Human Translated By:
- Garcar (Part 1)
Machine Translated By:
- Cirdan Lunae
Japanese to English Checking By:
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――At the same time as when the open palm of Petra Leyte caused Natsuki Subaru’s cheek to swell, and when Flop O’Connell’s bombshell statement caused Medium O’Connell to be confused.
???: [――As expected, seems like y’all couldn’t wait for us ta arrive.]
Gazing up as he gnawed on his kiseru, the strongest shinobi of the City-States languidly muttered.
Slouching his already sloped shoulders, having sat down cross-legged, the wolfman―― Halibel, amidst the flowing nightscape, maintained vigilance of the quiet evening hours on the roof of the dragon carriage.
Just before, the coupled dragon carriages had been targeted.
Thanks to the children who had noticed the surprise attack before Halibel, they had been able to avoid that danger, but accidents like those did not happen very often. To ensure that they did not happen, was Halibel’s duty.
Halibel: [After that, lil’ Ana’s gaze was real darn unsparin’. I hafta make up for it.]
The young girl who he had known since long ago due to ties with his kin, had paid an extraordinary price in order to go to the Empire on this occasion.
Accompanied by Halibel, she had taken on the role of an envoy for the City-States. ――Contrary to the expectation that this would be an untapped business opportunity that had ignited her merchant soul, her objective had actually been to search for a friend who had disappeared.
She was a girl who did not want to show weakness. Of course, that was not something she would ever admit.
Halibel: [‘Cause of that, she told the middle-aged geezer who she knew from long ago ta not lend her a hand.]
As he said that, Halibel slowly stood up.
Consisting of multiple dragon carriages coupled together, the coupled dragon carriages were being pulled without rest by a great number of ground dragons―― An outstanding piece of engineering truly characteristic of the greedy Empire, fully displaying the haphazardness of the Divine Protection of Wind Evasion.
Even so, Halibel could not get used to that unnatural sensation.
Even though the wheels were stumbling along an uneven path as the scenery flowed, neither wind nor shaking could be felt. Kararagi had a low overall number of ground dragons, and beast carriages were commonly used, so he was well acquainted with shaking and sluggishness.
And, speaking of unnatural sensations that he was not used to――,
Halibel: [Dang, even tho’ the movin’ corpses were already quite considerable… seems like flyin’ dragons’re also becomin’ zombies.]
Reaching his finger into a gap in his Japanese-style clothing, Halibel sloppily scratched his belly as he grumbled.
Reflected in his slit-eyes as he gazed into the night sky, with cracks throughout their grand large bodies and spread wings, were flying dragons that had been reduced to corpses―― a flock of “undead flying dragons”.
A dense flock that concealed the stars like dark clouds, were slowly approaching the coupled dragon carriages.
Halibel: [――There’s a troublesome one in there.]
As Halibel gave such an evaluation to a presence mixed in among the flock of undead flying dragons.
As if noticing the presence of that repulsive enemy, unrest began to sprout among the ground dragons pulling the dragon carriages.
Even though the ground dragons were known as loyal friends of people, it was not as if they had lost their wildness upon being domesticated. Feeling a sense of danger at the looming threat, even they would have a frightened heart.
The coupled dragon carriages were a big deal as an invention, but such danger was always present. Ground dragons were already highly empathetic creatures. If one of them got frightened, that fear would spread like a chain reaction――,
Right after Halibel had worried about that, a neigh that seemingly tore through the dusk reverberated.
A lethal cry of the approaching threat, that paralyzed the ground dragons with fear―― was not what it was.
The neigh had originated from near the foremost wagon, where several dozens of ground dragons were lined up to pull the coupled dragon carriages; the thing that had played the most important role, was the loud cry of a single jet-black ground dragon.
Halibel: [Heh, seems like there’s a young’un who’s got a considerably manly spirit.]
With the quick wittedness of the black ground dragon’s neigh, the contagion of fear was intercepted from spreading throughout the ground dragons.
Thanks to that, they had avoided the worst possible situation of the fearful ground dragons abandoning their duty, which would have caused the mid-air breakage of the coupled dragon carriages. And, just when Halibel was impressed, he had suddenly realized.
Halibel: [Golly, the black ground dragon young’un was actually a female. Rather than manly, guess she’s got a maidenly spirit.]
Unusually widening his narrowed slit-eyes as he muttered, Halibel laughed a small “Kaka”.
Smiling, the shinobi wolfman walked lightheartedly outside the dragon carriages that continued to run―― Stepping forth into empty space, he leaped into the sky.
He would engage. The formidable enemy that even the Admirer deemed to be troublesome, in order to prevent it from drawing any closer.
That formidable enemy was――,
???: [Whoa whoa whoa, what the heck is that!?]
Clinging to the window frame of the corridor, Subaru’s voice croaked as he gazed at the scene outside.
Having finished his discussion with Rem and Louis―― no, with Spica, in the passenger cabin, he had joined Emilia and the others who had been worriedly waiting for him; in the midst of giving them a report, he had been slapped by Petra.
Petra: [This is for me, and a little bit for Otto-san too!]
Then, after receiving that physical reprimand, he grappled with the concern he had caused the girls and the worry he would continue to burden them with in the future, and that was the moment he braced himself.
A sudden roar, as if to shatter the night sky itself, was heard, prompting Subaru and the others to rush to the window.
Subaru: [That thing’s, a black flying dragon… No, it’s way too massive to even be compared to a flying dragon!]
Beatrice: [That size, it’s not a flying dragon, in fact. Unmistakable, it’s Dragon-class, I suppose. And furthermore…]
Emilia: [――That Dragon, it has three heads!]
Above Subaru and Beatrice, who were clung to the window side-by-side, Emilia also pressed herself against the window and exclaimed just that; not only Subaru, but also the people of this other world had recognized it as an atypical being of imposing appearance.
Amidst the nightscape, soaring through the sky as if to race alongside the coupled dragon carriages, a fearsome colossal black Dragon swung its massive body and three heads around.
Cracks running through its majestic figure and expansive wings, the three pairs of golden eyes asserted its presence even in the night sky, vividly revealing its true nature.
Subaru: [Dragon Zombie…!!]
Ram: [A black Dragon with three heads… No way, the Three-Headed Valgren?]
Subaru: [Do you know it, Nee-sama!?]
With their cheeks still pressed against the window glass, the trio of Subaru, Beatrice, and Emilia turned their gazes to Ram behind them. Ram, cradling her own elbow, and as she stared out at the Dragon with her light-crimson eyes,
Ram: [It’s the infamous Blight Dragon that once wreaked havoc in a city by the border between the Empire and the Kingdom.]
Subaru: [I thought as much! It’s a given that a unique monster with such a nickname would be formidable…]
Ram: [A few years after the Demi-Human War, that Dragon almost scorched the Commercial City to the ground. Furthermore…]
Subaru: [Furthermore, what? Is there something else?]
Ram: [――. The head of the family from two generations prior, Roswaal-sama’s grandmother, lost her life in that battle.]
After a moment’s hesitation, the words Ram delivered made Subaru and the others catch their breaths.
The threat of an enemy became far more visceral when one learned that a relative of somebody close to them had been a victim. All the more when it was Roswaal’s grandmother. There was no way she could have been weak.
That stupendous Blight Dragon had been forestalled and was presently being held at bay by Halibel, but――,
Tanza: [Um, who exactly are those wolfpeople over there?]
Pulling closer, with Subaru in the middle, Tanza peered out of the same window, unable to hide her astonishment at the confrontation unfolding outside.
Surprised as she was, her phrasing was not incorrect, no matter how much it may have seemed so.
Regarding the appearance of the fighting Halibel, her phrasing of “those wolfpeople” was indeed accurate.
The reason was――,
Subaru: [Looks like there’s about three of Halibel-san…]
Emilia: [No, there are four of him, Subaru. It seems one has been on the Dragon’s back the whole time, trying to whittle down its wings.]
Beatrice: [In this case, Betty doesn’t think the exact number is the issue, in fact…]
Touted as the strongest shinobi of the City-States, Halibel had erased Sphinx’s deadly attack in an instant. Those actions alone already lived up to his reputation, but the battle now within the view of Subaru and company was equally, if not more, befitting of that reputation.
It was no big deal for him. Halibel, like a ninja, had split himself into clones and was engaged in aerial combat with the Blight Dragon.
Given this high-speed combat, it was understandable that Tanza, unacquainted with Halibel, might have been fooled by the illusion into thinking that the true form of the strongest entity of the City-States was actually a shinobi group composed of multiple people, called the Admirers.
In any case――,
Rem: [I believe the Blight Dragon isn’t our only enemy. Wouldn’t it be best for us to regroup with everyone else?]
Spica raised her voice in alarm, while Rem, who held her hand, suggested regrouping.
Ideally, Subaru would have wanted to share the details regarding the handling of Spica with everyone in a situation calmer than this. However, given how the situation was moving, they did not have that luxury.
Subaru: [Yeah, you’re right… We should head to where everyone is! Abel and the others should also be on the move. Right now we―― Urgh!?]
Following the proposal of Rem and Spica, Subaru was just about to suggest moving to another location.
Midway through, suddenly, a burning pain on Subaru’s chest interrupted his words, and Emilia supported his body as he tried to crouch down.
But, it was not just Subaru who had experienced this strange phenomenon.
Tanza: […Are you alright?]
Beatrice: [To be supported by you is humiliating, I suppose, deergirl…]
Ram: [Even Beatrice-sama… Barusu, what happened?]
Just like Subaru, the sudden pain had staggered Beatrice, and she expressed her displeasure as Tanza promptly supported her.
Ram asked a question upon witnessing that exchange, to which Subaru replied, “I-I don’t know”.
Subaru: [I just felt pain on my chest all of a sudden… HUUUH!?]
As he spoke, Subaru pulled down the neckline of his clothes, widening his eyes in shock.
Seeing the same thing Subaru had, both Emilia and Ram furrowed their brows in confusion.
Present there was a scar that seemed like a swollen red welt―― And, it was not just an ordinary scar.
Beatrice: [What is this…? It’s shaped like, somebody’s eye?]
Subaru: [Ah, so you see it too? It’s a mark shaped like an eyeball… Wait, don’t tell me, Beako! Do you…]
Beatrice: […Betty has the same mark on her soft skin, in fact.]
What had appeared on Subaru’s chest was a mark roughly the size of a child’s palm―― a deformed design that appeared to depict an eye.
It seemed like the same emblem had been carved into Beatrice, and Tanza confirmed by nodding deeply as she peered into the neckline of Beatrice’s dress.
Subaru: [But, it’s just me and Beako? Why is everyone else unaffected?]
Subaru: [I’m genuinely worried!? Do you really think I’d say something obscene given the situation and my current size!?]
Ascertaining that the others did not have that same mark, which was still pulsating with pain, Subaru rubbed the mark on his chest and scowled.
An abnormal sign had emerged in this situation. Of course, it was clear that this was an action taken by someone opposing Subaru and company, but the intentions behind the targets were unclear.
Perhaps, due to the contract binding Subaru and Beatrice, something cast upon one of their bodies could possibly manifest on the other as well.
Subaru: [No good, the limits are unclear no matter how much I think about it. The best thing would be to talk to someone knowledgeable about this. For now, we need to get out of here…]
Rem: [――Hk! Don’t!]
Once more, just as he tried to suggest they leave, he was interrupted yet again.
In a flurried state, Spica and Rem forcefully pushed Subaru and the rest aside from where they were lined up. It was a sudden move, however it turned out to be the right one.
――Because from directly above them, the roof was penetrated, and the silhouette of an enemy wielding great shears dove in, violently tearing through the spot where Subaru and company had stood just moments before.
In unison, two voices called out to him in concern, eliciting a wry smile from Roswaal.
These two might not have easily heeded his advice, and they certainly had not given their trust to Roswaal, but their genuine worry was evident. Their inherent kindness not only spoke for itself but also served as a testament that they, too, were part of the Emilia Camp.
――This was a distinction that set them apart from Roswaal, who could never truly connect with them at the core.
Roswaal: […Hk, they’ve marked me.]
Swallowing his fleeting smile, Roswaal pulled open his shirt to reveal his chest.
There, a red swollen mark stood out, depicting the pattern of an eye. Petra, her face covered, had her eyes widened in shock upon seeing it.
Otto’s expression clouded over upon seeing the mark, murmuring, “That is…”
Otto: [Margrave, did you say “mark”? I hope it is not what I’m thinking…]
Roswaal: [It’s exactly what you’re thiiinking~. ――This is most likely a sign that we’ve been recognized as enemies, or perhaps designated as targets. Either way, it’s not a welcooome~ sign.]
Petra: [Enemies, or targets?]
Otto’s glance fleetingly shifted to Petra beside him. She quickly grasped the implication behind his look, fervently shaking her head in response.
From their reactions, neither Otto nor Petra had this emblem manifesting on them.
While that in itself was a relief――,
Petra: [What kind of effect does this emblem have?]
Otto: [――. Effects that I can think of could be a slow sapping of one’s life, the ability to read the target’s thoughts, or simply a means to continuously locate the marked individual.]
Petra: [You deliberately listed the worst effects first, didn’t you? So, the most likely possibility is that this mark serves to pinpoint our location?]
Roswaal: [Indeed, both of you are truuuly~ astute.]
Roswaal closed his eyes, seeing Otto and Petra’s broad, calm judgement on the range of possibilities.
The most dangerous kind of curse, one that drained life, was not something that could be remotely inscribed and probably did not need to be considered.
However, being constantly located due to the mark would be problematic in itself.
Roswaal: [We might need to consider splitting up to ensure our movements aren’t entirely transparent. With the assistance of Halibel-dono outside, you two should distance yourselves from me…]
Otto: [――No, it seems it is already too late.]
Right after responding in a low voice, Otto pulled Petra’s shoulder beside him.
Petra, her eyes widening in shock, watched as an immense figure suddenly crashed through the window right beside her, entering the corridor of the coupled dragon carriages.
The intruder, covered head-to-toe in black armor and wielding great shears, emanated a malevolent aura―― an undead, it was.
Suppressing a scream, Petra pointed at the enemy from within Otto’s arms.
While praising the bravery of the girl who had tried to take the initiative in the sudden situation, Roswaal stepped forward and thrusted his palm forward before the enemy could swing the great shears upward.
He swiftly drove his hand into the gap between the helmet that covered the face as if it was a sword, inserting his fingers into the opponent’s eye sockets as he chanted.
In an instant, flames engulfed and exploded from the creature’s head, causing the armor to rupture from within.
Despite their flashy entrance, the intruder had not landed a single blow. Believing he had chosen the best course of action, Roswaal turned around, only to realize he had been overly optimistic.
One-by-one, soldiers in similar gear began pouring into the carriage from the roof and corridor.
In no time, the entire coupled dragon carriage had transformed into a mobile battlefield.
???: [Abel-chin, over here! Hurry! Big bro you run too!]
???: [To tell you the truth, this is me running with my full strength, dear sister!]
Raising her voice with all her might, Medium protected the rear by repelling the enemy’s attacks with her twin swords.
The barbarian swords and the great shears clashed violently, and as they slipped through the openings she created, the two men she was protecting―― Vincent and Flop, kept away from the enemy’s onslaught.
At first glance, that was a pitiful aspect, but there were reasons other than the fact that these two were respectively an injured man and a non-combatant.
Flop: [Your Excellency the Emperor-kun! Are you alright? Please don’t tell me you’ve been poisoned! I’d be troubled if you were unable to keep your promise!]
Vincent: […Hmph. If you are worried, then hide your ambition a little. It is disrespectful.]
Flop: [It may come as a surprise to you since you surround yourself with ambitious people, but there are people in the world who approach you for reasons other than ambition, Your Excellency the Emperor-kun!]
With Flop having spouted such a thoughtless remark while supporting Vincent’s shoulder, the latter snorted.
Vincent’s expression stiffened as he experienced a faint pain akin to his chest being pierced. It seemed as if the sudden pain along with the red scar was a thorn that ate into Vincent’s flesh.
Directly after that came the invasion of enemies which Medium was now keeping in check, Vincent was convinced that he was being assailed by the same thing that had once attacked him in the past, and in a way that was more troublesome than that time.
Flop: [That painful chest wound is…]
Vincent: [Though an annoyance, it is likely the Evil Eye of one of my siblings, Palladio Manesque. During the Imperial Selection Ceremony, that man died in defeat, it seems he was unable to rest in peace.]
Flop: [Evil Eye…! So that effect is…?]
Vincent: [Back then, it was something that allowed him to transmit his voice to somebody whose location he knew, but its precision seems to have improved after his death.]
While answering Flop’s question, Vincent recalled the sibling who he had once allowed to die.
Among his siblings competing for the seat of Emperor, Palladio had been in a particularly formidable class, but the cause of his defeat had ended up being that he had grown complacent about the power of his Evil Eye, and thus been unable to make full use of that ability.
It had never occurred to him that Palladio would rectify that after his death, but――.
Vincent: […No, even if he died, his way of being was not something that could be so easily changed. There is someone who has ordered Palladio to do this to me.]
Flop: [But, if he was your sibling, that Palladio person must also be a member of the Imperial Family, right? No matter how undead he’s become, for such a person to just do what he is told…]
Vincent: [――You have more-or-less guessed it. If Palladio were to obey, it would only be to either the former Emperor, Drizen Vollachia, or someone to whom he had yielded to as being above himself.]
One person who fit that criterion was Vincent himself, but considering that Palladio was on the side of the undead, he was excluded from the candidates to begin with.
As for someone who was definitely undead, Drizen, the former Emperor and his biological father, emerged as a candidate, and as an important matter worthy of no consideration, the face of his missing younger sister also came up.
But, taking the equipment of the enemy Medium was facing into account, there was only one possible option for the real enemy――.
Vincent: [――Lamia, is it?]
A being who satisfied the conditions for Palladio to obey, and was accompanied by brutal soldiers who carried great shears―― the Pruning Corps, nobody but Lamia Godwin fit.
Vincent presumed that the enemy was one of the three siblings whom he had evaluated highly while competing for the throne in the Imperial Selection Ceremony, and he clutched his aching chest with force.
???: [You’re fuckin’ annoying, damn dead people!!]
A rough, bellowing voice could be heard, and a drawn blade rampaged ahead of the path of Vincent and the two siblings.
At a glance, coming from the opposite direction of Vincent and company, the soldier―― a man with unruly hair and an eyepatch, was dicing up the undead that had broken through the window and entered the carriage, reducing them to dust.
Then, breathing heavily, the soldier noticed Vincent and company, and,
???: [Oi! You lot, gimme a hand! My sister’s exhausted inside that place…]
Vincent: [Nay, it is you who ought to lend a hand.]
???: [Huh? The fuck’re you saying… Y-Y-Yo-You-Your Excellency the Emperor!?]
The man who had approached them with such a rough manner of speech, shouted upon realizing Vincent’s identity.
Thinking that was the natural response, Vincent found satisfaction in the reactions of those who were insolent and disrespectful, and, as he gestured to behind himself with his chin,
Vincent: [Cooperate with the ones behind me and stop the enemy forces. With this, your sister shall be extracted.]
???: [Y-yes sir! Private First-Class Jamal Aurélie reporting, yes sir!]
Vincent: [Exert your utmost efforts, Jamal Aurélie. The survival of the Empire hinges upon your performance.]
At Vincent’s words, the one-eyed Jamal trembled all over. Immediately after, he let out a fierce, beast-like roar and ferociously leapt over Vincent and Flop’s heads, rushing to aid Medium, who was fighting strenuously behind them, and he began to hold back the undead.
Flop: [You with the eyepatch! The one fighting alongside you, Medium, is a candidate for the Most Honorable Empress Consort, so please treat her courteously!]
Medium: [I still haven’t said yes to that~!]
In response to Flop’s voice, Medium’s reply lacked tension.
Behind her, Flop burst into the room where Jamal’s sister was, and he brought out a woman in a wheelchair, whose eyes were darting about.
The woman clung to the wheelchair, and as her eyes pitifully brimmed with tears,
Katya: [W-what? What is it? Why, why can’t you just leave me alone…!]
Vincent: [――. That is likely something everyone in the Empire is currently thinking.]
While he sincerely agreed with the voice of the woman who lamented the situation, Vincent shook his head.
No matter how dire the situation became, they could not afford for the wheels of the coupled dragon carriages to come to a halt right here and now.
If it were to stop, how much time would it take for the dragon carriage to start moving again?
If that were to happen――,
Vincent: [――There is not a moment to waste. We must arrive at the Fortified City.]
???: [If you stop the dragon carriage right now, we’ll be surrounded by even more enemy forces. The mechanism behind the coupled dragon carriages relies on the Divine Protection of Wind Evasion. So if we start going without the Divine Protection, we’ll probably roll over.]
???: [I knew that’d be too convenient, but that’s a pretty big drawback, ain’t it?]
Once the suggestion that the coupled dragon carriages be stopped came up, Serena exposed their shortcomings, given the present situation that the carriages were under attack, and that enemies and allies were scattered and mixed amidst the moving carriages.
Having been informed of this, it was clear for Anastasia that it would be impractical for them to stop.
Anastasia: [Even if that ain’t the case, the ground dragons’ve been runnin’ for almost half a day… ‘n once they stop, they won’t be able to start runnin’ again tonight.]
Serena: [There’s also a difference in manpower between us and our opponents. This is undoubtedly made up for by the mobility of the dragon carriages. If that difference were to disappear, our fate would be the same as that of the aging Prime Minister, Berstetz.]
???: [This ain’t the time to be talkin’ like that! Gramps, quit lettin’ everyone tell ya what to do!]
Berstetz: [This is the nature of High Countess Dracroy’s character, not to mention the fact that it is only natural that I be executed after the Great Disaster has been resolved…]
???: [Don’t be so fuckin’ determined to just give up!]
Serena made a light remark that was hard to judge as such, and Berstetz responded with words that had no air of frivolity, to which Garfiel raised his voice.
This new attack occurred at a point in time when Anastasia and Garfiel were in the same room. Normally Garfiel would have wanted to join up with Emilia and the others, but――,
Anastasia: [I’m sorry that ya were forced to be with us, Garf-kun, but thanks to ya, both me ‘n Serena-san ‘n the others were saved, right?]
Garfiel: [Tsk… I ain’t worried ‘bout the Captain, as long as Ram ‘n Emilia-sama are with him. But, I’m worried ’bout Ottobro…]
Anastasia: [Reason doesn’t disappear when we get emotional. Otto-kun’s a merchant, so don’t worry, he can take care of himself. Whoops…]
Garfiel, his arms not looking particularly strong, snarled in frustration as he intercepted the jaeger with the great shears who was boarding the carriage.
With a blistering onslaught of punches, blows, and crushing strikes, he quickly hunted down the jaeger in the blink of an eye.
Then, Berstetz, who as a non-combatant belonged to the same group as Anastasia, narrowed his eyes even more at the sight of the undead, beaten and crushed to dust,
Berstetz: [The Pruning Corps… It seems that Her Excellency Lamia is here, after all.]
Serena: [Her Excellency Lamia Godwin? That’s someone I would’ve liked to have met once.]
Anastasia: [Really? What kinda person are they?]
Serena: [The Prime Minister knows more about her than I do. After all, it was the Prime Minister who wanted her to become the Empress.]
Serena shrugged as she held up her own sword, the blade of which waved through the air, and Anastasia turned her gaze to Berstetz.
The old man, who did not deny Serena’s story, nodded, his eyes so narrowed, to the point of being like threads, that one could not readily see as to where he was looking,
Berstetz: [She was a woman worthy of being the Empress of the Vollachian Empire. If not for Vincent Abellux and Prisca Benedict being in the same generation, she would have been Empress.]
Serena: [Could it be that she has risen as an undead to come and fulfill that ambition? Perhaps, Prime Minister, you might be forgiven if you were to pledge your allegiance once again?]
Berstetz: [――. Unfortunately, Her Excellency Lamia and I are losers. It is not in keeping with the imperial way.]
Serena closed one eye and sighed as Berstetz slowly shook his head.
It seems Berstetz’s serious answer was not to Serena’s liking. Anastasia, too, could detect the mixed feelings between the former master and servant, but not much more.
Suddenly, as she was contemplating, Anastasia heard a call in her ear, and raised her head.
The call came from around Anastasia’s neck, from Echidna, disguised as a fox scarf. Glancing over, Echidna’s dark eyes turned toward the entrance of the guest room.
???: [――Anastasia-sama, I am back.]
Shortly after following her gaze, Julius appeared from the other side of the door.
The handsome Julius held his Knight’s sword in one hand and a slender man in the other. Julius had been ordered to separate from the others and pick him up.
The figure shook his long gray hair, and as he raised his head with a pitiful expression,
???: [Now now, I’m troooubled~ by this all happening so suddenly. My chest is burning and aching, and with this swordsman here shaking me all about, it’s all so terrible.]
Anastasia: [Instead of complainin’ so much like a chitterin’ bird, shouldn’t ya be thankin’ me n’ my Knight? Ya might be their target, after all.]
Wearing a look of surprise, it was the one who had been restrained earlier in the back of the carriage, the Stargazer, Ubilk.
Apparently, he was in a position where he was a beneficial asset to the Empire, and was also a valuable source of information in its fight against the Great Disaster. In order to prevent him from being killed, Julius had been sent to him.
Anastasia: [With Garf-kun, I thought there’d’ve been a lotta detours due to him wanderin’ off ‘n foolin’ ‘bout.]
Garfiel: [I’m fightin’ properly, ya know! Stop complainin’!]
Anastasia: [Really? If I didn’t ask ya to do this job, wouldn’t ya’ve gone to help Halibel outside instead?]
Snarling with an expression that proved she had hit bullseye, Garfiel’s fangs quivered.
The coupled dragon carriage was being continuously attacked by their enemies, but ensuring the biggest threat could not approach them, keeping the Blight Dragon at bay on his own, was Halibel.
The fierce Dragon’s roar could occasionally be heard along with the accompanying sky-cracking boom―― if he were not the strongest of the City-States, it would be impossible to stall the world’s most powerful species.
Julius: [Garfiel, thank you very much for protecting Anastasia-sama and the others. I extend my respect for your bravery.]
Garfiel: [Shuddup! Just like the Captain, my amazin’ self ain’t too good at dealin’ with ya!]
Julius: [That is regrettable. As with Subaru, I was hoping to become friends with you as well.]
Garfiel vigorously growled at the words Julius spoke in his face, thrusting out his fist. As if intersecting with Julius, the coordination demolished the undead that appeared behind one another.
Even if Garfiel would not admit it, the two top-notch warriors were perfectly in sync.
Anastasia: [However, this is all just a stopgap… I don’t wanna stop the dragon carriage, but if it stops then that’ll be the end of the line. We hafta get the situation movin’ somewhere, right?]
With a deep and burly roar, a golden mace was swung.
The horizontal impact scythed down the undead clad in bulky armor all at once, and the enemies that had been flung off the top of the dragon carriage, crumbled into dust even before they even crashed into the ground.
However, even after dealing with several enemies at once, the number of foes did not abate.
???: [DamnitdamnitDAMNIT! Such shrewd tricks!!]
Angered was his stern face, covered in beard and scars, and Goz Ralfon roared like a lion.
In Goz’s field of vision, he could see a swarm of undead flying dragons blanketing the sky, deploying the undead clutched in their talons down onto the coupled dragon carriages one after the other.
This bold method of transport was the worst possible mechanism by which the enemy soldiers could board the coupled dragon carriages.
——Throwing the enemy soldiers down did not ensure that every one of them could catch hold of the coupled dragon carriages.
Rather, nearly half of the soldiers failed to catch the coupled dragon carriages, and after being thrown by the undead flying dragons, simply fell to the ground below, and the outrageous occurrence of the impact reducing their resurrected bodies back into dust was repeated over and over.
However, even a military deployment that could only be called a suicidal act for a living soldier, turned into an efficient means of transportation that can be used without the fear of losses using dead soldiers.
And thus, implementing it was——,
Goz: [——The Pruning Corps of Her Excellency Lamia!]
Goz had rushed to protect the ground dragons, who held the most important position at the foremost wagon of the coupled dragon carriages, and he glared at the sky where the worst assortment of undead were being brought by the flock of deceased flying dragons.
The Pruning Corps were the malevolent group that had carried out what came to be known in the Vollachian Empire as the Great Purge.
Every member was clad in armor that disguised their facial features, and wielding massive great shears, they pruned any person deemed unnecessary for their master’s supremacy. ——That was the purpose of the Pruning Corps.
The reason the name of that group had gone down in the history of the Empire, was because a girl from the Imperial Family—— Lamia Godwin, nine years of age at the time, had massacred the armies of Mid Counts who had incited a rebellion, entire.
The victims of the purge had been made to suffer gruesome torment, thoroughly tasting the hell of this world.
Naturally, the young princess had had all her subordinates carry out all kinds of malevolent violence that would be a large burden for even those who got their hands dirty, thereby perfecting her malevolent squadron with ironclad loyalty.
Just how much control she had over the hearts of her soldiers, was on full display in this strategy. ——The fact that even in death, that which gnawed at their very souls, Lamia’s poison, had not faded in the slightest.
???: [——My my. Even though so many years have passed, to think you would remember me and my adorable beasts, I am glad.]
Suddenly, a fear-inducing, sickly-sweet voice descended from above.
At that moment, Goz, paying no heed to appearances, raised his mace overhead, and deflecting the bright-red swing head-on, leapt backwards. Immediately after, the mace that Goz held caught fire.
It was a matter of course. ——After all, the brilliance of the Yang Sword dazzlingly illuminated all things.
Goz: [By no means, to think that you would descend onto the battlefield yourself…! Your Excellency Lamia Godwin!!]
Lamia: [Is it really so surprising? With this body, that is the best choice, is it not?]
Clenching down on his molars, Goz glared straight ahead, and in his vision was a noble undead who smiled bewitchingly.
The blood-red opulent dress, the dazzling array of jewelry, and the natural beauty characteristic of the Vollachian Imperial Family, which caused the value of the items which adorned their beauty to plummet. —―However that too, when coupled with the pale cracked skin and eerie golden irises, was but a shadow of its former self.
In the past, during the Imperial Selection Ceremony, the Poison Princess Lamia Godwin had vied for the throne against Vincent Vollachia, having been able to become the Empress—— as if testifying that she had completely changed, she looked down at the half of her body that Goz had shattered with his counterattack.
However, where other undead would have crumbled to dust from such a blow, Lamia’s body did not shatter. Instead, the cracks mended themselves, restoring her original form.
Goz: [That body…]
Lamia: [An immortal body that shall not be lost, no matter how much it is crushed or destroyed… Alas, it does not seem to be something so convenient that I can boast about in such a manner.]
Lamia, gently stroking the part that had been repaired, wielded the Yang Sword with that very hand, as if to prove that she had indeed recovered. In her arms, the dazzling beauty of the unfaltering treasured sword, seemed all the more blasphemous, rather.
Goz frowned at that fact, to which Lamia muttered, “How unpleasant,”
Lamia: [Although you could not calm down and have a chat at the Crystal Palace either, I wonder if you could stop making such a scary face, General Second-Class Ralfon?]
Lamia: [Ah, you have become a General First-Class now, have you not? I heard about that. So Vincent-niisama has reinstated the system of the Nine Divine Generals? That is very much like him to do.]
Placing the hand not holding the Yang Sword against her chin, Lamia parted her lips to the side.
Those gestures and speech were unmistakably those of Lamia, whom Goz had also come to interact with while she was still alive, and he was both horrified and angered by the technique that allowed for the undead to replicate her former behavior.
Indifferent to his inner thoughts, Lamia looked at Goz’s armor from top to bottom and said,
Lamia: [The Nine Divine Generals, it is structured so that rising to the top is measured solely by strength. It is the perfect way to gather mindless, easily controllable pawns.]
Goz: […Certainly, part of the context behind His Excellency’s reinstatement of the Nine Divine Generals, was an intention to prepare a countermeasure against the current Great Disaster. That is something I acknowledge.]
Lamia: [Though from the way you say it, it seems you have an objection?]
Goz: [With all due respect!]
Lamia’s statement, it sounded like it was praising Vincent’s thoughts.
Before they opposed each other in the Imperial Selection Ceremony, it was said that Lamia had been quite fond of Vincent. Though life and death had separated their paths, her confidence in him remained intact even after death.
Goz: [Your Excellency Lamia, how much do you know of the time when you were not alive?]
Lamia: [What a strange question. ――Unfortunately, I know nothing from the time I was dead. Right now, I am in the middle of brushing up on all the various things that have happened. I would not mind if you were to teach me a little.]
Goz: [Then just one thing! Pardon my rudeness, I wish to correct you!]
Goz: [As Your Excellency Lamia has rightly observed, the Nine Divine Generals of the present age are all highly capable. They are all strong individuals who make light of even myself… But, there is not a single one among them who is an easy pawn to control!]
Puffing out his chest adorned in golden armor, Goz emphatically boasted out loud.
Supposing that in preparation for the battle against the Great Disaster, Vincent had reinstated the Nine Divine Generals in hopes of having pawns that would do exactly as they were told, it could be said that his plan had failed.
Every General First-Class was a hardened troublemaker, there was no way such a thing could be done so easily.
Goz: [It is not to the extent Your Excellency Lamia believes, the magnificence of the Empire is not summed up within His Excellency alone!]
Lamia: [――. I wonder, could that be an insult to Vincent-niisama?]
Goz: [No! Never! Not at all, Your Excellency Lamia!]
At Lamia’s narrowed eyes and the slightly sharp tone she had put into her words, Goz shook his head.
Lamia was angered by the feelings he had expressed about Vincent, but Goz was also sensitive to any disrespect or rude remarks made about His Excellency the Emperor. However, ever since the decision to abandon the Imperial Capital, his stance had changed slightly.
All of it, had not been influenced by Goz himself, but rather by a change in Vincent.
Goz: [“I am relying on your work”, he told me.]
Lamia: […What did you just say?]
Goz: [Your Excellency Lamia, His Excellency Vincent Vollachia who your esteemed self knew was indeed outstanding! And yet! Now! Even more! His Excellency the Emperor is changing, striving for even greater excellence!!]
Goz: [The Vollachian Empire, hereafter, will continue to flourish more and more! For that reason, we cannot let the hindrance from those who have once died go uncontrolled any longer!]
In the sense of seeking perfection from the Emperor, Goz and Lamia were very much alike. But, what decisively differentiated the two was their respective knowledge from the passage of the last nine years.
Those who continued to walk forward in time, they would leave behind those who had halted their step; that was a fact.
Goz: [A wise man who does not cease his onward march! Surpassing even the expectations and predictions of those who have halted, and pushing even further beyond! That, is the apex of the Vollachian Empire, His Excellency the Emperor!]
Raising the blazing head of his mace aloft, Goz shook off his hesitation, and he charged forward.
Up until that point, his love and reverence for Lamia, a member of the Vollachian Imperial Family despite her altered appearance, had fettered Goz. ――But, those shackles were torn apart by a stronger and more fervent loyalty.
Raising a mighty roar, Goz’s singular swing drew a semicircle, and slammed down onto Lamia.
Possessing unparalleled herculean strength, a strike from Goz using all of his might was not easy to block, even if the opponent was one of the Nine Divine Generals. Even more so for the slender arm of a woman, even if that arm held the Yang Sword.
In fact, Lamia did not even try to block Goz’s strike with the Yang Sword she wielded.
Lamia: [With that unwise head of yours, you sure talk a lot, General First-Class Ralfon. ――I am actually rather impressed, so I shall inform you.]
Her thin lips moved, and Lamia fixed her gaze on Goz with a beautiful smile.
The figure of the woman received the head of the descending mace in its entirety, and without offering even the slightest resistance, it shattered like ceramic, and was blown away into smithereens.
Right after stating her intention to tell him something, she had been reduced to dust beyond any hope of repair.
Of course, there was also the matter raised in the war council earlier. Even if the undead were defeated, there was a possibility that they would rise again through the medium of the so-called Corebug that the magicians from the Kingdom had discovered.
Goz: [Even so…]
The defeat of Lamia here, it should be a turning point in the situation.
If the Pruning Corps no longer had someone to give them explicit orders, depending on the presence or absence of a commander―― No, the difference in their ability would already be an advantage to his side.
That confidence of Goz was――,
???: [――Are you listening, General First-Class Ralfon?]
Once again, the moment when the sickly-sweet voice grazed his ears, Goz’s mace was swung directly behind him; in its path, it slammed into the figure of the enemy and, piercing through the torso, had split their body in two with a sound like shattering pottery.
As that was smashed and blown away in the corner of his vision, Goz gulped.
Because the enemy he had reflexively struck down, that which had been turned into dust and vanished, donned a face supposedly impossible for it to don.
The reason being that it was the very same as the one Goz had defeated with his own hands just a moment ago.
???: [Even though you rarely say clever things, it is just as you say.]
Faced with a strange sight that should have never been, the hand gripping the mace began to quake and tremble.
Whether that was out of anger or some other emotion, even Goz himself could not discern. What was certain, however, was that it was blasphemy.
A blasphemy against the Vollachian Empire, to which the Lion Knight, Goz Ralfon, had sworn his loyalty.
???: [――This is a war of annihilation, between us who were left behind in the past, and you lot.]
???: [――This is a war of annihilation, between us who were left behind in the past, and you lot.]
???: [――This is a war of annihilation, between us who were left behind in the past, and you lot.]
Having declared thus, Lamia Godwin, who should have been shattered, smiled at Goz.
――Wielding countless Yang Swords in their hands, innumerable Poison Princesses, innumerable Lamia Godwins, smiled at him.