Zero no Tsukaima:Volume22 Chapter 8
Chapter 8: The Rescue Mission
The next day after Saito was transferred to "Prison Island".
The third day of the third week of the ninth month. After the main army of the "Coalition Army for the Restoration of the Holy Lands", lead by Emperor of Germania, Albrecht III, combined with Romalian fleet, they set camp in the broad desert on the outskirts of the Elven capital "Adyl".
Their total strength exceeded 300,000 soldiers. Among the "Coalition Army for the Restoration of the Holy Lands" expeditions to the country of the Elves, this was the largest.
However, at the current time, besides the Romalian soldiers, the morale of the army had already been significantly lowered. Achieving a peace agreement with the enemy Elves, and the Pope's new commandment issued by the Office of Religious Affairs greatly confused the soldiers and lords.
With the power of the "Void" granted by Founder, the true "Holy Lands" outside of this world would be recovered... even if that news suddenly were to be known, there would be almost no way that the people of Halkeginia would understand it. What kind of enemy were they ultimately going to face... because of that unknown mess, uneasiness and confusion spread through the army.
During that moment, a young man walked into the sunshade of the one, Albrecht III, who gathered this 300,000-man army. It was a beautiful boy with heterochromatic eyes, Julio.
"I am Julio Caesar. I have come as an agent for his Holiness, the Pope.
Upon entering the sunshade, Julio immediately saluted gracefully.
"Hey, it's the bluffing priest. The heat of this ghost town could kill a man."
With a look of displeasure, Albrecht III glared at Julio.
"The Elven capital is right in front of our eyes, and the soldiers are all unstable. If it goes on like this, sooner or later it will be irrepressible."
Although they had reached a peace agreement, the aversion and fear of Elves was deeply rooted in the people of Halkeginia. There were still many lords who opposed the peace. Not to mention, a majority of the believers were originally unwilling to follow the rising country, Germania's, name.
"Joining hands with the Elves, well, I guess it's fine. However, I truly cannot believe those absurd words about invading a ‘Different World'. Even among the lords, some people say that it is slander against his Holiness, the Pope, through their furious piety."
These ravings were extremely disrespectful to the Pope, who guided all of the followers of Brimir. Someone that careless, even a member of a royal family, would surely be punished. However, the Germanian Emperor deserved to be called a courageous person.
"It's no wonder that you can't believe it. However, what his Holiness said is true."
"I certainly hope it's true. It doesn't matter, even if it's a ridiculous lie, it's an entirely different thing as long as you get the land. If, after defeating the Elves, we get a desert that isn't worth developing, and the worthless honor of achieving the Founder Brimir's mission; how are these sorts of things going to fill a soldier's belly?"
"Well, what Your Excellency says is correct."
Julio laughed when he heard an extremely blatant choking sound.
"But please rest assured, Your Excellency. The promised land that we conquer is far greater than Halkeginia, as well as rich and fertile. Your Excellency and the Germanian nobility will certainly be satisfied once you see the land."
"It is the ‘Land of milk and honey' as recorded in ‘The Book of St. Aegis'. It indeed may be a little better than this desolate desert, but...."
After a bit, Albrecht the Third opened his mouth.
"This ‘Holy Land' isn't at the bottom of the sea? How exactly do you send an army of 300,000 there?"
"His Holiness has a plan, so please wait for a little longer, Your Excellency."
"Oh, and where is his Holiness at the moment?"
"In order to collect the mental power needed to open the ‘Door', His Holiness is currently praying without stop. However, by tomorrow morning, everything will be ready."
"Very good, then I will convince the nobility."
Standing up from his chair, Albrecht the Third walked out of the sunshade.
"The land is on the verge of upheaval, Void magic is reviving, and we're about to return to the Founder's homeland... it's unbelievable. We're all living in the age of legends."
The sun hadn't sunk under the horizon, and the twin moons hung high in the sky....
"The Saito Rescue Force", formed at the request of Henrietta, secretly prepared for action on the "Ostland".
"Are you ready, Ms. Zerbst?"
Leaving the ship's engine room, Colbert asked, with a face covered in soot.
"No problem, they're still unaware. We'll raid the Elven prison while those Romalian guys are dreaming and not expecting it."
"Well, you're speaking the truth."
"Hey, oi, your head is all covered in soot."
Kirche, with a wry smile, blew at Colbert's head.
At this time, there was a roar in the direction of the deck.
"Nasty, explode you pig! Why don't you piss off, you little pig!
"Ah, nee-san, if you step on me like this, I, I won't be able to take it!"
"Go, die for me once, piglet!"
"Ah, sorry, I'm sorry I was born a pig!"
The one cursing was Louise's older sister, Éléonore. She advanced with a grim expression towards Malicorne, who was screaming happily as he was kicked to the side of the ship.
Seeing her murderous expression, even Colbert, a squadron commander who'd faced many battles, couldn't help but gasp.
"Um, Ms. Éléonore...."
Colbert carefully opened his mouth.
"What is it?"
"So, are you alright?"
Hearing Colbert's question, Éléonore snorted and looked away.
"As I too am a noble of Tristain, how come I wasn't entrusted this by Her Majesty the Queen? What's more, I'm also very uncomfortable with my sister being at someone else's mercy. If I see my sister reduced to a tool of war, I won't be able to face my parents and family."
Although she spoke awkwardly, Éléonore still was worried about Louise's safety.
After that, the members of the "Saito Rescue Force", headed by the Knights of the Water Spirit, gathered in the mess hall of the "Ostland" to hold a strategy meeting.
Of course, the commander was Colbert.
"Although this is combat, little tricks are completely useless against the Elves."
Colbert said as he rubbed his bright, bald head.
"So, do you still have the courage to gamble?"
Éléonore sighed as she rubbed her temple.
"Right, there's no other way to fight besides the one that has succeeded before."
Guiche looked to the sky and sighed. When one said "that battle", there was only one answer. It was the same method Colbert used when he broke into the tower of the Elves.
"Yes, but in the current situation there is no more effective method."
Hearing Kirche say this, Guiche shrugged in resignation.
"After charging the prison, the diversion and search & rescue force will separate into two routes. Ms. Zerbst and I will be responsible for the diversionary force, and the search & rescue teams top priority is finding Saito and Ms. Tabitha. Even if you encounter an Elf, never fight. Understood?"
"Is it really alright to just rely on Kirche and Sensei?"
"Yeah. You will need find those two as soon as possible. That way we'll have a chance to escape."
Colbert's tone had never been this serious.
Hearing Colbert's calm realization, Guiche and his team corrected their posture.
"If it's a diversion, I can help."
A loud female voice rang in the chow hall.
Everyone suddenly reached for their wands and looked at the entrance of the chow hall.
Kirche's mouth dumbly hung open.
Standing there was "The Crumbling Dirt", Fouquet.
Colbert grumbled. When did she get there? Although he was paying attention to the students, not even he could sense her presence. The skills of that thief was truly terrifying. Of course, Fouquet previously had pretended to be a secretary at the Academy, and made Colbert suffer a major defeat.
Kirche sharply said, as she continued to point her wand at Fouquet.
"What are you doing, Ms. Thief?"
"Don't be so alarmed, I'm not working for Romalia."
"I just want to provide you a little help."
"Right. I know you probably won't believe empty words, so I brought a handful of gifts."
After taking out the bag at her waist, Fouquet whispered an incantation.
The bag immediately opened wide and a large number of weapons poured out. It turned out to be a magic bag that could be freely resized.
Scattered all over the place were weapons that had never been seen in Halkeginia before, including grenades, automatic rifles, rocket launchers, and others.
These are weapons from the "Holy Land" that were recovered along with the "Nuclear Submarine". The exterior was covered in rust, but the inside was waterproofed so they could be used.
Among them, Kirche found familiar weapons.
"This is Tabitha's staff!"
"Oh, and this is Saito's sword."
Guiche picked up Derflinger, buried in the mountain of weapons.
"I slipped into the Romalian storehouse and laid my hands on a few things. So with this, can you trust me?"
With eyes full of suspicion, Kirche looked at Fouquet.
"Why are you helping us?"
"Because someone begged me. To save that boy, you see."
"Begged you to save Saito? Who?"
"Who doesn't matter. More important, what do you say? If you don't care, I won't help you."
Everyone looked at each other. That combat power is sizeable, but it being Fouquet, can we believe her...?
After a moment of silence, Kirche sighed.
"Understood. We'll believe you, for now."
"Well, any and all combat power is needed right now."
Colbert also nodded. Since those two said so, the members of the Knight Corps of the Water Spirit also agreed.
"But even for me, this'll be the first time to sneak into an Elven prison.
Then, late at night....
The "Ostland" took off in the dark and traveled to "Prison Island".
While the youth of the Knights of the Water Spirit took turns sleeping, no one noticed Derflinger, standing in the corner of the room. The blade was slightly glowing.
At the same moment, Louise, who was sleeping, had a dream. Louise, who hadn't closed her eyes since yesterday evening, finally fell asleep.
The place she dreamed of was Bourdonné Street in Tristain, the place where she went with Saito to buy a sword. Louise and Saito held hands as the walked down the street.
"...I really miss it, it's already been a year and a half."
Somewhere in her mind, Louise knew this was a dream.
But she deliberately pretended not to notice. Because in the dream, Saito gently held Louise, and only smiled at her....
"What is it?"
"Yo-you like, me?"
Louise ask, as she looked up with her face flushed. Saito immediately replied as he petted her beautiful hair.
"I like you, Louise."
Louise, who has happy, beamed at once.
"M-my chest isn't as big as Tiffa or Siesta."
And then she fell into depression again.
Seeing that, Saito laughed.
"Wh-what... what's so funny...?"
With pouty lips, Louise beat on Saito's chest.
"Don't worry, I like Louise's small chest. In fact, truly, if your chest was too big, it would scare me."
Louise couldn't help but smile with these unexpected words.
"Re-really? That's true, you're not lying?"
"Of course it's true."
"But small also has a limit. M-my chest is just a small lemon, but Siesta said that I'm a washboard...."
"Well, I like your delicate little lemons. Smooth and cute. Compared to melons, of course I'd choose lemons."
For a moment, Louise's face beamed with delight, but changed to an uneasy expression immediately.
"What about th-that girl... Tabitha? She's smaller than me."
"If Tiffa is a melon, and I am a little lemon... Tabitha is pretty much an olive", Louise muttered.
"Tabitha is an important friend, but she's still a child. And it's bad to aim at children, right?"
Saying that, Saito shrugged. Louise continued her questioning.
"I, I lack the sexual charm of the princess. I know, actually, don't boys like that kind of thing?"
"The princess is really beautiful, but I'm not good with assertive girls. I like the pure girls like Louise."
"But I'm jealous of other girls. I don't want to see Saito get too close with other girls."
"I know, Louise, I have my eye only on you now."
Louise felt she was about to ascend to heaven by Saito kissing her neck.
"Why... why is Saito so gentle and considerate?"
"It goes without saying, because I like you."
"I'm not a liar."
"Bu-but my chest is a washboard, and I'm jealous. A-also I'll take a whip and beat you, treat you like a dog, and do a lot of other excessive things to you. However, y-you still like me?"
"Well, I like everything about you."
Saying that, Saito hugged Louise close.
With just that, Louise needed a reboot.
How is h-he doing this... really. What is this...?
But I feel very happy. My cheeks buried in Saito's chest, I feel extremely happy.
"Louise, you... like me?"
Saito whispered in Louise's ear.
After Louise's moment of insight... she mustered her courage and said.
"Well, like, of course I like... I really like you, Saito."
I've always wanted to say it... but I've been unable to say those important words.
But in a dream, she had the courage to express herself....
But, she didn't have a chance to say it again.
Because she wasn't qualified....
As soon as she realized this fact, Louise's consciousness could no longer be deceived by a dream.
Louise tightly held Saito in her heart, and then like sugar, he melted to nothing.
"Saito... no, Saito... don't just disappear like this!"
The ground at Louise's feet collapsed, and her body was swallowed into a pitch-black cave.
In this way, Louise fell into a deeper dream....
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