Chapter 2 - Suicide Attack to Adyl
Streaks of light peeked through the desert night sky... The "Ostland", which Louise and the others were on, flew at maximum speed while spewing out thick black smoke.
There were no resistance from any of the Elves in sight anymore. This was because Louise had wiped out the elite Elven air force, consisting of ten war ships and sixteen patrol ships, with her "Explosion" spell.
However, the "Ostland" was also heavily damaged after bearing the brunt of the cannon shells. There were gaping holes in the ship hull, and the steam engine which had been stretched to its limits, had almost broken down. For it to continue flying up till now was nothing short of a miracle.
"Jean! I can see it now!" Kirche yelled out while leaning on the bulwark.
"So, that is the Elven capital city, Adyl?"
Adyl. The capital of "Nephthys", the country of the elves.
It was a magnificent artificial city built on the desert which was surrounded by the sea.
Criss-crossed by a network of huge canals, the city was filled with neatly arranged buildings with white walls. Islands, made of reclaimed land, peppered the sea around it, while many ships went back and forth between them.
Overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the city, Colbert could not help but let out a sigh.
A completely different sight from what one would find in Halkeginia, it showed the deep technological disparity between the humans and the elves.
At the same time, Colbert felt as if his heart became as heavy as lead. "After this, are they really going to be fighting against an opponent capable of building such a city...?", he thought.
In the middle of Adyl, which oversaw the sea, stood a colossal white tower.
At a glance, the giant tower was about two hundred mails tall and bore no resemblance to any Halkeginian building. It had a strictly functional design devoid of any ornamental structure.
The building was of course, the "Kasper", where the highest Elven authority, the "Council" was located.
They were now only a dozen leagues away from the center of Adyl...
A somber atmosphere hung in the air just as Guiche asked, "Mr. Colbert, I have a question."
"What will that be, Mr. Gramont?"
"Where will we be landing?"
There seemed to be a landing platform for Wind Dragons at the apex of the tower, but it did not seem capable of holding such a large air ship.
"We'll crash-land the ship into the tower itself." Colbert said firmly.
Guiche could not believe his ears. Even Kirche widened her eyes.
"What? Are you serious?" Éléonore, who had been at the helm, shouted out to him.
"Of course, only someone crazy will do that."
"But that is why, the elves might not be prepared to deal with this." Colbert said this with a serious expression.
Actually this was not some special plan to attack the enemy where they were least expected. They had to bet on this kind of plan to even get a millionth of a chance since they would not even have a millionth of a chance of winning a head-on battle against the elves.
"No matter how you put it, this is too reckless!"
"It was already reckless from the point where we rushed into Elven territory anyway." Colbert retorted.
"W-what if, we fail?"
"Then we'll be blasted into bits.", Malicorne said nonchalantly.
"Hey, what is that attitude of yours... One small mistake and it will cost us our lives, you know."
"And that's why you have a big responsibility not to drive us to our death, big sis."
"Are you asking to be kicked off the ship?"
"Well, it wouldn't be too bad if I would be able to go to heaven with big sis hand-in-hand, I think."
"Why would anyone want to go to heaven with you, or even take your hand, huh?" Éléonore booted Malicorne off to the bulwark in one swift motion, before gripping the helm tightly as if she had made up her mind. "There is no way I'm dying here, because I've not given up on getting married."
The "Ostland" steered straight for the "Kasper".
Meanwhile, Kirche leaned on Colbert, who was standing on the deck with a serious expression on his face. "Jean, even if this is a journey that ends in hell, I would always be by your side."
"Thank you, Miss Zerbst."
Just then, Kirche noticed that, her blue-haired friend, was sitting in the corner of the deck.
"Seriously? You're reading a book, even at this time?"
Tabitha's eyes did not leave the book, and she only nodded in response to the question.
"You really just do whatever you please, huh?"
What is it that was so interesting to her... Kirche slipped behind Tabitha as she wanted to uncover the mysterious content within the tattered covers of the book.
However, taking a look at the contents only made her more confused.
What Tabitha was reading was a illustrated book for children.
"Oh, this is rare. Isn't most of the books you read much more difficult than this?"
"This is a very important book to me."
"Oh..." Kirche muttered in disappointment as she turned to look at the bow.
Louise was sleeping soundly on Siesta's lap there.
Louise had been sleeping like that ever since she used up all her mental will to cast a powerful "Explosion" spell at the Elven air fleet.
"Poor girl. But it seems that you will have to wake up soon."
"You're saying that the barbarians are launching an attack here?"
"What the heck is Commander Amran doing?!"
At this time... The "Kasper" council had devolved into chaos.
This was not just something strange, since not only was the entire Elven air fleet destroyed, a barbarian ship also took the chance to speed towards Adyl. This was simply unheard of in the long history of human-Elf wars.
"Mmhmm. It seems that we might have underestimated the abilities of the barbarians."
Upon hearing what the old elf on the council speaker seat, Turuk, had muttered, the council members turned grim.
"This is no joking matter, Mr. President. They must be the 'Undertakers' who are coming to retrieve the 'Devils'." One of the council members spoke up.
"I've never would have thought that they were going to make a beeline for the 'Kasper'."
"There aren't many guards here, are there?"
"What are you afraid of? They are only barbarians, what could they do even if they were to come here?"
After hearing one of the younger council member scoffing, some of the other members began to voice their agreements.
Well, it was true that every one of the elves in the council were powerful users of "Ancient Magic". They did not need to be afraid of barbarian magic, so it was natural for them to look down on the enemy.
Worry sprung up in Turuk's mind as he surveyed the racket around him. "What a bunch of incurable fools."
How can they hold a meeting so calmly during these urgent times?
The peace and harmony all these centuries has corrupted the council. As a result, fanatic zealots like the "Steel-Blooded Party" rose in power.
"Even if our opponent are barbarians, we can not let our guard down. Didn't you see how our air fleet was annihilated by them?"
Everyone quieted down as Turuk threw a wet blanket over their heated discussion.
"In any case, it would be better if we don't make the mistake of underestimating them. They might pull off something unexpected."
The council members did not seem to heed his advice.
Turuk let out a sigh, looked away with a forlorn face and sunk into deep thought.
"Miss... Miss Vallière, please wake up immediately."
Siesta rocked Louise's shoulders gently, but Louise only flipped to the side.
"... Saito, I-I can't do this, to wear a collar in the courtyard... what the heck were you thinking..."
"What kind of dream is that?" Siesta could not help but roll her eyes as she heard that.
"Stop sleeping, please wake up now. The only thing that can fight against the elves, is Miss Vallière's 'Void' magic."
"... Wu... I shall not forgive you this time. Y-you made a noble like me, dress up so, embarrassingly..."
Siesta sighed and moved her face towards Louise's ears. "Please wake up now. Come on, wake up... Wake up now. Wake up, you, the one without a chest."
"Flat-chest, washboard, Tarbes plains."
"Such a flat, flat, flat chest~"
Every time Siesta sung her strange song, Louise's ears trembled to the rhythm of the melody.
"Miss Vallière's flat chest is the flattest it can be~"
Louise jolted upright.
"You maid! Are y-y-you done with that song!"
"Ah, you're finally awake. Get up, we're about to go in, so please prepare yourself."
"Go in?" Louise asked back with drowsy eyes.
"Yes, I think we're going to ram the ship into the tower."
"Huh?" Louise instantly woke up completely. "What? What are you saying again? I didn't understood what you've said."
Just then, the "Ostland" began to shake violently.
"W-wait, what's happening... Aaaaaah!"
Louise and Siesta hugged each other as they rolled around on the deck.
"We're going in! Mr. Gramont, cast 'Fortification' on the bow now!"
After hearing Colbert's commanded, Guiche began casting the spell for "fortification" while grabbing the bulwark like everyone else on the ship. Layers upon layers of magical shield immediately covered the ship hull.
"We're dipping down at thirty degrees! Everyone, hold on tight to something near you!"
The "Ostland" charged headfirst diagonally downwards at an incredible speed.
"Humph, well then, watch me handle this! I'll let you know the abilities of a woman who can't be married!" Éléonore held the helm tightly as she yelled out desperately.
"That's the spirit! Big sis!"
"Shut the hell up!" Éléonore booted Malicorne off to the bulwark again.
Just then, the elves on the tower realized their motive. Elven guards rushed to the tower terraces and began to cast "Ancient Magic".
Countless fireballs, arrows of light, and wind blades ravaged the ship hull. It seems that they thought of changing the path of the ship, even by a little, since they were not able to destroy such a huge object.
"Fatty, blast them away."
"One big blast coming right up!"
Malicorne ran rolling and crawling to the "main cannon" on the front deck, and licked it.
The numbers, "324" were painted on the turret.
The main cannon of the "Ostland" was not just any ordinary large cannon. Colbert had forcibly installed the eighty-eight millimeter cannon from the "Tiger Tank" onto the ship.
Malicorne targeted the elves on the terrace through the sights and pulled the trigger forcefully.
Boom! The cannon roared thunderously as it spat out a huge cannon shell. At the same time, the shell flew forward in a straight line and devastated the terrace.
"Well done, fatty!" Éléonore kept turning the steering wheel while she planted her foot onto Malicorne's face as he was blown away by the shock wave. Malicorne had a face of pure bliss as his face was stepped on.
They came closer and closer to the huge frame of the "Kasper".
Fifty mails, forty mails, thirty mails, twenty mails...
"Impact imminent!" Guiche screamed out.
In an instant, the ship bow collided into the walls with a deafening blast.
The collision force was so strong that Louise and Siesta involuntarily let go of the bulwark.
Their bodies were thrown out of the ship. There was a brief moment where Louise felt as if gravity had disappeared. "Ah, I'm going to fall..." Just as she thought this, she felt as if somebody grabbed hold of her collar and pulled her up.
"Kew, kew. You're really a troublemaker, little red one!"
Still in shock, Louise, raised her head only to find Sylphid, who was carrying Tabitha on her back, hooking them by their collars.
Tabitha answered Louise's soft words of gratitude with a curt nod, her face expressionless.
The dust in the air gradually settled down.
They could see how the gigantic body of the "Ostland" was stuck mid-way into the tower.
Even though most of the hull armor was destroyed, the engines and the motors were just barely functioning. If the ship had been made of wood, even if the "fortification" spell was cast on it, it would still break for sure.
"Is everyone alright?" Colbert coughed as he tried to stand up.
"Miss Éléonore, that was some superb steering you did there."
"What the hell was I even doing just now..." Éléonore grumbled as she coughed.
"Alright then, we'll be charging into the heart of Elven territory. Is everyone ready for this?"
After hearing what Colbert has said, everyone nodded silently. They each began to pull out their magic wands.
"Very well." Colbert then took the lead, and jumped down from the deck, followed by Louise, Kirche, Guiche, Malicorne and Tabitha.
Siesta, who was not capable of magic, and Éléonore, who was the ship pilot, stayed on the ship so that they could take off immediately after they brought a hostage.
"Be careful, little one, kew, kew!" Sylphid yelled out, concerned about everyone. Tabitha nodded and said that it would be alright.
Siesta crawled onto the bulwark, and said to Louise, "Miss Vallière, you have to come back with Saito and Louise. Promise me that."
"Yup, I'll promise you that."
"Miss Vallière, you also have to return safely to us, okay?"
"You really, really have to, you know."
"I know, I know."
"If... Miss Vallière doesn't come back, Saito will be mine, okay?"
"In your dreams."
After hearing Louise answer without missing a beat, Siesta gave her a small smile.
"Oh? Your legs are shaking, Guiche."
"This is called the warrior's tremblings. What would you know about that, huh?" Guiche retorted Kirche's teasing in an attempt to boost his courage. "So what if we're going to fight against Elves. Even when he was knocked down by my Golems countless times, Saito still stood his ground and did not surrender. He was the one who proved that commoners could fight back against the magicians. Fighting with the Elves is nothing compared to that."
Guiche held on to his wand tightly. "Also, what we've chosen to take part in, is a honourable battle to save our comrades. Don't you think so too?"
"That's right, to save our comrade... and the fairy with a large chest. This is the best battle ever. It's such a simple goal, we're not like those Romanians yelling about some holy crusade." Malicorne said.
"That's right, we could even save the world. Think about it, if we manage to return alive, wouldn't that make us so popular with the girls?"
"Guiche, didn't you already have Mon-Mon?"
"This and that are completely different things. Would you complain about being more popular with the girls?"
The both of them patted each other's backs and laughed at each other.
"You guys..." Louise could not help but roll her eyes at them.
Colbert gave a light cough. "Ahem."
"After we charge into the place, we will take an elf with a ranking as high as possible as our hostage, and have them to exchange the elf for Saito."
"How will we be able to know which elf are the higher ranking ones?" Louise asked.
"Well, at least, I think those elves won't be dressed as a guard."
They will look like those elves back in Alhambra then, Louise thought to herself.
"I'll take care of the guards from the lower levels of the tower." Tabitha said.
"Are you okay alone?" Louise asked worriedly.
"It's alright. I'm used to working alone."
"Be careful, okay?"
Tabitha gave a small nod, before casting the "Flying" spell and flew down from the tall tower.
"Miss Valiere, how many times could you use the 'Void' again?"
"I think I could use it a few more times."
Even though Louise said it with a firm voice, she was actually just trying to put on a brave face. To tell the truth, her mental will had been highly diminished by the extra powerful "Explosion" spell she cast to annihilate the Elven air fleet.
However, the thought that "she must save Saito" called out in her mind, making her heart tremble. This trembling of her heart was the source of her mental will, the ammunition need to cast "Void" spells. That feeling superseded her anger, her joy and even her grief... As long as the trembling of her heart, due to her yearning for Saito, exists, no matter how tough it was, she would be able to fight her way out of it.
"Saito, could you please wait for me, just a little longer... I'll save you."
Maybe they've taken away his sanity and his memories of me, but even so, I will never give up.
That's because he's my familiar, and I'm his master, and a-also his lover... That's right, when we meet, I must make him hug me tightly, t-then make him kiss me...
"Oh please, what are you daydreaming about?"
She noticed that Kirche was asking her with a face full of doubt.
"I-I wasn't daydreaming at all!" Louise's face could not help but flush red at Kirche's question.
"Shall we go then, to save Saito and Miss Tiffania." Colbert said, as he raised his wand up high.
And so, after everyone silently overlapped their wands in the air, they charged straight into the heart of the tower.