|Louise & Yuka K.|
| Book: Be Careful What|
You Wish For, Chapter 11
|Written by||Vanishing Trooper|
Be Careful What
You Wish For
Be Careful What
You Wish For
Be Careful What You Wish For
Author's Notes: Okay! Here it is! The end of the main Albion arc and another major divergence from canon. I hope I did a good job with this one as this is the first major multi-perspective chapter of this story. Please voice any and all questions and opinions about this chapter and how I handled it, especially the fight against Wardes because that thing went through four different versions before I got this one.
As always, please enjoy.
Disclaimer: Same as the last chapter.
Be Careful What You Wish For
Louise started to regain consciousness and noted that the bed she was on seemed more comfortable than she remembered it. Strange, it seemed larger than she remembered it too. The young Vallière cracked open an eye before snapping both her eyes open and quickly sitting up and looking around.
This isn't our room at the inn. Louise quickly deducted before getting off the bed and putting on her boots. She made sure that her clothes were still in order and that her hidden wand was still secure. Matilda had insisted that she bring a spare wand with her that was cleverly concealed in her clothes in case of emergencies, Matilda noting that having a spare wand has saved her countless times in the past. She walked up to the door and tried to open it but...
"It's stuck? No, it's locked from the outside." Louise muttered to herself, her worry increasing because of the situation she had found herself in. The fact that Yuka and the Viscount were nowhere to be found simply added to her growing panic. She pulled out her main wand and decided to blast the door open, it was a good chance to test out Keyword Casting outside of Mugenkan.
Just as soon as the room stops swaying... Louise thought before...
"Wait." She said before walking up to the nearest window.
"This can't be happening..." Louise muttered to herself as she saw clouds fly by. She quickly realized that she was in an airship. Was she kidnapped? Was this some sort of prank? Was this all part of the plan? Louise quickly whirled around and pointed her wand at the door when she heard the sound of locks being undone. The young mage was ready to pump six explosions at whoever was responsible for this, all she needed to do it is to say a single word. Unfortunately, her confidence started to wane the more she thought about it. Whoever managed to get her on this air ship was able to get past both Yuka and the Viscount. If those two couldn't prevent this, then what chance would she have against whoever took her from the inn?
Calm down, Louise. Just remember what Cirno-nee taught you. Louise thought as she started to analyze her surroundings. Nowhere to hide but there were plenty of things she can use as distractions or as projectiles if it came to that. Louise kept the wand in her hand but decided to place both her hands behind her to conceal it.
"Ah! You're awake." The voice of Viscount Wardes threw Louise completely off balance.
"Vi-Vi-Vi-Vi-Viscount!" And it showed. Louise relaxed at the sight of the man she would eventually marry but a voice at the back of her head said that she should keep that wand behind her just in case.
"I was wondering when you'd wake up. Are you hungry?" Wardes asked her nonchalantly. It seemed that nothing was wrong but...
"Not at the moment. Umm...what happened? Where's Yuka?" Louise asked.
"Ahhh...I knew you would wonder about that." The Viscount said casually as he poured himself a glass of wine before sitting down on a chair that was set up in the middle of the room.
"Please, sit." The man added, gesturing to the chair across him.
"I'm fine." Louise quickly responded while slowly shaking her head, keeping her position near the window which gave her a good view of the entire room at all times. Wardes regarded her for a few moments before nodding and giving her a smile.
"Very well. There has been a change in the situation." Louise gulped when Wardes suddenly adopted a serious tone of voice.
"I have received a report that a detachment of Albion soldiers have been sent out to look for Prince Wales and they are starting to get closer and closer to his safe house. It will only be a matter of time until they find him." Wardes explained. His tone was grim and Louise could feel the gravity of his words. Prince Wales was the only known member of the Albion Royal Family who was able to escape the capital alive when Cromwell's coup took place. If he was caught or worse, killed, then not only would Louise have failed in her mission for the Princess, it would also mean that Albion would be completely under Cromwell's control.
"That is why I had to arrange a ship that would leave much earlier than the one we had originally set up. Unfortunately, this ship would only take two more passengers so only we were able to get on. Your familiar will be following us on the ship that we were originally supposed to take but it would probably take half a day for him to catch up to us." Wardes continued, explaining the lack of a Yuka in the ship.
"I...see..." Louise replied, still a bit apprehensive of not having her familiar with her. Although, for all she knew, Yuka could already be with Prince Wales by now seeing as he could fly and all. Louise decided not to point that little fact out since she didn't want anyone else finding out what her familiar really was, even if it was the Viscount.
"Don't worry. I gave Mister Yuka directions on how to get to the Prince's safe house. I'm sure that you will be reunited with him soon enough." Wardes assured Louise, who didn't seem convinced by the man's kind words. After all, if he was as kind and nice as he seemed...
Why did he need to lock the door from the outside?
I exited the inn after inquiring with the management on where Wardes and Louise took off to. It seemed that my master's fiancé had taken my master away in the middle of the night while she was having her lesson with Cirno in Mugenkan. They took a different flying ship to the floating country of Albion instead of the one that we had agreed upon before they 'slept'. I frowned when I realized that I had no way of tracking them. Getting to Albion was easy enough, it would be rather hard to miss a massive chunk of land that is floating in the sky. The problem stems from the little fact that I don't know where in Albion I'm supposed to look for Louise. I was starting to consider simply going after Cromwell and nip the problem at the bud before starting my search for Louise, even if it meant possibly nuking the site from ground zero, when I noticed the sound of a galloping horse.
"Sir Kazami!" The all too familiar voice of Guiche de Gramont called out to me from atop said horse.
"What are you doing here Guiche?" I asked the young man, not particularly in the mood for him at the moment considering that Louise is missing.
"We have a problem! It's about Viscount Wardes!" I narrowed my eyes at Guiche's words but I waited for him to dismount his horse and catch his breath.
"Explain." I said once Guiche had stopped heaving like an asthmatic. Instead of answering, the blonde walked up to me and grabbed my shoulders.
"There's no time! We have to get Louise away from the Viscount as soon as possible!" Guiche cried in panic as he shook my shoulders. I gave a low growl as I suddenly recalled the familiar feeling of anger that I felt when I first realized that my master disappeared on my watch.
"It's too late, they are already gone. Louise and the Viscount disappeared when I went to wake them up. The proprietor of the inn said that they left for Albion in the middle of the night. I was...careless." I admitted with a hint of a wince at my oversight.
"Oh no..." Guiche muttered in abject terror. I took the young man's wrists and got his hands off my shoulders before looking at him straight in the eye.
"I am not happy with the current developments either. However, you seem to know more about the situation than I seem to. Now, calm down and tell me what you know." I calmly said to the young man while lowering his hands.
"How...how can you be so calm about this? Your master is gone!" Guiche yelled at me. I shook my head at his words. I understood where he was coming from, I really did, but...
"Panicking will not bring Louise back. I need information so I can find a way to get her back safely, nothing else matters right now." I answered and Guiche seemed to understand.
"Alright..." He said before I led him into the inn. Louise's safety was my only priority at that point, damn everything else. I sat on the bed in the room that was used by my master and Wardes and patiently waited for Guiche to gather his thoughts as he paced around the room.
"Okay...here's what happened..." Guiche started as he took a nearby chair and sat on it before looking at me seriously.
Guiche de Gramont woke up the morning when Yuka and Louise were going to set off toward Albion and was prepared to make the Familiar of Zero see that he is more than capable of coming with them on this mission for the Princess...or, that was what he would like to believe. The son of the famed general of the Tristain military had spent the previous night trying to think about just that. Unfortunately, his attempt at forming a good enough argument kept falling short considering that he was still a dot-class mage. He still felt that he would be of some use to the pair but it was highly doubtful that Yuka would let him come with them if he did not provide a very good reason for him to go.
"There has to be a way..." Guiche muttered to himself as he sat on his bed. He felt that he owed Yuka for making him see the error of his ways when it came to how he treated Montmorency and women in general. He wanted to pay him back for it, to help him in some way when he needed it. He gazed out the window and found that the sun was already up and it was about time for Louise and Yuka to leave.
Nothing for it then! The young man thought before standing up and putting on his cloak. He was determined to give it one more go before he threw in the towel. He stepped out of his room and started thinking of one more argument for Yuka to consider before heading toward Louise's room. He rounded the corner and was suddenly surprised at the sounds of crashing wood and porcelain...and it was coming from Louise's room!
"Louise? Mister Yuka? Miss Matilda?" Guiche called out as he tried to open the door to Louise's room. After confirming that it was locked, he started banging on the door to try to get someone from the inside to open it.
"Guiche? What are you doing so early in the morning?" The young man turned to the familiar voice of Kirche. Sure enough the Germanian was standing in the hallway with Tabitha at her side.
"Something is wrong! I heard some things crashing inside Louise's room but no one would answer and I can't get the door open!" The young man quickly explained in a worried voice. The effect was immediate as Tabitha lowered the book she was reading and walked over to the door before pointing her staff at the door handle.
"What are you doing?" Guiche asked the young Gallian.
"Opening the door." Tabitha said before sending a powerful but focused wind spell at the door, effectively breaking the locks and swinging the door open.
"And?" I asked Guiche when he paused in the middle of his story. That seemed to snap him from his thoughts and he shook his head.
"We entered the room and found Miss Matilda sprawled on the floor unconscious and breathing heavily. The tea set that Louise had as well as the table and chairs were knocked over from when she seemed to have been trying to leave the room." I narrowed my eyes at Guiche's answer.
"What happened to Matilda?" I inquired neutrally, barely able to contain the emotions I was feeling from showing in my voice. What is all this? Worry? Anger? I've never been the one to be provoked by such emotions before except under dire circumstances. So why now? I shook off the feeling of unease and waited for Guiche to respond. I need a cool head for this...at least until I confirm Louise's safety.
"At the time, we didn't really know. Kirche called for help and managed to find Professor Colbert, who suggested that we bring her to the infirmary. We thankfully found a healer there and she was able to stabilize Miss Matilda's condition. And before you ask, Professor Colbert didn't recognize Miss Matilda as Miss Longueville. Her secret is still safe." Guiche answered. I highly doubted the last point though. Colbert was a sharp man, despite his appearance as a fumbling but earnest teacher. He should have figured out who Louise's 'mysterious new private tutor' was especially since she appeared after Miss Longueville resigned as Headmaster Osmond's Secretary and set off to a different country. Seeing as he hasn't done anything about it, the good professor seems to be confident in letting Louise and I keep the former thief in check. Thankfully, only the people inside the academy knew about Matilda other than the Princess, the people in the Charming Fairy Inn and Louise's family.
"What happened afterward? When did Matilda wake up?" I asked Guiche. There was only one thing that I know of that could do that to Matilda, so I wanted to know what triggered it and why she was unable to recover like she did before.
"Well, the healer said that there was nothing physically wrong with her. Instead, she attributed the collapse to either mental fatigue or severe willpower depletion. I think that she had another attack from that spell from before. You know, the one that prevents her from thinking about the people that made her steal the Staff of Destruction." Guiche postulated. If he was able to determine that much, then Kirche and Tabitha should have shared the same suspicion.
"I think you are correct. I had left Matilda behind because Cromwell, the man that caused most of the messes we have found ourselves in, is currently in charge of the country of Albion. If she had another attack, then I would normally assume that she was trying to investigate something about Cromwell instead of trying to look into...something else I asked her to. However, since you mentioned Viscount Wardes..." I trailed off, understanding but not liking where this was going.
"Yes. Miss Matilda woke up several hours later, long after Professor Colbert and the healer on duty have left. She immediately told us to stop Louise from going to Albion, we had to keep her from getting up from the bed for her own sake. She said that she suddenly felt her head feel like it was going to split open when she saw who it was that was going to escort you to where Prince Wales was located. She collapsed again after she said that, probably from the strain of the spell on her mind again, but it was more than enough for Tabitha..."
"Traitor." Tabitha muttered in a voice a bit colder than her usual monotone. Kirche and Guiche looked at each other before looking back to their friend.
"It can't be...the escort is a member of the Griffin Knights, someone who was hand picked by the princess herself!" Guiche reasoned, completely disbelieving the possibility of someone so close to the princess to be a traitor.
"I don't know...Miss Matilda and Tabitha give a pretty convincing argument." Kirche chimed in as she wiped some sweat from Matilda's forehead.
"Louise is in danger." Tabitha pointed out the obvious in case her two companions did not realize it yet.
"Please, Yuka is with her. I'd feel sorry for that griffin knight if he tried anything." Kirche casually hand waved her friend's concern. Indeed, after what the three of them have already witnessed, there should have been no doubt that Yuka would be able to deal with any enemy that would appear during the course of their mission under normal circumstances. Unfortunately, this was far from being a normal circumstance.
"Cunning. Conspiracy. Louise is still in danger." Tabitha argued.
"Tabitha is right. If one of the people that did that to Miss Matilda was holding such a high rank and was trusted by Princess Henrietta, it was not out of the realm of possibility that he would be able to find a way to be able to separate Louise and Mister Yuka." Guiche begrudgingly agreed with the blue-haired girl.
"Do we even know who the escort is?" Kirche asked a basic but crucial question. Guiche and Tabitha looked at each other before looking back to Kirche, Guiche's expression was grim while Tabitha's was still neutral but a hint of worry could be seen in her eyes.
"Wardes..." All three of them turned to the struggling voice of Matilda.
"Miss Matilda! Are you alright now?" Kirche asked the older woman before trying to wipe more sweat from he forehead. Matilda grunted as she caught Kirche's wrist and pulled her closer.
"His name is Wardes...a Viscount...he was the bastard that...threatened me...get Louise away from him...tell Yuka to show him...no mercy...hurry!" Matilda hissed before collapsing back onto the bed from the strain.
"This is bad..." Kirche muttered as she removed Matilda's hand from her wrist.
"Find Louise." Tabitha stated.
"How? We don't even know where they went to." Kirche countered and Tabitha was unable to come up with a response to that.
"I do..." Both girls turned to Guiche who had adopted an expression similar to Louise's when she was dead set on doing something.
"And I rode all the way out here to tell you...I wish I was able to get here earlier..." I heard Guiche say ruefully as he lowered his head, ending his explanation.
"No...what you did was enough. I thank you Sir Gramont." I stated while standing up before I started pacing around the room.
"But...I wasn't able to make it in time!" Guiche all but yelled at me. I stopped to regard him for a moment before resuming my pacing.
"True, but you have confirmed that the Viscount is an enemy...one that Matilda wishes to be rid of. At least now, I will not have to second guess killing him because of the off chance that he was really on our side and because he is Louise's fiancé." I clarified, making Guiche blink at me for a few moments.
"He is Louise's fiancé?" The young man asked and I nodded.
"Yes, I became complacent around the man because of that and because Louise seemed to genuinely trust the man. It was my mistake." I answered while continuing to pace around the room.
"Then we should go after them now! Why are you still even here pacing around the room?" Guiche asked before standing up and pointing at me.
"Because I don't know where they went. All I know is that they are headed to Albion, no more than that. Our 'escort' should have been the one to guide us to the actual location of the Prince's safe house. Obviously, that did not work out so well. If only there was a way to track Louise..." I explained before continuing my pacing around the room. I wasn't even sure why I started pacing around in the first place but I was too busy trying to figure out a way to find Louise to care.
"Is there anything on Louise that could help you find her?" Guiche asked me.
"She has Derf with her. She also has a letter written by Princess Henrietta along with a rare jeweled ring called the 'Water Ruby'. Unfortunately, I have no way to track Louise using any of those things." I admitted, hence my current dilemma.
"Did you say a rare jeweled ring?" Guiche asked in an inquiring voice, one that betrayed the tone of hope.
Louise spent the ride on Wardes' griffin in silence. She was situated in front of the Viscount so the man's arms were around her to be able to keep the reigns of his mount. She was very glad that her hat hid her face from Wardes and that Derf was remaining silent since that feeling of something amiss has not went away yet.
Is this feeling a premonition? Or is this simply because Yuka isn't at my side? Louise thought in silence, it was true though. This was likely the longest time that she has gone without Yuka with her ever since she summoned him. Even in her dreams, her familiar was still there at her side...whether she wanted to or not. The thought made her smile despite herself. For all intents and purposes, she had summoned a monster. After what she saw in Mugenkan during his Danmaku battle against his former student, Louise had no doubt that Yuka is capable of defeating even elves if he felt like it. However, rather than being a horrible, psychotic, and bloodthirsty beast that she saw in a dream so long ago, Yuka had shown himself to be polite, reasonable, often aloof, yet caring in his own way. Put simply, she missed Yuka.
"Louise, we're here." Her fiancé's voice snapped her from her thoughts, much to her dismay. She remembered back during her childhood when she thought that the Viscount was her knight in shining armor, her prince who will whisk her away from her life of failures and burdens and make her the happiest girl in the world. She well and truly believed that...back when she was a child. She will admit, Wardes was still as handsome and dashing as they come but she didn't feel the same...spark...she did when she was younger. The young Vallière simply chalked it up to outgrowing her old crush. Louise shook her head to rid herself of such unnecessary thoughts and decided to pay attention to the situation at hand for now. She noted that they were currently in front of a gated complex somewhere in the countryside, a church surrounded by stone walls. This was the prince's safe house?
"Halt! Identify yourselves!" One of the four armed guards in front of the gates called out to them. Louise looked back as Wardes dismounted his griffin before helping her dismount as well. He then turned to the guards and gave them a sweeping bow.
"I am Captain Jean-Jacques Francis de Wardes of the Tristain Royal Griffin Knights. I come as the escort of a hand picked emissary of Princess Henrietta de Tristain of the country of Tristain." Wardes introduced himself, Louise noted, using his rank as a Captain of the Griffin Knights instead of his title as Viscount. They were told to wait where they stood as one of the guards went inside the complex, possibly to get council from someone with more authority in order to confirm or deny their claim.
"Does it really take this long?" Louise whispered from behind Wardes, her natural impatience shining through the cracks. She heard Wardes chuckle before he turned back to her, adjusting her cowboy hat in a way that Louise didn't really find comfortable.
Because it wasn't the way Yuka adjusted her hat for her when she first got it. The tiny voice of a mini-Louise said at the back of her mind. Louise unconsciously scowled at the thought because, while it was true that she had adopted the adjustments Yuka made with her hat whenever she wore it, it didn't seem fair to say that she didn't feel comfortable simply because it wasn't Yuka who adjusted it. Louise blinked when she noticed her escort and fiancé give her a concerned look.
"Don't worry about it too much, Little Louise. They're just being cautious about this. After all, we managed to track down the exact place where their exiled prince is currently hiding. If I were them, I'd be jumpy too if two strangers suddenly appeared out of nowhere claiming to be a Knight Captain and an emissary." Louise could only nod at Wardes' reasoning so she decided to wait patiently for their concern to be addressed by whoever was fit to do so. Eventually, the same guard that let them in came out and regarded them both seriously.
"You can both enter but the mount stays outside." The guard stated as his comrades opened the gate enough for them to enter.
That's it? They're just letting us inside? Louise thought in confusion and surprise. If what Wardes was saying is true, they should have been put under more scrutiny than this. Unless the princess prepared for this beforehand or something…
"Come now, Little Louise. Can't keep the Prince of Albion waiting." The Knight Captain stated as he directed his griffin and familiar to the side of the wall to keep it out of the way and place it in some shade. Louise nodded before following him inside the complex. The young void mage noted that, despite the seemingly adequate security measures outside, the inside of the complex was only guarded by a handful of soldiers...and none of them were mages.
This is all that's left of the ones who are loyal to the Albion Royal Family? Louise thought to herself both in surprise and worry. If she was right, then the princess has a lot more to worry about than a stray love letter being found. Princess Henrietta's beloved Prince Wales might really get himself killed if he stays in Albion. Louise's worry carried over until they were led to the front door of the church. The young void mage gulped as the doors slowly opened to reveal a handsome young man with blonde hair and sharp, determined, blue eyes speaking with an elderly man in a priest's garb. No guesses as to who the sharply dressed young man was as he turned to Louise and Wardes and gave them a smile.
"Founder be with you. I am glad that you were able to get here safely despite the current situation of my country. Captain Wardes I presume?" Prince Wales regarded them both warmly and Wardes gave the prince a respectful bow.
"Indeed I am. This is Louise Françoise le Blanc de la Vallière, hand picked emissary of our princess and also her close friend." Wardes answered while introducing Louise to the prince as well. Wales nodded at Wardes words before turning to Louise, who blushed but managed to keep the sense of mind to give a proper bow to the prince.
"It is a honor to meet you, your highness." Louise greeted him with as much respect as she would Henrietta.
"Ah! I have heard much about you from Henrietta. I am glad to finally meet such a good friend of hers." Wales said as he approached Louise and, much to her eternal surprise, took her right hand and kissed it.
"A-a-a-awa-wawa-awawawa-you-wa-shock-" Louise stammered as she slipped into another emotionally induced non-sequitur.
"It seems that the gesture was a bit too much for her. It's not every day that a girl gets her hand kissed by a real prince." Wardes jokingly stated before chuckling.
"True. I apologize if I caught you off guard." The prince said with an embarrassed smile. Louise quickly shook her head before taking a deep breath.
"It was just unexpected. That is all." Louise responded before taking out the envelope that contained Henrietta's letter as well as the Water Ruby.
"The princess said to give you this letter and that this ring will prove the validity of my claim to have been sent here on her behalf." Louise said, her determination to accomplish her mission superseding her embarrassment.
"Thank you, though the ring was not needed. I'd like you to keep it and return it to Henrietta. Please make yourselves at home while I read her letter." The prince said as he returned the ring to Louise before walking away to read the princess' letter to him. Louise sat down on one of the pews and took a deep breath.
I wonder when Yuka will arrive? Louise idly thought as she unconsciously started to scan and take note of her surroundings.
Every Possible Variable.
Just like how Cirno-nee taught her.
"Are you certain that this is the place?" I asked Guiche who quickly nodded after consulting with his familiar. We were currently atop a hill in the Albion countryside overlooking a church and I was making sure that this was indeed the place where my master was.
"Yes, no doubt about it. When it comes to finding fine jewelry and gems, none can match my Verdandi. In fact, she says that there are two rings of great worth in that place." The young Gramont stated confidently while pointing to his familiar, who was several yards away from us for obvious reasons. We managed to get here much faster than we would have if we took a ship thanks to my wings. Although, we would have gotten here earlier if Guiche hadn't spent our first half hour in Albion regurgitating because of air sickness and if his mole wasn't so adverse about flying in the first place. I narrowed my eyes when I noticed something in the distance.
"It seems that this has become a rescue mission of a different sort." I noted as I noticed several hundred men approaching the church where Verdandi indicated Louise was located at, presumably with the traitor Wardes and Prince Wales.
"Oh no..." Guiche exclaimed when he noticed what I was looking at.
"It would appear that Cromwell has found the prince." I stated plainly as I thought about how to deal with this situation.
"Report! The guards outside have spotted several hundred soldiers heading this way!" A guard practically screamed after he burst through the church doors. Louise suddenly stood up at the news in panic while Prince Wales and the priest with him looked absolutely shocked. The only one to keep their composure throughout the announcement was none other than Viscount Wardes.
"We have to get the prince to saf-!" Louise quickly yelled as she turned to her fiancé, but her words died in her throat when she noticed something...something that made the whole world seem to slow down around her. There was the Prince, who was telling the priest with him to get to a safe place within the church. There was the priest, who was insisting that the prince be the one to get to safety. There were the guards who were hurriedly getting ready to make their last stand in the name of their prince. And there was Viscount Wardes. The man she looked up to as a child. The man who was her first love. The man who was supposed to become her husband, the father of her children. The man who had just taken out a gleaming throwing knife from within his robes. Judging from the way he had drawn it out and where he was looking, there was only one conclusion Louise could make. Her fiancé was about to throw a knife at Prince Wales. Without a second thought...Louise moved.
"Augh! Aaaahhh! Haaaahhh! Haaaaaaaaaaaahh!" Pain...the knife dug deep into Louise's left arm after she scrambled to get between Prince Wales and Wardes' knife. Her pained breathing was the only thing that could be heard inside the church as everyone else was either outside or inside but too shocked to do anything. The young void mage, a petite girl of seventeen, slowly used her right hand to grip the handle of the knife that was embedded in her left arm before looking right at Wardes.
"This...is...nothing...compared...to...CHOMPING FLOWERS!" Louise screamed in agony as she pulled out the knife before throwing it to the ground, her blood and her tears staining the floor of the church.
"Milady Vallière!" Prince Wales yelled out as he quickly went to Louise's side. She didn't notice because her gaze was still locked onto her fiancé's.
"Why?" Louise ground out through the pain. Wardes sighed before shaking his head.
"We needed him dead." The Viscount simply stated as he drew is sword-wand and beginning to chant a spell.
"Guards!" The priest cried out but none of the guards came as all of them were already outside the complex preparing for their final battle against their brothers.
"No...I won't be able to cast fast enough to counter his spell." Wales said with grit teeth when he saw that Wardes was nearly done with casting a powerful wind spell.
"Pull me out and use me to block the spell!" Derflinger suddenly called out while popping up from the scabbard strapped on Louise's back. Wales looked at the sword in shock for obvious reasons until the talking sword started to rattle.
"Hurry!" The sword's panicked voice was enough to spur the prince into action. Wales cleanly pulled out the ancient blade with the skill of a practiced swordsman before stepping in front of the injured Louise just in time to meet a razor sharp whirlwind made by Wardes. Wales held his ground in the face of certain death and was rewarded when the edge of the talking sword suddenly started to shine. The wind warped around the edge before getting drawn into it, devouring the spell until the very last drop of magic was gone. This was the reasoning behind its name. This was what the 'Devourer of Magi' is truly capable of.
"Amazing..." Wales could only mutter at what Derflinger had just done. Louise, despite the pain and the blood loss, pushed Wales aside and aimed her wand at Wardes. The tears flowing free from her eyes were the only indication of her pain, both physically and emotionally. Without hesitation, she screamed her magic word.
My eyes widened when I thought I heard Louise invoking her Keyword. When I sensed the magic spike coming from the church and the subsequent explosion that came from within the structure, I knew that it really was Louise.
"What was that?" Guiche cried out when he heard the explosion. I was about to fly right into the church when I heard Louise invocation and the effect of her spell.
"Louise is fighting Wardes." I stated as I watched the handful of guards who were still loyal to the prince get quickly slaughtered by a few hundred Albion soldiers and a few dozen magicians in the field near the church. I'll need to do something about them first.
"We have to do something!" Guiche stated the obvious while stepping right in front of me. I gazed at the young man, then at the church, then at the oncoming soldiers. I knew what I had to do, but there was something inside me, a feeling that kept saying that what I was about to do was wrong and that Louise should be my only priority. I squashed that feeling quickly because I knew that if I didn't do this, my master's safety would still be compromised. Besides, I have faith that Louise's training will pull her through.
"Go to the church and help Louise and the prince. I'll take care of the soldiers." I stated as I walked past the young man.
"What? You mean to fight an entire detachment of soldiers by yourself? Are you mad?" Guiche said in panic, obviously not realizing who it was he was talking two. I turned around and gave him one of 'those' smiles.
"Now, whoever said that I would be alone?" I said and Guiche stepped back a few feet when he saw what it was that I just did while his familiar was already running for the hills, smart move.
"You once told me that you would do anything to pay me back for helping you see the wrong in what you did with Monmon. Now is your chance, Sir Gramont. Help my master against Viscount Wardes and consider your debt repaid in full." I stated before I turned toward the oncoming wave of soldiers, spreading my wings, and flying right at them...my other half following close behind, complete with her own parasol. We landed several yards in front of the Albion soldiers, all of whom suddenly froze when they saw two people with wings suddenly land right in front of them. To my side stood my other half, the means of which I was able to use Dual Spark. I was amused that she was still a woman instead of becoming a man like I did, I guess what Yukari did only affected me exclusively. She looked exactly like I did back when I was a woman, except that her green hair was longer that mine was and part of it was covering her right eye. She also permanently had an expression that Flandre Scarlet would have if you gave her enough coffee.
"Hold it right there, little humans!" My other half suddenly yelled out while pointing her parasol at the soldiers. The sudden declaration caught them off guard and they all took a step back at the same time.
"I! Yuka Kazami! Have personally come here to make you regret the misfortune of your birth!" She continued with a sadistic smile before her parasol opened up and started to glow.
"SO BE GRATEFUL!" She roared before unleashing a Master Spark that blew through the middle of the Albion formation, effectively cutting the force in two. She then turned to me and gave me an excited smile.
"Betcha I can kill my side faster that you can~!" She playfully challenged me as she pointed to the soldiers to the left side.
"You're on." I replied with my own smile and the battle was joined.
"Zero!" Louise yelled out again as she aimed an explosion underneath a church pew, sending it flying right at Wardes to countered it with a slicing wind that bisected the wooden object in half and away from him. The Viscount was able to survive Louise's initial attack because of a well timed magic shield made of wind that Wardes cast as soon as Louise pointed her wand at him. He wasn't given a chance to counter attack because Prince Wales, still wielding Derflinger, quickly closed on him from the side and forced him to use the 'sword' part of his sword wand. The two men were locked in a match of strength as both of them were vying from positioning and the upper hand in the fight.
"Why? You are a Griffin Knight! A Captain! A man sworn to the Crown of Tristain! Why are you doing this?" Wales yelled at the man who nearly killed him and showed no remorse when he hit Louise instead.
"Because someone else made a better offer!" Wardes said confidently before pushing Wales away and pointing his sword-wand at him and casting a quick tornado spell.
"That won't work!" The Prince of Albion said as he once again used Derflinger to absorb the magic. Wardes anticipated this and cut the spell short and darted to the prince's left side, intending to do a diagonal slash with his sword-wand while Wales was still occupied with getting Derflinger to devour his spell.
"Zero!" Louise yelled out, aiming at the space between Wales and Wardes before an explosion detonated. The force of the blast made Wales fly back a couple of feet but it saved him from being slashed by Wardes. The Viscount was thrown outside the church because of the blast where he struggled to get back up. Louise fell to her knees as the constant quick casting of spells in addition to her would and blood loss were really starting to get to her.
I have to get up. She thought as she stared blankly at Wardes who was starting to recover his footing. Prince Wales was also up but Louise wouldn't even think about letting him face Wardes by himself even with Derflinger. And so, Louise stood back up. She's been through worse. She's been roasted alive so many times that her pain threshold should be better than even her big sister Eleanor. She's witnessed magic and power the likes of which Halkeginia has never even dreamed of before. She's a Void Mage! She's the daughter of The Heavy Wind dammit!
"Haaaahhh! Haaah! Haaaaahh! Louise...smash..." The young void mage said through the pain and fatigue as she slowly walked out of the church where Viscount Wardes and Prince Wales were already engaged in combat.
"Not bad for a royal!" Wardes taunted Wales as he blocked and parried each strike that the prince made. The Prince was smart enough to make sure to keep the fight in close quarters since giving the Viscount any kind of range longer than the length of his sword would guarantee another wind spell sent right into his face.
"Guh!" Wales grunted in pain as Wardes managed to get a lucky stab in and nick his left shoulder. He quickly adjusted his footing posture to get his shoulder out of range before doing a series of stabs of his own. Derflinger was longer than Wardes' sword-wand but it was also thicker and heavier. Wales lamented the fact that even he was noticing his movements start to slow down. He was getting tired.
No! For my country! For Henrietta! For Milady Vallière! I must not fall here! Prince Wales thought and his body responded. The Crown Prince of Albion started to fight with much greater fervor, as if this was supposed to be his final stand.
"Dammit!" Wardes cursed when Wales managed to score a shallow diagonal slash across his chest.
"Don't get too cocky!" The Viscount showed his years of experience by blocking the next strike cleanly before grabbing Wales' wrist with his left hand, pulling him closer, before delivering a head butt.
"Gaaah!" Wales yelled out as his head recoiled from the strike. Wardes smiled at his work and readied his sword-wand for one final stab.
That was when three of Guiche's bronze golems tackled him.
"Keep him down!" Guiche commanded as his golems kept Wardes on the ground before he ran to the Wales' side.
"Are you alright?" The young blonde asked the prince who looked up to him in surprise.
"Who are you?" He asked his apparent savior.
"Guiche de Gramont. Son of General Gramont of the Tristain Military and a friend of Louise Françoise le Blanc de la Vallière. Where is Louise anyway?" Guiche managed to say before his golems suddenly found themselves up in the air. His bronze valkyries crashed onto the ground, completely trashed, and both he and Wales turned to see Wardes standing back up. His sword-wand was in his right hand and a regular wand was in his left. He also looked very angry.
"You may not understand it..." My other half seductively said to a soldier who was trying to run away from her.
"...but you're already dead~" She ended her sentence, and the soldier's life, by using her parasol like a javelin and impaling itself in the middle of the man's chest.
We were almost done cleaning up. The four-hundred and fifty soldiers that were sent to find and kill Wales were a bit of an overkill considering what they were originally up against. However, it felt almost like a chore for me an my other half as we started slaughtering the soldiers like we were in one of those video games that Kaguya liked...Regime Warriors? Or was it Dynasty Fighters?
"Now!" I turned to the source of the voice and saw that a group of magicians that were with the soldiers were gathered together and seemed to have just finished casting a spell. A second later, a massive torrent of flame headed right for us, intending to engulf us in an inferno along with the corpses of their fallen allies. My other half walked up to me and gave me a knowing smile. I nodded to her and we both raised our parasols in unison and pointed them at the oncoming blaze. We both gave a demented smile before unleashing a Dual Spark that wiped out the flames and the magicians that created it. That felt good, I admit. We then turned when we saw that there were still a few more soldiers around, so we continued cleaning up.
"How can he be this good?" Guiche cried out as he watched Wardes tear through the last of his seventeen Bronze Valkyries. The Viscount used a combination of swordplay and magic to dispose of the golems. It was as to be expected of a Captain of the Griffin Knights and a former student of The Heavy Wind.
"Playtime is over. You both die." Wardes stated in a very serious voice before he pointed his sword wand at them and...watched as it was consumed in an explosion. The Viscount cursed and dropped what was left of his weapon before turning to the entrance of the church. There, with an exhausted but determined expression, her clothes stained with her own blood, a shaking right hand holding her wand and pointing it at Wardes, however...she still had her hat and it was back on the way it was before Wardes adjusted it for her.
"By the founder...what happened to you?" Guiche asked in horror at the current state of his friend. Even the prince, after he finally got a good look at Louise post-knife-stabbing, could not contain the feeling of regret and worry for the young woman.
"Milady! Please stay back! You are not fit to face this man!" Wales, with all this chivalry, tried to make Louise back down in fear of her getting any more hurt for his sake. Louise didn't hear any of it. The only thing in her mind right now was the man she was currently looking at. Wardes saw her lips move, not a sound reached his ears but his years of training and combat experience bade him to move. Move he did, just in time to avoid an explosion that detonated on the spot where he once stood.
Dammit! I can't even tell if she's casting a spell or not anymore! Wardes complained as he pointed his wand at Louise and prepared to launch a spell at her.
"Too bad, I'd hoped to have gotten a child out of you before I killed you." The Viscount coldly stated before-
"No!" Guiche suddenly cried out as he created a bronze sword before charging at Wardes.
"Stop!" Wales called out before joining Guiche to intercept Wardes before he could attack Louise.
"Gotcha!" The man suddenly said as he revealed a hidden wand in his right hand that was aimed at the two young men. Wales froze when he realized that he was too close to get Derflinger up into a defensive position to devour the spell. Guiche stopped and adjusted his stance in a futile gesture to try to block the attack using his bronze sword.
"...zero..." Louise muttered after using what was left of her energy to carefully aim at the hidden wand. The explosion that resulted was a small one because of Louise's fading consciousness and depleted willpower, but it was enough to knock the wand out of Wardes' hand.
"Meddling kids!" Wardes screamed as he tried to whip his left hand to use his other wand to strike at the young men. It was too late though, as Prince Wales managed to get close enough to Wardes to slice of his left hand just as the Viscount was about to point the wand at them.
"Ghaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!" Wardes screamed as he stumbled back while holding the stump that once had his left hand using his right.
"Give it up..." Wales said grimly as he raised Derflinger and readied himself to finish the fight.
"No..." Wardes replied before whistling. A bronze blur confused and disoriented Guiche and Wales, it was enough to give Wardes the chance to throw himself atop his griffin and setting off into the skies.
"Traitor! Come back here!" Guiche all but screamed at the flying griffin that managed to snatch away Wardes.
The...prince...is...safe... Louise managed to think before darkness finally consumed her vision.
"Milady!" Wales yelled out when he saw Louise collapse on the ground.
"No...she is bleeding badly! Father Benedict! The healing agents! Hurry!" The Prince called out to the priest who was still inside the church. For the first time since the coup started, Wales Tudor doubted if staying in Albion was the right thing to do if it meant that good people like Louise would end up this way.
"Ah! We've got a runner~!" My other half said as she pointed at the griffin that was flying away from the church. It was likely Wardes trying to get away after getting his ass handed to him.
"Take care of it." I stated as I threw the last dead soldier on the pile we made after we finished killing everyone. I didn't wait for her reply as I immediately started walking to the church. I entered the complex and noted the telltale signs of battle in front of the church itself. I saw Guiche sitting on the steps that led to the church, his expression grim.
"Guiche." I called out to him. He slowly looked up to me and his face twisted in horror and disgust when he saw the blood that covered me. I'll need a bath after this...
"Where is Louise?" I asked him.
"How can you be so calm? You and that...other you...just killed so many people..." Guiche grit out without meeting my gaze.
"I've lived a long time Guiche de Gramont, that's why. Now, where is Louise?" I answered and repeated my initial question while folding my arms and leaning back.
"She is inside, being treated by the Prince and Father Benedict. She has a stab wound on her left arm and she bled out pretty badly..." The young man answered, his voice void of emotion and full of exhaustion.
"...we let him get away..." He added as I stepped forward to get inside the church.
"No, I have someone taking care of it. Your debt to me is now repaid." I stated before passing Guiche and entering the church to check on my master.
Dammit! Dammit! Dammit! I'm going to kill that little bitch! Wardes thought as he struggled to close the wound that was formerly his wrist as his griffin flew him away from Albion.
"I'll be sure to come back for you, Louise..." He said with dark determination. That was until he felt someone watching him. He quickly turned around and his shocked expression met a dementedly happy one.
Louise opened her eyes and once again found herself inside Mugenkan. She sat up and touched her left arm. It was fine. Of course it was fine, this is a dream. She stood up and looked around. Yuka wasn't there yet. Was he going after Wardes? Was he looking after Prince Wales? Was he fighting the Albion Army?
"He's actually watching over you." Louise turned around and saw Yukari smiling at her.
"You can read minds now too?" The young void mage asked the border youkai sarcastically.
"I can do a lot of things my dear~" Yukari teasingly answered.
"But really, he stopped by here earlier and told me what happened. He asked me to watch over you for a while in case you managed to pop up here while you were unconscious in your own realm. And don't worry, he managed to take down that traitor for you too." Yukari explained.
"So the Viscount is dead..." Louise said in relief and not in sadness.
"Now then, looks like you'll be stuck here for a while so...how about you tell me stories about your realm~" Yukari changed gears and approached Louise like a child. The young woman blinked at her a few times before shrugging.
"Only if you tell me some of yours." She said with an awkward smile.
"Deal~" The border youkai responded before gapping in a table, a chair, and a tea set.
And so, Louise dreamed of tea and stories about the Eastern Wonderland.
"So..." I said when I saw Louise open her eyes to a brand new day.
"...so..." She replied weakly. She was lying on one of the church pews that weren't destroyed during their fight with Wardes while I sat next to her and let her use my lap like a pillow. She blinked at me a few times before scowling.
"You stink of death..." She complained. I was able to get myself cleaned up in Mugenkan before I started my vigil over Louise, but it seemed that my master could still tell what I did yesterday.
"Speak for yourself." I shot back with a sly smile. Louise grumbled unintelligibly before struggling to sit up, I helped her up and we sat side by side in the now quiet church.
"Where is everyone?" Louise asked as she looked around for the others.
"Guiche is outside with Prince Wales and Father Benedict. They are working on making a mass grave for the guards that died and soldiers that attacked. I had offered to simply burn or vaporize the corpses, but they didn't seem to like that idea too well." I answered and Louise nodded weakly, she still looked very tired and very...sad.
"Viscount Wardes tried to kill me..." Louise muttered while looking up at the massive stained glass window in front of us. I nodded in response but remained silent, allowing Louise to continue with what she wanted to say.
"He tried to use the confusion during the attack from the Albion army...he tried to kill Prince Wales with a throwing knife. I managed to get in between the prince and the knife because of all that training I did in Mugenkan. It hit my arm...it hurt a lot..." Louise continued, her words betrayed her exhaustion and just how scared she really was at the time. She then turned to me and gave me a tired smile.
"I did it, you know. I managed to perform my Keyword Casting on my first try. I even managed to do it over and over and over again. I'm not a failure...I'm not a Zero..." She told me with as much pride as she could muster. She told me those things as if she still needed to seek approval from me of all people.
"You were never a failure, Louise." I simply said while picking up her hat from my side and putting it on her head, making sure to adjust it just right.
"Is the Viscount dead?" Louise asked me without any fear or hesitation in her voice.
"Yes. Wardes was the one who originally threatened Matilda, seemingly on behalf of Cromwell. She gave explicit instructions for me not to show any mercy towards him. I simply complied with her request." I answered. Louise expression hardened when she heard that Wardes was part of Cromwell's conspiracy and was the one who made Matilda go after the Rawket Lawnchair.
"I can't believe that I was supposed to marry that man. I can't believe that I actually wanted to marry him for the longest time. By the founder...I have awful tastes in men." Louise said ruefully before burying her face in her hands.
"I think that you are worrying about the wrong things..." I commented offhandedly at Louise's words. She suddenly glared at me before puffing her cheeks, folding her arms, and leaning back.
"I don't want to hear that from someone who has lived for over a thousand years without even falling in love once." She chastised me, or so she thinks. I simply shrugged and stood up. Louise tried to stand up as well but she yelped when her legs didn't support her and nearly made her fall over.
"Easy." I said as I caught her by the shoulders and helped her sit back on the pew.
"Thank you..." She muttered while looking away from me, her face was flushed and her shoulders were still shaking.
"You did well, Louise. You overcame much even without my help. I'm proud of you." I told Louise with a warm smile. I wasn't sure why I said those words at that moment, they just seemingly came out of my mouth on their own. I didn't have any time to further speculate on the matter as Louise suddenly wrapped her arms around me, buried her face on my shoulder, and started crying. I was not really sure how to deal with this situation so I simply decided to let her cry until she was done.
"Milady Vallière! Are you well enough to be up?" Prince Wales exclaimed when he noticed Louise and I emerge from within the church. My master was still weak from all the sudden exertion that she went through the previous day, only managing to stand and walk by holding on to my arm for support.
"Hey there, little miss!" Derf partially popped out of its scabbard, which was strapped on Wales' back, and greeted Louise.
"I'm fine, your highness...just tired." Louise replied with a smile.
"Where are Guiche and Father Benedict?" I asked the lone prince.
"They're currently looking for appropriate clothes and other things we can use for your plan of extraction." Wales explained and I nodded in approval.
"Plan of extraction?" Louise inquired, obviously not privy to our meeting last night since she was asleep.
"It was actually originally Father's Benedict's idea. After much deliberation along with logical and deductive thinking, we came to the conclusion that Wales staying in Albion any longer would be a very bad idea." I explained and Louise simply gave me a flat stare.
"I could have told you that." She stated with equal flatness. We both turned back to Wales when he suddenly gave an awkward cough.
"Well, I had been intending to stay in my country and organize those who are still loyal to the crown to rise up against the usurper but..." Wales trailed off and I decided to pick up the line of thought for him.
"...you would have been found and killed within days, especially now that Cromwell has an idea of the general area where you are. Staying here would not only risk your own life but the lives of anyone who would give you sanctuary. Additionally, if you die, Cromwell officially gets Albion...I, for one, would be personally insulted if someone like that would gain a country to rule." I stated, voicing my dislike for Cromwell, earning solemn nods from my master and a resigned sigh from the prince.
"They got you there, bro!" Derf piped up. Louise didn't seem to approve of the way Derf addressed Prince Wales as I noticed her magical power spike up again, nowhere near the usual amount for obvious reasons but it was still noticeable.
"Derflinger! Don't speak that way to Prince Wales!" Louise yelled at the sword, showing that she can still snap at you even in her relatively weakened state. Wales looked startled at Louise's sudden outburst but managed to recover quickly and give a lighthearted chuckle.
"Worry not about it, Milady. Derflinger has saved my life as much as you did and has proven to be quite the sword. I do not mind him calling me that." Wales assured Louise but my master didn't seem to approve of Wales' actions either and she showed it with a small scowl.
"Now I understand why Henrietta admires you so. You wear your heart on your sleeve and you are not afraid to voice your opinion. Those are very rare virtues for a noble, Milady." Wales added with a friendly smile. Louise flushed at the sudden compliment and stammered something about 'affection values' or whatnot.
"It has been bothering me for a while now but...why do you address Louise as 'Milady'? Technically, she's already a Chevalier...a knight...so shouldn't you call her by Dame or Lady or simply Chevalier Louise?" I piped up, turning everyone's attention toward me.
"She is? I apologize, Dame. You did not have the mantle of a Chevalier so I did not know." Wales suddenly said, embarrassed that he's been addressing my master incorrectly all this time.
"It's fine, your highness! I am but a mere servant to my princess. I do not care for my rank so long as I can serve her." Louise immediately responded, once again showing just how loyal she was to Henrietta. I shook my head at her words. I still think that her devotion was blind without reason but she probably won't listen to me even if I pointed out every flaw in her undying loyalty to her princess. Instead, I decided to ask about something else.
"Mantle of a Chevalier?" I asked, curious about such a thing. Wales looked at me like I just grew a second head, which I've already done once by the way. Louise eyed me like I was an idiot before facepalming and turning to the prince.
"My familiar isn't from around here, your highness..." She said to Wales who nodded in understanding.
"A mantle essentially shows the status of a noble. It can be shown in a number of ways, from the symbols and standards of a country or a family to the sheer quality of the cape or cloak that the noble is wearing." Louise explained to me. I nodded before glancing at Wales and remembering something.
"But what of the prince here, he does not have a mantle? I don't think I've seen Princess Henrietta wear one either." I pointed out. Louise rubbed her eyes in obvious frustration before looking at me like I was an idiot.
"They're royalty, Yuka. They have crowns. They don't need mantles." Louise ground out.
"Ah...I see. I apologize for overlooking that." I said to both of them.
"Don't worry about it Mister Yuka." Wales said with a shrug while Louise still looked like she thought I was an idiot. The sounds of footsteps and something dragging across the ground caught our attention. We all turned to the source of the disturbance and saw Guiche and Father Benedict dragging a large blue suitcase along with a few bags of cloth.
"What is all that?" Louise asked as Wales ran over to help the two men.
"Our ticket off this rock." I replied with a smile.
"This is not going to work..." Louise muttered as she adjusted her hat to make the front brim cover more of her face. Currently, Father Benedict, Guiche, Louise, myself, and the large blue suitcase were waiting in line to get in the port city of Manchester and hopefully to one of the commercial ships that were headed for Tristain. Apparently, the sudden coup, the elimination of all but one of the members of the Albion Royal Family, and the minor civil war that happened didn't sit well with several locals and a steady trickle of emigrants who wanted out of the country...at least until it stabilized again.
"Just relax and let me and Father Benedict do all the talking. Guiche, make sure to always stay with Louise and Father Benedict, the last think we need is getting separated from each other." I stated as I carried the suitcase with my right hand while my left held my parasol. Guiche currently had Derf equipped and had traded in his usual clothing with a rather bland green tunic with matching pants, his shoes were also done away with and were replaced with worn worker boots. Louise got changed from her bloodied clothes into a quaint brown one piece dress, though she still wore her hat which made to look a bit out of place. The good Father and I didn't need to change since the man was a priest while I looked like a commoner anyway. The suitcase was fine as well, in case you are wondering.
We managed to get into the city without incident. Unfortunately, getting a ship to Tristain was harder that I had expected. In fact, getting into any ship headed anywhere outside the country was a challenge. Apparently, Cromwell…or someone smarter than him…anticipated something like this would happen and instigated massive emigration taxes up any and all who would try to leave Albion. Sadly, no one really had anything resembling a traveling budget in our little group. This was when Father Benedict had the idea of trying to use his status as a priest to try to get us on a ship. I accompanied the priest to the registry station of a particular ship that was headed for La Rochelle, Louise and Guiche stayed outside the building we went into along with the suitcase. The priest started to explain the current situation without embellishing the fact that we had a rather important luggage that we needed to deliver to Tristain.
"Denied. This ship will only accept supply cargo for merchants. No additional people can be allowed to board." The stressed out middle-aged man in front of us stated in a drawl as if he's had to say that string of words several times already through the course of the day. The priest turned to me apologetically before sighing.
"I'm sorry, maybe we will have a better chance with a different ship?" Benedict said optimistically. Unfortunately, I didn't want to stay here any longer so I decided to use a little trick I had already used in this realm. I walked up in front of the man before giving him a smile. He sighed in response and gave me a dismissive wave.
"Look, I don't care what you say. We won't allow any-" I cut him off by waving my right hand in front of his face, allowing a Body Snatcher to sneak into his ear and into his brain.
"You will make an exception for our traveling party." I stated in a calm soothing voice.
"I will make an exception for your traveling party." The man repeated without blinking. Father Benedict on the other hand seemed to be utterly gobsmacked at what I had just seeming done.
"You will add to the ship manifest that our party will be provided full accommodations due to our friendly relation to the clients of this vessel." I added with the same voice.
"I will add to the ship manifest that your party will be provided full accommodations due to your friendly relation to the clients of this vessel." The body snatcher repeated perfectly before starting to write down something on the parchment in front of it.
"Please show this to the guards in front of the ship, it will allow you access to the vessel and explain why you are there." The body snatcher stated as it handed our voucher to me.
"Thank you, have a nice day." I said before turning back to the still shocked priest.
"I'm very convincing in arguments." I said to the priest before walking out to where Louise and Guiche were.
"We're finally headed back to Tristain." Guiche stated tiredly as he sat down on a chair in the quarters that was provided to us by the Captain of the 'Trojan Horse'. The ship was rather large but its size was due to the fact that it was a transport ship for goods instead of people, it was not meant to ferry passengers around regularly. Because of this, we found ourselves inside a spacious three bedded room with a couch and some extra chairs. I put the suitcase down in the middle of the room and heard a banging noise coming from within.
"I think it's about time you let them out, it should be safe now." Louise said in a concerned voice. I nodded and laid the suitcase on its side and opened it.
"Guaaaaaaaah!" A very grateful Prince Wales immediately sat up and took a few deep breaths of air. The reason being was not because he was stuck inside a suitcase all day, it was because of what he was stuck with during that time.
"Ah! Verdandi! You didn't make the Prince uncomfortable, did you?" Guiche asked his familiar which emerged from within the confines of the suitcase.
"It's a giant mole. Anyone would be uncomfortable being stuck with it inside a suitcase for hours." Louise deadpanned. Said mole quickly hobbled towards it master before cowering behind him.
"Do not worry about such things. I certainly know that I would be much worse off had I not come with you all. Although, I do wonder why your familiar seemed so…afraid…like it was too scared to move at all." Wales pointed out. Louise and Guiche looked at the prince, then to the mole, then to me, then ot each other, then back to the prince.
"Don't think about it too hard." They both said in unison.
"Very well…" Wales said, deciding to drop the topic.
"I will see if I can find the kitchen and get us some food." The priest chimed in before moving to the door.
"I'll accompany you there, father." Guiche offered before following the priest outside. That left only me, Louise, and Prince Wales in the room, Derf was still with Guiche.
"I never got the chance to say it with all this happening so suddenly but…" Wales suddenly said before walking up to Louise and going down to one knee in front of her and looking her in the eye.
"Wh-wh-wh-wh-wh-wh-wha-atatatatatatata-" Louise stammered as the prince gave her a gentle smile before taking her hand and kissing it.
"The courage you showed before was breathtaking, Lady Louise. I can honestly say that I would not be here, alive, if not for your efforts. You are one of a kind, Louise Françoise le Blanc de la Vallière. I thank you from the bottom of my heart." The prince said with so much sincerity that I'm rather certain that it would have been misunderstood by someone who did not know the situation.
"Bu-bu-bu-but your highness already has Princess Henrietta. I-I-I-I-" Though it would seem that Louis misunderstood the gesture regardless. The prince suddenly adopted a look of concern before putting his hand on Louise's forehead and leaning closer, making my master blush even harder.
"Is something the matter, Lady Louise? Are you ill?" And it would seem that, for all the skill that he displayed while speaking with Louise, the prince was rather dense when it came to the feelings of women.
I suddenly had the feeling that, if she were here, Yukari would taunt me about 'hypocrisy' as soon as I made that thought.
"I-I-I-I-I-I'm fine!" Louise stammered, her quaking frame and intense blush indicated otherwise though. I sighed at the scene. Only Louise could probably do such a thing even during a situation as tense as this one.
"Louise! You're safe!" Matilda exclaimed as we entered Princess Henrietta's personal audience chamber. It was me, Louise, Father Benedict, Guiche, and the large blue suitcase on one side and Princess Henrietta, Tabitha, Kirche and Matilda on the other, I left Derf and my parasol back at the academy because I had to carry the suitcase. We wondered where Matilda was when we came back to the academy and Professor Colbert was nice enough to tell us that she, Kirche, and Tabitha were summoned by the princess. Obviously, this meant that the castle was the last leg of our journey and thus how we found ourselves in our current situation.
"I'm so glad you are alright Louise Françoise!" Henrietta exclaimed a second after Matilda before both women proceeded to smother my master with affection. I glanced at Guiche and noted that the young man regarded the scene being played out with keen interest and a hint of jealousy considering that Louise's head was long lost within the ample bosoms of the two women. A soft bumping noise coming from the suitcase reminded me of something.
"As much as I'm sure you two are enjoying yourselves doing that to Louise, I need to show you a little souvenir we picked up in Albion." I stated as I set the suitcase down on its side before opening it. The expressions on both the princess and Matilda were nearly priceless.
"Well...that was certainly an experience..." Prince Wales Tudor muttered as he sat up from within the confines of the suitcase, we left Guiche's mole at the academy as well. The reactions of the two women were understandable when you think about it though. It's not every day that you see the crown prince of another country suddenly come out of a suitcase, especially one that was being hunted down by his own country because of a man that staged a coup that disposed of his family and thus leaving him as the only survivor and the true heir to the crown. Vicious, if cliché, geopolitical upheavals aside, Louise took advantage of the sudden shock that took over Matilda and Henrietta and pulled herself free from their grasps. She then turned to Wales who had just finished climbing out of his suitcase.
"I apologize if the trip was uncomfortable..." Louise said sheepishly and Wales merely chuckled before stepped out of the suitcase and patting Louise on the shoulder.
"Worry not about that, Lady Louise." He assured Louise, who just blushed before looking away.
"Prince Wales!" Henrietta finally exclaimed before embracing her lover. Kirche suddenly walked up to me and pulled at my sleeve.
"Hey, where can I get one of those?" Kiche asked me as she pointed at the blue suitcase we used to transport Wales with. She didn't honestly think that there was a place where she could get princes in suitcases, did she?
"You brought him here?" Matilda whispered, pulling at my other sleeve.
"Yes we did. It was either that or leave him there to die and let Cromwell have Albion." I pointed out to the woman. She looked very conflicted about the matter. I wondered why for a moment before I realized something. Matilda was originally supposed to have been married off to the son of the Kind of Albion. That meant that…
"Milady Mathilda?" Wales confirmed my line of thinking as he called out to Matilda, who twitched. She slowly turned to Wales with an uncertain look. The prince on the other hand practically radiated with joy at the confirmation of his query.
"You are alive! This is wonderful!" He exclaimed as he left Henrietta go and walked over to Matilda before taking both of her hands.
"You have no idea how relieved I am! When I heard what my father did after you rejected his proposal, I immediately sent out a detachment of knights to look for and aid survivors. I was devastated when I heard that your manor was burned to the ground with everyone inside. I…I am sorry for your loss...had I known beforehand…" Prince Wales trailed off before looking away from Matilda with a pained expression. I looked at the woman in question and she looked like she didn't know what to think of the man in front of her. Matilda gained her hate for nobles because of what Wales' father did to her family. To find that Wales himself did everything in his power to try to help her family, well it must have been an unexpected turnabout.
"Miss Matilda knows the Prince of Albion?" Guiche suddenly piped up with the question.
"Arranged Marriage." The ever sharp Tabitha provided, having already connected the dots and deciding to read a book instead of watching the rest of the proceedings.
"Ah! Of course! Matilda was supposed to have been married to Prince Wales!" Louise suddenly exclaimed, only realizing it at that moment.
"Umm…arranged marriage?" Everyone turned to the voice of Princess Henrietta de Tristain. She was currently staring flatly at Wales like any young woman would after seeing her loves release her from an embrace to greet a woman who was apparently supposed to have been promised to him in marriage before. Irony can be rather amusing to watch once you piece everything together.
"Uhhh…yes…I will explain everything in detail later on…" Wales said uncomfortably like any young man would while trying to buy time to explain the awkward situation to his lover.
"This has been the worst tenday ever…" Louise summarized the events of the past few days in a few concise words. It had been three days since we got back to the academy and classes were about going to start in the following week, which was why a few students have started to come back. We were all sitting at our usual spot for an afternoon tea party, except for Monmon who has yet to return.
"I'm sure that your luck will get better soon, Milady." Siesta said, trying her best to cheer up Louise despite my master's gloomy mood.
"She's right though. You've already hit rock bottom so the only way left would be up!" Kirche chimed in teasingly as Siesta poured her another cup of tea. Louise grumbled something about 'dropping Axis on Kirche' before taking a bite out of the strawberry cake she had.
"You have to admit though, even with everything that happened, Louise did incredibly well." Guiche stated with a smile.
"Best outcome from a disadvantageous situation." Tabitha added while reading another one of her books. Louise blushed and shrank from the sudden compliments from her friends.
"Exactly! You even scored some points with the prince! I'm looking forward to seeing how long it would take for you to snatch him away from Princess Henrietta~" Kirche pointed out, making my master and Matilda twitch, but for completely different reasons. That reminded me…
"Did you find any more leads about Void Magic while we were gone?" I whispered to Matilda. The woman blinked at me a few times before scowling at me and looking away.
"A few…" She said a bit irritably. I will never understand women.
"Oh! Before I forget…" Kirche suddenly said before reaching into her cleavage and pulling out a parchment.
"A friend of the family clued me into a lead about something very interesting." The Germanian said slyly before opening up the parchment and showing it to us.
"What is it?" I asked and I heard Matilda draw in a sharp breath before slowly reaching out to the parchment.
"Is that…a treasure map…?" Matilda hesitantly asked with a sense of hunger in her voice.
"I know that place!" Siesta suddenly said from behind Matilda. We all turned to the maid, who suddenly looked flustered at becoming the center of attention.
"Th-th-that is the mountainside near my home town…" She timidly said. I was startled when I heard Matilda slam both her palms on the table, making the porcelain rattle. She turned to me and to Louise in turn, a dangerous looking sparkle in her eyes.
"We're going!" She exclaimed.
"We are?" I asked with a raised brow.
"We are!" She repeated.
"Going where?" Louise asked, sounding slightly nervous at the sudden change in her tutor's demeanor.
"Treasure hunting~" Matilda stated with a disturbing amount of enthusiasm.