Zero no Tsukaima:Volume17 Chapter4
Chapter 4: Sulpice
Saito and company divided into three groups, each heading towards the three paths leading away from Tristain to search for Louise.
First was Rolan Street, from La Vallière to Germania. The other path was Gryphon Street, forking out to La Rochelle.
The last route was Vell-El Street, along the shoreline to Gallia.
Kirche and Colbert went along Rolan Street to Germania while Gimli and Reynald walked along Gryphon Street.
On the other hand, the path through Des Ornières was thought to the most likely path that was taken, so Saito, Siesta, Guiche, Malicorne and Tiffania took it. If Louise did not want to go to Tristain... Everyone thought that she might be on this street.
Henrietta expressed her hopes that they return in a fortnight. If they failed... they must hurry back to Tristain.
On the morning of the eighth day after losing Louise's trail, Saito and company had already ridden out to search. Since they rode out at full speed, they went past Des Ornières and reached the first town past it with an inn by afternoon. Of course, it was also where Louise had stayed before, but Saito and Co. did not know that.
It was a tiny town so they were able to find a suitable place to stay immediately. However, there was not any news of Louise there.
"Louise didn't come here, did she...?"
While Guiche was saying that, Tiffania pointed to an inn and said, "There's another inn there."
It was a dilapidated wooden hut made out as an inn. Siesta shook her head and said, "I can't imagine how Miss Louise would want to stay in such a place."
"Yeah, it's easy to see why," while saying that, Malicorne stretched his hands towards Tiffania's breasts. Shrieking in surprise, Tiffania jumped back and glared maliciously at Malicorne.
"Y-You'll get scolded by your girlfriend!"
"That's fine, let her rant all she wants, she already takes me as a sand bag anyway. Piggy, piggy, that's how she calls me. Piggy, piggy, hovering forwardly..."
Malicorne approached Tiffania slowly. Tiffania looked as if she wanted to cry.
Siesta used a frying pan to whack Malicorne's head. Bam, bam, bam... until Malicorne laid on the ground rolling his eyes.
Zoning all of those out, Saito just looked at the wooden hut. If it was the normal Louise, she couldn't have lived there, right. But the Louise now... isn't the "normal" Louise.
"Hey, hey!" Seeing Saito advancing slowly towards that inn, Guiche tried to stop him.
"Let's just give it a shot."
Seeing the mantle-wearing Saito, the customers in the inn bar turned to look at him. The scent of cheap beer, burnt meat, and the odor of men mixed around the bar so much that it was a little revolting. Apart from those, there was a hint of cigarettes and pipe around.
The innkeeper, who was heating a tea-colored beer, glanced at Saito for a while before turning away.
"I'd like to ask if there was a petite noble girl who came here just a few days ago?"
However, the innkeeper answered with a shake of his head.
"Saito, let's go," Guiche was saying, but Saito sat on a chair and placed one gold coin on the counter. Glancing at the gold coin, the innkeeper said,"What would you like?"
"No... I'm just saying that if you know anything, this thing's yours." Saito said, troubled.
The innkeeper silently put down a beer bottle and said, "My job doesn't include being a tourist guide and finding missing people."
Saying that, the bar was filled with laughter. Saito sighed, took the bottle and finished the beer in one gulp.
"Let's go." Saito stood.
"Wait." The innkeeper called out to Saito who was leaving.
"The girl you're looking for. Is she this tall, a pink-hair-amber-eye petite noble girl?"
"Yes! That's her!" Saito unconsciously moved towards the counter.
"If that was her, she stayed here for a while before."
"Is this true?"
"Lying doesn't pay."
"Did she say anything?"
"Nothing. Everyday she locked herself up in the room. Even I couldn't stand it anymore. She left when I told her that this wasn't a place for nobles to say. That was about 3 or 4 days ago."
"Do you know where did she go?"
"This, I have no idea."
Saito thanked the innkeeper. Just as he was about to leave the inn, the innkeeper's voice carried from behind.
"You're the first noble to drink my beer, you know."
Saito turned back and said while clutching his mantle, "Even with this, I still can't look like a noble. I guess that's why she left."
Everybody gathered around Saito who just exited the inn.
"Louise seems to have stayed here before."
"Oh! However, why would it be such a horrible place..."
"Maybe she ran out of money." Even if he was saying like that, but he still can understand how Louise felt. The shock that she experienced was enough to let her think that the place that she was living in does not matter at all.
"It seems that choosing this route was right after all, let's continue quickly. Ah, right, use your owl to notify the others."
It was originally discussed that once one of them found Louise's trails, they should immediately use an owl to tell the others about it. They prepared an carrier owl that can carry messages to people with the corresponding magic talisman. Saito roughly outlined their situation in the letter and sent it to Kirche and Colbert. He tied the letter to the owl's leg and let go of it. The owl flew away with a flap of its wings.
"Riding from here for half a day, there will be a town called Sulpice.", said Malicorne.
"It's quite a big town." Guiche nodded.
"Okay, let's go there next."
Along the way, they changed many horses. By the time they reached Sulpice at 3.00 a.m., they were already exhausted. It's no wonder that they were so tired as they barely slept during the two-day journey.
"Let's just sleep first. No one can go too long without any sleep."
Sulpice was located on a street commonly found in Halkeginia, filled with inns and thousands of people. Not only hotels, all kinds of goods gathered here from around the land. There was a market in the town square everyday, making it a very lively place. However, at that time around, there were not many people on the streets.
There were burning torches everywhere, illuminating streets that looked quite unsafe.
Even though there were about 20 hotels on the street, along with smaller residential houses, and wooden inns in the alleys, there were quite a large amount of hotels in the town. Nights in Tristain were always pitch-black, but this town had completely immersed itself in the shadows.
This darkness really did not help in finding Louise.
"You're right. Let's take a rest first. We'll search the hotels for Louise in the morning."
Saito and Company rushed to the nearest hotel. Even though it has the exaggerating name "Noble Feathers Inn", it was quite small inside and there was not much grandeur. However, as everybody was dead beat, they just simply chose two rooms, separating the males and females, before falling asleep soundly.
Even though he had climbed into his bed, Saito still couldn't fall asleep. Despite being extremely happy as he had found a clue about Louise whereabouts, could he really find her?
Putting that aside, once he found her, what if Louise didn't want to forgive him?
Until now, even if she was extremely angry, she had never left his side.
What should I do if she doesn't forgive me?
Saito just couldn't sleep no matter what, so he walked downstairs. There was no one in the bar, only light from the candles illuminating the surroundings. Taking a beer bottle from the rack, he placed one gold coin on the counter.
Saito started to drink beer gloomily alone.
As he was drinking, there was footsteps upstairs. Lifting his head, it was Guiche. He took a glass from the rack and started drinking himself.
"Can't sleep?" Asked Guiche. Saito nodded.
"However, what was Louise trying to do? Really, that willful Louise wanting to live alone is impossible. Maybe she went to some monastery, sneaked into some rich guy's place or even become some other guy's lover?"
Saito's face darkened. He muttered "Stop it. You really are a hypocrite! Having affairs yourself but can't stand the notion of others doing the same thing."
Hearing this, Guiche put on a troubled face.
"I'm just joking. Anyhow, what really happened?"
"Hey, Guiche... really what kind of person am I? ...I really like Louise very much, but I just can't resist the charms of other girls..."
Seeing Saito saying that while holding his head in his hands, Guiche just simply said, "Isn't that normal?"
"That's for you to say..."
"Not only me, aren't you the same? That's why you kissed some noble girl right? This isn't wrong or right, you're just someone like that. What are you so upset about?"
Saito, hearing this, still shook his head.
"I-if it was like that, didn't I become a liar... so many times that I've said that I only like you (Louise)..."
"You're supposed to think like that when you're saying that. I'm the same, it's not a lie. No matter the time, I always felt that I was true to heart then. It's something like 'You're the most important!'"
"But isn't this simply an excuse?"
"Excuse?! Hey,hey, don't say such stupid things. How many charming women are there out there in the world? Our feelings for them are true. You're saying that this is an excuse? No! Facing such powerful charm, we're powerless to resist. It's just that simple."
Speaking to Saito, who was still hugging his head, Guiche said, "Be more truthful to yourself."
"Hah? I'm very truthful! Truthful enough to be troubled by this!"
"Let me say this straight. You do not get yourself troubled over being powerless to womanly charms. Just guarantee this. All you need to be troubled is only one thing. And that is not wanting to be hated by Louise."
Saito's face turned pasty. He sobered up immediately. Guiche has hit the bull's eye.
"Am I right? Somewhere in your heart is thinking 'oh, that's completely the point', yeah? How to justify your actions, and more importantly how to let Louise forgive you, you're thinking hard about these, right?"
"There's nothing like that! How did it turn out this way!" Saito yelled while banging the table. Guiche turned serious.
"That's because I'm like that. Even though I'm a bit strange, but I'm very sensitive towards the charms of women. Once I've seen a beautiful woman, I'll lose myself in her... but even though it's me, I know that I have a problem. I already have Montmorency, don't I? You may think that I am that daft and carefree, but it isn't so. I'm also very troubled."
Saying this, Guiche finished the beer in one gulp. Like a started engine, he started to speak more forcefully.
"That's why for some time, I stopped associating myself with beautiful women. Of course, I did it perfectly. When was it... it's before I met you, let's leave it at that. At that time, I kept myself to Montmorency... even when there was a beautiful woman walking by, I just thought, 'Yeah, she's very pretty.' That's it. Nothing said, nothing done. Days gone by just doing that."
Saito adjusted his pose and listened attentively to Guiche.
"However, that was unnatural. The spark in my soul started to wither... even talking to Montmorency was taken to be granted. At last, she even told me, "You said the same thing yesterday!" I started to think, isn't this something very 'unnatural'! The spark in my soul started to disappear."
Guiche placed his hands onto Saito's shoulders.
"Where do you actually feel the 'charm'?"
"Eh? eh, eh?"
"Where do you think the 'charm' you feel in charming women is?"
"I-in the h-heart?"
"Yes! It's your heart! However, who is the one who creates it? It's God! The God in your heart created it! Even the charming women are created by God! What's wrong with praising them? If feeling that something beautiful is beautiful was a crime, then go condemn God! Even if it were so, I'm still a devout Brimir follower. I'll never do anything against the edict of God. And that why I'll follow the edict of God."
"So, you just simply hook yourself up with any girl with charm?"
"I think you can just go kill yourself."
"What are you talking about!"
"Have you ever thought about Montmorency's feelings? For every one time you hit on other girls, she'll get hurt. Isn't this the reason why you got dumped before?"
"Of course. This is just my theory, not hers."
Guiche stopped abruptly and looked at Saito.
"And that's why I treated Montmorency with 10 times more care than other girls. But really, even if it was so, it's not enough. But it's better than doing nothing at all. The Montmorency now will forgive me no matter what I do!"
"What kind of convoluted theory is that!"
"Hey hey, I think that's 100 times better than you fretting over something like 'why would I feel the charms of other girls?' This is unavoidable, isn't it? No, even you know it, don't you? Even if it were so, did you treat Louise gently?"
"Y-yeah, I did!" Saito exclaimed.
"Louise sure didn't felt that way. Your 'gentleness' didn't make the cut. And that's why she left you."
Saito unconsciously started to curl himself up. Thinking back, wasn't trying to be gentle with her just ended up with him doing some strange things? He just said something like Lemon-chan, little kitty... Louise did say that she likes a romantic guy, but what he was doing was...
"Am I a pervert?"
At that time, someone spoke behind him.
"Nope. You're on the level of a 'super-pervert.'"
He came, wearing tidy pajamas and in hand holding a pillow.
"Walking around the hotel canteen with your pajamas." Saito was speaking like some tourist guide.
"What are you talking about? I was woken by your ruckus, you know." Malicorne grunted. "Nn, Guiche seems to be saying that 'you weren't gentle with her' and that's why Louise left your side, right? I don't think so. From what I know, Saito, you did quite well."
"Really? I don't see anything..." Guiche expressed his doubt.
"He did good! You see, Guiche, the girl we're talking about here is Louise. Really, she's quite pretty, I know that. But what does she have? That figure! Slim and thin, she's like a washing board isn't she? She isn't a child anymore, and no 17-year-old girl looks like that, there's no one at all. Even so, if she was a little meek, she would be cute. But, what's with her? For every two sentences there's one with 'dog'. No matter how Saito endeavors he's still a dog. Heck, she should look in the mirror before saying those things. I'll just skip describing her personality."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah..." Guiche started to nod.
"Even with that Louise, Saito still treats her with care. Saying sweet things like she's the cutest Lemon-chan. I can swear that Louise doesn't deserve your treatment."
"Say... you talking about another guy's lover like that..."
"I'm just saying! I'm always thinking, where does Louise's attraction lie? Saito, there's nothing to be ashamed of. You're not just any hero.(T/L:I'm assuming there's a mistranslation of Chinese here). No matter which girl she is, you'll easily get her. Even so, you've amazingly set your eyes only on Louise. Or even, unbelievably so. You just slightly looked at someone else and she left the house. That woman, who does she think she is?"
Saito banged the table and stood up, gripping Malicorne's collar.
"Fool! What do you know about Louise's cuteness! You don't know anything!"
"Eh? Where is she cute?"
"Even though normally her temper is really bad... O-o-on the bed, she's really cute. She becomes very meek and docile, she'll hear anything I say." Saito said with a trembling voice.
"A-ah, didn't you hear about that Lemon-chan thing?"
"I did hear about it."
"Normally she wouldn't say it, right?"(T/L: not sure about the "she" there)
"Yeah, she wouldn't say it."
"So, that's the thing."
Saito then spoke dreamily, "Louise, in the morning she's just as you said... arrogant and willful... but, at night she's different... even if she says something like I don't care, her eyes burn with anticipation. She'll cover herself with the sheet until just under the nose and look at me with shaky eyes, waiting for me to do something. Also, even if she looks like a washboard, she has very womanly figure. Her slim waist, the curve of her back is like it's carved by God. Even though all is small, except for her breasts the proportions are still quite perfect. It's hard to describe, but it's amazing. Aaaaaaah! I feel like doing it again and again!"
"You've done it?"
"N-not yet... "
"Pueh, that's a shame."
Because Malicorne leaked out laughter, Saito grabbed his collar again.
"You also haven't done it, have you! In any case, aren't you the one who keeps meddling!"
While making up a ruckus, they felt a cold gaze from behind.
Turning around, Tiffania and Siesta were standing behind them, glaring them with eyes of ice.
Malicorne coughed, and bowed towards Tiffania.
"Ladies, please state your thoughts."
"Saito's useless. Poor Louise," said Siesta coldly. "If you clearly experienced her charms, why did you still have an affair?"
"Ladies, please state the details of your thoughts."
"Saito's a piece of junk."
Saito hugged his head and groaned. Malicorne stepped on his head viciously.
"I say, I'm really a pervert! Louise was sure to leave if I'm like this!"
While being thrown to the rack and stepped on by Malicorne, Saito said sadly, "To such a cute Louise, what did I do to her..."
Thinking like this, what he had done would never be forgiven.
Tiffania then said angrily, "Saito, if the Louise you like so much had done the same thing to you, what would you think? What if Louise kissed another man? I think Saito would be really sad!"
It really was so. Saito was at a loss of words.
"You’re not supposed to apologize to me, but to Louise!"
Tiffania then turned to Guiche and Malicorne, "The both of you too! Simply stating your theories! What do you take girls to be?!"
Under the scoldings of the normally gentle Tiffania, Guiche and Malicorne started to mumble, "Sorry."
"Tiffania, you’re amazing..." Seeing Tiffania like this made Siesta's eyes teary.
"...Ah. Even though I’m a little embarrassed, I can’t just let it past. Because men are just too willful... Saito."
Saito sat straight at Tiffania's call.
“Say, Louise listening to whatever you say... accepting those strange words but she didn’t get angry at all, right? That prideful Louise actually did that, right? I think that’s because she has trust in you, isn’t it so?"
His passion doused, Saito lowered his head. He never saw her get angry, but hearing of it from someone else, Louise’s pride and her token of heart popped up in his mind.
"Don’t think about how to get her forgiveness anymore."
Looking at the sunlight streaming in from the window, Saito thought so.
"I’ll try my best to apologize. Whether if she would forgive me or not, that’s something to think about later."
He readily put his foot down on this. However, not knowing of his new found determination, Malicorne continued to step on Saito’s head.
"Your face looks like you've understood everything. You’re really a pervert." Always taking advantage of the weak, Malicorne said so.
On the other side, on this morning.
At dawn, two riders appeared at the entrance to Sulpice. With their headscarves and grey robes, they looked like monks.
However, their conversation was nothing of the religious sort.
"Seriously! Brother Damien (T/L:the original is "big bro Damien" not sure which honorifics) is way too greedy. One hundred thousand Ecus! Isn’t that way more than enough? He actually wanted two hundred thousand Ecus..."
The shorter man said, troubled. Under the heavy headscarf was a young man with a face full of curiosity.
It’s actually Bleu, who tried to kill Saito a few days ago.(T/L: Bleu original name is 多德)
"Our plan requires money, don’t you know that already?” On his side, the big brother gruffly said. He looks heavily muscled, unlike most mages. Even with the cape, his muscled body looks as if someone stuffed balloons under his skin.
"But, brother Jack, I think Damien rushed things a little. Isn’t it just fine before, even if we just got one hundred thousand Ecus, it’s still quite exceptional.”
"We just have to get more from those guys, anyways. Brother Damien’s bargaining skills are amazing! How was that target that gave you trouble?"
"Right! That fellow! His unexpected strength really scared me for a bit. He seems to be called Hiragi? Or Hirago... anyway his name is something like that. His sword skills gave me quite a tough time. Even if he was just some hero, he didn’t seems to be bluffing.”
"That Hiragi is someone we must remove for the client. In any case, the only ones that can kill him is us. Our client will surely be convinced.”
“Is it so...”
Bleu still looked glum. Jack glanced at his brother and said, “Let's put that aside now, where’s the inn Josette's staying in?”
“Hey! You didn’t forget the name of the inn, did you? The only person who can read Josette’s letter is you, you know! Think hard!”
“W-wait for a while!” Bleu’s face started to turn pasty.
“N-Nn... this... I still remembered it on the way here! It’s something with the sea, land, river... or some name like that...”
“You! Would anyone ever forget the name of the rendezvous?! If so, why didn’t you let us see it before you threw it!”
"Brother, weren't you the one who asked me to throw away everything that may become information!”
Jack shook his head, shaking Bleu’s head vigorously.
“You try telling this to Damien, who’s bargaining in Tristain, let's see what he will do to you.”
Hearing this, Bleu's face turned even more green.
“...L-let me off...”
“So quickly go find out where Josette is staying!”
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