Zero no Tsukaima:Volume15 Chapter3
Chapter 3: A Shaken Mind
The night Saito displayed his skills at the sandbank....
Louise was in her bedroom awaiting Saito's return. Hugging around one main street, praised as a heavenly spot for vacations, Carcassonne had countless hotels. At that moment, all of the customers they were serving were almost entirely Romalian soldiers. As a special team from Tristain, Louise and the others were also assigned a hotel.
After the previous event, Louise hurried back to the hotel. Despite her efforts in anxiously waiting, Saito just didn't seem to appear.
At the instant the door creaked open, Louise's face was immediately replaced by one shining golden lights. Standing in front of the door, was the golden haired Tiffania. Still dressed in the robes of a nun, the hood perfectly hid her elven ears. There couldn't be a more suitable dress for her, because as one of Founder Brimir's nuns, no one felt the need to request her to take of her hood.
"So-sorry, it's me."
Tiffania twisted shyly and softly apologized.
"Why would you need to be sorry."
"Eh? Oh, no, I thought you were waiting for Saito, seeing Louise like that."
Tiffania sat down on the bed next to Louise's side.
"Seems like it has became very serious", Tiffania said uncomfortably.
"Really, being so relaxed even under these situations."
"I don't mean you. It's Saito. We are on enemy's ground. In the middle of stretched bows and drawn swords Mr.Know-It-All decided to play a dueling game with the nobles. Sheesh, what was he thinking."
Tiffania seemed uncomfortable listening to Louise's rambling.
"Do you understand? The bells for a crusade have already rang. There aren't any way we can back out of this. Her highness has already ordered 'we find our own way out'. What is his mind filled with!"
Louise did not know of Saito's situation, who was, behind the scenes, forced to duel unwillingly, therefore complained.
Picturing the sight of a mere river stopping the progress of two armies sent a shiver down Louise's spine.
Joseph might be a terror that cannot be left ignored, but the only choice did not lie with an act such as war. The more Louise pondered on the subject, the more that didn't feel right.
"Like I said, why should you be sorry."
"It's all my fault, if I hadn't erased Louise's memories, things wouldn't have turned out like this...."
Louise grabbed Tiffania's hand.
"Not true, I'm the cause for this. Being 'Aquelia's Saint' and to trigger a war was the condition for my choice to send Saito back...."
With memories about Saito erased, Louise was not the same self anymore. Yet the fact that she had done everything consciously was undeniable, which was why she believed she did not deserve forgiveness either.
"No matter what happens, we must stop this war. Only in that way, I may bear the title of being 'Aquelia's Saint', it's what a real saint should do."
"I'm going to help."
Tiffaina said directly into Louise face.
"No, part of this is for my own cause, war between elves and humans is a nightmare, carrying the blood of both species I should do whatever I can."
"True,..... I feel that, being able to be friends with you is such a great thing."
Hearing Louise's praise, Tiffania beamed shyly.
"Speaking of which, Romalia's intentions behind their actions are really suspicious."
"Aquelia's Saint...., as hero and symbol of the crusade, I'm not assigned to do anything at all, put aside completely."
"Trapped at a choke point here, Romalia should be feeling very anxious...., why aren't there any orders issued to us at all?"
Although under watch 24/7, any direct contact from Julio or the Pope himself was unheard of, as if 'you have already finished your part', or should we say, saving them for the finale?
"....All we can do now is to expect her Highness's message." Louise said.
Henrietta told them she would 'definitely find a way to solve this, but to buy time for her before so', and then headed back to Tristain, all done with a face full of determination and belief.
Louise decided to trust in Henrietta, not the ignorant kind of trust when they were small and playing together, but one that was derived from Henrietta's attitude and the power in her words.
"Your cousin will most certainly bring a solution back.... we'll wait for her signs while we're pretending to help Romalia, as long as we're here, her highness will have power to interfere with this war."
Tiffania nodded, mentally handing over difficult decisions and whatnot all to Louise and Henrietta, and convinced herself: 'I can definitely entrust them with my life.'
"Louise, you really are incredible, taking everything into consideration, while I'm just here worrying and fearing."
"It can't be helped. Sheltered away from the rest of the world in the woods of Albion, it is understandable for you to be unfamiliar with these events. On the other hand, that guy...." Louise said through her gritted teeth.
"Were you talking about Saito?"
"Mhm, what was he thinking, taking up on challenges alone!"
"Saito must have had Saito's own concerns, must have proper thoughts and reasonings of a man, before deciding to do so."
"Huh! That guy doesn't have much thinking to talk about! Just as I was starting to believe some sense was surfacing in him, they're all these weird dreams, something 'three of us together', if those backyard things count as 'a man's thoughts and reasoning', he would be better off dead."
"Aren't you going a bit overboard?" Tiffania scolded.
"You can say that only because you have no idea what kind of lewd fantasies that dog has tortured me with."
Louise lifted Tiffania's hat, and started whispering close to her pointy ears.
"......Court- In the middle of the courtyard!?"
"Making Louise obediently on all fours like a dog!"
"Whip......., while that....., .....it came, .....my.....by myself?!......and.....slowly....! Oh! Wah!"
Tiffania, under mixed emotions of confusion, shock and shyness, trembled continuously upon Louise's whispers.
"Doesn't it make you speechless. That dog."
"Although I couldn't understand half of it, but it must be something very indecent!"
Tiffania gripped her knees with a flushed face.
"Softly....., th-that...., but more unbelievable, Saito.....that....then....."
Louise started to spew out more of Saito's even wilder fantasies, Tiffania almost losing balance and fainting. Louise continued to whisper with a low voice.
"Stop, Louise stop." Tiffania huffed holding her chest.
"I know, unforgivable, right!"
Louise gradually drooped her eyelids.
"Out of the blue, I'm not the only one being imagined like this, in the 'three of us' one, I found out this point."
"Say Louise, I'm very curious,..... if I had to go through this I would definitely die, if it were Louise it would be fine?"
"What do you mean?"
"Because, before discovering the 'three of us' one, Louise wasn't so angry......, ah, ah! Ah!"
Louise suddenly grabbed Tiffania's breasts and squeezed with force.
"It must be your breasts that made you say something impossible."
"Sorry! I thought too much, I thought too much! Louise was always angry!"
"Of course." Louise let go and looked away. Huffing and puffing Tiffania turned her head to Louise.
"Still, boys can be quite scary...."
"Don't talk about it as if it's not your concern. You never know if you're also in that dog's dreams, dried out or whatever."
"Yes, because you, have those ~~ kind of things. Although I don't know, your appearance will definitely be ranked top." Louise said while starting to play again with Tiffania's breasts, her tiny hand soon slithering through the loose nun's dress, squeezing all sorts of shape out.
"A-as for what did he do,... to this pair of breasts,...! M-m-m-must have stuck his head in it! C-can't see anything!"
"Ah, ah, waah, Louise, please! Please!"
Spending a lot of energy Tiffania finally escaped from Louise's grasp.
"My breasts did nothing wrong, please don't hurt them. ......"
"You've got a point there. Speaking of which, where did that guy slither to now? I hope he's not somewhere collecting samples for more awkward fantasies?!"
"If it's Saito, he should be drinking wine with the knights? They collected a lot of ransom in the day."
Louise frustratedly cursed, "Nothing good ever comes from giving idiots money!"
When Tiffania brought Louise to the bar, the already dead drunk teens were planning to massively buy more wine to pour down their throats.
"Hey hey!! Isn't that the arrival of, hic, Aquelia's Sainnntttt and our holy nuunnnnn!"
Gimili cried out loudly, dragging both his body and a chair.
"Here, here! Please take a sit, may our holy founder Brimir's nun permit us glorious knights to pour you a cup of goooood wine."
Gimili said jokingly. The teens all congregated around Louise and Tiffania soon afterwards, crying out "Hurray" three times, completely drunk.
"Crusade hurray! Romalia Hurray! Aquelia's Saint Hurray!"
Then looked at each other with "what the heck are we yelling at" written all over their face, then burst out into laughter. Louise coldly surveyed the bunch of drunks, just to discover Saito's untimely disappearance.
"Oh, that guy's not here, said had something for Tabitha, long gone." Malicorne replied.
Louise's shoulders shuddered.
That guy even, towards the small Tabitha....., extended his claws !?
A thought that never came much across Louise started to expand in her mind, a jealousy completely different from what she held towards Siesta, Henrietta or even Tiffania started to envelope her.
Saito reacting to them, full of a woman's attractiveness, although enraging, but still relatively understandable.
But, Tabitha was different. Smaller than even herself, wasn't breasts even more so? If Saito had normal tastes, Louise had no competition.
But on the other hand if Saito wasn't interested in that....
Louise felt something from the blue haired girl which was enough to cover those inadequate points, an almost overwhelming attractiveness....
Louise heart skipped a beat. No matter which one was it, it was as if she was no competition. Plus Tabitha was a descendant of Gallian Kings, defeating her in both bloodline and position.
Louise was starting to fear.
Could it be that she is....., the strongest enemy so far?
Louise knew that Tabitha held a special feeling towards Saito, but that...., was not of love, but more of "devotion towards knight" that kind of thing, kind of similar to respect.
Even when peeking at the showers, she helped Saito without any clothes on her body, kissed Saito, to prevent Louise from punishing him or something, all sorts of reasons.
At least not because of "indescribable acts that should not be mentioned".
Or was it?
Was it all from her love towards Saito?
As a woman, Louise's alertness immediately pushed the "Emergency button". Anyhow, the first thing she should do right now was to hurry and suppress the people at the scenes.
Tabitha was sitting on the staircase leading straight to Carcassonne's hermitage's main door, reading a book. As surroundings began to dim, dots of stars began to ignite everywhere on the streets, revealing tiny pedestrians or armed Romalian soldiers weaving their own way through the narrow corridors.
From that distance, the illumination was not enough for someone to read. A small light popped out from Tabitha's staff as well.
'Why am I reading in this kind of place?'
If she wanted some light, there was more than sufficient in her room, there was no reason to read in a place with people traversing every now and then either. Tabitha began to analyses her own actions.
.....It was the desire to be found.
After all, she was holding an opened book at this eye-catching staircase, ironically a perfect match with the tip of her staff - if it was meant for reading, this ball of light would be a little too bright...
The conversation she had just now with Julio made her very uncomfortable. While it might be true, just as Julio pointed out, alliance with the powers of the Romalian army, achieving revenge would be so much more simpler, swifter.
Then again...., if so, the war would only evolve to be more fierce, her Gallian people pouring blood over each other in civil unrest.
'But, isn't it the same right now.' A calm undisturbed part of her mind told herself. As described, the southern vassals had all allied themselves to Romalia, the country divided cleanly into two factions. At that point, if she were to take the throne, wouldn't it cause the effect of making them surrender, merging once again with Gallia, making less unnecessary sacrifices?
What should she do now?
Tabitha eyed the book laid in front of her. Claimed to be reading, the only part of her body that seemed to fit that description were her eyes. None of the book's contents entered her mind at all. On the surface everything seemed calm, but in within, another battle was happening.
Because of just that, Tabitha wanted to see him. Whenever nervous, unsure, she wanted to see his face, that knight she was devoted to serving, though that was absolutely not the feelings of love....
That was right.
That was why she was sitting at that appealing place, waiting...., because of her uncertainty, that was why she desired to see "her knight". This was not love, absolutely, not some love.....
"There you are."
Hearing that voice, Tabitha unconsciously threw her book on the ground. As she bowed to pick it up, her shoulders felt the touch of the teen's hand.
Saito's face reduced the distance between their faces. Tabitha felt herself going red.
In her ears, Saito softly whispered: "I have something to give you."
"......It's, letter." As if not wanting to elaborate, Saito said.
Tabitha's heartbeat raced. Letter? Is this what they call a love letter?
She kept repeating to herself: 'This is not a love letter this is not a love letter, towards the knight I serve, I cannot have feelings of love.'
Or so she said, a warm sweet feeling spread throughout her body.
"It's not too convenient here, somewhere without anyone...."
Saito cautiously eyed both sides. An armored Romalian soldier was watching them with lazy eyes.
Tabitha whistled, summoning Sylphid. With light footsteps, Sylphid landed from the sky. The two leapt on Sylphid, just as they were about to fly, the watching soldier hurriedly paced towards them.
"May I ask where would you be heading, it's already this late!"
"It's only a stroll, or a so called date."
With Saito putting it that way, the soldier displayed troubled emotions.
"Please make it short, I'll be scolded."
Under the watchful eye of the soldier, Sylphid flew into the pitch black sky swiftly.
"...Um, to avoid suspicion, we should..." Saying so, Saito reached out his hands and hugged the shoulders of Tabitha who was sitting in front of him.
The redness on Tabitha's both cheeks spread like jam on bread.
Good thing it was night, she thought. Even with a blushed face, no one would discover it.
Tabitha's lack of words was interpreted as displeasure by Saito.
"....Sorry, for doing these things."
A birds eye view of the Carcassonne's streets, Saito couldn't help but give a sigh. Drops of faint lights crammed in the long and narrow streets extracted the memories of the city's night view from his mind.
"From the sky, you can't help but be awed, just like a highway at night."
"Oh, it's something on my side of the world."
"Really want to take a look." Tabitha replied softly.
"Colbert's words exactly." Saito smiled, then returned to a stern face and extracted a letter from his pockets.
"...During the day, at the sandbanks we and the Gallian army held a contest."
That was already a slightly faded latter. Tabitha felt her heart racing once again,....but felt like cold water thrown over her when she heard what came next.
"The last adversary, handed this to me, and told me to give it to you. It's someone on your side I guess?"
Tabitha began to be serious, took over the letter and pulled out its contents - a small note. Illuminating her wand, she began to read.
"As expected. Someone you know?"
"....Rings a bell somewhere, -that's it! The one who swiftly let us across the Gallian borders! So he's the guy...., I couldn't recognize at all with his face covered." Saito exclaimed.
Bart, Castlemont (巴索．卡斯特莫爾), cooperated once on a mission together as the Captain of Knights of the Eastern Roses, a square wind mage, also a supporter of her passed away father...., sworn loyalty to Tabitha, what message was he trying to deliver?
Alongside with surprise from the unexpected sender, Tabitha continued to read down the letter. On it, was all sorts of of jaw-dropping news:
News of rebellion against the despicable Gallian conspiracy, failing to capture King Joseph by raiding the Versailles Palace, followed by news of the disassembly of the Knights of the Eastern Roses, him and a few surviving knights disguised as mercenaries joining the Gallian army.....
At this point, Tabitha bit her lower lips tightly.
"May I take a look as well?"
After finishing the letter, Saito showed fierce expressions. "Things have become complicated.... What would you do?"
Shutting her eyes lightly, Tabitha replied: "I don't really know myself."
Saito fell into deep thoughts.
".....If, hypothetically, just as what's written down here, Tabitha officially declare her royal status and take the throne, what would happen? Will the war worsen?"
".....No idea, maybe, maybe not."
"If so, no matter which one it is, I can't concur, this would be too dangerous for Tabitha. If you stand directly in front of them, they'll madly charge towards your way."
Saito continued with a serious tone: "Right now, her Highness...., Queen Henrietta is on her route home. To stop this 'Crusade', she must be plotting a plan right now. She tells us to also make our own, but all we did was this random challenge contest.... Therefore, Tabitha, can you temporarily drop this matter?"
Then, the last sentence of the letter caught their attention.
'Joseph used a terrifying spell, teleporting into the courtyard in a split second, please beware.'
"Tabitha, heard of any spells like it before?"
Tabitha scanned her knowledgeable database, after a pause...., but nothing relevant came up.
"Then,... an unknown spell, ..... could it possibly be void?"
"....The possibly for that isn't low."
Legends stated that void magic was carried on in the King's bloodline.
Originally part of royalty herself, Tabitha faintly recalled herself and her clan discussing relevant topics. Of course, nobody really thought that the revival of void was possible either, back then.....
Yet , the void revived,... playing a crucial part in shaking the entire Halkeginia world.
Though Tabitha did not directly hear anyone other than Louise being a void user, her own perceiving eyes and logic confirmed that Tiffania and the Pope were also void users.
Even if her uncle were a void user, it wouldn't be very surprising either.
After all, her uncle was jealous of her father because of just the fact that he was no good in any of the four fields.
"Let this topic end here, if we were to avoid the eyes and ears of Romalia....., really, other than the sky there's no place more safe to talk...."
Tabitha nodded in agreement.
Before all of this, revenge was her own personal business...., but now, all sorts of powers with knowledge of her real identity, all having their own ideas, worked in clandestine just to manipulate her. The revival of void, undoubtedly cascaded the chain reaction.
She had a high political value in Gallia.
Tabitha, for the first time ever, felt a sense of ingenuity. Before that, as long as she and her familiar worked hard, there was always a way out.
But that time was very different. Her every decision, every actions, would seal the destiny of tens of thousands of Gallian soldiers, Gallian families.
....And that uncle, suddenly realizing his void powers.
What on earth should she do, she had no idea.
That was why Tabitha made a decision.
If it was Saito...., there should be nothing wrong. If it was the Saito who saved her quite a couple of times when she was in danger, certainly it would be safe to hand over her life to him.
In the midst of this raging political seas of Halkeginia, it was as if her existence were a tiny boat being toyed around.
However, if it was Saito...., even drifting through those waves she would still safely steer towards a calm harbor, Tabitha felt. ....No, maybe he would even calm the entire storm?
That was why she was determined to walk on the path he chose.
Her savior, her knight, her hero, her..... That's right, that was the best choice. As long as it was a path he chose, no matter what the future looked like, they would definitely make it.
Her will.... was filled with joy on the verge of tears. As long as it was with him, they would definitely make it, no matter to the end of the oceans, end of the world.
Tabitha comforted her trembling heart again and again: 'This is not love.'
'That is impossible.'
'Completely over the line.'
So she said, but her heart had a mind of its own, bathing itself with happiness unauthorized, as if the troubles she was facing then could all be easily solved.
Despite her efforts of denying "the feelings of love", her body still acted on its own.
Unconsciously, Tabitha softly leaned towards Saito.
"Hmm, are you cold?"
No, of course not, the cold air from soaring the skies had long been dispersed miraculously by Sylphid's skills...., yet still, Tabitha nodded, and apologized lightly to her father for lying. Then again, it didn't seem so bad to have made this lie.
"It is so......, night, high above in the sky."
Saito expanded his cape, allowing Tabitha to snuggle in, feeling Saito's warmth, ..... suddenly Tabitha had an urge to cry.
For the first time, she suddenly realized, all the time these past weeks, how she was struggling.....
'I, can finally put myself at ease'. Under tearful eyes, Tabitha muttered to herself.
'Being able to feel at rest....., this is still the first time.'
".....Then, it's almost time we should go back?" When Saito said so, Tabitha softly shook her head without much of a thought, naturally saying,
"A little longer"
".....Want to stay like this, fly a bit more."
Since she arrived on that piece of land, the first time that had came out of her mouth - a completely unreserved request to someone else.
Around a hundred meters above Sylphid, a black owl was soaring the night skies, it's dark silhouette disguised among the pitch black night sky and clouds, making it more than difficult to discover, yet still in its maximum eavesdropping range, while keeping a safe distance from Sylphid.
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