|Louise & Yuka K.|
| Book: Be Careful What|
You Wish For, Chapter 17
|Written by||Vanishing Trooper|
Be Careful What
You Wish For
Be Careful What
You Wish For
Author's Notes: Not much to say about this except that this is the first part of the actual Tarbes battle. More character development but now with violence~!
Disclaimer: F-ING BETA!
"Would it be prudent to assume that we are both here for the same reasons?" I shamelessly asked the surprised crown princess of the kingdom of Tristain. Henrietta and her little army marched in formation towards Tarbes and somehow decided to choose the spot where Tabitha and I were at to arrive in. Henrietta looked at me and Tabitha in turn and looked like she was in a state that one would call 'speechless'. For my part, I merely raised a brow at what she was wearing. It was white-steel plate armor with a blue cape and a tiara on her head to signify her royal station. I was merely mildly confused as to why her armor revealed so much skin, particularly in the chest area and her legs. I mean...what kind of armor could effectively protect a woman if it leaves her cleavage exposed?
"What are you doing in this place, Sir Kazami?" The princess finally managed to let out as she stared at me from atop her Unicorn. Interestingly, some of the beasts and small animals that her little army brought with them were starting to panic...likely familiars of some of the knights. Too bad they haven't had the chance to get used to my presence like Sylphid had.
"As I have told you before, Henrietta, Yuka is fi-" My hand-waved retort was cut off when another horse trotted up between the princess and myself. I raised a brow at the interruption and glanced at the rider. It was a short haired blonde woman in the garb of a knight...and she was currently pointing a primitive pistol at me, the woman's sharp emerald eyes burned with strength and deep seated hatred as she glared at me.
"You dare speak to Princess Henrietta de Tristain in such a flippant manner? Do you know such a thing is grounds for treason you cur?" The blonde roared, her voice carrying power one would not expect from a woman of her stature. I did not dignify her question with a response, Tabitha thought similarly and went back to reading a book as if the whole thing wasn't worth her full attention.
"Stand down, Agnès." Henrietta calmly stated from behind the woman apparently named Agnès.
"But your Highness..." Agnès stated as her face tightened, her eyes and her pistol still pointed at me.
"Stand down, my knight." The princess repeated and the blonde finally relented. She returned her pistol to its rightful place in a bandolier strapped across her chest that held two other identical looking weapons. She gave one more scathing glare at me before backing off and returning to her place at Henrietta's side. The princess gave Agnès a thankful smile before turning back to me.
"I apologize if Agnès offended you. She takes her knightly duty very seriously." Henrietta said with an apologetic smile.
"Not at all, she was simply doing her job as dutifully as you stated. Besides, nothing she could have done would have hurt me anyway. Now if only you had sent her instead of Wardes with us to Albion, things wouldn't have been so annoying during that little trip." I couldn't help but pull that remark on the princess, reminding her of what Louise had gone through because of the betrayal of one Viscount Wardes...the man she handpicked to go with us to save her secret lover, Prince Wales Tudor. Henrietta winced before looking away from me, regret and sadness marred her face. Before anything else could be said and done though...
"Princess!" Louise's voice broke through the short awkward period and made most eyes turn to her, Tabitha was still knee deep in her book, as she ran to where we were...the rest of her friends close behind.
"Louise Françoise!" Henrietta called out, seemingly in both joy in surprise that her friend would be here. The young woman very nearly jumped off her Unicorn causing Agnès and the rest of the nearby knights to gasp in shock of what their liege had just done.
""What are you doing here?"" Both young women said at the same time as they ran up to each other before holding each other by the shoulders as if to check if it was all real. If one didn't know any better, you'd think that there were sisters or something. I shook my head at the sight of Henrietta once again opting to embrace Louise, like she always does whenever they reunite, before turning back to the female knight.
"I believe that Princess Henrietta and my master have things they need to discuss. I would advise you to tell that to the rest of your comrades so they can act accordingly." I said to the woman, who was staring at her princess like she didn't know what to think of the scene before her. My words snapped her out of her trance but I was already walking back to where Louise and the others were when I faintly heard her say that I didn't have the right to give her orders.
Honestly...the things I put up with for Louise.
'Any changes at all from the anomaly?' I discreetly asked Ruukoto, making sure that no one noticed me tapping my ear before talking. Henrietta, along with the female knight Agnès who was acting as her bodyguard, was comparing notes with Louise on what they knew of what was coming to Tarbes. I was too far away to make out what they were discussing because of the ambient noise of the knights and common soldiers that the princess brought along with her. Said soldiers and knights were currently helping what's left of the locals to get out of the village before the bad things happen. Having the princess come here in person, in battle attire, and with troops was enough for everyone to figure out that something was indeed very clearly wrong and that they should follow instructions.
'Fuga.' The gynoid from on high replied. No changes aside from minor fluctuations on magical energy, it wasn't even moving anymore. That in itself was strange though because the scent of death I was getting was actually getting stronger as time went on.
'Come here. You need to hear this.' Tabitha's voice broke through my conversation with the gynoid. I conferenced the communique between me, Ruukoto, and Tabitha to save time.
'Understood. Ruukoto, continue to monitor the situation. Notify me at once if there are any changes. It appears that Tabitha has something of interest for me so I'll be going now.' I stated and got a 'Fuga' of acknowledgement from Ruukoto.
'So, anything I should know before I arrive?' I asked the young Gallian. The young woman was silent for a few moments before replying.
'Albion.' Was all she said. That's just wonderful...
"Yuka! Get over here!" Louise called out to me as soon as I got close enough to their little congregation. Louise and her friends were a given, as was Henrietta. I wondered why Sylphid was not present but I just chalked it up to Tabitha being sharper than anyone her age should normally be. The princess was also accompanied by her own entourage of a dozen knights with the one called Agnès closest to the princess. I gave the princess a curt bow before turning to my master and getting the ball rolling.
"What did you learn?" I asked her. I felt a burst of killing intent coming from the princess' side, likely from her knights for the way I've been treating their sovereign. I glanced at them and idly noted that the entire composition of the knights that accompanied Henrietta were all female...and they didn't have a drop of magic in them. An entire knight detatchment made up of female commoners? Must have been what the firearms were for.
"The anomaly that Ruukoto has been sensing! It's the Albion Armada! The entire Albion Armada!" Louise frantically told me. So the ones headed this way are Cromwell's forces eh?
"In addition, it seems that they have some sort of super powered undead monster on their side." Monmon added with a shudder. An undead? The word made me remember my promise to this realm's Embodiment of Water. Interesting. So Cromwell used the Ring of Advari for necromancy? Yuyuko and Shikieiki would have had choice words with him for doing such a thing to the dead.
"Define ' Super Powered Undead Monster'." I inquired as I folded my arms and leaned back. It was Princess Henrietta who answered this time.
"There were unconfirmed reports from a squadron that was guarding the border where the Albion Armada broke through that they encountered an undead monster that wielded magic beyond those possible by any human mage." The princess supplied.
"It was never confirmed? I would think that you would have liked to take a closer look at something such as that." I inquired while scratching my head with my left hand while using my parasol as a walking stick before tapping the 'Hey-Listen'.
'Undead signature in the anomaly field. Look for it.' I whispered to the gynoid before turning to Agnès who had decided to answer my question.
"We weren't able to confirm it because every last scouting team we sent out never returned." The woman bit out, still not happy about the way I act around their princess. She had a good point though. I decided to ask a little something while waiting for Ruukoto's analysis.
"All your personal knights are female and have no magic. I am curious as to this course of action." I said as a statement instead of a question to the princess. Henrietta set her jaw and looked at me dead in the eyes. It seemed that she has had to answer this kind of inquiry before.
"Agnès and the rest of the Musketeer Squadron are all loyal and skilled knights of Tristain. Their gender and lack of magical ability have no bearing on their ability to serve their counrty." Princess Henrietta de Tristain stated with conviction. The fire in her eyes were not as intense as Louise's were whenever she does that, but conviction was conviction.
"You continue to confuse me Henrietta de Tristain. I am unsure what your motives are for doing the things you do but I'm not that interested in them either. Just keep in mind that I won't be as...lenient as I was during the Albion incident if you ever decide to have my master clean up after you again." I stated with a flat stare at the princess. Agnès once again displayed her loyalty to the crown by placing herself firmly between me and her princess.
"Yuka...I'll decide what to do with my life." Louise suddenly cut in with her own glare at me. I was about to rebuke her, but she took a page from my book and raised her right hand to prevent me from responding. She took a deep breath before continuing.
"But I've learned my lesson. I'll make sure to take a good look around me before doing anything big." She stated with a wry smile. I chuckled and nodded to her. It would appear that Louise was starting to truly grow up. The welling feeling I had whenever I was getting proud of Cirno was interrupted when Ruukoto finally decided to give its analysis.
'Fuga. Fuga.' I felt my brow twitch and my smile fade when I heard that. Ruukoto had managed to confirm an undead presence within the anomaly...even going so far as hypothesizing that it was the origin of the anomaly, whatever it was. Additionally it seemed that the anomaly has finally resumed its advance, if a bit slower than before...as if something was slowing it down or holding it back.
"Yuka! Are you listening?" Louise's voice broke me from my thoughts. I saw that she, as well as Agnès, were looking at me with annoyance.
"No, I wasn't. I apologize. I assume that you have devised a strategy against the oncoming Albion forces?" I said while folding my arms and leaning back.
"Yes, but that's not the problem! Prince Wales is there right now!" Louise practically yelled out as she pointed to the direction where the anomaly...the Albion Armada and the Undead Monster...were coming from.
"What?" I asked while rubbing my eyes with my left hand.
"When we first realized that the Albion Armada had breached our borders, Admiral Sidney Meier la Highwind immediately gathered our own fleet to intercept them. They currently should be battling the Albion forces right now." Princess Henrietta stated uncomfortably. At least I now knew what it was that was slowing the anomaly down. However, the fact that it was moving again did not bode well for Tristain's fleet.
"Let me guess...the good Prince decided to go with your ships to try something silly like convince the other side to cease hostilities?" I postulated, earning surprised looks from everyone there...aside from Tabitha. One as well-read as her should have at least anticipated such a cliche situation...or she simply didn't care for it considering that she was once again reading another book.
"H-h-how did you know?" Henrietta asked me in a somewhat flustered state. I raised a brow at her and shrugged.
"I didn't. I simply anticipated such a move from the Prince considering what he was willing to do for his country before." I replied before looking at my master and sighing.
"And let me guess...you want us to do something silly and go to Prince Wales' rescue. Again." I flatly stated and was rewarded with one of Louise's trademark 'urks'.
"B-b-b-but weren't you the one that kept saying that getting Prince Wales killed would be a bad thing?" Louise asked my in an attempt to trap me using logic and my previous words. However, Shikieiki Yamaxanadu she is not.
"Indeed I did. But that was then and this is now. Back then, there was only a 'threat' of the Prince getting killed. Now, it is no longer a threat and is only a matter of time...assuming that he is still alive." I reasoned out but was still met with one of 'those' looks from Louise. It seemed that she wasn't about to back out on this so I decided to pull the one card that could stop her from doing anything stupid.
"I only swore to defend Tarbes. You only swore to defend Tarbes. Are you planning on backing out on your word?" I pointed out to Louise with a raised brow. Louise grimaced when she realized what I had just said. Obviously, the current situation wasn't exactly what we had anticipated when we first set out to this village but the point still stood.
"This isn't a game, Louise. You should know this by now and we've already had this conversation. I'm sure that Princess Henrietta would agree with me on this point considering that she brought an army with her, hmmm?" I reminded my master before sparing a glance at the aformentioned Princess.
"Louise Françoise, please listen to me." Henrietta called out to my master, who immediately gave the Princess her undivided attention like the devoted subject and friend that she was.
"Sir Kaza-umm...Mister Yuka is correct. You have already done more than any one noble should for my sake and I am forever grateful for it..." Henrietta started to try to reason Louise out of trying to do another suicide mission in her name after tripping on how she should address me. I was not able to pay attention to the rest of it because something else caught my attention.
'Fuga! Fuga Fuga!' Ruukoto briskly reported with a certain sense of urgency. I tapped my ear piece and turned away from everyone.
'Once they come in range, try to thin them out. No, belay that order. Henrietta stated that Tristain's Fleet was deployed to intercept the anomaly. We can confirm that the anomaly is composed of the Albion Armada and the unknown Undead you reported earlier. Is there any way for you to identify which ships are from which fleet?' I asked the gynoid. There was silence on the line for a few moments and I idly glanced at everyone there. Henrietta was still speaking with Louise but the two seemed to have reached an understanding between themselves. Kirche, Monmon, and Guiche seemed to be content with the scene if their smiles were anything to go by. Agnès and her fellow knights remained vigilant around their Princess but they didn't seem as tense as they initially were. Tabitha...she was looking intently at me as I expected. I sighed and mouthed the words 'Bad Juju' to covey the current situation. She barely noticably narrowed her eyes at me before nodding. Having her here was a great windfall due to Matilda's absence and I was grateful for it.
'Fuga. Fuga?' Ruukoto finally replied stating that it had no way of identifying friend or foe at the moment. It needed more information about both sides to come up with an IFF system for it to use. It already had a ship in its sights and was waiting for orders.
'Stand by...I'll need to consult the others for this.' I stated before turning back to the others and walking right up to Louise and the Princess.
"Louise. Princess. There has been a change in the situation."
'Tabitha! How's the evacuation looking?' I heard Louise ask the blue-haired girl via her 'Hey-Listen'. I was still with Louise and Henrietta but everyone else were busy doing one thing or another. Kirche, Guiche, and Monmon were helping Agnès and her fellow knights in the evacuation. The rest of Henrietta's little army was busy forming defenses throughout Tarbes in anticipation of the coming battle. Tabitha was riding Sylphid and was currently overseeing everything from up in the sky. Their relative altitude was nowhere near Ruukoto's own, but it was more than enough for the young Gallian to call in anything worth our attention. Ruukoto was still monitoring the Albion Armada's approach and noted that it was still slower than it initially was. If the Tristain Fleet still had active units, then they might be causing the slowdown. I was idly wondering if Prince Wales had already gotten himself killed -which would have been a waste considering the trouble Louise and I went through to save him the first time- when Tabitha responded.
'No problemo.' Tabitha replied to both Louise and myself, probably thinking that I should hear it as well.
"Louise Françoise, if I may ask...who are you talking to?" Henrietta asked my master. Louise blinked at her for a few moments before adopting a look of realization. She glanced at me and gave an 'urk' when she saw my flat stare, realizing too late that she had just absentmindedly used one of our secrets in front of the Princess.
"Umm...well...that was..." Louise's stammering was suddenly interrupted by the sudden blaring of an alarm in my ear. Judging from my master's wince, she got the same alert too.
'FUGA!' Ruukoto suddenly yelled out in my ear. My eyes went wide at the gynoid's words.
Long range magic attack incoming!
"Both of you get down!" I yelled out before pushing Henrietta and Louise together and using my body to shield them. From behind me, I heard the sound of something impacting the ground. A moment later the horrible howl of a point-blank hurricane drowned out all sound save for the screams of men and women.
'Fuga! Fuga Fuga!' Ruukoto alerted me that the source of the sudden attack was the center of the anomaly...and it was currently headed straight for us at high speeds. It also warned that the long range attack that hit us was a super-compressed wind bomb that had the yield that approached a Category-One Hurricane...whatever that meant.
"What happened?" Louise yelled out over the dying wails of the wind bomb. She and Henrietta were currently holding onto each other for dear life.
"Albion sent out its gambit. Get somewhere safe, both of you." I stated to my master before pulling both of them up to their feet.
"Wait! What are you going to do?" Louise asked me before looking up and noticing that the sky was darkening. I looked up as well and chalked it up as a byproduct of the attack.
"Something is headed here, something that used that magic attack just now. I'll go and greet it so I want you to get somewhere safe." I told Louise before tapping my 'Hey-Listen' without waiting for her reply.
'Attention everyone. Something very powerful by your world's standards is headed this way. I'm going to intercept it so I want all of you to get to safety. Louise has Henrietta. Tabitha, lead them somewhere safe or pick them up along with the rest. Ruukoto, keep track of Louise and try to see if you can shoot down whatever is headed this way.' I briskly gave instructions to everyone.
'Alright.' Tabitha was the first to respond and Louise quickly tapped her 'Hey-Listen' as she started speaking with the young Gallian.
'Fuga.' Ruukoto was next and I noticed tiny traces of light coming from the sky headed into the distance.
'We still have a lot of people left. What do we do about them?' Kirche inquired.
'Do what you have to.' I stated before letting my wings appear. I turned back to Louise, who was still speaking with Tabitha, and to a very shocked Henrietta.
"Try to get to your knights and get out of here. You and your soldiers will only get in the way and pile up more bodies. Derf." I told the Princess plainly before calling out to the sword.
"Stay with Louise and keep her safe?" The six-thousand year old sword asked me after it partially emerged from its scabbard. I nodded to the sword before hefting my parasol on my right shoulder and ascending into the sky. I idly looked at the damage caused by the sudden attack and saw that it managed to kill or disable the majority of the knights and soldiers that Henrietta brought along with her. It even broke a small chunk of the village too. If I recalled correctly, the Princess' personal Musketeer Squadron was working within Tarbes so it should be relatively intact.
'Fuga.' Ruukoto reported. It wasn't able to hit the target for effect because it was either dodging the gynoid's shots or deflecting them with with some sort of powerful wind barrier. Interesting. I smiled despite myself at the prospect of fighting something from this realm that was a few steps up from Matilda's own magical prowess.
'Fuga.' Ruukoto followed up as it detected several individual contacts coming from the point where the anomaly came from.
'Do you have any records on what the national emblem of Albion is?' I asked the gynoid even as I started to smell a powerful scent of death approach.
'Fuga, Fuga.' The gynoid replied. It didn't know what Albion's emblem was but it knows what Tristain's was thanks to Henrietta and her army.
'Then shoot down any ships that don't have that emblem. I'll deal with whatever is headed here.' I ordered and got a 'Fuga' of approval. I took a deep breath when I noticed the scent of death get stronger and stronger. I closed my eyes and focused on where the scent was coming from. I slowly exhaled through my lips and pointed my parasol in the direction where it was coming from. I gathered power in my parasol until I had enough for one shot, my parasol opening in response to the building energy. Once I had enough, I opened my eyes wide and gave one of 'those' smiles before firing a Master Spark at the source of the scent of death.
'Fuga. Fuga.' Ruukoto reported. It detected a high-yield energy attack that originated from my position and was headed to the oncoming hostile. Estimated time of contact? Right...about...no-
"Hm?" I hummed and raised a brow at the odd sensation. I lowered my parasol and closed it after the Master Spark ended and recalled that sensation. For a split-second, I thought I felt something 'stop' my Master Spark before it continued its course. I tilted my head to the side in wonder before narrowing my eyes when I noticed something.
The scent of death was still there...and it was still coming closer.
'Fuga.' Ruukoto reported from on high. The target took a direct hit but was still active?
'Explain.' I ordered, more curious how it managed to survive one of my sparks -that wasn't a regular spell card for Danmaku Battles- than angry that it actually happened.
'Fuga Fuga.' I see...at the moment of contact, the Mystery Undead managed to get off a particularly powerful wind spell that severed as a buffer between it and my spark. It only lasted for a fraction of a second before being overwhelmed by my spell, but it was enough for the creature to veer itself away from getting hit in the face by my attack. Not bad. Not bad at all. I couldn't help but laugh at that point. Because I knew...I knew that I was going to enjoy what was about to happen.
No little humans to get in my way.
Just me and my foe...most importantly~
"No Spell Card Rules..." I muttered just when I finally got a visual on my foe. I blinked a few times and rubbed my eyes with my left hand.
'Fuga.' Ruukoto warned of the proximity between me and the 'Mystery Undead', who wasn't really a mystery anymore.
"Do my eyes deceive me?" I asked to no one in particular while having a genuine smile on my face. Oh, this was the cause of that anomaly? This was what threw that little Hurricane at Henrietta's army? This was what managed to block my Master Spark for a split second? This was...this was...
"Hehe...hehe...hahaha...hahahaha...HAHAHAHAHAHA! OH! THIS! THIS IS JUST PRECIOUS!" I cackled with my left hand on my face after the piece of meat got close enough for its identity to be undeniable.
It was a complete slapdash attempt on reassembling and restoring someone who was already dead. I was actually impressed that whoever did this was determined enough to have been able to piece together as much as they did. I stared at the abomination and couldn't stop smiling.
"Felicitations and a job well done on coming back from beyond the grave, Viscount Jean-Jacques Francis de Wardes~" I greeted the undead abomination with a demented smile and a sweeping bow. The creature did not move nor did it seem to register my greeting.
The long and short of it was that the Viscount's upper torso was now latched onto the body of its griffin using metal clasps. Both he and his mount had various stitches all over their bodies that went over their flesh and the Viscount's clothing. He was carrying two runed lances that coursed with magical power, a pair of heavy duty foci for magic spells I supposed. Wardes' hair color and complexion reflected his now 'Undead' status, garishly pale to the point of becoming white. His mount's plumage changed from copper to a shade of grey that mirrored its rider's hair. Both their eyes glowed red for added effect.
Considering the lack of any previous proof of any practically applied use of Necromancy in this realm thus far, I was assuming that the good undead Viscount was the product of the stolen Ring of Advari...the magical item that the Embodiment of Water believed to be in Cromwell's possession. I took a good long look at the abomination before me and noted that its latent magical power was far greater that what Wardes had when he was still alive. I guess they did more than just bring him and his mount back.
"So you're their ace in the hole? I can't really say that I expected this, though it is not unwelcome." I stated while cracking the bones in my neck.
"My other half was the one responsible for the original deaths of you and your mount~! It will be my personal pleasure to pick up where she left off and grind the both of you to dust before vaporizing you into nothingness~! Prepare yourself, undead abomination~! For you now face the strongest youkai in Gensokyo~! Ahahahahahahaha~" I gleefully stated before charging at the former Viscount as I cackled with joy.
"Louise!" The youngest child of the noble house of Valliere turned to the call of her name. Louise was leading Henrietta by the hand through the panicking villagers and soldiers who were trying to regroup and restore order. She was planning on going deeper within Tarbes and away from whatever Yuka decided to fight against. The young Void Mage saw Kirche, along with Guiche and Montmorency, a distance away.
"All of you!" Louise called out in joy for seeing her friends. She picked through the flood of people, cursing the fact that there were still so many of them left, until she finally managed to reach her friends along with her princess.
"Thank the founder that you're safe!" Montmorency exclaimed before enveloping the shorter girl in a hug.
"Where's Tabitha?" Louise asked as she looked around for the young Gallian from within her friend's grasp.
'Look up. All of you.' Tabitha's voice resonated within their individual 'Hey-Listen'. Like good little students, they all instinctively looked up and saw Sylphid circling around in the sky.
'Follow the villagers. The Musketeer Squadron is at the village square. Hurry.' The Gallian instructed and before Sylphid flew off to the direction where Tabitha asked them to go.
"Well don't just stand there looking at each other like a bunch of goblins, let's go!" Kirche's words snapped everyone out of their short moment of inactivity.
"Louise Françoise, what are you all talking about?" Princess Henrietta asked her friend in growing panic. From her perspective, Louise and her friends seemed to have been talking to some spirit or invisible entity.
"We don't have time to explain, your Highness. Right now, we need to get the village square, your Musketeer Knights should be there helping the villagers." Louise stated as calmly as she could even though she was getting very worried as well.
'Get to the village square. Go. Go now.' Tabitha repeated her instructions, her seeminly urgent request sounding odd because of her usual monotone voice. Louise's expression tightened at the words of her friend but chose to wait for Henrietta's response.
"Alright, I will trust you Louise Francoise." Princess Henrietta said with a smile as she squeezed Louise's hand, which was still haning onto hers.
"Thank you." Louise responded with her own smile before they started heading to the square.
'Fuga. Fuga.' I ignored Ruukoto's advisory that I was chasing Wardes too far. I ignored its request for me to return as the abomination was likely leading me to a trap.
"As if there was any trap a human in this realm could take me down~" I said to myself with a sinister smile as I tailed Wardes in the distance. The abomination tested my mettle by casting a triple-tornado spell right at me after I started my charge at it. I met it head on by virtue of slamming my left fist right into the spell. Not only did the spell not break after I hit it, the ripping winds of the three fused tornadoes actually managed to shred the left sleeve of my trademark white shirt. My smile grew even wider when I started to feel pain. Yes...at last! Something in this realm that could finally HURT ME! Finally! Something I could REALLY sink my teeth into!
"Haha! Hahahahahaha!" The memory of that moment only fueled my gleeful desire to fight the abomination. I couldn't resist the bubbling urge within me any longer so I pointed my parasol at the former Viscount and fired another Master Spark. The abomination displayed the aerial agility that one would expect from something being part griffin now by doing a barrel roll to twist away from my line of fire. The dodge it did allowed it to avoid a direct hit and ended up making it face me. It then unleashed a barrage of wind spells that were nearly invisible to the naked eye. Magic that warps the atmosphere around it to produce razor winds to tear the opponent to shreds.
"Not so fast~!" I yelled out playfully as I swung my spark at the former Viscount like a massive sword made of light.
'Fuga! Fuga!' I ignored Ruukoto's pleas for me to cease my actions. I didn't care that my spark was getting too close to the mass of ships up ahead. I didn't care that there were friendly forces there. All I cared about was that my opponent was there...and it was still moving~
The razor wind spells that Wardes unloaded finally hit me and managed to jar me enought to kick my aim off until my spell finished. Good~
"Yes! This is what I have been missing~" I muttered as I gazed upon my form. The razor winds managed to form slash marks all over my clothing, making it look like I was subjected to a Slash of Eternity. I savored the feeling of being cut apart repeatedly, to actually be truly wounded. The last time I experienced this was back during the Lunarian Invasion when those damn rabbits decided that the Garden of the Sun needed some landscaping done to it. I relished the felling even as my body regenerated. I made sure to make the most of what wounds I recieved before they all closed up like nothing happened, my clothes being the only indication of my healed injuries. I looked back to where Wardes was last and saw that it was nothing more than a speck in the distance. The fool actually ran without me. I pouted at the thought for a moment before once again putting my 'game face~' on.
"Hey there~! Wait for Yuka~! Ahahahahahaha~!" I yelled out as I resumed the chase. The smell of death was growing and was further fueling my own bloodlust.
This was the best day ever~
"Your Highness!" Agnès called out as soon as she saw her liege being escorted by Louise and her friends. Princess Henrietta looked around for the source of the voice and spotted her loyal knight.
"Louise Francoise, over there." Henrietta pointed to where her knight was already marching up toward them.
"It is good that you are alright, your Highness. Please come this way, we need to get you to a safe place first." Agnès firmly stated immediately after she reached Louise's group. The Muskateer Squadron Captain offered her hand to the Princess but Henrietta shook her head in refusal.
"I will not leave this place until I confirm with my own eyes that my people are safe. This means that we will need to coordinate defenses to facilitate the rest of the evacuation. I need status reports from all our remaining forces and someone needs to get ahold of Count Constantine so we could..." Henrietta immediately started issuing order after order for her knights and the rest of her forces, proving that the heir to the throne of Tristain was not simply some pretty face. Louise was once again staring in awe at her Princess, this being the very first time she had seen the young woman this serious, until Kirche shook her shoulders enough to catch her attention.
"Where's Yuka?" The redheaded Germanian asked her friend. Louise blinked a couple of times before grimacing.
"Yuka told me to get to safety with the Princess. Something threw a very powerful wind spell from a ridiculous distance and Yuka went off to intercept it before it could do more damage." Louise explained, just in time for all of them to hear a familiar crackle in their ears.
'Ships stating to be visible in the distance. Still very far away but seem to be in the middle of combat.' Tabitha stated. Everyone instinctively looked up and saw the tiny silhouette of Sylphid circling above them.
"This is bad...they're getting closer." Guiche grimly pointed out the obvious, his nerves finally catching up to him as he remembered the events in Albion. I reflexively reached out and held Montmorency's hand since the young woman was standing next to him. Montmorency Margarita la Fere de Montmorency flinched at the sudden contact and turned to glare at the young man.
"Guiche, what the foun-" The young woman's words died in her throat when she saw Guiche's expression. It was pained, worried, scared, determined...a side of Guiche de Gramont that Montmorency will admit that she had never seen before.
"Ruukoto? Ruukoto! Can you hear me?" Louise's words snapped Montmorency from her thoughts. She looked at her closest friend as she seemingly tried to contact her gynoid. Montmorency wondered why if she couldn't even understand the thing, all the while not letting go of Guiche's hand.
'Fuga. Fuga. Fuga Fuga.' Louise grimaced when the gynoid replied in the manner she always did. Unfortunately, the absence of Yuka and Siesta meant that she was without any means to be able to understand Ruukoto in the regular sense.
'In a way I can understand please...you have something that can make us understand you, right? Explain it in Halkeginian and make sure that everyone else can hear it too.' Louise said with thinly veiled frustration. There was silence on the other end of their communication before Ruukoto repeated its earlier statement in the same motherly voice it used when it first made its lifetime contract with the strawberry-blonde haired girl.
'Yuka is currently engaging the source of the previously detected Magical Anomaly. The target is an undead with an unusual amount of magical power. This Ruukoto unit was providing long range support for Yuka but he suddenly ordered my to cease as he wanted to neutralize the threat by himself. The ships that are currently engaged in combat with each other are within this Ruukoto unit's effective firing range however this Ruukoto unit has no means to identify friend from foe. Yuka suggested to use the emblems on the sails but the fog of war and the general chaos of the battle prevents me from effectively utilizing them for positive identification. This Ruukoto unit is currently unable to engage at this time because of this, awaiting further orders.' Ruukoto gave an overview of what was currently happening beyond their own perceptions.
Louise furrowed her brows and made a low growl in her throat. Unfortunately, despite the vast and practically legendary military prowess that both her parents were known for, Louise didn't understand half of what her gynoid explained to her. It all sounded precise and 'by the book' but it simply didn't click with her.
'Umm...did anyone understand anything that Ruukoto explained just now?' Louise asked through her 'Hey-Listen' to make sure that Tabitha heard her as well. She glanced at her friends and they all looked about as confused as she was.
'Yuka is fighting the unknown enemy alone. Albion and Tristain fleets are still fighting each other. Ruukoto is unable to attack from afar, unable to determine friend from foe. Ruukoto is awaiting further instructions because it cannot do anything else right now.' Thankfully, Tabitha provided the much needed abriged version of Ruukoto's report. Louise went through the information in her head a few times before conferencing with everyone again.
'I can order Ruukoto to help Yuka and the Tristain fleet but I want your opinions first.' Louise stated.
'I don't think that you should do that.' Kirche stated after a few moments.
'Agreed.' Tabitha also voiced her opinion.
'Why not? With both of them out there, they should be able to wrap up the battle pretty quickly.' Montmorency asked as she pointed out the fact that both Yuka and Ruukoto have abilities that surpass any human, noble or otherwise.
'Yes. Ruukoto and Mister Yuka can end the conflict right now if we let them both out there.' Guiche added, supporting Montmorency's statement. It was two-against-two when it came to the decision. Louise made a thoughtful hum before remembering that she had someone else that she can ask.
"Derflinger." Louise called out as she turned to the sword strapped on her back.
"What do you need, Litte Miss?" The Devourer of Magi asked its current owner after partially coming out of its scabbard.
"Yuka is going nuts against whatever threw that wind bomb. Ruukoto is up in the sky but can't really support Yuka because she can't differentiate enemy from ally due to the lack of anything distinct between them. I'm currently debating whether or not to send her in to fight alongside Yuka. Kirche and Tabitha say that she should stay put but Guiche and Monmon say that she should go help Yuka. What do you think?" Louise explained the situation to Derflinger and pointed out her current dilemma regarding what she should do about Ruukoto.
"Hmmm...if you can't decide because of how complicated the situation seems to be, then think about something simpler that will allow you to get an answer to that question anyway." The six-thousand year old magical sword finally said after a few moments.
"Elaborate..." Louise said, getting more and more annoyed at the fact that everyone seems to be saying many meaningful things that seem to sail right over her head. Things that would likely be understood by Yuka or Tabitha or the Princess but she simply couldn't comprehend at face value.
"Tell me...why are we all even here? What is our objective for coming to Tarbes?" Derflinger posed the question.
"To protect Tarbes of course!" Louise nearly yelled out in growing frustration since no one seems to think that she deserves a straight answer.
"Exactly. Because of that objective, you have to ask yourself: 'Will this action help protect Tarbes?' Use that question as the starting point for your actions. Now, ask yourself that question. Will sending Ruukoto away from Tarbes help in protecting it?" The sword explained before posing the question to Louise. It was then that Louise understood it all and began to rethink the consequences of sending her gynoid out or not.
Sending Ruukoto into the battle between the two fleets to support Yuka will add much needed offensive power to their forces. However, it will leave Tarbes without the protection of its Steel Goddess.
Keeping Ruukoto where she was will leave Yuka and the Tristain fleet to fend for themselves. However, it will allow Ruukoto to intercept anything that tries to attack Tarbes directly.
Both had vaild pros and cons so Louise couldn't really decide within a moment.
'Keep Ruukoto here. Yuka can take care of himself.' Tabitha voiced her opinion once again and partially elaborated on it.
'Tabitha's right. Darling isn't squishy like us, quite the opposite in fact. Unfortunately, no one here shares his firm and rugged durability aside from Ruukoto herself.' Kirche agreed with her best friend and elaborated her own point.
'Well, if you all put it that way, it's hard to disagree. I retract my initial opinion.' Montmorency piped up.
'I agree with them as well. Miss Ruukoto can act as a failsafe in case anything gets past Mister Yuka and our fleet.' Guiche finally agreed with the rest of them as well. It was unnecessary though since Louise had already decided on what to do based on the question Derflinger posed to her.
"Thanks Derf...you're a pretty smart sword, you know that?" Louise said with a smirk. Derflinger rattled in its scabbard a bit before laughing.
"I'm the smartest sword around, Little Miss~" The Devourer of Magi replied. Louise nodded at the sword before tapping on her 'Hey-Listen'.
'Ruukoto, here are my orders. Stay there and maintain your guard. Our main objective here is to protect Tarbes, not defeat the Albion Armada. However, if anything that is hostile to this village attacks, defeat them immediately. It doesn't matter if you end up revealing yourself, we'll protect Tarbes no matter what!' Louise ordered her gynoid with newfound determination and purpose that cleared the doubt that was slowly building within her after Yuka left to fight the unknown enemy.
'Understood. Maintaining overwatch position. Weapons free to neutralize all hostile entities that target the village of Tarbes directly or indirectly.' Ruukoto responded to the approval of its mistress.
"Louise Francoise, why are you all still here?" Louise turned to the worried looking Princess Henrietta. Louise wasn't able to respond immediately because she was momentarily mesmerized by the fire within the eyes of a person she had looked up to for years.
"It is no longer safe here, my friend. Please evacuate with the villagers immediately. Agnès has already confirmed that your maid, Siesta, has already been evacuated with her family. There is no more need for you to be here." Princess Henrietta adamantly stated. Behind her, Agnès along with two more members of the Musketeer Squadron stood at the ready...likely to escort Louise and her friends to a safer location.
Louise's heart swelled at the concern that the crown princess of her country was showing her. However, Louise quickly remembered the many a thing that compelled her to stay despite the fact that Siesta and her family were already safe from immidiate harm. Also, it seemed that the princess had already forgotten that her familiar had spontaneously sprouted wings and flew off to fight whatever attacked them earlier. It was then that Louise had a sudden epiphany. She didn't want to leave even though her beloved Princess Henrietta has insisted her to do so, even going as far as getting her personal knights to escort her and her friends away from the village. For the first time since she has known the crown princess of the kingdom of Tristain, Louise wanted to disobey her...it felt odd.
"Louise Francoise, please hurry. The Musketeer Squadron will ensure safe passage for you and your companions." Henrietta's concerned voice snapped Louise from her thoughts. Louise stared at the princess, considered her words, asked the question that Derflinger posed to her earlier, and made her decision.
"No..." Louise said in a voice that sounded too quiet even for her.
"Louise Francoise?" Thankfully, the princess seemed to have heard her just fine.
"I will stay here to protect this village. I...want to protect this place...I think that you will find that my friends share my opinion." Louise said. Despite the uncertain tone she used, the princess recoiled all the same as if struck by what her old friend had just said.
"But...Louise Francoise...its too dangerous here. I've put you in too many dangerous situations before, I don't want to add to that anymore." Henrietta tried to reason to her friend, her voice filled with worry and pain. It rended Louise's heart to think that she had caused such a reaction to someone she looks up to so much...but she had made her choice.
"I'm sorry, your Highness...but I won't abandon this village." Louise responded, slowly regaining the fire in her eyes. Henrietta looked at her old friend as if she had just grown a second head made out of solid gold, completely unable to respond to the rejection.
"And I'm sure that my friends will give you the same answer too..." Louise added with an uncertain smile before turning to where Kirche, Montmorency, and Guiche were. Each and every one of them gave her their nods of approval as they all shared their friend's determination to protect the village. Louise could not see Tabitha, and doubted if the Gallian had heard what she had just said to Princess Henrietta, but she knew that her quiet friend would agree with her.
"But...why...?" Was all Princess Henrietta de Tristain was able to say.
"Because this is Siesta's home...even though she is a commoner, she is my friend so I want to protect it. Please don't say that I am not capable of this, your Highness." Louise responded and added before her old friend could say anything else. The youngest daughter of 'The Heavy Wind' took a deep breath before doing something she never thought she would ever do, talk back to her beloved princess and point the faults in her reasoning. Yes...this felt more like something that Yuka would do.
"I have accomplished every mission you have requested of me, your highness. Every task. Every request. Despite the council of my tutor and my familiar to do otherwise, I did them anyway. I have gone through things that I have never thought I would ever have to go through in my life. I have lost things because of it. I have endured things because of it. I have grown stronger because of it. I've had a lot of help, I know...but I still set out with the desire to succeed make you proud." Louise took another breath before shaking her head slowly. Princess Henrietta could do nothing but listen to her friend as she said 'No' to her and pointed out every vaild reason as to why.
"It is strange. The first time I wanted to accomplish something like this through my own volition...is also the first time that I have to defy you. Please your Highness...let me and my friends do this." Louise concluded and Henrietta knew...she stood no chance against her friend when she becomes like this.
"Death~!" I roared out as I swatted away another tornado spell that the abomination threw out using my parasol. I had found myself lured to where the battle between the Albion Armada and the Tristain Royal Fleet was still going on. I only briefly took notice of that fact since I was still chasing down my prey~
"Death! Death! Death!" I repeated the word three more times as I flew after the former Viscount through the throngs of ships that made up this airborne melee between two countries. Men fell from the ships as both sides tried to board and neutralize the ships from the opposing side. Griffin Knights engaged Red Dragon Knights in aerial or simply ganged up on an enemy unlucky enough to be caught on their own.
"Death! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death!" I continued to repeath the word like a mantra. The scent of lives being ended. The sweet smell of fresh blood being spilled. The satisfying sound of men screaming to whatever heavenly being they prostated themselves to as they burned to death.
It was absolutely intoxicating~!
"Death! Death! Death!" I repeated the word three more times as I saw Wardes try to use the bulk of a passing ship as a barrier between us. I smiled dementedly at the utterly impotent way the abomination tried to protect itself. I did not slow down as I approached the ship and simply crashed into it, using the tip of my parasol like a spear. I broke through the hull of the unsuspecting ship, my smile growing a bit larger when I heard the panicked screams of the crew after 'something' just busted through the hull of their ship before exiting in the same manner.
"Die the Death!" I stated as I reacquired my target. Wardes was waiting for me on the other side with three Red Dragon Knights in front of him. The three knights charged at me, their mounts breathing fireballs at me as they came closer. I swatted their pedestrian attempt at an attack before charging at them as well. The middle one tried to get his mount to bite my head off. I stopped the offensive gesture by slamming the tip of my parasol under the beast's lower jaw and pushing upwards. The action effectively slammed the lizard's jaw shut, breaking several of its teeth and most of its skull in the process.
"The Sentence is Death!" I said as I casually flicked the dragon away with my parasol, its rider screaming in terror as he and his mount fell to their doom.
"The Great Equalizer is~!" I continued as I backhanded the dragon to my left with my left hand when it tried the trick the first one did. The force applied was more than I had initiallty intended so the creature's head popped clean off. The now dead dragon pulled its rider to his death as I turned to the only interruption left. I spun around the maw of the remaining Red Dragon, the action moving me to the beast's side where its rider tried to strike me down with his sword. I blocked the offending piece of metal with my parasol before putting my face directly in front of the rider's.
"THE DEATH!" I yelled as I grabbed the man's head, pulled him clean off his mount, and proceeded to pummel the Red Dragon using its rider. The beast roared in pain as I bludgeoned it with its former master. I swung the now dead rider at the dragon's face, causing it to finally fall to its death.
"You forgot something~!" I playfully said as I wound up my left hand and threw the dead man at the falling dragon. I chortled when I saw them bounce off each other after the impact. I turned back to the former Viscount and saw that the abomination did not move from its postion. I blinked and glanced around and saw that I was surrounded by no more than twenty more Red Dragon Knights. I laughed some more when I thought that they seriously expected that this was enough to put me down.
"OkAy~! NoW~! FoR My NeXt TriCK~!" My voice distorted as I said those words. I saw the humans give out looks of horror when they saw how my other half emerged from my back. She cracked her neck before hefting her own parasol on her right shoulder and smiling.
"Fighty Tiiiii~iime~!" She declared and we unleashed hell upon the silly Red Dragon Knights.