Disclaimer: I own neither Familiar of Zero nor Dynasty Warriors.


As Louise stirred from her slumber the following morning, she had a brief few moments where she wondered if she had just dreamt the past day's events, and if she'd wake up on the day of the summoning.

It had all been just that strange, and she had been quite tired during that day…

These were of course quickly quashed by the smell, feeling and the sound of soft breathing that Louise registered as she fully awoke.

Louise had fallen asleep first, so she never really noticed when Lingqi entered her bed. Louise did remember that she had insisted that they share the bed, something she right now found to have been a poorly thought-out move.

Hang on…

She could feel Lingqi…

Indeed, Louise had nestled herself into her familiar at some point, something she might have done with her elder sister Cattleya.

The young noble felt her embarrassment rise.

This person wasn't her elder sister, but a stranger she'd just become acquainted with.

It wasn't proper!

Well… She was her familiar…

Maybe it… wasn't too bad…

Louise's thoughts drifted slightly.

Lingqi was very different, tightly corded muscles meant she wasn't as soft as her dear elder sister, but there was something comforting in that strength as well.

Louise had seen indications of Lingqi's strength yesterday, small and casual displays, be it from lifting that monstrous halberd to picking up that stand.

She wasn't quite sure of the implications yet, but held no doubts that Lingqi was strong. Perhaps even… too strong.

Finally raising her gaze, Louise realised that Lingqi was looking right at her with a small, slightly conflicted, slightly amused, but ultimately benevolent smile.

"Good morning my Lady." The warrior said, none of that emotion slipping into her voice.

Louise's embarrassment returned with full force.

She was awake. She had noticed!

And she was actually really pretty!

It hadn't really struck Louise yesterday because of all the circumstances, only a faint side-note, but faced with her familiar's full looks, untarnished by suspicion or confusion, fully awake and in close proximity…

Louse retreated.

While she had a decent amount of space to go to the edge of the bed, Louise still rolled straight off it.

Luckily, she had enough presence of mind to minimize the impact, but it was even so quite jarring and just a bit painful.

It returned her to her senses, and she chided herself for such silly behaviour.

"Are you alright Lady Vallière?" Lingqi asked as she peered over the edge of the bed, an expression somewhere between concern and amusement on her face.

"I-I'm fine. Perfectly fine." Louise responded from the tangle of sheets that had been dragged down by her.

"That is good to hear. I was unwilling to wake you, your slumber seemed quite peaceful."

Well, she did feel quite rested, so she supposed that was an upside…

"How gracious of you. What time is it?" Louise said as she untangled herself.

"Not long after dawn."

"Oh, that's good. That means we have plenty of time."

"What is the day's schedule Lady Vallière?"

"Today is reserved for becoming better acquainted to our familiars. There isn't really any schedule." Louise explained as she started to change. "Oh, and… call me Louise."

Louise didn't really feel comfortable having Lingqi refer to her as 'Lady Vallière', although she couldn't quite pinpoint why.

Louise was also becoming increasingly certain of something.

Lingqi had spent time in a court, perhaps not with an important position, although there were hints of authority that said otherwise, but certainly mingling with people of power.

The chances that Lingqi was some sort of nobility certainly seemed high, but…

Add onto the list of things to discuss today.

"Understood, Louise." Lingqi responded.

Louise looked over to see that the warrior had already put on quite a few pieces of her armour.

She would complain, but Lingqi didn't exactly have many other options.

She sighed softly. Add casual clothes and nightwear to the list of things needed for her familiar.

At least Lingqi didn't even move towards that halberd, although it was just as the young woman had said.

It would just make people uncomfortable. So it made sense that she didn't even move to pick it up. That was the whole point of getting that weapon stand in here after all.

Instead the warrior waited patiently for Louise.

The little noble sighed ever so softly. "We're going to the dining hall for breakfast. I'll lead the way."

Without any doubts that Lingqi would follow Louise marched out the door.

She didn't look back, but could hear the warrior's steps behind her.

It was a strange feeling essentially having an escort while she moved through the academy's halls, but Louise would bear it.

There weren't many students about this early, although the servants were already doing their work.

The students didn't particularly care to look, although a bit of whispering and sniggering certainly went on.

Who even knew what new nonsense they had come up with regarding her?

Louise ignored them. She was used to it.

The servants on the other hand looked at Lingqi far more than they did Louise. Furtive glances filled with wonder abounded, but they didn't say anything.

Louise could think of a myriad reasons for this behaviour, and as such chose to, once again, ignore them.

The dining hall was quite empty when they got there, a few students here and there as well as some members of faculty.

Louise's march was finally interrupted, although it wasn't by any expected person.

Rather, much to her surprise, it was Professor Colbert who approached them.

"Lady Vallière, up early today. May I have a moment?" The elderly man asked.

Always the very image of politeness, Louise actually liked the elderly professor.

"I went to bed early and slept well. What is it you wanted Professor?" She responded.

"I was hoping to take a closer look at your familiar's runes. After some deliberation I realised they were unusual."

Louise looked at Lingqi, who gave a small nod in affirmation. While her face betrayed nothing, there was a twinkle of intrigue in her eyes.

"That is fine."

"It seems you have solved the communication issue."

"It was resolved. I don't know how, but it was. Lingqi, this is Professor Colbert, a teacher at this esteemed academy."

Lingqi gave a peculiar bow. "Lingqi, of the Lu. A pleasure to make your acquaintance."

"Oh ho, full communication. Marvellous. Translation magic?" Colbert said.

"I think so."

"Very good. I was a bit worried. When there is a moment to spare, could you come by my study?"

"Of course."

"Then I won't keep you from your breakfast any longer. I don't think it should be any problem for your familiar to eat here with you."

"Thank you, Professor."

"Seems like a nice enough fellow." Lingqi remarked as they moved on.

"He is by far the nicest Professor here."

They could finally sit down, although Louise was astonished to find that she needed to instruct her familiar in how to use the cutlery.

But once Lingqi had been given this instruction, breakfast went quite smoothly.

They were almost finished with the meal by the time their next interruption came. A far less pleasant one this time.

"Well, well, if it isn't Louise the Zero." A familiar voice said.

"Could you leave Zerbst? I'm trying to finish my breakfast in peace." Louise shot back turning towards the nuisance.

The nuisance being, of course, Kirche, Louise's primary tormentor and single most hated person in this academy.

Louise did take a few moments to politely nod a greeting at the quiet Tabitha, who as usual stood there besides Kirche, silently reading.

Louise had no quarrel with her.

"Come on, I just wanted to congratulate you on your summoning. Although I've never heard of someone summoning a human before." Kirche responded.

"Neither had I. But I did."

"Did you though?"

"What are you trying to imply, Zerbst? Because I don't appreciate it, and my familiar has the runes to prove it."

"Nothing. I'll leave you to your meal." Kirche said and left with a wink.

Louise turned back to the remainder of her meal, thoroughly aggravated.

She half expected Lingqi to ask some inane question, but none came.

She shot her familiar a quick glance, but the warrior simply sat there, showing nothing on her face.

Surely she heard the entire conversation… Was she just ignoring it?

Finally, they finished their breakfast and headed up to Professor Colbert's study, where they were enthusiastically received.

There, Lingqi asked a question.

"What are usually the effects of these runes?" She asked without warning.

"They usually serve to bind master and familiar together, with a few small effects to help with that, like preventing the familiar from harming their master." Colbert explained absentmindedly as he studied the runes, meticulously copying them onto a piece of parchment.

"They usually do not elevate physical abilities then?"

"No. They might raise the mental faculties of familiars with low intelligence to help them do their job but, that is hardly properly proven."

"I see…"

"That was an oddly specific question Lingqi…" Louise interjected.

"That is because these runes seem to elevate my physical abilities while I am wielding a weapon." The warrior stated, indicating the runes on her hand.

Colbert's quill clattered against the floor.

"This rune is… and that rune… D-did you say they seemed to elevate your physical abilities…? It couldn't be!" He said, eyes wide.

He quickly started rummaging about, frantically searching for something. Finally, he pulled out a book from a pile of reference material he had around the study.

Quickly he started looking for something amongst its pages, before putting it next to Lingqi's hand.

On the page he had open could be found the same set of runes.

"Gandálfr!" The elderly professor exclaimed. "One of the legendary familiars of the Founder! It is said that the Gandálfr was endowed with prodigious might and skill with all weapons. It isn't entirely clear what the runes do, but yours are unmistakably the same!"

Colbert was extremely excited.

Louise meanwhile was astonished beyond words.

A legendary set of runes that marks her familiar as special compared to other ones? Exquisite.

Still, boosted physical abilities… No wonder about those casual shows of strength, she had after all been wielding her weapon at the same time.

Glancing over at Lingqi Louise saw that she oddly enough seemed to both appreciate and disapprove of the runes at the same time.

"I don't think we should make too big of a deal about this for now." The warrior then said.

"Why not? It is a major deal." Louise replied, confused.

"It would probably sweep across this country, I am sure. Brining all sorts of attention." Lingqi responded in an oddly dark tone. "And there will of course be those that doubt. Those who will come to challenge such a claim. And… those who see something they can use."

Louise paled as what Lingqi said sank in. Images of religious officials coming to test the claim and then shackling them to 'divine obligations' and sleezy nobles both from within and without of Tristain trying to get a hold on her…

Her parents might suddenly not see any value in letting her continue to fail in the academy…

She shuddered at these thoughts. Her freedom might get taken from her immediately…

"I cannot entirely refute such words Lady Lu." Colbert said melancholically. "Ultimately though, such a decision rests with the young Lady Vallière."

"We'll keep it quiet for now. No need to announce it and draw undue attention." Louise responded in a small voice.

Louise sighed as they left the study.

"It seems my words left a dark impression on you Louise. Forgive me, I merely spoke my own mind from my own experience." Lingqi said.

"Don't be, you weren't exactly wrong. Come on, there's tables for us in the courtyard. We can try and get to know one another there."

"It'd be my pleasure."

They found a table without any trouble, although her classmates were starting to come out and fill the spaces.

Louise idly noted that Lingqi had a rather relaxed posture, not so much that she might seem to lack manners, but not as stiff as some of the more military focused nobles could be.

They sat for a short while in silence, Lingqi seeming content to wait for Louise to say anything, and Louise uncertain about what to say.

Finally, the small noble made a decision.

"That halberd… can you tell me a bit about it?" She asked.

She'd been wondering about the weapon her familiar had been holding when she was summoned ever since yesterday, and now Louise's curiosity overcame her apprehension.

Lingqi put down the cup of tea that had been delivered to their table with a soft exhalation that wasn't quite a sigh.

"It is called, 'Sky Piercer'." The warrior said with a reminiscing expression.

It had a name? As expected, it wasn't an ordinary weapon…

"It belonged to my father, and with it he stood as one of the mightiest warriors of the land." She continued.

It belonged to her father…? It… belonged, to her father?!

"What happened?" Louise asked with trepidation.

"We lost." Lingqi replied with a wry smile. "My father was captured, and executed. We may have been mighty, but our opponent had his own share of might, and was cunning. Father meanwhile had no patience for strategy. He would crush all who opposed him with his might…"

Lingqi's sorrow was visible, but subdued, and she shook her head.

"I myself was also captured, but I was spared. The moment you summoned me was the last moment I had to look upon Sky Piercer, a kindness from one of my father's former officers…"

"Former?"

Lingqi nodded.

"He joined our enemy after my father's execution."

There was no anger in her eyes. She did not hold it against him, whoever he was.

Still, what had been going on back in Lingqi's homeland? And… did her summons pull her out of captivity?

"Why were you fighting?" Louise asked.

She had a few ideas, but she needed more concrete information.

Lingqi seemed a bit puzzled at the question.

"Beyond being enemies." Louise added hastily in response. "What kind of circumstances led you to war?"

The warrior sighed and looked slightly troubled.

Louise was momentarily worried she had touched upon a sore point, but then saw that it seemed more so to be uncertainty.

"I… am not the best person to ask about the details… Many of the nuances that led to everything escaped me back when it was all happening, and later I would be consumed by the concern of being a help to my father. But I will do my utmost."

Lingqi then proceeded to weave a tale of political turmoil, tyranny and decadence, the total collapse of an empire's authority and the rise of warlords seeking their own personal goals.

Her father had been one of those warlords, and so had their enemy.

Louise paled at the implied magnitude of the civil war, for that was very much what it was, even if Lingqi herself never truly described it as such.

The small noble was also appalled to learn the reason behind the animosity between her father and their final enemy.

An attempt to steal away a province while the enemy was away.

Lingqi herself didn't seem particularly pleased, but also not particularly troubled.

As Lingqi's tale tapered off, Louise had no way to know if any of it was true, nothing fit with what she knew after all.

But Lingqi probably came from a faraway land.

Her appearance was exotic, both in terms of her personal features and in terms of her armaments.

There were many things that implied, both subtly and otherwise, that Lingqi had been taught different values.

While Louise wasn't entirely certain whether Lingqi was of noble birth or not as what little she had been able to glean on the matter from Lingqi's own words weren't extremely helpful. It was however undeniable fact that she had served in the court of an Emperor, and was the daughter of a warlord who at least for some time controlled an entire province.

She was most assuredly nobility of some kind, even if disgraced.

Really, what Louise found the most odd was how little Lingqi seemed to care about magic.

To the small noble, who had been taught that magic was the mark of nobility from birth, it was truly incomprehensible, but it seemed like wherever Lingqi came from didn't put that much emphasis on magic.

Louise shook her head.

It wasn't all that useful to dwell on it.

"Do you not put much emphasis on magic where you come from Lingqi?" She instead asked straight up.

"Not really. I'm still a bit uncertain just what this 'magic' of yours entails, but no emphasis was put on such a thing, or anything I can easily equate. It was rare to see any of the things I can currently equate with 'magic'."

"So you don't have any then?"

"Not that I know of."

It was strange to hear such an uncaring attitude towards magic, but it was also strangely comforting in an odd way.

"Then what decides if you are a noble or not?" Louise couldn't help it. The Tristanian noble in her needed to know.

"Lineage and deeds, usually. Mostly lineage."

"Oh."

Of course. Lineage and deeds were a big part of Tristanian nobility as well, weren't they?

Magic only assured you nobility. Your position within was decided by other factors. Like those two.

Huh.

Food for thought.

"I suppose I should say something about myself." Louise said after a few more moments of thought.

"I would be delighted to get to know more about you." Lingqi said with surprising enthusiasm.

This enthusiasm caught Louise off guard, and she needed a few extra moments to figure out what to say.

Finally, she sighed. Lingqi had never once seemed dishonest. Therefore, Louise would be honest herself.

"I am the third and youngest daughter of the Duke and Duchess de la Vallière, and a student of the Tristain Magic Academy. I am often called… 'The Zero', by my classmates, due to my… poor… track record with using magic." Louise had to grind out the last part.

"Poor track record?"

"Most of my spells end up… exploding." She was sure she was blushing by now.

"Huh." Lingqi reacted to this confession in a rather subdued manner, more so seeming to find it interesting than anything else.

There were, on the other hand, no sign of either glee or derision on her features.

Then again, the warrior didn't exactly put much stock into magic it seemed, and had yet to come to understand what it really meant.

"Once I graduate, unless my ability to use magic makes a sudden improvement, I'll probably be married off to my fiancé and confined to householding…" Louise continued.

Lingqi's face scrunched up a bit. "How long do you have until then?"

"Two more years, give or take."

"Two… So there is some time…"

"What are you contemplating?"

"Options. Of course, I will only present them by your request."

"I'll keep it in mind, but not for now."

Louise had no idea what kind of plans Lingqi had considered, but she had a feeling she wouldn't appreciate some of them.

Better find something else to talk about.

"Did you have a fiancé?" She asked. It wasn't the best thing she could think of, but she was curious, and maybe a bit desperate.

"One. Can't remember if I ever actually met him. Didn't like his father much… The very embodiment of some of nobility's worst characteristics. It was all for the sake of securing an alliance. I didn't have any intention of going through with it, and father didn't like it to begin with. It was a moot point in the end though…"

"Isn't that a bit…?" Louise said with a tinge of horror in her voice.

"Dishonourable? Ignoble? We were far beyond caring at that point." Lingqi replied with a wry smile.

Honestly though, a part of Louise was relieved.

She'd been worried she would have pulled Lingqi from a happy life, but for now it really didn't seem like it.

"What about your mother?" Louise asked. She wanted to make sure, and it overrode any reluctance or concern.

"Mother… We didn't talk much after I joined up with father's army. Last I know, she was safe and well."

The strange mixture of melancholy and indifference Lingqi displayed hurt Louise.

A suspicion grew within her. Was that why Lingqi seemed so lonely at times? Not really having anyone? Her mother was distant, her father was too caught up in other things…

Did she at least have some friends?

This line of thought and the silence between them was broken by outside interference.

One that had already done so earlier today.

"Hello again Louise!"

"What do you want now, Zerbst?" Louise responded irately without even turning towards the intruder.

She didn't need to. She'd recognize that voice anywhere after all.

"Aww, don't be like that. I heard your familiar speaks, and realized I hadn't been introduced yet."

Louise looked towards Lingqi, who simply sat there, not even looking at Kirche.

She sighed.

"Lingqi, this aggravating sow is Kirche. Next to her is Tabitha."

"Kirche Augusta Frederica von Anhalt-Zerbst. And this is my darling familiar Flame, a fire salamander befitting of my passionate fire magic! Nice to meet you!" Kirche said, brushing off Louise's attempted insult and also introducing her familiar that was also there.

"Tabitha. Familiar is Sylphid. Pleasure." Tabitha said, gracing them with more words than usual while also introducing her own familiar.

"Lingqi, of the Lu. The pleasure is mine, Lady Tabitha." Lingqi replied, completely ignoring Kirche.

"Did you tell her to do that?" Kirche asked, directing it towards Louise.

"No, she did not. I just didn't appreciate your tone and behaviour." Lingqi replied before Louise could so much as shake her head.

Kirche laughed.

"I don't mind at all, but some of the other nobles here might get quite offended if you do that." She said.

"A bit uncouth, I agree. Still, you were somewhat rude as well, Kirche." A new voice cut in. "Hello ladies."

"Guiche? When did you get here?" Kirche questioned the newcomer.

"Not long after you did." Lingqi noted dryly.

"So, you are Louise the Zero's familiar. I saw little of you during the summoning ceremony, but now that I see you properly, I can see that you are quite the flower indeed." Guiche said, presenting a courteous bow. "Guiche de Gramont, an utmost pleasure to make your acquaintance."

"Lingqi, of the Lu. I must say, I rarely hear anyone call me a flower." Lingqi responded.

Lingqi looked just a little bit puzzled.

"Careful Lingqi, he's a notorious womanizer." Louise said.

"Is that so?"

"Yeah, he definitively is." Kirche backed Louise's statement up, which was an odd feeling, being in accord with that sow.

"Womanizer." Tabitha added.

"I see. You should stop. Womanizing is unbecoming of a noble scion." Lingqi said, giving off the feeling like she was thinking of someone from her past, and making a sour face. "A deceitful woman might take advantage of it."

"Unbecoming? Just because you are a lady doesn't mean I will forgive such a presumptuous remark. As a son of the prestigious military house of Gramont I know well what is becoming and what is not." Guiche retorted.

"You are from a military family? I couldn't tell. You are nothing like the scions of military men I have met." There was spite in Lingqi's words.

"Who are you to say that? I am willing to endure harsh words about myself, but I will not tolerate presumption on nobility or my heritage!" Guiche had started shaking slightly.

While Louise enjoyed seeing the foppish fool shaken, he was clearly getting upset, and-

"And what will you do about it?"

That was clearly a challenge! What was Lingqi thinking?!

"I'll teach you your place with a duel." Guiche spat out.

Before Louise could say anything, Lingqi smiled. "Very well, a duel you will have." She said.

"Then meet me at Vestri court." Guiche declared and stormed off.

Louise and Kirche were left astonished beyond words, while Lingqi rose.

"W-what are you doing?!" Louise exclaimed finally.

"Fetching my halberd. I have a duel to attend."


Author's notes: Well... I hope I haven't done anything... too upsetting. The reason Lingqi introduces herself like she does here, is because that is how Louise introduced herself. At least I'm decently sure of that. I might have wanted to make more of a point by having Lingqi hear it like that when it is her point of view but... Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. Feel free to tell me I'm wrong on some other point.

Also, for anyone who somehow doesn't realize this, Diaochan is NOT Lingqi's mother. Dynasty Warriors just doesn't seem particularly keen on bringing Lu Bu's wife up for some reason. Maybe because it'd be awkward when he's clearly having an affair? As it stands there is nothing really to go on when it comes to Lu Bu's wife in Dynasty Warrior's reality.

I hope you enjoyed, and that you have a nice day.