AN: I wanted Re:Zero fics. There were no Re:Zero fics. I wrote a Re:Zero fic.
Chapter 1: A King and the Royal Candidate
The warmth of his sister's hand was the last thing Lelouch felt before he fell into eternal slumber. The one who destroys and creates worlds anew died, rejecting the gods, rejecting his parents.
Whatever awaited him in the end, after the end, he would accept it, knowing that he took all the sins of his empire with him into an early grave. Seconds after he closed his eyes, he was blinded.
Bright light flew through lidded eyes, making him grimace as all feeling returned to his body. Pressing his eyes shut, Lelouch lifted a hand, holding it over his eyes as he tried to get used to the sudden brightness.
"Oi," he heard someone speak. "You having a heat stroke? I can't have anyone dying in front of my shop."
Lelouch's eyebrows furrowed at the voice. The accent was without a doubt British, but there was something strange about it. When he finally opened his eyes, Lelouch looked to his left, where the voice came from.
A man with green hair and a strange three-spike goatee stood there, most of his hair hidden behind a black bandana. The way he was dressed, however, with an open vest and no shirt under it, reminded him of the peculiar shopkeepers in the middle eastern Bazaars he read about in history lessons.
"Fancy clothes there, though they might be a bit too much for a summer day," the man said. Lelouch didn't say anything, his tongue lying heavy in his mouth. Had he failed? Was he alive for some reason unknown? Had C.C. done something? The thoughts raced through his head, and left him confused.
Lelouch was not used to confusion. Shock, perhaps. Being surprised was something nobody could get rid off. Anger, he knew well, but confusion was not a feeling he wanted to get used to.
Finally done with contemplating, Lelouch moved.
"I apologize," he said, looking down at his clothes. Unmarred, completely fine, and without a drop of blood on them. Turning around, he used one arm to raise up and slowly stood, brushing off dirt and dust from his white robes. "Thank you for your concern, sir."
"Ahh, it's alright," the man said, grinning. "You seem like a polite kid. Name's Kadomon."
Lelouch took the slow ascension to his feet to look around. He would not stand for confusion, and instead would work towards surprise and understanding instead. A quick look around, to the chattering masses around them, revealed quite the sight to him.
If the strange beast drawing a carriage hadn't been enough, the fact that a man with cat ears stood near a woman that had two horns sprouting out of the sides of her head told him a lot.
"I am Lelouch," he introduced himself. "I suppose the heat was too much for me. I cannot remember where I ended up, I'm afraid. Could you answer some of my questions?"
The last sentence came out a bit forcefully, and swiped his eyes in an attempt to remove the contact lenses in them and activate his Geass.
It didn't work. He had no contact lenses stuck in his eyes, despite the strange pressure he felt on them, and the Geass in his eye did not flare up. Wiping any shock from his face quickly, Lelouch just smiled.
Kadomon blinked before crossing his arms, a small scowl washing over his face. It looked like he was thinking rather than actually scowling, an expression he was familiar with from working with people like Milly.
"Might want to get yourself checked by a water mage if it's that bad," Kadomon said. "We're in Lugnica, the Dragon Kingdom."
Lelouch tried not to twitch. There it was. Surprise. He thought he had crashed somewhere that was 'liberated' by Britannia years ago, which could've explained the accent. The strange cat ears and horns could've been cosplay. The beast had some rational explanation as well, if he had put his mind into it.
Lelouch hadn't studied all currencies of the world, so these coins that the people used might as well be something unfamiliar to him.
But actually hearing the name of a kingdom that he was sure doesn't exist confuses him.
"I see," Lelouch said, pursing his lips. "The king seems to be a benevolent ruler, what a prosperous city."
"Indeed." Kadomon grinned. "King Randohal did great work, he's been holding the reins since my parents were children."
"That long?" Lelouch asked surprised. "That's impressive."
"The royal election should be soon," Kadomon said, a twinge of sadness in his voice. Once again, surprise was the emotion that Lelouch felt. An election? Not a simple inheritance? "There's always hope that the next monarch will be better than the former, but it might be hard to surpass him."
Someone who could inspire such loyalty. Lelouch would have loved to meet him.
"Thank you," Lelouch said. The man gave a soft grin. Grabbing the green gem from the side of his fancy hat, he removed it and took a step towards the man. "I'm afraid I do not have any currency that would be accepted here, could I purchase some fruit with this gem?"
The man blinked, staring at the shining gem in shock before shaking his head strongly.
"That'd be too much, kid," he said. "I always value a paying customer, but you seem nice enough, just take one or two apples, I don't mind."
"Could you point me towards someone who could exchange this gem for money then?" Lelouch asked. "I might need some new clothes if I want to stand the heat."
Not like he wanted to walk around with gems on his body, or the fancy gold and white target this painted him as.
"I think so," he said. "Hmmm, there's some people not far from here, look there."
He pointed towards the left, and Lelouch followed his finger towards a red building with large symbols he couldn't read on it. "Down that way, there's an alley, an old man is gonna sit there, ask him for the Blue Swallow, and he'll point you towards a bar where you can ask the barkeeper for a special drink-"
"I'm sorry?" Lelouch said, trying to keep the smile on his face. The man laughed.
"I'm just kidding," Kadomon said. Lelouch laughed softly. "The red building there, you can probably exchange it there-"
It happened fast. Lelouch smiled, pulling his arm back and about to hold the gem in his fist before making his way to the red building, and before he could complete the motion, the gem was gone.
A yellow blur traveled in front of him, and Lelouch followed it with its eyes.
"Haaaa?" Kadomon summarized his thoughts rather well with a more than exaggerated noise. "I think you got robbed."
"That's… unfortunate," Lelouch said. "But I do have a second one-"
His hand moved to the other side of his hat, where the gem was supposed to hang. It was gone. Lelouch closed his eyes, drawing a shuddering breath. His shoulders sagging, he stared into the direction the yellow blur had vanished towards.
"I… suppose I will have to take you up on your offer, sir," Lelouch said. "I apologize for the inconvinience."
"It's alright, kid, I feel kind of bad for you," Kadomon said. Lelouch was grateful for the pity this stranger took on him, even a pang of regret at the fact that he wanted to just take over his mind to get answers.
The mystery of the missing Geass was something that could be solved later. He had more important things to worry about, such as finding out just how he ended up here, and how he might be able to get back.
If he should.
Lelouch was sure that this place could not be on the continents he was aware of. Dragon kingdom? Cat people? Preposterous. It was impossible that nobody here had heard of him if he didn't.
The first possibility was that this is some kind of afterlife.
The second was that the World of C was playing a prank on him.
Whichever it was, if he managed to find a way to return to his world, if he dared to call it that, the people would recognize him.
And that would mean fear. Panic. Hatred. Suspicion towards Zero's assassination being legitimate. With a resigned sigh, as soft as possible through barely open lips, Lelouch accepted the apples in a small bag.
"Thank you, sir," Lelouch said. The man nodded, grinning.
"Hope my daughter grows up to be someone like you," Kadomon said. "Polite to the elders, to a fault, your parents must've raised you well."
"Ah," Lelouch said. The inner turmoil he felt at the simple statement was not visible on his face, but nonetheless giving him a reason to pause before formulating the next sentence. "I suppose they have. If your daughter grows up to be a person like you, the people will tell your daughter the same."
"Aw, shucks," the man said, scratching the back of his head. "You think so? Really?"
"I'm sure," Lelouch said. "Thank you for your generosity."
He bowed slightly, and the man just gave him a thumbs up before Lelouch began walking towards the red building. The yellow blur had vanished there, maybe he could find it. Giving one of the apples in the bag a taste, Lelouch began walking.
Perhaps it was the wrong approach. The two red stones on him could also be worth something, though not actual gemstones like the two that had hung from his hat. He didn't like the pompous outfit at all and would've liked to simply buy a new one as soon as possible for the off chance that someone did recognize him, and if not, to avoid looking like an easy target.
If the swords he saw on the hips and backs of some people were not fake, he wasn't looking forward to being accosted simply because he looked rich. Or ridiculous. The outfit had been part of his plan, presentation is half the emperor after all, and people would scorn him even easier.
Now, it was nothing more than a bother. Kadomon hadn't been wrong, it wasn't quite the right outfit for a hot summer day, and he could feel himself sweating even after he opened his robes slightly and took off the hat.
Unfortunately, everything that went with him to this strange place did not include his gun and he doubted that he would be able to use a sword correctly.
Knightmare Frames were a luxury for a king that wanted to step forward with his servants. With no troops and the physical ability of a student who never exercised, Lelouch felt himself disadvantaged. Considering he lost all of it on purpose, he had no right to complain, yet felt that pang of regret when thinking about all the people he left behind.
And the technology.
While the people seemed happy, there was nobody who had a phone, and he did not see any cars or other technology since he arrived. The road of stone looked well made and kept, yet was a far cry from Japan's infrastructure after repairs to the war-torn country. What the British repaired, they repaired well, on the labor of the people they've crushed.
However, Lelouch believed strongly in the monarchy. As someone born into a noblehouse, he knows that one person with absolute power has the power to change things absolutely. The equivalent of that would be a mad ruler, or a power-hungry fool like his father had been, that kept taking and taking without giving, inciting rebellion they kept crushing again and again, destroying local land and population until there was nobody to rise up.
Until there was nobody to exploit anymore.
A good king who didn't have to jump through hoops was superior to a democracy that changed hands every few years. The EU was able to fight back for most of the time until the attrition hit them, poor planning and management of resources led to a lot of deaths of great pilots that could have fought on equal foot with some of the best Britannia had to offer, and then Schneizel took over the campaign.
They didn't even last a year afterwards. Because the EU had 'states' like Britannia had 'Areas'. Only these sovereign states, members of the EU, had their own armies, their own commanders, and their own leaders, and nobody could work together well enough to repel them.
It didn't help that people such as Lloyd were capable of creating weapons that could turn the tide of battle with the right funds.
In hindsight, Lelouch realized, even if they had less, and the technology was abysmal in this kingdom, they also had less to fear.
There was no person here who could hit one button and destroy half the world, after all, and if these people prospered for well over three, or maybe even four score years, then he was happy for them.
This might be the world that Nunnally was dreaming of.
Lelouch sighed as he reached the red building, turning right towards another, smaller street, the apples already gone. He was famished, and he might need some money if he didn't want to starve in the coming days.
A woman with slightly disheveled clothes stood nearby, looking upset as she tried to straighten them out. Lelouch put on his most charming smile as he approached her, the bag in his hands gone.
"Excuse me," he said. "Would you mind if I asked you a question?"
The woman glared at him before the gaze softened, letting her guard down. She looked middle aged, and if the clothes were anything to go by, probably well-off. "Hello, sir knight, have you come to catch the thief?"
"Knight?" Lelouch asked. He looked down on himself, no sword, no armor. He wasn't sure just how exactly she confused him for a knight.
"Oh, I apologize," the woman said, touching her cheek. "Your robes reminded me of the Royal Guard, they also wear white uniforms."
That was information he could work with. So the clothes didn't make him look like an easy target? Or perhaps this woman just confused him because she didn't know the actual look of the uniform. Kadomon hadn't mentioned anything in that direction, after all. Lelouch shrugged.
"That's alright, miss," Lelouch said. The woman looked rather pleased to be called such. "I have been robbed as well, it seems, and I've been looking for the thief."
The woman immediately scowled when she was reminded of the situation. "Of course, yes, she went that way," she pointed at an alley nearby, next to a shop with strange grilled foods he never saw before.
"She?" Lelouch asked.
"A blonde girl," the woman nodded. "She took my handbag and just ran off. The nerve of some people-"
"I see," Lelouch interrupted a bit too quickly. A girl, hm, that narrowed the search down slightly, and blonde? He hadn't seen that hair color crop up often here. It was possible that Lelouch might be able to find the thief quickly. The question was how easy it would be to get the gems back. "Thank you, miss. If it were possible, could you call a knight and point them towards the same direction? I wouldn't want to go to a thief's den alone, but I'm afraid they might flee if I don't pursue them swiftly."
"Of course," she said, nodding. "I will do so immediately."
"Thank you," he said. Moving his hand forward slightly, and grabbing hers as she still straightened out her clothes, she knelt slightly and put his lips onto her knuckles. "It has been a pleasure to make your acquaintance."
The woman made a strange noise as he raised himself from his position and he saw her red face before she rushed off to find a knight. Lelouch tried not to grimace at her retreating form and moved towards the brightly lit alley, the position of the sun fortunate enough to throw light into the nook between the buildings.
The smell of grilled food was brought towards him with the breeze as he walked towards the alley with slow but deliberate steps. The woman who stood next to a small fire and prepared the food gave him a smile in greeting when he passed her, which he returned before stepping into the alley. Lines of thin rope went from one building to the other, clothes hanging from them.
It was… simple. The whole city, the streets, the alleys and the people. Everything seemed simple, most people seemed to be happy.
If he was to survive here, he might as well find a way to gamble himself some money, if he could get his gems back.
And if that wasn't possible, he could simply sell the clothes and get something simpler and a bit of coin. The currency these people used was simplistic, without bills, but still a step above primitive trading.
The alley narrowed towards the end and Lelouch slowed down slightly to avoid running into someone that moved on the street in front of him. He could feel himself tire slightly, already, it wasn't in him to take walks like these, and the sun was strong. When he stopped for just a second to catch his breath, he could hear steps behind him.
"Out of the way-" he heard just a second too late. The female voice echoed through the narrow alley and the person who had called out to him jumped.
Right into a clothes line. The line held stronger than she did, it seemed, and Lelouch stared up quick enough to catch a glimpse of shoes and legs before the heels of the shoes smashed right into his face.
He could feel the heels digging into his skin as he fell backwards, and his head smashing against the paved street. His head hurt, his ears were ringing, and his vision was turning black.
What a great way to die. Lelouch wanted to scoff, but he couldn't tell where his mouth was.
A dull ache spread through Lelouch's forehead, accompanied by a soft blue glow in front of his still closed eyes. Whatever the glow was doing, it helped, and the dull ache slowly left him.
"I know you're not familiar with cities, Lia," he heard someone speak. The voice was that of a child, not the young woman from before. He tried to open his eyes, but the pain returned as the sunlight went through the soft blue glow and blinded him. "That's why you need to be careful, there's a lot of people here!"
"I know," 'Lia' said. She sounded resigned, like a scolded child, but her voice Lelouch was familiar with already. The girl who had knocked me out. "That's why I'm healing him."
Healing, hm. The soft blue glow was healing then.
Lelouch wouldn't really call himself a sceptic. Far from it, after all he had seen, he could accept some things easier than others. A concept such as the Geass and the Code wasn't something he would have believed in prior to meeting C.C., but nowadays, he was more liberal with his thinking.
Opening his mouth slightly, he spoke.
"Is this magic?" he asked, still keeping his eyes closed. The two people above him made a surprised noise and Lelouch sighed. "I seem to be feeling a lot better than I should after a fall like that."
"Yes, it's water magic," the child said. "Healing magic for the laymen."
"I see," Lelouch said. "Thank you, Miss Lia was it?"
"Oh, n-no," the girl stuttered. "I'm sorry, I was the one who hurt you. Please accept my apology."
"I don't hold grudges," Lelouch lied. "You took the time to help me despite the fact that you were in such a hurry. Let us call it even."
"Alright," the child said. "But only I get to call her Lia! Her actual name's-"
"Puck!" the girl chided. The now named Puck hesitated. "It's alright, just keep calling me Lia."
"As you wish, Miss Lia," Lelouch said. When the pain finally subsided, the young woman let go of his forehead, the soft blue glow vanishing. When he opened his eyes, however, he looked up and found himself surprised once more by this strange world.
He was lying in the lap of what looked like a giant cat. Milly would probably have an heart attack by now, but Lelouch simply gasped.
"Hi!" the childish voice of Puck came out of the giant monster. "I'm Puck!"
Lelouch still looked flabbergasted, and tried to school his features into a more professional appearance. He sat up, looking back at the monster and found a young girl with silver hair sitting next to it.
"Is this your first time meeting a spirit?" Puck asked. Lelouch nodded. Cat people he understood. A giant cat, though? One that walked in two legs, that was… strange. It seemed sentient and capable of speech, so not as much of a monster as he thought it was?
"I apologize for my reaction," Lelouch said. "I have never met any spirits, and I'm surprised you are so large."
"I'm not usually," Puck said, shrinking slowly. When he was around the size of Lelouch's palm, he stopped, grinning at him. "Hi again!"
Lelouch sighed. He really had enough surprises for today. "Hello, Mister Puck. I'm Lelouch."
"Just call me Puck!" the spirit said in an upbeat voice. Lia next to him had a hood up, hiding most of her features except for the distinct color of her long hair and unblemished pale skin from her nose downwards.
"Of course," Lelouch said. "Thank you again, Miss Lia, Puck. If you don't mind me asking, why were you in such a hurry?"
The girl breathed in sharply, quickly climbing to her feet and looking out of the alley towards the direction he has been walking towards. "The thief! Puck! We have to hurry!"
"Oh?" Lelouch said, standing up as well as the spirit began floating up towards Lia's hood. "You are looking for her as well?"
Lia turned to him again. "You too?"
"She stole two of my gems," Lelouch explained. "And I'm afraid that I'm without coin or food, which means that she stole everything I had except for the clothes on me."
"Those look like they'd catch a decent price, though," Puck said. Lelouch nodded, a soft smile on his face.
"They probably would, but I'd still like to get my belongings back. What did she steal from you?"
"Something important," Lia said simply. "I need it back, or I'm in big trouble!"
Not going into details, just like with her name. Lelouch couldn't tell just how much he could trust them, and he very much disliked the fact that he had no Geass available to him anymore.
"How about we travel together?" Lelouch suggested, dusting himself off. "We have the same destination, after all, and going alone could be dangerous."
"I'm not alone, though," Lia said. "I have Puck."
"That's not what he meant, Lia," Puck said, sitting on her shoulder. "Let's take him with us, he doesn't look very strong, but he might make a good distraction."
Lelouch laughed. The spirit was open and blunt, while the girl seemed rather literally minded. Both reminded him of a child, though Puck seemed to be the adult one with this pair.
"Alright," Lia conceded. Lelouch nodded as he followed her out of the alley. The sun was beginning to set behind them, he noticed.
"How long have I been out?" Lelouch asked. Puck answered him as Lia looked around outside.
"An hour or so," he said. Lelouch hummed. He hadn't really paid attention to the position of the sun, but Puck had no reason lie to a question like this. Maybe he had been wandering around longer than he thought, the densely populated streets making it hard for a sense of progression to be found.
"I see, I don't think the thief will be nearby anymore, then," Lelouch said. "I had asked a woman to call for a knight and send him here, if she hadn't found one until now, I would be surprised."
"The knights have been rather sparse lately," Lia said. "So if you can't find one patroling, you have to call for one at their headquarters near the residental district, away from the markets."
"That seems like a bad place to put it if one wanted to stop thieves," Lelouch commented, looking around. "Perhaps we should try to look at the opposite side of the market, then? As far away from the knights as possible."
"Why?" Lia asked.
"Because if I were a thief," Lelouch said, pointing his thumb over his shoulder. "Then I'd want to be as far away from knights as possible. The most common places for thieves are where nobody would look, and where it would be too much of a bother to scout."
"So either near the headquarters," Puck concluded. "Or as far away as possible."
Lelouch nodded. "I'm not sure where the headquarters are, though. If the woman I asked to call for a knight moved towards it, I'm sure that the second possibility is far more likely."
"You're more than just a pretty face, hm?" Puck teased, a very humanlike fiendish grin on his face. Lelouch brushed the friendly jab off.
"I was a good student," Lelouch said. "But you are right, physically, I'm a failure."
"Nothing you can't fix with some good exercise," Puck commented. "Alright! Towards the other side of the city! Lelouch's gonna raise his stamina!"
Lelouch felt himself relax more. The spirit reminded him of Milly in more ways than one. The only thing missing was shouting 'Guts!' at the top of his lungs and the image would be perfect.
"Let's," Lelouch said, taking the lead into the opposite direction the woman had run off towards. If he was right, they would find themselves a place that looked like it could be for thieves, something like an abandoned building. He couldn't just let the opportunity to get some answers slip, however. "Say, Miss Lia…"
"Yes?" she glanced towards him, though he couldn't see her eyes under the hood.
"I'm wondering how common magic is," Lelouch said. "I must admit that I have lived a rather sheltered life and am not aware of a lot of things."
"You're like Lia, then," Puck commented. "She doesn't know a lot of things too."
"Puck!" Lia said, indignantly. "I'm learning!"
"Don't worry, you're improving," Puck said. "Won't you answer his question, then? Having you teach someone would be a first~"
"No need to tease me about it," Lia muttered. "Magic is very common. Everyone can do it if they put enough work into it. Some people are more talented than others, and improve at a faster rate, or have a certain blessing."
"Blessing?" Lelouch asked.
"I think it's more commonly known as 'Divine Protection'," Puck said. "Gods favor people and grant them special powers, they say. It's just something you are born with. One in a hundred people have one, most of them useless."
"So they can be useful?" Lelouch asked, geninuely curious.
"The chance for a useful one is one in a thousand," Puck said. "Add more and more zeroes for rarity and effectiveness. The most rare chance is over one in ten million of having more than one."
"Interesting," Lelouch said. "And how would one know of their Blessing?"
"You just know," Lia said, sounding resigned. "If you don't have one, you would know as well, obviously."
"Oh?" Lelouch said. That was bad, then. "I suppose I have none, then, that's too bad."
"You're so sheltered you never heard of Divine Protection and barely know anything about magic," Puck said, shrugging. "Maybe you just have the Divine Protection of Cluelessness."
Lia sighed slightly, and Lelouch just laughed at the spirit. "Maybe. Do you have the Divine Blessing of being adorable?"
"Of course," Puck said, floating off Lia's shoulder and settling on Lelouch's. "I'm the most adorable thing there is."
"Oh, I'm not sure, I met more adorable people," Lelouch said, making Puck purse his small lips.
"Oh yeah? Who would be better than this cute and cuddly spirit?"
"My little sister," Lelouch said. "The most adorable person in the world."
"Ah!" Puck said, pointing his paw at him and poking into his cheek. "The Divine Protection of a Sister Complex!"
Lelouch flicked at Puck's face with a finger, making the spirit mewl and float back to Lia.
"Lia! Liaaaa! Lelouch is being mean to me!" Puck wailed. Some people gave them a strange look as they heard the small thing on her shoulder speak, but nobody reacted strongly. "Tell him to stop."
"Both of you should stop," Lia said, suddenly sounding like the mature one. "Why do you want to know about magic anyway, Mr. Lelouch?"
"Just Lelouch, please," he said. "As I told you, I am not a very strong person, I wish to improve and find a way to defend myself. Perhaps learning magic could help me with that."
"Defend yourself?" she asked, sounding concerned. "Are you in danger?"
"I wouldn't want to be defenseless if I was," Lelouch said. "Are you capable of using your own spells to fight, Miss Lia?"
"Yes." Lia nodded.
"That way, you are more safe than anyone who couldn't, and perhaps I have some talent I do not know about."
"Might be worth a try," Puck said. "Not everyone is compatible with every element, you'll have to learn from someone who can tell you which you are compatible with, and you'll need to practice for years."
"Years?" Lelouch asked. Of course, it couldn't be that simple. "I suppose that there is a reason not everyone is capable of using magic."
"No, without a right teacher, some people actually kill themselves practicing," Lia explained. "Draining all the mana in their bodies until they are unable to move, sometimes taking days to recover and dying of dehydration."
That gave Lelouch a reason to pause. It seems that he might have been jumping the gun a bit early. Maybe the money could hire a good teacher if he was able to make some.
"Are you capable of finding out which type of magic I'm compatible with?" Lelouch asked Lia. She shook her head, but Puck crossed his arms pouting.
"I am, but you were mean, Lelouch," Puck said. Lelouch grinned slightly, poking Puck off Lia's shoulder. "Ow! Liaaaa-"
"What kinds of magic are there anyway?" Lelouch asked. "You mentioned water magic, so there is fire magic as well?"
"Yes," Lia answered, ignoring Puck's childish moaning. "Water, fire, earth, wind, yin and yang."
"And after I learn my element, I study spells?"
"Yes," Lia said again. "Everyone has a 'Gate', it's what you use when you call on your magic. The more you use your Gate, the stronger you will become, and the stronger your magic."
"So it rewards use? Interesting," Lelouch said. This reminded him of the Geass, in a way. The more he used it, the closer he came to 'perfecting' it. The perfect mistake that killed his sister. They reached the edge of the more populated market and the buildings became more and more sparse, and the sun was only sending the faintest of red rays forward over the buildings. "I can assume that water magic is there for healing-"
"Not really," Puck said. "Water magic is used for healing, but there's also four manas. Water mana is used for healing, water magic channels water mana. If you wished to, you could use water magic to create ice and use it to fight."
"And the other three manas?"
"Fire for heat, instead of simply burning things, wind mana is a part of 'outwards' Divine Protections, such as things that make arrows miss you. Earth mana is a part of 'inwards' Divine Protection, such as having knowledge in certain fields without ever practicing them."
"So people without Divine Protection cannot use earth and wind mana?"
"Not as such, no," Lia confirmed. Lelouch hummed. "Most magic is used offensively, or in research, there's no need to go through the dangers of learning it if you're simply a normal person. Some clans have inherent talents in it due to racial Divine Protections, so they have more affinity to magic than humans."
"Clans? You mean different races?" Lelouch asked. "Like the cat people, or Puck?"
"More like the cat people," Puck said. "I'm a spirit. Not really the run of the mill normal person!"
"Truly, I have missed a lot of the world," Lelouch said, smiling. "Meeting a witch and a spirit in one day-"
That must have been the wrong word to say. The moment he said 'witch', Lia stopped, her head whipping around towards him so strongly that her eyes were revealed for just a moment. Purple irises glowed in the shadow of the hood through narrowed eyes.
"You know!" she said, accusingly, her voice rather heated. Puck grimaced as well, but put himself between them instead.
"He doesn't," Puck said. Lelouch blinked, and once again, he felt confusion coming up inside him. "He's really that clueless."
"Say, Lelouch," Puck said. "Do you know the name 'Satella'?"
Lelouch shook his head. "Is that someone I should know?"
"Yes," Puck said bluntly. "The Witch of Envy, a half-elf with silver hair that destroyed half the world."
Lelouch's eyebrows furrowed, the young man taking a sharp breath before holding it. Half the world? So the title of 'witch' was as dangerous here, that was good to know. But what did that have to do with… hm. Her hair, the unblemished skin?
"Are you Satella?" Lelouch asked, blinking twice. Lia shook her head.
"No!" she shouted. "I'm just… I'm just someone who shares that one thing with the Witch of Envy."
She grabbed her hood and pulled it back. Two pointed ears were revealed, and just like before, he could see a soft glow in the violet irises that her eyes held. She was undeniably beautiful, around eighteen if he had to guess her age, and looking very, very upset.
"I apologize," Lelouch said swiftly, bowing his head slightly. "I was unaware of my social faux pas and have upset you, I meant no offense."
Lia's glare softened slightly, and Puck just sighed, setting himself on her head.
"What kind of upbringing do you need to have to never hear about the Witch of Envy?" Puck asked. Lelouch chuckled weakly. "You said you were a good student."
"I know quite a lot about economy, playing chess and politics," Lelouch said. "But magic and history are not my strong suits, I apologize. Please, let us continue our conversation later. I believe we might have found what we were looking for."
Lia turned around, resigned, before taking a look around.
The entire place looked like a dump, and there were many buildings that looked abandoned and broken nearby. If there ever was anything as a stereotypical thieves district, this must be it, Lelouch was sure of it.
He could fool some of the people here easier than actual shopkeepers. Taking the red glass sphere from his hat, Lelouch stepped forward, Lia trailing behind him.
A group of men sat around a fire, talking with each other, laughing and drinking. When Lelouch approached, they stopped laughing, staring suspiciously at his white uniform which probably looked like the Royal Guard's uniform to them in the darkness.
"Excuse me," Lelouch said. "I'm looking for someone, and would like to ask if you might have seen her."
"Your girlfriend ran away, pretty boy?" a hulking man asked, a full beard jiggling under his face as he spoke. His arms were thicker than Lelouch's head.
"Not quite," Lelouch said. "I'm looking for a blonde girl, she took something from me."
"And you want to negotiate to get it back?" the man asked. The other men just shook their head. "Well, good luck with finding her then."
"Oh, I was so sure you could point me into the right direction," Lelouch said. Lia stood back, letting him do all the work. Holding the red glass sphere near the fire gave it a rather stunning look. "Whoever can help me find her gets this."
"That…" the bearded man said, sounding as if he was contemplating the offer.
"There's a building just a minute walk down there," a man next to him said, snatching the sphere from Lelouch's hand. "Knock on it, and tell them Brutus sent you for negotiation."
"Thank you," Lelouch said, moving back to Lia with a soft smile on his lips. The man with the beard looked at Brutus with annoyance, but said nothing more.
"See?" Lelouch asked. "That wasn't too hard."
"Won't they look for you when they realize that it's pretty much just glass?"
"You knew, hm?" Lelouch asked, walking into the direction Brutus pointed them to. Puck shrugged.
"Of course," Puck said. "I know my gemstones. That one was way too thin, it'll break in seconds."
"Yes," Lelouch said. "But I don't think I will stay here for long, so I'm not concerned about them."
A minute later, they arrived, standing in front of a wooden building that looked slightly less rundown than the rest around here.
Lelouch knocked on the door, only to notice that it was open already. Falling open slightly, Lelouch took a look into it.
"Hmm," Lelouch said, looking towards Lia. "Can you make a light? Or something like that?"
"Yes," Lia nodded. She raised her hands and blue lights began dancing around them. She slowly sent them forward, getting rid of the darkness.
Lelouch took a tentative step forward, rearing his head through the door and looking at the interior.
Before he could see anything, something dropped on his head. It was a warm liquid, and Lelouch grimaced, touching his head.
"L-lelouch," Lia said. Lelouch turned around as he took a step in. "Lelouch!"
"What is it?" he asked. There was a strange smell in the air. It was familiar, yet somehow twisted in a strange way.
"There's blood on your head!" she shouted. Lelouch's eyes widened and he stared at his hand. Blood was on it. When he swallowed and took a look up, it was already too late.
All he saw was the glint of a knife before he fell over, his belly cut open. He tried to look up, towards Lia, and she too was lying next to him, blood seeping out of her body.
"Y-you…" Lelouch gasped out. He could see a woman's legs. High heels accenting their length and a flash of her underwear before she stepped on his head, forcing him to look at Lia.
"What a resilient one," he heard the woman speak. "Your guts… they're so beautiful."
The sheer bliss in the woman's moans made him shiver. Or maybe it was the fact that he had lost so much blood already that he felt himself slipping into a cold death.
'Not again,' Lelouch thought. 'Dying twice in the same way… is this really the end of my second chance?'
"Oi, you having a stroke?"