Hey everyone! This was supposed to be a short chapter but I kinda ran on more then I planned with the 'big reveal'. I was also trying to decide it I wanted to end this chapter on a certain point or start the next one on it. I decided on the former since it makes a nice cliffhanger and begins to delve deeper into the mystery of the twisted realities. I might make a semi related comic page between this chapter and the next that explains a point that won't be explained in the main story, as Jazz has no memory of the event. It may reveal a big plot point that gets discovered later on though.
I'm letting you guys know that this chapter will mostly be exposition. The plot will continue on in the next chapter with 'Marth', the Risen and the earthquake. I promise I won't dump as much expo for a looooong time, unless –god forbid- Miriel decides she wants to go over theories of the multiverse or something. I might hand wave that shit, unless I feel it's important for plot reasons.
Also, I'd like thank everyone for their kind words and sympathy towards my recent loss. It always cheers me up to hear so many kind words.
I DO NOT OWN ANY CHARACTERS FROM FIRE EMBLEM! THEY BELONG TO NINTENDO/INTELLIGENT SYSTEMS!
Chapter 3- Campfire Tales
The group of four walked down the path towards Ylisstol for a few hours until the creeping night finally forced them to stop and set up camp for the night. The trek had mostly been silent since Jazz insisted on telling her friends her story when they got a chance to stop and rest, as she said it would be a lot to take in. When they finally stopped they each set about to different tasks, with Chrom going off to gather firewood, Lissa clearing out the campsite, and Jazz and Frederick going out to hunt something to eat.
Thoughts of what she was going to tell them ran through Jazzmine's head as she stalked the forest watching for signs of wildlife, but she pushed them to the back of her mind to focus on the task at hand. She managed to turn back into a Nargacuga once again to hunt better after some effort, finding that her desire to kill something was what triggered the transformation. It seemed that wanting to attack or defend herself was the key to switching back and forth, a point she quickly took note of, though it seemed obvious in hindsight.
Well, might as well see what I can do in this form, Jazz thought silently to herself as she looked around. She quickly noticed that her senses greatly heighted in her bestial form, as she could smell scents she hadn't noticed before strongly and her ears seemed to pick up every tiny sound within a hundred yards. Most notably, the darkness of the night seemed to brighten as her eyes picked up the faint light of the moon and stars, and she noticed that she could feel faint traces of the heat in her surroundings with the bare red patches of skin near her eyes and ears. She marveled at this as she recalled what she knew of the Nargacuga species , remembering that they were adapted to be night hunters and most likely had a sort of 'heat vision' to supplement their night vision, not unlike how snakes sensed heat in the real world. Even if the Green Nargacuga was more adapted to hunt in the daylight, she figured both sub-species would still have many of the same adaptations.
After a few failed attempts at catching prey, Jazz managed to use her newfound senses and speed to catch a small deer, which she figured Lissa and Frederick would enjoy eating more than Frederick's bear. She proudly carried it back to camp where the others were already in the middle of preparing dinner. She noted Frederick's look of relief as he took her kill and cut a few choice slabs off for himself. After about a half hour, everything was ready and the group happily sat down to enjoy the all meat dinner.
After a few moments of eating Lissa once again turned to Jazz with a bright smile on her face as she asked, "So Jazz, do you think you can tell us a little more about yourself now?"
"Heh, sure," Jazz said as she tossed aside a bone, preparing herself for the long explanation ahead. Chrom and Frederick both stopped eating as well as they turned to listen, curiosity winning out over their hunger. "But I've gotta warn you, it's a lot to take in. I hardly know where to start, but I guess I'll start with something simple. I'm sure you're all curious about who and what I am, yes?"
"You've mentioned bits and pieces, but I'm sure we'd all like a full explanation," Chrom said politely as the other two nodded in agreement. Jazz gave them a soft smile before she continued.
"Well as I've said before, I am, or was, a normal human woman before today. I'm 25, an accountant, I live by myself, and I'm a huge gaming nerd. I live in Richmond, Kentucky, which is a state in the United States of America, though I've lived in several states over my lifetime but I've never left the country. Until now that is," Jazz rattled on, listing off the basic facts about herself in short order. Noticing the confused looks on her comrades' faces at much of what she said, she added, "I'm sure a lot of that means nothing to you guys. Let's just say I'm from waaay outta town, and I have no idea how I got here."
"You're 25? But you don't look that much older than Chrom," Lissa said in surprise as she looked Jazz over. Jazz couldn't help but chuckle at this, as she was always told she looked years younger than she actually was. "You're as old as our big sis Emm!"
"I guess I am aren't I?" Jazz said, thinking back to the old concept art material for the game. If she remembered their age differences correctly, then Chrom was 19 and Lissa would be around 15 years old. She decided to keep this point to herself though as she didn't want to freak them out too much.
"That aside, I've still never even heard of your country," Frederick pointed out, a skeptical look still on his face. "And for someone who insists they are human, you seem to know a lot about that strange wyvern like creature you turned into before. Care to explain that?"
"Well it makes sense that you've never heard of either of those things, since both my country and the Nargacuga are actually from completely different worlds." Jazz explained, earning her strange looks from the others ranging from disbelief to confusion. She sighed and got ready to drop the bomb on them. "The truth is, I'm not exactly from this world and I'm not sure how I got here. And just as Nargacugas don't exist in this world, they don't exactly exist in mine either."
"Wh-what exactly do you mean by 'different worlds'?" Lissa asked hesitantly.
"I can assure you there are no such things Milady." Frederick said sternly, voice heavy with skepticism. "I've never heard of 'other worlds' or anything of the sort. This all sounds like a load of Pegasus dung that our friend here is making up."
"Frederick, are you gonna keep calling bullshit on everything I say, or are you gonna shut up and listen?" Jazz snapped at the great knight, getting a little tired of him dismissing everything she said. Frederick gave her a cold glare at her tone, one that she returned equally. "I thought we already agreed that I have no reason to lie to you guys. Even if what I have to say is unbelievable with what little you know about the universe, it doesn't mean that I'm making this stuff up. I'm just trying to explain what I know, which is a probably alot more than what you know."
The two continued glaring at each other until the sound of someone clearing their throat broke the silence. Chrom, who had been silent until then, could see how hostile things were getting and decided to intervene before things got out of hand.
"I think what Frederick here meant to say is, well…" Chrom scratched at his head nervously, trying to find the right words. "It's just that, the idea of other worlds is hard to believe. Other lands, yes, or different countries we've never heard of, maybe, but other worlds? We're going to need proof if you want us to believe something like that."
"Well… Something like that is easier said than done. Since the Nargacuga wasn't enough, I wish I had a tv or smart phone to show you guys," Jazz chuckled softly before she noticed their confused looks again. "Just the fact that you guys don't know what those are is proof enough for me, but I guess you need more. There's not much I can do to prove it now, but I guess the best proof you could possibly get will show up soon."
"What do you mean?" Chrom asked quizzically at her last statement.
Jazz went silent for a minute as she stared at the ground, wondering if she should say what she was going to say next. With a sigh, she finally made her decision and turned back to the others. "What would you say if I told you I knew the future?"
"I'd say that's a load of Pega-" Frederick began again before he was cut off by a sharp look from Chrom.
"I would have to say that that is pretty hard to believe," Chrom said evenly, trying not to sound like he was outright rejecting the idea. "It's not the strangest thing I've heard today at least."
"Heh, well I guess an otherworldly she-dragon claiming she can see the future does sound a little farfetched. Or maybe a lot," Jazz chuckled to herself, realizing how absurd it sounded when she put it like that. Thinking about the game world she was in however, such a thing seemed oddly tame. "I don't blame you for being skeptical, since if someone came up to me and told me that before today, I'd back away slowly and suggest they seek mental help. But, this is something that I actually can prove."
"And how do you intend to do that?" Frederick spoke up again, a cynical, almost mocking tone in his voice. "Are you going to tell us of our untimely deaths? A vast future fortune? Or maybe something as grand as the sun rising into the heavens in a mere few hours?"
"Well, well, well. Fredbear here doesn't believe me, what a shocker. But thank you soooo much for volunteering," Jazz said, matching his sarcasm as he glared at her for the nickname. "Let's see… Oh I know! You have a large scar on your chest that you got as a child when you were attacked and nearly killed by a giant wolf. Because of that, you now have a fear of wolves and any large animal that reminds you of the wolf that attacked you. Did I get that right?"
Chrom and Lissa both donned confused looks and turned to their bodyguard for confirmation, but he seemed to have almost gone white from shock at Jazz's words.
"Frederick, is true? I've never heard you say anything about that," Lissa asked, snapping the knight out of his daze.
"I've seen that scar before, but I assumed it was a battle wound. Was it really from a wolf?" Chrom asked, now more curious than ever.
"I-it… That may be true… But I've never told anyone that…" Frederick sputtered out, face flushed and bright red at the revelation of one of his deepest secrets. Looking at Jazz and the smug grin she wore however, he cleared his throat and quickly tried to compose himself. "That proves nothing. That was a past event, not the future. Any good spy could have gained that information about me from someone who knew me back then."
"Well, I can assure you that I'm no spy, as I've never been here before." Jazzmine said quickly, though she knew he wouldn't believe her. "And you can't really say that it being a past event disproves me knowing the future. Can you say that you'll never once speak of your past for the rest of your life? I know about your scar because you tell someone about it in the future."
"That still proves nothing. If your claim is based on me telling a random person at a random time in the future, then that's a very vague and general possibility," Frederick countered smoothly, becoming more confident in his argument. "Unless there was something special about the person I told that would prove your claim, then it is merely that: a claim."
"Well actually, there is something interesting about the person you tell, but you won't believe me until you meet her," Jazz said slyly, almost wanting to laugh at the ridiculous thing she was about to say next. "You tell it to a future comrade we meet down the line. Her name is Panne, and she's a Taguel. You tell her that after she scares by turning into a giant bunny and chases you down."
"A b-bunny?! Are you saying I'll be scared of a bunny?" Frederick's face grew red again as he said this, but this time it was out of sheer indignation. Seeing the veins nearly pop out of his head, Jazz couldn't help but burst into a fit of giggles, which only seemed to make him angrier. "Are you mocking me? Milord, surely you don't believe this girl? Such outlandish and slanderous claims must be a lie!"
Frederick turned to his companions for support, but the prince and princess were both currently fighting back a fit of giggles of their own at the thought of the brave knight being scared off by a bunny. Even though it seemed impossible, Frederick turned an even deeper shade of crimson so dark that Jazz wondered if his head might explode.
"Oh Gods, a bunny?" Lissa giggled between breaths as she held her sides, while Freddy looked ready to die on the spot. "What's there to be afraid of? Her big fwoppy ears, or maybe her cute widdle paws?"
"Actually, Panne is far from some cute widdle bunny rabbit," Jazz said as she calmed down, hoping to save a little bit of Frederick's dignity before he hated her forever. Somehow though, she felt that it was a bit too late for that. "She can turn into a rabbit bigger than a horse and tear through enemies with more savagery than even I'm capable of. You'd have to be insane not to want to wet yourself if a giant killer bunny like her decided she wanted you dead."
The giggles died down somewhat and stopped completely when they saw that she was serious.
"Surely that was merely a jest at Frederick the Wary's expense, wasn't it?" Chrom laughed nervously as he looked at the 'Cuga girl, who merely smiled and shook her head.
"Nope, that's all true. Just you wait and see," Jazz said calmly, causing the other three to exchange glances. She turned to Frederick, who was still a little red in the face, and gave him a soft smile. "You can ask the Exalt herself about the existence of Taguel when we get to Ylisstol, and if she says giant murder bunnies don't exist, then you can spear me right in the face Freddy. I'll even be sure to stay within stabbing distance until we get there if you don't believe me, as a show of good faith."
From the dark look Frederick shot her it was clear he wouldn't refuse an offer to stab her right then and there, but he merely nodded. The group sat in silence for several minutes aside from the occasional chuckle from Lissa, and they all picked at their food while they took everything in. After a moment of deep thought, it was Chrom who finally broke the silence.
"You've mentioned several times before that this is your first time in Ylisse, and that you have no idea how you got to this world, yet you seem to know so much about us and even about our future. How is it possible that you know so much about a world you've never been to?" The prince asked, hitting the most obvious and pressing point about the girl's presence and knowledge on the head for the first time since she got there.
"That Chrom, is the right question," Jazz said with soft smile, feeling as if she were a teacher with a particularly bright student. She remained silent for a moment before she looked at the three of them with a serious expression on her face. "Have you guys… ever heard of the Multiverse Theory?"
When the three shook their heads, Jazz chuckled slightly.
"I suppose you wouldn't, since that seems more like something Miriel would study," Jazz said, smirking slightly at their shocked looks at the fact that she knew the name of one of their fellow Shepherds. "Basically, it's a theory that suggests that there are multiple realities, or universes that exists all at the same time. Sometimes these alternate realities are almost exactly the same as the reality you know and live in, with differences caused by events happening differently in one universe compared to another. An example of this is you guys finding me out in that field instead of finding the person you were supposed to."
"And who exactly was that supposed to be?" Chrom interrupted, causing Jazz to look uneasy for a moment.
"Well… I guess you could call them Robin," Jazz said finally. "He, or she, was supposed to be an amnesiac stranger you found where you found me, who would help you out greatly in future conflicts. But, I don't think they exist in this reality since I somehow have their unique mark, which sorta makes me the Robin of this world," Jazz said absentmindedly, waving her hand around and showing them the Mark of Grima.
"I meant to ask you about that. Does that mark mean anything special?" Lissa asked innocently, causing Jazz to go slightly pale at the realization that she'd just brought up a dangerous subject.
"Um, it's not really important. Let's just say it means that I can help you guys out, like Robin was supposed to," Jazz said quickly, hoping they wouldn't notice her dodging the question and get suspicious. Thinking quickly, she decided to change the subject and get back on topic. "Anyway, there is another type of alternate reality, one that explains why I'm here to some extent and how I know so much about you guys and this world. I don't suppose you guys know what videogames are, do you?"
As expected, they all shook their heads in confusion and Jazz smiled to herself, glad that her odd question seemed to distract them from the topic of her mark.
"Well, basically, a videogame is sort of like a book or a play mixed with elements of a game like chess or whatever. And you play them on a big or little box that displays moving pictures," Jazz explained, earning her more weird looks from her companions. She chuckled at this, wondering if their faces would get stuck like that from so much weirdness. "Don't think about that too hard. Just think of it like a book where you can control the main character and do things like fight their battles and explore their world without interfering with the set story. Anyway, according to the multiverse theory which says that any possible reality can exist, it's possible that the worlds that only exist in books or in these videogames can actually exist as their own separate universes."
"Ok, that makes no sense…" Lissa said as she held her hands up, struggling to wrap her hand around everything she just heard. "Are you saying that made up worlds from fairy tales and stuff might actually exist?"
"In a way… yes," Jazz said simply. "I know that may not sound plausible to you guys, but for me that's an undeniable reality. In my world, things like dragons and pegasi and even magic are purely the stuff of fairy tales and legends. Even the Nargacuga isn't a real animal in my world, but a monster from a videogame. And this world, even you guys, are just fictional characters from another videogame I used to play called Fire Emblem: Awakening. In a way, that's how I know so much about you guys."
A long and heavy silence followed that revelation, so heavy that Jazz began to worry about how they'd react. Well, I did just tell them that they basically don't exist outside of some weird game, and they clearly know that that's impossible…
"That… makes even less than no sense…" Lissa said finally, clearly very stressed out and confused by the situation. "Does that mean we're characters from some fairy tale or something?"
"I'm sure that's not what she means..." Chrom reassured her softly, but he didn't take his eyes off of Jazzmine. "Is it?"
"Of course that's not what she means," Frederick said calmly. "Apparently, we simply don't exist in her world outside of these games and stories, yet our world exists as an entirely different plane of reality. And she only knows so much about us, our world and our future because she's familiar with the story about this world, correct?"
"That's the long and short of it," Jazz replied, glad at least one of them understood. Maybe Freddy is coming around…
"That might be the most well-crafted story I've heard yet," Frederick said, slipping back into his skeptical nature. Jazz sighed, thinking it was good while it lasted. "I don't suppose you have anyway of proving that, do you?"
"Freddy, you just can't take a person's word, can you?" Jazz asked as she rubbed her temples. This guy is gonna be the death of me… "I admit, there'd be no way to prove that in my world, since it is just a theory, but in this world that's a different story entirely. If this world matches the game from my world, then proof of everything I just said will drop out of the sky soon enough."
"What do you mean?" Frederick asked, a suspicious look in his eyes.
"I dunno. Maybe exactly what I said, or maybe I'm just making stuff up," Jazz said pointedly as she got up in a huff. "Listen, I've told you everything I can within reasonable belief, and there isn't much more I can say or do to get you guys to believe me, especially Fredbear here. So I guess that's it with the questions for now, as only time will tell if any of it is true."
Without another word Jazz tossed the rest of her food into the fire and went to grab one of the blankets to turn in for the night. After all of the fighting, walking, and long winded explanations, she was feeling understandably tired, and knowing what came next, she wanted to get as much sleep as she could. The others seemed to be whispering amongst themselves as they still sat around the campfire, no doubt discussing everything she had said, but she paid them little mind as she cleared out an area for herself. If they believed her or not was up to them, but she couldn't help but feel a little hopeful.
"Jazzmine," a voice broke her out of her thoughts and when she turned around she saw Chrom walking towards her. "Please don't mind Frederick too much. I just want you to know that I still trust you, no matter how wild your story may seem. You helped us out today, and that makes you a friend. Remember that."
"Heh… Thanks Chrom. That means a lot," Jazz smiled softly, once again feeling glad that the prince was the trusting type. "Just, be careful. And try to get some rest. We're gonna have a long day tomorrow."
He looked askance at her but she just waved him away. "Trust me."
With a nod he turned and grabbed his own blanket, moving to a spot far from her at his overprotective knight's request. She smiled at this as laid down in her own spot, and exhaustion soon took her over as she drifted silently to sleep.
"Jazz, wake up."
A hand tapping on her shoulder drew Jazzmine out of her slumber, and for a moment she was disoriented as the memory of her dream faded into reality. She was sitting upright in a seat in an uncomfortable position, and the seat seemed to be swaying and bouncing every few moments. Looking up, she saw trees and houses zooming past her just outside of a window, and cars rumbled ahead of and around them as they traveled down the wide highway. To her left sitting in the driver's seat was her older brother Dominique, a light skinned African-American young man who wore his hair in short dreads. He glanced over at her a few times between watching the road, and from the redness of his eyes and the dark shadows under them, Jazz could tell that he was just as tired as she was.
"We're almost there," Dominique said in a low voice, turning his attention back to the road now that she was awake. "You've been out for hours. It's been too quiet in here without someone to talk to."
"I… I just don't feel like talking much right now…" Jazz sighed, leaning to the side to stare out of the window. Today wasn't exactly a day she wanted to spend chatting with others, as she'd rather just stay home curled up under the covers with her mind distracted by a game like she had been for the last few days. "Why didn't you bring the girls? I'm sure they would have kept you distracted."
"Naw, I asked my girlfriend to watch them for a few days," He said tiredly as he rubbed his forehead. "They don't really need to be exposed to this kinda thing. Not until they're older."
The car went silent for a few minutes at that, and Jazz closed her eyes as if to block out the world as she leaned against the window. She could feel herself getting worked up again, so she focused on the gentle swaying of the car to calm herself down a bit. It wasn't working too well, so she turned back to look at her brother, the slight moisture of tears starting to form at the corners of her eyes.
"What are you gonna tell them the next time you bring them to visit the rest of our siblings?" Jazz asked sadly, getting worked up over the idea. "What are you gonna say when they ask where their Auntie Zetta is? You know how much the girls love hanging out with their aunts and uncles, they're gonna notice she's missing. Gonna tell them she went on vacation or something?"
"It'll probably be a long time before I bring them around again, especially after this," Dominique said flatly, steering the car to the side lane and entering the exit ramp. "We live outta town from everyone else, so I ain't gotta bring them around except for maybe holidays or special occasions. And you live close by us, so they can go see you instead if they wanted to. When they get old enough to understand, I'll mention it to them, but for now they don't need to know."
"So you're just gonna keep them away and pretend all of this never happened, is that it?" Jazz said, getting slightly more emotional as the conversation continued. "Just keep them all safe and protected in a big ol' bubble to separate them from their family and protect them from all of the bad things in life?"
"Like you've been doing?" Dominique asked pointedly, getting slightly offended at her criticism of his parenting. "Last time I checked you lived far from anyone you could call family and you hardly even talk to anyone that doesn't call you first. Hell, you didn't even answer your phone yesterday and everyone told me to go talk to you. It's like you only ever wanna talk to your siblings and even then you barely even speak to us."
The mood instantly got dark after he said this and Jazz glared at him, wondering if she should punch him or not. There were few things that made her mad when it came to her siblings, but bringing up their extended family or commenting on her antisocial nature were two big trigger points for her.
"Shut up and drive," Jazz growled lowly, not feeling like being lectured by him, especially now of all days. "It's not my fault I hate everyone in this family besides you guys, and who cares if I don't spend every waking moment with you guys. You hear from me enough to know that I'm alive, and that should be enough to show you that I care. That's just how I am, so shove it!"
The two sat in silence for a few moments exchanging death glares with each other before Dominique opened his mouth to speak. Before he could even get a word out though, a large brown shape darting out in front of the car caught his eye. Jazz barely had time to follow his gaze and register the large dog that leapt into the road chasing after a ball before her brother jerked the wheel to the side in an attempt to swerve and avoid it.
The car screeched loudly as it made a hard left and they barely avoided hitting the dog, but the frantic honking of other cars alerted Jazz of their new and dangerous position: right in the line of oncoming traffic. Jazz barely had time to register the sight of a pickup truck blaring towards her or the other driver's terrified expression before it T-boned their car on the passenger's side. All in an instant there was the sickening sound of twisting metal, a spray of glass shards and an unholy bone crushing pain, and the next thing she knew was that the world was spinning at an incomprehensible speed.
As the world kept spinning around her, all Jazz could do was scream…
Damn. Nothing makes sense anymore…