Archbishop of Pride, Priscilla Barielle!
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It’s important for this teory to introduce a dead character who appears ONLY in the SECONDARY STORIES of Re:Zero and it’s not known when and if they’ll ever be animated. Most likely this won’t be spoiler in any way for the main story.
To find out how the spoiler tags work, please check the instructions in the section The Gospel.
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It’s not known who the actual Archbishop of Pride is since the last known to us, Stride Vollachia, has been killed. It must be noted that he’s the former Emperor of Vollachia’s son and he’s a relative to Priscilla, but there are many reasons to think this candidate for the Royal Selection could be an Archbishop.
Many suspected that the empty position in the Witch Cult had been filled by Aldebaran especially because of the scene from arc 3 that was cut from the anime where Subaru goes with Rem to Priscilla’s mansion and there a brief exchange with the knight is described:
Considering Aldebaran’s reaction, who’s already pretty misterious ever since he’s been revealed to have also been summoned from Japan, and keeping in mind that the two twins’ village has been attacked by the Witch Cult, it’s supposed that Al could have somehow something to do with them.
Further on we’ll find out during the fight against Capella Emeralda Lugnica that Aldebaran has a power similar to Subaru’s one which allows him to return by death, but most likely in a different manner, i.e. possibly remaining in the same time line. He also knows other Archbishops.
Still in Arc 3 Petelgeuse asks Subaru if he’s the missing Archbishop of Pride, and even before the last battle he moves close to him thinking that he could be the member able to complete the Ordeal. Obviously, this poured not few doubts on the protagonist.
Then what makes us think that the Archbishop is actually Priscilla? Easy.
1. Not only Priscilla has a very prideful behaviour, but she speaks in a similar way to Stride, using expressions like “my venerable self” and “thou”. The people she has any relationships with are her subordinate, even people she should care about, but same as for Stride, her pride can be the consequence of unpleasant events of her past. Stride is an outcast from his own family, deceived and betrayed by his own blood because he was considered unsuitable to fulfill the role of Emperor for his phisical conditions and, he was sent to train under extreme circumstances with the intent to cause his death and then, poisoned by his father, he fought between life and death for months. The way people looked down upon him and moved him as a pawn in their games fueled his contempt and brought him to surround himself of people who, just like himself, had been discriminated, persecuted, betrayed, abandoned and who saw in him safety, a corner where they could feel they had purpose in an indifferent world that treated them as insignificant and despicable beings. And even if for him they didn’t have any value as people, he never rejected them and he showed interest in some aspect of them. Even if that was opportunism, it was the best they could expect from the prospective of a meaningless life; and for once they could feel accepted.
Al lost an arm very soon after he arrived in this world, could it be that Priscilla saved his life? That he then found in her a purpose, much like Subaru did in Emilia? We don’t know Aldebaran’s past and how mentally strong he was, but of course his experiences after being summoned, at about 18 years of age, must have been quite shocking.
2. Priscilla is famous for being very lucky. This could be thanks to Al using his power to make things go as she wishes, but what easier way could there be than following the writings of an unfailing gospel? Archbishops rely blindly on it, and its predictions allow them to stay in charge for centuries before meeting their ends. Divergences from the gospels’ writs originate mainly from Subaru, who, by using return by death, changes the future in a way that the gospels cannot predict and since we don’t know who writes the cultists’ instructions even their survival until a certain moment could be part of a bigger plan whose goal is still unknown.
3. Priscilla, just like Stride, mostly acts to receive amusements from the results, much like someone enjoying a play in theater, observing the characters’ reactions to various situations. Moreover this is behaviour is similar to Pandora’s with some light difference, but it’s no coincidence that the sin of Vainglory has been assimilated to the deadly sin of Pride, as it can be conceived as a kind of selfish satisfaction.
4.Priscilla can, as a member of the Vollachia royal family, summon from light the Yang Sword Vollachia. The sword appears out of thin air when the user wishes to use it and it cuts and burns whatever the user wishes, in a similiar fashion maybe to the authority of the Witch of Pride Typhon. For some reasons though Stride gets burnt when he uses it.
5. In the beginning of Arc 5 it’s explained that more or less every candidate’s aim is known except for Priscilla, this could be linked in some way to the fact that that Stride manages not to make his intentions visible and to make people not realize what his intentions are even when blatantly acting before their eyes. Also she’s not recognized by the other cultist, though if Sirius seems to have her doubts
And as he declared this―― before anyone could even blink, he’d produced a crooked dagger in his hand which he promptly used to stab one of the prisoners in their chest.
Theresia:「Wha」 Theresia’s reactions were delayed for a moment, having witnessed that terrible act.
Had it been an attack, there wouldn’t have been any reason why Theresia couldn’t have stopped it. However, Theresia hadn’t been able to read his behaviour.
And that was because his current act now hadn’t been an “Attack”. ――As far as Stride was concerned, the act of stabbing others wasn’t something he considered as launching an attack. Thus even through the eyes of the『Sword Saint』his blade hadn’t been seen as an attack.
6. In the fight against Sirius Priscilla managed to survive three blows that are dealt directly to her while remaining unharmed, in return the three jewels of her necklace break one after another. Sirius’ says that is an ability that would be expected of Pride: Stride could link people to himself binding them to his rings with a curse, but he could also bind a dragon after having summoned him, although paying having to sacrifice part of his body for it.
Stride:「Hah, don’t be frightened, scared little mice. Even the curse rings are not omnipotent. At this moment in time here, they cannot bind your minds and bodies. My venerable self does not have enough entrails remaining to pay their price.」
Carol:「Entrails, to pay their price…?」
Stride:「Each ring causes everlasting damage to a part of your body. That’s how they work. Even without them, I’m forcing myself to keep moving this corpse-like body. I have nothing left to offer.」
Receiving those words along with the radiance of those gems, Carol intuitively understood what he meant. And it horrified her.
Stride had worn ten rings on both of his hands. If he had to pay a price for each one of them, then the one standing in front of her was in their truest meaning a being whose body was like that of a corpse.
He had performed a ritual that had brought him closer to his own death;
Even if it’s not well known what Pride’s authority is, it’s not to be excluded that the way his rings and jewels on Priscilla’s necklace work may be the same, because in both cases a person is bound and it’s possible for the wearer of the jewelry to control their body.
7. Kurgan and Theresia having come back to life as puppets in Arc 5 remind a lot of the above-mentioned power of Stride. It seems that they can only execute basic orders, and that may explain why they wouldn’t pursue the fleeing Garfiel and Mimi; even if dead it seems that in some way, maybe their will is still present, having kept to some degree their humanity. If she had this power in fact, Priscilla would not be able to control them perfectly just like Stride; Kurgan doesn’t kill Garfiel, instead he even saves him from death. There are still many uncertainties on how the power works, how can Theresia be so strong as a revived corpse if she’s supposed to have lost her “Sword Saint” Blessing. After the corpses are defeated they return to ash the same way those controlled by Stride would.
It’s not certain whether Priscilla is actually an Archbishop, because the “Witch Factor” and the role of archbishop are not strictly linked as can be seen from Petelgeuse in Emilia’s flashbacks in arc 4.