Chapter 34: Know Your Enemy

With the Remire incident resolved and her birthday slowly approaching, Monica felt like she could rest easy for the first time in a long time. She wanted to show her parents how beneficial her tutelage under Byleth had been compared to her previous professor, so she bought a second notebook to write down any extra notes and diagrams.

The lessons for the first three days of the school week had been an unusually active test of this as they revolved around studying individual battles from pivotal wars in Fódlan’s history. The Adrestian Empire had found itself on the losing end of two of those wars – first in the War of the Eagle and Lion, and then in the Leicester Independence War half a century later – effectively losing control over half of the continent. The point of the exercise wasn’t to debate the reasons for the Empire’s losses or to delve into the lives of the opposing commanders – almost every war historian worth their salt recognized Loog, the first king of Faerghus, but fewer books were written on his Leicesterese contemporary, Duke Norbert – but to examine each battle from a tactician’s perspective. Knowing the lay of the land, the makeup of allied and enemy armies, and how to account for unforeseen conditions were crucial to winning any engagement, regardless of size. By the end of the last lecture, the first few pages of Monica’s second notebook were filled with doodles representing a half-dozen types of troop formations. She had only been in battles with a few enemies at a time, only giving out orders once or twice in the heat of the moment despite not being a commander. It made her wonder how well she would fare if she was put in charge of her own squad against larger groups of enemies.

Monica thought back to her first battle since returning to the academy when she, Edelgard, Ingrid, and Leonie traveled westward to fight Raine’s gang and open up a trading route to help Anna. Instead of killing her off as she did with her minions and the soldiers who attacked Remire, she and Edelgard opted to place Raine under arrest in order to find out what she was doing in Imperial territory.

While Monica knew enough about her knife-loving nemesis Kronya to write a three-page essay, Raine, on the other hand, was more of a mystery to her. The sandy-haired mage in tattered robes suddenly appeared around the Fódlan’s Fangs area one day, and allegedly had ties to the renegade Western Church. A bag full of letters and a rare magic book were unusual items for a bandit to steal, so Monica wanted to know what other connections she had.

While helping the cooks serve steak platters to the students, Monica spotted Seteth walking in from the main hall. She figured she could get some information about Raine from him to share with Edelgard later.

The cooks allowed Monica to take a break and eat with Ingrid, Ignatz, and Raphael. Ingrid looked at Raphael and wondered why he hadn’t used his napkin after finishing half of his second steak. When he wiped off his mouth with the left sleeve of his shirt, Ingrid shook her head in disapproval. He took a look at Ignatz’s clean shirt and watched him wipe a few grains of rice from his face with his napkin, and that got him to think twice about staining his uniform again.

Monica sat down next to Ingrid, who was still addressing Raphael’s table manners. “Being a proper knight isn’t all about fighting enemies,” she said. “You’re going to spend a lot more time off the battlefield than on it, so if you want to impress your lord, you can’t just walk up to him with your clothes all wrinkled and dirty.”

“Ugh…there’s a lot more to this stuff than I thought,” said Raphael. “Sometimes I get so distracted by tasty food that it slips my mind.”

Monica looked at the steak on her plate, surprised by how thick it was compared to the ones from the previous week. On one hand, she agreed with Ingrid that table etiquette was just as important as battle prowess. On the other hand, the steaks were nice and juicy, and she could see why Raphael preferred to wait until he finished his meal before cleaning himself up.

After wiping his face down, Raphael looked across the table to greet the new arrival. “Say…I thought I’d seen you in the kitchen a couple of times before. Did you help make this?”

Monica expected Ingrid to lecture Raphael again on his manners, telling him not to assume that she was just another member of the custodial staff. However, Ingrid chose to hold her tongue and let Monica answer for herself. Monica didn’t want to assume any insensitive subtext behind Raphael’s comment. “Maybe not these specific steaks,” she said to him, “but I started learning how to cook them about a year before I came to the academy.”

“That’s pretty cool! I think I ought to learn how to cook, too. That way, whenever I get hungry, I can just make the food myself if there’s no one else around.”

Monica felt a little embarrassed about ignoring her own code of etiquette by not introducing herself to him before sitting down to eat. His beaming grin indicated that he wasn’t bothered by it, but she didn’t want to leave the table without doing so. “Um…my name’s Monica. It’s nice to meet you, uh…”

“I’m Raphael. Are you friends with Ignatz and Ingrid? If you are, then I think we might get along great!”

Monica wished the washrooms were closer to the dining hall. Judging by the grease on everyone’s napkins, an introductory handshake between her and Raphael was bound to be messy and awkward, so she settled for matching his smile with one of her own.

“So, how did everyone’s last missions go?” she asked, hoping to get quick answers out of all of them before she was called back to finish her shift.

“Fascinating!” said Ignatz.

“Frustrating,” said Ingrid.

“I’ve had worse trips,” said Raphael.

“To tell the truth, my class did run into some very rough weather along the way,” said Ignatz, “but the time we spent in Derdriu was like a revelation! There are so many stories to be told about the city from the architecture alone. I think both of you might enjoy your time there.”

“As long as it’s not too cold or too hot and has some good food to serve,” said Ingrid, “I’ll go pretty much anywhere.”

“I’d like to go to a big city one day,” said Monica. “Considering how far away I live from any of the capitals, though, I’ll have to be prepared to stay for the long haul.”

One of the cooks rang the bell behind the counter to call Monica back to work, leaving her with little time to talk about the results of her mission. Ingrid, Raphael, and Ignatz had gone back to their dorms while Seteth stood by the north entrance to the dining hall, watching to ensure that everyone kept the floors and tables clean. Once most of the students and visitors had left, Monica saw her opportunity to approach Seteth and make her request.

“Is something troubling you, Monica?” he asked, turning toward Monica but keeping one eye on a student who had left behind a half-eaten plate of vegetables. He tried to remember her name and face so he could warn her against wasting food next time.

“Not exactly ‘troubling’,” she said, “but I need to ask a favor of you.”

Seteth gave Monica his full attention. “And what is the exact nature of this favor?”

“Can we go to your office and discuss it? It’s sort of a private matter.”

“Very well. Meet me in my office in a few moments.”

When Monica approached Seteth’s office, she was greeted by an elderly man in a white robe, struggling to keep himself from falling over by leaning on his oak cane.

“Tomas? Is that you?!”

The monastery’s head librarian tilted his head upward, appearing as surprised to see Monica as she was to see him. “Monica! How long has it been since we last saw each other?”

“Eight months, I think,” she answered.

“When Seteth told me you had gone missing, I was beside myself with worry,” said Tomas. “And yet here you are, standing before me, confident as ever. I can scarcely imagine what it must have been like to be away from your friends and family for such a long time.”

“Well, it wasn’t easy…that’s for sure. I’m just glad I was allowed to come back.”

Monica took a half-step backward as Tomas coughed into his sleeve. “Pardon me… I’m afraid this body isn’t holding up as well as it used to,” he said. “In the forty or so years I’ve worked at this monastery, I don’t think I’ve spent so much time bedridden.”

“Oh no…Have you really been sick this entire time?” she asked.

“No, no, just the last couple of weeks.” Tomas tried to laugh off his condition, but another scratchy cough came out. “Perhaps another day or two off wouldn’t hurt.”

“Have you seen Professor Manuela since you came back? I’m sure she might be able to give you something to help you feel better.”

“Ah, but Manuela is a busy woman. I would prefer not to bother her with my petty health concerns when there are others in more immediate need of care.” Tomas put both hands on his cane and tried to stand up straight so he could see what was going on behind Monica. She turned around and saw a monk walking past them, disappearing into the hallway toward the library. Tomas saw that as his cue to report to his station as quickly as possible. “If you need me for anything, don’t hesitate to ask,” he said. “I’m usually not far from the library, but I do try to get around whenever I can. You’ll still visit the library frequently, won’t you?”

“Of course! I guess I’ll see you later, then. Seteth’s waiting for me up ahead.”

Tomas and Monica nodded to each other as they went in opposite directions.

Once inside Seteth’s office, Monica quietly closed the door behind her and watched him stash a stack of papers into a green folder. “Good evening, Monica,” he said as he stood up and turned to face her. “Now, what was it you wanted to ask of me?”

“Can you give me information on anyone by the name of Raine?” she asked.

“I’m afraid there isn’t much I can tell you unless you provide me with more details.”

It sounds like he knows something, she thought. I’m off to a good start.

“You see, when I had gone out west to do a favor for one of the merchants, I was attacked by a group of bandits, and a young woman who called herself Raine was leading them. She’d been going around attacking merchant and delivery caravans for their letters and magic books.”

“Letters, you say? That would certainly explain why it took so long for us to receive a plea for help from your father after you went missing,” said Seteth.

“I’m still trying to figure out where she came from and what she’s up to. I’d like to believe she’s sitting in prison somewhere, but in my personal experience with bandits like her, they don’t tend to stay locked up for long.” Monica paused for a few seconds, worried that she was losing his interest. “I don’t know if this is connected or anything, but I was told that she may have been in contact with people from the Western Church. You guys had to deal with them not too long ago, right?”

“Yes. After their ill-advised intrusion on the Holy Mausoleum, Lady Rhea has meted out a fitting punishment for the perpetrators,” Seteth explained. “Their leadership – or what remains of it – has been eerily quiet of late, but we are actively monitoring the situation to see what they plan to do next. One would hope that those who claim to express their reverence for the goddess would think twice about attempting to defile sacred ground. We do not yet know for certain whether the Western Church was involved in the cover-up of your disappearance or anyone else’s, but the matter is certainly worthy of investigation.”

Monica continued to wonder about the nature of the connection between Raine and the Western Church. As much as she wanted to ask one of them directly, her standing as a mere student of the Officers Academy presented an obstacle to her being taken seriously. Monica didn’t know anyone from the Western Church she could talk to even if they weren’t considered a hostile entity by the Central Church, and Raine was unlikely to want to speak with her on account of her and Edelgard killing her henchmen. The only other idea she could think of was to dig into Raine’s background and see if she could find any clues from there.

“Do you know if Raine ever attended the Officers Academy?” she asked. She actually wondered if Raine had ever been to Fhirdiad’s School of Sorcery given that both it and the Western Church were within Faerghus’ borders, but she knew that Seteth was unlikely to have that information available to him.

“Give me a few moments and I will take a look,” said Seteth. “To my knowledge, such instances of academy graduates resorting to criminal activity are, thankfully, very rare. It would be a profound waste of anyone’s time and talent, regardless of their circumstances.” His tone sharpened with his last statement, followed by a stern look in Monica’s direction to make sure she got the message.

Monica sat down and waited several minutes for Seteth to look through his school records. After flicking through numerous tabbed folders and licking his fingers multiple times, he nodded and pulled out a sheet of paper covered in fancy handwritten script. “Ah, here we go,” he said. “While we do not have a history of anyone registered under the singular name ‘Raine’, there is a record of a student from the class of 1175 by the name of Ashley Lorraine Gideon. It’s possible that she began using part of her middle name as an alias at one point, but I do not recall anyone addressing her by that name while she was a student here.”

Monica was surprised to learn that one of her enemies had attended the Officers Academy the same year that her territory was attacked by Brigid. She considered it an interesting but ultimately irrelevant detail in her investigation. “Where did she go after that?” she asked.

“Neither Raine nor her mother had much to say to me about her plans after the academy. You would have to ask those closest to her – which, admittedly, given her current circumstances, would be difficult.”

Realizing that she had learned as much as she could from Seteth, Monica rose from her chair and turned toward the door, preparing to leave. “Oh, well…at least I have an idea of where to start. Thanks, Seteth.”

As Seteth got up to put away Raine’s student file, he whipped his head to his left as he heard the office door creak open. He called out Monica’s name, still adopting his “serious” tone, and that got her to turn around and sit back down. She had taken a few moments of Seteth’s time, so it was only fair for her to stay for a few more to listen to what else he wanted to say to her. “I understand that it has only been two months since you returned to the academy,” he said, “but Professor Byleth says you’ve adjusted well to your new environment and classmates.”

“She’s a surprisingly good instructor and commander,” said Monica.

“Indeed, she is. In fact, much of what I said about you just now could just as easily apply to her. Perhaps a new teacher with previous on-the-field experience is something this academy has desperately needed…” Seteth paused to look through the crack in the door where he noticed Flayn walking toward the stairs to the ground floor of the cathedral. While he didn’t know if Flayn could see him, her timely arrival provided him with a suitable topic to continue the conversation. “I hear you and Flayn are also getting along well,” he said. “I don’t think I need to remind you as one of Flayn’s new friends that it is imperative that she is kept safe from any unnecessary danger. This monastery very nearly lost her once, and it would be a great tragedy if she were to go missing again. Is that clear?”

“Yes, sir!” said Monica, wondering if Seteth knew she was the one who convinced Byleth to ask him to “borrow” Flayn for the Remire mission. Even though she had come back mostly unharmed, Monica dreaded thinking about what would have happened if Flayn got seriously hurt. Would she have gotten suspended? Expelled?

“Now, I understand it is getting late, so I won’t keep you any longer. I regret that I am unable to give you any more information on the young woman who attacked you, but I hope that you make good use of what you have been given.”

Monica nodded and stood back up. Before she left the office for real, she recalled the letter that her father had written for her. “By the way…my father wanted to say ‘hello’ to you. He’s planning on visiting the academy next Friday.”

“Really? I will see if I can pay him a visit when he arrives,” said Seteth. “Good night, Monica. Please keep up the good work.”

“Will do.”

The journey back to the dormitory area was cold and lonely. A strong wind blew in from the southwest, threatening to blow out the torches lighting the area around the bridge. Monica felt uneasy walking across the bridge at night because it was harder to see where the ground stopped and the canyon started.

After crossing the bridge, she noticed Edelgard and Hubert talking amongst themselves on their way back to the second floor of the dormitory building. She wanted to approach Edelgard right away and tell her what she learned about Raine from Seteth, but getting close to her without upsetting Hubert was unlikely.

Monica waited in her room for a few moments to give Edelgard and Hubert a bit of space. By the time she came out, they were gone, and Dimitri and Dedue had taken their place, approaching the room next to hers from downhill. Monica was surprised by how tall Dedue was – more than a foot taller than her, by her estimation – and how neither of them had spoken to each other since her return despite being neighbors. Monica decided she was going to change that since she had met almost everyone on campus, however briefly. “Um…good evening,” she said.

“Good evening.” Dedue’s deep voice combined with his height and the lighting from the torch on the wall between the two bedrooms gave him an intimidating appearance. The piercing stare that seemed to go right through Monica’s eyes reminded her of her first meeting with Byleth. She wondered if she would warm up to Dedue as quickly as she did with her professor.

“Are you…coming back from an evening stroll?” she asked, sounding less sure of whether she should have asked that question by the second.

All she could get out of him was a quick and to-the-point “Yes.”

“Sorry…did I catch you at a bad time?”

Dimitri, noticing the tension between the two, stepped in to try to salvage the conversation. “I wouldn’t worry too much about it, Monica,” he said. “Sometimes it takes a while for Dedue to warm up to a new face.”

“O…kay, then… I think I’ll go for a little walk myself,” she said, hastily throwing in a nervous chuckle at the end. “I’ve got quite a lot on my mind, you know?”

Dedue looked down at Monica, stepping forward so that more of his face could be seen against the torch’s light. “You should be cautious going out tonight,” he said. “Even within the walls of the monastery, it is dangerous to walk out alone.”

Is that why he and Dimitri are walking together? I guess this must mean Dedue is Dimitri’s bodyguard or something. I wonder if that’s the reason Hubert’s always hanging around Edelgard, too…

Monica curtsied to Dimitri and Dedue and walked away. She didn’t want to forget about reporting to Edelgard.

To her surprise, she found Edelgard standing outside Bernadetta’s room with a folded-up letter in one hand and a plate with a slice of marble cake in the other.

“N-no way! You’re lying!” Bernadetta suddenly shouted from behind her door. “When has he ever said anything like that? I don’t believe you!”

“I’m only telling you what I read in this letter,” said Edelgard. “Not a single word was added or omitted. If you let me enter so that I can prove it to you, I’ll share this slice of cake I picked up from the dining hall.”

Bernadetta was more reluctant to open her door due to the darkness, but she eventually relented. “Is anyone else out there with you?”

Edelgard looked to her right to see Monica standing next to her, staring at the slice of cake. “It’s just Monica and me.”

“Oh…I guess Monica can come in, too,” said Bernadetta, “but no one else! Got it?”

Bernadetta opened the door and allowed the other two Black Eagles to enter before quickly shutting and locking it. She had wrapped herself in her bed’s comforter, shivering intensely, and Monica couldn’t tell whether it was because she was cold or that she was hiding from someone.

As promised, Edelgard sat at the desk chair offered Bernadetta a slice of her cake once Bernadetta calmed down and took a seat on the bed, still encased in her blanket.

“So, what’s this all about?” asked Monica as she sat down and leaned against the door.

“I received a letter this morning from Count Varley,” said Edelgard. The mention of his name caused Bernadetta to tense up once again. “It appears to be his way of thanking us for defeating the fiends who attacked Larkspur.”

“Hmph…like he even knows the meaning of ’gratitude’…” Bernadetta muttered between bites.

“I was surprised myself. Hardly anyone would ever use the terms ‘gracious’ and ‘Count Grégoire von Varley’ in the same sentence. What’s more surprising is that he mentioned you by name, Bernadetta.”

“Probably to tell everyone how useless he thinks I am.”

Monica gasped. If not for the blanket, she would have asked to give Bernadetta a hug to try to cheer her up. She wanted to believe the count would change his mind if he had been on the battlefields with her, Bernadetta, and Edelgard fighting the same enemies the three of them had fought before judging his daughter’s usefulness.

Edelgard waited for Bernadetta to put down the empty plate before unfolding Count Varley’s letter. “Would you like to read this, or shall I?”

Bernadetta looked away and pushed the letter toward Edelgard. “Maybe you should do it,” she said.

“All right, then. It says…”

To Her Highness, Princess Edelgard,

I hear that congratulations are in order. It seems the invaders who encroached on our territory have been driven back into the holes from whence they came, and the girl who was falsely arrested is now a free woman. The people of Larkspur are still complaining about the property damage, but I would advise you to pay them no heed. Once that has been dealt with, they will certainly find something else to complain about. Whatever gives their lives meaning, I suppose…

You and Ferdinand have acquitted yourselves well in this affair. As long as you continue on this path, the Adrestian Empire will have a bright future. If, by some miracle, Bernadetta has found her way out from under her covers, let her know that I must also commend her for a ‘job well done’. May we all put this ugly episode behind us as swiftly as possible.


Grégoire von Varley, Imperial Chief Magistrate

Bernadetta stopped shivering but continued to clutch her blanket and shrink away from Edelgard and Monica for a few seconds to allow the words from her father to sink in. “He…really did say that…W-wait…no! It’s a trick! It has to be! A-and how did he know I was hiding under my covers, anyway?”

“Whatever his reason is for doing so,” said Edelgard, “and despite the overall tone of the letter, it sounds like Count Varley is pleased with our efforts. I think we should be happy that he has something nice to say for once.”

Monica wanted to speak up but decided against it on the slim chance that someone with connections to House Varley was monitoring them. Bernadetta looked slightly more relaxed after listening to Edelgard, and Monica didn’t want to ruin the moment by bringing the count back into it.

Edelgard put away the count’s letter and began to eat her half of the cake when Monica stood up and approached her.

“That reminds me, Edelgard… there was something I needed to talk to you about,” said Monica.

“Very well,” Edelgard replied. “Let’s continue this elsewhere and give Bernadetta some time to herself.”

“Um…thanks for the cake, Edelgard,” said Bernadetta. “Sorry we didn’t have enough to share with you, Monica.”

“It’s okay, Bernie,” said Monica. “Do you need anything else before we go?”

“N-nothing, thanks.” Bernadetta slowly released herself from her blanket and got up to unlock the door, opening it slightly to avoid letting anyone else see who was inside. “I’ll just lock the door behind you guys. Just make sure that no one else is out there, okay?”

Edelgard looked to her right and noticed Dimitri returning to his bedroom. Dimitri didn’t see her or Monica exiting the room, so Edelgard nodded to Bernadetta to let her know it was safe to close the door.

Before entering her own room, Monica checked to see what her neighbor Dedue was up to. The lack of lighting from underneath the door suggested he had gone to bed early.

Once she and Edelgard were safely inside and she had locked the door, Monica sat down on her bed after bouncing on the mattress a few times. Doing that never stopped being fun for her, especially after the stiff beds they slept on during their stay in Remire.

“All right, Monica,” said Edelgard, sitting down at the desk chair and resting her hands in her lap. “What’s on your mind?”

“A couple of things, actually,” said Monica, “but I mainly wanted to tell you about some new information I learned tonight.”

“Let’s hear it.”

Monica crossed her legs and steadied herself by tightly gripping her mattress. “I thought I’d use some of this free time we have to try to dig up some more dirt on Raine and figure out where she came from.” She paused for a second before adding, “According to Seteth, she used to be a student here at the academy. And she didn’t always go by just ‘Raine’, either. Her full name is Ashley Lorraine Gideon.”

“So she is from Faerghus…and from a noble family, at that,” said Edelgard. “It wouldn’t be the first time a noble from that kingdom had turned to banditry…”

Based on her limited exposure to Raine – or “Ashley”; she couldn’t decide which name to use – Monica thought the woman behaved far more like a bandit than she did a noble. The nobles she knew before returning to the Black Eagles could be jerks sometimes – especially Candace – but they had the good sense to stay on what most considered the “right” side of the law.

“Did Professor Byleth ever tell you the story of Miklan Gautier?”

Monica shook her head.

“He was Sylvain’s older brother, and the firstborn son of Margrave Gautier. There was a bloody dispute over which one of them would inherit the territory. Miklan, being the eldest, believed he was the rightful heir, but their parents disagreed and made Sylvain the heir, all because he was born with their family’s Crest and Miklan wasn’t. Miklan took out all of his frustration and aggression on Sylvain, and the Gautiers eventually disowned him altogether.”

“That guy sounds like a real class act,” Monica scoffed.

“I don’t think many people feel sorry for him,” Edelgard continued. “Even before he stole House Gautier’s Hero’s Relic, the Lance of Ruin, he was often remembered as a bitter and violent man. By most metrics, he would be a terrible choice to lead House Gautier into the future, and yet he had a lot of potential that went unrealized because his and Sylvain’s parents, like many other nobles, cling to this antiquated notion that one’s bloodline is the only worthwhile measure of their ability to make a difference in this world.”

With Edelgard’s voice getting louder as she continued to talk about Miklan’s plight, Monica wondered if she was going to reach out and hit something. She was surprised to see her house leader so angry about anything, either on or off the battlefield.

“Um…Edelgard? Do you need a moment?” asked Monica, tilting her head to the left to avoid staring directly at Edelgard. She knew Edelgard wasn’t mad at her specifically, but anyone who walked in at the tail end of the princess’ speech was bound to get a completely different impression.

“Sorry. Whenever I think about Crests or hear people other than Professor Hanneman talking about them,” said Edelgard, “I wonder if they’d change their minds when they see what sort of horrible things they can be used for, like with Miklan or some of the creatures we fought in Remire, or even m—” She tried to relax and stop herself from saying too much. “But I’m getting off-topic, aren’t I? You were telling me about Raine, correct?”

“Yeah. I was also wondering if she had ever gone to that magic school in Fhirdiad, what with that magic book she was carrying around and everything. Connie went to that school and had a book just like it. Anna said they were really expensive…”

“She admitted to stealing that book, just like the letters you and Leonie found in that cave. Most of them have since been returned to their rightful recipients.”

Monica imagined dozens of couriers riding and flying back and forth to get all those messages back to where they needed to go. She hoped they hadn’t all decided to take off at the same time; the traffic nightmare would have choked the streets and skies.

“What about the Western Church?” she wondered. “Where do they figure into all of this?”

“Unsurprisingly, Raine is being very tight-lipped about her involvement with them. Before long, she’ll have to answer to Count Varley, the man whose letter we just finished reading.”

“You mean Bernie’s dad?”

“Yes. If anyone were to be able to get that information out of her, it would be him. He used to be the Minister of Religious Affairs, which means he’s dealt with the Western and Eastern Churches in the past. However, since the church as a whole doesn’t have as much influence in the Empire as it used to, he rendered the office redundant and placed himself as the head of the Imperial Judiciary Committee. The count has a very low tolerance for disorderly behavior…and an equally short temper. He’s not someone whose bad side you want to be on.”

Based on Bernadetta’s fearful reaction and how it sounded like a great struggle for Count Varley to even say “thank you” to her, Monica was not inclined to disagree with that notion.

“Well, as long as Raine’s still locked up, we don’t have anything else to worry about from her, right?” she asked. The heavy weight of fatigue started to bear down on her, dragging her eyelids down and threatening to take the rest of her body with it. Edelgard blinked a few times in her own struggle to stay awake, realizing that she had a long way to walk back to her bedroom.

“She’s under tight surveillance in the prison in Enbarr,” said Edelgard, “which should make it difficult for her to escape or gather outside help. The Western Church’s leadership has also been crippled, but I hear the archbishop…er, Lady Rhea wants to bring it back…but why? Is she so confident that the new bishop won’t question her rule and try to rebel like the last one? We should keep an eye on this situation and see how it develops. If things get out of hand, or if it turns out that they really were involved in the cover-up of your disappearance, then we may be forced to fight them. Are you prepared to face such a possibility?”

Monica lifted her left hand to stifle a yawn. She was just as worried about her right hand giving out as she was about yawning loud enough to wake up Dedue. Moreover, she didn’t know how serious Edelgard was about potentially going up against a branch of the Church of Seiros. The last thing she wanted was to give a definitive answer while half-asleep and be expected to fully commit to it later. “Maybe we can discuss that when we’re both feeling a bit more…energetic,” she said.

“Fair enough,” said Edelgard. “Promise me that if you do discover any new information about either of them, you’ll continue to let me know. In turn, I’ll share any new developments I receive on my end, and we can devise a plan from there.”

“Sounds good.”

Monica mustered enough strength to get up and retrieve her black pajamas from her closet. Edelgard saw that as her cue to leave and give Monica time to herself to get changed and rest for the next day’s classes. “Good night, Monica,” she said on her way out.

“Good night, Lady…Edel…”

The door quietly clicked shut, with Monica having already fallen asleep before she could get her house leader’s whole name out.

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