Disclaimer: I own neither Familiar of Zero nor Dynasty Warriors.

Louise was torn. Torn on what to do.

A strong case could be made that she should absolutely try to stop this duel from happening.

Now, while having magic was oftentimes seen as an unsurmountable advantage, examples of skilled commoner soldiers taking down an overconfident Mage existed. And, well… Guiche was certainly overconfident, and Lingqi… was clearly skilled.

Guiche did have the advantage of turning one-on-one fights into several-on-one and the fact his stupid golems were somewhat tough, but… according to Lingqi, her Gandálfr runes actually improved her physical abilities.

Louise had seen first-hand just how strong Lingqi seemed to be… So, she wasn't actually all that worried about Lingqi's wellbeing.

No, she was more worried Lingqi would accidentally kill Guiche, which would be Louise's own doing because that was how the laws on familiars worked…

But getting that fop from backing down from a challenge once it had been issued… would mean humiliating herself and Lingqi, and Lingqi might just straight up try to kill her…

Ultimately, curiosity became the deciding factor.

A desire to see just how capable her familiar actually was, to see if Lingqi could defeat Guiche.

The consequences… could be dealt with later.

So, when Lingqi turned around with that monstrous halberd in hand, Louise faced her familiar with a stoic expression.

"I'll show you the way to Vestri court, so try not to kill him. Is that understood, Lingqi?" She declared.

"I understand, Louise. I swear to not bring you shame." Lingqi responded.


While Lingqi felt some surprise at the crowd that had gathered in the courtyard Louise led her into, it was all things considered perhaps not that strange after all.

With a lot of free time came boredom. If talk of an impending duel spread, it was perfectly plausible these youths would gather.

Of course, she would have preferred it to be a more private affair. She didn't want to humiliate the boy.

Just teach him a little lesson.

Murmurs abounded in the crowd as Louise and Lingqi approached the challenger.

Guiche de Gramont stood waiting, holding what at first glance appeared to be a rose in his hand, clearly slightly impatient. As they approached, he smirked.

"I see you're finally here. I was getting worried you'd run away." He taunted.

The way Louise tensed up indicated she wanted to say something, but Lingqi didn't let her.

"I would never run away from a challenge." She interjected.

Guiche harumphed. "Very well. I am Guiche de Gramont, the 'Brass'!" He proclaimed with a grandiose gesture, and at the same time, a petal fell from the rose. "This brass Valkyrie shall be your opponent!"

From where the petal fell, a figure, made of brass, short, and vaguely feminine rose, wielding a spear.

Lingqi felt a bit disappointed. He was going to let something else fight for him? Well then. She'd just have to see the power of this opponent.

Louise sighed. "Lingqi, good luck." She said and moved out of the way, although she avoided the crowd as best she could.

"Lingqi of the Lu!" Lingqi declared as she entered into her father's stance.

A number of reactions could be heard. Some in the crowd were amused, some seemed rather derisive. She paid them no heed. Her martial might would prove its worth here.

If they would still deride or be amused by her after that, then so be it.

"Go, Valkyrie!" With this proclamation from Guiche, the metal soldier advanced.

Lingqi let it take the first strike. Said strike turned out to be a to her eyes clumsy thrust with its spear.

She deflected it with contemptuous ease. And the next, and the one after that…

If it wasn't skilled, perhaps it was powerful? With that question in mind Lingqi swept the next thrust aside, launching a simple counter sweep, hitting the Valkyrie with the end of Sky Piercer's shaft.

With a resounding bang of metal on metal the Valkyrie was sent reeling, the force pushing it off balance and sending it tumbling to the ground.

Hmm… No good, it couldn't even resist that. How disappointing.

Wasn't it going to get up? Surely it wasn't out of the fight from just that?

Guiche was staring at his Valkyrie with an absolutely disbelieving gaze. Finally, he recovered his wits, and as he did, the Valkyrie started moving again.

Ponderously it rose.

Ah, could it be? Was it more like a puppet than a soldier?

The boy clenched his fists and with a gesture further petals fell. Several more Valkyries rose to stand against her, each identical to the first.

"Go!" He practically screamed, his voice almost shrill.

The Valkyries advanced, spreading out as they did, then launching coordinated strikes, although almost only thrusts.

Unskilled warriors might have found the multiple attacks unmanageable and started taking hits.

Unfortunately for Guiche, Lingqi wasn't an unskilled warrior. She'd been assailed by far more numerous amounts of spears in the past, and the Valkyries was just a bit predictable. Not enough imagination in their attacks.

She easily deflected and evaded through the attacks, occasionally giving one of the Valkyries another rap. Not so hard as to knock it down, just to see if they could react properly.

They never really did. And even when they did, it was far too late.

Guiche seemed to start to lose his patience with the lack of progress. But he did seem to get an idea.

As one the Valkyries charged, and as they did the boy made another gesture with the 'rose', something akin to a grin appearing on his features.

As the coordinated attack made Lingqi take a step back, an indent in the ground that hadn't been there before caught her foot.

While Lingqi was confused, she didn't let that confusion paralyze her. If she let herself fall, the Valkyries were already poised to strike her. They had known to begin with. Was it the boy's doing?

Well then. If she couldn't go beneath the strike…

Contorting, Lingqi sent her lower body upwards while her left hand touched the ground behind her, shifting her into a handstand. Then, as her body became upright, she pushed off the ground, sending herself over the outthrust spears to land on her feet once again.

She was prepared for the follow up assault but… It never came. The boy once again simply stood there with disbelief plain on his face.


The crowd had gone silent for a while now.

Guiche wasn't the only person who couldn't believe what they saw.

Louise was similarly astounded. They were all astounded.

She'd expected some impressive feats, but Lingqi had already surpassed her imagination.

Knocking down one of Guiche's Valkyries with a lightning-fast rap of the halberd's other end alone was unexpected. After all, those things, while somewhat small, were still made entirely of brass. They weren't easy to knock down by any means.

But then… That magnificent display of acrobatics… Sending herself high enough into the air to potentially be able to pass over one of the Valkyries while wearing armour and holding that halberd…

And with such practised ease… A manoeuvre that had been honed over time, well controlled, and calculated.

Was it possible then that Lingqi was normally able to do that, even without strengthening from the Gandálfr runes?

The very thought boggled the mind.


"I see you have some tricks up your sleeve, Gramont." Lingqi said with a small smile.

Hearing her words snapped the boy out of his amazement. But even so, while his mouth moved, no words came forth. It seems he couldn't manage to articulate any response.

Lingqi sighed softly. "I suppose it is my turn."

The boy's eyes widened. The Valkyries immediately moved towards her.

But she was done testing them. Instead of waiting for them like before, she now charged towards them.

This time when the boy made a gesture with that 'rose' she knew what it might mean.

Without missing a beat, she sidestepped the changed patch of earth, and with a single swing she crushed the first of the Valkyries, the axe head of Sky Piercer smashing right through its body, fragments being sent flying in such a manner as to be a concern.

Not for herself, but for the boy. She had been commanded to avoid killing him, and so she would do. The Valkyries on the other hand were nothing but metal. There was no need to be concerned for them.

With a sweep of Sky Piercer, she practically tossed another of the Valkyries into some of the others, clearing a path.

The panicking boy made another gesture, and this time a wall of earth rose before him, blocking Lingqi's line of sight.

The remaining Valkyries were trying to cut off her path around that wall.

If so, her only path was… forward!

With a single leap, she landed on top of the wall.

It was risky. The boy could have been expecting the move and stood ready behind it.

But he wasn't. His eyes widened once again as he caught sight of her feet.

Then, she jumped behind him, and held Sky Piercer to his neck.

Guiche de Gramont slowly shifted his gaze to stare in disbelief at his opponent.

She could only imagine he had expected to be able to leverage his abilities and those Valkyries to defeat her, only to be thoroughly trumped at every turn.

"You've lost, Guiche de Gramont." Lingqi stated coldly.

The boy stared at the cold steel held oh so close to his neck. Then he dropped that 'rose' and fell to his knees. The wall and Valkyries suddenly crumbled away, making the situation quite clear to the crowd.

After some time had passed with no response from Guiche, Lingqi lowered Sky Piercer and simply started walking towards Louise.

The crowd remained silent for a few more moments after that, then murmurs started spreading throughout it once again.

A bit fearful, plenty of wonder, and perhaps just a bit of admiration. Those were the feelings she picked up from them this time.

Honestly, they were little different from what she was used to in that regard, even if back in the past her father had factored in heavily.

Louise seemed quite astonished herself. Her eyes were slightly wide as the small noble gazed at Lingqi.

Lingqi halted before Louise. "I stood victorious, as promised, Louise."

The girl snapped out of her stupor. "Y-yeah. A fine display, Lingqi." Louise's eyes darted around, then she sighed. "Let's go. This isn't a good place to talk."

Louise beckoned and started moving, and Lingqi followed, and together they left Vestri court.

Once they had gotten some distance from the crowd and achieved some privacy, Louise spoke up again.

"Lingqi, how much of your current strength come from the runes?" She asked.

The warrior thought about it for a few moments, then came to a simple answer. "I cannot quite say just yet. I am stronger, for certain, but I cannot say by how much. I simply haven't tested myself sufficiently at this time."

Louise contemplated the answer. "Do you think you would have won without them?" She then queried.

"Undoubtably. It might have been more strenuous, but I have little doubt the outcome would remain." Lingqi replied without hesitation.

Wielding Sky Piercer might be a bit of a challenge without that boost, but she could still do it. The Valkyries seemed like they could possibly stand alongside the elite foot soldiers of Yuan Shao's army, although Lingqi's estimate was thrown off by her newfound strength, so she was being more generous to compensate.

Louise seemed slightly taken aback by the confident reply. "I… see." The girl seemed to become lost in thought, throwing the occasional glance at Lingqi. "Lingqi… are you…? No, never mind." She hesitantly started, then shook her head.

Lingqi quizzically tilted her head while looking at Louise, but the girl was refusing to look at her for some reason.

Was something bothering her?

If so…

What… should she do?

As an awkward silence settled between the two, a passing servant caught Lingqi's eye.

It was a young maid, just like any other. Normally such a person would barely have registered, but for some reason this one did.

Unfortunately, before Lingqi could properly figure out what about the maid had drawn her eye, the maid had already passed out of sight.

The warrior sighed softly and shook her head. It boded poorly that she would notice someone like that. She would have to find the reason, for the sake of her own peace of mind, and for the safety of Louise.


Tabitha coldly watched the aftermath of Lingqi's victory over Guiche. The fop had yet to recover his wits, and was still sitting dumbfounded where he had fallen.

He wasn't alone. A number of people had come to him after Lingqi had just silently walked away, albeit showing no contempt. There might be something going on, but Tabitha wasn't interested.

She was preoccupied with analysing what she had borne witness to.

It was difficult to believe someone could do what Lingqi had done with pure physical ability… Magic? Tabitha hadn't seen any signs Lingqi was using any, and she seemed strangely unfamiliar with it in general…

If so… She couldn't help but be drawn towards the conclusion that Lingqi… might not be human. But if so, what was she? Such a line of reasoning was problematic. Besides, strangely powerful people did occur…

More information was needed. Extremely subtle magic, not actually human, or…

She glanced over at Kirche, trying to divine what that person thought.

No good. Nothing but a mischievous smile. No sign of doubts, worries or fear, just that smile. There were a number of things that could lie behind it, all depending on who it was actually directed towards, and which emotion exactly had caused it.


Now, students weren't the only people who had watched the duel. Several members of the faculty had actually caught wind of it, and observed.

When the word reached Colbert in the middle of a meeting with the headmaster, Osmond, he had almost rushed off to stop it, but was talked out of it.

Instead, they had watched. The headmaster had to stop him from rushing off a few more times, first when he had realized how serious Lingqi was about the duel, then again when they had seen the first taste of Lingqi's overwhelming strength, and then finally once more when Lingqi finally went on the offensive herself.

The aging teacher had understood from the very beginning, before he'd even seen her, just how dangerous she could be. When that cloud of dust had appeared, he'd known that approaching would have spelled death, even if he couldn't quite tell why.

The warrior called Lingqi had been prepared to strike down any who came into range at that moment. Even after they had managed to calm her, he hadn't dared approach for fear of provoking retaliation.

Despite her youth, he felt that she'd seen quite the bit of warfare. He knew that while ornate and showy, her armour and that great halberd weren't for show.

He knew she was a warrior. Perhaps not quite a soldier, but someone who had stood on the battlefield, and had yet to regret it. His suspicion would be that many a soldier would have followed behind her as she led a charge.

Certainly, she seemed agreeable when they interacted later, but that didn't change his first impression. Not to mention he had known a few people who were pleasant in casual conversation, but relentless in battle.

He had, to put it simply, been terrified for the student that had challenged her, even if he didn't truly believe she would kill him, he was concerned she might hurt him, severely.

Especially after hearing her say her physical abilities had been enhanced by the Gandálfr runes.

If a scion of a prominent noble family like de Gramont was severely injured in a duel on academy grounds… It wouldn't be pretty. Not for Louise, and certainly not for the academy.

In the end, his fears didn't come true. After that first mishap counterattacking the Valkyrie, she seemed to have reigned her strength in better. At least until she shattered one until the end, but it seemed that also made her reign herself in. She did display some fine technique as well.

It was a breath-taking display. It was just… a bit too much. Even enhanced, could a human really reach such heights?

He could think of possible answers, for certain. It might simply be that great of an increase. There might be something else she has that enhanced her. Or, a most undesired line of thinking, she might not be human.

No, she was exotic, but he couldn't see anything indicating that she wasn't actually human.

"You seem deep in thought, Colbert. Anything you care to share?" The other person in the room suddenly cut into his thoughts.

"Not really Headmaster." Colbert replied.

"An impressive display from miss Vallière's familiar, wouldn't you say?"

"Very much so."

"Do you think it was all Gandálfr?"

Colbert had confided in the elderly headmaster about Louise's familiar's runes, for many reasons, not least of all being that he trusted the man.

The headmaster had agreed on keeping silent about it, although it was with a small revelation that the runes might have a connection to the Void, making all the more important not to carelessly spread word of it.

"I cannot say for certain. But part of me certainly doubts it. Of course, part of me also thinks it could be."

The headmaster nodded sagely. "I feel the same. It wouldn't be strange for something of legend to be that great, but it feels absurd. I do have other reasons to suspect it isn't all the runes though."

"She certainly didn't seem all that astonished at her newfound power, and she wielded it exceptionally well."

A few moments passed as they both digested the thought.

"Well, in the very least, we can both agree that an exceptional familiar came to miss Vallière, no?" The headmaster then remarked with a smile.

Colbert nodded, unable to disagree.


Lingqi wandered silently around the academy on her own. She'd been given permission to move independently by Louise after they'd returned to their room.

The day had gone on, and she didn't encounter that many people, although she certainly got noticed by everyone she did come across. And they all seemed to have the same kind of gaze.

Word of the duel must have spread, assuming anyone didn't see it to begin with.

As she had already surmised, the walls of this place seemed to mostly serve to designate its bounds. They were neither thick nor high. Guards shone with their absence.

She supposed it was exactly to be expected from a place of learning really. Thinking about it she certainly saw it was more similar to a temple or such from China, rather than a fortress.

Of course, she wasn't just aimlessly wandering about confirming things she'd already surmised. She was also keeping an eye out for that maid she saw earlier, but as you'd expect, a single maid amongst such a multitude as this place had, meant that Lingqi had yet to spot her again.

What had it even been that drew her attention? Something about… her features? Was that it? Lingqi couldn't say for certain.

"Ah! Lucky!" A voice suddenly cut into her thoughts. "Lingqi!"

Lingqi turned towards the person who had called out to her, somewhat mystified.

Kirche Augusta Frederica von Anhalt-Zerbst, was it? How was she supposed to address this person?

Louise called her…

"Zerbst, did you have some business with me?" She queried.

There were other reasons for her to be mystified, the fiery girl's tone was strangely friendly, but as far as Lingqi could tell, she was no friend of Louise.

"Oh, just call me Kirche. I just wanted to have a chat, is all. Get to know you. Are you alone? Where's Louise?"

Lingqi was… just a tiny bit uncertain. On the one hand, she was somewhat happy someone wanted to get to know her. On the other… the person in question wasn't exactly a friend of Louise, and as such not someone Lingqi was about to easily put her trust in.

"She should be in her room, but she gave me permission to go out on my own." Lingqi finally responded.

"Is that so…? You know, you were breath-taking in the duel earlier. So much so that my uncouth fellow students started wondering if you were even human in the first place…" Kirche replied with an indecipherable expression.

"Really? I am somewhat surprised to hear this…"

Did she really leave that much of an impression? Had her might become that great? It was… a bit disappointing, in a way. One possible goal she could have strived for in this world was to become and demonstrate herself as the greatest warrior in the land, as had been her father's back home…

But was there really any point when she was made mightier thanks to some miraculous bond?

She shook her head. Such thoughts could wait until she'd seen what the mightiest warriors of this land could offer. But Kirche's words boded poorly for them.

"Lingqi?" Kirche suddenly said, breaking Lingqi out of her reverie.


"You seemed… a bit distraught." The fiery girl almost seemed… concerned.

"Distraught? Did I now? Worry not, your words did not directly bring me distress. I merely reached a distressing consideration…" Lingqi replied with a small smile.

"Alright… If you say so…?" Kirche seemed a bit confused as she responded.

An awkward silence descended upon them for a few moments, before Kirche seemed to come to some kind of realization. That same indecipherable expression from before returned.

"Dear me, I wanted to tell you how radiant you were, not gossip about the idle musings of my fellow students!" The fiery girl suddenly exclaimed.

The sudden exclamation did slightly startle Lingqi, but she kept it from showing.

"Is that to say you don't think so yourself?" She queried.

"Oh, I'll reserve judgement for now. But I'd love if we can bare our all and gain a different… understanding of one another."

Accompanying this statement was a mystifying look that Lingqi didn't quite understand what it was about. The warrior blamed her lack of experience with interacting with others, especially women. She never did have many female acquaintances, much less any she was on good terms with.

As a matter of fact, she truly disliked half of them.

Regardless, she wasn't about to get too close to Kirche. Not as long as she and Louise remained antagonistic towards one another.

"I suppose I'll thank you for not making strange speculations. That said, I'm afraid I cannot quite justify opening up to you right now." Thus, such was her response.

Kirche chuckled. "I see. I suppose I saw it back then…" The fiery girl smiled and turned to leave. "I'll tell you this. I am known as 'the Ardent', not only for my fire magic, but also for my burning passion. I'm quite persistent, just so you know."

Then she left before Lingqi could respond.

What did she mean by that? Kirche… Well, there was one thing Lingqi could take from their conversation. Two, really. One, it seemed Kirche wanted to get to know her for some reason. And two, Kirche used fire magic.

Did that mean she manipulated fire? If so, that could be slightly more dangerous.

Lingqi did suspect that her overwhelming victory against Guiche 'the Brass' had much to do with that he was poorly equipped to deal with an opponent capable of overwhelming his Valkyries…

She couldn't become complacent, not now. She needed to learn from her father's mistakes… Being the mightiest alone didn't make you completely invincible. She felt kind of sorry for Chen Gong…

Author's notes: Ugh. I've been having a rough time with writing lately. I've been getting stuck unsure what to write all the time, meaning it takes forever to write anything. That said, the briefness of the fight with Guiche has just as much to do with the fact that I always have a hard time making long fights. I just can't quite make up a justification for making them long in my mind. Hopefully it, or the rest of the chapter for that part, isn't too disappointing.

I hope you enjoyed, and that you have a nice day.