Louise let out a weary sigh as the door closed behind us, then buried her face in her hands. "Oh Brimir why did I say all that?" she groaned.

I paused, then clipped my knife onto my belt before reaching over to awkwardly pat her on the shoulder. "I think went acceptably, all told."

She parted her fingers to glare at me, and in her eyes I saw the pain of wounded pride. "You would think that, wouldn't you," she replied after a pause. With a huff, she let her hands fall, then glanced at Aria. "Are you going to put that, uh, I mean, your friend away? Please?"

I, too, looked down at the contraption I'd crafted with Aria's help. I had no idea what whim had prompted me to make it, but, well, it had been made. I'd based it off of what little I knew about chainsaws, and honestly, while it was pretty decent for a first attempt, it was a pretty poor approximation of what I'd intended. I mean, it looked the part, from the outside, provided you ignored the fleshiness, but the "motor" was just a couple of finger-like appendages "walking" the belt along its greased track, and the speed at which they did so was rather lackluster. Maybe if I took the time to experiment with variations on the design? Maybe I should make more separate parts? Or maybe I should just give up and go for a sword-like design with vibrating, reciprocating-

Louise cleared her throat, startling me out of my thoughts, then gave the chainsaw attempt a significant look. I frowned. "Is that an order?"

Louise simply scowled back. "Of course not. It was a polite request."

The corner of my lips quirked up a little without my input, and I reversed the changes I'd made, allowing the belt of teeth to return to the rest of the mass. "Thank you, Aria. You can take it back, now." A part of me still giggled silently as Louise shuddered and looked away.

"Aww, but I didn't get to eat anything this time!" Aria complained good-naturedly as her flesh gradually slurped its way back through the cut in my palm, and once again, I chose not to heal it closed.

Chuckling, I relied, "Maybe next time." Focusing once more on Louise, I frowned. "Let's get you to bed, okay? You're no good to me if you're falling over from exhaustion."

She huffed with exaggerated irritation, then sighed. "Yeah, bed sounds really good right now." With that, she started descending the stairs, and I hurried after her, just in case she stumbled and I had to catch her.


The two of us received a good few looks from other students who saw us as I escorted Louise to her bedroom. Many of the looks directed at me were angry, wary, or even outright frightened. Thankfully, nobody tried to stop us.

Once I had put her to bed, I was left with a good deal of time on my hands. After a few moment's consideration, I decided to return to that clearing I'd found the previous day to relax, try some stuff out with Aria, and generally have some fun with my friends.

Of course, when I tried to put that plan into action, I hit a snag.

I was partway across the courtyard, heading for the gate, when someone shouted something behind me. I did my best to ignore him and continue on my way. "Stand and fight, you brute!" he shouted as I continued to walk. "Or are you a coward as well?"

I didn't particularly care what this idiot boy thought of me, so I didn't stop. Eventually, though, I heard the sound of someone running on grass behind me, and a hand grasped my shoulder for the second time that day. I rounded on him in an irritated huff. "What!?" I demanded of him.

The blond, foppish-looking boy stepped back in surprise, before glaring at me with righteous anger. "You hurt my precious Monmon!" he shouted. "I demand satisfaction!"

"What?" I asked, before a thought occurred to me. "Like, in a duel or something?" He nodded, stepping back to brandish… was that an actual rose? I shook my head in confusion and disgust. "I don't feel like play-fighting with you right now. Run along, now." I made a shooing motion with my hand and turned to leave.

The blond grit his teeth and shouted, "So you are a coward! I should have expected Vallière's familiar to be just as useless as she is!"

Irritated but unmoved, I continued to walk calmly away, noting as I did that a good number of students had noticed his antics and were coming over to watch.

"Fine! If you won't stand and fight, I'll make you!" Curious, I looked over my shoulder to see him swipe his rose through the air as he said a few words. One of the rose's petals came loose and fluttered to the ground where, in a flash of light, a feminine, valkyrie-themed suit of armor bearing a spear arose.

My curiosity piqued, I turned fully around, but continued to walk backwards. "Neat trick," I said. "Now, what do you plan to do with it?"

"Be silent, commoner! I am Guiche de Gramont, my runic name is the Bronze, and I shall avenge my beloved! Valkyrie, attack!" The suit of armor started to move, rising a couple inches into the air where it hovered for a moment, then dashed towards me, its spear pointed at me.

I raised an eyebrow at the painfully telegraphed attack that even I, with my rather limited combat experience, could probably avoid. Given that the armor was leading with the sharp end of the spear, assuming this Guiche wasn't just incompetent, he was probably just trying to scare me as I scrambled out of the way. Of course, a sharp piece of metal didn't scare me, so I simply turned around again so the spear would hit me in the back where my halter-top shirt didn't cover it, so that my garment wouldn't get damaged.

I heard Guiche gasp, and I stumbled slightly as the spear sank deep into my back. "Aria, grab it and drag it through!" I ordered, and she chirped happily in response. The armor tried to pull the spear out of me, but it wouldn't budge, so it placed its other hand on my back and tried again. I glanced behind me as I watched it grasp the spear with both hands and plant a foot on my back as it tried once again, but once more it failed.

I stopped in my tracks and turned so the armor wouldn't block my view of Guiche, who was standing there frozen, his mouth hanging open and fear starting to appear in his eyes. Looking around, I saw that those other students who were close enough to have seen what had happened were also freaking out a little.

Finally, the armor lost the little tug-of-war and the spear was dragged from its grip and through my back and leaving the armor hanging there in midair as if unsure how to proceed. Guiche started to back away, only to stumble and fall on his rear. "You disappoint me," I said, then continued on my way towards the gate.