Zero no Tsukaima:Volume1 Story1 Chapter3
Chapter Three: Legend
Mister Colbert, a teacher who had dedicated twenty years to Tristain Magic Academy, was by now a mainstay figure.
His Runic name was "Colbert the Flame Snake," and, naturally, he was a mage specializing in fire magic.
Since the Springtime Familiar Summoning a few days ago, he'd been concerned about the commoner boy that Louise had summoned. Or more precisely, he'd been concerned with nothing but the runes that had appeared on that boy's left hand. They were rare runes indeed, so for the last few nights, he'd confined himself to the library and had been researching various texts.
Tristain Magic Academy's library was located in the same tower as the dining hall. The bookshelves were unbelievably tall, about thirty mails in height, and the way they were lined up against the walls was a spectacle to behold. And rightly so, since this place was crammed with the history of everything following the creation of the new world in Halkeginia by the Founder Brimir.
Colbert was now in a section called "Fenrir's Library" that only teachers were allowed entry to.
The ordinary bookshelves, to which students had free access, didn't hold any answers that could satisfy him.
He Levitated up to an out-of-reach shelf and scanned it intently for a particular book. His efforts were rewarded as his gaze fell upon the title of the book. It was a very old text which held descriptions of the familiars that had been used by the Founder Brimir.
His attention was focused on one particular paragraph written in it, and as he read on in fascination, his eyes grew wide. He compared the book with the sketch he'd made of the runes on the boy's left hand.
"Ah!" he gasped in surprise. At that moment, he lost the concentration necessary for maintaining his Levitation and almost fell to the floor.
Holding the book in his arms, he hurriedly descended to the floor and ran out of the library.
His destination was the Headmaster's Office.
The Headmaster's Office was located on the topmost floor of the tower. Sir Osmond, the current Headmaster of Tristain Magic Academy, was sitting with his elbows propped on his elegantly built sequoia desk, looking unbearably bored as he shook his white beard and hair.
Idly plucking out nose hairs, he slowly murmured "hrm" and pulled open a desk drawer. From inside he procured a smoking pipe. Miss Longueville, the secretary who had been writing something at the other desk placed to the side of the room, waved her feather quill.
The pipe floated into the air and landed in Miss Longueville's palm. Sir Osmond muttered dejectedly, "Is it fun taking away an old man's little pleasures? Miss, um..."
"Managing your health is also part of my job, Old Osmond."
Sir Osmond stood up from his chair and walked up to the cool and collected Miss Longueville. Stopping behind the seated lady, he closed his eyes, his expression grave.
"If the days keep passing by so peacefully, figuring out how to spend time is going to become a rather big problem."
The wrinkles etched deeply on Osmond's face were only hints to the history of his life. People guessed him to be a hundred years old, even three hundred. But his true age no one really knew. It's possible he himself didn't remember anymore either.
"Old Osmond," Miss Longueville spoke up without taking her eyes off the feather quill that was scribbling away on the parchment.
"What is it? Miss..."
"Please stop saying you have nothing to do as an excuse to touch my bottom."
Sir Osmond opened his mouth slightly and began walking around in tottering steps.
"Please also refrain from pretending to be senile whenever a situation goes bad," Longueville added calmly. Sir Osmond sighed deeply. It was the sigh of a man bearing the weight of many troubles.
"Where do you think the ultimate truth may be? Haven't you ever wondered that? Miss..."
"Wherever it is, I assure you, it's not underneath my skirt, so please stop sneaking your mouse under the desk."
Sir Osmond's face fell, and he murmured sadly, "Mótsognir."
From under Miss Longueville's desk scurried out a little mouse. It dashed up Osmond's leg and perched on his shoulder, twitching its tiny head. He fished out some nuts from a pocket and held one out to the mouse.
"Chuchu," the mouse chittered, apparently pleased.
"You're my only truly trustworthy friend, Mótsognir."
The mouse began nibbling on the nut. It disappeared quickly, and the mouse chittered "chuchu" once more.
"Ah, yes, yes. You want more? Very well, I shall give you more. But first, I would ask that you report back, Mótsognir."
"I see. White and plain white too, hrm. But Miss Longueville should really stick to black. Wouldn't you agree, my cute Mótsognir?"
Miss Longueville's eyebrows twitched.
"What is it?"
"The next time you do that, I'm reporting it to the palace."
"Kah! Do you think I could be Headmaster of this Academy if I was scared of the palace all the time?!"
Sir Osmond flashed his eyes wide and yelled angrily. It was an impressive display, completely unexpected of a frail-looking old man.
"Don't get all prissy just because I peeked at your underwear! At this rate, you'll never get married! Haa~~ To be young again~~ Miss..."
Old Osmond began stroking Miss Longueville's bottom without hesitation.
Miss Longueville stood up and wordlessly kicked her boss around.
"Sorry. Stop. Ow. I won't do it anymore. Really."
Old Osmond covered his head and cowered. Miss Longueville breathed heavily as she continued kicking Osmond.
"Ack! How can you! Treat a senior! In this way! Hey! Ouch!"
This "peaceful" moment was interrupted by a sudden intrusion.
The door was thrown open with a slam, and Colbert rushed inside.
"What is it?"
Miss Longueville was back at her desk, sitting there as if nothing had happened. Sir Osmond had his arms behind him, and turned to face the visitor with a serious expression. That was certainly a quick recovery.
"I-I-I have some big news!"
"There is no such thing as big news. Everything is but a collection of small events."
"P-P-Please take a look at this!"
Colbert handed Osmond the book he had been reading just before.
"This is "The Familiars of the Founder Brimir," is it not? Are you still going around digging up old literature like this? If you have time to do that, why don't you think up some better ways of collecting school fees from those slack nobles? Mister, err... What was it again?"
Sir Osmond cocked his head.
"It's Colbert! You forgot?!"
"Right, right. Now I remember. It's just that you talked so fast I never really caught it. So, Colby, what is it about this book?"
"Please take a look at this also!"
Colbert then handed him the sketch of the runes on Saito's left hand.
The moment he saw that, Osmond's expression changed. His eyes took on a solemn light.
"Miss Longueville, would you please excuse us?"
Miss Longueville stood up and left the room. Osmond spoke only after he confirmed she was properly outside.
"Explain this to me with every detail, Mister Colbert..."
It was just before lunchtime when they finally finished tidying up the classroom that Louise had made a mess of. As punishment, using magic to clean up had been forbidden, so it had taken considerable time to finish. But then again, Louise couldn't really use most spells anyway, so it hadn't affected her much. Mrs. Chevreuse had regained consciousness two hours after she'd been caught in the explosion, and while she did return to class, she didn't give any more lectures on Transmutation for that entire day. It would seem she had been rather traumatized.
Having finished tidying up, Louise and Saito headed to the dining hall for lunch. Along the way, Saito made fun of Louise over and over. After all, it was Louise's fault that he'd had to do all that manual labor just now. It was Saito who had carried over the new window glass. It was Saito who had moved all the heavy desks. And of course, it was Saito who had wiped the soot-blackened classroom clean with a cloth. All Louise had done was wipe down a few desks, and reluctantly at that.
I have to sleep on the floor. The food sucks. And on top of that, I have to wash underwear. (Not that I've done it yet.)
With all that mistreatment from Louise, there was no way Saito could keep quiet about her new-found weakness. He teased Louise like there was no tomorrow.
"'Louise the Zero.' Now I get it~ That's just perfect~ Rate of success is zero. But a noble despite that... wonderful!"
Louise didn't say a word, which only roused Saito further.
"Transmutation! Ah! Kaboom! Transmutation! Ah! Kaboom! Oh, I screwed up! Only 'the Zero' screws this up!"
Saito danced circles around Louise like this, raising his arms every time he said "kaboom," mimicking an explosion. It was quite a detailed performance.
"Mistress Louise. This humble familiar has made a song for you."
Saito said, bowing his head respectfully. Of course, it was an empty gesture, a complete mockery.
Louise's eyebrow was twitching furiously. She was on the verge of blowing her top, but Saito was too absorbed in his excitement to notice that.
"Why don't you go ahead and sing it?"
"'Lou-Lou-Louise is such a hopeless case~ A magician that can't even use magic! But that's all right! Because she's a girl...'"
Saito held his stomach as he burst into laughter.
He was laughing at his own joke. Perhaps he was just as hopeless.
When they arrived at the dining hall, Saito pulled out a chair for Louise.
"Just remember, my lady. Don't cast any spells on the food. Just imagine the mess if it exploded."
Louise took the seat wordlessly. Saito was feeling thoroughly satisfied, having got one back on the rude and arrogant Louise with his putdowns. Even the usual excuse for a meal didn't bother him as much.
While the meager soup and bread he got served was still painful to behold, it was a pretty even trade-off for getting to laugh so much earlier.
"Right then, Founder someone-or-another. Your Highness the Queen. Thanks a bunch for the crappy food. Itadakimasu."
As he went to eat, the plate was snatched away.
"What are you doing?!"
Louise's shoulders shook angrily, as did her voice. Somehow, she'd managed to reign in her overflowing fury until they'd arrived at the dining table. Probably so that she could bestow an appropriate punishment.
"Th-th-th-this familiar, how dare it say s-s-s-such things to its m-m-m-master?"
Saito realized he'd gone too far.
"I'm sorry! I won't say any more, so give me back my food!"
"No! Absolu~~tely not!"
Louise screamed, twisting her cute face in rage.
"One meal cut for every time you've said 'Zero!' And that's final! No exceptions!"
In the end, Saito left the dining hall without having eaten anything.
I shouldn't have been so sarcastic about it... But it was too late to regret.
"Haa, I'm starving... Damn..."
Clutching his stomach, he leaned one hand on a wall.
"Is something the matter?"
He turned around to see a normal-looking girl in a maid's outfit carrying a big silver tray, looking concernedly at him. Her black hair was neatly adorned with a headband, and her freckles were cute.
"It's nothing..." Saito waved his left hand.
"Are you by any chance the one who became Miss Vallière's familiar...?"
It seemed she noticed the runes inscribed on Saito's left hand.
"You know me?"
"A little. It's become quite a rumor, you know, that a commoner was called by the summoning magic."
The girl smiled sweetly. It was the first carefree smile Saito had seen since he came to this world.
"Are you a mage too?" Saito asked.
"Oh no, not me. I'm a commoner, just like you. I serve the nobility here by doing domestic duties."
I'm actually from Earth and not a commoner, but it's probably useless to try to explain. Saito decided to just introduce himself.
"I see... Well, I'm Hiraga Saito. Nice to meet you."
"That's quite a strange name... I'm Siesta."
At that point, Saito's stomach grumbled.
"You must be hungry."
"Please follow me this way."
Siesta walked off.
Saito was led to the kitchen located at the rear of the dining hall. Lots of large pots and ovens were lined up inside. Cooks and other maids like Siesta were busily preparing food.
"Please wait one moment, okay?"
Siesta had Saito sit on a chair placed in the corner of the kitchen and disappeared hastily into the back.
She soon returned with a bowl full of warm stew in her hands.
"This is some stew made from the leftovers of the nobles' meals. If you don't mind, please eat this."
"Yes. It's only the staff meal though..."
Her kindness was touching. This was completely different from the soup that Louise had given him. He scooped up a spoonful and brought it to his mouth. Delicious. I'm going to cry.
"This is so good~!"
"That's great. There's plenty if you want seconds, so take your time."
Saito ate the stew as if in a dream. Siesta stood watching him, smiling sweetly all the while.
"Weren't you given anything to eat?"
"That girl went and took my plate away when I called her 'Louise the Zero.'"
"Oh no! You shouldn't say things like that to nobles!"
"Noble schnoble. Getting all high-horsed just because they can use magic."
"You must have a lot of courage..."
Siesta looked at Saito with an expression of amazement.
Saito gave Siesta back the empty bowl.
"That was really tasty. Thanks."
"I'm glad you liked it. Feel free to visit whenever you're hungry. If you don't mind having whatever we're having, I'd be happy to share."
Such a kind offer. Saito was even more touched.
Saito suddenly broke out in tears, surprising Siesta.
"Wh-what's the matter?"
"No... It's just that it's the first time anyone's been so nice to me since I came here... I got a bit emotional..."
"Th-that's an exaggeration."
"It's not. If there's anything I can do for you, just tell me. I'll lend a hand."
He wasn't particularly interested in something like washing Louise's underwear, and would much rather help this girl instead.
"In that case, please help me serve the desserts."
Siesta said with a smile.
"Okay," Saito nodded enthusiastically.
Lots of dessert cakes were arranged on a big silver tray. Saito carried the tray, while Siesta picked up the cakes with tongs and served them one by one to the nobles.
One mage in particular stood out. He had curly blonde hair, wore a frill-trimmed shirt, and looked rather self-important. There was a rose stuck in his shirt pocket too. His friends around him were poking all kinds of fun at him.
"So, Guiche! Who're you going out with now?"
"Who's your lover, Guiche?"
So it seemed the prideful mage was called Guiche. He gently raised a finger to his lips.
"'Go out?' I hold no one woman in such special regard. After all, a rose blooms for the pleasure of many."
This guy's likening himself to a rose. An egotist like this is far beyond help. He was the kind of narcissist that made onlookers more embarrassed than himself. Saito glared at him, hoping he'd just die.
At that moment, something fell out of Guiche's pocket. It was a small glass bottle with a purple liquid swirling inside it.
I don't really like this guy, but I should still tell him he dropped something.
Saito called out to Guiche.
"Oi, you dropped this bottle from your pocket."
But Guiche didn't turn around. This guy's ignoring me!
Saito passed the tray to Siesta and bent down to pick up the bottle.
"I said, you dropped something, playboy."
He placed it on the table. Guiche shot Saito a dirty look, and pushed the bottle away.
"This is not mine. What are you talking about?"
Guiche's friends then realized where the bottle came from and raised a loud commotion.
"Ooh? That perfume, isn't that Montmorency's?"
"Yeah! That vivid purple color is the perfume that Montmorency only mixes for herself!"
"So to have something like that fall out of your pocket, Guiche, means that you're going out with Montmorency now, right?"
"No wait, listen to me. I'm saying this for the sake of her reputation, but..."
As Guiche was about to say more, a girl, who wore a brown cloak and had been sitting at the table behind them, stood up and walked over to Guiche's seat.
She was a cute girl sporting chestnut-colored hair. According to the color of the cloak she wore, she was a first year student.
And with that, she started crying uncontrollably.
"I knew it, you and Miss Montmorency are..."
"They’re misunderstanding. Katie, listen. The only person I hold in my heart is you..."
But the girl called Katie slapped Guiche's face as hard as she could.
"That perfume you dropped from your pocket is more than enough proof! Goodbye!"
Guiche rubbed his cheek.
At this point, a girl with tightly rolled hair stood up from a seat further down the table. Saito recognized her as the girl who'd had the argument with Louise when he was first summoned to this world.
Wearing a severe expression, she approached Guiche with quick clipped steps.
"Montmorency. This is a misunderstanding. All I did was accompany her on a long trip to the forests of La Rochelle..." Guiche said, shaking his head. While he was pretending to remain composed, a drop of cold sweat ran down his forehead.
"Just as I thought! You've been making moves on that first year, haven't you?!"
"Please, Montmorency the Fragrance. Don't twist your rose-like face in anger like that. It saddens me to see it!"
Montmorency grabbed a bottle of wine that was on the table and poured its contents out audibly on Guiche's head.
She yelled and stormed off.
Silence fell upon the hall.
Guiche pulled out a handkerchief and slowly wiped his face. Shaking his head, he spoke dramatically.
"It would seem those ladies do not understand the meaning of a rose's existence."
Yeah, and you just keep trying that, Saito thought, as he took the tray back from Siesta and began walking off.
Guiche called him to a stop.
"Stop right there."
Guiche spun his body about on the chair and crossed his legs with a flourish. It gave Saito a headache to see such arrogance exude from every action.
"Thanks to you thoughtlessly picking up some bottle of perfume, the reputation of two ladies has been damaged. How will you take responsibility?"
Saito replied in an exasperated tone.
"Hey, it's your fault for two-timing."
Guiche's friends burst out laughing.
"Exactly, Guiche! It's your fault!"
Guiche's face flushed crimson.
"Listen, server. When you put the bottle of perfume on the table, I pretended not to know anything, didn't I? Would it have hurt to be a little bit tactful and just go along with it?"
"Whatever. Either way, your two-timing would've been blown anyway. And also, I'm not a server."
"Hmph... Ah, you are..."
Guiche snorted, as if looking down on Saito.
"You must be the commoner summoned by that "Louise the Zero." To have expected a noble's wits from a commoner was completely my mistake. You may leave."
Saito snapped then. Pretty boy or not, there was no way Saito was just going to stand there quietly taking all this from such a conceited narcissist. He couldn't help but make one inflammatory comment.
"Shut up you over-pretentious bastard. Why don't you go suck on roses for the rest of your life?"
Guiche's eyes narrowed.
"It would seem that you don't know the proper etiquette for addressing a noble."
"Unfortunately, I come from a world where there are no such people as nobles."
Saito raised his right hand and spoke imperiously, mimicking Guiche's actions.
"Very well. Then I shall teach you a lesson about respect. A perfect way to relieve some stress."
Guiche stood up.
Saito bared his teeth and growled. First, I didn't like this guy right from the start. Second, he's going out with two fairly cute girls - though neither are as cute as Louise. And last, he made a fool of me.
That's more than enough reason for me to fight. And while I'm at it, I'll hit him a couple more times on Louise's behalf. After all, she's still a girl!
"You wanna do it here?"
Saito said. Despite being taller than Saito, Guiche was the lanky type and looked rather weak. Playboys are said to be lacking both money and power. Saito wasn't particularly strong himself, but he didn't think he'd lose.
Guiche turned in the other direction.
"Are you running away?"
"Don't be stupid. I can't taint the dining table of nobles with the blood of a commoner, can I? I'll be waiting at Vestri Court. Come once you're finished delivering those cakes."
Looking excited, Guiche's friends stood up and followed him off.
One person remained though, as if to make sure Saito didn't run away himself.
Siesta gazed at Saito, her entire body quivering. Saito spoke with a grin.
"It's all right. There's no way I'll lose to that weakling. Some noble, huh?"
"You... You're going to get killed."
"If you truly anger a noble..."
Siesta dashed off in a hurry.
What was that about? Saito muttered. Is that guy really that strong?
Louise ran up to him from behind.
"Hey! What do you think you're doing?! I saw all that!"
"This is no time to be "yo"-ing me! How can you just go promising duels like it's no big deal?!"
"But that guy was really irritating me..."
Saito said indignantly.
Louise sighed and shrugged disappointedly.
"Apologize to him."
"If you don't want to be hurt, go and apologize. If you do it now, he might forgive you."
"Are you kidding! Why do I have to apologize?! He insulted me first! And besides, I was only being helpful..."
"Just do it."
Louise fixed Saito with a firm look.
"So stubborn... But you know what? You can't win. You'll be badly injured. Actually, you'll be lucky to come back alive with just injuries."
"I won't know that unless I try, right?"
"Listen, a commoner can never beat a mage!"
"So where's this Vestri Court?"
Saito walked off. The friend of Guiche's that had been watching Louise and Saito's exchange pointed with his chin.
"This way, commoner."
"Aaah, jeez! Really! Why does this familiar keep going off and doing stuff on its own?!"
With that, Louise chased after Saito.
Vestri Court was the central garden situated between the Wind and Fire elemental towers. Being located to the west, the Court didn't receive much sunshine, even in the middle of the day, but it was the perfect place for a duel.
Right now... the place was packed with people who had heard the rumors.
"Gentlemen! It's a duel!"
Guiche lifted his artificial rose high, eliciting a loud cheer from the crowd.
"Guiche is going to duel! His opponent is Louise's commoner!"
I have a name too y'know... Saito thought bitterly.
Waving his arms about, Guiche acknowledged the cheering.
And then, as if finally noticing Saito's presence there, he turned to face him.
Saito and Guiche stood in the middle of the Court, glaring intently at each other.
"First of all, I commend you for coming here instead of running away!" Guiche remarked in a sing-song voice, as he twirled his rose.
"Like anyone would run away!"
"Right then, let us begin," said Guiche.
Less talk, more action. Saito rushed forward. Fights are won by whoever gets in the first strike!
It's roughly ten paces to where Guiche is. I don't care much for nobles or mages; I'm just going to crush that arrogant nose of yours down to size!
Guiche watched Saito with a leisurely smile and flicked his rose.
A petal floated down as if dancing in the air...
And became the armor-clad shape of a female warrior.
Its height was about the same as a person’s, but it appeared to be constructed from some hard metal. Under the pale sunlight, its skin... its armor gleamed.
It stood stoically in Saito's way.
"Wh-what the heck is this?!"
"I am a mage, therefore I fight using magic. Surely you have no complaints?"
"I guess I forgot to mention earlier. My Runic name is "the Bronze." Guiche the Bronze. Accordingly, my bronze golem "Valkyrie" shall be your real opponent."
The warrior-shaped golem charged towards Saito.
Its right fist impacted heavily with Saito's stomach.
Saito groaned and collapsed to the ground. Not at all surprising, considering he'd been gut-punched by a bronze fist.
The golem looked down on Saito emotionlessly.
He couldn't stand up through the pain. I guess this is what it feels like to be hit by a pro boxer, he thought.
"What, over already?"
Guiche sounded dissatisfied. From the mass of people, Louise burst out.
"Oh, Louise! My bad. I'm just borrowing your familiar for a bit."
Louise shook her long hair and yelled angrily at Guiche.
"That's quite enough! And besides, dueling is strictly forbidden!"
"Only dueling between nobles is forbidden. Nobody has forbidden duels between commoners and nobles."
Louise was at a momentary loss for words.
"Th-that's because nothing like this has ever happened before..."
"Louise, do you like this commoner?"
Louise's face burned an angry scarlet.
"No! Don't be ridiculous! It's just that I won't put up with having my familiar beaten up before my eyes!"
"...Wh-who's being beaten up? I'm just fine."
Seeing Saito was up again, Louise practically screamed out his name.
"...Hehehe, you've finally called me by my name."
Louise was trembling.
"You understand now, right? A commoner can never beat a mage!"
"...I was a little careless, that's all. I'm all right, so step back."
Saito pushed Louise back.
"What's this? I didn't think you could stand up again... Maybe I went too easy on you?" said Guiche, provoking Saito further.
Saito walked slowly towards Guiche. Louise followed him and grabbed his shoulder.
"You need to stop! Idiot! Why are you still standing?"
He shook her hand off his shoulder.
"Because he pisses me off."
"He pisses you off? Look, there's no embarrassment in losing to a mage!"
"Shut up," Saito muttered as he kept taking unsteady steps forward.
"Really, you're starting to get on my nerves too... I know next to nothing about mages or nobles, but to me you're all the same bunch of ego-inflated brats. Just what's so brilliant about magic? Idiots."
Guiche watched Saito with a faint smile painted on his face.
"The more you try, the more pointless this becomes."
Saito's characteristic fighting spirit flared, and he uttered a short growl.
"That was nothing. Your little statue, it's too weak."
The smile fell away. The golem's right hand lashed out to strike Saito's face. He caught the blow square on the cheek and was knocked to the ground.
Blood dripped from his broken nose.
Trying to stem the blood flow, Saito was taken aback.
Crap... So this is a mage's power. I've been in a few fights here and there, but that punch was like nothing else I'd received before.
Despite that, he rose shakily to a stand. Guiche's golem mercilessly sent him flying once more with a kick.
He got up again. And was struck down again.
Over and over, the process was repeated.
The eighth punch connected with Saito's right arm. There was a sick snapping noise.
Unable to see out of his swollen shut left eye, he checked his arm with his right eye. It was bent at a wrong angle.
While Saito stared blankly at his arm, the golem came over and planted a foot on his face.
His head hit the earth hard, and he lost consciousness for a moment.
When he came to, he could see Louise's face framed by a backdrop of blue sky.
"Please. Just stop now."
Louise's hazel eyes were wet with tears.
Saito tried to speak, but the pain in his chest from the repeated blows was hard to overcome.
Regardless, he concentrated his willpower and managed to croak in a hoarse voice.
"...Are you crying?"
"I am not! Who would cry here? Anyway, this is enough. You did very well. I've never seen a commoner like you before."
His broken arm throbbed with agony. Saito grimaced.
"Of course it hurts! That's obvious! Just what were you thinking?"
Tears ran down Louise's face and fell on Saito's cheek.
"You're my familiar, understand? I'm not going to forgive you for any more stupid acts."
Guiche's voice called out to the pair.
"Are we quite done yet?"
"...Hold your horses. I'm just catching my breath."
Guiche smiled, and flicked his rose. This time, the petal transformed into a sword. Guiche grabbed it and threw it in Saito's direction. The blade point stabbed into the ground not too far from where Saito lay.
"If you're still willing to continue, then take that sword. If not, all you need to say is a simple "I'm sorry." Then I can just forgive you and be done with it."
"Don't insult him!"
Louise yelled, standing up. But Guiche gave no indication that he had heard her and kept talking.
"Understand? The sword. In other words, a weapon. It's the very least you commoners will need if you want to take revenge against us nobles. So as I said, if you're still up for it, take that sword."
Saito reached out for the blade with his right hand. But with that arm broken, he couldn't put much strength in his fingers.
His hand was stopped by Louise.
"No! There is absolutely no way I'm letting you do this! If you take that sword, Guiche won't show any mercy!"
"I can't go back to my world... Which means I'm stuck living in this one, right?" Saito muttered, almost to himself. He didn't look at Louise.
"That's right. So what about it?! Right now that doesn't matter!!"
Louise held his right hand tightly. Saito declared in a clear strong voice.
"I don't mind being a familiar... I can take sleeping on the floor... I don't care if the food sucks... Washing underwear? I'll do that too. It's not like I really have a choice."
Saito paused there and curled his left hand into a fist.
"I will not bow to anyone against my will!"
Drawing on his last reserves of strength, Saito forced himself to a stand. Pushing Louise aside, he grabbed the blade stuck in the ground with his left hand.
In that instant...
The runes inscribed on that hand began glowing brightly.
Let us change locations for a moment and return to the Headmaster's Office.
Mister Colbert was fervently explaining everything to Sir Osmond about the commoner boy that was summoned by Louise at the Springtime Familiar Summoning... About how he was concerned about the runes that had appeared on the boy's hand as proof of the contract between him and Louise... And that when he had gone to find out more...
"You reached the Founder Brimir's familiar Gandálfr?"
Osmond intently examined Colbert's sketch of the runes on Saito's left hand.
"Yes! The runes that appeared on that boy's left hand are exactly the same as the runes that were inscribed on the legendary familiar Gandálfr!"
"So, your conclusion?"
"That boy is Gandálfr! If this isn't big news, then what is, Old Osmond?"
Colbert stood up as he wiped his balding head with a handkerchief.
"Hrm... Certainly, the runes are the same. But for an ordinary commoner boy to become Gandálfr just by having the same runes... I wonder how that could've happened."
"What shall we do?"
"However, it is probably too early to be making definite claims."
Sir Osmond drummed his fingers on the desk.
There was a knock on the door.
"Who is it?"
From behind the door came Miss Longueville's voice.
"It's me, Old Osmond."
"What is it?"
"It seems there are some students dueling at Vestri Courts. It's causing quite a commotion. A few teachers have gone there to try and stop it, but their attempts are being impeded by the sheer number of students."
"For heaven's sake, there's nothing worse than nobles with too much free time in their hands. So, who's involved?"
"One of them is Guiche de Gramont."
"Ah, that idiot son of Gramont. Skirt-chasing must run in the family, considering his father's even more of a womanizer. I wouldn't be surprised if the boy knows every girl in school. And his opponent is?"
"...Well, it's not a mage. I've been told it's Miss Vallière's familiar."
Osmond and Colbert exchanged a look.
"The teachers are requesting to use the "Bell of Sleep" to stop the duel."
Osmond's eyes glinted like a hawk's.
"Ridiculous. There's no need to use such an important artifact just to stop a children's fight. Leave them be."
Miss Longueville's footsteps disappeared down the hallway.
Colbert swallowed audibly and verbally pressed Osmond.
Sir Osmond waved his staff and a big mirror set in the wall began scrying the situation at Vestri Courts.
Saito was surprised. The moment he grabbed the sword, all the pain in his body disappeared.
He realized the runes on his left hand were glowing.
My body feels as light as a feather. I could almost take off and fly.
In addition, the blade he held in his left hand felt so familiar that it seemed like an extension of his body.
That's strange. I've never even touched a sword before...
Seeing Saito with the weapon in hand, Guiche smiled coldly.
"Firstly, let me congratulate you. I'm honestly quite impressed that a commoner would come this far against a mage."
With that, he twirled the rose in his hand.
That artificial rose must be his wand. Really, how vain can you get?
Saito was astonished that he even had the leisure to think such things.
I was beaten up so badly just now. What in the world happened to me?
Guiche's golem attacked again.
Stupid tin can.
The statue modeled in the shape of the mythical Valkyrie came towards Saito in what seemed like slow motion.
What the hell, Saito thought.
I got kicked around like a rag doll by this crawling junk pile?
Saito leapt into action.
At the sight of his golem sliced in two as though it was a lump of clay, Guiche uttered a tormented moan.
The two halves of the golem each struck the ground with a resounding "clang."
Meanwhile, Saito bolted towards Guiche in a whirlwind of action.
Panicking, Guiche waved his rose wand wildly. Petals danced, and six new golems appeared.
Altogether, seven golems were Guiche's full arsenal. Never had he thought that a mere commoner could be a match for even one.
The golems surrounded Saito and sprang at him all at once.
And just when it looked like they had him, five of them were slashed apart. It had been so fast that nobody even saw the blade, making everyone wonder just what kind of superhuman ability this was.
The remaining golem promptly dashed over to guard Guiche.
But it too was taken down by an unseen sword-stroke.
A kick to the face sent Guiche sprawling to the ground.
He saw Saito leap at him.
I'm gonna die! he thought, as he shielded his head.
Something made a loud "thunk"...
When he timidly opened his eyes again...
Saito had driven the blade into the ground just to the right of Guiche's head.
"You want to continue?"
Guiche shook his head furiously. He'd totally lost any will to fight.
And in a failing voice he said,
"I... I yield."
Saito released his hand and walked away.
He could hear rowdy cheering from the audience such as "Whoa, that familiar is awesome!" or "Oh man, Guiche lost!"
Saito's thoughts were in a haze.
...Just what happened to me?
I was getting knocked around so mercilessly.
And then, the moment my hand touched that sword, my body felt like a feather. The next thing I knew, all of Guiche's golems were in pieces.
I didn't even know I could use a sword.
I don't quite understand it, but whatever. I won somehow, and that's that. I'll think about it later. Because right now, I feel really really tired. I want to sleep.
He could see Louise running over to him.
'Hey, I won!' he wanted to yell, but his knees buckled.
The feeling of fatigue overwhelmed him, and he could feel his consciousness drift far away. Saito collapsed.
As she saw Saito begin to teeter, Louise ran faster to try and support him, but she didn't quite make it. Saito toppled over onto hard ground with a heavy thud.
Louise shook him. No, it seemed he wasn't dead.
She could hear snoring. Instead, he was sleeping.
Louise looked thoroughly relieved as she let out a sigh.
Guiche stood up and shook his head in amazement.
"Louise, just what is this guy? All of my Valkyries were so easily defeated..."
"He's just a commoner."
"There's no way my golems could have lost to "just a commoner.""
"Hmph. Wasn't it just because you were weaker?"
Louise went to lift Saito up, but unable to properly support him, ended up falling down with him on top of her.
"Aaah, jeez! You're so heavy! Idiot!"
One of the students amidst the crowd cast a Levitation spell on Saito.
Louise began to gently push Saito's floating body away. She needed to take him back up to her room and patch him up.
With the corner of a sleeve, Louise dabbed at her eyes. He looked so in pain, so pitiful, she couldn't help but cry. He'd become so strong all of a sudden when he grabbed the sword, but if it hadn't been for that, he really might have died.
Right now, that was more important than Saito winning. I bet this idiot thought it probably wouldn't matter if he died. Going around being so headstrong like that, when you're just a commoner...
"You're just a familiar, so why do you keep doing stuff on your own?!"
Louise yelled at the sleeping Saito. Her relief was quickly being replaced by annoyance.
Sir Osmond and Colbert finished watching the entire event via the Mirror of Far-Seeing. They exchanged another look.
"That commoner actually ended up winning..."
"Guiche is only a first level Dot mage, but even so, he shouldn't have been beaten by an average commoner. What amazing speed! I've never seen a commoner like him before! There's no doubt that he's Gandálfr!"
Mister Colbert urged Osmond.
"Old Osmond. We should report this to the palace immediately and ask for instructions..."
"There will be no need for that."
Sir Osmond nodded sternly, ruffling his white beard.
"But sir! This is the biggest discovery of the century! A Gandálfr reborn in the modern world!"
"Mister Colbert. Gandálfr was no ordinary familiar."
"Exactly! The familiar used by the Founder Brimir, Gandálfr! There was never any description of its appearance, but it's said to have been created specifically for the purpose of protecting the Founder Brimir during his spell incantations."
"Correct. Founder Brimir's incantations were especially long... However, that made his spells very powerful. And as you know, mages are most vulnerable while spell casting. Gandálfr was the familiar that he used to protect himself in those times of vulnerability. Its strength..."
Colbert eagerly cut in at this point, looking extremely excited.
"It could annihilate an army of one thousand all by itself! Ordinary mages were said to be no match for it!"
"So, Mister Colbert."
"That boy, he really is just an average commoner, right?"
"Yes. No matter how I looked, he was just an average commoner. I even confirmed it with a Detect Magic spell when Miss Vallière initially summoned him, but he was still a genuine average commoner."
"And who was it that turned him into a modern Gandálfr?"
"That would be Miss Vallière, but..."
"She must be a very talented mage, I take it?"
"Not at all. Rather, one might say she's un-talented..."
"A puzzling duo to be sure."
"So how did an average boy contracted by an untalented mage become Gandálfr? What an utter paradox. I just can't see where the ends meet."
"In any case, there is no need for us to hand over Gandálfr and its master to those fools at the palace. Give them a toy like this and they'll just cause another unnecessary war. Court advisors have too much free time on their hands and like fighting far too much."
"O-oh, I see. I apologize for overlooking such important matters."
"I will take responsibility of this case myself. You will not speak of this to anyone else, Mister Colbert."
"Y-yes! I understand!"
Sir Osmond took hold of his staff and turned to look out the window. He immersed his thoughts in the far reaches of history.
"The legendary familiar Gandálfr... Just what kind of form had it taken before, I cannot help but wonder."
Colbert murmured as if dreaming.
"Gandálfr was said to be able to use any weapon to take down its enemies..."
"So it must have at least an arm and a hand, I think."
The morning light woke Saito up. His body was wrapped all over in bandages.
I got into a duel with that Guiche and got beaten up really badly...
Then I pulled off some miraculous win using that sword...
And I fainted.
He was in Louise's room. For some reason, he'd been sleeping in Louise's bed too.
Louise herself was sitting at a table and sleeping soundly with her head on it.
His eyes fell upon the runes on his left hand. When those runes had been glowing, his body had felt as light as a feather, a sword he had never held before felt like an extension of his arm, and he had sliced up Guiche's golems like nothing.
Right now, those runes weren't glowing.
What exactly was that, I wonder...
While he stared at his left hand curiously, there was a knock on the door before it opened.
It was Siesta. The commoner girl who had fed him stew at the kitchen. She was in her usual maid outfit, complete with the headband adorning her hair.
She looked at Saito and smiled. On the silver tray she carried was some bread and water.
"So you're awake now, Saito-san?"
"After all that, Miss Vallière had you brought up here to sleep. She had to get a teacher to cast a spell of healing on you too. It was quite serious."
"Spell of healing?"
"Yes. It's magic to help treat injuries or illness. You didn't know?"
Saito shook his head. It confused Siesta that Saito didn't know some of the basic terminology, but she wouldn't get anywhere by not saying anything.
"Miss Vallière paid for the reagent that was required for the healing spell, so don't be concerned about it."
His silence was a clear indicator that he was concerned about the money.
"Did that reagent cost a lot?"
"Well, it's certainly not something a commoner could pay."
Saito made an attempt to get up, but cried out in pain.
"Ah, you shouldn't move! Your injuries were so severe even the healing spells couldn't completely fix them! You still need to take it easy!"
Saito nodded and lay back on the bed.
"I brought you some food. Please eat."
Siesta placed the tray by Saito's bedside.
"Thanks... How long was I asleep for?"
"Three days and nights straight. Everyone was worried you wouldn't wake up."
"All the kitchen staff..."
Siesta cast her eyes down shyly.
"What's the matter?"
"Um... I'm sorry. That I ran away that time."
She was talking of how she had run away in fright when Saito had gotten Guiche angry at the dining hall.
"Don't worry. It's nothing to apologize about."
"Nobles were always so scary to us commoners, since we couldn't use magic..."
Siesta suddenly raised her head. Her eyes sparkled brightly.
"But I'm not so scared anymore! I was so inspired, Saito-san! You won against a noble, though you're a commoner!"
Although I really have no clue how I actually won.
Somewhat embarrassed, Saito just scratched his head. Then he realized he was using his right arm, which had been broken. It looked completely fine. It still ached a bit when he moved it, but it seemed the bones were whole again.
Wow, so this is magic. Saito thought in slight admiration.
...I guess it is something to be proud about.
"By the way, did you tend to me all this time?"
"Oh no, not me. It was actually Miss Vallière..."
"Yes. She changed all the bandages and wiped the sweat from your face... She didn't sleep one bit, so she must be exhausted."
As she slept, Louise's breathing was even and gentle. There were heavy dark circles under her eyes though.
Her sleeping face is always so adorable. It's so doll-like.
So she can be nice sometimes, he thought. Suddenly her side profile looked intensely cuter.
Louise's eyes flickered open.
She made a great big yawning stretch, and then her gaze fell upon Saito, who was sitting on the bed blinking in surprise.
"Ara. You're awake."
Saito cast his eyes downward. He figured he should thank her.
"Thanks. And I'm sorry I made you worry."
Louise stood up.
And drew closer to Saito.
Saito's heartbeat accelerated.
Is she going to say something like "good job, you were really cool out there" and maybe kiss me?
But that was not to be.
Louise pulled away Saito's blanket and grabbed him by the scruff.
"If you're better now, get out of my bed!"
Still holding him by the scruff, Louise pulled Saito out of the bed.
Saito tumbled to the floor.
"Hey, I'm still an injured person!"
"If you're well enough to complain, you're well enough for anything else."
Saito stood up. His body still objected, but it was nothing he couldn't put up with. Still, she could've let him sleep for a little bit longer.
"Uh, in that case, I will take my leave now..."
Siesta left the room wearing a crooked smile. Or more precisely, she fled the room.
Louise threw a mountain of clothes and underwear at Saito.
"That's the laundry that's piled up while you were asleep. Once you're done with that, clean up the room. Hop to it!"
"Um, you know..."
Louise glared fiercely at Saito.
"What? Just with something like beating Guiche, did you think you'd be treated differently? Did you think you'd be congratulated? Are you an idiot?"
Saito looked resentfully at Louise.
He decided to take back his earlier thought about her being cute.
Still... the way Louise sat on her bed swinging her legs was an undeniable level of cuteness beyond this world.
Her long strawberry blonde hair rippled. Her hazel eyes twinkled with mischief. She was rude, arrogant, and selfish, but try as he might to deny it, her appearance was enchanting.
Raising a finger triumphantly, Louise declared.
"Don't you forget! You're my familiar!"
Translator's Notes and References
- Vestri is a dwarf in Norse mythology representing West.
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