Brother Giordano Nicola d'Arzenta is acknowledged as one of the Red Order's experts on the truly diabolic, through his dealings with the creature called Byleth. He defeated this creature through destroying its mortal form, but neither he nor his superiors in the Inquisition believe that it is truly gone. His reassignment to Damburrow in Scotland was partially to protect him from the demon’s inevitable vengeance. Whilst the dreaded Wilhelm von Murnau is also known to have dealings with this entity.
Before his Fall from Grace, the demon now known as Byleth was a creature of wave and water, the embodiment of the ocean’s caress of the shore, the endless motion of joining and retreat, constantly repeated. He was a being of joy and passion, of exultation and pleasure, and his greatest ecstasy came from flitting unseen around those who did not fear the sea’s pounding waves but went fearlessly among them, swimming and bathing in his waters, dancing and loving at the junction of sea and land where he made his home. Why he chose to Fall is a mystery known only to himself; in the end, he was cast down with the third of the Host that chose to defy their Maker, and, along with them made war against Heaven.
Byleth, however, was fortunate. When the War in Heaven ended, he was not cast into the Pit with the rest of his forsaken kind. He escaped the wrath of the Most High and fled into the world, taking sanctuary within the living substance of a tiny seed, wrapping himself in somnolence and hiding himself from the vengeful gaze of the Creator and the loyal Hosts of Heaven. The seed was carried far from the site of the last desperate battle of the War, carried in the fur of one beast, eaten by another, buried in the body of the earth by yet a third. Byleth slept on through the changing ages of the Earth, until the memory of the War faded from mankind and the knowledge of angels and demons became a rare thing, harbored by priests and scholars and sorcerers.
Only then did he wake and stir the sleeping life of the seed in which he rested, and cause that seed to sprout and grow into a great tree, a silver birch of unsurpassed size and beauty, which bore the image of the fallen angel in its bark. It was then that Byleth realized he could not free himself from his self-made prison, but would require the aid of another to set him loose. He found that assistance in the form of a foolish and venal young man who did his bidding and whose flesh he stole. Then Byleth-called-James walked once more among men, like a wolf among sheep.
During the long and cruel War, Byleth’s nature had twisted and deformed, transforming him from a creature of joy and pleasure to a thing made entirely of hatred and lust. His first act, upon taking physical shape, was to murder his host’s father and rape his mother to death. Before he could continue that rampage, however, he was forced from the flesh he wore by the powerful faith of that host’s brother. He fled and found a new form, a young man recently killed in a senseless brawl, whose young betrothed mourned him fiercely. Byleth-called-Geoffrey battened upon the life and soul of the woman his host had loved; he would have devoured her utterly, but once again he was driven forth. Red Sister Vittoria Santini di Parma and Red Brother Giordano Nicola d’Arzenta faced him down, broke his power over his victim and forced him to flee, the rotting remains of his host body crumbling to carrion around him. Sorely wounded and enraged beyond reason by the continuous resistance of the human meat that was his prey, Byleth sought and found a third host, then went hunting for his tormentors.
Byleth-called-Christof found Brother Giordano, the weaker of the two inquisitors he had faced, accompanying a band of pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela. He joined that pilgrimage as well, with the intent of tearing off the meddler’s head. This plan also failed. When Byleth revealed himself, Brother Giordano and the rest of the pilgrims drove him away, unable to face the united power of their faith and will. He sought and found another host and is now lying low, licking his wounds and contemplating what this string of failures has taught him.
Mostly, he has learned that the direct approach does not always work, particularly when the enemy he faces is prepared for him and sometimes even when the enemy isn’t. He has also learned that mortal faith, turned against him, is an agonizing and soul-flaying weapon that he has no desire to taste ever again. It’s much sweeter and far more satisfying to turn that weapon against his enemies when he can, and drink deeply of it himself when he can’t. To that order, he is building around himself a small cult of worshippers who are willing to yield anything he desires of them — their bodies to satisfy his incandescent lusts, their faith to satisfy his endless aching hunger for love — in return for relatively modest favors.
The most important of these worshippers is a French nobleman, whose deep purse has endowed several Theodosian monasteries in an effort to soothe the conscience-pangs his unclean desires rouse in him. Byleth is using this connection to learn more about the Red Order while he considers his next move. He plans to make a lasting project of the defilement and destruction of Red Brother Giordano Nicola d'Arzenta, who had the bad judgment to defeat him twice. At the moment, however, the inquisitor is out of his immediate reach. This is of little matter, though, as Byleth knows where Brother Giordano is and has a nearly endless supply of monks on which to practice his revenges in the meanwhile. It is only a matter of time and a bit of planning on Byleth’s part before they meet again; when that blessed day arrives, the demon plans to make the most of it.
- Dark Ages: Inquisitor Companion, p. 29, 138-139