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Chapter Nine: The Final Battle
The next morning…
Within Newcastle's port inside the cave, Saito stood in a queue to board the Eagle, surrounded by rushing people that were not able to leave with Marie Galante.
“Because of love, sometimes it is necessary to let go...” Derflinger muttered silently. He was hanging by a string on Saito's back. It was unbearable, during days like these, to have no one to talk to.
“Stop saying it…”
“I feel sick when you say it.”
“You mean ‘Because of love, sometimes it is necessary to let go’…That?”
“Why don’t you stop saying that?”
“I understand. If my partner is asking, I won’t say it anymore. Yet, we have to discuss a few things about our future. Have you decided where to go, since we have lots of free time now?” Derflinger asked, pretending not to know.
“Maybe to Arukattsu.”
“And there we will look for the way to return to partner’s former world?”
“Why would you be looking for it? I’m the only one who is an alien here, right?” Saito said.
A way to return home? Louise said she’ll help search for it, but he shouldn't rely on that. Even though leaving Louise's city was something hard to do.
“Then you should become a mercenary.”
“Yes. With a sword on your shoulder, at one battlefield today, and then wandering to another country and battlefield tomorrow. Poor income, but at least your rage would be satisfied, right?”
“And with a bad teammate.”
“What, without me as a partner, an ordinary guy like you would be left behind instantly.”
“Even if your greatest power is rusting.”
“How rude. But I forgive you, since you are my partner. By the way, partner, I recalled one thing the other day…”
“Partner, you are called Gandálfr?
“Aah, because that’s the name of the legendary familiar. When I first heard it, I was amazed. I-“
“Wait. Wait just a moment, partner. I think I remember the name…”
“No, it is an extremely old memory… It was very long ago, I just caught it in a corner of my head…”
Derflinger kept on muttering “hm” ,“aha”, and “aah” repeatedly.
“Maybe you are confused since it was a long time ago. Besides, where is the head of a sword anyway?”
Derflinger thought about it for a while.
“The handle, maybe?” He said, making Saito laugh.
It was finally Saito’s time to board the ship. When he rose up the gangway, he saw that the refugee ship was everything one could expect it to be – many people squeezed next to each other so that it wasn’t possible to find a place to sit on the deck.
Saito looked at the limestone cave from the edge of the gunwale. At that moment, Louise was in the middle of her wedding. Saito shut his eyes tightly at that lonesome thought.
People still kept boarding the ship one after another. It was really overcrowded and a mass of people pushed Saito around the deck. Someone’s elbow hit against his injured arm, making Saito scream.
Meanwhile, in a chapel, where the Founder Brimir's portrait hung, Crown Prince Wales was waiting for the bridegroom and the bride to appear. There were no other people around, as everybody was busy preparing for the upcoming battle. Wales also had planned, once the ceremony was over, to prepare for the battle as well.
Wales was dressed in the Crown Prince’s formal uniform. He wore a bright purple mantle, the symbol of the royal family, and a hat with seven colored wings, the symbol of Albion's royal family.
The door opened, Louise and Wardes had arrived. Louise stood with a dazzled expression on her face, so Wales had to urge her to come and stand in front of him.
Louise was puzzled. Everything happened so suddenly. Wardes barged into her room this morning and brought her here, without even waking her up properly. She was puzzled, because desperate feelings were swelling in her mind. She came here without thinking, still half-asleep. Because of the prince who was determined to die and Saito’s attitude yesterday, she was very depressed.
Wardes, after telling Louise that it was “Time to do the wedding now”, put on a bridal veil borrowed from Albion's royal family on Louise’s head. The veil was nicely made, and the flowers, that were eternally fresh due to magic, made it look indescribably beautiful.
Then, Wardes removed Louise’s black mantle and replaced it with a white one, that was also borrowed from Albion's royal family. Only brides were allowed to wear it, as it was the mantle of a virgin.
However, even while being dressed up by Wardes' hands, Louise was still unresponsive. But Wardes understood Louise's mood as a sign of her affirmative will.
Wardes and Louise stood up in front of Wales, who was standing below the image of the Founder Brimir, wearing his official uniform. Wardes, who himself was wearing his usual clothes and a magical mantle, bowed his head.
“Well then, let's start the ceremony.”
The Prince’s voice reached Louise's ears. However, it sounded like a weak sound of a distant bell. Louise’s mind was still lost in the fog of her own thoughts.
“Bridegroom, Viscount Jean-Jacques Francis de Wardes. Do you take this girl as your wife, and swear to respect and love her in the name of the Founder Brimir?”
Wardes nodded solemnly and grasped the cane with his left hand, holding it out in front of his chest.
Wales looked at Louise and smiled encouragingly.
“Bride, the third daughter of the Duke of La Vallière, Louise Françoise le Blanc de La Vallière…”
Wales read the oath in a clear voice.
Just then, Louise noticed that she was in the middle of a wedding ceremony. Her partner – reliable Wardes, for whom she once yearned. A marriage arranged by their fathers. Only now was her childish, absent-minded, distant future starting to turn into reality.
It is not like I hate Wardes. Maybe I even like him. But if it is so, why do I feel such pain? Why do I feel so sad?
Is it because I saw a kingdom turning into ruins? Or is it because I faced a prince who deserted his love and hopes, in order to die?
It’s not that. Though those are sad events that hurt, there wouldn’t be such a cloud of sadness hanging on my mind just because of that.
It was a deep, melancholic cloud, which was hard to bear.
Louise suddenly remembered the expression on Saito’s face when she said “marriage” to him.
Why did I say such a thing to him?
It is because I wanted to be stopped.
Because I wanted Saito to stop me.
Louise started to blush once thinking about the reason. Just like thinking about the reason why the previous night she, though in deep sorrow, so easily jumped into Saito's chest, whom she accidentally met in the corridor.
But are those feelings true ones? I don’t know. But isn’t it worth it to try to find out?
After all, no matter how excited or sad she had been, she never jumped into a man’s chest before.
On the warship Eagle deck.
Saito, who was depressingly leaning against the edge of the gunwale, began to lose focus on everything around him.
“What is it, partner?”
Saito's view grew dim. Just like in the heat haze of midsummer, the view in his left eye started swinging.
“My eyes are acting strange.”
“It’s because you are tired.”
Derflinger said, pretending not to know the real reason.
Wales looked at her direction. Louise looked up panicking.
She had the expression of a person who didn’t know what she was doing there at all. Louise was puzzled. What should she do? What should she do at times like this? No one taught her that. Only Louise’s familiar, who was leaving the ground at the moment, might know the answer.
“Are you nervous? That’s alright. It’s your first time, it is normal to be nervous.”
Wales smiled, while talking.
“Oh dear, we still have to hold to the etiquette. Doing this would have meaning only if we are to follow etiquette. Then, let me repeat. Do you take this man as your husband, and swear to respect and love him in the name of the Founder Brimir…”
Louise realized. She shouldn’t hesitate with the answer, waiting for someone to tell her what to do.
She had to make decisions for herself.
Determined Louise took a deep, deep breath.
And, before Wales finished his words, Louise shook her head.
Two people suspiciously looked into Louise’s face. She looked at Wardes with a sad expression on her face and once again shook her head.
“By all means, Louise. Are you feeling poorly?”
“No, that’s not it. I am sorry…”
“If today is bad, then another time…”
“That’s not it, that’s not it. I’m sorry Wardes, I cannot marry you.”
Wales looked doubtful at the sudden change of events.
“Bride, is this marriage not what you want?”
"Yes, that’s how it is. I want to apologize to both of you, for my rudeness. It was a painful decision to make, but I do not want to marry.”
An angry red blush quickly spread on Wardes face. Wales turned to him and said in an embarrassed, doubtful and regretful voice.
"Viscount, I am terribly sorry, but the bride doesn’t wish for this ceremony to continue.”
However, Wardes didn’t pay any attention to Wales, and took Louise's hand.
“…You are just nervous. Dear Louise. You cannot be seriously refusing my offer.”
“I'm sorry, Wardes. I yearned for you. Maybe… maybe even loved you once. However, it is different now.”
Then, Wardes gripped Louise’s shoulder. The expression in his eyes changed. Gone was the usual kindness from his face, replaced with the chilly coldness of a reptile.
Wardes shouted in a feverish tone.
“The world, Louise! I will rule the world! You are necessary for that!”
Frightened by the sudden change in Wardes, Louise kept on shaking her head.
“…I, I am not needed for that.”
Wardes extended both his hands, drawing Louise closer.
“You are necessary for me! Your ability! Your power!”
This Wardes was frightening Louise more and more. Not even in her wildest dreams did she imagine the gentle Wardes frowning or shouting like this. Louise tried to turn away.
“Louise, have you forgotten what I once told you! You are not inferior to even the Founder Brimir, you will grow up as an excellent mage some day! You just do not know about it yet! That talent!”
Louise’s voice was trembling with fear. It was not the Wardes that Louise knew. What had changed him into such a person?
On the warship Eagle, Saito rubbed his eyes again.
“What is it, partner?”
“My left eye is really acting strange.”
“That’s because you are tired.”
However, the view of Saito's left eye was getting distorted more and more.
“Uwaa! I can see something!”
Saito shouted. That was really someone’s view.
Saito's left and right eye felt like completely separate parts.
“I can see…”
“What can you see, partner?”
“Maybe, this is Louise’s view.” Saito said.
Now he recalled what Louise said some time ago. “A familiar is the eyes and ears of its master, that’s their ability.”
However, Louise said she couldn't see anything through my eyes... It must be, there must be cases when the rules are reversed.
But why can I see Louise’s view all of sudden?
Saito looked at his left hand. The rune carved there was shining brightly, even though he wasn’t holding any weapon. Indeed, his guess must be correct.
This was his ability. Truly, it must be another ability of the legendary familiar Gandálfr.
Let’s see, I guess that’s what Louise is seeing with her left eye then? While thinking so, Saito’s natural curiosity took the lead.
Wales, who couldn’t stand Wardes' threatening attitude towards Louise any longer, stepped in.
“Viscount…, that’s enough. Behave like a gentlema…”
However, Wardes struck away Wales’ extended hand.
Wales stood still, surprised by Wardes words. Wardes clasped Louise’s hand with his and she felt as if it was a snake twining around it.
“Louise! You are necessary for me!”
“I don’t have any talent as a mage.”
“I told you many times already! You are just not aware of your power, Louise!”
Louise tried to shake off Wardes' hand, but the incredible strength with which he was holding on to her prevented it. Grimacing in pain, Louise spoke.
“I would rather die than marry you. I understand now, you never loved me. You only loved a magical power in me that you foolishly think I have. It is cruel, to marry someone just because of such a reason. It’s an insult!”
Louise raged. Wales put a hand on Wardes' shoulder, trying to pull him away, but Wardes pushed Wales instead, who fell on the ground.
Wales face turned red, and, after standing up again, he pulled out his cane.
“You, what impoliteness! It’s an insult! Viscount, move your hands away from la Vallière right now! Or else my magical blade will tear you up!”
Only then Wardes' hand finally let Louise go. A kind smile spread on his lips. However, the smile was forced and obviously fake.
“Even if I ask you this way you won’t do it? Louise. My Louise.”
Louise spoke, while trembling from anger.
“No, there is no doubt left that you are not the one whom I would ever marry.”
Wardes looked up at the sky.
“And I made such great efforts, to capture your feelings during this journey…”
Wardes spread his hands widely, while throwing his head backwards.
“Well, it can’t be helped. I guess I will have to give up on this goal.”
Louise looked doubtful. What was he thinking about?
The corners of Wardes' lips went up, forming an ill looking smile.
“That’s right. There were three goals for me to achieve during this travel. Sadly, I achieved only two of them.”
“Achieve? Two? What are you talking about?” Louise asked, feeling the shivers of uneasiness travel down her spine. Her mind was working at full power, trying to figure out what was happening.
Wardes put out his right hand in front holding up three fingers, and bent his forefinger.
“First one was you, Louise. I had to get you. However, it seems that I won’t be able to accomplish that.”
Wardes smiled, bending his middle finger.
“The second goal, Louise, is in your pocket - Henrietta's letter.”
Louise was startled.
“And, the third…”
After hearing Wardes saying “Henrietta’s letter”, Wales understood everything, pulled out his cane and started to chant a spell.
However, Wardes had already prepared two complete spells before.
Wardes aimed his wind cane that had started shining and with the tip pierced Wales chest.
Blood suddenly gushed out of Wales mouth and Louise screamed.
Wardes muttered while piercing his shining cane deeper into Wales chest.
”The third, is your damned life, Wales.”
With that, Wales fell to the ground.
“A noble! Are you an Albionian noble as well!? Wardes!”
Louise shouted while trembling. Wardes was a traitor.
“That’s right. I am really a member of Albion's noble faction, ‘Reconquista’” Wardes replied in a cold, emotionless voice.
“Why! Why, would you, Tristain nobility, do such thing?”
“We are the first heralds of Halkeginia’s future – a union of nobles that has no national borders. We are borderless.”
Wardes raised the cane again.
“Halkeginia will be reunited into one by our hands, we will restore the Founder Brimir's ‘Sacred Land’ once again.”
“Before... you were not like this before. What changed you so much? Wardes...”
“Years, accidents and destiny. Though it changed me from whom you knew, it didn’t change my nature that you are talking about. And you are talking too much.”
Louise tried to duck when Wardes moved the cane, however his spell still hit her with ease, throwing her to the floor.
Louise’s face turned pale. She tried to stand up, but her legs stopped obeying her.
Wardes threw back his head.
“For this! For this you rejected my offer to rule the world together!”
He started to cast another wind spell. "Breaking Wind". And Louise was blown away like piece of paper.
“Even the smallest bird can’t hear you, it seems like you will have to bow your head in defeat, huh, Louise?”
She was thrown against the wall and left lying on the floor, groaning in pain. Tears started rolling down her face.
She still asked for the help of her familiar that wasn’t there.
Louise repeated the words like chanting a spell. Enjoying himself, Wardes slowly started chanting.
“It is regrettable… That your life will be taken by this hand…”
If even Saito’s arm was scorched by this blitz spell, there was no chance of survival if she was hit by it directly.
From shock her breath was rough and her whole body was in pain. Louise, scared like a child, cried –
At that moment, Wardes finished the spell and lowered his cane, aiming towards Louise and...
The wall of the chapel collapsed with a roaring sound, and a strong gust of wind blew in from the outside.
After breaking the wall, Saito jumped in with Derflinger in his hand and stopped Wardes' cane.
"You…" Saito swung the sword sidewise. Wardes dodged it by jumping back.
Accidentally, Saito saw Louise out of the corner of his eye.
After screaming her last words, Louise had fainted and hadn't moved since.
With raging anger in his eyes, Saito glared at Wardes. Lust for killing was boiling in his body. Saito groaned while biting his lip hard.
“Why are you here, Gandálfr?” Wardes asked with a cruel smile on his lips.
Not answering, Saito angrily swung the sword. However, the sword only crushed the floor. Wardes flew up high into the air, successfully dodging the attack.
“That’s right, you must have sensed that your master was in danger.”
Wardes crossed his hands while floating next to the Founder Brimir's portrait. Looking confident and self-sure.
“You betrayed Louise!”
Saito shouted, while thrusting the sword forwards. Yet, Wardes flew up, dodged it and landed gracefully on the floor. He moved around like a feather.
“To accomplish a goal, you can’t be selective with the means.”
"Louise believed in you! You were her fiancé… She yearned for you when she was young…”
“Such selfish belief.”
Wardes dodged the sword while floating. Then he swung the cane and fired another spell. Though Saito tried to hold it down with the sword, the spell "Breaking Wind" blew him away.
Saito groaned in pain as he hit the wall. His injured left arm was aching and because of it, he could not move as freely as usual.
“That’s it? Gandálfr. Your movements are too slow. At least try and make it entertaining.”
A cruel smile floated on Wardes' lips.
At that moment, Derflinger shouted.
“What are you talking about, at time like this!?”
“No, from my older times, the hand that held me. Gandálfr. But I forgot. It was 600 years ago, old times.”
“Don’t talk nonsense!”
Wardes released "Breaking Wind" again. Saito tried to dodge it but was captured by the spell and blown away again.
”It’s so nostalgic. I could cry. Right, no, that’s what I was missing. My partner – that ‘Gandálfr’!”
"Cut it out!"
“I’m glad! Now no one can ignore me! I will show how cool I am!” Derflinger shouted as his blade started to shine.
Saito was taken aback for a moment and watched Derflinger in amazement.
Wardes recited "Breaking Wind" again.
Raging wind flew out aiming at Saito as he put out the shining Derflinger in front of himself.
“It’s useless! A sword cannot stop it!” Wardes shouted.
Yet, the wind, instead of blowing Saito away, was sucked into Derflinger's blade.
The light coming out of Derflinger intensified.
“This is my true form! Partner! No, I forgot it! My tired body changed itself! Anyhow, it’s a pretty interesting story, partner!”
“Make it short!”
“Impatient. I forgot. But, don’t worry, partner. I suck in all magic around me! That’s me, Gandálfr’s left hand – Derflinger-sama!”
Wardes watched with interest at the sword that Saito was holding.
“Indeed… You are not an ordinary sword. I should have noticed that when you reduced my "Lightning Cloud”.
Still, Wardes did not loose his confidence.
He smiled thinly, when setting out the cane.
“Now, then, let's get serious, shall we? It is time to teach you why this magic is called the strongest.”
Though Saito jumped at him, Wardes dodged it like an acrobat and uttered the spell.
“Ubiquitous Dell Wind…”
When the spell was completed, Wardes' body suddenly doubled.
One… Two… Three… Four… Wardes' doubles, together with the real body, surrounded Saito.
“It is not only "Double". It’s "Ubiquitous Wind", uneven distribution… The wind is unevenly distributed. The place where it blows is not just a matter of appearance, but it has a substantial power too.”
One of Wardes' doubles suddenly pulled a white mask from the cloak and wore it.
Saito's body trembled. He was shivering with anger and fear. The masked man was Wardes! The man who was standing next to Fouquet… The one who hit Saito with a blitz was none other than Wardes!
“The masked man… You… Then it must be you who helped Fouquet to escape too. What a treacherous and useful spell. You can appear anywhere.”
“Indeed. More so, each one has the power of the original. I told you, right? ‘Wind’ is unevenly distributed!”
One of the Wardes jumped on Saito, while the other uttered the spell, making the cane shine.
"Air Needle", the same spell that pierced Wales' heart before.
“The cane is surrounded by a magical whirlpool, so the sword cannot suck it in!”
The cane was shaking as the whirlpool was rotating around it forming a blade, of which tip was aimed at Saito’s body during the attack.
Derflinger blocked it, but the impact of the blow still hit Saito’s injured hand and he fell down.
“Not bad for a commoner. After all you are the legendary Gandálfr. However, this is where it ends. You are no match for my "Ubiquitous Wind" spell!"
Gradually, Wardeses surrounded the fallen Saito.
“Hey, legendary sword! The one that ‘Gandálfr’ used! Derf!”
“That’s what I am. What is it?”
“If you are so legendary, then do something or else we will be killed.”
“Well, I am shining and sucking in enemies' magic, am I not?”
“No, not that, something more? Like some special attack? Like blowing the enemy away with a single hit…”
“What? I’m just a sword.”
One of the Wardes flew up and tried to hit Saito with his cane.
Saito jumped up, defending his body with his sword and dodging the attack.
“Useless! What kind of legend is this!”
“But not to this extent!”
The Wardeses kept on attacking violently, but because Saito's back was supported by the wall, only three of them could attack at the same time. Somehow he managed to block all of their attacks.
“At this rate I'll be defeated! And killed!”
“Good grief, my deepest sympathy!”
Meanwhile… 15 feet from the place where Saito was fighting, Louise woke up. When Louise saw Saito fighting hard, her face was momentarily blank with surprise, but then she grasped her wand.
“Run away while you can! Idiot!”
Saito shouted, but Louise didn’t stop. The spell was uttered and the wand was aimed. She chanted the ‘Fire Ball’ spell. The spell aimed at Wardes exploded hitting the floor beneath him.
Boom! With that loud sound Wardes disappeared while Louise watched amazed.
“Eh? Disappeared? Because of my magic?”
The remaining Wardes tried to jump on Louise.
“Run away!” Saito shouted, but Louise stubbornly started to chant the same spell again. However, she was blown away by Wardes' cane this time.
Saito stared with astonishment.
He started shaking with anger. When Louise’s body hit the wall right before his eyes, a beast-like roar escaped his mouth.
“How dare you to do that to Louise…!”
Once Louise's body was blown off again, the remaining Wardes clones concentrated on Saito trying to press him further. However, Saito's movement gradually increased in speed.
All of the Wardeses' breathing became irregular and rough. Still, even then, their expression didn't change.
While blocking the sword, Wardes asked.
“Why did you come back to die? To risk your life for Louise who despises you? I can’t understand how a commoner’s mind works!”
Saito shouted while swinging the sword. “Then why did you bastard try to kill Louise!? You were her fiancée!”
“Hahaha, you are still in love with Louise? A servant's hopeless love for his master! That’s really funny! That arrogant Louise will never turn to you! Mere compassion mistaken for love! Fool!”
“So what if I fell in love!”
Saito shouted while biting down his lips.
“It is beating!”
A puzzled expression floated on Wardes' face.
“Aah! When seeing that face, my heart is beating faster! This reason is good enough for me! Therefore I will defend Louise!”
The runes started shining.
Matching the light, Derflinger also shone brighter.
“Good! That’s good partner! Right! That’s the key! I remembered! I know the source of Gandálfr’s power! Good partner!”
Finally Saito’s sword cut down another Wardes.
Wardes grimaced in an unbearable pain.
“Gandálfr's source of power is feelings! Anger! Sadness! Love! Pleasure! Anything is good! And now you seem to be really shaken, my Gandálfr!”
Saito rounded up the sword. Because of its terrible speed, Wardes was not able to react to the sword in time and disappeared.
Only three remained now.
"Do not forget! You are fighting me! You can’t surpass my skills!"
Saito leaped high up into the air, holding his sword. Wardes also flew.
“The air is my element… Do not forget! Gandálfr!”
Each of the Wardes’ canes were aimed at Saito, but he brandished Derflinger like a pinwheel.
“That’s the way to fight, Gandálfr! Swing me in the rhythm of your heart!”
The next moment, all three Wardes were torn up in the blink of an eye.
With ‘'Uneven Distribution’ defeated, the remaining real Wardes' body fell down on the floor. <-The spell name changed...which to use? This one makes more sense. ~Dan->
His left arm, which had been cut off, landed there after a few seconds.
Saito also landed on the ground, but he stumbled and had to support himself with his knee. His tiredness had reached a critical limit.
Wardes stood up staggering and stared at Saito.
“Damn… This ‘Flash’ really defeated me…”
Saito tried to stand up and run up to him, but his body stopped obeying him.
“Aah, partner. Don’t act foolishly now – Gandálfr cannot move after wasting his energy. That’s because this familiar was created to defend his master while the master chants the spell.”
Wardes gripped his cane with his remaining right hand and floated upwards.
“Oh dear, it seems that I managed to accomplish only one of the goals. Anyways, now you are mine ‘Gandálfr’ – a large army will soon burst in. Hey! Can you hear the sound of horses' hooves and dragons' wings!?”
Indeed, one could hear the noise of cannons and sounds of fire magic explosions outside, as well as the roaring voices of nobles and soldiers mixed up in a battle.
“You and your foolish master will be turned to ashes! Gandálfr!”
Throwing those last parting words, Wardes disappeared through the hole in the wall.
Saito, who used Derflinger as a crutch for support, stumblingly walked up to Louise.
Saito shook Louise trying to wake her up to no avail. Saito put his ear to Louise’s chest in panic.
Thump, thump, thump…
Hearing the faint heartbeat, he breathed out a sigh of relief. Louise was worn-out. Her mantle was torn, and her knees and cheek bruised.
And there must be more bruises under the clothes, too.
Louise’s hand was grasping her chest. Her breast pocket button came off, and one could see Henreitta’s letter peeping out from the inside. It seemed that, even unconscious, Louise was still protecting the letter.
Really, I am so glad you are alive. I came just in time. Saito thought.
“But partner… What do we do now? The Eagle already left the port…”
That’s right. To save Louise, Saito jumped down from the departing Eagle's deck.
“Eh? Really. Can you hear the shouts outside? What do you think Wales' men would think seeing his body lying on the floor? They would think we are traitors for sure.”
Indeed, explosions and battle roars were getting closer and closer to the walls. It was only a matter of time before they would come bursting in here.
Saito quietly laid Louise on the chair.
And then stood up before her, standing guard.
“What are you doing?”
When Saito said this, Derflinger trembled while twitching.
“Ha. Other than that. I understand. Partner Gandálfr, it was nice to know you and this noble girl, your master, partner.”
“Stop joking around.”
“Louise and I, we will both survive.”
“Were you listening to the king’s speech? There are 50,000 enemies.”
Saito, with his last remaining strength, grasped the sword. Even 50,000, even 100,000 he felt like he could win. Today he could defeat any mage, even if he was extremely tired.
Derflinger’s shaking became louder and louder.
That’s right! That’s the way I like it. Who cares about 50,000. Let them come to us!”
And Saito, holding Derflinger, stared at the entrance of the chapel.
They waited, for sooner or later an enemy to come…
The ground, near the place where Louise was laid, rose up.
Saito watched the ground.
“Is it an enemy? Digging under?”
He lowered the sword towards the hole, out of which a brown animal soon popped it’s head.
And then that brown animal started groping Louise’s body that was lying nearside.
“You… you are the huge mole Verdandi! Guiche’s familiar!”
Saito shouted, and soon enough from the same hole that Verdandi came out, Guiche's face appeared.
“Hey! Verdandi! You can dig a hole anywhere! Good boy! Gu….”
Guiche turned his soil smeared face from Saito and noticed Louise lying nearby, then said pretending not to know.
“Ha! You! You are here!”
“W-what are you doing here!?”
"Not that. After winning the battle against Fouquet the Crumbling Earth, and after a short break, we decided to follow you. It is our duty as princess Henrietta’s honor depends on it, right?”
“But this place is in the sky! How did you get here!?”
Then, near Guiche, Kirche’s face popped out.
“We reached Albion successfully, but since it's a foreign country we didn’t know where to go. But then, Verdandi started digging a hole all of sudden, so we followed him.”
Meanwhile the huge mole was pressing his nose to the ‘Ruby of Water’ that was shining on Louise’s finger. Guiche nodded.
“Indeed. He followed the smell of the ruby, and started digging a tunnel to here. My cute Verdandi, because of his love for jewels he was able to follow from La Rochelle and dug a hole to get here.
Saito opened his mouth in amazement. He surely, never planned to be saved by a mole.
“Are you alright? I almost captured Fouquet again, but she made a narrow escape. That woman, though being a mage, surely does run away a lot. By the way, darling, what are you doing here?” Kirche asked while wiping off the dirt from her face with a handkerchief.
Saito laughed nerviously.
“Ha, ha, haha…”
“Dear? Is something wrong dear?”
“We’ll talk about it later! The enemy will burst in soon! Let’s run away!”
“Running away, and the mission? What about Viscount Wardes?”
“We have the letter! Wardes was a traitor! Return back now!”
“What? Well I do not understand it, but it seems everything ended already.” Kirche said in nonchalant voice.
With Louise in his arms, Saito slowly made his way through the hole. But then he remembered something. He left Louise in Guiche’s care and hurried back to Wales in the chapel.
However, Wales had already died.
Saito shut his eyes and silently said his prayers.
“Hey! What are you doing there! Come back quickly!” Guiche called Saito back.
Saito looked at Wales' body. He looked for some keepsake to give to Henrietta. He noticed a big ruby on his finger.
The ruby belonged to Albion’s royal family.
Saito removed it from the finger and put it in his pocket.
“Brave prince… You won’t be forgotten.” Saito muttered.
“I swear to you that I will also defend the things I believe in.”
Saito said bowing down, and ran back to the hole.
The same moment Saito dove in the hole, the noble soldiers and mages broke through the door and jumped into the chapel.
The tunnel Verdandi dug ran right under the Albion’s continent. So the moment Saito got out of the hole, there was nothing but clouds beneath, yet Sylphid successfully caught all four falling people and a mole.
The mole that the wind dragon caught with its mouth, let out a protesting cry.
“Please try to endure it, my cute Verdandi. Bear with it until we get off in Tristain again.”
With powerful wing strokes, the wind dragon broke through the surrounding clouds and changed direction to the Magical Academy.
Saito, with Louise in his arms, looked up at the continent of Albion.
Clouded and empty, blue inside, the Albion continent disappeared. Though it was a short stay there, Saito had various things to remember, as the white country faded from view.
Saito watched Louise lying in his arms. Her white cheeks were dirty with blood and soil, yet even in this state, one could see her aristocratic features. There were two stripes from her eyes down her cheeks left by her tears.
Saito wiped Louise’s face with his sleeve. He could not bear to see the face of his pretty master dirty.
Louise was still unconscious from the shock. Looking at Louise’s face was somehow painful to Saito. “Dear Louise. Louise. My Louise…”
Beat beat, his heart was beating loudly.
Now Saito looked only at Louise’s face pressed gently to his chest.
Meanwhile, Louise was absent-mindedly wandering in dream.
The dream in la Vallière’s place, in her hometown.
A pond in a forgotten courtyard…
There a small boat was floating… There, Louise was lying down. Whenever she faced difficulties, Louise always hid herself and slept there. This was her world that no one else intruded in, her secret place…
Louise’s heart was in pain.
But Wardes didn’t come here anymore. Gentle viscount Wardes, her childhood noble crush, her fiancé of marriage arranged by their fathers' mutual agreement…
Young Louise sobbed softly, there was no Wardes who would take her from her secret place anymore. He was a dirty betrayer that murdered the courageous prince, those kind hands belonged to a murderer…
Louise cried in her shallop.
But then, someone came.
“Is that you, Viscount?”
Louise asked in her dream. But she shook her head at once. No, the viscount didn’t come here anymore. Then, who?
It was Saito. The sword was hanging on his back, when he, without hesitation about getting wet, stepped into the pond and approached Louise’s shallop.
Louise's heart throbbed.
Saito picked up Louise out of the shallop and held her in his arms.
“Have you been crying?”
Saito asked. Louise nodded childishly in her dream.
“Stop crying. Louise. My Louise.”
Louise tried to get angry. This familiar, how dare he call me ‘My Louise’. But when she opened her mouth to scold him, her lips were closed again with a kiss. Though she wriggled in rage at first, the strength soon left her body.
Louise woke up on a wind dragon's back, in Saito’s arms.
She became aware that she was held in Saito’s arms. They were sitting near the wind-dragon’s tail, and Saito sat there embracing her. She stared at his face from the side as it seemed like he didn’t notice that she was awake.
Kirche, Tabitha, Guiche – all three of them, were sitting on the front of the wind dragon’s back.
The wind was blowing against her cheeks.
“Aah, this isn’t a dream."
Louise’s mind was filled with feverish thoughts.
I was almost killed by that traitor Wardes, but then Saito jumped in. Then I fainted. Then I woke up again and chanted some magic.After that, though, I lost consciousness… maybe Saito won again.
But only we survived, maybe the royal army was still defeated.
Wales died as well.
The happiness of surviving mixed with sadness almost made Louise cry. However, not wanting to cry in front of Saito, she closed her eyes.
She was also ashamed to say thank you. Though she could not understand why, she was comfortable with Kirche, Tabitha, Guiche – with all of them. But thanking Saito before everyone felt really embarrassing. Therefore, Louise decided to pretend she was sleeping.
Nevertheless, Louise still secretly watched him from the corner of her half-closed eyes.
Saito looked into her eyes. He looked directly at her.
Those eyes made Louise recall her last dream.
The air dragon increased speed.
Strong wind hit her cheeks.
But that wind felt pleasant.
That wind and Saito’s burning gaze, aah, Louise couldn’t hide her feelings.
Her mind was in turmoil…
The crown prince’s death…
The noble union’s ‘Reconquista’ victory…
Reporting to the Princess…
For various reasons, and while Louise felt sorry for them all, right now all Louise’s thoughts were blown away by the wind.
After nearly escaping death, she wanted to savour the feeling of life for a while.
Like that, savouring the feeling of life without limits, while pretending to sleep…
Saito’s face moved closer.
Her heart skipped a beat.
Saito's lips overlapped Louise’s.
Louise instinctively lifted her hand to push him away…but returned it back to her chest instead.
Strong wind hit Louise's cheeks, as Sylphid flew through the sky.
Something warm filled her heart, a heart that was wounded by sad events was healed.
Some time ago she was struggling violently against the feeling in her dream.
But at least for now…
The pleasant wind blew from a different world…
Resting her cheek against his chest, she silently fell asleep.
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