Zero no Tsukaima:Volume15 Chapter8
Chapter 8: Coronation
The next morning....
Saito woke up from the loud cheers.
Sleeping next to him, Louise seemed to have been woken up from the same reason. Rubbing his half-closed eyes, Saito stood up and opened the windows.
The muffled cheers burst from the window and flooded into the entire room. Because of the holes on the walls, living together with them Malicorne and Tiffania also seemed to have been awakened by it.
"What the heck is that noise?"
"What, in the world, happened?"
While mumbling, they all gathered around.
Since this hotel was built on top of a cliff that has a perfect view of the entire Lelion river, (just like every other Carcassone house,) if they look outside, they can fully see the situation below.
The Romalian army spanning across the plains gave thunderous cheers.
"What is that?" Malicorne pointed below.
Looks like, at the center of the Romalian army, was a huge stage. One could say it almost looks like an altar. Feels just like the stage at a concert, Saito thought.
"Are they preparing an opera or what?" Louise openly expressed her thoughts.
"Hey hey, we are already in a war, why would they bother for an opera?"
"How am I supposed to know. Maybe they want to do some boring religious play, to undermine the other side's morale or something...."
"Won't they just become more irritated when they see this kind of stuff?" Just when he was saying, Malicorne used the spell of telescoping.
"Oi! The Pope is on the altar! Are they preparing some sort of offering?"
Feeling ominous, the group looked at each other, then all rushed to head down to Lelion river. In their journey, they also encountered the rest of the Water Spirit Ondine knights and Kirche. The only missing person was Tabitha.
Sprinting, Saito asked "Huff, Kirche, where's Tabitha?"
".....Hm. When I looked for her, she was already gone. That kid, where could she run to so early in the morning."
The ominous feeling exacerbated.
Dashing from the streets of Carcassone to the steppes of the plains, the cheers became more and more thunderous as they approached. Other than the black and white flag of the crusade, even the flag of Kingdom Romalia was flying in the winds. Next to it, one could see a flag with two spears crossing each other on it.
"What's this? Isn't that the flag of Gallia?" Kirche exclaimed. Pope Vittorio Cervale stood right under the flag, surveying his surroundings with disdainful eyes. Blocked by surrounding guards, Saito and the others were impeded from further progress and could only observe the development from a distance.
Vittorio raised both hands, silencing the fuelled cheering. All of the people began putting up a praying posture.
"What's that. A make shift cathedral? There's no need to come all the way here to do that...." Kirche sounded a bit shocked.
Vittorio's prayers last around 30 minutes. During the time, Saito and the others little choice but to maintain the same posture.
When the prayers have finally ended, Vittorio spread his hands again.
"Respectable believers of god Brimir, today, I bring everyone joyful news." His voice has been amplified through the use of magic, enough to reach the ears of the Gallian camp on the other side of the river.
"Across the river, loyal lords to the Gallian mad King, please join us for this news."
Immediately, all sorts of complaints sounded throughout the Gallian camp.
"What the heck! If you want to preach then no thanks! We have much better things to do!"
"Return to the dump you came from to do your praying to God!"
Vittorio smiled, ignoring these voices and continuing his speech.
"Lords of the Gallian Kingdom, you are making a big mistake. The so called King of yours, is not the rightful heir to Gallia"
Saito's face was drained of color.
"What are you trying to say?"
"The King you loyally serve, is the person who killed the next right King, Great Duch Orléans, and took the throne for himself like a thief. What kind of person is everyone trying to serve loyal for? I hope you understand that this is an enormous insult to even our God and Founder."
"Even so, there is no place for a horrible monk like you to make your comments!"
"So this is the words of a person invading other countries! Who else could the real thief be!"
Vittorio's corner of his mouth twisted slightly more.
"We are not thieves, nor here to control your country or land. Rather, we are here to restore your kingdom under the rightful rule. As the servants of God and Founder, we, will never concur with that self-proclaimed King allying himself with heretics. As a respectable believer of Brimir yourself, you should fully agree with this."
Saito already wanted to rush forward. With events developing to this stage, without further ado Louise and the others already realized the true message this whole act was trying to deliver. Before they could do anything, paladins had already come forth, stopping the footsteps of Saito and the others with drawn swords and spears.
"No trouble around here! Listen well to the Pope!"
"Let me now introduce the real rightful heir to this kingdom. The daughter of the deceased Grand Duke of Orléans, Princess Charlotte her majesty."
Below the altar, priests split both sides to make way for the appearance of Tabitha. She was not wearing the usual clothing of the Academy of Magic, but a grand suit designed for royal kings and queens. On the face of hers without the usual glasses and dabbed lightly with makeup. Unlike her common attitude, this unerringly displayed the majestic hidden under her usual expressionless face, even enough to match one of what would be the princess of Halkenia.
"Tabitha!" Kirche screamed with anger. Of course, this voice was hardly heard by anyone overwhelmed by the barrage of more thunderous cheers, much less reaching Tabitha's ears.
"Impossible! Wasn't she assassinated back then as well?"
"No, I heard she was stripped of her title and sent to study abroad at Tristain." All sorts of shocked cries spread through the Gallian camp.
"How dare you bring us this fraud!" Furious to the degree of losing himself, this cry could be heard even on this side. This person came from no other than the person who have competed with Saito a couple times, Duke Scarron. "How dare you make a fool of us with the deceased daughter of the Grand Duke of Orléans! Shameless! How much longer are you going to mess with us!"
"Then, would you like to confirm for yourself, whether or not this is a fraud?" Announced the Pope without a slightest hint of backing down. He named a few nobles, whom should all know Tabitha's identity as heir.
With Scarron as lead, they boarded the small boat and arrived into the Romalian camps, finally walking onto the altar.
Around ten or more aristocrats took turn to check for imperfections in Tabitha. After a considerable amount of time.... one of them raised the staff in his hands, chanting the spell of removal. Confirming there were no magic on Tabitha's body, they knelt down in unison.
Duke Scarron said with a difficult voice "Long time no see..... Princess Charlotte your highness"
Yells immediately boiled from the Gallian camp. A large crowd of aristocrats came rushing to the sandbank, one of them, Bart Castlemont.
Taking off the metal mask of his face, waving both his hands he cried "I am leader of the Eastern Roses, Bart Castlemont! I hereby declare, to welcome the returning of Princess Charlotte to receive her rightful throne, the establishment of the Gallian volunteers! We seek only the orders of Princess Charlotte!"
The Gallia camps started to collapse into chaos. They had too little time to contemplate such a sudden announcement. To further excite their already shaking faith in their Gallian King, Vittorio continued "Loyal Gallian lords, please consider with your intelligent and brave brain, consider your pure flawless self, in this old, ancient country, who is best suited for Emperor? Is it the one at Lutece, the lazy, incompetent king who killed his brother for the crown? Or..." Placing his right hand onto Tabitha's shoulders. "Or is it the one standing here, here to receive St. Aegis the 32nd's personally executed coronation, the young queen overflowing with talent?"
Many aristocrats and soldiers gathered at the sandbanks at the side of Castlemont. Of course..... Having things like the entire army defecting to this side is pretty much out of topic. Everyone had little time to think carefully over this sudden development.
"Think about it. There's plenty of time, but not long. Right now there are two fleets of ships heading this way. It will carry the now Empress, Queen Charlotte, to take Lutece back from the dishonorable thief. As servant of God and Founder, I agree that this real Emperor, should deserve to sit on that throne. So, gentleman, do you wish to bear the filthy name of being a rebel army?"
Although not much, but the soldiers, aristocrats gathered at Castlemont's side increased yet again. At the Gallian camps all sorts of arguments, even conflicts grew. At various places, one can even see wands drawn.
Saito trembled from this sight.
Damn. The Romalians must have said something good to fool Tabitha. It must be it. Although the exact method is still uncertain, it was definitely enough to change Tabitha's mind.
The morale in the Gallian camp shook even more. If this goes on, everything will progress exactly the way the Romalian Pope wishes to. No matter how perfect the plan Henrietta deceived is right now, once this movement become large enough, no one will be able to stop the crusade anymore.
"....If this goes on Gallia will be under the control of Romalia. If so, we are helpless to stop the crusade." Louise said regretfully. With things this way already, even breaking through the Paladins, running all the way to change Tabitha's idea would be too late.
There were no other ways to stop the already rolling boulder.
Vittorio pointed to a small dot in the skies of the southwest direction. Where he was pointing to, a large fleet of ships could be seeing pressing forwards.
"Even this is calculated, perfect" Saito said sarcastically while wiping the sweat off his forehead.
Sitting at the stern of "Harold, Orléans", was Claville. Next to him, Viscount Julian commented "Never thought that this would turn into a real rebel fleet. The changes possible in politics is just stunning, just like a pair of cat eyes" (Note: The size of the iris of cat eyes changes rapidly under different light stimulation, here it is used as a common slang.)
This was not said with any sarcasm, but one of his real thoughts. Stroking his beard, Claville replied "Now we're not a 'rebellion' anymore. This is the official dual-use fleet of Gallia."
This bunch of people knows perfectly that a few weeks ago they were still members of Gallian dual-use fleet. Not long afterwards were they approached by Joseph to disguise as a rebel fleet, but the failure of the plan and their fear towards the crusade has soon turned them into real rebels. Now.... under what the Pope claimed to be "preparation for the rightful king", they return to the glorious title of being Gallia's dual-use fleet.
It was only yesterday when Pope Vittorio Cervale issued his orders to this fleet at St. Marion. Though said they are a rebel fleet, it was only forced on them due to the circumstances.
To the Claville who barely has any motivation for any work, who even went into conflict with his own mates, the only reason that is making up stand up again, is that order "Bring the country all the way to the capital."
With this, he had all the reason to ignore the bunch still loyal to Joseph. There was no more need to treat them as his mates anymore.
"It's a week already. I believe future script writers will have a headache over the things happening now. Switching names again and again is a bit..... Speaking of which, did the bunch in Romalia really found Princess Charlotte? Don't tell me, the found a fake to substitute her. I hope they won't do anything as dumb as that."
"Will it be the real one?"
"Though say there's always this rumor of 'being assassinated' and all sorts..... but it looks like she had been shipped off to some other country. There are also rumors of being locked somewhere in a castle...... but she should still be alive. Maybe she made it out."
"I suppose Romalia put their hands in?"
"From the current situation, it's certainly quite possible. Seems like Princess Charlotte have some luck."
For his fleet to be rescued by that "Princess Charlotte", Claville could have never dreamed of it. He himself has even seen Tabitha using the name "Charlotte" in person.
"Ahh, the great Kingdom of Gallia, is going to become the backyard of Romalia from now on? The Pope is even greater than the founder of our country Great King Julio. Great King Julio only managed to take conquer half of Gallia, yet this young Pope is already capable of taking all of it into his pockets."
"Pfft. No matter who holds the power to this Kingdom, it's definitely better than that 'incompetent King'. That guy joined with Bidashal to do some sort of weird research at St. Marion. The results were those Knight Golems. Now who knows what sort of evil is he doing in Lutece, he's completely the devil himself! Why doesn't he just go someplace on his own to do whatever he wants! We might as well send him to the actual hell!?" Bearing hatred feelings, Claville said. Most likely he have forgotten how he once fell into the incompetent King's plans himself as well, doing things betraying God and Founder.
"We must let Princess Charlotte to board this ship bearing her father's name, and head in victory all the way to Lutece. Only will that clean the wrong doings we have borne. Being able to help in this, don't you feel much honored? Viscount."
"Right, right. That sure is very honoring indeed." He replied with a non-caring tone.
"Ho, we can almost see Carcassonne. No matter how many times we pass by, I always feel the need to question why would they ever build a city in this sort of place. To be honest, I really am curious." Viscount Julian said, looking at the twisting "serpentrouge" around ten miles in front of them.
The two shores of Lelion could also be seen, as well as the Romalia and Gallian camps.
According to the plan, this ship will carry the already coronated Queen Charlotte "her majesty", raise the Gallian flag, then bombard the persistent remains of the Gallian camp.
Afterwards, with little power left, the Gallian camps will have little choice but to surrender. Finishing off with these foolish people, they will be able to steer all the way to the unprepared Lutece.
This is a mission even simpler than training to sail seas.
But.... tragedy stuck.
The sailor on the mast seemed to report something.
"10 O’clock! There's something flying towards us!"
"What's with 'something'. What kind of report is this!" The co-captain complained.
"Dragons? No, not dragons! That's......a strange stone statue?"
What a report.
Claville and Julio also looked in the same direction.
So that's what he was talking about, a miraculously winged object like a dragon was flying this way. On closer inspection, it is a stone statue. It isn't so wrong to mix it up with a dragon. After all, as a stone statue, its movements were way too fast.
"What's that? A scout?"
Or some sort of secret messenger?
That grey, devilish shaped statue did not attempt to land on the decks, but rather tagged along below their ships. Feeling very sick, Viscount Julio immediately issued orders. "Shoot down that thing!"
This order came too late.
Like a cracking sound of an egg shell, the statue gripped tightly on the surface of the "jewel of fire", crisscross markings began to appear.
Since Joseph casted an "explosion" spell, leaving wounds invisible to the naked eye, the fragile jewel, could not sustain the power of the rolling fire inside.
Not particularly surprising.
All the energy from burning an entire forest, congregated into only 5 jewels of fire.
Flames started to spill from the cracks, expanding silently at a fearful degree. In an instant, the flames had already expanded a hundred thousand times of its original size.
The sailors of the dual use fleet, did not have time to cry out, and were swallowed by the gigantic fireball.
The jewel of fire burnt more than half of the dual use fleet like paper. The gunpowder carried onboard were also ignited, created a deafening noise that sounded through the sky.
The remaining army was also affected by the enormous flames, suffering extensive damage.
A scene from hell.
"Did he say it would have a radius of 10 miles? Why's it only 5?"
Aboard a speedboat, Joseph complained while looking at the distant bright shine. Guarding next to him, Myoznitnirn responded to her master's dissatisfaction. "That was the smallest sized stone used. Bidashal said it is only next to the one of highest grade."
"Is that so" Joseph scratched his head.
Being tied both hands, Henrietta could only observe behind the both of them horrified at the progress of things.
"Let you experience hell", was what Joseph said. Turns out it was not some metaphor, but hell literally.
Henrietta trembled at the sight of the fire jewels capable of burning half of the dual use fleets into smoke.
The only time had seen something similar was at Tarbes. It was witnessed during the war of Tarbes, Louise's explosion.
Although the magic that destroyed the fleet of Albion was similar...., there is still an incomparable distance in scale and destructiveness. Louise's "explosion" could wreck the wind stones carried onboard, even burn the ship's sails, but would never kill.
The thing just now, was just like a small sun Henrietta trembled at her own thoughts.
A fireball of radius reaching 5 miles, Henrietta could have never imagined anything similar.
With her sword and guns seized, both hands tied similar behind her back, Agnes seemed to bear the same thought. Described as having a steel heart, even she closed her eyes and displayed her fragile feminine side.
"You.... do you know what you have done?" Tears came from Henrietta's eyes. "Do you know how many soldiers was that fleet carrying?"
"At last, more than the number on this poor vessel." Joseph joked. Henrietta could not understand, how he could even smile after witnessing this scene.
On this vessel, other than Joseph and Myoznitnirn, Henrietta and Agnes these two pair, there were no one else.
Driving the vessels were lots of stone statues. Not knowing how they were taught, these statues were as trained as sailors, driving the ship with swift movements.
Simultaneously control so many stone statues, no matter which level of mage it is, none of them will be able to achieve this feat. Yet here they are, working ever so elegantly.
"Well then, let's try this big one here" Joseph took out the so called "second to highest grade", "jewel of fire".
"You.... are the void user of Gallia?" Watching him clearly recite the same chant as Louise's spell, Henrietta realized that he was the "void user of Gallia".
Even though the chant is completely the same, to any pair of ears, they could not sound more different. Louise's spell was full of hope, her courage to change tomorrow for the better
However, Joseph's spell was nothing like it. If one was forced to describe it, only "despair" would fit. It sounds as if he was giving up something.
That despair for some reason reassured Henrietta, guiding her back to the normal world.
Which is the real void? In the midst of extreme confusion, Henrietta suddenly thought up of an unimportant matter.
Finishing his spell, Joseph focused his spell into the "Jewel of fire" in his hands. The adjusted spell of "explosion" cracked the strong shell elves constructed.
Cha-cha-cha-cha-cha-cha, the fire jewel began emitting ear piercing vibrations. The immense amount of energy within found their exit and began their riot.
Finally clearing her head, Henrietta dashed to Joseph's food, trying to grab his hand. Her efforts, unfortunately, were impeded by a statue pouncing on her with unnatural power, ending up sprawling up over the deck.
"I invited you to visit hell with me, yet this is what you give me"
"You are insane!"
At Carcassone there's the Romalia army, there's Louise, Tiffania, the Water Spirit Ondine Knights, as well as Saito....
The reason she left them in the dark about her visit to Gallia was because she did not want more trouble for them. If they heard of her coming alone to Lutece, they would have ignored all danger and rush to Lutece.
Turns out her decisions were all wrong.
Never would she imagine Joseph using such cruel tactics.... combining the power of void with destructive magic. Far far far from what Henrietta ever imagined.
"If I can do it, I would surely like to become insane. At least you're happier while insane." Joseph mumbled with a self-deprecating voice and threw the "fire jewel" off the vessel. Prepared, a stone statue caught the "fire jewel" and flew off in the distance.
Henrietta felt her heart fill with black despair. At least let me go insane" As if rejecting temptation from within, Henrietta yelled "Run! Everyone! Run!"
Expectations of the dual use fleet were suddenly replaced with a fireball of a size unseen before. Both camps along the Lelion river were silent.
The ball of flames rose like the sun, then disappeared in front of their eyes.
The couple dozen of war vessels vanished like a magic trick without a trace. Even the smartest person will have to spend half a minute of time to catch up that they were burn to ashes.
Unable to perceive the events, the entire army stood dumbly watching the empty sky as if expecting the fleet to come back anytime soon. A couple minutes later, only when an even more gigantic ball of fire appeared, removing the remnants of what was the dual use fleet, did the panic started to spread.
Both soldiers of Romalia and Gallia camps started to scurry like ants from an anthill.
Enemies? Allies? For both sides, this question isn't exactly important anymore. Natural instincts of fear occupied both armies.
But where could they run to? Attempting to outrun an expanding fireball of 10 miles radius, no matter how you look at it, is an impossible feat.
"What is that...."
In the middle of scurrying soldiers, Saito choked, stunned.
The Water Spirit Ondine Knights carried slight rigid smiles. Something as unrealistic as this could only be taken as a joke.
Louise shook Saito's shoulders back and forth. "It's void! That's Gallia's void! I'm sure of it!"
"There's a spell like this? Just like the sun itself falling...." Louise slapped the dumbfound Saito's face.
"Get a hold of yourself! Things have already turned out like this! Just run!"
Hearing Louise's words, finally waking from their trance, the teens began running.
"Run! Saito!" Exactly that moment, with a whoosh, a blue shadow dropped down and grabbed both Saito and Louise, just to take off again.
Looking below them, Saito cried out "Oi! You're only saving us? What about everyone else?"
"They won't make it anyway! Chirp!" Slipheed cried back. True. Magic or not, escaping from the grasps of such a gigantic fireball is impossible.
"That.... is the release of elven magic! Probably an explosion of a 'fire jewel'! With human magic, there is nothing you can do! Chirp!" Slipheed cried with an anxious voice.
"What do we do?"
"Only you are capable of stopping that person! Even if sister won't be able to do a thing!"
Using the powers of her vision, Slipheed began searching the skies. With eyes far exceeding the ability of human eyes, Slipheed discovered a lone vessel at the northeast direction.
Not sure if the intentions of Slipheed were understood in the midst of the chaos, Paladins riding pegasi also began flying.
Leading the pegasuses, carrying a void user in her claws, Slipheed flew at top speed in the direction of Joseph.
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