Author's note: Thank you for the positive reviews everyone. For anyone seeking info on the FoZ LN material, google this: " ZnT 'Back to Basics' #6: (Mostly) LN Canon Discussion." It should lead you to the correct Space Battles thread. You will be able to find a summary of all 22 volumes of FoZ as well as the ones for the Tabitha and Young Karin/Karen/Karine/Karina (Louise's mom) spin-offs. Let's just the apple doesn't fall far from the tree for Mother and Daughter in terms of personnality.
Many thanks to Trainalf for co-writing/beta-reading this fic.
Disclaimer: FoZ/ZnT belong to the departed Noboru Yamaguchi and whoever inherited the I.P.. Any real life organisation/person is merely being used in a fictional non-profit way.
Hope you enjoy this chapter! Please read and review.
Revised on Oct. 08 2018.
Chapter one: First Contact
Royal Palace Tristainia
"I beg of you, your Highness, to reconsider!" desperately pleaded Cardinal Mazarin, "This is absolute folly! Who knows what Brimir-forsakened beings have made their homes inside?"
Sitting around a large and ornate table, various nobles stared incredulously at Princess Henrietta who sat at the head of the table. Standing by the door, Agnes was waiting impatiently to see how this meeting would end.
"Your Highness, it is too dangerous for you to go there," worriedly insisted First Minister Delage, "We do not know what this structure bears inside its depths. Our brightest mages have yet to understand its nature."
Despite these protests, Princess Henrietta defiantly looked at her regency council.
"I will go to the Academy and take this situation into my hands," she insisted.
"I do not think you should risk yourself so brazenly," her mother added in, "You are far too young and inexperienced for such a task."
"Archduchess Marianne, it is through times of crisis that leaders are made," Henrietta replied as she stood up from her throne, "In such times, I will not cower in the safety of my palace as one of Tristain's greatest jewels is threatened. My decision is final."
Cardinal Mazarin's eyebrows shot up in alarm as he saw the heiress walk towards the door.
"Your Highness! Your recklessness has already endangered Tristain. Please do not let it get the better of you!"
"Please listen to our council your Highness," Chief Justice Richemont pleaded. The portly old man sweated nervously. "Do not risk yourself needlessly!"
"Agnes, please ready the Musketeers," Henrietta ordered, ignoring the man, "We are to leave as soon as we can to the Academy. Send them word for my arrival."
"Yes your Highness!" the captain answered with a respectful bow.
"For once, it seems that your instincts were right," Louise muttered. Saito and her were standing inside her room's doorway. Sun filtered through the broken window and reflected off the shattered lying on the nearby floor. The chairs and table had been flipped over while various little trinkets fell on the ground. The two could also other students complaining in the hallways about damaged belongings.
"Yeah, I get things right sometimes," Saito replied dryly.
"Thank you," Louise whispered kindly, "We could have been really hurt."
A familiar metallic sounding voice from her familiar's back caught their attention.
"Looks like you have a heart after all," Derf teased Louise who flushed slightly, "Good thinking there partner!"
"Stupid talking sword!"
Taking another glance around, Saito sighed.
"This is gonna be a pain to clean up," he groaned, "I think I'll go get Siesta and ask her if she can help."
Louise glared at him as she felt heat rise in her cheeks.
"Wh-why do you need her help?" she asked, flustered, "Cc-couldn't you do it yourself?"
"An extra pair of hands can't hurt," Saito shrugged nonchalantly before taking a more teasing tone and grinned, "Is Master jealous of something?"
He saw a vein pop in Louise's forehead and took a step back.
"I. AM. NOT. JEALOUS. YOU. STUPID. DOG." she snapped, glaring at Saito who was flinching a bit. The boy liked to tease the pinkette since she was adorable when flustered. She was however a strange mix of cute and intimidating when angered.
"You shouldn't have said that partner," Derf commented sarcastically, "You know how Pinkie is a bit insecure."
"Shut up sword!"
"I-I know Derf," Saito said through clenched teeth before turning his head to the room and back to Louise.
"W-well, it's not so bad," he stammered, hoping that she'd calm down a bit, "I-I think I can clean it myself."
A voice interrupted him.
"It's a good thing I was passing by then."
Turning back, Saito and Louise see a girl dressed in a black dress and a white apron. She was also carrying a broom and dustpan.
"What are you doing here Siesta?" Louise asked, having deflated a bit.
The maid smiled.
"I am relieved to see that you are doing well Miss Vallière," she said, "I was worried for you and Saito after the earthquake hit and Chef Marteau allowed to come and see if you were unharmed."
Louise nodded, a kind smile on her face.
"Thank you. Are any of the servants hurt?" she asked with worry. Louise cared for them as many did their tasks diligently for the nobles. She notices a frown appearing on Siesta's face.
"Unfortunately, old Madeleine fell and broke her hip," she reported sadly, "She's at the infirmary right now waiting for a Water Mage to help her."
"I can't stay for too long since Chef Marteau wants me to help him clean up the kitchen," Siesta said as she handed the broom to Saito, "But I brought this so that Saito could clean up your room Miss Vallière."
"Thank you Siesta," Louise said too sweetly, "I'll make sure that he won't shirk on his duties."
Saito sighed and rolled his eyes as he took the broom. Siesta did a quick bow before leaving.
'So much for getting off easy.'
He began picking up the broken glass while Louise looked at him smugly.
"That's what you get for teasing me too much dog," she teased back before realization hit her, "I think I won't let you sleep with me for the next eight nights."
Saito finished sweeping up broken glass.
"What will you do if you get cold at night again?" he chuckled.
"I'm sure the next nights won't be cold," she answered confidently, "Maybe I should have you sleep on straw as well."
Mischief was evident in her voice.
"You wouldn't dare!" Saito replied with mock horror, "Master is too kind for that!"
Louise smiled evilly before placing her hand on her chin.
"A bad dog doesn't deserve food either."
"Am I really that bad a dog?" he asked with fake hurt in his voice as he finished picking up a chair, "I mean the room's almost clean."
The pinkette walked into the room from she had been standing and made her way to Saito. She tugged on his windbreaker to pull him in for a kiss.
"Good dog," she said with a smile.
Colbert stood inside Old Osmond's office. The headmaster's office was surprisingly quite clean despite the earthquake. Probably the old mage had used his magic to clean up his books.
The smell of a pipe being smoked filled Colbert's nose. The old man was standing behind his desk, a grave expression on his face.
"What is the situation professor Colbert?" the old man sighed, knowing that it would be unpleasant to hear.
The younger man adjusted his glasses and began his report.
"Well a few of the maids and cooks have been injured with one being treated for her hip injury. Their quarters are damaged but some of the professors are already helping there," he stated, "Unfortunately, professor Poirier has a broken arm after one of his bed posts broke and fell on him. He's the worst one off. Two have minor concussions but everyone else injured has a few cuts and bruises."
"Thank the Founder," Osmond muttered, puffing out a small cloud of smoke, "What of our students?"
"Again, more fear than harm though a few are at the infirmary."
There was obvious sadness in Colbert's voice.
"Miss Von Zerbst has been hit by broken glass from her window and is being treated for cuts on her arm while Mr. de Gramont is recovering from a broken leg."
"And our buildings?"
"The library is a mess right now. Many shelves fell over but luckily none of the lamps fell on the books. As for the archives, the spells indicate that they are still intact with no damage sustained. Most of the secondary buildings are going to need repairs as well as well as one of the older passageways, headmaster."
A guilty smile appeared on Colbert's face.
"I was most fortunate that my workshop is mostly intact save for some damaged roof tiles."
Osmond nodded briefly.
"What of our classrooms?"
"Mostly broken windows and damaged furniture. Nothing that we can't repair though headmaster."
Osmond let out a sigh of relief. One less potential strain on the academy's budget.
"I have received word from the palace that her Majesty is coming here later today," the headmaster said, "Princess Henrietta is dispatching some of her personal troops to help us with repairs. The main road has been severely damaged."
Colbert nodded. He had seen the state of the roads and the grounds around the Academy. Large cracks had appeared, as if Earth Mages had fought a great duel on the nearby lands. Luckily, damage had been limited to the Academy with the nearby towns and villages having only felt a light shake.
"There's still the matter of that structure," Osmond said with curiosity, "Her Highness is coming here simply because of that with her guards and some of her troops."
"Madame Chevreuse has gone and tried to determine its nature but she hasn't found any reason. It appears to be a large tunnel," Colbert replied, "However, we have no idea where it leads. Any spells used to seek what is on the other side has been unsuccessful. They have been able to reveal that there is an exit besides this one but not where it is."
"I see." Osmond said as he stood and looked out the window of his office. He could see mages helping with repairs with their magic, "Is that everything Colbert?"
Later that day, the Academy's students and staff were gathered at the entrance. Some had visible injuries on them with bandages, crutches and slings on them. Familiar banners were flying as Princess Henrietta's royal carriage arrived accompanied by her Musketeers. In the skies above, Griffon and Manticore Knights were preparing to land. Some Tristanian troops had accompanied her as well.
"This whole thing must have shaken up the princess," Saito remarked. He was standing next to Louise who was watching the arrival with excitement and worry.
"The princess shouldn't be here," she said, "It's too dangerous for her."
Saito nodded as he saw Agnes get off her horse besides the royal carriage. The Musketeer captain walked up next to the door of the carriage. Opening the door, it revealed the princess. She bore a concerned expression on her face as she disembarked. Clearing her throat, the royal addressed the crowd who bowed at her arrival.
"Students of Tristain Academy," she declared passionately, "I have come from the capital to oversee this whole crisis. My guards and personal troops will assist in anyway they can."
She turned her head towards Old Osmond.
"Old Osmond, Please take me to your office where we may discuss about this whole crisis."
A lone man stood in the tunnel, his torch defiantly standing against the darkness.
"Why did I accept this again?" the scout muttered as he walked inside the tunnel.
'Oh right… the money. Think of the money Claude!'
The damned nobles were too afraid to risk themselves and had promised a reward and a title to the man brave enough to go in and come back alive. The scout had stepped forward. He had walked long enough that he lost track of time. He was given a magical torch and he hoped it would be enough.
Muttering a single prayer to Brimir, he pressed on into the abyss.
The scout remembered how his mission came to be.
Claude was sleeping peacefully in his tent, having arrived with the small Tristainian Royal Army after a portal had appeared near the Academy. He was one of the army's finest scouts.
He was sudden awakened by someone shaking him. Claude opened his eyes, barely seeing any light except for a weak candle. Squinting, he recognized the person holding the candle. It was the green clothed Agnes de Milan, Captain of the Royal Musketeers corps. Another hooded figure stood next to her.
"You are awake," she stated seriously.
He nodded as he got out of bed.
"Yes, what is happening? Why are you in my tent?" the scout asked, confused and annoyed.
"It is concerning your skills as a scout," the captain said seriously, "Are you not the finest scout in Tristain?"
The man puffed his chest and straightened his back.
"You'll find no finer one in all of Tristain," he boasted proudly before realizing something wasn't quite right.
"Very well then," the hooded figure said in a feminine, regal tone before dropping her hood. Claude's jaw dropped.
"Y-your Highness!" he almost shouted but quickly controlled his voice as Agnes glared at him. Recomposing himself, Claude dropped to a knee and bowed before Princess Henrietta.
"I have need of your help," the princess said in a hushed voice.
"Anything your Highness."
The young woman had an uneasily look on her face as she spoke.
"The task I ask of you is very dangerous," she said seriously, every word heavy with burden, "I need you to enter that portal."
The scout's eyes widened but he remained silent.
"I understand that such a task is dangerous and you may refuse but I promise you great rewards for aiding us," Henrietta said, compassion in her voice, "But the Crown will aid your family should you not return. You have my word that you will never fear hunger again."
Claude's mind was split. Would the Princess truly honor her word? From her tone of voice, the young woman appeared to be truthful and honest.
"Very well your Highness," he bowed his head as Agnes produced a torch.
"Thank you," Henrietta said as she chanted a spell that lit up the torch, "Carry this with you. I have enchanted it so it will stay lit until you drop it. May Brimir protect you."
Louise was brushing her long pink hair while Saito was putting away her clothes. Outside, Halkeginia's two moons were slowly rising. Everyone had gone back to their quarters early, supper having been shortened because of the crisis.
"Say Louise?" Saito asked as he sat down on her bed.
"What do you think's inside that building?"
"I don't really know," she answered lamely, "I've never heard of anything like that in my classes or in my stories. Why?"
Saito's face took on a look of nostalgia and he sighed as he looked at the moons.
"Well, back on Earth, alot of people wrote these stories about magical portals appearing out of nowhere and adventurers going through them to discover new worlds."
Louise noted her familiar's sad look as he spoke.
"I-I order you to stop talking!" she ordered suddenly, her face slightly red.
"Wha-what did I say?" he stammered.
"A master is supposed to take care of her familiar!" she snapped, "So no talking about things that make you sad."
'Oh,' Saito realized that he had been talking about his old life. The pinkette grew to dislike seeing him sad about Japan and always did her best to cheer him in her own little way.
"Thanks Louise but I'll be fine," he said.
"Promise?" she asked in an adorable voice.
"Promise," he replied, "Can I still tell the stories I heard though?"
Louise hesitated. Part of her was curious yet part of her still didn't like the idea of making Saito anymore nostalgic.
"Promise you won't get too sad?"
Saito smiled and nodded.
"I'll be fine," he said, "There was this TV show-"
"Was that the plays with the moving pictures?"
"Yes, it was," Saito answered with a smile, "It was about this portal called a Stargate that one of the countries of my world found on their lands. They kept it secret from the rest of our world but they found out that it lead to other worlds where humans lived. They used it to go fight evil… demons that possessed people and passed off as gods to enslave them. It was called "Stargate SG-1". "
Louise was awed.
"Were they knights?"
"I don't think they'd call themselves knights but they acted like proper ones, freeing the people from evil."
Before Saito could continue, knocking was heard on their door.
"Who is it?" he asked, glancing at the entrance.
Louise threw a knowing glance and made her way to the door and opened it. A hooded figure quickly shoved her out of the way before closing the door. Throwing down her hood, Henrietta revealed herself and hugged her best friend.
"Louise-Françoise, it is always a pleasure to see you," she said softly as she released the shorter girl.
"The pleasure is all mine your Highness," Louise said, bowing slightly. Saito bowed as well before greeting her.
Louise then guided her to a chair.
"Your Highness, have you been doing well lately?" the pinkette asked with a hint of worry as her friend sat down. She noticed that Henrietta had dark circles whiler her blue eyes looked faded and lacked their usual life.
The princess nodded.
"I'm afraid these times have been demanding on me," she said, "I have been doing my best to overcome my grief for Prince Wales but it is tiring."
"Oh your Highness, I didn't mean to-"
"It is alright Louise-Françoise. I am quite happy to be with you and Saito tonight."
Saito and Louise smiled before the mage answered.
"It's our pleasure."
"How are things with that structure over there?" Saito asked, curiosity in his voice.
"Unfortunately, the professors aren't able to understand what caused it," Henrietta explained, "We've contacted some researchers from the Oriz Magic Academy."
Louise suddenly blanched before flopping on her bed. She began to rub her left cheek subconsciously.
"T-t-tell me she isn't coming. P-please", she begged.
Saito looked at Louise in confusion.
"Who are you talking about?"
The pinkette suddenly glared at Saito.
The Tokyo teen didn't seem to understand who she was talking about.
"You idiot! My big sister! The one I told you was scary," she shouted, irritation having replaced her fear for a moment. She stood back up, looking rather intimidating despite her small size.
"I don't remember you mentioning he-"
Saito stopped as he noticed her death glare and the popping vein on her forehead.
"Oh… r-r-right her! Your scary big sister. The one sister that you're afraid of. Her. Not Cattleya the nice one," he stammered. Louise went back to her bed, shoulders slumping.
"If it's any consolation Louise-Françoise," Henrietta said with a mix of warmth and mischief in her voice, "I can protect you from her."
"So that means she'll come?" the pinkette said dejectedly, "Just what I needed."
"It'll be alright since I'm here Louise," Saito said as he went to her and gave her a quick peck on the lips, causing her to stammer and blush. Henrietta smiled at this before talking again.
"We've also sent a scout from the army inside to see if he could find anything."
"Has he returned your Highness?" Louise asked, somewhat less flushed. Saito looked horrified on the other hand.
"You've just sent someone to his death?!" he exclaimed, his voice rising, "Who knows what kind of monsters are inside that thing."
"Saito! You will not address her Highness with that tone you dog!" Louise snapped before smacking him behind the head.
"What was that for?!"
Henrietta shook her head.
"We asked for volunteers and promised a reward for their help." she argued, "He chose to go through and our best mages gave him an enchanted torch to help him in the darkness."
Saito let out a snort.
"I still don't think it's a good idea," he said dryly, "Risking someone's life like that."
Henrietta lowered her eyes.
"It was what was necessary," she said quietly, "I saw no other alternative."
Cold. That was the first thought that came to the scout. After what seemed to be hours of walking, the air grew colder and colder. Claude could feel it gnawing at his bones so Brimir-damned cold it was!
The howls of wind echoed through the dark tunnel. They grew louder as the scout walked closer and closer to a light at the end of the tunnel. White mist formed out of his mouth with breath he took. The cold was slowly weakening him but he pressed on. The light drew ever closer yet each step closer was harder to take.
Claude could hear distant sounds that weren't wind coming from the light. Some of them sounded vaguely like voices…
The sound of engines filled the ears of the men assembled before the Gate that had appeared in Montréal's Jeanne Mance park. SPVM (Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal/Montreal Police Service) police officers dressed in their dark blue uniforms had set up a perimeter around the park. Police cruisers blocked nearby streets while traffic and public transportation was been redirected around with much effort.
A throng of reporters was standing at one of the checkpoints, trying to get in or trying to get information. Flanked by two officers, the brown haired spokesperson of the SPVM arrived at the checkpoint in his winter uniform. Agent Robert Dorais cleared his throat as he looked at the crowd.
"Excuse me!" asked one the reporters, his mic marked with the logo of TVA Nouvelles, "Can you tell us anything about the structure that appeared here!"
"We are currently waiting for many of the experts to arrive," Dorais explained with a firm tone, "They will bring equipment and teams to analyze what this structure is exactly."
The flash of camera flickered as a reporter from La Presse took a picture of him.
"Sir, what are the security measures being in place to protect our citizens?" another asked hurriedly.
"Mayor Plante is currently meeting with Chief Prud'homme and is in contact with Prime Minister Trudeau," he answered, "They are currently working to sort out this crisis."
"Has anything unusual been reported from that structure?"
"The structure appears to be harmless for the time being. No activity has been reported from it."
A group of vans had arrived at the Jeanne Mance park escorted by policemen. Some of them were from the Groupe tactique d'intervention. These heavily armed policemen carried their full gear including their FN P90 submachine guns. The sound of howling winds mixed with the sound of the engines shutting and passengers disembarking. They began unloading various equipment from the vehicles. Around the park, various science teams had already arrived from the four universities in Montreal.
One of them was wrapped in a warm blue coat, scarf and toque. A mug of coffee was steaming his hands as he took a sip. As he looked at the mysterious gate-like structure, Professor Leroy called out orders to his team.
"I want that infrared sensor set up over there!" he said pointing to a patch of snow, "What are the readings on the Geiger counter?"
One of assistants looked up from his scanner.
"Radiation levels normal!"
Another one walked up to him, holding a clipboard.
"M. Leroy, the geology department has just called," she said, "They have noted no usual seismic activity since last night and their team should be here soon."
Another professor walked up to him and shook his gloved hand.
"Arthur! I'm happy to see you here!"
"The feeling is mutual Benjamin," Leroy said warmly, greeting his friend, Professor Benjamin Richer, "What has your team found so far?"
"My team was busy scanning for unusual chemical emanations," the chemist said, "There's air inside that tunnel with exactly the same composition as ours. According to scans, it's cleaner than ours!"
"Looks like there's no global warming inside," Leroy chuckled.
"Indeed, I heard that Polytechnique is sending Delmonte with a team," Benjamin said, "They're considering using a drone to scan the inside of the tun-"
Richer was interrupted by a man running up to them.
"Sir! We've got a reading on the the infrared sensors! Looks like the size of a man!" he said, out of breath, "It's getting closer to us!"
The police officer that stood next to Leroy quickly grabbed his radio and relayed the urgent message. Other policemen began to converge near the entrance, their weapons drawn.
Claude painfully took in another breath as he walked forwards toward the light at the end of the tunnel. His arms and legs were slowly growing numb as he struggled with each step, the cold biting into him. Brimir must have smiled upon him as Claude somehow found the strength to move closer and closer to the light. He soon realized it was an exit and looked out.
He could see the faint outline of a tall pillar with a winged figure covered in snow. Behind it were blue skies, leafless trees and ground that rose into a small hill. He suddenly heard shouting that mixed with the sounds of howling winds. The scout saw dark silhouettes moving around the exit, pointing strange box like things at him.
What happened next surprised him.
"Stop and identify yourself! Raise your hands in the air!"
A loud voice that seemed to be carried by magic called to him in Tristainian before changing to Albionian.
'How is this possible?' Claude thought as he struggled to raise his hands above his head and stumbled forward out the tunnel and into the bright light, 'Are there mages here?'
Complying was the best choice. Commoners were usually no match for mages and Claude didn't know if these mages were even more powerful than those in Halkegenia. Maybe they would be merciful and not let him freeze to death.
His legs gave out and he soon found himself face down in snow. The snow's cold pierced his skin like a thousand arrows. He suddenly felt someone grabbing him by the back of his clothes and rolled him over.
Before Claude lost consciousness, he saw a man in dark blue clothes and black armour with a strange helmet with a clear visor looking at him.
The unmistakable sound of an ambulance caught the attention of any bystanders. It was a normal occurrence in a great city like Montreal where almost 2 million people lived and worked everyday. What was unusual was that it was headed towards the cordoned off area around the Jeanne Mance park and entered it under heavy escort. A few moments later, it exited with a pair of police cars surrounding it. Darting through the packed and snow covered streets of the city, the convoy reached the Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CHUM) barely 15 minutes after it left the locked down sector. More police cars awaited them at the hospital with agents entering the hospital.
The doctors and nurses at the emergency room were shocked as a dark haired man dressed in primitive leather armour that looked like something of a history on the middle ages was brought out of the ambulance. Policemen surrounded the stretcher and the paramedics as they carried him into the hospital.
He was quickly diagnosed with frostbite and hypothermia. His entrance was not missed by the other patients, staff and visitors of the CHUM. Coupled with the ambulance earlier, social media roared to life about the man from the Gate.
Claude awoke in a strange white room. He felt slight numbness in his arms and legs. Checking quickly, he noticed that his clothes had been changed for a white gown of sorts while mysterious wires were attached to him. The Tristanian tug lightly and realized that they were too flimsy to be restrains. Letting out a groan, the scout looked around him.
"Where am I?" he muttered as he sat up and took in his surroundings. The room was extremely clean with one window. Claude saw that he was in a high tower that dwarfed other buildings around it. Light shone from strange white tiles on the ceiling while a beeping noise filled his ears. He looked to the source and saw a glass screen with lines, numbers and words on it, most certainly magical, as they were moving. The words were unfamiliar to him though they were written in the same script as Halkeginia.
This world's mages must truly be powerful. No structure in Halkegenia, even the blessed chapels of Romalia could compare to this tower. His eyes were wide with wonder.
"You are in a hospital in the city of Montréal," a voice suddenly said in perfect Tristanian, catching the scout's attention, "I suggest you do not attempt to escape. We have already confiscated your weapons and it would be most unwise for your health."
Looking over, he saw a dark haired, unassuming man. Dark glasses hid his eyes. He was dressed in a white shirt and black pants as well as a vest that matched the pants.
"W-who are you? C-city of Montréal?" he stammered, surprised at the man's sudden appearance. The man began writing on a pad and judging by his clothes, Claude presumed he was a noble. The clothing appeared to be of too high quality for a commoner.
"My name is of no importance. Montréal is in the nation of Canada on Earth," the man replied curtly, "Do you remember who you are and what happened to you before you collapsed in our city?"
"Why should I give you any answer?"
The man gave him a smile that sent shivers down his spine.
"Because you are stuck in a world that is not yours with injuries and we have been generous enough to heal you," he stated with a unnerving tone, "If you cooperate, we will help you return to your home."
The scout was indeed stuck and was silent.
"I will repeat my question again: Do you remember who you are and what happened to you before you collapsed in our city?"
Claude lowered his head before answering.
"I am Claude Dubois. I am a commoner and a scout in the Royal Tristanian Army. I was sent into a structure that appeared near the Tristain Academy of Magic on the orders of Princess Henrietta."
The man was taking notes of everything that Claude just said.
"I see. What can you tell me about this 'Tristain Academy of Magic' and Princess Henrietta?"
"The Academy is meant for nobles," he explained, "They teach almost all of the nobility in Tristain in the art of magic. As for the princess, she is to inherit the throne and become queen on her next birthday. She was also to marry Prince Albert III of Germania but the engagement was cancelled following a scandal with Prince Wales of Albion."
"I see. What marks the difference between the nobles and the commoners?"
This question surprised Claude. Did the classes in this world differ to their own?
"Magic is a gift that only the nobility have. It was given to them by our Founder Brimir in order to lead the commoners?"
"Interesting. What of Tristain's army?"
The scout had an uneasy look on his face.
"Tristain's Royal Army is… small and underequipped. Our navy's airships are old and few. We have long relied on our allies' strength to defend us against enemies. Princess Henrietta's marriage was to cement a military alliance with Germania to ensure our kingdom's safety."
The man wrote more notes.
"If you didn't come back from your expedition, would this army be mobilized?"
"No, our princess would not dare risk her personal troops," Claude explained nervously, hoping it wouldn't encourage the nobles from this world to lead their armies into Tristain. "We do not seek a war."
The man nodded, as if he had read the scout's mind, "Us neither. We merely seek to understand what's happening."
Claude blanched for a moment and hoped the man wasn't lying.
"I thank you for your cooperation M. Dubois," the dark haired said as he made his way to the door, "I must leave now."
"Wait! How long have I been here?"
The man took a look at some kind of bracelet on his wrist before answering.
"You've been here for two days already," he answered as he opened the door.
Glimpsing through the open door, the scout noticed various people in long white coats and blue clothes walking nearby. He couldn't help but feel uneasy at the meeting he just had. He also made out two black armoured men standing on each side of the door with the strange boxes he saw earlier.
As he closed the door, Agent John Harper of CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) was accosted by a blond man dressed in a light grey suit.
"I got all of that on video," the man said, with a clear accent, "According to Thomas, the lie detector showed that he told only the truth. Body language checks out too."
"The good news is that we don't to worry about outworldly invaders for the time being then," John replied as they began walking in the busy hallways of the CHUM, "I'll immediately phone Ottawa about this however. M. Trudeau will want to know what kind of situation we're facing right now. Despite what he said, there's an army with the potential to reach us."
"Can't ignore that." His companion agreed.
The Canadian agent quickly pulled his phone and dialed a special number. After a quick conversation, he hung up. His counterpart did the same thing, calling up his superior in Washington D.C..
"Want to get some coffee before we continue?" His C.I.A companion offered. "The other attachés should be here by the time we're done."
William nodded as they walked passed another pair of policemen.
"I have a feeling we'll be staying up late so any coffee is welcome," he said, "Our respective governments will want a debriefing on what we've just got so we've got our work cut out for us."
"Looks like we'll have to phone the History departments as well," John remarked, "This whole nobility thing sounds like something they'd understand."
Barely a few hours later, Prime Minister Trudeau had summoned his cabinet for an emergency meeting at his office in Ottawa. Their allies and partners wanted an update on the situation, but that could wait till their own government had a grasp on the situation. Now that their unexpected visitor had woken up, they could get one.
"What is the current situation in Montreal?" He asked, looking at two men in particular.
"According to M. Couillard and Mrs. Plante, the police forces around Montreal are on full alert and have expanded the security perimeter around the Gate. CSIS has interrogated the man that exited almost three days ago. There's an army with unknown intents that is mobilized on the other side and can cross at any moment," Minister Ralph Goodale said grimly. He was the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. Alarm was immediate of the gathered faces.
"As a response, we've mustered the 34 Canadian Brigade Group as well the 2nd Canadian Division to full alert," Minister of Defense Harjit Sajjan explained, "The reserve units in Montreal have already begun fortifying the area. Units nationwide have been raised to higher alert. I've received a call from Secretary of Defense Mattis stating that the US will be on our side no matter what happens."
"That's good news," Trudeau sighed, "M. Mattis is a good man to deal with but M. Trump is quite… difficult to work with at times."
"We've been talking to our allies in the Commonwealth too. They've affirmed support for us."
"Back to this gate and the threat beyond," Goodale spoke up "How strong is this army?"
"The man claims they are weak and have no intention of crossing over. We have no way to verify this though. If this army is outfitted like he is though...I don't think we'll have too large a problem." Minister Sajjan stated, "He was equipped with primitive leather armour and only a few old daggers. Ill-equipped for the weather, to say the least. There was also no firearm of any kind on him, or any sort of gear you'd expect on a military scout."
"From what I understood reading CSIS's briefing," Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland said, "Is that he claims to be from a country we have never heard of, a French speaking kingdom called Tristain, and that there's magic and a feudal system, apparently. They went on to say that their country doesn't want war."
Everyone was caught up on word 'magic' though, and the last part was lost on them.
"It's a shame that the man didn't specify what 'magic' is," Sajjan sighed, "We're in the dark on what that is and if it's a threat or not." Whatever it was, it was only in the hands of their society's elite, apparently.
"Assuming it's real." Trudeau remarked, "Judging by the pictures of his clothing and equipment that CSIS supplied us with, it could be mere superstition from a medieval civilization."
"So we think this guy is really medieval?" Freeland asked.
"We've consulted with various professors from all the History departments in Montreal," Goodale answered, "His armour and clothes are authentic to the time period. According to them, it would be similar to Europe in the late 1500's to early 1600's. Although he mentioned two other states called Germania and Albion. Both names date back as far as the Roman era according to our experts."
"I can understand what Germania could possibly be," the Foreign Minister said, "But I'm afraid I'm at a loss for Albion."
"According to the professors, it would theoretically be Great Britain," Goodale replied.
"So there's something like old Europe at the other end of that gate?" Sajjan deduced.
Trudeau had to ask the obvious: "Are we sure this is all true, though?"
"CSIS was working with the CIA when interrogating that man," Goodale replied, "They analyzed the footage and determined that what he said is true. The lie detector also confirmed that fact."
"Those can be fooled though." Freedale remarked.
"I doubt that a medieval person would know what a lie detector is," Sajjan said, leaning back in his seat.
"Well, he doesn't look like a foreign agent," Goodale said, "He looks more Western European than anything."
Trudeau stood up and looked out the window.
"Suppose this man is telling the truth," he said, "What are our options?"
"We can be skeptical on the other stuff, but the armed threat we need to treat seriously." The Defense Minister answered. Those weren't joking matters.
"Perhaps propose diplomatic channels to this Princess Henrietta?" Freeman suggested, "If he's telling the truth about her, we could easily secure talks."
"Verifying whether all this is true can come after that." Goodale said, "I agree with Harjit though. If there's an army standing on the other side of that gate threatening one of our most important cities, we have to neutralize it before it can harm us."
"How do we go about it? Do we send a diplomat through this gate? Soldiers under a flag of truce?" Trudeau said, "I personally don't want to risk any of our citizens or troops uselessly."
"We could send a drone bearing a message?" Goodale suggested,"That way we won't risk any lives."
"If they're medieval, they might panic and attack us out of fear." Sajjan said, shaking his head.
"What if we send the scout back through? Tell him to tell his leadership to dispatch a diplomatic party? None of our people would have to transverse the gate and we have the home security advantage." Freeland suggested, "Perhaps a gift of good will would be fine as well."
"What would count as good will?" Trudeau asked.
"Considering that the scout showed up with no knowledge of winter, perhaps a coat for Princess Henrietta? It would show them that we are the ones in the stronger position and convince her to come."
"That wouldn't verify anything though. Different people can tell the same lie. Until we send someone through to see it with their own eyes, we won't know for sure." Sajjan replied.
"We can save that step for later," Trudeau mediated, "I think a coat and an invitation to come to our world would the best option currently available. That would allow us to prevent armed conflict and hold the strong hand in any negotiation."
"And if this gate really does connect us to a medieval world with new countries?"
"We'll figure that out when we find out it's true." the Prime Minister concluded.
It had been almost a week since the scout had crossed the Gate's threshold and disappeared with no sign of life. The same time had passed in both worlds.
Claude stood at the exit of the hospital, decked in a warm coat made from an unknown material. He had been escorted to the exit by guards after one of their white coated healers said he was well enough. It was black and had on the edge of the hood. The most unusual thing was that it was fashioned to be attached with a two strange row of metal teeth and a clasp that attached both sides together.
The scout was surrounded with guards. Some wore the familiar black armour he had seen earlier while others had green livery. Perhaps they were from another corps of guards? A different banner because they were under a different noble? These green guards had different armour and they each carried what appeared to be green muskets with small telescopes on them unlike the black guards who carried a box-like weapon in their hands.
He suddenly saw the dark haired man who had interrogated him a few days earlier. The man walked up to Claude, carrying a large bundle and an envelope.
"M. Dubois, my leaders have decided to open diplomatic talks with your Princess Henrietta. Our allies, the United States of America, will be attending as well. This envelope contains an invitation for her and her diplomats as well as basic information on our two nations," he explained curtly, "As for this bundle, it is a gift of good will to Princess Henrietta. It is one of the warmest and finest coat our people have made. We hope that it will convince her Highness to come and discuss with us."
Claude didn't need to ask any more questions. He was to be the messenger. He, a mere commoner, was going down in history for helping his country forge diplomacy and possibly even alliances with these strange but powerful kingdoms. It almost made up for the terrible cold he'd experienced.
Princess Henrietta was tensely eating breakfast in the Royal quarters at the Academy. The past days since the scout's disappearance inside the Gate had been uneasy. Her royal troops were fortifying around the gate, but no further attempts to see inside it had been made.
The door opened, revealing Agnes, Louise and Saito. "Your Highness." Agnes addressed, "The Lady de Vallière and her familiar have arrived as per your summons."
"Thank you Agnes. You may leave us for now but please keep informed of any changes in the situation."
The chevalier bowed before exiting. Louise and Saito greeted the princess.
"Please sit down Louise-Françoise, M. Saito," she invited, pointing to two chairs. The table was well filled with freshly cooked food from the Academy's kitchens. Saito was doing his best not to drool over the plate as he sat down. Before he could serve himself and Louise, Henrietta levitated some of the food into his plate with her staff.
"Your Highness!" Louise exclaimed, scandalized, "This is beneath you! One of your station should not serve her guests in such a way!"
The princess shook her head.
"You are not a mere guest but a dear friend Louise-Françoise. After all you did for me in Tristania and Albion, you both are."
Louise bowed her head humbly.
"You honour us too much your Highness."
"Please, we are between friends," the princess replied, attempting to do small talk, "How have your classes been lately?" The answer was terrible, but Louise wouldn't admit that.
"I have been doing well on theoretical work but my spell casting is not yet up to par," she said softly.
"I see," Henrietta replied politely, "Perhaps you would like to visit the Palace's libraries this summer. I believe that the books might be of some help."
"Oh, I'd be very grateful your- Henrietta." Louise caught herself.
"What of you M. Saito?"
Saito tried to answer but still had food in his mouth. Louise glared at him, embarrassed by his lack of decorum.
"You dog! You are in the presence of royalty! Couldn't you at least show some proper manners?!"
"Schorry," he said before swallowing his bite, "I've been enjoying myself listening to Louise's teachers. Magic isn't something that exists in my world except for in mangas and other stories."
"Manga?" the princess asked in curiosity.
"Please Henrietta," Louise pleaded, "I don't like having Saito talk about his old life. It saddens him."
Saito shook his head, doing his best to hide his nostalgia.
"Manga are a kind of… picture books that my people make that tell stories," he explained.
"Such as great legends or noble deeds?" Henrietta said with excitement.
"Uhhh, not exactly." Saito said sheepishly, "Well sometimes yes. They're mostly written to entertain." Saito didn't think the girls would understand what slice of life meant. Or mechas. Or sci-fi.
"There's alot of choice really. Stories about fictional heroes, comedies and romance."
"The nobles in that world must truly be well entertained," Henrietta remarked.
"Anyone can read manga," he explained, "They're available to anyone actually. To be honest, there's a lot of entertainment for the commoners as you call them." He'd explained it before to Louise, but he doubted she'd told the queen. Louise suddenly piped up.
"Do you remember what you told me the other day? About "Stargate SG-1"? " she said.
"Oh, what about it?"
"Can you tell the Prin-Henrietta about it?"
"What is this Stargate SG-1?"
"It's a… play in my world," Saito explained. He didn't feel like going into details about what a TV show was. He then went through the same explanations that he gave Louise earlier on before telling them about the first episode. Both girls were captivated by the tales of O'Neill and his soldiers fighting the demon-like Goa'uld.
"So suddenly, the warrior Teal'c throws a weapon to O'Neill, saying that-"
Saito was interrupted by Agnes entering the room, out of breath.
"The scout we sent through has returned!" It was a surprising bit of news. After so many days, they'd assumed him perished. Saito hadn't stopped sulking about it.
"Is he ok?" The Japanese boy asked. Henrietta nodded, wanting to know too..
"Yes," the captain replied."He appears to be in good health. He's brought back several items with him and insists to speak to you personally, your Highness."
"Please bring him to me Agnes," the princess ordered, putting down a cup.
"As you wish." Agnes left the room.
"That's good news if I ever heard any," Saito said with relief, "That poor man must have gone through hell."
"Saito! Could you be less rude towards the princess?!" Louise snapped at the insinuation that he did.
"No, he's right, Louise-Françoise." Henrietta admitted with evident shame in her, "I shouldn't have risked his life so callously."
"Your Highness… It was what was needed."
"Louise-Françoise, thank you but it was wrong to send a loyal subject to his death even if I promised him a great reward.
There was an awkward silence for the next moments before Agnes returned with the scout, the latter dripping with sweat. Both bowed before their princess. Louise and Henrietta noticed the large bundle that the man carried on his back. But Saito was staring at what the man was wearing.
"Your Highness!" Claude said reverently, "I have returned from another world."
"Another world!" Louise exclaimed, the shock overcoming her etiquette lessons.
"Yes. There's a whole world on the other end of that passage. I found myself in a foreign kingdom, and they spoke Tristainian and Albionion."
"How is this possible?" Princess Henrietta asked.
"I do not know but their leaders wish to open talks with us. We are very fortunate, your highness; they told me a scout entering their lands is normally an act of war!" That made the princess pale. "But they assured me they don't want war, your Highness." The scout insisted quickly. "I believe they are as confused about this gate as we are."
"What was their land like?"
"I arrived in a city of ice and snow. The cold almost killed me but I was brought to a great glass tower where white cloaked nobles used powerful magic to restore my health. From what I understood, the tower was a hospital. Great tower like buildings stood proudly gleaming in the sunlight. Even the great cathedrals of Romalia pale before these buildings of glass. The people were all dressed in magnificent coats that shielded them from the cold."
"They are powerful?" Henrietta asked.
"Very." The scout confirmed. "I saw thousands of soldiers of their army in the city. All musketeers wearing different shades of armor. Some wore black while others green. Strange golems flew through the skies making a chopping sound like a blade cutting through the air."
None of the other noticed Saito standing slack jawed to the side. All of this sounded familiar to him, but it couldn't be what he was thinking. Could it?
"What was their magic like?"
"I have not seen any magic performed before me but they had many constructs that moved by themselves. I cannot begin to describe how they healed me but they would make the greatest Water mages green with envy. They transported me from the hospital using a cart that had no horse and seemed to run on simply air. They used these carts to move their soldiers too. Distances that would take any other army hours to march."
"Did you meet their leaders?" Henrietta asked. It was the most important thing that she needed to know. What kind of kings ruled such a fantastical land and what would he do?
"I met no man who claimed to be their king or queen." The scout admitted. He was still unnerved by his interrogator, "I was interrogated by a man. I do not know his position in their court nor what magic he used but there was something… unnatural about the man that made my skin crawl."
"What was this man like?"
"He was very plain, like he could blend into a crowd. I could not see his eyes because he hid them behind darkened glasses but the way he talked," Claude shuddered, "It commanded me to tell the truth."
"Like a spy of some sort?"
"I do not know and I thank Brimir that I am away from that man. There was another man who questioned me. I believe he was a town guard." After a few days, he'd realized that some of the men were town guards and the others soldiers.
"A mere town guard questioned you?"
"Yes, he wanted my name, age and place of birth. Like I was a criminal."
"Did you ever see either of these men again?"
"Only the first one. It was when their healer mages had allowed me to leave. He gave this letter and this bundle from his leaders. An invitation to talks and a present of goodwill." He answered as he presented the items to the princess. As Henrietta undid the bundle, Claude explained what it was.
"According to that man, this is one of the finest and warmest coats made by their people. They are needed because of the freezing weather."
Just how cold was this world if Fire magic couldn't shield their nobles from the temperature? It was bulky like the princess' dress, but nowhere near as extravagant, being of a shiny black material that Henrietta and Louise never saw before. It was long, reaching slightly pass her knees. It had strange teeth that clasped it close. A golden logo depicting some kind of bird graced its right sleeve with "Kanuk" written under. It was probably the name of the artisan that made it. It did have an air of class to it, though.
"Did all of their nobles wear these?" Henrietta asked as she weighed the coat. It was surprisingly light despite its size and length. What strange animal gave such a pelt?
"Everyone in that city wore coats like this."
"Nobles and commoners dress the same?" Louise asked.
"From what I witnessed, yes. Even their military officers dressed the same as their troops." That was unusual. Battle mages always made their presence on the field of battle known.
"Perhaps they have different standards for their soldiers and officers?" Henrietta suggested, "How wealthy must the ruler of that kingdom be if his commoners can dress so finely?"
Claude then handed her a white envelope.
"Did you learn the name of this kingdom while you were there?" Henrietta asked as she opened it.
"Yes, it was the land of Canada." Claude answered. All three jumped as Saito made the first noise he had in minutes.
"That country is in my world!" he jumped up and exclaimed, looking almost faint, "Please read the letter your Highness!"
"Saito!" Louise scolded, "Please forgive my familiar's impudence your Highness!"
But the princess was too busy opening the envelope. She saw an elaborate Coat of Arms at the top on the fine paper. The scripture was identical to the one in Halkeginia but was written in a uniform way with each letter perfectly shaped and each word perfectly spaced. It was written in Tristanian.
"To Princess Henrietta of Tristain, this letter is to invite you and your kingdom for talks with the nation of Canada on the matters of discussing diplomacy and the gate that has connected our lands. I hope that you find our gift to your taste and that you will wear when should you come to Canada.
It is essential for one to be well dressed as our nation's winters are harsh. As such, we hope that this coat is well received and that it conveys our wishes of goodwill to you.
As for how to answer, we ask that you send a diplomat so that we may take proper arrangements for extensive diplomatic talks between us. Our allies will be present as well to witness the proceedings. The diplomat may be accompanied by a retinue of guards but a large expedition will not be tolerated.
We await your answer.
The Prime Minister of Canada,
"A Minister?" Henrieta questioned, "Not a king?" Did this Canada not have a monarch? Or were they like Tristain, waiting for one to take the throne?
"My world." Saito mumbled to himself, not hearing Louise's question. "It leads to my world." He collapsed in a chair. "I can go home." He realized.
"You...what?" Louise asked, fear creeping into her voice.
"That's from my world," he muttered, almost chuckling in disbelief, "Home… Tokyo…"
The pinkette flushed bright red as tears began flowing from her eyes.
"JUST GO HOME YOU STUPID MUTT! I DON'T CARE ANYMORE! YOU'RE FIRED!" she screeched as Saito snapped back to attention before running out in tears.
"Louise wait!" Saito said before running out.
"This is a very grave matter." Henrietta hadn't even noticed her friend's outburst nor her running out. It was bad enough to contend with Albion, out across the sea. Now there was another kingdom, a powerful one at that with its own allies, connected directly to her own. The weight on her shoulders had increased horrendously in just the last few minutes.
But...maybe it could be an opportunity as well? Canada did not seem to have any hostile intent, as her scout had warned her. Said scout suddenly hit the deck as an explosion ran out in the background. This kingdom wanted to hold talks. Could they discuss trade? A military alliance? Maybe...maybe she could find another political marriage to aid Tristain and its people?
"I have to return to the Capital." Henrietta realized out loud. She needed to meet with her council. But she wasn't going back alone. Saito had said this was his world, hadn't he? She'd need his advice to make this go as smoothly as possible. But when she looked around, she finally realized both him and Louise where no longer there.
"Where did they go?" She asked out loud.
"Well, your Highness…" Claude started.
If you want to know what the Coat of Arms of Canada looks like, Google's your friend. As for Henrietta's coat; google up the Kanuk Olso coat.
I hope you enjoyed this chapter and I'll see you next time!