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gentle madman

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On one particular day, Dimitri called her to the audience chamber, alone. She remembered faintly of how fair the weather that day, it was a lulling summer that slowly marched to a new, fruitful autumn. Byleth moved slower today after tending one of sunflower batches in the grounds of the palace, while thinking to get all the papers done before afternoon so that she could depart for Garreg Mach Monastery before the sun set.

Byleth was busy with her new position as the new Archbishop. Though, being held as the highest of tenure in Fodlan now didn’t mean she could stay in the center forever. Fodlan is healing. The Archbishop's rule is not merely as a head of the belief, she should make sure people do not lose hope.

Official business of the Archbishop is not merely finished with legwork alone. Report papers are always available, stacked into a mountain waiting for checks, no matter to what posts she is in. As the Church of Seiros is merged into one, the idea of splitting the administration by the regions just like in the past has not yet been finalized. Knowing the spirit of rebellion has yet to be vanquished from the face of darkness, the central church remained to be one for now. While that means the Archbishop's task will be heavier, there are no other viable options that could be taken at this point.

When Ingrid, one of the King’s knights now, arrived at her work room in Fhirdiad’s castle with a clear message. Her face was contorted with grim, though Byleth pushed the thoughts away as Ingrid offered a salute. The female knight didn’t follow her to the chamber after passing the message. She repeated how Byleth should go by herself and that no one should dare to see her doing so. No one. If and only if Ashe asked about Dimitri, or wanting to go to the King for giving in his report, he should go meet Ingrid first.

Listening to the urgency in Ingrid’s voice, the turquoise-haired Archbishop didn’t ask things twice: she marched to the audience chamber in the heart of Fhirdiad’s castle, dressed in her Archbishop robes. It was different from Rhea’s, though it is an altered, glorified version of her own Enlightened One robes after the hands of Monastery’s embroiderers. The new emblem of unified Fodlan, with a mark of lion was embedded to the foot of the dress, coupled with white lilies to signify the unforgotten past.

The echo of her steps were slowly becoming ominous as every nook and cranny of halls that usually bustled with guards are emptied.

When she arrives at the chamber, she is truly alone; no presence of Sylvain or Felix near the one-eyed King as he stood in waiting near his seat.

His gaze was somewhat forlorn, Byleth noted, even though he was warming with a crook of a smile.

“I have been expecting you, Professor.”

Areadhbar was resting on his right shoulder, while it should not need to. They were alone in the chamber and there was no presence of enemies around. It was heavy but steady silence. Dimitri’s gaze scanned her once more, looking down to the Sword of Creator by her hilt. A soft blink of his eye prompted her to draw her sword up, a wordless cue. His soft cape aflutter as he made a turn to the back, to one of the biggest banners in the room that showed the Kingdom of Faerghus’s insignia.

 “It’s the time for me to keep my promise.”

Dimitri did not repeat. He kept on walking, his head held high. Byleth waited for a few steps before she followed, steadily behind him and never beside or bested him. Like any follower to a king, even though Byleth’s position is above anyone else in this land. They were no longer a teacher and a student. They were no longer an ally who fought together side-by-side. They are not nobody, but they never really meet, anymore.

(Especially after Byleth rejected a jade-eyed ring from him. Saying that she already has someone else .)

The light no longer reached the chamber, replaced by a grim-looking hearth of torch. A dungeon that expanded before them was sparse - only a simple brick from wall to floor, and the roadway was small. There was nothing much to see except the darkness beneath, and the spiraling staircase cascading down and down. The moment of quiet between them only added a rise to her bile. A sudden queasiness was there, unwelcome and uncomfortable, as though she would descend to the point of no return. Fearless as she might be on the surface, there was a time where she felt everything would end and she could never redo.

After the dark that felt like an endless journey, they arrived on one wooden door. Dimitri opened it, but he didn’t step inside. Instead, he pointed the way, ushering Byleth to come forward before him.

Swallowing, Byleth took the initiative, her right hand gripping tight on her torch.

It was surreal at first, to think a chamber is hidden deep within the throne room - or should Byleth say, a prison. A prison that lies behind everything, behind the facade of the man who is said to liberate Fodlan, the true king. Perhaps, it was not a prison, but actually a sanctuary.

There was only one window up above, while the darkness mostly the one that was living in the room. A bigger torch, providing as a lamppost to illuminate the face of said subject of the specialized room, seemingly forever alight, becoming one and only inhabitant beside the dark.

Byleth still remembers clearly when she did last see this prisoner - no, the subject of this sanctuary - but she didn’t quite recall what had happened that led to such tragedy. ‘Such monstrosity’, if one would describe, though Byleth knew she never intended anything gruesome or cruel.

The black, rigid muscles pulsing with Crest of Flames that Byleth once knew are now already colored gray, almost white. The once ruling Emperor of Adrestia is right on Byleth’s grasp, closing her eyes, unchained. Byleth couldn’t see any sign of life aside the little glow coming from her body, the muted red that blinked slowly, too faint to count.

When she sought to find Dimitri, he already turned away from the room, as if giving them moments of privacy.

“Tell me. How long would she last?”

Dimitri looked back with a sigh, his eyes cast down, his expression unreadable. “A day or so.”

All that could Byleth muster is apprehension. “I see.”

“Then … I leave El to you, Professor.”

[After the door is closed, Dimitri could no longer hear anything more. No more screaming, no more wailing - only a single name, fueled with longing.]