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Parallel Chronicles Fan Art - Fortaime and Ulric

Alarinthia was crowned with a golden halo of the sunset, covering its arid buildings with a purple hue as the Monarch’s fleet darted merrily across the ocean. Once knew as a brutal place of brutality, many in those ships looked back with an ever-growing hope for the future, built and lead by the new ruler: Vivien.

Even before Vivien’s rise to power, his philosophy of union and cooperation instead of strength made their victory against Draycu a reality: Thanks to the scheme plotted by Ulrich and Pro to ensure an army to the Monarch with minimal losses, Draycu was tricked into accepting Pro’s loyalty as his Champion in the arena battle against Vivien’s army, led by Vivien and Ulric as their Champion.

It was still a hard-fought battle, many lives were lost from both sides and many more were at stake since no one besides both Resistance members knew of the plan, so no sacrifice was too great. Ulric even had to break the Monarch’s nose to assure no one would be able to interfere with their faux-duel, where a fake retractable knife ‘pierced’ Pro’s guts and assured them an easier victory, dethroning Draycu and his millennia-old mentality.

Therefore, every single ship in the fleet was bursting with music and cheers for the communal success! Vivien’s army reached their long yearned victory, the morale in the Monarch’s army was soaring with the added numbers of elite warriors in their ranks and everyone was feasting on each other’s conjoined happiness in direction of a peaceful and free future for all of them, pathed with firm steps that refused to waver against their morale and objective. As expected, the Monarch and their closest companions participated in the festivities alongside Vivien himself as brothers in arms and guests of honor, strengthening their bond and resolution to face the final battle that was soon to come.

Ulric couldn’t even believe how happy he was at that night. His own millennia-old dream of a peaceful Alarinthia was finally happening, his hard-fought objective of taking down The Triunvirate never felt stronger and closer to reality, his oldest friend and apprentice Sovy had joined their ranks, and… he was in love. Love for the person that would become ruler of the entirety of Alestia, one who was so quick to forgive him for lying and hurting them so badly, and one he was growing certain that would be the one who would guide everyone towards the future he dreamed for his birth place. Everything was going so well, it was overwhelming for the ancient warrior to the point of being almost frightening.

He needed some time to compose himself and rearrange his thoughts, so he headed downstairs to their beds under the main deck, sitting comfortably on his own bunk bed with a bottle of fine Alarinthian wine on one hand, and a lost gaze towards the flame of a single bright lamp slowly swinging with the ocean and footsteps above him.

He knew very well his own pace and limits with alcohol, so it was without any worry he allowed himself some thirsty gulps from the bottle’s neck and sighed softly when the bittersweet taste hit his tongue followed by the warmth from the controlled inebriation running through his body. “Ah… Alarinthian wine never tasted sweeter.” He whispered to no one, admiring the bottle in paw while swirling its content slowly.

After a while, one footstep stood out from the others as it came from the staircase towards his direction as the pace and weight gave Ulric a good idea of who it was, and soon enough the Valinorthian rabbit came into view. As soon Fortaime saw Ulric, his pace slowed down while he approached looking at his own feet, ears lowered to the sides.

“Hey…” Fortaime greeted in a whisper, one paw starting to hold his other arm close to his body.

“Hey, Fortaime.” Ulric replied in the same tone. It took him little time to understand what he was doing down there instead of being in the party talking with every new member of the crew. Ulric wasn’t the best person-reader, but Fortaime was always too honest and open to even make things difficult.

So he let his blue eyes follow the other’s gaze towards the small improvised table in front of him, where he placed his armor and let his sheathed greatsword laid against it, and let him go at his own pace.

“Do… do you have a moment? I-I would like to talk with you.” Fortaimed stuttered a bit, holding a ‘tsc’ from himself for it. He had been planning this conversation in his head ever since their boarded, yet he was stumbling right with the introductions.

‘Sure. What is it?” Ulric replied after a quick sip of his wine before facing him again. Even with that friendly smile on his face, Fortaime had trouble knowing exactly what was going on with him.

“I… just wanted to apologize. For the way I treated you after the battle and the terrible things I said at the Oasis.” Fortaime blurted out, his voice growing slightly higher and high-pitched. “You and Pro had everything under control, and I let my trust and self-control crack. Even if I was hurt by what we all saw, I should have acted better.”

“Hey, it’s alright. We knew it’d be a shock for everyone and we couldn’t risk telling everyone in order to make it work.” The reply was friendly and light, followed by a chuckle. “To be honest, I was kind of expecting someone to swing a punch at me, at some point.”

“I won’t lie: That urge crossed my mind.” Fortaime said, looking even further away. That confession took Ulric in slight surprise. He knew that he was about to hear apologies as how well-intended Fortaime is, but never imagined to see any sort of bloodlust coming from him. Fighting spirt? Sure, but never the violent kind. “But that wouldn’t be the right decision. Everyone was with a lot in their minds, and I should’ve helped them anyway I can, even if just listening to them. But all I could muster was just spiteful comments at you.”

What Fortaime told him hurt worse than any punch the rabbit or anyone else would be able to throw, but that wouldn’t sound well in the current situation so Ulric held that thought. “Look, we all know you are trying your best to hold your weight in the Rebelion and in Valinorth, but you won’t be able to learn and mature so much in just a few days.” His tone was understanding, but Fortaime could still hear the edges of some patronizing he sometimes got from him. “No one in their right mind could see the death of many people, and a friend, for the first time and be okay with it. You kept yourself together and understood your own state at the moment, and that is already impressive by itself.”

“Right…” He replied. It didn’t sit well to hear Ulric say such things. As happy and glad he was to see Pro again, it just reminded him of the great battle that was soon approaching. It was the best not to hear such things right now, or else he feared of bringing everyone down if he couldn’t hide his feelings again.

“Besides, you were protecting the Monarch from harm, in your own way.” Ulric continued, this time being the one to avert his gaze. “I had to do everything in order to make this work, and I was ready for it. But that didn’t stop me of feeling horrible for hurting them, even if it was for their sake.” He paused, taking yet another big gulp from his bottle. “You love and care for them, and I had just hurt them bad and broke their trust. If you weren’t angry at me, then I would find it weird.”

That point of view took Fortaime by surprise, making him blush and chuckle in a mix of pride and embarrassment. He was so worried about the wrong things he did, that he never fully understood the reasons behind it. “Haha, now you’re making me sound like some knight in shining armor. I’m not cut out for that sort of thing, but I’m glad to realize I can stand my ground when needed. Thank you, Ulric.”

“Don’t sell yourself too short, Fortaime. I trust you to protect the Monarch, and you proved me just now that you’ll do whatever it takes for it.” He genuinely praised the other, which made him laugh again and cover his face with one paw. “Even if that means being honest with them when you know they are doing something wrong. They forgave me for everything I did in Alarinthia, and… too easily, I’m afraid. I betrayed their trust and wounded them, both as a servant and a lover, and I shouldn’t get away with it that easily.”

Fortaime’s smile wavered for a moment when the horrific memory of what he saw from the Coliseum’s stands flashed back for a moment, but it quickly lightened again with fondness. “They have always been like that, ever since we were children. At first, I thought it was because of the visions from the future showing that people could redeem themselves or reasons people did things they did. But as we grew up I realized it was out of kindness and compassion, and the time in the role of the Monarch only added wisdom to it.”

“Heh…” Ulric chuckled when he shifted from understanding why the Monarch accepted Sovy in their ranks, to the grim reminder of his true age. He decided to shove the later down with the rest of his wine before scooting to the edge of his bed, patting the spot next to him.

“You know, I would really like to hear more stories of you guys’ life in Valinorth if you’re willing to share.”

“Really?” Fortaime’s ears perked, eyes darting between Ulric’s and the improvised seat. “I mean, sure! But compared to your adventures and battles, hearing about a trio of kids sounds boring.”

“I won’t deny I do enjoy a good battle, but it is not like it is my favorite thing in the world. Besides, I’ve only met the Monarch for a few days while you spend almost your entire life with them. I’m curious.”

Fortaime nodded happily and quickly took a seat at the bed, smiling wide with his short tail ruffling the bed. “Okay! One of my favorites isn’t exactly my proudest idea, b-but you’ll understand. Mylus’ father, Salus, was the previous Elder of Valinorth and he had just explained to us about being a Seer and all that but I didn’t have quite understood what he truly meant! In my head, the Seer was someone who could see the future whenever they wanted, so as soon we were dismissed, I just asked them to ‘Hey, let me know if you see me getting hurt real bad, ok?’ And I started to climb the highest tree around...”

Ulric’s laugher echoed faintly in the empty dorm, quickly muffed by the noise above them until he regained control. “Alright, alright, I was expecting to hear something really unexpected, but I can imagine you doing that today.”

“Hey! I would perfectly understand the Monarch’s powers if you explained to me!” He protested half-heartedly, as having such positive reaction to his story was easily stronger than his embarrassment.

“Yeah, but I bet you’d still go and do something dangerous just because you can.” Ulric replied with a smirk, raising one eyebrow at his friend. “Who was the crazy person that decided to ignore everyone’s advice to behave as if in an emissary mission and just went to Alarinthia’s ruler to ask permission to climb their castle?”

“But you can’t deny it was the right move! Draycu spent a long time talking with me about climbing gear and techniques. As a representative of Valinorth, I’d say it was a great opportunity.”

“Just like you can’t deny it was risky. Still, we are getting side-tracked here. Please, continue the story.”

“Oh, you’re right!”

And so, Ulric laid back against the wooden wall as he attentively listened Fortaime’s childhood stories with both people he cared most in the world: Valessa and the Monarch. The rabbit’s contagious positivity made every story a joyful (and sometimes hilarious) memory, while his eyes shone warmly with love every time his childhood friends’ name escaped his lips. The stories went from mundane moments to unique situations due to their special jobs, but it was endearing how the simplest moments became magical when those three were together.

On the other hand, Ulric paid total attention to Fortaime with a fond smile. Hearing all those stories beaming with happiness made them easy to envision, admiring what he believed to be a perfect life full of little wonders that everyone should have, and genuinely happy that his love and his friends were able to make most of it. While he kept his comments to a minimum, he allowed himself to fully enjoy them with laugher, and a hidden ache of belonging slowly fading as he felt even closer to his dear ones.

They had a short pause so Fortaime could refresh himself with some water after talking so long, while Ulric wiped a tear caused by the last story, where Fortaime wanted Mazean apples so badly he tried to sneak in a carriage, and pretty much made Sylus lose his mind when he got scarily close of getting into the Rebellion’s HQ (A point added by Ulric, making Fortaime bean with proud surprise.)

“Salus would’ve promised you a basket of Mazean apples per week, if that would mean making you stay quiet about that old HQ.” Ulric was waiting for his laughing fit to cease before opening a more common and easy to obtain bottle of wine Fortaime had fetched for him. “If I remember correctly, that was the monthly carriage of supplies and they were delivered directly to a warehouse we used part of it to stock stuff we couldn’t keep in the places we used to sleep.”

“When everything is over and the war ends you really should visit Valinorth again, as a visitor and tourist! I bet there are many new things to see, and the Monarch didn’t even have his party, so it’d be the perfect time to go and let them show you around!”

While there was no hint of discontent on his voice, Ulric still felt a wrong twang in the last sentence. “Why did you say ‘the Monarch’ and not ‘us’? You and Valessa will be there for sure.”

He was quick to assume an apologetic posture. ‘Oh I didn’t meant like that! I know we will all get back home safe and sound, but we have enough tact to leave a couple alone.”

Resting his left leg on the bed, Ulric turned around to better face a shy-smiling Fortaime. “Fortaime, I appreciate your concern but you know he loves you, and your presence with them means a lot.” He corked the bottle back and rested on the floor. “All three of you will be heroes, and I’m sure he wants to share it with both of you.”

The bunny’s ears rose at the realization only to falter again in embarrassment. “You are right, I’m sorry. I’m just really lost in this whole situation.” He spins his hand around, as if enclosing both figures. “I’ve read romances before, but they were pretty much always monogamous. I don’t know what to do or even… what are we, in general.”

“Well, we don’t need to be or do anything that either of us wants, Fortaime. Books sell those usual relationship pictures, but in reality everyone has their own unique relationships and agreements. As long everyone is happy, it can be anything.” The explanation came naturally, as hundreds of years would teach you about life and love.

“The Master has spoken.” Fortaime mused with a chuckle, his growing embarrassment giving him a faint hue of red on his ears, due the nature of the conversation. “Then what do you feel about all of this? Or what do you want? Perhaps having some basis can help me organize my thoughts here.”

Ulrich wasn’t expecting to be put on the spot like that, but he couldn’t say no after how much he heard from the other, especially when he’s asking for some sort of guidance. “I’ll be honest and say that my feelings for the Monarch were a surprise for me as well. Everything can happen in war times, and you must always keep a grounded emotional state about yourself and others: bonding with your friends can really give you an edge during a fight, but being overwhelmed by them can make you take hasty and dangerous decisions. The Monarch just… managed to sneak past all my defenses, and before I noticed I had already fell for them.”

He felt a little tempted to grab that bottle again and give it a go, but Ulric didn’t even stop looking at Fortaime’s surprise eyes. “Don’t take this the wrong way, I care for all of you and I would feel if anything happens to any of us. So right now… I guess all I wish for is to make the Monarch happy and not get in the way of you two, even if I do want to be with them when this ends.”

Fortaime simply nodded as he looked away while listening, resting his elbows on his knees in silence for some time. It surely was a lot to take in, but unlike when he first learned about the Resistance and Salus, this time he made sure to keep himself in check. “I guess it does make sense, and believe it or not I actually share the same feelings. I’ve… loved them for quite a while, but I kept it in the back of my mind because of our roles as Monarch and Scribe, just like my desire to explore the world. But when we got to Mazeo, and started to sink in how our lives had changed so suddenly, I decided to act on them and never let an opportunity pass by!”

He turned his eyes back to Ulric, face growing redder yet his smile was hopeful. “I want to see them happy and help them in any way I can, but I won’t deny that I also want to be always by their side. What… what I’m trying to say is… I understand what you said, how war can make us feel different and make us act different, and I’m not always in my best state of mind to really know how I feel toward others. Or you, specifically.”

Ulric nodded with a proud smile, Fortaime often surprising with his intelligence hidden behind his energetic personality. “I believe we are on the same page, then. By the little time we spend together I can say you are a great guy and good to have around, but we do need more time and better circumstances to know each other better.” He chuckled as an idea popped in his mind, as he smirked. “When we win this war and the Monarch start ruling over Alestia, they’ll be busier than both of us together. How about we take that chance and have a drink, just the two of us? We can sit down and get to know each other appropriately, and see where things go from there.” And to top it off, he adds with a wink. “With Mazean apples as appetizer.”

That was something Fortaime never expected to hear, and followed with a wink that made his face red yet again. But for other reasons than shyness, this time. “W-well, then it is a date then! I’ll be waiting for it.” He said facing the other, offering him a handshake. “And you better keep your word for it.”

With a nod, Ulric took the hand in a firm squeeze. “Unfinished businesses are a great motive to get back home, so you better do the same.”

The moment held with their eyes focused on each other, a faint thrill could be felt in their hearts, having nothing to do with the alcohol or the upcoming battle. The promise of an entirely new page in their lives, strengthened by contact from someone who could mean the world in the peaceful future they were fighting for, was a proper ending to their conversation as both silently stood up and returned to the booming party above them.

And in that night, their dreams with the Monarch were pleasantly splashed by a new figure, and many new scenarios.