Fanfic / The Steep Path Ahead

From the same author as Souls Art Online and Enslaved, The Steep Path Ahead is set in an AU of The Familiar of Zero where Louise is kidnapped by an elf as a child only for the ones who hired him to die before paying him, so he dropped her off in an orphanage. Several years later, Luise fails her exam to get into the Academy and summons Saito in order to prove that she isn't a failure.


The Steep Path Ahead contains examples of:

  • Abnormal Ammo: Saito fires a spear with a bow to harm what they thought was a hydra.
  • Alchemy Is Magic: Or at least enough to make Rats the size of teenagers and fill a forest with a Giant Spider colony. By the third or fourth incident, Saito has been fed up with them.
    • It's also literally magic, a Dot-level spell.
  • All That Glitters: Earth Mages create Fool's Gold to sometimes pay people off. It's noted to be a problem.
  • Alternative Calendar: Luise's world uses a drastically different calendar, not to mention being set so far in the future by over 4000 years that Saito thinks if it's his world then After the End has taken place.
  • Alternate Universe:
    • Louise was kidnapped as a child and dropped off in an orphanage, leading to her characterization being different.
    • Elanor's marriage went through, so she works at the palace as "Eleonore Albertine Le Blanc de La Blois de La Vallière" and is the consort of Wardes.
    • Cattleya was assassinated the same night that Louise was kidnapped.
    • Siesta works at a shady inn instead of the academy, having to move back home due to "problems".
    • Tabitha goes by her real name, Lady Charlotte, since her cousin died already and ended up buying Deflinger several weeks ago.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Louise to Saito in Chapter 78.
  • Animal Eye Spy: Julio can use his ability as a familiar to do this.
  • Animated Armor: The Haunted House had several of these that went around attacking people. It turns out they were being controlled by an Earth Mage.
  • Animate Dead: An advanced spell of the Water Element, The Undead created in this manner can fight just as well as they did when alive and have to be killed by either the Cure Spell, Burn the Undead, or be vaporized.
  • Anger Born of Worry:
    • Louise in Chapter 69. It runs in her family considering Eleonore got pissed at Wardes for fighting an Elf that trying to kill them in Chapter 75, slapping him and then hugging him.
      Louise: He could have died. Do you know what it means? When you're dead, you're in Founder Brimir's arms forever. There's no coming back. You can't just turn back time. A dead person is dead forever, so I am angry. I am angry and I am hurt that he could not wait for me to wake up, and I don't care if he succeeded now, because if tomorrow he does the same and he fails, then I'll be the one left to pick up the pieces of his scattered corpse to sew them back together, and then I'll have to present it to his family saying that he died bravely, but they would rather have their son back.
  • Armor Is Useless: Averted. Saito and Louise's armor has saved them more than once, especially in Chapter 75.
  • Asshole Victim: Charlotte certainly feels this way about her uncle.
  • Ass Shove: Louise threatens to do this to Saito in Chapter 83 if he keeps bringing up Charlotte. She really hates her.
  • Asleep for Days: Saito, several times:
    • After fighting the wolves.
    • He was out for a full week after the fight with Karin.
    • A few days after becoming Lífþrasir and being kidnapped by Julio.
  • Bad Boss: Most nobles like Mott, but the nobles in Albion take the cake when they used the servants as a distraction by barricading them inside of a wall of dirt and stone with the zombies.
  • The Barber: As per the time period, Barbers are the ones who handle surgery and dentistry.
  • The Beast Master: Julio Chesare.
  • Bedmate Reveal:
    • Chapter 54 has Saito stripping down to get into bed, only to find that Lady Charlotte is already there.
    • Chapter 89 has Saito waking up and feeling drained, only to find that the vampire twins were nestled in his bed next to him. Then Louise came in...
  • Berserk Button:
    • Saying anything positive about Joseph will piss Charlotte off.
    • Doing anything bad to Saito will piss Louise off.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Charlotte in Chapter 35.
  • Blown Across the Room:
    • One of the armored men in Chapter 22 managed to backhand Saito hard enough to see stars and broke a tooth. Luise, in turn, used an explosion to send him through a wall.
    • Karin to the Cardinal during his "The Reason You Suck" Speech in Chapter 53.
  • Blow You Away: The Wind Element, as Karin has so aptly demonstrated.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Louise mentions that when someone takes a knight of the opposite sex in their personal guard (Lady and Knight especially) it's just a way to keep them close as a lover.
  • Boom Stick: Saito pretty much refers to Luise's magic wand as this, because all she does with it is blow things up early on.
  • Breath Weapon: The Chimaera in Chapter 85 can breath poison and fire.
  • Brick Joke: Saito distracts a mage holding Louise hostage by asking what his favorite plant is. Later when they're imprisoned, the mage tells him it's Hydrangea.
  • Broken Pedestal: Whatever admiration that Louise and Saito had for Lady Charlotte, Wardes, and the Cardinal shattered after The Reveal in Chapter 73 and 74. It's a testament to their patience that they are willing to address them properly.
  • Brutal Honesty: Louise to Saito whenever she feels he's getting too big for his britches.
    Saito: "I mean, I fought a couple of mages-"
    Louise: "One."
    Saito: "Definitely felt like more than one. Your mother is a mage too, isn't it?"
    Louise: "If your definition of 'fighting' means being thrown through a wall and nearly dying, then yes, you 'fought' my mother."
  • The Bus Came Back: Chef Marteau returns in Chapter 62 in the middle of surviving the Zombie Apocalypse with Tiffania Westwood. He had been hired by Matilda from the Tristain's Magic Academy.
  • Catch and Return: Saito's runes allow him to catch magic thrown at him with a sword and then send it right back.
  • Childish Pillow Fight: Somehow, all the tension in Chapter 82 led up to this, with Charlotte as the winner.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Luise doesn't fight fair in battle, perfectly willing to lie to get an upper-hand, put you to sleep and then steal all your stuff and leave you stranded in the middle of the wilderness. See I Surrender, Suckers for her most frequent offense and later on she uses In the Back to fight an Elf.
  • Con Man: The reason Luise is walking the entire way back to her orphanage is because a 'Germanian Pig' swindled her out of her money. Naturally, this put her in a bad mood.
  • Cool Mask: Luise buys a metal one, stating that Adventurers are allowed to be eccentric and she could pull off a Sweet Polly Oliver with it. It also saves her life when some bandits shoot her with an arrow towards her face in Chapter 20.
  • Could Have Avoided This Plot: Louise argues that she might have helped Charlotte if she had told her what was going on instead of playing them like fiddles. Charlotte points out they were too nice and that Saito wouldn't have been able to kill her uncle if that was the case.
  • Courier: Saito and Luise's second assignment is the transportation of a naked woman picture, which the latter finds lewd while Saito, as someone from modern Japan, has likely seen far more risque works of art.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Julio wears an amulet around him with a Counter spell on it, just in case someone sneaks up on him.
  • Damager, Healer, Tank: How Saito sees their party. Louise provides the damage, Saito tanks, and Tiffania heals.
  • Damsel in Distress: Luise specifically calls Siesta this in Chapter 22.
    Luise: "Saving damsels in distress was not part of the plan, Saito! It was supposed to be a simple thing! We just had to walk from city A to city B! We didn't have to start a crusade for the purity of all bar wenches!"
    Siesta: "Hey! I'm not a wench! I'm a waitress!"
  • Death Faked for You: The Pope faked the deaths of the Chef Marteau and the orphans, sending the former to the front-lines and the latter to different orphanages.
  • Deflector Shields: The Counter spell. Julio has an amulet with it.
  • Devoted to You: Saito's pretty much devoted to Louise.
  • Devoured by the Horde: The owner of the Flaming Stallion Brothel in Chapter 16 mentions that the Swarm of Rats in his cellar is so bad that it takes half a pig's leg just to distract them long enough to get something. A waitress actually feared that both Saito and Luise would be Eaten Alive in seconds.
  • Dispel Magic:
    • Louise appears to use this in Chapter 49.
      The tiny sphere of light that exploded in the center of the hurricane snuffed out all forms of wind, all types of magic, and made what was considered one of the deadliest spells of the Heavy Wind disperse into nothing more than a light breeze, as Louise's arms were tightly clutching on to Saito's neck, her eyes firmly closed and her breathing hitched in a silent cry of fear.
    • Derflinger can eat/dispel magic, including that of the Void.
  • The Door Slams You: Played for Drama, but Charlotte's fear of doors comes from her uncle bashing his daughter's head against one constantly until she was dead to mimic how Karin felt with her daughter gone.
  • The Dreaded:
    • Elves to most people. Bidashal demonstrates why in Chapter 75.
    • Void-Users to Elves, who refer to them as devils.
  • Due to the Dead: Saito and Luise to the poor adventurer who got eaten by the giant spider.
    Luise: "Let's gather the remains and bury them properly. We're taking their gold, the least we can do is give them a proper burial for the service rendered."
  • Dye or Die: Luise dyes her hair black to avoid sticking out with strawberry-blond hair in Germania. From the way she phrased it, she was likely bullied.
  • Easily Forgiven: Saito easily forgives Charlotte and her knights for manipulating him, which frustrates Louise to no end.
  • Eaten Alive: It's mentioned that Karin had this done to impostors who claimed to be her daughter by her Manticore. While one guard at the outpost claims that it was a rumor they spread, the reactions of several characters including those who know her best seem to back the claim.
  • Elemental Powers: The mages are divided into elements, but no one is usually restricted to a single element. They can cast other elemental spells outside their expertise if willing to expend more willpower than normal.
  • Elemental Weapon: Jacques can take a large iron slab and turn it into a battering ram because of his earth element.
  • Epic Fail: Saito tries to prank Luise by placing her in the same bed as him. Unfortunately for him, Luise is used to sharing a bed from her time at the orphanage. She's just angry that he didn't remove her shoes, claiming it to be incredibly uncomfortable to sleep with your shoes on.
  • Excalibur in the Rust: Derflinger when Charlotte found it.
  • The Exile: Karin, upon losing both Luise and having her elder daughter, Cattleya, assassinated on the same day, went into a self-imposed one. She refused to answer the Crown and only guards her borders, except on the day Cattleya was killed.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Nepthys certainly believes this, due to the fact that the humans carry the sins of their past actions with eradicating several previous species from existence, making it so that their own would eventually be erased because of the Void no matter what they do. Saito suggests just moving the Void-bearers into his world instead.
  • Faking the Dead: The pope and Julio fake the death of Tiffania's orphans to manipulate her.
  • Familiar: Saito is this for Louise. And later Tiffania. While she's initially upset since once you summon a familiar, you can't replace them until the current one dies, his familiar powers makes him worthwhile.
    • Julio is this for the Pope. As well as for Charlotte through a contract spell.
    • There are also wild familiars, released from service after their masters are killed and now free. They often have heightened intelligence.
  • The Fatalist: Nepthys, and the elves in general. The World Spirit demands that every last child of markey descent die to pay for Brimir's crimes, and the elves agree because they view the Will as absolute.
  • Fantastic Racism: Louise has a bout of this when it comes to Tiffania, which is a product of her upbringing.
  • The Force Is Strong with This One: The Detect Magic spell allows for finding potential mages.
  • Forced Sleep: The first spell other than an explosion Luise can successfully use, it's noted to be a Water-aligned Firstborn spell. She uses it the most when she doesn't want to kill something, like subduing a Swarm of Rats or bandits.
  • Forceful Kiss: Charlotte to Saito in Chapter 94. She uses it to pass a blade to him so he could escape.
  • Giant Spider: In chapter 11, they deal with one of these.
  • Golem: The Rat-Face mage responsible for the Haunted House fiasco created one. Saito managed to keep up with it long enough to draw him out.
  • Groin Attack: Two of Marteau's friends had their family jewels destroyed, one by an arrow and the other with a hammer, the latter being Scarron.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Tiffania, who's half-elf.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: Luise notes she put in a lot of work studying at the Wizarding School but all her efforts amounted to nothing, so she ended up being kicked out.
  • Harmful to Minors: Tiffania witnessed her mother's death at the hands of six men who proceeded to kick her corpse.
  • Haunted House: The next job Saito and Luise take after returning Siesta to the Charming Fairy Inn.
  • Having a Blast: Luise's magic mainly allows her to make explosions. Great for killing things, bad for everything else. She names the spell related to it Vaporize.
  • Heroic Host: Saito was housing a portion of the Water Spirit within him since Lady Charlotte saved him from death.
    • Gandalf has resided in him since he first touched the blade.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: Louise in Chapter 78 goes into this thickly.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: To get away from Count Mott's men, Luis and Saito have to steal a horse with Siesta...who then steals it from them. Luise's not happy about it when they meet again.
  • Hostage Situation: Julio is using his powers as the Windalfr to control Charlotte's familiar and then kidnapping Saito after he became Tiffania's familiar.
  • Howling to the Night: At the end of Prologue.
  • Human Sacrifice: The Pope intends to turn Saito into this since he became the Lífþrasir, using him to cast the Genocide spell.
  • Hypno Trinket: Julio intends to use a ring with this effect to turn Saito into a willing sacrifice to use the Genocide spell.
  • Hypocrisy Nod: Charlotte admits this much when going against the Pope's plan, citing that she did the very same thing.
  • I Did What I Had to Do:
    • The Cardinal's reasoning for not returning Luise to her mother sooner. He says as much to the woman herself later on.
      Cardinal:" The Duchess, quite simply, moved the mountains to try to find you. And in so doing showed the weakness of the crown who could not stop one of their nobles from doing as she pleased. This, in turn, meant that your recovery would have made it all the more obvious how weak they were. Especially so if you were found in Germania, of all places. The risk of war with a country that is more than five times the military power of Tristain had to be avoided at all costs. If you had been found, on Germanian soil, well, the Duchess would have felt the need to demand reparations from the country itself."
    • Charlotte sees her manipulations as such and regrets nothing.
    • Julio and Pope Vittorio.
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: In Chapter 26, Luise makes it perfectly clear in a non-romantic example that if Siesta is lying to Saito about who she is (Japanese descent) that she'd end her, given that Saito had been pulled from his home and no clue how to get back. It'd be stomping on his feelings further.
    Luise: "If you're lying... If you're just lying to get Saito to sympathize with you, even if Saito later forgives you, rest assured I will not."
  • Imposter-Exposing Test:
    • The Vampires Amethyst and Daphne test the blood of whoever comes to claim to be Karin's daughter. They're giddy when they taste Louise's blood, confirming it's her.
    • Likewise, her manticore familiar can smell whether or not they are the real deal. It tries to warn Karin in the middle of their Wizard Duel, but just a moment too late.
  • In the Back:
    • How Louise tries to kill Bidashal.
    • How Ulfric tries to kill Saito.
  • Invisibility: Amethyst and Daphne can turn invisible using illusion magic.
  • I Surrender, Suckers:
    • When Luise gets caught in Chapter 22, she had Saito play along and get them to think she's giving up Siesta. The moment he let's her go, Luise blasts him point-blank.
    • She puts the rest of them to sleep again when they try again for a second time in Chapter 24.
    • While they don't make the same mistake the next time they see her and demand that she snap her wand, which Saito does before they hurt Siesta, Louise reveal that she can cast without a wand in Chapter 39.
      • And it fully bites them in the ass in Chapter 85 when it turns out they've spread the word about it too.
        He pointed his sword at the still chanting Louise and at the bleeding Saito. "And they've trampled on them! They're not the only ones who do this shit, and they always end up the same way. The news' already spread throughout the whole of Halkeginia by now. 'If you have the chance, against a masked and a dark haired boy working together, stab them, because they broke the terms'."
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: Luise and Saito pretty much get all their gear this way. Either from the dead or robbing the people who attack them.
  • Knighting: Lady Charlotte knights Saito in Chapter 40 (technically does the same to Louise afterwards).
    Lady Charlotte: Now you are a knight of North Parterre, by my will as Charlotte Helene D'Orleans of Gallia. If any dare to question your worth, then let them know that the heir of the Crown of Gallia stands behind you.
  • Knight Templar: Played for Laughs in Chapter 17, but Saito refers to Luise as one when it comes to purity as if he so much as has a lecherous thought or tried to take them to a brothel to rest, she would react while asleep.
  • Laughing Mad: Luise briefly after Saito's familiar power kicked in.
  • Lesser of Two Evils: Saito and Louise point out that Julio is being cruel and manipulative, to which he concedes by stating this is the lesser of two evils and he has to take it.
    Saito: "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."
    Julio: "Perhaps so. But some live in hell to begin with. Should they not have proper roads, then?"
  • Like Mother, Like Daughter: Louise and Karin have the same temper, acknowledged by the both of them.
  • Liquid Courage: The Cardinal chugs a glass of this before explaining what he did in Chapter 53 to Karin.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: The shield Saito picks up before the Rat Stomp saves him from being eaten.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: How Sheffield dies by the Water Spirit in Chapter 67.
  • Manchurian Agent: Charlotte turned Saito into one during the knighting ceremony, using the Contract spell in a different language, leading to him assassinating the King of Gallia.
  • Man-Eating Plant: Saito and Luise come across a couple in the greenhouse. The former immediately blames Alchemists given the last few giant spiders and rats he'd dealt with in such a short time.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Nepthys.
  • Master of Illusion: Amethyst and Daphne, the Vampires. Their Illusion spell is so strong that they'd remain invisible and unheard no matter what, even if stepped upon.
  • Meaningful Name: Nepthys calls Saito "Saint Anubis" because he sees him as "the Saint who saved his people, and the demon who condemned thousands of others." In other words, he sees him as Sasha's successor.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Siesta starts believing this about Saito and Luise due to the latter disguising herself as a boy and being so fussy over the former.
  • Mistaken for an Imposter: Marteau warns against taking Louise to the Duchess unless he is certain in Chapter 40 for this reason.
    Marteau: The moment the Duchess' daughter disappeared, countless 'fakes' started to spread. Sad thing was, some of them didn't even know they were fakes. The Duchess has a way to find out her real daughter, something secret, I guess. But those poor girls-look, if you aren't sure, just drop the thought.
  • Mistaken for Romance:
  • Multi-Melee Master: Saito usually keeps at least a dagger on him, along with a sword, poleaxe or other weapon. His runes make him an Instant Expert with them.
  • Mundane Luxury: After a few weeks on the road, Saito considers asking if a local mage needs a butler so long as he's paid in hot baths.
  • My Beloved Smother: Karin, once Louise is back in her life. The only reason it doesn't work is because they are so much alike.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong:
    • The Cardinal. He cites I Did What I Had to Do for country and king.
    • Wardes in Chapter 35, citing that he's going to kill them for crown and country.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: Julio feels that as void familiars, they are extensions of their masters and nothing more, himself included.
  • Never Learned to Read: Saito can read, just not the alphabet they use. Luise decides to teach him so that he'd have an easier time getting back home.
  • New Meat: The inn-keeper in Chapter 21 can tell Saito and Luise are new adventurers despite the act they put on.
    It had taken him at most five seconds to understand he had two new kids in front of him who wished to play at being adventurers. The fact the boy's blade wasn't even dirty with blood proved it, and if not for the other boy's wand, he wouldn't have wasted time pushing them out of his inn.
    • Josette, Jeanette, and Jacques come off this way to Saito and Louise in Chapter 57. It's an act by them all on Lady Charlotte's orders to test the Gandalf.
  • Nice Guy: Father Christoff and Saito.
    • For a Nice Girl: Tiffania
  • No-Nonsense Nemesis: Wardes. He killed Saito and it took a Big Damn Heroes moment to save Louise from losing her head and reviving Saito.
  • Nothing Personal: Wardes states this when it's revealed he helped Charlotte manipulate Saito (he also stopped his heart when he played the role of an assassin by stabbing him and then electrocuting him).
  • Not Hyperbole: When someone says Karin moved mountains to find Luise, they mean the mountain was in the way and Karin moved it.
  • Not Quite Flight: The Dot-Level Wind spell, Levitate.
  • Offing the Offspring: Karin very, very nearly does this to Louise in Chapter 49.
  • Only Sane Man: Louise feels this way somewhat after learning about the existence of the vampire twins and that they're friends with her parents, and that Saito is just rolling with the fact that they fought him twice.
    Louise grumbled as her arms clutched on firmly to Saito's head, tension leaving her frame as she groaned. "My parents deal with vampires. My husband-to-be is kind to everyone who gives him a sad look. Am I the only one in this family who's normal?" she blinked once, and then sighed, "Oh, right, silly me. I'm a Void user. A holy descendant of Brimir tasked by the Gods to reclaim the holy lands. Yes, of course, silly me thinking there was anyone normal around me when I'm the least normal of them all."
  • Ordinary High-School Student: Saito before being summoned. He didn't stand out at anything, but he was especially bad at Gym.
  • Our Gryphons Are Different: Considered Brimir's sacred animal, Saito claims it looks like a wolf with wings while its closer to a lion and eagle, but both the feathers and feces are valuable reagents. They don't primarily attack humans unless provoked, but they can easily clear out a countryside.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Amethyst and Daphne from Chapter 47 are capable of firstborn magic spells like Illusion and Sleep, have super-strength, get drunk off blood, and don't require their hearts to live. You have to burn them to ashes to put them down.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The Undead are the product of advanced Water Magic in this series, while an Animated Corpse is naturally occurring. An animated corpse shambles about, but an Undead can fight just as well as the living. Several pop up in Chapter 60, with Dracolichs joining them in the next chapter.
  • Papa Wolf: Father Christoff gives off this vibe to Luise.
  • People Puppets:
    • Sheffield did this to Saito in Chapter 66, making him stab himself.
    • Derflinger did this to Saito in Chapter 89, as he was knocked out Amethyst and Derflinger had transferred vessels from his sword.
  • Pet Monstrosity: Lord Belmont keeps a lot of these, but currently has a 12-headed Hydra that Saito and Louise have to deal with in Chapter 84. Then it turns out to be a Chimera.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Louise in Chapter 51, on her mother's orders.
  • The Plague: Luise noted this was why Adventures were paid for killing rats. The clients didn't want to put themselves at risk of getting it since the reagents for curing it are expensive.
  • Please Wake Up: Luise to Saito in Chapter 5, after he saved her life.
    Luise: "Fine, I did put you in this mess myself, didn't I? If you recover, I promise I'll bring you back home before taking my vows. There, that should be fine, shouldn't it? I can't just leave you alone or you might die, or I might get worried and have sleepless nights. So please-wake up."
  • Poison Is Corrosive: The Hydra's toxic is corrosive enough to turn trees into wilted match-sticks.... Then it turns out to be a Chimaera.
  • Post-Victory Collapse:
    • Saito, after defeating the wolves in Chapter 4.
    • Luise, after putting all the rats to sleep in Chapter 16.
    • Both of the above in Chapter 61, after defeating an army of The Undead.
  • Pretend Boyfriend: As part of the deal between Karin and Louise, Saito was presented as her fiance and given the title of "Lord Saito Hiraga, Baron of la Baume, knight of the North Parterre".
  • Professional Killer: The Black Knight welding a sword that can Dispel Magic in Chapter 52. He assassinates the King of Gallia. It turned out to be Saito.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: The armed men working for Count Mott appear this way, but Luise shoots it down by stating they were fully aware of what Mott was doing to women he found attractive and working for him willingly was unacceptable.
  • Rage Breaking Point: The moment that Charlotte says that them dying in their quest would have been a mercy in Chapter 73, Louise stops caring she's a queen and lays on a slap so hard it sends her flying.
  • Raised Catholic: Or the equivalent for Luise, who grew up in an orphanage. She takes her faith seriously and finds comfort in it.
    Luise: "People die all the time. I had a friend growing up in the church. She was a bit sick one autumn, and when winter rolled around she died. Dying eaten by a giant spider or because of a particularly cold month doesn't really matter. That is why you need to have faith. The gods will certainly look after you if you pray them, and if you suffer, then it is a test you must take. The true faithful prays even when it seems all is lost-for it's too trifle to thank the gods for having a blessed life, but thanking them for a life of pain? Only the really faithful do that, and in turn, paradise will be all the brightest for them."
  • Rat Stomp: Saito and Luise do this a few times as Adventurers, the first time having Rodents of Unusual Size and the second being a Swarm of Rats counting in the hundreds.
  • Razor Floss: Chef Marteau sets up a floor filled with them to stop the zombies from getting into his hallway.
  • Razor Wind: Karin's specialty, with her Cutter Tornado being a hurricane of these.
  • Real After All: After learning a haunted house is simply an earth mage squatting there, Saito asks why he closed the front door on them if he wanted them to leave. Said mage says it wasn't him but the third member of their group, only for Saito to answer it was only him and Louise. Both decide to pass it off as hallucinations.
  • Reality Ensues: Pulling I Surrender, Suckers multiple times means people no longer believe you if you try to surrender.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • The Cardinal gives a epic one to Karin, to her face.
    Cardinal:" . "The only one to blame is you, Duchess! You couldn't wait! You had to find your daughter on the double! On the triple! Didn't matter the number of diplomatic accidents it would cause! Didn't matter if the Germanian ambassador was throttled out of a window, or if half the knights of the corps suddenly resigned to follow you in your inane crusade! For three years, I sought out your daughter through my own means, just so I could slap in your face your weakness when compared to the Crown!"

    "But then you had to go and move a mountain. You had to build an outpost, you just had to order the knights of the Manticore to follow you! And those fools did! The King told them not to, and they followed you! Do you have any idea what that meant?! That was the closest you could have gone to treason! The Crown has power as long as the people that swear fealty to it respect it! But to find your daughter, you decided to shit on Everything!"

    "The nobles whispered! It's always been about magic, our nobility! The Duchess can move a mountain-what can our King do? The Duke's the bastard in the royal line; he's a descendant of Brimir too! So, frankly? When someone killed your second daughter? I was glad they did just to see you realize how weak you were."

    "So no, I had no intention of giving you back your daughter just so you could return to court with your heir after having thrown the worst of all temper tantrums. My king died of worry and heartache, fearing for his kingdom to be divided, because of you! The Queen would never have punished you. The Princess is too innocent for the politics of the court. So I did what I had to do for the King and for the Country of Tristain, and there goes not a day where I am not glad I did what I did, because right now, in court, you are alone Duchess."

    "It took me decades, and your husband-oh you should be glad your husband did his best to hold on to what little he had. If you had been alone, I would have taken everything from you, the title, the power, the money-everything, but not your life. Just like you took my King away. Just like you weakened the Crown. And yet, for all of my work, I was willing to accept my punishment. Founder knows the sleepless nights, how wrong it was to keep a child away from its mother-a child who had no sins for being born to a selfish bitch."

    "So, Duchess, I knew where your daughter was, and I hid it from you. To this day, I will apologize to your daughter a hundred of times, but do not think even for a second I would not do this again. You committed treason, and you were punished for it. Be thankful the crime was not paid with your life and that of all those who followed you rather than the crown!"
    • Julio lays into Saito's Thou Shall Not Kill attitude in Chapter 97.
      Julio: "Truly fascinating, your naive innocence is so refreshingly disgusting I never thought I'd see something similar if not in young children, pampered by rich parents. As the Gandalfr, you are an utter failure. You, lead an army? You'd barely take a step and then run away at the first sign of blood. When ideals clash, it's only those willing to go the extra mile that eventually win. Keep your childish feelings to yourself-you had so much potential...and you squandered it playing the adventurer."
  • Retired Badass: Chef Marteau was apparently an Ex-Mercenary and knows his way around a Hostage Situation.
  • The Reveal:
    • Chapter 30 reveals that the day Luise was kidnapped, Cattleya was assassinated at the same time and the very Church she loved hid who she was the entire time to break Karin's will and make her lose hope. She learns this as we do and promptly starts to cry.
    • Chapter 73 has Charlotte coming clean about how she and the Cardinal used both Saito and Louise to further their goals.
    • Chapter 77 reveals that Louise, Charlotte, and Tiffania are three of the four Void-users.
  • Reverse Shrapnel: Bidashal announces his arrival by breaking all the glass windows and using them in this manner, slicing open the necks of several nobles in the process.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Luise points out that betrayal is a death-worthy crime to the faithful of Brimir since he died due to it.
  • Robbing the Dead: Saito and Luise take the gold and armor from some adventurer who got eaten by giant spiders after they cut it open in search of loot, with Luise stating they could at least bury him afterwards.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: Saito's first task in attempting to get money for their Adventure's license is to the traditional Rat Stomp. Unfortunately, the Swarm of Rats are the size of men due to Alchemy experiments. And they were hungry.
  • Role-Playing Game Terms: Saito starts using these, relating his situation to being stuck in a game, such as asking Luise to provide DPS.
  • Rolling Boulder: Weaponized to flatten a bunch of zombies in a corridor by Saito and Jacques making his iron into a large ball.
  • Roofhopping: How Saito tries to get to the palace in Albion during Chapter 63.
  • Running Gag: Luise considering letting Saito visit a brothel as either a reward or bribe.
  • Savage Wolves: Luise and Saito run across these on their way to her orphanage.
  • Secret Secret-Keeper:
    • Father Christoff and Cardinal Mazarin, are both aware of Luise being the Valliere heir and are keeping it a secret from her until much later.
    • Lady Charlotte, Josette, Jeanette, and Jacques are aware that Saito is the Gandalf. Saito has no clue himself until later on.
  • Seeing Through Another's Eyes: Louise can see through Saito's eyes at certain points, such as in Chapter 99.
  • Share the Male Pain: The reaction to hearing of the Groin Attack in Chapter 62.
  • Shock and Awe: Wardes and Bidashal.
  • Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: Julio and the Pope have this opinion of Saito, noting he's stupidly optimistic.
  • Sole Survivor: Damien is the only survivor of the zombie invasion in Albion outside of Tiffania's group, who had Marteau protecting them.
  • Spider Swarm: The colony in the forest ends up doing this to the protagonist pair, with the Giant Spider mother and baby spiders getting in on the action.
  • Stab the Scorpion: Saito takes the dagger and rushes for Luise in Chapter 4, who she had been harsh on to this point, and she expects the worst... only for him to get her out of the way so he could stab the last wolf she missed before it bit her.
  • Street Smart: Luise is far more savvy to surviving due to being brought up in an orphanage.
    Luise: Lots of people promise things and then they don't keep their words. I'd rather know now what type of scum you are rather than find out later. Even if you ran away...well, I know the way to the next village, and you don't. I give you three hours before the wolves eat you for dinner, maybe four if you're a fast runner.
  • Summon Everyman Hero: Saito, as per canon, was summoned by Luise on accident but the circumstances are a bit different. She summoned him in the middle of nowhere because she wanted to take something back with her to the orphanage to prove that she had tried her hardest. She notably feels guilty for it, because she essentially took him from his home and has no way of sending him back, but needs his help to get through the forest and isn't nice about it because she can't risk him taking advantage of her like the Con Man had.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Luise does this from Chapter 17 onward, claiming that two male adventurers together made things less conspicuous and they weren't as likely to be seen as lovers.
  • Sword and Sorcerer: Saito and Luise have to adopt this in Chapter 4 to deal with the wolves and decide to become partners afterwards.
  • Taking the Veil: Luise intends to do this in Chapter 1, having been booted out of the magic academy in Germania because she could only make explosions. She mentions that doing so would ensure she never go hungry again. Her plans are derailed when everyone in the orphanage has gone missing.
  • Taking You with Me: Julio intends to do this in Chapter 100 with Saito, so that they aren't captured by elves, complete with See You in Hell. Louise stops it.
  • Talking Weapon: Derflinger introduces himself in Chapter 77.
  • Tell Him I'm Not Speaking to Him: Louise and Saito spend the entire first half of 87 like this.
  • There Was a Door: A bunch of Mott's men broke into the Inn to try and get to Siesta in Chapter 22. Unfortunately for them the first time, Saito was there and not about to let a bunch of armed men come into the room and knocked them out faster than Luise could get out of the tub.
    • Charlotte never uses a door to enter a room if she can help it, having developed a phobia of them ever since her uncle crushed his daughter's head in one.
  • Title Drop: In Chapter 20.
    • And again in Chapter 45.
    • And again in Chapter 91.
  • The Tooth Hurts: Saito suffers from a broken tooth for a few chapters until Luise gets him to The Barber and then get it regrown.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Saito never kills living people while acting as an Adventurer. So the fact that he'd been made into a Manchurian Agent and assassinated the King of Gallia shook him hard.
  • Too Good to Be True: Louise's assumptions about Charlotte prior to The Reveal.
  • Trapped in Another World: Saito realizes this when he notices the two moons and can't read the script. Unfortunately, Luise just thinks he's either lying or crazy.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Siesta has had it rough. First she's forced to leave the Magic Academy because Mott was after her, then he tracked her down, she gets rescued by Saito and Luise and make it to her cousin's place at the Charming Fairy Inn, and when she believes its safe to head back she gets kidnapped again under the threat of death. After she gets saved again, Lady Charlotte takes her as a personal maid, but her entire family had been killed in a bandit raid.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: Siesta and Saito have features that are so similar that they've been confused as being siblings.
  • Unconscious Objector: Saito is unconscious from a Forced Sleep spell but keeps fighting in Chapter 47 thanks to his runes, right up until the dagger he's holding is destroyed and they lose their effect.
  • Unexpectedly Abandoned: Luise and Saito keep finding places that are seemingly abandoned for no reason in their journey, including her old orphanage. Though, in that case, Father Christoff states he sent everyone else off to different ones.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Charlotte ran a long one on Saito and Louise. She contacted the Cardinal for help in assassinating her father, hired Wardes to attack them in order to appeal to them as a savior, then sent them to gather ingredients as a training mission of sorts, and then turned Saito into a Manchurian Agent. She knew her uncle would want to be there with Louise reintroduction into society and timed it right. Then she sent her knights to fulfill her end of the bargain with the Cardinal, while also keeping her bargain with the Water Spirit at the same time. And the only reason she tells them is so they wouldn't ask the wrong questions at the party and they can't prove anything anyway.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Saito and Louise to Charlotte and the Cardinal.
    • Saito has this problem in general.
  • Villain Has a Point: The men working for Mott have a point about Louise's constant violation of the terms of surrender. You can't trust them if they can't keep their word. If not for the fact that she keeps putting them to sleep instead of crippling or killing them, they would have more of a moral high-ground to stand on.
    • Which is the point Ulfric made as well, they broke the terms of surrender multiple times. Whether or not it was for a moral reason or not, pulling a I Surrender, Suckers does constitute war crimes.
      Ulfric: "They were offered terms of surrender. They accepted them. Then they broke them. Once, it would have been a slap. Twice, it would have meant a flogging. Thrice? Thrice means death. We mercenaries don't have many rules. 'Obey the one who pays' is usually such a deep and vague thing we don't even bother much with loyalty for loyalty's sake, but the first rule is simple to everyone involved. 'Surrender is surrender'. You never know if you'll be fighting against or together with the mercenary you have in front of you in the future, so if someone surrenders, you treat him well because it might just be you the next time, or you might need him to guard your back in a future war! Surrender terms are to be respected-always! It's just fucking common sense!"
  • Villain Teleportation: Bidashal.
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: Louise is Saito's in all but name... and then in name once they have a Relationship Upgrade.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Saito barfs when a giant rat's guts spill out over them from being caught in one of Luise's blasts.
  • Wall Run: Saito, in order to get to Bidashal when he was on the ceiling with Louise, curtoesy of the runes.
  • War Refugees: Refugees pile into the nearest city during the "Harass the Valliere" festival because of the constant sacking of their farms.
  • Weaponized Teleportation: Bidashal and Louise utilize their teleportation for the sake of battle in Chapter 75.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Charlotte and the Cardinal. Joseph had to die, no matter who they had to use to do it.
    • Julio. He makes it clear they don't have time to dally when they're facing an end of the world crisis, and he'll do what he has to.
  • Wham Chapter:
    • Chapter 53, just after the King of Gallia has been assassinated, has the Cardinal admit to what he did and then send Louise and Saito to retrieve Henrietta's letters.
    • Chapter 75, after the Saito and Louise are made aware of both the fact that they are Gandalf and a Void-mage, and were used, an Elf attacked and killed most of the nobles in attendance.
    • Chapter 92, Julio Chesare shows up with the intention of forcing Tiffana to summon a familiar to begin the holy crusade. Charlotte tries to convince him to stop, but can't.
    • Chapter 93, Julio reveals that Chef Marteau was killed along with the orphans Tiffania took care of to get her to summon a familiar, then he comes clean that soon their country will be floating like Albion and why they need to reclaim the holy-land.
    • Chapter 99 has Saito deciding to end the war by trying to force them to listen, leading to him kidnapping the Pope. Julio lost an arm and control of his powers, the Holy City is burning, and Louise plans to raze it to the ground for kidnapping Saito.
  • White Mage: Tiffania fills this role while traveling with the group.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Charlotte has a fear of doors ever since Joseph crushed his daughter's head in one.
  • Wizard Duel: Louise challenges her mother to one in Chapter 49 after she hurt Saito. If not for some luck and Saito performing a Taking the Bullet long enough for her to dull the spell, it would have killed her.
  • Wizarding School: Luise got kicked out of one because she isn't aligned to any element and could only make minor explosions. Since she isn't a noble there was no way for her to stay either, so they sent her packing.
    • She starts attending Tristan Academy in Chapter 91.
  • You Have to Believe Me: Saito and Tiffania try to explain why the latter was on the former's chest and removing his clothes. She has difficulty believing it due to the sheer number of coincidences needed to line it up the scenario, namely that the man they just met knew the men she kept pulling an I Surrender, Suckers on and was trying to kill them when a manticore suddenly popped up (hinted to be Juilo's doing) and ate him before leaving, and Tiffania was checking to see if he was still poisoned.
  • You Will Be Spared:
    • Bidashal in Chapter 75 was perfectly willing to let Saito, who he recognized as the Gandalf, leave alive on the assumption that he was an unwilling slave. That being said, when he refuses the Elf decides that he can die too and sends him out of a window.
    • Ulfric in Chapter 85 wanted Tiffania to leave while he dealt with Saito and Louise, since it didn't involve her. Likewise, she refuses as well.
  • Zettai Ryouiki: Saito mentions he has a fine appreciation of this when it comes to skirts and stockings.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Albion went through one of these courtesy of Sheffield being more than a little upset over her lover's death.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Fanfic/TheSteepPathAhead