|Louise & Yuka K.|
| Book: Be Careful What|
You Wish For, Chapter 15
|Written by||Vanishing Trooper|
Be Careful What
You Wish For
Be Careful What
You Wish For
Author's Notes: This update is brought to you by Ten Desires along with the rest of Comiket 80. I have to say...Ten Desires was a lot easier than UFO was thanks to Trance Mode. Anyway, more character development in this chapter before the whole thing finally comes to a head with the battle for Tarbes. As usual, please enjoy.
Disclaimer: Ryukishi's new project doesn't seem to have as good music as Umineko did...
"I feel an odd sense of deja vu right now..." Louise said as the two of us walked the halls of the academy. It was the day after Louise and the rest found out about Matilda's sudden departure and her reason for doing so. It was also a little over forty-eight hours until that magical anomaly arrives at Tarbes, thirty-six hours until Ruukoto can get a good enough reading on what it actually was. I wanted to make sure that Louise did not find out about that anomaly until the gynoid can provide conclusive information about it. Louise's comment stemmed from the fact that I was currently following her to her morning classes again.
"Well, we never actually got any training done last night because you didn't arrive in Mugenkan. I figured that I might as well have a change of pace today so...here we are." I stated, which was true. I did want a change of pace but I also wanted to keep an eye on Louise to make sure that Siesta didn't tell her anything she didn't need to know yet. The young woman's worry and concern was justified since she could likely end up alone if whatever was headed to her hometown decided to wipe it off the map. I tried to look for her earlier this morning in an effort to tell her that I would be more than happy to rip apart that anomaly with my bare hands if it turned out to be hostile, but only once we knew for certain what it actually was. Unfortunately, Siesta seemed to be exerting superhuman effort to avoid me at all costs. Needless to say, I didn't find her. Ruukoto was still at the highest tower to try to get any additional information from its hangar back in Tarbes. I made sure to ask the gynoid to bring Siesta to me if it managed to find her.
"You do realize that, since we have confirmed you to be a Void Magician, there is no longer any reason for you to even learn anything from these classes anymore right? Everything you need to cast proper Void Element spells is inside that book you keep under your hat." I pointed out as I once again used my parasol as a walking stick. Louise gave me a sideward glance before scowling at me.
"Weren't you the one that told me to attend my classes?" Louise asked me crossly. I glanced at her before smiling and giving a small shrug.
"I only said that to ensure that I would be able to talk to Ruukoto alone and get information on what happened to Matilda. Having you there would have made the whole process take longer than it did." I shamelessly admitted. I didn't feel the need to keep hiding it from my master since I felt that there was no longer any reason to. Louise thought otherwise as she walked ahead of me before turning around and pointing both of her wands, her regular one and her hidden spare one, at me.
"Give me one good reason why I shouldn't cast explosion in your face." Louise said dangerously. If she had done that to anyone else, I was sure that they'd start cowering and begging her for mercy. Obviously, the effect was minimized since she was doing it to me. Although, I was impressed at how fast she could draw both her wands now. Perhaps I could add that to her training regiment once Cirno comes back.
"Because we are in the middle of a hallway currently being used as a thoroughfare by students and academy staff. I doubt that they would appreciate a show of force from you so early in the morning." I plainly stated while folding my arms and leaning back. Louise narrowed her eyes at me before glancing around. Sure enough, there were students, teachers, and maids that all stopped in their tracks when they saw Louise suddenly whip out a pair of wands. My master's old reputation once again made itself known as everyone else either slowly backed away from her, hid behind a staff member, or simply ran away in terror.
After all, if Louise was able to do so much damage with her broken spells with a single wand...just think of what she could do with two wands.
"Fine...but this isn't over." Louise looked sharply at me before putting away both wands in a smooth, likely practiced, manner. I guessed that Matilda has been giving her lessons in being able to access her magic as quickly as possible. Smart.
I idly wondered if she was safe and if she was able to find what she set out for...and if she liked what she found out.
"Yuka! Hey! I'm still talking to you! Space out on your own time!" Louise yelled at me with her arms folded while tapping her foot on the floor repeatedly.
"I apologize. Shall we head on over to your class?" I asked with a smile. Louise sighed before turning around and walking off, much to the relief of the other people there. I shook my head to free myself of my previous thoughts. I had decided to believe in Matilda and wait. Unless something drastic happens in the meantime, I planned on abiding by that belief.
"Louise, over here!" Monmon's voice broke me from a trance I didn't even realize I was in. The two of us had already arrived at the classroom with Louise's friends already seated and waiting for her. Thankfully, there were no more repeats of what happened the first time I sat in on one of Louise's classes. Everyone still thinks that I was more dangerous than a dragon, but at least Louise had me on a leash. I momentarily wondered why they didn't seem to be afraid of the fact that Louise had someone like me under her control considering her reputation. I simply shrugged the odd thought away before following Louise to her seat.
"Mister Yuka, do you plan on sitting in again?" Guiche asked me from his seat behind Monmon. The blonde girl was seated at the end of the row with her side apparently reserved for Louise. Guiche was seated behind her while Tabitha and Kirche were seated beside him respectively. It seemed that Monmon was still wary of Guiche but he was still taking what he could get. That young man was persistent if nothing else.
"That was my intention. Doing things like this once in a while is nice as well." I replied as Louise took her seat beside Monmon while I sat at the other side of my master.
"Why hello there, da~rling~" Kirche greeted me by leaning forward and wrapping her arms around me like a pair of vines.
"Kirche, stop molesting Yuka." Louise said in an almost disinterested voice. Such events have become almost commonplace whenever I was within arm's length of the redhead, so much so that Louise and I have become...desensitized to it.
"I'm not molesting him. I'm merely taking full advantage of my positioning is all~" The Germanian retorted as she leaned in closer to me.
"Right, da~rling~?" Kirche whispered in my right ear. I sighed before leaning forward, pulling Kirche along in the process. Because of the way she was positioned, her upper body tried to follow me but her lower body was still securely against her desk...the action ultimately resulting in her yelping in pain as she overextended her back.
"Ow! Jeez da~rling~, no need to be rough~" Kirche barely still managed to maintain her teasing voice even while sitting back on her seat normally and rubbing her back.
"Obstinate." Tabitha commented while slightly shaking her head, but not enough to tear her eyes away from her current reading material. Kirche's retort was cut off when Professor Colbert entered the classroom while pushing along a cart with some sort of contraption on top of it.
"Good morning to you all. I hope this day finds all of you in good spirits." The man greeted his students before settling his gaze upon me. I gave him a curt nod, which he returned with a smile.
"Professor! What is that thing?" One of the students in the room asked the question everyone was probably thinking of at the time. Colbert nodded at his student enthusiastically before responding.
"This is an invention a colleague gave me plans for. I wanted to show you all this to demonstrate a certain concept that I hope would find your interest. Please observe." The professor explained before moving to one end of the contraption before pulling out his personal wand and casting a simple fire spell. As soon as the spell ignited, the contraption came to life.
Some of the metal and wooden parts of the contraption started moving in a deliberate pattern as steam started to leak out of various points. I raised a curious brow at the contraption that Colbert had. The constant and rythmic way that his contraption was moving, it reminded me of an engine, like one of those made by the Kappa. Of course, what the professor had was leagues behind the kind of engines that Nitori and her kin have been able to produce, the Hisoutensoku's engine being a prime example. Of course, for a magocratic civilization like the one in this realm, this kind of engine would probably be the first leap into technological advancement for them.
Nitori still would've probably laughed at it though.
"Argh! What is that thing, a torture device?"
"We yield! We yield!"
"Whatever I did! I'm sorry!"
Various cries of anguish and despair echoed throughout the previously peaceful classroom. The combination of the grinding of wood and metal as well as the whistling on steam that came from Colbert's little invention was not painting a pretty picture as far as how it sounded went. Even Louise and her friends were feeling the pain. My master, Monmon, Guiche, and Kirche were all grimacing in pain while covering their ears in an effort to block out the noise...judging from their expressions, it wasn't working. Tabitha was still valiantly trying to read her book but even she was starting to furrow her eyebrows at the constant noise. I wasn't really all that bothered by it. I've had to hear worse...much worse back in Gensokyo. Have you ever wondered what Yuugi's, Suika's, and Ibara's singing voices sounds like when they sing together? It wasn't pretty, they were like the anti-thesis of the Prismriver Sisters. Parsee and Koishi were rendered deaf for several days after that one Hakurei Reitaisai. Everyone else made sure to never let that tragedy ever happen again.
At the end of the torturous noise caused by the professor's contraption, a sudden 'ding' could be heard. All movement from the device ceased and the front part of it, or what seemed to be the front part anyway, suddenly opened like double doors. From within a pair of small wodden dolls slid out via a small wooden floor for them. The two dolls mechanically bowed to each other before they started...dancing in tune with an orgel that was playing within the contraption. Professor Colbert effectively created a noisy, elaborately mechanical, music box dolls. I wasn't sure if I should impressed by the apparent creativity by which he achieved this rather simple result.
"That's it? You put us through all that for this?" One of the students cried out. Judging from the expressions of the other students there, they all shared the same sentiments...even Louise and her friends. The song the orgel played ended and the two wodden dolls bowed to each other before getting pulled back into the contraption. Professor Colbert merely gave a forced cough before laughing awkwardly.
"Well you see, I just wanted all of you to witness something that has been extremely underutilized in Tristain and throughout Halkeginia." The professor explained somewhat nervously under the disapproving stares of his students.
"And what would that be? Audible torture?" Monmon hissed as she rubbed the sides of her head with her hands.
"Well no...what I meant was...well..." It seemed that the proverbial cat had gotten the normally enthusiastic professor's tongue after he realized the kind of damage his contraption did on his students.
"Technology. The light that cuts through the darkness of ignorance and superstition." I stated in recollection of how Nitori once described what technology was to the Kappa. There was some truth in the statement but I found it somewhat ironic considering they lived in a realm where superstition was part of everyday life. Everyone in the room, save for Tabitha who was back to reading her book in earnest, turned their attention to me.
"Yes! Exactly! Thank you Mister Kazami!" The professor exclaimed with the same enthusiasm he did when he first started his class.
"That...thing...is supposed to cut through ignorance and superstition? It's more likely to cause ignorance and superstition!" Another random member of the class exclaimed. The rest of the class displayed an excellent example of crowd mentality by all nodding at the words of their peer at the same time. I actually blinked once because they didn't seem to mind that one of them called me out on my previous statement. Normally, they'd all be scared stiff with the prospect of one of them contradicting my own words. I guess that Colbert's contraption was more of a perceived threat to them at the time than I was.
"To be fair, I would think that the technology that your civilization posesses is still in its infancy, certainly nowhere near the level of what Ruukoto has." I pointed out, everyone went silent at those words. Nearly the entire academy already knew of the gynoid and that it was rumored to be some sort of super-advanced golem created by a particularly brilliant individual based on the abilities it had displayed so far.
"Indeed! Meeting Ruukoto had rekindled my desire to learn about and develop more advanced technology. Of course, as you said, I still have a long way to go before I can match the brilliance of Professor Uzuki and her peers." Colbert admitted sheepishly.
"Do not sell yourself short, everything starts from somewhere. Even some of the most advanced and the most powerful had humble beginnings." I admonished the man. After all, I was a living example of that statement. The professor seemed mollified by my words and continued his lecture.
"Quite. Now, the reason why I demonstrated what his machine is capable of is because I wanted to show how much one can accomplish with machines that require only minimal effort." Colbert explained. It was a simple, logical, and practical concept. That was the way of thinking that made the Lunarian civilization as powerful as it was and that was what made the outside world advance as far as it did as well. Sad that his students did not share his view in that matter.
"Why do we need something like that when we can just use magic instead?" Kirche asked the predictable question. In their perspective, it was a pretty reasonable question. For those who have had the all-too-reliable crutch known as magic their entire lives, using devices and machines to do work that they could just as easly accomplish using their spells.
"Because there will be times where simply using magic will not be enough to accomplish something. There will be times where you will need more than what each of your spells can offer. You cannot accomplish everything using magic Miss Zerbst. Isn't that why we have ships, carriages, tools and the like?" Colbert explained. It always was the tendency for humans to simply tune out and forget about certain aspects of their life that take for granted.
"Human ingenuity. The singleminded desire shared by all humans to go beyond the boundaries set by nature. A foolish mindset that helped humans seemingly dominate everything else around them. Take this as a word of caution though, civilizations have risen and fallen because of that mindset. When everything is said and done, mother nature will always take back what is rightfully hers. Of course, such words are likely biased coming from one such as I..." Especially with how I've dismissed humanity in general as weaklings, save for a few exceptions, for most of my life. Several of the things I said were things I've picked up from books that I acquired back in Gensokyo through several means. Humans may be weak, but they can write rather interesting stories.
"So you're saying that we should start relying on technology rather than magic?" Guiche inquired. I blinked and looked around and found that everyone was actually waiting for my response. I suddenly had a sense of deja vu at the situation. It was like how Cirno's little friends reacted when they stumbled in on me giving Cirno a lecture on Danmaku Battle concepts.
"Not at all, science and magic need not be mutually exclusive from one another. As quoted from a book I enjoyed reading back home: 'When Science and Magic meet, the Story shall begin.'" I responded as I recalled a certain novel series that I grew fond of a long time ago.
"Of course, such a concept might seem radical and outright strange for all of you right now." I added with a shrug. I did not expect them to simply accept such a concept. After all, most magicians, humans or otherwise, refused to rely on technology for anything. Those that manage to look beyond such a silly limitation, such as Marisa once did, managed to achieve some rather incredible things. With that particular note, Colbert continued his lecture like he normally did and without further need for his little contraption. Needless to say, the students were very grateful for that.
"You never told me that you liked to read books." Louise offhandedly commented as we walked through the academy halls. Classes were over and we were all headed to our usual spot for tea and snacks. Louise's statement barely registered with me because of what I saw out the window. Because of the location of the hallway they were walking through, the windows gave one a clear view of the main entrance to the academy. What I saw was someone on a horse who just stormed into the academy grounds like he was in a race. Normally something like that wouldn't really pique my interests, but this rider was different. It wasn't that he was anything special, aside from the fact that he was clad in what looked like a knight's armor. What got my attention was what I sensed from the rider.
Fear...lots of it. So much so that I could sense it all the way up from the fourth floor of the academy with other humans in close proximity.
Whatever it was that prompted the rider's urgency was enough to make him give off a particularly palpable aura of fear. I wondered the reason for the rider's distress as I watched him dismount his horse and break into a run into the academy. I narrowed my eyes when I heard a little voice at the back of my head, that curiously sounded like Reimu's adult voice, saying that the anomaly that was headed toward Tarbes had something to do with it.
"I've done a great many things in my life Louise. Reading books was simply one of the things I've done to pass the time when nothing else was happening." I responded, not missing a beat despite the distraction. The only one who gave any notice for that half-second pause I made before responding to Louise's comment was Tabitha, once again proving that she was much sharper than a girl her age should have been. Thankfully, she was also much more subtle than a girl her age should have been. Tabitha immediately went back to her book after she gave me a sideward glance, the only indication that she noticed that something was amiss. I trusted that she would not meddle unless she really had to since I didn't want Louise involved in this incident if at all possible.
Who was I kidding? I was almost certain at that point that some omnipotent being was actively using Louise and I as entertainment with all the incidents that we've been involved in. Whoever or whatever it was, it better hope I never get my hands on it.
"What kinds of books did you read?" Guiche piped up, taking interest in the subject of our conversation. I gave the question some thought, noticing that Tabitha had lifted her gaze from her own book to be able to look at me.
"I've read a lot of books over the course of my life. History, Science, Mythology, Magic, Fiction, and many more. Although, before Louise summoned me, I was going through a phase where I was most interested in the mystery genre...particularly the works of one human author named Agatha Christie." I responded, earning a few curious looks from my master and her friends.
"Mystery genre? What's that?" Kirche asked in genuine curiosity. I felt my eyebrow twitch. Did these humans not have any authors that catered to the mystery genre? What an absurd notion!
"Tabitha, have you ever read a mystery novel?" I asked the resident expert amongst Louise's friends when it came to anything involving books. I felt my eyebrow twitch again when the blue-haired girl shook her head.
"Elaborate." Tabitha responded. It would seem that even she did not know what a mystery novel even was. I was starting to understand what Cirno had felt when Louise admitted to not knowing anything when it came to the Laws of Physics. I gave an audible sigh before trying to gather my thoughts. The mystery rider, the strange magical anomaly, and the situation at Tarbes can wait. There were more important things that demanded my attention.
"The mystery genre is a branch of literature, fictional or otherwise, that deals with stories that have 'mystery' as a central theme. You do know the definition of mystery, right?" I asked them, hopeful that they would at least have some idea as to what the genre was supposed to represent.
"Unknown. Secret. Puzzle. Hidden." Tabitha listed out.
"Well, that's a start. To be more specific, the mytery genre deals with situations where the character or characters needs to unravel a crime that no one wanted to know about such as a murder or a theft. At times, it involves deviously clever tricks, misinformation, and ploys by the perpetrator of the crime." I explained. Tabitha tilted her head to the side and made a thoughtful hum. It was likely that she became interested in reading a story that had those elements.
"I can't really see how one would enjoy reading about things like that. It sounds more like something that someone from the Romalian Inquisition would have to deal with...and no one expects the Romalian Inquisition." Monmon pointed out. Louise and the rest of them, save for Tabitha, gave agreeing nods to Monmon's words. I felt my eyebrow twitch one more time before I walked away from all of them with a displeased expression.
"What's going on?" Louise asked out loud as she saw a crowd of students gathered to the side of the dormitory entrance. Had Cirno or someone else from Gensokyo finally wandered into Halkeginia? I certainly hoped not. The last thing I needed was another incident on top of the possible incident that Louise and I could soon be involved in.
"It appears that several of your peers are crowding around something. Will you take a look...as...well..." My question died prematurely as I saw Louise, Guiche, Monmon, and Kirche already headed to the source of the commotion. I blinked when I noticed that Tabitha was still standing next to me and was still reading her current book.
"You are not going to join them?" I asked the smartest person in Louise's little circle of friends. The young magician merely responded with a light shrug without taking her eyes off her book. I supposed that she was just not interested...that and Kirche would probably tell her all about it anyway.
"Hm?" I turned when I heard footsteps approaching me and the young Gallian.
"Fuga." Ruukoto's emotionless voice broke the silence between me and Tabitha. The young Gallian glanced at me for a translation while I raised a brow at what the gynoid just said.
"What do you mean by we 'may' have a problem?" I asked the gynoid. I had a sinking feeling that it had something to do with whatever it was that the students were crowding around. Ruukoto was about to respond when Louise interrupted it.
"Yuka!" Louise called out to me as she and the others ran back to us.
"We have to go to the palace! Now! I need to speak to the Princess!" My master frantically yelled out while pulling on my plaid vest.
"What is going on?" Louise frowned upon the way I casually asked the question despite her obvious urgency.
"There's no time! Just take me to the palace already! Fly me there! Now!" Louise demanded, completely ignoring my question. I sighed and looked at the others there. Tabitha and Ruukoto still adopted their usual neutral expressions while the rest looked worried...very worried...even Kirche...
"Louise, calm down and tell me what happened." I stated in a calm tone that completely contrasted the way my master was speaking at that moment. Louise looked furious and started pounding my chest with her fists as if they would actually harm me.
"There's no time to explain! This is too important! Take me to the Princess! Now!" Louise demanded as she continued to try to inflict as much damage as her tiny hands could. I grumbled for a moment before holding onto Louise's wrists in order to prevent her from continuing her little panic attack.
"If this is as important as you frantically claim it to be, then all the more reason why I need to know the details. Louise, you should already be smarter than this!" I reprimanded my master. Louise struggled in my grasp for a few more moments before finally calming down...or at least that was how it seemed.
"I just...I just...I don't know what to do...the Princess should know what I should do...the Princess will tell me what I should do...yes...that's why...that's why..." Louise muttered weakly as she nearly collapsed in my grasp. I made a displeased face when I found the way Louise was thinking. It seemed that I had underestimated her worship and dependance on Princess Henrietta, it was almost as bad as Kaguya's dependence on Eirin...although for completely different reasons. I was about to tell her how unhealthy that way of thinking was when another interruption made itself known.
"Miss Valliere!" Siesta frantically called out to Louise from within the dormitory tower, compounding the bad feeling that I was having. This just keeps getting better and better.
"Si-Siesta...?" Louise asked, as if she was having trouble confirming if the maid was actually there and was calling for her. Siesta ran toward my master before kneeling before her and latching onto Louise's cape.
"What's gotten into you?"
The concerned cries of Louise's friends went unheard by the person in question. Siesta was completely focused on Louise and vice versa. My master was lost and didn't know what to do while Siesta didn't know who else to turn to. Ruukoto, Tabitha, and I exchanged glances before the bad feeling I was having before was confirmed.
"Please! For the love of the Founder, Miss Valliere! Please save Tarbes!"
"Hurm..." I grumbled as I squinted at the notice that was posted on a newly placed bulletin board next to the dormitory tower's entrance. The crowd of students had already dispersed and it was only myself, Ruukoto, Siesta, Louise and the rest of her friends left there. The thing posted on the board was the cause of the earlier commotion and it looked like it was an official notice or declaration from the school itself...it even had Tristain's national seal on it...and seemed like something very important. There was just one problem...
"Is there something wrong, darling?" Kirche asked as she walked up beside me. I raised a brow at the Germanian. She still refused to call my anything else aside from 'darling' but the tone she had just used lacked any of the usual...heat...that it normally did. I knew better than to point it out though since this milder Kirche was a welcome improvement from her usual demeanor.
"I'm afraid I have yet had the time to learn this realm's written language. Do you mind?" Instead, I answered her question and tilted my head to the notice on the board. The redhead blinked at me a few times before raising a brow and giving me a small smile.
"It is a general notice for all the students here. It says that tensions between the countries of Tristain and Albion have come to a head which resulted in an incident happening within Tristain's borders. The students of the academy are forbidden from leaving the academy until further notice for our own safety." Kirche read the notice before turning back to face me, her eyes alight with a fire that was different from the usual kind she had.
"The staff and teachers are running all over the academy like a bunch of scared children." The young woman added before glancing back to the notice. I made a thoughtful hum at the new information provided by the notice. It pretty much confirmed that whatever was headed to Tarbes was probably related to whatever was happing between Tristain and Albion. The floating country's involvement means that Cromwell was involved as well. Did they find out that Prince Wales was in Tristain or were they really planning on starting something with this country regardless? More speculation without enough information. I was not a Hakurei so I couldn't simply keep going forward knowing that my intuition would eventually lead me to a way to solve whatever was happening., so I had to do it the way everyone else does...and I hated doing that. Even with all my experience, intellect and love for the mystery genre, I've never liked being personally involved in actual schemes or devilishly ingenious subterfuge. It was just too much of a...bother.
I glanced to where Louise and the others were. Monmon was trying to calm Louise down as she held onto her friend while practically begging her to take her to Princess Henrietta. Guiche had tried to do the same for Siesta but the maid didn't seem like she needed nor desired such comfort. She was still quited distressed, yes. She was shaking and there were tears in her eyes as if she was on the verge of simply breaking down. However, instead of curling up into a ball of helplessness like Louise did, Siesta simply opted to try to glare a hole into my head. She was angry, she was scared, she was desperate...it just happened that I was the one on the recieving end of those emotions. As usual, Tabitha and Ruukoto chose to simply observe what would happen next. I then realized that I was overthinking the situation. I need not have to unravel the entire web of lies and intrigue that had entangled this country. All I had to worry about was Louise's well being, and to an extent, the well being of those she cared about. I actively suppressed the desire to grimace when I realized that this line of thinking meant that I needed to take care of Henrietta as well. No...I'll worry about her only when Louise's own well being is compromised because of her in some way.
"She's gonna get herself wrapped up in something dangerous again, isn't she?" Kirche's inquiry snapped me from my thoughts. I looked back to the Germanian and was surprised that she had a genuinely concern expression as she looked at Louise in the distance.
"Possibly. Are you worried about her?" I asked the young woman. She turned back to me with a puzzled expression before shrugging.
"She's my friend. Of course I'm worried about her." Kirche plainly replied.
"Is she now? Have you not spent most of your time in this academy teasing Louise about her shortcomings? In addition, I distinctly remember that your families have some sort of blood feud going on. I could understand that you would consider her as an acquaintance through Tabitha…but not an actual friend." I pointed out. Kirche gave me a coy smile before shaking her head and looking back to where Louise and the others were.
"I've been giving the little pink ball a hard time because, before you came along, I always thought that she came here simply because of her family's influence. You should already know how she was like back then, no talent, no magic, no results, all boom. To someone who has been working her whole life to steadily become a better fire mage, it was a personal insult to have a no-talent hack in the same school as I did." Kirche explained with a sardonic smile.
"So you believed that she didn't deserve to be here because of her lack of talent?" I asked in confirmation and got a nod in response.
"This isn't the only magic academy in the country, certainly not the only one in the continent. What makes this place special is that it is the best academy in the whole of Halkeginia. Louise could have gone to any other academy where she can spend her no-talent days but she still got into this one. Not only that, but she managed to get past her first year in the academy without once being able to cast a proper spell. A lot of students got kicked off the academy because of that reason. The fact that she still managed to stay here despite that meant that something else was compelling the academy to keep her." The Germanian responded. I raised a brow at the surprisingly insightful new side of Kirche. If I didn't know any better, I would have thought that this was a completely different person talking to me.
"I thought that she was using her family's power to stay here, which was probably true anyway even if she didn't realize it herself. Of course, recent events have shown that I was mistaken." Kirche said with a sigh.
"To be fair, neither Louise nor I really expected for her to be what she is." I stated, making sure not to mention Void specifically because of how many people were in the academy now.
"It's kind of sad in a way. The only way she was able to properly cast magic will probably prevent her from living a normal life a noble would. I wonder what my mother and father would say? Me worrying about a Valliere of all people." She said with a chuckle and a sigh. There was a hint of sadness in her words when she mentioned what would likely happen to Louise once her power becomes known to others.
"You know, I grew up being taught to hate Louise and her entire family. My parents and relatives engraved into my mind that the Valliere family were our enemies and should be treated as such. When I first met Louise and found out who she was, it was easy to treat her like someone I disliked. She was very…irritating to be around because she kept putting on airs and posture around whenever she could. When she failed, she immediately came up with excuses to try to save face. I'm not exactly the most honest and kind hearted person here, but even I couldn't take something like that. But that was only her public self…" Kirche continued before sighing.
"If nothing else, she grows on you. She has changed thanks to you, but she is still the same person in her core. Once you get past all that, if you get past all that, then Louise is indeed someone I would consider as a friend. And for the record, I didn't really care much about that blood feud between our families. Just imagine if Louise and I were the ones to finally end it? That would be something to see, right darling~?" Kirche concluded as she casually slipped back to her more usual self before sauntering off to where her friends were. I shook my head before smiling. Yes, Louise has gained good friends. However, there was still much we need to straighten out before doing anything else…
"So…" I said while leaning back against the wall inside Louise's room.
"So…" Derf repeated as it peaked out of its scabbard, curious as to what was happening this time.
"So…" Siesta also repeated…but with much less enthusiasm than what she usually displays as she continued to relay her now cold but still impotent rage toward me by glaring at me.
"Fuga…" Ruukoto finally decided to repeat the word as well, though only I and Siesta could understand it. We, along with Louise, retreated back to her room to discuss certain topics that shouldn't be discussed in the open. Monmon and the others offered to come with us but I politely turned them down on behalf of Louise. This was something that only we needed to discuss. If things go down the path they seem to be going, it would be best if I limit the people that Ruukoto and I would likely end up protecting until the end of this incident.
Listen to me…thinking about actively protecting and caring about the well-being of silly humans. If Mima ever heard about this, she would start rolling in her grave, or wherever she was, in laughter.
"So…" The final person in the room finally stated after several moments of silence. I had just finished explaining the reasons for Siesta's sudden panicked outburst earlier as well as what Ruukoto detected back in its home base and how they could be linked to the notice that was posted outside the dormitory tower. Louise looked straight at me, obviously not pleased with all of this going under her nose.
"Why did you feel the need to withhold such information from me, familiar?" Louise asked me, making sure not to break eye contact as she reverted back to calling me 'familiar' instead of my name. She knew very well that she couldn't hurt me, not in the way most would comprehend, but she still knew how to get a point across.
"I didn't want to cause any undue panic. I wanted to confirm first what exactly was headed to Tarbes and if it was hostile, your breakdown earlier proved that it was the correct course of action. Of course...it was all for naught since certain elements that I did not expect or perceive as a threat to my precautions made the whole thing moot." I explained as I glanced at Siesta when I was saying the last parts. The maid, the human one, shifted uncomfortably under my gaze and actively avoided meeting my eyes. I turned my eyes back to Louise and saw that she didn't really find my explanation satisfactory.
"Don't blame the maid for this. If the same thing was to happen to our family lands and you were within arm's reach, I'd do the same thing." Louise said, standing up for Siesta and making a valid point.
Pop quiz hot-shot: A big scary unknown mass of magic was headed for your home where the rest of your family resided in. You only have three days to do something about it before it gets right on top of your home. What do you do? What. Do. You. Do?
"I admit, I did not consider Siesta's situation in this whole thing as seriously as I should have. However, I only acted as such because I was thinking of your well being." I responded, giving Louise and Siesta that point but sticking to my original reasoning as to why I did not inform her of the magical anomaly.
"Well being? An unknown mass of magic is headed to Tarbes and it could very well be the whole Albion Armada for all we know! We don't have time to worry about just my well being!" Louise finally snapped as she grabbed her pillow before throwing it in my face. I disregarded the attack and waited for my master to calm down. When she finally did, I held up my right hand to reveal all five of my fingers.
"Louise, you have been involved in capturing the most infamous thief in the country…" I ticked down a finger.
"…lived in the capital as a commoner to expose underlying corruption in the nobility…" I ticked down another finger.
"…got yourself exposed to some rather potent love potion…" Another finger down.
"…went to Albion to save a displaced and hunted prince and got stabbed with a knife before nearly bleeding to death…" And another.
"…got caught up in a treasure hunt that unearthed an ancient and powerful weapon made to battle monsters beyond your wildest imaginings and comprehension…" And another, rendering my right hand closed into a fist.
"…and now you want to get involved in something that would likely be an incident that would extinguish a very large number of human lives…" I lowered my right hand and looked at my master dead in the eye.
"…and it hasn't been half a year since you summoned me. Just imagine dealing with all that if you had summoned some other magical beast that wouldn't have been able to help you I have, or worse, some poor unexpecting human who was just minding their own business before getting hurled here by the summoning ritual." I pointed out to her.
"Even with all the training we have been giving you. Even with Derflinger with you. Even with your friends with you. Even with Henrietta and Wales with you. Even with Ruukoto, Matilda and I with you…" I trailed off, not sure as to why I was saying all these things to her or why I was hesitating on finishing my point. I took a deep breath and said it anyway.
"If you keep doing this, Louise, then you will die…and where would that leave the rest of us?" I concluded with a rueful shake of my head.
"I did not tell you of those things because things are moving too quickly. You should realize after listening to Cirno's lecture on inertia that if something is moving too quickly and suddenly found itself faced with something it cannot breach..." I trailed off once more, goading my master to finish the line of thought herself.
"…it goes splat…" And she did. Louise sullenly stared at the floor for a few moments before plopping onto her bed. I picked up the pillow she threw at me and walked up to her bed where I heard her give out a tired sigh. She had her right arm covering her eyes and her previous emotions of anger, panic, and resolve all melted away to reveal a very tired young woman who has had to deal with too many things.
"Louise, you are not a hero, certainly not someone who should try to bare everything on your own shoulders. Reimu had once adopted that kind of thinking after her beloved died…after she recovered from her initial shock. Marisa, Sanae, Sakuya, and all of her friends tried to make her see that she did not have to take on every incident afterwards by herself. Her daughter, Reimi was starting to show her own unique talents in solving incidents and the actions of her mother often had the two of them at odds with each other." I started. I wasn't sure why I began telling Louise about the aftermath of the Lunarian Invasion five centuries ago but it just seemed to be the right thing to say.
"Why do you know all of that? Didn't you say that you mostly kept to yourself in your garden?" Louise asked me as I sat down on the bed beside her.
"Marisa and Alice often visited my garden during that period. The Garden of the Sun was closer to the Hakurei Shrine than the Forest of Magic was, so they mostly ended up inviting themselves there for tea, cake and stories. They even asked me for any ideas on how to get Reimu back to normal. It just showed how desperate they were if they were asking me of all people for advice in that matter." I explained with a shake of my head. Both Siesta and Derf stayed silent throughout all this, likely wondering what exactly Louise and I were talking about.
"What about Yukari? Where was she during all of this?" My master asked, wondering about the apparent absence of the border youkai during the Hakurei clan's emotional crisis.
"Yukari was too busy being paranoid to be of any help. The invasion hit Gensokyo hard and she wasn't about to take any more chances of any aftershocks so she performed a vigil to watch any movements from the Lunarians. If they even twitched, she would have known about it." I explained. Yukari had just seen the Gensokyo that she loved so dearly be turned into a real battlefield, and it wasn't like the Mystic Square incident where the perpetrators didn't really have any hostile intent either. The Lunarians barged in with the full premeditated idea of reducing our realm to cinders. Needles to say, it unnerved the border youkai a great deal.
"So…what happened?" Louise said in a rather subdued voice. I made a thoughtful hum before looking up at the ceiling. Despite all the power and skill that Reimu had at her disposal, she was still very much human. That limitation made her…vulnerable to certain things. It wasn't a secret that most of her friends were youkai -Marisa, Sanae, and Sakuya being the exceptions- and there was an invisible wall between her and her friends because of that fact. Despite everything that she had gone through, the incidents, the Reitaisais, the feasts, the random danmaku battles, at the end of the day, she couldn't help but feel lonely. After all, she wasn't like Sanae or Sakuya who were living with others nor was she like Marisa who was perfectly fine with living alone as long as she had her 'borrowed' possessions. Her only companion in her shrine was an oni who was dead drunk through most of the day in some corner of the grounds. That was why she became unusually happy and chipper after she met 'that man'. The rest became history but the result of his death just showed how much the strongest Shrine Maiden of Paradise relied on him.
"Reimu continued going through that path until one particular incident nearly cost her the life of her one and only daughter." I said, receiving gasps of surprise from not only Louise but from Siesta and Derf as well. Even though they didn't know the exact context of our conversation or my story, they could still piece together that it wasn't a particularly happy point in someone's life.
"…and?" Louise hesitantly asked for me to continue.
"Even I don't know what happened that day. The only ones who did were Reimu, Reimi, Keine, and Aya. None of them would reveal what happened to any one else. It just shows how important that hidden incident was if even Aya chose to keep quiet about it. In the end, the only thing I was certain of was that Reimi was rendered unable to perform her duties as a Hakurei Maiden for several weeks. When she recovered, she and her mother had a relationship that was very much like what they had back when 'that man' was still alive." I explained and made sure to hint that there was nothing more to this story that I could reveal. The room returned to silence afterward.
"Why? Why did you even share that story? It happened five-hundred years ago in a completely different world! How could that have any relation to the situation at hand?" Siesta finally spoke up after the silence in the room became unbearable for her. I couldn't give her an answer because I still wasn't sure why I said all of those things.
"Because people never change, little missy." As if to pick up the slack in the conversation, Derf decided to speak up instead. All of us turned to the sword that did its best impression of a wise old man.
"I've been around a long time, longer that Yuka over there, and I know first hand that the story he just mentioned has parallels to what the little miss is going through. No, it would probably be more accurate to say that it is a preview to what Louise might end up going through if she wasn't careful." Derf continued. It was times like this when I remembered that the sword has been around for more than six-millennia and that it has seen more of this realm than most.
"People…humans, elves, or whatever else…like to say that the only constant thing in this world is change. I disagree. I've been through enough to know first hand that, even though the ones involved usually interchange roles, the situations they find themselves in are usually the same. It's sometimes so irritating that I wished that I had a better body than this so I can point out that they were doing the same things all over again." The sword stated with an edge that I have not heard from it before.
"The more things change, the more they stay the same." I added with a wry smile. The sword responded with a hearty laugh while shaking slightly in its scabbard.
"Those are clear, concise words that pretty much sums up my point. Listen, Louise…" Derf caught everyone off guard by both shifting from its usual light-hearted tone to a more serious one as well as using my master's actual name instead of just calling her 'little miss'.
"I agree with Yuka over there. Helping others who can't help themselves is all well and good, but at the rate you're going, you'll end up losing everything you have been fighting for in the first place. I'm not telling you to stop doing what you're doing. I just want you to slow down and take a good long look at yourself and your surroundings and ask yourself: How will my actions affect me and those around me? What will happen to those I care about the most if I go through with this? Those were questions that Brimir and Sasha never asked and it ended up destroying them both. I don't want you to repeat what happened to them, I'm sick of having to watch my wielder and his or her master going through that." The sword stated before going silent and returning back into the depths of its scabbard. Its words and wisdom hung in the air like a veil that waited to judge the occupants. Louise was not the only one who was affected by the sword's words. Siesta sat down on a chair and covered her face with her hands, likely reflecting on her own actions and what she had been trying to throw Louise into. Ruukoto was as stoic as ever but I saw faint streams of light run across its eyes. Whatever it was thinking off, it had likely something to do with what Derf said. And me? The sword's words once again reminded me of that 'sin' I committed a long time ago. I was wondering if I will ever find the heart to tell Louise about that incident when I notice my master stand up and place herself in front of me.
"I will go to Tarbes." Louise stated with that all too familiar fire in her eyes. Siesta rose from her seat with a start and a gasp at my master's words. She probably expected that Louise would see reason after the talking to she got from both myself and Derf.
"I will not accompany you to fight a war between two nations." I responded while folding my arms and leaning back. Louise closed her eyes and shook her head before opening them again. Within those eyes was a light that was and still is a trademark of the Hakurei clan whenever incidents happen.
"I'm not going to fight a war. I thought about it and asked myself the questions that Derflinger said. Between doing something and doing nothing for the people of Tarbes, I think that doing nothing would be something that I can never live with. I'm going there because something is threatening the home and family of one of the people I care about and I'm not going to take that lying down. I'm going there to protect Tarbes. If that means taking down the entire Albion Armada…then so be it. But…I can't…I won't…do it alone." Louise stated with so much resolve that she was practically a completely different person from who she was when I first arrived here. Perhaps Kirche was right when she said that I had helped change Louise. I could only hope that whatever I was changing Louise into, it was not something like me. Louise continued displaying her resolve by kneeling on front of me and taking my hands into her own before looking right into my eyes.
"I need your help, Yuka." Louise said. I would like to dare anyone. Anyone. To try to refuse Louise while she looks at you as she did to me at the moment. She squeezed my hands and I sighed before squeezing back.
"We will defend Tarbes from any and all hostile enemies but only that. I refuse to go any further than that." I gave my answer, much to the relief of both Louise and Siesta. The maid, the human one, broke down and started sobbing and muttering thanks and apologies to both of us. I walked up to Ruukoto just as the gynoid blinked away the streaming lights in its eyes.
"Fuga. Fuga?" Ruukoto stated with a tilted head. It was still worried that we were moving too quickly and suggested to observe the situation before deploying.
"I disagree." I answered, making Louise and Siesta turn to me. I'm sure that Siesta could hear and understand what Ruukoto said, but she was likely too busy to comprehend what it meant.
"We have enough circumstantial evidence that links Albion to the anomaly. If it turns out to be their Armada, then they would already be within spitting distance of Tarbes by the time you confirm it. If we go there, we can prepare and deploy the second you confirm what the anomaly is. There is also the bonus of you being near your base so you can pick up whatever goodies you might deem useful if this turns into a battle." I reasoned. The gynoid stared at me for several moments before nodding.
"Fuga." The gynoid agreed to our plan. I nodded and turned back to the two young women.
"I can carry Louise to Tarbes while Ruukoto can carry Siesta. You still have flight capabilities, yes?" I said before asking the gynoid.
"Fuga." Ruukoto affirmed while suggesting that going back to its base to recover the special equipment 'G-Wing Type-Zero' which would improve her airborne capabilities significantly.
"Very well…it seems that we are once again headed to Tarbes. I pity the fools who decided that this was a good time to invade that town." I said with a shake of my head.
"But what about the Princess and Prince Wales? They could end up mixed in with what might happen. Besides, if the Albion Armada really is headed to Tarbes, our own fleet should be headed there to intercept them." Louise pointed out. I sighed when I realized that she was correct. If it ends up as a battle between the two fleets then Ruukoto and I couldn't just simply blow everything out of the sky. That would make protecting a village filled with frightened and likely panicking humans much more difficult.
"Tell me, if the Tristain and Albion fleets were to do battle, who do you think would win?" I asked but only got pained and confused looks from the two young women. I guess they did not know. That was when I heard the door open.
"Albion." Tabitha's distinct voice drew all attention to the entrance to Louise's door which revealed the Gallian along with Louise's other friends.
"Somehow, I should have expected this…" I muttered while rubbing my head with my hand.
"Don't say that, darling~! We can't always have you and Louise have all the fun right~?" Kirche responded as she sauntered toward me and gave me a wink.
"Ruukoto and I can't bring all of you there." I pointed out.
"We'll manage, right Tabitha?" The Germanian said before turning to her good friend. The blue-haired girl nodded before entering the room along with Monmon and Guiche.
"Sylphid. We will catch up." The young but powerful magician stated.
"We will not go there to fight a war, only to protect Tarbes. You don't have to go with us." Louise clearly stated as she looked at each of her friends, Derf's words likely still very fresh in her mind.
"Which is exactly why we will be going with you, silly~" Kirche responded with a dismissive wave. The Germanian then did something no one ever expected…she walked up to Louise and gave her a hug.
"K-K-Kirche? What the founder to you think you're-" Louise's complaints were cut off by Kirche's next words.
"You're not alone…" The redhead stated in a very un-Kirche like voice, making Louise freeze up and wonder if it was really happening.
"You don't have to face this alone. Having more of us with you will help in protecting Siesta's village. Besides…" The redhead in question continued before putting Louise at arm's length and smiling at her.
"Isn't that what friends are for?" Kirche asked Louise with a smile before engulfing her in another hug. Louise flailed her arms in protest and once again enforcing her tendency of becoming the object of affection of other woment…except Tabitha. Speaking of…
"I would like to know why you believe that the Albion Armada would best Tristain's." I told the blue-haired girl who nodded in turn. There was no more going back. I simply hoped that everyone here was ready for what was to come.