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――Time goes back only a little further before the attack of the winged creatures.
???: [Ugh, I messed up again… I really am no good at this…]
A boy walked down the street, shaking his head crowned with pink fluffy hair.
The boy from the city’s largest mansion―― Schult, was wearing short pants that exposed his white legs. With a sigh, Schult, looking downcast, held and opened his slender, soft, not-too-sturdy hands.
Schult, still young, had already decided that, for the rest of his life, he would only have one master.
Born in a poor village, Schult was reduced to a meager existence by the weight of the year’s tax collection, destined to starve to death on the side of the road after being evicted from his home. Hungry and thirsty, he ate mud and nearly made that the last meal of his life, but the radiantly beautiful sun came along and saved him――.
He had been saved by that way of life that scorched the whole world to the ground, and that posed as the reason why Schult existed right now.
That was why Schult sincerely hoped to devote his entire current, and future being, to his benevolent master.
Schult: [I hate myself for not being able to help in any way…]
With a deep sigh―― and even that sigh was weaker than the average person’s with his lung capacity as rationale, Schult’s head, chest, and heart were collectively aching due to his own inadequacy.
Recently, he had been struggling to fulfill his important master’s mandated tasks, even messing them up completely.
To fill the bathhouse with hot water was a trivial task, but the water ended up overflowing, plus the magic stone used to heat the water had been mishandled, leaving everyone in a state of confusion.
He was still a newcomer to Priscilla’s service, and that, too, had inconvenienced Rem, someone with faulty legs. And this time, he really was fed up with how pathetic he was.
Schult: [Priscilla-sama and Al-sama both tell me that I do not need to rush to change…]
He was glad for the kind Priscilla’s and open-minded Al’s intentions to console him like this.
But Schult hated himself for being unable to repay the two of them in any way. In this respect, Heinkel saw things in a distinctive manner compared to the two of them, and therefore, treated Schult differently, seemingly being more understanding of Schult.
Heinkel had also taught Schult to practice swordsmanship in a way different from how Al had done so, the former having stated that it did not suit Schult. Thanks to this, he felt that his biceps were more rigid than they were before.
Schult: [Heinkel-sama’s way of swinging the sword every day was better for me than Al-sama’s way of taking ten days off after one day of swinging. I can’t tell Al-sama because I do not want to disappoint him…]
Regardless, with such signs of growth, Schult was also in a bit of a rut.
And the heavens did not forgive Schult’s naivete nor his complacency. Schult reflected on the fact that this had been what led to the fiasco at the bathhouse.
By now, Rem was probably helping her master, Priscilla, bathe in the bathtub that had been refilled with hot water. Schult sincerely thought Rem could do anything and he respected her for it.
Schult: [Just like Yae-sama… Yae-sama, how are you…?]
Suddenly, the memory of a cheerful and bright maid named Yae Tenzen, who used to work for Priscilla, was revived in Schult’s mind.
She was previously in charge of Priscilla’s personal care, was always happily talking with Al and was kind to Schult; because of that, Schult was fond of her
But one day, she had a family mishap and abruptly quit her job at the mansion to go back to the countryside. This left Schult with no time to say goodbye, making him feel quite desolate. The last one to see her off, Al, had told him to give Schult her regards. 
Perhaps Rem could fill Yae’s shoes as the servant closest to Priscilla.
If the kind and hardworking Rem did become that someone, Schult would be quite glad about it; she got along well with Priscilla, and he was certain Rem would enjoy it too.
Schult: [Everyone is so very happy when together with Priscilla-sama.]
His own personal experience underscored the magnitude of Priscilla’s presence in Schult’s mind.
Rem, too, was perhaps at a moment in her life in which she would be troubled by many things; she was often gloomy and preoccupied with her thoughts. Even if Rem carried such a gloomy, troubled face, perhaps the sun that was Priscilla would make her brighten up.
???: [Ah, Shuu’s here.]
Schult: [Mmm! That would be me!]
With this thought in mind, Schult, who had been moving his head up and down, stopped in his tracks. The reason for that was that he had heard a familiar voice. In front of him, he saw someone pointing in his direction.
Right in front of Schult walking down the street, pointing at him, was a young girl with black hair dyed pink at the ends. Next to the girl was a young man and upon noticing Schult and the girl becoming aware of one another, he let out a cheerful “Dear me!”.
???: [Isn’t that Butler-kun there? Princess-kun’s not with you, is she?]
Schult: [Priscilla-sama is at the mansion, Flop-sama. Were you and Utakata-sama in the middle of a stroll?]
???: [It’s rare for Uu to be called sama. It’s funny.]
The young man, donning a soft smile and waving his hand―― Flop, nodded with an “Exactly” to Schult’s question. Utakata, the girl with him, also put her hand on her cheek, apparently deeply touched by the honorific Schult had given her.
Flop and Utakata were the first two people Schult had met after arriving in Guaral. According to what Schult had heard, Flop was a merchant who traveled from town to town, and Utakata was a warrior from a tribe called “The People of Shudraq”.
Both were fine people with their own places to be.
Flop: [Oh? That’s a rather depressed face you’ve got there, Butler-kun. I’m wondering if you’ve perhaps got a problem with your face.]
Schult: [Ehh!? T-that is amazing! Flop-sama understands!?]
Flop: [Oh, of course I understand! Most people have their worries! And my little sister, who may look like she has no problems at all, actually does as well!]
Utakata: [Midii didn’t seem to have troubles.]
Flop: [She does have them! Surprising, isn’t it!?]
Putting his hands on his hips, Flop opened his mouth greatly and let out a burst of laughter. Seeing Flop’s cheerful attitude, Schult also felt cheered up somewhat.
Flop, like Priscilla, was like the sun that brightened the world in their surroundings. Surely, many colorful flowers would be blooming around Flop.
Schult: [Like a prince in a field of flowers.]
Flop: [Hahaha, I’m nothing as great as a prince. I’m merely a peddler! So, Butler-kun, what sort of issue ails you? Why don’t you talk to me?]
Schult: [Are you sure? I thought you were on a walk…]
Flop’s body leaned over, bending at the waist; Schult was grateful that he would listen to him. Glancing at him was Utakata, supposedly taking a stroll with Flop.
However Utakata narrowed her widened eyes and shook her head, not looking bothered in the slightest.
Utakata: [Uu has time. Playing with Fuu was just for killing time, so let’s hear about Shuu’s problems.]
Flop: [Exactly. Oh, don’t think of it as killing time. Every problem’s important to the person suffering from it. So let’s listen carefully.]
So, after a not-so-tough chest thump, Flop led Schult and Utakata both to the end of the street, toward the edge of the curb of the flowerbed there.
So the three of them, putting their butts on the curb, started talking in the breeze.
Schult’s problem, as aforementioned, was that of being useless.
For Priscilla, he wished to be more self-sufficient, to be capable of doing more.
Schult: [So how did you, Flop-sama and Utakata-sama, become the great people you are today?]
Flop: [Hoho, I see, how did we become the way we are now, huh? What a philosophical question!]
Schult: [Filosofical… Is that so…?]
At the smiling Flop’s answer, Schult braced himself at a hint of yet-undiscovered wisdom.
Without understanding what this filosofy was, could Schult’s concerns be answered? If so, he was willing to study that filosofy as well.
Utakata: [Uu became Uu, because Maa gave birth to Uu.]
Schult: [Maa, is it? That would be…]
Utakata: [Uu’s mother! She was good friends with Taa. But then she stabbed herself and died.]
Schult: [I-is that so…]
As she recounted the story of her mother’s death, Utakata swung her dangling feet.
Although Utakata’s attitude was a detached one, Schult was astonished to hear of happenings that he had not expected. Flop, opposite of him with her in between them, patted Utakata’s head gently.
Flop: [I see, your mother did such a thing. That’s a terrible thing, Miss Utakata.]
Utakata: [It was harder for Taa than it was for Uu. Everyone helped Uu grow up, so everything’s fine. I grew up just like that.]
Flop: [Yes, indeed, Miss Utakata’s growing up very well. I’m sure your mother’d be happy to hear that.]
Utakata: [――? Maa’s dead, so she wouldn’t be happy. You say weird things, Fuu.]
While he stroked her head, Utakata regarded Flop with a curious look on her face. However, being patted on her head by Flop did not feel so bad to Utakata, and so, she did not try to stop his hand.
Utakata’s reaction was met with a quiet narrowing of Flop’s blue eyes,
Flop: [Well, Miss Utakata’s answer was very pleasant. In fact, if we’re going to talk about how I became the person I am today, I believe my answer would be very similar.]
Schult: [Similar… So, Flop-sama, were you raised by the People of Shudraq in the same way Utakata-sama was?]
Flop: [If that were the case, I’d be very pleased for having such a large family! But my family’s dead, the only one I have left’s my little sister, Medium. You may think it’s very sad and lonely.]
Schult: […Is that, so?]
Flop employed in his usual stride for the first half of his speech, then his voice faltered a tad during the latter half. His eyes downcast because of his answer, Schult once again felt disappointed about himself.
He had inquired both Utakata and Flop about some very insensitive things.
Even Schult would be unable to give a happy answer to someone asking about the family that had abandoned him. He should have been more thoughtful before asking.
Flop: [It’s nothing to beat yourself over, Butler-kun. You’ll learn from this. And that’s exactly what leads to the next part of my answer from earlier.]
Schult: [From earlier… the one that is supposed to be like Utakata-sama’s?]
Flop: [Yes, exactly, just like Miss Utakata, I’ve been influenced by the people around me to become the person I am today.]
Spreading out his hands, Flop smiled as if to show off his current self.
His cheerful smile and reassuring tone of voice were both important elements of Flop’s “Flopness”. Were those also cultivated through the influence of others, Schult wondered.
Flop: [A long time ago, my little sister and I were living in quite the terrible environment. It was an orphanage, but there was very little food, they didn’t pay us for our work, and the adults there would beat the children whenever they got into trouble. It was an awful place.]
Schult: [T-that’s an awful place…! What is a child to do in such a place!?]
Utakata: [Uu’d burn it down.]
Schult: [Burn it down!]
Flop: [Haha, that might’ve been a good idea. But it didn’t turn out so.]
Schult agreed with Utakata’s suggestion of burning down Flop’s harsh past. But Flop, laughing at their answer, had already moved past that.
How exactly had they gotten past it――,
Flop: [Well, it was thanks to someone else’s help. There was a benefactor who helped us. That was my little sister and mine’s family. They’re dead now, though.]
Schult: […They helped you, is that right? I’m relieved to hear that.]
Flop: [Do you understand me, Butler-kun?]
Schult: [I understand… I was also saved by Priscilla-sama.]
Gently placing his hand on his chest, he felt through his fingertips that he was no longer a body with nothing but skin and bones attached. That, was proof of what Priscilla had bestowed Schult with, to this day.
Schult’s toughness, strength, energy, and respectability proved that Priscilla’s actions on that day were no error, and Priscilla would not be made to regret them.
At the glint in Schult’s red eyes, Flop chuckled a little, and,
Flop: [For the most part, I’ve got similar feelings. So I’m in the process of trying to make my big goal come true. It’s a hard road, but I want to keep going and not give up.]
Schult: [I hope you do not give up! Ah! But, please, be a little more specific. How are you doing your best, Flop-sama?]
Flop: [Hmm, I wonder. After mulling it over plenty… I’ll tell you one thing, but not about me, about my little sister. I’m going to tell you about my little sister, who’s taller, stronger, more energetic, and more skilled than I am.]
Schult: [Ohhh, I see!!]
The reason why Flop put his hand so far above his head was because his sister, the topic of discussion, was that tall of a person.
This was not the first time Flop had mentioned his sister, but Schult had yet to meet her in person, as at the time he and Heinkel arrived at Guaral to meet up with Priscilla, Flop’s sister had already left for another place.
Leaving that aside――,
Utakata: [Midii’s big and strong. Mii’s impressed.]
Flop: [The best thing about her, is that she’s vocal and unafraid. And of course, she’s also very skilled, which is something I, as her big brother, am very proud of! She’s been working hard to become stronger.]
Schult: [To be strong… is that so!? How virtuous!]
Undoubtedly, she had been working hard to become stronger, staying positive and never losing sight of her ambition.
Schult tried to accept that maybe the key to progress was to keep trying one’s best without losing spirit; however, Flop shrugged saying, “No, no”.
Flop: [You’d think so, wouldn’t you? But, by the way, Medium got stronger is a bit more negative.]
Schult: [N-negative? What does that mean?]
Flop: [Hmm, it’s simple. ――When I was beaten up by adults, Medium, well, she always stroked my wounds gently.]
Speaking nostalgically of the past, Flop stated so, lowering the corners of his eyes.
Schult was bewildered by the discrepancy between the gentle tone of his speech and the content of his words, however. Being told that stroking a wound from a beating was the beginning of getting stronger made zero sense.
Schult: [I am so sorry that you were beaten up. But, Flop-sama, what were you doing when your sister was gently stroking those wounds?]
Flop: [Me? I was smiling. I was happy for Medium’s feelings. If I didn’t smile, she, the one being defended, would be worried sick.]
Flop: [So, the first time I couldn’t cover for her and she took a hit, she was surprised from the bottom of her heart. When she stroked the wound she received from being beaten, she felt pain. It didn’t heal, nor did the pain go away. As regrettable as that is.]
Shaking his head loosely, Flop replied forlornly.
Hearing Flop’s answer, even the dense Schult finally understood his true intentions. He finally understood why his sister had desired to become stronger, and how had she managed to not give up along the way.
Utakata: [If you don’t want it to hurt, you have to not get hit. Is this what Midii thought?]
Flop: [Well, that’s precisely it! A very simple and good answer, even though she’s my little sister. Thanks to that, Medium’s stronger, and our siblings’ journey’s become safer!]
Flop exaggerated his smile as he spoke, but to Schult, it looked a little different.
Not only was it bright, but it appeared to be a proud one. Surely, Flop was proud of his sister from the bottom of his heart. That was something to be envied very much.
Schult: [I want to be stronger too. Just like your sister, Flop-sama…!]
Flop: [I’m sure Medium’d love to hear that. No, she might be embarrassed. It’s not often you get to experience being someone’s role model, that sounds like a lot of fun.]
Flop smiled and gave his stamp of approval to Schult, the latter clenching his tiny fists.
While listening to the exchange of those two, Utakata looked at Schult and asked, “Shuu?”,
Utakata: [If you want to be strong, will you practice with Uu? Practice the bow.]
Schult: [Bow, is it? But I also practice the sword… Hmm, I will do it! I will do both! That way, I can be twice as strong!]
Flop: [If you’re able to do both, then it’s exactly as you say! How wise!]
Raising both his hands to the sky, Flop joined Schult in his burning determination. Utakata, too, puffed up her nostrils and pushed out her chest at the promise of training together.
Then showing Schult the bow on her back,
Utakata: [Uu will work hard, like Schult, to become a master like Taa.]
Schult: [Well, I would like to meet Taa-sama, too. Utakata-sama, why do you want to become a bow and arrow master?]
Utakata: [Maa said something. For Uu to kill a traveler, with a bow and arrow.]
Schult: [I see. Wait, what…!?]
Because the answer was more extreme than he had expected, Schult’s realization was delayed for a beat.
To kill a traveler, was what she had said earlier, but what exactly did that mean? Schult, having just reflected on the situation, wondered if it would be okay to ask for more details.
――And so, while Schult worried over it, he was deprived of the time for enquiring about it.
Flop: [――Butler-kun! Miss Utakata!]
Suddenly, a sharp voice called out to Schult and Utakata, and Flop’s expression morphed. Schult’s shoulders hitched because of the vigor, and Flop’s hands gripped his shoulders stoutly.
Then, Flop pulled Schult and Utakata, sitting on the curb, closer to him, and shouted,
Flop: [The sky’s starting to feel dangerous! Let’s just hurry up and get out of here!]
――At the time the flock was seen in the distant sky, Heinkel was at the City Hall.
The people present were the appointed commanders of the garrison stationed in the Fortress City.
General Second-Class Zikr Osman and his men, who had originally been sent to the city but had joined Priscilla’s ranks―― or rather, the ranks of the man named Abel, to be precise, at the time of capturing the Fortress City.
And then there were the People of Shudraq, a tribe of hunters from the Jungle, smaller in number than the Imperial Soldiers present, yet no less powerful individually, alongside the one who led them, their acting Chieftain, Mizelda.
When Heinkel visited the City Hall, the two were in the midst of a face-to-face meeting to discuss the future.
Though Priscilla had spoken of omens that were much like predictions, Heinkel did not believe that Priscilla had the power to foretell the future, but he also knew not to underestimate the power of the eyes of a being so far from the norm.
Not only Priscilla, but those with special powers and destinies, had a higher perspective compared to ordinary people.
Those that could gaze at the world from a higher place would witness a scenery different from what others would. Those who could see farther compared to an average person―― or rather, compared to an ordinary person, would never be able to understand the latter.
Heinkel had learned this painfully well over the past forty years of his life.
Therefore, he did not dismiss things without even lending an ear just because he did not understand them.
This was also the reason why he did not dismiss Priscilla’s words and went to the City Hall.
The first to notice the anomaly outside the window was Mizelda, sniffing; her face was as if she had a hunch about something.
She was the former Chieftain of the People of Shudraq, who had apparently lost one of her legs in a battle during the capture of the Fortress City. To replace her foot, she wielded a stick like the tip of a cane attached to her right leg, which was missing below the knee.
Every time she walked, the cane made a sound, and when she turned around, the same sound was also heard.
The moment the profile of the rugged beauty Mizelda, owner of piercing eyes, stiffened, Heinkel and Zikr, who were present, instantly realized something was wrong and looked in the same direction.
Then, upon laying eyes on the swarm of black dots coming in from beyond the sky, Zikr muttered to himself.
Zikr: [――A flock of flying dragons.]
Mizelda: [――Hk! Zikr! Give word to your soldiers! I’ll mobilize the Shudraq!]
Immediately after realizing the danger, Mizelda would have leapt with a tremendous kick from the roof of the City Hall and over Zikr’s wide shoulders.
However, she had just lost one of her legs. Instead of leaping out the window, she skipped down the stairs and ran out in a great hurry.
Caught up in her momentum, Zikr sharpened his blank expression and shouted,
Zikr: [Ring the bell! Enemy attack! They are coming from the sky!]
His shout gave a kick in the back to his aides so they would alert the entire Fortress City to the critical situation.
After seeing the reactions of all of them, Heinkel also put his hand on the sword at his waist. Then, as loud and sharp as the ringing alarm bells, he clicked his tongue.
Zikr: [Heinkel-dono! Priscilla-dono is…]
Heinkel: [Miss Priscilla’s at the mansion. She knew something’d happen. She’ll be on the move soon.]
As Zikr turned around, Heinkel turned his attention to the enemy shadows in the sky.
In mere seconds the swarm had clearly darkened in color and increased in size, approaching the city at tremendous speed. There was nary a moment to lose.
Heinkel: [Assuming this is an enemy attack, do you have any idea who the attacker might be?]
Zikr: [――. The number of flying dragons is extraordinary. The Imperial Capital does not have the strength to mobilize that many flying dragon riders, so… There is only one possibility.]
Heinkel: [So, what is that possibility!?]
Heinkel’s words became rough, as time was being cut shorter by Zikr’s roundabout way of talking.
Faced with Heinkel’s hounding him, Zikr paused for a beat, and then said,
Zikr: [The Flying Dragon General, Madelyn Eschart… She controls flying dragons. In other words…]
Heinkel: [Shit, one of the Nine Divine Generals… Hk.]
Heinkel scratched his head due to the mention of a familiar name.
He was not an expert on the inner workings of the Empire, but he was the Deputy Commander of the Royal Guards of the Kingdom of Lugunica. Because of his position, he was far more knowledgeable about information regarding other countries than most people.
He had at least heard the names and aliases of the Nine Divine Generals, the highest military force possessed by the Empire.
It seemed that all of them were warriors with extraordinary abilities, and only the best in the Kingdom, a group in which Marcos, the Commander of the Royal Guards, was also included, would be capable of being a match to them.
And, of course, there was the Kingdom’s most powerful person, the Sword Saint, but――,
Heinkel: [Didn’t someone say something ridiculous like some guy fighting Reinhardt…]
The strongest swordsman in the Vollachian Empire was said to be as good as Reinhardt.
Of course, the Nine Divine Generals would possess their own strengths and weaknesses, but the thought of being attacked by a monster on the same level as that person, was Heinkel’s worst nightmare.
Heinkel’d had no intention of coming to the Empire to begin with.
He had simply gone along for the ride when Priscilla decided to go to Vollachia of her own accord. He had no interest in the existence or destruction of this Fortress City.
Heinkel: [I can’t afford to displease Miss Priscilla… Even if Miss Priscilla becomes the Monarch, it’ll all be meaningless if she drives me away.]
Priscilla was eccentric, and, ultimately, he had no idea of what was in her mind.
Whatever had brought it on, she had Heinkel on-hand for now, but if he did not prove himself useful, he would be discarded of, and would come out empty-handed.
That must not happen. Priscilla was now the only person who was a straw for Heinkel to cling on to.
Heinkel: [We don’t have time for idle chatter. Let’s get rid of the flying dragon flock. Zikr, you’re here to oversee the whole thing!]
Zikr: [I intend to, but what about you, Heinkel-dono?]
Heinkel: [――I’ll do as I please.]
Unlike Zikr and Mizelda, Heinkel had no soldiers nor companions to lead.
Even if he did, his title as Deputy Commander of the Royal Guard was merely decorative. He had stopped studying the basics of military strategy a long time ago, and more importantly, no one would listen to his instructions.
So, from the beginning, there was only one thing that Heinkel could do.
Immediately after making this decision, Heinkel, without hearing Zikr’s reply, ran to the balcony of the City Hall and leapt from there to the city below.
He put his feet on the roof of a tall building, kicked off the rooftop, and then ran to the next building. He continued to leap repeatedly, bathed in the wind, as he headed to the top of the fortifications surrounding the city.
Jumping onto the towering fortress wall on the western side, where a flock of flying dragons was heading towards, he took a breath.
Alarm bells had already rung across the city to warn of an enemy attack; blended together everywhere in the city, was disorder among the people, with the bellows of the guards urging them to evacuate as to suppress the chaos.
Heinkel: […Ahh, shit.]
The smell in the air changed noticeably, and the taste of spit on his tongue became bitter.
As the presence of the battlefield, of blood and steel, drew nearer, Heinkel was forced to listen to an illusory, high-pitched ringing in the depths of his ears.
In addition to Heinkel, Imperial Soldiers had also rushed to the western ramparts.
If Zikr’s guess was correct, the attacker was one of the Nine Divine Generals. How were they prepared to fight against an opponent in the position of General First-Class of the Empire?
Did they not think that anything about that was wrong, even more so if they were under the same banner? Or was it all fine, as long as they could fight? If they were to die fighting, would they be satisfied with that?
Heinkel: [Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck all of them, fuck all of them…!]
A boiling, throbbing, black heat poured out of his chest and into his entire body.
Heinkel gritted his teeth to the point of creaking as he savored the dark heat that began in his heart, traveled through his internal organs and lower abdomen, then onward to the tips of his limbs and fingers.
Heinkel’s hand slowly reached for the sword at his waist, the sword bearing the name “Astrea”, as he gripped the hilt tightly.
Heinkel: [――All of you can go to hell, motherfuckers!!]
With a howl of unbearable rage, Heinkel’s sword flashed out, and the thick neck of a flying dragon passing by spurted blood, and split asunder.
Alarm bells rang as the screaming of people running away from the city overlapped in a quite exquisite, yet also frightening way, the Fortress City of Guaral having become a battlefield filled by auditory pandemonium.
The army of flying dragons encroaching from the western sky, composed of no less than several hundred specimens of majestic appearance, had shattered the hearts of the residents, who had been reassured by the fact that the city was protected by walls on all four sides.
If there was a weakness to these walls, which could withstand even the destructive energy of powerful Magic Stone Cannons, it would be none other than terrifying beings able to bypass even large walls.
Whether that be a being which could step over the walls, or a ruler of the sky that capable of flying over them.
Undoubtedly, it was no exaggeration to say that on this day, the Fortress City was being assaulted by its greatest, most formidable enemy.
Flop: [――This isn’t very good.]
Avoiding the main street in which screams echoed, Flop peeked out from an alley and frowned.
A few minutes after spotting the flying dragons in the sky, things took a turn for the worse; having yet again transformed into a battlefield much like had happened ten days prior, the Fortress City’s brief respite was erased from its people’s minds.
This time, however, compared to what had transpired ten days prior, this change was for the worse.
At any rate――,
Flop: [Husband-kun was trying to cause as little damage as possible, but… this time, the opponent apparently doesn’t seem to have that kind of consideration.]
Subaru had aimed to pull off a “bloodless siege” by the bold means of crossdressing as a woman.
Although this goal had been foiled by an unexpected intruder, the amount of blood spilled would have been incomparably greater if a plan other than Subaru’s had been employed.
The fact that the feelings of the Fortress City’s residents, alongside with those held by the Imperial Soldiers stationed there, had not degenerated to an extreme degree, was something Flop wondered about; perhaps, that had been the result of Subaru’s consideration.
This time, however, the enemy seemed to possess no such chivalrous thoughts whatsoever.
Schult screamed beside Flop as a terrifying roar and earth-shaking impact traveled through the air.
It was no wonder. The enemy’s assault with the flying dragons was just that severe and effective.
Flop: [Although they’re just letting the flying dragons carry the rocks and then dropping them from high in the sky.]
What they were doing was simple and straightforward, it was just a primitive attack.
However, though even a boulder the size of a human’s head would cause serious injury, the rocks that had been dropping from the air for a while now, were as large as one or two heads.
The force of the rocks destroyed stone buildings, created huge craters in the streets. Of course, were someone to be hit, it would be a disaster one would wish to not witness ever again.
Flop and the others had rushed into the alley, but they had no confirmation that that place was a safe one.
Fleeing underground, or heading towards someone that was simply strong; if a safe place existed, those would be it.
Utakata: [Mii and the others are in the big building in the middle.]
Schult: [P-Priscilla-sama is in the mansion…!]
Flop: [Oh, yes, of course. You’re both very smart, I agree with you. The problem is, we’re right in the middle of both those places!]
The called-upon Mizelda and Zikr were reliable in their ability to defend the city.
Although she was a fighting force of one person only, Priscilla’s ability was comparable to that of the Nine Divine Generals.
Flop was torn as to which direction to rush to, as well.
And while they were worrying――,
???: [H-help… Uwahh!!]
Right in front of the alleyway where Flop and the others were hiding in, a figure fleeing down the street screamed, then disappeared. ――No, he had not disappeared. The man’s body was snatched up into the sky by a shadow flying at great speed, taken away in one fell swoop.
Apparently, the flying dragons in the raid had different roles and were divided into two groups. The ones from earlier, those that let large stones fall, and those that attacked directly.
Or, more likely, there were flying dragons that had taken on other roles.
Schult: [J-just now, that person… Hk.]
Flop: [Even if we wanted to help, we wouldn’t be able to! And we can’t bypass them either. If we get caught in the claws or fangs of a flying dragon, the three of us will be taken into the sky together.]
Utakata: [Uu’s bow is here! With this, I can take down a flying dragon!]
Speaking enthusiastically, Utakata showed the bow and arrow in her arms. Had it been Holly, Kuna, or another adult Shudraq, Flop would have considered it.
However Flop, having once accompanied Utakata to bow practice, understood that her abilities were not enough for a real battlefield.
Flop: [――You want the best for children, was it? I get it.]
With his eyes closed, Flop thought of the benefactor who had saved him and his sister from rock-bottom.
He always had a blunt and crude attitude, but in spite of that, his benefactor had never bent his principles. So, Flop wanted to be an “adult” he would not be ashamed of.
They could not stay hiding and holding their breath where they were forever. Whether they went to the City Hall or to the mansion, they needed to take some sort of action.
In order to get both Schult and Utakata to safety――.
Flop: [――I want you both to listen to me. From now on, I will…]
Taking a small breath, Flop attempted to convey his plan to them with determination.
And, in the moment in which the two children looked at Flop as the latter spoke.
With a blood-curdling roar of anger, something huge fell from the sky onto the street. What slammed onto the ground accompanied by a mixture of angry screams and cries, was a flying dragon, black blood pouring from all over its entire body.
With its wings spread out, the flying dragon would be three to four meters in wingspan. Desperately trying to escape, it flapped its wings which had been broken from the impact of the fall.
???: [Don’t run away! Don’t you dare, bastard!]
The flying dragon fell to the ground together with the figure, who rolled vigorously and jumped on its back. He then thrust his sword into the writhing flying dragon, skewering its heart from behind.
The screams of the flying dragon persisted for a long time; then, it collapsed in place as it shed tears of blood.
Then, having seen that the flying dragon’s breathing had halted――,
???: [Those little shits…]
A red-haired man came down from the back of the dead flying dragon, his shoulders heaving up and down. Upon sighting him, Schult, who was in Flop’s arms, shouted an “Ah!”,
Schult: [Heinkel-sama! So you were safe!]
The high voice of Schult called out, prompting the red-haired man to turn around with a bad attitude. Immediately, Schult’s throat caught, his words blocked because of the man’s appearance, his entire body dyed bright-red.
Then, the wide-eyed Schult escaped Flop’s arms, rushing to the man’s side. Seeing Schult, the man wiped his bloody face with his sleeve.
Heinkel: [What the hell, it’s you, pipsqueak?]
Schult: [You are all red, Heinkel-sama! Where are you hurt!?]
Heinkel: [Hurt? Oh, if you mean the blood, it’s just the dragons’. If I’m hurt, it’s merely a scratch.]
Schult: [Oh, really? Is that so…?]
With a surprised look in his eyes, Schult touched the bloody man’s body to make sure. Seeing that his attitude showed no concern for getting his hands and clothes dirty, the man looked down at the boy and sighed.
At this exchange, Flop let out the breath he had held due to his determination from before, and said,
Flop: [Butler-kun, I don’t think you need to worry. He doesn’t look to be putting up a strong-front, and he isn’t really hurt, right?]
Heinkel: [You’re… that weird man. You together with these pipsqueaks?]
Flop: [That “weird” part is a tad offensive, but you’re right! I was just running around with Butler-kun and Miss Utakata though. I’m relieved you’re here.]
When Flop smiled at him, the man covered in blood―― Heinkel, looked away.
He was not embarrassed, that reaction was of being displeased. In fact, he even clicked his tongue. But it was true that he had slain the flying dragon, which had played a role in giving Schult some peace of mind.
Like Schult, Heinkel seemed to be one of Priscilla’s followers, and although Flop had expected him to be able to fight on the grounds that he carried a sword, he seemed to be more skilled than one would expect.
The tremendous amount of blood that stained his body vermilion could hardly just be attributed to the blood spurting from the flying dragon he had just killed. It was evidence that he had been exposed to blood spurting from multiple flying dragons.
Schult: [We were going to head towards Priscilla-sama now! What about you, Heinkel-sama?]
Heinkel: [To Miss Priscilla’s…? You’d be safer that way. But…]
Flop: [There are very few places in the city that are safe right now. If our enemies are all flying dragons, I think it’d be a good idea to find a building with a basement and a place where spices are kept.]
Flop interrupted Schult and Heinkel’s conversation, while Utakata tilted her head at the part in the conversation she did not understand. Looking towards Flop, Heinkel’s eyes were similar, holding confoundment.
It would not make sense to one unacquainted with the ecology of flying dragons.
Flop: [Flying dragons have a very good sense of smell. They can smell blood from a great distance. On the other hand, they don’t like strong, pungent smells. So, if we sprinkle peppa all over our body, we may be able to avoid being caught by them.]
Heinkel: […You seem well-informed.]
Flop: [I’m a peddler who travels from place-to-place! Also, I happen to know someone who knew a lot about flying dragons. He may’ve been the person most knowledgeable about them in the Empire!]
However, he had often heard about the good side of flying dragons from that person, so he had not expected to face them as a threat in this way.
At the very least, if the knowledge he had acquired was true, his plan to get covered in spices in order to escape the flying dragons should work.
It was fortuitous for Flop and the two children that they had been able to join up with the capable fighter that was Heinkel, but overall it was not fortuitous in this battle for the Fortress City.
Flop: [I can’t say it’s a good idea to use Redhead-san as our escort.]
Heinkel, who could go toe-to-toe with flying dragons on his own, was a valuable asset to the city under attack by a countless number of them.
No matter how the battle turned out from here on, he would be one of the factors to influence the outcome of the battle. It was not a good idea to put him alongside the three non-combatants.
Flop: [We’re going underground to escape the eyes and noses of the flying dragons. Could Redhead-san accompany us to a nearby restaurant or warehouse? There, we can deceive their eyes… Or rather, deceive their noses? Once we do that, we can take care of the rest on our own.]
Schult’s face was aghast at Flop’s suggestion, as if the idea of splitting up had not occurred to him at all. But contrasting Schult’s surprise, Utakata nodded and said,
Utakata: [Uu thinks the same as Fuu. Uu and Fuu will protect Shuu. Don’t worry.]
Schult: [Utakata-sama will… as well?]
Utakata nodded her head in affirmation, and Schult’s round eyes lowered. A few seconds later, he looked up with a determined expression on his face and looked at Heinkel.
Schult: [I understand. I’ll do my best with Flop-sama and the others. So, Heinkel-sama, be careful of your injuries…]
Heinkel: [――I’ve been thinking this for a while, but don’t get yourselves all excited. Why should I suddenly start obeying what you guys tell me to do?]
However, Schult’s resolve was purposeless, as Heinkel frowned and bluntly stated this.
He wiped the gore from his sword with his cloak, indicating his surroundings with his chin,
Heinkel: [Let me say this now, I don’t owe this city anything. If I failed to protect this pipsqueak, Miss Priscilla’d probably be displeased, right? I’d rather avoid that.]
Flop: [W-wait, wait, wait, Redhead-san! Wait a sec! So you think protecting Princess-kun’s mood’s more important than protecting the city? That’s…]
The reply was so clear and definitive, that Flop could not help but involuntarily let out a disappointed look. Heinkel stared at Flop’s face, his blue eyes glinting amongst the red filth covering his face.
Heinkel: [I got something more important than this city, more important than someone’s life. And it’s not this pipsqueak. Miss Priscilla, who dotes on this pipsqueak, has something I need her to give me no matter what. If that’s what’s needed to get that, then I don’t care how many people die.]
Heinkel: [Besides, I’m not that much of a big shot, and neither are you. You need to know your place. There’s only so much you can do. Don’t try to reach outside of that. You’ll only make a fool of yourself.]
Heinkel: [No one can be a sword.]
As he spat this out, Heinkel’s hand reached for Schult’s shoulder.
As Schult’s slender shoulder was gripped by his hand, the young boy turned his moist eyes toward Heinkel. The fright that filled those eyes――,
Schult: [Heinkel-sama, you look like you are in pain.]
――No, not fear, but rather compassion.
Heinkel’s cheeks stiffened slightly, bathed by the boy’s earnest gaze. But it did not move his resolute heart.
Heinkel: [I’m taking this pipsqueak to Miss Priscilla. You guys are on your own if you want to follow me. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that I’ll protect you.]
With that, Heinkel grabbed Schult and turned his back on Flop and Utakata. He would step out into the street, heading toward the mansion where Priscilla was located.
Flop was hesitating on whether he should heed his warning, when――,
???: [――You’re the one killing us dragons?]
――A moment later, accompanied by those short words, a falling shadow landed on the ground with a furious roar.
A dense cloud of dust and debris was kicked up as an intruder suddenly carved up a large hole in the ground.
A small figure was standing with its short arms crossed in front of Heinkel as he tried to take Schult away, blocking their path.
――It was difficult to understand who it was, at a glance.
What had just happened, and the impression that the figure gave, did not match at all.
A small stature, a lovely face, blemish-free white skin, a sky-blue attire that enhanced their loveliness; as their appearance did not seem so different from Schult’s or Utakata’s, it was hard to believe that they had just appeared with a ground-shattering impact.
However, what had happened was all that mattered, and no one could deny what had happened.
The shadow that appeared narrowed its golden eyes, glared at the four standing in the street, and nodded.
???: [You have shed the blood of us dragons, and so in atonement, your blood shall be shed until there’s none left. ――You fools.]
 Yae Tenzen is a character featured in the Side Story “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”, which depicts events that take place between Arcs 4 and 5. It has been translated by Negi, and it is available here.