Zero no Tsukaima:Volume17 Chapter1
 Chapter 1: Saito's Despair
When Saito opened his eyes, he found himself lying on a bed of the mansion. Rays of morning light shone through the window.
“Are you okay, Saito-san?!”
Saito replied with a croaking voice.
“What exactly happened yesterday?” Siesta asked in a hurry.
“Siesta, what’s wrong with me?” a pale-faced Saito asked.
“What do you mean? Because you were late in coming home, I went to search for you. Later, I found you lying on the side of a street… May I ask if you have found Miss Vallière yet?”
Jolts of dull pain assailed the back of his head.
While in pain, Saito remembered the events of the previous night vividly.
He had left the mansion to search for Louise.
Then, he was attacked by two men and a woman claiming to be the Elemental Siblings.
The “blade” was big and terrifying.
Then, because the blade had absorbed the energy, it exploded and shattered into pieces…
Saito softly murmured, looking at the Japanese sword by his bedside.
“Derf-san? That sword? Now that you mention it, I haven't seen him anywhere…”
“He’s not around anymore. He shattered into pieces,”
Saito distractedly answered. Siesta wept, covering her mouth with her hands with an ‘ah’. Siesta clearly understood how close the relationship between the wise sword and Saito had been.
“How did that happen? Derf-san, is he really dead…?”
Saito began to talk about what happened the previous night. While he was drunk, he had found the keys in the kitchen.
"Isn’t there… a basement we couldn't get into? Those are the keys to it. In the basement, there is a very clean room…… later I found that the room is linked to the palace… and at the end of it……"
Linked to the palace.
Through these words, Siesta seemed to notice something.
"Ah," she uttered a startled expression… and then considered something while scratching her neck.
"Could it be that…"
"H-her Majesty the Queen came through…”
"Yes… Her Majesty Henrietta. Other than the arrival of Her Majesty the Queen, there was nothing else.”
Siesta was staring at Saito in a scary manner.
"Ah, so, because we were both interested in the basement… we'd taken a look! Just as we were inspecting the room, Louise……”
“You were discovered?"
From her serious tone, Saito nodded.
"What were the two of you doing?"
When Siesta heard that, her countenance darkened and she mercilessly slapped Saito on the face.
"Pa!" it clearly echoed throughout the entire room.
"This is for Miss Vallière.”
Saito, listless, opened his eyes wide in shock.
A still useless Saito, who had not completely woken up from his trance, asked Siesta.
“From there, continue."
Due to her tone, Saito continued. After finding out that Louise left, he frantically tried to catch up. Along the way, he met those strange aristocratic brothers and sister. They invited him to join them, but suddenly said they wanted to kill him. During the fight against the brother, Derflinger had shattered into pieces because he had absorbed too much magic…
Derf had become shards… Speaking of that moment, the reality finally hit Saito. Overcome with shock, he let the memories of his good friend's “death” come together in his mind. Tears slowly filled his eyes, and streamed down Saito's cheek.
"Uu, Siesta… Derf died… obviously, obviously, as a good guy…"
Siesta's eyes were also filled with tears, but she once again gave Saito a slap on the face.
Saito stared at Siesta with an expression of surprise. He seemed to want to say something, but kept his silence.
"Why are you crying?"
"Is this the time to be crying?"
Siesta wiped the corner of her eye while holding back her tears.
"Even though I also want to cry out, because there is no time to cry, I will not cry. We must immediately find Miss Vallière, right? Even you had been attacked, and Miss Vallière might encounter the same danger.”
Saito opened his mouth with an “ah”. It was as Siesta said.
"I…… even though Miss Vallière and I are vying for Saito-san as rivals, I really like Miss Vallière. To be honest, there were times when I hated her even as I was complimenting her, and her personality cannot be considered good…
But I still like her very much. Because, a noble like her can sleep beside a person like me without voicing a complaint, isn’t that right? We are obviously rivals."
Saito suddenly clenched his fist tightly and wiped the corner of his eyes.
"Derf-san’s death also makes me extremely sad. However, if something happens to Miss Vallière, Derf-san would be all the angrier, right?"
He will say, “Partner, what kind of excuse have you come up with this time?”
Saito nodded his head from the bed and stood up. Derflinger's final words floated into his mind.
"You must apologise to that arrogant little lady…"
"…Siesta, you're right. This is really not the time to do such a thing."
Gathering his voice, Saito spoke. However… his voice was trembling, and his body staggered as if he was about to fall.
Saito said to himself, "This is not the time to do such a thing," while gripping the Japanese sword leaning against the bed which he inserted into his bed.
Siesta was holding on to this very Saito.
"This is it! This is Saito-san!"
"But, where exactly did Louise go… since I have no clue…”
"Anyway, let’s start by going to a place where she could possibly have gone.”
Saito and Siesta quickly organised their wardrobes and asked Grandmother Helen to help look after the house. Looking at their faces, Grandmother Helen felt something was amiss and nodded her head with a serious expression.
Imagining where Louise might go, they walked to the streets.
After walking for a while, they came to the place where Bleu fought last night. The ground had deep cuts all over, displaying Bleu's powerful magic. They tried to find Derflinger’s fragments…but the pair couldn’t find them.
It was as if they had dissolved entirely.
Exactly who commissioned those siblings (2 brothers and a sister) to attack him…? However, given some thought, he was a celebrity after all. Even though he didn't consider it, there was the possibility of incurring the resentment of others. Speaking of which, a plebeian like himself becoming famous might just get the nobles jealous.
Saito clenched the hilt of his Japanese sword. Now is not the time to be thinking who exactly wants to attack. If someone comes to fight, then I’ll fight them.
But… can I still fight? Louise and Derf are not here. In this kind of situation, what do I do if I meet a stronger opponent?
Saito’s body was surrounded by fear and despair.
"…Ah, I have been relying on you, Derf.”
He didn't know why, but his own body did not feel like a part of himself. The core of his body felt as if it was deprived of life.
When they went to the inn, Saito borrowed horses to rush to Tristain. When they reached the Charming Fairies Inn, they were just preparing the stop for the night.
“Ah! If it isn't Saito and Siesta!"
Scarron welcomed them at first, but when he saw the look on Saito and Siesta’s faces, his expression changed.
“…Have you seen Louise?"
Saito used a dead man's face to ask such a question.
Scarron narrowed his eyes and smiled.
“Ah, ah. It’s only rehearsal and already you have been angered? In that case, after graduation, that home sweet home is absolutely impossible!"
Hearing these words, Saito could not help but fall to his knees. No matter how desperately he tried to cheer up, this simple sentence had defeated him. In fact, nobody could blame Saito’s fragility. In the end, he is only a teenager.
"That is right… Now, living a new life is absolutely impossible… and I will never get the Vallière family's acknowledgement… I– I never expected…my actions could have lead to this"
"You’re going to look at other girls with perverted eyes anyway, right? So I say to just spend some quality time with Siesta! Have I not told you before? Ah, looks like I have not."
Siesta interrupted Scarron who still wanted to pursue the matter.
"Uncle Scarron! Please stop! Saito-san has just lost a close friend and is fragile!”
"Who is the close friend?"
"It's the talking sword. Saito-san was attacked by someone last night.”
Siesta said in a calm voice, Scarron’s expression turned serious.
"I see… Sure enough, the situation we were worrying about has happened.”
Looking down at a sea mouse-like Saito lying on the floor, Scarron said. The hero who saved the country had become useless all of a sudden.
"So, we need to find Miss Vallière as soon as possible…"
"En," Scarron nodded his head, then gave out instructions readily.
"First, we'll pass this information through the Owl Post to those places where Louise-chan might have gone to: her classmates and the Cavaliers. Then the capitalists there… and also, the palace!”
Hearing the word ‘palace’, Siesta's shoulders shook slightly.
"…Actually, I don't think she will be in the palace."
"Why? Isn’t Henrietta Her Highness and Louise childhood friends?"
Then Scarron, like Siesta, could only stare as Saito fell prostrate onto the floor, muttering the vague, self-depreciating words, 'I'm useless, so freaking useless. I shouldn't have been born into this world as a child of this era. A Des Ornières mud dumpling! A rotten orange! My orange is Yanagisawa Kimio! He was interesting.' He opened his lips with a smack, and trembled as a cold sweat poured over him.
"D-don’t tell me… Saito’s love interest is… impossible… but looking at Saito-san’s past achievements… the country's best knight and Her Royal Highness Princess's tryst — there are still those kind of rumors… but I dared not think that the unexpected would become reality… ah ah, really wonderful!"
Scarron’s emotions were uncontrollable, turning back and forth.
"Uncle! Pull yourself together! Pull yourself together a little!"
Siesta shook Scarron awake, who dreamily muttered,
"The small girl boarded the dark stage of history! Ah ah, wonderful!"
Then Scarron stood up, patting the shoulder of Siesta.
“Siesta, you may be able leave a mark in history. If it comes true, you must tell your uncle because uncle wants to turn this story into a drama, letting it spread throughout the universe!”
"That's enough! Honestly!"
As Siesta raised her voice, Jessica, who had been doing laundry, suddenly jumped out.
"What? What happened?"
After listening to Scarron’s explanation, Jessica stared at Saito with wide eyes.
Scarron and Jessica, started muttering that this was the greatest dirty news of the Kingdom of Tristain and if this matter was to spread, the government would definitely be shaken.
"So, you definitely must not tell anyone! Writing it to be a drama is even more ridiculous!"
Under the harsh glare of Siesta, the two finally became more honest.
“Yes… It's not like I don't hear enough things that would cost more than a few lives. I won’t tell anyone, so don’t you worry."
"However, that aside, informing this matter to Her Majesty the Queen should be a little better. After all, Miss Vallière is a female officer of Her Majesty. Ah, this has become a grand event!"
Therefore, Saito wrote a few letters. The contents were, "Has Louise arrived there?” As summer vacation had arrived, the students had gone back home. The Ondine Knights were no exception. The only person who was willing to listen to Saito from Louise’s own family was Cattleya, so he wrote a letter to her, too. As he was writing, the sadness in his chest became unbearable. He had clearly promised Cattleya that he would protect Louise……but she ran away. At Tristain, even though they didn’t have a post office, there are industries like Japan that used owls to mail letters or articles.
He gave the letters to one of the Des Ornières post offices. Within two to three days, the letters would have been delivered.
Even though he was troubled, Saito finally rushed directly to Henrietta. Getting attacked by those unknown people also needs to be reported.
Letting Siesta stay in the Charming Fairies Inn, Saito rushed to the palace. Because he was vice-captain of the Ondine Knights, he was immediately allowed to enter and have an audience in the waiting room.
What kind of facial expression should I use to face Henrietta? Alas… what kind of attitude should I show?
"Do I like Her Royal Highness Princess?"
Men who see Henrietta and not being able to say she was "beautiful" did not exist. Even Saito, lacking experience in matters of love, knows that Henrietta’s charm was extraordinary.
However, Saito thought.
This was only an excuse. He would use the excuse that "being unable to resist that kind of charm is normal” to himself; this part of him was terrible.
The audience waiting room door was opened, a guard announced.
"Her Majesty the Queen, instantly summons the Ondine Knights vice-captain Hiraga.”
Saito stood up and passed through the doors. There, Henrietta assumed a different attitude than what Saito imagined. General expression as if overly-thoughtful, sitting in a chair reading a letter deeply.
Noting that Saito had appeared, she raised her head, smiling. This smile, did not have any feelings and was different than last night's bright smile. It was simple, exposed only to reward the hard work of the vice-captain and his smile. Saito made a stiff expression. Henrietta gently waved her hand to allow others to leave. The guards standing next to the door exited the room. Making sure the guards were away, Henrietta sighed deeply. That beautiful face from the side started showing sorrow.
"Great. I was going to ask you to come."
"Yes… in fact, I just received a letter from Louise suddenly and was thinking of what to do…”
Saito had a nasty burst of premonition. After reading the letters, he understood that his premonition was accurate. It read in gist, I wish to have myself removed from negotiable matters with the Gallia King, as well as relinquish my status of priestess.
“From start to finish in that room, Louise saw everything…”
"Is that so…"
Henrietta displayed a “It really was like that” kind of expression, being upset until she was out of line of sight.
"Certainly enough, that should not have happened."
As if to escape under that kind of Henrietta charm in general, Saito categorically said,
"… Today, I came just to report Louise’s disappearance but it seems Louise has already told Her Highness.”
Saito stared at the letter. Written on it wasn't a single word of blame directed at Henrietta. It merely stated her resignation and her gratitude for all the hospitality she had received in the past.
As Saito imagined the feelings of Louise as she wrote this letter, he felt his chest tighten in sadness. As long as he thought of that he may never meet her again, he could not bear it.
"Are there any clues as to where Louise is? Tentatively, I have sent letters to students and partners, as well as the Vallières…”
Henrietta said with an over thoughtful expression.
"…If women want to hide themselves, they will certainly go to the monastery or the Chamber of Commerce. I will give notice to the domestic monasteries to look for anyone that resembles Louise among the women who come to visit”
"For now...I'll look all over the country."
Speaking of which, Henrietta said with a troubled voice,
"…This is, after all, an affair of the state. Be sure to come back before the Gallia Queen's Coronation garden party starts.”
After considering for a moment, Saito nodded. Work was work, after all. Ah, it was also necessary to finish. Must be added with that of Louise's work together.
If he, however, did not find Louise, in that turn of events, Saito had no confidence whether he could complete his work successfully. However, if Tabitha was the same as before, he should be able to open up his mind.
“Yes. In short, I will come back before the deadline. If I am able to find her beforehand, that’s fine... After all, this is like looking for a gem in the sea."
Hearing the term ‘gem’, Henrietta gloomily closed her eyes. Even so, she said in a calm voice,
"To Louise, you are the gem…the same goes for you. It seems that this was doing of the fault that I committed, but…"
Henrietta raised her head and said categorically.
"But I do not regret it."
Saito cannot help but breathe. Henrietta placed her slender hand on his chest, like a sculpture in general good shape slowly closed her lips. At that time that glamorous atmosphere was not shown. Only great willpower… coming from the queen, her whole body emitted it. That kind of dignified attitude shook Saito’s heart.
Henrietta, in the sunlight, shone like a saint in virtuousness.
"This person has a twofold appearance of the day and night."
This has nothing to do with his own will, these two faces were expressed by Henrietta unconsciously.
"Does a woman with this kind of charm exist in the world?"
With an ‘ah’, Saito noticed. He felt a strong sense of shame to the ‘him’ who was thinking like this. My feelings… have I not just lost Louise…?
Saito murmured in his heart.
Saito thought as he could not forgive the “him” who was attracted to the woman before him.
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