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Plant your Feet (Put Down the Gun and Step Away)

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“And that is another point-” 

 

Gregor straightened as Maribelle’s voice easily carried down that hall - a conscious choice. Maribelle was always well aware of her surroundings and most of her actions were well calculated. If she was being this loud, she wanted people to hear this conversation. 

“-that you are ignoring the clear consequences on the peasants you claim to have charge of! If this is how you would disregard the effects of your actions on them, no wonder so many of them are taking their chances to appeal to other nobles for places!” 

Time to go make sure that Maribelle was not making too many people upset - it would be good to see who she was making enemies of, since Ylisseans were not as straightforward as they should be. The men she was telling off would bow and hem and haw and go back to their apartments and stew on her words before they tried to attack from behind. He missed Ferox, where things tended to be more open. If she insulted people in Ferox, there would be a challenge and fight and the matter would be settled. 

He strode down the corridor, checking to see if there were any guards paying attention - some were, but most were relaxed. Either negligent or this was a normal sound. He had not been in the palace long enough to say, though Maribelle was never so aggressive with her own people - staying with her at her own castle before they’d come to court had been educational. There was much more to her than the stuffy noblewoman that he’d thought she was - though she was still a stuffy noblewoman.  

“The common people owe their nobles fealty and loyalty,” the man said, looking down his nose at her. “Though I realize that is a hard concept for your family to grasp.” 

Maribelle stiffened, her fingers tightening around her parasol. “A better grasp on it than you have on manners clearly. And it is for that very reason that a noble owes their people better treatment than you seem capable of comprehending - loyalty and fealty are deserving of appropriate recognition and not in a single direction!”

Gregor cocked his head slightly - there was a history there. He had not looked into her family history when he had only been planning on staying for a week at most, but now, three months later, he would need to figure that out. 

An uninformed mercenary was a dead mercenary after all. 

He came up to them. “Maribelle! Gregor has been looking for you! You promised to show him the gardens no? Everyone has been saying they are very beautiful.” 

Maribelle narrowed her eyes almost imperceptibly as the other man’s lip curled into a sneer, but she finally huffed and tossed her hair. “Very well. This conversation was hardly productive. We can go to the Rose Garden first, the blooms are coming along nicely.” 

Gregor easily kept up with her as she swept down the hall. The man would bear some watching. That was fine. He thought it would be a good idea to be Maribelle’s shadow for a few weeks. He did not have much else to do until Robin finally found them something interesting for them to investigate. 

 

-/-/-/-

Maribelle should have been a Feroxi, Gregor decided - she wielded words and manners the way that his people wielded swords and axes and was just as fierce in her defense of those she considered hers. Lissa, always, and he had not realized how ferocious the small princess could be in defense of her friend. It was good, he thought, that Maribelle had such friends.  

But she also had far more enemies than he would have thought, though it wasn’t entirely surprising, when he realized how close to the prince and princess she was. Even Chrom, who had only minimal patience for the ins and outs of navigating the castle politics, stopped and listened when Maribelle suggested things. Something that spoke well of the prince, that he recognized an area that others were better at and turned to them for advice there. 

However,  she did not allow that to change her behavior and did not seem to care that other people would react to that. An admirable quality, but one he’d have felt better about if she were more than a troubadour and her only weapon more than a tiny lady’s parasol. He did not understand her father, who seemed to turn a blind eye to these threats. 

“Of course he must,” Maribelle had snapped when he had mentioned bodyguards. “To insinuate that I am unsafe in the Exalt’s own palace is to insult the monarchy!”

A stupid decision, he thought, but she was right, even if he thought Ylissean priorities were somewhat warped. Although the man had been peer and former advisor to the country’s last Exalt. Gregor hadn’t been able to dig up much on how that relationship had gone, but that Exalt had been a notorious zealot according to both the Plegians who’d fled north and what Basilio had said of the man personally. Apparently he hadn’t liked hearing Flavia’s predecessor tell him Ferox wasn’t going to help the fanatic murder his neighboring country’s civilians for the sake of the overpowered ghost of a sentient lizard.

Still, when nothing happened, he allowed himself to relax. A mistake. 

-/-/-

He ran, Maribelle’s scream echoing in the air. There wasn’t a second scream. He passed a guard, attempting to locate the source - it had been less than a half an hour , how could she have found trouble so quickly? He tightened his grip on his sword, before releasing it. Easier to run with both hands free. 

“You boar!”

Gregor felt a reluctant amusement that she had put off screaming for aid to harangue her attacker. Flavia would be impressed - most Ylissean noblewomen would have fainted. 

“You uncouth simpleton! How dare you!” 

“Step away,” he ordered, striding out onto the walkway. She’d thrown a shield spell - no wonder she had not screamed. “Put down the crossbow.”

A burst of motion, the assassin lunging, and throwing the crossbow at him. Gregor met him. A knife that he knocked away. A mild Wind that barely made the man stumble. But it was enough. He grabbed the man’s cloak. A lift and heave, followed by a scream and wet crunching noise.

“Gregor!” Maribelle marched over, as he dusted his hands, looking down over the crenellins into the courtyard where he’d thrown the corpse and whoops, apparently Chrom and the future princess had been down there. Well Frederick was not going to be pleased. Although really, those guards were a bit too frantic now that the problem was already dead. “How- how,” she was sputtering and he exhaled, waiting for a scolding. “How are we supposed to interrogate him to find his employers if he’s in pieces on the ground! Honestly!” 

He blinked and smiled, pleased. A very Feroxi soul, this woman.