Snippet #2790960

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: Amalthea von Kreuz Character Portrait: Mercer von Riegan Character Portrait: Cyril Eisner Character Portrait: Vridel von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Sorcha Blaiddyd Character Portrait: Jeralt's Journal
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I.Y. 1186 - Harpstring Moon - Monday the 26th
Gronder Field - Morning - Overcast
Mercer von Riegan


Mercer felt Sir nudge his back a little. He placed a hand on the wyvern's snout, pushing him gently as he surveyed the field in front of him. It was hard to believe that they were all here almost five years ago for very different reasons. It was a house battle, and the Blue Lions had taken the win. He hadn't been upset at the loss. He kind of expected to lose that battle since he wasn't particularly trying. That he got as far as he did was another matter though.

But there was no time for reminiscing. They were all here for a very different reason. One that was going to decide whether or not they would succeed in changing the world, or perishing alongside it. Mercer had no intentions of dying, but... he couldn't exactly predict the future, or anyone's fate. He could only go into the battle with a clear head, and try not to get himself killed. And to also keep the others alive. He turned his attention towards the group, a wry smile crossing his lips. They were wearing such somber expressions, but he couldn't blame them, really.

Even Alaric stood, his signature cloak tied to his back, with a bit of a forlorn expression. It hadn't taken much, honestly, to convince Mercer to bring Alaric along with the front group. He'd expected that Alaric would have taken a particular stance against being left behind, but he pushed the thought out of his mind.

Those that had mounts, were all currently standing beside them. Senka had a hand on Liev's neck, Thea held Sunny's reins in her hand a little tightly, and Sir nudged Mercer once more as he took in a breath. “You all know what you're getting into. Stay safe, protect each other's backs, and... just try to stay alive, alright? We know they have golems, and they have beasts. We need to make sure those who are capable of dealing with them, are doing so. We need to make sure that the main body of the army is at least able to push forward through Gloucester's."

Thea nodded her head and glanced in Vridel's direction, smiling somewhat before she took his hand and squeezed it. Deirdre and Sylvi spared a glance towards each other, but nodded their heads nevertheless.

“Same goes for you, too, Mercer. No running into this like a headless chicken, alright?" Deirdre stated, causing him to huff lightly. He wasn't that reckless, at least not anymore.

Teach had in fact borrowed a wyvern for the battle, due to the need for more air control. Oskar, as he was called, was a rather large creature, but also quite young. He'd been too skittish for his last rider, but in that weird way he had, Teach seemed to be able to keep the animal focused. He rubbed at the scales on Oskar's nose, now, eyes narrowed out at the field.

“Something's off about the formation on the hill," he murmured. “Looks like they've got a few ballistae set up, so watch yourselves getting in close."

Next to Mercer, Sorcha was grim-faced. They'd never found out exactly who had left Gloucester's note to her, but she'd eventually shown it to Mercer. If it troubled her, she'd kept quiet about it, but there was a tension to her now that suggested this battle, at least, worried her. Catching his eye, she half-smiled, the expression still somehow serious.

"They're coming," that was Reynard, riding towards them quickly on the scout-horse he used for quicker reconnaissance. He dismounted while the animal was still in motion, giving it a smack to direct it back to the rear lines. "And there's a lot of them."

Mercer pushed a breath through his nose. “Alright, everyone get in to position. Sor, you and I are taking the skies. We're going to provide aerial support while also looking for Gloucester. Teach, you and Sen keep an eye out as well for any place that you can assist since the two of you have fliers. Vi, Thea, Sofia, and Deir, you take the left flank and keep it reinforced as well as you can. Everyone else," he glanced towards Alaric, Reynard, Devon, and Sylvi.

“You'll provide support to the right flanks. Keep an eye on the hill and stay as far away from those ballistae as you can. If you see any beasts or golems," he paused, pursing his lips together, “do what you can to ensure they don't attack the soldiers. Keep their attention fixed on you so that the others can keep pressing forward."

He would also be providing support for his soldiers, but his main concern was Gloucester. As with any battle, getting to the enemy general was enough to end a battle. And Mercer wouldn be lying if he said this wasn't a little personal. Gloucester had left him a note, and Sorcha. He didn't like the things Gloucester had said about Sorcha, and he wasn't about to let him live for that. He couldn't afford to, especially if Gloucester underwent the same procedure that Those Who Slither performed on Vridel.

“Well... let's get to it, then," Sylvi spoke, causing some of the others to nod their heads. Senka mounted Liev as Thea mounted Sunny. Thea glanced in Vridel's direction, though, and held a hand out towards him.

“You're coming with me until we get further in," she stated, her lips pursed into a fine line. Mercer would have rolled his eyes, but he mounted Sir and nodded his head in Sorcha's direction.

Vridel huffed a little, but didn't argue, accepting the hand and swinging up behind her.

The battle was about to begin in earnest.

Sorcha ran an armored hand through her short hair, nodding slightly and taking up her position on Lady's back. Never one to cower while others were in danger, she urged her mount into the sky first, and that was everyone's signal to move.

Just in time, too, as the front line of Gloucester's army appeared on the horizon in the same moment. The two forces spilled forth onto the field, Mercer's splitting around the hill while several of Gloucester's went right for it, to man the siege weapons. A heavy bolt whistled through the air towards Sorcha, but Lady was far too nimble to be hit by it, and banked to the side, Sorcha sending an arrow down in retaliation.

That was when the first, too-familiar screeches rent the air. Demonic beasts, as expected. Several dark shapes towered just behind the main lines, with a few breaking off at once into the air. Teach shouted something to Sen that Mercer couldn't hear, but the implied meaning was clear enough—they needed to intercept those creatures.

She seemed to understand as she nudged Liev in the direction of the air borne beasts. She held Blutgang tightly, nudging Liev faster, it seemed, before she was engaged with one of the first beasts. It screeched, trying to use its talons to claw at Liev's wings and rip Senka from her perch.

Mercer focused his arrows on the ground troops below. He trusted Sen and Teach to be able to handle the beasts in the air, for now. He knew they were capable, but he didn't know if these beasts would be as much trouble as the ones they'd faced in Duscur. Those had been slightly altered. Knowing Gloucester, though, these beasts were as well. He would use every advantage to his disposal, and Mercer had to counter around it.

Senka released a few dark spells at the beast she was engaged with. They managed to clip its wing, but only served to anger it. It was spewing flames from its mouth, and from the looks of it, it was getting ready to use its flame breath. Senka barely maneuvered Liev out of the way, using a blizzard spell as a buffer, however; another creature took the opportunity to flank her. Its claws gripped at her arm, and Mercer could see that they pierced the flesh there. She didn't scream, and switched Blutgang to her other hand, using it to cut the beast's foot from her arm.

Oskar and Teach got in really close with the next, the large wyvern still smaller by a fair margin than the beast but apparently unconcerned, colliding midair and scrabbling for a hold with his claws, leaving deep gouges in the more birdlike creature. Teach took the opportunity to joust, spearing the creature in the eye with the Arrow, a heavy bolt of electricity lancing along the length of the weapon and no doubt frying the Demonic Beast's brain. Oskar disengaged just in time, and the creature fell heavily to the ground—right on top of one of the enemy ballistae, taking the huge weapon out of the fight with a splitting crack.

Already, they moved to engage the next.

Sorcha focused her fire on the left flank, where the ground-bound beasts seemed to be concentrating their assault. Vi, Thea, Sofi, and Deirdre were doing their best to draw their attention, but there were three of them, and more on the way. Even as an arrow arced in towards one of the bigger ones, its claws rent a massive hole in Sofi's tower shield. From the way it dropped, the claw had done significant damage to the arm underneath, too, and she took a large step backwards, thrusting outwards with her lance, a hard, determined grimace on her face.

Thea seemed to be engaged with a beast of her own, Deirdre doing her best to reinforce Sofia as best as she could. She was flinging fire spells towards the beast that was closest to Sofia. Thea swung Amyr over her head, lodging the axe in the beast's leg. It roared and swiped at her, catching her in the leg as she tried to dodge from it. There was a large gash in the armor, but it didn't seem to have cut too deeply into her leg. She was bleeding, though.

Deirdre managed to catch one of the beasts in the eye, blinding it temporarily for Sofia to get the advantage over it with her lance. Mercer tried to provide support as well, shooting an arrow for one of the beast's eyes. It managed to lodge itself near its eyelid, and it swiped at the arrow to try and dislodge it. Thea took the opportunity it provided her, and with as much strength as she could muster, slid Amyr across the creature's neck. It was apparently enough strength to cut the creature's throat wide open, causing it to fall over.

Thea moved to the next one to help with Vridel's beast, though from the way her shoulder looked, it might have been dislocated from the force she'd used.

Vridel himself was burning the candle at both ends, quite obviously. Both Crests were active, and he was slinging magic so thick and fast, interspersed with darting maneuvers and sword blows, that he'd felled one beast already and was well into the second. Not, apparently, without cost: blood soaked into the ground around him, mostly the beasts', but there was no mistaking the rivulets of it running down Vi's armor, either, and from the end of his nose. He was quickly slowing down, his movements growing heavier as he fought just to stay upright. He'd stopped relying on physical attacks entirely, plunging his blade into the ground and hurling magic with both hands instead, by the time Thea reached him.

Thea seemed to have white magic laced at her finger tips when she reached Vridel, touching his shoulder briefly before she flung herself back into the fray. Mercer could tell that it wasn't enough to heal Vridel completely, but he supposed they would be alright for now. Mercer focused on the next set of ground beasts, doing his best to conserve his arrows as well. He couldn't risk running out before they found Gloucester, but he also couldn't risk the lives of his friends. Grimacing slightly, he urged Sir forward, dodging a couple of arrows that had been aimed for him. He retaliated with arrows of his own, cursing slightly when one arrow found a home in his shoulder.

He pulled it out, and let it fall to the ground. Taking in a deep breath, he continued surveying the ground. He needed to find Gloucester.

“Mercer!" Sorcha's call caught his attention; she pointed to a spot near the edge of the field, where a cluster of archers had raised their bows as one, flaming arrows arcing through the sky. They didn't seem to be aimed at anything in particular, but—

Suddenly, Teach's observation at the hill made perfect sense. Just as the Alliance army had begun to overtake Gloucester's forces for control of it, the burning arrows landed, and all at once the hill was roaring with flames, hungry tongues of fire consuming enemy and ally alike. Thick plumes of smoke rose into the air, obscuring their view of what was occurring beyond.

“Shit," Mercer cursed beneath his breath as he brought Sir to a halt. He could hear the screams of his soldiers as they were being burned to death, and he could see a few of them scrambling to get away from the fire. It was just like Gloucester to sacrifice his troops in order to win a battle. But at what cost? He was losing soldiers, too. Mercer pursed his lips into a fine line, and glanced towards Sorcha.

“We need to get some of the others directed to help out," he stated, glancing in Sorcha's direction. It was just as he said that, three golems broke from the army and made a beeline for the central force of Mercer's army. “Shit," he muttered. He could see Alaric already directing some of his troops away from the golems as they came in. He glanced towards Sylvi, who nodded, and both made their way towards the golems. Mercer didn't like their chances. They'd only ever dealt with one golem, before, and these three were a lot faster.

Alaric swung his axe, Freikugel, around one of the golem's legs, catching it behind the calf area. It didn't seem to faze it at all, and instead, it swung one of its fists in Alaric's direction. Sylvi was there a second later to help block the incoming attack, but it was obvious the strain was a bit much on her. Her legs were shaking as were her arms as Alaric tried to get its attention towards him.

A pair of arrows knocked into the side of the golem's head; one bounced off its armor plating but the other seemed to stick, having found its way into a seam in the creature's construction. Still riding towards it at full tilt, Devon shouldered his bow and drew a sturdy shortsword, swinging at he went past. The clang of impact was audible even to Mercer; it had to have wrenched hard, but Dev only grit his teeth and wheeled around.

“Their armor's weaker!" Sorcha shouted. “Focus on the joints to peel it off!"

It was hard to tell if they'd heard her, but for the moment, they'd contained the creatures, Reynard jumping onto the back of the third, which had tried to break off from its companions and get at the much less-hardy soldiers in the middle of the field.

Sorcha, meanwhile, had rallied a small group of pegasus knights, who were now helping the Leicester soldiers get clear of the burning hill. Gloucester's gambit had hurt, their army more than his, but it hadn't crippled them as he'd probably expected it to.

Mercer winced slightly when he was struck with another arrow, but he ignored it. Instead, he focused his eyes towards the field activating his Crest to help him see better. There was still no sign of Gloucester, which probably meant that he was at the back of his battalion. Alaric and the others, however, seemed to have taken Sorcha's advice, attack the joints of the golems as best as they could until they'd brought one down. They continued their assault on the others, Alaric breaking off to assist Reynard, it seemed.

“Sorcha, we'll need to go a little deeper. Gloucester isn't at the front," he shouted towards her. He nudged Sir forward after that, intent on finding Gloucester. This needed to end. And he had a score to settle with Gloucester once and for all.

She flew right beside him, reaching over to tap him with a bit of white magic, a rueful smile crossing her face for only the briefest moment before it disappeared. She turned her eyes out to the field. “I think... the burning may have had another purpose. He could be setting something up behind the smokescreen. We should be careful." To the left, another flying beast fell from the sky, trailing crimson ribbons of blood behind it. Teach and Sen were holding steady, at least, but not even they'd last forever.

She was right, of course. Gloucester could be using the smokescreen to prepare something for those who went past it, however; they couldn't afford to keep this up, either. Vi and the others felled another of their beasts from the sounds of it, and were moving on to another. From what he could see, they were all injured in one way or another. Thea's arm still looked like it was slightly out of place, Deirdre was limping slightly with large puncture marks in her leg, and even Sylvi looked to be dragging her leg slightly. It could have been from a direct hit from one of the golems, but Mercer couldn't be too sure.

“Stay behind me, then," he stated. She could follow up with an attack if something happened to him, first. He wasn't risking his life; he needed to see what they were up against. If Gloucester was at the back of the army, preparing some sort of ambush, then at least Sorcha would be a little more prepared than he would. It was a risk he was willing to take. Necessary, even.

“If anything happens, you'll know what to expect. Let's put an end to this, alright?" he stated, spurring Sir forward.

She nodded, but her concentration seemed to be elsewhere. She'd shouldered her bow for some reason, brows furrowed in concentration. She followed him into the smoke, though, steering Lady with her legs and murmuring something under her breath.

The moment they cleared the smoke, Mercer understood that Gloucester had predicted them perfectly. The barrage of arrows that flew towards them couldn't possibly be dodged; there were just too many of them over too wide an area, and they were coming in right for him.

“There," Sorcha exhaled, expelling a heavy breath as the first of the arrows neared—

and bounced off of... nothing?

No, some kind of shielding spell. The others followed, ricocheting with rippled of light off the same barrier—Sorcha's barrier. It was mostly transparent, only lighting up when something hit it, allowing him to see through to the other side of the field. There, at the very edge of Gronder, accompanied by what had to be his best snipers, was Gloucester.

And his hair was stark white.

This wasn't going to be easy.

Gloucester had the advantage of being surrounded by troops, however; Mercer was banking on one thing: pride. He was hoping that Gloucester would agree to the duel he'd suggested in his letter not too long ago. He withdrew his sword from its sheath and pointed it in Gloucester's direction.

“Gloucester," he shouted loud enough to be heard. “Here I am. Let's do this if you're still up to it," he continued. To any other person, it might have sounded like Mercer was taunting Gloucester, but he wasn't. He was as serious as he could be. His troops were dying, and he didn't know how much longer his friends could hold out. He was lucky enough to still have stamina to fight Gloucester, however; even Mercer didn't know how that would end.

He could easily see Gloucester's expression lift into a sneer; he remained seated on his horse, tilting his head only slightly to track Mercer and Sorcha's motion through the air. Almost lazily, he held up a hand to stop his men from firing again. Mercer didn't know how long Sorcha's shield could last, but it was certainly useless to fire on them until it was gone, and no doubt the other man had realized the same thing.

The sounds of battle raged around them, but blanketed by smoke it was like they were in their own little pocket of things, somehow isolated from the rest. The cause of this wasn't clear, not until Gloucester shifted his other hand and the plumes thickened, forming something like a dome around them.

“Mercer, we have to descend," Sorcha warned. The dome did seem to be herding them, closing them in and forcing their mounts to the ground unless they wanted to contend with smoke inhalation on top of everything else.

That was fine by Mercer. He urged Sir towards the ground, dismounting once they landed, and held his sword at his side. He stared at Gloucester, his eyes occasionally flickering around at the soldiers that surrounded them. This was a situation where only one of them would live and one of them would die. He gripped his sword a little tighter. Mercer had too much to live for. He wasn't going to allow himself to die here. Not when there were so many other things he needed to do, wanted to do.

“I'm ready when you are, Matteo," Mercer stated, lifting his sword up in a defensive stance. He'd let Gloucester have the first move.

Gloucester's lip curled, but the provocation had the desired effect: he dismounted his warsteed and hefted the bladed staff and shield with which he was equipped. Even through the haze of smoke, light caught on the glimmering silver of his armor and the pale, snow-white of his hair. It was with confidence well across the line into haughtiness that he took up a spot about ten feet from Mercer.

“Mercer," he hissed, and his voice hardly sounded human. Somehow it was almost more akin to the one Maurice had used, or that Kleiman woman before rather than after her transformation. He didn't seem to be in any danger of doing the same, though—the weapon he bore was a Relic, to be sure, but it had his own crest stone on it; another seemed to have located itself on his forehead, not immediately identifiable, but certainly not the one he'd been born with.

“And you brought Sorcha. Convenient. Cornelia wants her back, you know, but I'm inclined to keep her."

“You sure you want to do this?" Sorcha quite ignored him to ask the question of Mercer. “If we fought him together, it'd be easier." She must've picked up on the fact that he intended a duel here.

Mercer ignored Gloucester as well and glanced in Sorcha's direction. It would be easier to fight him together since Mercer knew that two Crests did make someone a bit stronger. Mercer knew he was strong, but he wasn't strong enough to defeat Gloucester on his own. But he also didn't want to drag Sorcha into this. She was strong, he knew, and together, they did have a real chance of defeating Gloucester, but...

“Alright, we do this together," he spoke, turning his attention towards Gloucester. “Sorcha and I will be your opponents, Matteo. Unless, of course, you don't think you can handle the both of us," he stated, almost baiting Gloucester. It was a taunt, after all.

Gloucester snorted. This close, it was obvious that he was not the same man he'd once been. Though there was cunning left in him still, his eyes were wild, fevered in a way they never had been. He flicked his eyes between them and barked a laugh. “If the prize would like to join the fight on her own behalf, so be it. Wouldn't be the first time."

Sorcha's eyes narrowed; she hefted Areadbhar in both hands, giving the heavy lance a spin and stepping up beside Mercer. “I'll keep his shield busy," she offered.

Mercer refrained from a retort to Gloucester. He was trying to bait Mercer by saying things that Mercer would have answered to, however; now was not the time to lose his head. “Keep his shield busy, but don't take any unnecessary risks," he replied. Taking a deep breath, he decided to make the first move, and lunged towards Gloucester, swinging his sword to at least keep him busy with a weapon.

Gloucester went to block, but as promised, Areadbhar was there, interfereing with the lift of his kite shield, and so he was forced to adjust on the fly and block with his sword instead. The hit was hard enough to jar Mercer's arm, sending a reverberation through the blade in his hands. Gloucester stepped hard on the ground, which seemed to be nothing more than a gesture of frustration until the both of them were abruptly slammed by some kind of shockwave, not entirely dissimilar to the one Sorcha produced from her weapon sometimes.

As if she'd been thinking of it, too, she rolled to her feet first, lightning crackling along Areadbhar's length before she swung forward with it, releasing the wave. Gloucester met it in midair with one of his own, and the resulting sound was loud enough to leave their ears ringing. Gritting her teeth, Sorcha lunged again, swinging two-handed for the face of the shield like she was trying to break it in half.

Mercer continued his assault with his sword, coming in behind Sorcha as quickly as he could. With the two of them on the constant offensive, it was bound to put Gloucester on the defensive. And that was what Mercer wanted. Keep him occupied enough that he couldn't get the full effect of his two Crests. Failnaught would not provide any support for him here, and he almost cursed his Relic for being a bow.

The duel seemed to go on for hours, though in reality, it had only been at least an hour. Mercer felt something in his wrist was sprained from the force he'd exerted trying to get Gloucester to drop his guard. If he could only get his guard down for just a second, that was all he needed. Sorcha kept Gloucester's shield busy until she was finally able to break it. Not in half, fully, but enough so that it was cracked.

Mercer gritted his teeth together, hearing something pop out of place as he brought his sword down on Gloucester. His wrist was broken, now, he could feel it. The pain was enough to cause him to pause momentarily in his assault, which seemed to give Gloucester the chance to switch to the offensive. With every attack he blocked, he could feel his wrists ache. They wanted to buckle under the strain of the pain, but Mercer willed them not to. Instead, he ducked his head to avoid Gloucester's weapon from taking it. It may have been a staff, but Mercer knew that it was still sharp.

Mercer grimaced once more as he held up his sword to block an attack from Gloucester. If they could get Gloucester's weapon away from him, it might prove to be the advantage they needed. So when Gloucester went to attack once more, Mercer allowed the weapon to pierce his left shoulder, and brought his right hand to connect with Gloucester's face.

“Sorcha, now!" he shouted, hoping she would know what to do. The weapon was, after all, stuck in his shoulder bone.

Like they'd practiced it, she brought Areadbhar down in a low sweep, pulling Gloucester's legs out from underneath him and stabbing downwards, hard, into the less-protected portion of his abdomen beneath his halfplate. The lance went right through him, impaling him to the ground, but she abandoned it immediately, concern scrawled so clearly across her features it was as though it were five years ago and she'd never forgotten anything she felt at all.

“You idiot!" she cried, turning towards him with glowing hands only for her left knee to buckle. She'd taken a hard shield bash to it earlier in addition to several major body-blows, and paid for them now, toppling over and just barely catching herself on her hands before she could smash facefirst into the dirt. Coughing, she brought up blood, and groaned softly, red dripping to the ground from between her lips. “Dammit."

Mercer grimaced slightly as he pulled Thrysus from his shoulder, throwing the Relic to the ground as he staggered towards Gloucester. He pulled his sword up, and stabbed downward into his throat, ensuring that he would not get up again. Leaving his blade behind, he made his way towards Sorcha and fell to his knees, holding a hand on her back.

“Hey, now, this idiot just won us the war," he spoke softly. “Well, technically you did since it was Areadbhar that's sticking out of Gloucester's gut, there. So that makes you an idiot, too," he huffed lightly before falling onto his back.

Fuck, I hurt was the only thought that passed his mind as he glanced up at the sky. Some of the smoke was clearing and he could see parts of the blue in the sky.

It seemed clearer somehow.