Zero no Tsukaima:Volume6 Chapter1
Chapter One: Homecoming
“Travelling sure is exciting!”
Siesta shouted, pushing her large chest against Saito's arm.
Rather than "exciting" I'd say it's "touching."
With a flustered face, Saito gave a short nod.
Inside a carriage, sitting next to each other, were Saito and Siesta.
Siesta was wearing a dark green one-piece dress with high boots.
Also, she had a small straw hat, which altogether made for quite the nice appearance.
When the black haired, sweet and innocent Siesta had that appearance, she seemed almost too cute overall.
More than just being cute, it was hard to hold anything back.
Damn you, putting me in this condition.
And the worst part was that, while making such an oddly audacious move, the cute Siesta was still radiating a sweet, innocent atmosphere.
As she sat next to Saito, she hugged one of his arms to her and squeezed her breasts against it.
“S-S-S-Siesta, when you get so close to me... your breasts are touching my arm and…and…” Saito said, half crying and becoming incomprehensible...
“Ah, I meant to do it!”
Siesta said with a totally carefree, smiling face.
“L… Like that, on purpose, that there is a person like you here, hey, you…”
Saito, who couldn’t stop talking, in order to soothe his own conscience, protested.
“You don’t have to worry about the coachman. He’s a golem.”
The young man sitting on the coachman stand was indeed a golem, a puppet which moved somehow or other with the use of magical power.
Now that you mention it, its eyes are like glass beads emitting light.
Consequently, this made Siesta even bolder. She placed her cheek on Saito’s shoulder and her mouth near his ear, mixing sighs with her voice.
“…Doing it like this, just the two of us…it’s been a long time, hasn’t it?”
“I think I heard about it sometime, but during summer break, what did you do with Miss Vallière?”
I can’t tell her that.
I can’t say that Henrietta requested a secret mission from us.
Though it was mostly washing dishes and stuff, it's a secret.
“Uh, umm, that is…, I worked at a bar. Louise worked in the castle so…, what she did, I don’t know,” Saito lied about Louise. Saying the truth about himself is probably alright, he decided.
“Oh! A bar! Saito did? Why?”
“Eh, uh, that is… I don’t have any money.”
“If it’s something like that, a money thing, just tell me and I would be happy to help!"
“Yes, it isn’t much, but I've scraped my wages and saved!"
As expected of a reliable village girl. Instead of squandering money, she’s quite frugal.
Siesta’s kind proposal made Saito glad.
“It’s alright. Somehow, I managed!”
“Really? But, if at times you are in need, please tell me without holding back."
There is no way I can borrow even a little bit of money from this admirable girl who has scrimped and saved like this.
“I can't borrow money from you, Siesta!”
“Why? As long as it's for Saito-san, money isn't important to me!” When she finished speaking, the girl lowered her shoulders.
“Ah, right, you mean you are really not interested in using my money right?”
“That's not the reason why!”
“You must hate me!”
”No, it's nothing like that!”
“Really? But Saito-san is always so cold to me...”
“I am? How so?”
“I am sitting next to you, and you aren't making a move.”
While Saito moved around hastily, Siesta hummed a little and moved her lips to his neck. The kind of feeling that can make a person melt surprised Saito to no end.
Siesta moved her lips upwards, finally nibbling Saito’s ear.
While feeling as if his brain was about to melt, the air seemed to grow cold and as a shivering sensation went down his spine. He shakily squeaked, "Si-Si-Siesta..."
In the instant he said that, something blew the top of the carriage away.
Well, blown is not the right word. It was more like some hidden explosive sent the whole thing flying. In that moment Saito and Siesta’s carriage suddenly changed from an enclosed carriage to one with a sky-light.
Trembling from fear, Saito slowly turned around and saw a carriage that was nearly twice the size and far more luxurious, pulled by two horses.
Sensing a killing intent emanating from the carriage, Saito didn't become simply afraid, but extremely afraid. It looks like I'm going to die before we arrive at our destination.
The luxurious carriage released an overwhelming aura of death.
“Wa…Wa…the roof of the carriage!” Siesta wailed while latching onto Saito.
“What, What is happening?”
“If you don’t want to die, I think we should sit apart.”
But that only made Siesta cling on to Saito even tighter.
“I don’t know what's going on, but my heart is pure!”
She screamed and pushed Saito down. On one side, Saito was very happy and excited about her feelings, while another kind of message flashed through his mind, “Haha, this is the end of my life. It really was too short, I hope I'll at least get to return to Japanese soil..”
From the carriage that was running behind Saito’s, from the window of that splendid carriage, Louise was sticking out her head, holding a light brown wand in her hand, shaking in anger and breathing heavily.
The roof of Saito and Siesta’s carriage was blown away by Louise with her Void magic, “Explosion.”
Because of the window on the back of the carriage, Louise could see everything going on inside.
Louise was shaking while watching them as they hugged each other inside their coach and Siesta kissed Saito’s neck.
Finally, as the maid’s lips came up to her familiar’s ear, Louise’s anger exploded. She wouldn’t let her own familiar get kissed.
However, as the roof was being blown off, she noticed that Siesta embraced Saito even tighter.
Louise’s eyebrow went up instantly and just as she was about to spell the happy couple’s doom, someone pulled her legs.
As she yelled that, her cheeks were stretched
“Id hurds! Yan! Au! Funya! Ahh! Id hurds!”
The prideful and haughty Louise getting her face pulled in such a manner, was unable to raise a single complaint. If Saito had been able to see this scene, his eyes would have most likely popped out in shock.
The one pulling Louise’s cheeks like that was… a beautiful blond woman. She was about twenty-five years old. Her face vaguely resembled Louise’s. If Louise cooled down her hot blood and grew up a bit, would she look like that as well? In short, she was a beautiful woman.
“Little Louise. My talk hasn’t finished yet, has it?
“Auu..., I’b sowwy..., Abe-saba, I’b sowwy...”
As her cheeks were being stretched, Louise shouted with a teary voice. There were a total of four absolute existences in Louise’s life. Henrietta, her parents and this bossy old sister, Eléonore. Eleven years older than Louise, the eldest daughter of the La Vallière house was known to be the best researcher in the Royal Magic Research Institute, "Academia."
“Even though it is a long-awaited conversation with me, why do you restlessly keep looking somewhere else? Moreover, you blew up the attendants’ carriage roof!”
“That’s, um… I wanted to, um, separate my familiar from the maid, that’s why…”
Just like that, Louise very hesitantly informed her older sister.
As Eléonore curled up her hair, she sharply stared at Louise. Like a frog targeted by a snake, Louise curled herself up.
“Let the attendants do whatever they want! As always, you’re a restless kid, aren’t you?! You are a daughter of the La Vallière house, you know?! Be more self-conscious!”
Louise quietly drooped her shoulders.
“B-But… Whatever you say, being taken by the academy’s maid is…”
“Shrimp. Are you listening? The La Vallière house is not simply a Tristainian noble family, it is our noble family. Even you should understand that, right?”
“You can’t use only your familiar as an attendant, right? Louise, a lady, you know, is a person that should, at the very least, always have one female attendant to take care of her when traveling.”
Eléonore, serving at Tristain’s Academia, came this morning to the Academy of Magic in order to take Louise home with her.
She caught Siesta, who was passing by with a laundry basket in her hands, and said “This girl will be good enough as a female attendant during the journey,” and after getting a nearby aristocrat teacher’s consent, she took Siesta along for the sake of looking after Louise.
Siesta and Saito boarded the carriage for attendants, after it was forcibly prepared by the academy’s employees. Louise and Eléonore boarded their own coach that was used to come to the academy.
There were practically no stops, so there really wasn’t any need for help along the way. Siesta was simply a decoration. However, to nobles, that ornament was very important.
As for Louise’s innermost thoughts, they weren’t calm at all.
That’s because this homecoming wasn’t a part of the plan at all.
The military operation to invade Albion was proclaimed at the school after the summer break ended, approximately at the time the two moons overlapped…
It had been many decades since the last time the king’s troops had insufficient officers in order to organize an expeditionary force. It was decided that in order to do that, aristocrat students were to be assigned as officers. One of the teachers and the academy’s headmaster Osman were against that, but Henrietta, the Cardinal, and the Queen’s army’s generals ignored that objection. The academy was closed down until the end of the war.
The bearer of the “Void,” the court lady under Henrietta’s direct supervision, Louise, in order for the invasion strategies to succeed, was to be given special missions.
However… after Louise reported to her parents that “For the fatherland’s sake, I will join the queen’s army in order to take part in Albion’s invasion,” it ended up causing a huge ruckus.
Joining the campaign wasn’t allowed, and, after a letter arrived and Louise ignored it, Eléonore came.
Naturally, Louise was very angry. What about going to the front? Even now all across the country, at our parade grounds and garrisons, a lot of students were training to become temporary officers. Most of them were male students that chose to enter the war.
I am a girl, but I have to protect Her Majesty’s honor as her court lady. Moreover, in this invasion plan, the airplane of my familiar is supposed to play a key role.
There are a lot of expectations placed upon my Void as well. Henrietta and the Cardinal consider me the Queen’s army’s trump card. As a Tristainian noble, there is no greater honor than that.
Well, I definitely don’t like war. But, for the princess’ and the fatherland’s sake I’d like to offer my poor ability. Since the Void was given to me I have a duty to be zealous in my loyalty to the fatherland. Isn’t the loyalty to the fatherland one of the things the noble family of La Vallière house is boastful of? And yet my own house has opposed my firm resolution to join at the front.
“Really, you’re doing such selfish things! War? What would you do there?! Good things? Get ready to get scolded by Mother and Father when we get home!”
Just as she was about to answer back, her cheeks got pinched. Eléonore was completely treating Louise as a kid, just like in the old days. Just like when she answered back during her studies, she called her a shrimp over and over again.
“'But'? 'Yes', you mean, shrimp?! Little Louise!"
As expected of sisters. Eléonore had the same expression as Louise at the times when she trained her familiar. Louise couldn’t do anything to oppose her.
“Fue, Au, Ouch, Ane-sama, my cheeks au au…”
She said with a pathetic voice.
As the incantation never flew over no matter how long he waited, Saito let out a sigh of relief. It seemed like for some reason Louise wasn’t able to complete her incantation.
It seemed that while she was sticking to him, Siesta became happy, so perhaps she had forgotten that there was no roof.
“Hey, hey, Saito-san.”
“Traveling sure is enjoyable!”
He nodded. Saito hadn’t become that optimistic.
When he thought about the things that were to come, he realized that the problems were piling up.
Henrietta and the others are making war plans. What is going to happen from now on is an assault war. Of course, Louise is going to participate. As things are now, I have no choice but to follow and participate no matter what as well. Most likely for the bearer of Zero there is some kind of war campaign. Most likely we’ll have to do something dangerous.
I can’t get into a cheerful mood.
Damn it, as soon as this war is over this time I’ll search for a way to return to my original world, to Japan, Saito decided. Until then no matter what happens I can’t allow myself to die.
Seeing Saito with the face of a person thinking about a lot of things, Siesta’s face clouded up.
“I don’t want that.”
“Saito-san, will go to Albion as well, right?”
It seemed like Siesta’s cheerful attitude until now was just a performance to cheer up Saito.
“I, hate the nobles.”
“It would be fine if they simply killed each other… but they involve us commoners as well… Even if it’s for the sake of ending the war… they’re just saying that.”
Remembering Henrietta’s words, Saito muttered
“Doesn’t matter if it’s for the sake of ending one or beginning one, war is war.”
Saito became silent.
Before, during the battle at Tarbes, there was a reason to fight. “Help out Siesta and the village’s people,” that kind of just cause.
But, during the invasion of Albion this time, what kind of reason was there?
I don’t want to fight, is there even a reason behind this fight?
Louise is in high spirits… but I have no interest in this.
But at the time I touched Henrietta I felt a “I want to help such a poor princess’ hand” kind of feeling, Saito cheered up a bit.
“Why does Saito-san have to go? You have no relation, right?”
“Well, that may be so, but…” his elbow was caught.
Siesta buried his face into her breasts.
“Don’t die… Don’t die no matter what…”
Saito felt that when Siesta was like this she was lovely.
To be cried for in this a way by such a cute maid… that alone was reason enough for Saito to keep living on… As I thought, I am an idiot, right.
But, Louise’s house huh…
Louise’s big sister that I met earlier was a beautiful woman, but she had a hard expression, didn’t she..., he thought. Splendidly, Saito saw her with only a glimpse. At the time they met he noticed that even though her eyes were different from Louise’s, she had the same high-minded attitude. Will Louise give off the same feeling when she grows a bit older? That would be painful.
Also, there was a kind of suspicious feeling in the air. It seemed that Louise and everyone in that house had differing opinions.
This time, we’re going towards the home of that Louise.
Saito looked up at the sky, sighed, and thought with an attitude lacking spirit... what’s going to happen from now on?
In the southern part of Londinium, the capital city of Albion, stood the Howland Palace.
The White Hall inside was indeed an appropriately vital point of the “White Country” Albion.
That place, painted entirely in white, was incredibly impressive. There were sixteen columns supporting the ceiling of the hall.
Like a wound in the wall, a face illuminated by the light was revealed.
In the middle of that hall stood a huge “Round Table” made of rock, around which the ministers and generals of the Holy Albion Republic were gathering, waiting for the start of the council’s meeting.
This was the place at which, until roughly two years ago, the ministers gathered around the king in order to control the country. But the ruler had since changed.
The people that participated in the revolution and took the country from the monarchy gave themselves top posts in the country as was to be expected.
As for the person that, until two years ago, was a simple local bishop…
The one that used to have a lower social status than everyone that had gathered here… even than the protection squad members that were standing on the sides of the door…
The two protection squad members opened the hall’s door.
“The Holy Albion Republic’s noble government congress chairman, gasp, Oliver…”
Cromwell, raising his hand, interrupted the voice…
“Shouldn’t we remove this useless tradition? Because amongst the people that have gathered here, none stands above another!”
As always, Cromwell’s private secretary, Sheffield, was walking behind him and next to her the figures of the healed up Viscount Wardes and Fouquet the Crumbling Dirt could be seen.
As Cromwell headed towards the chief’s seat, Sheffield followed him like a shadow. Wardes and Fouquet sat down in two free seats.
After the chairman and first emperor were seated, the meeting began. One man raised his hand. It was General Hawkins. With grey hair, white moustache, and a long military service, the general stared with intense eyes at the emperor that used to be a bishop.
After Cromwell acknowledged him, he stood up.
“Your Excellency, I would like to ask you something.”
“Ask whatever you want.”
“After losing the battle at Tarbes and our army that remained there, reorganizing our naval fleet has become essential. That’s because if we don’t have an armada, we can neither transport our armies nor defend our own territory.”
Cromwell nodded in agreement.
“The secret operation to abduct the Queen in order to earn some time failed as well.”
“Have those results reached His Excellency’s ears?”
“Of course. After all, it’s necessary to know everything about the incidents.”
“The enemy army is... ah. Tristain and Germania’s allied forces are preparing their fleets as quickly as possible. The two countries have a total of sixty battle-ready ships that can set out into the sky. Even if we begin the reorganization of our army now, after the maintenance our warship battle-line will not be able to rival theirs. Moreover, their side’s warships are all brand new.”
One of the generals muttered with a voice full of disdain,
“It’s a papier mache fleet. They are inferior to us.”
“That’s a story of the past, Your Excellency. There is no reason to praise our own army now. At the time of the revolution we executed the majority of our superior generals and as a result the strength of our side was weakened. The remaining veterans were lost because of the defeat at Tarbes.”
Cromwell was staying silent.
“At the present, they still haven’t finished rallying their ships. Furthermore, they seem to be calling together the lords’ armies.”
“They’re like a hedgehog. If it’s like that it will be difficult to attack us.”
A fat general blurted that out with a cheerful voice. Hawkins glared at him.
“Difficult to attack? Isn’t it obvious that the enemy’s army is probably scheming something if they’ve gathered so few forces?”
Hawkins hit the table strongly.
“They’re planning to attack this continent, Albion, you know. And, a question. I’d like to be informed of His Excellency’s defense plan. If it comes to a decisive battle with fleets, we will be defenseless. If the enemy’s army manages to land… it’s over. Our army is exhausted because of the revolutionary war, so please give me an answer…”
“Those are the thoughts of a defeatist!”
A young general with bloodshot eyes criticized Hawkins. Cromwell grinned lightly as he raised one of his hands as a signal to stop.
“In order for them to attack Albion, it will be necessary for them to mobilize their entire military force.”
“However, they have no reason to leave soldiers in the country.”
“Why is that?”
“Because to them, with the exception of our country, there is no other enemy.”
“Do they intend to leave their back unprotected?"
“Gallia declared neutrality. That’s something that was foreseen and is necessary in order for the invasion to take place.”
Cromwell looked over his shoulder and exchanged glances with Sheffield. She gave a small nod.
"That neutrality, what if it were a ruse?"
Hawkins complexion changed.
"It's not real?" "Gallia is really on our side?”
"I wouldn't say that yet. But there are advanced diplomatic meetings with them."
The meeting became an uproar.
"Gallia is going to participate in the war?" "What are there conditions of agreement?" "If Gallia were on our side, it would be frightening" and so on. They began to all shout simultaneously. With a disbelieving face, Hawkins stared at Cromwell. However, Cromwell just fiddled with his mustache.
"Yes, a diplomatic meeting has been arranged."
Hawkins was filled with thoughts. With Gallia's army, they would be able to attack allied Tristain and Germania. If Albion's fleet was about to be defeated, Gallia's forces could surprise the two countries from behind. They would be forced to withdraw their troops.
"If this is true, then it is great news."
"It would stimulate our military. Our offense, our defense, our triumph would be certain."
The generals stood up and all saluted at the same time. Then, they left and returned to their troops.
Cromwell went with Sheffield, Wardes, and Fouquet to his office and after he sat down in the ruler’s seat, he looked at his subordinates.
“Your wounds have healed up, right? Viscount.”
Wardes bowed. Cromwell smiled lightly and questioned Wardes.
“Now then, say what you have to say.”
“As that general pointed out, Tristain and Germania are certainly going to attack us, right?”
“Yeah. So, what are the odds?”
“Evenly matched… no, perhaps our power is a bit greater. The number of our soldiers is lower, but we have an advantage considering position.”
“Also, we have Your Excellency’s Void.”
Fouquet said in a thoughtful manner. As she said that Cromwell coughed unpleasantly.
“Is there something wrong?”
“No, it’s nothing. All of you should understand, after I’ve told you so many times, that I can’t use any powerful incantations. Except for giving life to those that have already died, that is. If you keep saying that, I’ll be troubled."
As Cromwell said, he couldn’t use any useful incantations at all.
“I didn’t intend to trouble you. Only that, if we don’t show that we have a trump card, the army’s morale will be lowered.”
As Wardes said that, Cromwell nodded.
“Indeed, there is no greater trump card than the Void.”
“Well then, as I thought, is Gallia going to join the war?”
At the beginning, the plan was for Gallia to aid Albion’s invasion of Tristain by attacking Germania at the same time, but… because Albion’s army was defeated at Tarbes there was a need to change the original plan. The proposition that came from Gallia’s side was to deflect the enemy’s army into the Albion continent, while Gallia took that opportunity to attack Tristain and Germania.
After Wardes heard that plan he said to Cromwell,
“You Excellency, I have only one more thing I’d like to know.”
“What is it?”
“Gallia’s imperial rule is going to aid us in destroying Halkeginia’s monarchic system, is that right? What are we going to do if they’re doing it with an ill intent?"
Cromwell looked at Wardes with cold eyes.
“Viscount, that isn’t something that you should be thinking about. Leave politics to me, it will be good enough to work hard on the duty that has been assigned to you.”
Wardes closed his eyes and lowered his head.
“As you wish.”
“The duty that has been given to you. You’re doing it, right?”
“With everything I have.”
As soon as Cromwell called out, the door of the office opened and a single man appeared. He was about forty years old, with gray hair and a wrinkled face, but because of his disciplined body, one couldn’t notice his age. At first glance he appeared to be a swordsman, because of his rough outlook, but he was carrying a cane, so he was a mage.
There was a characteristic of his face that really stood out. Starting from the middle of his forehead, across his left eye and ending at his cheek, there was a big burn.
Cromwell introduced Wardes to him.
“This is Viscount Wardes.”
With an iron expression Menvil suddenly stared at Wardes.
“Wardes you should have at least heard his name, right? He is White Menvil.”
Wardes’ eyes glittered. He had a memory of hearing that name. The legendary mage mercenary. The White Flame. The one that used cowardly methods during a duel and as a result got his noble title confiscated and became a mercenary, killed his own family by burning them to death, and abandoned his house. It was said that the number of the people he had burned so far is greater than the number of the birds he has grilled in order to eat. There were also many other rumors about him that had been floating about.
There was one certain thing in those rumors.
That on the battlefield he used his flame with thorough cruelty. That flame didn’t choose its opponent. He was a man to whom the age and gender of the ones he burned didn’t matter. He was a man that deprived humans of their warmth with his fire freely… that’s who this White Menvil was.
“What’s wrong, Viscount? There’s a legend right before your eyes.”
“I was just thinking, that I’m glad this place isn’t a battlefield.”
Wardes expressed his honest thoughts.
“Now then, Wardes. With you in the lead, I want you to transport a small squad.”
A faint dissatisfaction could be noticed on Wardes’ face. “He wants me to be a carrier?” is what his eyes said.
“I’d rather you don’t make such a grim face. Moreover, I’d like you to serve with perfection. Rather than a small unit, this secret squad is going to need a Wind specialist in order to use a boat as transport. In short, you.”
“… As you wish.”
“Gallia’s army will capture everything, without us having to do anything, so I expect you to at least push 'there'. After you have completed your work report to me immediately.”
Cromwell muttered with an impatient voice.
“Where is 'there' supposed to be?”
“Firstly, it has to be a place where the defense is weak and the room’s price is low. In other words, it mustn’t be too close to the capital of Tristain. Next, it has to be an important place that has a role in politics. Therefore, it mustn’t be too far neither.”
“Role in politics?”
“For example, taking young nobles as hostages would definitely have its effects on the country’s politics, right?”
Wardes’ lips curled up a bit.
With an exaggerated motion, Cromwell informed them of the destination.
“It’s the Academy of Magic, Viscount. As the commanding officer, you will take advantage of the night and head there with Menvil and a small squad.”
At the same time, at the Academy of Magic──
Kirche and Tabitha were taking a walk in Austri Plaza. Right now it was break time. As always, the place was bursting with students, however…
All of them were female students. The figures of the male students, making noise, were nowhere to be seen.
“Well, well, it really feels like war, doesn’t it?”
Kirche spread her hands and shook her head. Most of the male students volunteered to join the Queen’s army, because they were troubled by the lack of officers. She was surprised, because even that coward Guiche volunteered.
All of them were in the middle of training, at the country’s festival grounds, to become substitute officers. It was natural that the academy had quieted down.
Of course, Tabitha was also one of the people that stayed behind. There was no point for Tabitha, who had sworn to take revenge on Gallia’s king, for some unknown reason, to thrust her head into a war at a different place.
Kirche volunteered to join her fatherland’s army as well, but she wasn’t allowed, because she was a woman. She was regretful, because she really wanted to act violently.
Well, because the male teachers departed as well, the lessons were cut in half.
The female students that now had a lot of free time, overcome with loneliness, were searching for rumors in order to find out whether their lovers or friends were safe. Having noticed Montmorency’s figure, sitting on a bench with her elbows on her knees, Kirche approached her.
“My my, since your lover is gone, you’re bored, huh?”
Montmorency looked straight at her, and muttered with an annoyed tone.
“It’s normal for him to be gone. I don’t feel so bad about it.”
“But, aren’t you lonely?”
“That guy, you know, he’s overdoing it even though he’s a coward. Si~gh, but when he’s gone it really is a bit lonely, isn’t it?”
Kirche patted Montmorency’s shoulder.
“Well, they’ll come back before the festival of Founder Brimir’s Descent. After all it’s said that it will be an easy victory if it’s your country’s dear Queen’s and our country’s great Emperor’s armies combined."
Kirche muttered the “dear” and “great” with sarcasm in her voice. From the beginning, Germanian nobles didn’t have much of a loyal heart. After all, it was a country that was created by lords who gathered together because they had similar interests.
“That would be nice.”
While looking at such a Montmorency, Kirche ended up feeling a similar painful feeling. “I don’t like it… I really don’t like war,” muttered the one that was always prepared to fight.
Kirche and Tabitha were walking lazily when they arrived at Colbert’s laboratory, which was located next to the Tower of Flame. In there, Colbert was working very hard in order to finish the final war adjustments of the Zero Fighter.
Even though most of the male teachers had departed… Colbert was in his usual “my pace” mood. As soon as the winds of war started blowing, he immersed himself in his studies.
“It’s pretty busy, isn’t it?”
Kirche asked that Colbert with an unsure voice.
“Hm?” Colbert raised his head a bit and smiled.
“Oh, Miss. Miss Zerbst. You should take my lectures on Fire Manipulation from time to time.” Colbert said as if he were still in class.
Kirche answered with an uncomfortable and a bit sad face and nodded.
“What’s wrong? Miss…”
“Sir, You didn’t volunteer to join the Queen’s army, did you?"
Even though most of the academy’s men joined the war, is what she meant by that.
“Hm? Yeah… Because I hate war.”
Colbert turned his face away from Kirche. Kirche snorted with a face full of disdain. “So unmanly”, she thought. She could see nothing but a person that had run away from the war. She couldn’t forgive this teacher who, even though he was one of the proud “Flame Users,” calmly declared that he hated war.
“As a person that also uses Fire, I’m embarrassed.”
Colbert was facing down for a while, but then he looked up again.
“Miss… you know? The Fire’s purpose…"
“Isn’t only fighting, is what you want to say, right? I’m tired of hearing that.”
“That’s right. That’s simply the way it’s being used. Nothing except for destruction…”
“I don’t want to listen to a coward’s blabbering.”
Kirche turned away her face and, urging Tabitha to move along, walked away. As he watched that scene, Colbert let out a lonely sigh.
Returning to the laboratory, he sat down in a chair.
Colbert went into deep thought for a while… he unlocked the drawer of the desk that was covered by a lot of things, using the key that was hanging by a string from his neck.
In that drawer there was a small box. He took it out and opened the lid.
There was a small red ruby ring shining like a fire inside of it.
If one concentrated, he would be able to see a flickering flame inside the precious stone.
As he looked at that flame, the memories of the incident from twenty years ago were resurrected. The memories of that scene were imprinted into his mind; even now the colors were vivid. In that clear, glittering flame… Colbert was blaming himself. In just a moment, he remembered everything he had forgotten….
After that, Colbert looked around the inside of the laboratory. It was a small house with a shabby exterior, but he liked it much more than the mansion and property he had inherited from his ancestors and of which he himself had disposed of. The walls were covered by various tools and flasks he had obtained over time.
As he gazed at them, Colbert suddenly crumbled as if in pain.
“The Fire’s purpose… isn’t only destruction…”
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