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――The moment he saw the little girl standing amidst the plume of smoke, alarm bells went off in Flop’s head.
Not the real alarm bell echoing throughout Guaral however; it was the clanging alarm of his own survival instincts as a living creature. So loud was its noise, that it made his head ache.
Quite frankly, Flop was unlike Medium; he was a man unable to fight.
Attempting to train his body had brought him some degree of frustration, and he wished to not detract from his sister’s role, which she had chosen in her own way after much thinking, upon realizing that she was actually causing her brother pain by stroking his wounds.
Therefore, he possessed no warrior’s intuition nor discernment.
Flop: [That girl’s bad news.]
And then, he swallowed bitter spit as the little girl propped her leg out of the gaping hole made by the impact of the fall.
A young girl of short stature, the pupils of her golden eyes narrowed, glaring at Flop and the others.
She appeared to be two or three years older than Schult and Utakata, but the atmosphere she exuded was on par with that of Medium or Mizelda―― no, even more dangerous.
It was almost like that of the imposing Divine General that had dispossessed Mizelda of her leg.
Flop: […Redhead-san, do you think you can manage to create an opening? I want to let at least Butler-kun and Miss Utakata escape somehow.]
The one to whom Flop gave that suggestion to in the form of a whisper was Heinkel, also the one person who held any fighting strength in this place.
Having demonstrated his swordsmanship by slaying a flying dragon, he would be more than capable of assisting in the protection of Utakata and the others, as opposed to having Flop become a meat shield.
Ideally, it would be great if Heinkel were strong enough to defeat that little girl.
Leaving his guard up toward the girl, Flop questioned Heinkel, from whom there was no reply.
He was hesitant to take his gaze away from the threat before him, but working with Heinkel was the top priority. Having readied his resolve, Flop glanced at Heinkel to examine him.
――Heinkel’s eyes were wide open in shock, his face pale with greasy sweat streaking across it.
Schult: [H-Heinkel-sama? Are you all right?]
Heinkel: [Uh, ah…]
Flop and Schult took notice of Heinkel’s unusual behavior at nearly the exact same time.
Schult voiced his clear concern for Heinkel, and the red-haired swordsman’s cheeks became rigid due to the youngster’s words, an inarticulate voice escaping his throat.
It was difficult to tell, from looking from the side, whether the response was because he was aware of the girl’s identity. However, regardless of the question, there was one clear, unequivocal fact.
Girl: [What’s with you? Are you scared?]
The squinting girl’s gaze was directed at Heinkel’s legs as he stood there. His legs were trembling at both knees, so much so that he was barely managing to keep standing.
What was present there, obvious to anyone who laid eyes upon him, was plenty of fear and trepidation. In other words, despair.
Flop: [Hey there! I’ve never seen you before, little lady, would you mind talking to me for a bit!?]
Having observed Heinkel’s despair, Flop immediately shouted that out.
Immediately, Heinkel and Schult’s shoulders hitched, and the girl in front of them turned her eyes filled with suspicion toward him. Her gaze alone would not kill him, but the oppressive sensation coming from it was such that it was not be surprising if it did.
But Flop rallied his heart, loosened his cheeks, and spread his hands wide, producing a smile.
Flop: [I’m Flop O’Connell, a humble merchant. I’m in a rather difficult and bewildering situation. You seem to know more about it than I do, don’t you?]
Girl: [――. Are you collateral damage? Then you’re out of luck.]
Flop: [Well, being out of luck’s a phrase I’m not used to being told. I got a lot of things missing, but I’m proud to say that I do have luck. Why would I be out of luck?]
Girl: [You may kill everyone in this city. That’s what the senile old man said.]
Flop: [Everyone in the city.]
The little girl jerked her chin, answering by gesturing towards her surroundings, to which Flop gave a strained smile. But, deep inside, his state of mind was far from corresponding to that of a bitter smile, he was more panicked than anything else.
Would there be room for negotiation, given her objective was to annihilate the city’s inhabitants completely?
If only he could talk to the “senile old man” who had ordered her to do such a deed.
Flop: [From what I’ve heard, the senile old man seems to have made a mistake in telling you to wipe out the whole city. So why don’t you double-check that with your friends and colleagues who have come with you?]
Girl: [There are no friends or colleagues. There are only brethren and enemies with I, the dragon. ――You, are mocking this dragon. It appears you don’t know fear.]
Flop: [Mocking you, that’s outrageous! I want to get along with you. For starters, I was just thinking about asking your name. Don’t you agree?]
Schult: [Y-yes, that is correct! I would like to know your name too! Mine is Schult!]
As the girl lay on verge of becoming ill-tempered, Flop clapped his hands, asking his allies for agreement. Schult, taking advantage of the situation, then said his name as he raised his hand.
With Flop and Schult now having been introduced themselves, the girl wrinkled the brow of her pretty face, and,
???: [――Madelyn Eschart. I, the dragon, am of the Nine Divine Generals.]
Heinkel: [Nine Di…!]
Unassumingly, the girl―― Madelyn introduced herself via her title, to which Heinkel became at a loss for words.
His knees, which had been trembling ever since they had met, worsened further upon hearing her title, a corroboration of her strength. It was a miracle that he did not fall on his buttocks.
Even Flop was unable to laugh at Heinkel. Heinkel’s opponent, whom Flop had considered to be as dangerous as a Divine General, turned out to actually be a Divine General.
And beyond that――,
Flop: [――Miss Utakata.]
Quietly, Flop noticed a change in the situation, invoking the name of the person who had caused this change.
Utakata, the girl called upon by Flop, stirred, focusing on Madelyn in front of her. Retrieving the bow from her back, she prepared an arrow, aimed at Madelyn.
The distance between them amounted to seven or eight meters; even considering her abilities, she would not miss.
If that were to be called an advantage, however, that could not be farther from the truth.
Utakata: [That enemy is the leader of the flock of flying dragons. She’s the same as Mii was before, and the same as Taa is now. Defeat that enemy, and the fight is over.]
Schult: [I-is that so?]
Flop: [Perhaps Miss Utakata’s conception is correct. Unless there are other Divine Generals besides her.]
When Flop took a glance towards her, Madelyn said nothing of it.
Judging from her attitude so far, she was a child who would respond to the words being spoken. If they were to state something obviously wrong, it would be more natural for her to react in some way.
In other words, Madelyn was leading the assault on the Fortress City. Utakata’s view that defeating her would force the flying dragons to withdraw would be correct.
The only problem, was that it did not appear to be something that could feasibly be done.
Madelyn: [You’re a warrior, you’re a warrior, and you… won’t run away. You’re a warrior.]
Schult: [Huh…Me, you mean?]
Madelyn: [Yes. You’re a warrior as well.]
Suddenly being pointed towards, Schult’s eyes became rounder after being appraised as such.
To Schult’s surprise, Madelyn pointed with her small hand to Utakata, Flop, and himself, describing them as “warriors”.
Following on, Madelyn’s finger was pointed at the last one, Heinkel――,
Madelyn: [You’re no warrior. Even though you slew a dragon, you’re a coward.]
Madelyn: [Draw your sword. For I, the dragon, will strike you. For every drop of blood that has been shed.]
As she said this, Madelyn slowly took a step toward him.
And so, slowly, Madelyn’s feet closed the distance headed toward the flying-dragon-killer Heinkel, uncaring of being targeted by Utakata’s arrow.
Utakata: [――Hit her!]
Synchronized with that declaration of intent, Utakata’s arrow was loosed, aiming at Madelyn’s chest. It flew straight at Madelyn, but was caught between two fingers of Madelyn’s lifted hand.
Madelyn did not even look at Utakata. Her line of sight was trained straight towards Heinkel.
Realizing the danger, Flop screamed and Schult tried to pull on Heinkel’s arm. However, Schult’s lack of power was not enough to make Heinkel even twitch.
Rather, faced with Madelyn approaching him, Heinkel cleared his throat, shook off that arm of Schult’s attempting to pull him away.
Schult fell on his butt; Heinkel clenched his molars.
Heinkel: [Oh, ohhh…!]
Heinkel’s sword hand gripped tightly, infused with force. His cheeks turned vermillion as he clenched his jaw and mandible, the blood pumping through his body attempting to dispel the fright making his legs tremble.
Yet despite that, Madelyn did not halt, still closing her distance to Heinkel.
Compared to a flying dragon, this little girl was incomparably smaller in size.
Against the approaching petite child, Heinkel struck a blow with his sword――.
With a high-pitched clang, the sword tumbled from Heinkel’s trembling hand.
At the moment the full extent of his sword technique was to be unleashed, he was unable to raise his arm, letting his sword go.
Madelyn: [After all, you’re no warrior.]
Madelyn’s contemptuous words were driven into Heinkel’s side accompanied by a fist.
The blow struck Heinkel’s stout frame, and with tremendous force, the red-haired swordsman was blown sideways. His entire body slammed into a stone building, cracking the stone wall in the shape of his human form.
The blow, that one hit, caused Heinkel’s eyes to roll to the back of his head, also producing an intense gale.
Regardless of having fired off a punch that produced a boom, that fist carrying energy not below that of the rocks being repeatedly hurled by the flying dragons at the city, Madelyn’s ire did not abate.
As Heinkel slumped forward, Madelyn’s other fist smashed into his nose. The back of his head slammed against the wall, and as he ricocheted in return, a punt from the girl pummeled his torso.
The impact went through him, causing the house behind him to collapse thunderously, exposed to that destructive power. Grabbing Heinkel’s leg as it was engulfed in a plume of smoke, Madelyn brutally threw him in the opposite direction.
Heinkel’s body rumbled and tumbled vigorously as he fell back onto the ground of the street. The building across the street from the house that had just collapsed, now gave him a firm welcome.
Windows shattered on impact, the scattered debris showering down on Heinkel like rain. The fallen Heinkel did not even twitch as they left fine cuts all over his body.
Were it Flop, that onslaught would have been fatal.
Besides Flop, most people would have died to that assault. It was uncertain whether Heinkel was dead or alive, having been showered by a series of attacks that perhaps even Medium would be unable to survive.
But Madelyn, whose profession was fighting, would not permit such half-hearted denouement.
Madelyn’s hand reached behind her back, muttering in a voice that did not conceal her contempt. The belt on her back was unbuttoned, and immediately afterward, an item that had been stored there was opened with a noise.
It was a foldable, razor-sharp blade, a long weapon shaped like a wide-open pair of scissors. Flop recalled seeing something similar during the hunts of nomadic people across the wide, grand grasslands.
Called a Flying Winged Blade, a skillful user could throw it for dozens of meters, spinning the blade around and back to the user’s hand.
However, Madelyn’s weapon was as tall as she was small, a sharp weapon possessing a specialized handle that could be used for purposes other than throwing.
Devoid of mercy, she directed it at Heinkel laying on the ground, having entered that state after being beaten up by her bare hands. Were he to be struck by that weapon, assuredly no trace of him would remain.
Flop: [Won’t you stop, Miss Madelyn? I understand your anger. I know how angry you must be after your friends were killed. But if someone’s attacked, they have no choice but to fight back.]
Biting his lip to brace himself, Flop said this to Madelyn’s back. With the Flying Winged Blade in her hand, she turned away and responded to Flop, “Don’t be mistaken”,
Madelyn: [Dragons are the greatest creatures in the world. If you people snap right back at dragons, you deserve to be exterminated. Besides…]
Madelyn: [Is it possible to tolerate the action of such a coward, I wonder?]
Madelyn’s golden eyes quaked with anger, and Flop realized the reason for her irritation.
Naturally, she was angry about flying dragon accompanying her having been murdered, but more significant was the fact that the one who had performed that deed, Heinkel, was unable to wage battle, having let go of his sword.
She was angered that her companion had been felled by someone so insignificant.
It was an insult not only to Heinkel, but to the life of the flying dragon he had slain――,
A moment later, Madelyn kicked a pebble on the ground to stop Flop before he could move. The pebble struck Flop, about to make a move, and Utakata, who was about to nock her next arrow, hitting their legs and arms respectively, hence hindering their actions.
In the meantime, Madelyn raised her Flying Winged Blade as to snuff out Heinkel right beneath her eyes.
Schult: [N-no, please don’t――!]
Unlike the two who were hit by pebbles, Schult, who was standing away out of precaution, rushed in-between them in desperation. The young boy held out his hands and stepped in between Madelyn and Heinkel.
Schult’s small body covered Heinkel, a shelter far too fragile to resist the storm that was approaching.
But Madelyn was not so kind as to hold back, upon seeing the boy’s recklessness.
Madelyn: [Nobody was going to let you live anyway.]
Madelyn’s eyes narrowed, and the Flying Winged Blade was driven down into Schult’s head.
???: [――Rem! Are you safe!?]
Shouting so, a slender woman opened the large door and rushed into the mansion.
Rem, who had been running through the hall, looked towards the familiar voice and replied with “Yes!”,
Rem: [Kuna-san! And Holly-san]
Holly: [I’m glad you’re okay~! The whole city is a huge mess already~!]
Before Rem’s wide-open eyes, a pair of footsteps rushed towards her, one light and another heavy, belonging to two members of the People of Shudraq stationed in the city, Kuna and Holly.
Upon hearing the voices of those two, Rem’s eyes eased in slight relief,
Rem: [I’m glad that you two are alright. Do you have any injuries?]
Kuna: [We’re fine, for now. It’s just…]
Holly: […Everyone is so beat already~.]
The tone of the two’s voices drooping, they looked about the hall that Rem ran through, speaking their mind.
Around the three of them, residents who had been hurt and injured amidst the chaos that had sparked within the city were being brought in droves. The place gave the appearance of a field hospital, as volunteers helped in patching everyone up.
If the wound was shallow, it could be sewn shut and bandaged. However, if the wound was deep and life-threatening――,
Rem: [I need to do something…]
Biting her lip tightly, Rem clenched her hands.
Her right hand, opposite the cane, was already smeared with blood that was not Rem’s. No matter how many times she tried to scrub it away, the blood on her hand had dried far too much.
Soon after Rem and Priscilla witnessed the flock of flying dragons from the bathhouse’s balcony, the black specks approaching from afar quickly turned into a threat, launching an assault on the city.
Some of the flying dragons hurled down large rocks from the sky, while some of them engaged in a cruel hunt, snatching the fleeing people from the ground to then drop them right back from great heights.
The citizens who lacked the strength to fight against either of these attacks, were nothing but easy prey.
Having been exposed to such danger, the people had rushed here for a shelter and center of treatment; that was the reason behind the misery currently present within the mansion.
One would think Priscilla to be greatly upset with such happenings, and yet――,
Priscilla: [To begin with, the mansion was taken in order to make the precious healer’s whereabouts somewhere distinct, somewhere sound. Zikr and the others were also ordered to escort the wounded.]
Rem: [I-is that so…!?]
Priscilla: [What, did you really believe that I seized the mansion only for its bathhouse? The true reason, is for its bathhouse, and its spaciousness.]
And so, it should be noted that such an exchange had previously occurred.
In any case, Priscilla had allowed the wounded into the mansion. Apparently, Zikr, Mizelda, and other key personnel in the city had been informed of this.
Rem: [So then, I don’t know why I wasn’t told anything about it, being the most important aspect, but…!]
Because she felt that obtaining a satisfying answer was not possible, Rem did not probe it any deeper.
Above all, Rem had no time for worrying over Priscilla’s childish mischievousness. After all, injured people who required Rem’s help were being brought in one after another.
Rem: [Kuna-san and Holly-san, you two are…]
Holly: [Chieftain… Ah! Not anymore~! Former Chieftain Mizelda said this~!]
Kuna: [The more people die, the lower the morale will get. We don’t want fewer people to be able to fight, so we’re Rem’s guards. Leaving that aside…]
Cutting her words off there, Kuna narrowed her almond-shaped eyes. Because of the sharpness of the look, Rem stiffened, as Kuna indicated the wounded in the mansion with her chin,
Kuna: [Where’s that princess who was taking care of you? Don’t tell me, she’s relaxing in her room with all this mayhem going on?]
Holly: [If so, she’s a very heavy sleeper~. I am too, but even if I were snoozing and had my belly full, I’d wake up with this much noise~.]
To the pair’s questions, their tone differing in tension exquisitely, Rem shook her head sideways.
Certainly, Priscilla was the proprietor of a self-centered, arrogant personality, and it was understandable that the two of them would be concerned about her being so whimsical.
Rem: [Surprisingly, Priscilla-san is a very dependable person.]
And immediately following Rem’s comment on the absent Priscilla,
A high-pitched sound, like a strong wind blowing between buildings, descended headlong onto the front yard of the mansion.
Propping up a tremendous cloud of dust by scraping the lawn, was the massive body of a dragon possessing wings, which had just failed a landing from above. Its total wingspan would put the flying dragon at roughly four meters long; it landed in an unsightly manner, as if it had just flown for the first time.
Although, that was only natural.
The basic landing maneuvers that would normally have been founded in experience and instinct could not have been satisfactorily demonstrated, given its head had been smashed in.
Just then, right next to the crashed corpse of the flying dragon, a figure landed from the sky. A beautiful woman, the hem of her red dress fluttering, a jeweled crimson sword in her hand―― Priscilla.
Priscilla: [You used me as a guard. This debt shall cost you greatly, Rem.]
Rem: [Thank you very much. I shall wash your hair as a show of my heartfelt gratitude.]
Priscilla: [How audacious of you, to attempt to get away with such a thing. I shall allow it. I am pleased with it.]
Priscilla acceded to Rem’s reply with a hawkish response given through the opened doorway.
She had been making full use of her extraordinary physical abilities to cut down and repel the flying dragons that had come soaring towards the mansion.
Witnessing this firsthand, Kuna and Holly, as would be expected, could not conceal their astonishment.
For some reason, Rem felt petty pride resulting from the reactions of those two. However, Priscilla, squaring off against the dragons, was not entirely free of concern.
The primary reason for this laid within the beautiful red-jeweled sword wielded in her hand――,
Rem: [Priscilla-san, how is your Yang Sword doing…?]
Priscilla: [As you can see, the sun has darkened. For now, this is merely a blunt object that cannot be called a sword. Although…]
Having revealed that something was wrong with the Yang Sword, Priscilla turned back around.
In that instant, a flying dragon plunged towards Priscilla, its open mouth lined with ravenous fangs aimed at her back. Priscilla ruthlessly plunged the Yang Sword, dull as it was, into the dragon’s maw.
The fangs shattered as the tip of the Yang Sword pierced the back of the dragon’s throat with brutal force, killing it.
Priscilla: [Before me, a winged dragon amounts to naught, even with a blunt object that cannot cut.]
With a sweep of her sword, Priscilla tossed the dragon’s corpse to the edge of the garden. Having now easily disposed of the threat, she turned to notice Kuna and Holly standing beside Rem.
Priscilla: [Shudraqians, is it. I suppose you have come to protect Rem.]
Rem: [Priscilla-san, the two of them came to help the wounded…]
Priscilla: [Do not lose sight of reality because of romantic ideals. What use are the wounded on a battlefield? Who is the most valuable one here? Aside from me, it is you.]
Rem choked up, faced with Priscilla’s sharp rebuttal. Kuna nodded her head in affirmation of Priscilla’s ruthless assessment, “That’s right“,
Kuna: [It’s our role to protect Rem. And Rem’s role is….]
Holly: [To minimize the casualties, as much as possible~!]
Kuna’s hushed words were buttressed by Holly’s cheerful remark.
Burned by both of their words, and by Priscilla’s gaze, Rem admonished herself. Just the previous day, Rem had been feeling sorry for herself, for not being in such an important position.
No longer could she be complacent about her position. Above all, Rem herself had desired it.
Rem: [I will fight my battles myself. Kuna-san, Holly-san, thank you very much.]
Holly: [You’re the one in charge~!]
Kuna and Holly nodded, responding to Rem’s determination with encouraging smiles.
The two granting salvation to her feelings, Rem looked towards Priscilla. She had been defending the mansion until guards capable of protecting Rem arrived――,
Rem: [You’re leaving, aren’t you?]
Priscilla: [It seems to me that there are many situations in which you shall not be able to stand without me. Zikr will know how to dispense with the lack of strength, but he shall not be able to stand up to the enemy’s main force.]
Rem: [The enemy’s main force being…]
Priscilla: [――Naturally, that would be a Divine General.]
Rem gulped, as Priscilla answered with one eye closed.
The existence of the Nine Divine Generals was a critical factor affecting the tide of war in the Empire. In order to recruit as many of them as possible, Subaru, Abel, and the others had set out for Chaosflame.
Nevertheless, the fact that one of the Nine Divine Generals was attacking this city was no coincidence.
Priscilla: [Of course, this is the doing of someone from within the opposing party. Abel’s situation looks increasingly bleak. How come he built something upon such shoddy foundations?]
Rem: [I can’t say anything about that, because I don’t know much about how Abel works. Leaving it at that, I’m sure it would have been very difficult for the people around him…]
While Rem had many qualms about Subaru, she did not believe Abel’s attitude was a commendable one either. Abel, who stood out for his arrogant behavior stemming from his cleverness, foresight, and ability to read the situations, was a difficult opponent for Rem, who had no memories to support herself with.
Being at the top of the country, he must have been surrounded by a great many people. It was very unlikely that all of them would have accepted his ideas and obeyed him so easily.
That was also why a rebellion had been raised. However――,
Rem: [Nonetheless, to allow something as terrible as this because of that…!]
Rem, who had built herself upon a fragile foundation, appealed to Priscilla with her gaze.
Priscilla produced a scoff, accompanied by a smile, due to Rem’s exclamation, as if suggesting she knew what she was thinking. As Rem’s eyes widened in response, Priscilla turned away, the smile disappearing as if it had never existed at all,
Priscilla: [This flock of flying dragons can be explained as being the work of the Flying Dragon General. This General First-Class must have sprouted during mine absence. If what Serena spoke was true, a comrade of hers became the Flying Dragon General.]
Rem: [Surely, the Ninth… That person should be somewhere in the city…]
Priscilla: [――The City Hall.]
Priscilla: [If the enemy is not too foolish, that is where they shall head. After all, they have a direct path to it, cleaving through the skies. There is no reason why they would overlook the commanding post.]
Rem’s thoughts became clouded for a moment due to the obviousness of such a remark.
However, as soon as those words registered in her mind, she was immediately struck by the urgency of the situation. However, Priscilla’s calm and nonchalant demeanor brought Rem to the verge of panic.
Rem: [I-isn’t it a crisis that the command post is being attacked!? Priscilla-san!?]
Priscilla: [Fool. Plump though he may be, Zikr yet remains a General of the Empire. He shall not perish that easily, nor he is so foolish as to keep by his side those who cannot do battle.]
Rem: [That is… Ah. Speaking of those who can’t fight, Schult-san!]
Reminded of the boy who had left the mansion before Priscilla and Rem started bathing, Rem grew anxious.
Hardworking but clumsy, Schult was a boy with no more power than those that needed Rem’s help.
If only he had someone, an adult he could rely on, to join up with, but if not――,
Rem: [Priscilla-san, quickly, please hurry!]
Priscilla: [At the very least, it is your duty to earnestly beseech me for my safety. In fact, you needn’t be in such a hurry, Schult shall not die so easily.]
Replying with a casual demeanor, Priscilla snorted at Rem, who was impatiently motioning with her hand.
Rem furrowed her eyebrows into a frown, not understanding the meaning behind Priscilla’s words. Kuna and Holly, naturally, had no clue as to them as well, their faces conveying confusion with that child’s appearance as the reason.
How could she be certain that Schult, wielding only his cuteness and diligence as weapons, would be safe?
Facing the skeptical eyes of Rem and the others, Priscilla put her hand on the door of the mansion, keeping them out of the way of the flying dragons’ onslaught.
Priscilla: [――Because he has won mine favor with his charm and bravery, you know.]
And with that answer, the door of the mansion was closed.
A harsh, dull thud rang out, and Flop felt his soul crushed under the weight of his own helplessness.
The pain from the pebble stopped him in his tracks, a tragedy that did not even allow him to reach out.
He wished to shut his eyes, to avert his face from their demise, but he did not. Doing so, he believed, would mean running away from his responsibility, stemming from his powerlessness, from his inability to do anything.
At the very least, he himself had to ascertain the result of what he had done, and of what he had been unable to do.
With such modest resolve, Flop refused to look away.
Madelyn: [What, are you?]
Madelyn swung down the Flying Winged Blade in her hand, intending to slice her prey in two with its sharp edge.
Undoubtedly, she had tried to cut both of them in half simultaneously, the disgraceful Heinkel and Schult, who tried to protect him, alike. It was not as if she had paused midway through her attack.
Schult: [Uhh, uhhh…!]
Gnashing his teeth firmly with a groan, Schult covered the fallen Heinkel.
His body had been neither torn nor crushed. However, Madelyn’s blow should have caught him squarely in the back of the head, shattering it.
In fact, Flop had witnessed the blow with his very eyes, and had heard its dull sound.
However, only the dull sound had echoed.
Madelyn tilted her head, her curious eyes repeatedly moving back and forth between her weapon and the back of Schult’s head. Her head still inclined, Madelyn brought the Flying Winged Blade down on Schult once more.
Once, twice, three times, four times, over and over again, in rapid succession――,
Schult: [No, no, please stop! It hurts!]
Madelyn: [That’s strange. I, the dragon, intended to kill. Why don’t you die?
Flop: [That… Maybe, your reluctance towards killing a person’s making your hand slacken just before the weapon hits… Guah!]
Madelyn: [Don’t make fun of this dragon!]
Lamenting about not understanding a thing, Madelyn’s ire was directed at Flop.
She sent a stone larger than the one she had used to stop Flop in his tracks previously flying with a punt; it hit him square in the chest, knocking him flat on his rear.
His sternum creaked from the force of the impact, leaving Flop no longer able to breathe properly.
Schult: [O-ouch, it hurts…]
It was a fact that, Schult, having been struck again and again by the sharp blade, grunted in pain, yet did not die. This bizarre occurrence ultimately sparked an outburst from Madelyn.
As her hand grabbed Schult’s peach-colored hair, hoisting his body, Madelyn gnashed her teeth together.
Madelyn: [You, what in the world are you hiding…?]
While being hoisted up, Schult screamed in agony. But Madelyn’s reaction, as she turned her angry eyes towards him, exceeded his.
Madelyn’s golden eyes widened, her lips quivering with a wince. Flop, teary-eyed with pain, could nonetheless make out what had made her react in such a way.
A dramatic change in Schult’s appearance had been triggered.
That change was――,
Utakata: [Schult’s eyes, they’re burning.]
Utakata, witnessing the same scene, succinctly and accurately described it so.
At first glance, what Utakata had pointed out made no sense, yet there existed no better way to describe what was happening. From Flop’s perspective, it was precisely as she had described it.
It was a thing most unusual; in both of Schult’s red eyes, a flickering flame blazed.
Schult: [Eh, eh, eh…]
However, the one being talked about himself, Schult, was oblivious to this fact, blinking his eyes, his face conveying that he was unable to make sense of the reactions of the people around him. His wandering eyes eventually landed upon his own face reflected in the Flying Winged Blade that had struck him, then realized what it was that had drawn everyone’s attention.
Schult’s features, reflected in that curved blade, appeared distorted, but he could clearly see the fire burning in his eyes.
Schult: [W-what is this? H-hot! Ah! It’s not hot!]
While running his hand all over his face, Schult exclaimed about his inability to feel the flames.
It appeared that, while it was not like his face had just burst in flames spontaneously, the cause of the fire was still inexplicable. However, only Flop and his companions were puzzled as to the meaning of the flames.
Looking into Schult’s face, Madelyn found her cheeks stiffening in astonishment, as she recognized the conflagration blazing within the child’s two eyes.
Consequently, she exclaimed her suspicion.
Madelyn: [You… can’t possibly be related to that foxperson!?]
Agitated, Madelyn batted her eyes because those three people had no inkling as to what she was talking about.
Without the mental leeway to notice her tone of voice breaking just before it actually did, she was overcome by strong surprise and confusion, staring at Schult.
The hand gripping Schult let go of him, and the boy, falling forward with a “Wah!”, dropped to the ground. Madelyn kicked off the ground with force in front of the boy, who was again covering Heinkel.
In one go, Madelyn’s figure leapt, ascending to the sky above the street.
Its abruptness and velocity made it appear to Flop as if she had simply vanished. However, the ground that she had stepped on caved in violently and in addition, the building she had utilized as a foothold to accelerate her motion crumbled.
Madelyn, having risen high up into the air in such a manner, lifted the Flying Winged Blade aloft in both her hands with all her might.
Madelyn: [You’re in my way, in this dragon’s way again… Begone, YOU NUISANCE――!!]
That voice of protest echoed through the air, and the Flying Winged Blade swung down, furiously approaching the ground.
Its principle was the same as how the flying dragons threw their stones, but the force behind the readied blade was orders of magnitude greater. Unlike the large rocks being hurled without aim, this blade aimed to cleave Schult’s body in two.
By some underlying logic, Schult’s body had become sturdy.
However, being struck again and again still caused Schult to cry out in pain. Meaning that it was not that his body had become impervious to the impact from her blows.
Moreover, no matter how sturdy their body may be, a child would still cry out if they were in pain――,
Flop: [If I don’t do something, Medium will be angry with me.]
Enduring the pain of his creaking chest, Flop rushed towards Schult.
He knew not just how much of a shield his body would be in face of that attack. But if he were to lessen the impact even ever-so-slightly, saving Schult, he would be satisfied.
Devoid of any more time to think, Flop exposed himself to the menace that was the Flying Winged Blade,
???: [――Well done.]
Unknowing of the reason, he clearly heard that voice even though it was not a loud one; there was a crash, and the impact of violent, mutual blows produced light that scorched Flop’s eyes.
This radiance, was produced by a bright-red jeweled blade clashing with the side of the rapidly spinning Flying Winged Blade approaching from directly above.
Crimson light burst forth silently, and Flop felt the false sensation of his whole body being enveloped by the wind.
With that over, what followed were the dull thuds of flesh hitting flesh.
Looking upwards, the figure of a person flew through the air at an angle accompanied with a cry of pain, crashing into a building on the ground. Flop quite belatedly realized that it had been Madelyn’s body who had so violently caused the stone building to crumble.
The one responsible for this was a beautiful woman adorned in red who landed in front of the breathless Flop and his companions.
Priscilla: [Should you not know by now? What you must shout at a time such as this, is praise.]
While leisurely brushing the hem of her dress, Priscilla stated such.
At a time the city was under siege by attacks from flying dragons, with even a Divine General being dispatched, her indomitable attitude and way of being was incomparably reliable.
In truth, she had just dealt a serious blow to Madelyn, and, in the process, rescued Flop and the others from a life-threatening situation.
Priscilla: [However, that you would have been kept at a place like this was something I was certain would not happen. I thought that you would naturally aim for the City Hall right away.]
Flop: [Yeah, we were struggling to decide if we should do so. Wondering if we should go to the mansion where Princess-kun and the Missus are, or to the City Hall where Ballhead-kun is…]
Priscilla: [Absolutely not. That is precisely the target of the General First-Class who attacked the city.]
With a jerk of her chin, Priscilla stopped Flop from continuing, indicating the place where Madelyn had crashed into.
Hearing that, Flop’s mind was lost in thought for a moment, but readily dismissed that as unimportant for the time being. Then, he called out to Priscilla, “Princess-kun…”,
Flop: [Thank you for saving us. I’m going to find shelter together with Butler-kun and Miss Utakata, but please tell us where to go. I have to take Redhead-san with me as well.]
Priscilla: [Ho, so you can make a reasonable judgment? In that case, head for the mansion. It shall be safer there than in the City Hall, the focus of their assault. And…]
Priscilla’s line of sight shifted over, glancing at Heinkel, laying on the ground behind him. Priscilla narrowed her crimson eyes, then let out a minute sigh,
Priscilla: [Feel free to leave that behind. If it is of no help, then that is the end of it.]
Flop: [Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen. Redhead-san’s going to be a valuable asset once he wakes up, and most importantly, your precious Butler-kun went through a lot of pain to protect him.]
At the sound of Flop’s words, Priscilla’s gaze was suddenly set on Schult.
Water welled up in Schult’s eyes, overwhelmed from having been saved in the nick of time by his master’s appearance. Both his eyes still burned, the tears and the blaze making for a spectacle.
However, Schult did not express his anxiety over the strange situation that had befallen him; instead, he squeezed the leg of the fallen Heinkel,
Schult: [I-I will be carrying Heinkel-sama…! But, Priscilla-sama, what will…]
Priscilla: [There is some business that still requires being taken care of. Certainly, you comprehend.]
Schult: [Y-es. Something great that only Priscilla-sama can handle…!]
How did that brave boy’s faith, Schult’s faith in her, affect Priscilla?
Priscilla, whose expression did not change, simply nodded mutely, accepting Schult’s words. Without a moment’s pause, she then glanced towards the alley,
Priscilla: [Avoid the main street, take the alleys at the side of tall buildings. Schult, you should recall the path.]
Schult: [Yes! I walked down that path every day, diligently!]
Priscilla: [I shall give you my commendation.]
After a brief note of praise for his efforts, Priscilla turned her back to Schult.
Her attitude was clear; time for chatting was over. Flop’s instincts too, informed him that remaining in that place any longer was not a good idea.
If they stayed near Priscilla however, they would be safe from the threat of the flying dragons.
Flop: [Butler-kun, I’ll need you to show me around. I’ll somehow manage to carry Redhead-san. As for Miss Utakata, be on the lookout on the streets in our stead. I’m sure you’re used to hunting, I’ll be relying on you!]
Schult: [I-I understand. I will do my best to show you the way!]
Utakata: […Uu understands as well.]
Utakata, visibly hesitant to run away for a second, nodded as she was given her part.
With this, the division of the roles was complete. All that remained was――,
Flop: [Princess-kun! Thank you once again!]
Priscilla: [Gratitude or the like are needless. Nothing but words of praise towards mineself are required.]
With her back towards him, Priscilla responded to Flop’s gratitude. Chuckling at her frank demeanor, he proceeded to pick up Heinkel’s fallen body.
Tall and well-trained, his body was quite heavy. It was a good thing he was used to carrying Medium and escaping in times of emergency. Carrying his body over both shoulders like a piece of luggage, he was somehow still able to move.
Schult: [We must not forget this, either.]
And so, Schult picked up Heinkel’s fallen sword, gripping it tightly within his thin hand.
With that, Flop, Schult and Utakata briefly faced each other and nodded, only for them to then run into the alleyway, the mansion as their destination.
Before they had completely gotten away however――,
Schult: [Priscilla-sama, this fire, was surely… Thank you so very much!]
With his burning eyes opened wide, Schult voiced his gratitude towards Priscilla.
――And so, after Schult and the others had left noisily and hurriedly.
Priscilla: [Schult, and that guy who named himself as Flop or something. Were that other man in such a predicament without such assistance, he would have been rife with bad luck.]
Amidst the street devoid of people, Priscilla quietly muttered this.
That comment was directed not to Schult, whose eyes blazed, nor to Flop, who made up for his inability with tact, nor to Utakata, her magnanimity too large for her size, but to the final person remaining.
He had survived in a situation that would have definitely killed him. It was nothing but the devil’s luck.
Priscilla: [It is doubtful that someone who does not perish when they should have, ought to be dubbed lucky.]
Not pity, but something close to pity had been inserted into those words.
It melted into the wind of the battlefield, laden with the scent of blood, and vanished, going unheard by anyone.
At that moment――,
With a sound, the ornament that adorned Priscilla’s orange hair shattered.
By that, it did not mean that a fragile portion of the jeweled hair ornament had broken, rather that the entire ornament cracked and shattered to dust in one fell swoop.
Instantly, Priscilla’s long, collected hair unfurled, flowing down her back in waves.
Madelyn: [――You’re not dying either?]
Slowly, a shadow appeared in the street, alongside the sound of debris being kicked up.
There, a being whose entire body was smeared with dust, however, whose body itself was yet energetic―― a figure with two black horns sprouting from her head, at which Priscilla narrowed her eyes,
Priscilla: [A dragonkin. Where was such an antique unearthed?]
Madelyn: [Do you think you can underestimate this dragon? Surely you don’t believe you can get away with this in exchange for nothing, do you?]
Baring her teeth because of Priscilla’s words, the girl―― Madelyn, squinted the dragon-like pupils of her eyes.
As she felt the draconic energy emanating from her small figure as if it were the wind, Priscilla gently stroked her unraveled hair with her hand,
Priscilla: [You seem to resent the fact that I am not dead, do you not?]
Madelyn: [Well, I should’ve flattened those overinflated breasts. People who won’t die even if they have their hearts crushed are annoying, no matter who they are.]
Priscilla: [――Even if their hearts are crushed, huh?]
Sighing at Madelyn’s manner of putting it, Priscilla looked downwards at the breasts the former had indicated; her own.
Priscilla’s ample breasts were more pronounced than usual, due to the constricting design of her dress, but Madelyn’s blow had certainly reached those prized breasts.
It had not been visible to Schult nor to any of the others, but battling in midair had been a painful experience.
Just as Priscilla’s strike had sent Madelyn flying, Madelyn’s counterattack had also struck a harsh blow to Priscilla’s chest.
If it looked like Priscilla was looking at things like it was no big deal right now, that was because――,
Priscilla: [Apparently, even my property itself is unwilling to see me lost to this world.]
Madelyn: [――The Soul Marriage Technique.]
As the unexpected words came out of Madelyn’s mouth, Priscilla raised her eyebrows
Madelyn kept glaring at Priscilla, pointing at a building in the street―― No, far, far beyond it, far away to the southeast.
Madelyn: [You’re the same as that foxwoman. Do you know her?]
Priscilla: [I do not. If you possess any idea about something similar to this of my own possession, then they are a rip-off of me. I am the original.] 
Priscilla: [Do you not comprehend?]
Words she had never heard of before were hurled at Madelyn, confusion dawning on her visage. Consequently, Priscilla decided to make things simple in an attempt to clear up the confusion.
In other words――,
Priscilla: [Much like someone with the awareness that this shall be a difficult affair for them, within yourself, you know you are no match for me.]
Madelyn: [――Hk, are you making a fool of this dragon!?]
Priscilla: [Nonsense. As if you get to choose who you are. ――Mineself is at the top, and everyone else is at the bottom.]
The moment she answered with a smile, Madelyn’s anger reached the boiling point.
The dragonkin, red-faced and with glowing golden eyes, roared, a threat looming before her eyes.
With Madelyn to her front, Priscilla glanced to the sky.
As if searching for the sky―― Nay, searching for the hilt of the crimson treasured sword, which had the atmosphere as its sheath,
Priscilla: [Has the sunshine ceased? This shall be somewhat more complicated.]
――The shock and destruction began in one corner of the Fortress City, but did not end there.
The fierce battle had initially begun in the south side of the city, bringing forth a chain of destruction to a cluster of densely-packed buildings; in which seemed to be all too telling of the enormity of the cataclysm caused by the flying dragons, accompanied by a plume of smoke.
However, that which plunged the southern part of the Fortress City into a state of devastation was not the cataclysm brought by the flying dragons.
Of course, the hunt of the flying dragons, as they cast down large rocks from the sky, laying waste to the land below, was a calamity in itself.
When people running for cover in fear of the raining rocks showed up, the claws and fangs of the gliding flying dragons would rend and chew them to pieces, leading to the number of dead piling up on the streets.
Some would resist. Some would strike back by shooting their bows at the flying dragons, grounding them.
However, most people, exposed to the one-sided assault of the flying dragons, only sought salvation.
That, was just how immense and tremendous the damage caused by the flying dragons was.
But the fierce battle was so destructive, that even those flying dragons avoided approaching it.
The howling, leaping little body clutched a mighty Flying Winged Blade with both arms.
The crooked blade adroitly sliced through the resistance of the wind and air alike, and, upon being thrown, would revolve to then return to its original position. For experts, it served as a throwing utility which could zone in on the heads of distant prey. However, it had been thrown with terrific energy, flying around, scything down everything in its path.
Its weight, sharpness, and destructive power all, were beyond comparison to the supposedly-small Flying Winged Blade.
If a conventional Flying Winged Blade were about the size of a one-handed sword, this one was as massive as two large swords joined together, and even heavier than ten large swords melted and cast together.
Once upon a time, ten swords, of Enchanted and Holy type both, holding special powers, were brought forth in this world.
This weapon, made of metal allegedly on par with those, fully demonstrated its power, a fiendish weapon that was far more deadly than it appeared.
With each throw, an area of several dozen meters would be shaved wholly; anything in its path, whether building or living creature, would be struck indiscriminately.
The dragonkin’s unusual physical strength and mentality of caring naught for the resulting damage to the surroundings were the reason for these devastating tactics, which would have only been possible if the dragonkin had been able to destroy the south side of the Fortress City.
Those defying the flying dragons in various parts of the city, had no time to turn to look at the ground, ergo, did not come to notice it.
Of course, the sound of the roar and earthquake reached them, but they were far too occupied looking up at the sky, exchanging words with whomever was beside them, to pay any attention to the damage.
And that, was fortune amidst lack of it.
Had they been witness to the overwhelming destruction, they would have forgotten to even cling to the thin threads of survival, to drop to their knees.
To a certain extent, the existence of the rampaging dragonkin was a disaster of a kind apart from the catastrophe brought about by the flying dragons.
To be struck by two natural disasters simultaneously, in a single city, was nothing short of a nightmare.
And moreover, of those natural disasters, one was being brought about to destroy merely a single person.
Priscilla kicked the ground as if she were dancing, continuously avoiding the attacks in Madelyn’s rampage.
Although the physical prowess of the dragonkin was not to be underestimated, Madelyn’s fighting style lacked finesse. She had not learned any sort of martial arts. Perhaps, that was because she underestimated humans as inferior.
Priscilla: [Although, I have never learnt the martial arts myself.]
If there was anything Priscilla recalled seeing well, the movements of those that wielded swords would be it. Aside from that, she held a perfect grasp of what her body was, and how it moved.
If there was a reason as to why she managed to handle the Yang Sword like a master, it was precisely because of that reason.
However, at a time she could not draw the Yang Sword, each blow of Madelyn’s was a threat.
The daylight had ceased, the sun having dipped below the horizon.
There were certain rules for the utilization of the Yang Sword. The sun did not always shine. For half of a day, it shared its responsibilities with the moon, using the time to build up its strength.
If there was a sun that shone always, then that would be none other than Priscilla herself.
Priscilla: [The longer this takes, the deeper the wound shall be, is it?]
Priscilla was cautiously responding to Madelyn’s attacks. Of course, the lack of the decisive Yang Sword was a pretext for her being unable to push through, but the high vitality of the dragonkin was also of concern.
If not slain in one fell swoop, Madelyn’s counterattack would likely reach Priscilla.
Reaching a stalemate via mutual injury, much like how she had done the first time around, was not something that could be repeated over and over again.
If the conclusion of this kept getting postponed like this, the damage to the Fortress City would only spread.
Just as the southern part of the city had been directly razed by Madelyn’s destruction, elsewhere the casualties would continue to mount, as assault after assault by the flying dragons continued to rain down.
Madelyn caught the Flying Winged Blade gliding in return, then planted both her feet on the ground; proof of her fighting spirit. The dragonkin’s continuously rising spirit, transmitted through the air, inspired the flying dragons in the city’s skies.
For humans, it would be a morale-boosting phenomenon, but it had the effect of arousing the instincts of the fiercest species living in the wild, an effect that ought to be dubbed as madness.
Were the flying dragons to become more and more ferocious, more and more aggressive, they would become literally unmanageable.
She desired to get things moving before that came to pass. To that end――,
Priscilla: [I need one more move.]
To make the situation move forth, she needed some kind of grand move.
Ducking under Madelyn’s attack and taking a great leap forward, Priscilla stood amidst the collapsed cityscape.
The city touted as the Fortress City, its robustness the pride of its residents, a pillar of peace and tranquility, was now a shadow of its former self. Even after this calamity had been driven away, reconstruction would be no easy task.
However, all those things would only be an issue after the great disaster before it had been eliminated.
Madelyn: [Next, will hit…!]
As she continued to lay on these insipid attacks, which Priscilla was able to repeatedly dodge with ease, Madelyn roared like a beast.
But she was also slowly correcting her tactics, all whilst she kept on launching unsuccessful attacks. It would be excellent if she were an enemy possessing scarce will to learn; but as that was not the case, she would grow during battle.
Madelyn exhaled sharply a white breath in front of Priscilla, hoping to avoid any further development.
The dragon’s blood circulated through her body, the rise in body temperature provoking steam to rise from the girl’s diminutive frame.
Combined with the white breath, her figure seemed as though it were even enveloped in white smoke――,
How odd, so thought Priscilla as she closed one eye shut as she peered towards Madelyn.
As the battle protracted further, it was no wonder that the dragon’s blood had awakened. It was also clear that Madelyn’s budding emotions, dragonkin as she was, were causing the flying dragons to become frantic.
However, amidst the climate of the Vollachian Empire, her exhaled breath was white and misty.
Not to mention――,
Priscilla: [It is not possible for it to snow.]
Glancing around, Priscilla noted white flakes falling languidly at the edge of her vision.
Slowly but surely increasing, snow fell upon the Fortress City, while most of the shelters protecting its people were being lost.
Words like “rare” did not suffice to describe this event, one could call it a sort of natural disaster.
In Vollachia, there were more than a few people who had never witnessed snow.
To be struck by two natural disasters simultaneously, in a single city, was nothing short of a nightmare, as had been stated.
But what if there were a new natural disaster, a third one, that coincided with it?
Would that be a nightmare or――,
???: [――That’s enough.]
A voice echoed from the ground, amidst the cold drops from the heavens slowly falling upon them.
A beautiful, yet resonant sound, akin to the ringing of a silver bell.
――This third natural disaster, if it were to coincide with the others, would it be a nightmare?
――Or could it be a grand move?
???: [I’m in a bit of a hurry, but I can’t let this pass. ――I’m reaaally angry.]
In that place where anything and everything had met the onslaught of a great disaster, the footsteps of a silver-haired young girl echoed.
In search of her missing knight, a Witch, accompanied by snow, had come to the Fortress City.
 The expression Priscilla uses here translated as “rip-off” is not English, the use of which is typically noted via underlining on WCT’s chapter. However, this is a modern expression, the implication being that she learned it from Al, from whom she also learned some English expressions.