Zero no Tsukaima:Volume10 Chapter6
 Chapter 6: The Imprisoned Six
Saito noticed the sunlight shining through the gap between the metal grills. Beside him, Louise's head rested on his shoulder as she was breathing gently. Guiche and Malicorne laid down side by side on the bed, snoring.
“It's morning, huh...”
In the end, because he was worrying too much, he did not manage to sleep at all.
Funya funya, with her mouth half-opened, Louise was muttering something.
“What... a... pity... the Princess was lonely, after all. Funya...”
What on earth is she dreaming about? Being trapped within these grills, now is not the time to oversleep. We have to leave to save Tabitha quickly...
“Aren't you stupid? Being rejected by the Princess, we can't face our opponents...”
Saito nudged Louise.
Louise, who was not fully awakened yet, probably could not differentiate between her dream and reality. She saw Saito and yelled angrily at him.
“Treating me as a spare tire for the Princess! You're cruel! Or, whoever you want is fine! That's right! Who is the best?! S-ss-say it!!”
“...What're you talking about?”
Saito asked astonished, and she realized that this place was not a dream, but the real world.
Her face crimsoned, and began hitting Saito repeatedly.
“It's only something I dreamed! A dream!”
“Don't hit me!”
“Even if it was dream, it was still you! So take responsibility!”
Continuing in her state of embarrassment, Louise turned away. Because he couldn't, Saito let out a huge sigh.
“You... you are still in the mood to dream, huh...”
“Surely, if you had persuaded the Princess cleverly, we would have been heading towards Gallia to save Tabitha by now...”
“So you mean to say that I am bad?”
“You are the one who said we had to come here to report to the Princess, weren't you?”
“Ain't it obvious?”
“We are trying to save someone! If we hadn’t come here to report and instead rushed there straight away, this wouldn’t have happened!”
Upon which, Louise gazed at Saito with a solemn look.
“Saito. That is wrong. Precisely because we are trying to save someone, we must go through the proper procedures.”
“Say, if we lose. What would we do then? Gallia would think that we are Tristain's spies, right? Because I am the Princess' court lady, and you're an Assistant Commanding Officer of the Imperial Guards. It would be terrible if that were to happen. Gallia would strongly protest against Tristain right? It would probably become the excuse for a war. That's probably their objective.”
“How could this be...”
“What did you want to say? Although we don't know if that would be the case, above not discarding this probability, we must think that it is certain and act accordingly. How much more cruel than this would be the method employed by the kingdom of Gallia to capture us? We don't know what they would do. After that, we would probably cause trouble for the Princess, if not all of Tristain. Because of that, it is possible for people unrelated to us to get hurt. Even I want to save Tabitha. But, I cannot cause problems for everyone. That course of action is exactly what someone who had lost their head would take.”
Embarrassed, Saito cast his eyes down.
“Sorry... But I still have to do it! Logically, I know what you said is true, but... because of that, what I can probably do, I naturally can't do it at this rate... Aaaah, damn it! I am really anxious!”
“Yeah, huh... I thought the Princess would probably understand, but... it looks like I was too naïve.”
“We really can't get out of here?”
Absent-mindedly, Saito gazed at the metal grills.
“With your “Void,” is it possible?”
“Impossible. I don't know if 'Dispel' would work, but in the first place, I don't have my wand.”
“You can't use it, huh...”
“If you don't have your sword, you are just an ordinary human, right?”
“I can't use it...”
This time, he said so to himself. However, with a look as if he hadn't thrown away his will yet,
“...Anyway, when we escape from here, I intend to go to Gallia, but don't worry. What you said about bringing trouble to Tristain - it won't happen.”
“What do you mean?”
“Yesterday, didn't I quit being the Assistant Commanding Officer? I'm just a normal person now.”
“You are really naïve, huh...”
Whilst sighing, Louise said.
“What do you mean!?”
“You're thinking that the enemy would believe us? Quitting being a knight alone is not enough! At least until you become a wanted person, then only you can be said to have cut all connections!”
“But can you actually stop being a noble? At least until you are the same as me, your cheekiness...”
At that point, Saito noticed Louise's appearance for the first time. Because she was uneasy, he didn't know, but...
“Your mantle and your tie clip, what happened to them!?”
“I have returned them to Her Majesty The Queen.”
“Shaddap! With this, I'm just the normal Louise! Same as you, a commoner! Com-mon-er! Thank you very much! I have thrown away both my family name and my pride! So don't just show off like that!”
Saito was very touched, more than he had ever been ever since meeting Louise.
This pink-haired female magic user whose pride is supposed to be so high; my master... She had been so obsessive over the “noble” title, and now she had thrown it away easily.
For a girl like Louise, that was probably something which needed a huge amount of courage.
If she hadn’t the determination to throw away the life she had built up until now, she could not have done such a thing. That's because, as far as Louise is concerned, her status as a noble was her everything.
“What-a-waste! You like high-class women very much riggghhhtt? Becoming the familiar of an ordinary girl, you're really disappointed right!”
“N-No way... I... I'm really touched... You would do something as far as that...”
“LIAR! Yesterday night, you stole glances at the Princess and your face turned red! I don't believe you! You like nobles and princesses right! Even though you're a dog! That's so funny!”
As she was yelling that, Louise felt the anxiety Siesta talked about expand within her heart.
What if the “like” he has towards me is but his feeling as a familiar?
What if Saito's real feelings are towards Henrietta... but are stopped by this “like” he has as a familiar?
Then Saito's shaking off Henrietta's request yesterday night can be understood.
The contract I have given him has probably distorted Saito's true feelings...
Anyway, Saito's feelings now are probably towards Henrietta. The thing which is stopping him, are the fake feelings I gave him....
“I don't really fancy nobles or princesses!!”
Saito said disappointedly.
“I dunno such things!”
To shake off the indescribable anxiety, Louise raised her voice.
“Why are you so mad? I have already said it, haven't I? I like...”
“Don't say it!”
Covering her ears, Louise crouched down. Saito withdrew his hand as if it had been stung.
“Okay, okay. I won't say it any more.”
If she didn’t want him to say such things, he couldn't do anything else. Louise became tearful.
Hearing someone clearing his throat, both of them looked forward.
In front of them, Guiche and Malicorne had woken up without them noticing; and weren't they staring motionlessly at the sensitive conversation between Louise and Saito?
Louise's ears became red.
They were seeing everything of the conversation right now.
“N-No! It's not what you think!”
“Err, I don't really mind, but Malicorne...”
Beside Guiche, Malicorne was trembling all over with anger.
“Heeey, Guiche... I'm already at my limiiiiit... Such an envious love game in front of my eyes...?”
Malicorne leaped towards them, and at that instant, Louise pushed Saito forward. Both of them tumbled over and wrestled with each other.
“If it's gonna end like this, you win. Hug me.”
Having given up, Malicorne said that with a faraway look. Saito became sad.
“Aaah, haiz.... now is not the time to be doing such things!”
The moment Saito let out a sigh and said that...
From outside the window, a flash of light and a loud noise could be heard.
Guiche and Louise leaped up and stretched their heads at the window. Outside, a surprising scenery was unfolding.
With the huge wings gleaming, the Ostland was flying at a low altitude, and was scattering something.
“Wh-Why is that thing....”
From the Ostland, they could hear a voice magnified by the showy music and magic.
“To all ladies and gentlemen of Tristain. To all ladies and gentlemen of Tristain. This is the debut of the latest steam-run vessel of the Von Zerbst family of Tristain. Everyone walking through the streets, or those in the palace, please come to have a look.”
“Isn't that Montmorency's voice!?”
Sure enough, that was the voice of Montmorency, who was supposed to be waiting for the group's return on the Ostland.
In the courtyard of the palace, be it the escorting knights, the soldiers, or the nobles who were walking at the streets, everyone was looking up to the sky.
A few dragon knights approached them, and flew around the Ostland. '”Do it somewhere else! Get back!” They were warning them. Yet, without the slightest indication that they were worried, the Ostland continued circling it.
The sentinels who were standing outside the prison in which Saito and the rest were locked up were exchanging glances, worried by the spectacle outside.
“Those guys... what do they plan to do?”
“I wonder what they're thinking about...”
As she revealed her feelings, from outside the door, *Donggg!* They heard the sound of the sentinels falling over. Turning back, Saito and the others gulped.
Sure enough, the figures which could be seen from between the lattice of the narrow window, were the red-haired dazzling Kirche and...
“Teacher! Teacher Colbert!”
With his bald head gleaming, it was Colbert. Towards the imprisoned four who had rushed to the door, Kirche lifted a finger.
Colbert took the bunch of keys from the waist of the defeated sentinels, and inserted them into the keyhole of the door.
Not being able to find the right key, he couldn't make any progress.
At that moment, clack! With a sound, the door opened.
The four of them stepped out onto the corridor, and Colbert smiled.
“Exultation and explanation after this. Hurry!”
Because this tower was built to lock nobles up, there was a small room right beside to specially safeguard their personal belongings. Colbert moved as if he was very familiar with the layout of this tower, and located Saito's Derflinger and the others' respective wands inside the small room.
Kirche spread a robe over each of the four who were grasping their wands tightly. Putting that on and following Colbert and Kirche, the group ran down the staircase.
On their way down, every guard was already defeated.
“Did you both do this as well?”
“They're just asleep.”
Kirche replied as if she was having fun. How on earth did they manage to do that? As he was thinking how strange it was, with mage guards as their lead, some soldiers came up from below. It was a group of soldiers who noticed the anomaly in the tower.
“You bastards! What are you doing!?”
As soon as he said that, Colbert who was leading them, reacted. Within a short time, he recited a spell, and held his wand out. A torrent of wind blew away the guard who looked like the leader.
Another guard almost rushed at Colbert's chest, but he delivered a blow into the guard's stomach with his wand. The group of guards who came up could not reach Colbert because of the previous two who were knocked down.
Whilst rushing head-on, Colbert recited another spell. From above the guards who tried to flee, a cloud-shaped green fog broke out. Because of the cloud of slumber, the guards dropped one by one like puppets whose strings were cut.
Saito and the others were shocked at Colbert's deftness. Could it be that Colbert is so strong...? As for Louise and Guiche who would have surely thought Colbert as being someone insignificant, they merely stared at that flabbergasting turn of events.
Using his wand itself to hit the enemy, reciting spells so fast as if his lips could not be read, it wasn't the fighting skills of the usual nobles.
“The quality of the guards at the palace had dropped, huh...”
Murmuring that, Colbert broke off into a run again. When they exited into the courtyard, the people there were watching the flying Ostland in a daze.
Apparently, it was a rescue mission matching with the Ostland.
The security check for the people entering and exiting the palace was loose. Colbert showed them his Academy of Magic identity card, and they easily passed the gate. The group rushed to the castle town.
“T-Teacher, you're awesome...” Saito said, barely managing to calm himself down.
For some reason, a melancholic expression was on his face.
Under Kirche's guidance, the group that sneaked out of the palace headed towards the “Charming Fairies” Inn at which they had worked before. Surprisingly, horses and traveling equipment were already prepared there.
“You're going to save your friends right? I want to help~~~.”
Bending his body forwards, the owner of the “Charming Fairies” Inn, Scarron, smiled at them.
“The preparations are great.... Who on earth informed you that we were caught?”
The moment Saito asked Kirche, from a corner of the bar, a somewhat embarrassed Reynal and the other members of the knight corps who he thought had gone back, came towards him.
“You guys. Didn't you all go back to the Academy?”
Lifting his glasses unconsciously, Reynal responded,
“We thought that you would be refused and would give up after that, and waited secretly for your return at the courtyard. And then, after seeing you all being arrested and taken away...”
“They told us who were waiting on the ship. Then, Jean and I devised a plan, and sought help from this Charming Fairies Inn.”. Said Kirche triumphantly.
Saito was overjoyed. The knight corps did not disperse just like that. They were comrades who would help them in times of need.
Saito bowed at Kirche and the rest.
“S-Sorry.... Getting caught when we said we would go to rescue Tabitha... Guess that can't be helped, huh...”
Colbert tapped Saito's shoulder.
“As for the apologies, leave it until Miss Tabitha is rescued. There is no time to be relieved. Well then, the real thing is after this.”
Colbert then spread out a map on top of Derflinger. Everyone present became anxious, and looked at the map.
Colbert traced along one of the streets.
“We go to Gallia via a land route.”
“Can't we go using the ship?”
“Once your escape has been discovered, the first thing they would suspect is the Ostland which is sailing in the air now. Anyway, we came here to Tristania using that ship. The pursuers would probably think that we would escape in the same way. That's why we will use it against them. The Ostland shall attract enough attention and then head towards the opposite direction, Germania. The people in the royal palace will then think we are trying to enter Gallia via Germania.”
Kirche explained the remaining rationale.
“Besides that, if we crossed the country frontier in such a huge ship, wouldn’t we be discovered by the Gallian army immediately? After landing at Gallia, what would we do then? Wait aboard in the skies on standby? If we are discovered by the Gallian dragon knights, we would just be sunken like that!”
“Anyway, I don't want to use the ship for dangerous things. After rescuing Miss Tabitha, we will use the ship to travel east. Right?” With a teasing-like smile on his face, Colbert looked at Saito.
Yes! Touched, Saito nodded.
“Because of that, we should cross the country border on horses, and head towards the old Orleans residence at the shore of Ragdorian Lake, which Miss Zerbst knew about. That is where Miss Tabitha's home is. Maybe there is some clue over there. Well then, for the time being, this is the plan. Everyone, any questions?”
“Can I ask one thing?”
“What is it?”
“Why do you help us so much? As a teacher, you should have your own stand right?”
Why do you ask such a thing? Colbert showed a strange look. “Miss Tabitha is my student. A teacher helping his student. Isn't that natural?”
When Tabitha woke up, she was in a dream country.
She was on a bed with a canopy, right at the center of a spacious room.
She was dressed in luxurious pyjamas that she had never worn before, not even during her times as a princess.
Tabitha looked for her glasses, and then noticed a pair of glasses studded with precious stones on a small table beside the bed. They were lying there on the table.
Putting that on, she checked her body. She could not feel anything strange at all. Looking around, just like the bed and the accessories, the furniture around her was luxurious as well. It was the furniture of the previous Capet dynasty. The generation during which Gallia had thoroughly achieved the artistic, military, greatest splendor.
“Have you woken up?”
Tabitha turned towards where the voice came from, and there was the tall elf. Sitting on a couch near the entrance to the room, he was reading a book. Instantly, she looked around for her wand, but it could not be found anywhere. If this is the case, I have no way to fight against him.
Tabitha got down from the bed slowly. This place is definitely not a dream country. Since the elf who defeated me so easily is here, this is but the prolongation of the fact.
“Who are you?”
“Member of the Old Council of Nephthys... no, right now, I am but the Bidashal of Sahara.”
“Where is this place?”
The knowledgeable Tabitha knew the name of this castle. An old castle near the national border with Sahara, the elves' land. Its position was at the direct opposite of Ragdorian Lake. It looked like she had been brought there whilst she was still unconscious.
“Where did you put my mother?”
Tabitha repeated the same question as the other day. The tall elf replied her instantly.
“She's in a room beside here.”
Tabitha rushed out. Although she had run up to the door, the elf did not stop her. The room in which Tabitha was sleeping at was apparently a room designed to give shelter to nobles. Opposite the door, there was a small room for servants. Her mother was lying on a bed there.
Whispering that, she rushed up to her. Her mother was snoring softly. Although Tabitha called out to her, she did not wake up. Evidently, she was deeply asleep.
At the mirror stand at the corner of the room, there was the doll Tabitha's mother thought to be her daughter. A doll she once bought for her. During that time, she named that doll “Tabitha”.
Mentally ill now, her mother called that doll “Charlotte”.
Since then, she called herself “Tabitha”. The doll which was like her other self, was lying casually on the mirror stand.
With great loathing, Tabitha glared at Bidashal who had peeked in from the door. In a crystal-clear voice, he said to Tabitha.
“You're creating a ruckus, please let her sleep.”
“What do you plan to do with us?”
As if he was looking at a desert rat he captured for experimental purposes, with eyes that contained little pity, Bidashal gazed at Tabitha.
“There are two answers to that.”
With Bidashal's words, Tabitha understood that her fate would be different from her mother's.
“What are you going to do with my mother?”
Firstly, Tabitha asked how her mother would be dealt with.
“Nothing at all. I was only ordered to 'guard' her.”
“What about me?”
After hesitating for a moment, Bidashal continued in the same tone as before.
“With the power of the Water Spirit, I will let you part with your heart. After that, I am ordered to 'guard' you.”
Tabitha understood instantly. This elf was saying that she would be made to be just like her mother.
“It is a special drug. Its preparation takes about ten days. You better enjoy the time left for you to the fullest.”
“You people made the drug which drove my mother crazy?”
“That drug which is so strong; we are not able to prepare it. <!—So did or didn’t he?-->Well then, although I pity you, I am also a captive-like being as well. I think this is the will of 'The Great Purpose' too, so give up.”
Tabitha stood up, and went towards a window in the room.
Under the radiant sun she could see the collapsed castle walls. Alhambra was supposed to be an abandoned castle, but when she looked at the furnished noble room, she thought that Joseph had probably renovated it.
Blocked by the castle walls, she couldn’t see the courtyard until the outside of the castle, but she was able to look down at the huge entrance protruding from the castle keep. Soldiers wielding lances and rifles were standing there. Although she did not know how many armed soldiers they were, since she did not have her wand, it was impossible to escape with her mother.
Realizing that Sylphid was not anywhere there, she asked.
“That rhyme dragon? It escaped.”
Apparently, he was able to see through Sylphid's true identity with just a look. It should have been a piece of cake for that tall elf.
It escaped. Tabitha was relieved that she was told that, but... Sylphid would surely inform those people at the Academy of Magic that Tabitha was captured.
Tabitha bit her lips.
Kirche and Saito's faces came to her mind.
She did not want them to think of things like trying their best to save them. Because she did not want to be a bother, she did not tell anyone about her departure at all.
But... it should be okay not to worry about that. Anyhow, the one who had captured Tabitha was Gallia. Coming to save her would be the same as looking for a brawl with the whole country. Kirche or Saito would not think of taking such a risk. Especially Saito, isn't he a knight of the Imperial Guard now...?
But, if it's Saito, he probably wouldn't mind taking such risks. Anyway, when it comes to that Saito, during that time when we fought to the death, he let me off without considering the risk to himself.
At her straying thoughts... Tabitha shook her head slightly.
Thinking about things like coming and going in such a way, huh...
Perhaps, I want them to come to rescue me.
How could it be?
I have always been doing things alone.
Besides... it is useless, whoever it is. The time left for me is only a little. After that, I will lose my heart due to the elf's drug. The Ancient Magic of the elves; humans can't do anything about it.
Although she was about to lose her heart, Tabitha was strangely calm.
No matter how I struggle against this elf, I definitely cannot win. Even when I had my wand, I could not succeed, so being unarmed now... our difference is probably like that of an ant and an elephant.
Having gone through countless battles until then as a Knight of the Northern Parterre, Tabitha excelled in analyzing battle abilities. Her excellent sense as a warrior told her the foolishness of resisting. Tabitha's cold heart was enveloped in a sense of helplessness she had never felt before. That sense of helplessness ripped off even the last bit of emotion she had- Anger.
Wearing this soft, resigned garment in her heart, Tabitha softly bit her lips.
“Being controlled by the feeling of such strange things, she could go to the same place as her mother.” She felt this small bit of relief.
Then, Bidashal told Tabitha.
“If you are bored, read a book. I have brought a few here.”
Bidashal pointed at the few books stacked in a row, which was apparently brought from the mansion of Orleans.
“This The Hero of Ivaldi book is really of great interest.”
Taking the book he was indulged with at the old mansion of Orleans, Bidashal murmured.
The Hero of Ivaldi is the most popular epic tale in Halkeginia.
Receiving the divine protection of Founder Brimir, Ivaldi the Hero used swords and spears and defeated various enemies- dragons, demons, demihumans...Because the original script no longer existed, besides the plot and the characters, it had branched off into innumerable variations - folklores, traditions, poems, plays, puppet shows...
Because the main character wasn't a noble mage, it was a popular work mainly among commoners.
“We elves have a legend which has a similar hero. Saint 'Anubis'. He is considered to have saved our land, Sahara during the 'great calamity'. According to this book, the hero Ivaldi's left hand could shine. Our 'Anubis' had a sacred left hand as well. Elves and humans are different, but this is a deeply interesting similarity.”
The tale of “The Hero of Ivaldi”, which was meant for the commoners, was not properly accepted in Halkeginia. Those who researched it were labelled “heretics” and “fools”, and it could not stand at the public stage of either theology or literature. There was even a period when it went through the painful experience of book burning. After all, this fairy-tale was said to have been made by the commoners who were then not pleased with the nobles' reign. It did not mean that all the “Hero of Ivaldi” stories which were conveyed had a left hand which could shine. There were some in which the hero was a female, and some, male. There were also times when he was the son of god, or when it was his wife instead. He was also said to be just an ordinary human. It was a group of vague stories.
Bidashal handed “The Hero of Ivaldi” to Tabitha.
Obediently receiving the book, Tabitha sat down at the bed on which her mother was sleeping. Bidashal nodded, and left the room.
After sitting down by the bed and gazing at her mother's face... Tabitha recalled her childhood days. To lull the fretful me to sleep, my mother had read a book to me at the bedside, just like this.
During that time, the book she read most often, wasn't it the “Hero of Ivaldi”?
Slowly, Tabitha started flipping the pages of the book.
Although this would never be her object of research, “The Hero of Ivaldi” was interesting. Because of that, it was popular and widely read. She would not choose a moral and straightforward story. When she was small, Tabitha had engrossed herself in reading it before as well. Her interest would shift to other things eventually... Although she did not open the book after that, that which had taught her the fun of reading was this “Hero of Ivaldi” book.
The sounds of pages of a book being flipped could be heard in the quiet room.
While she flipped the pages, Tabitha read it out.
Just like how her mother did it in the past.
Ivaldi was stopped by Choment and other villagers. That is because he said he would go to the dragon's cave to save the feudal lord's daughter who had been harassing the villagers.
Casually looking at her mother, she noticed that she had awakened without her realizing it. And yet she had not awoken when she called out to her just now... Tabitha tried to go and get the doll which was on the mirror stand. If her mother did not have the doll, she would be very upset. However... she noticed that her mother's behavior was different from usual.
She was staring at Tabitha with an astonished face. Usually, she would start making a fuss about “Return my daughter to me!” Yet, showing no interest at the doll on the mirror stand, she stared fixedly at Tabitha.
Maybe this passage from “The Hero of Ivaldi” made mother recall a little about the former days. Tabitha had given up, but now, within her heart, a small ray of hope shone through. Perhaps it would just be a hope that would lead to disappointment. But still, that hope was just like a stick of candle in the dark, glowing gently.
Tabitha continued reading out.
Choment asked Ivaldi,
“Oh, Ivaldi! Why are you heading towards the dragon's den? That girl had harassed you so much!”
“I don't know. Why? I don't know either. Just that there's something inside me which kept pulling me there steadily.”
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