Chapter 15

Meetings Held and Discussions Had

Homura stirred at the sound of knocking on the door to her room. Slowly sitting up, she looked around blearily trying to regain her bearings. Between the extremely soft bed after mostly sleeping in a tent, a full night of sleep not interrupted by a watch, and an extra full belly of good food she was slower to wake than normal.

Swinging her legs over the edge of the bed, she shivered slightly when she felt the cool wood of the floor on her warm feet. Again there was a knock on her door, but this time she heard the voice calling from the hall.

"Lady Akemi? Are you awake?" the familiar voice of Amelia, loud enough to be heard, but not too loud to possibly disturb any other possible nearby guests.

Looking around the room, she saw Raphtalia and Rishia stirring slowly at the repeated disturbances while Sakura was still insensate to the world as she continued to snore away. Getting out of bed, keeping the lighter top blanket wrapped around her for both warmth and coverage, she made her way to the door.

Cracking it open to glance out, she saw Amelia just about to walk away, and thankfully just the maid in the long hallway.

"Good morning, Amelia." she greeted, her voice on the huskier side with morning voice.

"G-Good morning to you too Lady Akemi." the maid bowed, trying to hide the slight blush on her face with her braided ponytail. Meanwhile, Homura just tilted her head slightly as she opened the door a bit wider.

"Please, come in. We were just getting our day started."

"Pardon the intrusion." Amelia stated as she walked into the room, smoothing out her dress while she recovered her wits. 'I know she's only a few years younger than me, but it's not fair for her to be so attractive…' she cursed internally to herself.

"Homura, who's there?" Rishia murmured, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. Raphtalia grumbled what sounded like a similar question.

"It is just Amelia, she is here to help us." Homura answered quietly, glancing towards the sleeping bird while smiling to herself at being called by her name by one of the girls for a change.

Walking up behind Raphtalia who's eyes were barely open and obviously trying to get her bearings after the intense food coma and comfortable bed, Homura pulled out a couple of hair brushes from her shield, passing one to Amelia with a gesture towards Rishia. Understanding the unspoken direction, the young maid took the offered brush and got to work untangling the wild bed head the drowsy verdette had.

"I take it everyone slept well last night?" she asked Homura, keeping her voice low enough to try and avoid waking the sleeping bird.

Homura nodded in response, both of the young woman smiling as the raccoon girl sleepily preened into the magical girl's brushing.

"Spending so much time traveling means that we do not often get to sleep in actual beds. Let alone ones as comfortable as these. The food from the buffet last night did not help."

"Mistress' food's still the best…" Raphtalia slurred, slowly but surely waking up as Homura works out all the knots as gently as she can.

"Oh? I didn't know that Lady Akemi was a cook. I must try her cooking sometime!"

"Dame's cooking is some of the best I ever had." Rishia put in her two cents, relaxing at the attention from the maid.

"I do not think it is all that special. I learned some of the basics from a friend back in my world, and I have not used it a lot before I came here. I also lack many seasonings that I had access to, so it has been a learning curve trying things from this world." Homura tried to wave off the attention.

The group of girls continued to banter back and forth for a while, sharing some stories of their recent adventures with the curious maid as they took their time getting ready for the day.

"Lady Akemi, his majesty wanted me to inform you that you are free to visit him in his study as soon as you're ready." Amelia said as Rishia got to work waking up Sakura for breakfast.

"If you would like, I can escort you there after you all eat. I can also do anything for your party while you are speaking with him."

"That would be appreciated." Homura replied, looking over the other girls, thinking about what would be best for all of them.

"Would you be able to get Sakura and Raphtalia some training time with the knights? It would be good for them to get some professional training from other people. Then for Rishia, access to the library would be the best for her."

Amelia looked contemplative for a moment, like she was figuring out how to go about fulfilling that request. Just as Homura was about to try to come up with something else, feeling like she might've asked for too much, the maid responded.

"That should be doable. Would you like me to gather everyone back in the dining hall for lunch afterwards?"

"Yes."

Homura paused for a moment as she considered something.

"Also, while you are at the library with Rishia, would you mind doing a favor for me?"

P-*-*-*-H

Homura frowned to herself as she neared the room that she was directed to for her meeting with King Aultcray. This wasn't necessarily a meeting she was looking forward to, memories of some of the King's strange behavior along with facts that she's learned from Rishia. Things weren't adding up to create a picture she was happy with.

Just as she reached for the door, it swung open with enough force to indicate whoever opened it was at least frustrated. Coming face to face with some familiar looking robes, she swiftly raised her gaze to look into a face she's only seen once before.

"High Priest?" She muttered, watching his face change to shock before quickly being overtaken by the smiling grandfatherly face he had last they met in the church.

"Oh, Lady Shield! What a pleasant surprise to see you here. Are you here for a meeting with His Majesty?" He asked, his voice carrying the same overly nice inflection for a higher up of a religion that demonized her Weapon.

"I am," came her clipped response even as she shifted her gaze from his face to the spear he was using as a walking staff. It looked like a replica of the rosary she had seen around people's necks around town, just elongated to be an actual spear. However, what caught her attention the most wasn't its styling, or even its gilded and religious nature. No, what drew her attention was the thick magical aura it gave off.

It felt similar to a [Witch's Kiss].

It was hard but she managed to keep her inner feelings from showing on her face. Noticing what she was looking at, the old priest gave a smile.

"A bit gaudy in my opinion, but I'm unfortunately getting on in years for a long trek up to the castle without some kind of aid." He gave a soft laugh, playing up what Homura was more and more confidently feeling to be a grandfatherly act.

"But I suppose I shouldn't continue to impose on a young lady such as yourself, especially with a meeting with someone as important as the King!" Stepping to the side he held the door open for her while gesturing her inside.

"Please do feel free to come visit me at the Church if you need anything from me, Lady Shield."

Doing her best to keep from frowning, she gave a short nod and softly replied as she stepped past him.

"I'll keep that in mind."

Homura looked around as she entered what looked like a personal study. It was overall very tastefully decorated, obviously valuing function over form while keeping some touches of royal flare. From the ornate table and bookcases to the large oil canvas painting of who she assumed to be the King in his younger years and a woman that she felt comfortable in assuming to be the Queen she had yet to meet.

"Your wife is a beautiful woman, your majesty." The words flowed easily from her mouth. It wasn't how she was intending to start her meeting, but it didn't change the fact that those words were already out there, nor that they were factual from her perspective. She felt his eyes leave her for a moment as she walked up to the painting to get a better look.

"She is," the words left him after a moment, "however, I find that I admire her wit and intelligence far more than anything physical."

"I have heard tales of the Vixen of Melormarc from Rishia. If even half of them are true, I am glad that I can consider her an ally against the Waves." Glancing towards him from the corner of her eyes, she noticed the reminiscent look in his eyes as he gazed up at them.

"I hope that she is not too inconvenienced being held as a political hostage in Faubley for your and his Palpacy's actions." She went straight in with the knife, causing his eyes to snap to her, filled with a raging fire of anger.

"You dare-!"

"I am not here to play games, Aultcray," Homura cut in coldly as she turned to face the King, or rather the Queen's Consort, as he stood and slammed his hands on the table in front of him at her interruption.

"You better watch your tongue Shield." He bit out sharply, letting his rather impressive magical weight settle over them.

"I may appear younger than the other Heroes, but I promise that I am older than all of them and far more experienced in battles and warfare. I did not choose to save your world. You pulled me from my own, from my mission, in a pitiful power play against the other nations by claiming all four of the Heroes." She approached the opposite side of the table, her words and steps steady as she kept direct eye contact, her own magic pushing back against the King's. While in some ways it felt lesser than in her own world, she would admit that it felt somehow thicker, more potent.

"I got lucky discovering and befriending Rishia, as she allowed me to correct my biggest weakness in comparison to the others. Information. Information on this World. It's Wars. It's Heroes, the Seven Stars. It's Countries. It's Politics. Everything I could have wanted and more, she had in spades. I was particularly interested in Melromarc's history, especially after learning it was a matriarchy, yet the Queen was nowhere to be found when we were first summoned."

"Imagine how I felt when Rishia told me of the rumors spoken among the nobility; The King and The Pope used some kind of secret artifact to summon all four Heroes while the Queen was in Faubley, widely considered the Super Power of the world, to discuss and agree upon which countries would get to summon which Hero."

Homura let the words hang in the air between them as he forced his face into an expression of neutrality.

"I am familiar with how I am viewed in this country, and by you in particular, very well. I am not some Hero of the Demihumans. If I am being honest, I would barely consider myself a Hero. I only have one goal in my life and that is to save my best friend. However, I would not be able to face her if I burned an entire world to ash to save her, because I do not doubt that she would somehow find out. And she would sooner sacrifice herself."

"...Are you truly so heartless that you would sacrifice our world for a single person?"

"Would you not if it meant reviving your sister?" Homura was quick with her counter. Aultcray stilled at the question.

"You went to war, personally killed thousands just to get to the man that killed her. What would you do if it meant bringing her back? Ten thousand faceless men and women just for vengeance, what would an entire faceless world that you have no connection to be?"

"...I fear for the day that you meet my wife, Shield Hero." He muttered in response. Slowly he stood up and fixed her with the cold hard gaze that he had once long ago gazed over the battlefield with.

"I doubt that this was what you were wanting to meet with me about. Speak your request and begone from my sight."

"I recently learned from the others that we are able to take command of multiple parties under our own in what our Weapons call [Battle Formation]. These parties receive a partial boost granted by the Weapons, but most importantly they are teleported with us to the sight of the [Wave] after we have linked to and [Hourglass]. I wish to establish squads of knights tailored to each Hero to join our [Formations]. If I had even a single extra party we could have saved a few more lives in Relute."

The King allowed himself to settle into his chair, pondering.

"Very well."

P-*-*-*-H

Homura smiled softly as she caught the flying pink missile that launched itself at her.

"Momma! Me and Raphtalia had so much fun playing with the guys in the shiny clothes! A couple of them even helped Sakura with learning some new magic!"

The magical girl could only chuckle softly as she set the younger winged girl on the ground.

"Well then you can show me what you two learned tomorrow." She gently pushed the excited bird towards Raphtalia, motioning with her eyes to handle her while she talked with the other girls. Getting the message, she started to lead Sakura towards the kitchens so they could all eat an early lunch before leaving.

"So Rishia, Amelia, did you two manage to get what I asked for from the library?"

They each held up a small stack of papers in response.

"Yes ma'am!" Rishia exclaimed happily. Homura took the papers and began to flip through them as the three of them walked behind the other two. Humming softly to herself, she pulled a small quill from her shield and carefully scratched some notes down in Japanese in the margins, just in case the others hadn't learned the local language.

After a couple more passes to make sure she was happy with them, she carefully rolled them up in two separate groups. Tying them off with some small lengths of twine, she handed them back to the young maid.

"Thank you for helping get these made. Would you be able to get these delivered to Kitamura and Amaki for me before they leave?"

Amelia gave a full bow, handling the two small scrolls carefully.

"Certainly Dame, it shall be done post haste."

Blinking slightly at the suddenly formal and reverent tone, Homura tried to start saying something but Amelia had swiftly turned and left, her long braid making a small crack like a whip at her speed.

"...that was weird…" she muttered softly to herself.

P-*-*-*-H

Balmus stood on the top of the bell tower of his church, gazing down the main road, his glare fixed firmly on the cart being pulled by the giant pink filolial. He had thought he had been prepared after reading the reports left from the ancient Bow Hero about the Shield-Bearing Demon from the last time the Waves had occurred.

Taking a deep breath, he allowed his grip to tighten and loosen around the haft of the [Spear of the Righteous] in time with his breathing. This incarnation was nothing like the records of the last had described, yet he could admit there were similarities. No matter, there was a simple way to begin to fix things. He was just frustrated at himself for taking so long to come to this decision.

"Shadow." he commanded with a single resounding tap of the spear on the floor.

"Yes, your Holiness?" a voice answered from the shadows behind him.

"Gather a party and follow the Shield. Learn everything you can of her by the next Wave in Melromarc. This bearer is different from the ones of the past and more so from her fellows summoned with her. Already she has begun to interfere with our Holy War. I fear if we let her continue unchecked then this World will fall sooner to the Waves."

"Sir!" he received in confirmation before the presence swiftly left.

When he had been younger, he had been jealous that his then friend Aultcray had been chosen as one of the seven. But he had been chosen by an even higher power. Guided by the True Gods and being given the [Replica], bearing the power of all four [Holy Armaments], he knew his destiny was greater than the foolish "Wise King's". Greater than even the summoned Heroes themselves. The [Spear of the Righteous] that had unlocked when he grabbed the [Replica] being proof!

Even now, he was guided by the Gods. It was only a matter of time.


A/N: So a year later and finally finished this chapter with it being shorter than intended, and it was already planned to be short. I hate that I'm now one of those fic authors, but I'm hoping now that I seem to be past this wall after writing 1/3 of this chapter tonight the rest will come easier for a while. Almost none of this chapter went how I originally planned, and I wasn't expecting Homura to just go off like she did, but I feel like it works. Gonna have to reread the light novels though cause I can't remember details I need for the future lol

Anyways here's an update finally! I hope everyone enjoyed reading it, cause I have plans for things coming in the next couple of chapters. Things that I've had planned since essentially day one =) Trauma incoming!