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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At that moment, everyone on the battlefield caught sight of a being clad in clouds of pure white, having descended to above the ground.
Excessively magnificent and majestic, the transcendent being that, from the foundations of its existence, was in a completely different dimension from worthless mediocrity――Everyone understood that with just a glance.
???: [――That’s, a Dragon.]
Widening his emerald green eyes, Garfiel muttered beside the crumbled rampart.
After his fight to the death with Kafma Irulux ended, while taking rough breaths with his shoulders, just as he looked around searching for the battlefield where his next duty would be, that had happened.
In the distance, a colossal presence that made it look like the sky itself had fallen, had appeared on the battlefield where the most fighting spirits were flaring up in this Empire, at the decisive battle on the bastion which had been frozen white.
Possessing a gate with absurd capacity, using her mana without needing to be subtle, taking the heat away from the world was undoubtedly the work of Emilia getting serious.
The five bastions of the ramparts, if she was fighting an enemy guarding one of them, their opponent would be a Divine General or a being of equal strength, even at the minimum, that opponent would be on the same level as Kafma.
Even though that alone was enough for them to be an enemy he did not want to make Emilia fight, it had been particularly absurd that the additional fighting force that had appeared there was a mythical being.
Garfiel: [Did th’ Flying Dragon General call ‘em down? Shit, I gotta get her outta there right now…!]
Gnashing his fangs, Garfiel decided in his heart to shift battlefields.
Emilia fighting, and letting Emilia fight, were simply not connected. Emilia herself would probably object, but letting her fight was a distressing decision for the camp.
Originally, Emilia should have been in a position overseeing everything from a place without concern for injury.
Garfiel: [My amazin’ self wouldn’t be able to face Captain.]
It was natural that Emilia would not want to leave the whole situation to someone else.
He thought that narrow-sightedness, in a good sense, and thoughtfulness were desirable traits. But, he could not permit all of that, and could not let her do what she wanted.
It went without saying that Garfiel was a military officer of the Emilia camp, and his role was to repel all the sparks that rained down on the camp, and defeat the enemies standing in their way.
Closing his eyes, Garfiel quietly ascertained his own condition.
He got severely wounded from his battle with Kafma, his entire body had been mangled, his insides had been spread outwards, he had burned his own body to kill the “insects” that had nested there, and yet Garfiel was still alive and well.
It was a situation where the only thing he had to boast about was that he was alive and well.
Garfiel: [It may be exaggeratin’ to say I’m full of life… but I’ll do it.]
Even now, he was absorbing power through the soles of his feet planted on the earth, and through invoking healing magic with all of his might, Garfiel’s body healed at a furious pace, both inside and out.
Normally, this would be a load on the body that could potentially reduce his life span, but the events in the Watergate City forced Garfiel to break out of his shell, both physically and mentally.
Though it was not visible, Garfiel tore through the shell that was certainly there, and stood tall.
With the steam rising from his many bloody wounds, as if his body were truly blazing hot, Garfiel settled his resolve to face the Dragon in the distance.
Garfiel: [Everyone! My amazin’ self tore down the rampart! Hurry the fuck up and get yer asses in there!!]
Opening his mouth, Garfiel howled at the group of rebels who were watching him from afar.
They were the group that had challenged Kafma before Garfiel, and were mowed down. Although a considerable number of them, including those wounded but supported by their comrades, should still be capable of functioning as a fighting force, but they had all stayed away from Garfiel and Kafma’s battlefield, and remained motionless even after the battle had been concluded.
There were those that might say that this was just because they were overwhelmed by Garfiel and Kafma’s battle.
However, it was not just that.
???: [You’re the one who broke through the rampart! So, you should be the first to go through!]
???: [Brave warrior, we respect your might! No one, whoever they may be, would dare to desecrate that.]
One of the Centaur People had thus gallantly answered Garfiel’s words.
Having defeated Kafma, Garfiel deserved to be the first to climb over the ramparts. That was why they had stopped, and fixedly waited for him to cross over the rampart.
It seemed that this was not his opinion alone, but the opinion of everyone who saw the duel just prior. Those who started the battle for selfish reasons, hidden within them was the historic warrior’s pride.
It seemed that in their judgment, Garfiel’s way of fighting had been radiant.
Their consideration, in and of itself, was heart-warming, but――,
Garfiel: [My bad, but there’s somewhere my fuckin’ amazin’ self has gotta go. This ain’t the “Whipfrock who came back”. ――It’s the one over there.]
Garfiel jerked his chin towards the white Dragon reigning over the distant sky.
In both the Pleiades Watchtower and the Fortress City of Guaral, there had been opportunities to meet one. Garfiel had continued to let them get away due to his poor timing, and he was finally in a position to take on a Dragon.
It was not that he wanted to fight it. It was an opponent that must be fought.
After seeing Garfiel’s gesture, the rebels also gasped at the sight of the white Dragon.
It was a matter of course, but they had also become aware of its existence. Fearing that, though it was the unusual spirit of the Imperial citizens to not bend their knees or hang their heads, whether or not they would challenge it was a different matter.
Garfiel would challenge it. Therefore――,
Garfiel: [I’ll leave crossin’ the rampart to you guys.]
If the rebels crossed over the collapsed rampart and surged into the Imperial Capital, the situation would change.
If all five bastions were defended by the greatest military powers of the Empire, then there was also the possibility that the defenses were thin in the area around Emperor Vincent Vollachia, who should be in the Crystal Palace.
There was a possibility that a literal decisive blow could be fired through the big hole that he had opened in this rampart.
Garfiel: [That’s why――]
After handing over the vanguard of the attack on the Imperial Capital to the rebels, Garfiel would begin his battle with the white menace.
Then, it had happened when he had been about to embark towards the bastion where the Dragon was.
――Garfiel shuddered as all the hairs on his body stood on end.
Free from obstructive thoughts. He was free from obstructive thoughts.
Without hesitation, without question, following the sensation that his brain had brought to his attention, he unleashed a blow using the full force of his body.
The backhand blow of steel that was able to shatter rock, striking the wind dead, about to hit what lay ahead of his instincts――,
???: [――Oh, so ya can see through my invisibility. Isn’t that a bit dangerous?]
Such a hoarse voice could be heard from beyond his strong fist.
That instant, his backhand blow should have hit the shadow behind him.
Undoubtedly, there was a sensation of something touching the surface of his gauntlet. Nevertheless, a bitter sound escaped his own mouth, and Garfiel stared in shock as his thoughts were struck by that impact.
The impact had struck him in the back. Someone’s small foot or toe was perfectly placed on Garfiel’s back. An absurd kick――No, that was wrong.
???: [That was entirely yer own punch. I just let it pass through my body, and returned it to ya.]
A voice answered his doubt, and every bone in Garfiel’s body creaked as his eyes widened.
Whether it was true or a lie, Garfiel’s vision was greatly shaken as his internal organs and brain were jolted by the force equivalent to his blow using the full force of his body. Cuts, bruises, broken bones, and ruptured organs could all be healed immediately.
Even if he could not fully heal, he could bring it to a point where he could move through sheer force.
However, an attack that resonated throughout the core of his body could not be negated.
At the numbness of his whole body, he gritted his teeth, and Garfiel’s entire being was on alert for a follow-up attack. He moved his limbs, which were slow to react, and somehow managed to protect the vital points of his neck and head.
However, the follow-up he feared did not come.
Instead, what was done with the time for that follow-up was containment.
???: [Actually, it’d be a pain in the ass if they got past the wall and went inside.]
With a sigh mixed into his words, the pained cries of ten people rang out at once.
Exhorting his collapsed knees, what filled Garfiel’s vision as he raised his head was the group of rebels which had accepted his command and were moving to push their way into the Imperial Capital. Those lined up at the vanguard of their formation had fallen.
Centaur people, and beastmen, had their lives taken away in an instant by having black iron flying blades――throwing blades called kunai, punctured into their foreheads and chests.
Even if he were to rush in and cast a healing spell, he would not make it in time. It was an attack that caused instant death.
As warriors, they must have also had the ability to take on the Imperial Capital. Even if they were not as good as a General like Kafma――
???: [If ya die, you’re a small fry. What does it matter if you’re a warrior?]
???: [Kakakakka! Yer eyes look like ya aren’t too pleased, youngster. You’re also the one who busted down the rampart, aren’t ya? Ya know, it’s real troublin’ when dangerous guys keep coming out one after the other, isn’t it?]
The small shadow laughed with an open mouth and ran a finger through his long white eyebrows as he spoke.
At last, Garfiel kicked off the ground with his foot, and filling his vision as he moved in, was an old man even shorter than Garfiel, who himself was considered to be short.
However, an old man of small stature was not a very fitting description of this monster.
Garfiel: [Damn you…!]
???: [Oh, wait, wait, I’ll be yer opponent in a bit. Uh, there we go.]
Garfiel glared at him with hostility, his hair standing on end, but the old man stuck out his arm, his right hand missing from the wrist, to hold him back.
Garfiel raised an eyebrow at the missing arm, and the old man shook his leg at the same time.
A moment later, not knowing what he had done, a horizontal sweeping kick drew a deep line in the earth. It also split the space between Garfiel, the old man, and the rebels behind him.
And then, the old man turned to the rebels on the other side of the line and told them.
???: [Try stepping over that line ta get over here. You’re all gonna die.]
???: [My my, it’s a relief that ya guys are so attentive. I want the the young peeps of my village to learn from ya. Lately, they’ve been disobeyin’ me every time when I say something. I’m the village chief, aren’t I?]
Shrugging his thin shoulders, the old man chuckled, showing his white teeth.
It was an attitude of not caring at all about the threat he had made to the rebels just prior to this moment. However, everyone here was made to understand instinctively that the threat was neither a lie nor anything else.
Garfiel also understood. ――Just who the old man in front of him was.
Garfiel: [The Vicious Old Man… Olbart Dunklekenn, ain’t ya?]
Olbart: [I say this every time someone calls me that, but I really don’t like it. It’s like slander, isn’t it?]
Garfiel: [――. What the fuck do ya think yer doin’ here?]
Towards the old man tilting his head―― towards Olbart, Garfiel posed that question.
Olbart appeared carefree and natural, which was why Garfiel could not let his guard down in the slightest. Olbart stood behind Garfiel without any sign of his presence.
Right here, in the middle of this plain with good visibility.
It would still be understandable if he were out of sight, hiding behind a building, and approaching stealthily.
Even still, that was more than enough of a threat, in that case, he could be satisfied with the events that took place. However, how could he perceive a being that intruded into this space without a hint of a presence?
Though, he was a being that could not be perceived as anything but a threat.
Before the trembling Garfiel, Olbart raised an eyebrow with his unchanging attitude and let out a “Ho?”,
Olbart: [Why am I here, ya ask? Isn’t that how it always was? Even though it’s our job ta keep the rebels out, Kafma had the nerve ta be a failure, and now I hafta clean up his mess.]
Stating that, the old man pointed out Kafma lying on the ground with his arm missing a hand. Then, with an “Oops,” he retracted his right arm and pointed correctly with his left instead.
Olbart: [I drew the short end of the stick, seriously. That’s why I told ‘em that it would be dangerous if they didn’t bring out Chisha or call back Groovy, but sure enough, he had the nerve to lose.]
Garfiel: [Sure enough? Old man, you ain’t got the fuckin’ right to laugh at this guy.]
Olbart closed one eye and looked displeased. In order to obstruct the old man’s gaze, Garfiel wedged his way in between Olbart and Kafma, and exhaled a heated breath.
Kafma was an enemy. That would not change, but no one was qualified to speak about how Kafma fought except Garfiel, who had exchanged fists with him head-on.
Garfiel: [This guy was fuckin’ strong. My amazin’ self was just stronger.]
Olbart: [――? Well, ya I know that from just looking, yeah? I’m not gonna try and deny that, ya know. So just what are ya trying ta say, you?]
Gafiel: [I’m sayin’ I don’t like yer damn attitude! Is that how ya talk to a fellow General on yer own side!? Huh!?]
Opening his mouth wide, Garfiel snapped back with a howl. At the ferocious roar, Olbart frowned, and tilted his head.
Seeming like he was truly doubtful, the old man continued, “Do ya know?”,
Olbart: [I’m a General First-Class, Kafma’s a General Second-Class. We’re not even remotely the same.]
Unapologetically, Olbart’s remarks were just conveying the obvious facts. Garfiel’s pupils narrowed as he felt an incomprehensible gap.
The moment the carnivorous beast determined his prey, he raised his tail and pounced on the old man.
He felt like he should pay respect to Kafma. However, he did not feel that for the enemy before his eyes.
The old man, too, neither wanted it nor would he give it.
Within battle, the things he placed value in differed to his opponent, and recognizing that――,
Garfiel: [I’ll fuckin’ crush ya!!]
His arms, both raised overhead, closed in on Olbart.
With a strong arm that could not measure by feel, he wondered if it was different from when he smashed the ramparts, and it probably exceeded all the might he had used then; he had put enough destructive power into it so that it was more than enough to destroy that small old body.
Then, without letting him get away, his arms smashed into Olbart’s head.
Boom, the impact of the crash shook the earth, and a cloud of dust ascended from the smashed ground as if there had been an explosion. The dust rained down upon the heads of the rebels who had been stopped by Olbart.
Perhaps, Olbart would be smashed to pieces after being struck by so much firepower.
Garfiel: [Wha… Hk.]
Garfiel’s eyes widened at the sight before his eyes.
Before him, Garfiel’s fists slammed into Olbart’s head from both sides, as if sandwiching him. There was a definite impact and resistance, which Garfiel felt through the recoil in his arms.
Despite this, the old man, with his head caught between Garfiel’s fists, showed his white teeth and laughed, and then,
Olbart: [Incredible, isn’t it? I just released the power of yer attack onto the ground.]
Olbart: [Well, the ground exploded ‘cause you’ve got some dangerous arm strength, though.]
Immediately after finishing his words, the old man’s face, trapped between his fists, slipped out from under. Garfiel followed him with his gaze, but,
As his eyes followed Olbart, who should have slipped below, an impact struck the top of his head.
Even though Olbart should have crouched down, something had hit him from above.
Olbart: [Up when ya think it’s down, down when ya think it’s up, that’s the basics, the basics.]
Garfiel: [Ga, AAAAAHH――!!]
At the crouched Olbart’s flippant words, Garfiel furiously swung his fists downwards. They thrust into Olbart’s head of gray hair.
That moment, a sharp impact pierced the back of Garfiel’s head, his back, and his buttocks.
Garfiel’s fist, swinging downwards, whiffed, and struck the ground with a tremendous impact.
Instead, the voice of Olbart, who disappeared in an instant, was heard from directly above.
Olbart: [That’s why, if ya think I‘m below ya, I’ll be above. Those who don’t learn’ll be left behind, ya know?]
Exerting his body, he faced the voice and raised his arms overhead. The moment his fingertips caught hold of something, Garfiel swung it down forcefully, trying to smash it into the ground.
Smashing it into the ground, preventing its movement, and then struck it with all his might. He thought that if the feet were separated, then acrobatics like the ones before would not be possible――,
The appeal from his fighting instincts ceased when he realized that it was not Olbart within the grasp of his fingers, but Kafma’s body that the old man had thrown over Garfiel’s head.
Stopping his movement to throw the body to the ground, Garfiel’s lips quivered.
At that instant――,
Olbart: [Listen here, you, why do ya think there are fifty Second-Class Generals and only nine First-Class Generals? ――It’s ‘cause we’re so stupidly strong.]
The voice and shock bore into Garfiel’s head from both left and right.
――As a massive flame descended, that wrath of the sky intended to consume the world in its entirety.
It gave Yorna the illusion that the world was being dyed in red before her eyes.
If one could greatly rouse its wrath, the world would probably take out all of the anger it had saved up to this point on that single individual.
The ground had already been turned to scorched earth, and the rebels and plants were all burned with the same method. That devastating firepower rained down upon them to scorch them down to their entrails the same way the corpses had been.
However, facing that, Yorna made not even the slightest movement, and,
Yorna: [――Yang Sword.]
Priscilla: [My my, making your daughter use such a terribly rough thing.]
The sound spun by Yorna’s lips was the signal for the treasured sword of deep crimson to swing vertically.
It was a beautiful sword that would capture the eyes of those who saw it, burn their hearts, and even captivate their souls. That bewitching nature was only an accessory to the treasured sword, it was not even a sliver of its original purpose.
In other words, when it fulfilled its original reason for existing, the brilliance of the treasured sword would become even stronger.
The Yang Sword, the tip of which was swung vertically upward to intercept the tremendous fire that was raining down upon them.
That instant, the mighty flames that had permeated their vision disappeared. ――It was not that they were cut away. Quite literally, they had disappeared as if they had never even existed.
Priscilla: [My Yang Sword burns what I wish to burn and slashes only what I wish to slash.]
That logic was far too violent, far too irrational, and far too absurd of an imposition.
However, that sight had materialized before her eyes, and the inferno that seemed like it could destroy even the world vanished.
Pouring in an appropriate amount of power, she had released that great firepower with the intention to dampen their first move, but at the sight of its erasure with a single swing of a sword, even their opponent was not able to stay calm――,
Priscilla: [Do not look down on her, for that is the Spirit Eater.]
Regardless of whether it was an explanation or a warning, it was impolite, and with those words Priscilla’s figure flew to the right.
Similar to Priscilla, flying to the opposing left, was Yorna――In between the two of them, a massive flash flood rushed through.
It was as if the entire contents of a well had been unleashed, and Yorna, while successfully evading, felt that her enemy――that Arakiya had heightened her capabilities above her previous impression.
This was not the first time Yorna had fought Arakiya.
They had previously crossed paths just once before, during an “uprising” considered to be brought about by Yorna.
At that time, Vollachia’s strongest was looming behind Arakiya, and the stage was set in Chaosflame, where Yorna herself was in a perfect position to face them, so the preconditions were already variously different.
Of course, Yorna was serious about fighting, but her true intentions at the time were not really serious about killing them.
During past uprisings, especially the one which resulted in a clash with Arakiya, Yorna’s goal was retribution against those who had meddled with the residents of the Demon City, and to make known the righteousness of doing so.
In other words, her objective was a kind of protest, and Vincent, who faced her across the board, must have been aware of this intention, and it was a clash in which a reconciliation seemed possible.
However, Arakiya was unaware of those circumstances at that time, and probably did not hold back in her fight against Yorna.
Since then, Yorna had assumed that Arakiya’s strength completely surpassed those of the other troops, and so she was expected to serve as a stand-alone force comparable to an army.
However, that perception was not only incorrect, but also naive.
Yorna: [So, disregarding Old Man Olbart, is this what it means to be the Second?]
Letting that out together with a long sigh, Yorna glanced behind――through the pressure of the unleashed water, the land itself had been split vertically all the way until the horizon.
She understood the rationale that pressurized water posed a threat.
However, when she saw how extraordinary it was, Yorna rolled up the sleeves of her kimono.
In preparation for the decisive battle, she had worn her favorite kimono.
Even so, she wondered if it would be possible to stop Arakiya’s blow.
Yorna: [Before, you only used fire, so you had burned one half of my city to the ground, but…]
In one breath, Arakiya had burned one half of her city, and today, she also burned the rebels to nothing by the ramparts.
Arakiya had assumed that a defensive line of fire, which was well-suited to stone structures, and a battlefield where one did not need to pay attention to one’s surroundings, would be convenient for her, and that she had no reason to change her battle strategy now.
Priscilla: [This idea was also planted in your head, though it would have been so much more charming if it had not been directed towards mineself.]
After saying so, Priscilla kicked off the ground, and closed in on Arakiya.
With one of the bastions of the star-fortress behind her, as if to protect it, Arakiya flew through the air, her legs ablaze below the knees.
Even just the unrelenting firepower that rained down from high above was enough of a threat.
First, Arakiya needed to be lured down to an approachable position.
Priscilla: [Dear Mother!]
Yorna: [――Hk, got it!]
Priscilla shouted as she rushed through, causing a momentary disturbance within Yorna.
She had yet to obtain a proper sense of the intimacy between her and her now-reunited daughter. Rather, she was doubtful of Priscilla’s pompous attitude toward her mother, who had changed appearance.
Since they parted when she was a suckling infant, she had no way of knowing how Priscilla was raised.
Taking the Kiseru out of her mouth, Yorna swung the tip of it and struck the ground with her thick-soled shoe.
Then, in front of the advancing Priscilla, the trembling earth slowly peeled up and rose to become a foothold to support Priscilla’s path.
Yorna’s Soul Marriage Technique also worked on inorganic objects.
However, it was a system in which the strength of its efficacy was proportional to the amount of time and devotion she had put into it. Therefore, she had an apprehension. ――How much could she really love the land where she had spent time with the man she loved?
Though, the results were clear.
Priscilla: [Your work was for a great cause.]
Leaving her mother with a statement that did not make her feel like a mother, Priscilla hopped to the footholds directly in front of her.
Of course, the footholds did not stop there; they emerged one after another to create a path towards Arakiya. A single straight path would be targeted, so she continued to take the consideration to create multiple paths.
Because of that――,
As Arakiya swung her arm holding the branch, the great wind that was released completely uprooted the floating earth and mowed down all the paths.
Rather than a storm, the great wind was powerful enough to be equivalent to being hit by a giant palm, and the force of it was such that even Priscilla could have been completely crushed by it if it hit her directly.
Priscilla: [To drive that into mineself so mercilessly, would you not miss mine beauty?]
Arakiya: [I’ve made up my mind. Even if you lose your limbs, Princess is still Princess.]
Priscilla: [Would it not be more accurate to say your mind has been made up for you?]
Narrowing her eyes, Priscilla hit Arakiya with those words as she descended from high in the sky.
Just before the great wind mowed down the foothold, Priscilla quickly escaped into the sky. She barely managed to avoid being hit by the wind, a feat of sheer perception, but she was still vulnerable to a second blow.
Truly erasing the hesitation from her eyes, Arakiya took aim at Priscilla’s limbs as she was forced to fall, and raised her arm in a merciless attempt to take away her fighting ability.
Yorna: [I would be troubled if you forgot about me.]
Flying up from directly below, Yorna’s kick was delivered towards Arakiya, who was preoccupied with Priscilla being above her head.
Yorna’s long legs thrust upward, as her meticulously maintained thick soles, which she treasured greatly over time, followed her decisive blow.
Priscilla: [It is unbecoming of someone your age to be more eye-catching than mineself.]
Synchronizing with Yorna’s kick, Priscilla swung the Yang Sword held overhead straight down. Arakiya had been caught in a cross-generational pincer attack of mother and daughter.
In perfect unison, the two enchanting strikes worthy of self-praise struck each other. ――Yes, they had struck each other.
Priscilla & Yorna: [――Hk!?]
The strike that should have caught Arakiya was bereft of a hit reaction, rather, the expected impact had been slightly off and produced a solid sound instead.
From the look of it, the thick sole of Yorna’s upwards kick collided with nothing other than the blade of the Yang Sword Priscilla had swung down.
Their pincer attack had missed this crucial opponent and they had rather astoundingly struck each other instead.
What was more surprising was that the collision of both Yorna and Priscilla’s attacks had been inside Arakiya’s seemingly flickering body.
Yorna: [It, passed through her?]
Priscilla: [How impudent.]
Immediately after Yorna’s astonishment and Priscilla’s irritation spilled over simultaneously, Arakiya’s body, having seemingly taken in both attacks, glowed white, as a counterattack was unleashed.
It was as if Arakiya’s whole body exploded――No, it had, in fact, exploded.
Arakiya’s body scattered into rays of white light, dispersing with terrifying force spread in every direction like buckshot, hitting Yorna and Priscilla like a fountain of water.
In an instant, Yorna gathered the fine pieces of whirled up dirt by the previous gale, and clad herself and Priscilla in a cloud of dust.
Rather than “cladding” them in clothing that stuck to the body, it was a delicate technique that circulated around one’s figure at high speed to repel attacks.
If Arakiya’s buckshot merely had the firepower one would discern at first glance, this would have sufficiently reduced its power.
Easily penetrating the cloak of earth, Arakiya’s rays had pierced Yorna and Priscilla.
Blown away by the impact, Yorna dropped to the ground while screaming in agony. With all her strength, she instantly burrowed her stretched out feet in the ground to avoid an unsightly fall.
She could not afford to collapse, much less miserably falling on her back.
Yorna: [To lose the ones in love with me…]
The weight of the soul Yorna held was sustained by the presence of those that loved her.
Therefore, Yorna needed to respond to said love with all her might. To respond to love was not something to be done half-heartedly.
She must aspire to be appropriate in her movements, speech, conduct, and even emotions.
Whether it was in everyday life, in the bedroom, or in the middle of a battle, it was all the same.
――With a faint bang, the hairpin that held Yorna’s hair in place shattered. Hanging on which were ornaments made of layering scales.
Priscilla: [Was that a gift from someone? Dear Mother.]
Yorna: [――. It was a gift from my beloved children.]
Shattered; Yorna caught the pieces of dust from the hair ornament with her fingers, and gently gazed upon them.
Most of the items that Yorna wore were gifts. Her kimono, footwear, and even her hair ornaments, be they woven, carved or molded, the inhabitants of the Demon City had gone to great lengths to craft these beautiful items with their own hands, which became imbued with the souls of their creators.
The ones that received Yorna’s love received the capability to be crushed on her behalf to protect her in return.
Yorna: [You too?]
Priscilla: [Unfortunately, I do not boast the same fidelity as you, Dear Mother; merely what I have had on hand from the very beginning, the tribute from my already late husband.]
Saying this, Priscilla gently displayed her ear. In this motion, it was revealed that the green jeweled earring that should have been there had disappeared.
She too, had transferred her life force to those she loved, providing her a longer life.
Yorna: [Your husband? Priscilla, you also——]
Priscilla: [What a meek expression to make. These missing earrings, I received them from my fourth husband, I believe.]
Priscilla: [Eight times I was bestowed a husband. Of course, that does not rival you, Dear Mother.]
At Priscilla, callously stating this unexpected answer, Yorna’s mouth was left agape from the shock. However, this shock was negated by Priscilla’s grasp of the radiant Yang Sword.
That strange phenomenon from earlier was.
Yorna: [Priscilla, if that is the Yang Sword, then it should be able to reach any opponent. Provided, their soul hasn’t been severed by the Life Sword…]
Priscilla: [Even without you telling me, Dear Mother, I am painstakingly aware of that. However, there is something you are mistaken about.]
Priscilla: [My Yang Sword burns what I wish to burn and slashes only what I wish to slash.]
Saying that, Priscilla slowly raised the tip of her Yang Sword.
What assembled beyond the tip of the Yang Sword, as Yorna followed it with her gaze, was Arakiya, scattered white light forming her figure little-by-little.
Reflecting the nature of the Spirit they had devoured, the Spirit Eaters were said to be able to house the strength they possessed in their bodies—— While the true nature of this rare ability was unknown, the capability for its capabilities to be expanded upon was remarkable.
Just now, the principle behind transforming light into a body—— by thinking it through, it became clear.
The Yang Sword that slashed what it wanted to slash, a treasured sword that could reach all things.
Priscilla: [——Is that fire, water, or wind? If that becomes indistinguishable from light or shadow, there is no doubt that it becomes difficult, even if I can still reach you.]
Priscilla’s crimson eyes narrowed, meeting the gaze of Arakiya whose eyes were the same color.
The owner of the Yang Sword that could reach all things, and the transcendent being, possessing the ability to transform into anything, confronting each other——.
Yorna: [I see, you were raised with quite a troublesome opponent.]
Had this been Chaosflame, Yorna may have been able to properly take down Arakiya.
But, this was not Chaosflame, and Yorna was hardly at full strength.
Therefore, the one to deliver the decisive blow was not Yorna but——,
Priscilla: [At any time, it is I who resides at the center of the stage after all.]
The girl blazing red as the sun, who turned any hardships she faced into sustenance for herself, smiled graciously.
That smile was dazzling, even for Yorna who stood alongside her.
Set ablaze by Priscilla’s dazzle, if there was only a single being capable of remaining in her vicinity without being scorched to naught, for that being to be Arakiya, standing in Priscilla’s path, what an ironic twist of fate it was.
——Otto Suwen sensed a change in the direction of the wind.
At first it was a hunch, then it changed into an omen to be received, and finally it became a conviction.
The war situation that was gradually and slowly changing, moving, and tilting——As Otto opened the channels that were supposed to be kept closed and immersed himself in the task of picking up all kinds of “voices”, he was fluxing in a sense of omnipotence, as if he himself was at one with the world, and was fleeting.
Things that could only be found in such a situation were submerged in an overwhelming vortex of information. In order to retrieve them, one must dive deeper and deeper――,
A voice from outside of his consciousness was heard very close by, and at the same time, a thirsting shock destroyed the whirlpool of “voices”.
It was as if a water tank had been broken and the water inside flowed out, as if grains of sand had been scooped up from a sandbox and spilled out through the cracks between one’s fingers; the “voices” escaped.
Though he felt empty without it, and finding himself regretful,
Otto: [Oh, my… Thank you for saving my life, Petra-chan…]
Petra: [You had a horrible complexion right now… Please wipe up your nosebleed.]
Otto: [Oh, that is a big help… I feel like I am bleeding just as much, though I am not fighting.]
Otto took the offered handkerchief and squeezed it against his nose.
The dripping blood was wetting the grass beneath his feet, and he was acutely aware of the heavy load that using his Divine Protection beyond its limits was putting on him. In fact, the amount of blood that had been spilled was seemingly no joke to him.
As expected, it was not as bad as when his legs were carved in Pristella, though.
Otto: [It comes quite a bit, if I try to dive far and deep…]
Petra: [Am I not being helpful?]
Otto: [No, if it was not for Petra’s support, it would probably be worse. The exhaustion of the interior of my head… I guess I should call it brain fatigue. And that is because it is pretty heavy.]
It was difficult for them to understand each other, even among those who possessed Divine Protections, but the way in which Divine Protections placed a burden on their users varied greatly depending on their effects. For example, the Divine Protection of Wind Evasion possessed by a ground dragon was almost a perfect type of Divine Protection with no flaws, except for the drastic difference in its burden between when it was deployed and when it was not.
Garfiel’s Divine Protection of Earth Spirits also had a positive effect while he was standing on the ground, but at the same time, it placed a high burden on his body in order to maintain his physical well-being.
It just happened that Garfiel was physically strong, so he was not affected by the negative effects, but if a normal human were to possess it, they would need to regularly take breaks and relieve the burden on their body by lifting their legs from the ground.
From that perspective, Otto’s Divine Protection of the Soul of Language focused the majority of its burden on his brain.
Since the brain converted the “voices” of living beings that entered through his ears into voices that Otto could understand, it was natural for the burden to be concentrated there.
Otto was trying to pick up the “voices” that were normally kept closed off and grasp all the sounds he could hear.
Therefore, he asked for Petra to use her freshly learned yang magic to physically strengthen Otto’s body, focusing particularly on his head.
For a skilled warrior, it was said that physical strengthening through mana was done naturally, but in this case it was being done through external interference.
Of course, even with the functions of one’s head being strengthened with yang magic, Emilia’s intuition would not suddenly become as sharp as Ram’s. The expectation was that Petra’s yang magic would improve Otto’s endurance, rather than the functions of his brain.
By strengthening the capabilities of his brain, Petra would allow Otto to keep the channels open for longer, much like how improving cardiovascular function would allow someone to stay underwater for longer.
Without Petra’s cooperation, the results would have been less than half of what they were then, without a doubt.
Otto: [That said, there are many times when I almost get too greedy and try to go deeper…]
Petra: [If I feel like you’re in somewhat danger, I can just give you a slap to the best of my power, right?]
Otto chuckled at Petra, practicing her slap with reassuring readiness.
In fact, if Otto was in danger, it was in his best interest to have Petra pull him back. The fastest and surest way to do this was to forcibly disconnect the channel.
As he followed the sound of a “voice”, he would begin to lose track of his own position.
Of course, the “voice” that Otto focused on naturally when he talked to Petra was the correct one, but if he lost sight of that connection, he would probably lose his ability to recognize languages.
If the closest voice became unrecognizable, Otto would have to keep the channel open forever in order to communicate with anyone. ――If this were to happen, it would be easy to see a future in which even the mere sound of the wind or the rustling of clothes would be perceived as a “voice” and Otto would lose his sanity.
Otto: [When it becomes so, I too will become a member of the people who have lost their lives because of their Divine Protection like many others who had this same Divine Protection.]
Though he was lucky enough to be able to overcome his childhood without dying, now he would lose his established self due to his own decision to open the channel.
Too many pitfalls in the way of life of a bearer of a Divine Protection.
Though it could be said that the more difficult the path was, the more rewarding it was――.
Petra: [So, what happened?]
Otto: […The first and second bastions are useless. There is no one left that I can listen to. The first was burned to the ground, and the second… that is Emilia-sama’s.]
Petra: [Ah, Emilia-neesama…]
Petra reacted with a complicated face at Otto who was muttering with a handkerchief on his nose.
The first bastion was guarded by Arakiya, one of the highest-ranking members of the Nine Divine Generals. Her power, wielded through her Spirit, had burnt the entire field, causing the “voices” of all living things that Otto could have heard to be completely destroyed.
If birds, small animals, or insects had not survived, then even if Otto had opened up his channels, there would have been no “voices” for him to pick up in the first place.
Petra: [If the field is burnt, wouldn’t the ground beneath the surface be fine?]
Otto: [Even if they have survived, underground creatures often do not speak. Besides, as I told Petra-chan, the Divine Protection of the Soul of Language is…]
Petra: [It only allows you to understand the speech of audible creatures, it doesn’t make your ears better.]
Otto: [That is right.]
Otto nodded emphatically at Petra’s words, who was leaning in front of him.
As Petra had just said, Otto’s Divine Protection of the Soul of Language was only able to understand the “voices” he heard and allowed him to converse with others who spoke a different language.
In other words, the Divine Protection could not be employed properly unless living beings were in a location where their “voices” could be heard.
Petra’s application of her yang magic to strengthen Otto’s head also played a role here.
By having his hearing and listening abilities enhanced, he was able to pick up “voices” over a wider range than usual.
Otto: [There is no chance for the first and second bastions anymore. They were burnt by Arakiya and frozen by Emilia-sama, respectively.]
Petra: [E-Emilia-neesama isn’t as malicious as to do that!]
Otto: [I know. And even if Emilia-sama had not done anything, the reaction from the others at the second bastion was already quite negative. ――Probably because the other creatures were afraid of the dragonkin.]
Petra’s way of saying that malice did not exist in Emilia, rather than Emilia having no malicious intent, had been a perfectly fitting way for Petra to put it.
Since there was no malice present in Emilia, there was no way to display any. Regardless, with such shared views aside, Petra’s advocacy was also deceptively true.
The guardian of the second bastion was Madelyn Eschart, the dragonkin who had almost plunged the Fortress City into a state of total destruction――and was part of a demi-human race so exceedingly rare, people questioned its very existence.
Since the dragonkin were related to the Dragons, which reigned at the pinnacle of all existence, they were feared by animals, no matter how large or small, leaving them no choice but to flee.
Emilia lowering the temperatures in the area to extremely cold degrees conveyed the impression of a last-ditch effort.
Otto: [――As for the fifth bastion, Garfiel should handle it well. The fourth bastion is under constant attack by a group of Glow People. As instructed, the Weaponkin and Cyclops Tribe survivors will join them there.]
Petra: [And at the third, the Shudraqian people joined the other groups fighting the stone golems. What about the other way around the bastions you wanted to explore?]
Otto: [It looks like there is a direct path from the first bastion to the castle that had been filled up ahead of time somehow. I am unexpectedly getting sick of Abel-san guessing correctly.]
Petra: [But since someone doesn’t have to go and check it out, we can make the next move faster.]
After bringing the mental image of the “voice” distribution in order, he compared it with the map Petra spread out in front of him. Otto added the information he had just obtained to the map, which already had a number of characters drawn on it, and Petra assigned arrows and other markers to it.
With brain fatigue and even a strange feeling of heaviness, as if warm water was accumulating within his head, Petra’s presence was critical in pulling together these visually unshareable images.
For the Emilia camp, Petra’s inclusion might have been the most significant. At the very least, Otto took it as Subaru’s greatest achievement that Petra was here now.
Otto: [Since Natsuki-san is the reason we are doing this, it balances out to zero, but…]
With a deep, bloody breath forced out of his nose, Otto checked to see if his nasal passages were still open. Petra’s handkerchief was already stained with Otto’s blood.
Assuming he would buy a new handkerchief later and give it to her, Otto slowly got to the point of switching to a different channel.
???: [――Otto-chin! Petra-chan!]
Otto: [Ah, Medium-chan.]
A small figure ran to them in the meadow, waving her hands in a wide arc.
Her long blonde hair danced in the air as she ran restless across the battlefield. She ran in a straight line to Otto and Petra.
Medium: [You’ve been very helpful, Otto-chin! Abel-chin wants the next report!]
Otto: [I am absolutely sure that you did not mean to say that in a cute way; however, I appreciate it… if it helps you. There is nothing to be gained by giving something to someone who does not understand its value.]
Petra: [Why so sharp-tongued, Otto-san. Although it is understandable.]
Otto and Petra smiled slightly at Medium’s report, who had a twinkle in her eye.
Unintentionally, Medium had been acting as a soft intermediary in the chain of command――focusing on gathering information was reassuring for Otto since he could easily leave the management of that information to Abel and his group.
This was another scheme that would not have been possible without Medium.
Medium: [It might have been doable, but also more awkward, for sure.]
Otto: [Probably. Especially since Petra-cha… Lady Petra and I are the ones who have to take a hard stand against Abel-san.]
Medium: [――? Am I getting praised? Hooray!]
Otto and Petra’s exchange was met with great delight by Medium, who raised both hands in the air.
Slightly behind her were four soldiers who were sent to Otto and Petra to make contact with the main camp. This was probably a result of the importance Abel attached to the value of the information Otto brought.
Normally, it would be easier for Abel if Otto were also in the main camp.
Medium: [Otto-chin, you have to wander around to hear the “voices”, right?]
Petra: [It’s because Otto-san’s ears are not that big, you know.]
Otto: [Both are different ways of saying the same thing!]
In contrast to Medium’s ingenuous remark, Petra responded with banter, yet both were tricky in their own regard. Although, it was generally true, so there was no denying it.
At any rate, they handed over the map they had just drawn to the messengers and received a new map in return that reflected the ongoing changes in the state of the battle.
Otto: [Please use this well. There are a few typographical errors, but the arrows and other symbols that the Lady added should be understandable.]
Messenger: [Understood. Be cautious for scouts, Analyst-dono.]
Otto looked bitter at the title given to him, along with the map they exchanged.
First a peddler, then an Internal Affairs Minister, then a Warrior-Grade Head Internal Affairs Minister, and now an Analyst. How many positions would he have to hold before the Royal Selection was concluded?
Or would these troubles continue to haunt him even after the Royal Selection was concluded?
Otto: [I guess I should put such blissful worries off to the side.]
At the very least, the tomorrow Otto envisioned would not come to pass unless he completed what was in front of him.
Tomorrow was something Otto had no choice but to face on his own.
That was why――,
Petra: [Otto-san, let’s move.]
Otto: [Dear me, how about a minute’s rest, my Lady?]
Petra: [Says the person who usually doesn’t rest even when someone tells him to. You can drink until you pass out when everything is done, so try to do your best.]
Otto: [That makes me sound like the biggest drunkard in the world!]
When Otto raised his voice about the reputational repercussions, Petra stuck out her tongue to gloss over it.
In such a way, he was feeling cared for without becoming too serious; Otto slapped himself on the cheek free from blood stains to regain his focus.
He was not sure whether he wanted to ask Petra or Garfiel how frightened he looked or if he could even afford it.
All of those things were normally the responsibility of Subaru, who was not there.
Otto: [I might as well get the victory benefits. That is why――]
Immediately after Otto opened up the channel to gather more information.
A loud noise shook Otto’s mind.
Seeing Otto’s stiffened face, Petra called his name.
However, Petra’s voice did not reach Otto’s ears. It was because they were covered with deafening screams filling up the world.
Otto: [Ugh, ah…!?]
In an instant, Otto’s mind felt like it was boiling over, and he held his head in shock. However, just before his consciousness was blown away, Otto managed to just barely hold out.
Terrible screams still engulfed the world.
The reason was――,
As Otto was struck by the sudden shock, the two girls, Petra and Medium, looked at the sky and dropped their jaws.
Before the sight of those girls, as it fell straight from the sky to the ground, majestically spreading its wings just before it crashed――was a presence that, even from a distance, conveyed a palpable sense of why the world screamed.
It was no wonder why every living thing in the world screamed.
???: [A Dragon…]
It was not clear whether it was Petra, Medium, or one of the messenger soldiers who said this.
Otto could say for certain that it wasn’t himself.
Why was it that――,
At the moment when everyone on the battlefield was captivated by the white Dragon that had appeared, there were only two people whose consciousness were not stolen by its presence――one of them, Otto, pulled Petra with one hand, while pushing Medium’s shoulder with the other.
Petra let out a scream and collapsed onto Otto’s chest, who had fallen backwards forcefully. In the lower part of his vision, the pushed back Medium had fallen onto her rear.
Those were the minimum evasive actions Otto could do at that moment.
――A mass of red-hot flames scorched the air as it passed over the heads of the grounded Otto and Petra as well as Medium sitting on her butt.
After being pulled down, Petra’s slender throat let out a scream.
But being able to scream was a kind of safety signal. If the situation had been more horrendous than that, there would not even have been time to scream.
In fact, just like the messenger soldiers who were out of Otto’s reach.
A mass of flame flew over the heads of Otto and the girls, while hitting the messenger soldier holding the map.
In the next moment, the entire body of that soldier clad in a red and black military uniform was instantly burnt to a crisp. Due to the map in hand, there was no chance to prevent it.
And, upon catching sight of such devastation, they were not even permitted to raise their voices in astonishment.
???: [――! Watch out!]
Immediately after the girl’s high-pitched scream came the sound of steel striking steel echoing through the air.
The one who spoke up was Medium despite being pushed by Otto. She straightened her long childlike legs from her sitting position and pulled out a barbarian sword from behind her waist in a low posture.
Yet, she still managed to bounce back the deadly blade descending upon Otto with all her might.
Petra: [Stand up, Otto-san!]
Otto stumbled forward as Petra pulled him up by the arm.
When he stepped back and looked behind him, he saw Medium, with both of her hands gripping a barbaric sword too large for her petite frame, as she stared down the assailant head-on.
???: [――My bad, my bad, and here I was going to get them all at once.]
Saying that, the grumbling man who faced Medium――was the only one apart from Otto who consciously ignored the presence of the white Dragon creating this abnormal situation on the battlefield.
It was an Imperial Soldier with a bandana wrapped around his head. He held a long-handled one-handed axe and judging from his armband, he was not a high-ranking opponent.
A common soldier. The question was, why was that man here?
While his channel was focused, he had remained vigilant.
So how had this man managed to avoid Otto’s monitoring of “voices”?
With the utmost caution possible, Otto protected Petra behind him with his arm and glared at the man facing Medium.
Otto: [No mercy for women and children? That’s pretty barbaric, don’t you think?]
Todd: [It’s easy to just answer “There are no women or children in the battlefield”, but that would fit the residents of the Imperial Capital perfectly. Besides, wouldn’t that be a bit too convenient?]
Todd: [If you were non-combatants who’d just been left behind on the battlefield, your current logic might’ve held. But I don’t recognize a man who serves on the battlefield as a non-combatant.]
He was the type of person who would mercilessly ambush with full intent to kill them.
It was unlikely that a reasonable negotiation would have worked from the beginning, but in the face of his thoroughness, it could be said that hope was completely dashed.
But still, it did not make sense.
Otto: [Me and these kids are here for work? And what kind of work, so far away from the camp…?]
Todd: [Who knows. But my gut is telling me. You’re the root of all evil in this war. And my gut also tells me this.]
Otto: […Such as?]
The man who looked at Otto and the others in a nonchalant, dismissive manner cut off his words there at once.
When Otto urged him onward, the man looked at the three of them in turn and,
Todd: [――It’s better not to waste time with you guys either.]
His axe swung with that pronouncement, gleaming as it mercilessly aimed to take the lives of Otto, Petra, and Medium.