Familiar of the Fairy
A Zero no Tsukaima/Familiar of Zero fanfiction
Written by Juubi-K, based on concepts developed by Zaru and Juubi-K
Outside Rosais, former Kingdom of Albion, 10th Day of Yara.
"Why'd I have to get involved?"
It was pretty much a rhetorical question by that point, but he could not help but say it.
It was cold, the wind like a knife on his cheek. There was no snow, not this far south, but the ground was hard and icy under his feet.
He was cold. His feet hurt, and his legs ached from walking.
"Why'd I have to get involved?" Saito Hiraga asked again, to no one in particular.
"That's the fourth time," came a metallic voice from his back. "And you know the answer."
"Yeah, I do."
It wasn't his war. It wasn't even his world. Only a year or so ago, the affairs of Albion and Tristain had no meaning for him at all. He hadn't even known they existed. But for that strange, shimmering mirror that had appeared before him one day, he might never have known. He might have been back in Tokyo, living in the comfort of his home, eating the foods he was used to and surfing the net when he felt like it. Maybe the online dating service would have sent a reply.
Or maybe it wouldn't have.
Saito sighed. He could resent his situation all he wanted, but he was in no position to complain. Fate had handed him a chance to return home, and he had turned it down. He could have walked away any time he wanted, offering his sword and his power to anyone who might have a use for it. He could have just run away, escaped on another ship, and damn the consequences.
But he hadn't. He had taken the mission upon himself, and marched towards the seventy-thousand-strong army currently advancing on Rosais. His task was to hold them back, to keep them occupied for as long as possible, so that the allied forces could escape.
So she could escape.
He had never thought he would die for anyone or anything, let alone her. For so long he could not understand why those damn nobles were so determined to throw their lives away. After seeing Professor Colbert breathe his last, having sacrificed himself to save them all, he had not wanted to understand. He had resented Louise for seemingly learning nothing from the professor's death, for proclaiming her desire to die for her Queen just a few days afterwards.
Then again, Henrietta was her childhood friend. Saito supposed that laying down your life for a dear one made some sense. If it didn't, then what was hedoing?
And then he saw them.
He could just make them out, as he started up a rise a few miles outside Rosais. A cluster of dark shapes on the top of the hill, visible against the glow beyond. Saito strode on, strangely emboldened by the sight of his destiny. Though night was falling, the twin moons were high and bright, allowing him to see them as he drew closer. Twenty foot soldiers, half with bows, half with short spears, strung out in a skirmish line.
Saito reached over his shoulder, his hand closing around the handle of his sword, Derflinger. The unique weapon had been with him since not long after his strange adventure had started, and would be with him then, at the end.
"We're on, partner?" the sword asked, the hinge about its rain-guard clacking up and town as it spoke.
"We're on, Derf."
Saito broke into a run, Derflinger held out in front. He heard a shout from the soldiers as they noticed him, followed a moment later by the thwok of an arrow taking flight. The arrow whistled as it cut through the air, coming closer and closer.
The runes carved into his right hand glowed, and Saito felt his tiredness and pain disappear as the Gandalfr's power flooded through him. He flicked his sword from side to side, the arrow hitting the blade with a metallic clink and spinning away into the darkness.
The spearmen were coming at him. Two of them advanced, while the others spread out in pairs to surround him. The archers held back, arrows on their bows. Saito's mouth split into a sour, bitter smile as they came on. In a world of powerful magic and terrifying monsters, the grunts knew to be wary of one man charging at them with a sword.
The pair in front of him charged. Saito could see their mouths, just visible under the visors of their sallethelmets, open to scream their harsh battlecries. One came straight at him, jabbing with his spear, while the other came on a little way to his right.
Their intent was plain. One would menace him, goading and poking at him as if he were a wild boar, while the other moved around to stab him from a safe distance. The others were holding back, because they would like as not just get in the way.
But Saito Hiraga was not so easily put down.
He held his course, allowing the spearman to come close. Then at the last moment he jinked right, the spear's blade slitting his blue and white parka as it hissed past. The soldier's roar became a cry of surprise as Saito brought his sword down on the base of his neck. He screamed as Derflinger cut down, blood spurting as the blade shattered his collar bone. But Saito was already moving, twisting his dying enemy around to block his still-living comrade's attack. He pulled the blade free, letting the dead man fall as he slashed at the jabbing spear. The haft broke in a shower of splinters, causing the soldier to snarl in frustration as he dropped it and reached for his sword. But Saito was already charging, bringing his sword up at waist height. The blade struck the man under his breast plate, slitting through the quilted gambeson and tearing into flesh. Blood spurted, and the man fell screaming.
Saito heard the creak of bows being drawn. As the arrows flew he was reacting, bringing Derflinger up to catch them. He struck away one arrow, then another, then another, the white-fletched shafts clattering to the ground around him.
The other spearmen were coming, four of them this time, closing on him from his side and rear. Saito charged the nearest one, cutting the man down so quickly he barely perceived the deed. He struck at another, so fast that his assailants seemed to be moving in treacle. Then another, and another, until no more stood before him. The remaining four spearmen charged, shrieking in blended fury and fear. But Saito was in another place, a place where he felt no pain, and had no limits. There was only the flash of the blade as he struck at them, the spray of blood as he cut them, the cries as they fell.
The archers were running, disappearing down the hill, yelling at the tops of their voices. Saito slumped to his knees as the power receded, his lungs burning and grating in his chest.
"Why'd I have to get involved?" he asked, for the fifth time since he had walked out of Rosais.
"It's for the woman you love, right?"
A vision of her hovered in his mind's eye. That billowing mane of pink hair, those wide purple eyes, sparkling as she smiled at him, raising the glass to her lips. He saw her eyes close, her slim body falling softly into his arms, sleeping like a child.
That was the Louise he had chosen to die for. That was the Louise he had fallen in love with, the Louise he couldn't forget no matter how paranoid or violent she could be.
"I'll die, won't I?"
"Yep," the sword replied. "Everyone does, sooner or later. So you might as well go out in style."
The wind blew, making the grasses rustle. The twin moons, one blue, one red, were high and bright.
"Yeah, you're right."
Saito forced his aching legs to straighten. As he rose, he looked down the hill and onto the flat plain beyond, onto which the army of Albion was slowly marching.
The host before him seemed vast, the light of their torches flickering like sunlight reflected off a great dark sea. There must have been thousands down there, but Saito knew that it could only be the vanguard. There were many times their number behind them, trudging through the cold night, a lumbering mass of humanity set on a single destination.
He understood what the cardinal had in mind. It was like trying to ride the subway during the rush hour. If he could make the vanguard stop in order to deal with him, then the column behind would blunder right into it, and those behind into them, and again and again until the whole army was in chaos. It could take them hours to sort it out, by which time his friends would be safely away.
Saito charged. He felt the Gandalfr's power flood through him again, washing over his agonized muscles, silencing the cries of his heart and lungs. It blazed out behind him like a jet engine's exhaust, propelling him over the undulating landscape far faster than his legs alone could manage. Saito let out a cry of mingled rage, despair, and exultant joy. He was going to die, but he would die in the full glory of his power, finding out once and for all just what he could do.
He could see the enemy clearly, illuminated in the light of their burning torches. He saw a line of mages, their bodies hidden by voluminous robes and face-concealing hoods, levelling their staves at him. Blasts of searing light leapt from the tips, hissing through the air towards him. Saito felt their heat as they flashed past, and the shudder through his feet as they impacted the ground around him. But still he charged, focussing all his attention on an open space just behind the first line of enemies. He leapt, pouring the Gandalfr's power into the space below his feet. Saito soared over their heads, landing with a gymnast's grace he had never possessed.
As he straightened up, he heard and saw them turning to face him. They seemed strangely hesitant, as if they were not quite sure what they were dealing with.
There were common soldiers there, bowmen and spearmen no different from those he had fought a few moments ago. He saw knights too, their bodies swathed in voluminous black cloaks topped with pauldrons and gorgets of polished steel, their faces concealed by great cylindrical helms, each decorated with a black cross into which the eye slits were set. Some held gleaming longswords at the ready, while others carried long, vaguely sword-like magic wands.
They were mage-knights, the warrior elite of the Halkeginian nobility. There were even one or two dragon knights, with their distinctive purple cloaks, black armour, and rapier-like wands. They must have been on foot for want of dragons, or else had landed their mounts earlier and come running when the alarm was given.
Saito was surrounded, and he knew it. As his enemies finally remembered what they were supposed to be doing, Saito acted. He drew once again on the Gandalfr's power, swinging his sword about him in a slash that sang as it cut the air. The strange magic lashed out in a gust of wind, sending the unsuspecting warriors tumbling and crashing over the grass. It bought Saito a moment to ready himself, his attention falling on a single man-at-arms who had managed to remain on his feet. Saito charged straight at the man, bringing his sword around to strike him in the chest. He heard the clang as Derflinger struck the breast plate concealed under the thick black cloak, and felt the shudder run through his arm that, had it not been for the Gandalfr's power, should have pulverized his wrist. The man-at-arms fell backward, his armour intact, but his heart and lungs perforated by his own shattered ribs.
More were coming, charging out of the billowing dust. Saito leapt and slashed, cutting down a charging soldier. As he landed he swung up and around, catching a man-at-arms in the chest. A mage knight came at him, a blade of channelled magic shimmering about his wand, capable of cutting through steel as easily as Derflinger cut through flesh. Saito dodged an overhead blow, kicking out with one leg to catch the knight in the knee. The knight staggered, and Saito cleaved him almost in two. Another came at him, and another, and another. They came from all directions, jabbing and slashing even as he cut them down.
"Saito!" Derflinger called. "Look out!" Saito looked up, and saw a roiling ball of fire many times his size coming his way. The ball struck the ground in front of him, hurling him away in a blast of scorching-hot air. He hit the ground, rolled, skidding on his front.
"You all right partner?"
"Damn it!" Saito cursed, forcing himself to look up, an ironic smile on his face. "If I'd know this would happen, I'd have done it before the ceremony."
He rose, and ran. More fireballs came, much smaller than before, but in greater numbers. Saito screamed a curse as he slashed at them, the bolts dissipating as Derflinger's blade disrupted the magic that contained them. The cluster of mages up ahead tried to run, but Saito was upon them, cutting one of them down, then another.
As he turned his head, two dragon knights were charging him. The closest was a young man maybe a few years older than himself, with blond hair and a patch over his right eye. Saito brought up his sword, readying himself for a thrust from the knight's rapier-wand.
But the knight did no such thing. Instead he grabbed his purple cloak with his free hand, wrenching it free and swiping it at Saito. The cloak blinded him as it flapped over him, but Saito leapt back in reflex, barely avoiding the glowing blue blade. The cyclops thrust again, and again, swiping with his cloak between thrusts, forcing Saito back. Saito snarled in frustration and charged, batting the wand aside and barrelling into the knight, sending him crashing to the ground. He rolled over the man and to his feet, only to find the second dragon knight almost upon him. Saito darted sideways to avoid the knight's thrust, then spun to bring Derflinger down on his head. The blade slashed down, cutting through the black helmet and biting into the flesh beneath. The knight screamed, staggering back and falling to the ground. The helmet fell apart, momentarily revealing a bloody, mangled ruin before his hands covered it.
Saito spun round, and saw the blond cyclops, his hard face a mask of fury. He was trying to stand up, but one leg seemed to be giving him trouble. Saito prepared to strike, but then the youth's single eye widened, and he threw himself down and rolled away. For a moment, Saito wondered what on earth he was doing.
Until he saw the shadow settle over him. He spun round, and found himself staring at the underside of what appeared to be a massive, green-skinned, but otherwise human foot. Saito leapt back, barely avoiding the foot as it stamped down, the impact sending him skidding away on his back. He came to a halt, and looked up at the massive shape.
It was a troll, one of the many seemingly-fantastical creatures that inhabited Halkeginia. Basically human-shaped, but with green skin and the size of golems, trolls regularly tagged along with human armies in search of a fight. Judging by the chains around its torso, it had been hauling heavy loads before being let loose.
Saito leapt to his feet, ready to fight the monster. But what sounded like the chittering of insects drew his attention to one side. He saw a great block of archers, maybe a full company, loosing their bows at him. They shot by sections, a few twenties firing while others reloaded, creating a tight hail of arrows. Saito brought up Derflinger, flicking the blade back and forth in front of him, knocking the arrows away as fast as he could, the white-fletched shafts covering the ground around him like ears of corn.
But the arrows were too many for him to catch. Some slipped past, slashing at his parka and pants, tearing at his skin. He felt a stinging pain in his cheek, and hot blood running down his legs.
Then, at last, the Gandalfr's power faded. Saito felt himself falling, yet barely felt the impact. He wondered how much blood he had lost, how many wounds had been struck without him noticing.
He saw Louise again, hovering at the edge of his consciousness. He saw her bright smile, a rare moment of untainted joy. He saw her standing before him in the chapel, clasping his hands as they made their pledge.
"Ah Louise…" he thought wistfully.
Would she mourn him? Possibly. Would she cry for him? Almost certainly. A part of him ached at the thought of causing her such pain, even as another enjoyed the idea that she might actually miss him, that she valued him enough to weep for his loss.
And then he thought of his family, back in his own world. Were they still looking for him, still wondering what had become of him? Or had they given him up for dead? Would they ever learn of his fate, of his death on a distant battlefield?
Saito began to wonder what was taking them so long. He could turn his head a little, but he couldn't see anything but arrows and bodies. Were they that scared?
There was a glow at the edge of his vision, illuminating the soldiers, and the banners fluttering overhead. It could have only one meaning.
"Louise…" He saw her again, her head half-turned to glance at him, a slight smile on her face. "I…I don't want to die yet…"
And he didn't. As he lay there, in the final moments of his life, he realised that he really didn't want to die after all.
He wanted to live. He wanted to go home to them all, to see their smiling faces, to laugh with them at their everyday troubles. He wanted to hold Louise in his arms, to kiss her, and make love to her, as he had dreamed of doing. He wanted to marry her, and then, if the fates allowed, take her back to Japan with him, to meet his parents, and his old classmates, to make his two worlds one.
He remembered that flower she had bought him, one of a set of two with a name he couldn't pronounce. Supposedly both would shine so long as those who carried them remained alive, their glow fading if one should die.
At least she would know he was gone.
"Partner!" Derflinger called desperately, as the Albionian mages let loose their spells. Searing beams of light leapt into the sky, curving downward in a sharp arc. Saito squeezed his eyes shut, his heart erupting from within him.
And there was only light.
I split the first part into a separate prologue, so that the following chapters would be around the same size. I've also made some minor alterations, and added the dates after I found an article on the ZnT wiki. I also corrected a mistake mentioned by deathhound7 regarding Cardinal Mazarin giving Louise the mission. Thanks for mentioning it.
According to the article, a Halkeginian year is made up of 384 days, split into 12 months of 32 days, and four weeks of eight days. Only a few of the months had been confirmed, so I had to fill the gaps in myself. For your convenience, here is the list I am using for this fic;
1 - Yara
2 - Hagalaz
3 - Ansuz
4 - Feoh
5 - Ur
6 - Gebo
7 - Sowulo
8 - Nyo
9 - Niord
10 - Jera
11 - Tyr
12 - Wynn
I based these timings on the Light Novels. The Advent Festival, began on the first day of Yara (New Year's Day), and Sheffield put her plan into action on the tenth day of the festival. Cromwell uses the term 'Pentecost' or 'Silver Pentecost' to refer to it, though this could refer to the tenth and final day.