Georgius sat on a bench in one of the several courts of the Academy, his newly acquired sword from the previous day across his lap. The sky was clear and the weather pleasantly warm, so he had decided to go outside to do what he hadn't time to do when he returned yesterday. He turned the blade over and examined for a few moments, a small frown crossing his face before he reached to the side and pick up the cloth and bowl of oil he had brought with him. He quickly and efficiently began to clean the blade, as if it could somehow reveal to him why he was so bothered by it. It most certainly wasn't that there was anything wrong with it, it was just that he couldn't shake the feeling that there was more to the blade than what was obvious.

As he worked, he was surprised to find that the rust covering the sword came off easily. He barely had to put any force into his arm in order to wipe away the stains and corrosion to reveal the steel underneath. What was more was that the underlying steel was perfectly fine. No pockmarks or brittle metal where there should have been. It was like the rust that covered it had merely grown on the surface of the blade rather than into the surface of the blade. Not only that, but its edge was still relatively sharp as well. It wasn't too long before Georgius found himself staring into his own reflection in the polished metal. After that he gave its edge a few passes with a whetstone and started to bind some new leather on the fraying grip.

It took him longer than it probably should have a man of the Roman military, but sword maintenance was not a skill he regularly practiced (What with having an invincible magic sword and all). Still, lessons from his training when he was first joined the military came back to him and eventually he was holding a sword as good as new. This of course only deepened his suspicions of it. An old sword can be cleaned and repaired to a functional state, but it certainly can't look like it just came out of the forge.

Georgius gave a small shake of his head and stood, figuring that he might as well give it a few practice swings. While there were a few students milling about, he did not have to walk too far before he found an open enough space for him to practice. This was helped by the fact that the students tended move out of his way when they saw him approaching. It wasn't quite that they feared him, but more a sort of wary caution. As far as Georgius could tell, most of the adolescents had never seen a common man excel at battle like he had several days ago, and the fact of what he had done had mixed with rumors to turn him into something almost mythical. Most weren't sure just what he was capable of, and that put many of them on edge.

Georgius ignored the stares as best he could and started to go through the basic motions of swinging the blade to get a feel for it. It was a little longer than her was used to, but it was well balanced and he had the strength to use it. He would have to adjust his style as he was used to have a second edge to work with, but it shouldn't be too much of a problem. He did not consider himself a sword master by any definition, but he had more experience than most of the Roman military when it came to the blade. There was little use an infantry man had for fancy maneuvers when he was holding phalanx with his fellow soldiers or in the thick of melee.

Chop, parry, thrust.

The strikes flowed out smoothly and naturally, a years of experiences coming to bear. The sword heft did not bother him as much as he thought it might, and Georgius found himself wielding it like he had used it all his life.

Chop, lunge, retreat, parry.

Georgius idly wonder if he would be forced to cross blades with another man in this life he had gained. He had only a few days ago thought he would be but a common servant to his master, but the attack on the Academy dashed that possibility. It was not a thought he relished if he had to be honest with himself. He had taken men's live in the past, when he was a lowly foot solider defending the eastern borders of the empire, but he was doing what he had to in order to protect his home.

Diagonal slash, reverse, riposte, disarm.

On a more practical note, Georgius was not sure how he would fair against a true weapons master. Most of the human opponents he had faced in life were soldiers little better than himself, or unskilled barbarians that relied on brute force and viciousness. Lucky for him none of his fellow knights had ever challenged him for his decoration. Of course, this meant he was afraid that he may let his Master down.

Horizontal strike, follow with horizontal feint spinning backwards, second horizontal sweeping feint to reverse direction again, rising strike, executioner drop.

Maybe I'm just letting my fears get away from me, he thought idly. After all, Louise's status in this society meant that most of her interactions would be with other magic wielding Nobility, which he had already proven he could deal with. Besides which, it was entirely possible he would end up resuming the self-appointed duties of his old life if Louise decided to travel later in her life; wandering the country side, slaying foul beasts that threatened innocent people, and saving those in distress (mostly damsels if past experience was any indication). Yes, perhaps he wouldn't have to worry about his average skill with the blade.

Feint left, riposte, backhand, spin back right, windmill strike, continue momentum into spinning leap, aerial windmill strike, land in crouch and reverse momentum, strike solar plexus with hilt, reverse grip on sword, swept legs, spin, plunge blade-wait.

Georgius suddenly stopped himself, he body frozen in mid-attack. He looked at the blade held inversely in his hand, and took note of the low stance he was occupying. How… did I know how to do that? He thought to himself in astonishment. He had never possessed that level of skill before, and at the end he switched to a style he had only heard about in gladiatorial matches. Nothing in his training in the military had ever shown him how to do that. And it wasn't something he had picked up in his fights with various monstrous creatures.

Again, Georgius had to ignore the stares from the various students who had watched him practice, and as he straightened he returned to a normal grip on his sword. Turning his attention inward, he noticed a familiar feeling of lightness and strength flow through his body. Following his suspicions, he took off his left gauntlet and indeed the runes on the back of his hand were glowing softly. Georgius scowled as he looked at his hand, one glowing with arcane power and the other holding a mysterious sword. "What are you?" he asked rhetorically.

So naturally he was surprised when he got a response. "Hell, I was about to ask you the same thing partner."

Perhaps Georgius had been a little tenser than he thought. That might explain why a moment later he found the sword embedded in a nearby tree, his arm extended towards it as if he had just thrown it. Georgius blinked in surprise. Did that sword just talk? He thought to himself.

Indeed it did, and moment later it started to wiggle indignantly. "Oy! What did you to that for?! Who throws a sword, honestly?!"

Hesitantly, Georgius stepped forward. "I'm… sorry?" He said as he grasped the hilt and wrested the sword free from the tree. "You took me by surprise."

As the blade spoke, the small bit of metal above the hilt moved up and down like a mouth. "Yeah, well you should work on that. Any partner of mine should have nerves of steel!"

There was a long awkward silence before the man spoke. "I am sorry, but this is very strange to me. Are talking weapons common in this land?"

"Ehh… I don't know?" The blade said uncertainly. "I've been sleeping for a long time. Got woken up by that little display of yours. Anyways, that ain't important! My name's Derflinger, and we're gonna be partners from now on! So what's your name?"

"… I am Georgius." He replied. The situation was making him uncomfortable, if he had to admit it. He found the idea of an intelligent weapon to be disagreeable for a number of reasons, not the least of which being his encounters with living weapons in the past had involved soulless abominations crafted by evil for the purpose of slaughter. True, this Derflinger was much more amicable than that flesh golem or those magic-warped multi-headed bears, but he was still not certain of the blades true nature. "Tell me," he asked "just what are you?"

"What do you mean?"Derflinger asked, and Georgius could almost imagine it raising an eyebrow. "I'm the great sword Derflinger! I'm a damn good blade and not a bad conversationalist if I do say so myself."

"You're a weapon that was made to kill people." The man said flatly.

"Uhh… yeah?" The sword replied, not sure what he was getting at. "That's kind of the point of weapons."

Georgius started walking back to the bench. "And just what do you think of that, being made specifically to end life?"

The blade was silent for a few moments before it said "Huh. Can't really say I feel anything about it. It's just what I do I suppose." There was another pause before it said "Wait a sec, you ain't one of those pacifists are you? Cause if so, I'm probably not going to enjoy these next few decades."

Georgius's mouth twisted as he sat. "Not as such. I do not like fighting my fellow man, but I will do so if necessary. I fight, but to protect the innocent."

"Oh. Good. I can work with that." The blade replied in a satisfied tone. "Just make sure you use me and we'll get along just fine."

This gave the knight a moment's pause. "Are you saying that you prefer to be used for just causes?"

"Meh, I guess." The sword replied noncommittally. "Like I said, I've never really thought about it before. I don't really care for that 'philosophy' or 'morals' stuff you humans go on about sometimes."

Georgius could only feel nonplussed at this response. It was good that Derflinger didn't seem to relish in the idea of killing people, but it was also rather ambivalent when it came to morality. He guessed that it might have been better than having a weapon that constantly lamented its use. Of course that just raised the question of why make a sword intelligent in the first place.

He realized that he voiced that last concern out loud when the sword said "Beats the hell out of me. I think that part was accident on my maker's part. Can't really remember though, it was a long time ago…" it trailed of in mummers for a few moments before it said "Anyway, don't worry about it. I certainly never have!"

Geogrius briefly wondered if this blade did or did not have a soul and what that might mean morally before his thoughts her interrupted by a voice. "You know, if my sword started talking to me there would probably be a lot more swearing involved on both our parts." He turned to the source of the voice and was caught off guard by what he saw. Walking up the paved path toward him was a blonde woman dressed in a thick gray tunic and a white and gold cape. Her arms bore metal bracers and from the way the cloth moved about on her torso, he wouldn't have been surprised if it was lined with fine chain mail. If that wasn't enough, the sword at her hip clearly marked her as a warrior of some sort. She patted the sword comfortingly "Then again, considering all we've been through it probably has the right to cuss me out a bit."

Georgius blinked at the odd sight. "I'm sorry, you seem to have me at a disadvantage, Miss…"

The woman scowled at him. "Agnès Chevalier de la Milan, Captain of the Royal Musketeers. I haven't been a 'Miss' for a very long time." She eyeballed him for several long moments. When he didn't say anything immediately, her tone became sharp. "Well, do you have a problem or something?"

A soldier, not a warrior, Georgius thought to himself. It wasn't just the obvious use of rank, but the way she held herself and the sense of discipline he had only ever seen in those who had fought in the Legions of Rome. Finally he said "I apologize, I did not mean to offend. It is just… I have never seen a female soldier before."

"And I'm sure you have all sorts of opinions why what's between my legs makes me ill-suited for the job." She said flatly, her tone indicating that she had similar conversations in the past.

"Well, I personally prefer that women didn't have to fight at all…" Georgius started uncertainly.

"Oh, so you think women are too weak and fragile to stand up to the rigors of combat?" She asked, her tone becoming heated.

"Uh, no actually." He replied, becoming very uncomfortable. "I've faced women in battle in the past. Of course, those were Celts, so they were really more warriors than soldiers, and they came from a somewhat less refined society…"

"So now a woman doesn't have the metal discipline to be in a proper military and can only fight like a savage animal?" She nearly yelled, leaning in close to the man.

Georgius leaned back and frantically waved his free hand in front of him. "No, no I didn't mean that at all! I just meant, well, uh, I mean-"

"Er, partner?" Derflinger said from his other hand. "I'm no expert on social interaction, but I'm guessing you should quit now before you dig that hole any deeper."

Agnès glared at the knight for a few moments longer before she closed her eyes and sighed, letting the tension bleed of her body. "…Sorry." She said grudgingly as she opened her eyes. "I shouldn't have snapped at you like that. People used to mock me for being a woman in my profession. It took no small amount of effort on my part to prove them wrong. Or at least make them scared enough of me that they don't say anything stupid to my face anymore." She gave him a quizzical look. "So, terrible first impressions aside, what's your name? And where are you from anyway? I've never seen an armor design like that, and you looked like the mere idea of me being a solider baffled you. It's not common, but I know there are at least a handful of women in the militaries of the Brimiric nations."

"I am Tribune Georgius de Lydda, and I hail from Roman Empire. Not Romalia," he said quickly to head off any confusion. "Suffice to say it is… a very long ways away. In any case, though I haven't studied this land's culture in depth, I would wager that your society gives more rights to women than mine did." Georgius didn't care to dwell on his old homeland at the moment and instead held up his sword to her. "So, do you have a familiarity with intelligent weapons?"

"Nah, I've never even heard of one before." She said with a shake of her head. "I've just gotten use to all the weird stuff magic can do. Though I'd probably smack the mage who thought I'd want a sword that could talk back to me."

"Oy! Maybe that mage knows that we weapons have a lot of useful things to say!" Derflinger said indignantly.

Georgius gave a small hum as he ignored the blade and slid it into the sheath at his hip. "So, what brings someone like you to the Academy? I have only been here a few days, but this does not seem like the kind of place the Captain of the Royal Musketeers would frequent." He had no idea was a Musketeer was, but it was probably important.

"Ah, manners." Agnès said with a small shake of her head. "I was sent here with an envoy from the Crown. They're here to inspect the integrity of the vault. After that attempted theft a few days ago, some are wondering if a few of those items would be safer in the Royal Vaults."

A small frown crossed the man's face. Considering the circumstances, he felt that the robbery was foiled quite successfully. Then again, a hole was put in the vault itself. "If that is the case, why are you not with them now?"

"They're with the Headmaster at the moment, and they don't need me do their magic thing. Besides," She said as she eyed him up and down. "I wanted to take look at the man who was said take on a golem half the size of the main tower alone."

Georgius stood a little straighter. "It seems I've developed something of a reputation, if not an entirely accurate one. I was only able to distract it until Miss Françoise destroyed it."

"Hmp. You know, most women don't consider humility a virtue these days" Agnès said with a rueful smile. "Well, regardless of how you might protest, I doubt you're going to be successful in convincing the serving staff that you're anything other than folk hero. When I asked them about you they went on at great length about how you saved them from a small army of earth golems. One man has taken to referring to you as 'their Shield'. "

Georgius had to suppress a sigh at this. The cook Marteau was far too excitable for a man his age. "Well, now that we have met, do I live up to your expectation?"

There was a long, thoughtful pause as Agnes studied him before she said "I am not disappointed. Although you strike me as being the… old fashioned type." Georgius arched an eyebrow and she elaborated. "You know, the man who must valiantly save the day and always defend and protect the helpless maidens that all women must surely be."

"… and that's a bad thing?" Georgius asked in confusion.

Agnes smirked at his response. "I think women should get things done themselves rather than waiting for some white knight to come along for them." She turned and started to walk away. "It was good to meet you. I have a feeling we'll being seeing each other again, 'Shield'."

Geogrius stared after her nonplussed for several long seconds. Derflinger then spoke up from his side. "I feel like there's a human express I should use right now but it can't quite… oh now I remember!" The blade affected a cough. "Women, am I right?"

"I must say, I was expecting something a little more… impressive." Count Mott said as he eyed the various rows and shelves of treasures that filled the Academy vaults.

Headmaster Osmond turned away from the earth mages examining the walls of the room to give the man an even look. "Oh? And just what were you hoping to see, gold and jewel encrusted trinkets along with piles of coins? It is not that kind of treasury."

Mott waved the old man off. "Of course not, but it does contain valuable artifacts of great worth. I would have thought that it might look a little more impressive than an overly large storage closet." He waved his hand at the walls. "However, I was also speaking of the vault itself. The door is suable impressive, but the wall look only like ordinary stone. It hardly seems appropriate for something that was supposedly created by Brimir himself. Then again, considering the recent failure, perhaps the authenticity of that claim should be called into question."

Osmond suppressed an irritated sigh at this. He had only ever hear of the Count Mott by reputation before meeting him today, but it seemed that the tales of him being a rather foppish and shallow man were not far off. Personally the Headmaster would have preferred if the man weren't here at all, but unfortunately he was the Royal Messenger of Tristian. The Count had been sent along with the delegation of Royal Mages to check on the integrity of the vault, though just why was a mystery to Osmond. The Count's job was to deliver Royal proclamations, and as of yet he had done nothing of the sort.

Still, due to his position in the government he had to be offered some degree of respect, so Osmond held back a more sardonic response in favor of saying "Ah, but it was said that Brimir never did care for what we might consider that finer things. Most of the few artifacts we found of his have been simple items, yet their power cannot be underestimated."

"Perhaps," Mott replied "But that doesn't explain how the vault was breached. I was able to get a glance at the official report you sent to the crown, and there was mention of some kind of event which 'drained' the magic from several items around the academy, the vault included. Could you elaborate on that?"

"Not much to say, I'm afraid." The Headmaster replied. "I have my best teachers working on it, but the exact nature of what happened is a mystery. All I can say is that it occurred during the Springtime Summoning Ritual, and since then the vault has returned to strength."

"Really?" Mott asked with curiosity, stroking his pencil thin mustache. "So it happened when a student summoned a familiar? Do you know who it was and what they summoned?"

"Eh, can't really say I remember." The old man said, scratching his head with the tip of his staff. "It was so many days ago and so many things have happened since then." In truth, there was very little doubt in his mind as to who the person doing the summoning was, but Osmond wasn't about to let Miss Françoise come under any scrutiny at this point. "In any case, it only makes sense that an item of Brimir's might be affected by a spell he created."

The twist of Mott's mouth indicated that he didn't quite accept that logic, but regardless he moved on. "In any case, whatever may have caused this… event, I suggest that you discover the cause as soon as possible. While I am not to make any… official statements on the mater, I can assure you that the Crown would be very interested if such an event can be reproduced."

"Oh? And why's that?" The headmaster asked, though he already had an idea of what the Count was getting at.

Mott began to walk down the aisles of the vault, idly glancing at the various items on their shelves. "Draining magic from items in such a manner is unheard of. If we could find a way to use it, it could be an entirely new branch of Magic Theory. Think of all the applications it could be used for."

"As far as I can tell all it'll be good for is making someone else's day worse." Osmond said innocently enough, although there was a slight edge that was hard to miss.

Mott turned to look back at him and gave a knowing smirk. "What recent news have you heard from Albion?"

Osmond blinked in surprise at the apparent non sequitur. "Much the same as it's been for the past few months. The Nobility of the nation has been becoming more and more divided over issues and refusing to see eye to eye. There have even been rumors that some are preparing for civil war." Truth be told, Osmond had a hard time even finding out just what they were disagreeing on. The unrest had built up too fast over mostly nothing for it to be based entirely on policy. The old man had his suspicions, but it seemed more likely to him that the real argument was really over one of the most basic things nobles desired: power to rule.

"Yes, and war has a way of spreading in this world." Mott replied meaningfully. "Of course this is all baseless speculation and probably means nothing, but it is always nice to remind the other countries just why Tristin is the leader in Magic Theory." He was silent for a few moments before he turned back to mages inspecting the walls of the vault. "But enough of that. What is the integrity of the vault?"

One of the men, a middle aged man greying at the temples, broke from his incantations to turn and replied with "Well, it is of course stronger than anything any earth mage can manage today, but I think it is weaker than the Royal Vault."

"You think?" Mott asked, annoyance in his voice.

The man shifted uncomfortably. "They are close in comparison. Perhaps if we could compare them side by side it would be clearer, but at the moment it is not certain."

The Headmaster didn't fail to notice the Count's irritation at this, though he wasn't sure why. Whatever the case, he hoped that the earth mage's uncertainly would allow them to give him the benefit of the doubt when he said that the vault was strong enough to protect its contents. He owed at it to that dying man to at least watch over his weapon.

Osmond was about to say something before a new voice interjected. "Headmaster? I have the daily reports for you to look over."

Osmond turned and his eyebrows raised in surprise. "Is now really the best time Miss Longueville?" He asked the green hair woman. "We are in the middle of official business at the moment."

His secretary gave a small start of surprise before she clutched the papers she held in her hands to her chest. "Oh! I'm sorry. I… guess I haven't gotten back into my job completely yet."

Osmond was about to try to reassure her before Mott spoke first. "Oh ho! No need for apologies my dear. The presence of such a lovely young woman such as yourself is always appreciated." The Count's eyes drifted downward towards the woman's chest, leaving little doubt to where his thoughts lay.

The headmaster tried not to frown. He knew it was a little like the pot calling the kettle black, but he didn't like the way Mott was looking at his secretary. He may have made certain comments and sent his familiar to look up her dress once or twice, but at least he never eyed her like a piece of meat. "My dear, perhaps you should leave us until-"

"Nonsense, she can stay!" The Count interrupted. "I'm always glad for the company of beautiful women. In fact… you say that she is you secretary? I could have use for someone with those skills."

Miss Longueville could see where this was going, and her eyes narrowed at the man. "I do not have a transferable contract. If you wish to hirer my services, you'll have to do so normally, but I assure you I am quite content with my position."

Many commoners that worked directly for the nobility had contracts stipulating the terms of their employment, and one of the main clause put it to them were stipulations that their contract could be bought and transferred to someone else. The commoner could of course refuse the transfer, but it would cost them their job and most would be blacklisted as being uncooperative. Luckily for the secretary, her skills at reading and writing had deemed her a skilled laborer and she was able to negotiate the removal of that clause. The headmaster made a note to himself to make sure Mott didn't run into any of the female serving staff. They would not be as fortunate.

The Count was not dissuaded however, and moved closer to the woman with a lecherous gin on his face. "Oh, don't say things like that. I'm sure there are many things I could give you that would change your mind." His hand drifted low and started reaching for her hip.

Miss Longueville was not suffering any of that however, and with a scowl she threw the papers she was holding into the man's face. It was relatively tame compared to some of the responses Osmond had elicited for his own… less than honorable act towards her, but it still caused the Count to step back with a sputter. "Oops. I'm sorry. How clumsy of me."

The Count recomposed himself and returned her scowl before turning to the Headmaster and said "None of my own servants would ever dare to be so rude to me. I see you've been lax in disciplining your staff."

Osmond waved the man off with a chuckle. "Oh, I find that keeping a firm hand causes such a dreary and unhappy atmosphere. I just happen to like to keep things a little more lively around here. Call it an old man's prerogative."

Mott frowned and looked back at the secretary, who was now picking up the papers which had scattered over the floor. He was about to say something to her when he paused and he tilted his head to the side. After a moment he leaned down and snatched the top paper of the stack out of her hands. He ignored the indignant squawk of the woman and skimmed the page. "Oh, what's this?" He said with a smirk on his face. "A report from your staff at how the strength of the vault has noticeably weakened since the Springtime Summoning Ritual?"

The Headmaster silently cursed to himself. Of all the reports she had to be carrying, why did it have to be that one?! For the first time he felt a wave of anger at the green haired woman and shot a glare at her. She didn't seem to notice though, as she was still picking papers up. He turned his attention back to the Count. "Does it say that? Well, I'm sure it's just speculation…"

"The report details it as far more than speculation." Mott pointed out. "In fact this Professor Colbert seems quite certain of it." He handed the paper to the mage he had spoken to earlier. "Well, that seems to conclude things here then. Headmaster, would you please prepare an inventory of items for us to view. We should make our selections to move to the capital as soon as possible."

"Now wait just a minute," Osmond started to protest. "You're being a little hasty-"

"Because the thief could strike again at any moment." Mott interrupted, his slimy smile still on his face. "But if you insist on doing things by the formally…" He turned to look at the Royal earth mage he handed the paper to and waited expectantly. There was a long pause as the man went over the page before he looked back up and nodded in confirmation. Mott turned back to the Headmaster and drew himself up imperiously, his tone shifting to a more formal oration. "Headmaster Osmond, I am here to inform you that the Crown has deemed the Academy Vault to be insufficient for storage of items of immense value or danger. The Crown will be taking such items and moving them to the Royal Vault in Bruxelles. This will occur in two days."

Osmond had to control himself to keep from gritting his teeth. Two days? That was far too fast to get proper protection for the items organized, which meant... that they had already prepared for this. It could have been that they had simply wanted to be prepared just in case, but the old man couldn't shake the feeling that the Crown had come here simple looking for an excuse. Still, there was little he could do. "Of course. If that is the Crown's assessment, I will comply with their wishes."

"Excellent. Now, how about we take a look at this Staff of Destruction, shall we?" Mott said as he walked over to the back shelf which the black case was resting on. He looked at it in puzzlement. "How can a staff fit in a case only a few feet long?"

After giving a sigh, Osmond walked over. "Well, if I have to be honest, it's not really a staff," he said, his mind drifting back to that day, that solider smiling as he died as if he found some relief in the fact. "And more importantly it's broken…"

Longueville left the vault as soon as the Count had declared that the staff would be moved. She had made sure that the report on the vault's integrity had been obvious for him to see, and thankfully Mott's perception was sharp enough that she didn't have to do anything too obvious. True, it would be harder to steal from the Royal Vaults then try again here, but that was not her plan in any case. With her position as the Headmaster's secretary, it should be easy enough to find out when and where the Staff was going to be transported, and from there a relatively easy matter snatching it.

Most importantly though, it meant that she wouldn't have to deal with that familiar Georgius messing everything up again. While she had orders to both steal the staff and investigate that knight, she much preferred to keep those tasks as separate as possible. She would deal with the knight when she got back. For now though, she could focus on planning a straight forward heist without any magic negating do-gooders getting in the way.

"It's… a talking sword." Louise said incredulously as she looked at the blade which Georgius was holding out to her.

"She's not very fast on the uptake, huh partner?" The sword said glibly, its quillion moving in an odd pantomime of a mouth.

Her familiar spoke before she could get indignant. "This… Derflinger said that it had been in a dormant for some time before I picked it up. I doubt that that store owner realized what he was selling us. Then again, my knowledge on the artifice of this world is limited, and the blade doesn't know much either. Are speaking weapons common in this land?"

Louise frowned. "Well, no. I've never even heard of one before. The closest I've ever seen was an alviss that could say simple phrases."

"An alviss?" Georgius asked.

"It's an advanced kind of golem that also uses clockwork in addition to magic." Louise explained. "But even then it was just doing things by rote. This thing acts like it can actually think."

"Oy! That's because I can think you little brat!"

"Oh really?" The pink haired girl ground out. "In that case, who made you? Because I'm pretty sure anyone who can make artifacts that can think would be known all over the world."

"I was made by, uh…" the blade trailed off before taking an embarrassed tone. "I, uh, can't really remember her name."

"How convenient." She said flatly.

"Hey, you try remembering something that happened 6000 years ago!"

"What?!" She screamed incredulously. "That's impossible! Magic was nowhere near advanced enough back then to make a sword that lasts for millennia, let alone talk! Your just a liar or senile!"

"If I'm senile, that mean you just admitted I do have a mind, so ha!" The sword said smugly. After a few seconds it seemed to actually hear what it just said. "Wait, dammit, that not-"

Georgius interrupted before the argument could get any further. "Whatever the case may be, this is undoubtedly a very unique artifact. And as it seems perfectly functional as a weapon, I will be keeping it."

"Well, if you really want too." The girl said uncertainly. In truth, she found a talking sword to be just… weird. She had no idea how such a thing was even possible. She'd have to ask her older sister Eleanor about it the next time she saw her. Eleanor was researcher at the Oriz Magic Academy studying advanced magic theory. If anyone knew how it would work it was probably her.

There was then a knock on the door. Louise looked at the door quizzically. Who would possibly be calling at this hour? She thought to herself. Georgius took it upon himself to answer the door, and Louise was surprised when she heard him say "Oh, well hello again Captain."

A lithe figure in a white cloak with gold trim stepped into the room, and when the hood lowered Louise saw that it was a woman with short blonde hair. "I know I said I'd see you soon, but I thought that the Royal Mages would take longer."

"Familiar, who is this woman?" Louise asked suspiciously, glancing at the sword hanging of the woman's hip.

"This is Agnès Chevalier de la Milan, Captain of the Royal Musketeers." Georgius said while gesturing to her. "I met her this morning."

"C-Captain of the Royal Musketeers!?" Louise jumped to attention. He had heard stories about the woman who what the head of Princess Henrietta's personal guard, but she had never met her in person before. "Of course a servant of the Princess is welcome. Please if there is anything my familiar can do for you, don't hesitate to ask."

Agnes gave a bemused glance at Georgius, who merely shrugged. She then said "That won't be necessary, I'll only be a moment. The envoy has decided that the vault is not secure enough, and several of the high profile items are to be moved to the palace in Bruxelles." She reached into her cloak and pulled out a letter. "I was instructed to give this to you in the case this happened."

Louise took the letter and saw that it did have the Royal Seal pressed into the wax. Though it was a little inappropriate to do so while the messenger was still in the room, Louise's excitement over getting word from Princess Henrietta overrode her decorum and she hastily opened the letter and read its contents. The other two in the room were silent as she went over the letter, and she let out a small gasp when she got to a certain passage. "T-The Princess wants me for a mission! She wants me to travel with the Staff of Destruction to insure that it safely reaches the capital!"

Georgius glanced over at the captain. "Did you know about this?"

Agnes shrugged. "I suspected. It only makes sense that when moving a high profile item you get the same people to protect it who stopped its theft the first time." She turned her attention back to Louise. "A merchant caravan heading to Bruxelles will be passing by the Academy in two days. The envoy will join up with them under the guise of convenience while discretely carrying the Staff. I trust that you will be prepared by then."

"Of course I will!" Louise said fiercely, a gleam in her eyes. "I, Louise Françoise de la Vallière, swear by the Founder Brimir that I will not fail in this mission given to me by the Royal Family of Tristain!"

Agnes was a little surprised by the force at Louise's response, but she simply gave a nod. "Nice to see you're so enthusiastic. There are details we should go over, but it is late and we can speak of it tomorrow. I bid you good night." She gave the mage a simple bow, and as she turned she gave Georgius an odd look before she left, closing the door after her.

Lousie's mind raced. A mission from the Princess! Henrietta had heard of how she foiled Fouquet's theft and was impressed enough to trust her with this! She could finally be of use! She could do something despite being the Zero!

She was so excited that she almost didn't hear the damn sword speak up. "Oh yeah! I remember that guy!"

"Huh?" Louise asked, snapping out of her excitement. "What are you talking about?"

"That guy who was always around the person who made me. His name was Brimir!"


A/N: Another thing that bugged me about show was everyone's reaction to Derf. I far as I can tell, sentient artifacts are completely unheard of in that world, and yet everyone's response to him is to simply go "Huh, that's weird" and then never think about it again. I would think its presence would case a little more concern.

In any case, this is where I start splitting from canon. While Count Mott is in the fic, I'm not doing the whole 'rescue Siesta' bit because it is both a waste of time and incredibly stupid. Who in God's name would trade Siesta for and old porno mag? Also, the events that will occur on the caravan trip should have some interesting consequences.

Till next time.

Edit: So apparently it was Sasha who made Derf, not Brimir. Totally got that one wrong. Changed some dialog to fix it.