Part 1: White Clouds
What Lies Beneath
"Has anyone seen Byleth?!" Hellen asked, after healing Jacob of his injuries.. It was midnight and they had just been involved in an ambush from a rival mercenary company who saw them as a threat to potential clients. Unfortunately, they vastly underestimated how effective the group actually were in combat. But that didn't mean that they escaped unharmed. Jacob got a gash in his arm as he watched Hellen heal him and sighed loudly looking at his sleeve stained with his blood.
"Damn it I just got this thing repaired…"
"Oh, quit being a baby!" Hellen scolded batting him on the head. "Better your clothes than your head!"
"Ow!, Well, I won't have a head for long if you keep hitting me!"
"Everyone okay?" Jeralt called out, cleaning his blade. "Sound off!"
"Present!" Hellen said as she finished off healing Jacobs arm as he rotated it to make sure it was still functioning properly.
"Yeah, I'm here, boss."
"Over here!" John yelled, tending to his Wyvern and cleaning her scales which had other people's blood on her.
"Here!" Floyd said, cleaning his weapon but then remembered what Hellen was saying. "Hey, where's the kid?"
The healer froze in place and quickly stood up as if remembering her earlier question, knocking Jacob to the ground in the process and ran up to Jeralt.
"Where's Byleth?! She was with us, wasn't she?"
"Calm down, Hellen." Jeralt replied. "She can't have gotten far. And we didn't leave behind any survivors. Though it's strange. I could've sworn there were more attacking us…"
"Oh, but she must be afraid and alone out there!" Hellen yelled, clutching her hair and hyperventilating. "We need to find her before she gets hurt or hungry or lost or-"
"Uh, guys. I don't think we need to worry about that."
Everyone turned to John who slowly pointed towards a clearing and they all went over to him to check. And what they saw was something they would never forget.
There were piles of dead bodies everywhere. Some had their own weapons sticking out of them while others had third degree burns on their skin. Slashes on every part of their body, all with horrified expressions forever frozen in place. They looked like they were all trying to fight but ultimately went to run away and got killed that way too.
"Holy shit…" Jeralt muttered when he saw who was at the centre of it all.
In the middle of the pile of bodies was a little Byleth, now ten years old and was sitting cross legged on a stump with a blank expression. A carcass of a deer was in front of her and she was taking a bite out of the leg she took off and cooked with Ki. She clamped her jaw on the meat and tore it off before chewing and just staring in the distance with that same blank stare as her tail waggled behind her. She was covered in blood… but none of it was hers.
Jeralt slowly stepped over the corpses around him and made his way over to Byleth who was still gnawing away at the deer as she looked up with that blank stare while chewing her food.
"You okay, kid?"
She nodded. "I was hungry."
Back with the others, they were in complete disbelief at what they were looking at. They knew Byleth was special, but this?
"She really took down those mercs all by herself?" Hellen whispered, clinging to her staff suddenly feeling a little afraid at the little girl who was making small talk with her dad.
"Well… seems we were worried for nothing. Honestly, I almost feel bad for those guys." Jacob said, flicking a chunk of flesh off his boot. "Key word being almost. I was enjoying a nice drink…"
"Maybe we should let her finally join the group?" John suggested but got smack in the back of the head by Hellen.
"Are you crazy?! She's a child!"
"A child that just demolished a whole bunch of opponents and is sitting on a stump like it's a chill afternoon. I hate to admit it, but Byleth has potential. And it wouldn't hurt to have more help…" Floyd mumbled as they saw the father daughter duo come back and Hellen elbowed the men to shut them up.
"Well, first of all. Good work on defending the camp guys. We're all in one piece and there wasn't too much damage." Jeralt started.
"Except for my wine stash…" Jacob muttered but glares from everyone shut him up as Jeralt continued.
"Second of all, I've made the decision to elect Byleth here as our newest member."
"What?!" Hellen screeched. "She's a child!"
"Look around you, Hellen." Jeralt gestured to the corpses. "She did all of that. I know my daughter better than most and I think that she's ready. And you already know weapons can't hurt her, so it's fine."
He placed a hand on the healers shoulder and smiled. "I appreciate you looking out for her. And she will still need your assistance going forward. Isn't that right, kid?"
Byleth nodded and bowed. "I would your help in the future, Auntie Hellen."
Hellen was silent for a second or two before sighing and nodding back. "Alright kid. Just one thing. You ever get into a fight you can't win, you back out immediately, okay? I can heal physical wounds, but there's not much I can do when you're dead. You got that?"
"Nice! Let's celebrate our newest recruit then!" Floyd exclaimed. But Jeralt shook his head.
"First, we need to clean up around here and I have to get this blood out of Byleth. But yes, I think a drink is in order after all this. Alright you lot, get to work."
As he guided Byleth away, he made sure the others were out of earshot and he looked down at his daughter. "You alright, kid?"
She looked with that same look. That damn blank stare and tilted her head. "I'm fine father."
"…Good. Come on, let's get you cleaned up."
But he was still thinking to himself. He knew Hellen would put up a fuss to Byleth joining, but it was only a matter of time. Considering what part of her biology was, fighting was one of the few things that made her happy. And at her age, she was on par with him. Maybe this could help. Maybe Jeralt would see more emotion from her if he let her do what she loved.
Somehow, he doubted it. But he would do anything to see her smile properly.
Byleth blinked after being returned to reality and turned her head to look at Claude who was looking around in amazement. "You seeing this? A whole underground town! Who knew that something like this was beneath our noses?"
She looked over at her surroundings and had to admit. It was certainly an astonishing sight to behold. Especially considering how well hidden it was. It was like the town in Garreg Mach only a lot more dark and gloomy. Though despite the dark looking scenery, everyone seemed to be in high spirits. There were people chilling at a tavern enjoying a cold pint of beer, there was various merchants selling goods. Though they were a little too shady for the groups liking.
"And a secret fourth house to boot!" Claude exclaimed, starting to get giddy. "Secrets upon secrets, oh I'm just dying to know them all!"
But then he lowered his voice and spoke lowly in Byleth's ear. "I'm sure Rhea knows about this place. Gods, how many secrets does that woman have?"
That's what she wanted to know as well. There have been too many secrets being kept from her lately for her to just stand by and ignore. The fact that she only just recently found out that she was the dreaded Moon Beast still left a sour taste.
Of course Byleth understood why they kept it from her. But that didn't mean that all was forgiven. It meant that she always wondered what else was being kept from her. Is it possible that… they know about what she really is?
But she then saw Dimitri walking next to her as they kept exploring Abyss and honestly, she was thankful for the distraction. Too many emotions bubbling inside her. She hated it.
"What do you think, Professor? This is a most… unique town, is it not?"
Byleth nodded in agreement, as soon the group all split apart to explore other areas and Dimitri stayed with her. "Incredible really, that those who faced oppression on the surface are able to find sanctuary here."
She raised an eyebrow at him. "They shouldn't have had to face oppression to begin with."
Realising his blunder, Dimitri stammered and tried to explain himself. "Oh, not to say that there's no helping the situation in Fódlan. To do just that is our duty and honour."
But then he smiled softly and looked around the area again. "Even so, I find the idea… rather lovely."
Byleth smiled back and excused herself, feeling like having a drink as she walked over to the tavern and looked around for a place to sit and enjoy a hopefully, cool pint of beer. She decided to just head to the bar and talk to the bartender. Who knows, she might find something interesting here.
The bartender was wiping a mug and looked at her. "You're a bit too clean looking to be from around here. You must be with the group from the surface, right?"
"That's right. I'm Byleth Eisner."
"I know who you are." The bartender replied. "Every folk down here knows about you. Your little furry tail doesn't exactly hide you amongst the crowd. But anyway, what'll it's be?"
"…Biggest tankard you've got." Byleth mumbled, suddenly feeling a little annoyed that everyone in Abyss knew who she was. Her tail coiled round her waist, a sign of an old habit coming back. She liked who she was, truly she did. But there was only so many weird looks and whispers around her that she could take before it was too much.
'Sothis? You there? Dammit… she must still be asleep…'
So Byleth was truly alone for the time being. That's okay, it has been a while since it was truly just her. But unfortunately, while she was at a table sipping at her beer, that name came back.
The Ashen Demon.
Suddenly, a sharp pain shot through her head again and it gave way to another vision. Multiple in fact.
Different locations, different days, different nights, different people. But one thing was always the same.
Her students. The ones that she had taught, were dead by her hand and blade. And it was the version of Byleth with the green hair again, and with no emotion on her face as one of the visions showed Future Byleth standing over a bloodied Felix who was kneeling down, all his Ki drained as he closed his eyes awaiting the end.
"Dammit… I failed… just get it over and done with…"
Future Byleth raised her sword but the vision cut away before the blow was made, but Byleth knew what happened. She killed Felix. But why? What was happening in the future that would warrant her to be against her students?
But then she remembered. That other one. At that field. The three leaders at odds with each other. It was coming back to her.
That's when another student appeared. It was Hilda, who was laying on her back, blood leaking out her mouth as there was a massive gash in her chest. They were in a town with a port surrounded by the sea as Hilda propped herself up and stared at her wound.
"Guess… I'm just like Holst… aren't I? Professor… why? Why did you side with her? You're working with the same people who killed my brother!"
Future Byleth just stared with that same blank expression, but there was definitely sadness in her eyes as Hilda let out a shaky breath.
"It's been fun Claude… sorry to go… so soon…"
The scenery changed once more as Byleth clutched her head. Who did she side with? Who sparked this war?
"Years ago… we fought here as classmates… but not today…"
Who was it? Her head was getting cloudy. The visions were getting distant as the same voice echoed.
Byleth blinked as she looked up to see Edelgard standing there with a concerned look. "Is everything okay? You were spaced out for a while there and didn't respond to my voice."
"Yeah. Everything's fine. Just thinking about a lot of stuff."
Edelgard looked at the table then back to her teacher. "May I take a seat?"
Byleth just nodded and watched the Princess slide in the seat opposite her as she kept drinking.
"It's been an interesting development. I wonder how long this city has been around. Can't have been recent but then again, it can't have been around for a long time. What do you think, Professor?"
"I'm not too sure, if I am honest. Though, perhaps in the last couple of decades maybe? Either way, it is nice that these people have found a way to escape the horrors of the outside world. Though I wonder if there are things in here that aren't at Garreg Mach."
Edelgard nodded, but Byleth noticed she was thinking to herself. "Is everything okay? You seem like you want to say something."
"I do. There's something that was mentioned earlier that I can't seem to get my mind off of. I was hoping you could answer if you were comfortable about it."
"What's the question?"
Byleth noticed how uncomfortable Edelgard was now and tilted her head. "Is everything okay?"
"…Why did Yuri call you the Ashen Demon?"
…Ah. That's why. Edelgard felt the air change around as her as Byleth's eyes hardened. That's when she realised she may have messed up. "Professor, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have brought it up."
"No, no. It's okay. It's the first time you have heard me go by that title, it's only natural that you would be curious. I suppose I can give you a little insight into what went into that name."
But before Byleth could explain further, the two were interrupted by Dimitri and Claude who had both seem to have ran all the way there. Edelgard raised an eyebrow and wondered what got them in such a rush.
"Seems like there is something going down. You guys noticed the guards running about? They're preparing for something."
Byleth looked around and saw that Claude was right. Guards, as well as people who could fight were making their way over to somewhere. She slowly stood up and downed the rest of her beer before slamming it on the table as Dimitri looked in amazement.
"Incredible. I never get used to how much you can eat and drink."
But Byleth wiped her mouth of any stray liquid that ran down and nodded to the trio. "Let's go and investigate."
Claude grinned and Edelgard let out a smile as she stood up. "I believe we should ask Yuri about what is going on. Last time I saw him was in the residential area. He seems to hold a sort of command in Abyss."
"Then we shall ask what is going on." Byleth replied as she waved at the students to follow her. But Claude stayed at the back and whispered to Edelgard.
"Any luck finding out about the name?"
"I almost did until you two interrupted us!" She harshly whispered back. But Claude just held a sly grin.
"Oh, did we get in the way of private time with Teach?"
Edelgard's face flushed red and she looked away. "T-That has nothing to do with it!"
"Didn't hear a no."
"Ugh! You're so annoying!" She yelled stomping ahead and leaving behind a laughing Claude.
"Honestly, it shouldn't be funny anymore, but it always is."
At a entry point near the residential area, Yuri was talking to an Abyssian guard who was giving him the rundown. "We're all done here, boss. Oh, but more importantly, about your…"
But Yuri quickly silenced him when he sensed the surface dwellers approaching and nodded to the guard. "We'll discuss that another time. For now, tend to your mission. Don't worry, nobody will die. We'll get everyone out safely."
The guard made a noise that didn't match the confidence that Yuri had, but he just brushed it off and continued talking. "Once the trap is set, shift your focus to protecting the Abyssians, just in case things go south."
It was always good to have a backup plan just in case. Though Yuri was confident they wouldn't need it. But he did see Byleth and the others getting closer and he nodded to the guard who ran off to tend to his mission as Byleth raised an eyebrow.
"What was that about?"
"Ah, perfect timing." Yuri smirked. "I was just about to ambush our attackers. You'll help with that, won't you?"
"Oh! Does that mean your enemies are drawing near?" Dimitri asked and Yuri stepped forward and patted him on the head giving a condescending smile.
"Very good! And here I was worried the education system was being put to waste."
Dimitri was confused on what he meant by that but Edelgard just groaned and rubbed her temples. "Get to the point, please."
"Heh." Yuri smirked. "In any case, yes. The scouts I sent to the surface spotted some mercenaries. We closed off the entrance they used last, but unfortunately it seems that they found another."
Everyone liked at each other as Ashe spoke up with determination in his eyes. "This is bad! We need to evacuate everyone from Abyss as soon as possible!"
But Yuri just waved his hand dismissively and smirked again. "That won't be necessary. They'll be back soon."
Ashe was confused by that as was everyone else. But then Hapi, Constance and Balthus all showed up with Hapi having an annoyed look on her face. "Why do I have to go? No matter what we do, we're just gonna die in the end anyway."
The outsiders were a little stunned at her rather bleak outlook on life but Yuri just rolled his eyes, like he's heard it all before. "Sure. But if we do nothing, we'll die a lot sooner. I assume the corridor is successfully camouflaged?"
Constance giggled loudly and held a confident smirk. "But of course! Our decoys shall prevent those scoundrels from chancing upon our living quarters. Do note that I am the bait upon your hook. If we fail, I shall be left dangling in the wind."
But then she laughed loudly and pumped her fist. "But it must be done, I fear! And so, I will happily accept the starring role in this…"
Suddenly, Balthus walked up and cut off Constance, much to her sheer annoyance as she had worked hard on that little speech. But what he said next made her eyes harden.
"They're at the entrance. They'll be coming in from the east."
Yuri slowly nodded and thought to himself. "The east… good. We're well placed." He then turned to Balthus and instructed him further.
"Go ahead and draw them deeper into Abyss, just like we planned."
Byleth was now thinking to herself as she looked over at Yuri. "Why exactly are they targeting Abyss?"
He had a small frown on his face as he sighed. "I'd like to know that myself. But first things first, we got to make it through this encounter. But considering who we have with us, I feel like victory will be in the bag."
"But launching small counterattacks on the surface won't accomplish anything. It could also earn us the scorn of the Church if things get messy… which it will."
Yuri then shrugged. "But hey. We just got to lure them down here, take care of a few problems, job done. And like I said, since we have you guys on our side, it might just make this a whole lot easier."
"You keep saying on your side, but we never agreed to any of this." Edelgard said. "What's to stop us from just turning around and heading back to the Monastery?"
Balthus saw right through her bluff, however. "Admit it pals, You're knee deep in this, just like the rest of us. There's no turning back now, right?"
Ashe answered for Edelgard and had a determined look in his eyes. "Of course not! If there's any way we can help your cause, we won't turn our backs on you!"
"That's right!" Dimitri nodded. "We will not stand idly by while danger befalls the innocent people of Abyss."
Finally dropping her charade, Edelgard agreed also. "If we can capture the enemy, we can perhaps learn the reason behind their attacks."
"We'll fight by your side." Byleth said which caught the attention of Hapi.
"Excited, are you? Fine. We could use more bodies to throw at our enemies, thanks for volunteering."
"I'm glad we have such a positive outlook on the battle ahead." Claude grimaced.
"Eeeh, lighten up, Hapi! So long as they're fighting with us and not against us, I don't care how excited they are. Let's get to it!" Balthus yelled punching his fists together.
"Indeed. Let's get to it." Yuri repeated and motioned to everyone to follow him.
"Wow, an underground arena? You sure know some good spots Yuri."
It was certainly a sight to behold as Byleth marvelled at the size of it. It was certainly bigger than most fighting arenas she's been to. It seemed that the underground held more surprises than she thought. But maybe she could borrow this space sometimes for sparring matches after this was all done. She would hate to see it go to waste, after all.
"I heard about this place from someone back in town." Yuri explained and looked around. "Seems it hasn't been used in a while. But I figured it could be useful, so I spent some time clearing up the debris that was clogging the entrance."
Dimitri observed the structure of the arena and was impressed by how… new it felt. "It seems to be a revitalised ruin. Perhaps it was originally a reception hall or something similar."
"Perhaps." Edelgard agreed. "Honestly, all of Abyss feels like a ruin."
That's when she felt a headache coming on again when she heard a certain laughter ringing through the arena. "This place is magnificent! It is just spacious enough to contain my glory! I shall not hold back here!"
But Hapi was deep in thought as she surveyed the size of the place. "Large… isolated… I wonder if it would be okay for me to sigh here."
That caught Byleth's attention. Sigh? Was that a codeword for something? What was a big deal for her to sigh in a specific place. Balthus saw her confused look and explained to her.
"When Hapi sighs, monsters come running. No, I'm not kidding."
The outsiders all looked at each other confused as Edelgard spoke up. "I'm not sure I know what you could possibly mean by that…"
Yuri just shook his head, looking at his companion. "I wish, Hapi. But no. Absolutely no sighing. Hopefully, if we use our Ki smartly then it'll be a cinch. And Constance, be glorious in moderation. Understood? This place is so big that if it collapses, all of Abyss will go down with it."
He shot a look at the outsiders and narrowed his eyes. "That means don't go throwing Ki attacks all willy nilly. Down here, we play it smart. The whole reason we're luring our enemies down here is to avoid damaging Abyss. Don't lose sight of that."
"I am well aware of our aim!" Constance exclaimed.
"Of course, but I wasn't referring to you. Well, not just you." Yuri said, looking back at the newcomers.
"Why are we being singled out?" Edelgard asked, feeling a little offended. But Yuri just sighed.
"You're pretty powerful fighters. Like I said earlier, you're more experienced with Ki than we are, especially your teacher over there. But I know what happened in Faerghus a couple months back. A whole mountain, completely destroyed in the blink of an eye. That's something you should keep under wraps. Especially if Byleth happens to lose her temper."
"You watch your tongue." Edelgard growled.
Yuri sighed and shrugged. "Just… keep the Ki attacks simple and small. Can you at least do that?"
"But also don't hold back!" Balthus added.
"So… let me get this straight." Claude looked at his hand and started listing off what they have said. "We have to lower our Ki output, but also not hold back, but also make sure that we don't cause a cave in, but also fight off these mercenaries? I'm sorry but I did formulas in class that were less complex than this."
Byleth just sighed. "Look, it's simple. Remember your combat training. If anything, this serves as a good purpose. You can't rely on your Ki to get you through a battle, so there will be times, such as right now, where we must conserve and go to basic hand to hand. Or weapon to weapon."
"Glad you're so quick to understand." Yuri nodded, and then glanced at Constance. "If only other people were like that."
"Yeah, we can't exactly trust her to show restraint." Balthus muttered.
Constance gasped in shock and placed a hand on her chest, offended. "I cannot fathom why I am being treated in this manner! It is the duty of the nobility to preserve the people's safety. Do you truly believe I would destroy Abyss in my efforts to save it? Preposterous!"
"It'll cause trouble for Elfie too." Hapi muttered. "If Abyss collapses, he's the one who'll have to answer for it."
That name confused Byleth. "Who is Elfie? Is that someone who resides down here?"
"You must know Aelfric, yeah?" Balthus asked. "He's a big wig in the Church, but a friend of Abyss. He's the one who opened up this place to folks with nowhere else to turn. Folks like us. He's gave us a home, a new life."
"It was Aelfric himself that brought forth the idea of establishing the Ashen Wolf House." Constance continued. "He was the one who taught us how to use our Ki in the first place!"
Now this definitely caught everyone's attention, especially Byleth. So they had the name of the person who knew how to use this power. But the real question now was figuring out this man's intentions. Was he friend or foe? She didn't have any concrete evidence yet, so she decided to play along for the time being and she nodded at the other Ki users to do the same.
"I see… he must be a good man if he managed to do all of this. It would be a shame if all the work he did was brought to ruin."
Constance smiled. "Indeed! Sadly, he faces opposition in the Church and so he cannot deploy the Knights of Seiros to aid us."
"And so that means that Aelfric relies upon us to protect the people who live here." Yuri said. "Us… and now you. I hope you're ready, Ashen Demon. We're counting on you."
Byleth was about to tell him to stop calling her that… but then decided it wasn't worth it in the end. Yuri didn't seem like the kind of person to back off. A little too much like Claude. Thankfully, Hapi broke the tension.
"Seems like you're with us, now. We'll owe you one."
"Alright" Balthus punched his fists together. "Let's knock some heads! They picked the wrong strangers to mess with!"
Some time later, the massive arena was being illuminated by torches as a group of mercenaries made their way in. A scouting party. One of them nodded to another to light up the place to provide some coverage. He then yelled loudly as a skeleton fused into the wall gave him a fright.
"Dammit, I knew following those shady kids was a idea. This place is massive! Spread out! Find them!"
In a dark spot, Balthus laughed, peeking out of his hiding spot. "They actually fell for it. Let's get this done, huh?"
But before he could charge, Yuri stopped him. "Huh? Why are you-"
"Hold on, something isn't quite right." Yuri muttered. "Look at their weaponry. It's different from last time."
Balthus raised an eyebrow but looked closer and sure enough, there was something different about the weapons they were carrying.
"Are they… enchanted? With magic? Hmm, this might be tougher than we fought. If they have that then we need to be careful."
On the other side, Byleth gritted her teeth. "Dammit, it's like everywhere I go there's those damn enchanted weapons."
She turned around and nodded to the rest. "I hope that I don't have to explain what happens if one hits you, right?"
"Believe us, Professor. We are more than aware." Edelgard said. She was carrying a steel axe for now in order to conserve Ki while Dimitri formed a lance and nodded.
"It's time. We will banish those who dare trespass upon these grounds."
He ran ahead while Byleth looked a little concerned. Dimitri seemed different, but she couldn't put her finger on it. But she nodded to the rest and told her plan. "Linhardt. Stay at the back. We will need you for healing."
"You don't have to tell me twice."
"Claude, stick with Linhardt. Protect him and make sure he doesn't try to nap."
"Can do, Teach." Claude grinned, giving a two fingered salute.
"Well there goes my plan…" Linhardt sighed.
"The rest of you, with me." Byleth finished. "We will regroup with Yuri and the others."
With that, everyone charged forward as Yuri and his group met up with Byleth and the students.
"Other mercenaries are on their way. We left a nice little trail of crumbs for them to follow. We'll need to take them all out or else they'll just keep coming. Let's pull together and do this."
"Wait! I hear voices! Those brats are here somewhere!" One mercenary yelled but screamed in agony once Dimitri impaled him with his lance and slammed him down onto the ground before pulling it out and glaring at the others.
"You will not defile this place with your presence any longer!"
Yuri just shrugged. "I suppose let's follow his example. I like a man that takes action."
The battle had now begun. Edelgard took on two mercenaries head on and slammed her axe into one, stunning him and swinging her axe at the female and drove it into her chest. That was one down… so many more to go. But she had her back turned and failed to realise in time the mercenary she had stunned was behind her, dagger in hand and ready to end her.
Until he was struck in the face by the Sword of the Creator which Byleth used the whip form to get him away. Edelgard was surprised at Byleth rescuing her, but then Byleth shot a look.
She slowly nodded. "Understood, my teacher."
Edelgard couldn't afford to be distracted. This was certainly a unique battle, considering they had to be careful with not knocking the place down. Though if it's just these mercenaries then it should be no issue, regardless if they had those enchanted weapons.
But something bothered Edelgard massively. Where the hell did they get those weapons? As far as she knew, there was only one-
He wouldn't give simple mercenaries these weapons, would he?
"You have a lot of explaining to do, 'Uncle'." Edelgard growled to herself and readied her axe, seeing more pile in. Seems she was right in conserving Ki. The battle had just begun.
On one side, Yuri was dodging and ducking under sword swipes as he kept that smirk on his face.
"Seems that fancy gear you have isn't so good when the person wielding it is as predictable as a horse deciding what to have for dinner."
"Don't mock me, you brat!"
"Be careful who you choose to follow. Heh, I suppose it's too late for that now, isn't it?"
Yuri ducked under another swing and smirked. He had his fun, but it was time to end this guy. So he channeled Ki into his sword and slashed in a wide arc, slicing the man in half and knocking the surrounding ones off their feet. He grimaced at the sight at his feet.
"Eugh. We will need to dispose of the garbage once this is all over."
But then he backflipped on instinct as a mercenary tried to get the jump on him, like what happened to Edelgard earlier. But Yuri knew better, and always kept one eye open at all times. He hovered in the air with that same smirk.
"Cheap move. But I suppose if we're throwing rules out of the window then I can start flying."
He dove down at extreme speeds and shoved his sword into the mercenaries chest, killing him but gritted his teeth as he felt extreme pain on his left arm. He looked to inspect the damage and widened his eyes. The spear only managed to graze him but it hurt so damn much.
"Damnit… they've got some serious spells enchanted in those weapons."
He looked over to find his team mates and yelled. "Guys! Be careful! Those weapons are no joke! Try to focus on ranged attacks!"
"Tell that to B!" Hapi yelled throwing Dark magic at a mercenary who was able to tank her hits. She hissed in irritation and summoned Ki into one of her hands.
"You're a real pain in the neck, you know that?"
But Hapi had a plan. When she casted that dark magic earlier, she was actually laying a trap. Droplets of dark magic sunk into the ground from where her spell dispersed and small puddles of dark ooze formed on the rocky surface and when one of the mercenaries stepped on one, he found his foot getting snared by wisps of magic.
"H-Hey! What the hell is this?! Get it off me!"
"Hm. Didn't actually think that would work. Oh well." Hapi muttered to her and clenched her fist as the wisps coiled around the mercenary more and more as he screamed and tried to wriggle his way out but then his mouth got clasped shut as the last thing he saw was Hapi's bored look.
"Well. At least you managed to help me test out this technique so at least you were useful in something. See ya."
With that, he was now in a cocoon of dark magic as Hapi kept a focused gaze on her improvised test subject before slowly, the struggling started to cease and she i clenched her fist watch the magic start to fizzle away leaving behind a pile of bones.
She blinked in surprise and tapped the skull with her foot. "Woah. This'll be useful. But man, it tires you out like hell."
But then Hapi dodged a swing from another mercenary as he looked at the bones. "You killed Frank!"
"Ah, no need to worry." Hapi shrugged, conjuring more magic. "He died as he lived. Being a nuisance."
"I'll kill you!"
Hapi narrowed her eyes as he charged forward and tried to stab her but she sidestepped out of the way and sent a pulse of dark magic sending him flying back. But he got back up and readied himself for another attack. But Hapi looked at the sword he was carrying and then at the other pools of magic she had laid earlier. She could try and snare him like she did with the other one. But it did use up a lot of her Ki to maintain.
"Don't think you can get me the same way you got Frank, you bitch!" He yelled. "I know your little trick! All I have to do is avoid your little puddles!"
"Maybe. But you forgot something else." She said, summoning a dark barrier to deflect another swing and then ducking under another.
"Oh? And what is that?"
He then gasped as he felt the magic from one of the puddles stretch over to him and bound his wrists. It yanked the sword out of his hands and it went over to Hapi's hand as she aimed it at him.
"I control what they do. Huh. For something so dangerous, it's surprisingly light. Oh well, let's put it to the test."
But before she could do anything, the Mercenary was incinerated by a spell as Hapi heard a familiar laugh come from her side.
"Marvel at my almighty power!"
Hapi opened her mouth, ready to exhale… but quickly clamped it shut. No. No sighing. So instead, she just gave a look to Constance who had arrived.
"Coco, that was my kill."
"I apologise Hapi, but I thought I saw that you were in trouble!" Constance exclaimed. Hapi kept that look on her and the Noble sighed loudly.
"Okay, fine. It was rather unfitting of me to take something that you had. It was unbecoming of someone like me to do something like that."
Hapi just shrugged. "Meh, he wouldn't have been much fun anyway. Anyway, you done with your lot?"
"Nobody is going towards me!" Constance huffed. "Honestly, I try to make my grand entrance on top of that boulder over there and there's nobody to attack!"
"…Maybe it's because people don't know where you are?" Hapi suggested, blasting a charging mercenary with a Ki blast and Constance huffed once more.
"Well, of course I'm hiding! One must have the element of surprise if they hope to dazzle their enemies!"
"Hey! There's another one! Get her too!"
Constance's eyes widened. "Wait! I wasn't in position! Oh screw it, now I'm mad. Hapi, you are excused. Those ruffians are mine!"
"If you say so, Coco." Hapi replied. "I'll see if Yuri-Bird or B need any help."
Hapi ran off as Constance looked on at the group of mercenaries before her. "Now, you ruffians will know the name of Constance von Nuvelle for the remainder of your pathetic lives! You shall pay for trespassing upon these grounds that you have no right being in. When I unleash my might upon you all, you will wish that you never-"
She realised that the group were turning and walking away and her eyes bulged out. "Hey! Where are you going?! I wasn't finished with my opening speech! Ugh, does nobody have honour on the battlefield nowadays?!"
Her eyes hardened as Ki formed in her palms. "Right! That's it! Killing you all!"
She pointed both hands forward and screamed. "NOBLE BLAST!"
A large Ki beam shot out of her hands and went towards the group, who didn't realise that they were about to die until it was too late. The blast engulfed them all as Constance had put all her power into it as it crashed against a wall and she quickly dispersed the attack before she did anymore damage and was panting heavily to suppress her rage.
"Constance what the hell?!" Balthus yelled. "We told you to show restraint! This is why we don't trust you to do that!"
She turned sharply in his direction and screamed back. "Well, maybe if we didn't have such RUDE opponents then I wouldn't have to do this! Honestly, who turns their back when one gives their opening speech?!"
The outsiders all looked at each other while fighting off their own group of enemies and had the same thought. They were a very chaotic bunch. Maybe this was a side effect of living underground? Their way of thinking changes.
…Actually, that doesn't sound right. Because their own group is just as bad and they don't live in Abyss. Byleth stabbed another one in the chest and sighed.
"Is that the last of them? That was certainly a lot for just a group of mercenaries."
But then she heard yelling coming from another side of the arena and turned to see more mercenaries coming in. And more on the entrance they just came through.
"Oh, you have got to be shitting me…"
"More are coming?" Edelgard muttered, as they all had the same weapons as the others. But then she saw something off with some of them. They were glowing purple and had dark red eyes. Almost like… like Lonato. This was getting too suspicious. She had to contact 'him' when this was all over.
"I can hardly see shit down here…" One of them muttered to himself lighting up a fire spell and shooting it to the ceiling which housed a large chandelier and lit it up illuminating the whole arena.
Yuri saw what happened and clicked his tongue in irritation. "I knew they would figure this out but not so soon… oh well, element of surprise went out the window a while ago. Wait, they have those weapons too…"
But that's when Constance stepped in front of him and struck a pose smirking devilishly. "Dear Yuri, you can leave this to me! I will send them to an early grave!"
However, Yuri wasn't convinced when he saw more coming through, and could sense how strong they were.. "Constance, we need to play this smart. There's too many of them coming at once."
"Nonsense! We can win!"
"Constance I'm serious! Look at the others!"
She looked around and gasped. Balthus was with Dimitri stabbing and punching with all their might. Balthus grabbed one mercenary by the head and threw him against the wall and used his Ki to crush another one's hand before punching him through the chest. Dimitri was behind him using his lance to try and create some space between them and even exploded his own Ki outwards throwing Mercenaries away, but it wasn't working. There was too many.
On another side, Hilda was with Edelgard with both using brute force to clear the area. Thankfully, they were making more headway due to the fact that Claude was also with them using Ki arrows on anyone trying to sneak up on the two. But they were in trouble.
They could beat these opponents easily, that wasn't the problem. The problem was the amount that were coming through and the fact that they were heavily suppressed due to not trying to make the place collapse. They were at a disadvantage.
"Right! Stand back, your Highness! Don't want you getting caught up in it!" Balthus yelled and punched his fists together, using his Ki to create an ignition that set his hands ablaze. He then raised them high in the air before bringing it down and slamming it on the ground causing their opponents to be sent flying from the force of the impact.
Yuri looked up and saw some dirt and stone falling down from the impact and clicked his tongue again. This wasn't good. He wasn't expecting this many enemies. The report only mentioned a handful. They were being forced to use more destructive moves. He then turned to where Byleth was.
She was holding her own, since she had the Sword of the Creator, she didn't have to rely on her Ki attacks. It was a good thing to, since she found out very quickly that while she was very powerful, she didn't have any attacks up her sleeves that would be small and efficient.
Unless… she had that one attack she had been practicing with. She was very tempted to use it as she used the whip form again to cleave through multiple mercenaries. It would be a good time to try it out.
But then she shook her head while blocking a sword swing and punching a mercenary away. No, it wasn't a good time. Especially not to a group of enemies. It was one that was better suited towards one on one fights. Right now she was in a good place as she swung the sword again…
…Only to find it didn't transform into its whip form. She frowned in confusion and tried again. And again. And again.
"What's happening? Why isn't it working?"
She looked at the sword only to find the source of the problem. The Sword of the Creator didn't have it's signature glow and looked quite dull. She was warned about it by Rhea.
It had run out of power and was now just a sword of bone. She officially had no weapon.
"Okay… now we need to get up close and personal."
But she saw even more mercenaries coming through and looked over at everyone trying their best to fend them off with little Ki attacks as possible. But it was becoming very clear that they were getting swarmed.
And Yuri knew this too. He looked at Constance. "Plan C."
Her eyes widened as she looked back at him. "Plan C?! It has gotten to that point?"
"Just do it! If this place falls then all of Abyss will fall, too!"
Constance flinched at how loud he got but then nodded and sprinted towards one of the entrances and yelled loudly. "Hapi! Balthus! Plan C! Plan C!"
Hapi looked behind her while grappling with a mercenary. "What? It must be looking bad if we need to resort to that… B, cover me!"
She used her Ki to throw the mercenary away and Balthus ran over and punched another one who was trying to surprise attack her as she made her way to one of the other entrances. Both Constance and Hapi then raised their hands and magic enveloped their hands before they then channeled their Ki into the magic as it started to expand across the entrances. But then both women quickly stuck out one hand and fired a blast of magic at the ceiling of the entrance on the other side, causing rocks to fall on top of any mercenaries unlucky enough to be under there at the time and blocking off anymore from getting in.
"Good. No more getting in." Yuri muttered watching the barriers completely block off the mercenaries from swarming them. But they were using their weapons to try and break the barriers, though that wasn't an issue for now as those two were strong. They could take the punishment from the front just as long as nobody broke their concentration. Yuri then looked around and sighed in relief at no noticeable damage being seen in the arena. He was a little concerned sealing off the entrance from the outside would be too risky, but it seemed that he was worried for nothing.
But now onto more important matters. He turned to Byleth who was still fighting off her horde. "Ashen Demon! We need your help!"
She let him know she was listening as he took his spot behind Constance and Balthus behind Hapi and kept an eye on any mercenaries coming up. "We didn't think it would get to this point, but we have sealed up their way in and right now are preventing the rest from getting in here. From what I can see, there are around one hundred and fifty of these dastards here. We can hold off the rest for now, but we need your students to make sure that nobody hurts Constance or Hapi. They need to concentrate to keep the barrier up. If anymore get in then we risk this place collapsing."
Byleth nodded and looked at the students who were still fighting. "Guys! Change of plans! Ashe, you and Hilda protect Constance and Hapi! Linhardt, keep healing them to make sure the barrier keeps up! Edelgard, Dimitri and Claude, you're with me!"
"On it!" Ashe yelled shooting an arrow at a mercenary trying to get past Yuri while Hilda was trying to get out the grip of another one who had grabbed her from behind.
"Would you let GO you creep!" She yelled stamping on his foot and killed him with her axe. "Take a hint!"
They all managed to get to the entrances while on the other side the three House Leaders and Byleth were making their way through the enemies.
"Taste my blade!" Dimitri screamed sprinting towards a group and skewering three different enemies on his lance and threw their corpses against the wall. Two of them raised their swords and he was about to defend himself but one got hit by a Ki blast and another got hit by the Sword of the Creator.
"Dimitri, stop charging in! We have to work together!" Byleth yelled as Dimitri blushed in embarrassment and rubbed the back of his neck.
"I… my apologies, Professor. I got caught up in the moment." He said and blocked another strike and ducking under another.
"Where the hell are all of these mercenaries coming from though?" Claude asked while firing at anyone stupid enough to try and rush him. "I've seen quite a few mercenary groups but I've never seen one as big as this. What group are they? And why do they look all creepy?"
Edelgard blocked a knife attack and grabbed the mercenaries shoulders and flipped herself over him before grabbing his knife out of his hand and stabbing him with it. "I'm unsure. But all we know is that we can't get hit by these- AAAAARGH!"
Byleth froze as Edelgard crumpled to the ground. One of the enemy archers managed to hit her directly in her ankle as an arrow was embedded deep within it. She quickly turned to the other two and told them to defend Edelgard. They nodded and Dimitri kneeled down making her look at him despite the agony on her face.
"Are you okay?"
"Do I look like I'm okay?!" She screamed and gritted her teeth clutching her ankle. "Fuck, it hurts so much!"
"Don't pull it out!"
"Edelgard, I have to!"
"Later! Just focus on getting their numbers down!"
He then looked up at Claude and they both nodded, taking their stances. They needed to protect Edelgard. Nobody was getting to her.
Byleth gripped her dull sword and walked towards the others. Good. Despite that hiccup, they were more than halfway. It seemed like they were home free. They just needed to-
"I THOUGHT I SMELLED FRESH BLOOD."
No… not now. Why was he here?!
The house leaders heard it too and turned around, gasping.
Byleth slowly turned around too and saw him in the distance. The Death Knight.
"THE WORMS WILL FEAST TONIGHT."
"Why are you here?" Byleth asked. He paused for a moment as his glowing red eyes focused on her. He slowly got off of his horse and took out his scythe.
"WE NEVER HAD OUR BATTLE. I HAVE GOTTEN STRONGER SINCE OUR LAST ENCOUNTER. NOW I DEMAND WE FIGHT."
She looked behind at Dimitri and Claude fighting off the crowd as well as those protecting Constance and Hapi. Doing a rough calculation in her head, she had deduced that there were only fifty left. Okay. They could manage fifty without her. She would deal with this herself.
"Professor! I can help!" Dimitri yelled, but Byleth stopped him.
"Protect Edelgard. I've got this."
He looked unsure but slowly nodded and parried another attack. She sighed to herself and glared at the Death Knight.
Sheathing her sword, Byketh expelled her Ki and powered up, staring at the Death Knight with a defiant look.
"LONG HAVE I WAITED FOR THIS MOMENT. THESE CAVES WILL RUN WITH YOUR BLOOD."
Using her Ki to propel herself, Byleth launched towards him and was ready to strike, yelling loudly. She drew her fist back and clashed with his own as the im off was felt by everyone around.
"Ah, so he has finally managed to find his way down." Thales grinned, staring at the crystal ball before him. Corneli was writing notes on what she was saying while Hubert stood there just looking at the battle.
"I am curious." Hubert said. "Why did you do all of this? Aid the mercenaries, give them greater numbers, better weaponry. And now sending in the Death Knight? They aren't even interfering with our plans."
"It's simple." Thales replied. "I need them to get strong. More specifically, her. So that he can get stronger. Unfortunately, they're moving too slowly for my liking so I'm giving them… a little push."
Hubert clenched his fists but kept them behind his back as they watched the battle and he looked at Edelgard still blasting away mercenaries despite her injury. "And Lady Edelgard?"
"She'll live. I have no doubts that they'll come out of this alive. Well… most of them. Now let's see if the experiment was a success."
"…As you wish."
"Excellent. Now, show me the power of a Saiyan, Fell Star!"
*Song: Closing Theme (DBZ)*
It seems that Byleth can't seem to catch a break! While the others are trying to prevent Abyss from being overrun, the Death Knight has turned up to fight! Can Byleth win against this foe? Or will the various handicaps being placed on her be too much? Find out next time on the next chapter of The Ashen Saiyan!
Done! I do apologise for taking a while guys but unfortunately the holiday seasons at work combined with my play through of Persona 5 made it so my main focus wasn't on this. Don't worry though, this won't be abandoned, it'll just take a while. But yes, a few differences for this battle compared to the DLC.
I did find it interesting to make the Ki fighters handicapped. To my knowledge, I've never had them learn how to use small attacks. Only big ones, except for Claude's Ki mines but even those won't help here. And this'll hurt Byleth too since she's fighting a stronger Death Knight and can't go all out. On top of that, her Sword's power is exhausted and so she can't rely on it for now.
Do you think it'll be one sided? Or will Byleth actually be in trouble due to not being able to go all out? Well, let's find out next time. And don't worry I'm almost done with my platinum for Persona 5 so I should be able to focus more.
Remember to Favourite, Follow and Review. And more importantly, have a good day. See you next time.
Catch you later!