All her life she knew the concept of emotion, but in reality it was something she could never truly express. Only a select few could understand the minor signs; her father being one of them, whether it was the slight shock in her eyes as they barely widened to the furrow of her brow when aggravated. It never really crossed her mind that it was out of the ordinary to appear so emotionless, it wasn't until she became a teenager that it started to become obvious to her. While many thought it strange for her growing up to give off nothing but a blank stare, it wasn't entirely strange to other mercenaries as her father was the same with the exception of when he became annoyed. His annoyance did come off more obvious as if he were his heart on his sleeve more in comparison to her. Sometimes, she wondered what that was like...
Like father like daughter, they would say.
It did truly make her a renowned mercenary in their field, the Ashen Demon they would call her, as she could strike down any enemy with no emotion or remorse as blood stained her blade and face. Some would even think that she gets some enjoyment from the slaughter, or that her victims did not deserve any sort of emotion coming from their killer. The notion was far from the truth, there was little joy in taking the life of another. As much as she would argue, as blankly as she was, it didn't convince others that she hated it. Yet that was the life they led; the life she only knew, doing the dirty work for those that hire her so they can survive.
Comes with the territory, she would quip.
She had to always tell herself that.
It wasn't until they had saved three students from the Monastery that it started to show, as if the interest she took to them had awakened the notion from its slumber the moment they came into the village asking for aid. A part of her felt that it was because the girl in her mind had started appearing more in her dreams, it was no coincidence that she began to show more emotion at the same time they started to talk to one another. At least, that's what she thought.
Before she had expressed her concerns over the voices and dreams she kept having, she could tell by the quirk of her father’s brow everytime it came up that it bothered him. He knew how much it began affecting her, yet there was nothing to be done about it. And she knew that.
On the field as she approached the bandits, carrying her sword as if it was merely just an extension of her arm, slashing any that would dare to charge towards her. The apprehension that the students had as they saw her control the battle was unmistakable, blood spurted from the wounds she inflicted coating her porcelain skin and steel sword. So focused she was that she almost forgot that they were fighting alongside her when she could hear the whizz of an arrow pass by her to land on the target before her. To her sides, the blonde haired lancer and white haired axe wielder took down their own enemies.
“So they do know how to fight.”
Looking back slightly at the archer who winked towards her direction, she merely nodded before returning her attention back to the bandits.
“I should be careful about him.”
It wasn't like her to put herself in front of another to save their life, she could tell from the shocked look her father gave her when she put herself in harm's way to save the axe wielding girl. Quite frankly, she couldn’t remember a time where she endangered herself for another. While it was an easy feat to knock the bandit back, it was only because Sothis had spun back time to redo her foolish attempt at saving them at the cost of their life. Never again will she carelessly throw her life like that.
It wasn’t until they were on the road to the monastery that it started to hit her. Her life was about to change.
Listening to the squabbles of the soon-to-be leaders as they journeyed to the so called monastery she couldn’t help but tilt her head slightly in confusion. Even though they mostly spoke to one another with her watching the back end in case other bandits tried their luck, she could tell that periodically their glances would return to her. They were nobles, the sudden job now entailed that she needed to watch out for them even though an attack right now could shut them up. There was always the potential risk of being attacked.
“This will be your first time at the monastery.” The lancer started as he looked towards her. “I’d be happy to show you around.”
"It really is Fódlan in a nutshell. The good and the bad." The archer said.
Wondering what he meant she kept the thought to herself, she knew what bad could come of it if she pressed for questions. What does he know about the bad?
"Must you always keep a frown on your face!" Sothis hissed in her mind.
“Like it or not, we’ll be there soon enough.” The axe wielder stated.
Becoming a professor to the students from the monastery that they saved after their arrival was not something she had anticipated, her father being forced back into the rank of Captain from before was only natural but she assumed she would be taking a role alongside him. It was quite obvious how he felt with how much he sighed in front of her in their privacy. While apologizing rather profusely on the situation she merely shrugged her shoulders at him. Of course she would’ve rather preferred that they asked if she wanted to, but from the sounds of how this organization and their Archbishop worked it seemed that denying the “opportunity” would be met with severe repercussions.
The way the Archbishop, Lady Rhea, looked at her made her skin crawl. It’s as if she loved her as much as she loved herself, even though she had never met the woman before.
She’d have to keep an eye on her.
Now heading down the reception hall she was instructed to find the house leaders to learn about them, under the notion that she would potentially be their professor so it would be wise to learn who they are. While it wasn’t necessarily what she wanted to do, if she was to become their teacher she would gain some sort of benefit to learning about them each individually. Afterall; strengths and weaknesses can make or break a war, and they would be learning something from her when it comes to the battlefield. The teachings passed down from her father to them would be somewhat beneficial.
Being a mercenary she had no real reason to care for the separating nations and their struggles, growing up all she cared for was the coin that came with the job. Everything she needed was provided by her father and herself, and it's all she ever knew. To now being thrown into a pit of noble children with bright eyed ambitions she couldn't help but scoff, the world is cruel outside the luxurious walls they live in.
Perhaps that's why she somehow took towards one of the students she had saved, even though he carried the title of a noble she could tell that his mannerisms were quite the opposite. He carried himself rather different in comparison to the two that accompanied him, it was also quite obvious that they treated him similar to that of an outsider. In the few days of traveling to return back the monastery it was easy to pick up their mannerisms and quirks, him being the one that looked like he could survive out in the wild by himself.
"Perhaps this could be interesting after all." She contemplated as her legs carried her towards the classrooms.
“So this must be the mercenary that is making the rounds!”
She cursed under her breath as she saw a group of students approach her upon walking into the courtyard in front of the classrooms. Although she was not truly comfortable with the idea of being approached so heavily by people, usually for her it meant that they wanted to fight, they were only really students eager to learn something about the daughter of the Blade Breaker. With a nod of her head she greeted them as she normally does, a short hello with little to no emotion. She hadn’t noticed that the crowd grew larger until she looked around and noticed that a swarm of students quite literally had her surrounded. Word must’ve spread she thought.
“They must be very interested in you.” Sothis giggled.
“You must find a lot of joy in this.” She groaned.
Even the house leaders she had saved prior came up to greet her, smiles crossing their features as they observed their fellow students start to warm up to their new ally. Many of them were thankful for her actions; while she can’t say she felt like doing it for the sake of their lives she kept the thought to herself. Some were so grateful that they even offered them their services as thanks such as meals or tea. Quickly she shot the gestures down, the last thing she needed was owing people should she accept it especially if it came down to money or favors.
Excusing herself from the crowd she parted towards the dining hall, her father had given her a tour in the morning which proved useful as she could feel her stomach groan in hunger. Already it was well into the afternoon just barely touching into the evening, she didn’t realize that she spent hours talking to all the students as they gathered around her. It was only a miracle that her throat wasn’t bone dry with all the talking she did.
Entering the large dining hall, she quickly spotted her father in the crowd at a table with the other knights. Motioning her way towards the group she took a seat beside him, staring at the food that sat waiting for her whenever she would arrive. Giving him a nod as thanks, she began to dig in. It was a pie dish of some sort, Garreg Mach Meat Pie according to him, stuffed with various ingredients like meat and cheese. Her eyes narrowed slightly at the foreign dish as it was something she had never seen before. Their meals always tended to be quite simple with being on the go so often. Lifting a spoonful into her mouth, her eyes widened slightly to the strange and fascinating flavors she had not experienced before.
“You had this before?” she asked as she looked up at Jeralt.
“Many times, what do you think?”
Pausing for a moment as she stared down at it, waiting to see if it was potentially poisonous before her lips parted. “It’s good.”
It didn’t take her long before she started eating it more, she wasn’t sure at first that she would be okay with the food that they served but quite thankful she is that she found at least one thing she enjoyed. Her whole life was spent on either rations or whatever she could find hunting, being frugal was rather an understatement when it came to taking care of themselves. Having not to worry about making her next meal or where it would come from was a relaxing thought.
Looking up at the table she could spot various students that she was with earlier take a seat at the other tables, convening with each other and reconnect to talk about the day’s events. From what she could gather it had seemed that they tended to sit by class or be with those they spend the days with, the Black Eagles being the most obvious with the exception of the small violet-haired girl. Apparently, she was incredibly shy. That’s something she’d have to break should she teach that class.
This was rather a strange feeling for her; while she was used to the rowdy bunch that accompanied them on their journeys as mercenaries, this was an entirely different environment. It was more… carefree. Brows coming together she returned back to her meal with earnest.
“Still a strange feeling, isn’t it?” her father whispered towards her.
It did not come off as a surprise as she entered the Golden Deer classroom to see the shock on the students' faces as they reached the realization, had it been her in their situation they would not expect like herself to be their next professor. Each began to voice their disbelief and excitement, sizing her up with questions and observing her fully now that she stood there as their teacher. As far as height goes she stood equal if not taller than them, and her age was potentially a couple of years on them. At least, that’s what she thought.
“How do you not know how old you are!” Sothis yelled, she could almost see the eye roll that she was potentially getting.
“Don’t tell me. You chose this class just to get to know me better, right? I’m flattered, really.” The archer stated.
“Claude… that’s right. He was certaining aiming to get to know me when we first met, even during the walk towards the monastery.” she thought to herself. “What a strange person.”
“Heh, whoops. Now that you’re our professor, maybe I should choose my words more carefully.” He responded to himself.
“I don’t mind.” she replied right away with a wave of her hand. “I’d rather you treat me as an equal than as someone above you due to a title.”
“Oh? Well then! Since we’re pretty close in age and all, I suppose formalities aren’t all that necessary.”
Suddenly the other students began to chime and chatter towards her, some still in some discomfort at a mercenary being their teacher to others wanting to spare and train with her. One even had the audacity to ask to see her muscles. Her head tilted slightly, navy hair spilling over her shoulders and bangs crossing over her eyes at the concept of showing off muscles. While her strength is noteworthy, she never thought about observing her physical looks to ensure she had the strength. Quickly she took a glance at her arms, they certainly had some tone to them but not like the student that stood before her.
It didn’t take long until they began speaking about parties, feasts and conversations over tea. Her head bobbed back and forth to observe the conversations happening, while it was somewhat overwhelming she felt warmth light up in her chest as they planned on how to get to know her. She had to admit that she never really had any of these things when it came to meeting someone, generally it was just a handshake for whoever they met.
“Strange, I never felt this way before.”
“Sorry for the bickering Teach.” Claude started. “As you can see, the Golden Deer House is a rowdy bunch. We’re not especially unified. You’ll find nobles and commoners alike here. Those who are dedicated to their studies and alongside slackers. But, hey, that just makes your life more exciting right? I really hope you’re looking forward to the year ahead as much as I am.”
“Teach… hm… I get a feeling… that this will be an interesting year.” she nodded in agreement.
It was the day before the mock battle; she had been at the training grounds since dawn doing her daily sword practice, even though she had only become a professor several days ago she had never let up on her training. Wooden sword in hand, she continuously striked at her inanimate target with moderate amounts of energy. Her trainings always emphasized on the need to kill, although that would be impossible to reenact someone coming at her with murder in their eyes as she fought a fake target she never the less kept the notion in her thoughts. It never hurt to always remember the cruel world that existed outside the walls.
Tirelessly she worked her students to learning the art of the battlefield and excelling their proficiencies these last few days, giving them the day to rest at their leisure to ensure that they were ready for tomorrow. Although there was never being “trained enough”, it would suffice for a simple battle between classes.
As her sword came down on the target one last time she could hear footsteps coming towards her.
Although it shouldn’t be unusual now; Felix and Dimitri of the Blue Lions would greet her with any chance they had should they find her at the grounds, Caspar from the Black Eagles was especially eager at the opportunity to fight her. Their minds were always filled with excelling to become better fighters, although Raphael was the same it was under the reasoning of just having more muscle and to eat. The other Golden Deer trained normally, the exception being Hilda, but not with the extent of the students from the other houses. Her heart did swell a little to see them approach her each time asking for a duel, even though the results always ended in defeat for them.
Damping the sweat from her forehead with a towel, she turns towards the figure to see that it was Claude approaching her. Odd, she thinks, it was unusual for him to be coming to the grounds unless it was scheduled in the class sessions. Raising a brow at him as she picked up her coat off to the side she had shed to do her training while setting down her towel. Whatever it is that he planned to approach her with, she needed to get ready mentally.
“Hey Teach.” he greeted with a wave as he came within range of her.
“Claude, what can I help you with?” she asked as she threw back on her coat, fitting her arms through the slits in the sleeves.
“Wanted to talk to you about tomorrow. Almost time for the mock battle, eh? Hmm, how should we go about this…” He started as he grasped his chin. “Well, you’ll be our commander, that much is sure. Just don’t screw it up, and everything’ll be great. Go it, Teach?”
“I’m not overly concerned.” she stated factually. Honestly, she wasn’t. If all else failed, she would handle whoever was left.
“I wonder if they still don’t trust me leading the way.”
“Right. I’ll do whatever I can to help too. I mean, I’m kind of obligated to. For example! If I add a little something to their food to upset their stomachs…”
“Don’t even think about it.”
“Yeah, yeah, wink, wink. I read you. You can’t officially condone that sort of thing, right?”
"While hilarious, I'd rather just not deal with what happens afterwards when they find out I let you do that." she thought to herself.
“I know you want him to do it.” Sothis taunted playfully.
“But say, hypothetically speaking, students from the other houses started racing to the infirmary… As far as anyone knows, it could just be a harmless little stomach bug making the rounds.”
“He’s going to be the death of me.”
She hadn’t realized that Edelgard and Dimitri had heard in on the conversation from afar, casually strolling up to the soon-to-be Duke to lecture him on the fairness of schemes and cheating. They even dared mentioning that they would win regardless of the schemes he could have in place. While she could care less about the boy’s desire to one-up his opponents with spiteful tactics, she did have to admit it added some life and flair to the conversation. He started to remind her of herself as a child, more clever than they let on to gain the advantage.
“Just another reason why I like the Golden Deer… they really are unique compared to the others.”
It almost escaped her that she felt a tug at the corners of her lips, quickly dismissing the thought to return back to her usual demeanor.
Snapping back to the conversation, she took notice to the three turning their attention towards her.
“You heard ‘em, Teach. We can’t let these fine folks down.” Claude said with a wink.
“If they insist.” she sighed with a shrug of her shoulders.
“Are you serious, Teach? Well, if a crooked scheme is really what you’re after, I’ve got more than a few of those up my sleeve.”
Although she always fought fairly, as fairness goes on the battlefield, she did find something satisfying on being deceitful. She would never let him know that.
Her heart swelled with pride as she watched her students from afar cheer in victory; all of them performed remarkably without her intervention during the mock battle. While she did command the strategies on the go, from hiding in the trees to jump the other students while also baiting them into the open. The flow of the battle shifted greatly to their advantage at the start as she planned which gave her some satisfaction. Ordering her students to stay back as she walked onto the field; her expression blank and void of thoughts as the other classes took it upon themselves to engage with her, little did they know it was an open opportunity for them to strike from afar with their attention diverted to her. Once they realized that she merely acted as bait, everything else fell into place while the others scrambled for control.
Crossing her arms over her chest as they gathered around each other to compliment their work, her father walked up to her on horseback to also observe the small victory. Thankfully, no one on any side was seriously injured to the point of being sent into the infirmary or else she wouldn't hear the end of it from Manuela. But more thankful that her lessons had sunk into her students well enough for this battle.
“Didn’t think that they’d be the ones to win. But then again, they had you commanding them.” Jeralt smiled.
“Please.” she sighed. “It was all them.”
“You managed to get Hilda to swing a training axe at people, and she couldn’t be bothered to pick up books in the library when asked the other day.”
“I suppose you are correct.”
Together they strode back towards the monastery, with the deer in tow. They hadn’t gotten off their high from their victory, and she could tell that it’d be quite some time into the evening until they actually do. With how much they talked about parties, she was rather sure they'd start one up as soon as they got back.