Zero no Tsukaima:Volume8 Chapter10 ~Preview~
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 Chapter Ten: Swordsman
At Emma’s house, Saito, who wasn't able to fall asleep, was spending the night with Agnes. Because Louise was staying at Tiffania’s house, Saito lost his lodging. In only a single room, Saito and Agnes were sitting at the table. In the bed nearby, Emma was already asleep.
“So, you don’t have the ability to protect her?”
Agnes muttered after listening to Saito’s story.
“…Aye. Because I am not Gandálfr anymore.”
After thinking for a while, Agnes asked…
“You were defending Miss Vallière because you were Gandálfr?”
“Indeed. Because I was Gandálfr, I could protect Louise.”
“That’s not it.”
“It is not the meaning I was implying. It was a question about will. There is a different meaning between ‘able to protect due to being a Gandálfr’ and ‘protecting due to being a Gandálfr’.”
Saito was startled.
“So, who was protecting Miss Vallière? Was it Gandálfr? Or Saito Hiraga? That’s what I want to hear.”
Saito looked hesitant before answering.
“It’s easy to belittle oneself. It’s easy to mutter ‘I can’t’ and give up one’s courage. But…”
“To risk your life for a woman, is worth a whole lifetime.”
Looking at Sheffield, who introduced herself as a Void familiar, Louise asked,
“…Is it some kind of bad joke. How can there be another Void familiar."
“It is up to you to believe or not. You are free to not believe me. It’s your choice. Now, be obedient and give me that Founder’s Prayer Book…”
Louise responded with a bitter expression,
“…And if I would oppose you, you’d knock me down and take it?”
“Not so harshly.”
She pointed her wand and unleashed a small explosion towards the woman with robe.
Yet, it was also a gargoyle.
Another one opened its mouth.
“This is a doll, not a gargoyle. It’s a special ancient magic item that can take the shape of a person, whose blood they get to drink. This ability… Was used by kings in ancient wars. Some noble historians compare it to a play. Well, we want to thank you.”
Gargoyles approached slowly.
“They are not very useful against swordsmen and soldiers. But because of their usefulness against mages, in history, they are feared as ‘mage killers’.”
Louise again unleashed Dispel Magic at the approaching beings.
However… it was a futile attempt of resistance against such overwhelming numbers.
A Void spell's power is proportional to the time it takes to cast. Yet… she couldn't make long chants. During casting, a mage is defenseless. She would be easily caught by an enemy.
“So, what do you say? Join in the war game! Just think about it! How long can you keep doing cancellation spells? Here!”
All the gargoyles turned into swordsmen.
There was nothing she could do about it; Louise ran away.
“Aahaha! Strange! Are you really a Void user? Without your Gandálfr, you can’t even chant a spell!”
Louise ran, trying to escape back to the forest. Behind her, Myoznitnirn's magic dolls followed her. Seems like they wanted to tease, or maybe measure Louise’s ability, since they followed Louise at her own pace.
Her feet stumbled on a tree root and Louise fell down.
From the other side, thick shadows and damp footsteps of gargoyles stepping through the forest soil echoed.
Fear struck her.
Yet… with her mind stricken with terror, what escaped her mouth was not a Void spell, nor a prayer to God, but…
The name of the familiar that no longer existed in this world.
In a weeping voice, Louise cried,
“Help… Help me Saito…”
Damp footsteps echoed closer.
The rational part of her mind denied Saito being alive.
Abandon this belief… Saito is dead.
Give up, Louise.
Your familiar is dead!
Louise bit her lip.
She knew that already.
Louise screamed in crying voice.
“So what! Sowhatsowhat!”
She could not allow her mind to whisper about his death.
“Everyone keeps telling he is dead, dead, dead… I KNOW that already! He’s dead!”
Louise stood up.
And began to utter an incantation.
The ancient words escaped Louise’s lips. It was a common magic spell, that everyone can use.
“I, Louise Françoise Le Blanc de La Vallière…”
This was not a spell one should cast at a time like this.
What should have been recited were… Void spells.
However, she decided to believe in it.
And to trust in it.
With her life at stake… she placed her trust into his name.
Louise decided deep inside…
Because, I still have not said those words.
Louise recited the spell to meet Saito and shouted.
“In the name of the great Five Pentagon Powers! Following my fate, summon a familiar!”
Louise lowered her wand.
In front of Saito, who was sitting, holding his knees… the gate opened.
The gate that he saw in Tokyo some time ago.
Saito stared with a blank surprise all over his face.
Derflinger said in a casual voice.
“…Haa, seems like your fate is to become that lass’s familiar after all.”
“Well, Contract Servant doesn’t necessarily succeed.”
“It’s not the time for such talks.”
Agnes said pointing at the gate. Louise's scream echoed from the inside.
“Come! Come come! Help! Noo!”
“…So, what are you going to do now, partner?”
When Derflinger was finishing saying that… he was pulled up by Saito.
“Mo, so be it. But mate, it is your life tha-…”
Saito grabbed Derflinger, who was still muttering, and jumped into the gate.
On the other side of the gate, in the darkness, gargoyles appeared.
But, Louise was not trembling.
She was engulfed by a warm feeling.
He will come.
Saito will come.
Because I am about to die… Saito will come and rescue me.
Encircling Louise at the gate, one of gargoyles raised a sword.
At that moment… the gargoyles upper body crumbled down.
The first thing that caught Louise’s eyes was Derflinger.
Then, she saw the black hair she had seen so many times… Louise felt the tears that she was holding back for so long start to flow.
The moment when Saito came out of the gate, he was greeted by the sight of a fencer lowering his sword. Fearlessly, Saito avoided the swing and thrust Derflinger forward.
Taking his chance, he pierced and cut down the fencer.
From the back… he could hear nostalgic sounds of Louise crying and snarling at the same time.
“W-w-w-where were you!”
Though Saito wanted to calm down Louise, the only words that came were “Wa-was away for a bit…” - truly pathetic response.
Louise started pouring out words in a frenzy.
“You are my Gandálfr! Don’t go anywhere and protect me! D-defend…”
Ignoring his feelings, he said…
“Shut up, stupid!”
“Who are you calling stupid?!”
“It's all right now, so calm down.”
“What was that?!”
From the darkness, Myoznitnirn, Sheffield's voice rang.
“Hey, hey. Gandáflr showed up? Aren’t you a little late. Where were you loafing?“
“I'm not Gandálfr.”
“Then who are you?”
“A free earthling.”
“What? And I thought that I was able to meet a companion… pity.”
Hearing this exchange between Saito and Sheffield, Louise shouted,
“W-what do you mean?!”
“As I said. I am not Gandálfr now.”
“The runes disappeared because I was close to death.”
“Are you s-s-ss-stupid! Why did you come through the gate!”
“Shut up. I am not protecting you because I am Gandálfr.”
“What other reason?!”
“I protect you because I love you!”
Louise's face crimsoned. Even at such time, Louise blushed furiously.
She coughed to clear her throat and said…
“Th-then, anyway… lets do the Contract Servant again…”
“We don’t have much time for that. Just chant the Void spell and do not worry, I will win somehow.”
“What are you saying?! Not being a Gandálfr, what can you do with gargoyles as your opponents…”
“I see. So they are not human. I won’t hold back then.”
The crowd of gargoyles closed in.
For a while, they were eying them.
Saito set up the sword.
“It’s all right, entrust me with your life.”
Hearing him say that in such confident way… Louise bit her lip. And rubbed her eyes.
She was happy.
Concentrating on her wand, Louise began to chant the spell.
Hearing the nostalgic Void chant from behind him, Saito faced the direction from which the enemies were coming.
From the darkness, another gargoyle, dressed in a differently shaped armor, jumped towards him. He dodged the enemy's attack in a dash and jumped back.
He was looking at the enemy’s foot position.
It was time, for the intensive training he had with Agnes to start repaying, Saito thought.
“Follow the feet…”
After dodging several times, he understood the pattern of the enemy's attack.
Then, when the enemy lifted it's sword and was about to bring it down, Saito thrust decisively.
The shoulder of the gargoyle was torn and the sword fell to the ground.
“Ah, I hit it!”
Saito’s hands shook with excitement as he cut another gargoyle down.
However, though he was pleased about the hits… more enemies popped up one after another.
He remembered Agnes’s words:
“Avoid situations where you have to fight more than one on one.”
He thought about escaping, but heard Louise chanting from the back.
She said she entrusted her life to Saito.
She entrusted her life not to Gandálfr, but to Saito Hiraga.
Even if cost him his life, he wouldn’t let her down.
Taking a breath, he mustered his courage.
The enemies approached.
Derflinger, who had kept silent till now, opened his mouth.
“Partner, I ask you. Just now, you cut down two enemies at the same time. Don’t you understand? You are a simple mortal; you can’t attack two gargoyles at the same time.”
“Have confidence. You are strong. Just listen to my instructions now. Follow them, all right? If you do so, you can surely win.”
Derflinger's confident voice calmed Saito down.
A gargoyle with a spear attacked him.
“To the right.”
Following Derflinger’s instructions, Saito dodged to the right.
Pon – the spear hit the place where Saito stood just a moment ago. Taking the chance, Saito cut it down.
“On the right. Squat down. Cut away the feet.”
He squatted down.
The gargoyle's sword sliced through the place where Saito’s head was a few moments ago. Still squatting, he swung his sword and cut down the dolls legs, leaving it lying on the ground.
“On the right. Round up.”
Saito rounded up to the standing position and hit the gargoyle’s groin with his sword.
“Turn around, cut.”
He turned around. Though the spear was aimed right to his face, he was not afraid anymore.
At the same time, he turned around the sword with a wide swing, cutting the gargoyle from the back into half.
The remaining one lifted up its sword.
Seeing an opening, Saito pierced.
“Idiot! Don’t pierce!”
Though Derflinger shouted, Saito already pierced the gargoyle, pinning it with the sword to a tree
Saito shouted happily in excitement.
“Hey, pull out!”
“Haven’t I told you?! Never pierce against many opponents!”
A new one appeared there, Saito fell into panic.
“W-what do I do?!”
“It’s too late! The end! Good-bye!”
Though Saito tried to pull out the stuck sword using his leg, it didn't came out.
The new doll jumped up at Saito.
At that moment, there was a gun shot. The doll collapsed right before Saito’s face.
“What was that?”
Then he saw Agnes standing there, holding a pistol.
Then Agnes threw away the pistol, and pulled out another one from under her belt and aimed at him. Another shot, and the gargoyle next to him fell.
With much effort, Saito finally was able to pull out Derflinger.
Having already used her both pistols, Agnes pulled out her sword.
“Come on.” She faced Saito raising her jaw.
Reassured by her presence, Saito felt his courage rising again.
However, another gargoyle appeared from the other side and approached the still-chanting Louise.
Even though he instantly ran, it didn’t look like he was going to make it there on time.
If he were a Gandálfr, he could make it on time! It was the first time he regretted not being it… *Blonk!* something knocked against the gargoyle’s head.
Slowly, the gargoyle crumbled to the ground.
Behind Louise, dressed in nightclothes and trembling, stood Siesta. Apparently she threw a frying-pan at the gargoyle that was approaching Louise.
“Ah, I hit it…”
Then, noticing Saito, Siesta’s face started to glow with joy.
“I couldn't fall asleep, and when I looked out of the window… I saw this girl running without protection with a different expression on her face, so I followed! And then Saito-san! Waah waah! Waaah!”
Seeing Siesta sobbing, taken by emotions, Saito tightened his grip on Derflinger again.
He didn’t show any surprise upon seeing Siesta in such a distant place.
Saito leaped towards the place where Agnes had her sword crossed with three gargoyles.
Due to the training… Agnes' and the gargoyles' movements seemed slow somehow.
Though it wasn’t on the same level as with Gandálfr's power of course, it was enough.
It didn’t take much time for Saito and the others to knock down the three remaining gargoyles.
Within the darkness, Sheffield was perplexed.
Those three were mere humans.
Yet… the two fencers cut Sheffield’s gargoyles one after another.
Though the woman seemed to be a skillful warrior… it was the boy that surprised Sheffield the most.
His movements seemed to grow in pace whenever he hit a gargoyle.
As if he stopped thinking about his movements, and was just smoothly swinging his sword.
“Hmmm… this must be Gandálfr’s inheritance. On the same level as I. Tough one.”
Sheffield, like a predator watching her prey and with a smile on her lips, followed the fight.
After a moment, her expression changed.
Sheffield, with the face of a girl in love, shouted,
Then her face clouded.
“But why? If I would take it really seriously, I could take them down at once!”
After a few words said in her mind, she smiled again.
“I see. You enjoy the game? Indeed… Void against Void. After all, this is what makes me and Joseph-sama similar… I’ll simply collect rings and treasures for now. Then, in the end, I will measure that user's power. Because you can’t make her into a game partner if you do not closely measure it…”
Louise released the ancient spell.
A wave of Void rippled through the place.
She gathered it with all of her will powers' limit… and released it.
The long spell ended, the cantrip was completed.
All gargoyles were wrapped up by this magic… which like "even smaller grains" canceled the effect of the spell that made the dolls move.
All the former gargoyles… changed back to Alviss.
Then, as if put under the Silence spell, the forest immediately became quiet once again.
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