Quick, said the bird, find them, find them,
Round the corner. Through the first gate,
Into our first world, shall we follow
The deception of the thrush?
- T. S. Eliot, Burnt Norton
This was written when I was still on my annual T. S. Eliot kick. This fic was based in particular on passages in Four Quartets (Burnt Norton) and "The Hollow Men".
I wasn't and still am not particularly happy with this fic, though the reason escapes me. Well, the fact that I essentially pulled an all-nighter to write the majority of the fic might have something to do with it... :P (I'd written maybe the first thousand words or so, and then dashed out most of the rest in a single night!) But every time I reread it, it's actually a lot better than I remember it being. So I didn't tweak it much before posting it here -- there is one line I changed, and I fixed the timing in the first section (from five years, which is the time from the *start* of Eliwood's quest to the time of the scene, to four years, which takes into account that by the time they parted they'd already been questing for a year), but that's about it.
The other reason may be that I (deliberately) took the Eliot inspiration perhaps a bit too far... there are more than a few direct allusions to the poems, which I'm not that comfortable with. Except for the title, which I still love because you can take it either way: is the thrush deceiver or deceived?
(And I'll admit, I couldn't resist that ending. Though I'm not even going to TRY explaining the break in pov to a mysterious first person narrator.)
Also, I wasn't particularly fond of Priscilla when I wrote this. (This has changed.) I didn't dislike her, but I didn't really like her either. Same with Erk. Why did I write this then, you ask? To hash out the Mage General mystery. The FE7 endings imply that Pent resigns as soon as he gets back, but that really makes no sense. Erk's single ending states that he was offered the position of Mage General and declined... and there is simply no way I can buy that he would have been offered the position as a 15-16 year old without any noble background whatsoever. As well, Cecilia's appointment as a female general canonically caused some controversy according to Douglas/Cecilia supports... which also indicate that she was handpicked as successor by the previous Mage General. Pent, of course, is absolutely capable of pulling off something like that (and more importantly, of the inclination to do something so unorthodox) -- by Occam's Razor, it just seems really unlikely that anyone served in between Pent and Cecilia. So since Cecilia can only have become Mage General within the past 3 years (she was teaching Roy 3 years ago), that leaves room for some interesting drama when Pent abruptly decides to step down.
Back to Priscilla though -- I do feel that she's a bit more fucked up in the head than she lets on. I don't mean this in a bad way. But for a long time she's stuck in a very romanticized view of the world... see her obsession with her brother (which is quite understandable in a culture where her brother must have been the only male and indeed the only person her own age she could be close to; the problems are only compounded by their early separation), as well as her Romeo and Juliet-esque romance with Heath. (For the record, I actually like Guy/Priscilla better, in theory.) Anyway, Priscilla's an odd bird. It's difficult to reconcile her jealousy re: Raven and Lucius with the mature way she handles the truth about her family, as well as the way she tiptoes awkwardly around all three of her potential love interests. She is, ultimately, a rather lonely -- and yes, insecure character, I think. But with very internalized insecurities, as opposed to say, Florina. She keeps everything bottled up inside, which is never very healthy...
She's not a character in love with the idea of love, as many other characters of her type are. Not the modern concept of love, at least. I think there is a bit of a masochistic streak to her -- where she in fact prefers love that cannot be. Love from a distance. Chivalric love. Because of her complicated feelings for Raven, she has a difficult time sorting out her relationships with other men. So when I say she has a romanticized view of the world, I don't mean a positive one, but more... a Byronic one, I suppose you could say.
Which is one of the reasons she and Erk would never work out in my interpretation -- because Erk is theoretically her only viable choice. (i.e. he's not her brother, he's not Sacaen, and he's not a deserter from Bern.) She waits for Heath not really because she's still in love with him (well, she *did* love him -- and *does* cherish her memories of him), but more because a part of her can't help but be attracted to wanting the impossible. (She did also like Guy before meeting Heath, but nothing came of it because neither of them was "aggressive"/straightforward enough. Erk, however, she cares for too, but more like a normal brother, i.e. as opposed to Raven, though I don't think either of them realize that.)
I'm not sure how much of this comes across in this fic, which is really mostly about Priscilla figuring out who she is -- without her brother, or indeed, anyone else, in the equation. Who she is when she takes matters into her own hands. As it turns out, it's someone you do *not* want to cross. XD (Though of course, she is still very much a lady of her times and circumstances.)
Anyway, this is also the fic that establishes some of the minor idiosyncrasies of my verse -- the spelling of Aquileia (Aquleia looks like a typo, and is a misspelled reference to historical Aquileia anyway!), Jodel (artbook spelling, and c'mon, I'm not calling him Yodel. That's just wrong. :P), Cornwall (Cornwell looks like a typo)... Also, this was where I established a set of standards for peerage/titles, since the official translation is so inconsistent about it and doesn't make that much sense to begin with (it IS, after all, translating from Asian peerage terminology, which is similar to but also quite different from European peerage). So it goes king/royals > duke (title goes to the eldest son, or daughter if there are no sons, of each generation, but not until the previous duke dies) > marquess (marquis in Etruria) > earl (count in Etruria, countess if female) > viscount > baron > landed knights. The various marquesses of Lycia are a holdover from the old Kingdom of Lycia from Roland's days.
Other minor notes: we don't see much of them in FE7, but the Church plays a huge role in FE6. I'm sure they would protest to being called spies -- but never underestimate the networking abilities/opportunities available to men (and women) of the cloth, who are hugely respected at all levels of society, mainstays of their communities, go about their business inconspicuously, and serve as confidants to all sorts of people. And it's pretty much canon in FE6 that they're aware of a great deal of secrets (frex, dragons, the Fire Emblem -- Saul and Dorothy were essentially out there gathering information/acting as spies) -- their crazy sk1llz even nab them one of the heavily guarded Divine Weapons without help from Roy and co.
I don't go into it very deeply here or in any of my fic so far, but the power in Etruria is balanced in a complex relationship between three or rather four different institutions: the king/royal family, the universities (which are secular in my verse, though historically they had heavy associations with the Church), the Elimine Church, and the noble houses (I forget how exactly I decided to establish this in my world-building, but iirc there are 7 major houses including Tintagel* and Reglay, and a number of minor houses, of which Caerleon is one).
* Which I made up, obviously. Reference to the castle, in keeping with the Arthurian theme. Similarly, Gaheris and Agravain (Cecilia's father and grandfather respectively) are the names of Gawain's brothers. The less noble ones, sure, but hey, the king is named Mordred... :P
And the female magic user Jodel refers to, of course, is Nimue. (Another spelling idiosyncrasy!)
Also, quick note on adoption: Priscilla's situation is based loosely on the common practice of fostering children among both noble and common families. (In noble families this was often a political consideration, which was almost certainly the case for Priscilla.) This page has a little bit of info on it.
See, I started liking Priscilla a lot more after I realized that my version of her grows up to become a badass old lady. I imagine her shaping up to become one of those old matriarchs who's all nice and sweet on the surface but is really the one pulling all the strings behind the curtains... XD
I agree though, I basically think that even if she were given the choice to run off with either Guy or Heath without any major consequences, she wouldn't do it. She's grown up with such a completely different mindset from Kent or Lyn that I think you're right that she wouldn't really... "get it". And she's not the type who's likely to buck tradition or go against the rules either. She wouldn't understand or want to go along with Guy's lifestyle OR Heath's lifestyle, and for them there's no real middle ground. So really they're all better off without each other.
Though, I totally forgot to discuss Sain here too, probably because he doesn't actually have an ending with her. Sain kind of serves as a temporary fill-in for her though, doesn't he? I have trouble seeing them as romantic as I think Sain serves a *necessary* role for her, giving her the kind of affection she wants and kind of there to ease her loneliness, but without the two of them actually being in love with each other, if that makes any sense.
I do see the Caerleons as a minor noble family, since it seems her adoptive father was a count. And also it doesn't seem likely that any Etrurian family that was more important would have agreed to the fostering arrangement with a Lycian house. (Because yeah, the Lycian Alliance is WEIRD. I find it helps to ignore the "marquess" label and just think of it as just a bunch of autonomous city-states though, kind of like in ancient Greece.)
Ah, I could totally see Erk/Priscilla as a marriage of convenience though, at least from Priscilla's end. I mean Erk obviously has it bad for her, but ultimately their priorities are very different -- they're really too different as individuals to get along, long-term. I kind of explore this a bit in another fic I don't think you've read yet -- the way I see the whole Erk/Priscilla/Serra "triangle" (which it isn't, really), is that Priscilla kind of represented everything he wanted or idealized while Serra was actually, despite the surface differences, a lot more similar to him than either one would admit. Which is why they grate against each other. XD But maybe I should talk about that more in my notes for that fic instead.