Snippet #2791181

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: Mercer von Riegan Character Portrait: Vridel von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Jeralt's Journal
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I.Y. 1186 - Garland Moon - Sunday the 15th
Riegan Manor - Afternoon - Warm
Vridel von Hresvelg


Vridel moved his knight—white, naturally—further up the chessboard, smirking across the intervening space at Mercer, who was for the moment in charge of the black pieces. He'd just gotten back from some kind of conference with the other Leicester nobility, and hadn't seemed particularly enthused, so Vridel had suggested the game as a way of giving him something else to do with himself for a while. He couldn't deny his own curiosity, though; for the moment he kept it suppressed, figuring that Mercer would talk about the meeting's result when he was good and ready.

Not far from the two of them, Reynard had occupied the room's sofa, and was thumbing through one of the books from the shelf, though how closely he was paying attention to it was rather debatable. He'd been... more than a little reserved lately, even past his usual tendencies. Vridel was in fact pretty sure that he was moping, though he wasn't exactly certain as to why. They hardly needed specific reasons anymore—though the overall mood lately was one of rest and hopefulness for what the recapture of the Alliance might mean, any of the things they'd seen or done along the way were cause enough for melancholy.

Keeping back a sigh, Vridel returned his attention to the chessboard.

It was apparent by the furrow of his brows that Mercer was, indeed, still thinking about the events of the conference. He moved a pawn across the board, not really paying much attention to it before he pushed a heavy sigh through his nose.

“Hey, Vi?" Mercer stated, glancing up from the board to regard Vridel. “Can I ask you something?" he began, his voice quite serious from the tone of it.

Suppressing the automatic rejoinder—that Mercer, had, in fact, just done so—Vridel arched an eyebrow. He knew how to take a thing seriously, so he tilted his head, as if in invitation. “If you can get the question out before I keel over, sure." Seriously or not, he smiled slightly, lifting his shoulders in a diffident shrug.

Mercer smiled wryly at Vridel's statement, and leaned back in his chair. “Did they ever try to force you into an arranged marriage just so you could have an heir? I mean, it's pretty obvious it's a thing in all three countries, but to at least just marry someone for the sake of an heir?" he asked, grabbing the cup next to him to take a drink from it. He set it back down before he regarded Vridel, again, his lips pursed into a fine line.

“Because that's what the Dukes want me to do. They want me to just marry someone random woman so that she could have my child. They said it was for the good of the Alliance, given everything we've been through. They're afraid I'll die before giving them an heir, or naming one. I just..." he pushed a heavy sigh through his nose.

“It was talked about," Vridel replied, picking up one of his displaced pawns and turning it around in his fingers. “I'm sure it would have been talked about louder if I'd been older, or there was a war on at the time. I kind of silenced it when I showed up with my own fiancée and demanded my own crown. I think the second part was so concerning they didn't really even have much time to think about the first, which was more or less how I'd intended it."

He'd caught a lot of flak for deciding to marry Thea after the rest had settled a bit, though. Not that there was anything anyone could do about it. One of the few powers he'd had as Emperor was the right to choose his own partner, and there were no laws against marriage to commoners in Adrestia—no one had ever seen the need to create them, because it simply wasn't done. People couldn't afford to turn down the political alliances, and besides that it was sort of expected that if an Emperor wanted to bed a common woman, he'd just make a concubine of her, not a consort.

So none of the protestations had held much weight with him. This was a different beast, though. “Are you worried some of them will withhold their support from the rest of the plan if you don't do as they're demanding?"

“Yeah," he answered after a moment of silence. “The only thing is, I already have a fiancée, but... well, they don't necessarily approve of her because of everything that's happened," he stated softly, his right hand moving to the left to toy with the ring there. “They didn't take it so well when I told them that I wasn't planning on changing my mind. That Sorcha was, and is, still my future wife," he continued.

“They're going to host a ball in about two days, though, to see if they can find someon to change my mind," he scoffed almost in disbelief at the end of that sentence, and sat properly in his chair for a moment. “Kind of wish Judith was here to help me out, but I haven't heard from her since she left to Almyra about... three years ago, now?"

That was a whole other can of worms, really. Where Almyra was in all this. Assuming Judith had even made successful contact, it was bound to take a while to get anywhere with a whole other country. Border skirmishes were one thing. Invading Fódlan was quite another, and to do it by request of one of the three nations, against the other two? A hard sell at best. The complete lack of communication was cause for serious concern, of course, but as Reynard had put it, getting letters into or out of Almyra's capital was more than merely difficult.

His brow knitted at the mention of their disapproval towards Sorcha, though, and stayed that way through the rest. He tsked softly, consciously forcing his jaw to relax. “They've hardly a right to disapprove," he grumbled. “While those cowards sat in their castles and waited to be saved, she was on the field with the rest of us. Aside from you, she's as responsible for their safety as any of us is."

"More if you spin it," Reynard said quietly. When Vridel glanced in his direction, it was to find him sitting upright, studying the both of them over the back of the sofa. "Think about it. She saved your ass how many times? And to be sure we all do that for each other, but that's irrelevant. Plus, there's the fact that she's technically the one who impaled Gloucester in the guts. It doesn't really matter whether that killed him or not—people saw Areadbhar sticking out of his dead body. Lots of people. Make her a fucking war hero. If the people love her like they love you, the Dukes aren't going to be able to say a damn thing without risking losing their support."

“It did help a lot that the people of Adrestia loved Thea," Vridel noted.

“You're right, of course," Mercer sighed deeply, pinching the bridge of his nose. “But that's just how they are. They won't budge once they've made a decision, and war hero or not, it's not like it really matters to them. The only thing I can think of is to show them that Sorcha is the only option they're going to get. At the ball, she's going to be there with me, every step of the way. If she wants to of course; I wouldn't force her to do something if it made her uncomfortable," he spoke, leaning back into his chair.

“And it's kind of hard not to love Thea. She's an adorable verdant-haired person, and the fact that she's trying to use one of those huge ass tower shields, now? That... it's hilarious," he added, snorting softly before shaking his head.

“I plan on letting the Dukes know that Sorcha is loved by those she saved, and that they're just going to have to deal with it. Alaric, of course, was the only one to back my claim, but until I can convince the others, well... that's going to be a whole other battle. You care to switch spots with me, Vi? You know, take care of the Alliance and all?" he spoke, seemingly half-jokingly, too. Part of his expression did look quite serious, though.

Vridel snorted. “You sure you want me to do that? The last country I was in charge of has gone to shit." He shook his head slowly. “Honestly? I think you need to do all of it. Make sure they know you're not budging, and make it costly for them not to back off. Stubborn they might be, but most nobles are basically selfish bastards, too. If it'd cost them too much to keep resisting you, they won't."

That was basically a law of human nature. Sure, no doubt right now they'd prefer someone else—probably all of them had a daughter or granddaughter or niece in mind, too. But even the gain of a political marriage could be offset by the financial loss if the peasants revolted, especially when the state of things was still so fragile. The trick was just to make sure the peasants had a reason to care.

And at this point, considering what had just happened to so many of them, they absolutely did.

“Yeah, yeah, I know. Good to know you're still giving out sound advice, though," Mercer stated, waving a hand in a nonchalant fashion in front of his face. “They're going to learn that they can't always have their way, one way or another," he spoke, his voice a little more calm, now, it seemed. He moved a pawn from his side of the board before glancing up at Vridel, a half-smirk pulling at his lips.

“What about you, Vi? Plan on having an heir any time soon?" it was clear that Mercer was joking, if the way his brow arched a little in a playful manner was anything to go by. “Not that you've the strength to try now, but that's never stopped anyone before, really."

Rey snorted, but Vridel was entirely unamused. “Perhaps I could convince you of my present strength by acquainting your face with my fist?" he offered, annoyed with the implication that he wasn't hale enough for such a thing. He would have said something crude about asking Thea, who could confirm otherwise, but he did have some standards of decency, unlike his so-called friend here.

The third man's huff became a laugh, and he shook his head slowly. "So that's a yes on possible heirs, or...?"

Vridel rolled his eyes. “Oh yes, because that's a splendid idea. Incapacitate my fiancée, one of the most capable people any of us know, in the middle of a war we all intend to see through to the end. No, you morons, we're taking precautions like sensible people, which you'd have thought about already if either of you were getting laid." Satisfied with the rejoinder, he arched a brow and sat back in his chair, arms crossed.

Mercer laughed at Vridel's statement and shook his head. “Hm, yes, well, even so, it's not like it hasn't happened before. I mean, I'm pretty sure most of us were accidents. Well, maybe not you, Rey. You look like you were a planned kid," Mercer stated, arching a brow in Reynard's direction. “And to be fair, Rey doesn't have to take precautions, so that's a low blow even to him, Vi. Tsk, tsk," he added, grinning back in Vridel's direction.

“I meant against infection in his case, you clod. Reynard was coming to me monthly for those spells in our Academy years but hasn't asked for them once since we met again."

Reynard shrugged. "He's right. I'm definitely not getting laid." He managed to sound pretty casual about it, but there was a vague hint of something less comfortable underlying the words.

“Plan on doing anything about that?" Mercer stated, turning his attention back towards Reynard. “From where I'm standing, that problem is easily taken care of, but it seems there's a bit of hesitation going on there," he continued, leaning so that he caught his chin in his hand and regarded Reynard with an even stare. It was clear that Mercer was talking about Alaric.

"I don't know what your definition of 'easily' is, Mercer, but I think it's not the same as mine," Reynard replied. "I mean I suppose I could still pull random fellows if I wanted to, but you'll excuse me if I'm not interested."

Oh, damn. He had it bad. Vridel grimaced. “And the thing stopping you from making the attempt with a very non-random Duke of Goneril is...?"

Rey shrugged. "The part where he isn't into men."

“Oh, for the love of," Mercer stated, sitting up before leaning back in an exasperated fashion. He placed an open palm on his forehead before shaking his head. “I swear, do I have to spell it out for you? Because I will. Alaric. Likes. Men. He just... well, he needs help, Rey," Mercer stated as he furrowed his brows in Reynard's direction.

“Look, if he hasn't said anything to you, then I'm going to. Rey. Al likes you. He likes you like I like Sorcha, like Vi likes Thea, and Sen likes Teach. Devon and Sylvi, Sofia and Deirdre. He just... he doesn't know how to act on that because he's never been told or shown how to. No one has ever tried to love him or like him in any capacity because he's been told so many times that he can't just love someone."

“It's his duty as Duke Goneril to keep that line going, but... Alaric likes you more than some notion of duty. He was willing to risk it all when I told him to stay behind before the battle with Gloucester. He'd made it abundantly clear that if he wasn't allowed to go with us, to go with you, that he was going to leave his mantle of Duke."

“For what it's worth, I'm pretty sure he's right," Vridel added. “I know how easy it is to second-guess, when it's another man, or when it matters. So I'm guessing it's worse when it's both. But for what our word as outside observers is worth..." he trailed off, making a vague gesture.

It wasn't exactly the kind of thing that always went over well. With commoners, people didn't tend to care much, but nobility and their concern for heirs and Crests had a way of screwing everything up, as some of their own number could attest. Even Vridel had found himself doubting his own judgement, sometimes, when it came to whether a man was interested in him, because some were offended by the idea, and it wasn't always easy to tell right away whether someone was the kind to laugh it off or disdain a person of the same gender who pursued them. He'd sometimes refrained himself, and he had never lacked for self confidence.

Reynard talked a big game, but beneath it, it was easy enough to see that he didn't think much of himself. It was sort of required, to be as cavalier with his own life as he was, but it manifested in other ways, too. Like the fact that he always wore sleeves and didn't do things like go swimming.

The man himself grimaced, running a hand down his face. "Maybe you're right," he said simply. "Maybe I'm not seeing things right because I'm too close. But if you're wrong, and I do this—if I do the one thing I've got that could, uh, show him how—I don't know if he'll ever forgive me. Do you understand how much of a risk that is? I don't know if I could stand to lose what I've got."

Mercer sighed heavily and sunk into his chair a bit. “Yeah, but wouldn't you lose just as much if you don't? I know it's a lame saying but, to have loved and lost than to never love at all? I'm sure someone was in your particular position when they came up with that," Mercer took a deep breath and shook his head softly, though.

“It's a risk you should take, though, Rey. That's all I'll say on that end. Take that risk; if it turns out we were wrong, the worst that could happen is that Al will be upset. I don't think you'll lose your friendship over it, but... well," he paused, pursing his lips together. “Take it. Take the risk at the ball and see what comes of it. If nothing does, you can say it was a spur of the moment thing, cover it behind that, or something else. You're clever enough to figure something out, Rey. And for what it's worth... I'm cheering for you."

He offered Rey a small, genuine smile, then.

Vridel nodded. “You deserve to be happy too, you know."

Reynard snorted softly, shaking his head with the barest air of incredulity. "And now here I am, being lectured by you idiots," he said with a sigh. "What a strange turn my life has taken." He smiled, though, even if it was only a faint one, his gratitude evident.

“I'm sure that'll be back to the other way around in no time."