Fourze - part 1


The Friend and the Zero

"Man, I'm stuffed!"

"I'm sure you are. You had six helpings of pancakes and an entire pitcher of milk."

"Ha ha! Gramps always said that guys need to start the day on a filled stomach. Just turns out that my gut's huge."

Louise sighed and shook her head at the grinning Gentarou. "At least fix you table etiquette. A proper noble does not devour handfuls of food at a time or talk with their mouth full!"

He laughed. "It was too good, Louise. Can't blame me for that."

"Ugh, whatever. We're here."

The Rider and the young mage entered the classroom which had only just begun to fill up with students. The ones already seated turned to stare at Gentarou who was looking around curiously as he took his seat next to Louise.

"This is a really nice classroom," Gentarou said. It looked like one that should belong in a high-society university. "What's this class for again?"

"Beginning Earth Magic," Louise said as she read through a notebook she brought in with her.

"Earth magic…" Gentarou repeated with a smile. It still surprised him that magic was actually real on this planet. He asked Louise about it, but all he got was a strange look and her telling him that "he was kind of a mage knight so he should know all about magic". When he thought about it, it was true in a way; Cosmic Energy was pretty close to magic with how it works.

But Cosmic Energy was used through science. This stuff was actual magic, as in wand waving and magic words! He looked around and saw some of the students practicing magic at their desks. Some were floating rocks in the air; others were conjuring fire at the tips of their wands. He saw creatures that came straight from fairy tales hanging around the desks and windows.

This planet was amazing! He couldn't wait to show his friends on Earth!

'Maybe I could learn a few magic tricks myself,' Gentarou thought with glee, 'I could maybe learn some battle spells to fight bad guys with, like a magic Kamen Rider! That would be so awesome!'

On a different world in a different city, a young man paused from biting into his sugar doughnut to scratch a slight itch on his nose.

Gentarou stared at the door as the minutes passed, watching as the other students filed in. Every single one that came in looked at Gentarou who returned them with a grin. Many of them looked away or awkwardly smiled back. Only one of them, a tall red head with tanned skin accompanied by a small girl with blue hair, smiled and waved back at him with a wink. His grin widened, giving her a thumbs up. She giggled as she took her seat next to her friend at the end of the upper row.

Eventually, the teacher arrived, a plump woman who dressed in purple robes topped off with a witch's hat. Gentarou reflexively stood up and bowed, Louise and the other students staring at him curiously.

"Good morning!" he said enthusiastically.

"Oh my! Good morning to you as well, Sir Gentarou," the teacher said with a smile. "While I'm flattered that a mage knight would bow to a simple teacher like me, a simple greeting would have been more than enough."

Whispers of mage knight erupted among the students, hushed tones ranging from amazed to disbelief. Louise felt their stares weighing on her back, but she did her best to ignore them.

Gentarou didn't notice the stares, rubbing the back of his head sheepishly as he sat down. "Ah! Right, we're not in a Japanese school!" he laughed. At the teacher's inquiring look, he elaborated, "All students in Japan greet their teachers with a bow when they come into class. It's a respect thing."

"Ah, respect toward the teachers," she said with a nod. "Perhaps I should ask Osmond to have that system here in the Academy. Certainly would make the teachers feel more appreciated," she jokingly added. "But enough of that, let us get started." She smiled. "Welcome to Beginning Earth Magic and I, Bella de Chevreuse, will be your teacher for the course. Please address me as Mrs. Chevreuse."

"Yes, Mrs. Chevreuse," the class said as a whole.

The teacher nodded. "Excellent. Let us start with introductions. Feel free to add anything to your introduction, just make sure to keep it short! Now, let's start with you in the first row, Mr…"

And so the students introduced themselves. Gentarou made sure to listen to each one intently, burning their names and faces into memory. Eventually, it came time for him to introduce himself. As the student next to him (a green haired girl named Teresa Amelie le Nemours, enjoys trying different teas) sat down, he stood up.

"Yosh, my turn!" Gentarou declared.

"Ah, Sir Gentarou, this is only for the students," Mrs. Chevreuse said.

The teen smiled. "Well I'm still a student too. 'Sides, it's bad manners if I didn't introduce myself to my soon-to-be friends." He received some raised eyebrows, but he didn't notice as he cleared his throat. "Yo! Name's Kisaragi Gentarou and I'm from Japan! Kisaragi's my last name and Gentarou's my first, so call me Gentarou. And none of that 'Sir' stuff too, just Gentarou's fine. That goes for you too teach!" he smiled at the teacher. "Since it's no secret because of my big entrance, I'm a Kamen Rider. I assume that's like a mage knight since you say that I am one even though I'm not. We don't have mage knights in Japan. Anyway," he pumped a fist on his chest, "my interest is making friends with everyone I meet! My goal here is to make friends with everyone in this entire school! And I mean everyone!" He finished with a pointed finger sweeping over everyone in the room. "And that's it! Hope we have a fun time getting' to know each other." With a satisfied grin, he sat back in his chair, arms crossed proudly.

Mrs. Chevreuse blinked and stared, as did the rest of the class. She quickly snapped out of it with a shake of her head. "Well, that certainly was an interesting introduction Si— er, Gentarou, thank you." Her gaze shifted to the pink haired girl next to him. "Now for you young lady."

Gentarou gave Louise a thumbs up and a grin. She sighed and shook her head as she stood up, straightening herself like a proper noble. "I am Louise Francoise le Blanc de la Valliere, third daughter of the noble House Valliere. That is all."

The Fourze user gave her a confused look as she sat down. "That's it? You're not gonna say anything more about yourself?"

"That's all there is to say," Louise replied a little icily.

Gentarou let out a disappointed grunt. "Aw, don't be like that Louise. I mean you told me a bunch of stuff about yourself last night. Like how you like knitting—"

Louise's eyes bulged and a blush covered her face as the other students erupted with laughter. Mrs. Chevreuse called of the class to settle down, but she was not heard among their loud voices.

"W-w-w-wha— Gentarou! You! Why!?" Louise stuttered, completely mortified.

"What?" he asked with a genuine look of confusion.

"T-t-t-that was supposed to be a secret!"

"It was? Well, you never told me, so…"

"My, my, Valliere~ Knitting? I never knew," said a voice amidst the laughter, a voice that Louise was long acquainted with.

"S-shut up, Kirche!" the pink haired girl exclaimed, turning angrily to the buxom red haired girl.

Gentarou grinned. "You know her? She your friend?"

"No! As if a Zerbst like you would mean anything to me!"

Kirche placed a hand over her mouth in mock sadness. "Oh Louise, I'm hurt! How could you say that to me!? Do I mean nothing to you? And to think that I was going to ask you for a friendship sweater knit with all of your wonderful love for me!" The students laughed harder at her statement.

Louise blushed harder. "S-s-s-shut up!"

"You shouldn't bother, Kirche! I bet she knits like she casts spells!"

"Yeah! They'd just blow up as soon as you put it on!"

"Zero casting ability, zero knitting ability!"

The laughter increased. Louise's fists clenched until her knuckles went white. She opened her mouth, an insult at the tip of her tongue. But before Louise could say anything, Gentarou stood up.

"All right, that's enough!"

The laughter died immediately. Everyone stared at Gentarou with shock, and with the glare the teen was giving them, a bit of fear. Louise gulped, silently glad he wasn't directing that at her. The fact that he was another country's equivalent to a mage knight was all the more apparent, and the class knew it. By the Founder he could look intimidating when he wanted to.

Keeping his eyes on the students he said, "Louise, sorry for telling everyone about your hobby. I didn't know you were keeping it a secret. Mrs. Chevreuse, sorry for causing your class trouble. You guys, though," his pointed finger swept over the students, "need to apologize to Louise. It ain't good to make fun of other people, got it?"

Silence.

Gentarou crossed his arms, eyes boring into them. "Well?"

Apologies were murmured.

"Louder! And mean it!"

"Sorry, Valliere." It was Kirche that spoke up first to Louise's surprise. The rest followed suit, albeit hesitantly. Louise allowed herself a little smug smirk.

"Louise, say sorry to Kirche."

The girl's expression fell, her head spinning to face Gentarou. "What!? Why should I!?" Her indignant look faded when Gentarou leveled his glare onto her.

"You were very rude to her, saying that she doesn't mean anything to you."

"B-but she's—" she stopped at his frown "—Oh… fine!" Swallowing her pride, she gave Kirche an angry look before grinding out the words, "Sorry Kirche…"

The red haired Germanian blinked in surprise for a moment before smiling. "Thank you, Louise." she cooed.

The Kamen Rider nodded. "See, Louise? Was that so hard?" The girl grumbled something unintelligible in response. Gentarou sighed before sweeping his eyes over the students. "You should know that I hate it when my friends get picked on. This doesn't change the fact that I still want to make you all my friends, but it'll be hard if you make fun of mine, you understand?" He received some shaky nods. His glare dissipated into a happy smile. "Good!" He sat down and gave Mrs. Chevreuse a nod. "Let's keep the intros going, yeah?"

The teacher nodded shakily. "Yes, I agree. You there, next to Ms. Valliere, your turn."

And the introductions continued, but after Gentarou's scolding, they were more shaky and nervous. Still, Gentarou listened to them intently. He perked up when it was that Kirche girl's turn. Kirche Augusta Frederica von Anhalt-Zerbst was her full name ("What's up with this place and long names?"). She stood out quite a bit with her tan skin, fire red hair, and well developed body (Gentarou was tempted to tell her to button up; this room's kind of drafty). But what stood out a bit more about her was her relationship with Louise. She wasn't like the other students in how they treated his pink haired buddy; true, Kirche was the one that called Louise out, but she didn't outright antagonize Louise more than she teased her. It was playful teasing too, like what friends would do to each other from time to time. Judging from how Louise reacted and Kirche's act toward her, the two of them have been at each other for a long time.

Gentarou smiled. So Louise wasn't totally alone here!

After Kirche came the girl next to her reading a book. Her name, Tabitha, was all she said before sitting back down and going back to her book. No last name, no interests, just 'Tabitha'. Gentarou frowned thoughtfully; he immediately saw that the girl was putting herself at a distance from everyone else. Her face, no, her mask showed that plain as day. She was like Ryuusei in that regard, but instead hiding behind faked friendliness, Tabitha hid behind emotional detachment. She seemed to be friends with Kirche though, so it didn't look like she completely put everyone at a distance. But still, what caused Tabitha to be like that?

The last of the introductions finished and Mrs. Chevreuse smiled. "Very good!" she said. "I am honored to have made your acquaintances. Now let us begin the lesson. Make sure to take notes; I may be testing you n this. Now, Earth magic theory begins…"


Gentarou pinched his thigh for the nth time to keep himself from nodding off. He was interested in magic, he really was, but put him in a classroom in the middle of a lecture and he'll be snoring in minutes.

He wondered many times how he ever got into a prestigious high school like Amanogawa with grades like his…

Despite his brief lapses into the realm of dreams, he managed to learn a few things; Magic was powered by Willpower, something that he was pretty sure he had in spades. Magic split into five branches; Earth, Fire, Wind, Water, and the lost element Void. Apparently, Brimir was the only one to ever use Void and that was six thousand years ago and that he pretty much kick-started the way Halkegenia is now which explains why everyone in school prays to him.

Magic was split into different levels; Dot, Line, Triangle, and Square. He didn't get most of the explanation, but got the gist that Square mages were the strongest and Dots were the weakest.

Since this class was all about Earth magic, he learned a few things about Earth magic's applications like shaping and reinforcing. Creating golems was the one he was most interested in though. Making stone or metal buddies to watch your back anytime? How cool was that? Suffice to say he needed to learn how to do that ASAP.

Well, that was until he learned that one had to be born with magic.

"No, Mr. Lennox, magic can only be attained by birth." The teacher said. "This is why there are nobles and commoners. You can rest assured that magic won't be learned by the common people."

"G-Gentarou?" Louise whispered, "What's wrong?"

"Nothing," he mumbled, head lowered despairingly, "Just… it's nothin'…"

'Only my hopes and dreams launching off into space,' he thought. 'Goodbye, magic golem buddies…' He mulled over it for a few seconds before regaining his composure. It was a shame, but there's no use crying over it.

More applications of Earth magic followed like Earthstones that helped improve the land's quality for growing plants and crops, building castles and other fortresses quickly and efficiently, crafting weapons, etc. Then Mrs. Chevreuse talked about how those applications showed Earth magic's importance in society. Weird, if he didn't know any better he could've sworn that the teacher was making Earth magic out to be the best magic out of the five. Then again, it was a class all about Earth.

"Now that's enough of that," Mrs. Chevreuse said as she stepped behind her desk. "Let us move on to the practical portion of the class, shall we?" That removed any sleepiness in Gentarou and got excited murmurs from the students. The teacher levitated a block of stone and a bucket full of pebbles onto the table. "One of Earth magic's greatest applications is transmutation, that is, to change an object into another. For example." She muttered a short spell slowly for the class to hear, tapped her wand on the stone block and before the class' amazed eyes, it rippled and changed, its color turning to a yellow-brown, then to a different material.

"Oh my!" Kirche gasped. "Mrs. Chevreuse, is that... gold!?"

"No, Ms. Zerbst," the teacher replied. "It is brass. Only a Square Class mage can make gold." She coughed self-importantly. "I'm only a Triangle Class."

"Square or not, that's pretty awesome!" Gentarou said.

Mrs. Chevreuse smiled. "Why thank you, Gentarou. Now then, class, I would like some volunteers to try what I just did on the pebbles I have here. You do not have to transmute them into brass like I did; any material other than stone is fine. Any volunteers?" A few hands went up and Mrs. Chevreuse smiled. She was about to call on a flamboyantly dressed boy to start when Gentarou's voice stopped her.

"How 'bout you go, Louise?" Gentarou said loud enough for the whole class to hear. As one, the students' eyes turned to the surprised girl, all with varying degrees of wide-eyed worry.

"Wh-wha?" Louise replied lamely.

"I'm really curious about what your magic, Louise," Gentarou continued. "I haven't really seen you doing magic at all since we got here. Part of it's my fault cause I didn't think to ask you to do some, but I figure now might be a good chance to show us what you can do!"

Louise gulped, a reply on her lips, but Mrs. Chevreuse beat her.

"A wonderful idea, Gentarou!" the older woman said, smiling. She in fact was quite curious about the Valliere's magical ability as well. Summoning a human being was unheard of, a noble, a powerful one at that, even more so. Gentarou's power was unquestionable, but what did that mean for Louise, the one who summoned him? This was the perfect opportunity to find out!

Louise gulped again. "Mrs. Chevreuse, Gentarou, I don't—"

"Er, Mrs. Chevreuse," Kirche interrupted, her voice noticeably worried, "It's better if Louise doesn't go up…"

The teacher and Gentarou gave the red haired girl a confused look. "Why not?" Gentarou asked.

Kirche bit her lip. "It… just wouldn't be a good idea."

"It would be too dangerous!" a student said. The other students nodded in agreement.

Gentarou raised an eyebrow. He noticed Louise biting her lip and fidgeting slightly. 'What's going on?' he thought.

"Dangerous?" Mrs. Chevreuse repeated. "How so?"

Another student spoke up. "You've never seen Louise cast spells before!"

"They all blow up, no matter what she does! Even the simplest of spells!" another added.

"Blow up?" Gentarou whispered to himself, but Louise heard and she felt her stomach drop.

Mrs. Chevreuse frowned. "Well most mages do not always succeed with their spells on the first try. Spells do often 'blow up' as you say, but there's hardly anything dangerous about a spell popping and fizzing out! Furthermore, this is only a basic transmutation. The worst that could happen is that only half or less of the pebble would be changed. You are all being very rude to Ms. Valliere again."

"Yeah guys," Gentarou said, giving the students a disapproving look. "Louise has a fair chance of doin' the spell as much as everyone else. What did I tell you guys about being mean to my buddies?"

"We're sorry, Gentarou, Mrs. Chevreuse," Kirche said, "but Louise's spells, they—"

"I'll do it."

Everyone looked at Louise. Gentarou and Mrs. Chevreuse smiled whereas the students had looks of horror.

"L— Louise, please, you don't have too." Kirche said.

"Well I'm going to! I am not going to sit here and let you insult me any further!" the Valliere snapped back as she stood up. Her steps half stomping, she walked over to the desk, took a pebble from the bucket, and set it on the table. She pointed her wand at it and took a deep breath.

"Wait!" Gentarou exclaimed. He stood from his seat and ran excitedly to the side of the table. "I want to see this up close!"

A resounding "No!" came from the students, even from Louise, who looked ashamed.

Gentarou blinked at the looks of worry he was receiving. "Oh? Are spells blowing up really that dangerous here?"

"Yes," Kirche answered, nodding quickly. "It would be wiser if you moved back a bit, and you as well, Mrs. Chevreuse."

"Is that right Louise?"

The pink haired girl didn't look at him. "… she's right."

Gentarou frowned, certain from Louise's attitude that something was wrong, but didn't say anything about it. Instead, he shrugged. "Yeah, safety first, I get it. C'mon, Mrs. Chevreuse," he said as he walked off to the side of the room.

"Honestly children, a spell failure is not that dangerous." the teacher sighed, but moved back to join Gentarou. "Alright Ms. Valliere, you may begin."

With a nervous nod, Louise did just that, channeling the magic in her wand.

'Please, please work.' She thought to herself desperately. She couldn't fail this, not when a noble like Gentarou was watching! For the first time in a long while she felt true friendship, but it would vanish if she failed! He would mock her, be ashamed that he was summoned by a failure, and then leave her like the rest of them! She didn't want to go back to being alone. 'Please, please Founder!' she begged, concentrating on her spell. She felt her willpower extending from her body and going into the wand as she spoke the same words Mrs. Chevreuse spoke. So far so good. All that was left was to move the magic into the pebble. Slowly, carefully, she tapped the pebble once.

She felt the long-hated feeling of her spell shattering followed by a deafening boom and smoke.

The students and the teacher screamed in panic. Gentarou, already more than used to similar situations, let out only a short gasp before swiftly covering Mrs. Chevreuse from the blast. The students ducked behind their desks in surprise, their screams turning into coughs as the smoke hit them. The creatures around them went crazy, roaring and hissing wildly, some even attacking each other. The students tried to get them to calm down with little success.

Eventually the smoke dissipated to reveal a soot-covered Louise. "No…" she whispered, a look of mortification on her face as she stared at the destruction she caused. The students rebuked her from behind their desks.

"Way to go as always, Zero!"

"We told you not to do it! Now look what happened!"

"Just quit school already!"

Louise didn't hear them. She slowly turned her head to where Gentarou was helping the teacher. 'It's over…' she thought, feeling her eyes sting as her head looked down in shame. 'Gentarou won't be my friend anymore.' Gentarou and Mrs. Chevreuse approached her after the former made sure the latter was alright.

"Well, Ms. Valliere…" the teacher began with a slight cough, struggling to find words to say. "You, er, tried your best. And it's the… effort that counts."

The Valliere gripped the hem of her ruined skirt in frustration and shame. Even the teachers didn't think she had a future as a mage.

"Louise," Gentarou said, his face blank and tone completely even. The class fell silent, wondering how the Kamen Rider would react.

Louise hesitantly looked up, but her eyes were unable to meet his.

His eyes flicked to the damage, taking in every detail. He said nothing for what felt like an eternity for Louise. His eyes finally went to her, and after another long moment, he spoke. "That was…"

Louise braced herself for his harsh words.

His hands shot up into the air as his expression broke out into a wide smile. " AWESOME!"

"What!?" the class, plus the teacher, yelled.

Louise gaped. "Wha-? Huh!?"

Gentarou placed his hands on Louise's shoulders. "Louise, that was an amazing explosion! If that was a mistake then how big will it be when it works!?" He frowned for a moment. "On second thought, that would be bad indoors. But still, that was great!"

Louise spluttered. "B-but I didn't do the spell! I failed!"

"The transmuting spell thing didn't work, sure, but I think you did something way better!"

"How are her explosions better!?" a student yelled, others nodding in agreement, demanding an answer.

Gentarou just grinned. "Dude, if I had the power to make things explode with mind my fight with the Zodiarts would've gone so much easier! I mean, some of them, well, a lot of them were tough, especially the Horoscopes. I had to come at them at my best or I'd be dead! But with this!" he gestured to the damage. "If I had this I could've protected my friends much better!" A flash of melancholy shot across his eyes, but no one noticed. "See, we Kamen Riders are around explosions a lot, heck, we make them a lot too with our attacks so we know what kind of damage they can do."

"But I don't want to do damage!" Louise said. "I want to cast a real spell like a normal mage!"

"You mean you can only make explosions?" Gentarou asked rhetorically. "Yeah, I guess I could see why that would be a problem if you wanted to be like everyone else. And I'm guessing that you're the only one with this problem and it's the reason why your classmates are so mean to you?" He shot the other students a mild glare to which they had the decency to look ashamed.

"… yes." Louise said, her voice quiet.

"You've tried everything and nothing works?"

Louise shook her head. "Even weak spells end up blowing up in my face."

Gentarou cupped his chin in thought. "Then I guess your magic is just too different from everyone else's." At Louise's confused look, he continued. "Maybe the explosions are your magic's way of telling you that normal magic just doesn't work for you."

"Wha— My magic is— What makes you so sure?"

"Experience." Gentarou replied with a smile, pulling out the Rocket Switch from his jacket. "It was the same with my Switches. I didn't figure out how to use these guys from the get-go, you know. Some of them didn't work or even hurt me when I tried to use them. Each Switch has some special way they need to be handled or you'll end up hurting yourself and the people around you. I'm thinking your magic's the same way; you just don't know how to use it."

Louise looked hopeful. "Then… what do I do? How can I make my magic work?"

Gentarou grinned, his teeth shining. "Dunno!" The Valliere's expression fell to an almost palpable depression. "But we'll figure it out later! Promise! Right now we got a class to finish, right Mrs. Chevreuse?"

The teacher grimaced. "Well, Gentarou… unfortunately, due to Ms. Valliere's… mishap, my materials have been destroyed. I will need to get more. The classroom must also be repaired. As such, today's class is dismissed." Louise's expression fell further while Gentarou just laughed and patted Louise on the back.

"Awesome! We can figure out your problem now, Louise!"


"So you just feel like your magic 'snaps' right before it leaves your wand?" Gentarou said as he and Louise, who had a quick wash and a change of clothes, exited the Tower of Void and walked out into the courtyard.

Louise sighed. "Yes, and I do not understand why. Everything before the spell leaves me is perfect."

Gentarou hummed in thought.

"By the way, Gentarou, where are we going?"

Gentarou turned to her and smiled. "Well we need a place to figure out your magic, and since your magic explodes, we need to do it outside the school."

"Oh… right."

A few minutes later, the summoner and summoned found themselves on a grassy clearing a short ways away from the school.

"Alright Louise, do a spell!" Gentarou exclaimed.

"Um, what kind?"

"Any one you want! The point of this is to see what works and what doesn't."

Louise nodded hesitantly. She readied her wand and a spell then let it lose.

The following explosion nearly knocked them both off their feet.

"Wow!" Gentarou yelled as he re-balanced himself. "What spell was that!?"

"… I was trying to make a small Fireball."

"Small? That was huge!"

"Guhh…"

Gentarou laughed good-naturedly. "Well, don't mind it, Louise! Just keep on trying!"

With another nod and another spell on her mind, Louise continued.

Continuous explosions could be seen and heard outside of the academy walls, distracting teachers and students alike. More than once, a teacher had to levitate over to the source to try and stop it but relented when they saw that the "knight-turned-ambassador" from a foreign land wanted the Valliere to cast spells, despite their obvious results. Even Osmond had come down to see what the commotion was about at one point.

After another failed spell, a tired, frustrated Louise yelled. "This isn't working, Gentarou! Why!? Why is my magic like this!? All we've established so far is how big of a crater I can make!"

Gentarou shook his head. "No, I think we learned a bit." At Louise's confused look, he continued. "We've learned that the size of your explosions changes depending on the spell and how much power you put into it."

Louise resisted the urge to roll her eyes. "Great, so I can control how much destruction a can produce," she said sarcastically. "Face it Gentarou, no matter how hard I try, my explosions are nothing but useless…"

"I don't believe that, Louise." Gentarou said. "Everything has a use even if it doesn't seem obvious at first. You just gotta keep trying to find ways to make it work! Like I said, it was the same with how the Switches didn't always work for me. But then I made friends with 'em. Then I started kickin' bad guy ass all over the place!"

"... You make it sound like your Switches are alive."

Gentarou grinned. "They are! Just like your magic, it's alive and it has feelings!" His grin slowly turned into a frown. "Another thing we've learned is that right now you're treating your magic like… like how the other students are treating you. Calling it useless. Of course it wouldn't work for you. Nothing would ever help you if you treated it like it wasn't worth anything. What's worse is that it comes from you. You're rejecting something that's part of you and that's not something anyone should ever do. You have to accept everything that you are and go from there."

Louise fell silent, mulling over his words. He was right, she admitted. And here she was talking about how she wanted to use magic like a normal mage. How could she ever master her magic if she rejected it?

"So you want me to accept my failures?"

Gentarou smiled, patting Louise on the back. "Accept them and work on them. That's always the first step to making yourself a better person."

The girl nodded back at him with a small smile.

"We've also learned another thing."

The Valliere looked at him, gaze questioning.

"Your magic probably doesn't work with four of the elements."

Louise's face took an angry note. After that speech about how her magic was part of her, and now he's telling her that her magic didn't work with… four of the elements? "Wait… G-Gentarou? You can't mean—!"

He nodded. "Yeah. Your magic might be Void, but it's not a sure thing."

The Valliere shook her head. "No! Of course not, that's impossible!"

"Why is it impossible? Do you know how Void works, Louise?"

"Ah— Well… no." she admitted. "It is called the Lost Element for a reason… but still! To even suggest that I'm a Void Mage is heresy! The only Void Mage to ever live was our Founder Brimir! And besides, Void magic is said to be able to do feats of wonder akin to miracles… all I've ever done are explosions. That's no miracle, that's destruction."

"Well, I guess so…" Gentarou replied. "But we can't rule out the possibility. We can't prove it and it's not like there's a book that teaches Void magic lying around in a library for us to look at. For now let's just work on what your magic wants you to do; making stuff explode. This time, though, don't think of any spell or element. Just make an explosion and think about how it feels."

Louise nodded, raising her wand. "I understand." Despite her tiredness, she mentally called up a portion of her willpower. She didn't want to make another large explosion, so this portion was as small as she could make it. Satisfied and clearing her mind of anything related to the four elements or basic cantrip spells, she muttered, "Explosion."

The deafening boom that followed was almost enough to knock her and Gentarou off their feet.

"Whoa, Louise! How much magic did ya put into that one!?" Gentarou yelled, his ears ringing.

"Not much, I swear!" Louise yelled back.

The Kamen Rider rubbed his ears, the last of the ringing dissipating. "Really? That was awesome! The biggest one we've had! No elements or anything right? How'd it feel?"

Louise blinked. "It felt… good, actually. I did not get that snapping feeling I usually get when I cast a normal spell. I believe this is the first time my magic's done that now that I think about it…"

Gentarou whooped. "Hooray! We made progress!"

Louise smiled, his enthusiasm rubbing off on her. "Yes, we did!" For the first time in her life, she cast something she wanted without her magic failing, even if it was just another explosion. "Thank you, Gentarou!"

The Kamen Rider grinned. "Yeah, no problem! Soon you'll be casting all kinds of stuff. I guarantee it!"

Excitement filled Louise's face. "Ooh I can't wait! Where do we go from here? What should I cast next?!"

Gentarou laughed. "Whoa, slow down Louise! We'll get to that. Right now, we could use a break. I bet you're really tired after doing so much magic."

Louise calmed down, a slight blush on her face as she silently berated herself for such an un-noble display. "You are correct, Gentarou. I am quite tired."

"Let's go back, then." Gentarou squinted his eyes as he looked up at the sky. "We've been at this for a while! It looks like it's about lunchtime now." He pumped his fist. "Let's go get some cake to celebrate our first breakthrough!" Louise nodded enthusiastically, eager for some rest after so much hard work.

Perhaps it was some of the lingering ringing in his ears, but Gentarou swore he heard someone say 'HAPPY BIRTHDAY' in the distance.


"Did we have another birthday today, Monsieur Kougami?"

"No, Enter-kun. It was just a feeling."


Louise and Gentarou walked back into the school where they both noticed many students seated at tables that have been set up in the courtyard. The creatures Gentarou saw in class were being doted on by the students as maids scurried about with trays of food and drink.

"Oh, that's right," Louise said. "Second years are supposed to bond with their familiars today. Classes for us after lunch have been cancelled."

Gentarou looked like Christmas had come early. "Lunchtime bonding!? Sounds like my kind of lunch! Let's find a table quick!" He grabbed Louise's arm and pulled her along.

"Ah! Gentarou, slow down!" Louise yelled, her smaller legs barely able to keep up with his pace.

The Kamen Rider didn't slow down, but to Louise's fortune, they quickly found an empty table and took their seats. It didn't take long for a servant to approach them with a full tray of sandwiches cut in neat triangles and a pot of tea, one that Gentarou recognized.

"Siesta!" the Kamen Rider said with a welcoming wave. "Hard at work, huh?"

"Oh! Um,yes, Sir Gentarou," Siesta responded hesitantly as she set down the food on their table.

"Aw, come on Siesta! No need for that 'sir' stuff. We're friends aren't we?"

Siesta shifted awkwardly, but managed a smile. "I understand, S— Gentarou."

Gentarou smiled and nodded. "That's the way. Say, Siesta, have ya had lunch yet?"

The maid shook her head. "The serving staff usually have lunch until after the nobles do."

"If that's the case then if you happen to finish your work here, why not sit with the two us and chat for a bit?" Gentarou asked.

Louise looked scandalized at the thought of sitting at the same table with a commoner but kept silent. Siesta on the other hand, developed a nervous and slightly fearful look.

"I— no, I can't. I am happy for the offer, but I am merely a maid and you're a Kamen Rider."

"You know I'm a Kamen Rider? I don't think I mentioned it to you."

"Gossip travels fast here in the academy."

"Ah, yeah. Schools do that. But why would that keep you from having lunch with us?"

"It's because of status, Gentarou," Louise spoke up. "I don't know how your people in Japan do things, but here in Halkeginia it's considered improper for a noble to associate with a commoner."

"Really?" Gentarou asked, bewildered. "Why's that?"

"Because nobles are the ones chosen by the Founder to wield magic and the commoners are not," Louise answered plainly. "It is considered distasteful for a noble to associate with a commoner as a peer while the very traditional houses consider it an insult to the status quo. You would be lowering yourself to a plebian's standard."

Siesta frowned, shooting the pink haired girl a glare.

Gentarou frowned distastefully. "There are people that actually think that way? That's terrible. Do you think that way Louise?"

"No, not exactly." Louise said, "The Valliere House is one that has lasted centuries but we are above such behavior. Though that does not mean we see them as peers… we just treat our servants with the dignity they deserve. But in the end we are nobles and she is just a commoner. We both have our places and it's not as friends. You should not lower yourself, Gentarou. Understand?"

"Sure, but I don't care." Gentarou said with a smile to Louise's shock. "Friendship doesn't care if you're a noble or a commoner. Siesta is my friend, and if anyone says otherwise—" he thumped a fist on his chest, his face serious "—then I'll straighten them out how ever I have to."

"But… but—!"

Gentarou turned to the maid. "Siesta, you can sit with us if happen to finish work before we finish lunch. I absolutely do not mind."

Siesta smiled brightly. "T-thank you, Gentarou. I will definitely consider it. If you'll excuse me." The maid curtsied and went on her way, but not before sticking her tongue at the Valliere from behind the girl's back.

"She's just a servant, Gentarou!" Louise said hotly. "Why do insist on being her friend?"

"I said I'd befriend everyone in the school," the Kamen Rider answered, smiling at Louise. "A man doesn't go back on his word. That's what I was taught growing up and I've never gone against it since."

"Even if it means making yourself a target of ridicule?"

"Yeah!"

The answer was so quick and sure that it surprised Louise. She gave Gentarou an inquisitive look.

"Why?"

"Hm?"

"Why do you want to befriend her?"

"Because I want to see her smile."

'Smile?' Louise thought. 'Why would he… no… he can't mean…"

"… You are… attracted to her?" she asked.

Gentarou shrugged, staring off at the direction the maid went off on. "Of course I'm attracted to her…"

Louise was surprised again, this time a blush on her face. A noble taking a maid as a mistress!? How scandalous! "O-oh, I see. W-w-w-well, it isn't unheard of to—"

Gentarou didn't hear her. "… I mean, ain't it normal to be attracted to all the people I want to make my friends?"

"— do what you… wait, what?"

Gentarou turned to her. "Huh? Oh, were you saying something?"

"Uh, it's nothing! Just talking to myself!" she exclaimed.

The Kamen Rider looked at her strangely before shrugging and grabbing a sandwich and biting into it.

"So wait… you make friends with people just to see them smile?" Louise asked.

Gentarou swallowed before grinning. "Yeah, that's right."

"Really? Nothing more than that?" To Louise, who had been taught the importance of developing connections with the right nobles, the concept of befriending someone just for the sake of their smiles was almost alien to her. Even her friendship with Henrietta had been forged by her parents who wanted to be close to the Crown. "Are their smiles really so important?"

His smile was dazzling as he nodded, pure, honest orbs seeming to shine. "I think that the greatest treasure in the universe is seeing your friends smile." His eyes moved to the other nobles and servants. "Especially the moment when you make someone your friend for the first time. It's the greatest feeling, Louise, for you and for them. I'd trade all the riches in the world just to see them smile. Nothing is more important to me."

Louise stared at Gentarou with awe, yet again surprised by the strange man. It made sense now why Gentarou wanted to make friends with everyone; he was a noble who truly wanted to make everyone smile, commoner or noble. At their core, wasn't that what nobles were meant to do; to bring happiness to the people they rule? Only a year older than her and he understood that rule to its core and practiced it with no qualms.

Gentarou ate with the etiquette of a pig, his bearing is worse than a commoner's, and he was honestly a bit dense, but his heart and soul were that of a true noble.

"Hey Louise, you gonna eat?" Gentarou asked as he grabbed another sandwich. "If you don't start now, I'm gonna eat 'em all before you have a chance!"

Louise watched as he shoved the entire sandwich into his mouth. "Gentarou that's gross," she said.

He swallowed audibly. "I can't help it! They're so good!" he said before shoving another into his mouth.

Louise tried to look disgusted, but the smile on her face wouldn't go away.


Not too far from the Kamen Rider and the Valliere, a group of boys laughed merrily as they walked out of the building. The blonde haired boy who wore a frilled, open shirt was the obvious leader of the group, judging from the way the other boys surrounded him.

"So Guiche, tell us, who's your lover now?" one of the boys asked.

"Yeah, who're you going out with?" another added.

The young, good looking noble scoffed. "'Go out?' Please gentlemen, I hold no one woman in such special regard. After all, a rose blooms for the pleasure of many."

"Ha ha! That's Guiche for you!"

"A new woman every week, ha!"

The boys laughed.

"In all seriousness, Guiche, tell us! Who is it this time?"

"Ah Gimli, please. I do not wish to inconvenience the flower I am giving attention to."

"Oh come on! We won't tell, right lads?"

Eager nods were the response. Guiche sighed dramatically.

"Alas, gentlemen, I cannot. This is for the reputation of the women I bloom for, you see! And mine of course!"

Groans of disappointment surrounded him, but he paid them no mind. He was not about to risk his reputation by telling these blabbermouthed fools anything! He was Guiche de Gramont of the noble Gramont House as well as the third child of an accomplished military general! With his family name, his looks, his sweet tongue, and the powerful golem magic of the Gramont line, he paved his way up the school's social ladder, impressing and making valuable contacts with other powerful houses and gaining the respect and admiration of his peers which he so rightfully received. His 'friends' walking alongside him were just a small portion of the little kingdom he established, following him like servants as they hung to his every word. Everyone in the Tristain Academy of Magic knew his name and said it with admiration and it was all thanks to his hard work.

As such, he thought he deserved a little reward for it. A reward in the form of the fairer sex. It was so easy for him to charm any woman he wanted (with few exceptions, like that odd Tabitha girl), he just needed to say the right words, toss his gorgeous hair a little, and they were his. He fooled around, going from one woman to another as if he was sampling a variety of fine wines at a party. As fun as it was, he made sure to back off anytime a girl started to get the wrong idea, promising that he would come back to them. He was with them to have fun, not to be forced into a commitment! He was already in one with Montmorency due to his family's will…

So he kept his activities a secret, making sure to only meet with his newest catch at the dead of night in the most private areas. He made sure to have the girls ensure their secrecy else he would leave them forever. He even made sure to keep his family's arrangement a secret. If word ever got out that he was already in a relationship whilst seeing other women, he may lose the social standing he painstakingly built!

Which was why his stomach jumped to his throat when a voice called out to him, "It's Katie de Montal, isn't it?"

The group stopped. Guiche swiftly erased the look of shock on his face as the owner of the voice approached him; a first year girl with light brown hair done in a loose bun. Her blue eyes glared at the blonde.

"Who, who are you?!"

"Nicole de Lorainne," the girl sneered. "Answer the question, Gramont."

Guiche swallowed, but masked his panic with a huff a ladykiller smile. "I have no idea what you are talking about, Miss. Who is Katie?"

"Stow it. I saw you and her last night toying with her like all the other girls you've laid your filthy hands on."

Guiche gaped. "T-that was—! She was just passing through! And how dare you accuse me of—"

"Passing through!?" Nicole snarled. "'My dear Katie, your eyes shine with the beauty of the moons'? Does that ring any bells? Or how about, 'Katie, you are the only woman I hold dear'!?"

Guiche chocked. "You were eavesdropping on us!?"

"Is that even the point, Gramont!? How many more of those lies have you told her!? How many other lies have you told all the girls you fooled!? I talked to many of them, you know, gossip spreads like wildfire here. They all talked about how you broke their hearts and threw them aside!"

"What!? Impossible! I swore them to—" Guiche clasped a hand over his traitorous mouth.

Nicole smirked. "To secrecy? Oh, I know. It truly is amazing what a little wine and the privacy of a slumber party can do to make someone speak of their deepest secrets."

Guiche gasped in horror.

"And oh, how they talked and talked of your endeavors with them. How you talked their ears off with honeyed words and praises, promising them that you were theirs… followed by the despair and tears from you casting them aside." Nicole's smirk widened. "And all of this while you were courting Montmorency de Montmorency!"

Guiche's friends gaped. The blonde himself was doing his best imitation of a fish.

"H-h-how did you know that!?" Guiche all but yelled. His yell unfortunately attracted the attention of many students, the curious ones moving closer to what they see as a confrontation.

Nicole laughed. "Oh? Was that supposed to be a secret? Well, Montmorency loved to talk about it with her closest friends. I just happened to be in the area as she gushed about you…" She frowned. "I feel sorry for her; she has no clue what you are truly like."

Guiche gulped. "D-d… did you tell her?"

The girl snorted. "Oh, I tried. She wouldn't listen to me. She honestly believes you're faithful to her. Just like all the others…"

The blonde boy sighed in relief, but a familiar voice forced his breath from his lungs.

"Guiche? What's going on here?"

"Well well, look who it is," Nicole said with a smirk. "Hello, Montmorency."

"Nicole," the blonde, curly haired girl replied with a bit of a glare. "What are you doing to Guiche?"

Nicole sneered. "Oh, nothing, just exposing the fop's sins."

Montmorency's eyes narrowed. "Are you still on about Guiche being unfaithful to me?"

The brown haired girl rolled her eyes. "It's not my problem if you want to continue being blind despite all the evidence in front of you."

"Shut it, first-year!" The blonde girl yelled. "Not only do you continue with your lies about my Guiche, but you also insult me! Are you not aware of the status our houses hold over yours, Lorraine?"

Nicole snorted. "This has nothing to do with our family, Montmorency. This is between the fop and all the women that have suffered by his hand!" She pointed at the blonde boy who shook and sweated. "But fine, if you do want to bring our houses into this, then your suitor has made many enemies, what with him fooling around with their daughters."

Montmorency stepped back. "Wha— That's a lie! Guiche tell her that she's lying!"

"A lie?" Nicole snarled. "Was Margaret a lie? Joanne? Elise? They still think after all this time that you would go back to them and are running themselves ragged because of it! They're my friends! The fop played around with them and threw them away when he was bored! And you say what they've gone through was a lie!?" She calmed down, a smile that was far too sweet forming on her face. "Then how about I give you proof?"

"P-proof?" Guiche blanched.

Nicole smiled at him. "Yes! She should be arriving at this time. Remember Guiche? She had a soufflé she wanted to give you."

Guiche paled. "W—what? No!"

"Guiche, what is she talking about!?" Montmorency yelled. "Who's making you a soufflé!?"

"Sir Guiche? Where are you?"

Nicole's smile turned sinister as Guiche's eyes shrunk. 'No! Not now!' he thought.

"Excuse me please, may I get through? S—sorry!" A young girl with brown hair and purple eyes said as she moved into the crowd. She held a basket filled with a freshly baked soufflé tightly in her arms. Her face lit up when she caught sight of the blonde boy. "Sir Guiche! Here you are! I've brought the soufflé see? I…" The girl looked around noticing the crowd staring at them, Montmorency, and Nicole. "Nicole, what's going on here?" Katie asked.

"Hello, my dear cousin." Nicole said.

"C—Cousin!?" Guiche gasped.

"Yes Guiche, she's told me all about you. I'm surprised that she hasn't talked about me considering how close we are."

"That's because he said to keep it a secret!" Katie said. "Now… now Guiche will leave me!"

"Excuse me!?" Montmorency exclaimed angrily. "Guiche is my suitor! It was decided by our families!"

"Wha— what?" The brown haired girl said in disbelief. "But Guiche told me that he wasn't seeing anyone!"

Montmorency turned on Guiche. "You what!?"

Guiche stammered. "Mon-Mon, it's, uh, not what you—"

"Y—you lied to me, Sir Guiche?" Katie asked desperately, tears in her eyes.

"K—Katie—"

"Yes, Katie, he did." Nicole wrapped a comforting arm around her cousin and hugged her to her chest. "I tried to warn you, to keep you from getting hurt, but you didn't listen. I'm sorry that you had to find out this way."

"He said we were meant to be! That we were Soulmates!" Katie sobbed.

"That's the same thing you said to me!" Montmorency yelled. She grinded her teeth. "You even promised we would be together forever, a—and you…" she breathed heavily, her composure breaking, "How long has this been going on!? How long have you been unfaithful to me!?"

Nicole smirked. "Quite a while. Well before he met you."

"Shut up!" Guiche yelled, trying to sound intimidating, but his fearful stance diminished it significantly.

Montmorency choked. "All… all that time…?"

"It's a lie, Mon-Mon! Don't listen to her!" Guiche yelled desperately.

Nicole laughed. "I'm lying, fop? I showed you, her, and everyone here—" she gestured to the crowd of students around them, "— proof of your lies. And now you're trying to weasel your way out of the mess you dug yourself. These are your true colors, fop; a pathetic, womanizing wretch who only thinks for himself."

"Silence!" Guiche snarled, hand itching for his wand, the rule against noble duels be damned! "I will not have you insult me any fur—"

A loud smack was heard, echoing through the corridor. Guiche's head was thrown to the side, an angry mark on his cheek where Montmorency had struck him. The blonde boy looked at her in shock.

"Mon-Mon—" he wanted to continue, but choked when he saw the pained sadness, betrayal, and hurt on the blonde girl's face.

"We're through, Guiche." Montmorency stated, tears flowing from her eyes. "We're… we're through…" She stiffly turned her back to him and walked away, the crowd parting for her.

Guiche could only stare at his now-ex's retreating back, his hand reaching out to her but unable to move or say a word. For a while there was only the sound of his own breathing and Katie's sobs. His hand touched his reddened cheek, wincing as the pain flared, hammering the reality of his situation. He couldn't believe it; Montmorency had left him. A girl had left him, and it was Montmorency, the girl that had been a constant in his life for so long. She was just a girl, right? Why then did he feel so… so guilty? And his reputation… saying it was in shambles would be too optimistic. His ugly side was hung out for the whole world to see. No woman would approach him after today nor would anyone associate with him for the foreseeable future. He glanced at his 'friends' who had all mingled with the crowd acting like they didn't know him.

In a few minutes everything he built up since he started in the academy was destroyed and it was all because of Nicole de Lorraine. The very girl looked at him with laughing eyes.

"Oh, poor Guiche," she mocked, "his reputation in tatters and left behind by his fiancé. Now you know how it feels to be thrown away." She slowly released the sobbing Katie and stepped toward the blonde boy. "If only you had never been you, none of this would have happened. You forced my hand when you decided to fool my beloved Katie…" She stopped a bare meter in front of him. "If you think I'm through with just this, then you are sorely mistaken."

"You…" Guiche began, his voice and body trembling in anger. "What more do you want!? You've already ruined me!"

Nicole smiled sweetly. "I challenge you to a duel."

Guiche, Katie, the crowd, they all gasped at the proclamation.

"Right here, right now. Or are you too scared?" she taunted.

"Nicole, are you mad!?" Katie said, worried for her cousin. "Duels between nobles are forbidden! You could get expelled!"

Nicole gave her cousin a comforting smile. "Hush, Katie. I know what I'm doing." He turned back to the blonde boy. "What do you say, Guiche? This may be a chance for you to regain some of your pride. I'd take it if I were you."

Guiche's fists clenched as he leveled a glare of hatred on her. "I know you're what you're trying to do, wench! Trying to get me expelled at the cost of yourself! Well it's not going to work! I refuse your challenge!"

Nicole frowned. "Hmph. A shame. But I kind of expected it. You are a coward unable to own up to his own mistakes."

Guiche grit his teeth, forcing himself to ignore the obvious jab.

"But I will have my duel anyway."

"What?!" the blonde yelled. "I told you I refuse!"

Nicole laughed. "Well it's too bad that I don't give a damn, Gramont!" Her laughter calmed to a mocking smile. "You were almost right about what I wanted Guiche. It's true I want you gone, but what I want isn't expulsion. No, that would only be putting a stopper to the problem that is you. I'm looking for something more… permanent."

Everyone gasped. Was she really implying…?

"W—what are saying? You can't mean— You are insane!"

"Nicole! Please, stop this!" Katie pleaded.

Nicole ignored her. "Insane? No, fop. I'm doing what the Founder wills me to do." She quickly reached into her sleeve.

Guiche quickly responded by brandishing his rose wand and pointed it at the girl, ready to counter the girl's spells. He was surprised to find that in her hands was not a wand, but a strange, black device with a single red button at the top. Nicole smiled maliciously. "You see, fop, I was chosen by the Founder to bring punishment unto you! I have a sacred duty to God and Halkeginia as one of the Founder's Chosen to ensure you don't hurt anyone ever again!"

She pressed the button.

Everyone covered their eyes as a fog blacker than night and lights brighter than stars engulfed Nicole's form. As quickly as it came, the fog and lights disappeared, the lights forming a pattern before dimming.

In Nicole's place was what could only be described as a monster. It was the form of a beautiful woman's body, or would have been were it not for the sickly blue hue of the skin and sharp claws where its hands and feet should be. Its face as well further detracts any notion of beauty, its mouth open far wider than a human's, showing off its unnaturally sharp teeth. Its hair was a deep blue and didn't seem like hair at all as it was made from what looked like fish fins. Scales covered much of its body and formed something that resembled a flowing, iridescent, and sleeveless dress with a high slit on the right leg, circular gems adorning it which were connected by large blue lines. Its pure black eyes glared at Guiche.

"Die, Guiche de Gramont!" yelled the monster in voice that was both Nicole's and not.

The Siren Zodiarts screeched.


Been uploading this on another website, but here it is on FF. As always, point out mistakes and give critique so I may fix them/work on them.