|Familar of Zero: The Complete Circle
Author: Joe JS Smitty PM
The fight begins, has an entire school faces a lone square-mage, but the old man is hiding something...something sinister. CHAPTER 5 UP!Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Humor - Chapters: 5 - Words: 29,752 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 4 - Follows: 5 - Updated: 11-30-09 - Published: 10-25-09 - id: 5466099
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: Zero no Tsukaima is owned and produced by outside companies.
A/N: So this is a story that's been floating in my head ever since I finished the second season. After watching the third, I realize I had to write it before the fourth was produced and ruined it. So in essence, this is a continuation of the third series.
Note's note: What I'm about to say is completely against my beliefs and know-how of fanfiction writing when it comes to continuing a pre-existing story (as opposed to creating a short, cute side story). I'm an elitist, and as such I usually want all of my fanfiction to be based off of the original creation. In ZnT case, that would be the light novels. As I already said, what I'm about to say goes against that.
THIS FANFICTION IS BASED OFF THE ANIME. ONLY!
This takes place immediately after the third series. No light novel canon work is involved in any way. Any similarities between my series and the LN's are completely coincidental, I have developed this story for quite some time without any knowledge of the light novel's inner workings. Don't try to refer me to the LN's. Don't tell me what happens in the LN's, don't even mention them. I feel bad enough writing just based off the anime.
Familiar of Zero: The Complete Circle
It's just a dream.
Saito scratched at his head, pulling his hair in the same manner.
This isn't real. This isn't happening.
Tears began to pool at the corner of his eyes, as he bent down and picked up her lifeless body.
Wake up…WAKE UP!
And he could not take it anymore.
"LOUISE!" Pain and fury echoed in his voice, as her body slumped in her arms. There were no distinguishing marks, no wounds, no blood, it was as if her body was like it was when he laid next to her just hours ago.
Except she was dead.
He cried her name out again, and held her tight against him. He was no longer sitting on the bedroom, but kneeling on the floor of a place he had never seen before. Red and orange danced around him, only to realize that fire had him surrounded. And in a brief moment to pull his eyes away from her body, the one thing he did not want to believe, another horror laid before him. It was not just Louise who had perished.
But everyone in Tristain he had grown fond of and cared for.
He almost dropped Louise had it not been for the deathgrip he had established around her. There was no taking his eyes off of the scene in front of him. He recognized every face that was strewn around him. Some of them looked similar to Louise, some of them looked as if they had actually been killed, blood running down their mouths, or in a gaping hole in their chest. Burn marks covered a female body that he knew was Siesta, had it not been for the brooch from her maid uniform, he would have never recognized her.
"Everyone…" he gasped out. "Everyone…wh-" Biting at his lip, he tried his damnest not to cry outloud, but he could no longer hold it in.
He sobbed some more. Now, he did not care how they died, just why. Why did they all die? What had happened that they deserved to be killed?
"Because…" a voice echoed behind him.
Instinctively he reached for Derflinger, but he was not on his person, nor was he anywhere near Saito. He had disappeared too, left him like the rest.
With no weapon, Saito thought he could stand to his foe but found that his legs had failed him, Louise's body becoming one giant weight that he could not let go of. It was pathetic; he could not even stand up to the opponent behind him.
Opponent? He had no idea who this person was. Why he was here. Still, Saito knew…
He had killed them
"Who are you?!" Saito demanded as he spun around the best he could to see the man who had been responsible for all of this.
Words left Saito.
The man had no distinguishing features, save for the dark, ominous outline of his figure. The man was tall, close to seven feet from what he could wager. Broad shoulders that seemed to be wider than Saito's entire body, ending in clawed hands that fidgeted anxiously with the air. His hair was a dark mass of black, slithering tendrils that shifted constantly; all encompassing his head that showed the only part of his body that was not covered in darkness. A brilliantly white, hideous smile.
"Gandalfr…" he hissed with delight. Saito felt his whole body shiver collectively, the way he said the name God bestowed upon him was frightening…he could feel as if…as if the man was looking at his most favorite meal.
"Gandalfr…" he hissed again, with no decline of greed, "They are dead…because of you."
Saito's eyes widened, the man blamed him for their deaths when clearly he was the one responsible. He could even see Julio's dark blood dripping off of his right hand, his body lying only feet behind the man.
So why did he think the man was right?
The man let out a sigh of relief, his breath visible amongst the fires that raged around them, "Finally…" the man sighed, "Finally…YOU ARE MINE!" In one giant lunge the man leapt at Saito.
He felt the entire world go dark as the man's hand wrapped around his face, and for a second he could almost feel the pain from the man's grasp as he squeezed his head in a tight vice, and his entire spine crumbled inward.
He could not scream.
He could not talk.
He could not even breathe.
He woke up.
He made no sounds as he snapped upwards in his bed, only the frantic and heavy panting was allowed to pass through lips. Sweat poured over his entire body, curling over the tip of his nose and dripping onto his shirt, which was already drenched. He touched his face, the pain of the dream-man's grip still fresh in his mind, the scene that transpired around him still lingering in his vision.
With one quick motion he turned to his side.
And there she was, sleeping like a little angel. The left side of her face pressed into the pillow, turned so she would face Saito, whom even noticed that she had moved closer to him during the night.
There were so many times he thought he would never see her again, even in his terrible dreams they had parted in horrible ways, and each and every time when he saw her as he woke up, he could not contain himself.
"Oh Louise!" he yelled as he jumped on top of her, wrapping her in a passionate hug. And each and every time he could not contain his joy over seeing her alive and well, she too could not contain herself.
"S-S-S-Saito!" she screamed in a mixture of embarrassment and anger. "Wh-Wh-Wh-What are you doing?!"
After several seconds of rolling around, even off of the bed, Saito ended up top and he looked down at her. Blanket and bed sheets spread amongst themselves, the bed and the floor, Louise's tiny hands pushing onto his chest in a futile strength to fend him away from her, thought a large part of her did not want to resist.
Usually, her first reaction was to beat him senseless with her magic, whip or riding crop, whichever was closer on hand, but this time, as he looked at her with tears of joy swelling in his eyes, and a grin on his face that only a man in love could create, Louise's hard heart began to soften a little. She whispered his name softly.
"Louise…" he said, holding back the tears of happiness. Again, she responded with his name, "I'm so glad you're alright, I had such a horrible dream. I dreamt that you…that you…" He wiped away the tears from his face, "Louise…I don't ever want to leave you…I don't want you to ever leave me…"
He drew himself closer to her, her hands easily giving way to his body. Louise's eyes ever so slightly closed, until she could feel his breath against her lips. And once again, she softly said his name.
"I don't want you to ever leave me…not without making love with you first…" he whispered as he was almost on her.
"Oh..Saito…" Her eyes shot open, irises shrinking, "What?"
With her hand pressed firmly against his face, in a very sudden and unexpected move, Saito slowly began to realize the error of his poorly chosen words.
"No. Louise. You see, what I meant was…"
Too late, she had miraculously found the riding crop.
The rest of the morning, Saito found himself eating alone outside (once again), his body covered with scratches, cuts and welts. This time however, he had found out that she had been cavorting with the cooks, a steaming pile of slop haven been fed to him.
Eyes half closed, he just stared at the food, "I think she may have gone too far this time…" he mumbled to himself.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw a flash of pink, and noticed Louise was being followed by a pair of first-years, who had a hard time taking their eyes off of Saito.
"Why is Saito-sama sitting by himself…again?" a brown-haired girl commented, loud enough for Saito to hear. He only sulked further, keeping his eyes closed.
"And is that…what is that he's eating?"
With a very pretentious brush of her hair, she smiled a sadistic smile to herself, "It is dog-food, the only treat suitable for a disgusting, low-life dog, it will help him learn his place."
"I don't even know what I did…" he mumbled softly. Not soft enough though.
The sadistic smile faded very quickly and was replaced by the very angry, humiliated-red color that accompanied the little Frenchwoman's tantrums. "What you did?!" she screamed, "You were trying to get fresh with me last night you…you…"
"Stupid dog?" a soft, yet demeaning voice popped up from behind Saito. Were it not for the mockery of Louise, it would have been a near angelic sound. Upon hearing her voice, Saito turned around to face his servant, Siesta, who was just slightly happier to see him than he was to see her.
"Ohayo Siesta!" he exclaimed with excitement, "Have a good sleep?"
Saito, having become completely oblivious to the person standing yards away from him, and Siesta, not caring in the least about her rival, began their morning conversation. Cocking her head slightly and giggling, she responded to his question, "Just fine Saito-sama. I just wish Louise-san had not banned me from her room, a night's sleep just isn't the same when you're not there to share it with me."
Not really sure if he should be embarrassed or flattered, Saito chuckled to himself as his face began to turn red. At a complete loss of words, all he could do was scratch the back of his head.
He could not recall the next few moments, only the crackling of energy, Siesta disappearing quicker than an average woman should, and the very distinct screeching of something along the lines of "stupid dog".
When he came to, he knew that today was not going to be a good day.
After a quick trip to the medical wing, Saito found himself wandering the empty halls of the school, and he began to contemplate the entirety of his stay here. He had learned to get use to the lack of modern appliances, though not of modern plumbing. The Gandalfr runes, which were something he never expected to happen in this life or the next, had not only saved himself on several occasions, but had saved those he was closest to. Especially Louise.
Finding himself standing outside a full, yet quiet classroom, his thoughts turned to Louise. So many times had she been in danger, and each and every time she had come out unharmed, mostly through his help and servitude. But that was not a problem, no, he would have given his life ten times over to make sure she was always safe, but now…Louise was going to be starting her fourth year of school. From what he learned, she had one more year left, which in its whole was still quite a ways away, but there was no progress made on their relationship.
He knew in his heart that she felt exactly the same way that he felt about her, if not more so. But getting her to admit those feelings, ah that was the tricky part. Remembering all too well their stay at the castle several months ago, taking the lead was not the way to get her to open up, probably just made their relationship even more screwed up now that he could not smile at her without her thinking that he was trying to jump her. In fact, ever since their encounter with the Square-Magic Golem, it had almost been a slow decline. Time was less spent with her and more either training or wandering around the castle.
"What would happen to me if nothing ever moves forward with us?" he constantly thought to himself. True, Louise was a prude, but every day it felt less like she was saving her heart.
And more like she was protecting it.
But the worst part was…
Saito rested his head against the wall, eyes wide with realization.
"She hasn't grown an inch either way in all the time I've known her."
The subtle self-realization that he was a pig was quickly interrupted when Beatrice and her rag-tag crew of followers came jogging around the corner, stopping in front of Saito nearly out of breath.
"Saito-san!" They said in unison, followed by Beatrice rushing to the front of the group, "Saito-san…do you know where Tiffania-sama is? It's very important."
"No," Saito said he said, "Is something wrong?"
All three girls, clenched fists near their chins, nodded frantically.
"I just got a most unexpected letter today, something that makes no sense for many reasons," Beatrice said, "High Inquisitor Francis Montgomery sent the letter…he's coming here to see me."
The entire school knew all-too well what had happened when Beatrice first arrived at the school, not so much the high-and-mighty attitude, mighty though it was, what the entire school remembered was actually what followed several days after. When Beatrice almost made Tiffania Westwood, local buxom elf, walk into a vat of boiling oil in a wrongfully placed inquisition. She might have gone through with it too, had Louise's timely entrance not interrupted them, and her knowledge of the nobility showing proof that Beatrice had no power to hold an inquisition, though she did carry the power of the pope. The only person who could hold a religious inquisition would be the pope himself, or the one man that he saw fit.
And for the past three decades, that man had been High Inquisitor Francisco Montgomery.
Beatrice explained to Saito the best she could, the danger that Tiffa was in. Though she was of royal descent, the Church had been adamant about the conversion of those of other faith, especially elves. The young heiress abused her powers for her own good, but the man who was coming to visit them within a couple days, would not be abusing his powers, but rather he would be doing his job. If he wanted, not even Queen Henrietta could stop him.
"Why not?!" Saito yelled. The entire time they had been searching and talking about the upcoming visit, they had garnered the attention of Louise, who was concerned not only about Tiffania, but also about Saito's concern for her. The six of them strode quickly down the hall, looking in open and adjacent rooms.
"Because the Pope is the voice of God. His word is law, even here in Tristain. And Francisco, Francisco is his arms, his sword. He reaches out where the Pope cannot, does things the Pope cannot do himself." Her eyes veered off to the side, "If only they knew what Tiffania was really like…then we wouldn't have to be so concerned."
At first Saito did not notice the aside remark, but after milling it over for a few moments, he realized that he did not care for that comment. He stopped abruptly, grabbing Beatrice by the arm, much to her surprise and that of her followers, "What do you mean by that? That all elves who aren't Tiffania deserved to be dumped into pots of boiling oil just to prove their loyalty to your God? That none of them are worth saving if they don't-"
"Saito." One stern word from Louise stopped him dead in his tracks. This was not jealous Louise, though she was, this was serious Louise. This was the noblewoman Louise. "Just stop it."
Saito let go of Beatrice arm, who winced, and directed his anger at Louise "Are you saying you agree with her?"
"Of course not." Her words were quick and sharp "But how you or I feel is not the issue here, I doubt even Tiffa's feelings are important here. If High Inquisitor Francisco Montgomery shows up here tomorrow, and Tiffa is still here, and he does wish to hold an inquisition, it will happen." Saito's face went into a look of shock, Louise's words were vicious, but truthful, "Let me ask you this, if Her Highness shows up here tomorrow and tells the High Inquisitor that he WON'T hold an inquisition, do you know what will happen? He will go straight to His Holiness. He could tell Him that Her Highness is harboring a defiler of God, who whatever he can make up to convince the Pope, and that she too, is an unholy blight or…I don't know, whatever he could find to say about her. If that happens, the best thing that could happen is an excommunication." Her eyes closed, a terrible thought overcoming her mind, "And the worst could be a Holy War."
His heart clenched inside his chest, as images of the last war he was involved in began to overflow his mind. This was definitely a series of events that could end in tragedy, like the one in his dreams.
"Wait…but…isn't that a little harsh? It seems like a huge leap of judgment to go proclaiming war."
Louise sighed, "Yeah well, that's true. Neither side wishes to start a war, and over something as silly as an elf would be a bit ridiculous, though wars have been started over less…" her voice trailed off, barely being heard by the others, "Eh-hem! Anyways, the point I'm trying to make here isn't that Tiffa's life is in danger if she tries to resist, we ALL are if we attempt to stop him. He has the power to do so; he could call us all heretics if he wanted to, all he'd have to do is tell the Pope."
Saito and Louise stared at each other for a moment, their glares bouncing off of the others. This was when he felt the most like he was slipping away from her. Her next words only made it worse.
"Derflinger told me that status isn't as important where you come from…Saito…" she stared off to the side; sadden by the realization, "You just don't understand this place…"
Knife to the stomach would have been easier on him. It all was becoming clearer to him now, why she as distancing herself from him. He had almost forgotten how important blood and family was around here.
A tiny cough emanated from around the corner, a very familiar cough. All six of them snapped around and saw her ears pop from around the corner first, her face following. She was just the right thing to keep the situation from escalating any more.
"I um…I heard everything…"
She rounded the corner, hands clasped around her lap, trying desperately not to look them in the eyes.
"Tiffa!" The four girls yelled and immediately circled around her. By their near incoherent rambling it was obvious that this was not the way they wanted her to find out about this. The elf, however, just smiled and patted each one of them gently, with soft "It's okay"'s and gentle "I'll be fine"'s to soothe their worries and fears. Then she gazed her eyes towards Saito and Louise, whom amidst the clambering, remained very quiet.
"If only soothing either of them was just as easy," she thought, trying her hardest not to look concerned about it, and failing. "Saito…"
The discussion quickly turned to ways to help Tiffa and prevent anything calamitous from happening to her. That's why when Louise finally spoke up, the feelings of everyone started to lift.
"I can't believe all of you…" she said sullenly, "Coming up with ludicrous plans of disguising her with magic and stupid costumes…you DO realize the best way to avoid the situation, don't you?" Everyone just stared at her as if she were stupid, which only raised her anger, and with a growl, "BAKA'S! Just get her out of here!"
"Ano…" Tiffa said as Louise threw a silky, white rag over her head, "Louise-chan…I'm still not sure what's going on."
"It's simple," she said as she tried to adjust the rag around her ears, "Your natural elf instincts -ergh- have instructed you to go to the forest to commune-so annoying- with nature, at least that's what you'll tell OH MY GOD, what is with your ears?!"
"Eyah! L-Louise-chan, please don't ahhhhh! O-onegai…"
During the entire changing and semi-molestation, Saito kept his back peacefully towards the two of them, knowing that even the slightest hint of a body shift would cause Louise to explode (literally), so he tried to keep his mind preoccupied. This was not an achievable task as Tiffa stated to moan.
"W-What are you two-" Saito asked, attempting to control his perverse curiosity. Louise knew full well his reasoning for tilting his head back even a single degree towards them.
"OTHER WAY DOG!" Saito snapped his neck back towards the balcony just outside Louise's room. "I swear, I don't know which one of you is more perverted."
"I-I'm sorry Louise!" Tiffa exclaimed, "It-It's just that my ears are really sensitive, well, most elves ears are…but mine's a little more so," her face blushed red as she smiled, "It's partly why I like windy days. Why, just a slight breeze-"
"Okay that's enough!" Louise cut her off, her face turning redder than Tiffa's. With a sigh, she continued with her task, "Anyways, that's what you'll tell everyone at any rate. You'll leave today as soon as you get in disguise, so people won't recognize you when you go to the nearest inn."
"And…I'll leave the school grounds then…that feels like running away," she turned her head towards Saito, a look of longing ever apparent on her face. A look that disappeared when Louise's hand squished her face and turned it around to make it her face her own again, a look of contempt written over every wrinkle in that tiny, angry little face.
"You'll be gone for a week. I'm giving you money to stay in a decent inn until we come and get you. Would you rather be boiled in oil?" Tiffa, face still squished between her hand, shook her head furiously, "Would you rather be set on fire or crucified?" Again, she shook her head, this time a little less hesitantly than the last time, "Would you like me to help you?: Tiffa quickly nodded her head. Louise pulled herself closer to Tiffa's face, whispering in a demonic undertone just enough for Tiffa to hear her, "Then keep your eyes on me."
The elf's face bounced as Louise released her deathgrip on it, causing Tiffa to rub her sore and cramping cheeks. The jealous and frustrated Louise went back to the job on hand, pulling out a larger, red rag made of similar material and adjusting it over Tiffa's head, with much more success. "There…that's a lot better," she stated, fooling around with the rag more, "No wonder you wear such a large hood all the time…"
Louise, despite her better judgment, looked just slightly over to Tiffa's face. Indeed, tears had begun to pull in the corners of her eyes, a large smile spread from ear to ear, and a look that was full of unmitigated love and concern directed towards Louise alone.
"It-It's nothing!" Louise yelled, turning away from her. Today had been one horrible day for using blush. 'Geez…how do you hate someone who looks at anyone like that?' Louise thought to herself, thinking of her silly obsessive jealously. With a peek out of the corner of her eye, she saw Tiffa wipe away the tears from her, her forearm catching one side of her chest and swiping across to the other side, the entire thing bouncing back and forth like a pair of giant rubber balls. Louise's eye twitched, 'Oh yeah…that's how…' With a slap to her own face, Louise was able to take her mind, and eyes, off of the giant pair of…rubber balls. "Now then," she removed the rag from Tiffania's head, "Start getting undressed!"
"What was that?" Saito asked, turning around from his perch on the balcony. A terrible screech and a small, dense figurine that missed his head by a centimeter or two quickly turned him back. And he was forced to listen out the rest of the conversation with no visual aids whatsoever.
"Are you sure Louise-chan?"
"Just hurry up and take it off, I already know what you look like underneath all that."
There was a slight pause and shuffling of clothes, Saito's nose began to run.
"Did…" she gulped, "Did your breasts get bigger?"
Saito's nose really began to itch.
"J-Just a little."
"Wh-Wh-Wh…" another pause, "WHAT IS THE DEAL?!"
"Ah! I'm sorry, I can't control it!"
"This is ridiculous!"
"How does your back even support those things?!"
"Actually…it's not as bad as you'd think…"
"That's funny, because HOW WOULD I KNOW?!"
"I'm sorry I'm sorry!"
"Put the damn clothes on already! I can't look at them anymore!"
Some grunting and groaning later, Saito began to wonder what was taking so long.
"Don't say it."
"Ah…I'm just wondering…"
"Don't say it."
"I think your blouse is a little too small for me."
"WHY DID YOU SAY IT?!"
"Gomen nasai! I just can't get it over my chest is all!"
"Argh! Then just…SUCK it in!"
Saito's nose started to bleed.
"Please…don't grab them like tha *gasp* L-Louise-chan…I'll just find something ohhhhh…It's not a big deal, just please be more gentle ah ah ah ah…" Louise had successfully reduced Tiffania to nothing but spastic moans and verbal trembles. Saito's legs felt similar to the red stuff that was pouring out of his nose in great amounts.
"There! Finally got it!" Louise said with great relief, actually sounding very proud of herself, "Why do I feel like a pervert though?"
"I…I think I've been ruined for marriage…"
"See? My clothes ARE big enough for you to wear. You just have to do a little adjusting, some maneuvering, remove the brassiere and voila!"
"I need to sit down for a second Louise, I feel really hot and funny."
"My breasts aren't that small after all," that line was nearly out of context, but explained to both Louise and Saito the reasoning behind her persistent actions.
And just when everything settled down, when everyone was able to breathe, Saito had managed to seal up the faucet that was his nose…
"EEEEEK!" Both girls yelled.
"What happened?!" Saito yelled, this time being truly concerned about their well-being as he turned to face them. He should have been worried about his well-being, as this larger, denser object actually impacted his face, causing him to wobble dangerously over the railing of the balcony. His nose had begun flowing again, though not for any mental reasons.
"My blouse! My good blouse!"
"I'm sorry Louise!"
"Onee-sama gave it to me…she gave it to me for my last birthday…"
"I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry!"
Her voice was shaky and desperate, "I…I don't know if I can find the tailor who made this to replace it…"
Tiffa's voice was riddled with sorrow and remorse, "I'M SORRY I'M SORRY!"
Saito awoke to the sounds of two women crying, both over the same thing but for different reasons. There was no reason to keep his back to them anymore, his face was so badly damaged and in so much pain that there was not anything worse Louise could do to it, yet he kept his eyes away from them, knowing full well that Louise would find a way to make it very painful.
That's when he saw it. At first glance, no one would have taken too much notice; it was almost as simple as any other student who would enter the school. A small enclave of soldiers and a white, horse-drawn carriage with a grand flag bannered on a pole, it was just another student looking to make their grand entrance, a poor attempt to wow the rest of the campus, most of whom probably were better off than this person. But this person…something was different. Something about the way the soldiers carried themselves, the flag, the presence of the entire cavalcade.
These men were serious.
"Louise…" He called out. The ruckus behind him continued on. Once more was not enough to stop the quarrel, finally he had to yell out her name, just barely grabbing her attention as she was in the middle of taking the ripped piece of cloth and wrapping it around Tiffania's neck.
Louise walked out next to Saito, her gaze filled with the worry that was in Saito's. Tiffania stood back, away from the ledge, the once beautiful dress held to her bosom just enough to hide her chest from any prying eyes. It was not difficult for anyone to tell the thoughts and feelings of the couple who looked over the schoolyard.
The elf was the first one to break the silence, "He's here…isn't he?"
There was no verbal response, just a collective nod from the young man and his counterpart. Tiffania's face saddened all the more.
Down on the schoolyard, a large gathering had surrounded the carriage. The only one who dared to approach it was Beatrice, whom had already assumed a kneeling position at the carriage door, head nearly planted into the dirt. Several knights rushed to the door, but a visible hand from inside shooed them away, rather they just stood near the wheels, viewing the crowd from their standpoint. Then the carriage door opened.
The man was small and stocky, and there had been no attempt on either his or his escort's part to hide his age. Leathery skin caused deep crevices in face, wrinkles bigger than any man should have. Small scars covered his face all the way to his neck and ears, a sure sign that he had been in more than one scrape. His garment was extravagant, brilliant and pure white and gold laced robes that touched the ground before his feet did. In his right hand was a large golden staff, its top glistened with more glimmering metals and jewels, all assorted to the religious symbol of the land. His left carried an old wooden walking stick, which looked as if it were about to break apart should he put the slightest amount of pressure on it. He carried two sticks, for it was unholy to have the symbol of God be used in such an undignified manner. Although he was not much taller than the kneeling Beatrice, his stature and presence sent him towering over her.
"Your Holiness…" Beatrice voice was loud and clear, hiding all apprehension and worry in her heart, "High inquisitor Francisco Montgomery!"
The crowd gave a collective gasp and took a pace or two backwards. Some of the students were in awe, others fearful. Another gasp escaped the crowd as the old man reached out and placed his hand on her head, expecting some form of retribution or punishment for an unknown reason. Even Saito and Louise, who could barely see from their balcony on her room, dug their nails into the railing. What kind of person was this man that had been allowed to enter their school so freely?
The crowd fell silent as the old man merely rubbed her head and smiled gently
"It is good to see you again, My Child…" He waved for his men to follow him, while Beatrice, eyes wide open, stared at the ground, feeling like an arrow had just flew past her head. When she heard the escort suddenly halt, she swore her heart had stopped again.
Again, another unexpected reaction, "Come…Beatrice. Walk with me to your headmaster's office." His face was practically glowing, and, though fearful, Beatrice had little hesitation to lifting herself off the ground and trotting quickly to the High Inquisitor's side.
"So…I bet you are curious as to why I am a day early?" He asked her gently, his feeble body shambling along at a very slow pace.
"Y-Y-Yes your Holiness! I assume that your trip here was shorter than what you had anticipated…"
"Yes…you are quite correct. I hope I am not intruding on your classes."
"No! Absolutely not Your Holiness! I am merely surprised is all."
"Ah…I am glad then."
From high above, three faces watched the old man and young woman walk side-by-side into the castle, not sure what to make of it. They had expected a vicious, mean-spirited man who would scold someone for just looking at him wrong, yet he seemed almost as gentle as a kitten. But they could not think of the right words to put into the situation. Only Louise asked the only question on her mind.
"Why in the world is he here so early…?"
"Please, a glass of water will be plenty," Francisco told Osmond as he struggled to seat himself into a chair. The headmaster motioned for his secretary to fetch the Inquisitor some, while his familiar skittered up to the High Inquisitor, sniffing at his feet.
"Is he yours?" Francisco asked, reaching down to let the mouse climb onto his hand, but he ran away at the first sudden movement.
"Yes…" Osmond replied as his familiar crawled up his robe, perching himself on his shoulder, "Very faithful and…luckily shares similar interests as me." The Inquisitor gave an agreeing sound, leaning backwards on the creaky chair, "What of your familiar, Your Holiness?"
"Ah yes…Vermillion…a lynx, very graceful creature, but, his spirit has moved on to the next world. Atheist pigs, slaughtered him in broad daylight…"
"Oh dear, I am sorry to-"
The Inquisitor smiled and stuck out a hand, "Ah ah ah…there is no need, I have left my past where it belongs, and I continue to do God's work, unhindered."
"I would expect nothing less from a man of God. Though…speaking of performing God's work…"
Again, the elder man in the chair held out his hand, silencing Osmond. He called out a name, and a guard came jogging into the room, his brilliant armor shining in the new light. Francisco held out his hand, and immediately the guard placed a scroll in his palms. With a wave of his hand, the guard returned to his post outside the door.
"My business here is…well, less business, and more personal," he handed the scroll to Osmond, "My main concern was to see Beatrice, I am quite familiar with her family and expressed my desire to see her, though…I am not only here for such trivial matters."
"That explains such a small escort, Your Holiness, though, if you would excuse my rudeness, disrupting her studies and those of my other students for a simple visit seems awfully…oh what is the word?"
"Trite? Absolutely Osmond, because I do God's work does not mean I am above human fallacies and emotions. However, as I was about to say, my whole reason for being here is not just for Beatrice," Osmond opened the scroll, the first thing he noticed was the Pope's signature at the bottom. "No, The Pope has taken increased interest in a few of your students, certain excelling students and those who have made an impact amongst a deal of nobility. I simply wish to speak with them so I may share onto His Holiness what is known about them, and my own personal judgment on their characters."
At that time, Osmond's secretary walked in, a pitcher of water and two glasses set atop a silver platter. She set them down on a nearby table and began to pour the Headmaster and the Inquisitor a drink.
"And…" Osmond hesitated, apprehension filling his voice, "Whom exactly is it that you wanted to speak with?"
"First of all-ah thank you-your top student, a Miss Tabitha Orleans. His Holiness is well aware of how she won the familiar contest several years ago, and how she is amongst the top of her class. Of course, I would also love to see Beatrice Yvonne von Guldenhorf, though the setting should be more relaxed and personal than that of the others." The Inquisitor took a sip from his glass, and sighed heavily, "Then, this may strike you as odd, but if I could see two…'certain' individuals. Miss Louise Francoise de la Baume le Blanc de la Valliere and her…familiar…am I right, he is her familiar?"
"You are correct Your Holiness," Osmond replied. Though it is not odd that you would wish to see them.
"And…there is…one more person I would like to see…"
In a moment's notice, the whole being of the High Inquisitor shifted. His smile had curled wickedly into an insidious grin, yellow and brown teeth clenched tightly together. His head had sunk, a shadow cast over his the top of his face. This man was doing his very best not to hold back laughter, though Osmond could easily read that he wanted nothing more than to do so. And yet, he did not speak, and Osmond reluctantly felt the need to ask.
"And…that person might be…"
The High Inquisitor raised his head, the expression on his face matching the evil grin that spread from ear to ear, and he licked the small bit of saliva and water that had escaped from his recent drink.
"That person is…a one…Miss Tiffania Westwood."