|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
Be Careful What You Wish For
Author's notes: And thus the story breaks the One-Hundred Thousand word mark. I deeply appreciate all the support you readers have given my story and I hope to continue to live up to your expectations when it comes to storytelling. Anyway, this chapter officially starts the Albion Arc. This chapter will work as a prologue to the arc and will wrap up a few loose ends before the trip to Albion. Also, guess who appears at the end of the chapter?
I hope that I was able to explain the effects and limitations of the Gandalfr runes properly. Also, I want your opinion on how I handled the thing with Yuka and Henrietta as well as how I did Guiche at the latter part of the chapter.
As always, please enjoy.
Be Careful What You Wish For
"Why is it that I always walk in while something is going on?" I absentmindedly asked as I folded my arms and leaned back on the door. Princess Henrietta was still embracing Louise like she was a small animal that she found in the forest and wanted to keep. My master, on her part, kept saying that 'such conduct is not appropriate for a princess' but her old friend wouldn't hear any of it and continued to smother Louise with affection.
"Well maybe you should consider not suddenly disappearing for periods of time when we're all not looking." Matilda jibed with a sly smile as she walked up and leaned on the wall next to me.
"What happened?" I asked.
"Well, after we got changed and started to relax, Miss Montmorency came in with the potion to cure Louise. The poor girl looked absolutely haggard and was still wearing the clothes she had during the trip." Matilda started with a sigh. It seemed that Monmon immediately mixed up the concoction as soon as we returned and didn't stop until it was complete. I'd imagine that she was already in her room and passed out on her bed from exhaustion. I will admit that my opinion of the girl had gone up because of how she took responsibility for what happened to Louise, my master had a good friend in Monmon.
"Was the effect of the potion immediate?" In inquired with a raised brow. The original Love Potion that Louise was exposed to activated as soon as she saw someone, I was hoping that the reverse was true.
"Thankfully, it was." Matilda answered before she put her right hand over her mouth, closed her eyes, and started giggling. I was silently wondering with a raised brow at what seemed to be so amusing when Matilda finally recovered enough to tell me.
"I'm sorry...it's just that..." She said between breaths while wiping a tear from her eye. I waited for her to catch her breath and continue instead of prompting her to do so. After all, this was probably the first time I've seen her genuinely giggle. The woman took one more breath before continuing.
"After Louise went back to normal, she looked at me like I turned into you and was very very angry. Then, after face went red. And I mean, red. I swore the girl had a third of her blood in her face at that point, I was almost worried that she'd pass out because of it. After that, she suddenly knelt down and begged me for my forgiveness for what she did while under the influence." Matilda recalled while slowly shaking her head.
"She remembers?" I asked, curious. When Marisa used her Love Potion, the ones affected did not have any recollection of what happened to them or what they did while under the effects of the potion. It seemed that Monmon's Love Potion was different.
"Every detail. I honestly felt sorry for her with the way she was acting, she was so embarrassed." Matilda answered while placing her right hand on her cheek.
"That was when Princess Henrietta jumped in from the open window." The woman added, a bit flatly.
"She...jumped into the room...through the window?" I asked with a raised brow and a tilted head.
"Yes, that is exactly what happened." Matilda answered with a studious nod.
"Matilda, this is the sixth floor of the tower." I flatly pointed out while giving her a bored look.
"A wizard did it. Alternatively, ask her yourself." The former thief said with a shrug. We both looked back to where Louise's bed where my master seemed to be making smalltalk with her old friend, though they were still holding each others' hand while they were talking.
"I'll do it!" My eyebrows surprise at Louise apparent acceptance of something I had no knowledge of. I turned to Matilda and she looked just as surprised as I was.
Louise...what did you get yourself into this time?
"You will?" I heard Henrietta ask out in equal surprise, probably at how quickly agreed to it. Since the Princess was probably expecting Louise to turn her down or think about it more for a while, her newest request for Louise will probably be particularly difficult or dangerous. I narrowed my eyes at the pair as I was noticing a pattern there.
"I will!" My master affirmed her previous acceptance with an enthused nod. I heard the familiar rattling of steel from Derf's scabbard before...
"Will what? Is this another Love Potion thing?" The sentient magical sword asked, its metallic voice betraying excitement in the prospect of a repeat of what happened between Louise and Matilda a few days ago.
"NO! It's a mission for the Princess! An important one!" Louise answered with a determined expression.
"Yes, we could ascertain that from the tertiary information we gathered from your touching reunion with Princess Henrietta. However, a bit more detail would be appreciated." I stated while looking right at Louise. The strawberry-blonde haired girl gulped when she noticed the completely unamused tone of my voice from being left out of the loop.
"I will answer any questions you might have, Sir Kazami." Unsurprisingly, it was Princess Henrietta that answered instead of Louise. She probably noticed the tone of my voice and thought that Louise wouldn't be the best one to explain everything to me.
"Yuka is fine. Now, what is this mission you speak of?" I asked, the edge of my voice not diminishing even when I addressed the princess.
"Yuka! Don't speak to the prin-" Louise's chastisement was cut off when I narrowed my eyes at her and sent a silent message to her 'don't interrupt', I think she got the message. My master gulped again before setting her gaze firmly on the hardwood floor.
"It...it is for the retrieval of a certain item from a certain location in a certain country." The princess answered neutrally like I wasn't privy to such information. I was slowly starting to dislike this young woman.
"Can you be more specific on all details." I stated and not asked because I just did not have the patience for such things since we just came back from solving an incident. The princess winced and looked away from me. It seemed that the information I was requesting was particularly sensitive if she was hesitating this much. Too bad, I didn't care. She glanced back to me and noticed my unflinching gaze and sighed.
"Let me...explain from the beginning." She finally said, if a bit uncomfortably.
"Please do." I said, prompting her to continue.
"You see, it has been arranged for me to wed the King of Germania as a way to establish long-term alliance between our nations." An arranged marriage between a princess and a king of two different nations to cement relations between them, how cliché. I wouldn't be surprised if Henrietta's groom-to-be turned out to be twice her age.
"However, there is something that threatens this union...something that was my fault." The princess' voice suddenly went melancholic.
"And I assume that this has something to do with that certain item you wanted my master to retrieve for you." I postulated and the princess nodded. I then sensed Matilda tense up beside me. I spared her a glance and I noted that she was looking at the princess with a none too pleased expression. She seemed to have caught on to just how serious this is and how potentially dangerous it could be for her student.
"You assume correctly. Currently, there is political upheaval in the floating country of Albion. There was a sudden coup instigated by one known as Cromwell and was able to overthrow the current regime." The princess stated ruefully. Cromwell...I glanced at Matilda who looked like she was trying very hard not to think about the man lest she wanted to break down once again because of that spell they put on her.
"The man was able to usurp the throne and is currently hunting down the remaining members of the Albion Royal Family. The item I am asking you to retrieve is a letter which is addressed and currently in possession of the Prince of Albion, Prince Wales. Due to the nature of the content of this letter, if the usurper managed to find it and give it to the King of Germania then the marriage will definitely be canceled." Henrietta explained. So the target is in Albion and is in the hands of a prince that was displaced by the very man that both stole a ring from an Embodiment of Nature and blackmailed Matilda into stealing a very dangerous weapon made by the Kappa on top of altering her mind so she wouldn't be able to name who put her up to the job. I hummed thoughtfully as I tried to wonder what that letter might contain that would be enough for the King of Germania to call of his wedding with the princess.
"It's a love letter isn't it?" Derf asked out of nowhere. The princess turned to the sword and paled before blushing brightly and looking away.
"Another problem caused by love...just what we needed." I whispered to myself, though I noticed that Matilda snorted softly after I said it, she must have agreed.
"To put it simply..." I started, getting everyone's attention.
"You were having a love affair with this Prince Wales, a secret one I would assume. During the course of this, the two of you regularly exchanged correspondents with each other to stay in contact due to the distance between your two countries. At some point, you found yourself engaged with the King of Germania 'for the good of Tristain' and any evidence of your affair with the crown prince of another country would jeopardize that. You could have easily asked for the letter back or have him destroy it but with his country ripping itself apart and his family kicked off the throne...I'd imagine that it would be harder than you initially expected." I broke down what I believed happened to her and why this whole thing got started. She started to look very uncomfortable after I finished so I assumed that my deduction was accurate.
"And now, you run to your ever faithful childhood friend. Someone you know that can keep this a secret. Someone you know will willingly do this for your sake. Someone who you know that can clean up your mess." I stated in a cold voice, making Henrietta wince. Louise noticed the way I was talking down her friend and sovereign and immediately stood up, putting herself between me and her beloved princess. It did not stop me from saying what I have to say.
"You would send your childhood friend, Louise, to a country that you know is currently plagued with civil unrest. A country that is currently reeling from a civil war and probably has mercenaries and outlaws everywhere. A country that is currently run by one of the worst waste of biological matter I have encountered in a very long time. You would send my master into the abyss knowing that she will be happy to do so if she could render service for you. You would send my master into the jaws of the beast itself so she could fix your mistake. I have not known you long Princess Henrietta de Tristain, but if this is how you treat your closest friend then it would be very interesting to see what you would be willing to do to your enemies." I finished what I had to say and the whole room remained silent for several moments, the chill from the open window highlighting the cold in my voice. That seemed to be the straw that broke the camel's back as Louise stomped her way in front of me and, with a roar of an angry beast, slapped me with all her might.
"Don't you dare talk that way about the Princess!" Louise yelled at me as she held the hand she used to slap me with her other hand. It did not hurt me at all but Louise already knew that. She did it because she didn't want anyone disrespecting her precious princess, even me.
"So you are willing to go through with this even though you know that there are others who can possibly accomplish this in your stead? Is this how far you are willing to go for her?" I asked my master while looking at her dead in the eyes.
"Yuka..." Matilda tried to prevent this from going any further but I raised my hand and gestured for her to stop.
"This is between me and Louise." I declared to the woman, my voice neutral and void of emotion. Louise did not flinch nor back away from my gaze, she simply returned it and I could clearly see the intense willpower she has within her tiny frame. If I wasn't so upset, I would have felt a bit proud of her.
"Well? Is this the extent of what you are willing to go through for Princess Henrietta?" I once again asked Louise and I raised a brow when I saw my master give me a sardonic smile.
"You have no idea what I'm willing to do for her." She seriously stated while looking at me right in the eye.
"So you are willing to kill for your princess? You will end up going to a place where there is a very large chance that you will need to defend yourself and end up having to take another human's life. The prince might be guarded but the ones who are after him should be armed as well, both with steel and with magic, and would be very willing to eliminate all in their way to finish the job. Are you willing to risk your life for her? To fight for her? To kill for her? To get hurt for her? To die for her?" I asked her about the very real possibilities of what might happen if she really did go to that country and try to get to a prince that is being hunted down like an animal. Again, Louise's gaze did not falter. Her smile was gone but the intensity in her eyes remained.
"Yes. If I have to, then yes." She said without her usual fear and uncertainty, it was like I was speaking to a very different person. I sighed and turned to Henrietta.
"I hope you realize how lucky you are to have Louise as your friend." I said to her with a hint of annoyance in my voice. I glanced back down to my master and saw that she was still glaring at me. I shook my head and gave her a dismissive wave.
"You can stop glaring at me, Louise. I had anticipated that something like this would eventually happen, albeit not so soon after our previous little adventure." I admitted before picking up Derf in the corner of the room and walking to the nearby table and taking a seat. I gestured Matilda to take the other chair and she reluctantly did. Louise looked undertain for a moment but she went back and sat on the bed next to Henrietta who immediately embraced her again and started apologizing for what she was asking her to do. I gave them a few minutes to calm down before we continued our discussion. In the meantime, I pulled Derf out of its scabbard and inspected the blacksmith's work.
"How do you like it? Pretty sexy, eh?" The blade said, very proud of its own form. The sword was single edged and didn't seem like it was six-thousand years old, it looked like a newly forged blade, a testament to the skill of Sasha as a blacksmith I suppose. I even noticed a permanent enchantment on it but I couldn't say what it specifically was at the moment, strange. I blinked as suddenly felt the runes branded on my left hand start to react. It felt odd...as if the runes on my left hand were telling me everything I needed to know on how to wield the blade in my hands as effectively as any professional swordsman. Nothing that would allow me to go on par with Tenshi Hinanai or Motoko Konpaku as swordsmanship is concerned, but it would probably be enough to easily outmatch a regular swordsman or go one-on-one with Rumia. At the same time, I felt a surge of power suddenly build up in my body, like I was being given an enchantment to enhance my physical capabilities. It was nothing significant though, just another drop in the bucket I suppose. But it was enough to make me curious. I partially returned the blade into its scabbard and let go of the handle. I soon as I did, the sensations from the runes disappeared. There was only one kind of familiar that I knew that had that kind of reaction when wielding weapons...and that would confirm that Louise is a magician of the Void. I wondered why the runes never reacted to Derf before or my parasol for that matter, something to talk about with Professor Colbert and Headmaster Osmond tomorrow. If I was right and I am a Gandalfr, then irony has a very funny way of toying with me.
"What's wrong? Speechless at the sheer sexiness of Derflinger, the sword of 'The Left Hand of God'?" The sword asked me haughtily. I let it slide since it was probably many decades or even centuries since the last time it looked this nice.
"The Left Hand of God? What does your sword mean?" Henrietta said in curiosity and surprise, overhearing Derf's words.
"Exactly what it said. Derflinger was apparently the very sword that was forged and wielded by the first Gandalfr, Sasha." I relayed the words stated by Derf when he pointed it out a few days ago.
"I...see..." The princess seemed to be torn between dismissing such a claim or believing what the talking magical sword was saying.
"Derf's origin and former wielder aside, I assume that you have some kind of plan on getting Louise into Albion without getting her caught, yes?" Asked the princess while placing Derf on the table. I felt my body jerk for a bit when Matilda roughly pulled on my vest.
"Yuka! You're not going to let Louise go through with this are you?" The woman asked me in shock.
"You saw Louise's eyes when she declared her intention of accomplishing this little favor for her princess, didn't you? You could threaten to gouge her eyes out and she would still wouldn't back down. As such, the best I can do is to make sure that she gets through this safely and eliminate all who would threaten her safetly." I declared before leaning in closer to Matilda and whispering...
"And besides, this Cromwell was the man who stole the Water Spirit's ring and somehow involved in what happened to you. As it stands, a lot can be accomplished by going to Albion." I reasoned with her. She looked conflicted for a few moments before finally nodding.
"I'm sorry for making Louise do this but-" The princess started but I held up my right hand to intentionally interrupt her.
"Save your excuses, it will just remind me of how annoyed I am of you. Now, your plan on getting Louise into Albion safely." I stated in a neutral tone, making Louise scowl at me while making Henrietta look at me sadly.
"Yes...since this will be a secret mission, the fewer people involved, the better. That is why I was intending on asking Louise to go along with an escort from the Griffin Knights. However, your presence at Louise's side would also be reassuring for me." Henrietta started to explain. I forced back a scowl at her choice of words, if she was so worried about this then she should be coming with us.
"You will meet up with the griffin knight in front of the academy and proceed to the port city of La Rochelle. Once there, you will take a ship to Albion and work your way to the meeting point with Prince Wales. The knight that will accompany you will provide further details on how to get to the rendevous point once you are all ready to leave." The princess stated. It was a clear cut plan, so much so that I could see so many things going wrong with it. Matilda and I shared a glance and she seemed to be thinking the same thing. Maybe Derf was right, we really might be on the same wavelength.
"So far so good, but how will Louise be able to prove that she was sent by you to meet Prince Wales and not a spy sent out my the enemy?" Matilda pointed out while folding her arms under her chest. The princess nodded and removed a ring from one of her fingers before showing it to Louise.
"This is called the 'Water Ruby'. It is a ring that is part of a pair and is the only one of its kind. Prince Wales has the other ring and it should be enough to vouch for your identity. Additionally, I have a letter here that will explain what happened and why you are there in the first place." She explained while placing the ring in my master's hands and pulling out an envelope from her dress. I blinked a few times when I saw the ring. I leaned closer to Matilda, our resident expert when it came to treasures and asked...
"If it is called a ruby...then why is the gem blue?" I whispered. Matilda looked like she was recalling something before she finally answered.
"I'm not sure myself. I heard that it was something about the original owners of the set of rings but I can't really recall what it was though. Suffice to say that the naming scheme has a reason behind it and it was not just a mistake." Matilda stated with a shrug. I nodded and let the subject go, it didn't have any real bearing on our current issue anyway.
"I will accomplish this mission you have entrusted upon me, your highness." Louise said with such certainty and determination that the princess started to tear up and embraced my master again.
"Thank you my friend...thank you..." She said between breaths. After a while, the princess left through the window and dropped on a waiting griffin. I guess that was how she was able to jump into the room in the first place. I closed the window after she left and took stock of my surroundings. Derf was still on the table but was silent. Matilda was sitting on the bed with Louise as she inspected the Water Ruby, probably making sure that it was real. Louise was looking at the envelope that Henrietta gave her and was likely reflecting on what just happened. I walked up to the both of them and looked at Louise straight in the eye as I folded my arms and leaned back.
"I hope you realize what you just got yourself into." I stated and Louise nodded confidently.
"Nothing you say or do will change my mind, Yuka." Louise answered.
"I understand. Matilda will stay here while the two of us go to Albion along with that knight that the princess mentioned." I stated as I walked to the chair I was previously sitting on and sat down again.
"What? I'm coming with you too!" Matilda declared, angry that I was leaving her out of the mission.
"I know how much you want to stay with Louise and make sure that she gets through this safely. However, as it stands, the man that we are after for a number of reasons is in charge of the country that the princess just asked Louise to infiltrate. The last thing we need is one of his subordinates identifying who you really are and reporting it back. If that happens then you will endanger yourself, Louise, your sister, and the orphanage." I outlined the reason why it would be a bad idea for Matilda to accompany us. The woman bit her bottom lip and reluctantly nodded. She knew, objectively, that what I was saying was right but her emotions still wanted to her to help us anyway.
"Rest assured that I will keep Louise safe...even if I have to kill every last soldier in Albion to do it." I declared coldly. I noticed Louise shift in her place and turned to her.
"The man who currently rules Albion is the same Cromwell that stole the Ring of Advari and the one who threatened Matilda, right?" Louise spoke up, her determined expression hardened at her own words.
"I am not one-hundred percent certain but. unless there is another man out there named Cromwell, he is the only lead we have at the moment." I replied. Louise and I turned to Matilda after she gave a contemplative hum.
"None of the things Cromwell has done makes any sense-" Matilda's words we cut off as she was once again assaulted with a headache caused by the spell on her mind. She grunted and grit her teeth in an effort to endure the pain and was able to recover from it surprisingly quickly.
"Are you alright?" Louise asked worriedly as she held onto Matilda's shoulders while she struggled with the spell.
"I'm...fine..." The woman replied between breaths.
"You recovered a lot faster than before. What was different?" I inquired. The first time she went through that, she blacked out from the pain. When the Water Spirit said the name 'Cromwell', she was still in great pain but was able to stay conscious. Now...she managed to endure the pain and recover from it in a matter of a few minutes.
"That spell they put on me only activates whenever I think of something relating to the people that did this to me right? So all I have to do to stop it is to think of something else entirely, something strong enough to counteract the spell on my mind." She explained with a wry smile. Something strong enough to override a mental spell that well constructed? I narrowed my eyes when I started to realize what she was talking about.
"What did you think about then?" Louise asked her tutor. Matilda blinked at her for a few moments before looking straight at the wall in front of her.
"My family being murdered...my home being burned...my future...all my hopes and dreams being destroyed right in front of me." Matilda stated, her face hardened and void of emotion.
"I'm...I'm...sorry." Louise whispered, horrified that she asked such a thing. Matilda noticed this and snapped out of her thoughts before wrapping her arms around my master.
"Don't worry Louise, it's not your fault." Matilda cooed as she comforted my master.
"Regardless, I don't want to risk it. There are too many things that can go wrong as it stands. I can easily defend Louise by myself but when things get out of hand, it would be best if she was the only one I have to worry about." I stated. Matilda frowned at me for a few moments before nodding.
"I understand..." She muttered in response. I nodded to her and turned to my master.
"Now then. Since the situation has come to a point of no return, I want you to know that I have made certain arrangements on getting you more help with your training." I went to the next point I wanted to raise before I realized that the princess was here.
"What? More fireballs?" Louise muttered bitterly while giving me a disgusted look. Matilda looked at me and Louise in turn and looked confused.
"What are you two talking about?" She finally asked. I sighed and gave a dismissive wave.
"It's a long-" My catch-all response was cut off by Louise.
"Yuka has a pocket realm in the border of dreams called Mugenkan. He uses it as a second home and as a training field for me, and by training, I mean burn me to a crisp over and over and over and over again." My master gave the very abridged explanation of what the two of us were talking about in a complete monotone voice. It seemed that she was still nursing a grudge from before.
"I...see?" Matilda responded, not completely comprehending what my master just blurted out. I sighed and explained everything about Mugenkan and what I was making Louise go through whenever she trains in there. I even explained that the place was linked to my home realm but was too distant in a practical sense to be able to travel between them unless one uses gaps to do so. Matilda was silent for a few moments before laughing once and shaking her head.
"So...you actually make Louise go through all of that just to make her better at evading projectiles?" She asked me with an 'are you freaking mental' look.
"Yes. Louise isn't actually harmed by it because it is just a dream for her, but her body still retains everything she learns from within Mugenkan. Her ability to dodge the spikes that your golem threw at her and her improved sense of balance and spatial awareness during the time we spent in the Charming Fairy Inn speaks volumes on how much she has improved." I pointed out. Matilda gave an understanding nod to that. My training was getting results and guaranteed that Louise was not actually harmed as she went through it. She then glanced at me and narrowed her eyes.
"And this...Yukari woman...are you sure that she's not your..." She trailed off and I sighed loudly in irritation.
"No, Matilda. Yukari is just someone I knew for a long time. We don't have any sort of relationship that would involve romantic or sexual situations. For the last time, I have never fallen in love before, so stop asking if I have been with someone." I ground out, making Louise and Matilda gulp and nod.
"So, about this help for Louise's training?" Matilda inquired, changing the subject.
"Yes, I requested Yukari to bring along my former student, Cirno, the next time Louise and I head there. I want her to teach Louise some basics on the practical use of full contact magic as well as teach her how to put Louise's newfound spatial awareness to good use." I explained. Louise looked at me in surprise at my admittance of having taught someone before.
"You had a student before?" She voiced her surprise. I remembered that she was unconscious when I told Matilda about Cirno and decided to tell her about her senior.
"Yes. Cirno is a ice fairy that has lived for a few centuries. She used to be a brash and childish whelp but she matured well and is now a very formidable foe. I want her to teach you the things I pointed out because of her situation as an ice fairy." I explained as I leaned back into my chair and checked my pocket watch, noting that it was already getting late.
"What do you mean by that?" Louise asked her follow up question.
"You see, Cirno is considered as the most powerful fairy in Gensokyo, easily the strongest. However, she is still just a fairy. The limitation of her species guarantees that she will never be as powerful as some of the other denizens of my home realm, certainly nowhere near my level. However, she managed to overcome that limitation by using something that she seldomly used before." I answered. I had already anticipated the question that my master was about to ask, but waited for her anyway.
"Which is?" Louise asked me, leaning forward in keen interest as to how her senior managed to become a formidable opponent despite the limitations she had. I smiled at my master and tapped the side of my head with my right index finger.
"She used her brain, Louise. Cirno's key to her success came from the fact that she shifted her fighting style to become an analytical fighter. Because of a certain incident a few hundred years ago, she discovered her gift in split-second analysis and deduction and literally saved all of Gensokyo by herself after everyone else, including me and Yukari, were disabled." I stated, outlining what happened during the incident known in legend as 'The Golden Nocturne' incident.
"Ever since then, I taught her how to maximize the use of her newfound ability and she made it her own. And that is what I want her to teach you." I continued. Louise was just a human, Void magician or no. That means that I will never be able to teach her anything aside from dodging danmaku because she will never be able to learn my fighting style. To be able to get around that, I want Cirno to teach Louise how to maximize the skill that she does have, explosions, so my master can defend herself should she find herself without the protection of me or Matilda.
"I see..." Louise muttered as she finally understood what I was trying to do to improve her.
"Because of what happened here tonight, we may not have enough time for Cirno to give you enough lessons to make you awesome overnight. What she can do is give you the basics and at least allow you to grow from there. Now, that is enough for tonight. The princess will probably contact us in some way once she is ready to set her plan in motion. In the meantime, the two of you better get some sleep." I stated before picking up my parasol and leaving the room. I scowled as soon as I closed the door behind me.
I hated tight schedules...
I exited Mugenkan the next morning and took in the smell of the flowers. It was already in the middle of summer and the flowers have been replaced appropriately. They were still flowers that would normally be impossible to grow together on Earth geographically, but that didn't stop these flowers from blooming. I liked that. I brought along my parasol to my trip to Mugenkan in case Yukari came in with Cirno and if my former student suddenly accused me for being an impostor since I was a man even though she should know that it would be impossible for anyone else, save for Yukari, to be able to create a fragment of Mugenkan. For all her smarts when it came to situational analysis in combat, Cirno was still an idiot when it came to simple deduction while she was relaxed. However, my precaution didn't seem to be needed as no one showed up, not even Louise. It seemed that the incident that Yukari was helping Touya Hakurei with was taking longer than normal while Louise might have just been too tired to pop up in the field. I sighed and shook my head. There was nothing I could do about that at the moment. However, there was something I've been meaning to do for days now...and it just so happened that a carriage just pulled up at the far end of the academy. I walked up to it and sure enough, out came Professor Colbert and Headmaster Osmond. I noted that they didn't seem tired at all, they must be used to long trips. Professor Colbert noticed my approach and turned to me with a smile.
"Good morning Mister Yuka." Colbert greeted me with a smile. His greeting prompted the headmaster to turn to me as well.
"Ah, Miss Valliere's familiar. Good morning to you." The old man greeted me, I nodded to both of them and smiled.
"Professor. Headmaster. Good morning. Did you have a nice trip?" I returned their greeting and asked about their trip to the country of Romalia. The old man suddenly started laughing at my words, prompting a raised brow from me.
"You could say that it was rather eventful." The old man vaguely stated.
"Indeed...however, I would like to inquire about a few things. Particularly something that Professor Colbert said, or almost said, during the meeting on how to deal with Fouquet." I steered the subject to the heart of the matter. Both men went silent at my words and looked at each other before looking back at me.
"What ever do you mean?" Colbert asked with an awkward laugh, I sighed and shook my head in response. Was answering a few questions really that difficult? I looked at him straight in the eye and gave my answer.
"Due to various events, both coincidental and intentional, I have reason to believe that I am a familiar of a Void magician, a Gandalfr to be specific. The slip of the tongue that you made before seemed to indicate that you know more about me than you let on. I want to know what you know, both for the sake of my master and for a better understanding on what becoming a familiar of this type entails." I stated seriously and the good professor looked at me like I just grew a second head, which was impossible since I'm sure I haven't used that ability yet.
"It would seem that we should take this conversation to my office." Osmond offered before walking off, to his office I assumed. I used my parasol as a walking stick as I walked after him with a somewhat bewildered Professor Colbert following afterward. The walk to the Headmaster's office was spent in silence. I smiled as I sensed that the good professor was being wary of me as we walked, it seemed that the man still did not trust me completely. He's a smart man. We all entered the the Headmaster's office one by one. I waited in the middle of the room for Osmond to take his seat while Colbert chose to stand at his side.
"Now, I assume that you have a few things that you wish to clear up." Osmond started as he lit his rather long pipe and taking a few puffs.
"Indeed, I wish to start with what the good professor hinted during the meeting on how to capture Fouquet." I said while looking straight at Colbert before folding my arms and leaning back. The balding man winced when I said those words and sighed.
"When you were first summoned by Miss Valliere, you showed us the runes on your hand, yes?" Colbert started and I nodded at his words as I recalled what I did when I first came to this world.
"I only saw them for a moment but I am rather good at recalling certain details of things that catch my eye. Your runes are one such thing that caught my eye." He continued while eyeing my left hand.
"And you determined that the runes represented the familiar runes of a Gandalfr?" I asked as I relaxed my stance and set my hands to my sides.
"No, I did not even know that you were a Gandalfr until you said so a while ago." The balding man said sheepishly. I raised a brow at his words and waited for him to continue.
"You see, each of the set of runes on a familiar are as unique as the mages that make them. The runes could mean a word or a phrase or something about the mage or familiar, they could mean a many number of things. However, the common thing about this is that you can clearly understand what they mean. Your runes are different in the sense that I had no idea what they meant." The man continued his explanation. I heard Osmond hum thoughtfully at the words of his staff member before releasing another puff of smoke.
"If that was the case, then why did you refer to me as a legendary something-or-other before?" I asked Colbert while rubbing my chin with my right hand.
"That was actually partly based of what I managed to catch from the runes on your hand and some guesswork based on some legends from the time of The Founder. You see, there was a part of the runes in your hand that translates to the words 'of God'. After I noticed that, I immediately started researching about it to see what that could possibly means. Obviously a familiar that is partly branded as something used by God would raise a few eyebrows. What I eventually found was that there were four familiars that had that particular designation, Brimir's familiars." Colbert explained, his eyes starting to take on a glint similar to what Keine sometimes had whenever she lectured something about the grand history of Gensokyo.
"I went through the list and tried to determine which of them you could possibly be. By the time when I blurted that out, I thought that you were 'The Heart of God'." He stated while shaking his head.
"What caused you to end up with that conclusion?" In inquired, interested to see the reasoning behind his findings when he had so little information to go on. The man's expression lit up because of my interest of learning more and nodded to himself before answering.
"I did it through a method of elimination based on what each of the familiars are supposedly capable of. I started with 'The Left Hand of God', who was famed for being able to wield any weapon with the prowess of of an expert instantly. However, after your duel with Sir Gramont and the reports on how you handled Fouquet's golem during the evaluation fair, I originally determined that you were not that familiar because you never used any weapons." Colbert reasoned. It was true, I never really held a weapon during my stay here in this realm aside from Derf, and I had finally reacted to the sword after it was cleaned up. I decided to bring up that strange point after Colbert was done with his explanations.
"After that, I thought that you were 'The Right Hand of God' but I quickly dismissed that claim." He said with a sigh.
"Why is that, professor?" I inquired and the man just gave me a wry smile.
"Because the special ability of 'The Right Hand of God' is the power to communicate and control magical beasts. I dismissed that claim because the other familiars are terrified of you and you have never shown the ability to commune nor command magical beasts." He explained. That made sense I suppose. I have never had the instance where I could understand what the other familiars were saying. I suppose could command them...but that would only because of their fear of me and not because I had the ability to command them.
"The next one would be 'The Mind of God' which should allow you to be able to use any magical artifact that you got your hands on. However, this theory ended as inconclusive because I couldn't just give you a magical artifact and ask if you could somehow use it properly...it would have been too dangerous to ask of you." He stated. I nodded in understanding at his reluctance since it would have likely ended up putting the lives of his students at risk if he gave me an artifact and I somehow used it wrong. Though he didn't point out the possibility that I could have figured out how the artifact worked by myself...I seem to be underestimated here.
"And that only leaves the last familiar, 'The Heart of God'. The reason why I thought you were that familiar was because...there wasn't anyone else." Colbert admitted with an awkward laugh while rubbing the back of his head. He stopped when Osmond cleared his throat and gave him a sideward glance. The balding man laughed one more time before continuing.
"'The Heart of God' is potentially the most powerful familiar that The Founder ever had. The reason why is because it was made to be a container of magical energy...a lot of magical energy, so much so that the legends state that Brimir used it to destroy an entire civilization." Colbert explained, making me raise a brow.
"So Brimir used it to fuel his spells? A well-spring of magical energy?" I asked, the utility of a magical battery would be immense and it would make sense if Brimir could tap into it and send out enough spells to eventually flatten an entire civilization.
"No. According to the legends, The Founder used 'The Heart of God' to release all of its magical energy at one and completely destroy everything that was caught in the explosion." Colbert said somberly, I raised my other brow at his words. Brimir used one of his familiars...as a mana bomb? I was surprised by this because of how this realm shows the importance in the bonds between magicians and their familiars. For Brimir to actually use one of his precious familiars as a weapon of mass destruction...I didn't know what to think of the man now.
"I...see..." I said absentmindedly, still uncertain about what to think about The Founder and how he utilized his familiar. I shook the thought aside and focused on the matter at hand.
"Thank you for your explanations, professor. It was very educational for one who is not from here." I stated politely, Colbert beamed when I said that. Something I learned from dealing with teaching types, thanking them for the knowledge they dispense does wonders for their egos and their impression of you.
"However, I would like to know more about certain aspects of a Gandalfr now that I have determined that I am one." I added, moving on to the other topic I wanted to confer with them.
"And you are certain that you are 'The Left Hand of God'?" Colbert asked me expectantly, I nodded in response.
"I held a sword that was fresh off of some major maintenance and I felt a surge of power coming from the runes. I suddenly knew how to wield the blade with the skill of an expert and it even added a passive enhancement on my physical capabilities. The effect disappeared as soon as I let go of the blade but it proves what I am and sheds light as to why the Gandalfr was famed to be a master of all weapons." I explained. The two men shared a glance before turning back to me.
"Then Miss Valliere is a void mage. This is most unexpected..." Headmaster Osmond stated as fact before stroking his beard and humming thoughtfully. Professor Colbert eyed me warily for a moment before relaxing.
"This sword that you spoke of...was it the talking one that you brought in from the capital?" He asked, shifting the topic back.
"So you've heard of it. Yes, the sword is known as Derflinger and was forged and wielded by the very first Gandalfr, Brimir's wife, Sasha. And yes, I realize the irony of me, a Gandalfr, possessing the very sword that was once used by my predecessor. I sometimes think that my stay here was caused and maintained by some sort of higher planar being that can control all aspects of this world to its whim and making a story out of this...or I may simply be over thinking this." I mused. I noticed that both men were looking at me like I was made of solid gold. When they did not respond, I decided to continue.
"More to the point, before Derf was restored to fighting form, I have never had that reaction when I held it. Moreover, I have never felt that surge whenever I wielded my trusty parasol, my weapon of choice for so very long." I pointed out, snapping the professor from his previous thoughts and contemplating what I had just said.
"Hmm...from what I understand from the legend, 'The Left Hand of God' is able to wield any kind of weapon that it can hold. The probable reason why your runes did not react to your umbrella-"
"Parasol." I interrupted the man with my correction. He nodded once before continuing, seemingly not bothered by my sudden interruption.
"It was because it was not made as a weapon, certainly not one that the runes would comprehend as a weapon, even as effective as it is in your hands." Colbert postulated. That makes sense, my parasol was not a weapon per say, it was simply durable enough to outclass actual weapons.
"I see. But what of Derf? It is clearly a sword forged as a weapon but I did not react to it before." I pointed out. This was what was bothering me and it seemed that Colbert didn't have the answer either.
"If I may..." The Headmaster said before opening up a drawer in his desk and taking out two knives, one was a well maintained blade while the other was rusted over and looked like it was starting to break down. I briefly wondered why the old man had those two items but shook off the thought as I understood what he was trying to make me do, an experiment. I picked up the rusted knife and raised a brow when I didn't feel a thing. I put the knife down and picked up the other one and...
"Interesting..." I muttered as I felt the same sensation as before. The knowledge to use the knife in ways I never really thought of flooded into me while the enhancement spell did its work on my body. I smiled as I glanced at my left hand and showed the glowing runes to the two men. Colbert gasped in surprise while Osmond simply gave a sagely nod.
"It would appear that we have found the reason." The old man said before letting out another puff of smoke.
"What do you mean Headmaster?" Colbert asked, rather confused at the whole thing. I was also interested on how the old man figured it out so I remained silent and waited for him to speak.
"The reason why you did not react to your sword before was not because it was not made to be a weapon. It was because it could not function as a weapon in the state that it was in." The old man said and my eyes went wide. Of course! Derf was so rusted over before that even I didn't think that it could function as a weapon. I was starting to get impressed at how well these runes were made. They can provide information on how a weapon should be wielded in the most efficient way possible and can even discriminate between objects that are meant to be weapons and those that aren't or those not fit to be weapons. The physical enhancements might have been an afterthought but they can also be useful if the Gandalfr in question had little to no battle skill or experience prior to becoming a familiar of the void.
"And therein lies the 'why'..." I muttered while setting the knife back on the table.
"I thank you both for clarifying these things for me even after you just came back from a trip to another country." I stated while giving them both a curt bow.
"Not at all! Finding out that one of my students is a void mage and her familiar is the legendary 'Left hand of God' more than makes up for it!" Colbert stated enthusiastically, reminding me of one last thing I wanted them to do in case I confirmed the things I did. I looked at them both seriously and noticed that Osmond was giving me a wily smile.
"You don't want this information to leave this room, yes?" The old man asked even though he already knew the answer, a wise man befitting the power he hides underneath his age.
"What? Why not? This could very well be the most important discovery for Tristain in the last century!" Colbert, ever the scholar despite the aura of power he desperately tries to suppress, did not seem to realize why I wanted this information under wraps.
"Professor, do you realize how much danger my master would be in once it becomes public knowledge that she is a void magician?" I asked the balding man, hoping that he would come out of his brain long enough to realize the meaning behind my words. Thankfully, his wide eyes and serious expression indicated that he did.
"I...understand. Such a shame that we can't share this discovery with the world. The legacy of The Founder right in our midsts and she must be kept secret for her own safety." Colbert stated ruefully.
"In any case, I thank you both again for all this information. Now if you'll excuse me, my master might be wondering where I am." I said goodbye and left the two men in the Headmaster's office.
I started to walk back to Louise's room and ran through the information I had so far.
My master is a void magician, the wielder of an element of magic that was thought to be lost to the ages, while I am a master of weapons, 'The Left Hand of God'. I already know how to activate and utilize the effects of the runes though I couldn't think of a situation where I would need a weapon in the first place, making my newfound 'power' seem moot unless I have the sudden curiosity on how to wield a certain weapon with expert skill. But what if I could use the knowledge I attain from the runes on how to expertly wield conventional weapons and apply it whenever I use my parasol? I smiled viciously at the thought.
A possibility worth exploring later.
If anything, the confirmation of my being a Gandalfr only served to prove my original theory that Louise was a void magician. Helpful as a starting point on refining her magic to something other than explosions but we still had no idea what void spells actually were and how to properly cast them. Something to have Matilda look into while Louise and I were away on our little mission for the princess. I suppressed a grimace when I recalled what happened last night. I know that I was one who would point out a mistake or wrongdoing that another has made if only so they could correct it so they can stop bothering me about it.
Last night was different.
I antagonized the princess and pointed out everything I could think of as to why it was stupid to ask Louise to go on this mission. I knew that the most likely cause as to why Henrietta asked Louise was because my master was the only person she probably trusted enough to do this. I knew that logically but I lashed out at her all the same simply because her actions could put Louise in the face of danger. That was not like me. If I was what I had been when I was first called here, I would have just shrugged and went with Louise on the mission, killing everything that got in our way. I certainly wouldn't have given reasons as to why she shouldn't go. Something has changed...and I wasn't sure what it was. I took deep breath and continued on my way to my master's room, I'll figure this out eventually. In the meantime, I have to explain a few things to my master.
"Louise? Louise, are you listening?" I called out to my master after I noticed that she adopted a vacant expression. I had just finished relaying the information that I had uncovered after speaking with Professor Colbert and Headmaster Osmond. Somehow, around the time when I demonstrated the effects of the runes, Louise stopped speaking and her gaze seemed cold and distant. I snapped my fingers in front of her eyes in an effort to call her back to us like I did with Siesta, it wasn't working so far. We were sitting at our usual spot in the academy courtyard after I asked a servant to prepare tea and snacks for us there. It seemed that Siesta was busy with her other duties so I had to ask someone else to do it for us. I must say, I quickly started to miss Siesta's tea since the brew prepared by the other servant, whose name I never bothered to learn, was subpar at best.
"I think you broke her..." Matilda commented from my master's side. It was only me, Matilda, and Louise at the table since everyone else had something better to do. Kirche and Tabitha were still in Gallia while Monmon went back home for the rest of the summer break. Guiche seemed to still be in the academy but was actively avoiding us, possibly due to what happened before.
"I hope not. Breaking her mentally with that little revelation would be rather disappointing after she had endured so much during our training. Speaking of, I am expecting a extra guest tonight to help Louise with some things before this mission got started." I pointed out. Matilda eyed me for a moment before looking back at Louise.
"This guest, it is your former student? Will she help Louise with her spellwork as a void mage?" She asked as she waved her right hand in front of Louise's face to try to get a reaction from the seemingly catatonic girl.
"Yes, I had arranged for Cirno to show up the next time that Louise and I appear in Mugenkan. No, she will not be teaching Louise spellwork. I want her to teach Louise something more...fundamental. Besides, even though we have confirmed that my master is a void magician, we still don't know what void magic actually does nor do we know any spells that use that particular element." I explained and Matilda turned back to me with a rather displeased expression.
"And I assume that you want me to look into void element spells while you and Louise are away, right?" She flatly said while folding her arms and leaning back. I narrowed my eyes at her and took a small sip of my tea before responding.
"I can't believe that you even picked that up...Derf is surprisingly good at reading others." I commented as I put down my cup.
"What are you talking about?" Matilda asked with a raised brow while maintaining her stance. I hummed thoughtfully and imitated Headmaster Osmond by stroking an imaginary beard before responding.
"This..." I stated before folding my arms and leaning back, making the woman blink before looking down at her own stance.
"...and the fact that you managed to piece together what I wanted you to do while Louise and I were away even though I never actually stated it and only gave small circumstantial clues. We may very well be on the same wavelength...which would be a bit frightening if you think about it hard enough." I stated before picking up my teacup again and taking another small sip of the tea, making the most of what I have. I glanced back at Matilda and saw that she was once again beet red and was looking away from me while having a sour look.
"So, will you do it?" I asked since I really wanted to know if that would be taken care of with confidence. Other than Colbert, Matilda was the only person I know that would be able to dig up that kind of information and I really didn't want to rely on the professor because of his...enthusiasm in the subject. I needed this done quietly, and who better to do it than the infamous thief that managed to hide under everyone's nose for who knows how long. I heard Matilda grumble something I couldn't quite hear before she suddenly turned to me with a glare. Thanks to her clothes and haircut, she really does look like Shikieiki on a preaching rampage.
"Fine, I'll do it. Just make sure you keep Louise safe while you're in Albion." She stated in an ordering tone while poking at my chest with her finger.
"Matilda, you underestimate me. No force on this world can harm Louise as long as she is with me." I stated confidently with a warm smile, confidence that was backed with over a millennia of combat experience and power.
"THE VOID IS A LIE!" Louise suddenly screamed out of the top of her lungs before drawing ragged breaths. I was wondering if there were still any lingering traces of the Love Potion still in her system when I noticed that she had her eyes narrowed at me.
"You're a Gandalfr, right?" She asked me warily, I silently nodded in response.
"And since you're my familiar, that means that I'm a...a...a...void mage" Louise said in a distant and disbelieving voice, clearly doubting if this was even happening at all. The distant look in her eyes suddenly refocused and polished out until it was starting to gleam.
"I have to tell the princess!" Louise declared with a bright smile as she stood from her seat. I didn't want to be the one to wipe that smile off her face but...
"You will do no such thing." I coldly stated while reaching over to her and yanking her back down to her seat.
"Yuka!" Matilda yelled at me after seeing what I just did while Louise was staring at me in surprise.
"W-w-why?" My master muttered as I noticed tears starting to form in her eyes, that was before I saw a fire being lit within them.
"WHY?" She screamed at me as she stood back up roughly, rattling the table and the porcelain on it.
"I'm a void mage! A VOID MAGE! I finally have proof that I'm not a failure and you don't want me to tell anyone? You don't want me to even tell the oldest friend I have ever had?" Louise was indignant in her words as she yelled at me and splashed the tea in her cup at my face. I took the hit and calmly wiped the liquid with my handkerchief as Matilda tried her best to calm Louise down. I could understand that, I guess. She had nothing but failures all her life in the craft that she had dedicated her whole being in order to learn and finally, she was able to discover what she was really capable of. After all those years of failure, it was only natural for her to want to share her joy with others. Unfortunately, this was something that cannot be revealed just yet.
"Louise..." I started as I discarded the moist handkerchief on the table. My master's magical power once again started to spike but it seemed unstable, increasing and decreasing at random intervals. It seemed that her emotional state really does dictate the amount of power she had access to at any given time.
"I have already spoken about this with both Professor Colbert and Headmaster Osmond and they both agree that keeping this a secret is the best course of action. This is for your own safety, Louise." I clearly stated, my voice neutral as to not betray the disgusting feeling that was starting to well up inside me as being directly responsible for my master's sadness.
There it was again...
This was something I normally do not feel after making someone feel bad. Something is causing me to become much more critical about my master's physical and emotional well being. Was it the runes again? Or was is something else that I haven't taken into account yet?
"You fear that someone might come after her if her status as a void mage is revealed?" Matilda ventured a guess that snapped me from my thoughts and once again hit the proverbial bullseye.
"No, I am certain that someone will come after Louise if her status as a void mage is revealed." I stated seriously while looking at Louise straight in the eye. She flinched back as if struck by my words and I noticed that her magical energy started to calm down and subside.
"Explain." Louise said, still visibly upset at me but curious as to why I was being so cautious about this.
"During all of your research about the power of the void element before, have you ever encountered any instance or mention, even in passing, about other void mages aside from The Founder?" I asked while folding my arms and leaning back, ignoring the trace scent of Darjeeling Tea on my clothes.
"No, I haven't." Louise replied as she sat back on her chair and started to calm down.
"Every mention of a void magician or the four legendary familiars have always revolved around the time of Brimir. No mention of any void mages or their familiars are made after The Founder died and his name ascended into legend." Louise added while looking down at the table, recalling what she had read in the academy library.
"Exactly. There is a reason for that. Either every void magician and the familiar were very good at hiding or someone got to them and...well, use your imagination." I explained with a shrug of my shoulders.
"There is also the possibility that I could be the only void mage since The Founder." Louise pointed out and I nodded.
"Unlikely, but possible. However, if that is the case, then you are in greater danger than before. If you are the only void magician since Brimir, then a lot of people will want your power, your own country included. It might even prompt other countries, such as Albion, to initiate hostilities with Tristain simply because they would want to get their hands on you or kill you because of the kind of threat you could be to them." I reasoned and saw Louise's face turn to anguish more and more with each valid point I made. The a heavy silence settled on the table afterward, the sudden revelation and the subsequent problem because of said revelation was a bit hard to swallow for my two companions.
"Even so...I really cannot tell anyone?" Louise asked me in an almost pleading voice.
"Not yet. As it stands, it is simply too dangerous for you to do so. Too many things can go wrong and too many bad things can happen because of it. To top it all off, you don't even know how to cast void element spells...you don't even know any void element spells." I pointed out and Louise predictably let out a familiar 'urk' at the realization that, even though she is a void magician, she doesn't even know how to utilize her power.
"And that is precisely the reason why I want Cirno to take over your lessons for now." I added, making Louise blink at the mention of her senior.
"Cirno-nee will be teaching me? What? I don't know how to perform ice magic!" Louise calling my former student Cirno-nee was both nostalgic and strange since he has yet to meet the ice fairy, though logically it made sense to a degree.
"She will not be teaching you magic directly. Instead, she will teach you how to utilize what skill you have to their maximum potential...well, that will be the intent." I explained with a shrug. Both women looked at me with furrowed brows in confusion as to what I was talking about.
"Skills? What skills could Louise possibly have to refine which would require another personal tutor?" Matilda asked with an edge in her voice, probably offended that someone else will be teaching her student even though we set her up specifically to be Louise's tutor.
"I meant no disrespect, Matilda. However, this is something that must be taught by Cirno. What she will be teaching Louise are the refinement and mastery her newfound skills in balance, spatial awareness, reflexes, and speed. She will also be teaching Louise on how to best use her oldest known power..." I pointed out, giving them a smile and pausing for a beat before finishing.
"...explosions." I finished.
"...what?" Louise flatly stated and seemingly insulted that the very product of her past failures would be something that her senior will be helping her develop.
"Admit it Louise, your explosions have been the most consistent spell in your arsenal thus far. We already know that your explosions have the raw power to destroy magically reinforced objects while inexplicably remaining non-lethal to biological targets. Something that useful can't simply be discarded because you don't like it. The issue you have with it is accuracy and control. Your accuracy is improving now that you are actively trying to make explosions but your control still hasn't been addressed yet." I explained. Matilda nodded in begrudging understanding of my intentions and seemed to finally agree with it. Louise on the other hand was still being as stubborn as she sometimes was.
"They're explosions, what is there to control aside from how big they should be?" Louise asked me defiantly while folding her arms and leaning back. I chose to ignore the fact that both Matilda and Louise seemed to have picked up that little habit of mine. Instead, I chose to address my master's question with something that Yukari once told me about my own power.
"A many number of things, Louise, you just don't realize it yet. Even the most mundane of abilities can become formidable if polished." I answered and my master eyed me with much apprehension and skepticism.
"Just give it a chance, Louise." I added and I was met with Louise humming thoughtfully and rubbing her chin with her right hand.
"She won't be freezing me and shattering me into tiny pieces during our 'lessons', will she?" Louise asked me with narrowed eyes while still rubbing her chin.
"No, I only threaten you with the fear of death as a motivator for you to have a foundation on your spatial awareness and reflexes. Once Cirno manages to get you up to the point where you are a competent combatant, then I will move my lessons up to the next level." I answered with a very warm smile. The effect on Louise on the other hand was less than happy.
"You'll make my training worse?" She yelped out in fear as the thought of something worse than five piranha plants belching fireballs at her will be waiting for her once our lessons resume.
"Don't worry, Yukari has pointed out a minor flaw in my teaching methods and I intend to fix them by the time I will resume teaching you. Besides, you make it sound like you actually have a choice in the matter." I stated with a smile before pouring myself another cup of tea as I saw Louise smack her head on the table before uttering 'Merde'.
Louise received a letter from the princess later that day stating that her little mission will commence tomorrow. Upon learning about this, I excused myself from Louise's room with Derflinger and went to one of the academy clearings. I wanted to talk with the sword alone and get a few more answers before we began this little outing.
"So..." I stated as I pulled Derf out completely from its scabbard, the effect of the runes once again flowing through my body.
"So..." The sword replied before I took a couple of practice swings with it, applying the knowledge imparted to me by the runes in my hand.
"Whoa! You got some power behind those swings!" The sword commented as I inspected the blade. The edge was gleaming under the afternoon sun and it really looked like it was brand new. I had asked Siesta when I ran into her earlier if the blacksmith had any problems in cleaning up Derf. The maid thought about it for a moment before stating that the man commented that all the rust that accumulated on the sword was only surface dirt and nothing more. There was no breakdown that occurred on Derf's body at all. That little fact made me more interested in the sword. A magical blade that never rusted over nor breaking down even when exposed to nature. There was also that permanent enchantment that I sense from it. I still couldn't figure out what it was supposed to be though.
"Hey, Derf..." I called out to the sword as I continued to inspect its blade.
"What's up?" The sword replied.
"You have a permanent enchantment on you that I can't seem to recognize. It's not the preservation spell applied to you that prevents you from breaking down due to rusting over. Do you know what it's supposed to be?" I asked Derf as I flicked the blade to my left hand and tested if the runes allow me to wield the blade proficiently with either hand.
"I don't rightly remember right now, sorry. Only thing I could think of is that it has something to do with my name." I raised a brow at its answer, the clue behind the mystery enchantment is the sword's name?
"Derflinger...well, it is a rather unusual name I admit. Do you remember what your name means?" I asked while thinking of ways to apply my newfound knowledge in swordsmanship once I wield my parasol again.
"I think that it's elven for something...hang on a sec and let me think..." The sword said while giving a thoughtful hum. I decided to plant the sword on the ground and let it think in peace. I glanced around the area and noticed that Guiche was approaching me. He was approaching me and he looked like he has something to say. I walked up to him and met the young man half-way before folding my arms and leaning back, waiting for what he has to say. The young man looked at me in the eye, set his jaw, clenched his hands into fists, and...
"I want to come with you!" The young man declared. It was void of his usual flamboyance and fanfare and was a legitimately serious declaration. I raised a brow as I wondered what he was talking about. I narrowed my eyes at him when I realized what he was talking about.
"How much did you hear?" I asked the young man in a grave voice. The seriousness I displayed made him gulp and take a step back but I recovered quickly from the initial shock.
"Only the part about you and Louise going to infiltrate Albion as a mission for the princess. I overheard it from the other side of the door." He admitted while trying very hard to suppress his fear of me.
"Why were you there?" I asked him, more in curiosity than anything. Henrietta's entrance was via the sixth-floor window in the middle of the night so no one should have been able to notice her unless they were specifically watching out for her or were lucky enough to look up at the right moment. So, what was Guiche doing in front of Louise's room in the middle of the night?
"I was meaning to speak with you about what you said about me and my Monmon." He answered. Ah, that will do it.
"And you overheard the three of us speaking about the mission to Albion." I concluded, earning a nod from the young man.
"What is it you wanted to talk to me about?" I asked him, my stance relaxing. He looked at me for a moment as if he wasn't really sure how to respond.
"Umm...what do you mean by that?" He asked, still unsure on how he should have reacted to that.
"The reason why you stumbled into that little conversation was because you wanted to talk to me about you and Monmon, yes? I want to get that out of the way first, we'll talk about the other thing later." I explained and the young man dumbly nodded before clearing his throat.
"I have...reflected upon what you told me...how I treated my Monmon...how I really treated my Monmon. Frankly, Mister Yuka, I found that I quickly became disgusted with myself." The young man said bitterly with a grimace while looking down on the ground. I remained silent and allowed him to finish.
"What I did to Monmon...it should be unforgivable but she...she...she..." He trailed off while clenching his eyes shut and gritting his teeth, unable to finish his own words.
"She continued to love and cherish you regardless and did all that she could to have your sole attention." I finished for him and he nodded vigorously in agreement.
"I...I...don't deserve her..." Guiche let out as he started to cry for what he did to his lover.
"That may be so, but she still loves you. Thankfully, you now seem to realize why you are lucky to have such a woman." I said with a bit of a smile.
"I don't know what to do...how can I possibly make up for what I have done to her?" Guiche asked me as if I was the perfect person to ask advice from when it came to issues of the heart. The irony of that thought was palpable.
"That will be up to you. Telling her that you love her and meaning it would likely be a good start. She would probably play it off as another one of your shallow declarations and ignore it so you will have to endure. It will not be easy Sir Gramont, but then again, that is why it is known as redemption." I suggested, quoting a line stated by Shikieiki after a certain incident involving Kanako, myself, and Yuyuko.
"I understand...but I still wish to accompany you and Louise!" The young man declared, doing a one-eighty emotionally from despair to determination.
"Why?" I simply asked. This was to be a rather dangerous mission, Guiche should know that. So why did he still want to accompany us to that country?
"Because a man of the Gramont family always pays back our debts!" He proudly declared. The fact that he didn't sound anything that the Guiche I knew aside, what debt was he talking about?
"Debt?" I asked with a raised brow.
"For what you did to make me realize the idiocy I was doing in regards to my Monmon. You made me realize how much of a fool I was and may very well have saved our relationship. I wish to pay you back for it!" He answered immediately without any hint of hesitation or doubt.
"And? What use would we have for you if we did bring you along?" I asked the young man seriously. If I was bringing anyone else along for this trip, then Matilda would be far more useful than Guiche. Unless he had something utterly compelling to provide, then I saw no reason to bring him along. The question struck him like a punch from one of his bronze golems and he was left speechless. When he did not respond, I sighed and turned my back on him.
"Your sentiment is admirable, Guiche de Gramont. However, I cannot allow anything to go wrong in this trip. My master's life could very well come at risk during the course of this mission. I cannot afford to have to look after someone else." I stated and left the shocked young man and walked back to Derf.
"You sure you don't wanna bring him along?" Derf asked me from its place in the ground. I raised a brow at the apparent sharp hearing of the sword.
"I don't want to bring anyone who doesn't have anything good to contribute. Anyone else would be dead weight. I don't carry dead weight, I make them." I commented with one of my more sinister smiles, making Derf gulp.
"No matter how many times I see that, I never get used to it." The sword admitted with what could have been considered as a shudder.
"I should hope not. So, have you remembered anything about your name?" I asked the sword.
"Yep! It was something Sasha once said after I was newly forged. She called me Derflinger: Devourer of Magi." It answered with enthusiasm, probably from the fact that it remembered something else about itself.
"That's a rather ominous name, don't you think?" I honestly commented. The enchantment I felt from the sword was passive but it did not feel hostile, certainly nothing that would prompt the name 'Devourer of Magi'. Perhaps the enchantment only activates once I let the blood of a magician flow across the sword? A fair chance to test out that possibility would likely present itself on our trip to Albion. I guess that means that Derflinger will be coming along as well.
Louise opened her eyes and found herself once again in the border of dreams. She grumbled about not being able to have a nice dream because of it but she shook that feeling off as she realized that she was supposed to meet her senior tonight. The ice fairy, Cirno. Louise stood up and began walking through the endless field of sunflowers, trying to find that yellow brick road that lead to her familiar's mansion. She reflexively reached for her wand as soon as she heard a very familiar tearing sound from behind her, subsequently cursing the fact that this was a dream for her which meant that she did not have her wand with her. She turned around and saw Yukari appear from the gap in the air like a slithering snake that appeared from a hole in a tree. Louise tried very hard not to remember the way the ancient being of power tried to molest her the last time the two of them crossed paths.
"Why hello there, little Louise!" Yukari greeted her with a wink and blew her a kiss. The young void mage cringed and avoided the trajectory of the kiss like it was one of the kisses blown by Scarron. Before she could complain about the inappropriateness of the border youkai's actions, she suddenly heard another tearing sound from her side. The gap that appeared was much higher in the air, well over the height of a person. Louise realized why when someone dropped down from the gap.
Louise saw a girl who was around as tall as Jessica, though less shapely...especially around the chest area...though this girl still had a better figure than her. Louise suppressed her increasingly hostile thoughts and noticed a few more things about the new girl. She looked around nineteen years of age who had shoulder length blue hair that was tied into a ponytail by a sky blue ribbon. She had an orange scarf that wrapped around her neck and settled on her shoulders. She was wearing a black and blue one piece dress that had a short skirt. The sleeves and the part that covered her shoulders and chest were all black while the part that covered the rest of her torso as well as the skirt was blue. Louise also noticed that the girl was wearing something that looked like black stockings over her legs. No, what she was wearing looked elastic, regardless, it prevented anyone from looking up her skirt and seeing anything significant. The...elastic stockings looked like they reached all the way to her feet but Louise couldn't confirm it due to the fact that the girl was also wearing brown boots that reached to just below her knees. All in all, her clothes accentuated her femininity while giving out a mysterious air about her. What was most striking about her though were the six crystals made of solid ice that were floating just behind her, their tips were almost touching her back and have the semblance of wings.
This was Cirno. The strongest fairy in Gensokyo and former student of her familiar...and she was currently staring right at Louise, studying the young magician as much as she was studying the ice fairy. Louise glanced away in embarrassment from being scrutinized to intently by someone other than her mother or sisters.
"You know...I didn't really believe Yukari when she suddenly told me about what happened to teach after she dropped off the map back home. But seeing you here, I still don't believe it but I'm willing to listen to what you have to say." Louise wondered what she could possibly say to satisfy Cirno. She couldn't just say that it was an accident and she didn't mean to summon Yuka. She also couldn't just say that she summoned Yuka on purpose either. Louise opened her mouth to say something when Cirno turned around, folded her arms, and leaned back.
"Well? Out with it. What happened to teach?" Cirno asked to the field of sunflowers. Wasn't she talking to her? Or did she just decide that her back was enough for Louise to speak to. The young pinkette didn't like that thought and she felt her anger starting to boil. That was when she noticed that someone was walking toward them from the direction that Cirno is facing. It seemed that the ice fairy really wasn't talking to her and was actually speaking to someone else.
"Is that any way for you to talk to your old mentor?" Yuka asked as he walked into view with his closed parasol hefted on his shoulder.
"Last time I checked, my master was a woman." Cirno pointed out with a tilted head. Wait...woman?
"You can blame Yukari fooling around again." She heard her familiar say with shaking his head. Louise turned to where the border youkai was and saw that she was looking away while whistling.
"Templates like that are forbidden." Cirno cooly said before stomping her right foot on the ground. Yuka narrowed his eyes and quickly jumped to the side just as a massive icicle burst out of the ground where her familiar was just standing on.
"If you really are teach, then you should be able to handle this." Cirno said with a smile before flying up in the air and creating several icicles around her. Louise turned to her familiar in panic and saw that he was smiling...he was actually smiling.
~Icicle Fall~Itano Carnival~
The ice fairy's voice echoed with the weight of power before the icicles she made shot out in all directions before heading straight at Yuka. The projectiles were moving so fast that vapor trails were trailing them as they careened toward her familiar. Louise called out her familiar's name in panic but saw that he was still smiling, as if he was enjoying this. She then saw him point his parasol right at the oncoming wave of death. The parasol opened up by itself and Louise felt something coming from it.
It was power.
It wasn't like any magical spell that she had ever experienced. It was raw power being focused on her familiar's parasol. Louise's eyes went wide as the power she sensed just kept gathering and gathering with no end.
"Undefeated in the Eastern Wonderland." She heard Yuka say as his parasol glowed with awesome power. She heard Cirno laughing in the sky and turned to the ice fairy.
"By the Winds of the King." Cirno replied before Yuka unleashed the gathered power in his parasol.
And so Louise continued to dream of Danmaku and Battle.