Zero no Tsukaima:Volume14 Chapter1
Chapter 1: The Flowerbed Squadron's Rebellion
The river Shire flows through the center of Lutèce, the capital city of the Kingdom of Gallia…….
From the center of the city which was known as the old town that was developed along the riverbank extended Bonfan Street, along which it would take thirty minutes by horseback to reach the capital outskirts.
There the street was interrupted, and instead there was a long wall that stretched seemingly endlessly. Even at high noon the appearance of a section of this wall was unmatched.
As for what was on the other side of that long stone wall, that was the palace of Versailles where the Gallia royal family lived. As for why the palace had been built on the outskirts, one would understand if they saw the scale of it.
When it came to the amount of land on which to build an imperial palace of such concentrated luxury, no such place could be found in the urban areas of Lutèce.
Due to the twin moons being hidden by clouds, the darkness of that evening was like a burden on one's shoulders……, and in front of the palace's eastern Red Rose Gate the figure of a mounted knight was striding.
The main road was illuminated by magic torches mounted on the palace's walls, yet the darkness was deep nevertheless. It had rained during the day and, due to the air moistening at that time, the sticky atmosphere enveloped the knights.
The youthful knight walking on his right side, lifting the brim of his hat that was adorned with a white lily, spoke with a tired voice.
"However, for the Bilateral Fleet to have rebelled……. The Commander Lord Claville isn't known for being deeply loyal to the monarchy, is he. It's a rebellion! How could this have come to pass in the fatherland? The end of tradition in the land, the corruption of the government, the nobles thinking about nothing but increasing the gold in the treasury, and the commoners aren't thinking about anything other than their own portion. And now it's finally lead to rebellion!"
Taking a breath, the young knight began singing a ballad that was popular in the city.
"God and Founder, please show favor on our Gallia. Please grant brilliant rue of Halkegenia to our Gallia. For what cause has the Founder disinherited us? Why have we exhausted the grace of God? Ooh Gallia. The sweet scent of flowers has disappeared somewhere. Ooh Gallia. Please make out fatherland beautiful. Why has even the dignity of the fleet been exhausted?"
A sudden insurrection had occurred at the port city of Saint Maron on Gallia's northwestern coast that doubled as the navy's homeport, and a report had reached them this morning that the port was shut down. Lutèce was under martial law, and a large number of knight regiments were heading towards Saint Maron.
At present, with their forces having besieged the navy and the port it seemed they were continuing to stare at each other.
The old knight, who belonged to the same Order of the Southern Lily Flower Bed as the young knight, was staring at his junior with eyes of pity.
"You really believe the rebellion was caused by the Bilateral Fleet don't you?"
"That's what it sounds like. It's because of that that we're supposed to flush them out with these nighttime patrols. Well, if it's compared to the other knight orders who have the task of driving them out and suppressing Saint Maron, it could be said this is a simple task……. Since in spite of the power of the rebellion, in either case it isn't a concern that they'll turn their wands on the people of Gallia."
The old knight let out a sigh and spoke words that ought to be astounding.
"As a man who was selected as fleet commander based on how many times he lowered his head, he's unlikely to bite his master."
"What are you saying?"
"The entire thing was conceived by His Majesty."
The old knight, wearing his long worn military uniform, gazed towards the other side of the wall with eyes containing a mixture of weariness and insight.
"……What! Is that true?"
The young knight, since enrolling, had always looked up to the old knight as his teacher. He had only been a knight for less than a year, and his only motive had his lineage. If he had held a minimum position as a Baron, by now it seemed he would have had the status to take charge of the Knights Order.
Until now his words that excelled in military arts had never been off. Because of the respect the young knight felt towards him in his heart, he immediately believed his pronunciation.
Indeed his words ought to have been shocking, but since it was him saying it there was no doubt that it was true.
"……Then what does the besieged forces staring at each other mean?"
"It's probably an act I guess. It should be fine Flander-kun, because even if His Majesty is called 'The Incompetent King' and is treated as a fool both here and abroad, I don't believe that. His Majesty……, forgive me if what I say is disrespectful, but he's a terrifying man. Since being demoted from the position of military commander forty years ago, I have served the royal family. I've rushed about more battlefields than I can count on both hands. However I've never known a man more terrifying than the King."
The young knight, who was staring at the old knight, let out a large sigh at that.
"……So we're being made to go along with this play then."
"Such is the way of a knight. After all it's gone beyond the point of comedy actors dancing on someone's palm. Now that it seems you've understood what I've been saying, you mustn't reveal it to anyone. If this matter were to reach His Majesty's ear, it wouldn't just be my neck, but yours would fly as well."
The young knight displayed a tense look and nodded.
The two of them had reached a place where a forest spread out to their left. It was the Forest of Ternyan . In a corner of this forest that had become the royal family's personal hunting ground, the young knight suddenly spotted a wriggling figure.
The young knight quickly spurred his horse to hurry forward. Chanting a spell of 'Illumination', he shined the light in the vicinity where the shadow appeared to be.
What was revealed was a man whose body was wrapped in a black robe. Perhaps in resignation, he was boldly standing there without so much as stirring. The young knight, his wand prepared, thrust it at the man.
"Remove your hood!"
The man slowly removed his hood. Seeing the face that was then revealed, the young knight let out a surprised voice.
Regarding the face that was under the hood, it was that of the leader of the of the Knights of the Eastern Roses, Bart Castlemont. While his age was not too different compared to the young knight, he was well known as the prodigy who had been entrusted with leading a Knights Order. Among the Flowerbed Knights, there wasn't one who wasn't aware of his various valorous deeds or didn't know his face.
At the moment, he was, for some reason, staring at the young knight with a stiff expression.
While inclining his head, the young knight returned his wand to its sheath.
"What are you doing in a place like this? The Knights of the Eastern Roses……weren't they heading to Saint Maron?"
"……Without asking for a reason, I'd like for you to let me through here."
With a bitter voice, Castlemont muttered. The young knight awkwardly shook his head. Perhaps it was that he was following secret orders or something. However, they were on duty.
"I can't be a part of that. That's the way things are in the current time. You know that it's after curfew right? I have received orders that everyone I should encounter around here I am to take them in for questioning by one of the officials. However though, I won't skip the formalities. Since it's someone of your stature, it'll be fine so long as I get you to sign the documents in the guardroom. Well then, for now if you would come this……"
However Castlemont didn't move an inch.
At that moment, the old knight who had watching the development attentively from behind shouted out. He had noticed something.
"Flander! Draw your wand!"
Following his own advice the old knight drew his wand.
As the young knight muttered, "Wha, why should I do that?" in a confused voice, a wind rope leapt out from Castlemont who was behind him, which simultaneously wrapped itself around the old knight's body.
As the confused young knight drew his wand, a mass of air struck deeply into his abdomen. Looking back over his shoulder, Castlemont, with a sever expression, was wielding his military staff that he had rapidly produced. From the darkness the figures of knights whose bodies were cloaked with black robes appeared one after another.
As he muttered that, the young knight's consciousness faded.
Watching his subordinate tie up the two fallen knights that had been on patrol, Castlemont sighed. To have been discovered, that was a disgrace. Be that as it may, it seemed that fortunately none of the eighty men from the Knight's order that had come here were looking to find fault.
For the Knights of the Eastern Roses that Castlemont commanded, news of the Bilateral Fleet's rebellion had reached them yesterday morning.
However, for the elites of the Knights of the Eastern Roses who had embraced the spirit of rebellion against the current royal government, this report was entirely unbelievable. They immediately made a request to their collaborators hidden everywhere for a supply of information, and by that very afternoon they had obtained the truth of the matter.
The rebellion was a complete lie.
It was a plot of the current king, Joseph.
Joseph, who appeared to bear territorial ambitions towards Romalia, was plotting to deceive even his friends, which enraged not only Castlemont but also the Knights of the Eastern Roses. To dress as rebels and then invade a neighboring country with which they had an alliance, such was a situation that should not exist. If this plot were to come to light later on, it seemed the prestige of the Kingdom of Gallia would come crashing to the ground, its brilliant past history would vanish into a future of darkness.
Two hours later, when the order came to head to Saint Maron on the pretext of besieging the Bilateral Fleet, that was when Castlemont finally resolved himself.
The name of the Bilateral Fleet's flagship was ironically 'Charles Orleans'. To name the flagship after the younger brother he himself had killed, did he think that to be some kind of atonement?
……If so, they would simply imitate the fleet that was an accomplice in the plot.
Not only that, that incompetent king was trying to dress even them up as actors in this farce.
Lay siege? What does that mean to lay siege? Laying siege, why should they do such a thing? In all likelihood they were being used as simple observers. They were no more than a piece of makeup to obtain the consent of foreign nations.
They didn't need to endure anymore. The time for action was now……
While on their way towards Saint Maron, the Knights of the Eastern Roses had waited for nightfall and then returned to Lutèce. Having continuously marched through the dark of night, they had managed to return here to Lutèce four hours later. Along the way, they had already been sending couriers to every regiment in which collaborators had been installed.
The sub-leader Arnulf, with whom the age difference was like that of a parent and child, approached him and brought his face close to his ear.
"We have promises of collaboration from three regiments, and word just reached us that they will arrive in Lutèce by morning."
Castlemont smiled for the first time all day. There were more than a few nobles and military personnel that held animosity for the present royal government. However, when it came to actually taking action it was a different story. No one wanted to bear the stigma of being a traitor.
Nevertheless, three regiments had immediately responded by taking action. His decision had not been mistaken. If Castlemont could take Joseph's head, the rest of them would immediately submit.
"In three days we shall welcome Charlotte-sama who was forced to flee from Lutèceas as she takes the throne."
Castlemont, remembering the face of the princess who was always being pushed around, lowered his head. Remembering the face of the gentle Duke of Orleans, his heart was fired up.
"……Your Highness, the time to dispel all of Your Highness's regrets has finally arrived. Your Highness the one who raised me, who was born into the house of a destitute noble, to the Knights Order with the words of 'There's promise'. At last, the time to repay that favor has come."
Castlemont raised his head and held his staff up high.
"Gentlemen! I would speak to you gentlemen of the Knights Order! From this point, we shall reclaim the throne from the usurper! After that, the proper noble individual shall return! Do not be afraid! We are not rebels! We are the true Gallian Flowerbed Knights, the noble and courageous soldiers of Gallia!"
There was a cheer from the Knights Order.
"The man who is surely sleeping on the other side of this wall, he is a traitor who has become an enemy of God, the Founder, and the Fatherland! All of you, with me!"
As Castlemont shouted that, he jumped over the wall by chanting the magic of 'Fly'. One by one the knights proceeded after him. Using magic to blow away the soldiers on guard who had bustled to gather together, the Knights of the Eastern Roses charged straight for Grand Troyes where Joseph was.
Joseph was sitting on his throne, listening to a music box.
While he was absentmindedly gazing into empty space, slowly raising his arm, he moved his hand as though conducting a melody.
With an intoxicated expression he was abandoning his body to the Founder's melody, and then a cabinet minister burst in leading guards before his throne.
"Your Majesty! Your Majesty! It's terrible! Rebellion! It's a rebellion!"
While making a panicked commotion, the cabinet minister knelt before Joseph's throne.
"The Knights of the Eastern Roses have risen in rebellion! The bodyguards have been kicked aside, and they are invaded Grand Troyes! At this moment, the guards who are continuing to frantically put up a fight in the Hall of Mirrors are being outnumbered! Soon the defensive line will break, and then they'll be here next!"
At present there were no more than twenty nobles protecting the palace. For several generations the several hundred mercenaries of the ruler of the Grand Duchy of Bergen had been stationed there, but with the mages of the Knights Order as opponents, their strength could not be counted on. For the aforementioned 'plot', most of their forces and Knights Orders were not in the capital.
That gap had been exploited.
Despite the crisis of being driven into a corner……, Joseph's trance-like expression wasn't disturbed. As though the cabinet minister's voice was part of the melody, he was listening to the tones of the music box.
"Your Majesty! Your Majesty! Quickly, to the underground passage! My group of guards will serve as escorts!"
As though finally noticing that angry look, Joseph raised his head.
"It's a rebellion! How many times are you going to make me say it!"
"Aah. I see. Speaking of which, there was that possibility. I had forgotten."
Giving a big nod, Joseph slowly stood up.
"This way then!"
Interrupting the cabinet minister who had guided him while saying that, Joseph calmly gazed towards the entrance to the throne room. From the other side of the entrance, the sounds of the guards fighting with the knights of the rebellion could be heard. At that terrible sound, the cabinet minister's back gave out and he collapsed upon the floor.
"Aah, ahh……, the end, this is the end……"
The sound of magic flying and the horrible sound of fellow canes colliding with each other suddenly stopped. At ease, Joseph continued standing perfectly still, even as the figures of the victors appeared at the entrance to the throne room.
"Oya, if it isn't Castlemont. Why in the world? I thought I ordered your forces to head towards Saint Maron."
Without answering Joseph's question, Castlemont thrust his staff forward.
"Reigning King of Gallia, Joseph the First. In the name of God, the Founder, and all that is just, I'm placing you under arrest you bastard."
"Hou. What the hell kind of crime do you intend to arrest me for? If it's laws for judging a king, they shouldn't exist in Gallia."
"For your various acts of treachery against the Fatherland. You King with no ability."
The Knights of the Eastern Roses were stampeding into the throne room, and one by one they pointed their military staffs at Joseph.
"Now! Drop your wand!"
At that point, Joseph laughed loudly.
"Is something amusing!"
"Iyah, as expected it's the first time someone has called me 'King with no ability' to my face. Castlemont, you don't have that much promise do you? Truly, being incapable of anything other than simply bowing your head, you imagine yourself to be a user of flattery."
"Don't mock me! I'm done acting for the sake of deceiving the likes of you!"
"In all honesty……, that thing called public opinion has been damaged. As you said, I am really a king with no sort of ability. It's true, since even your spirit of rebellion wasn't perceptible to me. Incompetence like this is rare! But. Ahhaha!"
At which point, Joseph laughed loudly once again. Giving a sidelong glance at everyone who had become dumbfounded, Joseph turned his back on them.
"Where are you going!?"
"To bed. Iyah, I'm slowly getting sleepy. If it's talking, can we do that tomorrow?"
It looked like that truly was his plan. Beyond being enraged, Castlemont was astonished. Perhaps this king truly was just that weak minded.
However, there was no reason for him to permit that.
"Take Joseph into custody."
Some of the knights approached Joseph while being wary of any traps. The remaining knights as well pointed their staffs at Joseph as they chanted spells. The sub-leader Arnulf drew near like a steward and whispered in Castlemont's ear.
"We can't know if it's a trap. Be careful."
Castlemont nodded. There surely was a trap, but there didn't exist a trap that more than eighty knights couldn't suppress. No matter what spell he used, being surrounded here by skilled knights, he couldn't escape. At this moment, Joseph was a rabbit that had been seized by the hunter.
However, the moment the knight reached out to grab Joseph's arm……, something no one could have guessed occurred.
Suddenly, Joseph's figure vanished in an instant.
Castlemont shouted. The knights reflexively fired their magic. The throne, the partition that had been standing, the silk damask hanging behind the throne, the gorgeously engraved mirror, all of them became battered from receiving fire and wind magic.
However, the figure of Joseph wasn't there.
Someone in their confusion recited Detect Magic. If something had been concealed using magic, with this it should be immediately discovered……, however, there was no magical reaction within the throne room.
A single knight let out a shout while facing the skylight window.
"He's over there!"
Brushing aside the knight, Castlemont jumped to the window.
"Hey, what is it? What are you looking for?"
What skill he had used no one knew, but Joseph was standing next to the fountain in the courtyard. The knights turned pale. Even for magic experts like themselves, they couldn't understand the means by which Joseph was able to instantly move to the courtyard. For magic that could accomplish that, there was only the Wind System's 'Ubiquitous', but even that couldn't make one's figure vanish and reappear so splendidly.
Besides, for Joseph who was said to have no magical ability, he could not be expected to utilize square-class wind magic.
The skylight window facing the courtyard was small, so it was impossible for them to exit through it. Castlemont gave his order with an irritated voice.
"Surround the courtyard! Hurry! Don't let him escape!"
The knights started running in a panic.
The shout seemed to reach Joseph in the courtyard, who laughed out loud.
"I won't run or hide! Calm down! Besides that, I decided to change my bed this evening. It would be in your best interest to escape quickly."
"What was that?"
Joseph chanted a spell.
Eoruu Suunu Firu Yarunsagusa……
It was a list of runes they had never heard before. Forgetting to recite an offensive spell, Castlemont was instantly captivated by that spell.
Osusuunu Uryu Ru Rado……
Castlemont felt something of a chill run down his spine. Astonishing. He himself was horrified! He was a Square Class Wind Mage but……, he was terrified of the spell of the one born with no magical talent, the king known as the Incompetent King.
Castlemont encouraged himself.
There doesn't exist a spell that can blow away more than eighty knights. Magic is strong, but that power has limits. Moreover, we are inside the palace. Does he really think he can attack us from the courtyard?
"You Incompetent King! Worry about yourself!"
Castlemont raised his wand and chanted a spell. He completed the gust of wind filled with ice spears. Capturing him alive and then having him stand trial before the people first, there was no way for him to accomplish that.
The instant he tried to fire them at Joseph, Joseph, upon seeing that, calmly lowered his wand as though he was at that moment the conductor of an orchestra beginning a concert.
A reasonable bluff.
You Incompetent King.
A spell that a bastard like you can handle…….
The floor was shaking violently. That shaking affected the aim of the Ice Spear, causing it to pierce the ground at a distance from Joseph.
Arnulf who was waiting beside him shouted. Castlemont turned his neck to face that way. Arnulf's body was becoming more distant. Looking at it, wasn't it because the floor had been greatly dislocated?
It was then that Castlemont finally understood.
The entire place was in the midst of collapsing.
"Absurd! How can it be!"
There wasn't any time to aim a spell. When Castlemont looked up, the image reflected in his eyes was of the massive stone ceiling collapsing.
As he watched Grand Troyes, which was composed of beautiful bluish stones, collapse while raising a subterranean rumbling as it swallowed the Knights of the Eastern Roses, Joseph laughed out loud. In spite of the fact that among them had been those without any spirit of rebellion within them, such as servants and cabinet ministers, not to mention allied soldiers, Joseph was laughing.
As a massive dust cloud rose, the vicinity suddenly fell silent.
"This is 'Explosion' huh. Quite a convenient spell. It had this much power just by destroying the castle's support structure. As for ways to use it, there ought to be more interesting ones."
Joseph muttered as he stared at the 'Founder's Music Box' that he held in his hand. After that, he produced the 'Founder's Censer' from his pocket. As he stroked in gently, fragrance wafted from within it.
"However, this 'Explosion', for it to be the first of my marvelous 'Void' is something of a rude awakening."
Recalling how confused the knights had been when they'd seen him standing in the courtyard, Joseph smiled once again.
While flustering in a panic, a survivor from the guard knights rushed over.
"Your Majesty! It's good that you're safe!"
Without looking in his direction, Joseph gave an order.
"Gather the men. They are to drag the corpses of the rebels from the rubble, and then hang them from the gates of all major roads in Lutèce. By the time morning happens to come along, upon seeing that even an idiot will understand the folly of opposing me."
Watching Joseph whose face was like a demon from the depths of hell, the knight immediately bowed low.
In order to carry out his orders, the knight ran off.
Being called to a halt, the knight stood erect as though struck by lightning. While yawning Joseph informed the knight's back.
"Before that prepare my bed. I don't care where. Truly, I am quite exhausted."
- Kanji:Uneven Distribution
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