"...Of all the peoples under Marley's rule at the extent of its power, the Nuudi'lo were undoubtedly the most unruly, even more so than the Subjects of Ymir. Five times since the conquests of the Nuudi'lo kingdoms (the greatest of them being the Realm Atop the Mount, or the Triple Alliance of Ōahō) by Marley they had risen in revolt against the occupiers, only to be put down each time with increasing ferocity, though said ferocity was merely mirrored by the Nuudi'lo against Marleyan civilians and soldiers in return.

The only reason a sixth revolt never materialized was due to permanent allocation of the Colossal Titan to the city of K'áaxo', the administrative, political, religious, and military center of the empire. The city was believed to be the 'resting place of the gods,' and, if disturbed in any way, 'would release upon the world the end times.' As such, all the Nuudi'lo peoples, who were very zealous in their spiritual lives, regardless of affiliation, did not wage war nor campaign within a hundred miles of the city out of fear of disturbing the gods. In this way did Marley finally subject them fully- threatening to unleash the Colossal Titan power on the city and destroy it should the territory be lit aflame in the fires of rebellion once again.

With the outbreak of the Second Great Titan War, however, and the alarming advance of Eldian forces deeper into Marleyan territory, the order to recall the Colossal back home was given from Osternau to aid in the war effort- an order that would have heavy repercussions on the history of North Namericiea- and, consequently, all of Mesonamericiea…"

- We of Ōahō: The Ramifications of the Second Great Titan War in Mesonamericiea (c.938), by Pilli Chalchiuili

Fifth Day of the Sixth Month, Jahr Unseres Gründers c.854

K'áaxo', Province of Cuyatan, Westerozean-Marley

Wiping his brow, Bertholdt let out a sigh as shut close the last of his suitcases. "...And, that's it, I think," he murmured, an odd sense of finality in his words. "I guess we're done here."

To his left, Malintzin gave him a nod, having finished packing away the rest of his belongings. "I suppose we are," she replied, her voice a neutral blank, and Bertholdt sighed again.

This… wasn't how he had wanted to leave Ōahō.

Which, in of itself, was an irony- when he'd first been sent over to Westerozean-Marley to serve out the remainder of his term as he Colossal Titan, as his predecessors had, he had wanted nothing more than to leave. The city, where the Marleyan Overseas Colonial Office Authorities has settled, while beautiful in its own, foreign architecture and culture, did nothing to appeal to him. Every etched block of stone, every rising mound… all it did was remind him that he was doomed to spend the rest of his days here, away from his family and friends, until his Last Year came.

He'd kept his thoughts to himself, of course. Complaining would get him nothing but reprimands and beatings at best, or an early replacement at worst- and he knew how easily Marley resorted to the worst. So, with his mouth grit, Bertholdt had resigned himself to life on a continent far from his own.

And then they gave him a handmaiden.

Why exactly the Colonial Office's top brass had allowed it, Bertholdt wasn't sure at all, save the fact that apparently it was a sort of tradition by the Nuudi'lo, and tribute, to stave of his wrath- at least, so the information dossier he'd been given upon arrival had read.

(god-waker, was the name the Colossal Titan had been given by the locals. end-bringer. sun-blotter. grass-plague. Bertholdt wasn't sure what his superiors had told the Nuudi'lo on the nature of his Titan, but it was damn-well effective.)

Regardless, he had gotten a handmaiden, and the Shifter had known absolutely anything but what to do with her. Years of military training (and a childhood living in the Liberio Internment Zone had taught him to look after himself, and that asides, only influential, wealthy, or old families gained handmaidens or servants to take care of them. Bertholdt came from neither, and it had shown. He'd practically robbed Malintzin of her job the first two weeks of his stay, not that she had seemed to mind, content to let him work to his heart's content.

That had gone on until his seventeenth day there, when Malintzin had simply started to help him anyways. Then one of them had started talking to the other, and their friendship had only grown since then.

And now I'll have to leave her behind, Bertholdt thought ruefully. Just when I was gonna tell how I feel as well… God damn it.

Malintzin wasn't just a friend, now, not anymore. He wasn't sure when exactly when he had lost his crush on Annie (the Shifter liked to think it was after she had told him that no, I don't like you like that despite his heart having been pained for weeks after that), but… well, it happened.

Damn it. Fucking Devils. You couldn't just leave us alone, huh? You just had to make it worse.

…Gott, I hope the others are alright.

"Bertholdt," Malintzin's voice rang, pulling him from his thoughts, and the Shifter turned to his friend, who had an… unforgettable look on her face? As if she was thinking of a prospect that didn't appeal to her at al-

"I'm… never going to see you again, am I?"

The Shifter blinked, before forcing a confident grin that he in no way felt. "Wha- no, no! We'll- I'll- I have every confidence in the Grand Army, and my fellow Warriors!" he sputtered. "Hell, we'll probably be done by Julzeit! And once we've reclaimed our territory, and defeated the Island Devils once and for all, I'll-"

The shove was unexpected.

It didn't hurt much, physically, at least. The look on Malintzin's face seared far more than the shove did. "Don't lie to be, Bertholdt," she hissed. "Not in this. Please."


Bertholdt faltered. Floundered, for a moment. And then the faux-bravado left him in an instant, and he turned away.

"...Damn it, Malin," he whispered. "I can't… I won't lie to you. I…" He winced. "I don't think so, no." The Devil'sve made too much progress, last I heard. They're gonna be a pain to force out. And I only have two more years of my Term to live out. Not enough time.

There was never enough time.

(It was almost funny, in a bitter sort of way. Time was the commodity his fellow Shifters yearned for the most, and the one they had no chance of ever receiving.)

Malintzin did not reply to his answer, and he did not turn to look back at her, no matter how much Bertholdt wanted to. His departure time was fast approaching, and it was daunting enough as is to leave without turning back and making things more difficult for-

And then Malintzin was hugging him from behind, her head burying itself in the crook of his neck. "I'm sorry," she whispered, and Bertholdt shrugged, resigned to his fate. "Don't be," he told her. "You're not the curse killing me, and you… you've made my stay a lot brighter than it would've been. I'd stay here for the rest of my Term, if I could, but I can't stay here while my homeland is being invaded." Not that it would have mattered. Orders are orders, no matter how much I hate where they come from.

Grabbing his suitcases, the holder of the Colossal Titan made for the door. The journey down the mountain city would take quite a bit, and his ships was set for departure before the day's end.

He couldn't stay any longer.

"...See you, Malintzin," Bertholdt spoke, not turning back. If he did, he feared he wouldn't be able to continue out the door.

From behind him, there was silence, before a hand grabbed his from behind and squeezed it gently.

"...Goodbye, Bertholdt."

Taking one last liberty, Bertholdt squeezed back.

And then he was out the door, heading towards the automobile waiting outside to ferry him down to the port-city of Ahiluic, where his ship awaited to take him home.

I suppose it's fitting that I leave this place in the same mood I arrived to it, Bertholdt mused, a tired smile on his face. Miserable.

The Nuudi'lo woman watched the Eldian go, conflicting ideologies fighting in her stomach. Her brow scrunched, her fists clenched, and her eyes closed as a whirlwind of emotions and loyalties fought for supremacy in her mind.

I love him, she realized.

And then she relaxed.

As another Nuudi'lo worker passed her by, she stopped him for a moment. "Tell the others," Malintzin told him in their tongue, "the plan has gone up. Today is the day, gods forgive us."

The man froze, then paled, before nodding. "Gods forgive us," he whispered back, before turning to do as she bade.

She loved Bertholdt, that much was true. For how long, she didn't know, but for a while now, she had. The Nuudi'lo woman had known it could never last, but, the heart often did as it pleased, and it loved Bertholdt.

But Malintzin loved her people more.

And Ōahō had been under the colonizer's yoke for long enough.

I'm sorry.

Nassau-Class Battleship; The Koralle, Off The East Coast of Westerozean-Marley, the Antischatl Ocean

As the coastline of Westerozean-Marley drew further and further away, and the mountain K'áaxo' sat on slowly became smaller, Bertholdt pondered on how odd it felt to be on a ship again.

Bertholdt hadn't been off the continent for the better part of a near-decade, now, let alone near the sea. Though one could see the ocean from from the summit of K'áaxo', Bertholdt rarely had the opportunity to go to it. Though he was essentially a glorified guard-dog for the city, and actually had very little do within it, he didn't leave it often. Unless, of course, his superiors summoned him for one reason or other, and God forbid they drive to him, no. He had to go to them, because why should a proud Marleyan dense themselves and go to a filthy Eldian?

It had been easier to deal with stuff like that when he was with the others. At least I'll be seeing them soon.

One of his superiors was telling him something that Bertholdt was only vaguely listening to, too focused on the mountain as they sailed away. His home away from home, the Shifter realised abruptly, and he sighed again.

Then he raised a hand in farewell, though the one he wished the most to see it could not, he knew.

"See you, Malintzi-"

His words were interrupted by a audible rumble, and the ships abruptly rocking, knocking him on his ass. "What they shit-?!"

And then the rumble moved away from them, heading westward. An earthquake?

Then the rumble reached the coast (or, perhaps it had always been on the mainland), and the rumble changed.

A great roar arose from the mountain, as if something within it had awoken- something great and terrible and angry- and from summit, ash and smoke exploded into the sky, fire quickly following. A foul, noxious cloud overtook the sky, blotting the sun from view and bringing an early night to the City on the Mount.

For a eerie, quiet moment, all was still.

And then, to his horror, the plume of ash and smoke and fire descended, sweeping K'aaxo' aside like a broomstick did dirt. Swept it down, down down- all its buildings and people, everything.

And, from its high place atop the mount, K'áaxo' fell.

A/N: Firstly, I apologize for the unintentional hiatus. I spent the last few months panicking about uni stuff, but I'm good, for the time being.

Secondly, a few questions you might have asked;

Q; Why is Bertholdt not in Marley, and in Westerozean-Marley?

A; Because I refuse to believe that Marley conquered so much territory and did not bother to garrison even one of them with a Titan. It's barely been a century. That's not long enough for a population on another continent to be absorbed into Marleyan culture.

Q; Who is Malintzin?

A; Oh, you know, nobody important ;)
In all seriousness, she won't appear in any other chapter in this story. Mentioned, yes, but she won't appear again in other chapters.

Q; How fucked is Westerozean-Marley?
A; Yes.

Anyways, the next chapter, we'll be going back to the Warriors! And hopefully it won't take two months to get it done. Till next time!