And I'm back, so the wait hasn't been quite as long as last time.
Anyway, there were two different ways that I could've seen this chapter going but in the end, this was the way that won out.
Now, the main gist of the reviews for last chapter were that:
1) They didn't like the fact that Mott had such a quick death.
2) That some people liked the death.
3) That most were interested in how the story will progress from here.
So, the first two are a matter of personal preference, the third is something that will only really be answer with time but I want everyone to understand, that despite what it might seem like right now, there are other factors at play that will make Minato's plan's not work out quite as well as he is expecting them to.
Now, on with the story.
Minato could do little more than let out a sigh as he sat on the edge of his bed and looked at the woman currently laying in it and squirming in obvious discomfort.
He'd screwed up.
He had never thought about what summoning a piece of Lucifer would do when seen by a visiting noble, not that it really mattered, even if the Church sent their army after him it would only take a single Armageddon to wipe them out.
That's not to say he wanted to wipe them out, but he could at least give any army reason to fear him if he showed off his ability to completely annihilate them with minimal effort.
But now, now because of his actions and the fact that he hadn't let everyone know the true extent of his power, someone had been murdered and another was currently in a situation where execution was the most likely outcome… and not one of Mitsuru's 'executions' either but an actual public beheading if his guess was right.
It was his fault and he was not going to let someone take the fall for him.
For one thing, it was quite possible that by killing Count Mott, Miss Longueville had inadvertently saved thousands of lives because there was no way he was going to let himself go down when he had a goal to work towards.
Sure he wouldn't kill in cold blood but the fact remained that when dealing with an army, the only attack he really had that covered a large enough area to defeat them all was Armageddon… and given how he only knew of two beings that could survive it and both were aspects of existence itself… well, it was safe to say that anyone that got hit by it was unlikely to survive.
He was certain that covering for the green haired secretary would result in many people gunning for him and it was also likely that she would end up feeling indebted to him like Siesta currently was… but in the end, keeping a murderer safe from punishment would only make him even more ostracized from everyone in the country.
He supposed it may also make everyone work harder to get rid of him when they realised that trying to kill him wouldn't really work… especially since he now planned on equipping Shiva whenever he slept.
Enduring Soul was always so useful… and would only be more useful if assassins were trying to kill him.
Shaking his head he idly wondered when the headmaster would arrive, the fact that he had sent Siesta to inform the man that he needed to speak with him about Count Mott being killed would mean that the man would definitely arrive soon.
And when he did, everything he knew would be laid out and his course of action would be declared as well.
It didn't take long for the much older man to arrive and when he did it was clear that the man was anything but happy with the news he had received.
"Professor Arisato, what is the meaning of this?" the headmaster asked with an obvious amount of aggression in his tone, not particularly surprising given the message he had received concerning an employee of the crown.
"Calm down, I'll explain everything I know, so just stay calm and listen," his command would normally be considered arrogant when talking to someone like the headmaster if it wasn't for the simple fact that the boy probably could defeat the man without too much difficulty.
"A member of the Royal Contingent has been murdered and you expect me to stay calm?!" the white haired man asked with the anger in his tone simply increasing at the younger individual's response, "and what is Miss Longueville doing here?!"
Minato found himself unsurprised that the raised voice managed to wake up the green haired secretary, even if she was tired from the strain recent events had placed on her, it didn't change the fact that no one could sleep through what was essentially a one-sided domestic dispute happing less than ten feet away.
"She is here because I didn't want to leave her alone while she was defenceless," his statement caught the older man a little off guard, "now, please, tell the headmaster everything that happened and please be honest."
It was clear to the teen that she felt betrayed, the look of absolute despair that drew across her features was enough to tell him that and it was with her eyes swelling up with tears that she started to explain her story to the old man, of how the detestable noble had practically stated he planned on getting the Church involved, of how victorious he seemed and how she just snapped and turned his brain to stone.
"I see… I really do, the thought of Count Mott attempting to stop the one thing that could improve the lives of the common folk must have hit you hard, especially given your hatred of nobility," the look of surprise he received from the woman was to him, meaning she probably hid that fact whenever she could, "don't be so surprised Miss Thief," with that particular statement the green haired woman jerked her head towards the youngest in the room with a look of betrayal adorning her features, "don't put all the blame on the young man there, the fact was that both myself and Professor Colbert were listening in on your conversation at the staff table that day… though I suspect for different reasons."
"So he didn't…" her words were left unsaid, but the old man knew what she meant.
"As far as I am aware, he has made no mention of your occupation outside of that one conversation," the old man's words made the bespectacled secretary let out a sigh of… not relief but acceptance, it was clear that she still knew that she was going to be executed but the fact that the teen she had confided in hadn't betrayed that part of her trust was relieving, "but that doesn't change the fact that you have murdered a member of the royal contingent and will have to be reported and punished accordingly."
The despair that consumed the secretary's face was clear to everyone else in the room and it was then that Minato decided to make his intentions known.
"No," his voice was firm and clear as he said that one word, one word that made the headmaster freeze and the thief look at him in shock, "she did what she did to protect me… but what she really did wasn't protect me but save whoever was sent to try and restrain me."
His statement made a small shiver go down the old man's spine and the response the old man gave him made it clear why.
"And what makes you think that?" the old man was definitely nervous, that much was obvious to Minato as he continued to sit on the edge of the bed, "you do realise that they wouldn't just send a couple of soldiers to capture you… they would send an entire army."
"For my duel, send out invitations to every politically powerful individual you can think of… and I will show you just why I have no fear of a mere army," he stated it as a simple fact and knew that saying it like that was probably better than speaking with confidence, after all, saying such a thing with confidence could be taken as pure arrogance, while stating it as a fact was likely to be considered as either arrogance or that he really did have reason to be so confident.
"Do you really think that defeating a single opponent would be enough to make them fear you? Even if your opponent is the Heavy Wind, there is only so much fighting one man can do," the gasp of shock that came from Miss Longueville's mouth made it clear that she had not expected such a statement.
"I know… that is why I will show everyone why sending an army against me is a bad idea before the duel," he knew that making that claim would probably sound arrogant, but the fact remained that if he fought the duel before showing off Armageddon, he may very well not be capable of pulling off the attack to intimidate the foes, he did after all, need to use all of his magical energy to pull off the attack and he didn't yet have victory cry to restore his strength upon his victory.
"So you want me to hide the fact that I know who killed Mott until you've intimidated everyone in power?" the old man clearly understood that he wasn't really going to get anywhere in his argument about how he wouldn't be capable of standing against an army.
"No… I merely want you to say that her reason for doing so was justified and that they will find out on the day of my duel," his demand, for that was what it was if he was honest was something that he figured the old man would be capable of pulling off, after all, when he showed his ultimate attack to the powers in charge of the continent… he was pretty sure they would understand just how suicidal it would be to send an army after him.
And then he would defeat one of the most feared soldiers in modern history in combat, most likely with little effort, and they would understand that he really wasn't someone to be messed with… which would hopefully push any heat off Miss Longueville and away from the academy as a whole.
Sometimes fear really was one of the best motivators in existence.
"Do you truly understand what you are trying to do?" the old man was obviously uncertain, probably because he understood just how important the commoners were and how much damage could be done if they ever fought back… if not to the nobles armies, then to the economy… plus the fact he seemed to realise that letting them develop ways out of the nobles influence would be beneficial for society as a whole, "you are trying to pervert the course of justice."
But despite his obvious thoughts on the matter, the old man was still a subject of the Queen of Tristain and would still work within the law for the most part, if only to minimize the trouble facing the academy.
"Like I said, I'm not going to let Miss Longueville take the fall for something that is both my fault… and saved thousands of lives," the blue haired teen stated firmly as he looked the older man in the eyes for several seconds before the headmaster deflated.
"Very well, I will send a messenger to the Queen about this matter and inform her of your intentions… hopefully we'll get a full contingent of royalty for your duel… though given the situation in Albion, I doubt they will be capable of attending," the statement was enough for Minato to nod his head in thanks for, "now, concerning the duel, I will inform you of when it is scheduled once that has been decided but before then, I believe you could probably do with going into town and getting yourself a weapon of some sort."
It was true, he was fully intending on going into town and getting his hands on a weapon before the duel, even if he wasn't going to have to worry about any real threat, without his power at full (which it wouldn't be due to his display of Armageddon before the fight) he would be better off with a weapon… hopefully he would find a completely soulless piece of garbage when he went looking for it, after all, attempting to put a persona into a weapon with a soul wouldn't work.
Of course, by soulless piece of garbage, he meant a weapon created from a mould and with no love or attention given to it… a mass produced weapon with no blacksmith to put a piece of their soul into their creations.
Though given how common magic was in this world, he was curious as to whether there would be swords made that way or if they would instead use magic to mass produce weapons.
"So, am I going to have to find my own money?" he asked calmly, earning a nod of confirmation from the oldest in the room.
"I'm sure your new charge will be willing to lend you some money given her true occupation," the aged wind mage stated calmly, earning a small choke off the green haired woman.
"Actually… I give all my money away…" she admitted nervously, making the older man blink in surprise.
"May I inquire as to where you send it?" the man's question was clear to everyone and the shake of denial he received in exchange was enough to let him know that she wasn't going to say any more about it, "I see, that's a pity… well, I will be going and dealing with clean up so please, remain in this room until the morning."
"Understood Headmaster," and with that confirmation from the dark haired teen, the highest ranked individual in the school proceeded to leave the room before a single call made him stop.
"Your mouse," Minato blinked at that call coming from the green haired woman before a small choke came from the doorway and a tiny white mouse scampered over to the exiting man and climbed his leg just as the door closed, leaving the two younger individuals alone in the room, "...did you know that a mage and their familiar can share their senses?"
That explained to the blue haired boy why the headmaster would leave a mouse behind and in the company of two people he was uncertain about.
"I see," his reaction didn't show much just as it usually did, but it was enough to let the professional thief know he wasn't surprised by the revelation.
"Thank you," her voice was low as she said that and Minato found himself wondering why this seemed to have started becoming a common occurrence since Count Mott arrived., "but do you really think you can intimidate an entire continent?"
"Yes," his response was said without hesitation or any inflection in his tone, earning a stare of disbelief from the secretary.
"You really do believe you're that far above us don't you?" her voice was filled with an emotion he hadn't heard from her before, the tone a person used when they realised they had misjudged someone.
"To be fair, it's because I have infinity and Armageddon at my disposal," his statement earned a blank stare off the green haired woman, obviously because she had no idea what he was talking about.
"What are those?" the confusion was clear in her tone as she tried to understand what he was saying.
"Fusion spells, Infinity is cast by combining the powers of Vishnu and Ananta and protects everyone under it until it wears out," he explained the first of the two skills calmly.
"What do you mean by 'protects everyone under it'?" her question was perfectly valid and all he did in response was to shrug his shoulders.
"Makes them completely immune to anything that could harm them," the matter of fact way that he made that statement obviously caught the bespectacled woman flat footed as she seemed to stare at him as if he had just grown another head, "Armageddon on the other hand is when I combine the powers of Helel and Satan… to completely annihilate everything before me."
It took several seconds for her to respond to that statement, then again, he doubted anyone would say that they could annihilate everything before them like he just did.
"W-what do you mean by that?" it seemed that she didn't quite want to admit to herself just what he was saying, so in response he just gave her a smile.
"You'll see the day of the duel… and then you'll realise just how hopeless it would be for an army to face me," he didn't change his expression, he didn't really do anything more than make a statement but it was enough… at least for tonight, "now, I guess it's time to get to bed, you can take the bed, I'm pretty sure you need it more than me."
Without waiting for an answer, he proceeded to start judging the floor for a comfortable space to lay but didn't get much further.
"There's enough room for two," her voice was quiet but more along the lines of embarrassed than nervous, "and it is your bed so you shouldn't sleep on the floor because of something like this."
Minato found himself turning his head to look at the woman, noting how she seemed to be looking away from him and had obviously moved further away from the door to give him room to get into the bed.
Honestly he found himself wondering what he should do.
Sharing a bed with an attractive young woman was something many a male of his age would die to do (except Akihiko and Shinjiro but those two were always more focused on their hobbies than romance) but he found himself hesitant to accept what was essentially an invitation.
Because he was already getting too close to her.
It was times like these that he cursed his inability to stand by and let others suffer for matters outside of their control (Guiche was an exception because his suffering was due to a sense of humour as opposed to malice) since it was only making matters harder and harder for him to not get involved.
And this would be the second person in a mere two days that he had ended up deepening a relationship with.
Sometimes his life sucked.
"Sorry but I think I'll be more comfortable sleeping somewhere else tonight," his statement wasn't meant as an insult or anything even remotely similar but the way her face fell at it made it clear that it was probably taken as such.
"I see… then please, have a good night… professor Arisato," and with that she turned to face away from him.
"Good night, Miss Longueville," his own words were said softer than he intended, causing him to grimace at his own tone.
"Matilda… my real name is Matilda De Sachsen-Gotha," Minato found his heart skipping a beat as she gave him her true name… before it started to crack.
She already thought highly enough of him to give him her real name… that meant there was already one bond he would definitely have to break in order to return home.
"Good night, Matilda," he swallowed hard as he tried to force one simple fact out of his head.
He truly had failed.
XXX XXX XXX
Louise couldn't believe it.
There had been a murder in the academy.
And she was currently shopping with the culprit.
Damn her familiar and his decision to help a common criminal… she just knew her mother wouldn't let such an action slide if she ever found out about it.
A smear of blood decorating the ground as a tall woman with pink hair stood looking at it with an all too familiar coldness.
"So, do you have any idea where I could find a cheap sword?" the blue haired teacher asked, cutting her out of her nightmare as they walked through the streets of the nearest town in search of some form of weapon for the generally apathetic teen.
"There is a little place just off the main road, the man that runs it is a seedy little git but if you give him the proper… motivation, he tends to perk up rather quickly," the secretary's response was far too ominous as far as Louise was concerned, then again, she didn't see why she had to help her familiar buy a sword when he was interacting with a freaking criminal!
"I see, so does he sell any soulless weapons?" the only male in the group asked, making Louise frown slightly in confusion.
"What do you mean by that?" the younger girl decided to ask, she didn't want to be left out of the conversation completely after all.
"A weapon made by pouring molten metal into a mould to shape it, instead of being forged by hand or magic," his statement was met with confusion… not because they didn't understand what he was saying but rather because they didn't understand why he would want a weapon like that.
"Wouldn't you be better off with a better weapon?" Miss Longueville asked him, earning a nod of agreement off the pink haired noble.
"Nothing I could find here would compare to Lucifer's blade," his response was met with confusion as the two mages tried to understand what he meant.
"But what does that have to do with a useless weapon?" Louise asked as the green haired woman frowned at her inability to understand what she was being told.
"Lucifer's blade is created by pushing a bit of Lucifer into an empty weapon," his statement caused the two to stall slightly as they processed what he said.
"Wait! Are you saying that you plan on turning one of your summons into a weapon?" the youngest of the group asked in shock.
"No, I plan on using the power of one of my summons to improve a weapon beyond mortal standards," his correction didnlittle to ease her nerves at the thought of what such a weapon would be capable of.
"But why does the weapon have to be... what did you call it? soulless?" Louise found herself agreeing with the older woman, why did he need such a specific object for it to work?
"Because if it has a soul, it can reject the power flowing into it," now she finally understood what he was saying, that using a regular weapon simply wouldn't work for what he wanted it for.
"That sounds rather awkward," the murderer said in a non-committal manner as she proceeded to lead the other two down a dark side alley.
"It is, especially back when I was still limited to weaker summons and had to sacrifice my ability to summon one in order to create a weapon from their power," he admitted casually, making them stall yet again, this time at the door of a seedy little back alley shop, "but I've gotten stronger since then and won't have to give up much power for long, especially given how my limit on summons is now stuck at about one hundred and seventy and they'll probably only stop me from summoning them for about a day or so if I fuse them with a weapon."
"W…w…w…ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY!" Louise couldn't stop herself, that number was just too great, especially given how he was just casually mentioning it now as if it was no big deal.
"To be fair, most are a lot weaker than what you've gotten used to but they have their uses," at that statement, the pink haired girl was just left speechless, the thought that he didn't even seem to realise just how ludicrous his explanation was just made her wonder if he would ever truly fit in.
Before anything else could be said, the door had already been opened and the generally apathetic teen entered the shop in a manner that spoke of familiarity with the act of shopping.
"Welcome, welcome to my humble establishment," a seedy voice called out, immediately grating on Louise's nerves before she was caught by the way the older woman now wore her hood up in such a manner that identifying her would be incredibly difficult… honestly, the pink haired girl found herself almost shivering at the way she barely recognised the woman now.
"That's quite enough of that," the voice that escaped the woman's throat was also far deeper and more menacing than she was used to, creating an image of both mystery and danger, "this boy is with me and I expect you to be open and honest with him."
"Ah… ye-yes sir," the way the man now spoke in a much more nervous tone than before wasn't lost on the young noble as she entered and got her first good look at the man… and immediately wondered how it was possible for a human to look so much like a rat.
Then she noticed the way the man referred to the secretary and frowned… yes, given the way she was adjusting her voice and wearing clothing that hid her figure and face, it wasn't that much of a stretch to think she was a man right now.
"Do you have any other weapons through the back?" her mind stalled at her familiar's question and given the way the other two turned to look at him, it was clear they weren't expecting him to ask that question just yet.
"What do you mean? You haven't even asked about the weapons here yet," Miss Longueville asked him curiously, her voice continuing to carry on the charm she was using to alter it.
"None of them are empty… I can read a weapon at a glance, it's part of the deal with my summons," his words quickly registered in the young mage's mind, she had never expected him to be capable of understanding a weapon with just a look, though she did wonder just how effective such a skill really was.
"And what would you rate me as eh?" Louise found herself jumping with the thief, while the shopkeeper let out an exasperated sigh.
"You have a damage output of two hundred and fifty, an accuracy of ninety, the ability to absorb, store and transfer magic and you are sentient… you are easily the best weapon on display right now," everyone simply looked at the blue haired teen as he glanced towards a bucket full of old swords in the corner.
"Well, I guess you're not lying when you say that you can read a sword at a glance," Louise found herself staring blankly at what was clearly a rusty old sword with a moving Quillon that acted in a manner similar to a mouth.
"Has that always been here?" once again the shortest of the group looked at the older woman and found herself wondering just why the man seemed so upset about it.
"You're probably the only customer he hasn't talked the ears off of," the man that looked like a giant rat admitted with a downcast expression.
"Why would I advertise myself to a thief? I want to be used, not put on display," the rusty weapon stated with a hint of anger in its tone.
"Then why don't you hurry up and find someone to buy you already?!" the older man clearly didn't like the sword and Louise found herself wondering just what the man would do to try and push the weapon onto her group.
"Because you don't get any good customers!" the angry retort from the blade only made the youngest wonder what she would have to do to get away from the argument before it got too ridiculous.
"So do you have any swords made without a blacksmith or magic?" then the voice of the science teacher cut through the tense atmosphere and earned a small cough from the shop keeper.
"What? No, of course I don't, no one makes, let alone sells, stuff like that, if you want quality then you get a blacksmith, if you want quantity, you get a mage, that's how it's always been, there is no other way in use anymore," with that statement, Louise could see a frown appear on the other teens face.
"There used to be a way that was used but it went out of fashion a long time ago, besides, the swords made that way were pretty much useless," the sword in the bucket stated with an obvious air of superiority in its tone.
"I see… that's annoying," and with little more than another sigh, he walked towards the bucket and lifted the talking sword out, "well, I guess I'll just have to settle for the best in the store then."
"Huh? You'll settle for the best in the store? Why would you be trying for the worst and settle for the best?" honestly, it was a justified question and although Minato had told the two girls earlier, that didn't change the fact that it was still a strange thing to think about.
"I could make a completely soulless weapon far stronger than you, provided it was completely soulless," that explanation didn't really do much to explain it to the two that hadn't heard him explain his ability to fuse his summons power to a weapon, "but anyway, how much for this sword?"
"One thousand five hundred écu," Louise didn't even have a chance to argue with the ridiculous price before a wand was pointed at the seedy shop keepers head.
"I remember that the last time I was here, you mentioned that nothing on the shop floor was worth more than two hundred écu," her voice was cold, even through the charm to mask it, making the rat like man gulp nervously.
"T-that was before I learned of its true value," he tried to reason, only for another voice to cut in.
"Last time I checked, you tried to fob me off to a passing sell sword for one hundred écu," and with that statement from the sword, the rat like man simply gulped once more.
"W-w-well, how about we come to a deal?" he asked rather meekly.
XXX XXX XXX
Louise really didn't know what to think as they rode back to the academy.
It had cost her nearly three hundred écu but she had gotten a sword for her familiar.
Of course, that didn't change the fact that she didn't understand why he was deciding to fight for the murderer's life and honour.
"So, who are you going to face in your duel?" she didn't expect it to be someone that impressive, sure he was trying to intimidate the leaders of the different countries but facing someone truly powerful would be hard to do, namely due to their honour demanding more than just a request for a duel for it to work.
"Someone called 'The Heavy Wind'," as soon as those words left his mouth, she felt her blood run frigid.
There was no way her mother would face a random challenger… except he wasn't some random challenger. He was her familiar, he was protecting a criminal from justice and most importantly, he refused to bow to anyone… she would kill him.
"No… you can't… YOU CAN'T FACE HER!" she found herself bursting in despair, the images of seeing him bloodied and beaten came back to her like a torrential downpour as she tried to figure out how to get him out of the fight, "she'll kill you! She'll kill you before you can even blink!"
"She uses square class wind magic at speeds far exceeding normal casting, she uses a wand sword to cast her spells, is a highly skilled swordswoman and also uses her magic to enhance her physical speed," he stated off her mother's abilities without an hint of nervousness or hesitation, "she isn't a threat to me."
And with that one statement, Louise found herself freezing.
He knew her mother's abilities and was dismissing her as a threat? Was he arrogant or just plain insane?
"You have no idea how powerful she is," she ground out through gritted teeth.
"Do you?" his question only made her look away in shame… not at the woman she looked up to… but because she lacked the strength to live up to her mother's legacy.
"Yes… she's my mother after all," the splutter that came from the secretary was enough to let her know that the revelation wasn't completely ignored.
"Alright then… now, do you know how strong I am?" his question caught her off guard, sure he summoned those creatures… those powerful, god-like creatures… which just so happened to include actual gods as well, but she hadn't really seem him in action before.
She found herself unable to meet his eyes at that question.
"Now, don't worry, I know how powerful I am and I've read up on your mother's abilities… unless she pulls some trick from out of nowhere, she doesn't stand a chance against me, even though I intend on showing everyone something impressive before then," and with that said, he simply faced forwards as they continued their ride towards the academy.
For the first time ever, Louise wondered if her mother wasn't the strongest, her familiar didn't seem to think so and he was just so confident about his chances of victory…
No, she shook her head clear of those thoughts.
She would just have to hope that her mother wouldn't go too hard on the teen.
And that he would survive the encounter.
"Hey, little girl," another voice that she already decided she hated called out, "don't worry about partner, I'll absorb all her magic… I am the great Derflinger after all."
Oh how she wished she hadn't spent any money on that arrogant piece of junk.
Now, I know that in earlier chapters I said I wouldn't include Derf, but with my long gap from writing this fic, I've decided to add him.
I would also like to say this:
Someone has put this fic on the Zero No Tsukaima fanfic recommendations page on TVTropes!
So this is now my first fic to make it on
I just decided that since it could be considered a milestone, it was worth saying.
So, thank you Shadow Arisato for putting this fic on there.
One last message, I am planning on putting a bit of effort into creating my own fictional universe where some bits of original fiction will be set, these will eventually be put up on a blog for free access when they're done.
Anyway, that is all I have to say for now, so until next time...