Chapter Ten: The Void
News of the declaration of war had reached the Tristain Academy of Magic the following day. Contact had been delayed due to the chaos in the palace.
Louise, along with Saito, were waiting at the entrance of the Academy of Magic for a carriage from the palace. The carriage was to take them to Germania. However, only a breathless messenger arrived at the academy that hazy morning.
The messenger asked them where Osman’s room was, and dashed away quickly after receiving the answer. The unusual scene caused Louise and Saito to look at each other. Sensing something had happened in the palace, the two of them rushed after the messenger.
Osman was occupied with the preparations for the wedding ceremony. He would be leaving the academy for a week and so he was organizing various documents and packing his luggage.
A loud knock came at the door.
“Who is it?”
The messenger from the palace burst into the room before Osman had finished talking.
“Reporting from the palace! Albion has declared war on Tristain! The princess’ wedding has been postponed until further notice! Soldiers are currently heading towards La Rochelle! For safety reasons an order was issued stating that all students and staff are to be confined to the castle!”
Osman’s face grew pale.
“A declaration of war? There’s going to be a battle?”
“Yes! Enemy forces have set up camp in the fields of Tarbes and are glaring at our forces nearby La Rochelle.”
“The Albion forces must be very strong.”
The messenger replied sorrowfully.
“The enemy forces are a dozen in number led by a huge warship called the Lexington. The total number of troops is estimated to be around three thousand. Our main fleet has already been destroyed and counting all our troops, we only have around two thousand. We weren’t prepared for a war, so that was all we could field. However, the worst is that they have complete aerial dominance. Our troops will surely be decimated by their cannons."
“What’s the current situation?”
“The enemy dragoons are setting fire to the village of Tarbes… We requested aid from Germania, but they say the soonest they can arrive is in three weeks…”
Osman sighed and said, “… They’re planning to abandon us. During that period, Tristain’s towns will fall readily into the hands of the enemy.”
With their ears pressed against the door of the principal’s room, Louise and Saito looked at each other. Louise’s face had become pale at the mention of war, and Saito’s at the mention of Tarbes. Isn’t that Siesta’s village? Saito dashed off. Louise panicked and followed him.
Saito reached the courtyard and started climbing into the Zero fighter. Louise hugged his waist from behind.
“Where are you going?!”
“Isn’t it obvious?! I’m going to go save Siesta!”
Louise grabbed his arm and tried to shake him off, but he firmly clung on.
“You can’t! It’s a war! Even if you went, it wouldn't make a difference!”
“I have this Zero fighter. The enemy is attacking with those airships right? This can fly too. I’ll figure something out.”
“What can you do with a toy like this?!”
“This isn’t a toy.”
Saito grabbed the Zero fighter’s wing with his left hand. His runes shone.
“This is a weapon from my world. It’s a tool for killing people. It’s not a toy.”
Louise shook her head.
“Regardless, whether this is a weapon from your world or not, there’s no way you can win against those large warships! Don’t you understand? You can’t make a difference! Just leave it to the soldiers!” said Louise, looking straight into Saito’s face.
This guy… this reckless familiar doesn’t know anything about war, Louise thought. This was different from the journey they took to Albion. The battlefield was a place filled with death and destruction. If a novice went, it would result only in his death.
“He said that Tristain’s fleet had been wiped out didn’t he?”
Saito slowly patted Louise on the head and spoke in a low voice.
“It might not amount to anything. I can’t imagine beating those warships. But…”
“I don’t fully understand, but I’ve received these legendary familiar powers. If I were just a normal, regular person, I wouldn’t have thought of going to save them. But it’s different. I have Gandálfr’s power. I might be able to save them. I can perhaps save Siesta… and those villagers.”
“The probability is almost zero.”
“I know. But, it’s not zero. So, I’ll do it.”
Surprised, Louise replied.
“Are you an idiot!? You want to return to your own world right? How is dying here going to help?!”
“Siesta treated me kindly. You too, Louise.”
Louise’s face turned red.
“I’m not from this world. I don’t necessarily have to care what happens to this world, but I want to at least protect the people who have treated me well.”
Louise noticed that Saito’s hands were shaking. Raising her head, she said, “Aren’t you scared? You idiot. Stop trying to act cool if you’re scared!”
“I am scared. I’m even reluctant to do this. But that prince said, the importance of protecting something, will make you forget the fear of death. I think he’s right. That time, when fifty thousand Albion soldiers came charging towards us… I wasn’t scared. I was busy thinking of protecting you, so I wasn’t scared. I’m not lying.”
“What are you saying? You’re just a commoner. You aren’t a courageous prince or anything.”
“I know. It’s got nothing to do with whether I’m a prince or a commoner. Which country you were born in, the time period… even which world, is irrelevant. If you are a man, then you would surely think the same way.”
Louise’s face started to distort as she tried to hold back her tears.
“If you die, what will I do…? No… I, if you die…”
“I won’t die. I will come back. If I die, I won’t be able to protect you right?”
“I’m going as well.”
“No. You’re staying here.”
“No, I’m going as well.”
As his hard-found courage was about to escape him, Saito separated himself from Louise and climbed into the cockpit from the wing.
Suddenly he realized. He hadn’t refueled the plane.
Saito left Louise there and rushed off to Colbert’s laboratory. With her fists tightly clenched, she groaned. Why was he so stubborn! Even though I said it would be dangerous… Louise bit her lip and held back her tears. Nothing would come from crying. Louise looked at the Zero fighter.
“What chance does this thing have of winning against Albion’s forces!?”
Saito woke up the sleeping Colbert.
“Mr. Colbert! Have you made the gasoline?”
“Huh? Yes, I’ve made the amount you needed. It’s over there.”
“Then help me carry it! Quickly!”
Colbert carried the gasoline for Saito. Colbert, who was still partially asleep, didn’t know about the war. Saito didn’t bother explaining.
“You’re going to fly it so early in the morning? At least let me freshen up.”
“We don’t have time for that.”
Louise was nowhere to be seen. He was relieved. If Louise had pleaded him to not go once more, his determination would fade. There was no reason why he wouldn’t be scared. The prince did say that the importance of protecting something would make the fear of death go away, but… nope. It was still scary.
Even then, Saito sat in the cockpit and performed the necessary operations to start the engine. Colbert then used his magic like before and the engine started to run. The engine started with a loud noise and the propellers started to spin.
He checked the gauges. The runes on his left hand told him that everything was normal. He checked the machine gun in front of him. Bullets were loaded. The machine guns on the wings were also loaded.
Releasing the brakes, the Zero fighter started moving. He looked to the front and headed in the direction of the best take-off spot. “Austri” was not a small courtyard but his Gándalfr runes told him that it was a bit short for a runway. At that moment, Derflinger, who was leaning in the cockpit, said, “Partner, tell the noble to use wind to propel you from the back.”
“Yes, so that this thing can take off even with the shortened distance.”
“How do you know that? You don’t know a thing about airplanes.”
“This is a ‘weapon’ right? I’m with you all the time, I know about it in general. Have you forgotten? I’m ‘legendary’.”
Saito popped his head out from the windshield and called out to Colbert. His voice didn’t reach him. He tried some gestures, signaling him to cause wind to blow from the back. Colbert was quick witted. He understood Saito’s gestures and nodded.
As the incantation for the spell finished, a strong gust of wind came from the back. He put on the goggles Siesta entrusted him and relaxed the pressure on the brake. He opened the cowl flaps and adjusted the propeller’s pitch lever. He further released the brakes and he pushed the throttle lever down.
Like a spring, the Zero fighter accelerated forward with great force. He pushed the control stick slightly forward. The tail had left the ground. The Zero fighter was gliding. It approached the academy’s walls. Saito gulped.
Just as they were about to hit the wall, he pulled the control stick. The Zero fighter flew up in an instant. Grazing the wall slightly, the zero fighter flew in the air. He retracted the landing gear. The indicator light, bottom left from the gauges turned from green to red.
The zero fighter continued to ascend. Saito looked at the runes with a relieved expression.
“Wow! It’s flying! This is pretty interesting!” Derflinger said excitedly.
“Of course it is. It was made to fly.”
Under the bright sun, the zero fighter split the winds, and rose up into the sky of another world.
The fire consuming Tarbes had calmed but the area had changed into a cruel battlefield. Battalions had been assembled in the field and were awaiting the moment they would clash with Tristain troops in the port city La Rochelle. Protecting them above were the Lexington's dragons. The Tristain dragoons would attack sporadically, but they had all been forced to retreat.
Before the battle, Albion's command decided that they would use the cannons of the warships to deal with the Tristain troops. And so, the fleet prepared its cannons.
One dragoon on the lookout above Tarbes noticed an enemy dragoon was approaching from above, about two thousand five hundred meters away. The dragoon had the dragon cry out, alerting the others that an enemy was approaching.
Saito looked out from the windshield and saw Tarbes below him. There was no trace of that simple, beautiful village he had seen before. The houses were scorched with black smoke rising from them. He clenched his teeth. He remembered how recently he and Siesta were looking out at the field. Siesta’s words replayed in his head.
“Isn’t this field beautiful? This is what I wanted to show Saito.”
A dragoon unit breathed fire at the forest located at the outskirts of the village. The forest was instantly set ablaze.
Saito bit his lip. He could taste the blood in his mouth.
“I’ll kill you.” He said in a low voice.
Saito pushed the control stick to the bottom left while pressing the throttle firmly. The Zero fighter started to swoop down towards Tarbes.
“What could one dragoon possibly do?” muttered the ascending dragoons as they prepared to attack.
However, it had an unusual figure. It had two horizontal wings stretched out, as if the wings were fixed and didn’t flap. It also made a thunderous roar they had never heard of before.
Did such a dragon exist in Halkeginia?
However… no matter what dragon it was, it would be finished off with a single breath from the Albion fire dragons, just like the rest. When its wings were burnt it would probably go down. Using this strategy, they had already killed two of Tristain’s dragoons.
“This is the third,” said a dragoon awaiting the descending enemy, with the corner of his mouth bending into a smile.
He was surprised. It was fast. Faster than any dragon.
Panicking, the dragoon made the dragon breathe fire. At that moment, the wing of the descending enemy flashed. Countless number of shining white things were flying towards him. Large holes appeared on the wings and the body of the dragon. A round entered the dragon’s mouth. A fire dragon has pockets of oil for strong combustion in its throat. The autocannon shell caught one of the oil pockets. The fire dragon exploded.
Slipping by the dragon that had exploded in midair, Saito continued to descend in the Zero fighter. The fighter’s machine gun range was tens of times than that of the dragon’s breaths. Letting his rage take control of him, he fired the 20mm autocannon shells and the 7.7mm machine gun on both wings at the dragoons.
Four more dragons fluttered in the skies above the village. They had seen the dragon which exploded from the enemy’s attack. The attack wasn’t a breath. Which meant that it was probably a magic based attack. Whatever attack it may have been, one dragoon alone can’t do anything. Three dragoons ascended to attack.
“Three more are coming from the bottom left,” said Derflinger in his usual tone.
Three dragoons were spread out below him and ascending.
“Don’t get hit by their breath. You’ll get burnt to ashes in an instant.”
Saito nodded. He did a hundred and eighty degrees turn above the dragoons. Drawing a path similar to spiraling down a funnel in a bottle, he ended up behind the dragoons. The dragoons couldn’t catch up. The speed of the fire dragons was about 150km/hr. The zero fighter’s speed was close to 400km/hr. It was like attacking something that wasn’t moving.
By the time the panicking dragoons had turned around, they had already been clearly targeted. Saito readied the pointer on the glass pane of the sighting device and pressed the throttle lever’s fire button.
With a dull sound followed by the shaking of the plane, the autocannons on both wings opened fire. The wings of the fire dragons broke, and they went spiraling down. In the next instant, Saito had put his foot down on the right foot bar and glided the Zero fighter, taking aim at the next dragon. Saito fired again. Taking numerous hits from the autocannon on its torso, the fire dragon shrieked in pain and dropped towards the ground.
When the third had suddenly dived in an attempt to escape, the 7.7mm machine gun filled its body with punctured holes. The fire dragon died and dropped straight down.
Saito quickly made the airplane ascend, controlling the plane naturally. He switched the velocity level to high. Against dragons, the Zero fighter which had a reciprocating engine, had the most advantage at those speeds. As the Zero fighter descended, the velocity would increase. The first thing to do was to control the area above the enemy. With the shining runes on his left hand, he maneuvered the Zero fighter like a veteran.
Derflinger, who was looking out for him, told him his next target. Just as he was about to direct the plane there, he heard a voice behind him.
“T-T-T-That’s incredible! These Albion dragons are reputed to be unrivaled yet they’re dropping like flies!”
Startled, Saito looked backwards. Louise’s head popped out from the gap between the seat and the rest of plane. Behind the seat was originally a stupidly big radio, but since this world didn’t have anyone who could contact him through the radio, he had removed it while he was adjusting the plane. After taking that off, only the wires connected to the rudder were left. Louise had slipped in there.
“You were here all this time!? Get off!”
“There’s no way I can get off now!”
Louise’s hands held the Founder’s Prayer Book. It seemed like she didn’t go anywhere like he had thought and instead slipped inside the plane.
“It’s dangerous! You idiot!”
Louise firmly wrung his neck.
"You. Are. My. Familiar. So. Don’t. Just. Go. Do. What. You. Want! I. Will. Not. Forgive. You. Understand!?”
As the engine drowned out her voice, she shouted in his ears.
“I’m your master! If the master doesn't lead the way, then the familiar won’t listen! And I would hate that!”
Saito drooped his shoulders, sighing heavily. It seems that saying things like “It’s dangerous, don’t come” had absolutely no effect on Louise.
“What happens if you die?!”
“Then try harder! Even if you or I die, I will still find some way to kill you!” She shouted at Saito with her eyes open.
Saito felt a headache coming from the absurd things coming out of her mouth.
“Partner, sorry for interrupting but…”
“Ten from the right have just arrived.”
The fire dragon’s breath came flying to them. At that instant, he pushed the control stick quickly to the left. The plane rolled and dodged the breath of the dragon. Louise fell down in the plane with a small cry.
“Control it more elegantly!”
Saito shouted, “Don’t say ridiculous things!”, and made the plane descend. The dragoons couldn’t follow his movements. Taking advantage of this moment, he made the plane ascend, and at its peak he turned it around. With the sun behind him, he descended again. Aiming at the dragoons who were chasing him before, he fired the autocannons and the machine guns at them.
Louise, who had fallen down in the plane, was about to cry from the terror. “Perhaps I really shouldn’t have come?” Her fear asked her. She bit her lip and grasped the Founder’s Prayer Book tightly. Didn’t I sneak on because I couldn’t let Saito die? Hey, don’t pretend as if you’re fighting alone, I’m also fighting!
Even so, she couldn’t do anything. It was always like this, but this time she felt a tinge of regret.
But nevertheless, losing to your fear won’t accomplish anything.
She searched her pockets for the Water Ruby ring Henrietta gave her, and put it on. She grasped that finger tightly.
“Princess, please protect us…” she whispered.
She patted the Founder’s Prayer Book in her right hand softly.
In the end, she hadn’t finished the edict. She cursed her own lack of poetic talent. She was hoping to think of the edict on the carriage to Germania.
That’s right. I was going to go to Henrietta’s wedding ceremony. I was waiting outside the academy’s gates for the carriage to arrive. I then learned war had broken out. Destiny is a cynical thing. She opened the Founder’s Prayer Book while muttering to herself. She was planning to pray to the Founder for their safety. She opened the book and flipped to a random page. The Water Ruby and the Founder’s Prayer Book suddenly shone, taking Louise by surprise.
“They got… wiped out? In only twelve minutes they got wiped out?”
Sir Johnston, the supreme commander of the invasion force, who was on the afterdeck of the flagship, Lexington, looking over the preparations of the bombardment attack with the ship’s cannons, turned pale at the report.
“How many enemy units were there? A hundred? Tristain has that many dragoons left?”
“Sir. A-According to the report, only one.”
“A single unit?”
Johnston stood motionless with a dumbfounded expression. He threw his hat to the ground.
“Nonsense! Twenty dragoons taken out by a single enemy unit? Surely you jest!”
Frightened at the supreme commander’s attitude, the messenger took a step back.
“According to the report, the enemy dragoon had incredible speed and agility, and also had strong, long ranged, magic based attacks. Our units were killed one by one…”
Johnston grabbed the messenger.
“What about Wardes?! Wardes, who was given command of the dragoons, what about him?! What happened to that cocky Tristainian?! Was he also killed?!”
“The viscount’s wind dragon was not included in the list of casualties. But… it seems like he wasn’t seen around…”
“So he betrayed us! Or otherwise he was too much of a coward! Whichever it was, we can’t trust him…”
Quietly reaching out his hands, Bowood said, “Reacting like that in front of all the soldiers will lower their morale, commander in chief.”
Enraged, Johnston took his anger out on Bowood.
“What are you saying? It’s your fault that the dragoons got wiped out! Your lack of competence was just asking for our precious dragoons to be destroyed! I will report this to His Excellency. I will report it!” Johnston yelled as he reached out to grab Bowood.
Bowood drew his wand and jabbed Johnston’s stomach. The white of his eyes showing, Johnston fainted to the ground. He ordered the soldiers to carry him away.
Should have just made him sleep in the first place, Bowood thought.
Noise apart from that of explosions and cannons only agitated the troops. A single decision could be the difference between victory and defeat, especially during battle.
Bowood turned to the messenger who was staring at him with a worried expression. He spoke with a calm, composed voice.
“Even though the dragoon force has been wiped out, the Lexington is still undamaged. Also, Wardes has probably devised a plan. Don’t worry about it, just put effort in what you’re doing.”
“A single unit killing twenty units? A hero, eh…” Bowood whispered.
But at most a hero. And thus only an individual. No matter how much power an individual holds, there’ll be things he can change and things he can’t change.
“And this ship is the latter,” Bowood whispered.
He issued orders.
“Advance the entire fleet. Prepare the left cannons.”
After a while, far away, at the other end of the field of Tarbes, the battle array of Tristain’s troops, situated in La Rochelle, which was a natural stronghold due to the mountains around it, could be seen.
“All fleets advance slowly. Ship to starboard.”
The fleet turned so that the Tristain forces would be facing their left side.
“Fire the left cannons. Continue firing until further orders.”
“Upper part and the lower part, prepare the right cannons. Use grapeshot.”
Five hundred meters in front of the Tristain troops crowded within La Rochelle, the enemy force could be seen. It had the three colored Reconquista flag, and was approaching quietly. Having never actually seen an enemy before, Henrietta, mounted on a unicorn, was shaking. She closed her eyes to offer a prayer so that the soldiers around her wouldn’t see her shaking in fear.
But… her fear did not stop so easily.
Henrietta looked up at the large enemy fleet and turned pale. It was Albion’s fleet. The side of the fleet flashed. It was enemy fire. The cannon shells accelerated by gravity were flying towards Tristain’s troops.
Hundred of cannon shells dropped down on the troops in La Rochelle. Rocks, horses and people were thrown together, sent flying through the air. The troops were trying to flee from the overwhelming might before them. The place was drowned by the sound of thunderous roars.
“Calm down! Everyone calm down!” Henrietta shouted, driven by her fear.
Mazarini whispered in Henrietta’s ear.
“You need to calm down first. If the general is distraught, there’ll be chaos in the blink of an eye.”
Mazarini quickly whispered to the generals nearby. While Tristain was a small country, it was one filled with history. Its history included many righteous nobles. Of all the Halkaganian nations, the Tristain army had the highest percentage of mages within it's ranks.
By Mazarini’s command, the nobles created barriers of air within the openings of the mountains. The shells would hit them and break. But some of the shells got through. Screams could be heard with rocks and blood scattering.
“As soon as the enemy stops their bombardment, they will most likely stage an all out assault. There’s no other way but to face them,” whispered Mazarini.
“Is there a chance of being victorious?”
Mazarini noticed that the soldiers were starting to tremble before the enemy bombardment. They had advanced with great vigor but… there are limits to people’s courage. He did not want to tell the truth to the princess who had made him remember something he had forgotten.
“We’re evenly matched.”
Impact. The ground below them shook like an earthquake.
Marzarini sorrowfully understood the situation.
Three thousand strong troops formed the enemy's numbers, while their forces, crumbling from the bombardment, only numbered two thousand.
They had no chance.
Louise looked at the letters that appeared in the light.
It was… written in ancient runes. As Louise took lessons seriously, she could read the ancient language.
Louise chased the letters in the light.
Henceforth, I shall record the truth I know. All materials in the world are comprised of fine grains. The four branches intervene with these fine grains and apply an influence, which transform them into spells. This was how “Fire”, “Water”, “Wind” and “Earth” were formed.
Louise was filled with curiosity. With an impatient feeling, she turned the page.
The gods bestowed upon me a greater strength. The fine grains, which the four branches bore influence over, are comprised of even finer grains. The power bestowed upon me by the gods, does not belong to any of the four. The branch I wield intervenes with even finer grains and applies an influence, transforming them into spells. A Zero that belongs to neither of the four. This so-called Zero is “Void”. I name the Zero the gods have bestowed upon me “Void”.
“The branch of Void… Isn’t that a legend? Isn’t that the legendary branch?!”
Whispering to herself, Louise turned the page. Her pulse was racing.
Saito, who had wiped out the dragoon fleet, looked over the sky. Above the fields, he spotted the large warship between the gaps of the clouds, far away. Below that ship, was the port city La Rochelle.
“Partner, that’s the head. No matter how many small fry you take down, if you don’t take it down… nothing will change…”
Saito remained silent and opened the throttle of the zero fighter. It was at full boost. The zero fighter ascended towards the large warship.
“It’s impossible, partner. No matter how much you try, it is impossible.”
Derflinger, who had evaluated the power difference, told Saito in his usual tone. However, Saito did not respond.
“I understand… but your partner is an idiot.”
Saito brought the Zero fighter closer.
The right side of the ship shone. Aimed at Saito’s zero fighter, something was flying towards him. They were countless numbers of lead bullets. They pierced the plane with holes while shaking it. Breaking the windshield, a shard grazed Saito’s cheek. A trickle of blood ran down his face.
“Don’t go near it! They're using grapeshot!” yelled Derflinger.
Saito made the Zero fighter do a sudden dive, avoiding the second round of fire.
“Damn, they put small bullets in those large cannons!”
Saito bit his lip.
He couldn't even get close to the ship, much less sink it.
Behind the seat, Louise had lost herself in reading the Founder’s Prayer book. The thunderous noises did not reach her ears. She could only hear her own pulse getting louder and louder.
The one who is able to read this, will inherit my deeds, thoughts and objectives. They will become the bearer of this power. Be mindful, wielder of this power. For my brethren and I, who have died unfulfilled, you should strive towards retaking the “Holy Lands” stolen by heathens. “Void” is powerful. Yet, the incantations are of great length and consume much energy. Take heed, incantator. At times, your life will diminish depending on the power. Thus, I choose the reader of this book. Even when one not qualified wears the ring, they cannot open this book. Only when the chosen reader wears a ring of “The four branches” can they open this book.
Brimir Ru Rumiru Yuru Viri Vee Varutori (????·?·???·??·???·???·?????)
Following, are my recordings of the “Void” spells I used. The first step of the very beginning. “Explosion”.
A spell in the ancient language followed after that. Dumbfounded, Louise whispered, “Founder Brimir, aren’t you forgetting something? If I wasn’t wearing this ring, I wouldn’t be able to read the Founder’s Prayer Book right? The stuff about the chosen reader… and the “take heed” section has no meaning then.”
And then she realized. Chosen reader… that means…
I’m the chosen reader?
I don’t really understand but… I can read the words. If I can read it, I can probably perform this spell written here. Louise remembered how every time she recited an incantation, an explosion would result. That’s… in other words, that’s the “Void” written about here?
When she thought about it, no one could tell her the reason why she made things explode. Her parents, her sisters, her teachers… her friends as well… they only laughed at her for being a “failure”. They didn’t think anything of the explosions.
Perhaps I really am the chosen reader.
I can’t really believe it, but I perhaps am the chosen reader.
This might be worth trying out.
And also… There’s nothing else to fall back on now.
She was calm and cool. The runes she had just looked at were on the tip of her tongue as if they had greeted one another many times.
Like the lullabies she had heard in the past, the spell’s tune was somewhat similar.
I’m going to try it.
Louise stood up.
From behind the seat, she started making her way to the front through the gap.
“What are you doing?! Just stay still! Argh! I can’t see in front of me! Hey!”
Like a snake, she slipped through with the gap with her small body. She made her way to the front of the seat, where Saito was sitting. She sat her small bottom down in between Saito’s widened legs.
“…I can’t believe it but… I can’t really say it but… I might have been chosen. This could be some mistake though.” Louise muttered.
“Just listen to me. Fly near the warship. It might just be a hoax… but trying it out is better than not doing anything. Besides, there’s no other way to sink that warship…. The only way is for me to do it. I understand. I’ll try it.”
Saito was dumbfounded by Louise’s ramble to herself.
“Are you alright? You’ve finally gone crazy from being scared?”
Louise shouted at Saito.
“I told you to go near it didn’t I?! I’m your master! Familiars obey their master’s orders obediently!”
It was useless to oppose Louise when she used that threatening attitude. Saito reluctantly approached the large warship.
The grapeshot flew towards them. Going around to the left side would probably have the same result. The ship also had cannons sticking out from the bottom as well. The Lexington was like a porcupine with cannons.
“What are you doing?!”
“It’s impossible! I can’t get near it!”
As if suddenly thinking of something, Derflinger opened its mouth.
“Partner, go straight above the ship.”
“There’s a blind spot there. It’s where the cannons can’t reach.”
Saito rose above the Lexington like he was told.
Louise straddled Saito’s shoulders. She opened the canopy. A strong wind blew across her face.
“Hey what are you doing?! Close it!”
“Until I give you the signal, keep circling around here.”
Louise took a deep breath and closed her eyes.
Then, as if she were flaring up, she opened her eyes and started to read the runes written in the Founder’s Prayer Book.
She read the spell amongst the roar of the engine. Saito was circling above the Lexington in the Zero fighter like he was told.
It was at that moment.
“Partner, behind you!”
Quickly looking behind, a dragoon could be seen flying towards them like a gale.
It was Wardes.
Mounted on top of the wind dragon, Wardes grinned. He had been hidden amongst the clouds above the Lexington, waiting for his chance to strike. So this was the mysterious dragoon who had crushed all the fire dragons. Wardes didn’t have much chance of winning if he faced him front on. Which is why he had to aim for a weak spot.
His plan hinged on the warship. The enemy’s aim would definitely be this warship. And if he was a skilled enemy, he would be able to find its blind spot. Thus, hiding nearby and waiting was the best option. Wardes' prediction was right.
His target started to dive.
I see… he avoided the fire dragons like that.
But, my wind dragon’s speed is greater than that of the fire dragons.
Wardes steadily shortened the distance separating them.
With deep interest, he looked at the Zero fighter.
It’s not a dragon. That’s… not something made from Halkeginia’s logic… the “Holy Lands”?
He saw a familiar face, with pinkish blond hair, inside the cockpit. The grin on Wardes' face grew larger.
So you’re alive.
Then the one controlling the psuedo-dragon would be…
The left arm he had once lost throbbed.
His wind dragon’s breath wasn’t of any use, but he had his powerful spells. Gripping the reins with his artificial left hand, Wardes cast a spell. 'Air Spear'. The air solidified to form a spear to skewer them.
Saito couldn’t lose the dragon that was following them.With Louise riding his shoulders, Saito was beginning to feel frustrated.But… if I die here, I won’t be able to protect Louise or Siesta. The runes on Saito’s left hand shone brightly.
He set the throttle to minimum and opened all the flaps. As if something had grabbed the Zero fighter, its speed dropped.
He pushed the control stick to the bottom left. At the same time, he stepped on the foot bar. The vivid earth and sky rotated before them.
The Zero fighter had disappeared from Wardes' sight, who had just finished casting his spell. He looked around him restlessly. They weren't anywhere to be seen. However, sensing a tinge of a murderous intent from behind , Wardes' turned around. The Zero fighter was smoothly spiraling down as if tracing a path inside a bottle. It quickly got behind Wardes’ wind dragon. Followed by a bright light, the machine gun bullets tore through the wind dragon, which had thinner scales than the fire dragons. Wardes was hit in the shoulder and back and his face distorted in pain. The wind dragon gave out a shriek. As if slowly gliding down, the dragon Wardes rode crashed to the ground.
Saito ascended the Zero fighter once more. Even while he did those maneuvers Louise straddled onto Saito’s shoulders firmly. Then again, Louise was very skilled at horse riding. Louise continued her incantation in a low voice. What the heck is she doing, Saito thought.
"Eoruu Suunu Firu Yarunsakusa"
A rhythm had started pulsating through Louise. She felt as though she knew the rhythm from somewhere. With every word of the incantation, the rhythm grew stronger. It sharpened her senses, while not a single noise around reached her ears. It was as if something within her body was born, and was searching for a destination… Louise remembered what she was told once. When you recite an incantation of your own branch, a feeling similar to what she was feeling would be felt. Is it really what I’m feeling? Me, who has always been despised for being a zero. Me, who was said to have no talent in magic by teachers, parents, sisters and students. Is this the real me?
"Osu Suunu Uryu Ru Rado"
She could feel a wave being born inside of her, slowly swelling.
"Beoozusu Yuru Suvyueru Kano Oshera"
The wave inside her, searching for a destination, went berserk. Louise gave Saito a signal with her leg. Saito nodded and pushed the control stick down. The Zero fighter began to swoop down at the Lexington below them. Opening her eyes, she timed her incantation.
The legendary branch of magic.
I wonder how powerful it is?
No one knows.
Of course, there’d be no reason I’d know.
This was supposedly beyond legendary.
"Jera Isa Unjyuu Hagaru Beookun Iru…"
After the long incantation, the spell was complete. At that moment, Louise understood the power of the spell. It would swallow everyone. Every person in her vision, would be swallowed by her spell. There were two options. Kill, or don’t kill. What was she meant to destroy? With the winds blowing against her face, she looked down. A large warship appeared before her eyes. The Lexington. Following her impulse, she aimed at a single point and swung her wand down.
An unbelievable scene unfolded before Henrietta’s eyes. The warship that had been bombarding them… A ball of light had appeared in the sky. It was like a smaller version of the sun, and it expanded. And… it swallowed it. It had swallowed the warship in the sky. The light continued to expand until it was all she could see. There was complete silence. Henrietta suddenly closed her eyes. The light of the sphere was so intense that anyone would think that their eyes would burn from staring at it. And then… after the light had faded, the whole fleet was on fire. The fleet led by the Lexington had all their sails and decks burning. As if it were a lie, the head of the fleet that had been tormenting the Tristain troops sank to the ground.
A tremor in the earth could be felt. The fleet had come crashing down. Henrietta was dumbfounded. Complete silence overcame them. Everyone stared at the unbelievable scene.
The first one to come to his senses was Cardinal Mazarini. He was looking at the silvery wings, shining under the sun in the sky. It was Saito’s zero fighter.
Mazarini cried out, “People! Look! The enemy fleet has been destroyed by the legendary Phoenix!”
“Phoenix? The immortal bird?”
A commotion spread through the troops.
“Look at that bird flying in the sky! That’s the legendary bird that’s said to come at Tristain’s hour of need! The Phoenix! The Founder have blessed us!”
Shouts of joy could be heard everywhere.
“Long live Tristain! Long live the Phoenix!”
Henrietta asked Mazarini quietly, “Cardinal, the Phoenix… was it the truth? I haven’t heard of anything called the legendary Phoenix…”
Mazarini mischievously smiled.
“It’s a big lie. But, everyone’s sense of judgement is lost at the moment. They can’t believe the scene they saw. Neither can I. However, the truth is that there was an unfamiliar bird fluttering about after the enemy fleet had fallen. There was no choice but to use it.”
“What? No one cares if what I said was the truth or a lie. What they do care about is whether they’re dead or alive. In other words, victory or defeat.”
Mazarini peered into the princess’s eyes.
“You must use everything that you can use. It’s one of the basics of politics and war. Remember it well, Princess. Because from today onwards, you are the ruler of Tristain.”
Henrietta nodded. It was just as the Cardinal had said. The thinking… could come later.
“The enemy’s morale will be low and they will no doubt be trying to flee. Their supporting fleet is now gone. There’s not a better chance to strike.”
“Princess. Shall we go forwards to victory?” asked Mazarini.
Henrietta nodded strongly once again. She held up her shining crystal wand.
“All troops, charge! Royal troops, follow me!”
Tired, Louise cuddled with Saito.
“Hm?” replied Louise, absentmindedly.
A feeling of fatigue overcame her. But this was a nice tired feeling. It was fatigue that came with the satisfaction of accomplishing something.
“Can I ask you something?”
“What was that just then?”
“It’s a legend.”
“I’ll explain later. I’m tired.”
Saito nodded and smiled. He patted Louise gently on the head.
Below them, the Tristain troops had just charged at the Albion forces. The vigor of the Tristain troops was obvious even to a novice. It was vigor that would triumph even against enemies that outnumbered them.
“Yeah, later is fine.”
Looking at the scorched and blackened village, Saito wondered if Siesta was alright.
That evening…With her siblings, Siesta timidly came out of the forest. News that the Albion troops had been defeated reached the village people who had taken shelter in the forest.
Albion's troops were crushed by Tristain’s charge, and many had surrendered. Well, there weren’t any Albion soldiers strutting along the village around noon. The angry bellows, the clash of arms and the explosions had ended. Black smoke rose from the field, but the battle had ended.
A thunderous noise could be heard in the skies above. After looking up, a familiar object was flying in the sky. It was the “Dragon’s Raiment”. Siesta’s face brightened.
When the Zero fighter landed on the field, Saito opened the canopy. Someone from the forest, south of the village, came running towards him. It was Siesta. Saito jumped off the Zero fighter and ran towards her.
Louise watched Saito as he was running off and sighed. "Well, I guess it’s good that that girl is still alive, but couldn’t he spend more time consoling me? The spell just then… “Explosion” of the Void magic branch. It seems like it didn't happen. Perhaps it doesn't feel real because it was Void magic. Am I really the “User of Void magic”? Is there some misunderstanding? But it explained how I was able to give Saito the legendary Gandálfr familiar powers. There are lots of legends, aren’t there," she whispered.
"In any case, it’ll probably be busy from here on. I really feel as if this didn't happen… and I can’t believe that I’m the one mentioned in the legend…" Louise sighed. If this were a dream, I would be so relieved. But I’ve decided not to think too much about it. I should learn from that idiot familiar of mine. Although he’s the legendary familiar, he doesn’t seem like it at all. But perhaps that is for the best. Anyway, this “legend” stuff is too much for me.
“Hey, legendary mage.”
“What, legendary sword?”
Derflinger had called out to Louise in a teasing tone.
“It’s okay to be stubborn… but if you don’t go after him, he’ll get taken by that village girl.”
Louise’s cheeks went red.
“I don't mind.”
“Really?” whispered Derflinger.
Giving a cry of frustration Louise hopped out of the cockpit and chased after Saito. Derflinger watched Louise’s running figure and said in large voice.
“And she even understands that she’s the one mentioned in the legend… Perhaps her love life is more important to her. Humans around this age are beyond help."
While running, a stream of thoughts ran through her mind. When she looked at Saito’s back, her pulse hastened. Her mind would go blank. It was weird. That idiot. He even kissed me. Is that girl really that good? She might be cute. She’s good at cooking as well. I know boys like girls like that. But, I…I…
The Founder’s Prayer Book, the Void magic branch… they completely left Louise’s mind for the time being.
If I don’t go after that familiar of mine, he’ll be gone somewhere.
If I don’t open my eyes wide and run, I’ll be left behind.
But, if it’s going to be like that… I’ll just continue chasing him.
I’ll chase him wherever he goes… and when he turns around, I’ll hit him good.