"Fortune sides with he who dares."


"Here we go - off to be heroes again!"

Captain Fiorenzo Lepic's voice was hoarse, and not enthusiastic in any measure.

He complained to himself, as he, Martin and Guiche rode nonstop south of Tristain. They had received an extremely urgent message that summoned them for a mission. A message from General Bonaparte and the Grand Marquise, Louise Francoise de la Vallière.

Thus they had been riding horses after horses into the ground since dawn and replenishing at every staging station that they passed. The ride was hellish - no, murderous.

Presently, Guiche snapped: "Let's stop awhile! This heat is killing me!"

Martin glanced. He wiped his forehead with the green sleeve of his jacket.

"But we're almost there, Guiche boy."

Captain Lepic sighed, his shoulders rising and falling as he breathed. He looked at his two comrades and grinned tiredly.

"Look, we've got no choice. But at this pace we'll be there in time for supper. General Napoleon and Miss Valliere are counting on us."

Lepic called for a short council of war: Napoleon had sent a letter that specifically asked for Guiche de Gramont, to take a horse and drive south as fast as possible to rendezvous with Napoleon and Louise. But why? That was what Lepic did not know. The letter also called for Guiche to bring with him trustworthy companions, capable soldiers who could handle themselves. This wasn't an ordinary mission. It was close to a covert operation. Guiche chose him, Lepic, naturally as he was their captain, and Martin de Walloon, for he was an adroit hand and his happy presence was excellent for the spirit of the trio. But now Lepic prodded the nature of their mission.

The three of them recollected what they understood again. This was a mission that probably involved Gallia. What else? Why were they here in the southern frontiers of Tristain? Guiche had another hypothesis: It could be about the crisis at Lake Lagdorian. But only when they arrived to join the General and the Grand Marquise would they find out.

After a short spell, they resumed the journey. Three hours later, just as dusk was settling, they reached the rendezvous point. Napoleon and Louise's campfire was easily visible from a distance on the plain, as they had pitched tents underneath a large oak tree at the top of a hill.

The three chasseurs arrived breathless. They saluted the French Emperor, then bowed to the Marquise.

Louise was delighted to see her former classmate again. She gleefully cried: "Guiche! I'm so glad you made it!"

She ran forward and hugged him. Guiche smiled bashfully. Louise had never been this bubbly all the times they've spent together as classmates in the Academy, and he wasn't used to it. He patted her shoulder.

"Don't act so surprised, Louise! Well, what are we doing here?"

At once, without even having seated himself yet, the Emperor said: "Gentlemen; there is no time to waste."

Napoleon went straight to the point: They were going to rescue Tabitha, Louise and Guiche's estranged classmate from the Academy.

Guiche couldn't believe what he was hearing. "How did this happen?!" he shouted.

Napoleon shrugged calmly as he finally returned to his log and sipped his coffee over the campfire. Darkness loomed over the party as nightfall set in. Everyone gathered around.

"We do not know, but we found her familiar, the blue Rhyme Dragon on the road while we were riding back. The dragon has a name, Illococo. That is the name she calls herself," he explained.

"Sylphid? Illococoo?"

"Tabitha's familiar can shapeshift. Apparently, Rhyme Dragons are like that," Louise supplied to her classmate. "Do you get it now Guiche?"

Captain Lepic and Martin were both quiet throughout this conversation. Presently the chasseur captain asked: "So, let's save her tomorrow, yes?"

Napoleon set down his cup. He pulled away a half-charred straight stick from the campfire. As their horses brayed and a cold night breeze whistled amidst the five of them in the forest, with the stick the Emperor began to draw on the ground.

"The plan is simple in theory. Louise and I conducted a reconnaissance earlier today. Compiegne lies 7.5 kilometres west of here. It is a massive fortified city - a star fortress. The most formidable kind of defensive construct. Although, its walls are old and dilapidated and much of the ramparts are unguarded and neglected. It's a sleepy place for the most part, however, the five of us alone will have to break into the citadel where Tabitha is surely being held - and that entails the possibility of having to fight large numbers of guards, or worse."

He finished drawing the star-pattern of Compiegne city from a bird's eye view perspective. It looked like a flower with triangular petals, composed of the fortress bastions.

"Louise will create our diversion and opening. She will bombard the fortress with a powerful but carefully controlled air-burst explosion; we do not want to harm any of the citizens in Compiegne, so we shall do this at midnight and Louise's Void magic shall be used sparingly. It is not to destroy, but to merely stun and confuse the guards stationed inside and provide our cover with the smoke her Void magic will create. Our marquise here will be our living mortar and siege artillery." Napoleon grinned devilishly. "They will think Compiegne is under a surprise attack. In the middle of the chaos we will penetrate through, rescue Tabitha once we locate her inside the citadel, and extract ourselves from there immediately. Compiegne's citadel has a single, massive tower structure that protrudes above the rest. It is safe to assume Tabitha is in there."

Napoleon picked up his cup again and finished the coffee. He looked round.

"Any questions?"

There's a spell of silence, before Guiche perked up. "Uh, General. How did you say we were going to escape afterwards, again?"

"With the help of Sylphid, of course."

At that moment, the giant blue beast dropped from the sky and landed behind Napoleon and Louise. The Rhyme Dragon trilled fiercely, announcing her eminent presence.

The three chasseurs jumped in fright. "HAAA?! You didn't tell me Sylphid is still around!" Guiche exclaimed.

Louise smirked. "She will be our lifeline. The flying dragon makes it possible for us to rescue Tabitha. Sylphid, or Illococoo, will also help us get in. We're flying into Compiegne and dropping inside the castle walls."


"Hey! I'm not just a dragon, y'know! I'm Ilococoo! Oh…? Nice to meet you three!"

The Rhyme Dragon turned back into her human form. In doing so, she reappeared naked behind the French emperor.

Her upper half, and her large breasts however were still visible to the three shocked young men.


Guiche's jaw dropped as he ogled the dragon-girl. Martin blushed and looked down at the campfire. Lepic made a reverence to his four holy Romalian saints and closed his eyelids pretentiously, sniggering.


"Ugh… Pervert."

Louise blasted Guiche's face with a proper explosion.

"Men will come and try to teach you things. They will try to teach you how to walk, how to talk, how to think and behave, who you can and cannot be friends with, and what to believe. It doesn't make them any better than you - in most ways, they're not, but it makes them feel strong. It makes men feel big."

The Duchess of Orléans whispered to her daughter one day, as they sat together on the balcony of their chambers.

"But you, Charlotte… just follow your heart, and do whatever it is that you please to do. Do not listen to the bad people."

A maid called on the door. "Your Grace… it is time…"

They had carted in a potion in the room, and the Duchess was to drink it.

"Just a moment."

The Duchess of Orléans kissed her daughter. Her eyes were dripping with sad tears.

"I love you Charlotte. Don't cry - when you leave Gallia, I will always be here. Be strong and follow your heart from now on."

Charlotte awoke to a horribly loud explosion outside the prison tower. It sounded like a hundred barrels of gunpowder had caught fire and blew up in the middle of the city, next to the prison, even. She drew herself up from the cold stone floor and rubbed the sleep out of her eyes. In a second, she was already pressed against the iron bars, trying to look around and see where the guards had gone. The cruel soldiers guarding her cell had run up the stairs shouting about some sort of attack!

Derflinger, still bound to the leather straps on the wall it was framed in, was animated with excitement.

"What was that?! A dragon?"


Charlotte was silent. Derflinger insisted cleverly:

"Now's our chance to escape! I don't know what's going on but this feels like the part of the story where we make a run for it! Charlotte, can't you break one of the rusty bars on the left, there?"

"Not without my staff."

The ice-wind mage spoke. Derflinger did not feel discouraged. "There must be a way! I can try to wriggle out of my straps- "

"Or a foci." Charlotte continued.

"Not with that spirit, girl! Charlotte, you need to have hope! Come on, let's work together and escape!"

The sword urged its master, despite her perceived reluctance; But Derflinger wasn't mistaken. Charlotte was a quiet girl, but not a timid or stupid one. Derflinger knew Charlotte was already racking her brain in silence, calculating. At the moment, Charlotte inwardly decided escape from her cell was impossible. But very soon the guards would come back to her cell in order to transfer her to a safer place in case Compiegne was really being attacked, judging from the terrific explosion earlier.

"This is the sixth night, Charlotte! We can't wait until tomorrow - Sheffield and Joseph will be back, and then they'll finally kill you by making you drink the same poison that crippled your mother! Don't you remember what Sheffield said?"

"Guards will be back. I was resting and recovering my strength for the last six days. When they bring me out, get ready to fight, Derflinger."

The sword was shocked at Charlotte's sudden change of tone. She sounded ready to fight. She looked up with big blue eyes, already planning how to grab the sword across from her cell as soon as the guards returned to the room.

The doors slammed open. Footsteps thundered in, along with the acrid smell of fire smoke. Charlotte took a deep breath and clenched her fists on the bars, waiting.

Only, no guard entered the room. Charlotte's eyes widened.

"L-Louise? Guiche?"


Louise's loud, high-pitched voice nearly brought Charlotte to tears. It was good to hear the voices of friends again.

Both Louise and Guiche looked absolutely disheveled. Their faces were dirty with soot and dust, like they had been crawling through chimneys, and their uniforms were messy.

"We had to fight through like, a hundred guards just to get to you!" Guiche said, panting wildly in exhaustion. "Tabitha, it's time to go home! Let's kick dust before your crazy uncle comes back!"

"You… know?"

"Louise told me everything," Guiche said, smiling at Charlotte. Promptly, he summoned a terracotta golem and ordered it to destroy the grille of Charlotte's cell. It did so with relative ease, ripping open the cell and tossing the iron aside like trash. And thus, Charlotte was free at last.

"Oi, don't forget me!" Derflinger yelled at them from across the room. Louise laughed and took the sword down. She went to Charlotte.

"Come on. What's wrong?"

Louise and Guiche worriedly looked at their classmate. Charlotte wasn't responding.

"I… cannot, Louise Francoise. King Joseph still has my mother, back in Lutèce. He'll kill her."

Louise was mortified. Her face turned pale. Guiche was in shock. "Wait wait waitwaitwait! Your mom?! But! Tabitha… Does this mean- "

"Tabitha isn't my real name."

The Gallian girl smiled sadly.

"I am Charlotte Hélène of House Orléans. Daughter of Duke Charles de Orléans. Niece of the Mad King of Gallia."

She faced Louise. "I will not stop until I kill my uncle, the King, for what he has done to my mother."

The two students were speechless at this revelation. At the same time, someone else poked through the prison door.

"Louise, Guiche! We need to GO! Napoleon and Lepic are holding soldiers off at the rooftop! Did you- aha, is that her?"

Martin peered at them. He was holding a grimy sabre and a spent pistol. The gun was still smoking. His face was hot with sweat. "It's time to go! The griffin guards are coming! We don't have much time before they beat Napoleon and Lepic, and chase Sylphid away from the rooftop once they cover the skies!"

Charlotte smiled. Everyone looked at her.

"Why are you… smiling?" Louise asked curiously.

"Just as planned."

Charlotte took Derflinger from Louise and began to walk out of the prison. This snapped everyone else out of it, and they began their escape from the smoking citadel.

'So much for that.'

Julio Chesare sulked inside his carriage as he and his escorts traveled back to Romalia.

He feared the disappointment this would bring to Pope Vittorio. First, he failed in learning more about Napoleon Bonaparte.

Second, that he had located the Elf girl. The Elf from Albion. This was of great importance, because as he had learned from the Pope: That Elf girl, Tiffania, was powerful.

Other than that, Julio did not know much else. He knew how secretive the young Pope could be, but trusted that it was for a good reason. And all things are revealed in their proper times. Once he arrived back at Romalia, then perhaps Pope Vittorio would fill him in about what was really going on.

But Julio was annoyed. He was still a young man - a boy, and what was he doing? Out here, back and forth as a messenger bird for a pope. Hardly a way any sane boy would like to live his life! Boys were to frolick, to go out and be with friends, and to enjoy youth before it inevitably moves on. That was what's annoying him. That he could be doing something better right now instead of riding in a bumpy, hot gold carriage and playing politics with scary people, like that commoner-general with the funny hat, named Napoleon.

But since Julio was Pope Vittorio's Familiar, he had no choice.

"Let's take a break here! Driver, where are we now?"

Four assistants and the driver at once posted themselves in front of Julio's door, making a flurry of exaggerated references to the Holy Romalian Pope's ambassador. Julio smirked. There's a benefit to being a pope's errand boy at least.

"We're currently outside a small town. Also, sir, Saint Margarita's convent is located here."

Julio smiled without looking at the driver. He was too busy peering at the peasant girls working in the field. They were shepherding a flock of sheep and bringing them in early before it got dark. The late afternoon sun was beginning to cool.

"I've heard of that convent before. One of our Church's establishments."

"We're still two days from the Romalian border, sir. We have to pass the night here…"

Surprisingly, Julio had a change of mood and was content to rest here in Saint Margarita. Besides, convents always treated fellow clergymen with utmost importance and respect, and he could expect to sleep in a cool room and on a soft, spacious bed!

And plus, it meant he could sleep tonight in an all-girls convent. Julio started to smile even more.

But the driver was still looking at him, so he had to pretend to be annoyed.

"Fine then."

Within an hour of their arrival, Julio's procession disembarked at the cute little village of Saint Margarita. Like most of the Gallian villages they passed, the construction of the houses here were also distinctly Gallian - in that it was picturesque, and representative of the peaceful and loving peasant life with its white-plaster walls, red tile roofs, riverwood window frames and awnings and backyards where commoners kept pigs and radishes in one harmonious plot. Two playful stray dogs with golden hair ran across as Julio walked up to the convent. He followed the path of the two creatures.

The two dogs stopped in front of a novice. A young girl with a white, pretty face. When she extended her hand to pat the two dogs affectionately, it revealed her white, thin fingers as well.

Julio, having looked on for too long, could not turn his eyes now. Finally, the young novice looked up.

She had fine, short blue hair underneath her headdress. Her cool eyes were also blue, like the sky on a summer evening. But they were a little aloof, almost empty, like the eyes of a girl with no friend.

'Wait a minute… That girl, she looks just like Tabitha- ?!'

"Sir Julio Chesare!"

The voice of the madame nun snapped Julio out of his trance. He was standing at the mouth of the convent, and several elder nuns were observing him.

"Sorry?" Julio laughed nervously, sweating.

"We are very happy to receive His Holiness's most trusted messenger. Sir Julio Chesare, welcome to Saint Margarita's Convent."

"Yes, yes. Thank you, ma'am. Very grateful for your hospitality…"

"Let's take you to your lodgings for tonight. I hope you won't mind that this is an all-girl's convent, I understand it may be a little awkward for a young man like you to stay in such a place…"

"Not at all!" Julio said. "Though… may I ask something?"

The madame nun wrinkled her nose. Patiently, she said, "what is it, dear?"

"Who was that novice outside just now, with the two dogs?"

"Oh? The orphan? That's Josette. She's a Gallian. She has lived in this convent all her life. She is fifteen years old now. But sir Julio, you know priests shouldn't marry priestesses."

Julio blushed tremendously. "That wasn't what I was thinking!" He cried. "It's just that she looks just like a classmate of mine…"

He sighed, and, accompanied by his retinue and the madame nun, went inside the convent to eat supper. But by this point, the young novice had noticed Julio Chesare too. Josette had noticed Julio Chesare.

For the first time in the 15 years of her lonely life, Josette's eyes shone bright. But with it came a rapid, growing desire to have that boy who looked at her with interest, on that late spring day.




Author here. I apologize for the long hiatus. I figured I might as well post what drafts and manuscripts I've written now instead of stressing over if they were good or not anymore. A warning, though: the next few chapters may be a little 'thin', and not as word-count heavy as my previous chapters have been, but that's only because these are only practically the first drafts. On the plus side, at least the flow will be more like how the Zero no Tsukaima Light Novels read. I realized I needed to just take the plunge and just do it, if I'm ever going to finish EoZ, or this part at least. I will revise them later on. More focus on the story and progression, less heavy chapters. Any reviews and criticism is highly appreciated! I need to get into writing again.