Thursday, April 12, 2012

Queen's Blade Rebellion Illustrated Stories, chapter 11

Extra chapter! This one kinda sounds like the previous one, but that's because the first volume didn't have fancy sub-titles like Upheaval or Showdown. Also, rather NSFW pic.

Back when the Rebel Army was barely forming, what did Tomoe teach Annelotte?

Chapter 11: Hinomoto’s Sword Saint

Enveloped in the morning mist, a boat was sailing through the ocean.
Four shadows were on board.
Two people at the rear, one person in the middle, and one at the tip of the boat.
It seemed like the one in the middle was rowing alone, and every time the paddles hit the water’s surface, the boat made a creaking sound as it advanced swiftly between the waves.
"Vante, keep it up."
The smallest one of the two people spoke, and the person who operated the paddles replied back with a Vuuun, emitting a growl unlike a living creature.
"Big bro, has the island come into sight?"
This time, she spoke turning towards the person who stood at the boat’s tip.
"…It’s no good, with this dense fog. But, we shouldn’t change direction. We’ll keep going straight ahead."
"So, Vante, do your best for just a little bit more."
She understood, as there was that strange growl again.
"Haa… At any rate, no way, for it to have come to escaping to Hinomoto…"
They were at an island by the eastern end of the continent, Hinomoto. Due to the attack by the Queen’s Army, the Rebel Army Annelotte led had sustained a fatal blow, and one month had already passed since.
"Yuit, we only left Gainos temporarily to regain our balance. We can always go back there."
With her foot on the bow of the boat, Annelotte declared so, gazing into the mist.
That was easy for Annelotte to say, but obtaining the power to oppose the Queen will become a steep road, as Yuit’s mind was wondering.
Because, lately many adversities had appeared on Annelotte's way.
Many of their comrades had lost their lives when their base was attacked too, and the surviving comrades had scattered apart.
That alone made Annelotte, with her strong sense of responsibility as a leader, feel immeasurable anger and chagrin.
However, that was causing her to blame herself more…
"I have to become strong… for the sake of stopping this demon blood…"
Annelotte muttered, gazing at the fog ahead with a thoughtful look of firm determination.

"Wah, is this the town of Hinomoto…"
Mirim’s gaze was wandering around, turning her head left and right curiously.
It was lined with buildings made only from wood without using brick or soil, and everybody looked comfortable even if they were wearing clothes like an overcoat, that they tied up around their waist.
Although the town wasn’t as big as Gainos, the atmosphere was clearly different than the customs and culture of the continent.
"Ye-ah, but as I thought, we’re standing out."
As Yuit said, the people who passed around them just now were looking at Annelotte’s party curiously.
"It can’t be helped, though I don’t feel very comfortable. Let’s carry out our objective quickly."
"Yeah. Err… I think we’d better go first to the Masakado Shrine, where the Musha-Mikos are. Wait a second, I’ll ask that uncle over there."
Saying that, Yuit ran to the street vendor that was set up at the roadside the carriages stopped.
"Hey, welcome!"
"Listen, uncle, I want to ask you just a little question."
"What’s your order?"
"Excuse me, but we’re not customers… haa… I understand. It’ll be three of us."
The street vendor tossed something like elongated strings into three cauldrons and replied vigorously, "Thank you for your continued patronage!"
"Hey, it'll be in just a moment!"
Food was lined up in front of Annelotte’s party, a usual food from Hinomoto called soba.
"Waah, it looks great."
Mirim inhaled the smell of soba to the limit of her lungs, and her face was loosened by happiness.
Though they were perplexed in how to use the chopsticks, Annelotte’s group ate the delicious food.
"Ladies, I understand you’re foreigners, is there something you want to ask? You can ask anything."
"Really? Then, where can we meet the Sword Saint Tomoe?"
"T, the Sword Saint Tomoe, you say? You can’t possibly find that person!"
The street vendor told them that the Sword Saint Tomoe had become a "legend" and was no longer in Hinomoto.
She had come back when Queen’s Blade finished, but she had reached new heights and there was no match for her in Hinomoto anymore.
And she had become a living legend, and as if she said she had no regrets at all left in this world, one day she suddenly disappeared.
Annelotte hung down her head in disappointment.
"Geez, don’t get discouraged. To be honest, there might be a clue."
The street vendor smiled, with a broad grin.


At a distance it should take an adult an entire day to walk on foot from the town, there was a mountain called "Sacred Mountain Fuji".
Although considered an object of faith by the people who lived in Hinomoto, the severe environment of the land kept people from approaching.
"Really, how could a Miko be living in a place like this…"
"I don’t know. But, we have no choice but to believe in the street vendor’s words now."
Mirim couldn’t help having doubts. The Sacred Mountain Fuji was so impregnable.
Half day had passed since they started climbing the mountain. On that day, Mirim had complained many times, and Annelotte, who went ahead, replied to her.
As the street vendor told them, near the summit of that Sacred Mountain Fuji it seemed like a Miko was living in hermitage.
Furthermore, it was said that Miko was someone with a deep connection to the Masakado Shrine.
If it was her, maybe she’d know the whereabouts of Tomoe. That was the clue the street vendor told them.
Honestly, the odds weren’t too high.
But, Annelotte’s group already had no info but this one to rely on.
"Over there, there’s something there!"
Hearing Annelotte’s sharp voice, the two people behind her stopped.
"A bulletin board…? Instructions seem to be written on it, can you read them, Yuit?"
"Wait a minute. Err…"
Then, Yuit tried to read out loud the bulletin board that was written in the Hinomoto’s alphabet.
"Trespassing any further than this is forbidden. That’s what is written."
Annelotte was surprised. Because, without anyone noticing, a Miko has sitting down on a rock right next to them.
She was sure, nobody had been on that rock until a while ago.
That meant, that Miko hadn’t made even the slightest indications, let alone footsteps, when she had come and sat down there.
"W, who are you!"
"Who… that’s my line. State what brings you to the Sacred Mountain Fuji."
Annelotte looked at the woman’s figure once again.
White and red Miko clothes. Eyes firmly closed for some reason.
But, this person was probably the Miko they were looking for.
"Please forgive my rudeness. We’ve come here searching for you."
"That’s right. I must meet the Kensei Tomoe at any cost. Would you by any chance know of her whereabouts?"
After the Miko pondered for a while, she suddenly opened her mouth.
"That sound… that’s an armor from the west. Also, seems like there are people who have put on an unusual armor…"
The Miko said, with her eyes closed as usual.
"You western warriors, what do you want to meet Tomoe for?"
"Must you know that too!? I want her to teach me a lesson on how to use the sword. I have to become strong…!"
In Annelotte’s mind, the earth was trampled down by her own hands, and Yuit crossed frightened with dread, and with a gnashing sound, she involuntarily bit her lips strongly.
"Stronger, to suppress the power sleeping inside yourself… right?"
With a surprised expression, Annelotte looked intently at the face of the Miko in front of her.
Beyond the eyelids that were tightly closed, there were dark and cloudy pupils.
"These eyes lost their light one year ago. My eyes can no longer see, but instead I’ve come to understand all I couldn’t see so far."
One year ago. That was the time the Queen’s Blade fight finished.
Out of sight from the tournament, there was a fearful existence called the Marshland Witch behind the scenes. She interfered with the tournament, and was said to have the ambition to dominate the continent itself.
Although it had been a time of peace when the Queen was decided, it was said that the witch had left some of the warriors with horrible curses…
"No way… you’re the Musha-Miko… no, the Kensei Tomoe!"
"Though people have called me Kensei as well, I can definitely say my name is Tomoe."
"No way, meeting you in such a place! Lady Tomoe, please teach me how to use the sword!"
"I refuse."
Annelotte was in high spirits, but Tomoe’s answer was terribly cold.
"You have no one else to look up to but yourself. That way you’ll learn what you need."
"B, but my teacher told me to "meet four people other than herself", and one of the names she listed was yours, lady Tomoe!"
"It matters not to me. Maybe she said that because she didn’t know what to do with you?"
"W, what did you say…!"
Annelotte’s face strained with anger.
She drew her sword immediately.
"I don’t mind being insulted, but I won’t forgive you if you insult my teacher!"
"B, big broo, nevermind if it’s the Kensei Tomoe, your opponent is unarmed! And she’s blind."
"Don’t mind me, even I may look like a mere Musha-Miko, this body will be enough for your level of skill"
"So you say!"
Annelotte’s sword approached her, tracing a vivid path.
However, Tomoe dodged it by just leaning her body a little. The deadly blow Annelotte had defeated many enemies with so far, was dodged by the turn of a hair by a blind opponent. That was something that would surprise anyone.
"However, how many times can you dodge it?"
Annelotte lunged with her sword many times.
But, Tomoe was avoiding the attacks entirely.
It was clear to anyone that the difference of ability between the two people until now was like heaven and earth.
"If I may ask an abrupt question, how good are you at swimming?"
Tomoe asked, while dodging the sword.
"What, at a time like this!"
"Nevermind that, please answer."
"Uuh, back in the Knights, there was no better swimmer than me."
"Then it’s safe… Warrior Kick!"
Tomoe smiled sweetly and immediately after saying so, Annelotte’s body had been thrown into the air from the cliff.
A river filled with cold melted snow was flowing at the bottom of the cliff.
As she was, Annelotte went head over heels and fell into the river.
"Cool your head for a while."
"J, just a minute, what did you do to big bro?"
"She won’t die just from that. Leaving that aside, come to my house. I’ll treat you to a tasty cake and green tea that I made myself."
Yuit and the others, overpowered by the quiet, powerful atmosphere, followed Tomoe’s indications.


Annelotte crawled up from the river, breathing desperately.
"Haah, haah… for me… to be so… humiliated…!"
She wasn’t very angry, but she hit the ground involuntarily.
Although her opponent was a master swordsman, to be played with by an unarmed opponent was but a disgrace to a knight.
Besides, Tomoe couldn’t see.
Annelotte was quite restless at her own meekness.
"How can I take this lying down!"
Annelotte began climbing the cliff before her with eyes full of fighting spirit.


"I see, the Continent is in such a state…"
Hearing the situation in the Continent from Yuit, Tomoe muttered in a firm tone.
"In that case, I guess she’s having a hard time as well."
Yuit didn’t miss the words Tomoe murmured with a sigh.
"She’s a friend I have in the Continent."
The moment Yuit opened her mouth to ask Tomoe the name of her friend in the Continent:
"Kensei Tomoe! A rematch!"
The door to the hermitage was thrown open violently, and a sopping wet Annelotte entered, roaring out.
"My my, you don’t seem to have learned your lesson."
Tomoe muttered, surprised, as she stood up.
"But of course! A knight never gives up!"
At that moment, the Princess Knight sprang to her feet and rushed towards Tomoe.
"I have you now!"
Changing the sword’s shape instantly into a lance, she released a killing blow.
However, Tomoe averted the lance’s trajectory with the kettle lid in her hand.
"Big bro’s thrust… so easily…"
"I, I, I don’t understand what happened at all…"
In contrast with the two startled people, Tomoe opened her mouth calmly.
"Although it was a reckless dash as usual… it was much better than earlier. You seem to have gotten rid of some idle thoughts."
As the Miko’s expression remained composed, the Princess Knight frowned, mortified.
"I changed my mind. I’ll test you for a while."
A faint smile appeared at Tomoe’s mouth.
"That’s right. For three days starting tomorrow, you can keep on doing that same thing. In that time, you can come at me as rough as you like, and if you can touch my body, I’ll train you as you wish."
"R, really!?"
Tomoe nodded quietly.
"However, don’t take it as if this will be something easy."

The next morning, Annelotte’s test began as it was still dark.
"First comes drawing water in the morning. Once we do that, we can prepare breakfast."
Saying so, Tomoe grabbed a bucket and walked to the peak of the mountain.
Annelotte hurried to follow after her, making sure not to lose sight of Tomoe for a moment.
Tomoe went ahead of her steadily through the slender mountain road, in a causal gait that didn’t seem that of someone who couldn’t see.
"Annelotte, I'll leave you behind if you're so slow."
"W, wait—"
"It’s because you wear such heavy armor."
"The armor is a knight’s pride. While it may be heavy, I can’t simply take it off."
Although dripping with sweat, Annelotte asserted so.
"Well then, please don’t fall behind."
With that, Tomoe hastened her pace even more.
"Aah, l, lady Tomoe –!"
And then, breakfast was prepared using the drawn water.
Although Annelotte had attacked Tomoe 3 times, she had easily avoided all of them so far.
In the end, even if her attack came from behind, she easily hit her hard on the forehead with chopsticks in return.
And after she finished breakfast, Tomoe began meditation, while being hit by a huge waterfall.
Though of course, Annelotte exposed her body under the waterfall in similar fashion, she couldn’t maintain the posture, as the water’s pressure was too strong.
Sitting like Tomoe, not even budging an inch, was impossible.
Annelotte, who fell once and again from the rock to the basin, finally took off her armor and became stark naked.

"Oh, what about the knight’s pride?"
"Either I take it off, or it’ll get quite rusty!"
Glossing over it, Tomoe laughed with a small giggle.
Annelotte didn't miss that moment.
Annelotte stood up immediately, and leaped at Tomoe.
However, the moment she stood up, her whole body was showered with water and she lost her balance.
And Annelotte fell back into the basin.


When afternoon came, Tomoe began doing farmwork in a field located by the mountain's side.
Annelotte observed Tomoe in the meantime, waiting for her golden opportunity.
But, even if at a glance Tomoe was just doing farmwork, she entirely fended off Annelotte's attacks.
Far from being blind, she gave off the illusion as if she had eyes on the back of her head.
Like that, Annelotte attacked her many times over, but she couldn't hit Tomoe even once.
"Why-! Why, she can read me entirely."
In Tomoe's guest room, Annelotte hit the tatami in frustration.
Mirim noticed that a hanging lantern was shaking and seemed about to fall down, and hurried to support it.
"Big bro, it's like you're in a hard fight."
"Lady Tomoe can dodge all my attacks completely, it's like she knew them beforehand."
In a fight between knights, they always collided from the front, fairly and squarely.
An opponent like Tomoe, with a natural, relaxed posture, Annelotte had never fought anyone like.
"Ah, my mother, always scolded my younger brothers saying "Consider the other's feelings before you fight"."
"You see, Mirim, we don't need to be scolded for getting into a fight. Right now, we need to think of a way to win this fight."
"S, sorry..."
Scolded by the short Yuit, Mirim hanged her head, dispirited.
However, Annelotte replied to Mirim's comment.
"No, wait. That may be worth a try."


On the next day, Annelotte stopped looking for a moment where Tomoe seemed distracted, and she started imitating her earnestly.
She imitated all her actions, even the little motions like the way she moved her arms.
It was then that she noticed that, far from Tomoe using her senses to compensate for being blind, it was more like the average person didn't have their other senses honed enough.
When she told the others over lunch, Yuit was amazed and said: "There's such thing as not having any openings", but Annelotte thought otherwise.
Even if all her senses exceeded that of a normal person, it didn't change the fact that she was one sense short of an average human.
It was impossible to be always ready, there should be a moment when she had a blind spot... that's what Annelotte thought.
And then, that moment came.
The third day. Annelotte and Tomoe had been doing the same waterfall training. Then, a large log that had flowed there from the upper stream fell on them.
Tomoe leapt immediately to avoid the log's direct hit. She, who had always fended off the attacks by a paper-thin margin, this time took a longer distance than necessary. At once, Annelotte closed in upon her, and thrust a chop at her neck.
"...Great job."
Tomoe said.
"In the middle of the waterfall training, the moment where my hearing and smell, the important senses I have remaining now, are obstructed the most. And, that log... I guess that was your biggest chance in three days."
"But, it was just chance. It wasn't my merit..."
Tomoe shook her head calmly.
"What is important, is that you didn't miss your chance. You have to be calm, and feel the opponent's breathing when you fight... that's what I wanted to teach you."
"Lady Tomoe, then..."
"During training, don't forget your heart."
Tomoe gently touched Annelotte's shoulder, and smiled kindly.

And, one month passed in the blink of an eye.
The party had continued practicing by Tomoe's side, but it was the time to return to the Continent.
"Lady Tomoe, are you really not coming with us?"
"As for me, I have the mission to protect this Hinomoto."
"But, I need your sword training to improve..."
Tomoe shook her head to deny Annelotte's words.
"The sword skills are polished in battle. That's how it was for me."
"...I understand."
Annelotte said, a little regretfully.
"If you insist, try to meet that person."
"That person...?"
"Yes, the warrior who calls herself Maria."
Annelotte repeated that name once again.
"Big bro--! Hurry up--!"
"If you don't hurry, the boat will leave--!"
"Aah, I'm going now!"
This way, Annelotte and her party left Hinomoto.

-To be continued-

I guess the weirdest thing is the words from Alleyne, not counting her teacher, are there 4 (returning) warriors that will help Annelotte?
Maybe it was due to poor planning, but due to Mirim's inclusion, it's hard to properly place this chapter chronologically, either before or during the Upheaval arc.
Also, for some reason, they spend the whole chapter calling Tomoe just "Kensei" (sword saint), when she's supposed to be "Kensei-Miko". And yes, there's a mount Fuji in Hinomoto.

Next chapter: the new and old heroines meet for the first time!

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