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Louise & Yuka K.
Book: Be Careful What
You Wish For, Chapter 14
YukaMale2
Release date 03-10-11
Written by Vanishing Trooper
Chapter Guide
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Chapter 13
Be Careful What
You Wish For
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Chapter 15
Be Careful What
You Wish For

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Chapter 14
Be Careful What You Wish For

Author's Notes: Wow...I'm actually amazed at how worried people are at the progress of the next chapter...or lack thereof. Don't worry, I'm not hitting writer's block or anything like that. The original reason why updates are slowing down is because of Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3…I just couldn't stop playing it. I've also been swamped with work this past month and also because my mom was diagnosed last week with a blood disease that I can't pronounce...I'm not kidding. She'll be going through surgery this Friday to accommodate something that will let her do blood dialysis from then on. In any case, I have brought along a new update today. Pretty slice of life but it will set up the events later on.

To comment on the Reviews I've been reading…

I thank everyone for their comments and opinions about the second interlude. All of them will go a long way to improve the way I go about the fleet battle later on. I'm sorry if the references went overboard sometimes and I'll try not to make them dominate the story anymore. Also, I've been reading about how some of you are dissatisfied at the lack of romantic development in the story despite the fact that Yuka is a pretty GAR guy. The reasoning is simple, as a poster on Spacebattles put it:

Chapter 14

'Yuuka is pretty much a plant youkai, and plants aren't known for their active sex lives. Neither are inhuman forces of nature, the other major candidate for her origin, which just compounds the issue when she's dealing with someone for whom "the birds and the bees" isn't literal. If a girl wants to get in Yuuka's pants, she's going to have to be entirely frank about the attraction and work at it, otherwise it's just going to continue to be as ignored as it is now.'

Yuka has gone sixteen-hundred years without falling in love. He hasn't felt the need to, it just wasn't his thing. That's why indirect…or sometimes too direct…methods will not work on him. Of course, things change…it will only be a matter of who will realize this and if they can act on it.

One last thing. In case you haven't heard yet, the next Zero no Tsukaima volume was delayed because the author was diagnosed with Cancer. Again, I'm not kidding. Please send him your prayers for a quick and safe recovery.

As always, please enjoy~!

Disclaimer: Now let us head over to the tank…

DAMN YOU DREAMCAST AND SEAMAN!


"H-hey! How did they get-WHY THE FOUNDER DO THEY HAVE FEET NOW?" I heard Louise scream from upon the balancing poles that she was using to further polish her balance.

After her success against the goblins during our little treasure hunt, I discussed with Cirno about upping the ante when it came to her training. I left the job of learning more about the Void spells in the Founder's Prayer Book in Matilda's capable hands. Hopefully, she'll be able to come up with a way for Louise to shorten the casting time of Dispell or at least unlock a different spell that would be more practical in combat...preferrably, something that could subdue a foe in one hit and had a good accuracy rate. Currently though, Louise was trying to stay on the balancing poles while avoiding the fireballs coming from my Walker Piranha Plants.

Walkers are Piranha Plants that...well...walk around. Instead of being stuck in the place where I made them sprout, their roots were replaced with stubby legs that gave them mobility to a degree. They use their legs as counter-weights to prevent them from falling over and that act made them look like they were bobbing their heads around while walking. It was actually fun to watch them just walk around sometimes...they always looked so silly while doing so.

Louise was not amused by them.

"This is not funny! Why did you give them feet?" Louise yelled out as she leaned away from an oncoming fireball before making her way to another balancing pole to get out of the line of fire. I didn't understand why she was complaining. She hasn't been hit yet and she only had to deal with five Walkers. I didn't even make her carry a glass of wine this time.

Now that I think about it...

"Stop!" I declared and all five Walkers suddenly halted, their heads bobbing around like ripe fruit on swaying branches.

"It's over?" Louise asked in surprise and relief.

"No." I replied with a snap of my fingers. A glass of wine suddenly found itself in Louise's right hand.

"I. Hate. You." Louise bitterly said to me when she realized what she was holding, making sure to emphasize each word.

"You wouldn't be the first one. Begin!" I declared with a smile. Louise only screamed in frustration before she started traversing the field of balance poles while trying to avoid spilling the wine in the glass and being ignited by the Walkers.

"Are you sure it's wise to start doing this again?" Yukari asked me as she floated her gap to my side.

"Cirno is still on watch with Chen to make sure that the Kappa don't do anything stupid with Ruukoto's new specifications. That means that Louise's training falls to me until she comes back. Besides, she's doing pretty well so far." I pointed out as I watched Louise avoid a close call by hopping around between balance poles.

"I just hope that you're not pushing her too hard again." Yukari stated with seemingly genuine concern. It seemed so sincere that I couldn't help but look at her with a raised brow.

"And why would you be so concerned about her?" I asked the border youkai. She just smiled after shrugging.

"That little human grows on you. Besides, she still adorable enough to take home with me~" Yukari said with a lecherous glint in her eyes. I knew then that Louise would forever be scarred emotionally if she was left in a room with Yukari for any period of time.

"Denied. I refuse to let Louise go anywhere with you without any adult supervision." I said with a bored expression that was meant to be an insult...I had forgotten who I was talking to.

"Oh, you can be our 'adult' supervisor all night long if you want~" Yukari said in a sultry voice. Really, she's like the 'dirty old man' version of Kirche.

"You know what I mean." I drawled out, making sure to show how much I was unamused at her antics. Yukari pulled back a couple of feet before pouting at me and folding her arms.

"It's because of that human woman isn't it? That...Matilda...isn't it?" Yukari accused with a pouting glare.

This again?

"What the hell are you talking about?" I asked her with a dry look.

"I heard all about it from Louise. Hmph! Just leave for a few months and you're all over a human woman, leaving little old me cold and alone in bed." Yukari said in despair, complete with a sniffle and a tear.

"I don't know what you've been eating recently to give you that sort of delusion, but I've never even considered being in the same bed as you." I clearly stated while folding my arms and leaning back.

"You can start considering it now if you want~! We can just leave Louise here for a few hours and saunter back to your mansion~! Just you, me, and a tub of honey~" Yukari offered to me and by Kanako or Suwako or whatever other gods were out there, she looked like she was serious.

"Yukari, drop it. I never have nor will I ever have the desire to be alone with you in a room with a tub of honey or any other quasi-liquid substance." I stated with a shake of my head. Really now, what has gotten into Yukari? Yes, she has teased around a lot in the past with practically everyone in Gensokyo, her nature demands such I guess...but now she seemed to be actively trying to seduce me.

"But you wouldn't mind it if it was with that Matilda woman, huh? Is because she has green hair?" Yukari asked me accusingly. What was this woman's malfunction? I rubbed my eyes with my left hand and gave an audible sigh before replying.

"Yukari, I don't know why you seem to think that there is something between Matilda and I...and I certainly don't know why you seem to think that there was anything between the two of us..." I said while pointing from her to me in turn before continuing.

"Let me make this perfectly clear, I have nothing going on with anyone. Not you. Not Matilda. Not anyone." I stated with my trademark tone of finality that indicated that further discussion on the matter would be met with considerable amounts of pain and anguish. Yukari frowned at me before giving a wistful sigh and turing back to Louise who has yet to be hit by any fireballs. I had to admit, despite all her complaints about her training, Louise actually seemed to be pretty good at this.

"Fine, let's change the subject. Where's Ruukoto? I expected that you'd bring it along tonight." The border youkai asked me, as if the previous stupid convesation never happened.

"Ruukoto insisted to be left behind to act as overwatch over the academy. It said that it was...unsettled about something." I responded as I recalled the conversation I had with Ruukoto before I entered Mugenkan that evening. Ruukoto had requested to remain in Halkeginia to watch over the academy. The way it worded it was strange though. It didn't say that it would simply watch over Louise's body, its new master. Ruukoto specifically said that it wanted to watch over the entire academy and consequently everyone within.

"Ruukoto...unsettled..." Yukari repeated the last part of the statement with a raised brow.

"That's what I said." I affirmed with a nod. Yukari and I went ahead and got into another rousing bout of awkward silence before she finally said something.

"Yuka, Ruukoto didn't even flinch when it was threatened to be blown up by Reimu. What could it possibly be afraid of in Louise's home realm?" Yukari asked, a sound question.

"I don't know. I'll ask Ruukoto about it later." I answered. Further conversaion was halted when I heard something which I haven't heard in a while.

"OMIGODI'MONFIRE!" Louise screamed, drawing our attention to her. A muffled thumping noise was the indication that Louise had finally fallen off the balance poles after she got hit by a fireball. I stared at Louise's burning corpse for a few moments, the Walkers stopped walking around after their target was neutralized, before I felt Yukari poking my arm with her closed fan.

"Shouldn't you like...I don't know...revive her?" The border youkai flatly asked me. I blinked at her a few times before turning back to Louise's burning remains.

"Oh yes, of course." I snapped my fingers and Louise's 'body' was suddenly consumed by light.

"SHAZAM!" My master yelled out as soon as she was restored, her left hand was on her hip while her right hand was pointing to the skies. The five Walkers that I made instantly turned their heads toward Louise after her declaration and started waddling their way toward her.

"No! Yuka, call them off!" Louise yelled at me as she made her way toward me and Yukari while pointing at the Walkers that were waddling their way to her. I sighed and waved the Walkers away, each of them vanishing from existence a few moments after I did so.

"What took you so long to call them off? I was dodging their fireballs forever!" Louise complained. I raised a brow at her question. Did she really not notice? For someone who was seemingly talented as Louise, she's quite dense. No...Louise is very dense.

'Hypocrite'

"What did you say?" I turned to Yukari, who was looking away and was whistling to herself. She turned back to me and blinked a few times.

"Whatever do you mean~?" She innocently asked. Why was she smiling at me like that? Was she trolling me? I shook my head to get rid of such thoughts. And here I thought that I was already used to her antics. I took a breath before turning back to Louise, who had her arms folded and was leaning back while tapping the ground with her left foot. It seemed that she was still waiting for an answer.

"I did not call off the Walkers because you were doing so well at dodging their fireballs. I wanted to know how long you could last." I explained, earning a raised brow form the young Void Magician.

"Walkers?" She asked, unfamiliar with the name of her new enemies.

"Those strain of Piranha Plants are called 'Walker Piranha Plants'...for obvious reasons." I stated. Louise gave a thoughtful hum as she contemplated something.

"Jogging Chomping Flowers, huh?" Louise muttered to herself before nodding at her own statement.

"Louise, that's not what they-" My correction was cut off by Louise.

"Jogging. Chomping. Flowers." Louise stated with gritted teeth. My master once again replacing the actual name of the plants with her own designation for them. I had the strange feeling that we've been through this before.

"Right...going back on topic, the reason why I did not call them off was simply because you were handling the situation quite well." I said, pushing the topic back to a more logical one while hoping that the compliment would pacify the little spitfire somewhat. Louise pouted for a while before looking away with a blush on her face. It seemed that my words found their mark and managed to calm Louise down.

"Until she caught on fire." Until Yukari suddenly pointed that out, much to my chagrin.

"Yes...until I caught on fire." Louise deadpanned as I felt a sudden spike of magic power coming from her dream self.

"Until you caught on fire...yes." I admitted with a sigh and a shake of my head. I turned to Yukari and gave her the most unamused expression I could muster.

"You're not helping. Why are you even here?" I asked the border youkai with an equally unamused tone. Yukari simply shrugged before responding.

"There haven't been any incidents in Gensokyo lately so I was bored." She stated with a dismissive wave. Once again, ladies and gentlemen, one of the most powerful beings in Gensokyo.

"Besides, someone has to keep you on your toes. We can't have Louise's peaceful realm get you soft, now can we~?" She added with her usual teasing tone. I sneered at her claim. Me? Soft? Ha! Such words are better aimed at people like Konpaku Youmu and her ghost-half...possibly Fujiwara no Mokou after enough alcohol.

"And? Are we done here or what?" Louise suddenly asked irritably. That was a indeed good question. I could escalate her dodging training by replacing the Walkers and Piranha Plants with Sunflower Faries altogether, but that might be too much of a jump for Louise's current state. Not to mention that it could clash with whatever Cirno still has planned to teach Louise.

"Hmmm..." I hummed thoughtfully as I juggled the thoughts of keeping Louise here or letting her to back to her own dream realm for the rest of the night.

"Well, if you can't give her any more practical lessons...what about a lecture of a presentation?" Yukari suggested. I raised a brow at the good idea and the professional tone she used to say it. Ah...it had been so long that I forgot about it.

This was the being that helped Reimu Hakurei train to reach the height of her power.

"That...is actually a good idea..." I muttered before thinking of what I should use as a show and tell for Louise. I looked at my master who was staring at me with half a frown while still having her arms folded as she leaned back.

"Have you told her about the time when Reimu and Marisa first got inside Mugenkan?" I asked Yukari. I knew that she and Louise have talked about incidents that happened in Gensokyo after the whole Wardes thing, but I didn't know which incidents Yukari shared with her. There were so many of them after all.

"No, I didn't tell her about that one. I did tell her about that one time you got into an all-out slugfest with Reimu's mother though. That was a very interesting incident~" Yukari said before chuckling. Ah, yes...I remember that one. It was an incident that pitted me against Reimu's mother in her prime in a one-on-one duel that was supposedly to the death. The reason? A misunderstanding brought about by one lying Tengu Reporter, Aya Shameimaru.

"Wait, that was true!" Louise suddenly piped up, her previous annoyance with me replaced with interest at knowing more about my past.

"Yes, but that wasn't the first time I fought Reika Hakurei nor was it the last. Although, I have to admit that it was the most intense one I had with that woman." I explained as I recalled the nine times I had faced the Hakurei Miko that preceded Reimu. All were glorious, hard fought battles, neither side backing down for a moment. All ended in standstills. Neither of us have ever won against each other. Our record forever stood at zero-to-zero-to-nine. That says a lot about Reika, to have been able to fight against me evenly nine separate times.

The epitomy of the words 'Youkai Extermination' before the Spell Cards Rules were created and enforced by her daughter.

That was Reika Hakurei.

"What happened? Why did you fight?" Louise asked and we suddenly heard Yukari snicker. We both turned to her and found that she had both her hands over her mouth after she let that one snicker out.

"Sorry..." The border youkai said through her hands as she barely contained her laughter. I sighed and turned back to Louise to explain what happened.

"It was all a misunderstanding that ended up as one of the most enjoyable battles I have ever had. To put things in perspective for a bit, that incident happened a few months after Reimu was born. For a reason I did not understand until much later, a little bird told Reika that I had gone mad from the fact that a human like her could match a youkai as powerful as I in power." I started. Of course, the little bird was that blasted Shameimaru.

"The little bird continued on to state that I was plotting my revenge for that insult by consuming her infant daughter. The bird said I planned that in hopes of gaining power from the blood of a Hakurei to finally finish off Reika." I continued. The rumor among youkai that 'slaying and consuming a prime member of the Hakurei clan would make you powerful beyond your wildest imaginings' was nothing new. It was normal for youkai to believe that since no ordinary humans would have the power to exterminate youkai as soundly as the Hakurei could. Of course, like most rumors flung around in the youkai community, it was complete and utter garbage.

Hell, most rumors that circulated amongst youkai were initiated by Yukari herself just to see what would happen...the most infamous one being the rumor that eventually led to the first attempt by youkai to invade the Lunarians. That one came back to bite her in the ass decades later.

"Normally, Reika was a very logical and very reasonable person. One who would rather talk things out instead of fighting. Of course, when push came to shove, she always brought her best to the table. Out of the nine times that we fought, that one battle was the only one that she herself initiated." I stated with a wry smile. The other eight times we fought was simply me trying my luck to see if I had grown powerful enough to finally surpass her.

"What? She picked a fight with you? Why?" Louise said in disbelief that anyone, especially a human, would actually go ahead and initiate a battle with me...and a non-Spell Card Battle at that.

"She was a mother. What would you do if someone told you that a monster was out to devour your four month old daughter?" I posed the question to my master. She thought about it for a moment before giving an 'Oh' of understanding.

"She wasn't thinking straight at the time. All she knew that a powerful youkai was threatening her child and she would do everything to make that threat go away. On the other side of the coin, I was merely enjoying the morning as I relaxed in the middle of the Garden of the Sun. I knew of the latest addition to the Hakurei Clan and thought that attacking Reika wouldn't be wise for at least a few months, lest I wished to threaten the existence of Gensokyo itself. That was when I saw two Hakurei Yin-Yang Orbs heading right at me at incredible speeds." I stated with a sigh and a shake of my head. There I was, one of the very, very, very few times back then when I didn't feel like being hostile to anyone...and it had to be the day when Reika decided to come for my head.

"As unexpected as the sudden attack was, I simply shrugged and went along with it. If the woman wanted to fight me, who was I to deny her the pleasure? Well, that was what I thought initially. Then I realized something that made the whole thing feel...off." I continued with a thoughtful hum.

"What do you mean 'off'? She attacked you out of nowhere! That in itself should be considered as 'off' don't you think?" Louise argued. Understandable point considering her only contact with Gensokyo so far had been what she had experienced in Mugenkan and the stories she heard from Yukari and I.

"Someone attacking someone else in Gensokyo back before Reimu's time, especially if it was between a human and a youkai, was commonplace. That was part of the reason why the Hakurei Clan was there in the first place, in order to make sure that the youkai don't get too confident and try to wipe out the humans in one go. It was simply that kind of place. That was the reason why Reika's daughter came up with the Spell Card System...so that battles and disputes can be settled through Danmaku Battles instead of regular battles which usually ended with someone dying." I explained. I didn't expect my master to understand so easily considering the kind of environment she grew up in. Wars and disputes were not uncommon in Halkeginia from what I understood, but it was not the kind of place where monsters were waiting for you to turn your back before they attacked and consumed you.

"There was nothing new nor was there anything wrong with Reika and I fighting...at least as far as I care. However, the 'off' feelling I had during that one fight came from when I noticed the location where we were fighting at." I went back to the story.

"Where you were fighting at...you said that you were in the Garden of the Sun when she attacked you right? Is that what bothered you?" Louise asked as he recalled the last part of the story before Reika attacked me.

"That is correct. Normally, I would challenge her to a fight and we would agree at a neutral venue where neither of us would have the advantage. It was a way to make sure that, if either of us lost, it would not be because of something silly like a field advantage. For her to openly attack me in the Garden of the Sun, I thought she had gone mad." I responded. Louise hummed thoughfully as she processed my words while looking at the sunflowers that dominated Mugenkan.

"From what I heard from Yukari, the Garden of the Sun was supposed to be a massive field with nothing but sunflowers. A sea of yellow flora. I guess I understand that you would have the advantage in a fight at that place since there were so many of your flowers surrounding you for you to weaponize." Louise reasoned. I guess she was recalling her past experienced with my flowers here in Mugenkan and what my sunflowers were capable of during my Danmaku Battle with Cirno.

"You assumption is not incorrect, but it was much more than that." I said with a wry smile, earning a raised brow from my master along with an unvoiced question: 'What the hell are you talking about?'

"The Garden of the Sun got its name not just because it is filled to the brim with Sunflowers, but because it is deliberately placed to be able to get sunlight from sunrise to sunset. As you may or may not know, plants require sunlight to survive because it provides them energy. Now, consider the following. Imagine a field of sunflowers larger much, much, much larger than the entire area of the Tristain Magic Academy. Imagine the amount of energy that all the sunflowers in that field can gather. Now...imagine if one could harness that power..." I explained, making sure to trail off at the end for Louise to have something to think about. My master rubbed her chin with her right hand as she considered my words before her expression of contemplation was replaced with one of shock.

"Wait...if by harness you mean...but then you'd...and anyone who would...WHAT THE FOUNDER?" Louise yelled out as she finally pieced everything together.

"That's right Louise. If there is one place in Gensokyo where I can guarantee that I will never be defeated in, it would be in the Garden of the Sun. I may be able to control every aspect of Mugenkan, but I can still get tired and overwhelmed eventually back then if my foe knew what they were doing." I stated as I thought back to when Reimu and Marisa raided the border of dreams centuries ago.

"However, the Garden of the Sun provides me with unlimited energy. Like bathing in a sea of raw power, I can simply draw energy to my heart's content from my garden to fuel my magic. I have defeated nearly everyone who challenged me in my garden with only a handful of exceptions." I continued, two of those five who I was not able to defeat in my garden were of the Hakurei clan...should be obvious who they were. The other three were Letty Whiterock, Eirin Yagokoro, and Yukari Yakumo. Yes...I have never beated Letty in the Garden of the Sun. You would be surprised at how powerful the Embodiment of Winter actually was when she fought seriously.

"S-s-so...what happened?" Louise said in a meek voice, as if voicing her question louder would unleash the power that was thrown around that day.

"What happened...was a fight of such magnitude that it nearly broke the Hakurei Barrier." I answered before giving out a low chuckle at the memory.

"What?" Louise screamed.

"Actually...the whole 'Breaking of the Hakurei Barrier' part was Reika's fault." Yukari piped up, finally joining the conversation since the start of the story.

"It was the only way for her to match Yuka in raw power while she was at the Garden of the Sun. Like how Yuka drew power from the Garden of the Sun, Reika drew power from the Hakurei Barrier. It was a technique she developed to suddenly overwhelm her foes. Normally she would only take in a small amount of power, just enough to give her spells and techniques a sudden surge of power. However, that was the one time when she was constantly tapping the border for power just to keep up with all the power that Yuka was throwing around." Yukari added. Reika never taught Reimu how to tap the border for extra power probably because of what she nearly did to it during that battle. The technique was rediscovered by Touya Hakurei but Yukari apparently made sure to make him promise never to use it unless everything else didn't work. Although, by the time he would have needed to rely on tapping the barrier to boost his power...he'd already have bigger problems to worry about.

"And I'm guessing that draining power from the Hakurei Barrier is a bad thing?" Louise asked the stupid question, though I thought that what she really wanted to ask was 'why'.

"As you may or may not already know, the Hakurei Barrier hides Gensokyo from the outside world and prevents it from becoming a magical dead zone like the rest of the world had become. Because of that, the Hakurei Barrier is strong...very strong...and it is self sustaining as well, it takes in the magic in the realm and turns it into energy it can use before expelling the remains back into Gensokyo which faries and other beings turn back into magical energy. The Hakurei Clan's role is to maintain the barrier, to make sure that it is strong enough to do its job while making sure that it does not strain the rest of the realm in the process." Yukari explained some specifics about the very Barrier that she herself helped to create.

"So if it can power itself, why was it in danger of being broken when Reika Hakurei tapped into it?" Louise asked with a tilted head.

"The system that sustains the barrier is a natural phenomenon. That means that it has a very specific cycle that it needs to rely on, much like the act of breathing or the way your heart beats. It can sustain itself so long as it is the only thing it needs to sustain. If it has an outside force draining power from it, then it will not be able to sustain itself indefinitely. Think of it as a barrel that is constanly being filled with water but has a large hole at the bottom. No matter how much water is put into the barrel, it will still drain out completely if the flow of water being drained out is greater than the flow of water going in." The border youkai answered and even gave a decent analogy on how Reika's technique put undue stress on the Barrier.

"That being said, Yukari had to step in and metaphysically pry us off each other to prevent further damage to both the Hakurei Barrier and to the Garden of the Sun. Reika was obviously furious at her intervention and nearly attacked Yukari as well until she produced the little bird that started the whole thing." I took over. To elaborate, Yukari stopped further assaults from both sides by encasing the two of us in two separate Quadruple Barriers. They weren't enough to completely stop us of course, but it managed to separate us long enough for Yukari to drop a gagged and bound Aya Shameimaru between us.

"She explained that the whole thing was just a farce initiated by the little bird so Gensokyo would have an interesting incident. It goes without saying that Reika did not find the revalation amusing." I added, an understatement if I've ever said one. Reika picked up the bound Tengu and carried her off into the deepest part of the Forest of Magic, the Hakurei Yin-Yang Balls floating behind her. Apparently, if the youkai who lived in the Forest of Magic were to be believed, Aya was 'balled, deep and hard' by Reika. The Tengu made it a point to avoid the Hakurei Shrine Maiden until she passed away.

"Wow...if I didn't know any better, I'd say that incidents in Gensokyo were more because of misunderstandings than someone really trying to harm the realm." Louise commented as she furrowed her brows after she heard more on that particular incident.

"Actually, you would be correct." I said with a chuckle, I could hear Yukari doing the same.

"You're kidding..." My master deadpanned.

"It's true though. Out of all the incidents that have happened in Gensokyo since its creation, most of them were just either misunderstandings or simply things that annoyed the representative of the Hakurei Clan at the time." Yukari responded as she floated her gap to Louise's side.

"Make no mistake, there have been quite a few incidents that were actually very serious..." Yukari added. Yes, serious...like the Lunarian Invasion and the Advent Cirno Incident.

"...but they are greatly outnumbered by incidents that were just...silly...when you look at them objectively." The border youkai concluded.

"Silly? Red mist blotting out the sun? A winter that didn't seem to end? The moon being replaced with a fake one? A super powered hell raven trying to melt the earth away? Those are what you call silly?" Louise asked us incredulously. Yukari and I looked at each other for a moment before looking back to Louise.

"You forgot the time when Suika Ibuki induced a never ending feast." Yukari said, seemingly reminding Louise about the first time Reimu and Marisa encounterd the Oni.

"And the time when the celestial, Tenshi Hinanai crashed a rock on top of the Hakurei Shrine...you did tell her about that right?" I added, asking Yukari if she told my master about that incident.

"Yeah, I did. Your little master got a kick out of imagining what the Sword of Hisou could do against her foes." Yukari stated in a teasing tone while giving a sidewards glance at the blushing girl.

"Don't tell Yuka about that!" Louise yelled at the border youkai in embarassment. I raised a brow at the thought of Louise wielding such a weapon before I had to stifle a chuckle at how absolutely silly the image was.

"Now now, Louise. You already have a magic sword, no need to be greedy." I told Louise with a shake of my head, not quite able to hide my smirk. My master looked at me rather crossly after my jab at her.

"All that aside, I'd like to go back to the story I wanted to tell you originally. An incident wherein Reimu and Marisa raided Mugenkan while I was asleep, that incident was the reason why I don't normally allow humans in my border of dreams anymore." I started, Louise dropped her unhappy expression as soon as I said that and was looking at me expectantly. I smiled and conjured a table, a pair of chairs, tea, and some cake before gesturing Louise to sit. Yukari was still there but chose to lazily float in her gap a few feet above the table.

"Now then, I'll start with telling you about a few youkai who made the Garden of the Sun and Mugenkan their home during that time..."


"So..." Louise muttered as she zipped up her skirt.

"So..." I repeated as I leaned against the door with my arms folded.

"So..." Derf also repeated after partially coming out of its scabbard, the sword seemingly going along with it simply for the sake of doing so.

"Where'd Matilda and Ruukoto run off to so early in the morning anyway?" Louise asked as she went to work in securing her mantle on her person. By the time I walked back and Louise woke up, Matilda and Ruukoto were already gone. I assumed that the gynoid was still at the highest point of the academy because of the vigil it was holding throughout the night...something I need to ask it about later. As for Matilda...

"Ruukoto should be at the highest tower in the academy for reasons I've yet to inquire about. I have no idea where Matilda is though." I responded. I had thought about the usual places where the woman would have gone but I didn't discern any good reasons why she would be in any of those places.

"She left a note under the Founder's Prayer Book before she left. She was wearing traveling clothes so I think she went out on a trip when no one was looking." Derf stated, providing another piece of the puzzle. Matilda left? Was she trying to escape? No, she would have no reason to do so. I put further speculation on hold as Louise lifted up the Founder's Prayer Book, which was on her desk, and picked up the note that Derf spoke of. I waited for Louise to read the letter out loud since I have yet to learn this realm's written language, something to add on my to-do list for later.

-Louise and Yuka,

Firstly, I apologize if this letter finds you in a mildly confused, worried, possibly displeased state. I had recently acquired information from some of my old contacts during my treasure hunting days that requires my immediate personal attention. I cannot go into the specifics for this until I am certain of what I am dealing with. Know that I am not doing this to run away from my obligation to Louise for sparing my life during that incident. This is simply a...personal matter I need to get closure in.

I promise to return once I'm done.

Matilda-

"Now that letter is all sorts of vague." Derf commented, still partially out of its scabbard.

"Yes, all that letter gave us is that Matilda left for some personal matters and will return once she accomplishes whatever goal she set off for." I stated as I rubbed my chin with my right hand.

"So Matilda's gone and we don't even know where she went?" Louise asked in a disblieving and worried voice. I thought about that for a moment before giving a thoughful hum and smiling.

"Not exactly. There should be at least one who would have seen her leave last night." I said as I walked up to Louise's desk before picking up my parasol. Yes, there was one being that should have had complete surveillance coverage over the entire academy last night.

"Where are you going? I'm coming with you!" Louise demanded as she secured her hidden spare wand inside her clothes before putting the Founder's Prayer Book on her head and putting her hat on.

"I'd advise against that. This is the first day of the new term for your school. I don't think that the teaching staff would appreaciate you cutting classes so soon into the new term, regardless of your previous accomplishments." I pointed out, earning an all too familiar 'urk' from Louise that indicated that she connected the dots.

"Go to your classes and focus on your studies. I will try to see if I can find out more about what drove Matilda to leave in such a clandestine manner in the meantime." I laid out to Louise who reluctantly nodded after several grumbles about the situation not being fair. Satisfied with my master's response, I left the room and started down the halls. A woman as sharp as Matilda should have realized that Louise and I would likely look for her regardless of what her letter said. Additionally, she should have known that Ruukoto was something that would notice her leave Louise's room in the middle of the night...not to mention the academy.

Yet she still left despite all of that. Whatever drove Matilda to leave was serious enough for her to forego what should have been her better judgement. That meant one thing...trouble. Was it something concerning her half-sister and their hidden orphanage? Did Cromwell's organization find out about her not being dead? Was this something else entirely? I shook my head to shake off such unfounded worries. All were simply speculation until I get more information about it. I bitterly smiled at the situation. It was times like this when I wished I had a Hakurei's godly sense of intuition.

"Fuga." Ruukoto's voice snapped me from my thoughts. I had just exited the dormitory tower and was about to make my way to the highest tower of the academy. The gynoid saved me the trouble of doing so as it was already approaching me in a polite but casual manner.

"You have something to report? Is it about Matilda leaving the academy in the middle of the night without our knowledge?" I asked the gynoid. It tilted its head to the side in a slow and deliberate manner before nodding.

"Fuga." It responded. I narrowed my eyes at the robot maid. There was more?

"What do you mean by Matilda's departure is only part of what you wanted to report?" I asked the gynoid with a raised brow before raising my right hand to stop it from responding. It was then that I noticed that there were humans and familiars who were starting their day, too many for my tastes for this kind of conversation.

"Not here. Follow me." I curtly said before walking away, ignoring the familiar voice of Guiche in the distance. I led the gynoid to the academy garden and made sure that no humans were there or were going to approach. About the only person who would have any reason to be at the garden at that time would be Siesta...I trusted the maid enough to be able to keep a secret if she should ever stumble onto this conversation. After all, whatever Ruukoto had to say couldn't possibly have been anything too serious or would have affected Siesta in any way.

"Now then, please begin." I told Ruukoto with a nod. A few streams of light ran across the gynoid's eyes before it nodded and began its report.

"Fuga, Fuga. Fuga." Ruukoto started with the topic I was most concerned about. It seemed that Matilda had left as soon as she confirmed that Louise was fast asleep and I was already gone. The woman had already known about Louise's training and she should have been able to infer that I was in Mugenkan during the evenings. She left the academy just before midnight on a horse and Ruukoto confirmed that she was indeed wearing traveling clothes and even had a pack on her.

Realizing that Matilda was leaving in the middle of the night, likely in secret, Ruukoto took the liberty of keeping track of the former thief as long as it could using the long range sensors it had while in 'White Noise' mode. After Matilda finally got out of range of Ruukoto's sensors, the gynoid calculated the most likely destination of the woman based on the geographic information it had about the country of Tristain and the way Matilda was moving. Ruukoto's conclusion gave me a sudden sickening feeling at the pit of my stomach. I tried to think of the reason why as I took a few breaths to calm myself down. I wasn't sure what was wrong with me, such news shouldn't be something that could unsettle me so easily. I closed my eyes and calmed myself down. Whatever the reason was, the bottom line was Matilda was apparently headed to the port city of La Rochelle according to Ruukoto's calculations...the city we went to in order to get to the floating country of Albion.

"And? You said this was only part of you report." I stated as I used my parasol as a walking stick while waiting for Ruukoto to respond. I wanted to hear what else it wanted to say before I started considering any actions on what to do about Matilda.

"Fuga." Ruukoto immediately responded. An anomaly coming from the passive sensors of its home base?

"Wait, what do you mean by 'home base'?" I inquired with a raised brow.

"Fuga." Ah, I see. So Ruukoto's 'home base' was that strange not-aircraft hangar we found it in.

"And you say that this facility, your 'home base', still has power and even has a variety of long range sensors?" I asked for verification, earning a nod from the gynoid.

"Why would such a place even need such things?" I followed up, interested as to why Ruukoto's hangar had such capabilities.

"Fuga Fuga." The gynoid responded matter-of-factly. So the reason why that hangar was currently still active and why it had long range senors was because Ruukoto was originally intended to be the guardian of Tarbes...the 'Steel Goddess' as it were...after she and her Siesta's great grandfather found themselves stranded in Halkeginia.

"I understand. Now, what did you mean by anomalies?" I went to the next point.

"Fuga." Ruukoto responded immediately. I narrowed my eyes at her answer.

Ruukoto's sensors back at Tarbes detected large scale magical distortion.

A large scale magical distortion that was moving.

A large scale magical distortion that was moving and was headed right toward Tarbes.

"Define...'large scale'." I said as I once again started to have a very annoyed feeling about this whole thing.

"Fuga Fuga." The gynoid answered. It was of a scale that could easily wipe Tarbes off the face of the planet if it was a hostile spell. Ruukoto theorized that it could either be caused by a very large number of mages and magical creatures and constructs or it could be a very powerful magical being.

I wondered why any of those things could cause any magical distortions to occur when I remembered how magic here works. Aside from the Void element, every other magical element used in this world is cast by a magician that was compatible with those elements. In order to harness their element and cast their spells, the magicians of this world draw power from the ambient magic already available in the air using their own willpower. It was a somewhat roundabout and wasteful way of casting magic, they could easily just use their willpower as the fuel for their spells instead, but it works for them I guess. Because they used that method of casting spells, the magic in the air around them changes and distorts depending on what spells they cast. In that case, Ruukoto's theory was spot-on.

Now comes the question...what was causing that distortion and why was it headed to Tarbes?

"Can you tell if the cause of the distortion is hostile?" I asked the gynoid.

"Fuga." Inconclusive with the equipment and data samples available, huh? Ruukoto can't draw any conclusive results until the distortion gets closer. By that time, if it was hostile, it would have already been too late.

"It would seem that yet another incident is upon us. How far is the distortion from Tarbes?" I asked, trying to gather as much information about this as possible. If it was something that would threaten Tristain then Princess Henrietta might call upon Louise again to deal with it. If that happens, my master would jump at the chance to do something for the sake of her country and her dear friend. After that, it could snowball and turn into just about anything.

"Fuga." I almost didn't catch Ruukoto's response. Seventy-two hours until it was right on top of Tarbes...sixty hours until Ruukoto could accurately analyze it. I was suddenly snapped from my thoughts on the matter by the sound of something metalic that hit the stone walkway that led to the garden. I knew I forgot something...

"Wh-wh-what do you mean something is headed towards Tarbes...?" Siesta's trembling voice asked from the distance. I suddenly remembered telling myself that it was okay for Siesta to overhear our conversation since it likely wouldn't have affected her. Somehow, some way, I knew that Shikieiki had a hand in this.

Irony always did turn her on.

"Siesta, I would like to ask you to please calm down for a moment." I said as evenly as I could in the face of the pale young woman. I simply hoped that she would somehow force herself to calm down before she...

"What is approaching Tarbes? Why did you ask if it was hostile? What is happening?" ...does something like that. Siesta frantically asked as she stomped toward me before grabbing my shoulders and apparently trying to shake the answers out of me.

"Siesta. Calm. Down." I firmly stated as I stabbed my parasol into the ground before taking hold of both the maid's hands.

"How can I calm down? My entire family is in Tarbes! There are children there! Now what is approaching my home town?" Siesta yelled out with fear and fervor that I have never seen from her before. It was evident that she was one who took the safety of her family very seriously.

"Fuga." Ruukoto interjected.

"What do you mean 'unknown'? You said that something large and powerful was approaching my home town! How could you not know what it is?" Siesta yelled at the gynoid, letting me go and grabbing Ruukoto's shoulders instead.

"Exactly what it said. Ruukoto managed to pick up some sort of large scale magical distortion a good distance away from Tarbes. The problem is that the distortion was moving...and it is currently headed toward your home town. We don't know what is causing it nor why it is headed to Tarbes, all we know is that it is." I explained as concisely as I could in an effort to calm the frantic young woman down. Of course, the instincts and experiences I've accumulated over the centuries did not have any delusions that the distortion that Ruukoto detected were harmless. Anything that can cause a magical anomaly that large so constantly had to be something of significant power. I've yet to hear of anything in this realm that can cause such a thing so I immediately thought of the worse case.

If nothing is done and if that distortion maintained its course, then Tarbes will be destroyed in seventy-two hours.

"I...I...I need to tell my family!" Siesta declared before trying to run off. I managed to intercept her by grabbing her arm as gently as I could, preventing her from escaping.

"Let me go! I need to warn my family! Please Mister Yuka! Let me go!" The maid tried very hard to shake her arm free from my grasp. I made sure to take note of the strain she was putting her arm under so she doesn't accidentally dislocate her shoulder or something.

"Siesta. Think." I stated as I pulled her closer to me, making her stop struggling against my grip.

"Even if you leave, you won't be able to get to Tarbes before that anomaly does. Even if you do, you wouldn't have enough time to convince your family to leave and guarantee everyone's safety. Even then, what about the rest of the townspeople? Do you plan on simply taking your family and leaving the rest of the humans there to their fates?" I argued, making sure not to leave any room for argument from the maid.

"Then...what should I do?" Siesta asked me weakly with tears in her eyes. I let her arm go, confident that she wouldn't try to escape anymore. What indeed...

I could easily reach Tarbes in a few hours if needed, I'm sure that Ruukoto could also keep up with my speed. However, until we knew what was heading to Tarbes...there wasn't any real reason to. However, such words would do little to sate the worry of the young woman in front of me so I decided to take a page from Hijiri Byakuren.

"Pray..." I softly said while putting my left arm on her shoulder. Siesta backed away from me before running away.

"Fuga?" Ruukoto asked me with a tilted head.

"She won't tell anyone, I doubt anyone would believe her even if she did." I replied as I looked in the direction where Siesta ran off to. I sighed before turning back to Ruukoto.

"Don't tell Louise about that anomaly headed to Tarbes." I told the gynoid who tilted her head in confusion at the sudden order.

"Knowing her, she would probably immediately tell us to go to Tarbes to investigate it. I'd rather not have to deal with that if possible, especially after we've finally started to have a sense of normalcy around here." I reasoned. Incidents and the like were fine, I've dealt with and caused my fair share back in Gensokyo. However, the number and frequency of the incidents Louise and I have been involved in was bordering on idiotic. It was like she was a magnet for trouble or that she was naturally drawn to trouble. If things like this kept happening in the pace they have been, Louise would likely burn out very quickly regardless of how much support she gets.

"Fuga." Ruukoto said with a nod, complying with my order. I nodded back and headed to where Louise was taking her classes, the gynoid trailing a few steps behind me.


"So, what happened to you earlier Mister Yuka?" Guiche asked me as he poured Monmon some tea. It would seem that he was steadily starting to regain the young woman's trust and were back on speaking terms. Although, I believed that it would still be a while before Monmon would be willing to open her heart to him again. The rest of Louise's little circle of friends were there as well, save for Matilda and Derf, for our usual routine of afternoon tea and snacks. Ruukoto was the one who served said tea and snacks to our table because Siesta had locked herself in her room after our talk earlier. I just hoped that the maid wouldn't do anything drastic.

"I had something I needed to discuss with Ruukoto in private that couldn't wait." I replied before sipping some tea. Louise sighed from her seat next to me while Ruukoto decided to take up position behind her like some sort of stone sentinel...of the maid variety.

"What about?" Monmon asked with a raised brow from her seat to the other side of Louise, Kirche was seated next to Guiche and next to her was Tabitha, who was seated next to me thus completing the circle.

"Matilda is gone." Louise responded in a dejected voice as she stared at her tea.

"Missing?" Tabitha asked in a surprising show of interest in the conversation at hand. Louise shook her head before taking a small sip of her tea. I chose to remain silent for the time being and so did Ruukoto...but that was probably because of its programing.

"She...left." Louise answered in the same dejected tone as before. Everyone at the table suddenly froze and stared at my master in disbelief.

"What...so, she escaped or something?" Kirche asked before taking a bite from a piece of cake that the Germanian had been working on. Louise visibly flinched and grimaced at the comment, she didn't like the idea that she was someone who one would actively try to get away from as quickly as they could. I heard a soft thud under the table and noticed the redhead scowl at her blue-haired counterpart who simply gave her a sideward glance. It seemed that Tabitha didn't like the lack of tact in the way Kirche chose to talk about the subject.

"Matilda is not missing nor did she escape, she certainly isn't simply hiding somewhere in the academy either." I stated, drawing everyone's attention to me and away from my master...aside from Monmon who had her hand on Louise's shoulder and was looking at my master with concern.

"She left a letter addressed to Louise and I. It stated that she had personal matters to attend to and would return once she was done." I stated, earning varying looks from the other occupants of the table.

"And you trust her? Need I remind you that she was once the most infamous thief in the country?" Kirche skeptically asked with a raised brow. I blinked once when I suddenly felt Louise's magic spike at the Germanian's words.

"Matilda isn't like that anymore!" Louise suddenly shouted at Kirche, who flinched back at the sudden outburst. I was thankful that Louise had the self-control not to pull out her wand after her statement.

"Matilda is...Matilda is..." Louise muttered while hanging her head low.

"Louise..." Kirche called out to my master, finally understanding how hard Matilda's sudden exodus had hit her.

"According to Ruukoto, Miss Matilda is presumably headed to La Rochelle." The sudden words from a familiar voice that I did not expect to hear so soon caught everyone's attention. We all turned to Siesta who was standing a few feet away from our table. I narrowed my eyes at the young woman when I noticed her hardened expression. I seemed that she had yet to let our talk this morning go.

"What do you mean by that? Is that true?" Louise asked Siesta and Ruukoto in turn. The gynoid had no choice but to answer truthfully to its new master. It gave me a small, almost apologetic, glance before nodding. Louise had caught that and turned her attention toward me.

"And you knew this?" She asked me with anger that was barely being held back. I stared at my master for a few moments, hoping that letting the question hang in the air for a while would cool her head. I sighed when no such thing happened. In fact, my silence only made her more irritable instead.

"Yes...it was what I talked to Ruukoto about while you were attending your classes." I finally admitted since I did not have any room to wiggle out of this anymore.

"And you didn't tell me because..." Louise trailed off as she seethed in her seat next to me.

"...you never asked." I responded with a shrug, even though I already knew what that particular response would do. Louise looked at me slack jawed before she clenched her teeth and slowly brought both her shaking hands up as if she was about to strangle me. I raised a brow when she lowered them and gave an audible sigh.

"You know what, I don't care anymore. We're heading for La Rochelle immediately!" Louise declared and immediately stood up, much to the surprise of everyone except myself, Ruukoto, Tabitha, and Siesta.

"Louise, you can't be serious!" Monmon stated in surprise and worry at the sudden declaration of her friend.

"Of course I'm serious! Matilda needs my help!" Louise replied with the same kind of fire in her eyes that she had back when I challenged her devotion to her Princess Henrietta.

"No, she doesn't." I calmly said before grabbing Louise wrist to prevent her from escaping.

"Yuka! Let me go! I need to help Matilda!" My master yelled at me as she tried to struggle free from my grip. The whole thing reminded me of what Siesta and I went through earlier in the day. When Louise realized that I wasn't going to let her go any time soon, she decided to employ a different method.

"Ruukoto! Make Yuka release me! Use deadly force if you have to!" She ordered the gynoid. Ruukoto looked between the two of us and tilted its head to the side. On one hand, it was a direct order from Louise. On the other hand, Ruukoto clearly knows what I'm capable of and would likely not be able to accomplish its master's order.

"What are you waiting for? The power of Louise compels you! The power of Louise compels you!" My master stated as she looked at Ruukoto right in the eyes, seemingly trying to hypnotize the gynoid.

"Fuga." Ruukoto responded with a shake of its head. I was about to translate the gynoid's words when Siesta took the liberty of doing so instead.

"I deeply apologize, Mistress Louise. I will not be able to accomplish that order. Yuka Kazami is too powerful for me to defeat in my current state. To continue to try could likely mean my destruction and would violate one of my prime directives." Siesta said as she walked to our table.

"What do you mean prime directives?" Louise asked Ruukoto, her tension easing up somewhat after what the gynoid said. As usual, Louise's desire to know more about those she cared about outweighed her anger.

"Fuga. Fuga." Ruukoto immediately answered. Louise then turned to Siesta for a translation. The maid, the human one, blinked at the other maid, the robot one, before shaking her head and began her translation.

"My three prime directives are orders imprinted into my core functions by Professor S. Uzuki when I was remodeled to this Version Four frame. The directives are as follows..." Siesta trailed off before taking a deep breath.

"First Directive: To put the well being and safety of my master as my utmost priority. This directive can override all other directives if my master's life is in great enough danger.

Second Directive: To obey all orders from my master to the best of my ability. This directive may be overridden if it violates other directives or if the command made is simply impossible to accomplish at my current capacity.

Third Directive: To preserve my own survival and ensure my continued existence. This may override or may be overridden by other directives depending on the situation." Siesta nodded toward Louise to indicate that she was done.

"Why? Why did someone need to put those rules inside you in the first place?" Louise asked Ruukoto, her previous hostility toward me already forgotten in the face of her servant's revalation.

"I believe that it has something to do with what happened to your Version Two and Version Three frames, yes?" I postulated as I released Louise from my grasp after I was certain that the young woman wouldn't try to escape anymore.

"Fuga. Fuga Fuga Fuga." Ruukoto answered and I couldn't help but chuckle. Yes, I suppose that if that was what happened, it was understandable that someone would have imposed such rules on the gynoid.

"Well? What's so funny?" Louise asked me in a deadpan manner after she noticed my amusement at Ruukoto's answer.

"You see, when Ruukoto first dropped off the map back in Gensokyo, it was still using its original frame. It turns out that its original frame was all but destroyed during transit from within Gensokyo to whatever realm it found itself in afterward. By sheer luck or some manner of fate, it was picked up by this Uzuki woman and was rebuilt and improved. Ruukoto repaid the woman's kindness by becoming her maid and bodyyguard. There was just one problem..." I trailed off with a shake of my head at how absurd Ruukoto's situation was back than.

"It seemed that the realm that Ruukoto found itself in was in the middle of a war against a race of extra-dimensional beings known only as the Gnosis. A war that humanity was steadily losing." I stated with a smile before sipping some tea. Everyone else stared between me and Ruukoto in turn. Ruukoto for the absurdity of its story and me because I didn't seem surprised by it.

"Continue." Tabitha prompted. I raised a brow at the normally stoic girl's sudden enthusiasm. She had put her book down and was looking at me with as much interest as she could likely muster, I guess she liked those kinds of stories.

"Of course. The woman who picked up Ruukoto was apparently a very important person in that realm, humanity's hope of victory as it were. Unfortunately, because of her status, she often found herself in several dangerous situations...situations that ended up breaking Ruukoto more than once. I would elaborate more but I don't think that this is the kind of thing I should talk about while you are all eating. All I will say is that I wouldn't have minded being sent there myself. Quite the exciting place at the time I'd imagine." I stated with the same smile. Humanity's backs were against the wall when Ruukoto arrived and were becoming desparate. That Uzuki woman was brilliant for a human, likely able to hold her own in an intellectual debate against Eirin or Patchouli. However, even her brilliance and her work on Ruukoto and other artificially created fighting androids were not enough to turn the tide...it was simply too little and too late.

"Did...did they win?" Guiche asked hesitantly on behalf of the others there.

"No. They were eventually all wiped out save for a few that escaped to the sea of stars. Ruukoto is one of the few things left that proves that civilization once existed and what it was capable of. It is one of their final legacies, an artifact of a courageous but doomed people." I answered before looking at Tabitha.

"Not all stories have a happy ending as you probably already know." I said to the blue-haired girl. She merely stared at me for a few moments before picking up the book she had and continued reading it.

"Now that we have Ruukoto's second origin story out of the way, I believe that we were discussing on how were are not going after Matilda." I steered the conversation back to what we were supposed to be talking about.

"That's right! Why don't you want me to help Matilda? Are you just going to abandon her? I thought that she was one of us now! I thought that you actually cared for her!" Louise's previous fire was immediately rekindled after I mentioned that and began on her offense once more.

"I do...despite what you may think and despite what I show, I do care about Matilda..." I stated evenly before raising my right hand up to prevent any retorts.

"I have come to care for her as I care for you, Louise. I care for Matilda like I would Cirno. She is someone I already respected even back when she was not our ally yet, and someone I have come to trust...someone I have come to wish to protect when needed...which is exactly why I do not wish to go after her." I added. Louise looked at me with a complex expression that likely mirrored her emotions. I could sense that her magic was saying more than her expression possibly could, a maelstrom of conflicting emotions.

"Explain yourself Yuka..." Louise said in a tone of voice that suggested that it was more of a command than a request.

"I trust her judgement and her skill. Matilda is not some damsel in distress and she most certainly isn't a fool. She is a skilled adventurer and thief as well as being a Square-Class Earth Magician. She could take all of you on and win. She was able to hold her own against me. She asked us to wait for her return and I will abide by her request...even though I wish to get answers from her myself." I explained before putting my hands on Louise's shoulders.

"Louise, just think about who you are talking about. Just who do you think she is?" I asked her with a knowing smile. I know that Matilda wasn't the most powerful magician here, Colbert and Osmond could likely defeat her, but she was far from being helpless. I wanted Louise to remember just who that woman was and what she was capable of. Louise was silent for a while, her gaze dropped down to the ground as I removed my hands from her shoulders.

"I just...don't want her to get hurt." Louise muttered.

"Louise, Miss Matilda has been through more things than most people have their whole lives. I'm sure she has a very good reason for doing what she did. And, as Mister Yuka has already stated, she isn't exactly someone that can easily be brought down." Guiche reasoned. As a fellow Earth Magician, he would know better than most at how good Matilda was at her craft.

"Wait for return." Tabitha added without having the need to pry herself away from her book again.

"They're right you know. It would be insulting for her to think that she's viewed as someone who couldn't take care of herself after all she has accomplished." Kirche stated with a sagely nod. Louise looked at Kirche like she was debating on whether to agree with the Germainian or blast her for annoying her again.

"Louise, let's believe in Miss Matilda for now, okay? At least we roughly know where she went, right? If anything happens, we can always send Mister Yuka out to help her." Monmon joined in on the consensus of trusting the former thief's judgement, at least for now.

"Fine...I'll wait." Louise finally agreed, much to the relief of Monmon.

"But the second that we find out that she's in trouble..." My master trailed of as she stared at me right in the eyes.

"I'll take you to her myself." I responded with a smile, one that Louise finally returned. I gave a sideward glance to Siesta who was quietly walking back to the main academy building. I did not know then why she raised the topic about Matilda's departure out of nowhere, I simply hoped for her sake that she did not try anything else.

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