Zero no Tsukaima:Volume22 Chapter 3
Chapter 3: Louise's Determiation
"Saito... Please, wake up soon, Saito."
Louise, with tears on her face, held Saito's hand as he lay on a bed.
This was Louise and Saito's room on the "Ostland".
After Saito had fainted, Louise and Tiffania immediately supported his limp body as they floated in the sea, surrounded by the magical bubble that Bidashal had created.
Colbert and the others on the deck were shocked to see the weakened Saito. Siesta immediately grabbed the sheet on the stretcher, and everyone sent them to their room to rest.
After that, Louise was at Saito's side tending him constantly. It had already been 30 minutes since Saito had fainted, but there was still no sign of him recovering his consciousness.
Obviously, it wasn't just any fatigue or illness. After Saito had fainted, Henrietta immediately cast "Cure", but it had no effect.
Louise could only hold Saito's hand, and wait at his side. The light of the runes on his chest had already vanished, but Saito's hand still felt as cold as death.
"Why did this happen...?"
Saito said that the power of the "Lífþrasir" was the "Power Supply" for those that bore the Void.
When the contracted master would cast Void magic, he would be responsible for supplying spiritual power... Therefore, Louise always thought that it would be alright as long as she didn't cast "Void" magic. But at that time, Louise and Tiffania didn't use any Void magic....
The Pope said that he only ended up like this because he was near the "Door"... but exactly how true that statement was, was debatable in its suspiciousness.
Within Lífþrasir, the final familiar, surely there still was a secret she didn't know about....
At that moment, Saito's hand that Louise was holding twitched slightly.
Louise quickly looked at Saito's face.
With the sound of a scream, Saito lept up from the bed.
At that moment, it seemed like his head had hit something. That something he hit made a sound like when a cat is squeezed, and he immediately looked back.
Having recovered, Saito looked around. He discovered it wasn't the desert from 6000 years ago... it was the inside of his familiar cabin on the "Ostland".
"Mr. Brimir? What happened after I was swallowed by that light?"
At the end of Saito's confusion, the sound of an angry growl came from under the bed.
"You... You... Really, what are you doing!?"
Crawling out from under the bed, Louise was pressing her forehead and glaring at Saito with tears in her eyes.
"Lo-Louise... I'm sorry!"
"After seeing you suddenly faint, you didn't wake up, and the-then you...."
Louise, trembling with anger, raised her fist, but that could've been an emotional burst from having to be patient so long. Her dark brown eyes suddenly filled with tears, and she burst out crying.
"Idiot, Idiot, Idiot, Idiot! Do you know how worried I was about you!?"
Waving her fist, she hit Saito's chest.
Don't tell me that you've been taking care of me ever since I fainted... Saito was deeply touched. With a "This kind of master is entirely too cute", Saito couldn't help but tightly hold Louise.
After Louise quickly recovered her equilibrium, she relaxed and cuddled on Saito's chest.
Pink-blonde hair tickled Saito's chin. The petite and thin Louise, fit perfectly in Saito's embrace.
Once Louise calmed down, Saito opened his mouth.
"...Say, how long was I out for?"
Louise rubbed her tearful eyes, and couldn't help but look away.
"About 30 minutes... Even though the runes on your chest disappeared, you were constantly talking in your sleep."
"Oh, it turned out like this.", Saito spoke, his voice a little disappointed.
Seeing Louise's panicked appearance, he thought that he'd been out for a longer period of time.
"Hey, what do you mean by 'Oh'...? Even though people were really worried about you."
"I'm sorry for making you worry."
After apologizing and scratching his head, Saito looked up at the ceiling and then opened his mouth.
"... I, had a dream."
"It wouldn't be a scary dream?"
"Uh, it is...."
After nodding his head, Saito wiped the cold sweat from his forehead.
"The Founder Brimir appeared in my dream."
As soon as she heard Saito's words, Louise suddenly realized that his expression was serious.
"Don't tell me it's the same as the dream that you had in Romalia?"
But Saito shook his head.
"No... It was in a later period of time compared to the last one."
"What did you dream about?"
Louise sat next to Saito.
Then Saito told Louise the content of his dream. 6000 years ago, the "Wind Stones" also went out of control. Before the "Holy Land" sank to the bottom of the sea, there was once an Elven city, and the Founder Brimir had cast "Void" magic on that Elven city....
After hearing Saito's narration, a sad faced Louise muttered.
"So, the Founder once cast the 'Void' in order to obtain the land of the Elves."
"Yes, he also claimed that this was a last resort for the survival of his people."
"This is the true face of the "Great Disaster" in Elven legend."
At this time, Saito luckily remember what Derflinger had said.
"Sasha, who was Gandálfr, killed Brimir."
Don't tell me that Sasha of the Elven tribe killed Brimir for revenge. A familiar killing her own master... what exactly was her state of mind then?
Just like him killing Louise, he couldn't even think about that sort of thing.
"I tried to persuade Mr. Brimir, but in the end it still failed."
Saito said with a voice full of regret.
"This is obvious. The dream you see is a memory that is engraved in the runes, and is history that has already taken place. Of course there's no way to change it.
"It is... that is true."
With a sigh, Saito was dejected.
At this moment, Louise felt like something was wrong, and had a moment of doubt.
"But, something is strange, the numbers don't add up."
"Didn't Julio say before, that "Wind Stones" will only go out of control every several tens of thousands of years. It's clearly only been 6000 years since the time of Brimir, so why are they starting to go out of control again?"
"Who knows... what."
Louise had a disappointed look on her face.
"No, we really don't know. If I still have an opportunity to meet with Mr. Brimir, I'll try to ask for clarification next time."
"When is that next time?"
Louise sighed noncommittally to Saito's answer.
In short, Saito's dream wasn't truly a dream, that was certain. So there may be a chance to see the same dream....
"But, why do the familiar runes let Saito have this sort of dream?"
Louise felt skeptical.
A silent atmosphere permeated for a bit... and then Saito remembered an important matter.
"...Right, what happened afterwards?"
When asked, Louise briefly nodded her head,
"Well, the 'Door' to the Holy Land quickly shut. As for His Holiness, the Pope, it seems that he intends to accumulate spiritual power and open a larger 'Door' for the passage of the Army. And after joining forces with the main body of the 'Coalition Army for the Restoration of the Holy Lands', he can immediately begin the invasion of your world."
"The Pope really wants to start a war with the 'Earth', the world I used to live in."
A deep sense of powerlessness hit Saito. The recovery of the "Holy Land" is certainly the Pope's wish. No matter how Saito persuades him, it's impossible for the Pope to give up on that idea....
"Rest assured, I won't let this happen, absolutely not."
But Louise spoke with complete conviction.
"I'm truly a noble of Tristain, as well as a devout believer in Brimir. But it is absolutely wrong to invade Saito's world in order to save Halkeginia. I would rather follow my own idea than the will of God and the Founder."
Saying this, Saito was very impressed by Louise's pink-blonde hair. It's amazing... my master is so cool, Saito thought. At the same time, it felt like Louise had changed a lot since they first met.
The former Louise valued her glory and reputation as a noble over everything else. Convinced that the most important things were loyalty to Tristain's royal family, and respecting the Founder's teachings. If she was like she was before, she would never say what she just did, even if the heavens fell. Saito was touched by Louise's intentions but he had one thing that he was worried about.
Even if Louise resisted resolutely, the Pope would definitely use every means available to force Louise to launch the "Final Void". For example, using the secret medicine of the Elves it would be easy to manipulate Louise's mind....
Saito voiced his worries, and after Louise thought for a bit,
"I think, you shouldn't worry."
"Because 'Void' magic and Systematic magic aren't the same, the trembling of the heart is the source of its power. If you use drugs and the like to destroy the mind, then there's no way to cast 'Void' magic."
"Yeah... Then those Romalian guys wouldn't dare screw around."
This allowed Saito to relax temporarily. Since both the Pope and Louise were Void bearers, he must have understood this.
"Moreover, if the Pope was going to resort to this method...."
Louise's expression stiffened, like she had a realization,
"If I were to destroy Saito's homeland, I'd rather kill myself on the spot."
"Wh-what are you saying... don't say such stupid things!
Saito quickly urged, but Louise shook her head.
With a serious expression, she adamantly said, "I'm serious".
Louise wasn't lying, Saito understood. Before, in Albion, Louise mistakenly thought that Saito, who charged into an army 70.000 men strong, was dead, and she truly planned to commit suicide. At the time, thanks to the statue Guiche made, she reluctantly gave up on the idea.
"That won't work. If you really do something stupid, then I'll also want to die."
"No, no, how could this be? If you die, it would be pointless."
"Then don't let the word death pass your lips, idiot."
"I-I'm not stupid...."
Louise sulked, pouting her lips.
"Didn't we agree before? If we die, we die together."
Saito stared with a serious expression, and Louise nodded as her face blushed bright red.
The two sat on the bed gazing at each other. Not long after, their lips met.
Holding each other's backs through the strength of their fingers, they pressed their lips together.
Louise, who closed her eyes, meekly cuddled in Saito's embrace. With those sincere words that Saito unintentionally said just a bit ago, just then succeeded in making Louise's heart skip a beat.
N-no, this guy, saying something like "I'll die too"...? Isn't that cool? Like this, doesn't he like me too much, no?
During this moment of excitement, she was gently pushed down on the bed by Saito.
"No, it's not okay... N-not right now."
Louise protested in a weak voice.
Of course, she was not serious about resisting... but it still affected Louise's self-esteem. If she were to let Saito think that she was too easy of a woman, that could affect the reputation of the three daughters of the La Vallière family.
"This is the right time, you know."
Reaching for Louise's chin, Saito said.
"Just because it's a time like this, I really want to hold Louise close."
Hearing Saito whisper with such an earnest face, she suddenly felt like her body melted.
What does she care about her self-respect as a noble, those things are all completely unimportant.
With a "Wh-what, this guy's really cunning, yet...", Louise's lips grew sour. With him saying those words, won't I become an easy woman?
Louise, who easily surrendered, excitedly closed her eyes, and brought her lips to Saito's.
Until now, Saito finally understood the words he just said and how they touched Louise's heart.
"Ple-please, my master is just too cute...."
However, there was no lie in what he just said, they were Saito's honest words.
In order to protect Louise, he wouldn't even hesitate to die.
If Louise died, he would also die.
Her spinning, reddish-brown eyes. Her long eyelashes decorating her eyelids. Her action of lightly biting her upper lip. Her cute flat chest. Who through her obstinacy, her anger, being more straightforward than anybody else, was a proud woman... Saito was willing to spare no effort to protect all of Louise.
"I love you, Louise."
"Say it one more time."
"I love you, Louise, I love you the most."
Gently caressing Louise's beautiful pink hair, Saito continued to whisper in her ear.
She wanted to feel my most important sweetheart's body temperature like that, forever.
The person I love the most was by her side... Just like that, the power within her surged forth.
"The Romalian Pope was ambitious, and was trying to regain the "Holy Land"... But if he was together with Louise, even in the present situation, there was an opportunity to overcome it." Saito had that sort of feeling.
The two kept kissing on the bed.
Finally, after a particularly long kiss, Louise said.
"You know, Saito...."
"I'll go to the Pope again, and try to convince His Holiness."
Saito held Louise's hand, and shook his head.
"You can't, it's too dangerous."
"Relax. For the Pope, I'm the most important piece. At least he should listen to what I say.
Speaking of that, Saito suddenly went silent. The things that he just had seen in his dream... the tragedy that happened 6000 years ago, it would probably be good to tell the Pope.
The Founder Brimir destroyed an Elven city, which became the fuse for a war with the Elves that spanned several thousands of years. Perhaps that dream was a warning to remind future generations to not repeat the same tragedy.
"...I know. Then I'll also go with you."
"No, you need to rest for a while."
Louise reached out a hand and pressed on Saito, who was trying to get up out of bed.
"Leave it to me."
Then, at that same moment, Henrietta, the Queen of Tristain confronted the Pope in a resolute manner, on the Romalian Union Empire's flagship, in an office on the Summoning Warship, named "St. Mark", which was made for the Pope's personal use.
"Your Holiness, please reconsider. It wasn't easy to reach a peace agreement with the Elves, so do you want to force the people of Halkeginia to face an even more massive war?
"To participate in the "Holy War" is the sacred obligation given by the Founder Brimir to everyone who lives in Halkeginia, and all the followers of Romalia. If this can't be achieved, it's a betrayal of the Founder."
Vittorio's expression didn't change and he shook his head quietly.
"It's enough, as long as you have zealous believers who willingly sacrifice their lives for the Founder."
Henrietta glared at Vittorio, bringing out all of her sarcasm.
Even though this was an informal occasion, she was in the presence of the Pope of Romalia. If those words were condemned by the religious office, even if she was the Queen of Tristain, she could still be brought up on the charges of heresy.
But Vittorio didn't feel displeased, He answered bluntly.
"Fanaticism is fine, otherwise it's impossible to save Halkeginia. The 'Uprising' of the land caused by the 'Wind Stones' is an unavoidable and real problem, or would you rather save the neighbors of a different world that you've never met, and do nothing to save the people of Halkeginia? It seems that the spirit of fraternity is truly great. However, this is a privilege that only the living can display. Our very existence is threatened, but we also have to consider the fate of other people. If this isn't called fanaticism, then what is fanaticism?"
Henrietta bit her lip.
"Then I would ask a question. How can Your Holiness guarantee the 'Holy War' you speak of won't cause an even great disaster compared to the 'Uprising' or Halkeginia? Didn't Saito-dono also say that the world on the other side had terrible 'Weapons'?"
"Indeed, the power of the 'Varyag' is very strong. I admit this, but we also have a trump card. With the awakening of Ms. Vallière 'Final Void', it's enough to completely eliminate the 'Varyag'."
"You intend to let Louise do the dirty work?"
Henrietta's question was very sharp.
"I don't deny it. But I hope you can understand that this is the only way to save Halkeginia. In fact, I also hoped that there really was a convenient 'Magic Device', but that kind of thing doesn't exist. Among set choices, we can only choose to be destroyed, or destroy others. That's it."
"Henrietta-dono, please take a look at this."
Vittorio placed a small box on his desk, and passed it over to Henrietta, who desperately wanted to refuse.
"What is this?"
This made Henrietta show an expression of surprise. The thing in the box was really incompatible with the image of Vittorio as an honorable person... it was a pistol.
But the shape was very strange. The guns that were given to Agnes and the other members of the Musketeer Corps were the latest styles created by Tristain's workshops, but they weren't the same as this pistol. The material was unmistakably metal, but it was not like pure iron....
"This was found in the 'Holy Land', a weapon from the world on the other side. This technology is far more sophisticated than the guns we build."
At that time, Henrietta remembered Saito, and all the mysterious weapons he had used. Including the "Dragon's Raiment" and the "Metal Monster", which had led Tristain to victory in several wars......
"So, what is this about?"
Vittorio nodded seriously,
"In the past, the 'Varyag' used the 'Door' naturally produced by this world to invade our Halkeginia. There are no signs yet, but one day they will analyze the secret of the 'Void' with their terrible technological power and once again open a 'Door' to this world. As a result, not only the nations of Halkeginia, but not even the Elves can oppose them. This absolutely must be avoided... before they acquire the power of the 'Void', we should strike first and destroy them, and this is the mission that God and the Founder entrusted to us."
"This sort of thing...."
"It's impossible. Can you assert that? Gamble with people's lives?"
Facing the Pope's questions, Henrietta remained quiet.
"Can't you negotiate with the world on the other side? We can even reconcile with the Elves who bear a major grudge against us. That's right. Wouldn't it be fine to let Saito-dono, who came from that world, serve as an ambassador. He can definitely accomplish this task for us."
Vittorio shook his head.
"What if the other party doesn't accept the negotiations? Once the other party knows of our existence, we have no chance of winning. The people of Halkeginia will be slaughtered, and completely trampled on. This will lead to us losing the valuable opportunity to strike first, and even if the we reach a temporary peace, it doesn't mean that it can last forever.
"But, Your Holiness...."
Even so, Henrietta still tried to refute him. In order to avoid a war that would sacrifice many people no matter what. However, seeing Vittorio's perfectly clear eyes, his madness, and his faith, which was of paper-thin difference to it, the idea of trying to persuade him, tragically broke.
"No one can persuade him to change his mind...."
"The Kingdom of Tristain will withdraw troops from this 'Holy War'."
Henrietta decisively spoke.
"I have no way to agree to this. Now is the time when the countries of Halkeginia must unite, otherwise the chance to win the war may be lost."
"What do you mean by that you can't agree?""
This statement made Henrietta stare at Vittorio.
"Tristain isn't your country, Your Holiness."
"You're right. But, in the current 'Holy War', if civil strife breaks out in Halkeginia, your motherland will become the enemy of God."
There was no doubt that this was a naked threat.
Tristain was a small country, and the continuous campaigns had already led to the fatigue of its forces. It it were to meet the forces of Romalia, which had hold of the great Kingdom of Gallia, Tristain's territory would soon disappear from the map.
Henrietta, who bit her lip in remorse, said in a trembling voice.
"Your Holiness, even if you use power to force someone to obey, their heart can not obey you. I trust my friend, Louise. Regardless of your intentions, she will never willingly follow you."
"Of course I know."
"There's no way to force her heart to obey. Because God lives in the heart."
After Henrietta's visit ended, Vittorio entered his dedicated chapel alone.
It was his daily task to pray to God and the Founder every morning and evening.
Vittorio, with sweat on his brow, knelt by the "Founder's Round Mirror", revealing his sins with a bitter expression.
"Founder..., Founder, spokesman of the noble God, great Founder who guides us. Please forgive your sinful servant, truly I have deceived too many people."
The sin that the Pope admitted to was "deception".
Even if this was for the greater good, that sin still couldn't be tolerated.
But the history of Romalia was an accumulation of false history.
You just had to look at the books secretly hidden in the church to know that the popes of the past were far from the saying "pure as driven snow". Even the establishment of the Romalian Union Empire was not based on fact.
St. Forsythe, the first pope and disciple of Brimir, declared that Romalia was the place where the Founder had died. This was not the case.
The Founder Brimir was killed by Sasha, the Elven familiar "Gandálfr", in the "Holy Land".
But at present, the sins hidden in Vittorio's heart... were even heavier than all the sins that Romalia had collected so far, and was a betrayal of the people of Halkeginia.
The "Holy Land" had a "Magic Device" that can prevent the "Wind Stones" from going out of control. That is fact in a sense. Even during the long years that the Elves had controlled the "Demon's Gate", they never knew that this major secret directly related to the "Holy Land".
If Louise were to use the power of her awakened "Void", it may be possible to stop the impending "Uprising" disaster of the continent.
However, in order to achieve the Founder's desire of "Reconquista", and to protect the future of all "Magi", Vittorio couldn't speak of this secret.
Not even Julio had been told of this secret.
Even if he heard this secret, he wouldn't change his mind. However, once he had learned it, he would suffer the same sins as Vittorio.
Since Julio had been brought from the Romalian orphanage, his character wasn't suited for bloody conspiracies. At first glance, he looked mature, but he was very pure, easily hurt, a straightforward and upright young man.
"It is enough for me to bear this sin alone."
As the Pope who leads the people, he must fulfill the mission left by the Founder.
There was bound to be a hellish and tragic war. The Queen of Tristain is correct, once a "Holy War" broke out with another world, Halkeginia would shed more blood than the "Uprising".
Thinking to here, he couldn't help but tremble at the depth of this sin.
After finishing his prayer, Vittorio stared at the relic of his mother "The Ruby of Fire".
"Founder. Did You ever feel despair about whether the God you prayed to didn't exist?"
Returning to the office after completing his prayer, a young man with heterochromatic eyes stood waiting in front of the door.
The person was Julio, who saluted Vittorio and reported.
"Your Holiness, the salvage operation for the "Gun" is completed. That Rhyme Dragon, the "Mother of the Sea" was a bit troublesome, but reluctantly agreed... If I didn't have the power of Vindálfr it would be dangerous."
"Did you kill it?"
"No. After being surrounded by the Templar Knights, it didn't know where to run."
"That's good. Those Rhyme Dragons have been protecting the "Holy Land" in our place for a long time, so I'd feel bad to kill them."
Vittorio seemed to relax, and touched his chest.
"So, is that thing really the same as me?"
"Yes, that should be right."
Julio lowered his voice and reported.
"That 'Weapon' possess a nature that is very close to the Founder's 'Void'. It seems to act on the tiny particles that make up the world and causes an unimaginable explosion. The power can only be described through imagination... but it certainly far surpasses the 'Jewel of Fire' that was used by the King of Gallia."
Hearing this, Vittorio hid his face in his hands, and showed a depressed expression.
"God, the most terrifying thing happened. The 'Varyag' finally got the power of the 'Void'."
"Yes, although it's improbable... it's too fast."
Julio said nervously.
"Can you use that 'Weapon'?"
"No, even with the knowledge of the 'Mind of God' it's impossible to understand such a complex structure. But if it's 'Gandálfr', or....
Julio spoke to here, and Vittorio sadly muttered.
"This is truly sinful. Even if we have to use this 'Weapon' of the enemies, we must win. Because this 'Holy War' will only end with the complete destruction of one side."
"Indeed, that's correct."
Afterwards, Vittorio handed over the pistol that he just showed to Henrietta... The 'Weapon', created by the enemy, and Julio sighed heavily.
"Truly, I really don't like guns."
"You aren't a magician. This kind of thing can be used for self-defense."
After receiving the pistol, Julio hid the gun under his coat.
Then he looked at the hull of the "Ostland" that was anchored in the sea outside the window.
"...Can those two successfully complete the 'Mission'?"
"I believe they will help accomplish it. He is a man who would die for love, and won't commit the folly of Sasha from 6000 years ago."
Vittorio whispered to himself in his heart.
"No, it's not Sasha who is truly stupid... Perhaps it was 'Him', who loved his familiar."
But he wouldn't allow the same tragedy of 6000 years to unfold again.
"Because she deeply loves her familiar, she'll definitely make the 'Right Choice' for this world."
- The author literally describes heterochromia here.
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