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Sun and Shadow

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The port city of Enbarr was rather small compared to its northern counterparts. The vast majority of Aedyr’s settlements were sprawling and compact; reaching from smooth coast to dense forest. Buildings spiraled high and, from the sea, they would appear as brilliant pillars of marble. In comparison to those sparkling jewels, Enbarr would be best represented as a mound of coal. The coast was a wall of blackened rock sheathed in ribbons of moss. The docks appeared sparsely manned and few tread the weathered boards which formed the port.

From the sea, blue eyes caught and held upon the city proper. A dense pocket of clouds hovered, blanketing Enbarr in a shroud of smoky hues. Sheets of rain could just be spotted on the horizon, looking to swallow everything in a torrential downpour. It was a dreary sight, one that should have filled Byleth’s heart with trepidation. Yet as she climbed higher atop the rigging, heels poised near the foremast, she could only muster anticipation. She leaned to the side, free arm catching the wind and gaze set upon the shore.

Soon, she would set foot within Aedyr. A land she had never dreamed of visiting. The Dyrwood was all she had ever known, and until recently she was quite sure it would remain that way. But life was a mysterious thing, full of twists one could not anticipate. Her own life was a testament to that, atypical beginning and all. What was one more upset? The Watcher curled her fingers into rope, smiling into the wind.

The Aedyran Empire. A world completely separate from her own, and yet the seed to which her homeland had sprung from. The Free Palatinate of the Dyrwood had been but a colony not too long ago. Now, it was completely separate from the Empire that had founded its shore. Still, Byleth could not help but wonder what Aedyr was like by comparison. Would it be as grand as the books described? Had the tales of elven innovation been overblown?

She was all too anxious to find out.

“Oy! Watcher!” A voice came from below, small and distant upon the air. Byleth peered down. The Captain, an orlan female with a mane of fiery orange fur, sneered at her.

“Get down from there, before you break your neck or slip into the drink!” Her words were drawling and harsh, accented with the grousing burr of the Glanfathan tribes. “I’ll not have your death on my hands. You hear me, Watcher?!”

Byleth glanced back at the looming city. Then with deft ease, she scrambled back down the rigging. As her feet hit the deck, she heard the orlan give a mighty sigh.

“Jeralt didn’t tell me how much of a pain you’d be.” The woman grumbled, long ears flicking with irritation. “Should have known...daughter of that man could only be trouble.”

“Apologies, Captain Leonie.” Byleth smoothed down her waistcoat and bobbed her head with an apologetic grin. It was not the orlan’s name, of course. Not the full one. But the Captain had suffered her fumbling over the cluster of vowels before acquiescing to a nickname. A compromise the human woman was appreciative of. “It’s been ages since we left Defiance Bay. I suppose I got a bit ahead of myself.”

“You suppose? Bah!” Leonie wrinkled her nose, the hair around her face bristling slightly. She gave a disgusted snort. “I’ve met wily Stelgaers with less energy. I think you shaved years off my life with that last stunt. Going for a dip in the middle of a storm? You’re lucky Ondra didn’t drag you down into her watery embrace.”

“I had lost my fishing pole. So I retrieved it.” Byleth shrugged, unconcerned. She stole another look at the rapidly approaching port. “It looks so different from the Dyrwood. Have you ever seen anything of its like?”

“Hmph. Fishing pole, my furry arse.” The orlan grumbled but quickly turned a tawny eye to the rocky coast. “Aye. Enbarr isn’t anything special. Just like any other backwater settlement Aedyr wants to forget. Why you needed to come here is beyond me.”

“I was summoned by letter.” The Watcher patted her coat where the aforementioned paper lay. The letter had gotten drenched and wrinkled from her impulsive swim, but it was still legible. Leonie stared at her, distinctly unimpressed. Her upper lip curled, baring a hint of fang.

“You’re lucky I owe your father. Had you been anyone else, I would have tossed you overboard.” The Captain adjusted her cap, before twisting to face the bow. “Well, Watcher, you’ll be someone else’s problem soon. Just try not to offend anyone or kill the wrong noble idiot. You know how these Aedyrans are.”

“I don’t, actually.” Byleth blinked down at her, bemused. “Are they so awful? I asked Father, but he didn’t have anything helpful to add.”

“Yeah? And what did he say?”

“He said I should get used to looking at their nose hairs. Is that a euphemism of some kind?”

Leonie just eyed her; appraising. Then she let out a great guffaw, pistols nearly falling off her waist with the effort.

“That sounds like the old blaidh. Ah, but he isn’t wrong.” The orlan sobered and ran a clawed hand across her chin. “They don’t look kindly upon the Palatinate. You should tread carefully, lest you wind up on the wrong end of a blade. Aedyr… their people look dandy, but they can be vicious and unpredictable as any Bîaŵac.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Byleth nodded, resting her hand casually atop her sword pommel. She was far from defenseless, Watcher abilities aside. The Dyrwood was a harsh land and largely unsettled. Growing up within a stone’s throw of Eir Glanfath and the White March demanded a certain level of competency.

Still, she hoped her talents would not be required. The last thing she wanted was to create a diplomatic incident, or spark hostility. The woman who asked for her help would likely not appreciate her running amuck. Byleth reached into her coat, drawing out the letter she had received the moon prior.

They say you are a Watcher. If this is true, and you can prove as such, I beseech you to come to the City of Enbarr in Aedyr. Should you complete the task I set, a handsome reward will be paid. The exact number of which will be revealed upon your arrival. Look for the house upon the eastern hill.

Awaiting your presence,

The Lady in Red.

Quite curious indeed. The Watcher folded the paper once more, chest burning with eager fire. A new land. A great task. This was the makings of an incredible story. Like those of her Father back in his prime, or the Watcher of Caed Nua. A great mystery just for her to unravel… How could she refuse this chance?

Byleth lifted her head to the sky, tasting the salt of sea and rain.

* * *

The directions she had been granted her were vague enough. Surely there was more than one house that could fit such a description, Byleth had thought. Yet as she disembarked and bid the Captain farewell, it soon became evident that further details weren’t needed. To the east, a rugged mountainside leered over the ocean waves. As one looked up the sloping crag, a winding path could just be seen trailing into the woods.

At the top of the peak, where the clouds drifted in lazy wisps, a building lay embedded among pine and rock. Nothing else in the way of civilization surrounded this structure. Isolated from the rest of Enbarr, it shone like a beacon within the drab atmosphere. Byleth observed the road which spiraled up the cliff wall. It would be an intensive hike and, with the drizzling rain, quite an unpleasant journey. She shouldered her pack, undaunted by the prospect.

As the Watcher treaded through the damp streets, a sense of solitude pervaded. The docks, while lacking in significant workers, still had a few people milling about. However, the city itself could not make the same claim. There was a distinct stillness clinging to the air. Not a hint of life within shop, market, or home. Curtains were pulled, and doors remained firmly shut. Were the people of Enbarr so opposed to a little rainfall? Or was there something else afoot?

It was odd – another mystery to ponder atop the one currently on her mind. As she made her way deeper, a great weight fell upon her steps. A curious sensation made itself known; akin to ice sliding down her nape. She looked around, seeing nothing, yet feeling eyes all the same. Living or dead – that was the question. She tried to reach for the unseen threads, awareness reaching to taste the lingering flicker of souls. Her efforts proved futile, but not entirely without result. Something pushed back against her, as if annoyed by her intrusion. Then it skittered away, like a snake fleeing from flame.

“Mysterious, indeed.” Byleth hummed thoughtfully. With a light shake of her head, she began the hike up the wooded path. The rain had increased in strength as she went, seemingly to spite any weary travelers. A fog rolled in, nipping at her back. So far, Enbarr appeared just as dreary ashore as it had from the sea.

After a long walk up the rain-slicked slope, a break in the trees finally came. The house she spotted from the docks entered her view unceremoniously. It was far grander than any other structure seen within the colorless city. Byleth pushed past the iron gate, taking in the Aedyran architecture. Not starkly different to anything seen in the Dyrwood, but just strange enough to emphasize its foreign nature. Eager to be out of the rain, Byleth knocked firmly upon the door.

She shook out her coat as she waited. It wouldn’t do to look like a drowned cat in front of a potential client. After a long moment with seemingly no response, the Watcher moved to knock again. She stilled, hand in the air, as the door flew open. To her surprise, it was not the expected ‘Lady in Red’ who answered the door. It was not a woman at all, in fact.

A death godlike loomed in the threshold. A tumorous cap of purple flesh wound around his head and face, stopping just short of pursed lips. Wisps of shadow crept from the membrane folds, pantomiming hair. She could not see his eyes, as was inevitable when confronted with his kin; but from the tight set of his jaw, he was likely glowering.

“Can I help you?” The godlike’s back was straight as a board, drawing attention to his significant height. His voice was a dark rasp, drawling and faintly derisive. Judging from his formal attire, the man was a servant of some sort. Something she had never seen a death godlike function as. Byleth offered him a polite nod of her head.

“I was sent a letter some time ago, asking me to come here.” She paused, inspecting the man’s reaction. His expression was hard to read, a side effect of his condition. He offered nothing upon hearing her, so she continued. “By your employer, perhaps? She called herself The Lady in Red.”

“Hm.” The man’s mouth twitched. “The Lady did send for a particular individual. A Watcher. Do you claim to be her?”

“I do.”

“Hmph.” Impossibly, his lips thinned even further. After a long moment, he finally stepped aside. “Very well. Come inside, Miss…?”

“Byleth will do,” The Watcher answered, stepping into the manor. She took in her surroundings with a calculated sweep. The interior was absurdly spacious. Marked by high ceilings and open rooms aplenty. Yet for all its grandeur, there was little in the way of furniture or decoration. The walls, in particular, were noticeably stark. She heard the man clear his throat.

“The Lady will be in her study. However, I cannot guarantee she will be pleased to be interrupted.” Lips curled disdainfully over pearled teeth. “You’ve come at tea time.”

Byleth blinked at him, uncertain how to respond. She opened her mouth to issue an apology, but the man abruptly turned on his heel.

“Follow me. Closely, if you would. I will not tolerate any idle wandering from a guest.”

Without a backward glance, the godlike strode up the winding staircase. Byleth quirked a brow, bemused by his abrasive manner. For a supposed servant, his bedside manner was rather lacking. Even the surlier tribespeople of Eir Glanfath were no so readily disdainful. Admittedly, she was not wise in Aedyran customs. For all she knew, the man was being polite.

Byleth trailed after him, taking note of each passing room. Her initial observation appeared to show a trend. The house was outfitted to the minimum, bearing nothing in the way of personal effects. The walls were all the same drab swathe of beige, like egg-shells fresh from the coop – bland and uninspired as everything else in this place. They finally came to stop at two large doors. Curiously, they were a deep chokecherry hue; the only splash of life to be found. It was all the odder for its conspicuousness in a sea of muted hues.

The servant pried open the left side before bowing at the waist. He kept the pose, obviously waiting for her to enter. Taking his cue, Byleth swept inside. She blinked as her gaze settled upon the distant figure in the far corner. Seated primly at a large desk was a young woman. It was hard to guess her exact age, but the Watcher dared to place her just a year or two younger than herself.

The woman’s hair was a shock of pale silver, glossy as freshly fallen snow. It was gathered in a loose tail at her nape; straight and maintained with clear aplomb. Sharp, lavender eyes looked up upon the Watcher’s approach. The woman leaned back in her chair, revealing the deep crimson dress she wore. The mysterious Lady in Red, it seemed.

“You’re not Hubert.” Gloved hands moved across the desk, dropping the teacup they held. Byleth followed the movement, intrigued by the graceful ease the woman displayed. “Might I ask who you are? It’s not often I receive visitors.”

“Byleth Eisner of the Eastern Reach.” The foreign woman inclined her head cordially. She paused, watching as the Lady curled a stray lock of hair behind a pointed ear. Elven. Possibly of Glamfellan descent considering her odd coloring. “I apologize for interrupting you. I can always return at a more feasible time.”

“In this weather?” Fair brows arched with incredulity. “Nonsense. I was hardly doing anything important.”

“Really? Your man seemed quite put out by my presence.”

The woman’s mouth twitched. She waved her hand a dismissive wave.

“That’s just how he is. Hubert has never been the gregarious sort.” The Lady gestured to the chair across from her. “Now sit. I’m curious to know what a woman of the Eastern Reach is doing in Enbarr. And asking after me no less.”

“I’m answering your summons.” Byleth plucked the letter from her coat and set it on the desk. The Lady stilled, eyes lingering on the broken seal.

“You’re the Watcher of Caed Nua?” Pink lips pursed before curving into a slight frown. “I will admit, I had imagined you to be much older. That nasty business in the Dyrwood was settled some odd twenty years ago, no?”

“It was. However, I’m not that Watcher.” Byleth shook out her damp coat, straightening. Then she offered a blithe smile. “I am, however, her student. Well, of a kind. Perhaps squire would be a more apt description.”

“...Squire?” The elven woman’s brows pinched together with consternation.


“Of being a Watcher?”

She bobbed her head once.

“Just so.”

“I...” Pale lashes fluttered as the Lady blinked in rapid succession. Byleth tilted her head, concerned, as a great sigh whistled from the other woman’s mouth. “I will be honest. I have never heard of such a thing. Nor had I thought to have accidentally summoned the wrong Watcher. No offense meant to your capabilities, but I had hoped your superior would answer the summons.”

“Perhaps she would have,” Byleth mused, cupping her chin. “But she has not been in the Dyrwood for quite some time. Gallivanting across the Deadfire is a bit of a past time of hers, I’m afraid.”

“And so you answered in her stead. I think I see how this sequence of events transpired.” The Lady reached for her tea, drinking deeply. Her brow remained pointedly furrowed. “I suppose this was my fault for not specifying. Although, I would hate to send you away with nothing after wrongfully calling you here. Would you accept a bag of silver fennings to settle this?”

“Pardon?” The Watcher drew back in surprise. “Do you not want my services? Surely you still need someone with my talents.”

“That may be so, yet due to the nature of the task I wish to complete… I feel it would be best if I waited for a more seasoned Watcher.” The Lady smiled apologetically. “It’s nothing personal. But the situation is incredibly delicate. I cannot take the chance on an unknown.”

“I see.” Byleth thought for a time, puzzling over the woman’s explanation. In all honesty, she was feeling moderately slighted. She might not have a great wealth of experience, but she was adept in her craft. If she could prove herself…

An idea blossomed forth suddenly. “What if you gave me a test – something that would convince you of my worth? Would you let me assist you then?”

The Lady appeared to hesitate. Her fingers tapped idly on polished wood. Then she nodded slowly, even as her stare remained skeptical.

“I would not be opposed. It would certainly save me a great deal of time.” The words were spoken with a measured cadence, near lilting in their delivery. Shrewd lavender cut to the Watcher. The elven woman seemed to consider something. “Of course, it would need to be on my terms. Are you be amenable to this?”

“Yes. I am,” Byleth confirmed, nodding again. She held the Lady’s eyes. “Anything you require, I assure you that I’m up to the task.”

“Then let us test that confidence of yours.” Her potential client crossed her legs, expression impassive. “Hubert. If you would join us, please?”

The godlike from earlier joined them promptly. He traveled to the woman’s side, mouth still curled with faint scorn. Yet he dipped subserviently into a formal bow as the Lady’s gaze settled upon him. Byleth craned her head, brow quirked, as the elven woman took his hand in hers. It did not appear to be an intimate touch and neither treated it as such. The Watcher’s confusion deepened when the Lady let go of him without comment.

“My retainer will serve as your test.” Gloved fingers smoothed out the slightest of wrinkles within crimson fabric. “As I understand it, a Watcher is capable of interacting with all manner of souls. Whether living or dead. And since memories are attached to the soul, this means so too should you be able to read them. Is this correct?”

“There are some caveats, but yes.” Byleth waited for a bit, glancing at the solemn man. “You want me to read your servant’s memories?”

“That would be far too simple. Rather, I would have you search for a particular memory. The one he loathes the most, no less.” The Lady smiled, thin-lipped and without humor. For once, Byleth felt a tinge of unease in her presence. She turned to the godlike, searching the discolored twist of flesh where his eyes would be.

“And you are fine with this? It would be your soul I’m reading.”

The man issued a scoff. Then he raised his chin high, wisps of shadow appearing to thrash with contempt behind him.

“I am not weak or easily influenced by memory. Whatever you unearth will have no bearing on me.” He crossed his arms. “Proceed, Watcher. I won’t forgive you should you continue to waste my Lady’s time.”

“Be at ease, Hubert.” The elven woman sighed, but her expression shifted as she looked at her guest. Challenge gleamed in those piercing eyes, daring the Watcher to act. Something ignited within Byleth’s chest; a wholehearted desire to demonstrate her worth and also prove the arrogant woman wrong. She did not sail across the sea to falter at the last moment.

And so, the Watcher stood and faced the man. She dug deep, reaching out for the invisible threads which bound his soul to flesh. Then she snared them tight and tugged until they writhed against her own awareness; a living thing snapping at her thoughts in desperation. In the distance, she heard the faint creak of the Wheel turning; ever onward, sticky and cloying like tar. Then, hovering over a precipice of eternity, the Watcher dove into the vast pool of his soul.

She is not her. Not at this moment. She is him. And he is young and very much afraid. Only a boy, and eyes covered in a viscous film not of his make. The boy breathes, but it is a difficult thing, made of rasps and biting cold. He looks up and sees the face of his father.

Elven and stern, tall as a willow yet crouched over him now like a mindless beast. There is hatred in the man’s eyes, deep and dark like the forest the boy see outside his window at night. And behind every shadow lies only more hate.

The boy tries to breathe, but his father does not give him the chance. Back under the water he goes, small fingers reaching up to wrap around the harsh grip. Nails dig into his scalp as his lungs fill with more and more liquid. He struggles harder, eyes stinging with the desire to breathe. To live. Then, there is a reprieve as the man is torn away.

The boy resurfaces, gasping and shivering from the cold water. He hacks and heaves upon the cobble. The side of his head clips against the shallow tub, but he is too exhausted to register it. The boy flinches as he hears shouting and screaming. A woman, his mother, and the enraged bellow of his father.

He curls up into a ball and covers his malformed ears. Quaking, he sends a prayer to the gods. Yet deep inside, he knows they will not raise a hand to assist. They were the ones who made him like this, after all.

Byleth jerked away, stumbling back into the chair. She placed a hand over her eyes. Her breath came fast, recovering from the drowning she experienced second-hand. Dimly, she was made aware of the alarmed expression on the Lady’s face. Byleth blinked away the memory before glancing up at the silent godlike.

“Your father...” She swallowed, gathering her composure. “He tried to drown you. But your mother stopped him at the last moment.”

The man tensed immediately. The line of his jaw hardened to granite. Byleth continued, voice low with sympathy.

“You sent a prayer, first to Berath. Then to all the gods you could think to name.” She heard him inhale sharply from between pallid lips. Across from them, the Lady watched with rapt interest. “You didn’t think they would answer. You still don’t.”

“...Indeed. Well done, Watcher.” Hubert turned away, hands clenched tight. “My Lady, may I take my leave? I think your guest has proven herself more than capable.”

“That she has. You may go, Hubert.” The elven woman smiled in his direction, but her eyes slid quickly back to Byleth. The godlike bowed again, movements far more stilted, before whisking himself away. The Watcher frowned at his departure but refocused on the Lady as she cleared her throat.

“Consider me impressed, Watcher Eisner. I’ve never seen Hubert so rattled. Not an easy feat, I assure you.”

“Call me Byleth, My Lady.” The Dyrwoodan woman shook her head, uncomfortable with the formality. She massaged her temples, still ridding herself of Hubert’s memories. The man’s soul was a well of pain and strife, not an uncommon thing among his kind. Death godlike were reviled universally, from every culture and land known to Kith.

The Lady of Caed Nua once said the archipelago was more accepting, with temples to Berath praising them as heralds of Their name. But even those priests hesitated in embracing them without suspicion. It was a hard life to live, undoubtedly.

“I’ve never seen a death godlike serve in a noble household.” Byleth finally succeeded in schooling her features. Yet despite her best efforts, an air of pensiveness remained. “In the Dyrwood, on the rare chance you do see them, they are usually destitute. Begging in the alleys of Defiance Bay, or hermits hiding away in the mountains. You’ve done a wonderful thing, taking him in.”

“Oh? And did you see that as well?” The Lady brushed back her hair, as the tail had fallen over her shoulder at some point. Her gaze lingered upon the Watcher with growing intrigue. “My… you are talented, aren’t you? And here I was doubting your abilities entirely.”

She took a sip of her tea, not deigning to look away. The scrutiny was unnerving if only for the odd intensity the woman continually displayed.

“However, don’t think too kindly of me. It was more of my mother’s doing. You see the Vestras, Hubert’s family, have served mine for countless generations. She got wind of his father’s terrible actions and deemed it necessary to have the man removed and Hubert placed in our care. It was in poor taste for a Thayn to act so dishonorably towards his own kin, godlike or no.”

“Thayn?” Byleth repeated, momentarily befuddled. “Hubert’s father had a title, yet he still served your family?”

“It is not a great stretch or a hard concept to follow.” The Lady paused for a time. She tapped her lips, appearing to think. Then she hummed thoughtfully. “I suppose it would do little harm to tell you. Since you’re going to be working for me, I imagine the topic would arise sooner than later. Shall I introduce myself to you?”

The elven woman rose to her feet. She was thin of shoulder and rather slight in stature. A surprising realization considering her impressive force of personality. The Lady smiled, teeth white and perfect as her hair.

“Edelgard von Hresvelg. First daughter to Mecwyn Patricia von Arundel. Heir to the throne of the Héamecwyn.”

The Watcher blinked. She tilted her head forward, taking in the strange foreign dialect.

“Hmm. Edelgard, is it? That’s a pretty name.”

Her host appeared to falter, smile fading. She drew back and eyed the human woman incredulously.

“Did you not hear what I said?”

“Of course.” Byleth rubbed her neck idly. “But I am ashamed to say that most of those words mean nothing to me. My education regarding Aedyr has been woefully inadequate. My apologies.”

“Hmph. That explains it.” The Lady, Edelgard, deflated noticeably. A faint look of exasperation flit across her face. “I suppose it matters little. This might be better, in fact. I would hate for the Watcher I hire to be a mindless sycophant.”

“So then you are hiring me?” Byleth perked, sitting up in her chair.

“Seeing as you’re the only Watcher this side of the ocean… Yes, I am.” The elven woman held out her hand, palm facing down. “I welcome you to my service, Watcher Byleth. Let the Oathbinder Woedica look kindly upon this contract. In the Burned Queen’s name.”

Byleth stared at the proffered appendage. Then, she grasped Edelgard’s fingers in a firm hold and shook vigorously.

“I’m honored to be in your service.” She flashed what she hoped to be a confident grin. “Would you mind if I swore on Magran instead? The Dyrwood doesn’t look kindly upon Woedica these days. Or ever, really.”

Edelgard drew back her hand, fingers flexing. A deep scowl carved its way across her face.

“You want to swear on the god which burned mine?”

“Oh.” Byleth stepped back, looking up in brief reflection. “I never thought about it that way. As I said, my knowledge about Aedyr is rather minimal. I apologize if I offend, Lady Edelgard.”

“It’s fine.” The Aedyran noble exhaled through her nose. “Just try to be more mindful in the future. In regards to room and board, I am ready to provide both for your stay here. I only ask that you abide by my orders and come at my behest. Are we in agreement?”

“Very much so.” The Watcher bowed deeply. It was more of a clumsy kneel, in truth. Nothing like the effortless bend Hubert had offered. Yet from the satisfied expression her client wore, it served well enough. Edelgard glided towards the door, stride graceful and light of step.

“Then I think we’ll get along just fine.” The click of her heels stopped abruptly. The elven woman tipped her chin, glancing back at her guest. “Another thing to note, Watcher. The next time I present my hand, would you please not grip it as you would an unruly dog? I don’t know the custom for the Palatinate, but here in Aedyr we abide by a different sort of etiquette.”

“Which would be?” Byleth asked, curious.

“...A kiss to the back would be sufficient.” Lavender eyes swept up and down a lanky frame. “I suggest you get out of those soaked clothes. Wait here and I’ll have Hubert attend to you shortly. I would hate for my Watcher to catch her death because of little rain.”

“Ah. You’re right. Thank you Lady–”

In a whirl of silver and red, the other woman swept out of sight. Byleth stared after her, brows arched. Then she plucked at her sodden garb.

“Not the best introduction, mind. Nonetheless, I must not have done too terribly,” the Watcher mused. She averted her gaze to the far window. The rain was pouring faster now, pelting the glass with abundant vigor. Overhead, a peal of thunder shook the air. Byleth could feel it resonate beneath her feet within the wooden boards. It had been a lucky turn that she had not been caught in the storm.

Mulling over her good fortune, the Watcher walked closer to the window. Outside, the forest stretched to encompass the entirety of the manor. She expected to see a glimmer of light, from the city itself or a great beam hovering near the dockside. Yet nothing was found. Hadn’t there been a lighthouse? Byleth frowned, trying to sort through recent memory. Perhaps she was facing the wrong direction, or the trees were too dense to see through.

Giving it no further thought, she leaned against the wall. Then, it came. The same unsettling sensation of eyes peering from the dark. Just as it had been in the streets of Enbarr. Byleth felt a chill prickle the back of her neck. Her disquiet only grew as an odd pressure attempted to pry at her awareness. Like a nail being pulled free.

The Watcher stood in wait, fingers pressed flat against wooden pane. Closing her eyes, she breathed deep. With a mental heave, Byleth forced the presence away. It pulsed and weaved, recoiling from her. After a moment the sensation dissipated, becoming nothing more than a trace lingering in the air. Akin to smoke from a fire. Byleth tried to follow the mental trail but it vanished too fast for her to follow. Only bitter remnants clung to her mind.

Byleth opened her eyes and stared at the reflection within wet glass. Strangely, the storm had settled to a light drizzle once more. She clicked her tongue.

A death godlike in the employ of an Aedyran noblewoman. An elven noble who required the services of a Watcher for some unspecified reason. A city without light and lacking in residents. And, most interesting of all, an unknown cipher was playing games from somewhere unseen. Interesting.

Enbarr really was filled to the brim with mysteries.