Over the course of the series, we’ve seen- even to the ones that have good qualities without a doubt- that the Dominion are not very likely to tell the whole truth in many situations.
So when we’re given information from one that seems to have issues with it, why do we accept it without question?
Let’s start by talking about the Dominion we’ve met. The primary ones we can look two are Kevin and Wazy, as the two have even been party members. Others we can look to at a glance are Ein, Thomas, and Barkhorn- though we can’t use them as much as we don’t know them as well as the two who have been party members. Despite these two having been put high up on the list of ‘people we can trust,’ (to a degree) we also know that they are both inclined to either not tell the whole truth or ‘lie by omission,’ and just leave out pertinent details that they have opted are ‘unnecessary’ to those around them.
It’s easy to assume that this is not out of the ordinary for the Dominion, as well.
Let’s start with one of the early incidents with Gaius in Sen III, which also gives me some evidence that I can use to get to my point itself later on.
When you get to the big battle at the railway cannons in the Lamarre Province, when Gaius and McBurn see each other, we see Gaius glare at McBurn. No exchange between the two outside of an acknowledgement between each other. McBurn’s reaction shouldn’t be a surprise- we learn from Rean later on that he feels a new sort of power from Gaius now. It’s very clear that McBurn would sense such a thing now, as well.
…or could there be something more between the two here? The glare from Gaius is surprising from him- there’s no real clarification as to what could have happened to drive such a reaction from him. To make this even more interesting is that when everyone first sees both Arianrhod and McBurn and you have Laura, Emma, and Gaius volunteer to assist in the fight… it’s Gaius that says that it’s time for him to carry out his mission as a Dominion.
I don’t think Arianrhod is the target of said mission- considering that there was no implication of anything in her direction from Kevin and Wazy in Ao no Kiseki. That can leave us, along with the context of the earlier scene in Lamarre that McBurn is the target.
The problem is, though, that when you think about this, you realize that Gaius hasn’t told everything his knows. This, of course, drops us into the crux of the matter for this whole theory: can you really trust a Dominion? Even if it is Gaius? Gaius has always been one of the more open and honest characters of Class VII, but what we also know is that as a Dominion, he has to follow the oaths of the Gralsritter, as well. In following these principles, we have to understand that as much as Gaius still considers himself a part of Class VII, he should absolutely be considered as part of the Septian Church, also. And among their upper echelons at that, as a Dominion.
This means that, as much as Gaius is likely to trust his friends, he has to live up the requirements of the Gralsritter as a Dominion. And how many Dominion do we know are 100% truthful to anyone outside of the Septian Church?
I would gamble my savings to say ‘none.’
As such, it becomes evident that we can’t hold Gaius completely to his word.
Which brings us to the scene in the Imperial Cathedral.
Since when do we trust the Dominion to tell us everything we want to know? Gaius told us that when Nord was attack, Barkhorn was mortally wounded and passed the stigma off to him. I think Yotaka put it best when he saw the scene for the first time, by saying, “they can do that?!” – we’ve had no evidence of this actually being a thing before now. Of course, it actually could be a thing we knew nothing about until this point, and I will give it that.
However, at the same time, if Gaius were to tell the truth to Class VII, and it wasn’t how things played out in Nord, would he have done it in front of Thomas?
I think that the situation, as we have been told, is not the complete truth. In fact, I would even posit the idea that maybe whatever attack happened on Nord played out differently from what we expect it of it. Especially, as the leadup for everything with Barkhorn feels off just to have him killed off screen in some way.
My theory is that I believe that Gaius has not told Rean and the rest of Class VII the truth about how he acquired his stigma, and that it possibly may not even be Barkhorn’s stigma, as he’s told them. During Trails in the Sky SC, Kevin killing Weissmann has forced him to come out of hiding and reveal his existence to the Ouroboros. They have lost a particular specialty that they could have: a ‘hidden’ Dominion that is unaccounted for.
Gaius taking on the rank of the 8th Dominion, as well as claiming that he is carrying Barkhorn’s stigma creates yet another ‘hidden’ Dominion, if Barkhorn is actually alive.
Additionally, if Barkhorn is, in fact, dead- I find it likely that Gaius may have possibly omitted information for his own sake. Gaius did say, afterall, that he felt unsure about telling the rest of Class VII about his stigma in one of his bond events with Rean. As one of the members of Class VII that had always seemed very sure of himself with little issues (thus making him seem boring to some players: but also ensured that he was a ‘rock’ that Class VII could always rely on) this kind of anxiety is off for him, and- to me, at least- mildly sad to see. We know that the manifestation of a stigma often comes with baggage and trauma. Gaius is doing well, but we should not be surprised if there is something troubling him underneath that self-assured veneer that he’s shown everyone.
Because sometimes, as we have learned from Kevin, when bottling up a traumatic experience, it may even be possible that someone would want to hide such trauma from people that they even trust. Especially if they have to figure out themselves in the process. Gaius may be one of the most settled individuals of Class VII, which will mean that he is most likely to land on his feet- but even the most stalwart of people can be damaged from trauma as well.
But on a last note, before I close out- I want to add that an interesting line that caught my attention while gathering screenshots for this post is that I feel that Gaius even brings up his succession of Barkhorn as a ‘gamble.’ Maybe these lines need to be looked at from a different perspective- afterall, I feel that something we learned from Kevin is that sometimes you need to listen to what a Dominion is not saying instead.