|Louise & Yuka K.|
| Book: Be Careful What|
You Wish For, Chapter 9
|Written by||Vanishing Trooper|
Be Careful What
You Wish For
Be Careful What You Wish For
Author's Notes: Announcements! Not much but I might as well say it here for people who might be interested in such news. For one, my SI story 'Beyond Written Words' will not be continued. As stated at the end of the story itself, it was just an experiment to see how I'd handle an SI story. I knew even back then that if I continue it, it will be a very boring story. On the other hand, Not as Planned will be overhauled and redone because I can't keep using the silly narrator anymore. No mater what I tried, the story will be a much more serious one overall compared to this one and a silly narration style would just mess up the mood something fierce. I am also planning a side-story for this story thanks to the crazy that happened in the third thread of BCWYWF in Spacebattles. I'll work on that next before the Karin story overhaul.
That's it! Please enjoy the new chapter!
Disclaimer: March will break my wallet.
Be Careful What You Wish For
"I must admit, the master stroke that you were able to pull of-" My intended compliment on Eleanore's final move was cut off by the sudden descent of my former student.
"That. Was. INSANE!" Cirno immediately exclaimed as she flew back down to ground level moments after the match was settled. Her angle of attack and outstretched arms seemed to indicate that her intention was to-
"Wait! Stop!" Eleanore managed to catch the ice fairy's intention too late as Cirno proceeded fly right into the blonde with a glomping hug. Naturally, such a thing ended up with Eleanore getting knocked back by the fairy before landing on her backside.
"That was freaking brilliant and crazy at the same time! You are the best thing ever!" Eleanore wasn't even able to show her immediate displeasure at being air-tackled by Cirno as my former student started showering the eldest sister with praise. I gave out a small smile, strangely feeling at ease despite my loss. Regardless of how they managed to accomplish the feat, the fact remains that Louise and Eleanore managed to overcome my challenge and defeat me. Speaking of Louse...
"I'll check on Louise. Try not to smother Eleanore too much Cirno, she's had a long night." I reminded my former student before walking back to where Louise was. My master was lying on her back and was completely motionless, both her wands were still in her hands.
"Louise, are you alright?" I asked my master as I got close enough. Her face was in a tight grimace and I could see her body fidgeting every now and then.
"It hurts..." She muttered quietly before opening her eyes to look at me.
"What does?" I asked as I knelt down by her side.
"...everything." She responded before grimacing again.
"I see." I acknowledged. It seemed that Louise pushed herself further than she had done before. Add to that the fact that she should be asleep by now and it was very understandable why her body seemed to be complaining at the time. I placed my hand on her forehead and noted that she wasn't developing a fever at least.
"What happened?" My master finally asked after a few moments of silence between us.
"Eleanore sucker punched me, I was mildly impressed. It was very well thought out and executed. The two of you won. Congratulations, Louise." I explained with a smile, honestly happy that the sisters were able to overcome my challenge at the last moment. I had expected Louise to give me a smile of pure exuberance after finding out about their victory. Instead Louise simply scowled at me making me raise a brow at my master.
"My whole body feels like it's burning too much for me to be happy right now." Louise explained her lack of enthusiasm in her reaction to their win. That was when I heard a tearing sound from behind me.
"What's wrong? Did Louise burn herself out or something?" I heard Yukari say as she leaned out of her newly formed gap by my side.
"I believe so. She was rapid casting her keyword far more times than what she normally could, and that was after all the physical effort she expended from out little match. I assume that you somehow know about what was transpiring here?" I asked the border youkai after taking my hand off Louise's forehead.
"I popped in a while ago while you were dancing around all over the place and Cirno filled me in. I knew that those two sisters would win so I arranged a little something as a small prize from me." Yukari explained before pulling out her fan, opening it, and covering the lower half of her face with it.
"And why did you expect them to be victorious over me?" I asked Yukari in mild curiosity. The border youkai leaned in closer to me before narrowing her eyes at me.
"Because they wanted to win and you didn't." She stated matter-of-factly. I blinked at her words but she cut me off before I could give out a coherent retort.
"And don't try to say something silly like you did not feel like winning. I've fought you when you didn't feel like winning, I know when you end up in that state of mind. This time was different. I could literally feel you not wanting to win. The moment I noticed that, I knew that you will lose." Yukari elaborated further. I see...it seemed that even Yukari could sense that I did not really want to win that match with Louise and Eleanore.
"Hey teach! We have a situation! Looks like Eleanore's hand got busted up after she socked you!" Cirno caught our attention when she called out to me. I turned to her and saw that she was pulling Eleanore to us with her left hand, the blonde's right hand seemed to be shaking and was starting to swell a bit.
"What the founder is your face made of? It felt like I just punched an iron gate!" The eldest sister complained to me as she and my former student got close enough.
"Obviously made up of sterner stuff than your hand." Yukari joked, the lower half of her face still covered by her fan. Eleanore glanced at Yukari before pausing for a moment.
"Who in blazes are you?" The eldest sister asked the border youkai. The woman in question put her fan away and gave Eleanore a confident smile.
"I am Yukari Yakumo, the youkai of borders. I must congratulate you Miss Eleanore, you are the first and only human to ever be able to defeat Yuka Kazami using an unarmed melee attack. Well done." She introduced herself before pointing out the achievement that Eleanore unwittingly accomplished. The eldest sister stared at Yukari for a few more moments before nodding to her.
"I am Eleanore Albertine Le Blanc De La Blois De La Valliere. I'd like to say that it is a pleasure to meet a...someone like...you...but I'm sleepy, I'm tired, and my hand hurts far too much right now." Eleanore introduced herself as her gaze drifted to the gap that connected Yukari between this part of Mugenkan to the part that was tied to Gensokyo. The border youkai's expression changed from the confident smile to a more mischievous grin after hearing the other woman's words.
"And honest too~! I'm starting to like you almost as much as you little sister~! And on that note, I did say that I arranged a small prize for our victorious duo here." The border youkai said before waving her right hand to the side. Another gap appeared in the air before I heard the surprised yelp of a familiar voice.
"Aaaaah-augh!" One Touya Hakurei grunted after falling out the gap that Yukari made and landing on his backside. The young man made a displeased face before looking at his surroundings.
"Mugenkan huh?" He commented after seeing me and Yukari. His eyes immediately shot open after seeing my master lying on the ground.
"Louise! Hey, are you okay?" Touya called out to her as he stood before going to Louise's side. I briefly wondered why it was that people kept asking if one was okay when they can clearly see that they weren't. During that short tangential thought, Touya had knelt down beside Louise before placing his hand on her head.
"What happened? Was this the reason why you asked if I was busy?" Touya asked as he glanced between me and Yukari.
"Yep. Louise and her older sister here challenged Yuka and won. Unfortunately, they seemed to have come out of it worse that Yuka did. That's where you come in." The border youkai provided, making Touya blink before he finally noticed Cirno and Eleanore nearby.
"There is either a very reasonable, a very absurd, or a very silly explanation for this...or a combination of all three. I'll go along with it for now though so can you please give me some room?" The Hakurei priest requested before taking out some ofuda from within his robes. I nodded and stood up before taking a few steps back. Yukari and Cirno, who was still holding onto Eleanore, followed suit.
"Touya?" I heard Louise call out after she finally noticed the new arrival. The young man gave her a warm smile and a nod even as he started to pour power into the six sleeves of sacred paper.
"Hey there, Louise. Yukari brought me in to patch you up. I'll get you back on your feet in a bit so...try not to go anywhere." Touya explained before pulling out a bit of a jab at Louise's current situation. Instead of getting angry, my master simply tried to laugh at the joke but ended up groaning because of her current discomfort.
"Oops...sorry." The young man said before stepping back and tossing the ofuda in the air. The talismans surrounded Louise in a circular formation and stuck in midair like there was an invisible wall surrounding the girl. Touya put both of his hands forward and muttered an incantation before a white magic circle appeared on the ground my master was lying on.
"Who is that person and what is he doing to the runt?" Eleanore asked from my side. I glanced at the woman and saw that she was practically glaring daggers at the young man. It never ceases to amuse me that Eleanore could care for her sister yet constantly tries to hide it under the guise of apparent hostility. I wondered if it was just how she was brought up by her parents or just the way she personally was when Yukari picked up the question.
"That, dear Eleanore, is Touya Hakurei. That young man holds immense power that hasn't been seen in a human in our realm in approximately five-hundred years. He is also responsible for maintaining order and balance in Gensokyo. He is officially known as the Shield of the Eastern Wonderland...but he has another title as well~" Yukari answered before leading into a topic that has given the young man in question many a headache in recent years. Eleanore narrowed her eyes at the mention of how powerful Touya apparently was.
"So he's strong enough to defeat you in a fair fight?" Eleanore suddenly asked me with a sidelong glance. I considered her question for a moment before nodding.
"Potentially, yes. He has shown the capacity for power that was last seen only by one his ancestors...the one human who has ever defeated me in a straight battle. However, he needs much more training and experience to be able to even match me. Although, due to recent events, I doubt that he would have time for any serious training in." I commented with a shake of my head.
"What are you talking about?" Eleanore asked me with a raised brow.
"Heartcatch Touya~! Now everyone~! Heartcatch Touya~! Let the flowers blo-Mmph!" I purposefully clamped my right hand over Yukari's mouth to stop her from continuing that inane song.
"The lot of you are making less and less sense you know..." Eleanore commented dryly as Yukari tried to pry my hand off her face. Cirno barked out a laugh and decided to answer for the benefit of the eldest sister.
"That's his other title, Hearcatch Touya. Why? Because last we checked, there were at least a dozen women back in Gensokyo who have fallen in love with him. That's counting both humans and youkai by the way...and those were just the ones who have declared to others about their feelings or are about as obvious as the rising sun." The ice fairy explained with a bit of a chuckle.
"So he's popular with women? That's it? His other reputation stems from him romancing multiple females at once?" The blonde asked with a raised brow.
"Oh no. He isn't even trying. He has women falling for him just by him simply being himself. Just imagine how many women would fall if he decides to actually put some effort into it." Cirno clarified with a shake of her head. Indeed, after Touya reached his teenage years, he started inexplicably making various female residents' hearts flutter. I was not one of those victims since I held no interest to that particular emotion.
"To be fair, I don't believe that it was his fault. He simply seems to have a strange kind of charisma when it came to the opposite sex. In the time that I have known him, I can honestly say that he was simply being himself." I added with a shrug. Yukari used this opportunity to finally pry herself free from my grip.
"What can you do? Little Touya simply grew up to be a lady killer~" Yukari added at the end. The entire discussion was both out of the apparent earshot of the person in question and he was too busy with restoring Louise to notice. I blinked when I heard a growl that I could have sworn had come from Eleanore.
"And how long have those two known each other?" the blonde asked through gritted teeth as she once again started to glare at Touya. I was almost certain that the young man flinched a bit at that moment.
"Don't worry, Louise and Touya have only met once before. I doubt that they have had enough time to develop feelings for one another when they've only had a single conversation." I commented with a wave of my hand.
"Don't tempt fate, teach. I know from experience that it has a very consistent way of biting you in the rear when you least expect it." Cirno suddenly countered with a rather displeased expression.
"Are you sure it wasn't because you kept making Remilia upset about something or other?" I shot back with a small smirk. Cirno's brilliantly countered my jab by sticking her tongue out at me. Any further discussion was interrupted by the distinct whistling sound of Touya's spell winding down.
"Whew, that'll do it." The young man declared with a smile before offering a hand to Louise. My master accepted the gesture with a smile before taking Touya's hand.
"How do you feel now?" I asked as the rest of us walked back up to them.
"Better. Still tired but I can move now at least." Louise said with a nod.
"Sorry about that. All I can do is fix whatever physical damage your body may have incured during...whatever it was you were doing. As far as regaining your stamina is concerned, some old fashioned sleep and food is still the way to go." Touya sheepishly admitted with a shrug of his shoulders. Louise merely smiled at him and shook her head.
"No, thank you for healing me. I wouldn't even be able to stand if it wasn't for you." My master responded. The two of them proceeded to smile at one another for a rather long moment. Well, until Eleanore suddenly did a rather deliberate cough that caught everyone's attention.
"So how long do you two plan on holding onto each other's hand like that?" The woman asked, thus showing that she still had the capacity to snark despite her discomfort. Both Louise and Touya blinked at her for a moment, at the same time mind you, before looking down to confirm that they were indeed still holding hands. As expected by now, Louise was the first to react.
"Don't get the wrong idea, Big Sis Eleanore! Touya just helped me up! This doesn't mean anything, I swear!" My master immediately blurted out while releasing her hand from Touya's before holding both of her hands up in the air like thief caught in the act.
"Why is it that your denial just makes you even more suspicious runt? Hmmm?" Eleanore deadpanned before placing her left hand on her hip and leaning forward toward her sister. Touya looked like he wanted to intervene but narrowed his eyes when he saw Eleanore wince. I glanced at the likely cause and it seemed that the woman had inadvertently tried to place her right hand on her hip out of habit. Of course, trying this with a broken hand would inevitably result pain. The Hakurei priest seemed to have come to a similar conclusion because he quickly made his way in front of the eldest sister.
"Where are you hurt?" Touya immediately cut to the heart of the matter while looking up and down Eleanore's form in an effort to track down the cause of the older woman's pain. The woman in question did not seem to have been ready for such a forward question so she was unable to respond immediately. Thankfully, Cirno answered for her.
"Her right hand looks broken after she managed to sucker punch teach in the face. It was awesome. Otherwise, she seems to be okay aside from being tired." The ice fairy provided. Touya nodded at her words and glanced at Eleanore's right hand which was rather swollen now. The young man blinked before giving the blonde woman an incredulous look.
"You punched Yuka Kazami? In the face? How did you do that and live?" Touya asked the woman in question with a completely gobsmacked expression. At this point, Eleanore was starting to get uncomfortable at the situation.
"Wh-wh-what is with all this? I just did what I had to do to win! Punching that man unawares was the only way for us to win at that point! Why is everyone so strung up about it?" Eleanore finally voiced her concern at everyone there. Louise looked like she wanted to just explain just how punching me in the face was so special for a human to be capable of. However, it was Touya who made the next move by gently grasping Eleanore's right forearm so he could get a better look at her hand.
"Wait! What are you-" The woman's protests were cut of when Touya put his other hand over Eleanore's broken one. The soft white glow of a healing spell quickly made itself known as the young man went to work in mending the damage. Since the only real injury that Eleanore sustained was a broken hand, Touya did not need to place a bounded field around Eleanore in order to heal her.
"Yuka Kazami. Ask anyone in Gensokyo about the owner of that name and most would just tell you to stay away from the field of sunflowers. Yuka is one of the most powerful beings in Gensokyo and has been since way back before I was born. I've gone up against Yuka a few times and I've only been able to win once...and that was by the skin of my teeth using all the power I had." Touya explained with a smile while keeping his gaze focused on the healing spell he was using. The glow of the spell slowly died out to reveal Eleanore's all healed up.
"To be able to win against Yuka using a punch to the face and getting Yuka to acknowledge that win by that means...that's just something really special. For anyone. Good job." Touya added before giving Eleanore a very warm smile and squeezing her right hand. The eldest sister flinched and started to visibly blush at the gesture. She pulled her right hand away from Touya's grasp before holding it with her other hand.
"Th-th-th-there's no reason to say such things about what I did. I-I-I merely took my chance when the opportunity to strike presented itself." Eleanore quickly stated while folding her arms and looking away from Touya, her blush still very much visible on her face and was actually getting redder.
"Oh boy...and another one goes down. Truly, the power of the Heartcatch is a fearsome one." Cirno muttered with a lopsided grin.
"Hmmm...it's actually a wonder why you haven't become a victim yourself." I commented offhandedly. Cirno just chucked a bit before putting her hands on her hips.
"Please. Touya's like my kid brother. Saying that I might fall for him is like saying that I might fall for Wriggle or Mystia...and that would just be terrible." My former student whispered to me.
"Well anyway...would anyone please tell me what just transpired here? It looked pretty serious." Touya suddenly piped up again while scanning the field where our match took place...completely oblivious to the sideward glances that Eleanore was giving him. I shook my head at the sight before feeling something lean on my back. I turned my head to the source and saw Louise standing behind me and resting her head on my back.
"Tired?" I asked my master.
"Very. Can I stay like this for a while?" Louise asked me back before I felt her hand grab onto my vest as she put more of her weight on my back.
"Sure. We'll wrap up here then we can head back." I responded before turning back to the others. It seemed that Cirno was providing Touya a rather animated account of the match. Considering her vantage point, she should have been able to see everything that happened. Since Louise was using me for support while she rested, I was not able to join in on the conversation but I could still hear them quite well.
"A one hit unlimited pacifist no-flight run...that's...some handicap..." Touya muttered after hearing the conditions I set before the match. The young man shook his head before glancing at me for a moment then turning his attention back to the others.
"I'll say. But it was so teach could level the field enough to let Louise and Elly here have a chance at winning." Cirno added while jabbing her right thumb in Eleanore's direction.
"E-E-Elly? Don't just go changing people's names like that!" Eleanore immediately protested to Cirno's new nickname for her.
"She's right. Besides, you wouldn't want to mix her up with the Elly back home." Yukari pointed out with a grin. Cirno just shrugged in response but didn't seem like she was going to push the issue.
"Anyway. That was pretty much the conditions of the match. Either Louise and Eleanore get a clean hit on teach or he outlasts them without getting hit." My former student drew the conversation back to the main topic at the moment.
"So? What happened? I know nothing about the way the magic system in Louise's realm works, so how'd they manage to keep pressure on Yuka? Even on foot, I'd can't imagine Yuka Kazami as being an easy target." Touya asked, becoming more interested in how the match went, as he placed his right hand on his hip.
"Well, from what I saw and heard, Eleanore apparently used an active channeling spell to strike at teach with stone constructs that popped out of the ground. She made them at a pretty rapid and consistent rate, so it was pretty impressive to watch. Almost as impressive as watching Louise try to keep up with Yuka while all that was happening." Cirno explained what transpired during the first part of the match. Touya took in the information and gave the field another once over.
"That looks like a lot of earth being moved around. How were you able to cast that fast so many times without letting up or losing accuracy?" The Hakurei priest asked the eldest sister with a raised brow. Eleanore blinked at the direct question but recovered quickly before clearing her throat.
"I've developed, or it would be more accurate to say rediscovered, a casting system that allowed one to lace a spell incantation in a deliberate and measured melody. It was the only way I could think of to be able to perform Earth magic to the degree I wanted it to." Eleanore responded with a nod as if explaining the nuances of her unique casting system in a lecture.
"Wait...are you telling me that you created a hymnic spell...for wide area earth manipulation? That is awesome!" Touya exclaimed before taking Eleanore's hands into his own, the action obviously making Louise's eldest sister blush again.
"W-w-w-well...such a casting method obviously has its limitations. Mother had shown me time and again that using song to cast magic would leave me open to all sorts of attacks. I can continuously manipulate and adjust the earth using my spell but I need to keep singing in order to maintain it. If I stop singing, so does the spell." The blonde explained the specifics of her unique casting style while once again adopting a more...lecturing feel in her words.
"Even so, I'd assume that kind of casting style isn't exactly widespread in your realm, is it?" Touya asked good-naturedly and got a nod from Eleanore in response.
"Well then, it's a unique and pretty creative way to utilize the spell system your realm has. Besides, judging by the result of the match, it's pretty effective in the right circumstances." The young man had effectively flipped Eleanore's argument on its head by pointing out the more positive side of the eldest sister's personal innovation. The woman in question simply blinked at the Hakurei priest, apparently unsure of what to make of his honest appreciation of her work.
"D-d-do you honestly believe that such a method is so special?" Eleanore finally managed to find her words once more but she sounded much more...subdued than before. Oh dear, she even had her head tilted downward but her eyes were glancing up so she could still look right into Touya's eyes...and yes, she was still blushing as well. I glanced at Cirno just as she was turning to me as well. Our eyes met and she just gave out a mildly exaggerated shrug. I turned my attention to Yukari and saw that she once again had her fan out and was covered her mouth with it. However, because I was to the side of her, I could clearly see her trying very hard not to suddenly burst out laughing because of this development. I looked back at the two of them and suddenly had an uncomfortable feeling about this situation.
By their victory, all three Valliere sisters have the right to be able to access Mugenkan at will. I'll still need to arrange the means for that but it shouldn't be too hard. However, Yukari has shown that she can just drop Touya in Mugenkan whenever she feels like it. In addition, Eleanore seems to be starting to develop something of an attraction to the young man because of his treatment of her...he also gets along well with Louise and I don't doubt that he would get along with Cattleya as well.
This entire situation almost seems to have been orchestrated by a deviously clever conspiracy. One that would take advantage of the possibility of a romantic bond developing between Touya Hakurei and any, if not more than one, of the three sisters. I would have called this out as a Moriya Shrine Conspiracy but nothing seemed to indicate their involvement in this matter. Besides, last time I heard, Kanako and Suwako had wanted the current priestess of the Moriya shrine to be paired up with Touya instead...one Rise Kochiya, a supremely confident young woman who honestly believes that she is the most powerful human in Gensokyo...until Touya defeated her in a Danmaku Battle a few dozen times. That's what she gets for having someone like Kanako Yasaka as her role model growing up. I once heard that Yukari had shown her support for that particular pairing, reasoning out that it would finally unite the two shrines into a unified family.
Of course, Yukari's version of support for the matter is merely a promise to not interfere with any attempt by the two goddesses to get Rise and Touya together. Meaning that the border youkai promised not to actively be part of nor go against any plans they make. Apparently, she had promised a non-intervention policy when it came to Touya's romantic dealings with anyone from Gensokyo. Yuyuko, Remilia, Kanako, Suwako, and somehow even Eirin made her promise that...I wasn't completely sure why though.
Unfortunately for all of them, Yukari is a master when it came to finding loopholes in agreements to have her fun with. How? Well, Louise and her sisters aren't from Gensokyo, are they?
Of course, it wasn't like I was just going to LET this happen in MY Border of Dreams.
I turned back to Louise after I heard her incoherently mumbling about something I couldn't quite get. I saw that she had somehow managed to doze off while leaning on me. I sighed at the fact that my master was that tired to be able to fall asleep while standing up. I carefully picked her up in my arms before walking toward everyone else.
"Cirno can give you the rest of the details about the match at a more convenient time. However, both Louise and Eleanore need at least some sleep before morning arrives in Halkeginia...especially after everything that has happened thus far." I stated, catching everyone's attention while gesturing to the now sound asleep Louise in my arms.
"Hmph! I didn't expect the runt to have so little stamina. However, I agree about returning since I am also feeling very tired now." Eleanore concurred with my sentiment but only after getting one last jab off.
"Right, have a good rest then. Sounds like you two have really earned it." Touya told Eleanore before finally letting go of the woman's hands. The blonde did not respond but she did look slightly displeased for some reason. I then turned to Cirno in order to get started on that other thing.
"Fill in Touya and Yukari about the details on why this match even happened. Hopefully the three of you can figure out the best way to resolve the issue with Cattleya health." I reminded my former student before walking off to the door that led back to Eleanore's room, Louise in my arms and Eleanore following close behind.
"Do you mind taking Louise? I need to shut the door." I asked Eleanore after we entered her room once more. Exiting Mugenkan immediately reverted the clothing of both sisters back to their evening wear that they had on prior to the match. The blonde scowled at me for a moment but took Louise from my arms anyway before walking towards her bed. I turned back to the door to my realm and closed it, making sure that it dematerialized before turning back to the others.
"Hm?" I raised a brow when I noticed that Ruukoto was no longer inside the room. Did something happen while we were away? I was about to try to contact to the gynoid using my 'Hey-Listen' when the door suddenly opened to reveal the gynoid in question.
"Did anything happen?" I asked it immediately just as Eleanore finished tucking Louise into her bed. I was assuming that the eldest sister did that either so her younger sister could get some much needed rest or she found it too much of a bother to send Louise to her own room at this hour.
"Fuga. Fuga." Ruukoto reported while I shut the door as quietly as possible. Hmmm...some good news I supposed.
"What is it?" Eleanore piped up as she looked between me and Ruukoto. The woman looked like she was about ready to pass out but I doubted that she was going to budge until she got a straight answer.
"Ruukoto was minding the door from outside just in case anyone decided to check up on you and Louise while we were in Mugenkan. That butler of yours, Gerard, came by to ask if you or Louise needed anything. Ruukoto managed to activate White Noise beforehand and explained that the two of you were already resting and did not want to be disturbed." I responded while indicating toward the gynoid as it continued to stand by the door. Eleanore hummed in acknowledgement but narrowed her eyes at me as if anticipating that there was something more. I gave my own hum of amusement as her intuition proved correct in that regard. I gave out a very small smile as Eleanore continued to show how perceptive she was when she wanted to.
I had a feeling that she and Matilda would either get along well or end up as rivals of sorts because of their comparable intellect and wit. That and the fact that they are both rather impressive Earth Magicians, strange that I had the most fun when facing off against Earth Element Specialists. Kirche and Tabitha weren't really much of a match for me while Wardes was almost a chore to fight against mostly due to his undead status at the time.
"In addition to that, it seems that Cattleya's condition seems to have stabilized. The healers that treated her were able to deal with the worst of it apparently. Although, I assume that this was only a temporary solution to the issue?" I explained before directing the question to both Eleanore and Ruukoto. The gynoid made a motion to reply but was preempted by the blonde who took a step toward Ruukoto and pointed at it.
"Before you say anything, do that thing you do so I can understand you first. That thing with the glowing and the changing of your eye color." Eleanore stated in a commanding tone, though I noted that the volume of her voice was much lower than I expected it to be. I decided not to point that out or ask if she was doing it for Louise's sake. That kind of childishness was more Yukari's thing...and I grew tired of doing that myself a long time ago. The gynoid in question blinked once before turning to me, likely deferring to my judgment since its mistress was currently unconscious.
"Do it. It will save us the trouble of using me as a go-between if Eleanore needs any information from you." I stated with a nod, which Ruukoto returned before activating White Noise.
"Miss Cattleya vital signs have stabilized enough to conclude that she is out of immediate mortal danger. However, please be advised that her overall health has not improved and the rate of organ degeneration is still holding at the previously measured rate. It is logical to assume that similar incidents have happened previously and may happen in the future if cause is not permanently treated. Estimated time until irreversible damage to critical organs remains at three weeks time. Margin of error on estimate is plus-minus five days." Ruukoto reported using its 'motherly voice' so to speak, confirming my suspicions. I turned to the eldest sister and saw that she was biting on her right thumbnail rather hard and had a very displeased expression. Any and all traces of the shy Eleanore that was blushing and stammering in front of Touya Hakurei was completely gone. What remained was the Eleanore that fearlessly questioned the circumstances of my existence and my relationship with her sister. What remained was the woman who challenged me to a match alongside Louise for the sake of their sister despite not knowing what she was getting herself into. What remained was the first and only human to ever manage to get a win over me using a punch to the face. I smiled despite myself when I realized one thing about this woman.
I found myself thinking that I liked this side of Eleanore better...not that I would willingly admit that to anyone of course.
"I would assume that this kind of thing has happened before then?" I questioned Eleanore just to make sure. The blonde nodded without looking at me as she continued to gnaw on her fingernail. She looked significantly haggard despite her fierce expression, clearly displaying her fatigue after what she had just been through. I sighed before walking up to her, raising a brow after she showed no reaction with my approach nor with our subsequent proximity. She didn't seem to even register that I was right there. Eleanore finally showed a reaction when I reached out and gently took her right hand into mine before pulling it away from her teeth. The woman realized what I was doing and glared at me for what I was rather sure were several personal reasons for her.
"What do you think you're doing, familiar?" Eleanore all but snarled at me in a tone of voice that I would normally expect from Karin. I let the obvious shot at me slide since I understood the kind of stress she was going through at the time.
"I merely did not wish for you to accidentally bite into your thumb. At the rate you were going, it was only a matter of time until you would have been subject to a rather unpleasant experience, or so I hear." I explained, remembering the story Cirno told me about that one incident when the fairy maids decided to instigate an uprising in the Scarlet Devil Mansion. My former student was inside the Voile Magic Library when that whole mess started.
At first, she and little Patchouli just thought that it was Marisa doing her runs again. Even after the Ordinary Magician finally ended up marrying that shopkeeper of Kourindou, she still didn't give up any of her old habits easily. That theory fell through after Remilia, Sakuya, and China burst into the library before forcibly closing the door and practically screaming at Patchouli to put up every defensive spell or ward that she knew of to surround the libary with. When the purple-haired magician asked why, with a raised brow, she should need to do such a thing...well, a rather large amount of magic bolts slammed into the door.
Supposedly, The Scarlet Devil had been working the fairy maids beyond their capacity for several months now. Normally the fairy maids just dealt with it solemnly day by day, especially with Sakuya watching over them like a hawk...or a dog as it were. Eventually though, the maids got fed up of their treatment and went on a full on revolt through sheer force of numbers. You'd actually be surprised how many maids were really in that mansion. Also being personally trained by Sakuya means that they were a step up compared to wild fairies.
Eventually, Reimi Hakurei...who had just been recently engaged at the time, found out what was going on and had to fight through the waves upon waves of fairy maids that filled the Scarlet Devil Mansion in a similar way that her mother once did during the red mist incident. Of course, like her mother, she did not go in alone. Unlike her mother though, she was not accompanied by Marisa Kirisame. Instead, Reimi somehow...for some odd reason...requested and acquired the assistance of Reisen Udongein Inaba and Mystia Lorelei. This incident was one of the first that were resolved with the help of those who would eventually make up Cirno's little team, Seventh Heaven.
Incident resolved, crisis mostly averted, things in the Scarlet Devil Mansion went back to relative normalcy. Remilia learned her lesson and treated the fairy maids more like the employees they were supposed to be rather than slaves. Although, it took some convincing by Sakuya and some heavy duty snarking and I-told-you-so's by Patchouli before the Scarlet Devil finally folded and gave the maids a raise, actual days off, and vacation days. Of course, Remilia ended up gnawing at her right thumbnail so hard while the whole mess was going on that she accidentally bit on her own thumb. It was such a stupid and uncharacteristic mistake by Remilia that Cirno ended up laughing when it happened. Patchouli joined her after a few moments, though with her it sounded more like a sly snicker than anything.
"I do not need your concern. I know how to take care of myself, familiar." Eleanore's words snapped me from my reverie before she jerked her hand away from my grasp.
"True enough. However, like Louise, you have been through much this night and require an adequate amount of sleep. I suggest that you do so while you can. We can figure out what to do with Cattleya in the morning." I explained calmly to the eldest sister. Much like Matilda, Eleanore was no fool. She should know that my suggestion was correct and that depriving herself of any more rest will only be detrimental to her in the long run. However...
"You expect me to go to sleep while my younger sister is barely clinging onto her life?" The blonde all but snarled at me. Indeed, when it came to family, humans can be rather irrational and stubborn. Reika Hakurei proved that notion when Aya spread that stupid rumor after Reimu was born. Eleanore was showing that it was a common trait for all humans who had family that they loved.
"Think, Eleanore. Think hard. Ruukoto has already stated that your sister's condition is stable for now. That means that we still have time to do what is needed to treat her. Right now, you cannot do anything more than to get some rest and prepare for the next move. You have already done much and as I promised, the doors to my realm are open to the three of you. I have made sure to have Cirno get Yukari and Touya up to speed on her situation so we can leave the means for her cure up to them." I responded as I put myself in front of her and placed my hands on her shoulders. I gently but firmly started to guide her backward to her bed. Thankfully, Louise was placed on the other side so there was no fear of Eleanore falling on top of my master.
"Rest now. We have much yet left to do before Cattleya can be fully treated. For now, savor your victory and sleep. Ruukoto and I will keep an eye on Cattleya's condition in the meantime." Eleanore finally relented and sat back down on her bed before looking up at me. Her expression betrayed her fatigue and her anxiety but her eyes never lost that fire that she had when she challenged me earlier. I smiled at her before gently removing her glasses before placing it on her desk. Eleanore scowled at me for doing that without her permission but looked away after a moment, her face showing a hint of pink, before tucking herself into her bed for the night.
"Where will you and the maid sleep?" Eleanore asked without turning to me or Ruukoto.
"Ruukoto does not need to sleep. I wasn't really planning on sleeping either, so we will both remain up for the duration of the night." I replied with a noncommittal wave of my hand. That drew out a surprising reaction from the eldest sister. I blinked at her when she suddenly gave out a bark of a laugh that I would normally expect from other people...certainly not her. Eleanore turned to face me as if sensing or anticipating my reaction.
"Not wanting to have to deal with those questions you mentioned before?" Eleanore asked, throwing back to our encounter in the gardens before Cattleya collapsed. I was mildly surprised that she was able to remember that little quip of mine after all that transpired afterward. The woman seemed to take my silence as a 'yes' since she decided to continue.
"I'm not sure what you're dealing with or why you keep avoiding those questions of yours. If you are really avoiding them, then they can either just be annoying and not worth your time as you said, or they are questions you don't have answers...or they hit too close to home and just don't want to acknowledge the answer you arrive at." She inferred before turning away from me again.
"If the reason why you avoid those questions is not the first, then I suggest that you stop trying to run away from the problem. Deal with it as soon as you can before it's too late and ends up blowing in your face." The woman stated matter-of-factly. I scoffed at her words. A human woman who I've only known for less than a week telling me what to do when it comes to an issue between me and my subconscious self? Laughable.
"I would if I had a suitable reply to them. The questions that were posed to me are not so easy to confront or answer." I retorted with a bit of an edge to make sure she realizes that her council in that matter was not needed. Eleanore responded with a a soft snort before shaking her head a few times.
"Nothing worthwhile is ever easy to obtain. Good night, familiar." Was her parting shot before closing her eyes and falling asleep.
"Fuga." I heard Ruukoto state from behind me. I sighed before turning to the gynoid who was once again doing an impression of a piece of furniture as it stood motionless against a wall.
"Yes, I realize that she was able to get the last word in." I responded before shaking my head one more time and walking up to the large window that adorned the eldest sister's room. I looked up at the twin moons of this realm and suddenly felt like this whole thing somehow involved them.
"Ridiculous." I muttered before turning back to the bed when I heard the sheets getting ruffled around. I raised a brow and gave a small smile when I saw Louise moving around until she was clinging onto her older sister like a pillow. Eleanore visibly frowned but instead of pushing my master away, she just adjusted herself until both sisters were embracing each other. I blinked when I noticed Ruukoto standing at the bedside and was staring at the two sisters. I initially wondered what it was doing but I managed to figure it out after a moment.
"So you were able to record this little moment?" I asked with an amused smile as I folded my arms and leaned back.
"Fuga. Fuga." Ruukoto responded with a nod before walking back toward the corner of the room it was previously at.
Hm, High-Definition Pictures and Video at Twelve-Eighty-Thousand-P resolution. Not bad. Should be amusing to show the sisters or Cirno at a later date. We just have to make sure that Cattleya will be among those that will be able to see this little scene in the future.
The morning that followed wasn't really the brightest that Louise had ever experienced. Gerard alerted us that breakfast was served a little past dawn. Timely for such a meal, however, it turned out that all the events that transpired last night ate up much more time than we had originally expected. Because of this, Eleanore and Louise only had roughly around four hours of sleep or less. Now normally, Louise takes a bit to be able to wake up after a full night's sleep. Getting her to wake up while she was in that state was a tiresome affair to say the least.
Thankfully, Eleanore was much more used to functioning with limited amounts of sleep, likely a product of her profession or something. In any case, the eldest sister was able to wake up and get dressed...after kicking me out of the room for a few minutes.
"Familiar! Get in here and help me wake up the runt!" The blonde hissed at me after opening the door to her room. The woman was once again wearing a white long-sleeved blouse accompanied with a beige skirt. Well, it wasn't like I had any room to talk when it came to range in clothing. I looked inside the room and saw Louise sprawled on the bed rather contently despite this not being her own room.
"You already know my name. Would it be such a blow to your pride for you to address me with it?" I asked Eleanore in passing before entering the room. I did not hear any reply but I was certain that the woman was now glaring at me rather heartily. I ignored the feeling and walked up to Louise, who was oddly sporting a rather stupid grin. I raised a brow at the odd sight since I normally see Louise in Mugenkan whenever she was asleep. What ever could she be dreaming about?
"Yuka~...Emi~lio~...Matilda~n...Amph~" My master mumbled in her sleep before she grabbed a pillow and started chewing on it. What the blazes was she dreaming about?
"My pillow!" Eleanore exclaimed before trying to pull her pillow out of her sister's grasp. If I wasn't bearing witness to it at that moment, I probably wouldn't believe it if someone described the current scene to me. Eleanore was finally able to pry her pillow from Louise's grasp after performing something akin to a soft battlecry. My master started grabbing around the air with a displeased expression after her sister relieved her of her inedible morning snack.
"Hmmm...someone stole my Yuka-bun..." Yuka...bun? I immediately concluded that any dream wherein Louise consumes any kind of food-based representation of myself needed to end. Now.
Since my master refused to wake up despite her sister's best efforts, I decided to perform a means of waking her up that worked the first time she asked me to wake her up. I reached out with my left hand and pinched her nose to cut off her airflow. The effect was as immediate as it was the first time as Louise's expression quickly turned sour before she finally woke up in a gasp of surprise.
"Agwaaah!" Louise suddenly yelled out. I managed to release my grip on her nose and back away a step a split second before she gasped for air. I was about to check on Louise when I felt something smack on the back of my head.
"What the founder are you doing to my sister?" Eleanore yelled from behind me. Somehow I felt like something like this had happened before.
"I was waking her up." I responded simply. The strike didn't hurt by any means so there was no real need for me to be offended by such a gesture or sisterly concern.
"Wha...Yuka? Bis Sis Eleanore?" Louise muttered out loud from her still very sleepy state. She was probably wondering why she could hear us even though she just woke up. I wouldn't be surprised if her brain hadn't caught up enough with her yet to realize where is was at the moment and what happened last night.
"Time to wake up runt! Get up! Get to your room! Get dressed! Get ready for breakfast! I don't care how sleepy you are, I am not going to take another lecture about punctuality from mother because of you! Here!" Eleanore ranted to her still mostly asleep sister as she pulled my master out of her bed before, in a show of surprising upper body strength, tossed Louise right at me. The distance and height of the toss wasn't really much of a distance and height...and Louise wasn't exactly heavy...but the fact that Eleanore would be willing to manhandle her sister that easily was quite the eyebrow raiser.
"Wha-augh!" Louise gasped before grunting after I caught her in midair. I set her down and saw that Louise was blinking dumbly, probably still unsure of what was happening. I turned back to Eleanore and saw her hands on her hips and was glowering at us again.
"Well don't just stand there staring at me like a monkey, go!" Eleanore yelled at us. Louise winced at the voice volume that her sister was able to throw around. I simply shrugged before taking Louise by the hand and leading her to the door. Ruukoto was already there and was holding said door open for us. I let the gynoid go through first along with my master before starting to close the door. I stopped midway when I remembered something. I opened the door a bit wider again and looked inside to see Eleanore still glaring at me. I ignored it and smiled at her.
"Good morning by the way." I stated before finally closing the door.
Breakfast at the Valliere manor that day was a rather quiet affair. When we arrived, Karin, Eugene, and Eleanore were already seated. The two parents were already eating while Eleanore was finishing up her preparations for the meal.
My master was still rather groggy even after we got back to her room and had her change out of her evening wear. She was wearing a simple white blouse and black skirt along with matching shoes. Simple and similar to her usual school uniform, albeit with a longer skirt, but it was the first thing Ruukoto managed to grab for Louise to change into. We didn't have time to go through Louise's three wardrobes and find something for her to wear, so Ruukoto just used the clothes that Louise had packed in her luggage while I undressed my master. I understood that, from the way Eleanore seemed to critical about it earlier and they way Karin reacted to Louise's lateness from her summons the day before, the Duchess was a bit of a stickler when it came to schedules. Louise didn't need any added stress to what was already there, so I made sure to get her ready as soon as possible. Once ready, Louise led us to a large balcony that overlooked the gardens where the rest of her family were being served breakfast. Well...most of them. My master took a step forward to greet her family.
"Good morning mother, father, Big Sister Eleanore..." Louise trailed off when she noticed that Cattleya wasn't among the people that were already seated for breakfast. I also noted the lack of a middle sister there and glanced around to see if she just stepped away from a moment. Nothing. I turned back to the occupants of the breakfast table and found that Karin had stopped eating and was staring at Louise with narrowed eyes. My master seemed to have noticed this and flinched before lowering her head.
"...and I apologize for not arriving to breakfast earlier. I humbly ask for your consideration." Louise continued the line of dialogue that she had intended to say before she noticed the absence of her sister. Karin continued to simply stare at her youngest daughter without any response to my master's words. Eugene seemed content to continue his breakfast as if the small standoff between his wife and youngest daughter was not happening. Eleanore was staring intently at her eggs and bacon without actually starting to eat her meal yet. Despite her focus on her food, her expression betrayed her tension to the current situation despite her visible effort to conceal it.
I gave a sidelong glance to Ruukoto to see if the gynoid was considering intervening in this situation since Karin was basically performing a psychological attack on its mistress. Interestingly enough, the gynoid made no move nor showed any visible reaction at all. Louise on her part did not seem to be tensing up as much as Eleanore was. I could sense that she was nervous and worried but she was not freaking out or cowering at the moment. I found out why when Karin finally closed her eyes and picked up her cup of what I assumed was tea.
"Be seated and eat." The Duchess stated without giving any further acknowledgement of her daughter. My master did what she was told and sat down on the only available seat left at the table. Obviously, this meant that Ruukoto and I were in a standing room only as far as anyone else was concerned. Their meal continued in silence as Louise and Eleanore tried to act as normally as they could by eating their breakfast. Ruukoto and I were standing side by side behind Louise and I could tell the anxiety that both sisters were feeling. After all, their sister is not at the breakfast table even after they finally have a chance to treat her condition after overcoming a challenge that most others in their realm would have failed at. It seemed that their parents noticed the same as I saw them share a glance before Karin closed her eyes and continued eating.
"Cattleya's condition has improved but she is still too weak to leave her bed. The servants were arranged to serve her breakfast and to attend to all her needs until she regains her strength." The Duke stated matter-of-factly while looking between her two daughters at the table. As if on cue, both Louise and Eleanore gave out a sigh of relief at the same time. After that, both sisters seemed to have been able to enjoy the rest of their breakfast.
"So? What do you think of the conditions surrounding the coalition forces?" Karin suddenly asked her husband, eliciting a raised brow from the Duke. The man put down his cup of tea and closed his eyes before humming and stroking his still-striking mustache. I also noticed that Louise seemed to have stopped eating and wasn't moving anymore.
"The Pope has given his full support on the proposal made by Prince Wales and Princess Henrietta. Gallia and Germania have also agreed to the terms provided that they were given a health donation of Wind Stones from Albion once the Kingdom was returned to the rightful heir. In fact, they all seemed to be ready to finally make a first move to test the border defense of Albion." Eugene stated contemplatively. I see, so Wales and Henrietta were finally able to gain enough support from the other countries to try to take back Albion from Cromwell. I saw Louise visibly relax and continue eating after hearing that news. If all goes well, Cromwell should be taken care of without any personal effort on our part. Louise and I already told the two royals about the Water Ruby and the agreement we had with the Embodiment of Water and they agreed to return the treasure should their forces be able to retrieve it from the man. Finally, things were actually going our way for once so none of us needed to be involved in any more incidents over there. All we had to do now would be to find a way to be able to get Cattleya into Mugenkan safely for treatment and wait for Matilda to return from whatever she was taking care of after we go back to the Academy.
I allowed myself a smile at the thought of everything going relatively well compared to all the hectic things we had to deal with before.
"I asked you what you think of all that, not what everyone else thought of it." Karin suddenly said while giving her husband a flat stare. Eugene for his part seemed to have noticed his mistake and tried to cover up his embarrassment with a cough.
"Indeed. Well...I'm not against taking back Albion from the hands of that madman. If what the Prince and the Princess were saying were true, along with the reports of the survivors of the battle for Tarbes were accurate...along with your own account on the events that day...it seems certain that it would be in everyone's best interest to remove such threats from Halkeginia." Eugene appended his previous statement with his own personal opinion on the matter. It seemed that the Duke had gotten wind of what happened at Tarbes from both the military reports as well as her wife's testimony...which would likely mean that he knows of our involvement there. My master seemed to have come to the same conclusion as she once again tensed up at the mention of Tarbes.
"But..." Karin added, continuing to push her husband. Eugene seemed to have given up on whatever verbal match he and his wife were currently engaging themselves in and just let out a defeated sigh.
"But the Germanians tried to do a preemptive raid with a small elite force of soldiers consisting of both nobles and commoners. They were some of the best that the Germanians had and their Emperor and Generals believed that they will be able to take Saxe Gotha using a small unit of elites. They grossly underestimated what Albion had waiting for them." Eugene added after getting the prompt from his wife. Louise's father then gave out a contemplative hum before steepling his fingers in front of him.
"Eighteen of the twenty members of Germania's Elite Schwarzer Hase were eliminated by a single opponent." The Duke stated in a resigned manner. That got everyone's attention. Both Louise and Eleanore were staring at their father with their own expressions of surprise. Karin simply gave out a acknowledging hum at her husband's words but gave no visible signs of any other reaction. I had no idea who those Schwarzer Hase were and how good they allegedly are, but it seemed that they had a bit of a reputation to their collective name.
"Fuga. Fuga Fuga. Fuga." Ruukoto whispered barely audible to even my hearing. However, it seemed that the gynoid knew about that special unit from the books in the Tristain Magic Academy's library. Why the academy had books about an elite military task force of another country? I didn't really know or care. Regardless, it seemed that the Schwarzer Hase, translated as Black Hares, were a special unit that a previous Emperor of Germania formed back when that country and Tristain had a less than friendly relationship. Because Germania apparently had the lowest ratio of magicians to commoners in Halkeginia, several members of that unit could not cast any form of magic. Thus, they needed to be a bit more...creative in fighting the more magic-inclined armies of Tristain. A mixture of magicians and commoners made up the unit and used stealth, training, teamwork, and cunning to overcome superior foes to great success. From Karin's reaction, it was not out of the realm of possibility that she had encountered them before.
"Were the survivors able to identify the assailant?" Eleanore was the one who asked that after the table went silent for a while. Eugene nodded before considering his words for a moment.
"The ones who made it out alive were able to identify the attacker as female. She had short green hair that was mostly covered with a jester's hat that had a symbol of the sun on it. Her face was equally obscured by a black jester's mask that also had the symbol of the sun on it. The woman was wearing a blue blouse with a yellow ribbon on the chest. She also had a blue skirt that was addorned with several symbols of the crescent moon and stars. One survivor managed to get close enough to identify a black choker on her neck as well. The attacker was wielding a steel chained staff that had a large crescent on one end as a focus. The strange thing about the report was that the attacker commanded advanced Earth Magic, at least Square-Class, as well as being able to create bolts of yellow light from the staff. However, they could not identify if she was using fire magic or something else entirely." The Duke answered with a rather detailed account to the apparent identity of the mystery attacker. He and Karin seemed to be discussing with Eleanore pitching in every now and then. However, anything after Eugene's initial description might as well have been background noise. I was too busy trying to make sense of what Louise father just said.
Aside from hair length, hat, and mask...Eugene just gave out an accurate description of how Mima looked like down to her chained crescent staff. But there was more. I almost wanted to call it since it would have explained where the Evil Spirit went after the events of Mystic Square. However...in addition to dressing and being equipped with most of Mima's gear, the mystery magician also seemed to be rather versed in using Earth Element Magic.
As far as I knew, Mima didn't know of any Earth based spells. She always simply used spells derived from raw magic like what Marisa used before she started weaponizing love, which makes sense since Mima was Marisa's old teacher.
A green haired magician that was very skilled at earth magic that was wielding Mima's staff and protecting Albion territory.
I had a very bad feeling about that...and based on how Louise suddenly turned to me with an almost horrified expression, she seemed to have arrived at the same suspicion as I since there was only one woman that we knew of that fit the bill.
As impossible as it seemed...there was a chance that the person that the Schwarzer Hase encountered was the person Louise and I have been patiently waiting for the return of. My expression tensed visibly as I considered the possibility.
"Matilda..." I hissed quietly, only loud enough for Ruukoto and Louise to hear. My master returned to eating her breakfast with much more fervor while the gynoid simply closed its eyes and continued it vigil behind its master.
Lovely...just what we needed on top of Cattleya's condition.