Human Translated By:
- Garcar (Section 2)
Machine Translated By:
- Cirdan Lunae
Japanese to English Checking By:
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This an edited Machine Translation, which has been checked by at least one Japanese-English Human Translator for quality using feedback from the machine translators and prooferaders. This may have a quality dip in accuracy, therefore, if you read this chapter you must take into consideration the tradeoffs between speed and quality.
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An arrow pierced the head that had no eyes, ears, or a nose, and the golem, made of stone, was thrown a great deal backwards.
However, the head, without any human-like parts, could not be a human-like vital point, so the advancing enemy’s footsteps were undeterred, whether it was pierced by an arrow or part of its head was missing.
???: [If crushing its head ain’t enough… Holly!]
Holly: [Got it~!]
Shuffling, the stone golems rushed towards them with outstretched hands.
The sight of them, no bigger than human beings, coming at them with their inhuman movements evoked a sense of disgust. Channeling that antipathy into her fingers as she drew the bowstring, the strong bow made a sound like a thunderclap.
Three arrows were released at the same time. They struck the stone golem’s torso, not piercing it nor hitting a critical point, but smashing it to pieces, stopping the golem’s movement.
If its whole body were broken to pieces, even the stone golem would cease to move.
???: [With this amount, you can’t take them out one by one!]
Kuna looked up to reach the target rampart, the third bastion, which she had been told was a hole in the enemy’s formation, but when she managed to reach it, the number and nature of the enemy soldiers deployed made her feel hopeless.
The third bastion was supposed to be guarded by Moguro Hagane, one of the Nine Divine Generals.
Fortunately, Moguro themself was not visible on the rampart. Was it because they had not reached Moguro yet, or was Moguro themself somewhere else?
Holly: [It’s as if they’re ants gathered around a tree’s sap~! I can’t knock them down like this~!]
Kuna: [This is no time for your whining! Shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot! Shoot as many as you can!]
Holly: [Geez~! Kuna, you’re so strict~!]
Raising her voice in a way similar to a shriek, Holly pulled an arrow from the quiver on Kuna’s back and fired them one after another from her powerful bow. Two or three stone golems were destroyed with each shot, but that was not enough to keep up with the number of enemies.
――Because there were hundreds, thousands even, of stone golems, too many to count.
Kuna: [Tsk, what are we supposed to do…!]
Clicking her tongue and distancing herself from the enemy, Kuna cursed Abel for giving her these orders.
She only knew of them from rumors, but Moguro Hagane was a special kind of demi-human called a “Steelfolk”. Unlike the Weaponkin, whose bodies were only partially made of metal, she had heard that they were existences whose bodies were entirely made out of minerals.
In that case, were all the countless stone golems in front of them also Steelfolk.
Holly: [They all look so lifeless~! They really look like dolls~!] 
Kuna: [I have the same opinion! What kind of a gimmick do these guys have?]
While maintaining a moderate distance, she glared at her surroundings and looked at the crowd of stone golems. Thanks to their lack of eyes, the stone golems did not seem to have any self-consciousness.
They simply surrounded those who approached them, beating and bludgeoning them to death with their tough limbs and monstrous strength. Those who had been unable to escape were caught up to, and died tragically as they were exposed to the violence of the sheer numbers.
The rebels who challenged the third bastion and were trampled by the hordes of stone golems would have literally had their corpses stepped over, and their remains would not have remained intact outside of the shape of their formation. And this was not an event that Kuna and the others could laugh at as if it were someone else’s problem.
If they continued as they were, they would be trampled by an overwhelming number of enemies, unable to stand a chance against them.
Before that happened――,
Kuna: [If things get really bad, we’re going to have to retreat, but…]
Holly: [Hey! Kuna! Look at that~!]
Both of them were forced to stomp the grass of the farmland that had now become a battlefield and shoot while running away. As Kuna turned around at the sound of Holly’s voice, something surprising entered her field of vision.
A figure stood still on the battlefield, and then the stone golem rushed in and slammed their stone arms down on them. It seemed as if the target would be knocked down by the blow and left to die in a puddle of blood――,
???: [――Don’t get in my way, you stone golem!!]
It was Mizelda who howled, her ferocious beauty contorted in anger.
As she shouted angrily, she swung her club held in both her hands, crushing the head and upper body of the stone golem that had leapt towards her, effectively beating it at its own game.
――No, she was not the only one who had chosen to attack the stone golems rather than run away from them.
???: [Get out of my way, get out of my way, get the fuck out of my way! You’re all shame of the Empire who don’t understand the authority of His Excellency the Emperor, so don’t fucking get in my way!]
The slash was released with a guttural cry, and it brilliantly separated the stone golem’s neck and torso, and further split the flying head vertically in mid-air. If that was not enough, he slashed the torso diagonally, slashed off the arm from the shoulder, and when he saw that it had stopped moving, he kicked it down and moved on to the next one.
A rough-looking man with an eye patch similarly dove into the stone golems, as Mizelda had.
The relentless attack power of these two attackers in hand-to-hand combat thwarted the stone golem’s ability to launch an attack.
But what truly stunned Kuna and Holly was not either of them.
Kuna & Holly: [――――]
A powerful sword roared, and mowing down the stone golems , it blew them away.
It was a rough and violent slash that could hardly be described as brilliant. However, it was the most appropriate swordsmanship to use against the stone golems that needed to be destroyed in order to keep them suppressed.
Swinging that sword and burying the onrushing horde of stone golems was a red-haired swordsman―― A man who she only knew as a follower of the proud and haughty Priscilla, Heinkel.
A man who looked somewhat dead inside had joined the war front before anyone could notice, and cut down the stone golems one after another without speaking, the scene lacked a sense of reality, much like a nightmare on a night of poor sleep.
Looking only at the events that were taking place, regardless of whether they were circumstances that Kuna and Holly should welcome, they were unsure of whether they should accept it with delight, and there were negative thoughts swirling around in them.
Surely the reason for this was the expression of Heinkel’s face as he wielded his sword.
Holly: [It seems like it’s full of pain~.]
After witnessing the same thing, Kuna could not help but agree with Holly’s mutterings.
She could not understand Holly’s thoughts as the latter expressed that, but from Kuna’s eyes, it looked more like he wanted to die.
Sometimes, warriors would head to the battlefield in search of a place to die.
Even in Shudraq, there were times when those without much longer to live would choose their final moments by taking a bow and challenging the large creatures hidden deep in the forest.
It was probably not an ending that Kuna would choose, but she could understand such thoughts.
However, those of Heinkel’s were different from those of a warrior seeking a place to die.
Wanting death while fearing death, the figure that fiercely fought against death only exacerbated how pathetic it was to look at. Even though she knew his presence was dominantly supporting the warfront, Kuna wished for him to collapse and die right away.
He was a man who swung a sword surrounded in melancholy to the extent that it made those around him think that.
???: [Kuna! Holly!]
With those words, the mood of the battlefield still continued to shift, ignoring that mental image Kuna and the others had.
The one who called their names and overtook them as if she was flying through the grassland was Taritta. Carrying her quiver on her back and having returned to the typical Shudraqian attire, she arrived in front of the two of them,
Taritta: [It’s dangerous to stop moving. This is the path Sister and Jamal have created.]
Kuna: [I understand that even without you telling me, Chieftain. …I was just a little bit distracted.]
Taritta: [Heinkel, was it?]
Looking at her fondly, Taritta perfectly guessed Kuna’s embarrassed, gloomy feelings.
Taritta was Mizelda’s younger sister, and she succeeded her as Chieftain of the People of Shudraq. Previously she was shy and indecisive, a girl that had stood out for being more cowardly than careful.
However, as a condition for taking over as Chieftain, the experience of going along on the journey to the Demon City of Chaosflame seemed to have been significant, quieting that cowardice and leading her to acquire a refined strength.
Her pointing things out now had also probably accompanied that.
Holly: [Chieftain, don’t you find it creepy~?]
Taritta: [I think creepy is too direct, but…If it’s true that he’s desperate, and that he will become our war strength, then I have no objection to fighting alongside him.]
Kuna: [What a magnificent answer. …That’s fine with me too.]
Even though there were things that were unaccounted for, there was no need to account for them at this moment.
Originally, Taritta was good at changing her approach in hunting situations, if not in everyday life. Now, as the Chieftain, she could successfully adjust to any situation.
As Kuna evaluated the situation, Taritta looked at the quiver on her back,
Taritta: [The number of arrows left has decreased a lot. While we have the chance, let’s collect the fallen arrows. It’d be best not to use too many arrows on one person.]
Kuna: [In theory, yes, but…]
Holly: [I can’t seem to kill them in one shot~!]
Taritta: [There is a trick to dropping them in one shot. Aim for the heart. ――Like this.]
Before the struggling duo, Taritta quickly fired three arrows from her bow. As three stone golems approached Mizelda’s back in the distance, the arrows pierced the three bodies through their back, head, and thigh, killing them.
Kuna: [Wait, wait, wait! Why did they die in one shot!? The heart?]
Holly: [They’re stone golems, so I don’t know where their hearts are~]
Taritta: [Is-Is that so? If you look closely, I think you can see where their vital spots are, but…]
Taritta’s brow lowered with a troubled expression as Kuna and Holly pressed her.
Apparently, she really did not do much more than look closely. Taritta was indeed Mizelda’s sister, although her personality was so opposite to hers that it was difficult to tell.
As one of the People of Shudraq, Kuna was proud of the high degree of purity in her Chieftain sisters.
Kuna: [Since that consultation wasn’t helpful, let’s do this our way. Pick up arrows, and if there aren’t enough, use a club or whatever. Then, we’ll beat the enemy to death.]
Holly: [Let’s put an end to this doll game~!] 
Taritta: [I think that’s the spirit. But, at some point, the real Divine General is going to come out of the woodwork. …As was the case with Yorna, the Nine Divine Generals are anything but standard. Be very careful.]
Holly: [You should probably tell that to Mizelda~.]
At the serious-faced Taritta’s opinion, Kuna shrugged her chin at Mizelda, who was already rampaging on the front lines.
The former Chieftain, who had a prosthetic leg, had given up her position to her sister and was now running rampant with her lightweight physique. At this rate, if the Divine General were to appear from the enemy lines, she would be the first to collide with them.
Even without one leg, Mizelda was capable of putting up a good fight against any serious challenger――,
Taritta: [Sister, please don’t go too far! You will die if you are alone!]
Taritta shouted, taking a single shot at the head of a stone golem blocking the way ahead of Mizelda. At the sound of Taritta’s voice, Mizelda gave a big wave of her hand, communicating that she understood what was happening.
Kuna was genuinely surprised and impressed by Taritta’s judgment in her statement.
Taritta had truly stopped hiding behind her sister’s back.
Kuna: [I didn’t see what happened at that time with Mariuli, but…]
Holly: [Taritta, you’re flourishing, so we’re also happy for you~.]
Taritta: [Is this really the time to say that!? Both of you, please go fight!]
Holly shot the stone golems that surrounded them with her bow, Kuna bashed them with her short hatchet as she gave a remark, and in response, Taritta said that with a sharp voice.
Kuna and Holly nodded to each other and obeyed without hesitation at the direction of their ever-reliable Chieftain.
A Covenant of old, a promise exchanged between a former Emperor of Vollachia and the People of Shudraq, a promise that was now far removed from the present, which Kuna and the others could not be blamed for having forgotten.
This battle began to fulfill that, however, it was now certainly a battle that Kuna and Holly, as People of Shudraq, absolutely must gain victory in.
Stone golems charged directly towards him.
Without faces, they had neither hostile intent, nor intent to kill. Swinging his sword at those opponents, while cursing the puppeteer who had inconsiderately chosen those golems, Heinkel Astrea looked out onto the battlefield. 
For what reason, was he swinging his sword in the vast lands of the Empire?
For what reason, was he still swinging his sword after exposing so much of his shame?
For what reason, on the lands where the person who must see him being useful was not present, was he there?
Slashing upwards from the elbows of those extended arms, the upper body of his opponent was blown away by the aftermath of the attack.
The opponents were stone golems, and above not being able to dampen their fighting strength by merely cutting off their head or limbs, what was required more than a refined swordsmanship was to drive the opponent into a position where they could no longer do anything, an attack akin to that of a barbaric tribe.
Changing his grip on his sword, he spread his legs wide and decided on a stance.
He unleashed the sword he had readied by his waist, and it obliterated the stone golems in its path to an amusing extent. It was not amusing. There was nothing about this that was amusing.
He had no such memories of the sword ever being enjoyable to swing.
For him, the sword had never been anything but a shackle that was heavier than it appeared.
While spewing curses, he landed a blow on the enemy that had entered his sword’s range.
Filling his head was nothing but the doubts of “For what reason,” and blowing away all those hindrances in the way of his vision, he swung his sword. He swung it. He swung, swung, swung, and swung it about――.
Heinkel: [Fucking hell.]
Free your mind from all obstructive thoughts, such was how he had been instructed during his training with the sword.
Strengthen your concentration, become free from obstructive thoughts, hone your skills to become one with the sword. ――No matter how many times he was told this, he had no idea what the instruction was trying to say.
Heinkel: [Fucking hell.]
He was told to not think, but if he tried to put that into practice, he would end up thinking about “not thinking,” so there was no way his mind could become free from obstructions.
Completely focusing on nothing but the sword, how could humans do such a thing?
If one lived, they would get hungry. They would also breathe. They would probably feel itches in their body, and also get assailed by drowsiness. Their worries would be endless, and their families would always present in the corners of their minds. Anxiety about tomorrow and anxiety about ten seconds later never ceased, and the failures from ten seconds earlier, let alone the failures from yesterday, and failures from even before that were things they eternally worried about. Piling up, on and on, on and on, the thoughts were everlasting.
How could one possibly become free from obstructive thoughts?
Completely cutting off the thoughts that were naturally born from human activity, such a thing was surely unthinkable for a human. In that case, was a swordsman who could free themself of obstructive thoughts not truly human?
Was that why he was not truly a swordsman?
Heinkel: [Fucking hell goddammit!]
That limitless stream of profanity, no matter how much he let out, it could not disappear from his mind.
As if to mow that all down in one go, Heinkel recklessly swung his sword, and proceeded to turn the stone golems blocking his way into a mountain of gravel.
Just how much value was there in these actions?
Failing to do the things he had to do in the place he had to do them, and letting the person he wanted to win favor with clean up his mess, in the end he owed a debt to yet another person who helped him survive.
Doing these kinds of actions over and over, just how much would he be recompensed, and for what?
???: [Sorry Pops, but my amazin’ self ain’t got any idea about what yer dealin’ with.]
In his head, mixed in with his own profanity, he heard the voice of another person.
Still young, the voice that he heard could even be called unripe, and it had been from he was drunk on the lookout platform. Even though he expressed that he did not want to speak with anyone and had secluded himself, it was the voice of the boy who had tactlessly barged in back then.
???: [I ain’t got any idea about if ya failed, nor how badly ya messed up either. But ya know, if it’s an experience of failing, then my amazin’ self has also got that.]
After chasing him away once by saying careless things, the boy started to show up again and again.
Then, even though he himself also had a face which seemed to hold doubts, he tried to interject into Heinkel’s worries and things had become like this.
That was also terribly childish and cheap, those naive and idealistic ideas made him want to laugh scornfully.
???: [There ain’t no one but yerself who can make a distinction of what ya’ve messed up. That’s why I’ve been tellin’ ya Popsn, if yer gonna do it――]
Heinkel: [Shut the fuck up, you damn shitty brat!!]
Encouragement or consolement, pity or sympathy, whatever it was, he did not care.
Everything directed towards him was troublesome, and there was absolutely nothing that he desired from them. There was not even a single thing he desired from other people. There was nothing he desired. There was just a person who he wanted to offer this to.
There was value in what he would receive from that person. So, everything other than what he would receive from that person, were merely stone weights which he would drag as he walked.
The ominous stone golems silently creeped up, and before his eyes, he slashed them with his sword, vertically splitting two of them into two halves each. As if to take advantage of his large swing, another came flying in from the side, so he smashed its face area with the tip of the scabbard, and followed by drawing the beloved sword “Astrea” back, and skewering it for the kill.
Opponents without faces, only using moves they had been taught, if it was that kind of match, then he could cut them down no matter how many there were.
As long as he kept breathing, then he could take on ten or twenty with no problem. However, just what significance did that have?
Scoring these kind of points without even showing it to the person he must show it to, just what――,
???: [――Pops, if yer gonna do it, ya gotta restore it through yer own sword.]
Heinkel: [Fucking shithead…hk]
It was laughable that he was still clinging to a fading light which may or may not even be there.
On that note, he again collided with the notion of why he was even still living.
Just what did he want to prove through this sword? What did he want to gain? What was it that he desired?
When it came to the quantity of main threats, everyone in the surroundings would successively launch an attack on that.
Charging in was Heinkel, the woman from the tribe of hunters wielding a club, and also the eyepatched twin sword user who employed elegant sword skills unbefitting of his face. However, with the orders of the hunter tribe’s Chieftain, who mainly used a bow, the warfront was resolutely upheaved, and the other rebels who had once stepped aside had each regained their spirit.
A hole in the enemy’s line of defense, pointing that out had been worthwhile.
Compared to the other four bastions, it was evident that just this bastion had a weak defense. The fact that Heinkel could cut his way through was proof of that.
One person, indeed, if there was even one person who was truly strong, then it would be impossible for Heinkel to lead the charge like this.
???: [Follow after that back――!]
???: [Don’t let the red-haired man get all the achievements! We’ll also push forward!]
???: [That swordsmanship isn’t too bad. If he shaved his beard, his face would become more visually appealing.]
Lagging behind Heinkel, who led the charge, the many people raising their voices were unthinkable.
He did not have the time to be captivated by them as a phony.
Heinkel: [Fucking hell… bring it on, bring it the fuck on! With just this, I won’t even be able to…]
Score points, trying to accept the situation before his eyes more severely, more pragmatically, Heinkel lifted his head.
The stone golems standing directly opposite him, their formation was blown away from a sidewards sword slash, and trying to look at the imminent ramparts, he funneled power into his knees as he leaped towards them.
Immediately taking hold of the ramparts, if he eradicated the enemies atop the wall, then the capture of the third bastion―― to be clear, it was not that he would slay some enemy General, so would it really be a contribution?
So then, to compensate for his failure in that Fortress City, would Heinkel be the one to connect the spider threads of what Priscilla wished for?
At the very least, even if it was only a little――,
???: [――You, killed me, most.]
Indeed, the moment he recklessly took hold of the ramparts, a voice struck Heinkel.
His lungs felt paralyzed, and a hoarse breath leaked out of his throat. It was not that he had suffered an attack, nor had he avoided an attack, it was just that he heard a voice.
With that alone, Heinkel’s entire body trembled with fear.
The various thoughts from just before flashed through his head, about being free from obstructive thoughts, about his own desires, about recovering for his failures, they were all painted over with white, and vanished from sight.
What he did understand was what he had happened across. ――A threat to which he could not do a single thing about.
???: [Killed, me, most. Therefore, I also, kill, you.]
An emotionless voice resounded, and before Heinkel’s eyes, the tall and thick wall began to change.
It was not the stone golems lined up atop the wall.
It was not the stone golems deployed to try and protect the ramparts either.
The bastion on the ramparts of the star-fortress, on the thick wall which they called the third bastion, a change arose.
In the vision of Heinkel, who leaked out breaths, countless “lights” were born upon the ramparts which stretched both to his left and right. ――No, whether those could be called “lights” was a matter of divided opinion.
The “lights” born upon the ramparts, they were fist-sized orbs which glowed a bright green, and at a glance they seemed like harmless things from which no danger could be felt.
However, those had not originally been on the ramparts.
On the wall where there had been nothing, the countless “lights” from orbs had suddenly sprung up. To Heinkel, they appeared to be just like the eyes of a living thing. It seemed that all at once, he locked eyes with those “lights”.
He became frightened when simultaneously, those “lights” seemed to glare at him.
That moment, Heinkel’s entire body froze, and his grip on the sword loosened――,
???: [Fly away.]
That instant, in contrast to that monotone voice, making an unbelievable thunderous roar and clad in a strong wind, a gigantic stone fist seized the leaping Heinkel, and threw him away.
Thoroughly beaten from head to toe, Heinkel was blown away to the sky with nothing he could do.
Similar to how he was handling the opponents of stone golems until a moment ago, the expression of being kicked around would be fitting. Heinkel was spraying blood everywhere as he soared, and then he saw it.
Within his revolving vision, the circumstances of the surface had completely changed. That was not the result of the blown away Heinkel’s consciousness being hazy, as there was a definite change that was hard to look away from――,
Moguro: [――Eighth of the Nine Divine Generals, Moguro Hagane.]
It was the etiquette of a warrior on a battlefield, a grand estimation in its own introduction―― however, that scale was far too abnormal.
The rampart of the star-fortress, which they should have captured, the third bastion itself moved.
That was unmistakably one of the Nine Divine Generals, the mighty being which introduced itself as Moguro Hagane.
 – The word Tappei uses for the golems (人形), can also be read as doll. Holly’s evaluation is a bit of a play on that. It is normally golem though, since ひとがた is used as the reading.
 – Another pun here using doll for the golems. Holly uses 人形遊び, which is essentially “Playing with dolls”.
 – The narration likens the one to deploy the golems here to a puppeteer (人形遣い), since the word for golem (人形) can also be read as puppet.