Zero no Tsukaima:Volume9 Chapter3 ~Preview~
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 Chapter Three: The Meeting and Parting of The Users
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
Louise asked, in the living room of Tiffania's house as she looked down at Saito, who was lying sprawled on the floor, receiving Siesta’s treatment.
Those eyes did not contain a single grain of shyness or liveliness from the night before. She went back to calling Saito a "dog" and whipping him like she did a year ago. Only insults regarding her chest could make Louise this mad.
“That’s because I thought you should hear it from Tiffa! That’s why I kept silent!”
Saito, all muffled up in bandages, shouted. Louise looked down at him with demonic eyes.
“Haaaahn? Haaaaahn? Hear it from Tiffa? Your master comes first!”
Louise trampled down on Saito’s back. She twisted her heel against it; Saito struggled in pain.
“You. You got into your stride again? Recently, because I was a little sweet, did you misunderstand something? But now, you recalled it, right? You are a dog. No, dog is too high for you, you are more t-t-t-tttt-t-terrible.”
Louise's voice began to tremble.
“You are below dog! Amphibian! A gecko!”
Siesta corrected Louise,
“Miss Vallière, a gecko is a reptile.”
“Right. Then, you are a medusa! Medusa!”
Louise continued trampling Saito down.
“Maybe you should cease for now… Saito-san seems to be reflecting it…”
“Reflecting? This medusa is not capable of thinking. That’s right, only its body remembers.”
Swaying in slow motion, Saito stood up. With his whole body wrapped up in bandages, looking miserable, he decisively pointed a finger at Louise.
“What are you talking about! For what reason are you bullying a person with heavy magic and feet? The point is – I did not do it on purpose!”
Saito’s single phrase made Tiffania, who was watching Saito and others "communicate" in terror, blush. Siesta anxiously looked at Tiffania. Elves were considered to be strong in natural magic and were notorious for having bad relations with humans. Siesta was frightened to see an elf for the first time.
Noticing this reaction, Tiffania lowered her head.
“That’s right. I am scary after all. A half-breed.”
Though Siesta kept on alternately looking at Saito and Tiffania… she said, in a determined way,
“E-Elves are certainly scary, but… you helped Saito-san. And, you haven't tried to harm us. I'm sorry for being afraid.”
Tiffania smiled. Siesta answered with a smile of her own. However, Louise watched Tiffania suspiciously.
“Tsk, why is an elf here in Albion?”
Faced with Louise’s clear hostility, Tiffania felt at a loss. Louise approached Tiffania and pulled her long ears.
“Au. Auau. Auu.”
Tiffania, having her ears pulled, moaned in a painful voice.
“Hmph. Not fake.”
Then, Louise groped Tiffania’s chest. Tiffania, pushed by a girl smaller than her, covered herself.
“What is THAT?”
“Not lying. Really, it's the chest…”
Louise muttered from the bottom of her heart.
“It’s strange, no matter how you think about it. Your shoulders and waist are so thin, but why is your chest so big? I-I-It’s not in balance with your lower body as well. Give me a break. If you were to walk like this in Tristain, you would be given a death penalty.”
“Even if you say so…”
Louise’s shoulders began to tremble.
“The level is different. The level. No super-size. I am like this, but I will not admit this chest. Yes, definitely, I won’t admit. Because the chest is defined by the way one likes it.”
“Au. Auauauaua. Auau.”
Without showing any signs of her anger decreasing, Louise shouted at Tiffania,
“Apologize! Apologize! Apologize to me! 'I’m sorry for having such boobs!' Now!”
While asking for the unjust apology, Louise kept on groping Tiffania’s chest, making her moan in tearful voice.
Saito stood up and shouted at Louise,
“You! Stop bullying Tiffa!”
Hearing him, Derflinger muttered,
“Both are supporters of the nothingness of the Void, but this one's chest is like a Void as well.”
“Besides, you would need to divide even that into half…” Siesta muttered.
Louise’s kick flew straight between Saito’s legs.
Painfully trampling on Saito, whose head covered in cold sweat, Louise said,
“Then it wasn’t you groping her. I won’t permit you to live. You can't embrace an elf secretly. What did you and that girl do? Talk. What were you doing with her chest? Was it fun? Tell me – I won’t get mad. I will kill you though.”
Finally, Saito fainted in agony from Louise’s kick. Without changing her expression, Louise turned to Derflinger.
“Hey, wasted-sword! What did you say just now?”
“Not that, the part about being the same?”
While still holding onto his aching groin, Saito stood up slowly. He threw a glance at Tiffania and when she nodded, his face became serious and he informed Louise,
“Tiffa… is the same as you, a Void user.”
By the time Tiffania finished explaining to Louise, lunch had already passed.
Tiffania said she wanted to talk about it when at night, but, because of Louise’s constant pressing, she gave in.
Hesitant, Tiffania spoke, though it was not easy for her to do that.
Her elf mother was a concubine of an archduke, Albion's King’s younger brother. Her father was the controller of the Royal Treasury, responsible for managing the Royal Family’s treasures. One day, she found a ring in the Royal Family Treasury, which fit with the music box she found before, yet, nobody could hear the melody but her.
Once it became public that an elf was a Royal Family member’s concubine, Albion’s King sent a knight corps. Thus, her father and mother died.
Then, once spell runes appeared in her head, she placed a "memory disappearance" spell on the knights, and survived…
“Is that a Void spell?”
Embarrassed, Tiffania looked at Derflinger.
“Indeed. "Forgetting" spell.”
“How can Void erase one’s memory?”
“Think about it. What was written in the preface of the Founder’s Prayer Book?”
“Magic elements govern small grains. Void governs even smaller particles…”
“Exactly. One can control a person’s brain with the help of those small particles. Memory and thoughts are connected with those small particles. 'Friendliness' and 'hostility' are just matter of difference in the flow of these small particles that void can change. However, 'forgetting' Void is different. It goes even further into these small grains and erases their existence completely of the central smallest particles.”
“So, you are saying that…”
“Anyway, the spell that the half-elf lass uses, is a true Void.”
Louise placed her hand on her chin, in a deep musing.
“I see. So, when Saito’s Void familiar contract wore out… there was no way to for me to find him.”
“How many are there of those Void users?”
“Maybe 4 people.”
“Brimir passed his treasure to four of his followers respectively. And in doing so, granting them power. Three of them created Halkeginia’s kingdoms. The users came as direct descendants from that lineage… therefore – four people.”
“Tristain, Albion, Galia and Romalia.”
“Then the one that attacked us the other day was one of those? So, not everyone is as gentle as Tiffania.”
Recalling Myoznitnirn's attacks on them, Saito said,
“Who knows. Even if they are descendants of the direct line, it’s thousands, no, tens of thousands of people that we are talking about. Naturally, between them can be vicious and gentle ones. They're just like common people in that regard.”
“Anyway, what if all four users awaken their Void?”
“Stop talking as if it doesn't concern you!”
Saito said angrily.
Louise said, in a serious tone.
“Why do we have to get our Void awoken?”
Derflinger answered quickly,
“To regain the Holy Land. That’s what is written in the Founder's Prayer Book.”
Louise nodded, recalling.
“If the four Void’s users, rings, treasures and familiars are gathered…then, the power of Brimir becomes complete.”
“…What are Brimir’s powers?”
“It’s true. But… it exceeds my imagination. I’m not exaggerating. I don’t remember it well… I just absent-mindedly remember that it was huge.”
“And why have you never talked about it?”
Derflinger said, in an unusually tired voice,
“I don’t want to put these kind of things on your shoulders. It’s worrisome. That one can be changed into a completely different person. The power that, with just a flick of a hand, can do such utter changes and, moreover, change one’s ideals. Do you understand, Louise?"
Louise, who was called on by Derflinger for the first time by her name, bit her lip.
To become a splendid noble – this was an ideal that she repeated in her mind over and over again. Because of that, she could not say the thing that should be said. Yet, she could not become obedient. It gave her no satisfaction. Not even to a single part of her.
“The thing is that possessing such ‘ideal’ power can make surrounding people unhappy.”
Saito, as well as Louise, became silent. Tiffania shivered, a frightened expression on her face.
“I am unchanged for as many as 6000 years. Though it was tedious, I was happy to experience them. Your histories are the same. Changing it through force or leaving it the way it is, if it exceeds one’s strength.”
“Since I met you, I remember various things. Happy things, serious things… difficult things. Various things. I am grateful. Just like Partner and Void user, Louise."
Saito nodded. Louise, with a blush on her cheeks, nodded, too.
“Now, if my love for the time we spent together would be changed to a bother now, then, the whole time spent together in the past would look bothersome as well.”
Saito gently said to Derflinger,
“Don’t worry. Ideals or Holy Lands are trivial things. All that I want is to defend important people. I can’t imagine myself hating it.”
Louise said it clearly as well,
“I understand that, even without you saying. I… have decided. For the time being, I will only search for a way to bring Saito home.”
Surprised, Saito looked at Louise.
“Do you have a fever?”
Louise silently kicked Saito straight between his legs. Saito rolled onto the floor in agony. Louise placed a foot on his back and said,
“I won’t use my power for that. No one should be treated as a tool. Therefore, do not worry, you cowardly sword.”
Derflinger replied, in a reassured manner,
“I see. If I say something wrong. Please…”
“Be it gentle or cruel, it does not matter… we'll deal with it anyway.”
Saito, while having his head pressed into the floor by Louise, protested,
“I told you, I did not touch her chest on purpose. It's a terrible misunderstanding.”
Louise crossed her arms and looked down at Saito. Seeing Louise casting side glances, the frightened Tiffania opened her mouth.
“I… also thought about returning to the Holy Land. But, it was nothing more than mere thoughts. I am still a half-elf… even though I succeeded Founder’s power, this does not change anything. Therefore, I cannot return to the sacred ground that elves fight for, right? No, I do not want to fight against anyone. That’s why I didn’t speak with others… and, whenever I was exposed – I erased his or her memory. That’s how it was until now.”
Tiffania asserted clearly.
Siesta, who silently listened to everyone’s words, nodded.
“Though I do not understand all the talk about magic… you seemed to be reaching consensus. So, how about making some food.”
Everyone, with the exception of Derflinger, looked at each other. They certainly were hungry.
“May I borrow the kitchen?” Siesta asked Tiffania brightly. Then, the doorknob turned and the door opened revealing Agnes, who entered into the room. She sat down on the sofa and informed everyone,
“Now then, vacation ends. I will return.”
Saito and company looked at each other.
“I was sure we would stay for two or three more days…”
“The homecoming orders came.”
Agnes presented Louise the letter. As usual, it seemed to be brought by an owl.
“The other day, I reported about you being alive, and this one came in a hurry after that.”
“You informed the Princess about it?”
“Naturally. After all, I came here for that. You did become Miss Vallière's familiar again, right? Then, I guess there is no reason to hide it from Her Majesty.”
“However, I wanted to have some rest…”
“Then take some rest for another ten minutes.”
Louise and Agnes could not refuse Henrietta’s order to "come back."
“In five minutes, prepare for departure.”
Agnes ordered with the face of a musketeer commander. Siesta let out a lifeless, “Yeeeees!” as they had brought a lot of luggage together upon coming here.
“We will separate now. Yet, even though it was short, it was pleasant.”
Tiffania said with a smile. After thinking for a moment, Saito said,
“Why don’t you come with us?”
Though Louise tried to hit Saito, he quickly caught her hand.
“What are you trying to persuade her about?”
“It is not about persuading.”
Saito stared at Louise’s eyes for a moment. Faced with such serious power, Louise pulled away, puffed her cheeks, and fell silent.
“You said you wanted to see more of the world. So, why not come to Tristain for now?”
“However, I already told that I cannot come to the place and cause suspicion. I have the mixed blood of an elf. And, they are feared of... a lot...”
“We are not afraid of you.”
“Right, you helped us… You cannot be a bad person.”
“True. So, if someone says anything, I will protect you. If they are scared, I will convince them.”
“Just be silent for now, all right?”
Being stared at by Saito again, Louise turned her face down and puffed her lips.
“Do you want to see a different world?”
Tiffania smiled while looking down.
“Then, please prepare. It’s all right. We will wait.”
“We must hurry home, it is an order from the Princesss!”
Louise protested further. Not having anything else to argue about, she even accused him of disobeying Henrietta’s orders… To Saito, it reminded him of a child who did not want to lose face in an argument.
Yet… Tiffania did not move.
“In any case… I cannot do it.”
“Why not? Do not be afraid. Tiffa helped me before. Now it is my turn to help.”
Tiffania pointed at the living room’s door. From the opening of the door, children of the Westwood Village were anxiously looking at the unfolding scene before them.
“I cannot leave these children alone.”
Saito was slightly ashamed of himself. Due to his haste, he forgot. No, not only did Tiffania live here, but children as well… Tiffania was their parent and an elder sister at the same time.
“That's right. I cannot ask that from you. Sorry.”
“No. I am glad you invited me. Thank you.”
Tiffania gave an sincere smile. When someone as beautiful as Tiffania showed that sort of fairy-like smile, one can't help but to feel one’s sinful nature and avert his or her eyes.
“…In that case, is there anything we can do for you? I would like to at least express my gratitude.”
“It’s all right.”
“You saved my life.”
“You were in trouble and I helped. It’s a natural thing to do. Don’t worry about it.”
Though Saito tried to think of many words to express his gratitude… the only ones he could find were: "thank you."
“…Please, tell me if you are in the trouble. I will come over flying right away.”
“Ah, thank you. I am glad to have been able to meet you. So please, be happy.”
“Tiffa, you too. See you again.”
Tiffania, with a startled expression on her face, nodded.
“Yes. Again… See you again.”
"We’ll come to visit whenever we're in Rosais."
Though Agnes said that while walking down the forest footpath… Saito did not react. Louise, disliking Saito being this way, complained,
“Is something wrong?”
“Well, that half-elf lass was beautiful. You miss her huge chest?”
Derflinger, on his shoulder, chirped in.
Louise's eyes narrowed.
“Wrong! It’s just that I can’t do anything, so pitiable…”
Yet, Louise made a sulky, "Hmph!" and started to walk away from Saito.
Seems like she was offended by something.
Saito halted and looked back at the Westwood Village where he spent nearly two months. Almost completely hidden by the trees, the tiny house of Tiffania could be seen.
"I want to see the world…" Saito muttered to himself.
That time… he felt something swell in his chest.
Yesterday, when in the garden of Tiffania's house, Siesta asked, "What is Saito-san's dream?" He avoided thinking about it…
What do I want to do?
To find a way to return.
But, there is more. Another thing that contradicts it.
To defend Louise.
To be near her, to stay close to this girl.
If he were to find a way to return, then, he would separated from Louise as well.
Sooner or later, he would have to choose one of them.
And, what would his answer be?
It would hurt to leave Louise.
It would hurt to leave everyone with whom he was getting along well.
I want to return, but, though these feelings are not false... parting is the more difficult thing to do. Saito thought.
To stay here in this world… Would it be a bad choice?
From the intensive training with Agnes, he somewhat gained more confidence as well.
To protect Louise… this is a test to myself. Some of that power belongs to me.
Hearing the voice of Siesta, who walked ahead… Saito walked down the road to the plains of Saxe-Gotha, leading back to Tristain.
There were a lot of ships lined up near the iron tower of the Rosais port. Merchant ships from each of Halkeginia’s countries, warships – many ships were standing in the line waiting to leave the port.
A massive ship stood out among them.
It was the missed Varsenda ship. One could recognize it from the huge mast. It towered above the iron tower, making it look incredibly small next to the mothership – Saito sighed.
“What a great ship we have…”
The bottom of a ship, like the wooden mosaic, was decorated with splendid geometrical patterns. The gangway descending from the side of the deck was connected with the pier post of the iron tower.
Agnes muttered to herself.
“Though it was said that they will send a ship for us… but the Varsenda… Surprising.”
Saito and Louise were popeyed.
“Huh? What did you say just now?”
“I said – the Varsenda was sent for us.”
“Such a huge ship? For just a few of us?”
Saito was amazed.
“That is right. You are such a VIP. Great, isn’t it?”
Though pleased, Saito was also frightened. Louise looked doubtful.
“Maybe it’s not for me, but for you?” Saito said while looking at Louise.
“No. I haven’t told the Princess about going to Albion. For me alone, such ship would have never been used. Just think how much it would cost just to move such a thing?”
Then, it’s for me alone?
What on earth was Henrietta thinking about?
Once Saito rose up the gangway, the commander of the warship met him.
“Are you Hiragaru Saitoon?”
Though he was called by an incredibly distorted name, Saito nodded.
The commander of a warship looked at Saito with a suspicious face. Why was Varsenda sent to pick up such a commoner? That sort of face. Though Saito had been on the ship before, he had not met with the captain. Therefore the captain was unaware who Saito was.
Even though he did not know such a character, an order is an order anyway, so the commander of the warship could do nothing but salute Saito, who was Her Majesty's guest.
“On behalf of this warship, I welcome you. The safety of your cruise is assured.”
The officer guided Saito and the others to a luxurious room. Then, the commander of the warship gave out a smile that didn’t reach his eyes.
“What on earth did you do to earn this kind of treatment? I was surprised.”
Aah, Saito finally understood. This warm reception was all because he held back the 70,000 strong enemy forces. Yet, the commander was unaware of it. In fact, probably only the highest ranked army officers knew about it.
“Hmm… what indeed.”
Anyway, not wanting to brag about it, Saito pretended not to know.
And so they were guided to the room where their luggage was placed. The port of Tristain, La Rochelle, was scheduled to be reached in almost half of the day.
“No one believes that you held back the Albion army…”
When Louise muttered, Agnes retorted.
“Yet, Her Majesty believed.”
“The Princess? Where did she heard about that?”
“Well. I don't know from where.”
Then Agnes flopped onto the seat, and closed her eyes.
Saito looked at his parka, which became worn-out after the recent fight. He did not worry about it in the forest… but to meet the Princess in such clothes could be considered an insult, right? He started to think.
“Hey Louise. I want new clothes…”
“Haaah? There is no money left. I’ve spent everything on this trip. Endure.”
Hearing that, Saito’s shoulders dropped lonesomely.
Louise that evening was faking after all… and it hurt.
“The day when I met you, you were so cute…”
When Saito unconsciously muttered it out loudly, Louise stared at him. And blushed. Then Louise turned around, showing her back to Saito.
“T-Then ask for a bigger reward! But not from the Princess, though you did a moderate job, it is not enough!”
Louise said, while a suggestive embarrassment colored her cheeks. Because she did not want to show such a face, she turned her back to Saito.
Such a reward… too much.
“What! A reward from her would be suitable!”
“Heeh. So that’s what your greedy intentions were all along!”
Louise turned around with a sneer.
Because of that, Saito became completely conceited.
“Then what reward and from whom?”
The vein on Louise’s temple started to throb.
“W-What about your master’s breasts?”
“What are you calling breasts.”
Then, Agnes tapped Louise and Saito's shoulders.
“Hey! Hey! You are not the only passengers.”
Suddenly aware of her surroundings, Louise crimsoned.
Siesta, with her lips pressed into a thin, tight line, watched the unfolding scene.
“Hmph!” as they both turned their faces away from each other.
“Haaah, fighting over such things…”
Agnes said while laughing.
Louise, through the corner of her eye, was watching Saito, who now was sulkily looking outside the window.
Why am I so angry and frustrated?
Is it because Saito likes other good-looking girls?
When you look at me… it’s hard to call me charming.
He’s not obedient to the bag of bones.
He’s only obedient to the girls like Siesta.
Or like that Tiffania… who, though unusual, was still better than me.
What part of me could win?
While thinking this, her confidence about "being liked" grew smaller. Even if he said "like," his real attitude may be the opposite still. She wanted to complain, but couldn’t place her mouth around that.
What if when she would ask if it’s true… he would confirm that he only said "I like you" just with his mouth… Louise bit her lips and couldn’t utter a word.
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