Chapter Three: Tristain’s Arms Dealer
Kirche woke up before noon. Today is the Day of Void. She looked at her window, and found that all the glass was gone, with burn marks surrounding the frame. Still groggy, she stared at the window for a moment before remembering what happened last night.
“Right… a lot of people came, and I blasted them away.”
She stopped caring about her window entirely after that. She got up and began putting on makeup, while excitedly plotting how she should seduce Saito today. Kirche was a born hunter.
When she was done, she left the room and knocked on Louise’s door. She rested her chin on one hand, hiding her smile. Saito will open the door, and I'll immediately embrace and kiss him. Oh… what will Louise do when she sees that… Kirche thought.
And then, right… I can try to eye him outside the room, and maybe he’ll approach me himself. The thought of rejection never entered her mind.
However there was no answer after she had knocked. She tried to open the door but it was locked. Without a second thought, she used an unlocking spell on Louise’s door, and was rewarded with a click. In reality, unlocking spells were forbidden on campus, but Kirche didn’t care. “Passion above all” was the rule of her house.
But the room was empty. The two weren’t there.
Kirche looked around the room. “Still the same… a tasteless room.”
Louise’s backpack wasn't there. Adding that fact with the Day of Void meant they had gone out somewhere. Kirche looked out the window and saw two people on horseback, ready to depart; it was Saito and Louise.
“What? Going out, huh?” Kirche mumbled in annoyance.
After thinking for a while, she quickly left Louise’s room.
Tabitha was in her room, deep in her sea of books. Under her light blue hair and glasses were bright blue eyes that sparkled like the ocean. Tabitha looked four or five years younger than she actually was. She was even a bit shorter than the already short Louise, and her body was quite slim. However, she didn’t care about these things. She was a girl that would rather not care about what people thought of her.
Tabitha loved Days of Void. They're when she could sink into her favorite worlds. In her eyes, everyone else was an intruder in her own little world, giving a melancholic feel to her.
Before long, strong knocks rocked her door. Without standing up, Tabitha simply picked up and waved her staff, which seemed to exceed her height. She cast “Spell of Tranquility”, a wind-type spell. Tabitha was a mage of the wind affinity. “Spell of Tranquility” effectively blocked out those distracting door knocks. Satisfied, she returned to her reading, her expression remaining unchanged throughout the encounter.
Then somebody forcefully broke the door open. Noticing the intruder, Tabitha moved her eyes from her book. It was Kirche. She began babbling about something, but with the silencing magic, none of her words reached Tabitha.
Kirche took away Tabitha’s book, and then grabbed the little reader’s shoulders to make her look at her. Tabitha blankly looked at Kirche, her face unreadable. However, one could see that she had an unwelcoming gaze.
But Kirche was Tabitha’s friend. She would have blown anyone else away with a cyclone. Seeing no other way, Tabitha canceled her magic. As if a lock was opened, Kirche’s voice instantly emerged. “Tabitha! Get ready, we’re going out!”
Tabitha only softly explained to her friend, “Day of Void.” That explanation was enough for Tabitha, who attempted to take her book back from Kirche’s grasp. Kirche stood up and raised the book high in the air, their height difference barring Tabitha from the book.
“Yes, I know how Days of Void are important to you, I really do. But now’s not the time for this talk! I’m in love! It’s love! Do you get it now?” She didn’t, and shook her head. Kirche was propelled by her emotions, but Tabitha was a calm and collected thinker. One can only wonder how such polarized people could be such good friends.
“Right… you won’t move until I explain. Geez… I. AM. IN. LOVE! But that lad is going out with that damn annoying Louise today! I want to go after them, and find out where they’re going! Do you get it now?” Tabitha still didn’t, because she still didn’t know why that mattered to her.
“They just left! On horseback! I can’t catch up without your familiar, you know? Please help me at least with that!” Kirche started crying. Tabitha finally nodded. So that’s why… you need my familiar to catch up.
“Oh thank you so much… so… let’s hurry up!” Tabitha nodded again. Kirche was her friend, and she couldn’t help it if her friends had their problems that they couldn’t take care of themselves. It was a bit annoying, but she didn’t have a choice. She opened her window, and whistled. The sound of the whistle rang in the azure sky for a moment. She then jumped out of the window.
Those who did not know her would have found it weird, if not alarming. Kirche, however, followed close after Tabitha and jumped out the window without a thought. Just a note – Tabitha’s room was on the fifth floor. She tended to forego the door altogether when she had to go outside since jumping out the window was far quicker for her.
Strong and tough wings spread out to the wind. Then, a wind dragon flew into the air and received its two passengers.
“Your Sylphid is still so awesome no matter how many times I see it!” Kirche grabbed a protruding spine and sighed in admiration. That’s right – Tabitha’s familiar is an infant wind dragon.
The dragon, which got the name of the "Fairies of the Air" from Tabitha, swiftly and perfectly caught the upward draft around the tower, and reached 200 mails in the air in the blink of an eye.
“Where?” Tabitha succinctly asked Kirche.
Kirche immediately cried, “I don’t know… I was panicking.”
Tabitha didn’t mind and commanded her wind dragon, “Two people on horseback. Don’t eat them.” Her dragon made a short grunt, showing understanding. Its blue scales glittered, and its wings flapped strongly to the wind. It flew high in the air, scouring the ground for a horse; a simple task for a wind dragon.
Satisfied that her familiar was doing its job, Tabitha snatched her book back from Kirche’s hands, leaned back against the dragon, and started reading again.
Meanwhile, Saito and Louise walked briskly on Tristain’s city streets, having deposited their campus-loaned horse at the city gate’s stables.
Saito’s sides ached profusely, it was his first time on a horse, after all. “My sides hurt…” Saito moaned, walking slowly.
Louise glanced at Saito and frowned. “You’re useless. You haven’t even been on a horse before? Commoners are just…”
“And you’re annoying. We’ve been on that thing for three straight hours!”
“Well… we can’t walk our way here now can we?”
Despite the pain, Saito curiously looked around. White cobblestone roads… feels like a theme park here. Compared to the Academy, there were far more people in common garb here. On the street side were vendors selling fruit and meat.
Saito’s love for exotic places momentarily rose. But this was a weird world. There were people briskly walking and people frantically running. Males and females of all ages walked the streets. This bore no difference with Saito’s world, though the streets were a bit narrower.
“A little bit tight here…”
“Tight? This is a really wide street as it is.”
“Just this?” Not even 5 meters wide. With this many people walking around, every step felt cramped.
“Bourdonné Street, Tristain’s widest avenue. The palace is straight ahead.” Louise pointed.
“Can we go to the palace, then?”
“What business do we have visiting Her Majesty The Queen?”
“I want to ask her to increase my portion of food.”
The streets were filled with shops. Saito, full of curiosity, could not take his eyes off them. When he looked at one weird-shaped frog in a jar on a trader’s mat, Louise pulled him by the ear. “Hey, don’t walk around corners. There are lots of thieves and pickpockets here. You are looking after my wallet in your jacket, right?”
Louise said wallets are for servants to carry, and mercilessly gave that duty to Saito. The wallet was heavily filled with gold coins.
“I am… I am… very carefully, too. How can anyone steal something that heavy?”
“With magic, that can be done in a second.”
But there was nobody around that looked like a mage. Saito learned how to discern between commoners and mages in the Academy. Mages always had capes on, and they looked really arrogant when they walk. According to Louise, that was a noble’s walking stance.
“Aren’t they all commoners?”
“Of course. Nobles only take up 10% of the population, and there’s no way they will walk in slums like these.”
“Why would nobles steal?”
“All nobles are mages, but not all mages are nobles. If for whatever reason a noble is disowned from their family, left the family name on his or her own accord, dropped status to be a mercenary or a criminal… Hey! Are you listening?”
Saito wasn’t. He was too fascinated by the street signs.
“What does that bottle-shaped sign say?”
“And what does that sign with a big cross say?”
“It’s a recruiting center for guards.”
Saito stopped at every meaningful sign, and Louise had to pull him away by his wrist every time.
“Okay, okay, I understand, you don’t have to be in a hurry like that. Where’s the blacksmith’s shop?”
“Over here. They don't just sell swords though.”
Louise walked into an even narrower road. A revolting stench, coming from piles of trash and other dirty things on the ground, soon hit their noses.
“It’s really dirty here.”
“I told you nobles don’t come here that often.”
At the fourth intersection, Louise stopped and looked around.
“Should be near Peyman’s Potion Shop… I remember it’s around here somewhere…”
She saw a bronze sign and happily cried, “Ah! Found it!”
A sword-shaped sign dangled under it. It looked like this was the arms dealer’s shop. Louise and Saito walked up the stone stops, opened the door, and entered the shop.
Despite the bright daylight outside, the shop was a bit dark inside. A gas lamp flickered. The walls and shelves were filled with unorganized weapons. A detailed suit of armor decorated the room. A man in his fifties smoking a pipe eyed Louise suspiciously. That is, until he saw the pentagram on her golden button. He removed his pipe and said, “My lady! My noble lady! All of my wares here are real and reasonably priced! There’s nothing criminal here!”
“I’ll be your customer.”
“Oh… that’s rather weird… a noble buying a sword! Quite strange.”
“Why is that?”
“Well… priests wave sacred staffs, soldiers wave swords, and nobles wave wands. Isn’t that the rule?”
“Oh, I’m not the one using it. My familiar is.”
“Ahh… a familiar that can use a sword, huh?” The shopkeeper spoke in a lively voice, and looked at Saito. “I believe that would be this gentleman over there?”
Louise nodded. By this time, Saito had already been pulled in by the shop’s vast collection of swords, periodically making cries of “whoa!” and “this one’s awesome!”.
Louise ignored Saito, and continued, “I’m not very knowledgeable about swords, so please show me anything that is reasonable.”
The shopkeeper jubilantly walked into his warehouse, silently rambling, “Oh, this is too great… I can raise the prices so high with this…” shortly afterwards, he returned with a longsword of about a mail in length. It was a very exquisitely decorated sword. It looked like one could swing it with just one hand. There was even a hand guard on the short handle.
The shopkeeper said as though he just thought of something, “Speaking of which, it seems that nobles like to let their servants bear swords lately. The last time any of them came to pick one from me, they picked this type.”
I see… a shiny, glittering sword. Very well-suited for a noble. thought Louise.
“Is that the trend?” Louise asked. The shopkeeper naturally nodded.
“That’s right. It seems that there’s an increase of thievery on Tristain’s city streets lately…”
“Yes. Some mage thief that calls himself something like ‘Fouquet the Crumbling Dirt,’ and I heard he stole a lot of treasures from the nobles. Those nobles are getting really rattled, so they’re arming their servants with swords.”
Louise had no interest in thieves and focused on the sword instead. It looked like something that would break in an instant. Saito wielded a sword that was a lot bigger last time.
“I’d prefer something bigger and broader.”
“My lady, please forgive my bluntness – swords and people have compatibilities, just like men and women. As I look at it, this sword fits my noble lady’s familiar very well.”
“Didn’t I say I want something bigger and broader?” said Louise, impatiently lowering her head. The shopkeeper went inside again, remembering to silently mumble, “Oh, the laymen…” After a while, he returned, one hand rubbing the new specimen with an oily rag.
“What about this one?” It was a splendid broadsword of around a mail and a half in length. The handle was made for two-handed wielding and was lavishly decorated with jewels. A mirror-like blade reflected light with an irresistible glow. Anyone could look at it and say it was a very sharp and broad blade. “This is the best thing I have. Rather than say it’s for nobles, it’s more like something nobles wish they can wear on their waists, but that’s something reserved for very strong men. If not, wearing it on the back isn’t half bad.”
Saito walked closer, his eyes staring at the sword. “Awesome. That sword looks really powerful.” Saito instantly wanted it. It was a magnificent sword no matter how he looked at it. I guess this one’s fine…Louise thought, seeing Saito’s satisfaction.
“How much?” she asked.
“Well… it’s made by the famous Germanian alchemist Lord Shupei. It can cut through metal like butter because of the magic infused in it! See this inscription here?” The shopkeeper proudly pointed at the words on the handle. “You can’t get this cheaper anywhere else.”
“Well… I’m a noble.” Louise held her head up high.
At that, the shopkeeper bluntly gave the price, “Two thousand écus, or three thousand new gold coins.”
“What?! You can buy a holiday home with a garden with that!” Louise said, shocked. Saito, with no idea of the currency’s value, stood dumbly.
“A famous sword is worth as much as a castle, my lady. A holiday home is quite cheap compared to this.”
“…I only brought 100 new gold coins…” Louise, being a noble, had little skill in bargaining, and made the taboo of giving away her wallet’s contents. The shopkeeper only waved his hand dismissively. “Come on… even standard broadswords cost at least 200 new gold coins.” Louise’s face turned red. I didn’t even know swords cost that much.
“What… we can’t buy this?” Saito said in a disappointed tone.
“Yeah… we’ll have to go for something more affordable.”
“Nobles are always so arrogant, and now…” Saito mumbled. At that, Louise stared at him.
“Do you have any idea how much potions cost, because somebody got himself seriously injured?”
“…I’m sorry.” Saito lowered his head in embarrassment. He still reluctantly caressed the sword. “But I really like this sword…”
At that moment, a deep, male voice came from a messy pile of swords, “Don’t be so prideful, kid.”
Louise and Saito looked towards the sound. The shopkeeper held his hands to his head.
“Why don’t you look at yourself for a moment? You? Wield that sword? Don’t make me laugh. You’re only fit for a stick!”
“What did you say?” Saito did not take that insult kindly, but there’s not a single being in that sound’s direction to be angry at. It was just a pile of swords.
“If you get it, then go home. Yes, you! That noble girl over there!”
“How impolite of you!”
Saito slowly approached the sound. “What… there’s nobody here!”
“Are your eyes there just for decoration?”
Saito looked behind him. What? It’s actually a sword that’s saying it. It came from a rusty, damaged sword. “A talking sword!” Saito exclaimed.
The shopkeeper suddenly yelled angrily, “Derf! Do not say such impolite things to my customers!”
“Derf?” Saito carefully inspected the sword. It was the same length as that huge broadsword, though its blade was slightly less broad. It was a thin longsword, although its surface was coated with rust, and one cannot say it was well made to any degree.
“Customer? A customer that can’t wield a sword? You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“Could it be… that this is a sentient sword?” asked Louise.
“That’s right, lady. It’s a sentient, magical, intelligent sword. I wonder what kind of mage could make a sword speak… but it’s got a rotten tongue, always arguing with my customers. Hey, Derf! Keep up the insolence and I’ll ask this noble here to melt you!”
“Sounds good to me! I’d like to see you try it! I’m kinda tired of this world. I’d love to be melted down!”
“Fine! Then I’ll melt you down!” The shopkeeper approached. But Saito stopped him.
“That’s just so wasteful… isn’t a speaking sword rather important?” Saito stared at it. “You’re called Derf, right?”
“Wrong! It’s Derflinger-sama! Remember that!”
“Just like a person, it even has a real name.” Saito muttered.
“My name is Saito Hiraga. Nice to meet you.”
The sword fell silent, and it seemed to closely observe Saito. After a while, it silently spoke. “So you came… are you a user?”
“Hmm… you don’t even know your true powers, huh? What… oh well! Buy me, my friend!”
“All right. I’ll buy you,” said Saito. The sword went silent again.
“Louise, I’ll take this.”
Louise reluctantly said, “Oh… you want this thing? You can’t pick anything prettier that doesn't talk?”
“You don’t like this one? I think a speaking sword’s pretty cool.”
“See… that’s why I don’t like it.” Louise complained. But she didn’t have enough for anything else, so she asked the shopkeeper, “how much for this one?”
“Eh… 100 will do.”
“Isn’t that a bit cheap?”
“For that one? I’ll let you take it for cheap.” He waved his hand dismissively.
Saito took out Louise’s wallet from his jacket pocket, and poured its contents onto the counter. One by one, gold coins dropped onto the wooden surface. After careful counting, the shopkeeper finally nodded. “Thank you for your business!” the shopkeeper said as he sheathed the sword and gave it to Saito. “If it gets noisy, just shove it back in the scabbard, and it’ll shut up.”
Saito nodded, and received Derflinger.
Two figures watched Louise and Saito leave the weapons shop – Kirche and Tabitha. Kirche watched the two from the shadows of the streets, fiercely biting her lip. “Louise the Zero… trying to warm your relationship with Saito with a sword, huh? Striking out with gifts so quickly after finding out he’s my prey? What the heck?” Kirche stamped the ground in anger. Tabitha, her job done, was reading as usual. Sylphid circled around the skies above them. They had followed the two here soon after they'd spotted them.
Kirche waited for them to walk far away, and immediately ran into the weapons shop. The shopkeeper stared at Kirche as if he couldn’t believe it. “Whoa… another noble? What the hell is going on today?”
“Hey there, boss…” Kirche played with her hair, a charming smile in her lips. The shopkeeper’s face turned deep red under the sudden seduction.
“Do you happen to know what that noble bought not long ago?”
“A s-sword… she bought a sword.”
“I see… so she did get him a sword… what kind of sword?”
“A d-dirty and rusty one.”
“Because she didn’t bring enough money.”
Kirche laughed, her hand to her chin. “She went broke! Vallière! Your Duke’s house will cry for this!”
“Uh… is my lady here to buy a sword, too?” The shopkeeper perked up, not willing to let go of the chance. This noble looks racked and rich compared to that tiny one.
“Hmm… show me your best.”
The man walked inside, brushing his hands in excitement. He returned, of course, with the broadsword he just showed to Saito.
“Ahh… a very well-made sword!”
“You have a good eye, my lady. That noble not so long ago had a servant that really wanted this one, but it’s too much for them.”
“Is that so?” The noble’s servant? So Saito wants this!
“Of course… this sword is made by the famous Germanian alchemist Lord Shupei after all. It can cut through metal like butter because of the magic infused in it! See this inscription here?” The shopkeeper repeated what he had said before.
Kirche nodded. “How much?”
The shopkeeper asked for more, seeing how Kirche looked a lot richer, “Hmm… for new gold coins, 4500.”
“Hmm… that’s a bit pricey.” Kirche frowned.
“Well… great swords need to be paid for their worth, you know?”
Kirche thought for a while, slowly moving her body towards the shopkeeper. “Boss… isn’t this just a bit expensive?” Upon being caressed at the throat, the salesman suddenly lost his breath. Temptations hit his mind.
“Uh… but… great swords are…”
Kirche sat on the counter, raising her left thigh. “Isn’t the price a bit too high?” She slowly raised her left foot onto the counter. The salesman’s eyes irresistibly stared at her thighs.
“Th-that’s right… then… 4000 new gold…”
Kirche raised her thigh further so that he could almost see in between them.
“Ah… nonono, 3000 would do…”
“It’s getting hot in here…” Kirche ignored him, only opening her shirt’s buttons. “I feel really hot in here. Help me take off my shirt, please…” She threw her most attractive expression at him.
“Ah… I got it wrong, I got it wrong… it’s 2500!”
Kirche took off one button, and looked up at the shopkeeper.
“1800! 1800’s fine!”
Another button, exposing her cleavage. She looked at him again.
“Hey, 1600 will do!”
Kirche stopped with her buttons, and turned her attention to her skirt instead, raising it just so little. The man looked like he could not take any more.
“How does 1000 sound?” she suggested, slowly lifting her skirt more. He looked like he was about to hyperventilate.
And then she stopped. His rapid breathing turned to a sorrowful moan.
Kirche straightened herself out, and asked again, “1000.”
“Oh! 1000 will be fine!”
Kirche stepped down from the counter, quickly wrote a check, and slapped it on the counter. “Bought!” She then picked up the sword and left the shop, leaving the salesman to stare at her check.
After a moment, he suddenly regained consciousness, holding his head. “DAMMIT! I SOLD THAT BABY FOR JUST 1000?!” He took a bottle of liquor from his cabinet. “Ohh… I’m done for today…”