly, glancing at his hands for a moment before they narrowed. “He also said that I was to stay behind and lead that reserve." It was easy to tell that the Duke was upset about that particular information.

“I'm not staying behind while the rest of you are going, especially if you're going, too," he continued, raising his gaze to meet Reynard's.

Especially if—this idiot was really trying to kill him. Well, he wasn't, and that was the issue, but trying or not, he was going to, and Reynard resisted the urge to sigh. He had a feeling, now, that he understood what Mercer had felt, at a certain point during their Academy year. Probably Vridel, too, come to think of it. Minus the hope that it might actually get around to meaning something at some point.

Sometimes, though—

Taking another drag from his pipe, he tilted his head at Alaric. "I can understand not wanting to be left with the rear guard, milord, but I'm not sure exactly what you want me to do about it. Wouldn't this issue be better taken up with Mercer?"

Frankly, Reynard wasn't all that sorry, himself. He'd never say this, but privately he was a little bit relieved to know that Alaric wouldn't be taking the field directly, most likely. He'd never personally attempt to prevent such a thing—it wasn't his place, and Alaric was far too proud a man to take any such effort well, as he was presently demonstrating, but... it did give him one less thing to worry about.

“I... don't know, actually. I thought that maybe you could help me convince him otherwise. Or at least... give me advice about how to tell him. You know Mercer isn't easily swayed by declarations of fealty or talent. Once he makes up his mind, it's difficult to sway him otherwise, especially with this war. I don't want to be left behind simply because of a what if scenario. There are plenty of other people he could put in that position and allow me to go," he stated, his brows furrowing lightly.

“Out of everyone here, I respect your advice the most, Reynard. If you say that it is best that I stay behind, then nothing more will come of it, but... I'd," he paused, as if unsure how he wanted to finish that, “I'd like to be there with you... all of you."

"Ugh. Pull at my heartstrings, why don't you," Reynard muttered, shaking his head. Honestly he didn't know if Mercer could be convinced to change his mind. Alaric was in many ways the best choice to lead the rear guard: experienced with command, familiar to and respected by the soldiers, able to execute the necessary maneuver effectively should they actually be called upon.

Lifting one hand, he pulled it roughly through his hair. Still, he could hardly turn down a personal request, even if he tried not to make his susceptibility to such things obvious. Somewhere, Vridel was laughing at him, he was almost sure of it. Probably Mercer, too—he wouldn't put it past the little shit to do this on purpose, except he took his command too seriously.

"Have you got a lieutenant you'd trust to do it well? Say you want to give them the command experience in a lower-risk scenario, while providing the forward team with the best possible chance of success. Mercer knows how good you are—if anything'll sway him, that's it."

“I do have a lieutenant I can ask that will do the job," he replied, some tension leaving him, it seemed. He relaxed a bit in his chair, and took a drink of his beer that had arrived a moment ago. He furrowed his brows lightly, though, and turned his attention back towards Reynard.

“But... what do you think. You didn't say," he asked, his voice quite serious. Even his expression was set into something firm, the kind it only took when he truly was serious about something.

He would just outright ask, wouldn't he?

Something about Alaric's honesty had always been a bit disarming. This wasn't a man who dissembled, or even tried to say clever, pithy things. He was just always sincere, and always straightforward. Reynard didn't think he could quite manage that level of genuineness—he had more than his own feelings to protect, after all. But he could be honest at least in part.

"I was relieved at first," he admitted, turning his face to look out the window. It was hard to say this with direct eye contact—he didn't think he could watch Alaric's expression change as the truth unfolded itself. "You say things sometimes—things that lend me the impression you hold me in some... particular regard." He kept his face neutral, save the slightest furrow in his brow. He was sidling too close to a line here, but to do otherwise would be more deceptive than he was willing to be.

"The truth is, I hold you in a particular regard of my own. A... different one, but important all the same. I was relieved you wouldn't be in that kind of danger. But I also wouldn't really want to stop you from taking the field if that was what you wanted. You are a talented soldier and commander. Your presence might well make a difference. So... I advised accordingly." Setting his pipe down, he sighed quietly and chanced a look at the other man's face.

Alaric remained quiet, his eyes having dropped to his cup, and he stared intently at it. He seemed to be thinking, the way his eyes would flicker slightly, before his shoulders slumped.

“The truth is I do," he finally spoke after a moment of silence. “I do hold you in a particular regard, Rey," Alaric continued, shaking his head before he sighed softly. “You're... hm," he paused as if unsure how to continue, “You've been a good friend these last few years, and I respect your insight. You've never led me in the wrong direction, and I don't think you ever will."

It fell silent a moment later. “As you say, perhaps different, but important all the same. You're... important to me, somehow." He took a drink of his cup before his eyes settled to rest on Reynard.

Ah.

So this was what it felt like to be heartbroken, then.

Funnily enough, Reynard couldn't say just now that he was grateful for the life experience. In fact it was just... awful. He wished he could trap all of his own words behind his teeth, so that he'd never said them in the first place, because contrary to everything he'd ever been told, the dread ambiguity of not knowing for certain was somehow better than this. A good friend with respected insight.

There were, of course, much worse things to be. Intellectually, he recognized that if the man was good enough for him to love—and he so very clearly was—then his friendship was, itself, also a gift.

But that mangled dark thing in his chest was having none of it just now.

He cast his eyes back down to the surface of the table. "Good to know," he murmured, perhaps even managing a trace of the light, jocular playfulness with which he might otherwise have injected such a statement.

Reynard had always been an excellent liar, after all.

Alaric didn't seem to find the humor in it, though, and shook his head. “Thank you, though, Rey. For always being there when I need you," he spoke, his smile at least returning to his face.

“I'll speak to Mercer first thing tomorrow morning before we set off. I will be joining you all one way or another," he stated. “You will not be rid of me so easily, after all, Rey." There was something a little teasing in his tone of voice when he spoke, before he finished off his drink.

Reynard suppressed a bark of humorless laughter. No, nothing about this would be letting him be anytime soon at all.

"Wouldn't dream of it."