Human Translated By:
- Garcar (Section 1, Partial Section 2.2, Section 2.3, Section 3, Section 4, Section 5)
Machine Translated By:
- Goldkills (Section 2.1, Partial Section 2.2)
- Cirdan Lunae
Japanese to English Checking By:
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
――Aldebaran knew of what Stargazers were.
The person who had informed Aldebaran of their existence, in the past, was a being knowledgeable about almost everything about this world, who nevertheless still coveted the unknown, greedily.
His relationship with that person was a complex one.
It was not one which he could describe with words such as “like” or “dislike”.
If asked whether he was grateful to them or not, he would probably say he was. But, the degree of his gratitude towards them notwithstanding, he harbored reservations about how incompatible they were with him. Such was the kind of person they were.
At any rate, regardless of who had taught him that knowledge, he knew of the Stargazers’ circumstances.
And thus, they contributed nothing to the outcome of Aldebaran’s dearest wish whatsoever. More important than his interest in the Stargazers or whether they were involved with him or not, was the fact that they had dragged them into this.
When Priscilla had first declared she would head for Vollachia, through trial and error he attempted to stop her; once she had decided on something however, her mind would not be swayed no matter what.
So, the best he could do was to accompany her, endeavoring to serve as her insurance as much as possible, but―― for Aldebaran, the fact that he had happened across them in this Empire, was undoubtedly a cruel twist of fate.
Always, fate would intervene in Aldebaran’s life in extremely odious ways.
Therefore, he did not have the slightest good impression in regards to fate, but just this time, he was grateful.
If they were here, it would be a different story. If they had been dragged into this, the situation would be dramatically changed.
If they were to enter a frame, unable to abandon it, if the frame they were unable to abandon were to increase in scope more and more, to the point that they would not be able to handle all of it, then Aldebaran’s dearest wish would be fulfilled.
Once before, Aldebaran had thrown everything away, entirely.
Amidst darkness, continuing to walk while solely relying on what meager starlight was present, he had given up on trying.
For that reason, the sun was radiant. As if there was no such thing as darkness, it had scorched his resignation to naught.
If it was to protect that dazzling sun, he was fine with licking the boots of fate. Enduring pain that seemed to tear into him, he would not even hesitate to look them right in the eye.
Be it Witch, be they Stargazers, be it the Great Disaster, no matter what stood in his way, he cared not.
――It’s just, I’m begging you, so please, don’t get in my way.
――In total, twenty-two times.
That was the number of attempts it had taken Al to figure out what had happened to him. In an instant, there was a whiteout so abrupt that he did not even realize that his body had evaporated――.
Al: [――Nah, it wasn’t caused by clouds or snow, it was fire, so I guess it’d be a redout. Or it’d also be fine to call it a crimsonout, ‘cuz it sounds cooler.]
Taking a deep breath, he uttered a pointless, nonsensical remark.
Although he could not say for certain whether his mind was normal or not, at the very least, he could bring himself to a tenuous belief that his mind was normal.
For the time being, that was fine. If there was a problem――,
Al: [When it comes to fighting at this level, there’s no room for me to intervene!]
In front of Al as he barked this, was one of the duties that had to be accomplished in the Imperial Capital―― the conquest of the five bastions of the star-shaped ramparts had been completed in one location.
Solid walls that boasted immense defensive capability had been annihilated without a trace. What else could this be called but the accomplishment of that objective?
But then again, at the second bastion, where the high, high walls and surrounding buildings had been completely erased, a greater obstacle than the now-vanished walls obstructed the path, as the next hurdle.
――The cloudy sky was dyed red, and a girl surrendered herself to the sky through the work of some unknown principle.
The girl had short silver hair, red eyes, and much of her brown skin exposed; however, as much as her beautiful features were captivating, she exhibited an appearance that jolted an instinctive sense of danger within any who beheld her.
Having left the master of the thorns to Groovy, by using the werewolf’s pelt, Al and Cecilus had safely reached the second bastion―― no, they had attempted to reach it.
Strictly speaking, the second bastion had been wiped from the face of the world, and caught up in that annihilation, Al had suffered damage many times without even being able to perceive said damage, before finally grasping the situation and the method with which to move it forward.
That said, he did not even want to think about how many extra attempts it would take to reach the same result if he were asked to do it again.
That was why――,
Al: [――Re-initiate thought experiment, territory redefinition.]
Updating the matrix by ten-odd seconds, or perhaps just by a few seconds, Al put the whole of his effort towards finding an opening to escape.
As Al had shouted earlier, there was no room for him to intervene. Regardless, whenever Al suffered fatal damage, he would restart from a predefined point, so the world would not progress.
It would be a different story if Cecilus could pick up Al and let him escape from the lethal zone together with him, like the time with that sniper, but――,
Cecilus: [Sorry, Al-san, but my intuition is telling me that this is my time to shine and that looking after you’d spoil my state of being.]
With that stated, Cecilus quickly resigned from protecting Al and challenged the girl in the sky―― Arakiya.
How many times had Al seen her by now? Looking back on it, their relationship had been steadily deteriorating: back when he had been a gladiator on the Gladiator Island, he had fought together with her when she was still a little girl; next, they faced off as enemies in the Fortress City of Guaral; and now, she was vaporizing him in the Imperial Capital.
But, putting the viewpoint of a middle-aged guy who had encountered her several times to the side, as Cecilus had said, it could be understood that Arakiya was not in her usual state with a single glance.
Arakiya was writhing in midair, her state was evidently abnormal.
A Spirit Eater, Al had heard about their characteristics in passing from Priscilla. In reality, he had been able to see her transform into fire and water with his own eyes, but this clearly ran counter to those precedents.
Unlike when she assimilated her body with water, or when she soared with part of her body turned into flames, Arakiya’s current appearance looked like she was just about to be devoured by an enormous white light from the inside out.
As if protruding out from the inside of her slender brown body, translucent crystals tinged a pale yellow seemed to be directly growing from her skin one after the other.
The purest form of magic stones were known as magic crystals, and they were encircling Arakiya’s entire body.
If she were nonetheless capable of remaining composed like that, it would have seemed that Arakiya’s appearance was another display of her power as a Spirit Eater, but――,
Arakiya’s red eyes reflected not a clear image of anything in the world. With tears flowing from her clouded left eye, her lips spilled out a pained gasp for help.
Nobody would consider this situation as normal or as something that Arakiya herself desired.
If a child cried out with a gaping mouth, tears streaming down from their eyes as they repeatedly pounded on someone, even supposing their eyes were closed, their ears were plugged, their skin were covered, it would still be known that the child was crying nonetheless.
That was exactly what Arakiya was doing right now.
Al: [Don’t tell me you’re gonna say that you can’t leave a crying child alone!?]
Al, at the end of his rope and trying his best to flee from the ruin, shouted in desperation to Cecilus, who was rushing towards it.
Upon hearing this, Cecilus did not look back, but shook his shoulders in a way that made it clear that he had laughed,
Cecilus: [The tears of women and children can be the impetus to get a story moving. So it’s natural that I can’t overlook them, but that isn’t the case here.]
Al: [So then…!]
Cecilus: [But―― I have business with those tears.]
Immediately after he spoke, Cecilus leapt at lightning speed, using a piece of melted debris as a foothold.
In the surrounding area, the barricades that had been erected to protect the second bastion had melted away, manifesting the appearance of a magma-filled inferno. Should one carelessly plunge one’s foot into the magma, the damage incurred would be much more than merely slipping, but rather the portion that had been plunged in would be instantly incinerated, leaving a scar that would not be seen ever again. Al’s source for this was himself.
But, Cecilus jumped into the area that had become a garden of magma, making full use of the limited footholds to close in on Arakiya, who was floating in the sky.
His speed and transience were beyond description―― no, truly beyond description was the deed that was realized directly afterward, mixed in with Cecilus humming a tune.
Al: [No way!?]
Arakiya’s entire body radiated white light in the air, and a moment later, a flash of light scorched the spot where Cecilus was running.
The unleashed spear of light pierced into the magma, and a beat later, everything within a radius of a few meters around it had compressed, and was immediately blown asunder. The imploded magma and the destructive force that had caused said implosion then spread out to the surrounding area, scattering it over a radius nearly ten times the size of the initial compressed space.
Rendered speechless, albeit he knew himself to be out of range, Al reflexively covered his head with his arm to protect it; with his vision covered he could still that though that single shot alone had been horrifyingly powerful, the bombardment still continued without cease.
One, two, three, four shots were fired in rapid succession, each shot reshaping the form of the Imperial Capital.
Streets ceased to be streets, and land ceased to be land.
They were fired one after another, pursuing Cecilus as he ran on the ground, but even he――,
Cecilus: [Ta ta ta ta ta ta ta ta ta ta ta ta ta ta――!!!]
Splatters of the scorching heat known as magma were scattered about, the gaze of the blinks of destruction known as flashing light were evaded, and Cecilus broke through the white dust in a mad dash through the space where death rained down incessantly.
All the footholds had already disappeared, and through a space where magma would soak one’s feet in the place of solid ground, Cecilus swiftly ran with zori that did not seem to have any sort of fireproof quality.
Bearing witness to that sight, what flashed through Al’s mind was the absurd image of a shinobi running on water―― the technique of stepping forth with their left foot before their right foot sank, then stepping forth with their right foot before their left foot sank.
Undoubtedly, Cecilus was performing that not on water, but on magma.
Al: [That shouldn’t be possible!?]
Cecilus: [As long as a person thinks that way, they’ll never be able to do it!]
Cheerfully responding to Al’s exclamation, Cecilus performed an outrageous act that scoffed at the very laws of physics. Running straight forward he plunged into a house that had escaped harm’s way, and in the subsequent instant, that house collapsed, and a pillar that had been kicked out of the crumbling building soared through the air like an arrow.
It was a rather girthy arrow with an incorrect size ratio, but it closed in on Arakiya with enough speed to bore through the torso of a large animal. But, before it could hit Arakiya, it spontaneously combusted, and smoldered to naught within the air.
Surrounding Arakiya as she radiated light, so much heat was being generated that it appeared as if both herself, and even the space around her were being distorted, so there was no way any half-hearted attack could have drawn near her.
Even Cecilus ought to have understood that. And yet――,
Cecilus: [Go! Go go! Go go go!!]
Inducing a thunderous sound, Cecilus destroyed buildings one after the other, and, kicking the pillars, rooftops, and household belongings of the destroyed buildings flying at speeds unperceivable to the eye, he made an incessant onslaught on the airborne Arakiya.
Of course, it was not a matter of which would reach her, as all of them vanished in the air before they had the chance.
Moreover, in retaliation against those unsuccessful attacks, there were arrows of light that were sure to prove fatal with merely a graze.
Al: [Idiot, stop that, don’t you get it!? If you recklessly attract her attention…]
Cecilus: [What are you saying, Al-san! It’s totally totally totally totally the opposite! Rather, it’s absolutely necessary that I attract her full attention to myself!]
Al: [This show-off… No.]
Cecilus continued to contribute to the destruction of the Imperial Capital’s scenery, voluntarily to the buildings, and incidentally to the rest of the surroundings. Trying to laugh off his usual leading actor-type statement with an unfunny one-liner, Al realized.
All of Cecilus’s positioning involved placing Arakiya on the interior of the Imperial Capital, and going around so he would be outside of it to draw her attacks―― That was to say, it was a battle with no attacks directed towards the inside of the Imperial Capital.
Having finally understood that, Al also understood what Cecilus was trying to say.
Cecilus: [Right now that woman has neither consciousness nor rationality. All she’s got are the defensive instincts in order to not be killed or burst apart. If left alone she’d aimlessly head for the center of the city, but if we let her rampage in the center, what’s gonna happen?]
Al: [It’d become a hole that nobody’d be able to live in for the next hundred years…]
Cecilus: [A whole lotta people would die. It may be fine if they were just enemies, but I don’t really find it desirable for people who aren’t enemies to die in great numbers. The world will get lonely, after all.]
Saying so in a calm tone, Cecilus dodged the ray of death that attempted to graze him, and devoted himself to lightning speed in order to implement his statement.
Unable to hide his surprise at Cecilus’s unexpectedly decent motivation, Al stuck his finger into his heated iron helmet, and adjusted its angle while holding his ground.
――As Cecilus had said, currently, Arakiya did not have the leeway to turn her attention anywhere else.
Arakiya had taken in something beyond Al’s imagination, and desperately enduring as it overflowed, she was merely counterattacking by reflex against any threat that could impede her.
Thus, Cecilus continued to put himself at a critical distance and meddle with Arakiya in order to keep her contained here, as he claimed it was necessary to prevent the Imperial Capital from being destroyed.
Cecilus’s aim, and the peculiar situation Arakiya had been placed in.
The choice to turn his back and flee, as there was nothing he could do, would always flicker in the corner of his mind, but even Cecilus had once had one of his legs blown off.
If Al’s presence had made it so that that had never happened, then there was value in him being here.
Al: [――Am I really doing this?]
Slowly shaking his head, Al drew in a long breath.
Right at the outset, he had already drawn the short end of the stick twenty-two times; from here on out, he did not know just how many times he would end up drawing it again. As a result, he wondered what might happen to his sanity.
However, regardless of whether he was sane or not, there would never be any mistaking that the sun was dazzling.
Al: [In that case, I’m fine with this.]
The metal fixtures on his helmet made a sound as he plucked them, and Al took one step forward.
The unleashed white light aiming for Cecilus exploded ten-odd meters in front of him, and the magma droplets blown away by the aftershock directly caught Al, who had not dodged――,
With his redefined territory, the ordinary man resolved himself to step onto the grand stage.
――Cecilus Segmunt had once told Arakiya something, in the past.
He had done so during a battle to the death between the First and the Second, an event regarded as commonplace in the Imperial Capital.
In the midst of a chat between Arakiya and Cecilus, who were the defeated and the victor respectively, a conversation taking place in a vast field reduced to a scorched plot, the latter had sliced open the clouds with his katana, a technique he had purported as being nothing but something for show.
In reality, Cecilus had thought it held no utility other than for surprising people; having witnessed it first-hand, Arakiya too evaluated that as a skill devoid of any useful purpose whatsoever.
That, was the divine miracle of empty sky that Rowan Segmunt had spent his lifetime devising―― for those who were transcendent monsters, it was worthy of naught more than being dubbed a flashy performance.
That was to say――,
――A long leg glided through the air, and with a delay, a strong wind blew the dust away.
Quickly stooping down to evade the powerful leg, he spotted an opening in the large sweeping kick of his opponent, and unsheathed his blade towards the slender waist in an attempt to cleave them in twain―― an impact slammed into his chest.
The air was squeezed out of his lungs, and looking down with eyes widened, that which had caused his sternum to grate were the multiple tails growing from the rear of the woman who had unleashed the kick.
Its fur soft, a tail like that of a fox had delivered a strike unbelievably vigorous, causing the body on the receiving end to fly backwards, bouncing off the ground.
Once, twice he witnessed heaven and earth revolving, and upon the third time, bidding farewell to the skies he thrust his sword into the ground, as to bring his momentum to a halt. Heels smashed into the ground, and clenching his molars he immediately sheathed his blade, his stance one for drawing his sword――,
Woman: [Do you understand by now?]
The very start of the movement, aiming to unleash his swordsmanship, ought to have had a glint of light reflect off the blade to accompany its drawing from the scabbard, but it was stopped by the hand of the woman, pressing against the handle of the katana still in its sheath. He fell silent at that instance, and as the woman faced him, the corners of her long-slitted eyes drooped as if pitying him, and,
Woman: [You are not worthy as my opponent.]
As if to sever that pity, instead of drawing the pinned-down katana, with the handle fixed in place as an anchor, he pulled off the scabbard, revolved by half a turn, and slammed the scabbard fashioned from the bone of a Witchbeast into the side of her face.
The force, the angle, the feedback from the swing, they all told him it had been more than sufficient to pulverize the human cranium.
The one to be smashed to pieces was the scabbard, and the woman―― the foxwoman who called herself Iris, displayed no sign of pain in her expression.
But, as she raised the hand that had been pinning down the handle, her lips, in which pity still remained, quivered,
Iris: [I shall not allow you to die, but the pain shall be to such an extent.]
Striking her palm against his forehead, he rolled backwards as his body was blown away.
This time, his defensive stance to endure a hit was torn asunder, his brain bobbing about. He traveled down the long, oh so long boulevard before the Crystal Palace, bouncing for tens of meters without stopping.
Bouncing, bouncing, bouncing and rolling, rolling and rolling, he rolled until he lay spread-eagled.
Having been left half-dead after only a short battle, Rowan Segmunt gazed in wonder.
She was far too excessively, exceedingly, powerful.
An unbelievably strong individual. Of course, he had fully understood that she was a formidable opponent. And yet, he had believed that after one thing or another, he would be the one to come out on top ultimately.
As that was how things had always gone until then, this occurrence too would come to an end in the same fashion, most likely――.
――Here, the misfortune of the man known as Rowan Segmunt shall be narrated.
The man who had been traveling with him, Heinkel Astrea, was a man whose misfortune laid in the fact that he had not been chosen for a single thing that could only be obtained via being chosen.
On the other hand, Rowan Segmunt was a man who had continued to be chosen for things that could only be obtained via being chosen, which had resulted in his misfortune.
Rowan Segmunt held a long-cherished desire. Something he kept pursuing. A prayer he continued to long for.
In order to reach the Heavenly Sword, he had endured all kinds of hardship, mastered every conceivable necessity; no matter what sort of devil or monster he was branded as, he possessed the hunger to fulfill that goal.
In that wish, there was no lie nor was there falsehood. It had nothing to do with compromise or resignation.
He had never once been dishonest about the sword or technique he tried to master, nor had he ever missed a training session.
But, Rowan Segmunt had never encountered them.
Had never encountered a worthy rival who had reached the same heights as him, a formidable enemy who could invigorate him with the notion that he had no other option but to overcome them, a love that would push him to places he could not reach alone; he had simply never done it.
He cut down every single person he encountered, and due to some causality, he had never collided with anyone whom his ability with the sword could not surmount; continuously he missed opportunities to clash with the many transcendent beings in this world, and, upon falling into despair at that which he could not reach, upon wishing for death, he had been bestowed a commandment, becoming a Stargazer.
Had he been granted the chance, Rowan Segmunt’s swordsmanship would have likely made the world tremble throughout its entirety.
But, devoid of a worthy rival, devoid of a formidable enemy, devoid of a loved one, Rowan continued to be all by his lonesome.
It was not that he had come to the clear conclusion that feelings were unnecessary to master the way of the sword, nor was it that he had suffered a severe betrayal from someone he had formed a bond with.
It was simply that Rowan had never met someone who would inform him of his current position, nor had he met someone who could boost him up from his current position.
The reason he had been able to avoid Iris’s initial attack from the Crystal Palace was because she, adverse to the deaths of others as she was, had had no intention of landing the attack.
The reason for which the undead Balleroy Temeglyph had fled from the “cloud-cutting” technique was because he feared an unexpected counterattack from Cecilus Segmunt; thus, he had wished to avoid pursuing them too far.
The reason he had remained safe until now, amidst the Great Disaster brought about by the hosts of undead, was because the only ones that had appeared before him were opponents his sword skills were perfectly capable of handling.
The reason for which Rowan had not been dispossessed of his life by Cecilus Segmunt, the latter refusing the former’s attempt at instigating the assassination of the Empire, was because the latter had said “It may be impossible Dad, but get really strong then come back here and fight me, I’ve got a feeling that a development like that’d be heated!” on a whim.
The reason why Rowan Segmunt had continuously escaped death till this day, was none other than the scales of fortune and misfortune always tipping in the direction of fortune for him.
And now, the opponent Rowan had encountered in the Imperial Capital, which had transformed into the Undead Capital, was also the sole enemy that had no intention of taking Rowan’s life.
――The world would not grant Rowan’s wish, but it continued to only illuminate the paths where he would survive.
Iris: [――You intend to persist?]
As Rowan slowly raised his body from its spread-eagle position, Iris knitted her brows.
The distance between them had opened a few tens of meters, but perhaps because her unmistakable presence had made it so, Iris’s words were fully understood by Rowan.
――Nay, this was likely a change yielded due to encountering a powerful enemy for the first time.
As if an unbreakable shell that had always been around his exterior had been shattered, that feeling was probably the reason. Because of that, he clearly understood.
As Iris fixed her gaze on him from the front, the powerful Mana in which her entire body was clad―― its colossal magnitude was understood by him beyond a shadow of a doubt, as was the result of direct confrontation just a moment prior.
In the Undead Capital of Lupugana, guarding the Crystal Palace, where the ringleader of the enemy was likely present, Iris blocked the path―― this woman was, unmistakably, the strongest being in the Vollachian Empire.
Someone that even Cecilus, extolled as First of the Nine Divine Generals, was no match for, the ultimate existence for the sake of this disaster――.
Rowan: [Kahaha, how fortunate, how so very fortunate! What a good day it’s been…!]
Perceiving that through his experience, Rowan bared his teeth and smiled as his mind rang with a sound akin to his son singing in a loud voice.
He had thought that in order to reach the Heavenly Sword, there would be no means aside from cutting down his son once the latter did eventually reach it. However, if he were to encounter a being that surpassed even Cecilus, like he had now, it was a quicker story.
It was not eventually, the time was now.
Right now, at this moment, Rowan Segmunt would reach the apex of the sword, and seize the seat of Heavenly Sword.
For that purpose――,
Rowan: [――Swordsman, Rowan Segmunt.]
Once more, sheathing the katana which he had yet to let go of, he spread his legs, adopting a stance with the blade at his waist.
In the far distance of his vision stood Iris, the distance that had opened between the two of them a sign that he had run out of luck―― no, the result of his days of blood and sweat in his endeavor to reach the apex remained, still.
And now, he would receive the reward commensurate with that from Iris’s slender neck.
With the blade being unsheathed, a flash of the sword was unleashed; Iris, standing motionlessly, faced it head-on.
The air present ahead was cut down by the flash, the foliage interrupting the path were cut down by the flash, all notions of sound and wind were consigned to oblivion; in all his life until now, it was the most honed Rowan’s blade had ever been.
And the woman in the beautiful dress, Iris, would have her head lopped――,
Iris: [――This is as far as it goes.]
By merely tilting her head, she avoided the finest brandish of Rowan’s life, and grumbling those words like a sigh, Iris firmly stepped on the ground, and moved forth.
The ultimate existence of the Great Disaster, did not grant Rowan the time to swing his sword a second time.
As a violent impact plowed into him right from above, Rowan could do naught but be buried deep into the street.
Looking down at the figure of the swordsman who had sunk into the ground, Iris waved the hem of the dress that had performed the deed, and turned her back to the man she had faced off against.
Likely, the strength to fight no longer remained within her opponent. She would be under no threat even with her back turned to him.
It was sad to say, but even supposing strength was indeed present, even if he did attempt to launch a surprise attack, it would not reach Iris.
Iris: [While you are still with your life, you must leave the Imperial Capital.]
Those words were to be spoken at the outset to the weak; spoken only at the end of a duel to the death were the opponent strong.
As an opponent to whom these statements ought be given, Rowan was a terribly troublesome person. ――He was not weak. Yet, neither was he strong. If she was forced to put it to words, he would be the apex of the common man.
Thus, in regards to the reality spread throughout the Imperial Capital as it was in the moment, his presence could even be called a sin.
Iris: [A sin, is it? How in the world could I say such a thing…]
Clutching her chest, Iris spilled those words out as if to curse herself.
Even so, her mind was made. She had made up her mind. Thus, she had carried that out in a form where she could not make excuses. No matter who or how many people closed in, she would force them all back.
As long as she did that, the story of Iris and Eugard would――,
Iris: [――For what reason, do you stand?]
Halting her steps, Iris questioned the presence behind her without looking back.
To the swordsman who ought to have fainted from the strike a moment ago, to the presence of Rowan standing up. She had believed that she had dispossessed him of his consciousness, instead she now lamented for having been exceedingly naïve. However, had she applied any more force, his skull would have been shattered, most likely. That was because she had no intention of reaping his life.
Had she been too naïve, believing that she had properly conveyed the gap in strength between them, perhaps? There did exist some cases in which the other party would not back down despite a difference in strength, so perhaps this was one such case.
Iris: [There are times when your opponent has no intention of letting you go, so you must fight with your back against the wall. But, I have…]
Rowan: […No intention of doing that. That’s the problem.]
The response, spoken in a frail, husky voice, was beyond Iris’s comprehension.
Be it the pride of a warrior, be it the obstinacy of a man, either way it was something Iris was unable to comprehend.
Iris began to think. She thought about that which she wished to cherish, even more so than those things.
That was why――,
Iris: [If you still cannot bring yourself to give up――]
Until his spirit was crushed, she would keep going, even if she were to hear the sound of cracks forming in her own heart.
Indeed, it happened at the moment Iris was about to confront Rowan’s resolve.
Turning around, Iris’s eyes widened in astonishment.
Not because of any abnormal situation like Rowan closing their difference of ability in the blink of an eye, nor was it because someone else had come to this place, turning their weapon towards Iris in Rowan’s stead.
Present there was merely Rowan, however, the one to have astonished Iris was unmistakably Rowan.
――With the katana in his hand, he slashed his own neck, fatally so.
One beat elapsed, and in the subsequent moment, blood spurted out of the severed arteries in his neck with tremendous vigor.
The boulevard was stained with the gushing blood before her eyes, the essence of life flowed out of Rowan Segmunt’s body, being absorbed into the ground.
Witnessing a scene wildly beyond her comprehension, with that gasp a breath escaped from Iris’s lips.
Seeing Iris’s state, Rowan’s eyes widened with a maniacal glint as blood gushed from his neck. And while that blood came up his digestive tract, flowing out of the corners of his mouth, he smiled.
And smiling, he spoke.
Rowan: [Even if I die, I’m go――]
Midway through his words, Rowan’s blue eyes rolled around, and as his pupils dilated, he collapsed.
While perceiving that it was not a loss of consciousness, and instead was a loss of life, Iris quickly rushed over, trying to extend her hands to the man in an attempt to at least save his life.
However, her hands did not reach the man’s corpse.
The reason for that being――,
???: [――I’m gonna reach the Heavenly Sword.]
???: [――I’m gonna reach the Heavenly Sword.]
Having just died, several undead Rowan Segmunts swooped down from all directions in unison, set upon Iris as she sprinted.
――When the unleashed breath of the Dragon ran through the townscape of the Imperial Capital in approach of him, there were not many things that Heinkel could do.
Only, wielding his sword in accordance with the appeals of his survival instincts, he dug enough of a hole in the ground to give himself scant consolation. Just in time, he slipped his body inside that hole.
But then again, consolation was merely consolation; with the trajectory of the Dragon’s breath boring deep into the ground as it closed in, the hole would probably amount to nothing more than consolation.
Thus, the life of the current head of the lineage of the Sword Saint, a family that had continuously protected the Dragon Kingdom for many a year, the life of the man known as Heinkel Astrea would, as irony would have it, be deleted by the breath of a Dragon, no trace of it remaining――,
???: [――Oioi, ya can’t die so easily, Pops.]
Grabbed by the scruff of his neck, Heinkel was dragged out of the hole he had opened by force. With fierce vigor his body was hoisted; immediately after, a burning smell, that of the Dragon’s breath having scorched the world, could be perceived by him.
Heinkel: [Uoh, UWAHHHHHH!?]
His vision spun around, blood spilled from his broken forehead, gastric juices flowed out of the corners of his mouth; his body’s contents were scattered about without any impediment, and after experiencing the sensation of being afloat, he fell to the ground.
His state such that a defensive or even an adequate state could not be taken, he stretched out his legs, placed his arms on the ground as to raise his body, then looked at his surroundings.
The reason he had reflexively let out a groan, was because he bore witness to the disastrous scene in the location he had been just a moment prior.
Caressed by the Dragon’s breath, white steam was being emitted from the area, which had been completely erased. Had his escape been belayed, most likely, he too would have become a portion of that white steam.
???: [To make it easier for Captain ‘n the others to enter, my amazin’ self was supposed to rampage in the south ‘n draw their attention, but… Hah! Can’t believe my eyes!]
???: [Thought you’d flee for sure, but ya sure got guts, don’t’cha Pops?]
Amidst its roughness, praise was certainly present in that voice; once Heinkel did turn the side where its origin lay, standing there was the figure of the person who had dragged him out.
There was enough illumination behind him that Heinkel was unable to gaze at their face with clarity. His ears were still ringing due to the impact of the Dragon’s tail strike just before, so he was unsure if that voice was a familiar one or not.
But, as if to say that all of those things mattered not, the person gnashed their fangs, and proceeded forth.
Behind Heinkel kneeling on the ground, they moved to square off against the colossal Cloud Dragon, its glare on the two of them.
Then, powerfully striking their fists together before their chest,
???: [――My amazin’ self’ll lend ya a hand, Pops! “None can lift the Quain Stone alone”, ain’t that right!!]
――With a roar akin to that of a beast, as the vanguard of the “Rescue the Vollachian Empire from Destruction Squad”, Garfiel Tinzel raised a warcry at the start of the bout against the Cloud Dragon.