Chapter 1: My Name is Byleth | The Three Odd Nobles
Byleth has a talk with the woman of his dreams, questions the dangerous and odd nobles that he has run into, and has a quick battle with some less than stellar bandits.
So this is my first story that I am posting to the website. Let me know what you think and what I can do better. Right now, I am ahead of the story by 1 chapter so hopefully, I'll be able to keep this up.
More tags will be added as we progress through the story.
Staring at a small green haired woman, who sat upon a large throne in the darkness, was not something that Byleth ever thought he would be doing. He allowed his hands to hang loose at his side, absently running a gloved finger to hip, tapping the dagger connected to the metal overlay of his clothes. Letting the slightest bit of tension leave his body, he tilted his head when the woman opened her eyes, piercing him with her bright green gaze.
"Come, young one. If you must rudely interrupt my moment of reprieve, then surely you must offer me a name." Her voice was tinkling, yet held the same gruff frustration that he had heard father use on the other mercenaries when they had to get moving to the next job. Byleth stepped towards the woman, watching her eyes scan the length of his body, taking special care of looking at his hair and eyes. Leaning forward slightly, the ribbons weaved into her hair sliding with her intricate purple dress as she seemed more interested in him now that the odd light illuminating the throne now engulfed him.
"Oho, so my children have survived? Or are you not one of them? Tell me, what are you?" The woman inquired, tilting her head slightly, something that Byleth copied as he took in her words.
"I am a mortal." Byleth answered, deciding not to ask questions of his own. Her eyes lost some of its light as she slumped slightly in her chair.
"You are only mortal? You are sure?" With his nod, she narrows her eyes at him, scrutinizing him in a way that he is unable to help with. Instead, he taps his dagger again, allowing the familiar weight and feeling to ground him. When the woman shakes her head, he strains his ears to hear her mutterings, "No, no. That cannot be. I simply feel the presence within him. Is it possible for it to be diluted? Well, maybe if..."
Byleth had no idea what she was muttering about and took this moment to take a closer look at her. The length of her hair was just shorter than her height and had an intricate adornment gracing the crown of her head. She was barefoot as she crossed her legs, showing off the matching anklets with blue gemstones and leaned to the right side of the throne, absently playing with her pink and white ribbons.
"Never mind me, tell me child. What is your name?"
"My name is Byleth."
"Huh, mortal names never lose their oddness to me. Surely, you must also have a day of birth as well." She said it more as a statement but he nodded, knowing what she desired, somehow.
"20th of Horsebow Moon." He watched as her eyes widened slightly at his words and she put her hand to her mouth, picking at her bottom lip.
"What a coincidence. I, too, was born on that day. This seems to be the oddest set of coincid- hm." He tilted his head slightly at the woman, watching as she looked off to the side, pursing her lips.
"It seems that we have run out of time for the moment. Do not worry, I will pull you back in when I am in need of you." She waved a hand dismissively, a wave of something washing over him before everything went dark.
"Hey, it's time to get up." His eyes opened and he glanced to the side of his cot, eyes locking with the deep brown of his father. Byleth quickly got up, smoothing down his clothes, idly tapping the dagger before giving his father his full attention. Jeralt looked him over, settling instantly on the fingers tapping his dagger, almost unseen by anyone who was unfamiliar with him. Byleth's father was, however, always aware of the small ticks that he had tried his hardest to suppress.
"Were you having that dream again?" Jeralt's voice was deep, gruff, and stern to anyone else but Byleth could hear the slightest bit of concern in there. No matter how efficient of a mercenary Byleth had become, Jeralt had always been concerned about him. Byleth assumed it was because he was his father, due to Jeralt not expressing that concern as much with the other mercenaries.
Still, it was odd.
"The one with the war, yes." Byleth answered, mind going back to the constant dreams about a war in an open plain. The odd, angry, green haired woman and the battle-born white haired man, clashing against one another in a feat of strength. Byleth had always had this dream before seeing the small woman on the throne and while Jeralt also knew about her, Byleth was more concerned with the war.
Whenever the dream appeared, his chest would clench in a way that he didn't know how to process, always knowing that there isn't a wound maring it. Just thinking about it caused his chest to clench uncomfortably, and he brought his hand up to his chest without realizing it. Jeralt's face scrunched up minutely and Byleth hurried to drop his arm back to his side.
"There hasn't been a war like that in centuries. Did you see the woman again as well." Byleth nodded, his head twinging slightly as he did so. "Hm, did anything happen this time, or was she still napping on the throne?"
"She asked me my name, day of birth, and said something of her children. Said that she could sense their presence in me." Byleth stated, watching the surprise and concern deepen on his face. Byleth tilted his head as he heard a tinkling in the back of his head, guessing it was the aftereffects of the dream. He moved to the side of his cot, picking up the sword leaning against the head and connecting it to the sword belt on his hip. He also picked up his gauntlets, connecting them to his gloves and sat down on the cot to lace up his boots.
"Is that so... Well, put that out of your mind for the moment. We leave at dawn for the kingdom and we can discuss this later. We need to be careful here until the others are ready to go." Byleth acquiesced with his father, wanting to get Jeralt's opinion on this but agreeing that this shouldn't be something that is shared with anyone besides their mercenary group. Byleth opened his mouth to speak more of their next mission but was stopped when a mercenary from their group, Ezra, ran into the room.
"Jeralt, By, you are needed outside!" Ezra seemed breathless and both Byleth and Jeralt tensed, nodding quickly and following him outside. They passed the other buildings and mercenaries milling about, seeming nonchalant but Byleth could see the small tension lining their bodies. He knew that they were trying to prevent the others in the town from panicking and nodded to a few of them, commending them on doing so. Eventually, they reached a small hill just beyond the walls of the town and met up with three teens.
The one the furthest to the right was a young lady with long, snow white hair, pale violet eyes, and alabaster skin. She held herself rigidly, Byleth noted, with her hand resting on her hip and the other clutching an axe. He gave her a once over, noting her stance as being ready at a moment's notice to strike out at anything that came near her. Her face was carefully blank, however, he could see her assessing both his father and himself. The red of her tights and her cloak contrasting with the dark grey of her overclothes and the pale lilac cravat.
The rigidity showed him that she was willing to take in tactics but more likely to slice through something than to sit and wait. Very dangerous and may become predictable, shaving off some of the danger but in no way should she be taken lightly.
The one on his left was almost the opposite of her was a tanned male with messy brown hair, a single braid swaying and bright green eyes assessing the surroundings. A bow was slung over his shoulder, almost nonchalantly and his body was loose. An easy, small smile adorned his face as they approached, but Byleth could see that it didn't reach his eyes. Adding in his bright yellow cloak over the same dark grey of his own version of what Byleth assumes is a uniform and many would quickly dismiss him as non-threatening.
A hollow smile, often meant to disarm those around him and loose stature told Byleth that this one would be more of a tactical mind. Unpredictable and clever. Willing to take in all information before striking out. Very dangerous but the small stops of observation will be his downfall.
The last one in the middle was a man slightly taller than Byleth, golden blonde hair hanging over his bright blue eyes and a concerned frown marring his face. A lance was in his grip, slotting into many of the small indents that Byleth could make out on the polearm. His stance was tense, not unlike the woman's, however the angle of the lance attributed more towards an offensive, clueing Byleth into his own preferred battling style. The slight twitches across his jaw as Byleth and Jeralt stopped a few meters away from them caused Byleth to tap his dagger again. The blue of his cloak and the more traditional take on his own dark grey uniform was all that Byleth needed, really.
A concern for others masking his own battle-born presence. Willing to take out anything in his way and little mind for tactics, instead preferring to take them out immediately. Very dangerous due to his willingness to get hurt to hurt others in protection of allies with the strength to prove it but eventually will get cut down with his own impatience.
They certainly were three odd nobles.
All this, observed in the ten seconds it took to fully stop in front of them.
"I do apologize for intruding but, we require your assistance." The blonde stated, bowing slightly in the Faerghus standard, right arm placed over the bottom of the ribs and left directly mirroring it on the back. From the Holy Kingdom and of noble birth, Byleth noted, taking in the deep timber and proper inflection of his voice.
"What do you need assistance with?" Jeralt questioned, leaning on his other leg, letting the hilt of his sword shine in the moonlight and giving the teens a nice view of it, before he shifted again, reverting to his previous stance.
"We were ambushed by a bunch of bandits, totally uncalled for if you ask me." The brunette shrugged, his voice more resigned, shrugging slightly and placing his hand on his waist. His stance was an odd mix of typical Alliance and the looseness of an Almyran warrior, Byleth dismissed it as something that the boy had tried to emulate. His own inflection was less noble but too close to be a typical commoner.
"Bandits? Here?" Jeralt turned to the brunette, eyes instantly taking in the stance and a question in his eyes, one that Byleth could easily see was in the boy's stance not the spoken question.
"It's true. We were attacked at our camp and managed to make it here in our haste to escape." The woman stated, voice refined and taking on a more commanding tone than the other two. The red of her cloak and the slight condescending of her tone instantly hitting the marks of an Adrestian noble.
"All of our comrades were separated from us and we're outnumbered. There's no way we can take them on without assistance." The Brunette said, shaking his head with a rueful smile and Byleth sighed, seeing another of their mercenary group, Caen, run up to them.
"Sir! By! Bandits are approaching from the west. What do you want us to do?" He asked, and Byleth blinked, quickly unsheathing his sword, causing the three nobles to jump.
"Numbers?" Byleth questioned, turning to Caen
"At least twenty."
"Equipment?" Byleth cracked his neck, stepping past the teens and Caen.
"Mainly axes, few swords sprinkled in. I spotted at least two archers in the adjacent forest." Caen answered quickly, moving to stand besides Jeralt.
"Hm. That's fine then."
"By, take the kids with you. Let them provide backup while I arrange the group to secure the village." Byleth nodded at his father's orders as he stopped just at the decline of the hill, seeing the bandits rushing towards them.
"You're quite confident, aren't you?" He spared a glance to his right and saw the brunette standing besides him, the boy's bow was drawn, his quiver set parallel to his back. Byleth nodded, both to his question and his own assessment of the boy being more speed oriented. The orientation of his quiver was to make sure nothing would catch or give away his positioning.
"It's not as much confidence as it is that I am secure in my abilities." he stated, shrugging slightly as the other two came up to them. The blonde still had his concerned frown but his eyes betrayed his excitement. The woman watched the bandits and Byleth clinically, assessing him silently. Byleth rolled his shoulders and let out a small breath before blanking his mind.
"Blonde, you are with me. Red, you are to flank to the left, keep your eyes on the bushes and the trees. Brunette, stay back and pick off the bandits on the right. Blonde, we are going to tear through the main force, but keep your eyes on my back, I will watch yours as well. Red, you are to take out the archers as soon as you can, get in their face and don't let them fire off at you. If any of you need reprieve, fall back immediately, I will heal you. Understood?" His tone was clipped, precise, left little room to argue. He glanced at all three, seeing the surprise and approval in each of their eyes as they nodded. He allowed himself to tap his dagger once more before nodding and running off into the group of bandits. Absently, he heard the blonde following behind him, his footsteps loud and easily alerting anyone in the area of his presence.
Upon reaching the bandits, Byleth heard a whizzing to his right and ducked, watching as the arrow pierced the bicep of a bandit a few meters away. He swiped his sword at one bandit, watching as it easily sliced through the skin of his calf, hearing the yelp of pain as the body began crumpling. Byleth brought the sword up diagonally, slicing across the bandit's chest and spinning away as the body hit the ground. Immediately, he jut his hip to the right, bringing his left leg behind his right and rotating, allowing his blade to flick out, cutting across the neck of one bandit, down the shoulder of another, and land piercing the side of a third.
Reaching for his dagger, Byleth yanked the blade out of the bandit and stabbed the sword into the ground as he heard the rapid footfall of a bandit on his left. He pushed himself up, throwing himself over the blade and away from the bandit as he unsheathed his dagger, throwing it and watching as it pierced the neck of another bandit. He watched as the blonde noble slashed at a bandit with his lance, the body of the bandit rolling away with the force behind the hit. Byleth quickly took stock of the bandits around him, idly counting another ten that needed to be taken down as he yanked his sword free from the dirt.
He ran towards a bandit that was approaching the blonde, stabbing the bandit in his side, ignoring the cry of pain and pushing the sword towards the ground again. The blade pierced the ground and Byleth let go of the sword to twist and backhand a bandit that tried to sneak up on him. He ducked again as another arrow pierced the bandit he was facing off against. The bandit went down and Byleth kicked at the bandit pierced on his sword, putting enough force into the kick to dislodge him from the sword rather bloodily. Not looking at the bandit's mutilated side, Byleth took the blade from the ground and sliced across another bandit's jugular as he let out a breath.
He took stock once more and saw that the group around them was now incapacitated or dead and allowed his shoulders to slump slightly. He glanced at the blonde and noted that he was not at all injured, which was good. Looking back at the brunette archer, he saw the boy give the area around them a difficult stare. Byleth couldn't exactly place the look, something of a cross between apprehension, approval, and sadness. Byleth left him to ponder as he yanked his dagger from a bandit's neck, his eyes flitting over to the girl just in time to see her finish off the last archer. She seemed to let out a small breath, and lose some of her rigidity that had greeted Jeralt and Byleth.
Just as he sheathed his dagger, he heard rapid footsteps away from him and towards the girl. It didn't take him long to spot the lumbering form of a bandit, who seemed to be the head of the little bandit group. His axe was held high as he ran, portraying his intent to everyone in the area. The girl jumped, her axe falling out of her hand and to the ground. She quickly grabbed a dagger from her hip, the same side that her hand had been resting and held it in front of her in a non-optimal way to block the blow. Byleth quickly glanced towards the archer and saw him scrambling to get his bow ready. A glance towards the blonde showed him ready to move but wouldn't get there in time.
Byleth barely let a moment pass before he moved, practically gliding across the field to get to her. He calculated in his head as he took the last step, what was the best course of action.
Allowing his sword to come up to block the axe. One second to late. Arm would catch on the blade of the axe. Incapacitated.
Stabbing him with the dagger. Closest area he can hit in time would be the abdomen. Bandit would fold in on himself. Axe trajectory will change. Axe will hit between his neck and shoulder. Incapacitated.
Put him off balance. Take out his legs. Momentum will send the bandit into him. Both will crash into the girl. Bandit will bring down the axe. Axe would hit him or the girl. Incapacitated.
Hit the bandit away. Punch the bandit in the sternum. Bandit will lose breath and fall back slightly, striking out. Byleth can hit him again before he strikes. Byleth will throw the bandit away. Bandit incapacitated, both of them secure.
With his plan in his head, he turned to do just that but stopped as his overcoat got caught on the dagger of the girl. Before he could act, he heard the bandit yell.
"You'll die!" Byleth felt a sharp pain in his back for a second before everything shattered.
Chapter 2: The Power of a Goddess | I'll Bend You Over
Byleth talks to the goddess, gains the use of divine pulse, introduces himself to the three nobles, and tells them that he will bend them over as they travel.
"You absolute idiot! Why would you do something so foolish." Byleth opened his eyes, quickly catching sight of the unnatural light given off by the chair and the ethereal woman who sat upon it. She was glaring at him, her finger tapping at the arm of the throne quite quickly. Byleth straightened, noting the slight twinge of pain at each movement in one particular area of his back. He reached his arm back to touch it, but came in contact with nothing but his overcoat.
"I have stopped time, however there is still an axe lodged in your back as a result of your actions." Byleth blinked at the woman's blunt answer to his non-voiced question. He furrowed his eyebrows at her, head tilting slightly and tapping his dagger.
"Stopped time?" Byleth questioned. He had not heard of a magic that allowed the stopping of time before.
"Yes and this is not a power to be granted to those who are unqualified. But then again, not all of us can be goddesses." the woman laughed, a magical rune appearing before her. Byleth tried to understand the small scriptures on the runes but all he could tell at the glance was that it was faith based, not reason or even dark based. The woman let out another laugh at him attempting to parse through the details of the rune and allowed it to dissolve.
"Are you saying that you are a goddess?" Byleth asked, nonplussed with the idea of being in front of one.
He never understood the majority of the religion that Fódlan seemed to follow. He knew that in Brigid, they worshiped the spirits of nature more than anything and believed the blessing to be put upon them in the marks that they held. Duscur was similar to Brigid in that they believed in nature more than a singular god but they worshiped the gods of nature in things like a feast for the sea god for calm waters and offering to the war god for victories in battle. In Dagda, there was less belief in religion and more on fate. A typical Dagdan saying was "The winds of fate will lead you to the answer you seek" . In Almyra, they just worshiped nature itself, no god necessary and allowed nature to decide whether they were going to live or not.
Fódlan, however, only saw one goddess but the religion wasn't named after the goddess but instead was named after the daughter of the goddess. It had a lot of rules and many times, Byleth had seen the outcome of speaking out against the religion of Fódlan. Often, it ended in the party speaking out to be executed. Other times, it caused those same people to lose significant standing in the area. But Byleth was more in line with the thinking of Dagda and Almyra, simply thanking nature and allowing the wind and his father to guide him along the right path.
"Hm, so that is your thought process. Interesting." Byleth felt his eyes twitch slightly at the implication that this woman could read his thoughts. Observing the woman closely, noticing the small, self-satisfied smile on her face, Byleth concluded that she could indeed read his thoughts and was indeed stating that she was a goddess. He let that slip from his mind, not particularly caring if she actually was one, instead analyzing her level of danger towards him.
She could read his thoughts, which meant that he would have to blank his mind if he would have a chance of striking her. Easy enough to rely on his instincts to guide him. She could also pull his consciousness to wherever they were at the moment, evident by the lack of the bandits, blood, or three nobles that were clearly in the forest clearing. If she could do that, who's to say that she actually couldn't stop time. But thinking of the ability to stop time brought into the concern of what else she could do with time. Does the ability to stop time give one insight into the future, even if limited.
"..." Byleth's mind sufficiently couldn't quantify the amount of danger that could pose to him. Being able to pull his consciousness and read his thoughts were concerning, even if he had a somewhat crude workaround to the mind reading. If she could pull his consciousness into this area, she may be able to do more. It would be difficult but he would find a way. Stopping time, there wasn't anything in his repertoire that would allow him the ability to prevent or even reverse it. Again, that isn't to say it would be impossible. And that isn't even taking into account anything the woman is not inexplicably sharing with him, no doubt getting his mind working on purpose. There was absolutely no need to tell him of her abilities if she had any fear of him at all.
It also showed that she was telling him this to either get him to trust her or get him paranoid. Considering she could do that in less moves and simply tell him of his believed control over his consciousness, he had to believe she was giving him something that his mind could latch onto, to think about and theorize about. He felt his shoulders slump down slightly in a silent show of relief. There was this odd wave of what he would think is trust, albeit on an exponentially smaller scale as to what he felt toward Jeralt.
"Low danger, somewhat trustworthy, keep caution."
"So you are a goddess and can stop time. What will happen when time begins again?" He questioned, finger tapping his dagger twice before crossing his hands behind his back, grasping his left wrist with his right.
The woman stared at him, eyes minutely wider than moments before. He could see slight surprise in her features before giving way to what he believed to be amusement.
"Absolutely astonishing." She muttered, shaking her head slightly before allowing a wry smile to grace her face. "When time resumes, the axe will tear into your back and surely, you will meet your end."
Byleth flinched at the bluntness of him dying but nodded, already thinking over why the woman would help him. Surly, she was telling him this because she could help him and he just had one question in return.
"What do you get in return for helping me?" He questioned, crossing his arms at his back. He hadn't been raised to worship the goddess of Fódlan and he didn't particularly know the proper way to ask her what he needed to do for her help. Her station was not, however, going to prevent him from treating her just like other nobles. A small smirk was aimed at him and Byleth guessed he passed at the moment.
"True. I do have one request for the current moment, and another request to be paid off at your leisure." Byleth nodded, urging her to continue. "I would like to know what happened to my children. It has been too long since I have had any contact with them. If any of them are to know the whereabouts or events of my children, it would surely be Seiros. That is, if she survived." he nodded again, not understanding all of her request but knowing that he would have to find Seiros if he could.
"The second, which would probably take just as long, if not longer, is to allow me the aide to regain my corporeal form." Byleth tilted his head at her.
"You don't possess one?"
"I do not know what has happened to it. I feel myself locked within your body, adjacent to your soul and have felt it since you were but a child. I have been trying to speak with you for many moons but before I could do so, it was always snatched away." Byleth once again nodded, now knowing that he knew of the woman for years now, just as she had for him.
"That is fine." He answered and she flinched once more, looking astonished.
"Just like that?" He shrugged to her inquiry, allowing his hands to fall to his waist, tapping his dagger as he did so.
"You and I both know that I am not particularly in a position to decline." She huffed at him and waved her hand in his direction. He felt his magical prowess surge slightly before quieting. He blinked looking at himself for a few moments before he glanced at the woman once again. She was looking at her nails, seemingly dismissing him.
"I have graced you with a lesser ability to control time. You can use it but a few times a day, simply desire it and so shall it happen. For now, I will rewind the hands of time a few moments, allowing you to regain your bearings. Please, be quick about it." Byleth blinked at her and a small smile graced her face before he felt a sharp tug in the back of his mind.
Byleth blinked and quickly caught the situation around him once again, looking down at his bloodied dagger and the bandit uselessly clutching at his neck. He blinked, allowing himself a small moment of marveling at the rewind in time before he moved, sheathing his dagger and yanking off his overcoat. Quickly moving, he deposited the overcoat on the shoulders of the blonde, absently dodging the lance that soared towards his head at the sudden movement and continuing on.
He did not see the abject surprise on the face of the blonde but did hear the odd choked sound that he attributed to the still dying bandits surrounding them.
Byleth made it to the young woman just as he heard the rapid footsteps of the bandit closing in. He pulled his sword up and quickly jabbed the hilt towards the jaw of the bandit. Just as the hilt connected with the bandit's jaw, Byleth felt his magic rise up within him, pulling some of the bandit's life force in a much more crude Nosferatu than he was used to. The bandit flew away from them a few yards and hit the ground with a loud crack. Byleth allowed his magic to float over the bandit, checking him as he turned to the young Adrestian. He raised a brow to her, tilting his head to the side.
"Impressive work but keep your senses open. The second you let your guard down on the field can be your last." Byleth saw her eyes flick over to the bandit but he knew that he didn't have to worry about the bandit at the moment. His magic had come back to him and he knew that the bandit was unconscious. He had aimed for his jaw for that exact reason. Byleth had assumed that whoever was supposed to watch over these three would want to question at least one bandit but more never hurt.
"I... yes. Thank you. I will keep that in mind." Her eyes lingered on the bandit for a few moments and he nodded, turning away from the contemplative expression on her face and towards the archer and blonde jogging over to them.
The archer smiled at him again and Byleth didn't even question why it didn't reach his eyes. He had guessed that violence wasn't the archer's most favorite thing but he was efficient in battle. He could appreciate it. Not battling for the fun of it but more so he could live another day. It was what Byleth had always believed in when taking out enemies. He never felt a particular rush that others in the mercenary group had when in battle, just the usual adrenaline albeit in a much more sated sense. It was why he would rather aim to incapacitated than to kill.
In the end though, to kill would be the most efficient and that would guarantee he lived another day.
The blonde, on the other hand, looked quite pensive, a hand holding his overcoat out to him. Byleth took the overcoat with the usual ghost of a smile that he had gotten used to giving when he wanted to show appreciation. The blonde, he knew, held something over his head that would not allow the blonde to feel anything in battle. It was a certain darkness that didn't particularly overtake him but it could lead to something horrible.
"By! Did you just..."
Byleth turned to his father, his eyebrow rising in question as he cut himself off. Jeralt was looking at him with a question in his eyes. Watching his eyes flit to the three around him, Byleth gave a slight nod in understanding, knowing once they were alone, his father would ask him what he held back on. Byleth turned to the three others, opening his mouth to speak to them when a loud voice cut him off.
"Fear not! The Knights of Seiros will- Captain?" Byleth looked over his father's shoulder, noting the slight paling of his father's complexion.
There stood a rather large man, almost as tall as Jeralt but just as wide. He wore a suit of armor, silver with gold accents, and a large spiked pauldron on his right shoulder. His eyes were a bright teal, with slightly mused brown hair and a mustache with the middle bit cut. He also wore a confused smile as he gazed at them. Byleth turned his attention back to his father in time to see resignation as he faced the newcomer.
"Hello Alois." The man, Alois, broke out into an absolutely blinding grin that caused Byleth to blink and furrow his eyebrows at, absently tapping his sheathed dagger.
"It is you, Captain! How fortunate for us to meet here! Oh, but it's not really a fortunate situation for everyone, huh?" Alois looked around, taking in the bodies and blood on the ground, his grin diming and causing more confusion in Byleth when his chest clenched slightly.
Byleth put a hand to his chest, wondering if he had been grazed by one of the bandits, tossing on his overcoat as he looked down at his chest.
"Oh, and who is this young one?" Byleth looked up at Alois, who was suddenly much closer to him. He blinked at the teal eyes assessing him before something like surprise overtook his face. "Are you perhaps, Jeralt's child?" Byleth glanced at his father, not seeing the usual caution coloring his features when it came to Byleth and relaxed, allowing any thought of having to fight this man to dissipate. He nodded and somehow the man's grin grew even larger, causing Byleth to be filled with warmth. Alois threw an arm over his shoulder, the other finding Jeralt's shoulders as well, and chuckled.
"Jeralt, you old dog you! Were you not going to tell your best student that you had a child?!" The volume of Alois' voice was already grating on Byleth's ears and he quickly removed himself from Alois' side. He barely got a glance before Jeralt was getting pulled away with the guffawing man. "And he is just like you were all those years ago! Why I'll have you know my daughter..."
Byleth consciously pushed the man's voice from his mind, actively ignoring him, knowing that Jeralt could handle himself and wouldn't relax if he was at all threatened. Instead, he turned slightly, getting ready to tie up and take care of the rest of the bandits. He blinked as he turned into the three nobles once again. They were close, closer than Byleth was used to strangers being when not in battle. He took a step back and raised an eyebrow at the three.
"Your father is Jeralt the Blade Breaker, former captain of the Knights of Seiros and oft praised as the strongest in its history." The young woman said it more as a statement than a question but Byleth tilted his head at her.
"Knights of Seiros? I didn't know that." A small smirk graced her face and she hummed.
"Is that so."
"So, you are coming with us to the monastery, yeah? I mean, once Alois gets started, it's a little hard to get away." The archer smiled at him, one that Byleth could tell was at least slightly mischievous. Byleth shrugged, chancing a glance at his father and Alois, seeing the serious expression on his father's face and the slight tension in his body language. However, he knew the tension in his right leg and back was more akin to the reluctance to do something and wanting to flee rather than the usual tension in his right arm and jaw that showed others he was ready to strike. Seeing his father still relaxing caused Byleth to relax some more, having never truly seen his father in such a state around anyone besides himself. He focused on the archer again, about to answer when he got cut off by the brunette.
"Of course you are. You know, I would love to bend you over as we walk." Byleth furrowed his brow at the comment, absently noticing the widening eyes of the blonde and the girl as well as the blushes on their cheeks. The archer had his hands resting on his head as he smirked at Byleth, a challenge in his eyes. Immediately, Byleth assumed he was talking of sparing while travel, knowing that Jeralt and the other mercenaries often did so.
"Bend me over? If you wanted to do so, I would like to see you try. Though, I cannot guarantee that you will not end up on your back." Byleth commented, catching the slight widening of the brunette and the odd choking sound from the other two. He looked at them and saw that he was getting incredulous looks from the two. He tilted his head at the two once again and guessed that they didn't think he'd accept.
"If you two would like, I could do the same to you two as well. I am sure we could use the experience." As he said that, their faces were fully red and he blinked at them again. Were they alright? He moved his magic over the two, absently checking to see if they were fine as he looked back at the brunette, his hand resting on his hip, tapping at the sheath of his dagger. The archer was grinning at him, a slight flush on his cheeks. Having no signs of any problems from his magic, he pulled it back into his body.
"Are they alright? I thought that we could all do so together. Surely, a spar is fine, correct?" The sudden laugh of the archer confused him as much as the sighs he heard from the other two.
"Spar?" The blonde asked, confusion coloring his question and Byleth nodded, also confused.
"Of course. You must improve at any time you can." Byleth was even more confused at the small, exasperated smile on all three nobles' faces. "What?"
"Nothing, nothing. So, mysterious stranger, do you have a name?" The archer asked, chuckling slightly. Byleth was still confused but he nodded anyway.
"I'm Byleth Eisner." The blonde jolted slightly and stepped forward slightly, causing Byleth to step back.
"Ah, I am Dimitri Alexandre Blaiddyd, crown prince of the Holy Kingdom of Faerghus. Of course, I am still but a student, so that is not yet prevalent." The blonde introduced, giving a much lower bow than Byleth was used to nobles doing. Byleth nodded, giving his own version of the bow, not as low as Dimitri but still low enough for any average noble. Byleth noticed a small smile on his face when he straightened from the bow. He glanced at the archer as he stepped closer and Dimitri stepped back.
"Well, I am Claude von Riegan, from the ruling house of the Leicester Alliance, but don't worry about that." The brunette started, bowing slightly and Byleth nodded, still noting the Almyran intricacies in the boy's body language. Byleth gave Claude the typical bow of the Alliance, right hand closed over the abdomen and left hand closed over his back. However, at the last moment, he added the usual Almyran greeting of not taking your eyes off the other and pushed his dominant leg, his left, back just enough to initiate an attack if needed. He noticed the widening of Claude's eyes, no doubt recognizing the subtle signs and a fragile, confused smile adjourned his face, actually reaching his eyes this time. Quickly coming out of the bow before anyone else could see the expression of Claude, he turned to the woman, taking in her considering gaze.
"And I am Edelgard von Hresvelg. I am the princess and heir apparent of the Adrestian Empire. I do hope you end up aiding the Empire, at least later in your life." The woman finalized, giving the barest of bows, her left hand open over her chest and inclining just slightly, keeping her eyes on him. He did the same, just the more masculine of his hand open on his ribcage. She quirked a slight smirk as he righted himself.
"So, how did this situation happen, exactly?" Byleth questioned, motioning to the forest around them. Claude chuckled slightly, though Byleth could tell it was weak, most likely thinking about the implications of what Byleth did.
"It was tragic, absolutely tragic. We were minding our business on a trip to familiarize ourselves with the area when we were descended upon by the bandits. I definitely got the worst of it." Claude shrugged and shook his head. Edelgard rolled her eyes and put her hand on her hip.
"That would be because you had the bright idea to run." Claude gave her a long-suffering sigh.
"But of course. It all would have worked too, if these two didn't follow after me." Claude winked at Byleth and Dimitri furrowed his eyebrows at Claude.
"So that was your intentions. And here I thought you were doing that simply to drag attention away from us." Dimitri said, crossing his arms over his chest. Claude shrugged uselessly and Edelgard gave Dimitri a pointed stare.
"His intentions were as clear as day. It would do you well to be able to tell at least that much if you want to be a proficient ruler. Otherwise, people will walk over your trust until you have none left to give." Edelgard told him and Byleth blinked at her.
"Hm. You will prove yourself to be a lacking leader should you look for distrust in everyone's intentions. The people will hold you to the same standard and question if you are putting their needs beneath your own desires." Dimitri looked at her, an odd emotion in his eyes, from what Byleth could tell. Claude raised his eyebrows at both of them.
"How lovely, a royal debate between their highnesses. You know, as the embodiment of distrust, I can say that your argument reeks of something many Alliance citizens would know very keenly. But, what is it?" Claude tapped his chin, pretending to think it over before snapping and pointing at them. "Oh, of course. It is none other than naïveté."
"Me? Naïve? Please tell me since you are oh so wise, Claude, are you capable of self-awareness or is it actually a condition?" Edelgard's glare got Byleth to sigh, holding up a hand at the same time Dimitri cleared his throat.
"In any case, please forgive our misconduct, after having helped us as you did. You never lost control, measuring each and every movement that you would make. Your quick thinking being the signs of a natural leader and showcased the many things that I have yet to learn." Dimitri's sincerity threw Byleth for a moment before his usual ghost of a smile appeared.
"Exactly why I would greatly appreciate it if you would consider lending your power to the Empire. It would improve from your presence." Edelgard cut in as Dimitri sought to continue, causing a frown to appear on Dimitri.
"Halt, Edelgard. I had not finished my own proposal." He cut her a glance before locking eyes with Byleth, "The kingdom would greatly benefit from your expertise. I would ask to please consider returning to Faerghus with me." Dimitri smiled at him.
"Whoa now. How tactless of the both of you. Proposing to him without even a good courting." Claude's words caused a blush to appear on Dimitri and Edelgard's cheeks, and he continued before they could get in a word. "I personally would love to talk to him, get to know him and what makes him tick before I make any sort of proposal. Guess the kingdom and empire are simply fast actors now." Claude shrugged with a mischievous smile and gestured to Byleth.
"So, By, from where do you hail?" Claude asked and while Byleth raised an eyebrow at the use of his nickname, he shrugged before answering what Jeralt had told him.
"I was born in the Holy Kingdom of Faerghus. However, I have traveled around all of Fódlan and even outside of it to Dagda, Brigid, Almyra, Duscur, Albinea, Morfis and Sreng." Byleth shrugged and ignored the looks of the three nobles, turning to his father as he walked up to him.
"So, it seems like we're going to the monastery kid. Get your stuff and meet back at the gate in twenty. We'll be traveling with the Knights and the kids." Byleth nodded, about to leave with his father before stopping and turning to the three nobles, noting the interest in the three. He gave them a true bow then, more comfortable in the Morfis bowing, hands completely relaxed at his side and his left leg crossed his right at the ankle. Byleth did not see the surprise on the three of them as he quickly rose and turned away from them.
"It seems I will indeed be able to bend all three of you over as we travel. I hope you are ready." Byleth stated before leaving, confused at the shocked laughing that was most assuredly Claude's but did not feel the need to turn around. He only had twenty minutes to get his things out and check over the rest of the mercenaries. Then he had to...
"Of course it is like this. Young one... You are most intriguing indeed." Sothis allowed her tinkling laugh to fill his head, interrupting Byleth as he opened the door to the small house, before he decided it was only natural that the goddess was still in his head. She laughed again and he sighed.
"Oh well, let's get this done quickly." Byleth murmured, getting all of his and Jeralt's items. He had plenty of time to do so. Getting out of Morfis had even less of a time crunch but in the end, it was also the one that he missed the most.
"Maybe I can get him to go to Morfis again soon. It has been a couple years." Byleth thought, missing the desert environment and magic filled air.
In ten minutes, he was at the gate with his and Jeralt’s things over his shoulder. He quickly deposited the items at the gate and stretched slightly as the three nobles made their way over to him. His father was talking to Alois at the gate, a few feet away from him and the approaching nobles. The other mercenaries were milling about around the area of the gate, gathering things or speaking with each other. Byleth rested his hand on the dagger, tilting his head as the three stopped in front of him.
“Would you like me to bend you over now?” Byleth asked Claude, cutting off whatever he was about to say and catching the attention of Jeralt, who stared at Byleth with wide eyes.
Byleth doesn’t think he has ever heard Jeralt yell so loudly, especially not with the other mercenaries joining him.
Chapter 3: When Mother Was Here | Professor or Weapons Instructor
Byleth puts the nobles on the ground, arrives at Garreg Mach Monastery, learns more about those around him, and meets people he didn't think he'd meet.
Byleth could quite easily admit that he has not been as confused as he was at the moment. Not when he was constantly having dreams of war. Not when he was pulled into a realm with a goddess. Not even when he has, apparently, acquired the ability to turn back the hands of time has he been this confused. Simply because those things could be reasoned out in his mind.
“-and if you really want to get them to be loud, you have to-”
“Leon, are you seriously trying to teach By about this?”
“Hey! This is the first time By has shown any interest in this stuff! Let me enjoy this.”
“Oh I bet you would enjoy that you damn-”
“Well, I am always one to teach-”
Byleth stared ahead, watching the minute flinches in Jeralt’s shoulders every couple of moments. He assumed the comments between himself and the nobles had put Jeralt on edge but not the usual fighting edge. Instead, his body language pointed more towards when he was worried about Byleth than anything. However, it was more reminiscent of when Byleth had a drink of alcohol for the first time, or when the other mercenaries had taken him swimming in Morfis.
Turning to the nobles, absently shrugging off the arm that Leon had thrown on him, he took in their expressions. In the past couple of hours in their travel, they had all been in various states of flushed since Byleth had challenged them at the gates of Remire. They were walking with Claude in the middle, Dimitri on his right and Edelgard on his left, who was to the right of Byleth. Dimitri’s face was almost entirely red and was fidgeting as he chanced glances at Byleth, almost all of which had been seen by him. Edelgard was in a similar state, just not as red as Dimitri and she at least kept her composure. Though, Byleth could see the few twitches of her arm, likely her wanting to cover her face but not deeming it as proper. Claude was on the other end of the spectrum, a blush only on his cheeks and was openly casting glances at Byleth, occasionally looking him over entirely.
Dimitri cleared his throat when Byleth caught him staring yet again.
“So, have you ever been to Garrag Mach? I would love to show you around if not.” Byleth shook his head and stepped closer to the nobles.
“I haven’t been there before, though I know the basics of the church and the teachings. I would enjoy being shown everything.” Byleth gave Dimitri a small smile and the prince nodded quickly.
“Of course! It really is quite the diverse area. People from all areas of Fódlan congregate there. We even have someone from Brigid and Duscur. Miss Shamir in the Knights of Seiros is from Dagda and a younger one, I believe his name is Cyril, is from Almyra.” Nodding, Byleth watched Dimitri closely, taking in his earnest expression and noting the slight hitch in his speech as he said Duscur.
Byleth knew of the Tragedy of Duscur, hard not to know about the almost genocide of a group of people. Harder still, to not know about it when it all began not even two moons after the mercenary troupe after having finished a job there. Dimitri was the prince of the Holy Kingdom, meaning he lost his family and friends in the Tragedy of Duscur. Interestingly enough, Dimitri did not fully close off like one would when mentioning a place where their loved ones had died, instead, his tone was more determined and remorseful.
“Oh yeah, it really is Fódlan in a nutshell. The good and the bad.” Claude shook his head with a small smirk, tone dripping with amusement but it still did not reach his eyes. The bright green of his eyes seemed to harden slightly.
“Hm.” Byleth looked forward, watching as the trees thinned out and he could just make out the outer walls that Byleth had seen in his travels and the monastery further up passed the hills. The beige walls of the outer walls would lead into the town on the outside of the monastery, which he had been to many times with the troupe to restock on their way to Remire and as they were traveling between the main three kingdoms of Fódlan.
“Be that as it may, we are approaching.” stated Edelgard and as Byleth cast her a glance, he saw that she was also staring ahead of her.
“Aw, come on now Princess, it isn’t everyday you come in contact with the Blade Breaker and the Ashen Demon. Even you have to admit that you would love to show him around. Maybe to your quarters.” Claude wagged his eyebrows at her and a blush crept up on her cheeks before he chuckled and turned to Byleth, “I mean, it’s only natural that I get to show you to mine, don’t you think?” Claude shrugged and seemed to be sizing up Byleth.
“Claude! Please cease this at once!” Dimitri squawked, the blush that had finally escaped his face had come back full force and Byleth silently raised an eyebrow at him. Glancing at Claude, Byleth nodded slightly, before addressing them.
“But of course I would visit your quarters if you so desired, however, only when you can reliably take me on in a spar. I would rather know that you can handle yourselves before I do any of your wishes.” Claude’s smirk widened, his eyes softening slightly and amusement sparking in them. Dimitri was still sputtering, watching Byleth with wide eyes and Edelgard seemed to be fighting off her blush, though she was staring at him as well.
“And when will we have this spar, By?” questioned Claude, resting his hands behind his head.
Instead of answering, Byleth moved quickly, sweeping his leg out and catching both Edelgard and Dimitri while Claude jumped over it. Dimitri and Edelgard stumbled, Dimitri slamming his foot down and keeping himself up through strength while Edelgard pushed her arms out and allowed some magic to propel her back up. Byleth quickly grabbed Claude by the yellow cloak and yanked him towards the ground, throwing himself onto the Alliance noble’s shoulders and propelling himself off of Claude.
The added pressure pushed Claude fully onto the ground and Byleth allowed his foot to catch onto the prince’s shoulder and his hand to grasp the cloak of Edelgard. Byleth pooled his magic into both his hand and his foot, quickly doing the calculations and expelling the magic. Dimitri was hit by blunt wind and Edelgard by dull thunder. They both began to fall and Byleth added more pressure by pushing off of them and he did a small flip before landing on his feet. He turned and glanced at the three on the ground, who were all in different levels of surprise.
“A spar, just like a battle, can happen at any time, in any place, and even amongst those you trust. Allow yourself relaxation and rest, yes, but never fully drop your guard. The second you do, you may not get another chance.” Byleth noticed the other mercenaries stopping and watching the three of them. He heard his father and the other Knights stopping as well and he allowed himself to watch the three nobles instead of turning around to his father.
Claude watched him with what looked like awe, concern, and something else that Byleth couldn’t exactly define. Dimitri seemed to be watching him closely, focusing on his eyes and that same thing was in Dimitri’s eyes as was in Claude’s and he seemed to be listening intensely. Edelgard also had the indecipherable emotion in her eyes but she seemed to be assessing him the most. Byleth nodded to the three of them and allowed his magic to spread underneath all of them. With a slight calculation on how much force each of them was going to get, he pushed each of them up with wind. Covering them with the wind and forcing them onto their feet, getting more awed looks from them, he turned away from them. He noticed the looks of awe from the Knights of Seiros and the proud looks from the mercenaries and Jeralt.
“Claude, you’re quick and light on your feet. You can anticipate things that people would typically do but not what improvisation would lead them to do. As soon as I caught you off guard, you were done. Dimitri, neither you or Edelgard were able to see the attack coming but you both reacted quick enough to right yourself. You did so through strength but as soon as I got quicker, you weren’t able to do anything. Edelgard, you righted yourself with magic, seemingly unconsciously, and it was smart. However, when I seized you up even with the dull thunder, you weren’t able to do anything.
“Each of you, as leaders, need to be able to recognize your weaknesses and your strengths. Being a leader is not in fact having mastery over each area but knowing when to allow others who are better equipped to take over for your weaknesses. You all need to be faster but the second that you all could have possibly taken me down is if you all tried to do so together. Dimitri, have someone who is quicker or more magically inclined to take your sides. Edelgard, have someone who is either magically inclined or physically inclined to take your sides. Claude, surround yourself with different perspectives and each of you will prosper.”
Byleth chanced a glance at the three nobles and saw all of them processing his words. With a nod, he continued walking.
After a few more hours of walking, Byleth arrived at Garreg Mach Monastery. They stopped in the main market of the monastery. There were a few stalls in the area. One was obviously a blacksmith, another was a weapons dealer with a general items shop across from it and what seemed like a battalion guild market next to it. In a little area off the side of the stairs was a general goods area with three stalls and a few tables and chairs set out.
They ascended the stairs and the Knights of Seiros departed from them, leaving Alois with Jeralt, the mercenaries, the three nobles, and himself. He turned to them and began speaking.
“So, captain, you know Lady Rhea is going to want to speak with you. Would you like to come with me right now or do you want me to come get you after I give her the report?” His booming voice at least seemed calmer in the area of the marketplace and for that, Byleth was grateful. He faced his father, who seemed to deflate and glance over at the mercenaries. Byleth let his eyes connect with his father and stay there for but a few moments before he nodded to himself.
“I’ll go to the main audience chamber myself, with my child. My troupe can relax in the area. Is the dining hall still in the same place?” Alois nodded and Jeralt waved the mercenaries away, his fingers twitching in slightly.
Meet back here. One hour at the latest.
The mercenaries nodded and waited for the signal that they could leave.
“Ah, I’m sure that you three wouldn’t mind showing the mercenaries to the dining hall?” Alois asked and the three nobles nodded, waving to Byleth as they left. Jeralt chuckled and Byleth raised an eyebrow at him.
“You certainly made an impression on them, huh.” Byleth shrugged and followed the laughing Alois and his father into the entrance hall. It was large, easily twenty times his height at the base of the stairs and he stared at the columns and stone all around him. Many clergy and what appeared to be students were spread out in the hall, talking or simply taking in the scenery. A few of the students caught his eye as he walked with Jeralt and Alois.
One group of them were easily recognized as nobles. Two had reddish hair and the third had purple. One of the redheads had the top few buttons of his shirt undone and the overcoat laid open. His eyes were brown and seemed to be a mix of cold, guarded, and amusement, very similar to Claude. The other had more of an orange tint to his hair and he oozed a noble aura with his arm resting on the pommel of the sword on his hip. He held himself similarly to Dimitri but was more reminiscent of Edelgard. The last had a very interesting haircut and held his hand limply in front of him, just beside the rose on his overcoat. His body language was more of a haughty false confidence that was covered, more than likely, by his speech. Byleth had seen many nobles that fit the bill of these three and sighed beneath his breath, not desiring to deal with them again.
They quickly left the entrance hall and stepped into the stone courtyard before stepping into what seemed like an informal dining hall. More students, clergy, and staff milled about in the area. Again, a couple of students caught his eye. This time though, he could easily see that it was because of their obvious, to him, class as healers.
A blue haired girl with just about every inch of her that wasn’t her face, covered. Her hair was in an unkempt updo with a braid and her bangs fell messily in front of her face and eyes as she seemed to fold into herself. The girl next to her was blonde and had a shawl over her uniform, it being more similar to summer wear than the typical spring uniform. She seemed to be very concerned with the other girl and the unfocused boy. The boy had long green hair that was held back by a white bow and he seemed to be dozing off. His gaze flickering to the white tome in the middle of the table every other blink.
They crossed the hall and were led up stairs before Alois stopped in front of two large doors.
“You can enter here and I’ll give my report to Lady Rhea. She would certainly want to meet you Byleth.” Alois told them, opening the door and allowing them to step inside. Byleth watched as Alois headed to the other stairwell, heading up them. Shrugging, Byleth followed his father into the Audience chamber and looked around, noting the columnes and the small throne-like seat at the opposite end of the room. Jeralt sighed as he stepped further in the room before stopping directly in the middle.
“It’s been about twenty years now…” Byleth heard the mutter of his father and simply gazed at him. Both Byleth and Jeralt knew that he would not question anything that his father said but he would be there to listen if he needed to. The minute shift in his father’s face told Byleth everything and nothing at the same time. He was thinking of someone dear to him, of that Byleth knew for certain.
He was tempted to think that he was thinking of Byleth’s mother, knowing that when he got an expression similar to that, Byleth would learn something new about his mother. He already knew that she loved flowers and life dearly. He knew that when his father and mother had met, Jeralt had not been the “charming, dashing, and rougishly handsome man that you see before you now” . Just as she had been “the strongest woman he had ever met, despite her weak constitution. No, in spite of her weak constitution” .
He knew that when his father would come back home to her after a particularly rough mission, she would bop him with the edge of whatever book she was reading at the moment, scolding him for getting into danger. Then she would read it aloud, lulling him to sleep. Byleth knew that once Jeralt regained consciousness, his mother would be waiting to hear every last detail of the mission. Because she lived for his storytelling, equal parts excited and worried whenever he had a new mission. He knew that he got his talent for magic, particularly for Faith and White magic, from her.
He knew that she died giving birth to him.
“Your mother… I met her here.” Jeralt said quietly. Byleth blinked at him, before looking around with renewed interest.
“Mother lived here?” a glance at his father, the small wince when he caught Byleth’s gaze, told him that yes, she did live here and so did he. Byleth gave a small shrug, attempting to let his father know that he didn’t mind that he was learning this now. The small relaxation of his eyebrows let Byleth know that his father understood and was grateful.
Going back to looking around, he saw a pot of flowers in multiple corners of the chamber. He could partially picture his mother doting on the flowers, a book in one hand and the other pruning the flowers. He could see her scolding his father as he gave his report, dismissing his troupe as they were outside the entrance hall. He could see his father watching her as she read a book in the informal dining hall.
His eyes stung slightly and he blinked quickly, allowing his magic to wash over his eyes and push back the prickling sensation. His father’s groan broke him out of whatever he had been about to imagine next.
“I’m forced to see her again.” Byleth tilted his head to the side and Jeralt sighed, shaking his head, “The archbishop, Lady Rhea. She was watching us as we stepped into the market. Didn’t you see her?” Byleth shook his head.
“I was taking in everything else. Cataloging the different shops in the market.” He had felt eyes on him, but it was more of a sweeping gaze, easier to ignore when many in the market were staring at them.
“Of course you were.” Jeralt chuckled and Byleth answered with a small smile of his own, one that was slightly bigger than his nonexistent one, which Jeralt immediately took notice of. There was a slight tinge in his chest as Jeralt’s own small smile became slightly larger and more bewildered. He opened his mouth to speak and Byleth quickly spread more magic through his chest. Before Jeralt could say anything, Byleth heard the audience chamber doors open again. Byleth glanced at the man and woman walking through the doors and heard a gasp in his head.
The man had green hair, eyes, and goatee with a gold circlet resting on his forehead. He was outfitted in a dark blue overcoat that reached his calves with embroidery on the shoulders and cuffs, pale blue trousers, dark boots, a white belt with a large insignia, and a larger belt of sorts with keys and quills. The man gazed at Byleth and Jeralt passively, no recognition lighting his eyes, though he flicked his gaze back on Byleth before long. His body language marked him as not particularly at ease, strict but not stubborn, ready to speak and listen. Very formal.
The woman had pale green hair that fell to her waist and curled at the end. She wore a form fitting white long dress with a blue and tawny design traveling down the middle, a blue shawl with a large bronze clasp, and a very ornate headdress. She held herself very regally and had a small, serene smile as she gazed at them. Her eyes kept flitting to Byleth, as if looking for something. Her body language was very relaxed but not at all in a civilian way. Questioning. Ready.
This woman was a warrior, perhaps longer than the man at her side.
Extreme danger. Do not engage unless necessary.
Blinking away his assessment, he made sure to give a very standard bow to the both of them, noticing his father not doing so but easily understanding why.
“Hello, my name is Seteth, the advisor to the Archbishop. I must thank you for your patience.” the man said as they moved in front of them. Jeralt nodded stiltedly
“It has been quite some time, hasn’t it Jeralt? About twenty years and you haven’t even written. Though, I can see that the goddess has blessed you with a child.” the woman, who Byleth assumed must be Lady Rhea, stated, even her voice was serene.
“Ah, yes. This is Byleth. His mother, unfortunately, has passed.” Jeralt winced and Byleth watched the two of them, consciously not letting his gaze fall to his father. Seteth’s body shifted and Byleth could see that he understood it on a personal level. Lady Rhea seemed to soften, however, he could see the slight suspicion in her eyes, even as she nodded.
“Of course. With every life, a death makes its way to us. It is an unfortunate balance but I am glad that you were able to be blessed despite it.” Even Byleth winced at the softly spoken words, but she powered on, her eyes locking onto him, “As for you, I have heard Alois’ report and you have my deepest thanks for all the help that you have provided to the students.”
“Ah, it was nothing.” Byleth shrugged watching her smile at him. She turned her attention back to Jeralt.
“Jeralt, you must already know what I am going to ask, yes?” Jeralt let out an imperceptible sigh and nodded.
“You want me to rejoin the Knights of Seiros, yeah? I won’t say no, but…” Some of the softness in Lady Rhea’s eyes hardened and her eyes narrowed slightly.
“Your apprehension stings, Jeralt. I had hoped that you would have been asked by Alois.” The small change in his stance, leaning on his left leg and more tension entering his right leg and back. He felt slightly threatened but not enough to lash out. His reluctance was starting up again but he would ultimately give in. Judging by the softening of Lady Rhea’s eyes, she also knew this.
“I must go now, however I am reluctant. Though, the other professors will want to speak with you, Byleth.” Byleth blinked, “Until tomorrow.” With that, Rhea swept out of the room, with Seteth in tow, and Byleth gazed at his father as the doors were closed behind them.
“What did she mean?” Byleth questioned, watching the tension leave his father’s body and a small bit of concern color his face.
“Apparently, the nobles were out there with a candidate for professor here. Turns out, he was one of the first to go.” Byleth nodded dejectedly,
“And that means, since you will be joining the Knights of Seiros, the mercs will become a battalion, and I will become what? A professor here?” Jeralt nodded along with his points and fixed him a gaze at his last point. He shrugged his shoulders and crossed his arms.
“I don’t really know. I told Alois that it was very unlikely that you would accept being a professor, A weapons instructor was more your speed. Seeing you spar with the nobles helped that. I just thought that he would-” Jeralt cut himself off as the doors opened again and three people walked in. Two men, one old and one young, and a woman.
The older man had a monocle on his right eye and was dressed in clothes the same grey as his hair. A grey suit was underneath a grey overcoat with a dark grey, overstuffed, shawl lapel. The younger man had a mask covering the upper half of his face and pale blonde hair that was pulled back by a dark ribbon. His right arm had a pauldron and he wore a loose tan and red tunic over a tight, black, long sleeve undershirt. The woman had a brown bob and very revealing clothes. She was glaring at the older man with her arms crossed underneath her breasts.
“Hanneman, I will not tolerate…” the woman trailed off as she saw Byleth and Jeralt, both of whom raised an eyebrow at the three who entered.
“Ah, you must be the new candidate. My, strong you look.” Byleth blinked at the quality of her voice getting raspy as she swept her gaze over Jeralt. Before Byleth could send his magic out to check on the woman, the blonde man sighed.
“Manuela, please. That is the Blade Breaker himself. Even you must have listened when we were told he would be rejoining the Knights of Seiros.” the older man stated, gazing at Manuela, confusedly. She glared at him and opened her mouth, no doubt about to argue, before Jeralt cleared his throat and caught their attention.
“He’s right. This one right here is the candidate. Now, if you can excuse me, I need to be going.” Jeralt nodded to all three professors and turned to Byleth.
“Keep an eye out for Rhea. I don’t know what exactly she has planned, but it usually isn’t anything good.” Byleth nodded to the whispered message and watched as his father maneuvered himself around the three professors. Manuela watched him, an odd expression on her face and her eyes seemingly smoldering. The blonde watched him with interest that Byleth often saw on sparring partners before the battle and the older man watched Jeralt leave, curiously.
Once the doors were closed, Byleth blinked as he was suddenly the center of attention.
“So, you’re the new candidate. How young.” Manuela said and Byleth nodded.
Though he didn’t know his exact age, he knew that he was either nineteen or twenty. Definitely younger than Manuela and the older man, maybe around the same age as the third professor though.
“Age does not correlate to competence, Manuela. As both yourself and young Jeritza here can attest.” The older man, Byleth deduced as Hanneman, stated as Jeritza rolled his eyes and Manuela huffed. She sent Hanneman a glare before giving Byleth a smile.
“Well, shall we get started on introductions?” She questioned, glancing around. When no one moved to start, she sighed and locked eyes with Byleth. “I am Manuela. I’m a professor, a physician, a songstress, and available… It’s nice to meet you.” She stuck her hand out, in a similar way to he has seen many unmarried noble girls do in the Alliance territory and he blinked in confusion for a moment. As the seconds ticked by, he could tell that Manuela was getting frustrated by the small twitched in her outheld hand and just before she was about to pull her hand back, he grabbed it gently and nodded his head close to their joined limbs, moving into a small bow. He dropped her hand and saw disappointed amusement in her eyes.
“And I am Hanneman, a crest scholar and professor here. I do wonder if you bear a crest of your own. I have heard many rumors of the Ashen Demon and the Blade Breaker having crests. Surely if you do, I will be the one to investigate it. It is only natural that you are to take into consideration all things that are available to you. Maybe I can inform you of more-” Hanneman was cut off from his ramblings as Jeritza sighed loudly and Byleth blinked blankly.
“I am Jeritza, neither professor nor weapons instructor. That is up to you.” Jeritza introduced, slow, concise, and void of emotions. Byleth nodded.
“Thank you for the introductions. I am Byleth and I would greatly prefer being a weapons instructor, if it is no problem for you.” Byleth watched Jeritza and took in the body language of the three in front of him as he waited for affirmation or rejection.
Jeritza held himself loosely, leaning forward slightly. Fast on his feet. His hand was curled slightly as his side, as if grasping something that wouldn’t drag on the ground at his waist. Swordsman. Eyes assessing blankly, constantly looking for openings while the other hand had some slight discoloration around the tips of his fingers. Knows magic, most likely Black or Dark. Mortal Savant,class as a possibility.
Manuela held herself close to herself. She said she was a physician and he could tell that in the way that she was cataloguing everything around her. She was also leaning more on the fronts of her feet. She was most likely quick on her feet. He could also see the possibility of her wielding a sword. Possible class is a Trickster or Bishop. He couldn’t see her as a Holy Knight with the way she held herself.
Hanneman was very much solid in his stance as he gazed at him. His stare was too analytical and assessing to be something that required more impulse so Warrior, Brawler, or Paladin was unlikely. Though that didn’t take out the possibility of being mounted. He also didn’t have the light footedness needed for swords so that was out as well. He was sturdy but more so in the decisive way, not the fortress knight way. Archer, Warlock, or Dark Knight were the most probable classes that he knew at the moment.
Just as he finished sizing them up, Jeritza spoke.
“You may become the weapons instructor, if you can beat me in a duel, Ashen Demon.” Jeritza sounded a little more excited than when he last spoke. Byleth caught his eyes and saw the very real excitement blaring at him, though it seemed dulled.
“That is fine.” Byleth said and Manuela and Hanneman rolled their eyes as a smile broke across his face.
“Excellent. Tomorrow, we will meet in the training grounds and we can see if you have what it takes.” Jeritza left quickly, seemingly overwhelmed. Manuela and Hanneman sighed as they turned to leave, though Hanneman turned just before they both reached the doors.
“It is good to have you aboard, Byleth. I do hope you take me up on my offer to see if you have a crest.” Byleth nodded and Hanneman was out the door. Byleth took a deep breath and looked around, remembering his father saying that his mother used to live here.
As he took a step towards the door, he was suddenly pulled into himself. Staring at Sothis, who seemed very alert and maybe concerned, Byleth blinked, wondering what was wrong.
“Byleth, you just met some of my children.” Sothis seemed to rush to get those words out and Byleth blinked at her, tilting his head. Her children, meaning direct descendants of the goddess.
Chapter 4: Byleth V.S Jeritza | I Offer My Body
Byleth has a "friendly" battle with Jeritza, learns about his students as they learn about him, talks to Sothis about things, and offers his body.
Byleth contemplated what exactly his life has come to in the past day to be staring across the training grounds towards Jeritza. Just yesterday, he had been waking up before traveling to the Holy Kingdom. Now, however, he was facing off against a clearly battle-hungry man in order to become the weapons instructor to some nobles. Just yesterday, he could easily say that he had only wanted to return to Morfis of all places and generally did not care where else he ended up. Now, he wanted to stay here, in this monastery.
Just to learn more about his mother.
Heaving a silent sigh, Byleth tapped his dagger twice before rolling his shoulders and allowing them to relax more than they previously were. Jeritza stood on the other side of the arena with a sword, a rapier, held loosely. Byleth had opted for a wo dao. He had labeled Jeritza as a Mortal Savant, thinking of the chance that he knew magic and Byleth let his own magic cover the arena. He let it skim over all the students and the staff in the area, knowing that no matter the outcome of the match, getting an idea of the potential of his students was crucial. Unsurprisingly, his magic picked up on the potential from a majority of the staff, not so much from many Knights of Seiros, but Byleth could tell through the light and warm feeling that many of them let flow freely, they specialized in Faith and White magic.
On the other hand, many of the students, about half, had been using magic regularly or had the potential of using magic proficiently. It was always odd, Byleth realized, feeling the untapped potential for magic. To Byleth, it seemed like a sort of block was up against the pool of magic that caused much of what would be used to go forgotten. That was a problem that Byleth himself had faced before going to Morfis. He had thought that his magical core was small and that his training in magic would simply do more to hurt him or others around him, as it had before.
However, in order to get through to that, to get to what the people of Morfis had called a budding talent, you just had to have someone you trust break down that barrier. If someone tried to force it on you, the magic would lash out, burning up your core and making it painful to pull upon that magic. To make matters worse, once that barrier was torn down, you would begin to use magic unconsciously, causing a constant pain that will easily lead to magical burns or magical exhaustion. Once it was opened, you would have to refine it or cause yourself pain and put the others around you in danger.
The one who opened it by force also was not in the clear, because from the recipient’s magic getting opened forcefully, their magic would latch onto the one who opened it and tear into them. Unrefined magic was very volatile and if a foreign, unrefined magic were to enter the core of another person, then it would cause burns to their core as well. It could even mingle with the opener’s own magic and cause a disruption in their mastery of their own magic. It would make the magic unreliable to call upon and-
Byleth snapped to attention when someone stepped onto the training grounds. He quickly pulled in his magic, taking a chance to allow his magic to roave over his opponent and getting the slight tinge of magic tipped with a heavy feeling of death. So his opponent knew both Dark and Black magic while leaning more towards thunder based magic. As his magic returned to him, he took a look at the person who entered the arena and barely withheld a flinch at the sight of Rhea.
“Seiros.” his mind supplied. He sensed the movement in his head and heard the despondent sigh as Seiros looked at him.
“Seiros. You damned child. What has happened over the years for that look to appear in your eyes.” Byleth took in the glint of something in her eyes at Sothis’ statement and furrowed his eyebrows as she smiled. He was about to ask Sothis what she meant when Seiros raised her arm and forced a calm over the area. Small conversations that Byleth had not paid any particular attention to had ceased and the silence sounded more grating with the immediate cut off.
“Thank you all for arriving so promptly and on such short notice to this duel. I would absolutely adore it if the students would pay close attention to the duel since one will become the weapon instructor and the other may be your homeroom teacher.” Her eyes crinkled with the pleasant smile she aimed at the students, all of whom sat with their classes. Behind him, in the stands Dimitri and the Blue Lions were on the left most side, Edelgard and the Black Eagles were on the right most side, and Claude sat with his Golden Deer in between the two.
“Jeritza von Hrym.” As Seiros called for him, Jeritza stood straighter and strode forward, stopping only when he was a few meters away from her.
“Byleth Eisner.” Byleth quickly closed the distance between himself and Jeritza, standing equidistant from him and Seiros. He glanced at the green haired woman and tapped his dagger, allowing his finger to drag along the hilt.
“Do you both agree to the tournament rules set into place?” They both nodded.
“Do you both agree to fight with all you have, to hold nothing back?” Nod again, though Jeritza’s looked more desperate.
“Do you both agree to stop once the other has been incapacitated, whether through unconsciousness or inability to pick themselves back up?” Byleth nodded and watched as Jeritza hesitated for five seconds before nodding as well.
“Excellent. Well then. As soon as I step out of this arena, you may begin.” Seiros smiled at them both, though Byleth still could not decipher that look in her eyes as she stared at him. She turned and strode towards the edge of the arena. Byleth looked Jeritza in the eye and watched as a struggle appeared to happen in them. He had seen something like madness and bloodlust in him warring with a calm and calculating side that put him on edge. However, no matter which would win over, Jeritza did not lose eye contact with him, a smile slowly getting larger on his face. Out his peripheral, he saw Seiros get to the edge of the arena, Jeritza tensed slightly, the rapier in his hand clinking against the stone of the ground while Byleth relaxed more, resting the wo dao against his shoulder. One foot out of the arena, their eyes narrowed at each other. The second foot out the arena and they dashed towards each other.
Byleth ducked immediately, allowing the rapier to soar over his head and he stuck the ground, planting his swords in one of the many divots in the ground to strike backwards with an elbow. Jeritza let out a small grunt but did not move so Byleth pulled his arm back towards himself and planted his weight on his sword as he kicked backwards. As his foot connected with the masked man’s abdomen, Byleth let his magic form on the bottom of his foot, silently casting an Aura and allowing that to push the man ten meters away. Byleth quickly pulled his sword from the ground and flipped backwards as he turned to face Jeritza.
The rapier swiped at his back and Byleth winced as Jeritza jabbed further, the tip just nicking his lower back. His wo dao swiped at Jeritza and his opponent easily leaned away from him, the sword hitting nothing. A small smirk tinged with madness greeted Byleth as he took in his face.
“I got first blood.” The normally exhausted, emotionless voice was barely concealing excitement.
“Hm” Byleth hummed, holding his sword loosely over his chest.
Good reflexes in getting away from swords, close up is where he gets distracted.
Byleth swung his blade and watched as Jeritza flitted away, his rapier immediately coming up and hitting the blade away. Byleth hummed again as he took in the way the masked man moved. He was indeed light on his feet and was very comfortable with his blade. The extra milliseconds that it took to swing the sword mattered greatly to him rather than brawling. He hasn’t used magic yet but the slight singes on the tips of his fingers as well as Byleth’s own magic allowed him to know that Jeritza used magic regularly enough to be proficient.
Byleth let his magic coat the ground under him and struck out with his wo dao again, angling towards the other’s legs. Jeritza quickly batted the blade away and Byleth didn’t think, just acted, allowing his leg to strike out as he spun with his blade. A soft gasp accompanied his calf making contact with Jeritza’s side as he pumped more magic into the ground, allowing some of it to coat his blade as the metal scraped against the stone. His blade caught fire as sparks followed his blade’s movement against the ground. Following through with his momentum, barely pausing as Jeritza spun around his leg in an attempt to not fly away like his earlier attack, Byleth swung his sword out at Jeritza, willing his fire to strike out at the man as well.
Byleth raised an eyebrow, impressed, as the blonde bent over backwards to dodge the flame coated blade and struck out with his own blade, slicing Byleth’s leg as one hand steadied himself on the stone and the other snaked between his legs to strike. Byleth brought his injured leg up, pulling his magic with him and watching as the light of a Nosferatu struck out at the man, and Byleth felt a wave of relief as his wounds closed. Jeritza quickly flipped himself over, bringing up his sword in an attempt to slice Byleth’s torso but he stumbled, his grip loosening just enough for Byleth to strike out again, connecting his wo dao with the rapier and wrenching it from the blonde’s grip.
The blade flew into the air and Byleth pulled out his dagger, getting in close to Jeritza and swiping at his chest. The man, however, did not look up for his sword, instead he simply grabbed the blade of the wo dao and ducked under the dagger, dragging the wo dao to the ground. Jeritza struck out with an open palm, hitting Byleth in his solar plexus and elbowed the blade into one of the lines in the ground. The pressure behind the open palm and the force put upon his sword both winded and grounded him, respectively. Letting go of the sword and taking a breath as he stepped back, Byleth allowed his magic to come up around the man, invisible except for the slight shimmer of the man’s form as it took root around him.
Byleth quickly let his magic to form around himself and struck out with his dagger just before it could fully encase him. Jeritza seemingly caught on at the last second and pulled up and away from Byleth but was too late. The blade swiped across the masked man’s face, chopping off a length of his bangs and drawing a long line from his ear to his chin. Blood immediately welled up on the blade and on the masked man’s face, the grin on his face growing wider at the pain. Jeritza opened his mouth to speak just as Byleth allowed his magic to fully form around himself and Jeritza. He heard gasps from the stands but paid them no mind as the rapier started it’s descent. Byleth forced his arm up to catch the rapier and as it touched his fingers, he wrapped his magic around the sword as well.
Jeritza looked around, confused, as Byleth silently stalked around him. He tilted his head at the blonde, scuffing his shoe behind him to test and smiling slightly when Jeritza made no indication that he noticed. Byleth let himself feel how much of his magic was still on the ground and around the arena and figured that he could probably cast two more spells into the ambient area. With a nod to himself, he braced himself and put the sword at his side, recalling the training he got as a swordsman. He hadn’t developed this move, had been nowhere near creating this move, but it was something that he perfected with his magic and talent with the sword. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes for a few moments. He allowed his magic to form duplicates of him in the area, still shrouded by his magic, and formed a star around Jeritza.
Byleth allowed the last of his magic in the ambient area to form wind around him, letting the magic surrounding him to be swept up in it. Immediately, Jeritza’s head swivelled around, taking in the duplications of Byleth and could only open his mouth before Byleth struck out, his duplicates following his lead. He felt the blade cut the man’s right arm. One of his duplicates aiming for his left, another for his legs, a third for his abdomen and the other stopping before it sliced through his neck, it’s chest flush with Jeritza’s back. The wind that was coating Byleth and his duplicates caused many small cuts to litter the blonde’s body as well, Jeritza’s body seizing up under the sudden onslaught of pain to his nerves. Byleth flicked the rapier to the side, watching balefully as the blood was spread across the ground. He turned around and raised an eyebrow at the absolutely mad grin that greeted him.
“Surrender.” Byleth said simply, sheathing his dagger and resting the rapier on his shoulder, watching as three of the four duplicates did the same.
“I am not yet incapacitated, am I.” Jeritza said it more as a statement and Byleth tilted his head, allowing his magic to dissipate around him, three of the duplicates dismissing and he sat down, looking up at Jeritza.
“You are.” he stated as he sat the rapier at his side, leaning back to rest on his hands, idly letting the last duplicate go. As soon as it disappeared, Jeritza surged forward, only to hit an invisible wall two meters from Byleth. He glanced at Byleth with confusion and Byleth tilted his head to the side once again, calling upon the magic surrounding Jeritza and pooling it into the man’s head, wincing as the man let out a loud yell before collapsing onto himself. He looked over to the side where Seiros stood and withstood a shudder as he saw a more concealed madness in her eyes. She smiled widely at him and stepped into the arena, her face mellowing out as she faced everyone else.
“It seems that Jeritza is out of commission. That means the victory and title as weapons instructor goes to Byleth Eisner.” Byleth barely listened as he was applauded by the students and staff alike, instead pushing his magic onto Jeritza once more and casting a Recover over him, mainly his head.
Seiros stepped up to him and placed a hand on his shoulder, leaning in closely. He fought the urge to lean back and met her intense gaze head on.
“I knew it when I first saw you…” Seiros whispered, fervently and Byleth blinked as she turned and waved at the staff, stepping out of the arena and the training grounds as a whole. The staff and Knights of Seiros followed sedately, congratulating him as they passed, two of the Knights picked up Jeritza and brought him out as well. Seteth -Cichol- barely glanced at him, however, he did incline his head at Byleth when he passed. When the last of the staff left the training grounds, that is when Byleth finally allowed his body to tense up slightly before relaxing minutely.
Byleth stretched slightly as he heard the rapid footsteps of multiple people. He looked to the side and saw Dimitri approaching him with a boy around the same age with dark blue hair in a bun and burnt orange eyes. He seemed to be appraising Byleth with excitement and determination, a look that Dimitri mirrored. Slightly behind him was Claude with a girl that he had to know just from the descriptions that Jeralt gave. Leonie Pinelli had cropped orange hair and equally bright orange eyes. A bit further away, Edelgard was walking with a tall teen with dark green hair covering his right eye but the left was pale yellow.
Byleth huffed as he greeted the six of them with a wave, noticing the rest of the students looking eager to approach as well but seemingly trying not to overwhelm him.
“I want to battle.” The dark haired, Blue Lion said and Byleth blinked up at him.
“Felix! You shouldn’t simply ask him that after he put on such a show with professor Jeritza… However, I would also like that, Professor.” Dimitri seemed to flush by the end of his statement and Byleth gave him a small smile.
“Of course, I will battle you both. Though now may not be the most opportune of times for me. And please, you may still call me Byleth.” he rolled his shoulders and stretched out his legs, checking for anything that his hasty Nosferatu did not recover.
“Well, well, who knew you had it in you By. If that’s how you play before getting to the main course, I’ll gladly play with you whenever you want.” Claude seemed to be scanning him from head to toe, something hungry and curious in his gaze. Byleth turned the smile on him and watched as the boy seemed slightly mesmerized for a second before closing off slightly. The rather empty smile was back but the curiosity in his gaze remained.
“Of course the child of Jeralt would be nothing but impressive. We should also battle sometime, see how well you measure up to Jeralt’s greatest apprentice.” Leonie stated, staring down at him in challenge, her hands on her hips. Byleth nodded.
“I would very much like that, Leonie.” He ignored the surprise on her face as he turned to face Edelgard, while also ignoring the muttered ‘ he really did talk about me? ’ that Leonie muttered. Edelgard’s eyes roamed over Byleth while the man beside her stared at him impassively.
“Very interesting. Are you sure you don’t want to lend your power to the Adrestian army?” Byleth shook his head and she huffed but looked amused.
“Very well then.” with that, she turned and walked back to the rest of the Black Eagles. Claude spared her a glance before dropping down next to Byleth and throwing an arm around his shoulders. Byleth watched a smirk form on his lips and felt the urge to sigh.
“So, By, would you be so welcoming to let me know where you learned all that magical application? Fódlan isn’t so keen on doing the things you do with it so you must have learned it somewhere else.” Claude leaned close, whispering the last bit and Byleth blinked at him.
“It was in Morfis.” He answered. He had always been honest with where he acquired his skills. He didn’t feel the need to hide any of his skills away and it wasn’t a matter of being overly confident in them. Rather, Jeralt never hid any skills that he had and considering that Byleth had learned a majority of what he knew from his father, he also didn’t feel the need to hide them. Claude, however, looked shocked and as Byleth looked around, seeing that Felix and Leonie had also left back to their respective classes, Dimitri also looked shocked.
“You learned your magic in the City of Illusions? The Metropolis of Magic?” Dimitri asked, his voice trembling slightly and Byleth blinked up at him, tilting his head.
“Yes. I did tell you that I have traveled all over, haven’t I? Of course I would pick up on some of the things there. In fact, an old Swordmaster is the one who taught me and helped me improve upon Astra.” He looked up, thinking of the old swordmaster who taught him Astra and their warlock partner who had been the one to suggest he did as the people of Morfis did and add their own magic to it.
“It was… such a long time ago. I wonder how they are.” Byleth sighed, shrugging off Claude’s arm and getting to his feet, hoping he sent the Alliance noble an apologetic smile as he wiped off his clothes.
“I’m sorry. I must get to my quarters. Now that I am certain that I am to be the weapons instructor, I must come up with lessons that will be enough for everyone to handle. Please, excuse me.” Byleth bowed and left, sending a wave to the rest of the students as he left the training grounds. Unfortunately, he didn’t see the calculating look that Claude gave him, nor the assessing look Edelgard pinned on him, or the understanding look in Dimitri’s eyes.
As soon as he left the training grounds, he let out a sigh and barely flinched as Sothis appeared in front of him, her feet floating, crossed at the knees as if she was sitting.
“That Seiros… She has always been possessive of things she considered hers. I didn’t think that she would try to stake a claim on you so soon, however.” Byleth frowned, looking at her, he recalled their talk the day before.
“Byleth, you just met some of my children.” Sothis seemed to rush to get those words out and Byleth blinked at her, tilting his head. Her children, meaning direct descendants of the goddess.
“You must know that it is mainly Seiros that is my child. At least, she is directly of my blood. Cichol, however, has remnants of my blood in his body. I do wonder where exactly Cethleann is for him to be here, however. He never would let her out of his sight, even if it was to be under my own superior sight. Ugh, that boy.” Byleth was still processing that apparently the two green haired people, since who else could it be and the two definitely does have a resemblance to Sothis, were her children. Fortunately, his mind snapped back to him and took in the goddess’ words.
“Seiros? Cichol? Cethleann? Aren’t two of those part of the Four Saints and the other is the leader of the main religion?” Byleth questioned her, allowing his legs to collapse beneath him and sit on the ground, staring up at the throne with the muttering goddess. She stopped as soon as he spoke and turned to him.
“I don’t know what exactly you mean by the Four Saints, but Seiros is the one who introduced herself as Rhea and the same can be said for Cichol in regards to Seteth. Cethleann is the daughter of Cichol. That man was just the touch overprotective of her, but then again, he always had to compete with Maquil and Indech for her affections. Such a doting father, that one.” Sothis began her rambling and Byleth sighed as he looked down. He would let her get it out of her system.
It was after ten more minutes of rambling that she finally sighed and practically fell onto her throne.
“Byleth. About the other thing I wanted you to do. I want to change that.” Byleth nodded and looked up at her.
“What is it?” She stared at him, looking him in the eye. He stopped any fidgeting that he had started unconsciously and maintained eye contact.
“I… I want your body.” Byleth blinked at her and couldn’t resist tilting his head at her.
“In order for me to fully figure out what exactly is going on. What exactly happened to me and why there is such a large gap in my memory from when I last slept to when we met, I have to speak to them.” She started down the stairs of the throne and stopped just before him.
“As you are now, your body will not fully stand against the power of my soul. My body was connected intrinsically to my soul and so it grew as my soul grew. However, with your body, your soul grows in tandem with it. There is no doubt that your body is compatible with my soul but it still needs to grow. Your magical core, your physical body, your mental state. They all have to be at peace and of sufficient sustainability to withstand the change.” she reached out and hesitated before touching him, dropping her hand to her side and sighing as she turned her head.
“Of course, I will not force it upon you. It would have the same effect of a magical burnout. I expect to earn your trust and-”
“I just have to strengthen myself to help you?” Byleth questioned and Sothis’ head snapped to face him again, her eyes wide and bemused. She opened her mouth a few times before the sound finally got free.
“You… you would do that?” her voice was shaky and her hands trembled at her side. Byleth shrugged but did not touch Sothis.
“I feel like I should and you should know, I always listen to my instincts.” Byleth smiled at her and she looked away, taking a deep breath before facing him head on, her eyes determined.
“Fine. Well, hop to it! Start training!” She turned and raced up the stairs. He watched her, the smile dimming slightly but staying on his face, albeit a little more sad, withdrawn. He turned himself and was about to leave when he heard a sniffle and the mumble of Sothis.
“Thank you.” he knows that he wasn’t meant to hear that, so he kept quiet and left, only later, when he was in his bed for the night that he acknowledged it all.
“She tried to stake a claim on me?” Byleth questioned and Sothis looked up at him, waving her hand idly.
“She would try but it would never work. Even with just my soul, your body and soul are deeply connected with my own. She would sooner tear out her heart than to harm what could possibly be her mother’s remains… which means she knows of it… Ugh, I need to get to your body quickly so that I can figure this out.” Sothis sighed and Byleth inclined his head as he headed to his quarters.
Sothis was silent as he walked towards the main hall, heading up the stairs to the staff dormitory. As he stepped foot in front of his door, she floated ahead to stop him. Though he could do so, he didn’t like the thought of walking through her.
“Are you sure you are okay with me getting your body? I know I want to help you but there are too many questions. Too many gaps to be filled. I simply must know and stating so myself to Seiros will surely get the results faster. It’s just I don’t want you to think-”
“Sothis.” she stopped as Byleth said her name and he gave her another withdrawn, sad smile.
“You know how I have felt for all my life, correct?” she nodded.
“You know that I never fully felt that this life was my own.” she nodded again.
“You remember what I said yesterday.” a hesitant nod.
“Always.” she whispered and he smiled.
“So believe it when I say you can have this body. If we are truly connected, then you already know the thing I desire.” she nodded again, slowly, shakily.
“Of course.” she stared at him and returned his smile, albeit a more fragile version.
“Always.” Byleth repeated, firmly and reached out to his door, allowing Sothis to fade.
Because he always means what he says.