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An Analysis on Those Who Slither in the Dark’s Actions in the Academy Phase (SPOILERS!)

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Beware: Spoilers Below

Fire Emblem: Three Houses, for the most part, eschews straight definitions of good and evil with the four factions that you can ally with and opts for shades of grey. The exception to this is Those Who Slither in the Dark (Slithers for short). They are outright evil and generally have no real motivation in the grand scope of things, wanting just to kill the last of the Nabataens and then screw over the rest of humanity. While that is the case, it is interesting to consider what the Slithers were up to during the Academy Phase of Three Houses, as during that time, they were working with Edelgard and preparing to attack the monastery. There were plenty of times when their actions made no sense and felt completely out of place.

I was in a discussion with a reddit user named SigurdVII, where he suggested a very interesting theory that we got rather invested into.

So this thread is dedicated to analyzing the overall plan the Slithers had during the Academy Phase.

The first real understanding we get is something that happened after Chapter 4 was completed when the Western Church made an assassination attempt on Rhea, as well as to try and retrieve the remains of Seiros. However, rather than find Seiros's remains (which they wouldn't have found, as Seiros is Rhea), what was left there was the Sword of the Creator. The Flame Emperor would report this to Thales, who was under the guise of Arundel.

Thales was not expecting the Sword of the Creator there (even dropping a hint that Nemesis was just a thief, to the Flame Emperor's confusion), so by some account, the Slithers may very well have expected to have found Seiros's remains, and may not have guessed that Seiros was Rhea at the time. If so, the only logical explanation we could guess was that the Slithers wanted to obtain Seiros's remains because it would contain her bones and her Crest Stone, which would likely be used by the slithers to create a weapon out of it, presumably for Edelgard, who bears the Crest of Seiros.

Remember that Edelgard has no Relic for her own, as Amyr was an artificial Relic created by the Slithers, meaning that Edelgard had no real weapon to channel the power of her Crest. Even Amyr's art shows that it has the Crest Stone of Maurice rather than Seiros. This is the best we can guess for the attack on Chapter 4.

However, the interesting thing came during the same conversation between Thales and the Flame Emperor. The Flame Emperor reports that the Sword of the Creator had no Crest Stone, but Byleth had been able to use its power. This caught Thales off guard, as he states that there's no way that a Relic would even function without a Crest Stone and that even Nemesis couldn't have had any descendants for there to be someone with the Crest of Flames. This is where Thales stops himself and starts to think deeply about something.

It's likely that Thales figured out that if Byleth could use the Sword of the Creator, despite the weapon lacking a Crest Stone, then it must mean that he has or is the Crest Stone. Recall that Slithers have a Crest Stone where their hearts are, as evidenced by Chapter 10 with Kronya.

Now this is where we start to dive into the meat of the discussion

During Chapter 6, after Flayn has been kidnapped, Leonie mentions that Tomas has been asking around about Flayn, but also was trying to learn about Byleth and Jeralt. When confronted, he waved this off about how he's been in the monastery for a long time, and how he never saw Jeralt age, or never knew Seteth had a sister. Sothis later even says that Tomas is definitely fishy.

All of this seems odd, would you not say?

But then you recall what Solon calls Byleth in Chapter 10: the Fell Star. This is no doubt referring to Sothis. Tomas was likely trying to investigate Byleth's origins and figure out if he really was their enemy.

Once you realize this, something starts to make sense.

Ask yourself: Would the Slithers want the Fell Star and Edelgard to actually work together?

And this is the main topic of the discussion we had. It is very likely that the Slithers made all their attacks for the sole purpose of ensuring that Byleth and Edelgard NEVER work together by any means.

It's clear that from the very beginning, regardless of route, Edelgard wanted to have Byleth join her, and, during the Black Eagles run, has been subtly hinting to him and the workings of the Church and how it was wrong. She likely hoped that if she could keep presenting enough information little by little, she could gain Byleth as an ally.

But guess what completely started to sabotage Edelgard's chances of ever gaining Byleth's favor?

The Slithers.

During an Exploration during Chapter 5, Tomas tells Byleth that there's a chance that the Western Church attack was instigated by an outside force. This actually makes it clear that there's a mastermind behind the attack. And during Chapter 6, the Flame Emperor reveals himself for the first time, making it clear that the Flame Emperor is this outside force.

But Chapter 8 was the real kicker. In that chapter, Tomas reveals himself as Solon and had conducted horrific experiments on Remire Village, so terrible that even Edelgard is completely taken aback by it. Solon even states that he could have conducted this experiment anywhere, so why Remire Village specifically? Recall how Remire Village seems to have sentimental feelings for Jeralt and Byleth, so much so that Byleth actually expresses anger from the attack.

And after the attack, guess who shows up? The Flame Emperor.

The Flame Emperor immediately tried to salvage the situation by denying any involvement with the attack but was unable to deny the connection they had with Solon before the Flame Emperor made a vain effort to try and get Byleth to join. It makes it incredibly easy to guess that Solon was there to link the Slithers with the Flame Emperor, hence the presence of the Death Knight during the attack, which damaged the credibility of the Flame Emperor for Byleth and Jeralt.

This gets even worse when you recall that after Chapter 6, Monica is brought in, and she sticks VERY close to Edelgard the entire time, to the point that Hubert had to actually force Monica to separate herself from Edelgard.

This is very important when you realize that a chapter after Remire Village, Monica reveals her true intentions and murdered Jeralt. When you explore during Chapter 10 after, there's an NPC student that comments about how close Edelgard and Monica were, and then considers the possibility of Edelgard possibly being involved, before she quickly shut herself up.

Everything starts to add up. The Slithers were actually trying to ruin every chance Edelgard had with Byleth. In fact, Byleth still has a case of considering whether to join the Flame Emperor or not even after Chapter 8 and in Black Eagles, Edelgard does seem to believe that she could convince Byleth to join her. With Edelgard, she even suggests that perhaps that one day, the Flame Emperor would approach Byleth without a mask, with her perhaps holding a faint hope that Byleth can still join her.

But after Chapter 9, Edelgard seems to have more or less given up on ever convincing Byleth to join her. She likely knows that the damage was done, and there was no way to salvage the situation. And even if there was the unlikely chance of still convincing him, the Slithers still tried to make it even less likely by ambushing Byleth when Kronya tried to kill Byleth and after failing, Solon tried to banish Byleth to the dark dimension of Zahras. And once Byleth inherited the power of the goddess, Edelgard definitely felt that there was no way that she and Byleth could share the same path.

Which might make sense as to why Edelgard is so confused and insecure about Byleth joining her when it comes down to it since she feels that there's no way that Byleth would join her in all logical sense.

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Woah this is really eye opening, I never thought that much about Remire Village/Jeralt's unfortunate end and how it was due to the slithers wanting to screw with Byleth's emotions and make them antagonize Edelgard

 

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17 minutes ago, sfgiantsfanmike said:

Interesting read, thanks for sharing!

 

 
 
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5 minutes ago, charcoalswift said:

Woah this is really eye opening, I never thought that much about Remire Village/Jeralt's unfortunate end and how it was due to the slithers wanting to screw with Byleth's emotions and make them antagonize Edelgard

Glad you guys liked the theory so much. It really does make a lot of sense. Another theory is that the slithers wanted to kill Byleth when they began to consider that he might be a dangerous entity like the Nabataens, so they wanted to ensure that he fell into their trap, hence why it happens in the other routes, and Edelgard being screwed over is an overlapping goal.

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4 minutes ago, omegaxis1 said:

Glad you guys liked the theory so much. It really does make a lot of sense. Another theory is that the slithers wanted to kill Byleth when they began to consider that he might be a dangerous entity like the Nabataens, so they wanted to ensure that he fell into their trap, hence why it happens in the other routes, and Edelgard being screwed over is an overlapping goal.

The slithers probably thought that it's weird that a random ex-mercenary could use the Sword of the Creator which is the "goddess" Sothis' relic and how Rhea made them a professor upon meeting them. So they want to put them out of the equation for fear that Byleth can ruin their schemes (which turns out to be entirely possible)

Lol poor Edelgard, she stands no chance in 3 out of 4 routes

Edited by charcoalswift

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4 minutes ago, charcoalswift said:

Lol poor Edelgard, she stands no chance in 3 out of 4 routes

To be honest, the same for Claude or Dimitri. They only win in their routes. Dimitri is just as worse off, as he dies in madness in the other routes.

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1 minute ago, omegaxis1 said:

To be honest, the same for Claude or Dimitri. They only win in their routes. Dimitri is just as worse off, as he dies in madness in the other routes.

Three Houses is probably the most tragic FE to date. the lords each have their own dreams and it's all up to the player to decide to help 1 person which means the others have to die to achieve that

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Just now, charcoalswift said:

Three Houses is probably the most tragic FE to date. the lords each have their own dreams and it's all up to the player to decide to help 1 person which means the others have to die to achieve that

Yeah, hence why we both want and don't want a Revelations style game. 

I think everyone DOES want a path where everyone can be happy, but at the same time, we know that this game cannot make such a path exist. 

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Just now, omegaxis1 said:

Yeah, hence why we both want and don't want a Revelations style game. 

Oh no, I can't begin to imagine how weird the writing can potentially be and how broken it is to have 3 lords at once

Lol Ryoma, Camilla, God HP Silas and Xander (not to forget Fuga) all on Revelation. Ridiculous😆

3 minutes ago, omegaxis1 said:

I think everyone DOES want a path where everyone can be happy, but at the same time, we know that this game cannot make such a path exist. 

I guess it could be Byleth refusing to choose a house and becoming a professor. Just like how Corrin ran away from both Nohr and Hoshido

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2 minutes ago, charcoalswift said:

I guess it could be Byleth refusing to choose a house and becoming a professor. Just like how Corrin ran away from both Nohr and Hoshido

That, or giving everyone therapy. 

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22 minutes ago, charcoalswift said:

Three Houses is probably the most tragic FE to date. the lords each have their own dreams and it's all up to the player to decide to help 1 person which means the others have to die to achieve that

Idk, Fe 4 has a storyline based around how incest births evil gods and NTR with a little mind control thrown in.

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23 minutes ago, omegaxis1 said:

That, or giving everyone therapy. 

Oh no, first, a protagonist professor, now therapist?!! 

FE is evolving, the next game could have Guns😁

8 minutes ago, Wolfen09 said:

Idk, Fe 4 has a storyline based around how incest births evil gods and NTR with a little mind control thrown in.

Lol I have yet to play FE4 due to FE3 (I want to play the entire series) and then 3 Houses was released. It will take a while judging that it took 6 weeks for me to finish FE 1 and 2 

But I read the story a few years ago, Kaga made a good game 😉

Edited by charcoalswift

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1 minute ago, charcoalswift said:

Oh no, first, a protagonist professor, now therapist?!! 

FE is evolving, the next game could have Guns😁

Lol I have yet to play FE4 due to FE3 (I want to play the entire series) and then 3 Houses was released. It will take a while

But I read the story a few years ago, Kaga made a good game 😉

It's different, took me a while to get used to how it plays.  FE4 though is my consensus #1 FE game.

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Oh god, FE4 is literally one of the best Fire Emblem games in terms of story, but this game really does come close. I've never seen a video game so well thought out. Obviously you can see places where time constraints might have hindered the cohesiveness of some routes (Edelgard's seems cut short compared to the rest) but overall, it was really well done.

FE1 and 2 don't even compare lol. You shouldn't feel bad about playing them out of order tbh. They're all standalones, bar FE6/7 and FE9/10. Oh and FE5 is like a distant cousin/branch-off of FE4.

Edited by Eltoshen

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Interesting theory, I'd like to add more to it. I've assumed from the start that the only reason they're using Edelgard is because they didn't have Blyth, or know of his/her existence. Honestly, it seems that they're interested in more than simply blocking Edelgard from talking to the Professor, I think they want him/her to eventually replace Edelgard and use him/her for whatever reason they have. They're trying to pit the two against one another so that Blyth has reason to kill her and probably eventually become a dark version of Sothis. 

In regard to getting a good ending. You don't make them all lords. Or rather once they join your team, two of them lose that position for another unique one that's lesser than lord but high enough that it could be seen as something special. It's not undoable, and I would say you would have to have it more towards the end of the game rather than at the start. You have to get the other two after the time jump. That's at least how I see it. 

I don't know...FE9/10 was pretty dark too. Genocide and the whole world is at war. Yeah, Jungrel has a lot of dark aspects to it, but so do the other titles. I mean Sacred Stones fore example, even when you win, the empire of Gradeo gets wrecked by a natural destructive force. So there is that. 

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1 hour ago, charcoalswift said:

Oh no, first, a protagonist professor, now therapist?!! 

FE is evolving, the next game could have Guns😁

They have missiles. XD

 
 
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1 hour ago, Eltoshen said:

Oh god, FE4 is literally one of the best Fire Emblem games in terms of story, but this game really does come close. I've never seen a video game so well thought out. Obviously you can see places where time constraints might have hindered the cohesiveness of some routes (Edelgard's seems cut short compared to the rest) but overall, it was really well done.

Personally, I think Three Houses blows every other Fire Emblem out of the water. Even FE4 or the other Kaga games don't come close in my opinion. The amount of thought and effort put into this, despite some issues it did have, really make it feel it in a way that surpasses every predecessor.

This is just my opinion, of course. 

 
 
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4 minutes ago, Darkspellmaster said:

Interesting theory, I'd like to add more to it. I've assumed from the start that the only reason they're using Edelgard is because they didn't have Blyth, or know of his/her existence. Honestly, it seems that they're interested in more than simply blocking Edelgard from talking to the Professor, I think they want him/her to eventually replace Edelgard and use him/her for whatever reason they have. They're trying to pit the two against one another so that Blyth has reason to kill her and probably eventually become a dark version of Sothis. 

When you think about it, if Edelgard has Byleth with her, he would really pose a threat given how Byleth can use the Sword of the Creator, which would allow him to be a one man army. If we consider when Byleth doesn't side with Edelgard, Edelgard suffers a lot, becoming more and more reliant on the slithers to fight the war, making it far more easier for the slithers to have control over her, and much easier to eliminate once she is no longer useful.

6 minutes ago, Darkspellmaster said:

I don't know...FE9/10 was pretty dark too. Genocide and the whole world is at war. Yeah, Jungrel has a lot of dark aspects to it, but so do the other titles. I mean Sacred Stones fore example, even when you win, the empire of Gradeo gets wrecked by a natural destructive force. So there is that. 

And despite Awakening's cheerful tone most of the time, the fact that we have a world that actually loses and Grima turned it into an apocalyptic world really is pretty insanely dark.

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10 minutes ago, omegaxis1 said:

Personally, I think Three Houses blows every other Fire Emblem out of the water. Even FE4 or the other Kaga games don't come close in my opinion. The amount of thought and effort put into this, despite some issues it did have, really make it feel it in a way that surpasses every predecessor.

This is just my opinion, of course. 

Totally valid, I'm biased but I can admit that Three Houses is probably the best of the series by far if I put aside my nostalgia and replayed FE4 considering I last played it around 6 years ago.

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36 minutes ago, omegaxis1 said:

 

When you think about it, if Edelgard has Byleth with her, he would really pose a threat given how Byleth can use the Sword of the Creator, which would allow him to be a one man army. If we consider when Byleth doesn't side with Edelgard, Edelgard suffers a lot, becoming more and more reliant on the slithers to fight the war, making it far more easier for the slithers to have control over her, and much easier to eliminate once she is no longer useful.

And despite Awakening's cheerful tone most of the time, the fact that we have a world that actually loses and Grima turned it into an apocalyptic world really is pretty insanely dark.

And that's part of the whole thing with this story, and probably one of the factors that Jerlt helped create with his role as a leader to him. Blyth grew because of the love that his father gave him, he wasn't someone that could be easily manipulated because of the foundation that was laid with his father. Not only is he a threat because of Sothis powers, unlike the other three lords he doesn't have issues that would cause him to fall prey to their whims. He has his father, and then he has the students that he teaches. Even during the attack before with the theives, they were already planning something when Blyth and Jerlt walked in. I get the strong impression that they probably were looking for him long before Edelgard was chosen to act as puppet ruler, and then he landed in their laps so to speak. 

Also given that they went after Dimitri, and cause issues in the Allience, it's clear that they're not just thinking of one goal in mind when they want the war. I have to wonder if part of their hopes is turning Blyth dark to lead them as a reborn form of Nemisis with Sothis's powers. 

And even in Fates, with all the issues, that's some pretty heavy story telling in regards to being taken away from your family, then foreced to fight the people that raised you or the people that you're supposed to be blood related to. Then there's Eilwoods story and Roy's. As you said Awaking has this dark undercurrent to it of, if you don't get this right everything goes to hell and there's nothing you can do to stop it. FE Games are all dark in their own way. 

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Interesting take. However, allow me to expound an alternative interpretation.

Firstly, I believe Thales fully expected to find either the Sword of the Creator or the Crest Stone of Sothis in the Holy Mausoleum. He's utterly unsurprised when the Flame Emperor reports what was there. I definitely agree that they were trying to get a weapon for Edelgard, but I think they wanted her to wield the Sword of the Creator, given they implanted the Crest of Flames in her. Aymr just feels like a backup plan.

I also don't think Jeralt's death was planned. Kronya just stabs him on a whim because he's a "beast" who stopped one of her plans. Thales outright tells her that he only saved her so she could fulfill a purpose, which I took to mean that he would have left her to die in Jeralt's place if he hadn't needed her to fuel the Forbidden Spell of Zahras - thus, Jeralt's death wasn't an integral part of the plan. I personally believe that everything the Slitherers did after Byleth got the Sword of the Creator was aimed at killing Byleth. I mean, they hate Sothis, so once Thales figured out that Byleth had Sothis's Crest Stone, I imagine Byleth would've been a "kill at any cost" target for them.

All in all, I don't think that the Slitherers were trying to alienate El and Byleth; it seems more like an unintended consequence of their increasingly desperate attempts to kill Byleth.

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6 minutes ago, Seafarer said:

he hadn't needed her to fuel the Forbidden Spell of Zahras -

By the way, is it ever explained what the hell that is, or is it just a cool random name (yet another random thing on TWSITD)?

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11 minutes ago, Seafarer said:

Interesting take. However, allow me to expound an alternative interpretation.

Firstly, I believe Thales fully expected to find either the Sword of the Creator or the Crest Stone of Sothis in the Holy Mausoleum. He's utterly unsurprised when the Flame Emperor reports what was there. I definitely agree that they were trying to get a weapon for Edelgard, but I think they wanted her to wield the Sword of the Creator, given they implanted the Crest of Flames in her. Aymr just feels like a backup plan.

I also don't think Jeralt's death was planned. Kronya just stabs him on a whim because he's a "beast" who stopped one of her plans. Thales outright tells her that he only saved her so she could fulfill a purpose, which I took to mean that he would have left her to die in Jeralt's place if he hadn't needed her to fuel the Forbidden Spell of Zahras - thus, Jeralt's death wasn't an integral part of the plan. I personally believe that everything the Slitherers did after Byleth got the Sword of the Creator was aimed at killing Byleth. I mean, they hate Sothis, so once Thales figured out that Byleth had Sothis's Crest Stone, I imagine Byleth would've been a "kill at any cost" target for them.

All in all, I don't think that the Slitherers were trying to alienate El and Byleth; it seems more like an unintended consequence of their increasingly desperate attempts to kill Byleth.

I have to wonder though, even if they killed him would that have fixed the issue? The Crest would be a pain to remove, and if they killed him they may have destroyed the crest in the process. Not sure on Jeralt's death. Why would they let him live if he's the thing that is the most connected person to Byleth? Wouldn't you want that person out of the way to make Byleth act more rashly and make it easier for Edelgard to kill him, or vice versa. Even if they hate Sothis, they want that sword, and if you could corupt Sothis, why wouldn't you try for that and use the powers to benifit your plans? 

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5 minutes ago, Darkspellmaster said:

I have to wonder though, even if they killed him would that have fixed the issue? The Crest would be a pain to remove, and if they killed him they may have destroyed the crest in the process. Not sure on Jeralt's death. Why would they let him live if he's the thing that is the most connected person to Byleth? Wouldn't you want that person out of the way to make Byleth act more rashly and make it easier for Edelgard to kill him, or vice versa. Even if they hate Sothis, they want that sword, and if you could corupt Sothis, why wouldn't you try for that and use the powers to benifit your plans? 

No reason they wouldn't, except that, you know, Kronya killed Byleth's father. After that, they'd have no reason to suppose Byleth could ever be tempted to their side. I haven't played Crimson Flower yet, so I don't know whether they still try to kill Byleth in Edelgard's C12, but I'm assuming they wouldn't.

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27 minutes ago, Seafarer said:

Interesting take. However, allow me to expound an alternative interpretation.

Firstly, I believe Thales fully expected to find either the Sword of the Creator or the Crest Stone of Sothis in the Holy Mausoleum. He's utterly unsurprised when the Flame Emperor reports what was there. I definitely agree that they were trying to get a weapon for Edelgard, but I think they wanted her to wield the Sword of the Creator, given they implanted the Crest of Flames in her. Aymr just feels like a backup plan.

 I also don't think Jeralt's death was planned. Kronya just stabs him on a whim because he's a "beast" who stopped one of her plans. Thales outright tells her that he only saved her so she could fulfill a purpose, which I took to mean that he would have left her to die in Jeralt's place if he hadn't needed her to fuel the Forbidden Spell of Zahras - thus, Jeralt's death wasn't an integral part of the plan. I personally believe that everything the Slitherers did after Byleth got the Sword of the Creator was aimed at killing Byleth. I mean, they hate Sothis, so once Thales figured out that Byleth had Sothis's Crest Stone, I imagine Byleth would've been a "kill at any cost" target for them.

All in all, I don't think that the Slitherers were trying to alienate El and Byleth; it seems more like an unintended consequence of their increasingly desperate attempts to kill Byleth.

It is possible that Thales knew since I cannot imagine why he would make Edelgard have the Crest of Flames otherwise. It's no doubt that they intended to make her Nemesis 2.0. But based on what he said, I feel like he was not completely sure if he did expect it to be there. 

I do agree that Jeralt's death was not part of the plan, since Monica killed him on a whim, though it definitely wasn't for Zahras that he saved her, but rather to prevent anyone from taking her body and learning their secrets, given that the slithers have Crests Stones in their bodies. However, the intention of killing Byleth was something that is possible, but I consider this to be a case of overlapping goals, where one does not necessarily refute the other. 

After all, as I said, Monica stuck very close to Edelgard to the point that when Monica revealed her true nature, a random student actually suspected Edelgard to possibly be involved. It makes things harder for Edelgard and makes her more likely to be suspected and distrusted by others. 

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1 hour ago, omegaxis1 said:

I do agree that Jeralt's death was not part of the plan, since Monica killed him on a whim, though it definitely wasn't for Zahras that he saved her, but rather to prevent anyone from taking her body and learning their secrets, given that the slithers have Crests Stones in their bodies. However, the intention of killing Byleth was something that is possible, but I consider this to be a case of overlapping goals, where one does not necessarily refute the other.

Thales outright says "You must survive merely because there is still a role I require you to fulfill". He contradicts himself in front of the Flame Emperor later, saying keeping the secrets of their bodies was his only aim, then tells Kronya "I'm afraid you must remain, Kronya. There is something I need you to do." I don't think it's much of a stretch to say that he saved her for Zahras, and lied about it to Edelgard to prevent her tipping Byleth off, seeing as there's obviously not complete trust between them.

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6 minutes ago, Seafarer said:

Thales outright says "You must survive merely because there is still a role I require you to fulfill". He contradicts himself in front of the Flame Emperor later, saying keeping the secrets of their bodies was his only aim, then tells Kronya "I'm afraid you must remain, Kronya. There is something I need you to do." I don't think it's much of a stretch to say that he saved her for Zahras, and lied about it to Edelgard to prevent her tipping Byleth off, seeing as there's obviously not complete trust between them.

That is a possibility, yes. 

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