Blade and Feather
Florina yelped in fear and pain as the pirates closed in all around her. She thought that Ferghus' "boys" were just kidding around, but judging by the way they fought, they were deadly serious. Once again, she found her fear of men vindicated as the trio advanced on her, backing her against the wall of the house behind her. She'd soared ahead of the army, attempting to clear out some of the enemies near the coliseum, which Lyn said was necessary to make the sort of money they'd need in the future, but hadn't expected resistance to be so stiff. She'd gotten herself cornered by three of them, one of whom had a Hand Axe—if she tried to fly over their heads to make a quick getaway, he'd almost certainly knock her out of the sky with that weapon.
"Hey! Leave her alone!"
Florina blinked as the pirate with the Hand Axe screamed and went down, followed by his two comrades. She blinked again, and standing in front of her was a young, green-haired man holding a bloody sword she recognized as a Killing Edge.
"Are you okay?" he said. "My name's Guy, I—"
He'd just saved her life, but in her frazzled emotional state, she couldn't understand that. The young swordsman was left with nothing but a confused, quizzical expression as the girl he'd just rescued let out a tiny "Eep!" and spurred on her mount, sending him flying into the air with a flap of his wings and leaving Guy to ponder what he'd said wrong alone amidst a shower of feathers.
Guy was plastered in sweat and utterly exhausted, but honestly, he hadn't felt this good in months. "Eliwood's Elite" had already dealt with all of Farghus' men, and indeed, could leave at any time they wished, he'd been ordered to spend some time at the arena—both to sharpen his own skills and to win the army a great deal of extra money. He'd succeeded at both—foe after foe had fallen to his blade, and there was now over 10,000 gold coins worth of treasure sitting in the army's coffers thanks to him.
Though he expected his commanders to be waiting for him with praise and congratulations, as he exited the building he noticed someone else seemed to be waiting for him. A young, pinkish-lavender-haired girl on a Pegasus. Wasn't she…?
When she noticed him, she immediately gave a startled gasp, but this time Guy wouldn't let her get away. "Hey, you there! I—"
Even though he didn't exactly have a lot of experience with women, even Guy realized that he wasn't exactly presentable, drenched in sweat as he was. He backed away to indicate he meant no harm and gestured helplessly to himself."I-I'm sorry! I just…weren't you the girl I saved earlier today?"
This seemed to have an effect. Though the girl still seemed to be somewhat afraid of him, keeping herself low on her mount's back and peeking at him behind his head, she didn't fly away. Instead, she squeaked, "A…ah…you mean from earlier today, with those…ah…three pirates?"
Guy nodded. "Yeah, exactly. They were threatening you, so I thought we were on the same side, and—"
She looked like she wanted to say something more…or did she? Guy had no idea. He felt a slight blush creep over his face when he realized that he might be the one obligated to say something. In Sacae, straightforwardness and honesty were all that anyone needed in speech, whether to men or women, but even in the short time he'd been in Lycia he found himself bewildered and overwhelmed by the strange regulations of etiquette which seemed to govern relations between men and women. Thus, he was left to stammer awkwardly, wondering if he was either saying too much or too little, or even if he'd made a mistake by rescuing the girl in the first place.
She answered his question by stammering, "It's just that I…uh…"
"Um…yeah? What is it?"
"It's, ah…" she fidgeted, "er…well, I wanted to th—ah, I mean"
"Uh…yeah?" That was all Guy could really say. He had no idea what was going on.
"It's, um…well, I—ah! I-I have to fight in the arena! Lord Hector t-told me to make some gold and strengthen myself as well, so—"
Guy realized he was standing at the entrance to the building, meaning she couldn't get in. "Oh…oh yeah! Sorry!" he said sheepishly, immediately moving aside to allow her egress. She immediately took it, guiding her Pegasus past him without so much as sparing him a glance. However, she was also blushing noticeably.
Under other circumstances, Guy might have just let it be at that—all the girl wanted was to get past him, after all. Somehow, though, he couldn't shake the feeling that there was more to it than that. At the very least, since he'd saved her life, he still wanted her name.
Thus, and against what was perhaps his better judgment, after a moment's hesitation Guy followed her back into the coliseum, intending to take a seat amongst the crowd. After all, it couldn't hurt to see her fight, right?
She fought well. After her twentieth opponent had been dispatched with what seemed to be a minimum of trouble, Guy found himself cheering for her as loudly as anyone else in the crowd. Honestly, though, he was a little scared—watching her tear through swordsman after swordsman made him more aware of his own weaknesses as a sword-wielder. By the same token, she dealt with other spear-users very well, giving him a few ideas on how to confront them himself. He'd just watched her dispatch an armored Knight, flitting around his thrusts and over his head as his attacks grew sloppier and sloppier out of frustration, and then, when his stamina finally expired dove in for a vicious stab at his unarmored neck.
As the crowd cheered, the woman seemed to be ignoring them completely, still focused almost entirely on the battle, which hadn't ended. Another thing Guy found to admire in her—her razor-sharp and almost single-minded concentration. However, when he saw her opponent, he went a bit pale as he realized her luck may have run out.
The Pirate emerged from the shadows of the gates on the other end of the arena, a vicious grin on his face as he eyed the now-very-intimidated Pegasus Knight hungrily. Guy realized why his Ilian friend had been having so much trouble when he'd rescued her earlier—spears were effective against swordsmen like him, but very poor against axes. And this pirate realized that, just like the other ones.
To her credit, though, the Pegasus Knight didn't back down, despite the fear evident on her face. She spurred her mount into the air, soared around the man's head once, then dove down from behind him. Unfortunately, he dodged the attack easily, batting her thin Iron Spear away with one of his twin Iron Axes, the larger, heavier weapon being enough to throw her off-balance with a small shriek, though she managed to stay on her mount and keep a hold of her weapon as well. He then countered with a strong horizontal attack with both axes, crossing them over his chest and then swiping out with them in a half-circle in front of him. A quick flap of the animal's wings kept the attack from chopping off one of his legs, and it brought the spearwoman into a position to launch a pair of counterattacks. Her first jab only grazed the man's cheek, but the second scored a deeper hit on his left shoulder.
Unfortunately, it also gave the pirate an opening as well. He dropped the axe in his left hand and reached up to grab the spear embedded in his wounded shoulder, and though the Ilian managed to jerk it out and away just in time, she still left herself vulnerable for just a moment. This allowed the pirate to flip the axe in his right hand over and drive it upwards, scoring a nasty gash on her leg as she attempted to fly over and away from him.
"Aiieee!" she yelped, forced to land her Pegasus as she found herself forced to tend to her wound—not that the pirate would allow her the reprieve. As she attempted to regain her composure the man advanced on her, holding both axes at the ready, and it was obvious his next attack would be fatal.
"Damn! I've gotta help her!" Guy knew this was STRICTLY prohibited by the coliseum's proprietors, and that he could get the entire army in trouble if he interfered, but he couldn't just stand by and let the woman die either. As the crowd around him cheered in anticipation of the kill, and as he readied his sword and prepared to jump in, suddenly the vulnerable girl looked up at the audience around her—and her eyes, for a fraction of a moment, met Guy's. He wasn't sure—at all—of what he saw in there, but he could have sworn that was when determination replaced despair in her eyes. Why, he didn't know—they'd just met, after all. Maybe she was grateful to him for his earlier assistance? Or maybe it was just because they were part of the same army?
Whatever it was, it apparently did the trick. With newfound resolution in her voice, she shouted—louder than Guy thought she was even capable of—"HUEY! FLY!"
The Pegasus immediately did so, leaving the Pirate to chop through a small cloud of feathers where the creature had been a moment ago, confusion obvious on his face—he thought the girl had given up! But judging by the way she was soaring in behind him, twirling her lance over her head, it wasn't so. Before he had a chance to turn around she had driven the weapon straight through his neck, leaving the crowd to let out an even more raucous cheer at the sudden turnaround victory.
And Guy's voice was—at least he thought so—the loudest of all.
"Hey, wait up! That was GREAT!"
Guy yelled this as he chased the young woman out of the arena, who was heading back to her army's leaders with both several bags full of gold as well as a nasty wound still on her leg. When she turned back to look at who was calling her, her eyes widened, and Guy once again found himself on the defensive—he couldn't tell whether she was scared of him or glad to see him!
This was one confusing girl, all right, but he had to treat her as best he knew how—that was what the codes of his homeland demanded, after all.
"I mean, uh," he stammered, once again not sure of what he should be saying, "you fought really well. I was just around the arena and all, you know, wasn't trying to, uh, watch out for you or anything, but I just thought—"
"Oh…oh…" at this, the girl's eyes seemed to dim slightly, convincing Guy he had indeed said the wrong thing, "I…okay."
"Um…yeah." Guy looked down at the ground, convinced that whatever conversation they might have had was over now, and it looked like the girl wanted the same thing—indeed, she seemed anxious to get away from him. However, even though he knew he probably shouldn't, there was one thing he really wanted to know.
"W-wait!" he said, before she could set her Pegasus off.
"Ah! U-uh, what is it?"
"Um…I was just wondering, but what's your name?"
He immediately thought of apologizing for asking a question like that (in Sacae, it was never wrong to ask someone their name, male or female, but he had no idea how things worked in Lycia or Ilia), but when a tiny twinkle and what seemed to be the smallest hint of a smile spread over the girl's face, he thought he felt just a little better.
"Florina?" He repeated, but his new friend didn't stay long enough to hear—she spurred on her mount and sent him into the air, leaving Guy to stand once again alone amidst a shower of white feathers.
"I just don't get this country," he grumbled to himself, following her to Farghus' ship, where the rest of the army was waiting. "Why does everything have to be so complicated? We're all children of Father Sky and Mother Earth, whether we're brothers or sisters!" He shook his head, shrugging in resignation. "Well, at least I don't think I messed things up too badly. Right? 'Florina…' that's her name?" He smiled to himself. "Heh, a pretty name, too."
If he'd thought about it just a bit more, he would have realized that her name wasn't the only thing which seemed pretty to him.
This was written for Wyrmseeker, since I was given him to write for by FireEmblemMewMew for the Secret Santa thing she was doing! :D If you like it, I'm glad, but I'm particularly looking for my buddy Wyrmseeker's approval, since this is for him, after all! If he likes it, I may put up moar chappies, but for today's Secret Santa, I just wanna put up one to make sure he likes where it's going. Happy Holidays, mah friend :D