Chapter 1: Boringly similar
Remire village was, what Byleth considered, to be a rather unassuming little place. There was very little which separated it from the other villages she had visited during her time as a mercenary and the nature of their groups presence in the village was purely coincidental as they were travelling to their next job in the kingdom.
The fact was, there should have been very little to attract her attention in the village at all. It didn't have any significant value to it, there was no important political figure that they needed to protect.
It was just a village.
However...if there was one thing that the Ashen demon had to say about the village, it was that it had a rather...unusual inhabitant.
The man who had arrived in the village a few days before their arrival was, for lack of a better word, unique.
At first glance he could have been written off as a Duscurian. His Tanned skin set him apart from everyone else in the village.
However, that was only at first glance.
The man's bright golden, virtually glittering hair, immediately set him apart from every other villager. It had also risen some questions as to whether or not it had been affected by a Crest by some of the other mercenaries in the group.
Apparently they had a betting pool about whether the man was a former noble or not. Not that Byleth paid attention to such things. Her father had always told her to let him handle the talking with Nobles.
Although the most striking thing about the man, except for his tanned skin and rather outlandish hair, was the fact he was missing an arm.
Someone had once been brave enough to ask him how he lost it.
All they did was look at the man and reply that "They were born like this." which apparently was enough evidence for some of the others to decide that he had been a child of some Noble family and his deformity had led them to disowning him.
Byleth herself had only interacted with the man once. Suffice to say she found Goetia to be...strange.
While she herself found human interaction to be difficult, she came to the conclusion that the tanned man shared a similar issue as her, considering that according to the villagers the man simply kept to himself for much of his time in the village.
Her first meeting with him was, in itself, something she would likely remember for a while.
She entered the village for the first time since they had arrived her. They had only planned to stay for a week, therefore she had decided to spend most of her time in their camp on the outskirts of the town. She didn't really see the need to visit the small town.
She doubted there had been much to separate it from every other village and town she had seen in their travels.
However, her father had all but ordered her to at least get out of the camp for few hours, considering she had been staying there for several days without leaving, except for hunting. She didn't need to hunt for food but she liked to keep her senses sharp.
So when she entered the village, she found herself rather unsurprised by the sameness of it all.
She considered a brief walk around before heading back when her instincts alarmed her that she was being watched. She instantly tensed. She could feel a stare fixing itself on her side.
Her face, as ever blank, turned in the direction of the gaze and her observer.
Lavender colour eyes met with bright red ones.
The two stared at eachother, both with poorly concealed intrigue. Byleth was more curious about the man's physical appearance. His rather plain brown robes rather violently clashed with his hair and skin. She had heard gossip about a one armed man who lived in the village with star like hair. She had assumed them to be simple exaggeration, however now that she stood in front of the source of the gossip she could come to the conclusion that it wasn't, in fact, an exaggeration about the man.
The two stared at eachother for a few more moments before the man slowly approached her. She couldn't sense hostile intent from him, yet that didn't stop her from tensing as he closed in on her.
There was something about his eyes that made her feel...small. Byleth imagined that this was how she looked to everyone else when she discovered something unknown to her.
"You are new here." Was his simple sentence as he stopped a few feet from her. She didn't reply immediately, simply shook her head.
"Oh?" He raised a lone eyebrow, then hummed and nodded his head as he seemingly came to his own conclusion "You are with the sell-swords camped outside the town."
The tanned man stared at her a few moments before he turned to the town, his gaze held nothing in it as he took in the view of the residents going about there day.
"What do you think of this place?" He asked "I assume that your profession takes you to many centres of civilisation."
Byleth was silent as she thought over his question. It was a town. She had seen plenty of them before. Eventually she opened her mouth to respond "Its uninspired." he answered before she even got a word out "Rather mundane...a simplicity to it which makes it unassuming and ordinarily unworthy of further study."
Byleth found his statement to by somewhat clinical, however she couldn't find it in herself to disagree with what he said. However she was more surprised that he knew she thought that as well.
"You are curious how I knew your answer." A statement. He knew he was right "It is in your eyes. There isn't a spark of discovery in them. I saw it when you entered, a sense of mild disappointment that it was exactly what you were expecting."
She furrowed her brows, she'd always been told that no one could tell what she was thinking because of her rather unemotional face. Even her father had complained about it once or twice. It was also why she had earned the nickname 'The Ashen Demon'.
For this man to immediately read her so easily was...a surprise.
"What is your name, child?" He tilted his head at her, there was a type of tone in his voice that made it seem that he was speaking to a child. Despite the fact he barely looked older than she was.
"What is yours?" He stared at her. Then released a rather low chuckle.
"A trade then? I reveal my identity in exchange for yours." He seemed to find something amusing about that "In that case...I am Goetia...and am a simple traveller."
Goetia. She thought. A strange name, sounds foreign. She'd never actually met a non-native of Fodlan. Although she hadn't really been to very many places where you were likely to meet them.
"Byleth." She replied back. The two fell back into a silence. Him returning to watching the town and her now studying him.
"My appearance is unusual to you." Another statement.
"A blunt affirmation. However I approve. A simple approach to a conversation is often the most efficient way to expedite results." He have her a sideways glance "However, others would likely be offended by such things."
"You are not."
"No." He nodded his head "You could be considered fortunate in that regard...however I suspect that you have very little in the way of human interaction."
She frowned. She talked to people. Others in the mercenary group, her father and...Oh. She furrowed her brows in thought. Perhaps she didn't have much in the way of experience with talking to people.
She could kill them easily enough, however talking to them was difficult.
"Your curiosity is natural." He nodded his head "Many in this village are. I often hear hushed whispers when I am around."
"They are afraid of you?" She tilted her head. He didn't seem all that threatening. There was very little a man with one are could do to hurt anyone. Unless he was a mage...Now that she thought about it, with his general appearance that wouldn't surprise her.
Goetia seemed to follow her gaze to his missing arm, then looked back at her with a raised eyebrow "Perhaps not in a physical sense. However I am ultimately an unknown." he looked back to the residents "There are very few things humans fear and seek as much as that...regardless of where you are."
"You travel a lot then?"
"I do." He nodded his head "Although I have only arrived in Fodlan recently. I mainly travel for curiosities sake now."
Byleth nodded her head. That seemed like the kind of thing someone would travel for. She thought so anyway. "What do you think of Fodlan?"
"It's…" He frowned, he looked somewhat disappointed "Very much like this village...Uninspired."
Byleth couldn't really respond to that. She hadn't really been to any of the major areas to actually comment on whether or not he was correct to make such a statement.
"I believe I have taken up enough of your time. Byleth." Goetia spoke after a few more moments. His face returning to a rather vacant look. With that he turned away. It somewhat amazed Byleth that a man with such a unique appearance could somehow disappear into a crowd.
She simply thought about their conversation and came to a simple conclusion.
Goetia was a strange man.
Goetia returned himself to his reading. This small village had very little in the way of a library. More a collection of books which were used by the few literate people who lived in this small town.
He hummed in thought as his mind wandered back to the young woman he had met yesterday evening.
He had sensed her presence as she entered the town. He'd set up a small bounded field to alert him of anything while he was staying here. While he had already determined himself not to interfere with humans of this world, that didn't mean he was shutting himself away from anything which attracted his attention.
An individual with a Magic Core suddenly wandering into his territory was certainly something which attracted his attention.
The magic system of this 'Fodlan' was still new to him, but it hadn't taken him long to familiarise himself with it. He was rather...disappointed if he was honest.
Many of their spells, while certainly potent compared to what Magi of his own universe were capable of, were rather simple. There was very little research that went into developing them further than their base forms.
They had standard elemental magics. However there were some differences between his own and theirs. They seemed to have the same limitations of modern magi when it came to the use of their 'Magecraft'.
However they also seemed to have two more schools of magic that at first had been unfamiliar to him.
Fire, Thunder, Wind and Ice. They also had 'Dark Magic' which he discovered was simply a more sinister way of saying curses which he believed that they were, if the effects of a miasma spell were anything to go by.
Then there was 'Faith' magic. When he first heard of it, he found it rather incredulous to think that there was a system of magic based upon how overzealous someone was in their respective religious institute.
However he had found there weren't schools set up to encourage mages to hone their own personal craft which was unique to their families, rather their form of magical learning was more uniform. Students would choose one specific field of Magic and learn all they could from it.
There was little experimentation, save for how efficiently it could be used to kill someone.
One thing he had noticed were 'Crests' although the only thing they had in common with the ones he was more intimate with were that they were passed through blood.
Everything else about them was rather mundane, save for the fact that certain crests granted the use of so called 'Heroes Relics' which he assumed to be either powerful mystic code or perhaps this worlds equivalent of Noble Phantasms. Although he would need to see one to be sure.
His encounter with a 'Levin Sword' had already confirmed the existence of Mystic codes in this world. However he found himself disappointed that their only uses seemed to be geared towards killing other humans in rather brutal ways.
It was acts like this which had originally convinced him to remake history.
The family crests though. There had to be something more to them, although much of their personal nature was hidden away within the specific families. Therefore there was very little he could do to study one.
The girl he had encountered earlier though, Byleth, she had been an outlier from what he had seen so far. She had a Magic core, or at least the closest approximation of one. However it seemed to be dormant within her, or she wasn't using it at the time. Which he found rather peculiar, considering she didn't exactly seem the sort to have one.
The King of Britain had been granted one by Merlin, however her position would consistently place her in a position where she would likely have to use it. Was this Byleth girl granted a core for the same reason? It was also no ordinary magic core, if Goetia was perhaps less knowledgeable, he would have accused the girl of being a Goddess herself with the amount of divinity the core was leaking out of her.
Was she a failed vessel perhaps or a Psuedo-servant whose host never gave into the personality of their divine possessor? Either way, she was certainly something unique. Not to him, but to this world perhaps.
He hummed in thought and continued to read upon the 'Official History of Fodlan: Volume 12' which he considered to be omitting very important information at best and propaganda at worst.
It's dubious nature aside, it was at least useful in giving him a passing knowledge on the history of this continent.
And while he would likely have to continue his travels in order to observe more of this humanity he had found he had already reached his conclusion.
The humans of this world were virtually identical to the ones of his own in terms of their lives. And it infuriated him.
Perhaps that was the wrong word, he suppose. It troubled him deeply would have been a more fitting description.
This world was based on a cast system, with the Noble families bearing crests being considered at the top of the social hierarchy and the low-born people being looked down upon. From his observation, many nobles considered the common man to be little more than a slightly more intelligent animal, incapable of its own life without their 'guiding hand'.
Arrogant stupidity. Which was often enforced by the Church of Serios, which he found to be a rather bizarre contradiction when one compared its message with its deeds.
Love of Goddess was 'Highly' encouraged throughout the land, in that if one didn't love the Goddess and all she represented, then you were considered a heathen and treated with no small amount of disdain and despite what the Church preached about tolerance and acceptance, if you were of a different faith then you could expect similar treatment.
All while they propagated a system of social structure which placed a great emphasis on crests as 'Gifts of the Goddess'. That much could be believed however, he had encountered a Noble not too long ago and he would admit that there were some trace elements of divinity within him.
Therefore it was not a baseless claim to state that the crests were in some ways related to their Goddess.
There was actually very little difference between the Seiros sect and Religions he had previously observed. Which once again made him rather disappointed. He had hoped his newfound humanity would at least allow him to understand why it was that Solomon had found humans to be so worthwhile despite seeing all they were capable of.
So far his hopes remained unfulfilled and even with this new world, the nature of humanity still shone through and was still as confusing to him as ever.
The girl...she was apparently of a similar mind at least in that aspect. She was as disappointed in this town as he was in this world. It lacked anything that truly made it stand out to him.
He'd already seen it once and was simply seeing it again but with a few aesthetic changes, overall it was still the same violent and unjust humanity he had observed for three thousand years.
He would admit he no longer harboured the same murderous rage he used to feel when he looked at humans...although now it was replaced by disappointment. Both in himself and in humanity. People failed to live up to his expectations, and he failed to understand why they even bothered.
Those born into life as a peasant, when all they had to look forward to was a life of being looked down upon as a commoner by some Noble, why did they even bother to continue? Why not kill themselves as soon as they are able or try and do something to change their system?
Why could he still see people going around with such carefree expressions on their faces when their life was destined to be hardship right from the start?
Why were humans so infuriating to understand? Why did Fujimaru Ritsuka want to fight him just for the simple reason that he wanted to live? Why did these people want to live? Their lives would simply be continued struggle until they died.
As a commoner, no matter what they achieved they would inevitable be forgotten, so why?
He just wanted to understand why it was that they struggled so much? What was he missing when it came to the psyche of humans that made them so determined to persevere even in the state of such unfairness in the world.
That was the only reason he was travelling this continent, he just wanted to understand. He would continue searching until he found what he was looking for...until he found what it was that made human life so special.
He looked up from his book and his head snapped to the left, the bounded field had alerted him to four individuals entering it. He narrowed his eyes. They were nobles. Their crests produced a rather obvious signature and-
What was this? He rested his hand on his chin and hummed in intrigue.
It wasn't four individuals, it was three. He sensed four crests, yet there were only three people. How interesting. From what he knew, a person may only inherit one crest. Yet here was a human with two...How fascinating.
He narrowed his eyes as more began to cross the bounded field. Humans and with less than ideal intentions.
He withheld a sigh, the violent nature of humanity was once again rearing its ugly head.
Ordinarily he would simply leave this to the mercenary group, however this was an opportunity to witness what a crest would do in a combat situation and what the girl was capable of with her Divine Core. He stood up from his chair and closed his book.
He threw his robe over his body and left the pseudo-library, heading in the direction of the upcoming commotion.
He wouldn't intervene, however that didn't stop him observing.
Readers: Dammit man! Finish a story first before you start writing more, are you stupid or something?
Me: Well...no but, I just think of these ideas and kind of want to write them out…
Reader: Oh yeah? And what about the stories you're gonna end up neglecting?
Me: Well...um...Just let me write my Goetia fic man…
Reader: Hmph...its your funeral...just don't forget your other stories.
Me: Yeah, yeah...
Seriously though, I really am writing too much here, but I just get these Ideas and I'm afraid I'll forget them. But yeah, upload schedule!
It doesn't exist. There's no such thing. It gets updated when I feel like updating it.