Hello. more war. And some bizzare meterology.
I own nothing, neither Touhou or Familiar of Zero. They are owned by ZUN and Noboru Yamaguchi, respectively.
At nightfall, Rumia awoke promptly. The freezing rain pounded down in sheets outside and lightning flashed in the thunderstorm overhead. She stretched, waking up Louise. The noble girl shivered as the cold wind blew through the room; she noticed the shattered window spiked with spears of ice.
"Familiar, can we leave this Brimir-forsaken place?"
"Sure! I'm hungry first."
Louise sighed. It made sense; her familiar hadn't eaten since they fled the academy.
"Fine. But don't eat the people in the city. They're our friends. You can eat the people outside."
Rumia launched herself out the window, knocking off the sharp icicles as she passed through the holes and flew out over the town wall.
Louise grabbed a coat from the wall to keep herself warm. She opened the door and stepped out into the castle hallway. At the end of the hall was the staircase leading to the wall walk and down to the ground floor.
Louise headed up to the wall walk to wait for her familiar, sheltered by the castle hoardings. The walls themselves were deserted, all the soldiers were sheltering within the fortress itself, only the tower sentries kept watch.
As a floating island, Albion is susceptible to strange weather patterns. It almost floats within the cloud banks, shrouding its higher parts in fog year round. Updrafts of warm, moist air from the ocean are brought high into the atmosphere around and over it, where they cool.
It blocks the updrafts of warm air rising from the ocean beneath it, forcing them around the edge, causing the atmospheric convection to bring down a column of cold, wet air directly over the floating island. The columns of hot, rising air from the sea that surround it meet the cold column of falling air that eternally rests over it, creating dangerous storm fronts around its edges.
As moving clouds, heavy with water evaporated from the surrounding ocean, are forced upwards around the island and into the swirling air currents where they release their payload of water in sudden and seemingly unending downpours. The turbulent meeting of the two bodies of air, mixed by the fast moving prevailing high atmosphere winds, causes the formation of horizontal vortices of air, similar to tornadoes on normal land, that parallel the edge of the island during the summer and autumn and long, violent squalls of freezing rain that whips in all directions during the winter and spring.
The island wouldn't have been worth colonizing in the first place if it weren't for the massive deposits of windstones that made it fly in the first place. The cold temperatures, high winds, and driving rain killed all but the hardiest of plants; the only trees that could be seen in most places were gnarled clusters of white bark pines.
Deep within the windstone mines, peasant laborers worked around the clock to dredge out these minerals in conditions so hazardous that there was rarely a day that a worked didn't die in a mine. The winds wipped around the ropes that supported mining elevators that dropped deep into the earth, wooden scaffolds that supported winches creaked in the wind, and the bore holes rang with harmonic vibrations from the overblowing air that frequently caused tunnels to collapse.
The windstones were Albion's most valuable resource, and its greatest disadvantage. Created as magical energies coalesced within the planet, these crystals were volatiles masses of magical energies. As they decayed, they released their pent up wind magic to lift objects high into the air, as they did ships and Albion itself. An uncontrolled detonation of a critical mass of windstones could catapult mountainsides into the air and devastate the surrounding area. A detonation on a massive scale is believed to have torn Albion away from the continent in the first place.
The weather would spell to doom of the Reconquista army if they didn't achieve victory soon. A siege would rapidly become untenable as supplies were exhausted and soldiers froze to death while the enemy hid within their relatively warm city. With their artillery out of service or incomplete and army suffering horrible casualties on the field, the generals settled on a final plan. The white bark pines that formed up the majority of the trees in Ablion were wholly unsuitable for siege engineering. Neither long nor straight, the stunted, gnarled trees couldn't be used for catapult arms, siege tower parts, or battering rams.
However, Reconquista had captured the massive windstone stockpiles when they had taken the Albionian naval yards. To breach the wall, sappers would dig long tunnels beneath the walls of the fortress, where stacks and stacks of windstones would be placed. When these were detonated, they would blast the curtain walls of the city apart and leave it bare for the infantry to move in. This process would take weeks to months to complete, prolonged by the storms that wracked the area and the determined Royalist defenders.
As Rumia glided over the curtain walls, she spotted a team of men crawling about in the darkness at the base of the wall, moving up a small, mobile shelter. They carried swords and shovels. She dropped down behind them, shrouded in darkness.
"Hello! Why are you here?"
The surprised soldiers spun around, drawing their swords. They saw the glowing, blood-red eyes in the darkness and panicked. One ran, fleeing back for the Reconquista lines. The childish youkai, like human children, cats, and dogs, is most entertained by things that move. The running soldier immediately drew her attention.
"You can't get away from me!"
A beam of concentrated magical energy sliced through the fleeing soldier's torso, vaporizing his vital organ block in a clean hole. He hit the frozen ground, dead, and was nearly instantly frozen over with ice.
The other two soldiers attacked while Rumia was momentarily distracted. One lunged with his sword, aiming for the eyes, trying to run the blob of blackness through. The blade connected with the youkai's cheekbone and left a deep gash on the side of her face.
"Ouch!" she declared as it healed quickly and became unrecognizable in an instant.
The second soldier was already swinging his blade. The runes on her hand glowed brightly, granting her increased situational awareness, and she spun instantly to dodge the incoming attack. Her blade of darkness was already forming in her hand to block a remise from the first soldier.
The steel blade connected with the shadow blade in the darkness with a resonating clang. Ducking to the side, Rumia brought her bastard sword down from her parry-five and swung it laterally to cut the man in half. The magical blade cut through his stomach and spilled his steaming innards out upon the glaze of ice that covered the ground, staining the crystallized water red with blood.
The surviving soldier stabbed blindly into the darkness, since he couldn't see what he was facing. The blade connected with Rumia's outstretched wrist, slicing a deep gash up her arm as she turned.
He watched the glowing runes in the darkness to identify Rumia's blade, and jumped aside as he saw it swing for him. He immediately lunged out, stabbing into the spirit's chest before recovering to parry her riposte.
As he blocked her blade, the Youkai of Darkness shot out a low spread of magical bullets. They formed a perfect expanding circle around her, slightly above knee height. The magical projectiles cut into the soldier's legs, leaving a cauterized mess of blood vessel and stringy bits of muscle where his legs used to be.
He screamed as he hit the ground and Rumia leaped on top of him. Atop the wall, soldiers leaped to the battlements, alerted by the Reconquista soldier's scream. Scanning the darkness, the Royalists could hear the soft creaking of the wheels of the sappers' tents and see the work crews moving up behind them.
Longbow arrows whistled overhead as Rumia sat down on top of her prey and ripped open his chest cavity. Her back was to the curtain wall, she was invisible to the Royalist archers, but the peasant sappers of the Reconquista could clearly see her blood red eyes as two points in the dark.
Longbow arrows peppered their positions, bouncing off the ice-glazed roofs of the sappers' tents and filling peasant miners with arrows like porcupines. Broken, the survivors fled, leaving the wounded and the sapping tools on the battlefield to be frozen beneath a layer of ice.
The dying man's blood ran out and froze on the ice around Rumia as she munched on his ribs, oblivious to the rout of the peasant sappers. She broke his neck to stifle his frantic screams.
A crossbow bolt from the Reconquista's soldiers embedded itself between her eyes and a cheer went up from an enemy crossbow post. She paused for a moment, then ripped out the bolt and let her regeneration repair the damage. She stared off in the direction the attack came from, and then launched herself into the air, prey temporarily forgotten.
She rocketed over the ground, firing volleys of magical bullets ahead of her in the general direction of her unseen assailant. Reconquista crossbowmen frantically began to fire off shot after shot as they realized that she hadn't been put down by their initial, excellent shot. A laser beam flashed in the night, splintering the wooden shield they had been using for cover and mowing down a fleeing peasant sapper.
In an instant, they had scattered. Other formations that had been prepared to support the sappers began to break and flee as bullets began to spread in all directions. One of Rumia's lasers cooked off a caisson from a nearby artillery piece; the gunpowder exploded in a bright flash that temporarily illuminated the fleeing peasantry of Reconquista's army for the Royalist archers.
Scores were felled, perforated by longbow arrows. The wounded were left to die in the ice that coated the ground as the tattered remnants of the sapping force fell back to their siege encampments. Rumia returned to the men she had killed earlier to finish her meal.
Atop the battlements of the wall walk, Rumia's discharges could be easily seen in the night. To the wall defenders, it seemed that there had been a divine intervention in their favor, despite the fact that they had killed far more people than the youkai's magical salvoes had. However, the impressive light show the magical bullets made, radiating out in perfect rings and arcs punctuated by shining lasers inspired the archers.
At the Reconquista camp, whispers ran along the line and through the troops about a daemon that had taken to the field and singlehandedly slaughtered their soldiers. Peasants are bound to exaggerate claims, and the supernatural catches their attention far better than mundane barrages of arrows. The generals quickly came to the conclusion that a mage would have to be sent out to find and dispel this daemon, which was no doubt just a Royalist mage, to calm the peasantry, but who would?
Heads turned to the newcomer, Jean-Jacques de Wardes, a Griffon Knight of Tristain and their secret supporter, to reconnoiter and infiltrate the fort. With the failure to bring forward the sapping tents, he was also to open the gates from the inside to allow Reconquista soldiers to enter the fort.
"Infiltrate and search the fortress to dispel the rumor of this daemon that is scaring the peasantry. Then open the gates for our men. That will be the signal for our men to attack," a black robed woman, Reconquista's liaison with Gallia, ordered.
He mounted his griffon and launched into the stormy night.
In the darkness, Rumia was practically invisible as she devoured her prey. Wardes overflew her without notice as he made his way to the castle.
The soldiers on the wall had already returned to the shelter offered by the towers and houses within the city and castle, nobody saw the traitorous Griffin Knight as he glided over the walls. He brought his griffon to a halt above the walls of the castle and leaped off. A mage would not settle for staying with the peasantry in the city.
His boots clattered and slipped on the glaze of ice that covered the skins on the top of the hoarding. He gripped the harness of his griffon to keep from sliding off to fall down off the sloped roof of the hoardings. He dragged himself over the back edge, wand drawn, and swung through the open back of the hoardings onto the wall walk.
He hit the stone battlements with a clang and almost slipped back on the ice that coated the edge of the walkway. Grabbing a wooden support to ensure his footing, he carefully stood up and stepped onto the mostly dry wall-walk, and nearly stumbled into a very surprised young noble girl.
Louise recovered quickly, her mother had taught her not to be surprised by anything, and sounded the alarm.
"Spies! Infiltrators! The Traitor is up on the wall! Guards!"
Wardes shot out an arc of lightning to silence her. She leaped over the stone parapet into the front of the hoarding as the blade of electricity passed her by.
He suddenly realized what the "daemon" that the peasants had thought they had seen was. It was Louise's familiar, the black ball of darkness with glowing red eyes that she had sent to attack him when she found him out. The traitor whistled for his griffon to pick him up at the back edge of the wall walk while Louise carefully trained her wand on him.
As the griffon dropped over the roof of the hoarding to allow him to leap on, Louise cast the only thing she could to stop him.
A bolt of magic shot from her wand and detonated in a bright flash of energy. The griffon exploded in a shower of gory chunks, Wardes was blasted back against the parapet of the castle, and splinters of wood and stone were thrown out from the wall.
Instantly, every guard was awake and running to his station.
Wardes dragged himself up. He was bruised and probably bleeding internally from the shock, his armor was dented and torn, and his wand had been thrown from him in the blast. He had to get back to the army and warn them, but Louise had just blown up his familiar. Inside, he felt an acute sense of loss as the mental link he shared with the familiar was severed.
"Familiar! Where are you?" Louise cried out, worried and far from confident in her abilities.
Wardes looked around. He could see where his wand had landed, it had flown over the parapet and landed in the front of the haording. He almost collapsed as his legs nearly gave out from beneath him. He heard the clatter of the tower door opening and guards rushing out onto the walkway behind him.
He leaped over the parapet into the front of the hoardings where Louise had sought shelter. She turned to target him; he smashed the wooden front of the shelter and leaped off the high wall. He quickly cast a levitation spell to spare himself the fall from the wall walk and hit the ground running. Driven on by fear of death and urgency, he ran through the streets straight for the main gate.
A magical explosion detonated behind him, making him stumble, but he kept running. Archers began to fire arrows from the battlements of the castle at him; they clattered off the stone pavers of the street around him.
The street ran straight from the castle gate to the town gate, he fired off spell after spell as he ran, trying futilely to break the fortified entrance. Lightning bolts seared the heavy wooden doors. He reached the gatehouse, his speed enhanced by a wind spell, and rushed up the stairs to where guards were taking up defensive positions.
Up on the wall of the castle, Rumia alighted next to Louise, having finished her meal.
"What is it?"
"Wardes! The traitor, he tried to sneak into the castle but I spotted him! He's trying to escape, running for the gatehouse! Stop him!"
Louise grabbed onto the youkai as she launched off the wall walk and rocketed towards the ground. Louise felt the G-forces as her familiar pulled out of her dive and rocketed up the street towards the gatehouse, where Wardes was fighting with the archers.
He had no weapon except for his wand. He electrocuted the first soldier he encountered atop the wall and ducked beneath the sword of another. As he dodged, he searched for anything that could be used to open the gate. His eyes spotted the munitions chest for one of the half-kartouwen placed atop the wall.
He turned to cast at the case of gunpowder, evading the spear-strike from a Royalist soldier. Just as he was about to case, a dark form slammed into him like a cannonball. Louise rolled on the deck and stood up as her familiar plowed into Wardes and dropped her. Within an instant, she had her wand drawn and aimed at the traitor.
"I'm taking you with me, familiar!" he shouted as he cast at the munitions crate.
The high voltage bolt of electricity set off the gunpowder in the crate, which then set off more crates that had been stockpile for the two guns that defended the gate. The gatehouse erupted into a massive fireball; guards, stone, steel, and wood were thrown from the exploding battlements. The wooden doors were shattered and the steel portcullis blown from its guides.
Louise was thrown from the wall and landed in the street behind it in a shower of debris. Rumia was nearly shredded by fragments of stone and wood. The runes on her hand shined brightly as they augmented her youkai regeneration, she drifted down to stand guard over her unconscious master's body.
The army of Reconquista saw the explosion, and, as the overhead stormclouds lightened ever so slightly as the sun rose, marched forth to attack the gate. They poured everything into this final assault, peasant infantrymen, spurred on by nobles at their backs, charged forward across the field for the hole breached in the wall. Everything was poured into this final assault.
The wall archers opened fire, volleying longbow arrows out into the army. Their comrades fell around them, but fear of the mages at the back drove the soldiers of Reconquista on. Rumia watched as the army charge across the frozen ground towards her and her master.
In an instant, she shot out a salvo of bullets. A stream of fasting moving magical projectiles shot from each of her outstretched hands and wove around. The two streams of glowing bullets formed a beautiful double-helix that she swept back and forth across the line. She projected arcs of ripples from her, forming shining wave fronts of bullets that ripped into the mob of soldiers.
Those that were hit by the bullets were vaporized, they left clean holes cut straight through the unfortunate peasants. The bullets tore through the mass of soldiers like a machinegun, scything them down without mercy.
A platoon seemed to break up, preparing to flee.
"No retreat!" a mage shouted and cast a wall of flame amongst the fleeing peasants, burning them alive.
Moments after he marked himself by casting magic, he was spitted through by a hail of arrows.
Bodies began to pile up in the field, riddled with arrows and missing arms and legs, but the wave of peasantry came on. They scrambled over the corpses of their brethren as comrades were felled about them.
Riding out from the shattered gate thundered a company of noble cavalrymen, Prince Wales at their head. They rode out between the storm of bullets Rumia laid down in a spearhead, dodging between the glowing balls of energy as they rode down on the peasantry of Reconquista.
The prince swung his saber in one hand, firing out an arcing blade of air that tore into the peasantry. Spears of water, blades of wind, spikes of rocks, and streams of flame lashed out from the mounted nobles as they cast their spells into the flood of peasants.
The thunder of hooves shook the ground and cracked the ice as the riders bore down on the peasants. The freezing rain whipped at the faces of the cavalrymen, their breath steamed in the cold, dark air.
Directed by their mage-commanders, the remnants of each platoon formed up into phalanxes, locking their lightweight shields and pointing their spears between them to hopefully spit the cavalry.
The formation of horsemen split, half breaking off to the left, the other half breaking right, to clear Rumia's fire lane and strike the phalanxes from their unprotected sides. Magical bullets ripped through wooden shields and scythed down the first ranks of the army while nobles' spells ripped apart the edges of the formations.
The horsemen turned about once along the edges of the formation and charged straight into its side. Peasants hastily turned to face the oncoming horsemen, who collided with their ranks with the crackle of magic and the clang of metal.
Blades were swung to the side of the horses, decapitating peasants left and right as the riders rode through the formations.
The formations disintegrated, peasant discipline and fear of their commanders was replaced with fear of the cavalry and the streams of glowing projectiles that shot from the ruined gateway. Soldiers dropped their weapons and fled, spreading out and they rushed back in a mad stampede.
Reconquista officers tried desperately to rally their men, in minutes they had been spitted by longbowmen on the walls.
Rumia launched herself into the air and abandoned the unconscious form of her master to finish of the fleeing army. Arms outstretched, she whistled just over their heads firing streams of bullets ahead of her, periodically blasting spheres of bullets outward from her.
She strafed their retreating army, vaporizing soldiers and cratering the ground with her glowing projectiles of magical energy. She spun a barrel roll over their heads and rocketed up into the stormy sky, firing salvoes behind her as she flipped over like a fighter plane and dove upon them again.
The cavalry rode amongst the rout, weaving around peasants and corpses and casting their spells. Chunks of soldier littered the scarred, ice covered ground.
Rumia pulled out of her dive centimeters above the heads of the peasants and shot back towards the gate, scything down more fleeing peasants as she fired expanding spheres of bullets out behind her.
She dove down into their rout and raked the peasants with lasers. The beams of energy began at her sides, perpendicular to her direction of flight, and swept forward until they met, cutting down the fleeing soldiers like a scythe in the grass.
Behind her she continued to fire out arcs of glowing bullets that left vaporized messes of their victims.
She rocketed back through the gateway and swept up her master's unconscious body in her arms. She pulled up away from the ground, carrying Louise, and leveled out flying upside down.
She rolled over and, carrying Louise, returned to the castle. Most of the peasants had dispersed, having fled in every which way, making Rumia's salvoes largely ineffective. The cavalry continued to hunt down stragglers in the freezing rain.
Dark0w1: Consuming the entire army is a bit excessive. I'm pretty sure, even with a quick metabolism, she couldn't eat that much, and her "predator of humans" nature loses some shock value, because having her eat the entire army renders the point that she ate people moot compared to "she killed thousands". That doesn't mean she won't kill thousands, or eat people, it just means the two events will be mostly separate. Admittedly, I like your funny comments, though.
Tama Saga: Not neccessarily. A position floating above the clouds in a static position would create updrafts and force the clouds over it, where they are almost guaranteed to rain. Albion isn't in the stratosphere, people can live there, so the clouds have plenty of room to go up over it. I think that it would have weather patterns like those I described in the chapter (which is why I included that section). Magic could mitigate the cold, but why would the nobles spare the expense on the thousands of peasants?
Mizuki00: I'm like Yukari. I love tanks, especially those from WWII. I have some models of WWII tanks on my desk and shelves (but not nearly as many as she has, I don't have time for making that many), in addition to the tanks from my Wh40k Imperial Guard regiment. Small arms don't interest me as much, but strategy and tactics for all types of military units do. I'll probably also cover the stuff you mentioned sometime in the future; Louise can't pretend to be dead indefinitely.
Han-Ko: Ironically enough, I've written the last few chapters quickly because I've been sick and havn't had anything better to do. I do hope I get better soon, though. Work stacks up when you're sick.
Narikthedemon: I doubt updates will be regularly this fast. I've just had a lot of spare time to kill as of late, as I've been sick.