Dawn of Balance
Life is a matter of balance. Order and chaos are both necessary, like the two halves of a whole. Without the chaos and darkness of the night that is finished and the order and light of the day that is to come a dawn cannot exist.
Disclaimer: I am not Intelligent Systems. I do not own Fire Emblem. End of story.
There was a different feel to the air in Daein than there was in Begnion, Sephiran reflected.
The very magics riding the breeze, the ever-present inaudible murmur of spirits that those trained in the arcane arts could hear, the very thoughts of the land beneath his feet and the slow, steady life of the plants- all were different. Begnion's magics were more settled and stable, as befitted a country that had been civilized for millennia. The more pernicious spirits of darkness and chaos had been exorcized from its borders by vigilant bishops and saints from various monasteries, bound by spells and rites or killed outright by high-grade light magic. The muted rumbling thoughts of the earth below were subdued and sluggish, the vague awareness of a land that had been tamed and which had accepted its domesticated fate.
Daein was another story altogether. Here, everything was wild and rough, a harsh, untamed landscape ranging from the wind-lashed desert on the far border of the country and the jagged, snow-capped mountains to the very floods of Talrega and the marshes of Shifu Swamp. The land possessed a certain awareness here that had gone dormant in Begnion. It had not yet been beaten down into a state where it would meekly accept being pasture for cattle and horses and a fertile fields for crops. The Daein landscape was still considering hostilities against the humans who dug into it with plows and who hacked down its trees for firewood with sharp-edged axes.
The magics, too, of Daein were rough and masterless. They were harsh, as snapping and bitterly cold as the winter winds, stinging like embers of a good blast of Elfire. The spirits were not much better. There were few light spirits here. A week or more occasionally passed before Sephiran made contact with one. They always seemed surprised to see him, but they never refused to help him. Despite the path he had bound himself too, they could still see the goddess's mark of favor upon him, and dared not refuse it.
It did not surprise Sephiran unduly to find large quantities of anima spirits in Daein. Anima spirits were the most plentiful, of course, and they liked to congregate in areas further removed from people, in the wildernesses. What did surprise him was the unusual amount of dark spirits- not merely chaos spirits, like Fenrir, but downright evil ones, like Baal and Zorgoth and Enkidu. Upon further reflection, however, the matter had become clear to him: the evil spirits that bishops had exorcized out of Begnion had simply come to the closest available haven, here in Daein.
That still did not explain why so many of them had decided to gather near this one particular town.
Halting on the dirt track leading to the unkempt municipality, Sephiran paused to study it more closely. It looked no different than any other average-sized town in Daein. A sort of rude wooden palisade had been erected around it, as a protection against bandits and wild animals- and, no doubt, also against the laguz the Daeins were so fond of hunting down with spears and bows, as if they were running down a wild boar.
He had chanced upon a party of drunken men returning successfully from one such hunt as this not three days ago, and had unfortunately caught a glimpse of the mangled carcass they had borne aloft as a gruesome trophy. Enough of it was intact for him to recognize it as a young tiger, malnourished by the look of the ribs protruding from his sides. The odds were that he had been an escapee from Begnion, and had been misfortunate enough to try to hide from his former master in Daein of all places.
Only the goddess knew which place was worse for laguz, Begnion or Daein.
Chaos spirits and evil spirits liked to gather when such hunts were afoot, Sephiran had learned. The metallic smell of blood and the negative energy released by the hatred of the pursuers and the hatred of the pursued always drew them, like vultures to carrion.
Yet Sephiran did not note here the concentration of the darker spirits he had come to associate with murderous doings. Instead, his magical senses offered him a panorama of a wide selection of dark spirits, ranging from the generic ones whom the Begnion monasteries had not even gotten around to naming, to stronger chaos ones who incited jealousies and preyed on men's emotions, to a couple of the suspiciously strong, evil ones. Sephiran could have sworn he caught a glimpse of Baal, but the spirit whisked out of his range before he could tell for sure. He had never personally tangled with the spirit in the past, but he had heard of a few of its deeds and he had seen the tome usually used to interact with it, Balberith, enough times to recognize its spirit when he saw it.
The matter was not too much of a cause for concern, however. Only the most suicidal of spirits would risk a fight with him. The most even the malicious ones would attempt to try with him would be minor inconveniences. They might not try that now, however; the dark spirit Carrow had tried to snatch his bookbag a couple weeks ago, when he had first entered Daein.
Sephiran had never been in the habit of blasting spirits when he felt like it, so if it had been a different spirit he might have overlooked it, or let it off with a warning. Carrow, however, might have been able to cause serious damage if it had managed to activate the selection of dark tomes he had stashed in his bag. Annoyed, Sephiran had drawn out a Shine and pulverized Carrow. The Shine had been overkill, perhaps, but it had felt good. He had not even needed to activate Corona.
He had yet to see if Carrow's example would motivate other dark spirits to be more respectful around him. They had mostly avoided him since then, though, he had to admit.
To tell the truth, he would have sooner expected to see such darkness spirits in Begnion of late than in Daein.
Sephiran closed his eyes as he thought of the events of a few months ago, flames scorching the trees…
He had lost Yune, but he had sworn he would find her again. Terrified by whatever darkness had killed Empress Misaha and then whipped the Begnion people into slaughtering defenseless herons, the spirits had not been as helpful as they would have been ordinarily. Even the usually obliging wind spirits feared something so much they could only whisper words of advice and assist him with minor things.
The thing about spirits was that they were so overlooked. The ordinary person taken to a monastery after some accident never really questioned what took place when a harried priest tending to the injured used his staff to treat the wound. The ordinary man saw the staff glow, he felt the magical coolness enter his body and seal up his wound, and he was not motivated to think more about it.
All magic, however, began and ended with the spirits. Any maker of magical tomes or staves could testify to that. Staves collected healing energy from the spirits, which a priest would be trained to activate using his or her own magic. Tomes, however, were less passive. Tomes were traditionally written in the ancient language, the language of the spirits, the language that the herons had spoken…
Again before his eyes flashed hideous images of a once lush and green forest tangled with terrible flame, the cries of a maddened populace resounding through the trees as they rushed forward, even killing each other in their thoughtless haste to avenge their beloved Apostle…
It might have been several centuries since a true galdr had crossed his lips, but he remained a heron at heart. And his heart had bled for his people. He would have liked to die with them that night. But he could not. Nothing could kill him. He had been marked as the goddess's favorite, and nothing could kill him. He could not even kill himself. He had begged Dheginsea, once, to put an end to his misery. Dheginsea had refused.
And since he could not die, every day now he had to live with the memories of the way his people had died, trapped in the flames of the forest that had been their sanctuary.
Perhaps the worst part about it was that this was not the first time he had lost his family.
Hello, Spinner here. This is my first fanfiction, and, no, I will not beg, sniveling, for you to be nice to me because of that. As a matter of fact, flame away! I will use the flames to roast marshmallows and make s'mores.
First off, I will admit to playing Radiant Dawn only once and Path of Radiance never (I suppose watching lots of playthroughs on YouTube doesn't count?), but I have a great affection for the characters and have researched both games thoroughly for this fanfic. Did you know that there is an official timelime for the Tellius games? Well, there is.
Now, in most fandoms I prefer canon. However, my ideas for fanfiction usually revolve around just one thing happening differently and, because of it, all later events going wildly AU. That is the case with this fic.
Ever since I first learned about RD, I considered Sephiran one of the most, if not the most pivotal character. I always felt sorry for him. I noticed that Yune says to Sephiran in the Tower: "I'm so sorry! During your darkest hour, I couldn't help you! I'm so sorry!" Then I remembered that she has been hanging around Micaiah in orange tweety bird form, giving her plot-appropriate visions, and leading Rafiel, Nailah, and Volug across the Desert of Death, among other things. She could have totally helped Sephiran in his darkest hour.
So, in this fic I've decided to explore what could have happened had Yune actually tried to help Sephiran by causing him to meet various people across Tellius after he left Goldoa.
In writing Sephiran, I also discovered that he is canonically somewhat bipolar. Whenever he acts as Lehran, he shows the typical timidness, uncertainty and passivity of 'normal' herons, such as Rafiel. (Notice his conversations with Misaha and also with Ike after he's recruited.) However, as Sephiran he has the iron will of Reyson, coldly calculating to bring about the end of the world so he can die himself. He manipulated the senators of Begnion, for crying out loud. He inspired Zelgius to commit his unswerving allegiance to him. He snarks at Ike and co. when they arrive at the top of the Tower: "I suppose that just leaves our fight to the death to take care of… I'd hate to see you denied after coming all this way."
In trying to shape his character, I decided to go with the more amusing option, i.e., the iron-willed, snarky, somewhat crazed ex-heron. I figured he could not have stood up to a goddess and defied Dheginsea to his face ("HOLD, I SAY!") without having some Reyson-like traits. Of course, making Sephiran more decisive has had some interesting and unexpected effects upon the plot of my fic.
While researching Sephiran's past, I also noticed how wonky some things about the connections between PoR and RD are. It is my belief that many things were made up on the spot for RD (e.g., Micaiah's existence, Soren's heritage, and the blood pacts, for starters) and were not meshed with existing info in PoR very well. Tellius's official timeline raises more questions than it solves. Therefore, I have decided to deal with inconsistencies by either coming up with an explanation that makes sense to me, or by changing circumstances to make sense. I will also be exploring private headcanons of my own. I shall try to explain what I am doing as I go along. Please bear with me. If I haven't done a good enough job explaining, let me know and I will have another go.
To name one major contradiction, in PoR Lehran is said to be the forefather of the heron race. In RD, he was a 1000-year-old heron who joined Ashera's Three Heroes and passed down his gift of hearing the voice of the goddess to the empresses of Begnion. Therefore, the heron race must only be 1000 years old—but Nealuchi is said to be 10,000 years old himself! It is things like this that led me to throw my hands up in the hair and decide to make sense of things in my own fashion by changing what I deemed to be stupid inconsistencies. If the script writers at Intelligent Systems couldn't be bothered to keep their games consistent, I can most certainly attempt to make a unified, consistent, consolidated history out of Tellius.
So I have decided that Lehran truly is the eldest of the herons as well as the heron who married Altina. Trying to figure out why he is still alive, I reasoned that his status as the Apostle of the Goddess (an office the Empresses of Begnion inherited from him) must have involved some sort of blessing, like that which Ashera gave the Three Heroes. Since his blessing was given by Ashunera, however, it is much, much stronger than that which Ashera and Yune bestowed, and it has made him functionally immortal.
Explaining my view of FE's magic would probably also help. I have read some of the manga for FE1 and remembered the part where Merric had to forge a pact with the spirits to be able to use Excalibur. Also, he is shown practicing a spell and invoking the spirits in his attack. I reasoned, therefore, that magic in FE comes from the spirits and the spells found in tomes forge a temporary pact between the spirits and the magic user, allowing him to borrow their magic. This is why all magic must be done in the language of the spirits.
Also, since Sephiran is surrounded by actual spirits when you fight him in the Tower of Guidance, I figured he, and other herons by extension, are able to magically sense the presence of the spirits and converse with them. Sephiran is just extremely adept at this, due to being the Apostle – or, due to having been the Apostle, since he has sort of lost that.
So I have thought out an entire system of light spirits, anima spirits (fire, lightning, and wind), and darkness spirits. Also, not all spirits are kindly. Some are evil and have foul designs in Tellius, but to tell you what their plans are would be to spoil the surprise…
I think that covers everything for this chapter. Not that this was much of a chapter, though; it's really an introduction, to set the stage for the rest of the story. It will be a long and messy adventure, I promise you! Will you come on an adventure with me?
First, for a six-chapter flashback of all the events that have led to Sephiran overlooking this small town in rural Daein…
Spinner here, signing out.