Hey everyone, I'm back with another chapter of Under a New Light! Sorry, this one is a week late. Things IRL have been getting busier, and I've been working on balancing that with writing this story.

I'm still hoping to keep to a 2 week release cycle, but... don't be surprised if you see the next couple of chapters on a 2-3 week cycle like this one ended up being. Just wanted to give you all a heads up.

Now, on with the story- and as always, huge thanks to everyone who has reviewed, followed, and/or favorited the story!

Almost a full week had passed since Idunn's newfound resolve had ignited a fire in her. She was midway through her second week of life at Pherae, and to the dragonkin-in-hiding, life couldn't be better. She had friends to spend time with, books to read, and a job to do that didn't involve summoning war dragons for a warmonger of a king!

She was still wearing hand-me-down clothes, but Eleanora (who had come by to visit her several times by now) had assured her that Idunn would have her own new clothes hopefully by the end of the week. At present, she was wearing another borrowed dress; Eleanora had insisted that the drab brown look was unfitting of a 'beauty' like Idunn, but the woman in question didn't mind. To her, clothes were clothes. As long as they were comfortable, she had little complaints about what she wore.

Her job was quite easy, too. Life at Pherae was peaceful, and so far, she could count the number of times she'd been needed to fulfill her duties on one hand. The knights of Pherae, even the squires and other members of the soldiery still in training were well-trained and serious injuries were rare.

This left Idunn with quite a lot of free time during the day, time which she had been spending mostly in quiet reflection and meditation. Her powers were vast, sure, but at present it wasn't like she had an actual training ground of her own to throw spells around, much less practice her dragonic magic in public.

Idunn could (and did) practice her magic in private, behind the closed doors of her bedroom or the infirmary, but she had to take extreme caution to not raise suspicions. Dark magic was volatile by nature, and any chipped stones, cracked windows, or charred bricks would've been cause for immediate alarm amongst her peers. Doubly so, Idunn had no idea how she'd explain to Eliwood if a panicking maid came up to him to tell him she'd been seeing strange, unnatural lights coming from Idunn's room.

This left Idunn with only one real avenue to hone her magical skills; meditation. It didn't take much effort for her tune out the noises around her and slip into solitude.

Meditating, opening her senses, and letting her own well of quintessence touch the living beings around her was also infinitely safer and easier to work with than throwing fireballs or casting other destructive spells. Idunn was reasonably confident that no one could sense her magical energy; Idunn had spent a fair amount of time around Roy by now, and she was quite certain that Roy had no idea that there was dragon blood flowing through his veins. Ninian may have been able to sense Idunn's dragonic magic at work, but if her fellow dragon had failed to sense that Idunn was a dragon when she'd first arrived, there was little likelihood that she would detect anything out of the ordinary now.

Idunn wasn't sure what exactly she'd been expecting, but so far, the only thing she'd really learned how to do was detect the life energy of those around her. This went deeper than being able to tell that Roy and Ninian were dragons, or at least part-dragon in Roy's case.

It was difficult to describe in words; Idunn likened it to being in a dark room, illuminated sparsely by little pinpricks of light. She herself; or rather; her own quintessence shone like the sun, illuminating everything around her, but things grew darker the further away from her they got.

Rather than the shining, radiant light that was her own ocean of life energy, the quintessence of the humans in the castle were far smaller. The maids, cooks, and other servants were like little pinpricks of light in the darkness, while the knights and other trained men and women-at-arms were like dim candles.

A small few, such as Sir Marcus, Harken, and the other veterans of Pherae were like well-maintained campfires; comforting and warm to be around, but unmistakably bright and strong.

Then there was the marquess himself. Eliwood of Pherae stood out; his quintessence radiating out from him like the hearth in his castle's great hall. While still not coming close to her own life energy, the amount of Eliwood's quintessence was unmatched by any of his peers at Pherae.

And then there was Ninian.

Idunn frowned. She didn't like seeing the reminder that the other dragon was dying, especially not having said reminder thrust in her face, but…

As a dragon, Ninian's quintessence should've been like a second sun at Pherae; eclipsing all but Idunn's own life energy.

Instead, what Idunn sensed whenever she meditated was a burnt-down fire, with practically nothing but embers left.

It was here that Idunn's mind started to wander. What kind of illness could weaken a dragon so much? Could dragons even get sick? Idunn had never once fallen ill in the year and a half she'd been unsealed for, and though she hadn't exactly spent much time around Jahn away from the battlefield, she'd never once seen him at anything other than the pinnacle of health.

Doubt started forming in her mind. She was beginning to grow skeptical of whether or not Ninian was truly sick. There was too much here that didn't make sense to her. Even if she had caught some human illness, her inhuman nature and physiology should've allowed for her body to fight off whatever had been ravaging her. With so little dragonkin left on Elibe, Idunn wasn't certain that whatever diseases dragons had caught in the distant past (if any) were still present on Elibe.

Was… Was Roy's existence the problem here? Idunn didn't like considering the idea that somehow Roy's birth had weakened Ninian, but at the same time the idea of a human and a dragon having a child together was still astounding to her. Perhaps Ninian's vitality had been passed on to Roy when he'd been born?

Hrmm… Grumbling softly, Idunn slumped back in the chair she was sitting in. Afternoon was turning into evening, and she had retreated to her room after a day of minding the infirmary.

These thoughts of hers were only theories, with little beyond suspicion giving them any sort of credence.

The thought that Ninian's vitality had been passed on to her son sounded more plausible than a dragon slowly wasting away from a human illness, but it didn't sound right either. Alas, Idunn knew that she couldn't just walk up to the marchioness and ask what was wrong with her.

How was Idunn supposed to explain her abilities to the marchioness? As far as Ninian and her husband were aware, Idunn was a druid of some power, and dark mages were already viewed with enough suspicion as it was. The last thing Idunn wanted was for the marchioness to grow suspicious of her because she had casually revealed that she was experimenting with powerful, old magic from a bygone age. Doing so would've revealed to the marchioness, and by extension the marquess, that Idunn was not who she said she was. And even if it was for a good cause… Idunn was still terrified by the thought of the kind humans discovering her true nature. Ninian may have been a peaceful dragon, or at least that was what Idunn assumed- Jahn had spoken of (with scorn) traitorous dragonkin who had refused to join the Fire Tribe in their battle against humankind, but… Idunn was inherently different.

This left her stuck in her current conundrum. Saving Ninian's life was her top priority, but Idunn also very much wished to ensure that she kept her own secrets. In the back of her mind, she knew there was some small chance that maybe, just perhaps, Ninian and Eliwood would be receptive to the idea of another dragon living at Pherae.

But not the demon dragon. What human in their right mind would allow the scourge of mankind to live with them? To allow them to befriend their children? No, Idunn was certain that if her identity as the demon dragon came to light, she would be driven out of Pherae soon afterwards. Even if Lord Eliwood was the kindest, most understanding lord she could've asked for, he didn't control the minds of his servants, or the minds of his citizens. The worst-case scenario playing in Idunn's mind was a situation in which all of Pherae discovered her true identity, and then she would have to flee the province entirely!

That didn't mean that there wasn't merit in getting close to Ninian. Idunn didn't believe that it would be difficult to ask to spend some time in the next few days alongside the marchioness. Idunn's sensory capabilities had already grown strong enough that she didn't need to meditate to sense the quintessence of people in close proximity to her, and by sitting next to the marchioness, Idunn would… well, she wasn't exactly sure what would come next.

Did the quintessence of people suffering from disease vary greatly from healthy people? Idunn wasn't sure, but it was all she had to go off right now. Lack of information was her biggest obstacle in her secret effort to save the marchioness's life.

Fortunately, Idunn had an idea for exactly how she was going to combat her lack of information.

She was going to try and spend time with Ninian. She'd spoken privately to all of Eliwood's retainers by now, and after a week and a half or so of living at Pherae, she was even starting to recognize and remember the names of the kindly men and women who made up the staff responsible for keeping the castle in shape. Out of all of the major figures living at the castle, Ninian was the only person she had yet to speak to one on one.

And while Idunn was still rather short on friends, she was finding out that quality of friends was more valuable than quantity. She'd been very much enjoying spending time with Roy. He was such a sweet, kind boy! Idunn felt… warm and happy when she was able to spend time with him! Her young friend- her first ever friend was still grounded, as his parents, loving as they were, had been beside themselves with worry over Roy's near fatal-meeting with the bear at the beginning of the previous week. Idunn felt a little bad about it, but she was strangely happy that Roy being confined to the castle meant he was more likely to come and spend time with her in his free time.

Roy had, in addition to spending quite a lot of time reading his favorite stories to Idunn, also been very happy to introduce her to most of the castle's staff. Idunn was very glad someone had introduced her to them, as had she been on her own, she knew she would've been too nervous to seek and out speak to any of the servants.

Fortunately for Idunn, whenever she'd been touring the castle with Roy at her side, each servant had greeted the odd duo with a warm smile. If they were put off by Idunn's unusual height or two-colored eyes, they didn't voice it.

And right now, she didn't have Roy at her side, but she did at least have a target person in mind. Someone who could possibly help her out in her goal of speaking privately with Ninian.

Another pleasant difference Idunn enjoyed was that the staff serving at Castle Pherae were a much friendlier sort than the quiet lot who had been responsible for managing the royal keep of Bern. She'd never heard Zephiel say anything negative about them, but she'd also never once heard any of the serving staff actually interact with her or the king.

Looking back on things and taking into consideration what more she knew about interacting with people now, it was likely they'd been intimidated by the king's presence. Or her own.

Idunn was quite thankful that nobody at Pherae was intimidated by her presence. It made finding help much easier.

It took Idunn only a few minutes of searching the rooms on the floor of the castle the infirmary was located on, and after opening up one last door and poking her head inside, Idunn found a familiar young woman dressed in the garb of one of the castle's servants.

Idunn reasoned that the easiest way to diagnose her ailing marchioness was by getting close enough to her that her newfound magical abilities would reveal something to her. What exactly, Idunn wasn't sure. But she could tell even at a distance when she was practicing her new ability in the isolation in her room, that the quintessence of everyone else in the castle was distinctly different. Or more accurately, that everyone's quintessence- their 'presence,' Idunn was mentally calling it, was different. Idunn's main goal today was still to speak with one of the castle's staff about how to best arrange a meeting with Ninian, as even though Ninian and Eliwood couldn't have been more different than the sort of nobles she'd grown used to seeing at Zephiel's side, she still wanted to be sure that she didn't do anything to draw attention to herself. Well, no more attention than she'd already gathered.

The young woman, who looked perhaps a few years younger than Idunn's (physical) age had short, wavy brown hair, and blue eyes, which Idunn saw widening as the young woman turned around at the sound of the door opening.

"Oh, my goodness! Lady Idunn! It's so good to see you again! Have you been enjoying living in Pherae? Ooh, what do you like the most about living here? There's so much to do in town, and all of the people are so friendly! Oh, but the castle is so warm and inviting… I remember when I first came to the castle I was so worried that it would be all dark and dreary, but-" At this point, the maid had to pause for a moment to take in a big gasp of air, which gave Idunn a much needed reprieve. It was good to see the maid again, but Idunn had forgotten just how quickly she talked. At least Idunn felt a little more comfortable speaking with people now that she'd been living in peace for over a week. She knew she still had a long way to go on that front, but at least she could listen to the maid speak without feeling like was a fortress under siege from the maid's verbal barrage.

Idunn knew it might've been a little rude of her, but she chose to speak up before the maid could continue talking.

"Er… yes, it's good to see you again. Life at the castle has been pleasant, and while I haven't gone into the town yet, it does seem like a nice place."

"What?! You… Have you been cooped up inside the castle this whole time?! Why, I'd go crazy staying inside all the time! I know, I'll ask Lady Eleanora for permission to show you around the town! Mr. Merlinus has been arranging a visit from some merchants from Etruria, and they're due to arrive any day now! I'm certain he'd welcome the help of a couple of able-bodied young ladies like us to help make sure things go smoothly!"

In truth, Idunn wasn't quite sure what purpose she or the maid (whose name she really should find out) would serve helping Merlinus, but she did want to get out of the castle…

Wait! Idunn realized that she'd gotten lost following this tangent. She'd sought out the maid for a reason.

This time, Idunn made sure to address the topic for which she'd sought out one of the castle's maids in the first place.

"Er… if I wish to visit the marchioness… is there a proper way to do so? I don't want to just walk into her and Lord Eliwood's private chambers unannounced."

The young maid's eyes lit up.

"Oh! You want to speak to Lady Ninian? I shouldn't be surprised, she's such a nice woman! I still remember when I first arrived at the castle three years ago… I was so nervous! I was just a girl from the countryside, coming to work at the Marquess's castle! But Lord Eliwood, and especially Lady Ninian made me feel so welcome! They both greeted me in person and Lady Ninian even gave me a tour of the castle! Before I came to Pherae, I didn't think there were any nobles like them in all of Elibe!"

While not normally one to interrupt others, Idunn placed a hand on the much shorter woman's shoulder, stopping her before she could progress too far down her current tangent.

To her credit, the maid did flush a little. The embarrassed woman laughed nervously.

"O-oh my… I'm sorry, Lady Idunn! All my friends tell me that I have a habit of talking over other people… I'm sorry, I didn't mean to get caught up like that."

"It's alright. The marchioness, please. How would I go about speaking to her?" Idunn restated her initial purpose for seeking out help, hoping this time the maid would focus on the topic.

"Oh, well… I suppose it would be better to schedule a visit with her. In the past I heard from my coworkers that she was always happy to receive visitors at any time, but now…" Her words trailed off, the short woman looking crestfallen.

"Er… that's actually what I was hoping to speak to her about. As Pherae's new court healer, I believe that it's my duty to try and cure the marchioness." Idunn wasn't used to referring to herself by her new title, but she'd prefer labeling herself as a 'court healer' over the 'dark priestess' any day.

Idunn's eyes widened, and she almost instinctively snatched her hands back as the maid grabbed her hands. It was only the wide-eyed, joyful look- Idunn could even see tears sparkling in the corner of the maid's eyes- that kept her from stepping back.

"Y-you're an angel, Lady Idunn! Saving the young lord first, and now you want to save Lady Ninian as well? She's been sick for so long… Us servants have just about given up hope, but… you're here! And I heard stories from my friends about how powerful your magic is! Dark magic might be scary, but I heard from one of the senior maids that there hasn't been a mage as powerful as you at Pherae in fifty years! If anyone can save the marchioness, it's you!"

Idunn felt her cheeks heating at the high praise. G-goodness, that was a bit much, wasn't it? She'd just done what had seemed right to her. She'd saved Roy's life because to her, it had been the right thing to do, and after seeing him suffering so greatly in her previous time, her heart wouldn't have been able to bear the shame of letting anything happen to him again.

And right now, she wanted to save Ninian not because she wanted Eliwood and the people of Pherae indebted to her, but because she genuinely wanted to help.

"Hmm… Lady Eleanora usually comes by to check in with us staff at least once a day. If you like, I can ask her then if she could arrange a meeting between you and the marchioness. As I said, Ninian used to receive visitors at any time, but the poor woman's health simply doesn't allow her to stay up for very long anymore. It really would be for the best to have Lady Eleanora arrange a private visit for you during the hours the marchioness is up."

"Would you please speak to Lady Eleanora, then?"

"Of course! I don't know if I'll see you again today, but rest assured, if all goes well Lady Eleanora will come and visit you tomorrow morning about whether you can visit the marchioness in private!"

"Thank you. I truly appreciate it." Idunn left the maid to her duties after that exchange ended, walking back to the infirmary she oversaw while deep in thought. The tall, pale woman felt a strange, unusual anxiety in her chest. Her heart was beating rapidly, and she felt… nervous? That was another emotion that she was still quite unused to.

But… this was good. This was progress. Poor Ninian's health, from what information she'd gathered, seemed to decline with each passing day. Time was of the essence here, and though Idunn was still unsure of whether she would succeed in her goal… She had to at least try!

The remainder of the night passed by quietly for Idunn. Just like the other days this past week since she'd formally taken up the role of Pherae's court physician, there hadn't been too much need for her, though everyone was happy to have her present. In one passing conversation with Marcus regarding the training of Pherae's knights and how often serious injuries occurred, in the old knight's words it was better to have a healer on hand and not need her than have no healer when one was desperately needed.

Idunn hadn't complained then, and she wasn't complaining now. The peace and quiet gave her more time to prepare herself for the task at hand.

As the hours ticked by, Idun continued exercising her new sensory ability. Once again, she was reminded that the ability was strongest when she was meditating and tuning out all sights and sounds of the world around her… or when she was in close proximity to another person.

In truth, she wasn't sure if it would help at all. There was a wide gap between 'sensing someone's quintessence' and 'healing Ninian's terminal illness.' Idunn hoped at least that getting close to Ninian would… what? What was her end goal here? Idunn tried to brush aside her worries; that her newfound power would be useless in trying to heal Ninian, and that her efforts were doomed to failure no matter what she tried.

Letting out a shaky breath, the tall woman absentmindedly ran her hands up and down the cream-colored dress she was wearing, smoothing out some of the wrinkles that had formed from her sitting down for so long.

The dragonkin woman knew she couldn't lose hope. Not before she'd even attempted anything. Her new ability would help- it had to! If she could so clearly see the differences in life energy in the people around her, then shouldn't it also be able to register any anomalies in their health? Idunn knew she was pinning her hopes on something that might not end up helping, but a slim chance was better than none.

Idunn didn't hear back from the maid or Lady Eleanora that evening, but that was to be expected. Hopefully, her friend on Pherae's staff had spoken to Eleanora, and Idunn would be able to speak to her the next morning and hopefully get to visit Ninian soon afterwards.

There was dangerously little time for Idunn to work with. Had she arrived at Pherae a year or two earlier, she might have had more time to practice and hone her powers, but as it was, Idunn knew from observing Ninian's quintessence that the poor woman's life could be measured in the months… possibly even weeks at this point. There simply wasn't enough time for Idunn to delay her efforts. She'd have to make do with the power she had.

As she drifted off to sleep, one thought remained swirling around in Idunn's turbulent mind; 'how in the world could the power to create war dragons save Ninian?'

Her sleep that night was once again undisturbed by the whispers and wails of the dead. Idunn didn't know if it was a coincidence or not, but it seemed that ever since she'd come to Pherae, her nightmares; or at least many of them had ceased.

The next morning, Idunn dressed herself with another set of hand-me-down clothes, stumbling slightly as she stretched and rubbed her eyes. She still felt rather exposed without the large robe and cloak she'd worn for so long, but the tall woman knew that she had to get used to wearing clothes that wouldn't make her look like some eerie specter stalking about the castle. The dress she was wearing today was about the same shade of green as her left eye, and while it covered everything it needed to, Idunn couldn't help but tug at the hem of the dress, which stopped noticeably short of her ankles, and the sleeves, which were too short to cover her wrists.

Oh well. She was grateful enough that she'd been provided with clothes in the first place, and Lady Eleanora had assured her the other day that at least the first several articles of clothing in her new wardrobe would be completed within the next few days.

Speaking of the good lady, Idunn felt a flicker in her mind, and the dragonkin closed her eyes and focused, soon picking up the feeling of Lady Eleanora's quintessence drawing closer to her.

It wasn't like hearing a sound or smelling something aromatic, but… the best way to put it was that at present Idunn's ability to detect the quintessence of those around her was very much a sixth sense. Hopefully she would soon be skilled enough with her new ability that she would be able to make use of it without limiting her other functions.

Slowly, focusing on the image in her mind- like a dark void full of little balls of light, Idunn focused on the small but bright light drawing closer to her.

Idunn heard the sound of footsteps drawing closer outside her door, matching the pace that the little ball of light was floating towards her at. Soon enough, it stopped just outside where the door to her room was.

"Idunn? Are you in your room, dear?"

Idunn padded over to her door and opened it, revealing the familiar form of the former marchioness of Pherae.

"It's good to see you, Lady Eleanora."

The greying purple-haired woman rolled her eyes, though there was a friendly smile on her face all the same.

"I've said it before, Miss Idunn, that you can just call me Eleanora. I never was one for ceremony. Outside of formal events, of course. Oh!" The older-looking woman made a noise of disapproval, running her eyes up and down Idunn's form. Idunn had the faint sense that that the disapproval was thankfully not aimed at her.

"Hrm… I told the maids to gather clothes that would fit her, but I suppose they did the best they could. There certainly aren't many women of her height around."

Idunn got the impression that those words hadn't been meant for her ears. Eleanora blinked, realizing with a somewhat embarrassed look at the realization that she hadn't been as quiet as she thought she'd been.

"Oh, sorry! Please ignore this old woman's grumbling! Idunn, it should make you happy to hear that the local tailors should have most of your new wardrobe finished by next week. You'll be able to go into town wearing clothes that fit you soon enough!"

Idunn was glad to hear that; but more than the idea of getting new clothes she was truly more relieved that Eleanora hadn't ever questioned Idunn about how or why she'd shown up at Pherae with nothing more than the clothes on her back in the first place. The people at Pherae, including its royal family were a friendly, trusting sort, and Idunn was all the gladder for it.

The smile on Eleanora's face faded slightly, and a tinge of concern seeped into her voice as she spoke again.

"Now, dear… I heard from Jenny yesterday that you wanted to visit Ninian today? I can take you to meet with her if you'd like, but…" The noblewoman trailed off, leaving Idunn to pick up the conversation.

"Please, I would like to visit her as soon as possible. I know I have only been at Pherae a short while, but… should I not try and help Lady Ninian?"

"Oh, that's sweet of you, dear… But you mustn't get your hopes up. Ninian has been sick for so long, and you aren't the first healer Eliwood and Ninian have consulted over the years. But… it'd be wrong of me to deny your request. If you like, I can take you to her later, or if you're ready now, I can take you to her right away. Ninian does usually have more energy earlier in the day."

"I can go now."

"Very well, I'll have some of the staff bring breakfast for the both of you. Ninian usually eats in her and my son's quarters, so the two of you won't be disturbed if you're hoping for privacy. But again… I don't know what magic you might know, but please, don't feel disheartened by what you find. Ninian has… Ninian has been sick for a very long time. It's… It's something my family has made peace with."

Idunn followed Eleanora out of her room, trailing along behind the marchioness, thinking over what she'd just heard. It wasn't good news at all, but it only further reinforced Idunn's belief that if human magic and medicine couldn't save the marchioness… well, maybe dragonic magic was what she needed instead. Treat a human with human magic, treat a dragon with dragonic magic. She couldn't let herself lose hope, no matter how dire the situation! Eliwood, Eleanora, and Ninian herself seemed to be resigned to the poor woman dying, as did many other residents of the castle. But what of Roy? He was so cheerful all the time that Idunn found it hard to believe that he was aware of his mother's seemingly inescapable fate. Was he facing it with a brave face… or was he truly unaware? Idunn didn't like either possibility.

But if it was up to her- and it was, he wouldn't have to face the harsh reality of his mother dying at all. She would save Ninian. Idunn's magical might may have been raw and untested, but she swore that she was going to find a way to save lives with it rather than take lives, and Ninian would be the very first person who would be saved by her!

Here's hoping that I'm sticking the landing with Idunn's new power. Quintessence-manipulation is such a vague field of magic from canon Fire Emblem that's there's pretty much no information on what it can or can't do. I'm trying to show that as a novice (or at least, someone who has never actually had to practice with this field of magic, Idunn is starting small.

Other than that...

I'm using the terms 'life energy' and 'quintessence' interchangeably. Does it sound better if I just stick with quintessence?

Similar issue with Idunn's title. I'm flip-flopping between 'court healer' and 'court physician.' Though this one could be a case of people at Pherae using both to describe Idunn.

Beyond that... That's pretty much everything I have to say! Oh, and the motormouth maid finally got a name. 'Jenny' isn't a reference or anything, I pretty much just made a short list of simple names in my head that sounded good/fitting, and that's what I settled on.