Chapter 108: Slow progress.

Seteth's finger moved along the map, detailing the lines while frowning.

"Word of mouth and reports from incidents near this location detailed a Demonic Beast that acted very erratically in the past week…it moved east in some manner of rabid state while attacking everything that approached, but avoiding interaction with settlements where it could be avoided."

Goetia nodded along with the words of the man.

That did sound unusual, but not wholly so. "I assume then, that the only change exhibited by this Demonic Beast was the behaviour, rather than any abilities it otherwise demonstrated?"

Seteth hesitated briefly, then nodded his head. "Reports are limited enough, a small village was wiped out when it passed through, but that was over five days ago and represented the final sighting. Beyond this, all we can say is that it reached the mountain border between Fodlan and Almyra."

He did not hide his frown.

That was troublesome.

"If it crossed over the mountains into the eastern kingdom, then there is little chance of discovering it now, not without venturing into Almyra…and a prolonged search does not interest me. Not when my eyes are required in Fodlan…"

Cupping his chin with his lone hand, he rolled his jaw from side to side before his eyes closed. "For the time being, unless something changes, I would advise that we observe the Almyrans. As I understand, there are frequent raids at the Locket, should they miss their annual effort, then we can assume that something else has attracted their attention."

"The Demonic Beast." Seteth surmised with a grunt, then folded his arms and frowned. "Though I am troubled that this managed to get past our scouts, it is hardly unavoidable…Especially considering that until recently, standing orders were to avoid encounters with Demonic Beasts wherever possible."

He saw no reason to change such orders.

While the larger varieties of wolves or vultures could be dealt with reliably by a team of knights, he did not make any illusions about the more dangerous versions. The ones that seemed to resist magical energy and had scales as tough as tempered steel. Those were the sorts that were living war machines.

Dangerous to anyone who did not know what they were doing, or lacked the physical skills necessary to kill them.

"On that front, what progress have you made in examining the Agarthan's as you call them?"

His eyes came up towards the man.

Seteth hesitated once more, then placed his hands on his hips. "None. Though not for lack of trying, but if there were any leads, they would be centuries old and I have no doubt they would lead nowhere…we assumed them dead." his hands came up, rubbing underneath his eyes for a moment. "I can search for anything unusual but once again, it would be no different to searching for further elements akin to Miklan…"

A brief pause.

Then the man frowned. "...Perhaps Lonato as well? The weapons he held were impressive."

Goetia raised a brow. "That would more easily assume it was the nature of Sitri-"

"There was more." Seteth replied. "The fog that had been created, it had been maintained by a team of mages that the Black Eagles felled in combat, to my understanding and the understanding of Ashe, Lonato had no such court mages in his territory, or at least none that would have been capable of creating such a spell."

That gave him pause.

The implication that Sitri had been allied with others was…difficult to comprehend.

His lips pulled down. "I…will not dismiss the possibility. Though the mages in question are dead, Sitri was perfectly capable of creating such barriers themselves. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that he taught the humans to create such a bounded field, or he created the bounded field and taught them only to maintain it."

A sigh. "I see. I apologise, it was merely the only viable clue that I could consider."

He did not dismiss the words of Seteth, but their position was difficult.

"If the Agarthans had any true sense, they would avoid the mistakes they made a thousand years ago. But the presence of Miklan is…"

Goetia paused for a moment.

"Unless he was merely a test case? It is more plausible."

"A test case?" A disturbed frown appeared on the face of Seteth. "For the bestowing of this Evlogia…Yes, I can perhaps understand that. If they could rally together a force of disgruntled individuals like Lonato or even of the Western Church, and imbue them with the same powers…the results would be too terrible to contemplate."

An army of blessed humans was a danger than even he would scoff at.

Something clicked in his mind.

His thoughts drifted to the faction that Seteth had brought up.

"The Western Church…" Goetia pinched his chin and hummed. "It was during the Rite of Rebirth that their actions first came to light…which occurred during the same period as the theft of the Divine Core from the vaults underneath the Monastery."

A nod of the head. "True, that is…"

Seteth paused, then frowned rather heavily. "Do you suppose the two events were coordinated? I cannot deny it."

Goetia grunted. "That, for the moment, is conjecture. However, I do not believe that coincidence can be ignored. While I am not certain the Western Church was wholly aware of what transpired, I am more of the belief that there was another individual within the Church that informed whomever breached the vault of the location and the time in which the attack would take place."

He brought up a single finger. "A primary distraction, that being the attack upon the Archbishop by assassins who were merely random citizens coerced into action. They would doubtless be captured and presumably executed, all while they could say nothing that would lead them back to the organisers of the attack."

"And with this third party making use of the Western Churches knowledge, they also achieve their goal while the Western Church takes the fall for the majority of the incident. Especially given that they stole only a single item from the Vault which, in light of recent revelations, has proven to be a greater danger…Ergo, the Agarthans."

Goetia nodded his head. "It stands to reason that the Agarthans used the Western Church's disgruntled feelings towards the Central Church and created this ploy…Perhaps Sitri intervened when they saw an opportunity, or perhaps they were not involved."

He withheld a frown.

Now that the possibility of Olympians was in frame of mind, there was no denying that he would need to reevaluate everything he previously assumed in regards to which faction was behind which incident.

"Then it seems the documents of the Western Church will need to be examined once more and with far greater detail than they previously were."

Seteth let out a sigh, his hand moved up and rubbed along the front of his face, he fell backwards and slumped into his chair. The exasperation bled off the man in waves, showcasing just how tired he truly was in this moment. "That is hardly a task I look forwards to…And I am sceptical we shall find anything incriminating, but it is indeed worth a greater look."

His hand lowered down from his face.

"I shall send for the documents to be moved from the remnants of the Western Church and to here for examination."

Goetia nodded along. "Inform me when they arrive, I shall assist you. Suffice to say that I have experience in such things."

Seteth raised a brow at him, then made a sweeping motion with his hand that was clearly an assent. "If you wish to do so, then I shall not stop you."

Clearing his throat, the man leaned forwards. "Though, moving onto another topic. I have heard that you have been ingratiating yourself within the Black Eagles rather well as of late, or at least as can be attested to. Though I am concerned about whether you are stretching yourself thin with these additional responsibilities that you are giving yourself."

A tight frown came upon the face of the man. "I shall not insult your capabilities, indeed, given your previous reign as a King, I assume you have experience in long hours of work…but all the same, I would much rather you not exhaust yourself with so many tasks. Else you risk performing below acceptable results."

The concern of the man was…understandable.

It had been the flaw of Gilgamesh during the Seventh Singularity.

"I am aware of my own limitations." He reassured the man with a wave of the hand. "I am doing nothing that stretches my own abilities…Though on the topic of the Black Eagles and my time with them, I am curious as to what other individuals are to be placed with the Golden Deer."

Seteth raised a brow but otherwise remained silent.

At least for a few moments.

"Catherine has volunteered for the Golden Deer and has been training alongside them since yesterday."

Goetia was hardly surprised by that.

"...It goes well?"

Seteth made a small noise, akin to amusement and sympathy. "As well as it could be managed, she is certainly something of a drill master if the words I have been hearing are any indication. Though I believe that young Mister Kirsten has few complaints about her work ethic. The others…Are hardly quite so enthusiastic, but they understand the need at least."

Yes, he imagined that would be the case.

His head nodded up and down as he compartmentalised the words of Seteth.

"Just Catherine?"

Seteth paused for a moment, then thinned his lips. "I have given more thought to another individual being added to the roster of the Golden Deer, but for the time being, I believe that Catherine will be sufficient. At least she and Professor Eisner are around equal in terms of skill and if the Professor holds herself back to a reasonable degree…"

He trailed off meaningfully.

Goetia understood the rest without the need for words.

"Understandable." Was all he said in response to that. "If you will excuse me."

He turned around, making his way towards the door of the office.

"Oh, and before you depart."

He paused, then looked over his shoulder towards Seteth, the man lowered his raised hand. "Next week on Tuesday, there is to be a lunch for the staff. I believe it would be remiss of me if I did not inform you of it."

Goetia raised a brow.

This was the first he had heard of such a thing, even more than that the timing was…bewildering.

"Is this truly the best instance in which to hold a social gathering, especially when there are more pressing matters to attend to?"

Seteth made a small grunt of understanding, his head bobbed up and down. "I can understand where you speak of, though it was made at the insistence of the Archbishop. She believes that given all that has transpired, it would be…prudent that the staff have the opportunity to unwind, merely to avoid becoming too stressed in regard to recent events."

This was Seiros doing, was it?

That was…peculiar.

As he turned his head back towards the door, his brows pinched and his lips pulled themselves downwards into a thoughtful frown. While he could hardly say that it was a foolish notion, the timing was still poor. Especially during the severity of the other matters he was attending to, not just him, but of the Monastery as a whole.

Dragging the staff out for a lunch of all things…

Closing his eyes, he lowered his head forwards and moved a hand up to cover his face, a breath escaped him. "I assume that you are not as encouraging of this idea as Seiros currently is?"

"I'd ask you not to refer to her by that name in the open…and I cannot claim to be wholly against it in principle." Seteth replied to him, though there was a clear essence of strain in his voice. Evidently holding back a great deal of his true feelings on the matter, but not all of them. "The staff, just as much as the students, have been through ordeals - more so than in recent memory - and I can understand the need for relaxation…that being said, the White Heron cup in a little over two months and there is still much work to be done to ensure the Monastery will even be able to host that."

Seteth grumbled that to himself, Goetia turned around and was met with the expected sight of the man with his head in his hands. "...I apologise for that outburst, but perhaps it is because of these circumstances that the Archbishop feels we cannot wait until then…Though I believe that next month is the annual mixer between the knights and the faculty."


Goetia was familiar with the concept - not by choice - and found himself raising a brow at the man.

He did not believe that it was similar to the sort he knew of, but he could not ignore the possibility.

"...This is a shared outing between the knights and the faculty, yes?"

Seteth looked up, then hummed in agreement. "Yes, it is."

"I see." Goetia glanced towards the side for a moment, then closed his eyes. "As for the matter of the staff lunch, as you call it…I will not deny that I see some small value in it as a distraction. Nor can I claim that it will be to a detriment, given I have seen such things occur during even more dire experiences than this."

He received a raised brow and nothing else, but Seteth looked somewhat perturbed by his comments. "Dare I ask how you managed to find the light at the end of the tunnel at such times?"

Goetia thinned his lips. "...I was not making reference to myself."

"...I see." Seteth pressed no further on the issue. "Very well then, if you feel as though you can afford to step away from your duties, then that is your choice. Though do not feel compelled to come, it is hardly compulsory."

Something about the wording struck him. "Is this a subtle hint that you will not be attending?"

A low grunt was the answer, Seteth's attention returned to his desk as he reached across for his quill and inkpot, sliding the map away from himself and drawing forth several documents. "Unfortunately I have other duties to attend to that will overlap during that period."

"...A shame."

Seteth paused, then glanced up at him for a brief moment. "...Perhaps, but my role never allowed for many breaks, even before whatever catastrophe appeared before my doorstep." a wry chuckle escaped the man, his eyes returned to the papers. "This is not the first time I have been unable to attend such events, and I doubt it shall be the last."

Even if they said that…

Goetia rolled his jaw.

Seteth was one of the few individuals in the Monastery that he considered to be on…amicable terms with.

It had shifted through the admission that Seteth trusted him.

Their competence when it came to their job was to be lauded, he did not doubt they were one of the few individuals who kept the Monastery afloat, not unlike that of Agravain during the era of Camelot.

…The similarities in their functions were striking, as well as the workload.

"If you are so troubled, I can concoct some method of allowing you a brief escape from your work."

"I am hardly troubled." Seteth paused, then sighed. "And while I do not doubt your capabilities or that you could likely find some mystical way of allowing me an escape from my duties, I believe that you - more so than anyone - can appreciate the necessity of seeing work done correctly with your own two hands."

Seteth started to write, all while he continued to speak.

"Personally, I would much prefer my work be done in my line of sight, rather than carried out by another…No offence."

"No, I merely overstepped." Goetia replied with a shake of the head. "I understand completely, it was a suggestion and nothing more. In that case, I shall leave you to your work."

"Thank you. Have a pleasant day, Goetia."

He was already halfway to the door when Seteth spoke the words, briefly pausing as he gripped the handle and rolling his lips inwards for a moment. "...Have a productive session."

Seteth snorted. "Now that I have your blessing, perhaps it shall be so."

He joked about it, but Goetia was sure that the man would at least appreciate the remark.

If he did not, then he was a fool.

Finding the Golden Deer was not even a challenge, they were exactly where he expected them to be.

Though given what they were also doing was exactly as he expected, Goetia found himself mixed on whether or not he was supposed to be troubled by this development. While he did understand the need for the training at the hands of Catherine, that did not truly change his thoughts on who would benefit from it more.

Thus, as he stood by the entrance to the training hall and watched as Lysithea desperately tried to avoid being caught with a wooden sword to her body, he found himself frowning a touch more than he likely should have been.

His eyes turned from his student and towards her attacker.

Catherine was holding back, anyone with an ounce of sense would have seen that if they glanced at this scene with their own two eyes.

All the same…

Goetia rolled his jaw from side to side as he watched the scene continue, though as expected, Lysithea eventually released a cry of pain as the sword caught her in the shin, the girl jumped back and dropped down to grasp at her injured leg.

Catherine darted forwards, placing her palm flat against the face of the girl and then gave a rather light shove. A light shove for Catherine, at least, but it was more than enough force to send the diminutive girl sprawling onto the ground, making a rather loud shout as she was thrown to the ground.

Letting out a sigh, the woman stepped backwards and mounted the sword over her shoulder, her other hand falling to her hip.

"Well, you dodged pretty well for the first few blows, but you were putting too much power into your efforts to avoid me. Making big leaps like that is just gonna tire you out faster. Don't put in the maximum when the minimum will do just fine."

Catherine turned to the Golden Deer and gestured to them. "Same goes for all of you when dodging someone. Taking a giant leap to the side makes it easy to avoid them, but you're going to get tired and all they need to do is wait. Just as true for you as it is for the guy swinging."

Moving her hand up, she scratched the underside of her chin. "Partner up and practice taking small movements to avoid getting caught. A little sidestep or a duck. Don't jump out of the way, even if your body is telling you to do that."

"Did you have to do that while throwing me on the ground?"

Catherine glanced down to Lysithea as the girl picked herself up.

The woman just shrugged. "Easier to show people what I mean than to tell them…Also you looked as though you definitely could have done with some practice in dodging in general, nevermind the more nuanced moves."

Goetia watched the proceedings, allowing himself to loosen his posture once he concluded that it was over.

He rolled his jaw, then turned and moved away-

"Spying on the competition, are we?"

The words halted his movements, his head turned to the left and he narrowed his eyes at the speaker.

Finding Manuela stood to the side and leaning against the wall just next to the door, clearly he had overlooked her when he entered, but he had no reason to assume she would have been here in the first place.

"I would not describe my actions as such." He responded blandly. "I was simply examining what manner of training was occurring with the other classes under the gaze of my colleague. Besides, even if I were to resort to an action as base as spying, it would hardly be unjustified, given what is due to occur."

Manuela held up her hands and rolled her eyes, the action made it clear that she was hardly taking him seriously.

That bothered him.

His eyes narrowed, a grunt escaped him. "You are just as free to examine the Black Eagles or the Blue Lions when they engage in their own manner of training."

"Oh, I know about that." The woman responded rather simply. "Though you could have just said that you were worried about your students and decided to check up on how they were fairing."

It was not as though she was wrong, he had come here specifically to see how Lysithea would deal with the training of Catherine.

Though, for some reason, admitting as such to Manuela felt as though he would be defeated or humiliated in some regard. Thus he kept his expression monotone as he stared at the woman, then slowly raised his eyebrow. "Is it not expected of a professor or lecturer to be mindful of their students at all times? I am puzzled as to why you speak as if my actions are somehow unique and not the obvious course of action."

He grunted. "Besides, it is also worth noting what manner of training the Golden Deer are receiving and what can be expected from them in the future."

Turning his head back to the direction of the students, he watched as they started to begin the exercise of dodging, a simple one to be sure. Then again, he supposed they all had to begin somewhere and-

He frowned.

"...Were they not already familiar with the concept of dodging blows?"

He turned on Manuela, the woman chuckled. "That's just Catherine. Speaks to everyone as if they were a child and enjoys making things simple, but yes. For the most part, everyone knows how to dodge an attack, but she's just refining them a bit more than they are used to. Though I expect that others will pick up on it faster than their peers."


Yes, he could already observe that Leonie was coming to terms with the short movements.

…With mixed results, if her loud hiss as the slash from Hilda caught the girl in the arm when she made an effort to sidestep was any indication.

"So then, how has being a Black Eagle gone?"

He glanced at Manuela as she, for whatever reason, decided to step away from the wall and come to a halt right next to him, peering at him for a few moments as she awaited his answer.

"Why do you ask?"

"Just making conversation, dear." She replied smoothly, chuckling as if she said something amusing. "I heard from Seteth that you were also going to be giving everyone a chance and not use any of your rather impressive magic. I'll thank you preemptively, before I need to worry about being caught in some manner of frightening light show."

Goetia fought the urge to scoff. "At least you understand the difference, but do not assume that my lack of magecraft will change the results…Though the same restriction does not apply to Lysithea and given that I will be teaching the students some further basics, I do not doubt that some might make an effort to employ magecraft."

It was something he expected.

But he did not doubt the efficiency of whatever was made.

Not even the talent of Lysithea would change the fact that a month was not enough time to rise into being a credible threat to him in Magecraft…though he was unsure of where she stood in regards to her runes. If her diligence was proven true, then he expected she would have made leaps and bounds since he last saw her practice.

His eyes lingered on the girl as she made clumsy efforts with a blade.

Catherine had not stepped far from the girl and watched the proceedings with a blank expression, not yet having noticed that he was in the room-

"She's never so much as held a blade in her life." The comment came from Manuela, clearly he had been looking too long.

He broke away from the sight and onto the woman. "That is to be expected. She lacks the same physical prowess as her peers-"

"Oh, that's hardly an excuse." The woman chortles cut him short, her hand waved from side to side. "Ignatz is barely all that different from her when it comes to physical stature. It's all a matter of practice and I doubt that Catherine is going to let the girl off that easy."

A frown crossed his features. "...You are aware of Lysithea's aversion to physical training, yes?"

"I'm not suggesting she become an axe wielder." The dryness in Manuela's voice was somewhat insulting. "Just that it wouldn't hurt for the girl to have some more options in the future. Or at least build up some level of fitness so that she can at least keep up with her peers in the open…"

He…saw the logic in her words.

Slowly, his head turned from Manuela and back to the others.

Hilda caught Von Riegan in the shin with a rather loud crack that echoed across the room.

Shortly followed by a rather pained gasp from the boy.


"I don't think you should be laughing at something like that."

"Laughing? I am expressing pride in the abilities of Hilda to land a blow as deftly as-"

"Yes, yes." Manuela rolled her eyes at him and stepped past. "Now if you will excuse me, I need to make sure that he hasn't broken his shin."

Goetia quickly scanned the boy's limb, though he said nothing and allowed Manuela to depart.

He did not need to bother telling her that it was a mere bruise.


"I am not going to answer another accusation of spying."

He turned to the speaker and cut them short before they could finish. Catherine watched him for a few moments with her hands on her hips and head cocked to the side. Eventually, a smirk blossomed on her face as a chuckle escaped her. "No, of course not. Just doing reconnaissance on the enemy, aren't you?"

"In part, yes." Was the slow answer that he gave her. "You took to the task rather swiftly, did you not?"

Catherine grunted and shrugged. "I do this sort of thing with the knights sometimes, just to make sure that they're always ready when the moment calls for it."

He nodded his head past her. "Those are not knights and they do not have the same level of experience. Remain mindful of that."

She paused.

Her eyes narrowed and her arms crossed. "I am aware of that, yes."

"Good, so long as you temper your expectations, you will not be disappointed when you find performances-"



They both glanced to the direction of the noise, Lorenz stepped back and shook his hand rather exaggeratedly, having taken a sword to the knuckles from Raphael. Sure enough, Manuela was not long in walking over to where he was as well.

Catherine let out a small grunt that might have been considered amusement as she turned back to face him. "Yes, well. I think I'll find something to be excited about. A lot of these kids are gonna have some promise."

"Every human has potential." Goetia dryly responded to her. "The difference is whether that potential is ever realised or not…but that is not my purpose here. I merely came to evaluate the level of danger posed by the Golden Deer and estimate their strength for when the mock battle eventually comes."

She stared at him expectantly. "And?"

"And the Blue Lions are still the biggest threat."

"We'll just see about that."

"Oh?" He raised a brow. "Have you experienced some manner of miracle that I am not aware of which would explain where this sudden burst of confidence has originated?"

The woman's eyes narrowed, though they concealed a burn of what he would call a competitive spirit. "Those sound like a challenge…are you saying that the Blue Lions are the only real threat to you?"

"That should have gone without saying."

Catherine rolled her jaw from side to side, then smirked. "Alright then, I suppose we'll just have to see who beats who when the fighting comes. It's all well and good talking big now, but if you can't back it up, then it is hardly worth anything."

"How true." He replied swiftly. "Which is why I do not say anything that cannot be supported."

"That a fact?"


Catherine's smirk turned a touch sharper. "Then we'll just have to see. I hope you're putting as much fire into trading barbs with me as you are into training, otherwise it's going to be a fairly short match when we do end up fighting."

He scoffed at her. "On the contrary, the Golden Deer are not the only class to be put through rigorous testing. Come the battle of the Eagle and Lion, I shall demonstrate the full strength of the ordeal that I have put the Black Eagles through."

Bringing his hand up, he gestured to himself. "Then you shall understand that even without my magecraft, I am still more than a match for you."

"A one man army ain't enough."

"That depends on the man in question."

Catherine stepped backwards, still wearing her smirk but with her eyes narrowed in clear challenge. "Then I'm going to enjoy wiping that look of confidence off your face when we utterly trounce you."

"Take care not to wander too far into your fantasies, lest you become lost in them."

"Ha!" Barking out a loud laugh, Catherine turned around and walked back towards the Golden Deer.

Goetia grunted lowly and sent one final look towards Lysithea, then turned around.

He paused when he met the eyes of Edelgard, who merely watched him with a raised brow.

"A dinner?"

"With the rest of the class, yes." Edelgard replied to him as they walked, having broached the topic not long after she invited him on a walk. "It was one of Dorothea's ideas, given that we did not have the chance to dine together when we went to Enbarr, something that she says was rather tragic."

"I assume it has more to do with her interests of further socialisation between the students."

He paused, then frowned.

Something Edelgard noticed swiftly. "Is there something that ails you?"

"Merely the fact she would make efforts to form a student dinner with those she does not get along with. Unless she plans to ignore Ferdinand for the duration of the meal, that is."

He was met with silence, then spared a glance to the teenager and waited for a response.

"You speak of Ferdinand rather casually." She noted with a touch of surprise, "And with how passionately he greeted you as well, that was far beyond what he would normally do…Did you two become close friends while I was not paying attention?"

Goetia thought on the subject for a moment, then grunted. "I have come to understand him as an individual and find his personality to be agreeable…or at the very least, non-offensive, to me for extended periods of time. Far more so than others, though I would hardly call us friends in any real capacity."

"That is…" Edelgard trailed off for a moment, then slowly made a sound of amazement. "That is rather surprising to hear, but I do not think of it as a bad thing. Certainly, it helps that there is not more strife amongst the Black Eagles than currently exists…I am all too aware that some individuals simply to do not agree with others."

He merely waved a hand. "Such is the case when humans are pulled from all walks of life. Not simply the difference between Noble and Common, but between the families."

With a sigh, the girl nodded along with his words. "I am afraid you are quite correct, though I am not sure how to go about resolving that issue beyond giving them a common goal to work towards, but that presents itself as nothing more than a stop-gap measure at best."

Her hands fell to her side as she stopped walking. "Especially given that after we 'crush the Golden Deer' then we shall be without that unifying ideal."

Goetia similarly stopped walking, then turned his head towards the teenager and levelled a flat look at her. "Spying?"

Edelgard levelled him with a dull look. "Some would consider it rather rude to accuse the heiress of the Adrestian Empire of 'spying' as for one thing, I am not Hubert." with a wave of the hand, she resumed walking. "I just so happened to overhear."


"...Still though, I did not think that you were so competitive."

"My handicap has given individuals the wrongful impression that they are now capable of defeating me." Goetia replied to her with a grunt and a wave of the hand, his lips curled down at the thought. "Though it is for the benefit of the students, there is no reason why I should enter a contest such as this and not use it as a chance to demonstrate my superiority, even when I am limiting myself to the magic of Fodlan."

"And your bare hands, if the words of Caspar mean anything."

He caught her slightly amused tone of voice. "He has spoken of his beatings then?"

Edelgard's lip twitched. "An apt explanation of what transpired, if his own account is to be believed. Though you will be pleased to hear - if you do not already know - that he fully intends to keep on trying until he eventually defeats you."

"...He is aware that I am learning and perfecting my unarmed skills at the same time as he is, yes? The gap between us widens with each match."

"And yet he persists all the same." She replied without missing a beat. "Caspar is stubborn, he will not give up easily. I suspect he might follow you down even after this small union between our class and you ends…unless you plan on becoming a permanent member of the Black Eagles as an assistant?"

He raised a brow at her silently.

Edelgard chuckled. "Yes, I suppose it would be a touch too soon to ask you such a question. Please, do not think too seriously on my words for now…but I shall doubtless ask again in the future as well, so please bear that in mind."

"I would be surprised if you did not make the effort again."

And that was the truth of it.

"Regardless, I suspect that we shall both come to understand one another better by the time this ends."

Or rather, that was the hope of it.

Taking on the role of Fujimaru Ritsuka was certainly going to be eye opening.

"I suppose it would be difficult not to do so." Came the swift reply of the heiress. "I understand that you and Professor Hanneman have been speaking about another training session for our class. Am I to assume that we shall face the same manner of opponents, or shall they be different?"

Goetia hummed in thought. "Would you prefer differences? The Golems do not accurately simulate humans as they are at the moment. I could change their form to better simulate the adversaries you shall face, though it would take longer for me to create than the others."

"Hmmm. Better to stick with the current ones, they are tougher than ordinary people, are they not? The difference in skill can be dealt with in terms of training between ourselves or one of the other lecturers, Jeritza is still available and - to my knowledge - Catherine is not forbidden fro-"

He twisted his features at the mention of the woman.

Something that was seen immediately if the sudden cut off meant anything.

A faint noise from Edelgard, much like a chuckle, "But perhaps it would be ill advised for us to seek her out for the moment. Especially as she would have accurately gauged our skill in terms of swordplay and could pass along such information to the Golden Deers."

"Do you suppose she would do that?" Goetia raised a brow, "It does not fit in with her personality to provide others with tactics for victory in such an underhanded fashion. She would just as quickly tell the student she is training than the others. It is still her job and assigned to her by the Archbishop."

Edelgard paused, then nodded slowly. "Yes, I suppose that would be the case…am I to assume it would be a personal matter?"

"It would be humiliating to stand before her and request aid after making such a declaration to her earlier."

"...Yes, quite true."

"Where is Hubert?"

If she was surprised by the sudden change in topic, she did not show it. Instead she thought for a moment and then responded to him. "As far as I can remember, he was making an effort to bring the notes of the last lesson to Bernadetta."

That sounded dutiful.

Ah, he understood now. Any academic failures in the Black Eagles would reflect on Edelgard and that would naturally be unacceptable. "He is rather meticulous, is he not?"

"Hubert certainly leaves no stone unturned." She responded in a rather wistful tone of voice, shaking her head from side to side. "Regardless of how it might appear to others…but I am curious, did you have business with Hubert?"

"Not as of yet, no." He replied. "But that is subject to change, given the nature of my agreement with understanding your class better. I am already familiar with Ferdinand and have made developments with the others of your class, it leaves only Hubert as the individual who I have yet to speak with in any true capacity."

Edelgard hummed for a moment, then nodded her head. "Hubert is…Hmmm. He is very simple, once you come to know him. Though I suppose you would rather speak with him yourself than have me talk to you about his efforts, would you not?"

"Quite right."

Silence descended between the two of them before Edelgard spoke again.



"Might I ask a question that you would answer honestly?"

Goetia flattened his features. "I answer all my questions honestly, but you speak as though you wish for a blunt answer. Go ahead and make your inquiry."

Nodding her head, the teenager took in a short breath before she spoke. "Do you truly believe that we can defeat the Blue Lions?"

Goetia stopped walking, so did Edelgard.

Turning to her, he raised a brow. "That is a rather defeatist statement to be making, though under normal circumstances, I would say it is entirely rational. Byleth has every advantage over your class in ways that would be difficult to explain. In terms of power…she eclipses everyone in this Monastery save a select few."

The girl nodded along with his words, not even asking the names of those he spoke of.

"Under ordinary circumstances, I would claim that defeating Byleth is impossible. The Blue Lions without her are a different matter. While it is true they have experience as an advantage, it is hardly as though they have hundreds of battles. You have both experienced combat and have been trained in the same location."

A pause, Edelgard spoke during the silence. "So it is the Professor that is the real problem?"

"That is not what I claimed, but it is not entirely inaccurate. Without the professors included, the battle could go to whichever class is the better prepared. The Blue Lions would indeed have an edge, but it is one that could be negated with careful planning."

The addition of Byleth - however - threw all of that into chaos.

To say nothing of her capacity to rewind time, her physical attributes were far and above a human being.

She was effectively a Demi-Servant and while not as physically durable as Mash, there was no doubt in his mind that she was physically stronger.

But so long as she was a Divine Spirit…he had some advantages.

"Though yes, the Professor is the greatest threat. Though you did not need me to tell you the obvious. If you did, then I would be bitterly disappointed."

Edelgard let out a small huff. "No, I was aware of that from the very beginning. I am merely asking you - handicapped now as you are - whether you believe we would still have a chance of victory?"

"...Every victory must be earned in some capacity. With my handicap…I cannot claim that I could defeat Byleth…It is entirely possible she has developed some form of magic resistance but that is beside the point. I do not expect you to defeat Byleth…defeating the Golden Deer and Blue Lions is sufficient."

His eyes narrowed.

"The question is…do you wish to defeat Byleth?"

The teen sighed. "It would hardly be much of a victory if we were unable to best the Professor, would it?"

"You misunderstand. Byleth and the Blue Lions are not one in the same."

Edelgard frowned. "I believe that they are, she is their professor-"

"And a professor - a teacher - who is bested by students a single year into their academic learning is hardly one that any would consider keeping around for any reason. Much the same as they would assume of a knight as well."

Goetia raised his lone hand and brought up a single finger. "The Blue Lions as a class are your peers. They are the ones you are expected to defeat, while it is certainly true that Byleth being present puts them at an advantage, that is true, but it is not a battle in which they are judging the skill of Byleth and she knows this."

He lowered the arm. "If that were the case, then there would be no point to this."

Edelgard blinked twice, then rolled her jaw. "Then-"

"I do not believe you can defeat Byleth…but I do believe it is possible for you to defeat the Blue Lions. It is a very real possibility."

The white haired teen watched him for a few moments, then slowly nodded her head up and down. "I see…it seems less daunting when you speak of it in such a manner. Certainly more doable, but that does not change the fact Byleth is a threat. So what do you suppose be done if we encounter her?"

Goetia frowned in thought. "...I would say victory is impossible…but that would be hypocritical of me to even state such a thing. Given that I…no, that is not the point. My advice would be to picture then one in a billion scenario in which you can win…then imagine you are living in that scenario."

A surprised blink and then a chuckle was his response. "That is rather optimistic of you, is it not?"

"Optimistic…perhaps." Goetia answered. "Though I would claim it the opposite. There is no such thing as a situation where there is no chance of defeat. Through my own experience, no matter how secure your position, no matter how powerful you are, no matter what safeguards you have or how weak your foes are…there is always that slim chance that you can be defeated."

"...Experience, you say?" Edelgard rolled her jaw, then watched him before speaking slowly, her eyes very pointedly avoided looking towards his right side.

"Experience. That is my honest answer. Fight as though you believe you are in that single, slim, chance. Whether anything comes of it or not is…hmm. I cannot say, but it should be interesting all the same to see if such feats can be replicated by anyone."

Raising an eyebrow, the girl said nothing.

Then eventually, she nodded her head. "I see. If you believe that we can defeat the Golden Deer and Blue Lions but not their professors, then I can agree with your assessment. Even before…everything that transpired, it could not be denied that Professor Eisner came from a rather interesting background."

It started from the moment she was born, or even before she was born,

"Byleth merely has more experience in fighting. Less so when it comes to teaching and leadership…but she has visibly improved."

"You sound pleased?"

"Pleased that a hire with no credentials is proving to be useful at the one job she was brought into the Monastery for? Does that truly strike you as odd?"

Edelgard released a small huff. "I can hardly argue against that…Perhaps we should continue on our way, I would hardly wish to face the accusations of Dorothea that I have been trying to steal you away from her."

He pinched his brows slightly. "For what reason would Dorothea say such a thing in the first place?"

"You…no, nevermind. Do not worry about it. I was merely speaking to myself."

Goetia frowned at her but said nothing.

It felt as though he had missed some form of subtext during the conversation at the end.