Author's Note: Thanks for reading the second chapter! I'd also like to thank my wonderful two reviewers Black Lotus Flower and Gamefreek321. Your feedback is very much appreciated! By the way, I didn't label this as romance because I wasn't sure who I'd actually pair Soren up with. I may throw in a few pairings, but I'm not positive yet. Enjoy, and please please review!
Mia – Determination
As the wind whipped fiercely through her hair and the cold sting of frost bit at her face, Mia decided the situation really couldn't get much worse.
She futilely wiped her sword, trying but failing to chip off the pieces of ice that had formed on the steel during the brutal cold. Her teeth chattered as more snow was blown into her face, and she moved a numb hand to cover her eyes. The cold was not her element, Mia decided.
Her eyes moved to the sage who stood to her right. His face was flushed as red as his eyes, but he still refused to show weakness. Soren's cloaks were speckled white, and the pages to his tomb almost appeared to be frozen shut. His hair thrashed insanely around his face as the wind picked up, but he showed it no notice. Nothing held his attention but the land ahead of them, but Mia wondered if he could see a single thing through the wild gusts of chilling wind.
She glanced down at the snow below him, which came up past his ankles. The white layer that covered the ground was dotted with blood dripping down from beneath Soren's cloaks. Mia examined it worriedly before calling out to him.
"Soren!" she yelled, the wind so ferocious that it nearly carried her voice away. "How are you holding up?"
"Fine." She noticed he didn't ask about her well-being, but Mia didn't let it bother her.
"Do you think there are more?" she asked loudly, hoping the nervousness in her tone didn't show through the wind.
"Of course there are more!" he shouted, evidently frustrated. "This is the goddess's work we're fighting, Mia! Do you think she's going to let us go this easily?"
Easy was the last word she would have used to describe their fight thus far. The Disciples of Order had ambushed their camp in the dead of the night, leaving little time for survival, nonetheless planning. Soren had attempted to bellow orders to the troops as the weather picked up, but he realized this was a wasted effort. The approaching army was so vast and the blizzard was so vicious that no commands could be heeded in such conditions.
Mia had made sure to stay by the sage's side. Fighting was one of her strong suits, but even she knew that taking out an army of the goddess's strongest beings was not a battle she could handle alone. Soren's brain, she'd figured, could pull them out of any situation in which her blade alone wouldn't suffice.
Surprisingly enough, the sage hadn't objected to her company. He'd simply told her to keep up and be alert at all times. Mia had willingly agreed to these terms, knowing that staying by Soren's side would be bound to improve her survival chances.
But amidst the chaos, the swordsmaster and the sage had been forced from the safer confines of the camp and found themselves in the inclement wilderness. The rage of the storm had picked up considerably, and they had yet to encounter any of their companions. The only people they'd stumbled across were fearsome enemies, many of which nearly had Mia's head.
The two had trucked onward, but Mia wasn't even sure if they were going in the right direction. Over the howling wind, they could vaguely hear clanging steel and battle cries in the distance. The battle was far from over, but exhaustion began weighing down on Mia's arms and legs. Her sword dragged beneath her, leaving a thin trail in the freshly fallen snow.
A clump of snow plopped onto her head from an overhanging tree, and Mia let out a yelp despite herself. Soren glanced over at her, and she gave him a sheepish grin. With an eye roll, he turned away.
"I haven't seen any other members of our group, Mia …" If Mia didn't know any better, she almost thought Soren sounded worried.
"Don't worry, Soren! I'm sure they're fine!" she pitched in brightly.
There was a slight pause before Soren responded darkly, "They're not the ones I'm worried about."
This took a moment to settle in Mia's mind. "You mean … Soren, are we lost?"
"Not … lost. We will easily find our way back to camp when this wretched blizzard clears up." He glared up at the sky, as if expecting it to heed his discontent. "If we're the only two out here, the enemies may approach in a larger force than we can handle."
Something about the sage's negativity brought out the optimism within Mia. "We've been fighting for quite a while. It's only a matter of time before the enemy starts to retreat."
"We are in no condition to continue fighting like this." His crimson eyes drifted to her. "For one thing, you look too fatigued to even continue walking. If the time comes, I doubt you'll even be able to pick up your sword!"
Mia cast him a fierce scowl. "I'm fine! I can always fight! Always! And you're the one bleeding out of your cloak, not me!"
Soren grunted, brushing himself off. "One of the cavaliers got a better piece of me than I would have liked. Regardless, my injury is nothing you should concern yourself with. Do not waste sentiment on me."
Her face was strained. "Soren, I don't want to argue with you. Neither of us have the energy. Can't we just cooperate?"
Soren examined her before curtly nodding. "I suppose we have no choice. Still, avoiding combat is the best option we have at the moment. Despite your protests, you do not appear ready for a battle, and my tome is rather frail … I fear it will give out soon. My fire book has already been decimated, so this wind tome is all I have left."
"More wind?" Mia grimaced. "Don't we have enough of that as it is?"
Soren opened his mouth to respond, but it quickly clamped shut. His face became rather grim, and he took a step backwards.
She blinked, confused. "What's wrong?"
His eyes remained fixed ahead, so she followed his gaze. Her sword almost slid from her grasp at the sight ahead of them.
Through the thick winds of the storm, a quiet rustling was heard. Crunching snow became louder and quicker, and before long, Mia could see silhouettes through the blizzard. She and Soren stood frozen in their places, and Mia's growing fear caused her to audibly gulp. More and more figures became visible.
"Run." Soren whispered hoarsely.
She wanted to obey, but she found her legs had lost the ability to move. "I can't …" she whimpered.
Soren's fist clenched, and he tightened his grasp around his tomb. "Mia, go."
But Mia never had the opportunity to listen to him. The Disciples of Order stepped before them in all of their shining glory. Their shields glistened a spectacular gold, and their horses were covered in blankets made of magnificent heavy shining cloth to protect the animals from the brutal cold. Every plate of their armor glimmered immaculately, and even their weapons gleamed like the sun that wasn't present. These pristine soldiers were the spotless image of perfection.
A scream caught in Mia's throat, and she stumbled backwards, knocking into the sage's shoulder. "S-Soren …"
Her mind frozen, Mia found herself unable to count the men before her, but she knew there were several more than she and the sage could handle. Her legs were trembling, but this time she knew it wasn't just shivering from the cold.
The soldiers lifted their weapons into an offensive position. Beneath their golden helms, Mia could barely see their expressionless faces. But she knew that she was to expect no mercy.
"Mia." Soren said shortly. She forced her gaze away from the Disciples of Order and looked at him. "I do not plan on dying here. No spawns of a false goddess shall bring about my demise. If you want to flee, I understand, but I will not budge. I don't care how many there are."
"But …" An indomitable glow flashed in his eyes, and Mia stopped what she was about to say. His expression hard and his jaw firmly set, she knew he wasn't about to give up.
Without explanation, something swelled within Mia that spurred her into a fighting stance, her sword held steadily out in front of her. Brushing the hair from her face, she focused on the enemies in front of her. A true swordsmaster never backs down from a fight, no matter the odds or conditions. And Mia was not about to relinquish her title because of some petty moment of cowardice. She was a swordsmaster, and she would prove it to the end.
She took a deep breath. "Are you ready?"
He gave her a prompt nod before opening his tome. "Don't die." There was no emotion in this statement, no hidden sentiment, and no true feeling. It was a simple order. And Mia never dared disobey a direct order from Soren.
With no further chance to gain her composure, the first five mounted Disciples charged from their line, weapons at the ready. They let out no fierce battle cry or taunting, their eyes set ahead and focused on eliminating their target.
Mia sped forward and leapt up, slicing her sword at the nearest enemy. The steel scraped the shield with an awful screech, and she landed back on the ground, the snow crunching beneath her feet. She blocked a blow from his axe with her blade, ducking to avoid another hit from a lance. In one swift twist of her steel, Mia sent the enemy's axe flying through the air. The enemy attempted to swing at her from the top of his horse, but she plunged her sword through his torso as he moved. The man slumped down from his mount, and Mia retrieved her weapon without another look at the disciple.
She spared a quick glance at her companion to see Soren surrounded by five mounted soldiers. Mia winced as she watched a blade cut across Soren's arm, but he barely flinched from the blow. Instead, a tornado swallowed three of the enemies, and their bodies were sliced with the ferocious swipes of wind.
The once calming white snow was now stained a deep unsettling red. Bodies clad in gold littered the ground, turning the once peaceful area into a catastrophic field of ruins. Mia stumbled over a body, taking one misstep into the sharp point of a lance. Cringing against the pain, she whipped her blade around and pierced the unlucky enemy's neck. As the man fell, she softly felt the gash in her side to judge the severity of the injury. Blood slowly oozed from the wound, but the sting was numbed considerably by the nagging cold. She didn't have time to worry about minor injuries at the moment.
The battle continued for what seemed like an eternity as identical golden enemies continued to ride in, wielding their stainless shining weapons against the two. Mia narrowly avoided death several times as the adrenaline rush of the fight kept her reflexes quick and her sword arm steady. Her blade penetrated several merciless disciples, but she didn't make it out unharmed. Scrapes abounded on her arms, and blood now tarnished almost every inch of her clothing.
Mia lost sight of Soren during the fight, but the she assumed the devastated wind-torn bodies were his work. The sage may have been vulnerable in close range combat, but Mia was hardly worried for his safety. Any soldier who managed to land a hit on Soren was usually blown to pieces seconds afterward.
At long last, only one paladin remained. Mia took it upon herself to scare the man's horse, have him thrown off, and swiftly end his life by a powerful stroke of her sword. Once the deed was done, she collapsed onto the snow, panting and breathless. She was alive. They'd been assaulted by nearly twenty soldiers, and she was still breathing. Mia didn't know how it was possible. She found herself smiling as she stroked her blade, thanking the steel for pulling her through once again.
That smile was immediately wiped off her face as she remembered her companion.
"Soren!" she called, her voice echoing through the area. No reply came, so she called his name again, this time more desperately.
Scrambling to her feet, Mia scanned the area. Only glimmering gold and deep scarlet met her eye, no sign of the sage's familiar black cloaks.
The wind died down and the air was clear of blowing frost, but Mia felt the sting of snow on her feet more than ever as she frantically sorted through the bodies. Calling Soren's name repeatedly, she diligently circled the battlefield, looking for any sign of him.
At long last, she spotted a dark robed body lying motionless, his imprint already forming in the snow. Mia dashed to his side, forcing herself to ignore the ruby tint surrounding him.
"Soren!" She slid down onto her knees next to him, paying no mind to the bitter cold nipping her bare legs. "Can you hear me!? Soren! Get up, Soren!"
The weather suddenly felt much colder as Soren didn't answer, his face remaining the same unmoving grim expression. Mia found herself becoming more and more aware of the amount of blood staining Soren's cloaks. It couldn't all be his, could it?
"Soren … you said you weren't going to die here … remember?" She choked out the words as his expression remained unchanged. "What about Ike, Soren …? What would Ike say …?"
Mia took his hand, realizing it was soaked with warm blood. She forced herself to blink away the tears that were threatening to leak from her eyes. Soren said she shouldn't waste sentiment on him. Even at a time like this, she still didn't want to disobey his wishes.
A weak squeeze in her hand caused her eyes to immediately dart up to his face. Soren let out a slight groan as he lightly shifted his weight. His eyes slowly opened, and soon she was face-to-face with the same sour sarcastic sage she remembered. She gaped and stuttered at him for several minutes, but he was the first to speak
"I'm fine …" he informed her gruffly.
She laughed out loud and grinned at him before saying, "I know."
And she was telling the truth. Because there was one thing Soren possessed that no one, not even the Disciples of Order, could take away from him.
Personally, I like this pairing more than Soren & Elincia, but that's just my opinion. I'd love to take suggestions on any pairings you'd like to see. But, coincidentally, the only way you can make suggestions is if you REVIEW. Really, is it so much to ask? You can get your name mentioned in the next author's note! … Please …?