Rain made getting a decent footing impossible for Taguel, let alone to rely her senses in the way it was coming down. She could barely see where was going, at least she memorized how to get to the palace, or she would never get there.
"Where is he!?" A growl emanated throughout the entrance hall as an extremely agitated Taguel strode pass half a dozen guards. The guardsmen readying their weapons as she made her way to two knights in red and green officer armor. The "Bull and Panther" of Ylisse, who in contrast to the guardsmen, were mostly calm as the tall, intimidating woman approached them.
She stood with pride among the humans as one of the last of the Taguel. Her earth-brown stare daring any to challenge her gaze, and her barely contained frustration at the events that have brought her here. Panne's fists clenched tight, a slight shine on her on her left hand. Her fur along her collarbone and wrists clearly standing on edge with the stress of the rumors she has heard. Leather armor she wore, spoke that she had questions and she was not leaving them unanswered.
Stalh was the first to respond, the joy on his face was betrayed by the nerves in his voice. "Oh! Hi Panne, its been a while how are-"
"Where is he?" Panne interrupted with a bit of the rarely seen emotion in her voice, but her body relaxed a bit at the sight of...friends. Her ears stopped twitching within her braids as her eyes continued to scan the surroundings for her targets.
"Who are you looking for rabbit, can't help ya without a name." Sully responded, gruffly but with a bit of kindness in her voice. Clearly undeterred by Panne's presence.
"Where is Chrom?"
"He is just in the throne room he was just about to send for you." Stalh replied, shifting uneasily between his feet.
"I am here, so I will meet him...And I want answers." Panne shifted pass the knights and continued up the stairs towards the main hall as the guards throughout the room begin tensing up once more.
The large doors opened up, allowing Panne to see the room where she found a new path in her life. The night where she started to see the man-spawns as more than just beings of chaos and destruction. The night she met the ones who showed her there are more to humans and the world beyond The Warren. And the one who made her see a future for her race.
And the one who ended her own isolation with a promise he should keep.
Due to the upbringing of the Ylissian family, they did not see the point of displaying wealth and power to intimidate visitors. Only the family crest branded on the shields along the walls signified the people who ruled the country. The sunlight shined brilliantly through the tinted windows giving the hall a natural feeling, as if echoing the peace across the continent of Ylisse.
At the sound of the large doors opening, the groups of figures near the throne look up calmly, clearly expecting company. The various aides and Ministers on the other hand, looked quite flabbergasted at who would barge in without an introduction. Panne made her way to Chrom following the red carpet passing more nervous guards and pompous ministers. She did not hesitate, with pride in every step she ignored the looks ranging from fear, disgust, and from the more knowledgeable, respect. She stopped short a few steps from the pedestal where Chrom sat with his family.
One particular noble's eyes narrowed upon her.
Sumia looked rather uncomfortable in the attire befitting a Queen, nitpicking and possible wishing to be in a saddle gliding through the sky. Little Lucina, just over two years old, seem to be helping her mother with some frivolous attempts at removing the dress from her seat on her lap.
"You have found him, haven't you?" She questioned, ignoring the looks of absolute shock from fat fools of the court who could not comprend the direct manner of speaking towards the Exalt.
Lissa's face quickly changed from her usual happy demeanor to sudden sadness as her eyes grew wide.
Before Chrom could reply, a fatter fool than most spewed, "HOW DARE YOU! No one speaks to the Exalt with such manners! Guards, remove this b-"
"They will do no such thing Minister Harl. And I suggest you watch your tone around any Shepard, current or former. They deserve as much respect as you give me, or do you wish to leave the room?" Chrom, interrupted and his eyes never so much as blinked as he stared down the robust man. His long red beard began to twitch under his chin, as his well-rounded face tried to regain some composure.
"Shepards are allowed to address me as they see fit. To them, I am Chrom before the Exalt." Minister Harl, face turned beat red in anger but backed down from the Exalt's challenge.
"I will say again. Where is he?" Panne said once more, completely ignoring the built up tension in room. She was learning the ways of humans slowly, but she did not care for all the pointless squabbling.
"We found him, but when he awoke something was…wrong." Chrom cleared his throat, "I ask that all clear the hall, except for Shepards." His voice echoed with the authority that lead to victories over many nations. The voice that invoked respect to all those around him.
As the room cleared, Panne watched as only Chrom, Lissa, Sumia and Gaius were left in the large room. All were dressed in the robes befitting Ylissian royalty, though Panne could smell the sugar wafting from the interior of Gaius' robe.
"A patrol found him in a field and we made our way there." Chrom stopped, "After one year we finally found him." Though the words were joyous, his face showed pain as he spoke. Gaius' eyes grew sharp, unwavering as if contemplating murder. Panne could feel her heart quicken, but kept any emotion from her face. Chrom continued.
"Welcome back." Chrom couldn't help but smile as his greatest ally stood once more by his side. The black knight's armor shined as if he had never been in a fight. His blue robes flowed between the pieces of metal, showing his mastery of steel and magic, just like during the fated battle. Even his hair hadn't change with the pass of time as the hundreds of tiny black curls remained steadfast while he began to stand.
But something was wrong.
His face betrayed no emotion, eyes were blank, and as Chrom peered closer, they became as black as Grima himself. What was at first thought of as confusion, was replaced with a worse thought. Emptiness.
He began to walk past Chrom and through the field, "Hey Nikat, don't we at least get a hello-" as Lissa reached and grabbed his arm. Chrom was too slow to respond, but Gaius got her in time to pull her away as Nikat unsheathed his blade and slashed to his left where Lissa just stood mere seconds before.
The atmosphere changed. What was supposed to be a happy reunion has changed to a dangerous confrontation. The sunlight that bathed the clearing became lost as clouds darkened the sky as time passed between the five Shepards. Seconds, then minutes, before Sumia speaks, her hands reaching towards her Pegasus and her lance.
"Ni-Nikat-" "WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?" Gaius yelled at his friend, as he held the still stunned Lissa in one arm, and sword in the other. His eyes full of rage and hurt at what could have happened. Lissa's face on the brink of tears and disbelief in eyes.
"Gaius, I need you and Lissa to back up, NOW." Chrom commanded, as the couple backed away, Chrom drew Falchion and readied himself for an attack from his friend, not knowing how this will end. Killing a person who he considered family, or allowing him to harm those he loved?
Nikat with his black eyes staring toward the group, begaun to change into something familiar. Black smoke soon drifted out of his mouth and rise towards the clouded sky and his eyes no longer black holes, but gained color. The color that has caused nightmares for people across the world for years when they are caught under the unnatural gaze.
Nikat's eyes have changed to that of The Risen.
The Risen Nikat turned back toward the forest, walking aimlessly towards the woods. What once encircled the clearing with the smell of spring smelled bitter sweet as the woods seem to transform into twisted shapes and figures. The gnarled branches reached forward as if to strangle anything that approaches.
As he disappeared into the demented woods, the Shepards could only feel the betrayal and fear. Fear, not for their safety, but fear for their friend.
Nikat was gone.
Silence, as Panne stood and quietly listened to Chrom as he recalled what happened. Gaius, standing next to Lissa, had wrapped his arm around her gripped her as if she would disappear, his eyes still holding the anger at Nikat what he almost had done.
Lissa, reliving her close encounter with the death, her face paled shortly after he woke up and the façade she had around the Ministers broke down as she moved into Gaius. Tears, once more threatened to stream from her eyes.
Chrom's face has now changed. It was no longer the face of a friend in mourning, looking back at a haunting memory. It has changed. He had become taunt, brows furrowed, and his eyes show the determination that took down the Mad King Gangrel. He is not out for vengeance, but to protect his friend from himself and any he harms.
"As much as I hate to admit it, Nikat, is dangerous. We can't let him do as he pleases. You and I know he will never forgive himself if he kills anyone unintentionally." Chrom told Panne, conviction rang in each word as he paused.
"…What are you saying Chrom?" Panne said quietly as her voice betrayed just a small bit of emotion she could not hide.
"He needs to be stopped, Panne he is not-"
"Enough!" Her strong voice exploded in the empty hall, no longer filled with the warmth of spring, but the harsh weather of a storm building. Both inside and out.
Panne looked Chrom in the eyes, narrowing showing the hunter instincts that have allowed her to survive before meeting and accepting the Shepards. Her teeth gritted together in anger, showing the world something she has always kept close, hidden from the outside world. Her emotions.
"After all he has done, all the battles and strategies he made to protect Elisse and the world from Grimas, and YOU," She paused as she bared her teeth in rage, " He is your friend that would die for any of us and-"
"HE DID DIE!" A fist slammed down onto the throne, as a deafening crack could be heard as the wood gives way to the brute strength.
Chrom begins to whisper, despair at the conclusion he has come to. "Naga said there would be a slight chance that he could come back. If he gave his heart to as many as possible, he could survive." His voice begins to rise, "He isn't there anymore. If we can't capture him alive, we may have to-"
A whimper from Lissa, "Chrom you don't mean…" Her eyes, already on the verge of giving into despair gave in, dreading the next words out of her brother's mouth.
"We may have to kill Nikat."
Panne's body began to relax, but her eyes kept the same ferocity she has shown in battle as she pulverizes her enemies into sacks of meat awaiting to be given to the earth.
She turned sharply and headed for the exit, ignoring the stares from Chrom and co.
Sumia took this time to speak up, " Where are you going?"
Panne pushed the doors open gently, as she turned her head back to acknowledge question.
"To bring you proof that he is still here. That he is not a walking shell." She paused.
"I am bringing my mate back to us and none of you can stop me."
And she dashed past the ministers, startling the guards, bewildering the Stalh and Sully and ran into the rain storm in a race against her friends for her lover.
She will bring him back, or die trying. She will not leave him alone.
Harl watched as the beast-woman left, his anger simmering from being disciplined among his fellow nobles. As soon as she disappeared into the rain alone, he begins to think. The minister started to peck his beard.
You are within my grasp. Tonight I will finish what I started all those years ago, and no one can defend you now.