Chapter 105: Learning rules

"Bounded Fields are the both the most diverse and most common form of spellcraft that one would find when associated with a Magus."

He stepped away from the board, the chalk scribbling away as he did so.

"Rather, they could very well be called an essential tool for any mage - or even a spellcaster - simply because of the versatility they offer. With effects that are limited only by the skill and imagination of the one who constructs them."

Sweeping his gaze over the room, he waited a moment before he elaborated further.

They would likely understand if given examples.

"If you cast your minds back, I have mentioned the usage of Bounded Fields on multiple occasions and for those who were not privy to such times, you will all have been aware of the Rite of Rebirth, in which the rather loud alarm was signalled through the Monastery and the attackers were neutralised."

As he expected, that was the topic that immediately got several students to perk up in both interest and a touch of wariness. The latter surprised him, but the former was to be expected.

Raising his hand, he gestured towards the board, pausing briefly at the movement from the side as someone raised their hand. His eyes fell to the owner and nodded to them to speak, they did so a moment later.

"I apologise if this sounds like a silly question, but can these bounded fields do more than harm people?"

The question from Mercedes, as expected, veered away from the topic of violence and onto a more peaceful art.

"Your questions leads into my next discussion," He used the opportunity for what it was. "You would be correct, as I have said before, they are a versatile form of magecraft. While common, each one held a specific purpose and many of them could be overlaid upon one another for a compounding effect."

Raising his hand once again, he pointed down towards the floor. "There is a great deal that can be done with them and they are not all limited to methods of dispatching enemies. They might also be used to ward away trespassers, signalling out those with malicious intentions, or on a less confrontational side, they are capable of focusing magical energy for a specific spell."

A few mutters, they fell silent when he snapped his fingers.

"Do not be mistaken and assume that they are the be all and end all. Bounded Fields suffer from glaring faults, not least of which would be they are subjected to a single location. While mobile bounded fields are indeed a possible creation, they are much too advanced for your current level and not as powerful as an equally skilled construction in a fixed land."

His eyes narrowed, his hands fell to his side and he internally rolled his jaw.

Pacing forwards, his eyes danced left and right before he spoke in a slow manner. "Question. What would be the other weakness you would suppose exists with a Bounded Field?"

Silence from the room.

He paced from one end of the hall and then turned on his heel, walking back through with his eyes dancing across the heads of whomever happened to pass his sight.

Goetia frowned at the lack of engagement.

A hand snapped up.

His eyes shot across the room to the latest arrival, calling out to them. "Hubert."

The dark haired youth turned in his seat, only slightly, and met his gaze with a side-eye. "Shall I assume that the bounded fields can be broken and therefore, the effect can be spoiled? If they are a consistently active spell rather than a swift activation."

Silence purveyed through the room for only a moment, then he nodded his head and resumed walking. "Hubert is correct. A Bounded Field can indeed be broken, requiring anchor points to link the spell together. Once the spell is disrupted, then the field is dissipated and becomes useless. This can be achieved through one of two methods."

He turned back around once at the head of the class.

"The first would be a clinical method of targeting a specific point of the bounded field - once it has been discovered - and destroying that section. Some mages counter this by developing a self-repairing field, but they all have a central anchor that links them to the source of mana. Disrupting that will destroy the field."

Lowering his arm, it fell back beneath his cape and his eyes flashed around the room once more.

"With the first example I have given, what do you suppose the second method would be?"

Goetia was far more pleased with the engagement the second time around, hands shot up immediately from the expected sources. Yet there was one that caught him rather by surprise, and he supposed as long as she was learning, then it was acceptable. Perhaps this was the method that was better suited for her mindset.

"Leonie."

"Brute force?" The girl voiced aloud, sounding slightly unsure of herself.

He frowned. "Is that a question or an answer?"

Her posture straightened, she gave a singular nod of the head. "Answer."

"Hmph. Speak with more confidence, regardless of if the answer is wrong." He informed her, waited a moment for his words to settle, then spoke again. "You would also be correct. A Bounded Field can be broken with a large enough release of magical energy. This method is less practised as, typically, one would require a great deal of magical energy to shatter a bounded field of even low quality."

Or rather, for the humans of the AD era, it would have been next to impossible for all but the most exceptional.

For the humans of Fodlan? That was an entirely different issue. He had little doubt that those of the Crest Bloodlines could produce adequate amounts of magical energy, Lysithea in particular would have likely ranked among the Lords of the Clocktower purely on her magical potential alone.

Then again, Lysithea was exceptional.

"Unless one were to follow your method."

The eyes of the room turned as one to the person he had directed the statement to, even they looked slightly taken aback by the sudden attention. A rather lost look on their face and slightly widened eyes, their head turned about before they pointed towards themselves.

"My method?" Mercedes parroted back, then bit her lip unsuredly.

Yes, he supposed he would need to clarify.

"You threw it at my face."

Her eyes widened a second later, remembrance flashed across her face and was soon followed by a slight wince as they clearly recalled it. An element of guilt as they lowered their eyes away from him for a beat, bringing them back up and then inclining their head. "You mean putting so much magical energy into something that it explodes?"

A decent enough answer.

"Yes, precisely. Though while you could achieve such a thing on a small scale, mages who have practised such efforts for a longer period of time can stockpile the magical energy and detonate it on command. A trump card when caught in a hostile bounded field, as it were."

Bringing his hand up, he flickered light between his fingers. "Though others can detonate powerful spells within the bounded field with the intention of merely tearing it down. Provided it is without a layered defence, the bounded field would be subject to the greater density of magical energy and would be destroyed."

His hand closed into a fist, snuffing out the light. "Provided that the effects of the bounded field were not actively working against them. Such is the danger poses by them, from the moment you step into an opponent's territory, you are already at a disadvantage. Not an unworkable one…but it remains an unfavourable terrain."

Another raised hand.

"Flayn."

"Thank you," With a small nod of the head, the girl furrowed her brows. "You spoke of some non-violent uses. Could you elaborate more on those, perhaps related to healing or supporting others?"

He could, he supposed.

"Yes, Bounded Fields are established around set locations." Pausing, he moved his hand to cup his chin. "For example, if you were to establish one around a medical tent with a set effect to improve the body's natural healing rate, then depending on your own capabilities, you could reduce days of healing into mere hours."

Pulling his hand away, he quickly raised it flat to stop the girl short.

"That being said, it would require a great deal of time and effort to establish a bounded field of such power. One would require a very clear understanding of the effects of such a spell before applying it to a wider area, else it would lead to mistakes in the healing process. As for other methods."

He hummed.

"Pacification, ensuring that violent thoughts are suppressed. Boosting the immune system of the body to fight off infections and disease, strengthening bones…I am certain you can understand where it would continue on without me providing an extended list."

She nodded.

Good, though it seemed as though his remark towards the uses of non-violent bounded fields had now garnered more interest. He could see a touch of a raised brow on the face of Linhardt, the young man leaned forwards slightly and appeared to debate whether or not they were going to ask him a question.

With a slight gesture, he waved his hand and thinned his lips. "Yes, you can utilise bounded fields to instil particular emotions within an individual, though naturally such results would be far from consistent, as you would be actively combatting the natural mental strengths of whomever you were attempting to effect. This being beside the point for the time being."

Advancing on his chalkboard, he flicked his hand and brought the chalk into his own fingers, raising his limb up and drawing out across the board. "The timeline for the next few weeks will follow your progression on bounded fields. You will first learn the basics of creating a simple bounded field to serve as a warning system against unwanted intruders."

Dragging the chalk along the board, he pulled it away and pointed across the room. "From this point, we shall begin an incorporation of gathering magical energy into a focused point. For example, allowing spells to be cast much swifter or even increasing their effectiveness by drawing upon the magical energy in the environment and not just from your own reserves."

Levitating the chalk away from him and down onto the small cut out beneath the board, his hand rose up and his knuckles rapped against the rough surface of the writing face. "This is a simple bounded field, or rather, the basic establishment of a territory. Such symbols can be carved or drawn and then established."

His arm lowered, his eyes swept over the room one final time. "This will represent the first real project that you will endeavour upon. From here, you will then learn how to establish a 'workshop' and so forth."

A raised hand, this time from Hanneman. "What does this bounded field you have given us do? Or rather, what do the symbols represent?"

Decent enough question.

"This particular symbol originates from Germany. The effect is nothing more than laying claim to a patch of land. If done effectively, then any who pass through the field will instinctively understand that they have wandered into another domain or territory. Purely through the lingering magical energy."

"Wouldn't that be a weakness?"

His eyes snapped onto Lysithea, the girl winced and raised her hand but lost none of the confidence in her answer.

"If someone could sense they had entered a Bounded field, would they not immediately seek to leave if they were not arriving with amicable intentions?"

Her eyes remained on him for a moment longer, then she lowered her head slightly. "Apologies for the interruption."

"No, you are quite correct in deducing as such." Swiftly turning his head, he found himself suppressing a smile at her remark. He was impressed that she had managed to deduce a flaw with bounded fields from that simple passing remark alone. Then again, she was his student.

If she did not impress him on occasion, then there would be no point in teaching her.

"Yes, the presence of a bounded field is detectable from the moment it becomes activated. Even then, with fields of greater abilities or focus, their magical energy acts as a beacon which makes them impossible to miss. Oftentimes, this is why they are cloaked with additional fields layered atop them."

Another raised hand from Lysithea, this time he nodded his assent.

"Would that not remove magical energy away from the field they were attempting to cloak?"

"Indeed. As you can expect, that remains a cost for ensuring you can spring a surprise. Though if used effectively, the cost is negligible at best for the end result. Such Bounded Fields are only necessary for surprise attacks and if centred over a leyline, the issue of fuel becomes redundant."

Her head bobbed up and down, satisfied with the answers that she had received.

Returning to the other students, he straightened his posture. "Now then, be sure to copy down this symbol and then go forth and create a bounded field. The aim is to provide it with enough magical energy that it becomes stable. Too much and it will shred itself apart, too little and your claim will be easily shattered by anything else with a magical presence."

They were already moving and glancing between him and the board, getting their writing utensils prepared.

"That being said, this is not the only form of bounded field base available for you all. Should you experience a flaw with this one, there are others that can be provided. Be sure to pick your locations wisely, I will visit each one at the end of the day and assess your progress."

He was not expecting them all to succeed, though he was shifting his evaluation of their skill.

Dorothea was a rather surprising student with how adept she was proving, so he measured his expectations of her to be on par with Linhardt. Others, he was certain, would be less capable.

He very much doubted that Leonie would be capable of it, not that she lacked the magical power, merely the attunement towards such things. If there was something she would be capable of, he would assume it to be in regards to physical enhancement of her senses and abilities.

That and she would probably show a great deal more interest in that subject.

But as he told Lysithea, he was hesitant to teach them magecraft just for them to kill with it.


The approach of Flayn once the lesson had ended was rather intriguing, especially because she did not look as though she was approaching him on a personal matter.

Though he found himself less annoyed than he suspected he would have been if she had done so.

Over a week since the truth of Sothis was revealed to him and the time had moved…rather simply.

A routine for everything fell into place and there was a sense of purpose that was flooding into him, he was doing something. He was doing more than Solomon, or he expected his students to do more than the disciples of Solomon, both Zelretch and Brishinan.

The thought gave him pause for a moment.

It was swiftly dismissed.

"Is it possible to combine the magic of Fodlan with your bounded-"

"Yes." Lowering his head to the desk, he was shifting through the papers in front of him. One requirement was paperwork, Seteth had made that much clear to him when it came to being a lecturer that he would need to fill out written reports on his class and set projects for them to complete.

With a wave of his hand, he set his mystic code to work. The single armed device with a quill for a hand immediately started to shift through the reports and filled out the necessary information. It briefly attracted the rather impressed gaze of Flayn for a moment before she shook her head and turned back to him.

"I see. So it would be capable of creating a permanent bounded field that consistently healed individuals by replicating the spellwork of the healing spells of the Church?"

"You would need to incorporate both seamlessly together, but yes." He turned and looked down at the green haired girl. "Is this you announcing your intention of a long term project to create a portable bounded field for healing wounded knights of the church?"

The girl offered a light smile. "I did not mention it would be portable."

"No, but I doubt you would wait for the wounded to be brought to you." His remark earned him a knowing look, indicating that he was correct. "And furthermore, I doubt you would leave it for such individuals as knights. Is this my assumption that you would intend to do more?"

She gave another nod of the head, a rather bright expression. "So long as it is possible, then I am satisfied. Rather, I now have a goal that I have to work towards."

"Good." He glanced back at the papers. "A clear and concise goal is the proper attitude for a mage. I suppose that warnings that such an endeavour would be a long process would fall upon deaf ears for you, yes?"

Flayn raised a brow at him but said nothing.

"While you are here, I am curious, has there ever been a reported incident of an individual being born with two crests?"

The reaction was rather immediate and disappointing, a flash of surprise and then bewilderment. "Two crests at the same time? I would hardly think so. If there has ever been such a thing, I have never heard of it. If two people with differing crests were to reproduce, then the stronger of the two would be made apparent in the child."

"And if they were of equal strength?"

"Then it would cancel one another out or produce a minor one." Flayn answered, shaking her head from side to side. "Crests all originated from differing bloodlines, they were not designed to be mixed together in such a way. In a natural setting they would have combined and formed an entirely new one…though such a technique is all but gone."

His eyes narrowed but he said nothing.

"...If one was to be born with two crests, would their biology be unstable?"

"Quite so. I imagine it would be akin to saying their body would be at war with themselves. If they did survive, it would not be for any length of time. That much power in a single person…" Giving a light shudder, their expression smoothed over. "Though, as I said, they were not designed to mingle. Even when they were in their original owners."

The girl abruptly halted and froze up, wearing a face like a panicked rabbit and snapping her eyes from him and towards the door. The cause of her alarm was clear and he could not help but raise a brow at her sudden awareness of both her situation and what she was saying. She whipped back around and faced him, opening her mouth and hurriedly speaking out loud.

"Did you set up a privacy field?"

Goetia scoffed. "Is that not the type of question you should ask before you so openly speak of such world changing secrets?"

She flinched.

"But yes. I did so the moment you approached me. Even if I had not, there is no one in the immediate vicinity capable of overhearing and I would be made acutely aware of anyone making the attempt to scry on us."

"Right…thank goodness." She lowered her shoulders, the apprehension bled away from her. "I was so used to speaking frankly with you that I forgot the time and place, you're quite the danger, are you not?"

"I would argue the only danger is your loose lips and empty head."

"That sounds rather rude."

"I will be sure to recant my words if you prove them otherwise, but as of yet, I do not believe that anyone else has come close to that level of blunder."

Flayn raised her hands in a show of surrender, though it was clear that each one of his words was having some sort of effect on the girl. This was nothing more than an attempt from her to flee his words in a figurative sense. "That aside, what brought about your question on dual crests? I certainly hope you weren't thinking of trying to do such a thing, were you?"

Did she think he was some manner of idiot?

"No, I was simply curious if such a thing could happen and if you were aware of the symptoms." He blandly responded, then shook his head to ward off her further worries. "No, I was not going to make an effort to implant a person with two separate crests. Not least of which it would be akin to offering a transfusion between incompatible donors, but because even if it did work, as you said, the product of such research would perish."

It would be a total waste.

But Flayn knew nothing and was certain it could not happen.

Yet both Lysithea and Edelgard existed, both of whom clearly had two crests.

Curious that Edelgard had the same manner of crest that Byleth did, however.

"It was merely something that I had further considered in regards to the influence of Crests upon the ability of the mage in question. Because Crests are partially a biological issue, I was curious if there had ever been a recorded case of an individual being born with two crests. Though if such a thing is unnatural, then there is no need to consider the possibility of such an outcome."

Not entirely a lie, but an omission of most of the details.

Though it explained why Lysithea was so hesitant to reveal such a thing, even before the knowledge that she was dying. To reveal she had two Crests would be to reveal that she was an exception to the natural order of things in this world.

And exceptions were more often exploited, or removed from the equation.

"Well, that aside." Flayn cleared her throat, then looked down with a more lively expression. He figured that this would doubtless relate to something inane- "I believe you mentioned something in regard to designs?"

Wordlessly, he raised his left hand and flashed it through the air, forming a small roll of parchment and laying it down upon the desk, sliding it across. Flayn was swift in taking it, not quite snatching, but showing a great deal of vested interest in such a thing.

Her eyes brightened immediately.

"This is-Goetia! These are incredible! I did not know you had quite so many talents!"

Goetia raised a brow. "At this point, assume there is nothing that I cannot do…no, there is much I cannot do. Though my perceived talent in drawing aside, these are merely some of the designs that occurred to me, that you would find to be appealing. That is, if you did not wish to stare at a replica of food."

Her eyes snapped down, then her jaw lowered. "What manner of-"

Whipping the page around, she held it up and pointed towards the lower design. "What manner of species of fish is this? It is unlike anything I have seen before."

He spared it a glance and grunted. "A species that came from my…place of origin. Fighting fish, humans called them. Though only the males held such ornate designs, for reasons you could likely assume. Admittedly pleasing to gaze upon, but relatively small."

It was something he included merely as a base.

The species of fish in Fodlan were mostly freshwater, on account of the streams and rivers that ran through the continent.

Flayn hummed at his words, spinning it back around and wetting her lips.

…Was she truly debating what they would taste of? He would like to assume that was not the case.

He would further prefer to assume that she was not on the verge of drooling like a starved child.

She caught herself, lowering the paper and clearing her throat, subtly wiping her lips away. He almost raised a brow at her but said nothing, waiting until she offered a tiny smile and then gestured towards the fish that was rather surprising. Or rather, he felt it was so.

"Is there a reason you would not wish for one of Fodlan's native species?"

"They aren't as beautiful." Flayn simply replied, though paused for a moment and then hummed. "Perhaps that is the wrong thing to say, but if you included a fish of your own homeland among those designs, it would be rude if I did not consider it. I am sure I can order another fish in the future, but I feel…no, I would much rather you make something from your own land."

"...You should not feel pressured. I hold no such appeal to this particular species of fish."

"Well, that aside…I am slightly concerned that if I saw this sitting on my shelf in the early morning…" She trailed off, a light flush across her cheeks and her eyes darting away from him, she rocked back and forth on her heels, lips rolled inwards.

It took him less than a second to realise the problem.

He stared at her for a moment, eyes searching for any hint that she was joking.

That only served to make her blush harder from the intensity of his stare.

…He said nothing.

"...I shall procure the woods and begin construction, you may decide on a colour coordination from a set series once it is finished." Returning his eyes to the table, he took back the parchment from the girl and pointedly avoided any further questions. "Unless there is anything else you need from me?"

"Not as such, no." Flayn shook her head, then paused for a moment. "Though I believe Father might try and find you for something. I am unsure as to the specifics of it."

Seteth?

Hmmm.

"Your warning is acknowledged." With that said, he nodded his head towards the door. "I would advise you to return to the assigned project. You have at least seven hours until I shall observe your progress on the establishment of the gifted bounded fields."

Flayn inclined her head once, turned on her heel, and then made for the door rather swiftly.

He watched her departure, then grunted to himself.

"Utterly bewildering creature."

His eyes returned to his desk-

"Morning."

His expression turned flat a moment later, torn between showing his exasperation and trying to make an effort to be polite to the latest arrival. He should have figured that in the instant he dropped the bounded field, he would find himself assaulted by the very sort of individuals he wished to engage with the least.

It was hardly as though it could be helped now.

Raising his eyes, he watched Catherine stride into the room with a blatantly critical look in her eye.

Having been sent back and forth on assignments, he supposed this was the first real time that she had returned to the Monastery since the incident after Sitri. True, she had been around but it was for a few days before being sent on another mission. Clearly to establish that the Church and the Knights were still in a strong position if they could afford to have Catherine away from their home.

"Is there something I could help you with?"

He saw little reason in prolonging a conversation.

The reaction from Catherine was as swift as it was…amused?

Not the response he anticipated.

"Huh, guess she was right." The woman muttered, rubbing her chin idly for a moment before she shook her head. "Not really, I doubt I'd fit in well for any of your classes. I've never been much of the academic type."

"Clearly." He propped his elbow on the desk, lowering his cheek onto his fist and raising a brow. "Which puzzles me deeply, as you now see fit to darken the hallways of my class not long after my students depart. Has there been some manner of change to your own lecture location, or does it remain the Blue Lions?"

"Still there." Catherine continued on, moving forwards and giving a light clap of her hands. Jaw rolling from side to side and eventually narrowing her eyes at him. "...Just stopped by to see what you were doing."

Was she now?

"Is that so? I did not realise I was a source of interest for you."

"It is more like Lady Rhea's well-being is in my interest and you seem…in good terms with her. Though I'm more puzzled with how quickly that happened." They muttered, rubbing their chin once again. "The Professor was quick but…No, it wasn't my place to say. But you never really fit in around here and then one day you just click into place. That and…hmmm. You don't give me worrying feelings anymore."

Giving a single grunt, he lowered his arm to the table and raised a brow at the woman. "Is that so?"

He wasn't sure there was really a moment where he did snap into place around here.

If that was the impression that he gave, then he supposed there was hardly a reason to fault it. Rather, he had already admitted that the Monastery was starting to become a location that he could describe as secure enough, or rather there wasn't a need to leave it in the first place.

Not truly.

But he cared little for such things at the end of the day.

"If you say so." His eyes turned back to his papers-

"So…have you heard anything about the Battle of the Eagle and Lion that's upcoming?"

He paused, then brought his eyes up to the woman. "The what?"

Catherine looked rather shocked for a moment, almost as though he had struck her, but then her expression shifted into one of incredulity, hands fell to her hips and she leaned forwards with a frown. "The battle of the Eagle and Lion? The mock battle that is supposed to come up where all the student classes fight against one another and demonstrate all they have learned?"

Was there such a thing?

Hmph.

"Hmmmm. No, I know little of that." He declared swiftly, racking his brain for only a moment. Perhaps it had been mentioned once or twice, but with little need for personal investment in such things, he never saw value in pursuing it further. "In the first place, for what reason would you seek me out for such information?"

An exasperated sigh from Catherine, her head shook from side to side. "There was some talk about some of us from the extra staff being included in the battle coming up because of everything the kids have been through. Not sure it's all that necessary, but I've been away for a while and didn't have a chance to ask. I figure you and Seteth might have talked about it."

They frowned, then inclined their head with a touch of irritation. "But you've not even bothered to learn about it yet? It's one of the most important events of the school, right there with the White Heron cup they hold every year."

Every year?

Still, a ball was it?

No, that was no concern of his.

"I have heard nothing from Seteth, no." He remarked with a shake of his head, rising up from his seated position. "Though this had earned my intrigue, introducing combatants of your calibur against the children? Skilled they might be, their experience is limited at best. Surely there are other methods of determining their capability than through competition against one another?"

Catherine exhaled, shaking her head. "It's a reenactment of the battle of Gronder field."

Oh, was that all it was?

Still, it sounded as though it was something that he would be more involved with if it was as important as Catherine described. He supposed the only thing for it was to figure out a little more. With his information from Kronya being limited at the moment and no real signs of any differences, he could afford to investigate a little.

"And as for facing off against people like me…well, when one of the classes has the daughter of Jeralt the Bladebreaker in their roster, it's only expected that they would wish to even up the playing field, isn't it?"

"I doubt Byleth would take such an active-" His words died on his lips, his gaze narrowed and turned to the side. "...No, wait. It is unlikely that her class would face a defeat, you are quite correct. Even without her capability to wield the Sword of the Creator and other other circumstances, she is merely a combatant above the likes of her students and their peers."

Catherine raised a brow at him but said nothing, he noted that she was at least not arrogant enough to deny his statement. "Yes…The professor has proved to be something special. I guess Lady Rhea was right to bring her into the Monastery, still…I'm amazed that she could deduce such potential at a glance."

Is that what she thought happened?

No matter.

"When is this supposed to take place?"

"Next month."

The month of the Wyvern moon.

He nodded his head up and down, humming at her words. "I shall speak with Seteth in regards to-no, it would be best if we both drew this matter to him. Getting answers in relation to whether this is a rumour or not would be for the best. If it is not, then I would ask that it be made so."

That brought a blink from Catherine. "Wait, really? I'm a little surprised to hear you say something like that. I thought you would have avoided it."

"To ask Byleth to hold back against the students would be insulting to them and to her." He responded to her question, shaking his head as he walked around the table. "And even if she limited herself, the result is still a forgone conclusion in favour of the Blue Lions. Therefore, the inclusion of matching elements in the remaining two classes brings about a sense of fairness. There is a chance to learn more than overwhelming strength is dominating."

Lysithea would learn only that fighting a Divine Spirit Demi-Servant was a foolish idea.

He could have told her something so simple and she could work that out for herself without having to concern herself with taking a punch to the face from said Divine Spirit, and Byleth would only hold back her physical strength, not her mental strength.

She was simply better than her peers when it came to tactics.

Manuela was a singer and Hanneman was a scholar, teachers they might have been, but Byleth had first hand experience under the tutelage of one of the most experienced and well known fighters in the entire continent. She even had her own moniker that she was known by.

The Blue Lions were going to win.

Even factoring in the chances of luck, Byleth was simply too strong an opponent.

"That seems fair enough." Catherine shrugged, turning and following alongside him, he could still feel her gaze, even if he was not looking at her anymore. A sense of questioning about it before she spoke. "I don't get you. One minute you're acting like you don't care about the battle at all - in the first place, you never bothered to learn about it - and in the next, you're rushing off to Seteth to ask if you can take part."

"Is that not obvious? If compared to all others within the Monastery, I alone am the only member of the faculty that would be capable of defeating her."

The stare aimed at the side of his head intensified. "What the heck-are you saying that you don't think that I could beat her? No, nevermind that, are you actually saying that you would be able to defeat her?"

"Yes." He supposed he could add on that defeating her would be rather simple as well, but that was not entirely true. It was only simple at the moment because of their immature nature as a Divine Spirit, they had yet to truly push themselves to their ultimate state. Sothis assuming control of Byleth's body had provided him with a decent understanding of where they would rank.

He would win.

"In the first place, you are making this assumption on the knowledge that I would engage her in close quarters combat, such as you would. That is a foolish notion, she is equal to Dimitri in terms of physical strength and has far more experience."

"...She's what now?"

"Further on from that point, her speed and reactions mean that other mages would be too slow to react to her at present, or would require extensive experience in battling such opponents. Possible, but I can think of none within the Monastery with that level of ability…Hanneman would likely be able to match her for a time, but she would ultimately triumph."

He raised his hand, pointing to himself. "Which leads to my own capabilities. I am the superior mage, I can enhance myself to match her physical abilities and in terms of reaction speeds, mine exist in an entirely different realm than her own."

The arm lowered.

"I am simply her worst opponent."

"Uh-huh."

Catherine's reaction was underwhelming, clearly not believing his words for the truth that they were.

If she wished to reject that truth, then she would look all the more the fool when it was demonstrated just how eclipsed she was, perhaps it was necessary for some to be shown the dominance of strength in battle, but he was not one of them. He knew where he stood in comparison to the others.

"However, talk of my strength aside, it is not that I am demanding participation solely on the premise that I would be a counter for Byleth. Merely that I would be able to force her to divert her focus elsewhere. It serves as just as much a teaching opportunity for her as well, given that we have never engaged in battle with one another."

"Couldn't you do that at any point?"

"Yes, but it would hardly be the same."

"...I'm a bit shocked, you never struck me as the sort of battle freak."

Goetia stopped walking, turning his head to the woman and pinching his brows slightly. "Battle freak, you say? This has little to do with any love for battle. Rather, I find the entire ordeal to be tiresome…However, if that is the only medium in which people will showcase their progress, then I shall accommodate them."

Catherine still looked far from convinced.

"If you say so…" With a hum, the woman smiled and turned her head away from him, carrying on with her step and moving further ahead.

He mentally clicked his tongue at her attitude.

This was why he avoided speaking with her in the first place, overconfident zealot that she was.

There was, however, another matter that he was questioning. "You spoke of the extra staff, I was under the impression that you were merely one of the commanding knights of the Church. You hold a position within the faculty?"

Catherine was the one to stop walking this time, turning on him with a look that all but screamed indignation for a few seconds, then her eyes closed and her mouth drew thin. Blowing air out of her nose, she fixed him with a faint glare. "Yes, I am. Not that I'm surprised you wouldn't know it, I hold classes for sword fighting and brawling."

Brawling?

…Hmph.

He shifted his evaluation of the woman ever so slightly, inclining his head a little as he walked past her. "Is that so? Shall I assume this brawling would include techniques that others might consider to be…unchivalrous?"

She looked at him like he had told a bad joke. "As much as people tout chivalry, there's very little else you can do when in a fight for your life. So really, spitting in someone's face or kicking them below the belt can mean the difference between life and death." a brief hesitation, then the woman shrugged her shoulders. "But I do also teach basic fist fighting, for those who use those big gauntlets."

Oh, those weaponised bracers?

Barbaric weapons.

"I suppose it would make little sense for me to use either one of those skills." He admitted with a shrug of the shoulders, turning away and walking on once more. "The sword interests me little and I already know hand to hand combat, or I am familiar enough with the art of it."

There was silence for a moment, Catherine made little effort to make pace with him.

Then she was walking beside him, eyes fixed on the right of his face and directing palpable confusion at him.

"What?"

"Hm?"

"You know how to fight with your hands?"

"Did I not state that my hand to hand was passable at best during our first encounter?"

Further silence, he spared a glance and watched in real time as the woman drew her mind back to their first encounter. She cupped her chin and gave out a low hum. "I…vaguely recall that, I suppose. Still, you speak as though you can still fight with your hands, no offence but what are you going to do with one arm?"

He merely grunted.

He could construct a limb any time he so pleased, but that was not the reason he found the comment amusing.

"I told you already, do not assume that my lack of a limb makes you my physical superior, and your comment just now is only proof of my words. Your assumption that because I am missing a limb, I am incapable of fighting if one were to engage me with their fists. Passable though my skill might be, I would not need to land many blows to incapacitate my foe."

"You and your boasts…" The woman exhaled, shaking her head from side to side, though this time her words did not seem so incredulous. "But you probably have a point with that one. It's all about knowing where and how hard to punch, you could probably knock someone out with a single blow if you landed the right spot. The trick is hitting that spot."

"'Trick' implies there would be difficulty."

"...Uh-huh."

"Your incredulity is showing."

Bringing her arms up, the woman placed her hands behind her head and chuckled quietly. "I can't imagine why that would be, but you and her both, you're really birds of a feather when it comes to how you speak."

Her words brought furrowed brows.

It was as though he was supposed to know who she was talking about, perhaps he did already.

They would not be referring to Byleth, which left only one other person.

"You speak of Shamir."

"So you've met her then?"

"Several times."

"..."

"...Are you expecting more?"

"Just curious if that was all you had to say about her." Catherine voiced back, a slight needling edge to her voice, as though she was searching for something more. Her need for an answer was starting to remind him of Von Riegan and that was a comparison that he truly did not need at this moment.

Still, he supposed that he could answer that question. "I find her presence to be acceptable. She is a capable individual who can be relied upon to complete her mission without complaints. Does that satisfy you?"

"...It does, yes." They were smiling now.

Did he prefer it when they were acting somewhat threatening towards him and looking down on him for being a foreigner? He could not say, but at least his dislike of her during that period of time was double ended. This odd sense of camaraderie she was trying to form felt bewildering, rather it was confusing to him.

"...Is there a reason you are choosing this moment to speak with me in this manner?"

"Hmmm?" Catherine made a small noise, turning to him and tilting her head. "Oh, why now? I suppose it would be that I've been keeping my ear to the ground about you. Making sure that you weren't a threat to Lady Rhea and that I'd need to kill you."

She spoke it so casually.

He almost laughed at the confidence, instead he pulled a tiny quirk of his lip. "How refreshingly blunt."

"Yes, well." Catherine clearly ignored his words. "You…I heard some pretty good things about you. Helping out with the damage across the Monastery in the rebuilding effort, helping the Church take care of Abyss when it could have been a problem and now electing to take on a teaching role…Your assistance in protecting the Archbishop as well…I suppose it just confirmed in my mind that you were a decent sort."

Was that what it took?

Hmph.

When laid before him in that manner, he supposed he could understand why someone so fervently devoted to Seiros as Catherine would possibly shift her opinion of him. From an outsider perspective, it appeared as though he had become some great ally of the Church and embraced the ways of the faith…or so would likely be touted.

The Church had civilised him or some such nonsense.

He did not care, but she was probably less troublesome like this.

"...Was that alone enough to sway your opinion without engaging me in many conversations?"

Catherine hummed. "No, but that's what we're doing right now, isn't it?"

"Tch."

"Did you just click your tongue at me?"

"..."

"A-are you pou-"

"Do not make foolish comments."

"If you say so."

Yes.

He should have avoided her with greater fervency.


Seteth glanced between them. "A rumour about the additional staff members being added into the Battle of the Eagle and Lion, you say? I confess that I have heard nothing of this until you brought it to my attention."

Goetia nodded. "I assumed that would be the case, for that reason, I would suggest you make it a factor."

Seteth's attention turned on him swiftly, a brow raised in silent demand for elaboration.

"Byleth is, at this moment, too great of an opponent for the students. Even setting her aside, the Blue Lions have clearly experienced more numerous battles than their peers. Rather, the class in general is too strong to give any meaningful education to either the Golden Deer or the Black Eagles."

Seteth kept silent, then leaned forwards, tenting their arms on their desk. "...Indeed, the Blue Lions have gone through some rather taxing ordeals in recent memory, and it should go without saying that Professor Eisner is an exceptional individual…So the suggestion of bolstering the ranks with more suitable opponents to give the students a greater challenge."

He nodded his head up and down, then glanced at Catherine.

The Knightess was quick to speak in support of him. "Myself and Shamir can offer aid, putting us in would make things a touch more difficult for the Blue Lion class."

"True, but the same would be true of the Golden Deers or the Black Eagles, who now have to contend with such figures…Though if you are bringing this matter to me, shall I assume that you similarly wish participation, Goetia?"

"Yes. Given my own capabilities, I am a suitable match against Byleth to ensure that the test is not heavily slated in her favour, and I can limit my spells to those native to Fodlan so that the students are not so rapidly overwhelmed by my abilities."

The man cupped his chin. "I see…I would need to bring the matter up with the Archbishop, the Battle of the Eagle and Lion is a long respected tradition that has remained unchanged, but with the shifting times and the greater dangers afoot…Shall I assume you wish to join the Golden Dee-"

"Black Eagles."

Seteth looked momentarily surprised by his words, his brows raised slightly before lowering again. "The Black Eagles, you say?"

"Yes."

"...Very well. I can discuss the matter with Professor Hanneman, but I doubt he will have much of an issue…Though it will require you to work closely with said House over the course of the next month."

"I understand."

Seteth remained silent, his eyes searching his expression for several seconds before offering a single nod of the head. "Again, I must thank you - both of you - for your diligence in this matter. I admit that the Battle of the Eagle and Lion has become rather…buried, beneath the mountain of recent events. Not to mention preparations for the White Hero Cup…it is the hope that the Monastery is fully repaired at that time, or enough so that the hall is usable."

"I can assist with repairs."

"...If you are so willing to offer, then I shall not stop you." Was the simple reply from Seteth, soon followed by a light smile. "...Thank you."

"Some of the damage was caused by me, it is only natural."

The man raised a dubious brow. "I hope I have not given you the impression that I blame you for the damage. It can hardly be said that you chose to be thrown through walls and roofs."

"...Hmmm."

"If there is nothing else."

There was not, no.

He needed to see how some of his students were progressing, but he could sense the formation of bounded fields across the monastery.

Some were…better than others.

Perhaps it would be better to wait several hours and then begin a preliminary survey of his students?

…Yes, that would be best.