|Louise & Yuka K.|
| Book: Be Careful What|
You Wish For, Chapter 2
|Written by||Vanishing Trooper|
Be Careful What
You Wish For
Be Careful What You Wish For
Author's Notes: I am amazed that this fic gained more reviews in one chapter than Touhou Rider Reimu did in six. Oh well… Because this chapter wouldn't shut up in my head and kept distracting me from playing Dead Space 2...UPDATE!
Also included is a shout out to the best Familiar of Zero fic I have ever read. Cheers!
I own a PS3! Not these franchises though…
Be Careful What You Wish For
I closed the door to Mugenkan and let it fade away into nothingness. I took out my pocket watch, one I had taken from my new mansion, and checked the time. Half an hour before dawn, perfect. I checked my new set of clothes before hefting my closed parasol over my shoulder and walking away from the garden. The peace before dawn was something I have always enjoyed no matter the time or the place, the pre-morning cool was very soothing. The flowers in this garden are very well cared for, whoever is responsible for them is on my 'gets to live' list. I was thinking of what I should do before returning to Louise's room when I remembered one thing I needed to check first. I walked to the area of the castle designated for servants and saw Siesta walking with Louise's laundry.
"Siesta." I called out to the maid, who turned to me with a smile.
"Good morning Mister Yuka!" The maid exuberantly greeted. It was rather strange that I wasn't as bothered with being known as a man as I thought I would be.
"Good morning to you as well, and just Yuka is fine. Are those Louise's?" I asked the obvious question. The maid nodded and showed me the newly washed and dried garments.
"Excellent, I thank you for this favour. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to wake my master." I said before taking the basket from Siesta and walking off, faintly hearing her say 'you're welcome' as I left. The girl has her uses and she is polite and respectful. It will be advantageous to keep her close. Perhaps I should have her meet Louise?
I stepped in front of Louise's room and opened the door. The other servants have already roused and started moving around, attending to their respective responsibilities. The nobles? Still sleeping, as was my little master. I set the basket down on the floor and propped my parasol against the wall before walking up to her bed. The girl who was powerful enough to summon me was currently curled up and clinging to her pillow as she slept. She reminded me of a cat as she continued her journey across the border of dreams.
"Munya~" Louise muttered before shifting in her sleep. I checked my watch again and saw that there was one minute before dawn. As per my master's orders, I began to wake her up before dawn by holding her nose shut with my hand. Louise made some very unpleasant faces before her eyes shot open and I released my grip on her nose as she suddenly sat up in surprise.
"What is this? I don't even—you! You're that gardener that I summoned!" She pointed at me in borderline panic. I folded my arms and leaned back.
"Indeed I am. I did not think that you would be one with a bad memory." I replied. Instead of the angry and passionate words that I expected from her, Louise simply slumped her shoulders and stared at the floor.
"So it wasn't a dream. I really summoned a commoner…" Louise said in a defeated tone. I opened my mouth to say something when she suddenly glared at me. My goodness, is this girl bi-polar?
"Fine! So be it!" She declared before standing up and staring at me.
"Yes?" I asked after a long minute of Louise glaring at me.
"Well? What are you waiting for? Dress me!" She suddenly demanded of me. Dress her? Like a child? Like a doll?
"Are you serious, master? Isn't this something someone does for themselves?" I pointed out.
"A servant should just follow orders! Now, dress me!" She repeated her demand. I see what she's doing. She's trying her assert her authority over me so she can at least feel at ease that I follow her orders without question, like a regular familiar would. Alas, I am not a regular familiar
"Please." I stated simply. Louise shifted her expression that clearly stated 'What?'
"Say: Please dress me like you would a helpless child or a catatonic doll, Mister Yuka." I clarified with a warm smile to match the day's first rays of the sun.
"And why should I ask something so insulting from you?" Louise yelled out at me, obviously upset about what I had just said. She really couldn't tell?
"Because that is exactly what you were asking me to do, I simply put it into words." I elaborated. My master had a look of utter confusion on her face for a few moments before she finally realized what I had meant when I said that.
"Geh!" She suddenly blurted out when she understood my meaning. I decided to drive the point home before she had a chance to mount any sort of rebuttal, logical or otherwise.
"You are a young woman of a higher standing than most. One would expect that someone as mature and sophisticated as you would have no trouble in dealing with something as trivial as putting your clothes on, yes? Very good! I shall wait outside for you then." I stated as I picked up my parasol and walked out the door.
I waited outside the dormitory tower for Louise. The sun has already shown in all its glory and I could not help but open my parasol out of habit. It leaned on my right shoulder, the comfortable posture I have with it for so many centuries, as I gazed up at the blue sky and smiled. Yes, a nice day.
"Oh look, it's that commoner that Louise summoned." My gaze lowered to the condescending voice. I found that it came from the redhead that was mocking my master when I when I first arrived, one of the people I had originally offered to kill at a heartbeat. Perhaps she would still take it up if I offered it?
"Come on, you can tell us what really happened. How much is she paying you per day to keep this up? Or is she paying you back with other services instead?" The busty human child said, she was enjoying this far too much. Although, it would be logical to think that this would be the explanation to my summoning after my master's self-admission for being a failure at the art. My gaze turned to the person beside the redhead. It was the blue-haired girl from yesterday, the one who saw me form the door to Mugenkan. I noted that she did not even try to correct her companion's earlier remark about me being a commoner after what she saw me do last night and simply kept her gaze on the pocketbook she was reading. Someone who keeps to herself and does not bother with the troubles of those she does not see importance in. She seems to share that trait along with the love of reading with little Patchouli.
"Good morning to you young rider, I hope the evening chill last night did not diminish the enjoyment of a flight among the stars." I greeted the girl with a polite smile, if only to see if I can get a reaction from her through words instead of actions. All I got in return was a quick nod before she turned the page of her book. The bookish types always had hidden depths in them, this one seemed no different. What those depths are, I have no interest in at the moment.
"Hey, Tabitha, you know this commoner?" The redhead butted in and asked her companion. Really, can't she take a hint? At least I found out the other child's name. Tabitha glanced at her friend and then back to me. I made sure to give her a mild 'don't say anything you'll regret' smile before walking a few paces away from them, my back covered by my tilted parasol.
"Tabitha, what's wrong? You look a bit paler than normal. Hey, wait up!" I heard the redhead say as they left me alone. Good, at least that one can take a hint. I was suddenly alerted by the sounds of stomping from within the dormitory. It seemed that my master has finished.
"Familiar!" She called out while glancing around for me. I turned around and saw her wearing the same kind of clothes that she did yesterday. Did she not have any variety in her wardrobe? Really, wearing the same thing over and over again seems silly. I then had a thought when I remembered what was in my own wardrobe in my new mansion so you can go ahead and call me a hypocrite if you'd like.
Go on. I dare you.
"I am here. Your socks did not give you too much trouble I hope? Or did you require me to fend them off as you tackled the challenge of putting your skirt on while preventing further battles with your shirt?" I said in mock concern. She scowled at me before she glanced at my open parasol.
"I will not be tolerating any further insubordination from you. It is a principle that a noble will not dress themselves while there is a servant on hand and…what are you doing with your umbrella?" She asked as she watched me twirl my parasol in my hands.
"This is called a parasol, I would appreciate it if you give it the proper designation. As for what I am doing…" I corrected my master before thinking of what to say, twirling my parasol a couple of more times before responding.
"It is a principle to twirl an open parasol while it is tilted on your shoulder in a relaxed manner." I said with a smile. Louise made a surprised expression for a moment before she mumbled a few word to herself.
"You do not seem to understand the situation you are in, familiar." She said to me through gritted teeth. I could say the same to you, master. "Then we can discuss this in further detail after breakfast." I offered. The child pinched the bridge of her nose. It seemed that her apparent threat to me falling on deaf ears did not sit well with her. Louise's grumbling stomach prevented further protests from her.
"Fine. I was going to have you join me in the dining hall for breakfast, but now you will have no food. Wait for me in the courtyard with the rest of the familiars!" She angrily declared before stomping off to the dining hall.
"Whatever makes you feel better, Louise." I said before walking off to the garden while twirling my parasol.
One thing you need to know about youkai, after a certain point, we simply stop relying on food to acquire nourishment. We can become so powerful that we can sustain ourselves with simply our own power. Because of this, eating and drinking become nothing more than activities to do simply for the sake of doing so. I still eat food and drink tea on occasion, but that is simply because I felt like it and not because I needed to. Sad that Louise's threats came up short again, she was working so hard to make me subservient to her…just not in the way one would normally go about doing when trying to subjugate a powerful youkai such as I. But as I said, I am not normal.
I walked into the garden and was met with the sounds of song, coming from a familiar voice. I approached the source with a raised brow and was pleasantly surprised at what I saw, Siesta. The maid was happily watering the flowers while signing a soft and pleasant melody that matched the morning sun. I stood quietly out of her line of sight as she continued to water the rest of the plants. I noted the oddity of seeing Bloodroot and Ghost Flowers growing alongside Randor Lilies and Crocus, the two pairs of flowers usually cannot exist in the same kind of climate regardless if they are all spring flowers. Despite their seemingly incompatible traits, they all seem to be living healthily in this place, is it the magic in the air? My contemplation was cut short when I heard the maid end her song. I looked at her and saw that she had finished her work and was carefully inspecting each plot to make sure that each flower was properly watered. Yes, she has her uses indeed.
"That was splendid." I admitted as I walked to her. Siesta was surprised at my presence and whirled around toward me, her flushed faced meeting my own.
"Mister Yuka…I…umm…I thought you would be with Miss La Valliere." The maid did her best to keep from stammering.
"My master had instructed me to wait until she had finished breakfast. I had decided to walk around in the meantime and wandered into the garden where I found you and your lovely song." I said while walking to one of the plots and kneeling in front of a Bloodroot which was shimmering with dewdrops and water.
"You…you heard that? I…that was…I mean….uuu…" Siesta said in pointed surprise and embarrassment. I nodded in response while twirling my parasol. The girl has skill in approximating the required amount of water to quench the flower's thirst for the day. It was good, but not perfect.
"You should not water Bloodroot with more than two and a half glasses worth of water." I stated matter of factly. Siesta blinked at me a few times before realizing that I was talking about the flowers.
"Oh really?" She asked, her curiosity overcoming her previous embarrassment. She walked up to me and gazed down at the white flower.
"Yes. You care for them well, but you need to make sure that the leaves and the flower do not droop after you are done watering them. That would mean that you are putting undue stress of the plant without reason. Other than that though, you are somewhat skilled at taking care of them." I said before standing up and looking at the maid in the eyes.
"Th-thank you. Do you also like flowers, Mister Yuka?" Siesta sheepishly asked me. I could not help but give a soft chuckle before glancing back at the flowers. Do I like flowers? That is like asking if Suika likes Sake, or if Shikieiki likes justice, or if Eirin likes her shady drugs.
"I suppose you could say that. I have a small garden back home, mostly sunflowers." I replied and the maid beamed.
"That's wonderful! But wait…what will happen to them while you are here?" She asked an understandable question. Normally, potted plants can last a few weeks without care. Flowers in full gardens can last for up to a month at most. My flowers? The sunflowers I have in the Garden of the Sun? They were nourished by the magic of the realm itself. My sunflowers will not wilt whilst Gensokyo exists, some are almost as old as I am.
"I have someone looking after them, they will be fine." I assured the maid with a smile.
I bid Siesta farewell and walked to the courtyard and found the other familiars lounging about. I eyed the assortment of creatures on display and was quite curious. There were creatures ranging from ordinary animals such as snakes, owls, mice, and others. There were also more unusual creatures such as a giant mole, a salamander, the blue drake from last night, and floating eyeball.
"An evil eye? No, they are almost always hostile and would never survive in a place like this without others of their kind." I muttered as I approached them. For a set of seemingly unrelated creatures, they are very relaxed amongst each other. Even natural enemies seem to be fine with being so close and completely ignoring the food chain. Was this the effect of becoming a familiar? Then why was I not affected? Is it because I was so powerful or is it because I have a more advanced intelligence than them? Most curious. I was about twenty paces away from the gathering of familiars when they all suddenly tensed up and looked at me. At that moment I smelled it. Something that was severely lacking in the humans I have met as of late. Something these creatures instinctively gave off as soon as they knew that they have become noticed by something far more dangerous than themselves. I could smell their fear, and it was sweet.
I took a step forward and all the assembled creatures immediately stood in attention and took a step away from me. Tabitha's blue drake took it a step further and simply flew away. I casually walked to the middle of the courtyard and gazed at each and every one of the creatures, making sure that they did not believe that what they were feeling right now was some sort of mistake. No, I am power incarnate. I am a being that possesses the ultimate magic. I am Yuka Kazami, and you will not forget this. Afterward I simply stood there in silence with my eyes closed, waiting for the tell tale sign of Louise's return from her meal.
"Familiar!" Ah, there it is. I turned to the direction of the voice and saw Louise walking toward me, much less fire in her eyes now but it was still there. The other students started walking out as well, most were worried as to why their familiars seemed to be in distress. The girl, Tabitha, was trying to wave her drake down from the sky. The winged lizard refusing and deciding to stay atop one of the nearby castle towers instead.
"Gardener, I am talking to you." Louise called out. I glanced down and saw her right in front of me. She poked a finger at my chest before continuing.
"You better not be causing any trouble around here." She said. I blinked a few times and mocked innocence by tilting my head to the side.
"I know not what you mean, Louise. I was simply here waiting for you along with the rest of the familiars as you ordered. Does that not please you?" I asked her. It was true, I was waiting for her in the courtyard with the rest of the familiars. I was just waiting for her for a few minutes instead of all early morning.
"Fine. Look, there are no classes today. The whole day will be set aside for the students who just went through the springtime summoning ritual to commune and bond with their familiars." Louise informed. Ah, so that is why they gathered all the familiars in one place. A controlled environment where they can forge their bonds with their masters, supervised by a few of the staff in secret I assumed.
"Excellent. We have much to discuss about the present and future circumstances of our partnership. I hope that it would be prudent to assume that fine tea will be involved in the conversation, yes?" I proposed with a smile as I glanced around for a suitable table for discussion and tea.
"Familiar…do not assume to speak with a noble so casually. You are no more special than a dog!" Louise bit out. My perpetual smile finally dropped and I gave my master a steely gaze for the first time since she summoned me.
"W-w-w-what?" Louise suddenly stammered in surprise at my emotional shift. I sighed and closed my parasol before using it like a walking stick on my right hand.
"Are you really going to keep doing this master? I have already decided to be yours, I have declared such. There is no need to assert your authority any further as there is no reason to. My loyalty will not be questioned as it would question my honor and respect. I am quite particular about respect, Louise. I am offering you an equal chance for a partnership. If you knew me before, you would know that I would not do this easily nor would I take it lightly. Now decide before this goes any further. Do you want a familiar? A partner, as what a familiar truly is. Or do you want a slave that you can use to vent out your frustrations over?" I said in a serious voice. If she will not respect me then I have no reason to try to respect her either. If she insists on being stubborn about this then I will kill her right here and move on to more interesting things. Louise's expression was torn between fear, anger, and frustration. She seemed to be struggling with the situation, good. That means that she was at least considering my words and possibly reflecting on her actions from before.
"Hey now~" Not now…I should just burn that whore where she stood. The redhead from this morning walked over to us and was met with an annoyed look by Louise. I was not pleased with this myself and gave her a genuine glare.
"Hu!" The redhead let out before glancing nervously away from me. She coughed a few times before focusing on my master, making sure not to have eye contact with me.
"Now, now, can't keep a leash on your familiar, Valliere? Is he demanding more compensation for his services or what?" The redhead teased with a vicious grin at my master. Ah, yes…that…
"What are you talking about?" Louise lashed out, still on fire from our previous conversation. I decided to hit the nail quickly and be rid of this distraction before I do something that would complicate things for my master.
"It would seem that your peer believes that I am simply a commoner that you hired for the ritual in order to masquerade as a human familiar." I flatly supplied the details while levelling my gaze at the other girl. She shifted slightly but did not lose her focus on my master.
"That's ridiculous! Kirche, you know very well that I wouldn't desecrate the ritual like that! I performed the summons and this is what came out!" My master stated sternly while poking my chest with her finger. I wondered if this will become a regular thing between us. My gaze drifted to the shape a few paces behind the redhead known as Kirche and I saw a nervous looking salamander. I smiled at it and it moved itself so its master was standing between us. Kirche saw my gaze and my smile and looked back at her familiar.
"What's wrong commoner? Have you never seen a salamander before?" Kirche declared arrogantly while stepping aside so Louise and I would have a better view of her familiar. The red lizard croaked in surprise and its gaze found mine and it simply froze in place. It would appear that its master cannot sense the distress her partner is currently experiencing or she was deliberately shutting it out in order to save face. Either way, my eyes met hers and my previous glare was replaced with a smile.
"Sadly not. There were no salamanders of that kind in my homeland. I have not seen a creature generate flames that way." Indeed, the only flames I know of either came from fireballs from those immortals or from the hell raven's newborn suns. I have not yet seen a creature that could sustain a flame at the tip of its tail like this one does, it was rather cute as it cowered in fear like that. Kirche took this as a cue and knelt beside her familiar before stroking its motionless head, the creature's gaze not leaving my form.
"I see. As you can see, my contract summoned familiar is quite loyal and obedient, a rare salamander from the mountains of fire." Kirche gushed as she showed off her salamander to Louise and take a shot at her at the same time. I felt my master tense up at that, so I decided to diffuse the situation for now. This girl was not worth the trouble my master will get into if I killed her out of spite. I remembered back when I could just kill everything that didn't agree with me. Sadly, that was the old Yuka. This Yuka wanted to try something new, an alternate way of dealing with things like this is one of them.
"Excuse me, Miss Kirche." I called out to the girl. I put out my best smile and the girl flinched in surprise at my demeanor.
"My master and I have things we need to discuss, I assume that a fine student such as yourself would understand the importance of this due to your knowledge of the rules about the summoning." I stated. The girl regarded me for another moment before smirking.
"Not bad for a commoner. So be it, come Flame." Kirche said before she gave one last smirk at us and strutting away. Her familiar croaked one more time before moving as fast as it could away from me.
"Now, where were we. Ah, yes! You were deciding on the future of our partnership or the lack thereof." I calmly reminded Louise. Who gave an annoyed 'urk' before giving me a narrowed glance.
"Tea for the discussion?" I offered before walking off to one of the tables.
"So…" Louise started as we sat in silence together, my parasol was leaning on the side of the table. We were in one of the farther circular tables, away from the general bustle of the other students.
"So?" I repeated her statement in question form.
"So, when are we going to start discussing our…partnership?" Louise clarified her question with a hint of hesitation.
"We will do so as soon as we are served out tea." I declared while nodding sagely. Louise stared at me for a moment before sighing and pinching the bridge of her nose.
"And! Did you ask any of the servants for tea?" Louise added another question.
"Why would I do that? Isn't that already a given?" I asked with a raised brow.
"By the founder…No, it is not! You need to tell them what you want before they can bring it to you. Otherwise, how would they know what to serve?" Louise pointed out. I considered her point for a moment, cupping my chin with my hand and closing my eyes.
"Yes, that would be logical. So, call a servant over to serve us tea." I suggested. That seemed to be the straw that broke the camel's back as I suddenly noticed a spike in Louise's magical power. I could hear her gnashing her teeth and trying very, very hard not to explode. I sighed as I realized why she was upset. Her familiar was giving her an order, even after he declared that he would be a loyal partner to her.
"I'll go get a servant and get us some tea. Please look after my parasol." I stated before standing up and walking toward the more crowded part of the courtyard. It took me a few more steps before I realized that I had just left my dear parasol in the care of a human girl without any hesitation. I smiled. This partnership will be a good one if Louise would look past minor details such as social status.
I quickly saw Siesta serving tea and cake to the students. She will do nicely. I walked up behind her and tapped her shoulder.
"Siesta?" I called out to her. The maid quickly turned around and smiled at me. It seemed that she was getting used to my presence.
"Yes? How may I help you, Mister Yuka?" Siesta asks in practiced professionalism. I explained my request for some tea for my master and myself. The maid was more than happy to serve but pointed out that she still needed to serve tea to a few more students. I offered to help her with the task, if only to help move it along faster. We were at the last table to be served when I heard a familiar voice call out to me.
"Hello again, Familiar of Zero." The blonde boy, Guiche said behind my back. I recognized the voice and the seemingly derogatory title of my master. I slowly turned around before regarding the boy. He had the giant mole I saw before lying down beside him. It was asleep so it did not panic at my presence in the way that the salamander did.
"Eeek!" I heard and turned to the source of the panicked voice. I looked at the source and saw that the boy was not alone. The forehead girl was sitting across from him and was tapping her shirt in panic.
"What's wrong, dear Montmorency?" Guiche asked in concern for the girl. He got his answer when a small frog peaked out from the girl's shirt. Her familiar was not as lucky as Guiche's and it sensed my presence and cowered like the lower life form that it was.
"My, that was a bit of a surprise." I stated, regaining the pair's attention. The girl narrowed her eyes at me slightly while patting her familiar's head with her finger.
"It would for a commoner who is in the service of the Zero, wouldn't it?" Guiche jumped at the chance to insult me and my master at the same time. I smiled and accepted his challenge.
"Not at all. I was simply surprised that you would shift your attention from the girl last night in the brown mantle to this other one so quickly. Were her offerings not up to your standards?" I commented nonchalantly with a smirk and a raised brow.
"You will show me respect if you know what is good for…you…common…er…" Guiche's counter was cut short when I noticed hostile intent coming from the girl sitting across him. This will be lovely.
"What is this man talking about, Guiche?" The girl stated in a flat tone, her finger still stroking the head of her familiar. The frog seemed to find its master's fury much less threatening than being exposed outside her protection while I'm around.
"Don't mind him Montmorency! There is no girl I love other than you! There is no way that I would lie to your eyes!" Guiche vehemently declared before giving me a seething glare. I wasn't looking at him at the moment, but to something beyond him.
"Hello there Miss Katie! Are you looking for Sir Guiche?" I called out to the young girl who was looking around and carrying a basket of baked goods, handmade if I hazard a guess. She heard my call and beamed after she saw Guiche. The object of her affection did not share the sentiments at the moment. I smiled at my handywork and turned away to find Siesta, the two girls should keep him busy for a while. I found Siesta and saw that she was carrying a tray filled with cakes, a pot of fresh tea, and pair of cups.
"Is there something wrong Mister Yuka?" Siesta asked worriedly. I smiled at her and casually poured a cup of tea for myself.
"Not at all. Simply helping to get the truth out into the open as any good citizen would." I stated before taking a sip of my tea. Not bad.
"A bit too sweet for my tastes but it is acceptable." I commented as I savored the tea, the sounds of Montmorency yelling at Guiche echoing in the background before I heard the telltale sound of a slap in the face. I turned around and saw Guiche on his backside with a fresh welt on his cheek. Both girls have already left but for obviously different reasons. The boy glared at me and I raised my teacup.
"Better luck next time then?" I said in response before taking another sip. The boy stood up and walked right in front of me.
"It appears that I will need to teach you the discipline required for commoners when in the presence of nobility." The boy bit out. I heard the tea set clinking against the silver platter that Siesta was carrying. It seemed that such a declaration does not bode well for regular commoners.
"Is that so?" I couldn't help but say those words, it was the perfect response really. The boy pulled out the rose on his shirt, which still had part of its stem attached to it, and pointed the blossom at me.
"A very nice rose, did you purchase it some place nice?" I asked, not fazed by his actions.
"This is a rose grown by my own two hands, commoner. A man of the Gramont clan cannot lead an imperial army if he cannot even make a rose bloom!" He declared proudly. Really now? My opinion of this boy improved just a bit if he could cultivate a rose that pristine.
"As such, I hereby challenge you to a duel! I will carve the respect for nobility that you sorely lack in your very body!" Guiche dramatically declared with a swing of his rose. My opinion of him suddenly dropped back down to rock bottom. I maintained my smile before finishing my cup of tea and setting the empty cup on the tray carried by the stone shocked Siesta. I cleared my throat and levelled my gaze at the boy.
"Could you repeat that, I wasn't listening." I stated. The other students gasped in unison at my words and the boy narrowed his eyes at me.
"I challenge you to a duel, Familiar of Zero! Do you accept?" He repeated, his voice full of misguided confidence.
"Are you sure?" I asked him with a smile. The boy raised a brow but his gaze did not falter.
"Yes, a duel between you and me. One hour from now at the grounds near the vestry!" He declared and even added a time and a place. Strike one.
"Are you really sure?" I asked him again with the same smile. I saw his eye twitch a few times before he gave his response. "Yes! Are you daft?" The boy yelled in irritation. Strike two.
"Are. You. Absolutely. Sure?" I repeated one more time, making sure to emphasize each word.
"YES! You! Me! One hour! Be there!" The boy snapped at me before stomping off, presumably to where the duel will take place. Strike three.
"And I shall…" I quietly muttered, my smile gone. I could faintly hear my master's yelling come closer and closer. I do hope she at least brought my parasol with her.
"Familiar!" I heard my master yell out as soon as I was within her screaming range. Siesta was still beside me and was as white as a sheet after she heard my acceptance at Guiche's challenge.
"Here master. I got our tea and even some cake ready." I pointed out to the still shell shocked maid. Louise walked up to me with a very displeased expression. I was glad when I saw that she was cradling my parasol in her hands though.
"What. Did. You. Do?" Louise asked me in a tone of a human mother would after finding out that their child did something unsavoury.
"Getting us tea for our discussion." I responded. I heard rattling of porcelain against metal again and turned to Siesta who moved on from shock to mild panic. I do hope she doesn't drop the tray.
"Mister Yuka was challenged to a duel by Sir Gramont and he accepted! They will meet in front of the church in an hour!" Siesta blurted out in panic, I swear she looked like she was going to faint. I turned back to my master and saw her expression to be the complete opposite.
"This is Siesta, by the way, very adept at caring for flowers and has a decent singing voice." I introduced Siesta to my master, sad that she probably wasn't listening at the moment because of what the maid just told her.
"You did what?" See? Louise yelled the question at me with an incredulous expression.
"The boy challenged my honor and I saw it fit to defend it. To be fair, I asked him thrice if he was serious about if before accepting." I explained. My master started trembling a bit, clutching my parasol a little harder than she was before. She then held it to her left side and grabbed my hand with her free hand before she started walking away.
"Where are we going?" I asked innocently. My master stopped and glared at me for a moment before turning back.
"To Guiche. If you say that you are sorry then he might just call the whole thing off!" She declared before dragging me off…or should I say, before I let her drag me off. I turned back to the motionless maid who was getting farther and farther away from us.
"Outer table to the northeast! Keep the tea warm!" I yelled out to her before my master yanked me further away from the poor maid.
"Master, really now. There is no need to get so worked up about this." I stated as Louise led me through the castle. I heard no more than a few grumbles as a response, she was clearly not going to hear any of this. I decided to stop her right there before anything else could be said or done. I planted my feet firmly on the ground, surprising my master as she recoiled from the sudden resistance. She turned back to me with an expression of anger, frustration…and worry. Ah, I see now… "Louise, listen to me. I will not lose. I certainly will not be injured by this." I calmly stated with a raised brow.
"You-you-you don't get it do you?" My master suddenly snapped at me before continuing.
"This isn't some commoner rabble you are about to duel with, he is a mage! You can't just expect to defeat him just because you are older than him and better built than him! Physical strength alone can never overcome magic!" I couldn't help but smile at her concern for me. I had to suppress a chuckle building up when I heard her say that physical force couldn't overcome magic. How many have said that to me over the years?
"Are you…worried?" I asked in mock confusion. I got my answer when her hand went across my face with a sharp sound. The action seemed to have hurt her hand more than my cheek as I saw her clench her hand into a fist a few times.
"What kind of mage wouldn't be worried for the safety of her familiar?" Louise solemnly stated, passion and honor. My master seemed to have more to her than I gave her credit for, perhaps a better upbringing than most of the other students here? If she isn't bi-polar then she must be a very conflicted person for some specific reason.
"Quite. Tell me, Louise…is that boy of some worth to you?" I asked her. It was not impossible that my master might be harboring feelings for that boy which is why he is adamant at making me apologize to him.
"What? No! Guiche is a disgusting playboy!" Or not…
"Then you wouldn't terribly mind if he were to die?" I asked another question. My usual warm smile being replaced with my other usual smile, the one I use before the onset of battle. Louise flinched and backed away a half-step.
"What are you saying?" The girl asked back nervously.
"That boy was one of those who were laughing at you when you first called me to this place. I would assume that he is also one of those who have done so before in other occasions as well." I postulated. I got my confirmation when Louise turned away from me.
"I have no talent in magic…" My master supplied with. So she believes that their taunts were justified because of her lack of apparent skill at magic? Children, the whole lot of them.
"Ah yes. One of the things I intend to disprove by the end of the day." I stated before walking off in the direction where my master was originally heading to.
"What are you talking about?" She asked as she fell in step with me.
"Let me ask you again. Does Guiche deserve to die?" I calmly asked my master one more time. She gave me a puzzled and worried look before she shook her head.
"No, he doesn't." She stated simply. Rejoice, Sir Gramont! Your life is spared and you now owe it to my master. I grinned evilly as I planned my move. I thought of ways to utterly defeat the child without outright killing him.
Assert my power.
Give my master more confidence in herself.
Educate a pompous brat.
Tea and cake afterwards.
A fine day indeed.
"Am surprised that you actually showed up." Guiche said with a smirk as I stood twenty paces in front of him. I merely shrugged before glancing back at Louise. My master was looking on with a grim expression while clutching my parasol close to her chest. I looked around and saw that several students had arrived to see the disciplining of an upstart commoner at the hands of their peer. Among them were Kirche and Tabitha. The redhead was snickering while looking between me and Louise before saying a few words to her companion. The smaller girl did not share her sentiments and was looking right at me with focus. Was she gauging me? No matter.
"Yes, yes, the mandatory taunts before the duel, I know this already. Are you going to begin the duel or should we simply throw unpleasantries at each other?" Step one, make sure to belittle their taunts and posturing. That will make them work harder to try to humiliate you through force of power.
"So be it! Remember this day, commoner! The day that you grovel on the ground and beg Guiche the Bronze for forgiveness!" The boy declared before swinging his rose, making three petals fall to the ground. The petals glowed and three slender metal golems sprouted forth from the ground. Well crafted and instantaneous spell execution. Was the spell already laced within the rose beforehand? An interesting concept if it was so.
"These are my bronze Valkyries! They will make sure that you will never speak out of turn against a noble ever again!" He declared before doing a flamboyant pose for the crowd. The students assembled there 'ohhed' and 'aaahed' at Guiche's display. The golems are well made but they seemed to be hollow, a compromise to maintain mobility despite the weight of bronze. They didn't even look armed. I smiled at the situation, this will be like schooling little Cirno back in the day.
"Three strikes." I suddenly said, bringing Guiche out of his self absorbed posing. Step two, provide a stipulation to the battle that would normally mean complete victory for your foe.
"What?" The boy asked in confusion.
"I will allow you three strikes at me. If you do not fell me by the third, I shall begin my counterattack." I clarified. The boy stared at me for a moment before laughing.
"And what makes you think that you can even last for more than one strike? Very well! I accept!" Guiche got caught hook, line and sinker as he sent one of his golems at me. The bronze construct ran at me before delivering a right straight aimed at my sternum. The blow connected and the result was pretty much what I had expected. The metal gauntlet of the golem was completely crushed, as if it punched a solid steel door instead of a man. I stared at my foe who was in shock at what just transpired. I could hear various gasps and murmurs from the crowd. "Strike one." I stated, making the boy flinch. It seemed that he has finally realized that this will not go as easily as he had expected. Step three, completely crush all expectations and dominate your foe to the point of despair. Those three steps were the lessons I learned when I faced the Lunarian woman, Eirin. It was a lesson I took to heart.
"How dare you!" The boy yelled out as he sent out his other two golems at me. The one I was currently facing used its remaining hand to grab into my arm and keep me detained. I smiled at the futile gesture but let it do as it pleased for now. The other two arrived and delivered a punch to either side of my head, intending to knock me out in one strike. Both hands that met my skull were crushed in the same way that the first one's hand was.
"Strike two." I reminded the boy, who was slowly backing away. He threw out five more petals and they sprouted into five golems that were armed with bronze swords.
"Guiche! You know that duels aren't supposed to be lethal! There is no need to use weapons like that!" My master screamed at the panicking boy.
"Quiet! I shall not lose!" Guiche yelled back before sending all five armed golems at me. The three who were currently with me held onto me like vices, preventing any movement from me…or so they thought. The five golems converged and swung their swords at various parts of my body.
"Yukaaaaaaaa!" I heard Louise say my name for the very first time. I smiled at her worried voice as the sword strikes connected. The result was all the same, the blades warped and snapped after hitting me. I takes a very special kind of steel to harm me now. A long time ago, bronze would have been enough to damage me, but not anymore. The entire yard was in complete silence at what just happened. They just witnessed eight bronze golems strike at me and fail miserably.
"Strike three." I calmly stated before I reached out at the golem that was hanging onto the left side of my body and grabbed its head. I proceeded to crush its bronze skull and pushed down upon the frame, making it buckle and collapse into a heap of scrap metal. I looked back to the boy, who was looking at me in terror. I closed my eyes and gave him my trademark smile before I was about to attack and he screamed in response.
"My turn." I stated through my maddened smile before I reached for the golem holding me from behind. I grabbed its neck and swung it at the golem holding to my right side, the arms of the golem behind me snapping to pieces at the joints from the action. Both golems crumpled into useless heaps of bronze before I turned my attention to the other five.
"No! No! No! Get away from me!" Guiche suddenly yelled out before dispensing more and more petals to create a wall of fifteen golems between him and me. It seemed that he finally understood the situation he had gotten himself into. Too bad, it was too late. I started to slowly walk toward him, closing the distance between us. The boy panicked and sent all of his valkyries at me. The five in front of me used what was left of their swords to try to attack me in desperation. The first one tried to thrust a broken blade at me and I used an open palm to block it. I caught the broken weapon and pushed against the golem, snapping its arm off at the shoulder. I punched through the golem's chest and lifted it up, doing the same thing to another golem with my other hand. I smashed both golems together, catching another in the middle. The three crumpled and I stepped over their metal corpses, just in time to see that the remaining two joined up with the other ten that Guiche just summoned. I smiled and clenched my hands, making my bones crack, before walking toward the group.
Three charged to start. Was he trying to conserve his forces and decided to attack in waves? A suitable strategy to tire out an opponent, he knows basic military tactics. Too bad those tactics do not apply to me. I drove the point home my repeating the same move I did before, with slight differences. I grabbed the heads of the two golems who were trying to flank me and head butting the one who charged right at me, crushing its head. The two in my hands struggled to break free but I silenced them by lifting them up and smashing them down onto the third over and over again, using them like flails. I discarded the broken constructs and started forward again.
"More!" I yelled out at the boy. My word was enough to rouse the remaining seven into action and they all charged at me. I raised my arm and smashed it down onto the first, crushing its shoulder and torso like paper. I casually tossed it into another golem with a bit more force than I intended since it was enough to crush that one as well. The remaining five surrounded me and decided to bull rush me at the same time. Was that boy so stupid or was it because of panic? Regardless I simply leapt up and allowed the five to crash into each other. I dropped myself down and crushed all of them at the same time while they were still tangled together. The impact from my aerial stomp caused a small crater and kicked up some dust into the air. I swatted at the air and cleared the dust away from me in one move. I glared at my opponent who was still holding onto his petal-less rose since he spent all of them in making his golems. I took a step forward and he discarded the bare stem onto the ground on his side before he crafted a bronze sword in his hands.
"H-h-how? You're just a commoner! How can you defeat my Bronze Valkyries so easily?" The boy screamed at me in octaves usually reserved for women. I grinned evilly at him before I took another step forward.
"Now, now. When did I ever state that I was a commoner in the first place?" I asked before glancing at my wide eyed master then back at Guiche.
"It seems that your rose has wilted, sad. Perhaps I could help with it, yes?" I said with a smile. I closed my eyes and reached out in the direction of the discarded flower before opening my eyes again. I could feel my eyes glow red with power and I smiled. I turned my hand over and gestured upward.
"Rise." I declared and the stem that Guiche discarded erupted into a mass of thorny vines that wrapped themselves around the poor boy. The thorns dug into his arms, his legs, and his torso. I shaped my hand as if it was holding something, and I squeezed. Guiche's agonized scream was the only indication that the vines were constricting him. As if fueled by his pain and agony, several blood red roses started blooming amongst the vines.
"I will only ask this once. Do you yield, Sir Gramont?" I asked the boy before squeezing a bit harder.
"Y-y-y-e-" Guiche's answer was cut short as I made the vines squeeze a bit harder for a moment. I could keep this up all day. The boy will have several cuts and bruises but he will not die from this. It was the perfect way to make him suffer while keeping my promise to not kill him.
"Enough!" I heard Louise yell out from within the crowd. I turned around and saw my master in the verge of tears and she clutched my parasol so hard that her knuckles were going white. I glanced around to the other children and saw that they were all in anguish after witnessing what was happening to their peer, some were even outright crying. Tabitha and Kirche simply stood in silence with mouths agape, though Kirche's was wider than Tabitha's. I sighed before turning back to Guiche.
"As you wish." I stated flatly before releasing the hold the vines had on the boy. I let the magic go and the mass of thorns and roses retracted back to their origin before forming into a single beautiful red rose. The boy collapsed and Montmorency quickly ran to his side before casting what seemed to be several healing spells. I walked up to my master, making the other students back away very quickly.
"Now then, master. Tea?" I offered with my usual warm smile.
"What…are you?" My master asked with a meek voice. Her previous fire extinguished after the events of the duel.
"I am what is known as a youkai. In my homeland, that is the general term for fantastic creatures that usually have humanoid forms." I stated before sipping more tea.
It was half an hour after my duel with Guiche and Louise and I were currently back to our previous table, my parasol leaning on it between me and Louise. Siesta was standing behind us with a cart that had tea and snacks on it. I was sitting beside my master instead of across from her because we were no longer alone in the table.
"What is wrong, Sir Guiche? You have yet to touch your tea?" I gestured to one of the new occupants of the table. I invited Guiche and Montmorency to our table for tea with a smile after he stopped writhing in pain. The two were very wary of me at first but I assured them that I bore no more ill will towards the boy anymore. They didn't seem convinced so I elaborated that if I wanted them dead, I would have already done so. That got them on their feet rather quickly.
"I'm sorry…I am still in pain and cannot enjoy the tea as I am at the moment." He quietly said, avoiding my gaze. The discarded rose was back on his shirt on my insistence due to the fact that it was his rose and it would be a shame to leave such a nice specimen on the ground.
"Nonsense! That is no more than a scratch, I assure you!" I declared with a friendly smile before pushing the neglected cup of tea closer to the boy.
"He said that he didn't want tea!" Montmorency snapped at me with a glare, making the other occupants of the table wince. I sighed and leaned back into my chair.
"So be it. It seems to be a waste of good tea though." I commented with a smile before taking another sip.
"Why did you invite them along anyway?" Louise questioned. I looked to the sky and chuckled.
"You could say that it is tradition to have tea after a battle where I came from." I admitted. My master tilted her head to the side and gave me questioning look.
"Don't think about it too hard, you'll get a headache." I admonished her. She shook it off and drank all her tea in one swig before asking for a refill from Siesta.
"You lied to me…" Louise said in slight irritation. I raised a brow at her and gestured her to continue.
"You said that you were a common gardener. You never said that you were a powerful magical creature." She bit out with a pout. I simply shook my head and sighed.
"I never said I was a commoner, that was something you and your peers assumed. I also said that I was skilled at making flowers bloom, I just never embellished my methods or the magnitude of my skill at it. I did not lie to you." I said with a wry smile. Louise just gave me an unsatisfied grimace before sighing.
"So, a youkai is a fantastical creature right?" Louise asked in clarification, changing the subject. I nodded in response. "Usually they are animals or items who have gained magical awareness, being reborn as a youkai. Others are simply born into the world as youkai. There are several kinds of youkai that exist and each of them are considered as monsters by humans." I explained further. Louise nodded, trying her best to understand what I was saying.
"So, what kind of youkai are you?" Siesta was the one who asked that question. I turned to her and smiled.
"I am unique. I am simply Yuka Kazami. I am the only one of my kind." I declared. I glanced at my master and saw that she had yet another expression of surprise.
"Yes, master. That means that you have summoned a powerful, one of a kind familiar." I said to her and she beamed. I continued before she could even start gushing.
"As such, it is unfair to say that my master is untalented at magic. Afterall, she summoned a powerful magical creature and not a commoner, yes?" I said to the two blondes, who nodded in agreement.
"So where did you come from then, Mister Yuka?" Siesta supplied another critical question. The girl was either very curious or she was planning something.
"I come from a realm very different and very similar from this one." I responded cryptically.
"Similar but different?" Guiche was the one who asked this time. His previous fear of me was replaced with wonder and curiosity.
"Indeed. My realm only had one moon to start with. Additionally, there was the realm I came from and the outside world-" "Wait! Stop right there!" Louise interrupted. I looked at her and saw that she was rubbing her eyes in frustration before looking at me.
"There are two worlds on your homeland?" She finally said, completely lost in my explanation.
"Yes and no. My realm, Gensokyo, is a hidden place on the world known as Earth. Gensokyo is surrounded by a powerful barrier that isolates itself from the rest of the world, that is why it is called the outside world." I elaborated.
"Why the secrecy? If you are as powerful as you say, then why do you need a barrier to hide yourselves from the rest of the world." Montmorency finally joined the conversation with a valid question.
"Good question. The reason why is the difference of magic between Gensokyo and the outside world. Earth developed in a very different way from your own world. After a certain point in its history, the magic in the air suddenly vanished. All magic eventually died out centuries later. Thanks to the barrier, Gensokyo was spared the same fate as the rest of the world." I explained, all four children with me gasped at the prospect of a world without magic.
"Why? Magic doesn't just…disappear! What happened?" Montmorency once again asked.
"I have asked the same question before, I have yet to find a good answer. Regardless, Gensokyo became the last sanctuary for all magical species that can access it. It eventually became known locally as the eastern wonderland because it was located eastward and a virtual cornucopia of magical beings." I supplied.
"Amazing…" Siesta muttered.
"So you are the strongest one there?" Louise asked with an uncertain tone of voice.
"Louise, if you knew what I have been through for the last sixteen hundred years, you would not be asking that question." I said with a smile. The little pink-haired girl gulped at the prospect of having to find out.
"Now the question becomes, why would someone as powerful as you be summoned by someone like Louise?" Montmorency asked once again. My, she's quite curious for someone who just snapped at me moments ago.
"Hey!" Louise yelled out at the blonde girl who put up her hands in defence.
"It's a legitimate question! You've never been any good at any kind of magic you have ever tried, then out of nowhere you summon a powerhouse like him as your familiar! I mean…how in founder's name does that even work?" Montmorency yelled back. Louise flinched for a moment before glancing at me, understanding her train of thought.
"Tell me something, what are the usual criteria for summoning in this realm?" I asked. Guiche raised his hand and spoke up. "Usually, the summoned creature fits the element of the summoner. It is the easiest way we know of to determine the element of a particular mage." Guiche supplied. It made sense. Guiche is an earth mage so he summoned a mole. Kirche has a salamander so she's fire. Tabitha summoned a drake so she must be wind. I turned to Montmorency and saw her tiny frog, water.
"Yes…that does make sense." I muttered to myself before gesturing to Siesta for a refill.
"Does that mean that I'm an earth mage? I mean, plant manipulation is earth magic right?" Louis asked Guiche, who shrugged helplessly.
"Normally, yes it would. However, Mister Yuka here should be more than the sum of his parts. After all, I cannot remember having the power to make flowers bloom to be something a powerful magical being would use." Guiche pointed out. I couldn't hold it in any further and I simply started laughing.
"I'm sorry. However, any talent…no matter how mundane, can become formidable with polish and creativity. You are correct in saying that there is more to me than that. However, I want to put things in a better perspective for you. Look around you. What do you see?" I said and the four of them looked around and responded with 'castle' at the same time.
"To be young again. No, look beyond the obvious. When you walk in a field, when you traverse a mountainside, when you go through a forest, what do you see?" I asked again with more emphasis.
"Plants." A new voice spoke up. We all turned to the source and saw that it was Tabitha and Kirche. The blue-haired girl was holding a large crooked staff, her foci of choice it would seem.
"Very good, Miss Tabitha. Tea?" I offered and she held up her hand and politely refused. I turned to Kirche and offered the same. She obliged and Siesta served her a cup. The two newcomers pulled up their own chairs and it quickly became much more crowded than it normally would be. I sat with Louise to my right and Guiche to my left while Tabitha sat next to Louise and Kirche beside Montmorency.
"Now, to elaborate on Miss Tabitha's point, you need to understand that this world is covered with plant life. It is what sustains every other life form here. Imagine the kind of power you would posses if you could manipulate them to a degree wherein you can make flowers bloom without any restrictions to size, number, or species?" I proposed and Guiche gulped at the realization.
"I have to admit, I'm impressed Louise. Your familiar is very impressive." Kirche chimed in and Louise stared at her with her mouth agape.
"What's your angle?" She quickly bit out at the redhead.
"No angle. Just giving credit where credit is due. Now if you could only apply that to regular magic." The redhead said with a smirk, beginning another bout of taunts and counter-taunts. Tabitha ignored the girls on her side and simply stared at me intently the whole time. I raised a brow at the girl but I thought nothing of the gesture, she was probably trying to figure out what I really was.
"Compatibility." Tabitha stated, making the two arguing girls quiet down.
"Excuse me?" I asked the girl.
"It's another one of the criteria for summoning a magical creature." Kirche supplied. I nodded toward her to continue.
"Aside from elemental affinity, you can also summon a creature that would be most suited for your needs as a mage. The concept is old and is superseded by the elemental affinity factor because there has been little proof of the theory in the history books. I mean, the last time a humanoid familiar was summoned was back during Brimir's time" Kirche clarified, earning looks from everyone at the table.
"You don't suggest that Louise is a mage on par with the founder do you?" Montmorency asked the redhead with an incredulous expression. I looked at Louise and saw her opening and closing her mouth while her body was as stiff as a board. Oh dear, I think her brain broke.
"Just calling it like I see it." Kirche said with a shrug.
When Louise went to sleep that night, she was equal parts exhausted, exalted, and embarrassed. She had offered Yuka to share her bed for the night, but the man politely refused and assured her that he had adequate means of sleeping comfortably. She truly had called out a familiar that was noble and powerful!
And when Louise slept, she dreamed of sunflowers and battle.
There was her Familiar, but it was strange. Instead of the confident and well-built man she had summoned, she saw an elegant and slender woman instead. No matter, Louise felt like giggling all the same. This was amazing! It was wonderful!
So it was when she saw her Familiar face off against countless winged beasts, demons as her mind supplied her with. Spectacular! Her noble Yuka will bring forth divine punishment to those beasts!
It was not as she had expected.
The woman, her familiar in her dream, went into a mad cackling rage and started firing countless bolts of magic at the oncoming horde. Those unlucky enough to come too close were ripped apart by her bare hands. When she saw the spray of blood rain upon the field of sunflowers, when she saw the sky become dyed black and red, when she saw the six purple wings of a being so powerful that even her familiar could not defeat it on her own, when she saw the maddened lustful anger of the one whom she had summoned, she knew for a fact that it really was a nightmare.
And so Louise dreamed of sunflowers and battle.
Yuka smiled at the tiny form of her master who was currently curled up into a ball in the middle of the sunflower field of Mugenkan. The Flower Master of the Four Seasons noticed strange sounds coming from the sunflower field when he entered the dream realm for the night. He approached the source and found his master sleeping amongst her flowers. Yuka's smile grew bigger when he realized what this meant.
It means that he can train Louise in the use of magic here without inflicting any harm on her actual body. Perhaps he could teach her basic Danmaku dodging techniques first.