WELP! I'm considerably late with my latest chapter. I was just busy with work and just lost motivation to write for awhile, I'm sorry again hopefully I'll be more consistent.
Now to answer a few questions by the commentors. One asked how aura works, the closest comparison to my mind would be aura a watered down version of key from the dragon ball franchise. Pumping aura into certain body parts allows him to strike harder and move quicker, though obviously not to insane levels like dodging bullets. He could create aura sphere has a potent ranged attack, sense other peoples aura from a distance, and with enough mastery of it, telepathy, though Ash isn't at this level. That's the baseline of how aura works but it's also a its a finite resource, meaning he can run out of it during battle, like he did at the end of the last battle.
Fire Emblem belongs to Intelligent systems and Pokémon belongs to Gamefreak. I own and profit nothing from this!
Ash twisted and turned in his sleep, beads of sweat dripping down his face has his mind was assaulted by images of things he couldn't understand.
The clash of metal echoed in the air of the ruined city, rubble falling off the collapsing buildings has boulders rained down from the sky. Dead bodies littered the streets, soldiers and civilians, men and women, the young and the elderly. No matter the age, sex, race, or creed were spared from brutal fighting that found it's way into the city.
Two mysterious figures clashed blades in the deepest section of the city, the courtyard of the city's castle that was the seat of power of the rulers. One of the unknown figures was male, wielding a spear that looked like it was made of bone and pulsed like it was it a living being. The other was a female wearing bright red and gold armor, using a very familiar sword with a blade that had a wave like design. Ash couldn't make out the faces of the two individuals, like a mass of shadows swarmed around the faces of these two people, hiding their identities of them. The two warriors would continue the exchange of blows for several seconds, until the male figure deflected a swing from the woman that created an opening to ram the bottom end of his weapon into her gut, knocking the wind out of her and forcing her back a few feet.
"Stop this! Don't you realize that your just a pawn to them?! A tool to be used and discarded, they care not for your dream!" The male voice shouted to the woman, the voice sounded familiar to the teen but distorted by something. The voice sounded pleading, not wanting to continue this battle any further and instead wanted her to see reason.
"You are correct… but I'm merely using them for my own ends, they'll pay for their crimes against me and all those they sacrificed to create me! Their kind will have no future!" The female shouted back, regaining her posture and holding out her blade towards the male in a threatening. "Help me… reforge this world into a better place. Where one's fate isn't dictated by birth or by those with power! If you won't stand with me… than die." The woman told the Male figure, her grip on her sword tightening has she readied for their next clash.
"I believe in such a world and I've lived in it… but this is not the way to do it. They've corrupted your dreams, it's now a rotten seed that I won't allow to become a tree of decay in this world! You may think your the one in control but they are masters of lies and half truths!" The man yelled back, his own grip tightening on his respective weapon. "I wish… things could have been different between us, that we could have walked a better road together…" he solemnly said before running forward towards the woman swing his spear at her, his intent clearly evident.
"Gah!" Ash shouted, eyes shooting open quickly while he stood up at attention, his eyes scanning the surroundings to know where he was. It was just a dream… but it felt real… the raven haired teen thought to himself, running a hand down his face to clean off the sweat that accumulated on his face. The smell of blood and smoke still pricked at his nose, the sound of metal clashing still rang in his ears has if he stood beside those mysterious figures while their weapons clashed. He would close his eyes and take a few deep breaths to ease his mind, it was probably just a bad dream because of what happened yesterday. Nothing more.
Taking a few minutes to compose himself, he opened his eyes and looked around, this was obviously not the woods he collapsed in which was his last memory. He was currently in bed in a relatively small rooms, only basic furniture like a singular chair and drawer which had an oil lamp resting on it. The room was certainly bare bones. Next to the bed was his sword which was inside it's scabbard and his jacket rested on the chair, pulling back the sheets of the bed he was in revealed he was still in his clothes minus the jacket and shoes. "Well at least nobody stole from me while I slept." Ash said to himself with a smile, it seemed the people who brought him here weren't thieves at the very least.
Feeling safe for the moment, Ash would remove the bed sheets off him and get off the bed, doing a few stretches to get any kinks in his body out of the way. He'd notice his shoes right beside his feet at the foot of the bed, he'd slip them on easily before reaching out to grab his weapon. But before he could, the smell of freshly made food would slither its way into his room and catch the attention of his nose. Soon, his stomach let out a mighty growl while the teen wrapped his hands over his stomach, just now realizing how starved he was. He needed something in his gut asap!
Quickly attaching the scabbard to his belt just in case, he stormed out of the bedroom and made a beeline to the source of the smell, ignoring the mercenaries around him in a hallway, dodging them with seemingly practiced ease. Running down a flight of stairs, he would arrive at the first floor which was mostly a large open area with a bar and several tables with chairs, a number of men already sitting around and chatting. Scanning the room with the eyes of Pidgeot and the nose of a growlithe, his eyes would find their target at a table near the far end of the room.
A wooden plate containing two pieces of cooked fish, some pieces of sliced bread, some grapes, and some form of pottage, look like beans to him. Ash would stride over to the table, his eager hands twitching when he arrived and he was near drooling at the thought of eating this meal. However, he was knocked out of food starved mental state by someone speaking to him.
"Seems you're finally awake… and very hungry by that look in your eyes." A gruff voice said to him, causing Ash's eyes to dart up from the food and to the man's face. He recognized the man who lead the troops by the orange clothes, however up close and personal with the man he could tell details like his hair design and the several scars itched on his face. Seemed he got into plenty of fights in his life, and many close calls if the scars on his face are anything to go by.
Ash chuckled embarrassed at the man's comment, will he was certainly right about both statements! "I am! It's nice to meet you, sir!" The teen said politely with a smile, finally noticing that the man wasn't sitting alone but with someone else. "Your the woman from last night! Your okay, right?" He asked the blue haired woman, the plate he was eyeing before sitting very close to her, most likely meaning it was hers. Thankfully the old guy spoke up when he did, he might have actually started eating her food.
"I am… thanks to you." Byleth said simply with a nod of her head, a tiny gesture of thanks for his actions last night. He saved her from certain death by jumping in when he did, though she shouldn't have been in that situation if it wasn't for her foolish actions. At least things worked out in the end for all parties. "Take a seat, eat." She told him, sliding her plate to the seat beside her for him to take, it was obvious he was hungry and he needed the food more at the moment. When he gave her a look of uncertainty at the meal she clearly bought, she offered the tiniest upturn of her lips into a smile. "Or I'll just eat it…" she teased, stretching out her hand to grab the plate once more.
"No!" Ash shouted in dismay at her action, swiftly taking a seat beside her and grabbing a wooden spoon that rest on the plate, filling it with some of the pottage and shoving it down his throat. Chewing quickly, he would hum in delight when the mushy beans reached his gut. It wasn't particularly tasty, lacking any form of seasoning, but it was filling and hearty. "I needed this so much!" He said being to stuff his face with the food with gusto, using so much aura the other night left his body begging for a ton nutrients to resupply his lost reserves. Aura was life energy essentially, it needed to be replenished the same way you gave your body its energy for the day.
Jeralt chuckled at the speed the teen ate, he was stuffing his face quicker than his own daughter did, she could pack own food when she wanted to. "Glad your enjoying yourself. I hope you aren't against some conversation while you eat… we have a number of questions that need answers to." The former knight captain asked with a serious tone, wanting to know the stranger in their midst and see if he was a threat. The boy saved his daughter from possible death and he greatly appreciated it, but from what his daughter told him about what he could do the other night revealed to him that he wasn't some normal peasant. They had to account for the unknown and this boy was certainly one.
"Sure no problem! But can I get something to drink and more food soon while we talk?" Ash asked hopefully, already finishing the pottage in less than a minute and stabbing a piece of fish with a fork before shuffling the whole piece into his mouth, chewing and swallowing the whole thing in fifteen seconds. It was good and he could taste a hint of butter, obviously what it was cooked in while in a pan.
Jeralt chuckled at the request, it seemed fair enough to him. "Sure, Kid. What would you like? Beer, ale, or wine?" The mercenary asked raising his hand, gesturing a nearby barmaid to come over and take their order, getting a nod and smile while she quickly took the order of a group of his men.
Ash was eating the second piece of fish when the man asked that question, the shock of being asked what alcoholic drink he would want causing him to slightly choke on it. The teen would beat his chest slightly with a fist until the fish went down and he could breathe properly once more, he wasn't expecting that selection of beverages. "You have anything… non-alcoholic?" The teen asked, despite his age he never actually drank anything of the sort before in his life, his mother would kill him if she found out he drank. Okay probably not, but she'd give him one of her deadly look of disappointment that made him feel dead inside.
"Yah, it's called water and your lucky Remire actually has a clean source of drinking water." Jeralt explained slightly confused by his reaction, drinking alcoholic drinks was the norm in the world and even kids drank it, of course watered down variants but still. Of course they drank water when clean water was available, but not every village had a source of it and when they don't ale and beer was drank the most. "Or you can get some watered down wine, you'll likely not get drunk off it any time soon." He reassured, the barmaid finally stopping in front of their table and raised an eyebrow what they were having.
"I'll have… some watered down wine I guess." Ash told the woman, he honestly wanted a little flavour in what he drank and maybe it will taste more like grape juice since it will be watered down.
"Make that for all three of us." Byleth spoke, ordering a jug for the whole group to use instead of just him. "I'll also like a second helping of my order." She requested, still not have eaten anything since her savior eaten her intended meal.
"How's my pheasant and rabbit with baked potatoes coming along?" Jeralt asked curious, his order taking longer than his daughter's order since he was doubling the amount of meat. Getting a reply of 'soon' from the woman, he left it at that.
"I'll have what he's having too." Ash added at the last second, eating what was left of his plate which was just brown bread. He didn't know what was on the menu so he just went off what the mercenary was getting. The woman would nod at their order before walking away from the group to get cook starting on their orders.
"With that out of the way, I think it's time for some questions." Jeralt said crossing his arms, the group had some time before drinks arrived and than food. "So what's your name Kid? I'm kinda getting a little sick called you just 'kid'." The man asked, starting off with a simple question.
"Ash. Ash Ketchum. And you two are?" The teen asked curious, he knew he was the one being questioned but it seemed only fair that he at least knew their names.
"Jeralt Eisner. Mercenary captain of these sods you see around us." The brown haired man introduced, gesturing his hand to the various armed men sitting in the room.
"I'm Byleth Eisner. Mercenary and yes, he is my father." She introduced with a nod of her at her father, making their familiar connection known to the teen.
Ash blinked and his eyes flickered between the two, not entirely believing the two were related. "Really? I don't see the similarities between you two." He pointed out curious, not really questioning their blood ties but merely stating that they didn't really look it.
"We get that often. She gets most of her looks from her mother, her attitude she inherited from me." Jeralt joked with a smile on his face, his eyes flickering to his daughter but the smile vanished when her face was the same hold stoic face she always had. It was honestly frustrating that, his own flesh and blood never smiled nor cried or showed any emotion outside of pain when she got hurt and even than only at the moment. "Sadly you can't see the similarities… she's not with us anymore." He told the teen, in case he wanted to meet his dear wife.
"Oh… I'm sorry to hear that. I actually was raised by my mom, my dad is off adventuring and sends money home but I haven't seen him since I was really young." Ash understood only having a single parent in one's life, it's been nearly a decade since he last met his father. It wasn't a bad life, he just wished he knew the man who helped brought him into this world and never attended his pokémon leagues. But like many things, he no longer questioned it and just moved on with his life.
"Sorry to hear that. But let's continue with the questions." Jeralt said, mildly surprised at how open the teen was with his past, seems things will be easier than expected. "Where are you from?"
"Pallet town, a small town on the southwest coast of the Kanto region." Ash responded with ease and a smile, being quite proud to be from that town. It wasn't large but quite famous due to professor Oak residing there, that man was like a second father to the boy.
"Pallet town? Kanto region?" Byleth asked in confusion, placing a hand under her chin while she thought about the names he threw out. She didn't recall anywhere with those names, though admittedly she was slightly forgetful of everywhere she went, a job was a job to her and details of where didn't much matter to her in the slightest. "Never heard of it. Father?" She shifted her attention to her father, he was more knowledgeable about these sorta things given he ran the group.
"I haven't heard of it either. Is it apart of the Adrestian Empire? The Holy Kingdom of Faerghus? The Leicester Alliance?" The aging mercenary questioned further, unlike his daughter he did pay attention to details on the jobs they did, ironic given the fact that he couldn't even remember how old he was. Though that was more lack of caring, so long has he can swing and thrust his lance than he wasn't old enough to worry about it.
Now it was Ash's turn to look confused by what they said. What were these places they were talking about? He had never heard of any Empire or a Holy Kingdom -made it sound like Arceus himself blessed the place- and the Pokémon league could be considered an alliance of nations, though the name Leicester didn't ring any bells. "What are you guys talking about? I've traveled the world several times over and I never heard of those places, are you pulling my leg or something?" The teen asked confused, just has their drinks and meals arrived for them, their respective plates placed in front of them with a jug of wine and three cups were placed in front of them.
Jeralt looked outright bewildered by that statement, this boy who claims to have traveled the world had never heard of the three powers of Fódlan? "Ash... have you heard of Fódlan before?" The man asked seriously, getting a shake of the head from the teen while he stuffed his face with potatoes and meat. "Kid… your gonna start from the beginning." He demanded softly, it was impossible for this boy to be so disconnected from the world to not know these places.
It would be a long half hour of talking between the three of them, though more Ash stating something and the other two questioning him, mostly Jeralt. Byleth seemed just content to listen to his stories. He explained to the duo his adventures, what pokémon were, and most importantly how he even got to this world. By the time he finished telling them, the jug of watered down wine was emptied and a new one had arrived, the table was stacked with nearly two dozen plates almost evenly split between Ash and Byleth. It seemed both of them shared a hearty appetite, much to the dismay of Jeralt's coin purse.
After everything was said and done, the aging mercenary leaned back in his chair and took a deep breath, rubbing his forehead in annoyance. After hearing all that the boy had to say, the kid was either completely insane and living in a fantasy world or he was telling the truth. The majority of the things he said seemed far fetched, a world where monsters and humans lived side by side and helped each other, living gods running around that held a delicate balance of not only the world but reality itself… to name a few of the absurd things he talked about.
Despite the sheer insanity of what he said, what he said in the end seemed to correlate with events that happened before. The pillar of blue light happened roughly when he supposedly arrived, the power he briefly demonstrated to the man seemed to share similar properties to it. Plus the details he had of his world seemed too well thought out and coherent to just be pure imagination, either this kid was a fantasy writer of the highest caliber or he actually lived through these events. He didn't really know which one was scarier, how would Fódlan society cope knowing about a world without crests and where monsters helped humanity reached peaks that they were barely in the process of understanding? It would probably tear itself apart in some capacity.
"Quite a story you got there, Ash…" Jeralt muttered to himself looking at the ceiling of the room, trying to think what was best to do in this situation. Not only did he still needs to figure out what to do with Ash but still had to meet up with Alois to head to Garreg Mach, meeting Rhea will be another headache. Thinking about the officer academy, the metaphorical torch lit up in his mind, maybe his one headache could solve the other. "Don't tell anyone about it, okay? Just say your from a remote village that had little contact with the outside world and this 'aura' of yours was a Crest ability you had but didn't know it was one." The mercenary told the teen, getting a confused blink from the boy.
"But why?" Ash asked confused by what the man was suggesting, he didn't see the reason why he should cover up his true nature from everybody.
Byleth would answer instead of her father. "I think your story and journeys are amazing but I think most would call you crazy if you told them. It's better if you just try to blend in." The female mercenary spoke, the woman indulged in his story so much that she only spoke just now, merely enjoying food and drink along with a fantastic story.
"Exactly. Also your coming with us to Garreg Mach." Jeralt told him, raising a hand to silence the teen at the obvious questions he was going to fire off. Most likely 'Why?' and 'what's that place?'. An accurate guess. "It's a monastery located at the center of Fódlan, it's also home to the officers academy which trains youths across the continent in the art of warfare. It's also home to an extensive library with countless volumes of books." He explained to the teen, Ash's eyes lighting up in curiosity about the location, seemingly eager to see it in person. "You want to head back home, right? But can't use the way you came." Jeralt theorized, he had no real reason to stick around here and was merely stuck here for now.
"That's right. I got dreams, ambitions, and family to head back to but I don't know where to start…" Ash admitted honestly, he didn't really have an actual 'plan' to get home per se. He was hoping to wander around for awhile and hopefully stumble upon or learn something that could help, not exactly a good strategy but he had few options at the moment.
Jeralt nodded his head in understanding, he never heard about structures like the one he described at the end of his tale, so he couldn't help him there. "Garreg Mach is the best place for you to head to for any information. Its vast library might hold some information on a lead for you and the Knights of Seiros are well traveled, they might have seen something connected to these ruins of yours." The mercenary pointed out, nothing went down in Fódlan without the church catching whiff of it first, there was very little they didn't know about.
Ash hummed in thought at the suggestion, the idea was pretty logical and made sense if it was all true. It was better than just roaming around and just hoping to find something. The teen smiled at the man and nodded, it seemed he finally had a course of action to take. "Sounds good to me! Thanks for the help, I appreciate all you've done for me so far." The teen thanked profusely with a small bow, despite them being complete strangers to each other the father and daughter duo have helped him out so much.
Jeralt smiled at the teen. "Don't mention it, you saved my daughter and that's a great debt I owe you. Helping you out and the food is the least I can do for what you've done for me." The mercenary told him, he owed the boy a lot yesterday for jumping in when he did, saving not only his daughter but the heirs to the three powers of Fódlan certainly earned him something. "Anyway, since you've stuffed your face and emptied my coin purse heavily, we gotta pack up before meeting up with the Knight of Seiros and then head to Garreg Mach. We'll meet you outside the village palisade." He told the teen, getting up from his seat and downing his cup of wine in one good swig before leaving the bottom floor and heading upstairs, obviously to pack his belongings.
Byleth would get up herself but offered Ash a faint smile. "I hope you have more stories to share, I'd like listening to them later whenever we have the time." She suggested, finding his story very fascinating and intriguing to listen to, hopefully he had more to offer her.
Ash returned the smile, though his was much broader and toothy compared to her own. "Definitely!" He reassured, he'd love to talk about his travels and friends to her, though it might be a little painful since he won't be seeing them for awhile. Byleth would disappear upstairs after that promise, leaving the teen the only one on the bottom floor has all the other mercenaries went to pack up as well. Since he only had what he was carrying, he would leave the inn and explore the quaint village before heading outside its palisade walls.
-Few miles from Garreg Mach-
When the mercenary group finally gathered up their supplies, the entire group marched north towards the supposed camp of the Knights of Seiros. The walk was relatively uneventful, though Ash had to hold in his bile when they passed the battlefield of last night, the bodies not in one piece after the scavengers came about and took their meals from the fallen during the night. He merely closer his eyes until eventually the smell of death and rot finally faded, not even caring he tripped a few times and Byleth had to catch before he fell, much to his embarrassment.
Eventually though, they came across a small camp that consisted of only two dozen knights, Alois, and the three students from yesterday. "That's all of them? I thought you had an entire classes of students on an excursion?" Jeralt asked confused, noting the very tiny presence of the group compared to the alleged size. Though he noted there seemed to have been much activity here before, several tracks of both men and beast were apparent in the dirt plus other signs of a hasty departure.
"We did, but I thought it best we send them back to Garreg Mach early just in case the bandits were still active in the area. So far everything seems fine, we swept the path to the monastery before sending them out." Alois told his former mentor, explaining why the group waiting for them was significantly smaller than originally told.
"Uh, good to see you actually using your head Alois. I thought it was just filled with jokes only you found funny." Jeralt both complemented and insulted in his former charge, he still remembered the man has his reckless squire who threw himself at the enemy axe swinging than making a bad joke afterwards when he somehow survived. "But why are these three still around?" He questioned, noting the heads of each respective house were still here and not with their house.
Instead of Alois answering, Dimitri would step forward. "I believed that we didn't properly thanked you for your efforts the other night, given what happened." The blonde explained, well at least his reasoning for why he remained behind. "I, Dimitri Alexandre Blaiddyd, thank you for saving us in an hour most dire." The teen would give Jeralt, Ash, and Byleth a respectable bow for their aid.
Ash chuckled awkwardly at his formality, he was never one for it and avoided it like the plague, he just wanted to talk to people like they were people. "It was nothing Dimitri! I didn't do it for thanks, you folks were in trouble and it was only right I helped. Plus don't be formal with me, I ain't one for it. Just call me Ash Ketchum, or just Ash for short." The teen reassured the blonde, things would get really awkward if he kept up this whole formal thing with him.
Before Dimitri could respond to that, Claude jumped into the conversation. "Now that's something I can agree with, you can just call me Claude." The teen introduced walking up to Ash and wrapping an arm around his shoulder, like they were good friends already. "Sorry about the princeling he's stiff as the spear he fights with. Most Faerghus types are always going on about chivalry, never know how to just enjoy life." He joked with a chuckle, getting annoyed glare from the crown prince at his comment on his preference for proper etiquette. "Anyway enough about him, let's talk about you. What was the blue flames you surround yourself with before running with the speed of a Almaryn warhorse? Also you snapped an axe with one swing at it and seem you ain't afraid to use whatever you have to fight, throwing in kicks in your swordplay. Fast, strong, and resourceful, your certainly a dangerous person." He told the fellow teen with a wink, he certainly was a wild card in the dangerous game that was Fódlan political game.
Ash felt unease about the boy, on the surface it seemed he was friendly and easy going, just being curious about his ability. But he felt like there was more below the surface of the yellow wearing teen, like he was analyzing him for his strengths and weaknesses, learning how he ticked to dismantle him if the two ever came to conflict. Maybe he was overthinking things but he didn't fully trust the guy to spill his beans, maybe he'll be proven wrong. But for now… the teen would duck underneath Claude's arm and back away a little bit. "Me dangerous? I wouldn't hurt a fly unless forced too, Haha." The raven haired teen let out a laugh, shrugging away his internal concerns and kept up his regular facade like nothing happened.
"Honestly Claude... No tac at all, will you be tying him to a tree and demanding him he reveal everything about himself next?" Edelgard stepped forward with a huffed at his actions, she too was curious about his abilities he displayed but she wouldn't be so blatant with it to a stranger. He was too free spirited for his own good, merely saying what he wanted when wanted. She envied that on occasion, though not now.
"If I was I wouldn't tie him to a tree, I'd tie him upside down by the feet on a branch. Heard the blood rushes to the head quickly and really messes with your mental faculties." Claude joked, though none laughed and Ash even took a few more steps back to Byleth who softly glared at the teen. "Hehe… okay not my finest joke. But I'm just curious about his abilities, your imperial highness can't say she's not?" The future leader of the alliance deflected.
"I am, obviously. But it's rude to ignore our other savior from the attack, which you still haven't even asked the name of." Edelgard shot back at her opposing house leader, the two locking eyes for a brief moment before Claude merely looked away casually. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Ash. I'm Edelgard Von Hresvelg, I appreciate your aid from last night and I wish to learn more about you in the future. You as well Miss…" she began to thank but remembered the woman hadn't given her name, though she barely spoke at all honestly.
"Byleth." The blue haired woman said simply, not sugarcoating her introduction in the slightest. She preferred to keep things brief and to the point, get and give only what is necessary to complete the job. Though honestly she just wasn't good at small talk and casual interactions with others, her father dealt with most of the talking and she merely stayed in the background until the fighting started, only speaking with her father and those conversations were hardly casual. "Your welcome. Glad that your safe." She told her, giving her a respectful nod of the head.
"If all your pleasantries and thanks are done, we're heading out now. We should be at Garreg Mach in a few hours." Jeralt announced to the group, the knights packed and ready to head out themselves. With no more preparations needed, the group of students, knights, mercenaries, and one trainer headed off towards the monastery.
The group would follow down a dirt path towards their destination, walking for hours through the dense forest. The group would divide into three, the knights and Jeralt headed up the front and seemed to be doing some reminiscing about the past while others seemed to be gushing about the ex-captain. The mercenaries formed the rear of the group, talking and boasting about one thing or another. In the middle of these two groups were Ash, Byleth, and the three heirs.
"So your all royalty and the heirs? That's amazing!" Ash said amazed at their stations, he had meet royalty before on his journey but not of three different nations at the same time.
"Well technically the alliance doesn't have a monarch." Claude clarified to the fellow teen, he was heir to house Riegan but unlike his fellow heirs he wouldn't be inheriting the alliance and won't have the other houses of the alliance just swear fealty to him when he ascended.
"Though the position of leader of the alliance has always been passed down to the next in line of your house, it is similar to a monarchy. It's just the other great houses have much greater say in the affairs of the state." Edelgard pointed out, recalling her history lessons about the Leicester Alliance, she never recalled a single leader of the alliance that wasn't a member of house Reigan.
"Fair point." Claude conceded on that point, not as democratic has some thoughts, or maybe the house just produced great leaders. Like yours truly. "And you never heard about any of the realms of Fódlan, or even about crests?" The heir to the alliance pointed out to Ash, recalling that the boy supposedly came from a very isolated village with little knowledge of the world. It was hard to digest for the scheming lord.
"Yup! I didn't even know the powers I had were called a Crest! It was just something I could do and I merely accepted, why care about the details?" Ash said with a casual wave of the hand, though on the inside he was sweating bullets. He told them the fake backstory Jeralt and Byleth taught him, using his own origin and just modifying to create a somewhat believable reason to explain his ignorance on the world. He wasn't fond of lying and really wasn't good at it, though so far he was less telling lies and telling half-truths.
"So why are you out here than?" Edelgard asked curiously, it seemed odd he would abandon his familiar life and just seemingly stumble upon a battle than help in it.
"Looking for my dad, he went missing like a decade ago and I wanted to see if I could find him. Plus wandering around the world seemed more interesting than just tilling fields all day." Ash said casually responded, most of what he said was actually true in a sense, though he never really tried looking for his father ever. He became a trainer to both see the world and become the greatest trainer that ever was and ever will be, fighting the best along the way. Though honestly he wanted improvement and he couldn't be a better trainer, and more importantly a better person, if he just stayed in Pallet town.
"You have my condolences, not having a parent in your life could be quite detrimental to a child. You never had a mother yourself, correct Byleth?" Dimitri asked the woman, causing her to look up at the boy. He didn't want to drag her into a conversation about not having parents but he wanted to bring the woman into the conversation, she seemed to just remain silent.
"That's right. My mother died at birth, that's what my father says at least." She explained, not really having anyway to confirm or deny what her father had told her about her mother and simply went with it. "You fought well Ash, last night. Did you train?" She asked curiously the boy, he seemed to hold himself well in battle but her keen eye for battle saw that he was somewhat sloppy and inexperienced with a blade, relying on incredible speed and strength to compensate for lack of skill. Though he seemed apt at using whatever he can to secure victory, including his other limbs.
Ash chuckled softly at that question, scratching his cheek in embarrassment at the line of questioning. "Not really, though I did train somewhat in martial arts, never with a weapon though. I sorta compensated my lack of experience with my sword with my crest." The teen explained, it wasn't exactly a needed skill back on his world, a sword or even a gun seemed sorta pointless when you have pokémon who spew flames that melt steel in seconds or shoot pressurized jets of water capable of crushing boulders.
"Seems all you need is a crest to be a passable fighter it seems." Claude said jokingly, though he knew crests gave people edges in certain fields like Lorenz's crest granting him more powerful magic and heard the crest of Fraldarius made them stronger physically than normal humans, not to mention the difference between a minor or major crest holder. "Though I'd hate to fight you if you got some actual training, you'd be more of a brute than our dear prince Dimitri here. Poor training dummies don't last two sessions with him, neither do the training weapons." The Riegan heir said, slightly teasing the incredibly strong blonde, though taking a few cautious steps to the side in case he wanted to display his strength.
Insteading of the blonde defending himself venomously at the teasing, the teen just sighed with an embarrassed blush. "It is not my intention to break the equipment, it seems restraining myself is a talent I have yet to master…" Dimitri admitted in embarrassment, despite only being in the academy for about a week he already broken seven training dummies, three training swords, and a dozen training spears. Much to the annoyance of everyone. "But I agree with Claude, with proper training you could be a formidable knight. Too bad the academy year is already started and being a commoner I doubt you could pay the fees needed for entry. I'd welcome you openly into the blue lion house if it was all possible." The blonde said with a smile, feeling the boy would be a great knight in the kingdom when he graduated. Plus an excellent training partner for himself.
"And they say I come on strong, already asking him to join Faerghus when you barely know him?" Claude chastised the prince, though admittedly having someone with that potential on your side is quite advantageous. "Straightforward as ever Dimitri. Though I don't think blue would look good on him and you Faerghus types can be a bit stiff, I think yellow suits him best." The teen asked with a smile and a wink towards Ash, who simply looked between the two males who were obviously trying to recruit him.
"Honestly you two? Fighting over a recruit?" Edelgard asked in disbelief at the two heirs, swarming the boy like vultures over a carcass. "Though I admit, I'd like to learn more about you. The black eagles are in need of more physical fighters this year." She said with a smile, her class was particularly ranged heavy and so having him would offset their weaknesses. Plus, with him being in the same house she could better evaluate him and understand his character. Maybe he could…
Ash chuckled at them which caught them off guard, he honestly wasn't expecting to be the center of attention. "You guys flatter me! But like you guys said I can't really join this academy anyway, though I'm planning to hang around the monastery if I can. I'd love to get to know you guys more and I'm always wanting to make new friends." He told them honestly, getting nods of understanding from his fellow teens at his logic. "Anyway, I'm not the only amazing person here. Byleth is a great fighter, way more skilled than all of us combined. Maybe you can teach me sometime?" He asked turning his head to the woman, catching her off guard with her eyes going wide for a moment.
"Me? Teach you? I've never thought about teaching anyone…" she mumbled to herself, crossing her arms just under chest while she thought about it. She had no real experience training anyone but herself, outside of organizing some of the mercenaries training but her dad was the one usually handling that, she was more of an assistant.
"Just try is all I'm asking. Even if your not a great teacher, I'll still have a great time training with you." Ash reassured the woman, he knew how uncertain it was passing on your knowledge to another person, worried about teaching them the wrong things. However nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Byleth smiled softly at his words, it was odd to her getting encouragement from someone else, her father didn't really do it because she excelled in what he taught. "I'll try my best… for you." She replied back, spending more time with this odd boy didn't seem like a bad way to pass the time.
Ash opened his mouth to speak but was cut off when they finally broke out of the forest and into open plains, his attention now focus forward and his breath was taken away. Several yards away from them was a large town. Or was it more a fortress? But it also had a massive cathedral on the very top of a large hill that the town sat on with mountains flanking it on nearly all sides but one, which had formidable walls, one outer wall protecting the lower levels of the town and an inner wall protecting the large cathedral. The place certainly looked imposing and nearly unbreachable by the means available to these medieval people.
"That's Garreg Mach?! You sure it's a monastery or a fortress?!" Ash gushed at the sight, he should totally get a picture of the place but he didn't want to reveal the piece of advance technology to his new friends. He was certainly gonna try to get a picture though when he could. "It's a really pretty sight too." He added, small waterfalls pouring out of crevices in the mountains and trees clinging onto the mountains gave the place a certain peaceful look to it.
"It sure is though a word of advice, looks can be deceiving." Claude warned the raven haired teen, though he didn't explain why and simply marched on leaving a confused Ash in his wake.
The rest of the walk was in relevant silence, small talk here and there but it was far more casual than what they spoke of earlier. In an hour they would pass the outer gates with minimal effort and into the streets of the town, the smell of food and sweets causing Ash's stomach to stir and the sound of children playing could be heard. It was oddly comforting to the boy, despite being in a completely different world some things were still the same. After a brief ten minute walk, they would reach the gate of the second wall which had much greater security than the first one they passed, though the sight of Alois and Jeralt seemed enough for them to raise the gate.
Ash would look up at the massive structure laying just beyond, a cathedral so large that it dwarved every other structure around, he never seen anything like it. His world wasn't too big on religion has a whole, sure everyone believed in Arceus and worshipped legendary pokémon that was strongly connected to their home regions but there was no centralized religious body or organized priesthood to his knowledge. So whoever built this place must have had great wealth and influence, he would turn his head to question Jeralt about the structure but noticed his and Byleth's attention was focused upwards and not in front.
Following their line of sight, his eyes came upon on a woman with green hair and matching eyes, wearing robes of white and cloak of royal blue and gold thread with flowers in her hair and a gold headpiece that was borderline a crown. She was quite pretty, he felt an odd otherworldly presence about her but her stance held authority. "That's Rhea, she's the archbishop of the Church of Seiros, meaning she's in charge." He heard Jeralt say, so she's the one who controlled the religion of Fódlan he's heard about. The woman's focus seemed purely on Byleth who stared back unflinchingly, but before his focus turned elsewhere he noticed her eyes turned to his. Brown meet green for the briefest moment, an odd look of familiarity itched itself on her face before she offered a smile and turned away, heading into the structure before disappearing into the building.
"She seems… nice?" Ash said awkwardly, it looked like the woman recognized him but he couldn't say the same back, if he ever meet her he doubted he'd forget that appearance.
"She appears that way at least…" Jeralt mumbled under his breath, Ash barely able to catch his words despite their close proximity. "I'm guessing we must go meet her immediately?" The grizzled mercenary asked his former squire, getting a simple nod of the head in confirmation, he should have figured. "Lead the way than, see ya later Ash." He told the teen, taking a few steps ahead towards the large structure.
"Actually… Rhea wishes to see him as well." Alois responded to his farewell to the teen, causing Jeralt to stop mid-stride.
"She what? Why?" The mercenary asked honestly confused, how would she even know about the kid since he just appeared in this world? Unless...
"Oh I sent her a report about what happened, the kids gave me plenty of details on him and his abilities during the battle and wrote about them in it." Alois confirmed Jeralt's suspicion that he had sent a report ahead of time before their arrival, meaning she was aware of his abilities.
"Fine. Let's go you two." Jeralt said coolly, hundreds of thoughts running through his head at what she will do when they finally do meet.
Alois guided the small group of three through the gilded halls of the structure, the house leaders are going their own ways for now. Ash was amazed by the sheer amount of wealth on display around him, fine arts and statues of gold encrusted with a rainbow of precious gems. This church certainly flaunted it's wealth around for all to see it seemed, he expected more modesty from a group like this. Eventually they came across a large hard oak door, which Alois opened with little difficulty revealing an audience chamber with the green haired archbishop standing inside, a darker green haired man standing near her but kept a respectable distance from her.
"It's good to see you Jeralt," Rhea welcomed her former captain, he and his companions walking into the room. "It's been quite some time since we last saw each other, it seems you've gained a few more scars since I last saw you." She teased, noting some additional scarring on his face but on the inside she was relieved he was alive, she lost so much when the fire happened…
"Mercenary work isn't the safest work your Holiness. It is to be expected." Jeralt said simply crossing his arms, giving her a slight cold shoulder but giving her the respect her position deserved. It was certainly not how two supposedly old friends would interact.
"Such coldness… You wound me Jeralt. I was hoping we could reconnect and reminisce about yesteryears." Rhea said with a sad smile, the coldness of his tone hurt her but it was to be expected somewhat, he did go into hiding to avoid her after all. Her attention turned away from the man to the only other female in the hall. "Who is this? Your daughter? Seems fatherhood has been blessed on you Jeralt, I hope the joy of parenthood have soften your heart over the years. What is your name?" The archbishop pointed out noticing the young woman in the room, inquiring her identity.
"My name is Byleth." The mercenary said simply, her eyes drifting slightly away from the woman and more focused on the art around her, the young woman always had slight eye for such pieces.
"What a wonderful name." Rhea said with a smile, not at all displeased by the slight lack of overt respect given out. "I heard you performed excellently when coming to aid our precious students, Alois report had them praising you heavily." She praised with a respected nod, glad the students returned unharmed after such an unexpected turn of events, though they certainly needed a punishment for separating themselves from the group. Her attention finally landed on the youngest person in the room. "They also spoke quite heavily about you as well young man. They said you had a unique ability. May I ask your name and demonstration of it." She asked kindly with a smile, having a motherly aura about her.
Ash returned the smile heartily, not having the tension filled past with her or a lacking ability to emote like his companions, taking her kindness at face value. "I'm Ash Ketchum, it's a pleasure to meet you Archbishop! And sure, I see no reason why not!" He told her, never liking to keep secrets from others and didn't really see the need to hide his aura abilities. Holding up a hand, small ball of aura manifested in his hand, almost like blue flame being held out but no heat was produced. The sphere grew until it was roughly the size of a basketball, the flame becoming more controlled and condensed into a tight ball of pure life energy. At his will, the orb dissipated into wisps of blue smoke before even that remnants of its existed vanished.
The reaction to the room varied at the sight. Jeralt and Alois were the most dumbstruck by the sight, neither of the two ever seeing such a thing before in their lives, only hearing about it from others which didn't do it justice. Byleth merely raised a curious brow at the orb, knowing about his ability first hand but not knowing of this particular manifestation of it. The church officials in the room however had the most controlled but surprising reactions to it. Seteth's eyes widen slightly in surprise and in recognition but quickly returned to his more serious demeanor, so others didn't see his reaction. Rhea's smile grew slightly wider, recognizing the ability and seemingly pleased by what she saw.
"My, such a unique and wonderful ability you have. The goddess truly has blessed you with it." Rhea said politely before turning her attention to Jeralt, her smile fading slightly. It was time to talk serious. "I think you know what I'm gonna ask you, Jeralt." She told him.
"You want me to rejoin the Knights of Seiros?" The aging mercenary asked rhetorically, already knowing what she wanted out of him since first meeting Alois, knowing he had no escape from her reach at that point. "I don't have much other choice, guess I'll have to say goodbye to my daughter and troops than." He said somberly, hoping at least he could send them away from here and hopefully out of her reach.
"Such goodbyes won't be necessary, it would be too cruel to separate family. A position has actually opened up just recently in the officers academy." Rhea explained, catching off the mercenary at what she was implying. "One of our teachers has been recently had his position revoked, so we are currently in need of one to fill in the position before the school year starts proper." She explained the situation and the not so subtle proposition.
Alois laughed out loud at her words. "By recently she meant yesterday, the professor ran away when the bandits attacked the students. Ran right past me quicker than a pegasus for a carrot! We couldn't in good faith put him in charge of one of our houses after such a display, we'd fire him personally right here but he never came back after he ran off." The man explained why the spot was opened, much to the annoyance of Seteth who was the one who hired the former professor.
"Yes. We are currently understaffed and a quick replacement is necessary or one of our houses will suffer unjustly. I'm sure has second in command to Jeralt, one of the finest knights to ever grace Fódlan, I'm sure you'll be more than capable of leading these youths to prosperous futures." Rhea told her with a warm smile, she held no doubts that this young woman would perform well nurturing the students that she will teach. She had faith in that.
Byleth was taken aback by the offer, for once this was a decision that she had to make on her own. Admittedly, if her father was rejoining the knights than being a professor would keep them somewhat close, but was she really up to the task? She did help organize training for her fathers men with her father and lead them into battle when he was needed elsewhere, so she had some experience. "I'll accept the offer." She said somewhat reluctantly, she still didn't truly believe herself fit for the role but between that or complete separation from her father, the choice was obvious.
"Seems you'll be teaching others after all! What are the chances?!" Ash said excitedly, the odds of her getting a teaching job after what they spoke of on the way here, though it did disappointed him that she'd be too busy training her actual students than himself. "Anyway, it's been a pleasure meeting all of you. But I gotta use your library to look up some stuff, so I'll be excusing myself." The teen told them, turning around and walking away from the group, believing that Rhea only invited him to thank him. He had much to look up, with only symbols from the ruins to start his search from he'll likely be spending quite a bit of time in there. Much to his dread.
But before he could get past the gilded gates, Rhea's voice caught his attention. "Unfortunately I cannot allow that." She said with surprising authority, like a mother telling her child when he was about to do something wrong. "The library is meant for the use by the church, staff of the academy, and its students. We cannot allow anyone to browse such a precious resource like that at anyone's leisure. I'm sorry." She explained to him, only catching Byleth by surprise at the strict regulation on who or couldn't be allowed into the library.
Ash turned to look at her with obvious annoyance in his eyes, who wouldn't be given his current situation? The quicker he found a way home meant the quicker he could go back on his journey to become a Pokémon master, more importantly see his pokémon and friends. Taking a deep breath, he looked her straight in the eyes. "Their must be a way I can get into that library, it's important." He told the archbishop with conviction, he'd rather get access directly from her. Getting caught sneaking in there to read was hardly a good use of his time, especially since it would likely cost him a valuable resource for his mission.
Rhea smiled at his determination. "Yes there is. I'd like you to enroll into the academy has a student." She told him, that response caught everyone in the room off guard, including Seteth who was essentially her right hand man. "Ash… you are brimming with potential that deserves to be nurtured properly. I know you have personal desires that conflict with my request, however patience is a virtue and I doubt your stay here will be brief. The academy would not only offer you growth and knowledge but food and shelter so long as you remain a student, few are given this opportunity." She told him truthfully, she seemed quite genuine with her desires in seeing him grow and nurtured. "However if you refuse, you will lose out on that opportunity and the library. Please consider carefully."
Ash hummed at the offer, mauling it over it in his head. She seems adamant on him joining the academy, though I certainly dislike the fact she's essentially holding the library hostage to push me into it… The teen thought, he didn't like getting strong armed into accepting the offer. However, her words did have merit in a number of areas, he didn't know if he'll find the information he needed quickly from the library and any he did find could just send him elsewhere, he might be stuck here longer than he'd like. Plus he lacks essentially everything here, no pokémon or money put him in a rough spot to get food or a place to stay, though he doubted the people of Fódlan would accept paper money or digital currency even if he brought some over.
"I'll accept." Ash told her with a nod, this offer helped fixed much of his issues that he currently faced, staying near Byleth and Jeralt was a plus too since he actually knew them. "But what house will I be joining?" He asked her perking an eyebrow, he knew that the academy student body was divided into three houses by geographical homeland, which is sorta problem coming from a… different dimension or reality.
Rhea merely smiled at the question at accepting her offer, though why she was so invested of getting him enrolled was a mystery to everyone but her. "You will decide which house you will join tomorrow. Consider it your reward for your efforts of saving our dear students. You already know the leaders but it's best to learn about the other students to make a decision you'll be happy with." She told him, it went against the schools convention but it wasn't unheard of, students could transfer to a different house if they desired so. It just was a rare occasion.
Ash hummed slightly pleased at that, he wasn't being forced into a house and she was right that choosing his house just on their respective leader wasn't wise. They all seemed alright people in their own ways, so learning who else he was studying with would be best. "Thank you, Rhea." He said, the little wiggle room offered was appreciated, though the thought of going back to school still kinda sucked. He thought he was done with it.
"Your welcome. It's getting late, Seteth could you please show our new teacher and student to some spare rooms at the dorms? I'm sure your familiar with them." Rhea asked her second, the man looking ready to argue with the matter obviously wanting to discuss something but held his tongue.
"Of course, Lady Rhea. Please follow me you two." The dark green haired male told the two, gesturing for the two to follow him before walking out of the audience room not waiting for a response, expecting them to follow. The man wasn't too pleased at the moment due to the guests, but more the choices the Archbishop for them. The two will certainly be discussing things later on, though he trusted her judgement on most things he didn't comprehend her current decisions. Hopefully context will ease his nerves.
Ash and Byleth would look at each other for the briefest of moments before following behind him, the long day's march exhausting them and some rest would be good. Next Alois and Jeralt would leave the room, the former squire dragging the ex-captain out of the room to get a drink at his favourite tavern and to learn about his journeys over drinks. With them gone, this left Rhea alone in the audience chamber.
Rhea would look up to the stain glass mural above her depicting the goddess, at least how the people thought she looked, getting into a position of prayer while looking up at the lovely piece of glass work. "Mother… the blood of the most faithful has returned to us. May it's return be a sign that you'll return soon has well…" the woman prayed, hoping beyond hope that this was a sign from her mother despite how little progress she made to achieve her goal. But she will not rest until her mother walks beside her once more.
What house will Ash choose? What does Rhea know about him? Find out next chapter, hopefully soon!