Chapter 1/New Worlds Await
Chapter 1/New worlds await
As was tradition in the Tristain Academy of Magic, the second year mages would summon a single beast to be their familiar, to serve them for the rest of their lives. As was also tradition, said familiar would represent the mage that summoned accurately, a true reflection of the mage’s ability.
Unfortunately, not all traditions are upheld.
Professor Jean Colbert was not in a happy mood today. His latest experiment had quite literally exploded in his face, ruining his favorite robe, and causing him to miss breakfast. And after hearing of Fouquet’s latest theft and Reconquista’s latest attacks on the Albion Nobility, he could only be on guard. War was something he didn’t want to be in again.
Which was why he really didn’t like the fact that the second years had to summon a familiar on their first day back from their summer vacation. Really, the students didn’t do that much, although being Nobles probably had something to do with that. Colbert sighed as the next student, the Germanian Kirche von Zerbst, summoned a fire salamander. Of course it was natural, the redheaded student being a fire mage, and all, but would it be too much to ask for a student that summoned something that would really help out?
Out of all the familiars, mostly cats, dogs, and other creatures of the like, only the blue dragon really seemed helpful, a very fast, somewhat durable messenger that could carry passengers, and could probably use magic to a very limited degree.
Perhaps a useful Familiar was too much to ask for.
“Oh, Professor Colbert. Zero Louise hasn’t summoned her familiar yet.”
Colbert sighed again. “Miss Valliere.”
A pinkette eeped from behind the crowd, as it parted to allow her to walk forward. Miss Valliere was very good, in Colbert’s opinion, however all her spells simply ended in explosions. While that wasn’t bad at all, her classmates tormented her about her lack of success in any of the spells she tried. He tried to ignore the other student’s snide remarks.
“Do you think she’ll just make an explosion again?”
“Probably, just like every spell she tries.”
Miss Valliere sighed as she approached the summoning circle, raising her wand. "My servant that exists somewhere in this vast universe,”
A blonde girl, Montmorency de Montmorency, raised an eyebrow. “What kind of strange chant is that?”
The blonde boy next to her, Guiche de Gramont, nodded his consented agreement. “It’s unique, at least.”
Miss Valliere ignored them. “My divine, beautiful, wise, powerful servant, heed my call, I wish from very bottom of my heart and add to my guidance and appear!"
A boy wearing a white t-shirt, along with black jeans, was jogging down a street. It wasn’t unusual for him, since he went out for runs often. It also wasn’t unusual for him to see something interesting every so often, this world had discovered ways to travel to other worlds, and along with that, magic.
So it wasn’t unusual for him when a green portal opened up in front of him.
Naturally, the first thing he did was stop in front of it. “Portal, from the looks, a Summons portal. I’m not prepared for this, I’m just a civilian.”
He pulled a device from his pocket, and small black box with one button on it. He pushed said button, and waited, as the box began projecting a magic circle under the portal.
“General Acel sir, a portal has appeared. From the data, it’s a Summons portal with an unknown destination world. Portal currently stable.”
General Acel “Accelerator” Martel nodded, adjusting his military uniform. “Very well, have Marcus and Zero returned from their current mission?”
The response was quick, as to be expected. “Yes, sir.”
Excellent. Acel loved sending Marcus into these things. The boy loved it too. “Then send them. I don’t want a rookie team in unknown territory.”
“Of course, sir. Sending message now.”
Marcus listened to the message through his earpiece, nodding and occasionally adjusting his combat uniform under his duster coat. “Zero, we’ve got another mission. Summons portal with an unknown destination world. My old man wants us to go. Oh, it’s recon and exploration only. Sorry, you’re going to be bored for a while.”
He glanced over at Zero, who stepped forward, his boots echoing on the floor. Marcus grinned. He loved adventuring, even if his old man forced him to be diplomatic about it. “Let’s go, then. I’ve already received the location. I’ll lead.”
Saito hadn’t waited long before two men, one of them being Marcus Martel of all people, showed up. “Good job, kid. If you want to come along, you’ll have to sign the waiver.”
Saito shook his head. “I’m not ready for these kinds of things. Good luck, though.”
Marcus shook his head sadly. “What’s your name, kid?”
The boy was quick to give the older man an answer. “Saito Hiraga, sir.”
Marcus raised an eyebrow. “Interesting name. Are you an exchange student?”
Saito nodded. “Transferred last year from Japan.”
“How’s New France for you?”
He shrugged to show his indifference. “It’s been good so far. The language is a little strange, but overall, it’s a good experience. Considering this was once part of the Wasteland, I’m rather impressed.”
Marcus smiled. “You good with magic, Saito?”
“I’m alright. Nothing too impressive, though.”
Marcus chuckled. “Don’t be too modest. If you’re interested in the Exploration Committee, sign up. Maybe we’ll see each other again, Saito.”
Saito saluted Marcus, as the latter and Zero walked through the portal.
Professor Colbert was worried now. “This is taking longer than expected. The portal’s been open for at least ten minutes.”
Said portal suddenly fluctuated violently, as two figures stepped out: a man in a combat uniform under a horse riding coat, and a man with armored clothing, with black, crystalline arms that ended in vicious looking claws. The man in the combat uniform looked around at the students, then at Professor Colbert. “I apologize for the interruption. We were instructed to investigate a Summons portal. Is this the right place?”
Professor Colbert, along with the students, were astonished. Louise had summoned commoners? Well, not commoners. The man was too well dressed. Maybe a noble, and his familiar?
“Well, anyways, I do need to talk with a government official about trading and military policies. Do you know where I can find the right one for that?”
Miss Valliere blinked, then Colbert saw her regain her composure. “I’m sorry, sir, but you’ve stepped through a familiar portal. That makes you my familiar now.”
The man chuckled. “I’m sorry, little miss, but you see, I just can’t do that.”
Miss Valliere blinked again. “What?”
The man straightened his uniform. “You see, little miss -”
The man was not helping things go smoothly, Colbert thought. But he just kept talking. “You see, Louise, I cannot be summoned as a familiar, or really, as a servant in general. I’m an explorer, so that would be a bit difficult to do if I was bound to serve someone. Although, that does explain the odd feeling when we stepped through the portal.”
Neither Miss Valliere nor Colbert himself were amused by this. “I am Louise Francoise Le Blanc de la Valliere. You walked through that portal, and you are my familiar.”
The man frowned. “Valliere, huh?”
He looked at his companion. “You remember the last Valliere, right?”
The companion nodded, and the man’s frown deepened. Now Colbert was terrified. What happened to the last Valliere this man had met? A few ideas came to mind, but they weren’t pleasant. “Okay, I’m offering a proposal. We become partners, alright? You help me with my job, and in exchange, I’ll help you with whatever you need.”
This was interesting. Miss Valliere asked the most obvious question. “What’s your job?”
“I’m an ambassador from my world. I explore other worlds, and set up trade and military policies, along with recording the mechanics of said worlds. Can you help me with that?”
An ambassador? From his world? Wait, another world? Miss Valliere, not being Colbert, seemed unfazed, and asked the question Colbert knew she would ask. “And you’ll help me?”
Truly, his heart went out to Miss Valliere. Apparently the man’s did as well. “Of course. It’s not entirely my official job, but I do try to help other people.”
Louise scowled. “Maybe. I’ll have to think about it.”
Colbert gave his silent agreement. This man was questionable in his ethics, although, he was also a stranger. Said man nodded, glancing at the portal. “Well, the portal’s still stable, so I can -”
The portal fluctuated violently, before closing entirely, resulting in an explosion. “Never mind. Well, I can’t do much about that.”
He looked around, before finding his companion rubbing a blue dragon’s head. “Zero!”
The companion turned around, and Miss Valliere flinched. “Try not to kill anything while I’m gone. You have free reign for now.”
The companion nodded, before resuming rubbing the dragon.
Miss Zerbst smirked. “His name’s Zero? Seems fitting, the zero familiar of Zero Louise.”
A gust of wind brushed past her, and something slammed into the wall behind her, damaging it. Colbert turned around to see the Zero pinned to the wall by the man, who was clearly annoyed by the attempt. “Didn’t I just say not to try and kill anything?”
Colbert looked at Miss Zerbst. She merely looked over at Zero in shock. “Were you going to cut my tongue out?”
Zero shrugged as he pushed the man off of him, his master glaring at him for his subordination. “I apologize for Zero’s actions, miss. He is a weapon, after all. A bit unwieldy, but I’m good with most weapons.”
“Oh? So he’s not your familiar?”
The strange, strange man shook his head. “Nope, he’s just a human weapon. Well, not really human, but you get the point. I’m just the guy that restrains him. Perks of being a general’s son, I guess.”
The young Gramont looked at him curiously. “You’re the son of a general?”
The man nodded. “Yep. My old man is General Acel. I suppose you’ve never heard of him, but it doesn’t really matter. Before anyone asks, we’re not here for conquest of any kind. We’re simply looking for trade.”
The boy nodded, waving a rose with a flourish. “Well, I haven’t properly introduced myself. My name is Guiche de Gramont, son of General de Gramont.”
The man nodded slightly. “My name’s Marcus Martel. It’s nice to meet you, Guiche. While Louise is thinking over my proposal, let’s have a quick chat, shall we?”
The young man nodded, eyes full of interest. “Of course, it would only be becoming of a noble such as myself to discuss the matters of Generals like our fathers.”
Marcus chuckled. “Let’s go then. Zero, I’m off. Don’t hurt anyone.”
And with that, Marcus was off, leaving the frightened students, and Colbert, with Zero.
Marcus was frowning by the time Guiche finished telling him about his family. “Guiche, sit down for a moment. I need to tell you something.”
Guiche stopped, frowning, but complied anyway. “Yes, what is it?”
“Guiche, based on everything you’ve told and shown me, I’m sorry to say it, but you don’t seem likely to ever succeed your father or your brothers.”
Guiche was, unsurprisingly, shocked at this assessment. Granted, he had every right to be. “What reasoning do you have for such an accusation?”
Marcus decided to start with, everything. “I’ll start with your magic. You use bronze for your constructs. Bronze, Guiche. Against most other mages, bronze isn’t a very good material to use. It has a lower melting point than steel, which makes your Valkyries weak against fire mages, and is weaker than steel too, which makes the Valkyries weak against other earth mages. A strong wind mage can blow it away, or electrocute it, and a strong water mage can wear it down given enough time. I’d suggest studying other materials to find a better material to use. Something stronger and lighter for the Valkyries, and stronger and a combination of heavier and lighter for different weapons. A claymore, for example, would be better if it was heavier, as it would be used for slow, powerful swings. A rapier, on the other hand, would be more effective it it was lighter, as the wielder would be able to move faster, with quicker stabs and slashes. Here.”
He handed Guiche a thick book. The boy was obviously confused. “What’s this?”
Marcus had received the once empty book from his father when he was just a child, although it made him pleased to say that he had collected and detailed various materials from different worlds. Every time he went to a new world, he would take note of new resources and materials native to that world. A fun side hobby, really. “It’s a book detailing various materials. It also automatically translates into the native language of the reader. I’m going to challenge you to a duel in four days. Read up, experiment, study your father’s tactics. In the meantime, I’m going to learn more about this world from Louise.”
Guiche stared at him in confusion. “Why the Zero, though? I’d think it would be more effective to go to the professors, and learn more about each individual element from specialists.”
Marcus tilted his head. “Why do you call her Zero? That’s something I don’t understand.”
Guiche sighed. “We call her the Zero because she has zero success in magic. Every spell ends in an explosive failure. The familiar summoning spell is the first spell that worked, except you said you can’t be a familiar, so even that spell failed.”
Marcus sighed. He knew that feeling, or rather, Zero knew that feeling. “I didn’t realize it was that bad for her. Reminds me of my Zero, in a sense.”
“Your Zero? How?”
Marcus had never found Explanation Time to be fun. “Keep in mind that Zero is a weapon, albeit a rather unconventional one at that. When he was first made, Zero was a prototype, a proof of concept. He wasn’t made to be used as a good weapon, and he wasn’t going to be included in the actual numbered products. With better funding to make better versions of the weapon, the newer models would perform much better than him. Zero would be scrapped, killed even.”
It was the False God that had done that, in a show of power to intimidate Marcus. Guiche raised an eyebrow. “What changed all that?”
Boasting Time was far more fun. “Zero didn’t like the most likely outcome. So he went out, completed missions, and slaughtered the newer models. He proved himself a true weapon, more powerful than any other that tried to outdo him.”
To be specific, slaughtering all the other clones of the False God, and the Purging Flame. But Guiche didn’t need to know that. “How does that relate to Louise?”
Did the boy seriously not understand what Marcus was telling him? “Louise is, in this case, probably the strongest, or at least the most useful person here, and she simply doesn’t realize it. If every spell ends in an explosion, what damage would be caused if she actually tried to cast an explosion spell of any kind?”
Guiche’s eyes widened in realization. Finally. “It would be extremely destructive.”
Marcus nodded in agreement. He would have fun testing just how destructive little Louise could be. “Exactly. I’m probably going to be an honorary familiar for her, to keep her from killing everything by accident.”
“As opposed to on purpose, then?”
Marcus chuckled. “That I will allow. By the way, you should get started. You have four days to prepare for our duel. By the way, I obtained all the materials for that book myself.”
With that, Marcus left the shocked Guiche, whistling as he returned to the Academy.
Louise was surprised when Marcus knelt down next to her, interrupting her thinking. “What is it?”
“I’ll be your honorary familiar. Is that okay?”
He was being suspicious. “I suppose. Your first offer was alright, though.”
“Hey, don’t worry. You still summoned a familiar. It’s fine.”
Of course. She was Louise the Zero, Marcus had probably heard about that, and taken pity on her. She didn’t want his pity. “You heard about the Zero thing, didn’t you?”
The man scowled. “You mean the ‘Louise the Zero’ thing? Then yeah, I did.”
Louise looked downcast. Every time, it was Louise the Zero, or Zero Louise. “It’s alright. I’m still a Zero. I failed in every one of my spells, even the familiar summoning ritual.”
Marcus cupped her chin, making her look him in the eyes. How dare he! She was an engaged woman, after all! That rapscallion, that - “Look. I’m going to be blunt. I talked to Guiche about this, and we figured something important out.”
He was being suspicious again. “What is it?”
“If you try to cast an explosion spell with even the slightest bit of self-confidence, it would be devastating to everything around you.”
Louise’s eyes widened, then she leaned back, exasperated. How had she not thought of that? “Why didn’t I think of that?”
“Because you were so focused on the fact that you didn’t complete the intended spell. Everyone was.”
True, Marcus, so very true. “So, I could be the most destructive noble here?”
“Yes. Your magic could easily outclass most of the other destructive spells here. So, what do you say?”
Louise was grinning. This, was a good day for her. “Of course, Familiar.”
Marcus deadpanned. “Louise, just remember I am a familiar only in name, not in function.”
That dampened her mood a bit. “Oh, right.”
“I’ll act the part in public, but in both public and private, I’m still a person, and the son of a general at that. Should any injuries be inflicted on my person, I could declare war on this world, and wipe out everyone involved with the initial conflict. That could be this school, this country, this continent, or this entire world.”
Oh. That would be problematic. “Oh.”
He chuckled at her. That man was beginning to grate on her nerves. “But don’t worry too much about that kind of thing happening. I probably won’t do that.”
Louise sighed in relief. Thank goodness for little things.
“I also have a name. It’s Marcus. I suggest you use it.”
Simple enough. “Of course, Marcus.”
The afternoon went by without incident.
Then came dinner.
“You’re not a noble, but I got permission from the headmaster to let you eat here. Zero can’t though.”
Marcus nodded, not the least concerned. “It’s fine. Zero.”
Zero looked over at him. “Dinnertime. Helm unlocked. Make it quiet, please.”
Zero nodded, then left, then Louise piped up. “Doesn’t he usually eat with you?”
“He hunts for food at night. I have to give permission to unlock the armor, though. I removed the sleeves, since it was uncomfortable for his arms. Now, let’s eat.”
He sat down next to Louise, but was confused when she didn’t eat. “What’s wrong?”
“We have to give thanks to the Founder for this meal.”
Nope. Not happening. “I see. That’s how it is. Well, nice meal, but I’m going to walk around a bit. I lost my appetite.”
Louise grabbed his arm. “Why?”
He shook her off. “Personal reasons. Don’t ask.”
With that, he was off. Honestly, people like these were going to be the death of him.
Marcus was sitting by a washing basin when a maid walked by, carrying an armload of clothes. “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t think there was anyone here.”
“It’s fine. Do you need help?”
Marcus took the pile of clothes from the black haired maid, and began washing them.
“You’re very good at this. Oh, my name’s Siesta.”
Siesta continued washing. “Nice to meet you Marcus.”
“Same to you. Tell me, what requirements to a noble?”
“You have to be able to use magic, although the Germanians can buy their nobility.”
Marcus nodded slowly, continuing his work. “I see. So, can anyone learn magic?”
“No, one has to be born with magic.”
“So, proof of nobility is the ability to use magic?”
That left a bad taste in Marcus’ mouth. Nobility through magic? Even a infant could see the problems with that! “Why am I not surprised?”
“Never mind. Where I come from, anyone can learn magic with enough dedication. There’s no nobility, either.”
It was true, that there was no real nobility in his world. Granted, if someone were to try and rule over the majority, it would simply backfire. One cannot rule many of equal strength, was a common proverb in New France.
Siesta, on the other hand, was comically amazed at the common sense. “No nobility? Just commoners with magic?”
“Maybe. But magic isn’t something easily gained, so it shouldn’t be abused, and neither should people. Even a humanoid weapon is treated like a person. Ah, we’re done.”
Siesta bowed. “Thank you for your help.”
“Not a problem. It’s relaxing to do something like this. Well, see you around.”
Marcus walked by a couple speaking to each other by the wall of the Academy. “Oh, Drefan. Do you really love me?”
Of course, the blonde fop answered with a cheesy one-liner. Marcus thanked every higher deity this world’s people believed in that it wasn’t Guiche talking. “Of course, Katie. I could never tell a lie to your eyes.”
Marcus grinned. “Ah, it’s the blonde fop from before.”
Drefan turned around, his eyebrow twitching. “Oh, it’s the commoner Louise summoned.”
Wow, real noble of you, Drefan. “Ignore me for now, I’m just passing through.”
Marcus continued on, grin widening. ‘Three, two, one.’
“I am not a fop!”
“Ah, the girl from before. Very pretty dragon, by the way.”
Tabitha didn’t look up from her book. “Familiar.”
“Yes, I’m Louise’s honorary familiar.” He looked at her for a bit, studying her reaction. She kept it cold and collected.
“On a personal note, if you need help, ask.”
What. Tabitha’s eyes flickered to him, then back to the book. How did he know that. “How?”
He chuckled. “Did I know? You do not live as long as I have without being able to notice these kinds of things. Seriously, if you need help, just ask.”
Silence met his offer. No use accepting poisoned wine from strangers, her mother had once told her. It was a strange saying, right before she went mad. “Meh. It’s fine. My offer still stands.”
He walked to the edge of the roof, and jumped.
Tabitha heard neither a crash nor a thud, but she ignored that fact.
The familiar would be fine.
Louise let out a startled gasp as Marcus climbed in through her third floor window. A third floor window. What? “How did you even do that? This is the third floor!”
“Please. Like something so trivial would stop me. Besides, I climbed down from the roof. The girl up there looked lonely.”
Louise raised an eyebrow. Who did he mean? “Girl on the roof?”
“Blue hair, her familiar is a dragon.”
Oh, he meant Tabitha. “That would be Tabitha.”
“Interesting name. Not quite in line with what I expected.”
He was more confusing every single time he opened his mouth. “What did you expect?”
“A more conventional name. Maybe Charlotte. It’s French, so it should fit.”
Louise’s eyebrow raised some more. French? What was French? “What’s French?”
“It’s the language of a country in my world. Is Tristania big?”
Way to aim low, Marcus. Real professional of the ambassador from... somewhere. Louise wasn’t paying too much attention to his introduction. It was probably not too important. “No. It’s surrounded by Germania and Gallia, both bigger than Tristania.”
“Close to New Germany and New France in my world. Maybe this country is New Belgium?”
Louise shrugged. What was he going on about now? “I would have no idea.”
“I’ll ask questions, and you answer to the best of your abilities. First question. What are the Westernmost countries in the north that aren’t landlocked?”
Something so simple? He must have been from a really backwater village somewhere. “Germania, Tristainia, Gallia, and Romalia. Albion is an island.”
“Is Germania is a large country, relatively here?”
He took out a map, and Louise pointed to where Tristania would be. “Yes. Tristania would be here, Gallia would be here, and Romalia would be here. What’s this country here?”
“It’s a country called New Spain. Ignore that for now.”
Wow. Rude. “And this one here?”
“New Portugal. Ignore that too. Go east.”
Ignoring the commoner, Louise moved her finger to the right, tapping an area near the New East. “There would be the Holy Lands. The Founder lost those to the Elves.”
No, the saurians. Yes the Elves! “Yes. The Elves are the ones that took the Holy Lands from the Founder Brimir after a war.”
“Right. Are these elves more advanced than humans?”
“Of course. Their magic is different, but the Founder managed to drive them away with a powerful Void spell.”
Marcus’ eye twitched ever so slightly. “And this Void, what does it do?”
And now with the difficult questions. Such a smooth progression, Marcus. “Nobody knows. It’s the lost element of the pentagram.”
“And the others are the classical elements?”
Louise tilted her head in confusion. “Classical... elements?”
“Fire, Water, Earth, Air.”
How were those are classical elements? “Oh, then yes.”
“How are mages classified?”
Simple questions from simple people. Such is the life of Louise Francoise le Blanc de la Valliere. “Mages that use one element are called dot mages. Mages that can use two elements in conjuction are called line mages. Three form a triangle, and four form a square.”
Marcus nodded, deep in thought. “So, can a line mage use two of the same element for a line spell, or does it have to be two different elements?”
Simple questions, once again. “It can be the same element.”
“So, what prevents a mage from casting a spell with the same element stacked more than four times, given enough power to cast the spell?”
A more complex question, but Louise knew more than enough about Magic Theory to answer him. “Four times is the most an element can be stacked. It’s just how our magic works. We’ve tried stacking more, but the spell becomes unstable, and collapses, no matter how much effort is put into stabilizing it.”
“Can an element be stacked with another element?”
Would the questions never end? Why was Marcus still asking them? “Of course. But the mage’s affinity usually limits the control.”
Marcus placed a hand on his chin for a moment, then looked at Louise confidently. “I see. We start your training tomorrow.”
He was being suspicious, and worrying her. It was scary. “What are we doing?”
“If everything explodes, it means there’s too much power, or there’s too little control without an affinity.”
Wow. Because nobody’s thought of testing that, Marcus. “But I’ve tried all the elements, and none of them work for me.”
“Don’t worry, you’ll see soon enough.”
Marcus’ grin was very worrying to Louise, even as he opened the window, and climbed out. Wait.
How did Marcus get on the roof?~