Only 81 pages in this chapter. Only.
EDIT: God damn Maha and his chant. It broke through the line character limit.
EDIT: 淡い黄金色 usually has “off-gold” written above it but it means “pale blond(e)”.
The edges of the sky were dyed red.
The starlight that had been tinkling in the ceiling was hidden by the sunlight and along with that, the color of the sky shifted from red to white and from white to blue.
──Finally, the sky turned azure without a cloud in it.
“It’s finally sunny─. It’s a day befitting the last day of the conference.”
The one who said that cheerfully in the living room was a little tired of seeing that scenery.
“I think the host-san for the conference will be making a speech. That’s it’s been a fruitful conference.”
“Yes. Ymy-sama, you shouldn’t put on that kind of uneasy face and just do your best. We’ll be able to return to Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> tomorrow.”
Ishtar was carrying her long spear on her right shoulder. In response to her almost stunningly proactive words, Ymy smiled bittersweetly and nodded timidly.
“That’s good but……what should I do?”
“About yesterday’s report, you mean?”
This time, she silently nodded.
“In terms of results, we have two things to report.”
Ever since she’d heard the report from her childhood friend, it hadn’t left her mind.
“First. To start with, we didn’t come into contact with ‘Mikuva’s Crimson Eye’.”
“Second. However, we fought with a guardian that belonged to a secret military organization of the Governmental Sector’s……and achieved our objective. The chances that a third organization other than Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> and the Governmental Sector is secretly maneuvering around and is behind the Yuugenshu breeding case is high.”
At first, she’d doubted her ears.
At any rate, the conversation was making great leaps. Of course, if they were to assume the existence of a third organization, then everything would make sense but sufficient evidence would be required to back that hypothesis up. However──
“I have the records of the conversation from then, you know?”
Machine crystal <Ilis>’ sentence broke the silence.
“The Governmental Sector’s secret military organization consists of only the ‘Heaven’s Wheel‘ comprised of the three of us. Moreover, we command an absolute place of pride so we are entrusted with centers of importance such as this Holy Hall.”
With the testimony from the secret operative’s words, the authenticity shot way up.
“Yes, that also surprised Ishtar. To think that Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> and the Governmental Sector’s conference would conclude with this.”
The Cadres Guard smiled wryly while combing through her hair with a hand.
“It’s the evidence that the secretaries whose specialty is negotiation couldn’t get─. I wonder if the guardian was the pure military type? Our side went in head-on like an idiot so it has to be someone who would respond to that spirit─”
“Yes……but that’s a different matter.”
The round table in the middle of the living room.
A partially-filled glass of water and a single letter to the side of it.
“Meimel wrote to be careful on the last day.”
“That’s a given─. After finishing this, those in charge of the Governmental Sector and the security detail will also be thinking that the first step is complete. Our General Affairs Bureau Chief also pretty much said it yesterday. If Ishtar was planning anything, today would be the day to do it.”
“That’s hypothetical. Rather than that, you should hurry up and eat breakfast. Wouldn’t it be embarrassing if your stomach growled in the meeting room?”
She trotted to the dining room where breakfast was set.
“Today’s the last……now then, come quickly. There’s no meaning to this if you don’t come.”
She felt like she heard a really quiet voice.
Governmental Sector, Building Four, Area 63’s break room.
“Our escorting ends today as well. It feels like it was long but short.”
“……Fun, well, that’s how it is.”
“You didn’t do anything other than sleep. I won’t let you sleep today.”
Kagura took up position on Vaiel’s sofa and, with his seat taken, Vaiel reluctantly sat down on a chair.
And. Monica who was standing still to the side of the room’s entrance lifted her head.
“It may be the last day but don’t let your guard down.”
“I ge─t it. This is the dangerous time, right?”
“There’s that too but……”
The female unit leader was being unusually bashful with a meek face.
“It’s our first mission. Rather than that nothing happened, I want to return to Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> and proudly report that ‘we accomplished it’.”
“Roger that. These kinds of things are what’s cute about you, Monica.”
“Wha……Ka-Kagura! I’m saying this seriously, you know?”
She folded her arms in embarrassment then pulled up a chair somewhat roughly. Looking sidelong at those three, Sheltis let out a sigh that they wouldn’t notice.
Infiltrating the Governmental Sector’s central division and fighting the Holy Hall’s guardian.
He had been prepared for the inevitable ruckus today but the Governmental Sector’s office building was calm. It didn’t look like they were going to put an emergency halt to the conference to search for an intruder either.
“Zeadoll, huh. There was a danger that he would come aboveground.”
If he was seen together with Monica and the others, it would be obvious at a glance that he was also a Guard of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>. He’d also prepared for that worst-case scenario but……
“It’s like he said yesterday. He only focuses on guarding the Holy Hall.”
It didn’t matter who the intruder was. If he appears again, this time for sure ── he was undoubtedly waiting with that kind of vigor.
“Now then, will you be able to let loose for today?”
“No way, there’s a mountain of things to think about.”
The third organization.
He couldn’t imagine how many people there were or what they were like. At any rate, they were secretly operating in the shadows of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> and the Governmental Sector so they must be a really troublesome opponent.
“I wonder if there’s a way. A way to settle this all cleanly.”
“Ahh, it’s nothing, just talking to myself.”
Having heard it with his sharp ears, Vaiel asked him to repeat himself and Sheltis frantically shook his head.
Governmental Sector, Building Two, Area 61’s waiting room.
“Yuragi-chan, you have circles again〰”
Having it pointed out by Ishtar, Yuragi pushed up her glasses with the bridge.
“Noticing or whatever, you didn’t try to hide it. You have the same amount of make-up on as usual. Does this mean you didn’t have enough time to hide it with make-up?”
She nodded while curling her bangs around a finger.
“I took care of things after what happened last night. Lots of things happened on that end.”
“Fuun. But nothing conclusive was left behind, right?”
At that question, Yuragi wordlessly held up her card key.
She had lent it to Sheltis last night but the problem was that this card key had released the hidden elevator that led to the Holy Hall. If they checked the access logs for the elevator, it would be readily apparent whose card key had infiltrated the Holy Hall. Suspicion would fall upon her first and foremost.
……Though I was prepared for that from the beginning.
“I was taking care of this.”
“Ah, I see. ‘Entering‘ wasn’t a problem but it was bad for Yuragi-chan.”
It looked like she’d understood with just that as Ishtar smacked fist on her open palm.
“Please keep it a secret from Sheltis-sama.”
“His job is as an escort and taking care of the complicated matters is my role.”
“……Yuragi-chan’s really passionate about her job.”
With her eyes widened, Ishtar sighed a breath of admiration.
“Ara, Ishtar-sama is the same, no? I heard about it from Ymy-sama. You haven’t taken a real break these four days and have been getting by with simple preserved foods for meals.”
“No, no, that’s different. What Ishtar’s doing isn’t job. It’s specially for this time.”
“It’s a personal grudge. I came here because I wanted a very personal distraction.”
With a full smile.
The Cadres Guard declared that looking like she was so happy she couldn’t stand it.
Govermental Sector, Building Two, Area 63’s ‘Yuumei Space‘. [T/N: 幽明 means pretty much dark and light. The first kanji is actually the first kanji from Yuugenshu. I left it here like this because 1) the meaning isn’t clear right now and 2) the meaning is debated just a little past here.]
A chandelier with different colored gems hung from the ceiling. The carpet underfoot was a deep crimson that almost looked as if it was smoldering. Within the extremely spacious room were two very long desks with chairs lined up along them. Both of them were very dignified antiques. She’d also received an explanation saying that the large hall could be used for plays.
……Yuumei. Does that mean light and dark?
……Is holding the conference in this room also to clearly convey that?
Remembering the name of the large hall, Ymy’s eyes that were hidden from view lowered.
She had been terrified of when the topic of Sheltis intruding upon the Holy Hall was going to come up, but there didn’t seem to be any of that kind of harsh atmosphere.
……That’s a relief.
……But the essential conference hasn’t gotten anywhere.
Still, even Ymy didn’t think today’s conference would solve anything.
If the Yuugenshu breeding at the floating archipelago <Lagoon> wasn’t connected to the Governmental Sector, then it’d be fine to make a compromise from Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>’s side. It might become necessary to cooperate with the Governmental Sector to combat the third organization in Sheltis’ information. Then she just had to pray for a safe ending to the conference for the time being. Rather than a development, she hoped that there would be no new dispute.
The topic of the third organization could not be outed yet.
Because it was the testimony of Sheltis, Ymy wanted to believe in it, but it was still too flimsy from her position as a Priestess. Just the testimony of a single Cadet Guard and the vocal recording from machine crystal <Ilis> was not enough. For Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> to release information officially, they would have to perform a proper investigation.
……Ahh, how irritating.
……Even though I want to make the information public and get the Governmental Sector’s assistance in investigating the third organization.
In the middle of her seat in the large hall, Ymy sighed unbeknownst to the others.
At around the same time.
“Everything’s as planned. Maha-san will attack the conference in Building Two. In the meantime, I will target ‘Mikuva’s Crimson Eye‘ in the hidden passage in Building Four.”
“The method of attack? Well, I don’t mind if you disregard the details and just crash in through the front.”
“I see. Then I’ll start.”
Somewhere within the Governmental Sector, an unusual event abruptly began.
“Do you like that poem collection?”
“That’s not it, I just brought it to kill time.”
Vaiel averted his face.
……It looks like his taste in books contrasts with his appearance.
Stealing glances at him reading the thick poetry collection, Kagura smiled wryly without him noticing.
“I’ll step out for a bit. I want to drink some coffee to keep myself awake.”
“Kagura, you still haven’t fixed your nocturnal lifestyle?”
“It’s been a routine for some years now after all. Before noon like this is the peak of my sleepiness. I’ll somehow make it to night if I manage to pull through this.”
She lightly shook her head and held fast to her consciousness.
“Are you three okay with coffee?”
“Ah, Kagura for me──”
“Remember the milk, right? I know Monica’s usual.”
She went towards the far side door while holding machine pearl <Machina>. Ahead of the vast hall lay the intersection that split into a labyrinth.
“……If I remember, there should be a vending machine in the lobby.”
With machine pearl <Machina> ahead of her, she left the room. She at times made a turn at an intersection and sometimes went straight down a passage, taking the shortest route to the lobby. Just before she turned the last corner.
With a mechanical sound, all the ceiling lights went bright red.
“Warning: The Administrative Department is declaring a state of emergency in Building Two.
I repeat. The Administrative Department has declared a state of emergency in Building Two.”
She stopped and turned around without thinking.
A building-wide warning? That and these red lights are anything but normal. It’s on the level of emergency training or having a great number of Yuugenshu attacking this floating archipelago <Lagoon>.
“No way, could it really be Yuugenshu!?”
The Governmental Sector workers around her as well didn’t know the situation and had stopped. The meeting room’s door in the distance opened and the staff that had been conducting the meeting also stepped out into the passage.
“Intrusion from the front gate. The intruder has passed the gate’s security and is currently closing in on Building Two.”
……They passed through the Governmental Sector’s front gate with force?
The security personnel, guards and automated mechanical weapons should have been deployed there. Special units for combating Yuugenshu shouldn’t have been lacking in numbers either.
“Jeez, what’s happening!”
Machine pearl <Machina> started moving again and she ran after it. She sprinted at full speed down the straight path and ran into the lobby packed with people.
At the end of this hall, Kagura saw something dreadful.
The glass door at the other end of the hall.
The two intruders approaching from the other side of the glass.
Black and Gold.
A man wearing a suit and pitch black hat which was pulled low over his eyes.
And the ominous spell caster in an ocher robe who was even larger than that man.
Her throat went dry and not even a scream came out.
……No……You’re kidding……It can’t be.
She didn’t know the Black one. However, she had seen the other spell caster before. She hadn’t forgotten, couldn’t forget. The spell caster that had wiped out consecutive units from Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> by himself.
“My Golden Hexehedral is invincible.”
The spell caster swung up his right hand.
The ground ── the brown asphalt swelled up and created an avalanche of rocks pretty much like a tsunami. The armored vehicles and specially armored weapons surrounding the intruders as well as the guards were all swept away by the avalanche to a distant location.
In just dozens of seconds, the entire defense force outside Building Two went silent.
……It’s the real one……these overpowering spells.
……There’s no way it’s a fake……
The opponent that she and Sheltis had once repelled in a life or death battle. But why was he attacking the Governmental Sector? It was believed without a doubt that he was an assassin of the Governmental Sector’s that time he had wiped out Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>’s units.
……Then Maha isn’t a part of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> or the Governmental Sector?
He’s part of a completely different group?
The pitch black man answered Maha’s mutter with a smile.
……Igneed? That’s the other one’s name?
Kagura’s ears which were longer than a human’s ears picked up a little of that conversation.
The enemy was outside and she was in the lobby. They shouldn’t be aware of her existence so they wouldn’t consider being overheard.
“Well then, Maha-san, we’ll meet at the arranged location.”
Pulling the hat far enough to hide his eyes, Igneed bowed. Like that, he turned his back on his companion, Maha, and headed off in the direction of Building Four.
Is it a two-pronged attack? No, right now, there’s something more important than that.
She could feel cold sweat upon her cheek under the machine helmet.
I can’t stop it myself. No, all the guards in the Governmental Sector can’t stop these monsters. Only one person can do it.
……I have to tell him.
……I have to tell Sheltis.
Kagura ran to the break room that the dual sword-wielding boy was waiting.
In response to the sudden announcement and red lamp lighting.
There had been nothing like this since she’d snuck into the Governmental Sector. Nothing had happened when she’d escorted Sheltis and intruded on the Holy Hall either.
……And what’s this rumbling?
“The building……just the building is shaking?”
Holding herself flat against the wall, Yuragi somehow managed to stay upright.
The tremors that seemed like they’d turn the ground inside out appeared to be getting larger and growing closer. This wasn’t an earthquake. It was a tremor like some giant lifeforms had banded together and were coming to them.
A giant lifeform, so possibly Yuugenshu?”
“No……this isn’t a joke……this is the interior of the building, you know!?”
They shouldn’t be able to advance without getting lost with the labyrinthine structure. It would be impossible for them to advance without being artificially guided.
With a hand to the wall, she stepped her way to the door. She timidly reached out a hand to the doorknob. Something might be waiting on the other side. Resolving herself, she swung open the door with all her strength.
At the same time──
A giant lion’s claws and fangs tore through everything in sight.
A lion. But I’ve never seen a bright red lion like this before. ……No way. Dangerous animals infiltrated this building and are attacking. That’s ludicrous.
“O〰kay, just stay still like that!”
Before her brain could process the voice that came from directly behind her, a white blade cut through the gap between her and the lion.
……All she managed to see was a momentary flash.
“Ah〰, it’s fine now. I cleaned it up.”
Ishtar rested the spear’s handle on her shoulder.
Just like she said, the lion had come to a sudden stop without a twitch. Without understanding what had been done ── the beast’s body crumbled into a lump of earth. With that, she finally understood that the flash from before had been a slash.
“Heeh, a red manticore, and it looks just like the real thing. Though it’d be the same even if it were real.”
She whistled with an expression of admiration.
“Yuragi-chan, hide here. Ishtar will meet with the enemy and come back.”
The Governmental Sector’s assailant. Then the broadcast from before was also real?
“Lock the door. Also, don’t make a sound. Isn’t it nice that you can nap now and nobody will find out? You were lacking sleep, right?”
“Mm? What’s wrong?”
“……Pardon me, but you seem somehow happy.”
“I am happy.”
With a smile.
The Cadres Guard nodded with a smile like she was about to meet with family.
“Yup, I’m happy. The happiest. Ishtar’s waited for this for a long time.”
The endlessly sounding warning.
The evacuation guidance broadcast played loudly however many times and the bright red lights on the ceiling were shining brilliantly. There was also a thunderous sound like the ground was rumbling.
“Oi, oi, what’s this?”
Vaiel’s angry voice and Monica’s mutter.
“Keep the pondering for later. Sheltis, your swords.”
Machine crystal <Ilis> lit up in dazzling crimson. The dual swords in his hands had vivid deep purple blades constructed upon their hilts.
“Y-yeah. Okay ── I’m opening it.”
The unit leader had her crossed rods <Rosario> in hand as she kicked open the door with vigor.
The bright red lighting fell upon those of the Governmental Sector running about trying to escape. That even included the parliamentary members that had been at the conference.
“Even the conference participants!? Then what about the conference……what about Ymy!?”
Monica raised her voice with a pale face.
“Sheltis, hurry to the meeting room!”
Got it ── with a nod, Sheltis turned towards the intersection. There were the sounds of the footsteps of a great many people.
“……This way. Hurry!”
Off-gold hair shone brightly.
With the girl in pure white vestments in the lead, the General Affairs Bureau Chief came next followed by his secretaries.
“Sheltis?……That’s great, there was a broadcast telling everybody to escape.”
Her shoulders moving with her breaths, the Priestess’ expression softened.
“General Affairs Bureau Chief, are any of you injured?”
“We have no impediments. But what’s the meaning of this uproar───”
A shout cut off the General Affairs Bureau Chief’s words.
From the right-hand side of the intersection, the opposite of where Ymy’s group appeared, a small shadow was running towards them.
“Kagura!? I’m glad. I wondered what happened to you.”
“Mo……Monica……it’s……dangerous here. ……We need to……a wider place.”
With intermittent breaths and gasping, Kagura forced the words out.
“It’s him……Sheltis…………that monster───”
A noise-like aria that resembled the sound of a bug’s wings.
Sheltis understood everything the instant he heard that. Having understood everything ─── he understood just exactly how dangerous this situation was.
“Monica, I leave Ymy to you!”
He sprinted to the intersection without waiting for an answer.
He brandished his sword at the Golden spell caster that calmly appeared there. The spell caster shifted over the instant before the edge of his sword made contact.
Spinning his body like a screw, he crossed his blades and the right arm that was shining gold came thrusting up. He took that with his left sword and ── he couldn’t mitigate it and was blasted up high into the air.
……It’s not the real Maha but just his automated puppet, huh!
Maha’s clone that was created in his image using gold. The last they’d met, it was the final spell that Maha had shown. Now it’s the opening move?
“Sheltis, there’s another one to the rear!”
At machine crystal <Ilis>’ warning, he thrust out his blade before spinning around.
He repelled the fist of the second clone that seemed to have calculated where he’d land and kicked off its shoulder to open up some distance.
……Not just one but two. No.
Countless footsteps approached from further down the passage. There’s no way all these footsteps could be……
“My Golden Hexehedral is invincible.”
At least ten spell casters, dressed in golden robes and shining gold themselves, appeared. ……So he prepared a large number of clones beforehand for this attack.
The Governmental Sector’s security was wiped out cleanly by this.
……This is a sudden predicament.
It would take all his strength just to fight the real Maha. With this number of clones, not to mention if they made something, it would be unmanageable.
Under Maha’s orders, the clones pushed nearer.
“Monica, take everyone and head to the meeting room!”
“I-idiot! What kind of──”
Before her answer, he lunged at the clones that were closing in from both directions.
The clones that were giving off a golden shine. They swung their fists at a speed invisible to the eye and he read their paths from the shoulder alone and dodged. He didn’t retreat backwards or jump to the side and passed through the countless clones’ fists ─── drawing nearer to Maha’s real body.
A crack opened up at Maha’s feet. The material coating the floor fragmented and the earth underneath that jetted out. That formed into the image of wriggling snakes.
“Extracting poisonous materials within the ground and performing pseudo-creation. The color is ‘white‘, nature is ‘cowardly‘, form is ‘snake‘. Ten shall appear, fangs laden in deadly poison. Defined to seal the enemy before me with poison.”
White snakes with deadly poison appeared as Maha’s advance guard.
……But I already saw this in our last battle.
Those defined with the ‘cowardly‘ nature would only attack an unmoving opponent.
“──Forcefully dispelling the previous definition.”
The stiffened white snakes at Maha’s feet raised their heads at his voice.
“It’s a trap; Sheltis, dodge!”
Kagura shouted. At the same time, poisonous beasts filled his vision.
To dodge the enemies coming from above and below in every which direction, he jumped up to just beneath the ceiling. Kicking off the ceiling, he moved to a wall and then he kicked off that to land on the ground further to the rear.
At that instant.
His vision blurred momentarily from an intense impact and a violent pain ran through his left shoulder.
His diaphragm convulsed from the shock transmitted through his left shoulder and his breathing stopped.
A single clone had circled around behind him when he landed. It had aimed for the point when he was completely defenseless. He clenched his molars at that failure as and Maha’s clones approached from all directions.
The scream of his childhood friend echoed from behind.
……What to do.
With one arm numbed, the enemy’s fists were approaching from all directions. He couldn’t react to them all. With that in mind, he still poured power into the grip on his right sword──
Carve my name which is synonymous with great reverence and majesty
Otoga Wem millmo, HIr shoul da ora peg ilmeri giris ende zorm
All of Maha’s clones that were drawing near were blown away.
Underneath the red lighting, a single pearl-colored precious spear was shining.
It was a super speed slash tranquil enough to not even stir up a single grain of dust but fast enough to leave behind a whirlwind.
Resisting or reacting were not permitted. Maha’s clones which were disappearing into the walls were cut perfectly in two in succession and returned to gold dust.
Everyone who was watching couldn’t move and even Maha stopped for a moment.
In the middle of that──
“O─kay! Sorry to keep you waiting, Ymy-sama, it’s Ishtar〰!”
Placing the handle of her spear against her right shoulder, only the Cadres Guard was standing there smiling.
“Gosh, jeez. When I went to the meeting room, nobody was there. It’s troubling for me if you just evacuate on your own, Ymy-sama; you have to wait until I come to you, you know?”
“It’s fine─, it looks like I made it in time so everything’s fine! Now then──”
With a challenging look on her face, Ishtar turned to Maha who was standing still after having his clones thoroughly crushed.
“Ishtar will face this guy. Monica-san, your unit should evacuate with Ymy-sama and the General Affairs Bureau Chief’s group to the meeting room.”
“Good answer. Now, let’s quickly──”
Kagura’s shout stopped the Cadres Guard who was about to move.
“This is a diversion! Using the opening caused by Maha rampaging here, another man named Igneed is aiming for something in Building Four!”
Hyuu, the Cadres Guard instead whistled happily.
“Hey, is that true?”
Beneath the shadow cast by his hood, Maha’s lips opened slightly.
“Igneed has……already headed there. Everything in existence is under our control.”
The spell caster’s left hand was raised very high.
“Be purged by heavy pressure, tremble and sink, ground──”
“Who’s the slow one?”
Ishtar’s spear danced and Maha’s words as well as the ceiling were cut off. [T/N: 切り裂く can mean “cut apart” and “cut off”. The ceiling is the former, but it’s pretty much impossible to cut apart somebody’s words.]
Crish ── the ceiling was cracked into what resembled a spiderweb. That became countless fragments of varying size and that great mass of rubble and dust swallowed Maha and his clones. This wasn’t an opponent that would be silenced with just that but it would probably take him some time to get out of it.
“Now then, isn’t it your turn?”
Ishtar’s gaze fell onto Sheltis who was still pressing on his left shoulder.
“You know what these guys are aiming for.”
Now that they knew about the third organization, using ‘Mikuva’s Crimson Eye‘ to investigate them was also possible. That meant that the people in question would absolutely want to get rid of that treasure, the ‘Crimson Eye‘.
“That’s right. Unfortunately, you’re the only one who knows where that’s located. So go. This guy’s Ishtar’s prey anyway. I’ll also protect the Priestess-sama for you.”
Her opponent was Golden Maha. To fight this monster alone and guard a Priestess at the same time, he knew best just how harsh that was. Rather than the Governmental Sector’s treasure or anything else, right now he should completely assure Ymy’s safety──
“That’s why, boy, why don’t you try asking through force?”
…………That line is……
“Don’t tell me you forgot?”
It was a quiet and heavy tone that seemed to pierce into his heart like a blade. Even so, her face was filled with a provocative smile like one shown to a long-time old friend.
“If you’re chasing after the Sennenshi <Leon> who’s gone on ahead, boy, then you can’t remain here. The one who will remain here is me. I wonder if you remember me saying it that day?”
“I told you, the goals that you and I pursue are different. They’re completely different.”
“I’ve achieved mine! It’s enough if I have the position of an Elite Guard.”
──There’s no way I could forget.
──It was the last conversation she and I exchanged before I fell to the Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>, after all.
She continued to make her spear let out a shrill sound like a whistle.
“I’m saying to go. Or are you uneasy if it’s me?”
“You’re the one who said you’d become a Sennenshi. If your resolve that day was not a lie, then go.”
Being hit with that stabbing smile, Sheltis slowly let out a breath.
……Then I really was found out right when we met.
“That’s why I don’t like you; just when you’re playing innocent, you suddenly reveal your true colors.”
“Playing innocent is unthinkable. Right, Priestess-sama?”
Ishtar turned around with a coercive smile. But there wasn’t a single person who could reply to that.
Ymy, the General Affairs Bureau Chief and his fellow Cadet Guards couldn’t say anything about the Cadres Guard’s true nature.
Filled with fighting spirit and confidence, she stood in a way that only showed some kind of sublimity.
Sheltis lightly nodded at his childhood friend who was peeking out from behind Monica.
“……I leave the Priestess in your care.”
“Leave her to me.”
The rocks that swallowed up Maha swelled.
“I’ll guide you through the shortest route to Building Four, Area 31.”
Being pushed on by Ishtar’s bellow, Sheltis stepped forward.
“……There’s a gap between your strength and your growth. Such terrible growth.”
The boy who had disappeared further into the passage. Looking at him go, Ishtar let out a rare bitter sigh.
“Unit Leader Monica.”
“It’s as you heard. I’ll face this guy. You take the Priestess-sama and the General Affairs Bureau Chief’s entourage to the meeting room. I’ll leave the details after that up to you. ……Now then.”
Maha stood up unwounded despite the gigantic rubble.
“This guy’s spells are numerous and annoying. I’ll ignore a moderate amount so take care of the puppets that went that way. Can you do it?”
The Cadet Guards behind her escorted the Priestess. Feeling them walking away behind her, Ishtar once again leered at the practitioner in front of her.
“Now we can finally talk, just the two of us. I’ve been waiting for this. ───At any rate, it looks like you took care of my younger sister.”
“That’s right……I’ve waited a long time. Taking on this annoying mission and everything is because I bet on the chance that you might appear. Be a little thankful?”
The Golden spell caster stayed silent. Perhaps in his place, the poisonous snakes crawling around his feet slowly raised their heads.
……That’s right, that was what started this.
“Onee-sama…………onee-sama, I’m sorry……I…………”
It started with I’sa who used to cry for reasons Ishtar couldn’t understand no matter how many times she asked.
She had a weak bodily constitution and couldn’t even go to school much. The one who looked after her troubles in that household which consisted of only the sisters and no parents was always Ishtar.
In place of a mother, she nursed her, made meals and attended to I’sa without sleep.
In place of a father, she taught her studies, taught her how to exercise and protected I’sa from the surrounding dangers.
At those times, her sister always cried.
She cried and apologized.
“Onee-sama…………onee-sama, I’m sorry……I…………”
In reality, her older sister could be more accomplished in studies and fitness than anybody and wouldn’t lose to any of her peers. It couldn’t be helped that she felt frustrated that her older sister was sacrificing her talents on her.
“I’sa-chan is an idiot. Onee-chan’s fine like this.”
Then she cried again.
She thought of her as a really kind little sister. That was also why she wanted to be by her little sister’s side.
──Until my sister becomes able to fly by her own strength, I will protect her.
She learned spear techniques to protect her little sister and became a Guard at Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> in order to become even faster and stronger. It wasn’t to protect the Priestesses at the top but to protect her little sister who slept at their house.
──Because isn’t it a given?
──The Priestesses have many people protecting them but I’m the only one protecting my sister.
When she came to notice it, Ishtar had become a spear warrior that wouldn’t lose to anyone around her. It wouldn’t be strange if she became a Sennenshi at any time. It was to the point that it was an open rumor.
“Onee-sama, you won’t be a Sennenshi?”
“Yu〰p. Onee-chan’s bad at that kind of thing.”
She hadn’t even honestly told I’sa that reason.
If she became a Sennenshi, her time would be taken up guarding the Priestess. Her training time would decrease and most importantly, she would have to live apart from her younger sister who was the one she wished to protect the most.
“Hey, Sheltis-kun, do you want to become a Sennenshi?”
“I’m fine with being an Elite Guard. I have no interest in being a Sennenshi.”
That was why she always gave up the position of Sennenshi.
On the other hand, ironically, I’sa whom she should have been protecting was now completely healthy and, taking after her, even started saying that she wanted to be a Guard.
……Well, fine, if that’s what I’sa-chan wants to do.
It was a little complicated as her older sister but Ishtar permitted it.
It looked like she had talent as a shinryoku user and she’d found a reliable dual guns user so Ishtar had had the intention of watching over her as her older sister.
That continued for several years and just when she thought it would keep going well like that.
Information that a Regular Guard unit was wiped out by an unknown person arrived.
“I’sa-chan, are you okay!?”
What Ishtar saw in the medical ward was her little sister with her eyes swollen bright red.
In the hospital.
Her little sister cried while looking at her.
Ishtar was reminded of how long it had been since she’d seen that. The weakened form of her sister that she thought she wouldn’t see anymore. The true nature of her little sister.
“……Onee-sama…………onee-sama, I’m sorry……I…………”
“You don’t have to say it. You don’t need to worry.”
Ishtar held her sobbing little sister tight to her chest.
That was also something that hadn’t happened in years.
“I’sa-chan is fine. ……If you’re unharmed, it means you were able to return here. Leave the rest to onee-chan.”
That’s right, that was the start.
The one who had attacked her I’sa had already been defeated once but that was a puppet created by the spell caster. Then this time, she would──
Governmental Sector, Building Four, Area 19.
“Turn left at the next corner.”
He focused on nothing but running down the corridor illuminated by the bright red lights.
There was nobody in the corridor and he’d seen the meeting room’s door wide open so a warning must have been issued here in Building Four as well.
The walls and ceiling had crumbled.
The floor was cracked and earth was scattered about.
“There is evidence that a few of Maha’s clones also infiltrated this building. Don’t let down your guard.”
He didn’t reply to that.
“……Ilis, how long will it take you to undo the lock on that elevator?”
They didn’t have Yuragi’s card key which they’d used to get on the elevator that led to the Holy Hall last night. He could only rely on machine crystal <Ilis> using Yuragi’s card key’s information to forcefully dispel the lock.
“Five, no, four minutes.”
“……Make sure to praise me if I succeed, okay?”
Her crystal portion blinked as if she were smiling wryly.
“Make a left there.”
Pushing forward through a passage he remembered, the steel door illuminated by an emergency light came into view.
“Ilis, start with unlocking this.”
“No……wait, this is……?”
“Sheltis, try opening the door as it is. It might already be unlocked.”
The door released with an aged sound. Ahead of that, illuminated by the emergency lighting, was the exact same thing as last night.
“The elevator should also be working. There are signs that somebody other than me has already forcefully unlocked the door.”
“……So it’s the guy that Maha called Igneed.”
It was possible that there was somebody else in charge of the hacking but they had no way of knowing that. At any rate, it was a stroke of luck amongst the bad.
“Let’s go, Ilis.”
……I can’t be like you.
He hadn’t noticed that twilight.
A four year period. The difficulty of continuing to stand in that place all by herself without advancing or retreating even as those around her were promoted or when she left the tower. The harshness.
He was different from Ishtar. He couldn’t copy how she lived.
……That’s why I need to continue on.
Governmental Sector, Building Two, Area 63’s ‘Yuumei Space‘.
In the large hall with the warning still blaring, the sound of metal scraping upon metal continued to echo.
She intercepted the descending golden arm with her crossed rods <Rosario>.
The impact ran through her arm’s bone and echoed in her shoulder. But she didn’t lower the strength put into her crossed rods <Rosario>. She trapped the wrist between her two crossed rods <Rosario> and sealed its movements.
“I…..got it, this damn crafted thing!”
His fists equipped with the iron fist protectors <Knuckle Dusters> stabbed into the enemy’s now-defenseless back. Maha’s clone fell over with a violent shake. Aiming for the moment when it staggered, Monica threw aside the crossed rods <Rosario> and ran up to it.
A golden light wrapped her bare hand. Shinryoku of the same color as Maha’s advent style arts enveloped her body.
She touched the clone with her fingertip.
In that instant, Maha’s clone stopped moving ── and returned to gold dust with a crumbling sound.
“What trick is that?”
“I just distorted the shinryoku wavelength. It’s the same kind as jamming somebody’s clairvoyance……the explanation’s pretty long so the short version is that it can beat a clone like that.”
Picking up the crossed rods <Rosario> that were on the ground, Vaiel threw them over to her. Catching them with both hands, Monica once again looked up at the higher floor.
“But it looks like I already don’t have the leisure of using it.”
The door on the highest floor creaked and opened. Maha’s clones stood in a row. Behind them were red manticores and beyond those were small dragon-types.
“I didn’t want to say it but is that Cadres Guard really fighting? Are you sure she didn’t lose or something?”
Accompanied by the luminescence of the machine pearl <Machina>, Kagura took a step forward.
“That spell caster’s strength isn’t of this level. This is probably ten or twenty percent with the greater portion being forced to remain with the real Maha.”
“……Both are inhuman, huh.”
Holding back a wry smile from leaking out, Monica started walking forward again.
The members who can fight in this large hall are just these three. Ishtar dispatched Sheltis to the Governmental Sector so it’ll come down to a life or death struggle without our two strongest fighting forces.
That voice came from behind her.
“I……I can help too!”
“You can’t, stay there.”
She stopped the Priestess who was running over.
“Our mission is to protect you. What will we do if the Priestess who we should be protecting comes to the frontlines?”
“B-but! If I provide support, then fighting──”
“I know……but no. I can’t put you in danger.”
At the same time the elevator arrived at the Holy Hall.
Sheltis hurriedly jumped aside of the light that filled his vision.
“……They’re also in combat here.”
A four-legged medium-sized dragon staggered after receiving a single blow to the head. It received a follow-up attack before it could get up and returned to the gigantic boulder that comprised it.
The guardian of the Holy Hall who swung a mace. He had no idea how long the battle had been going on for but it didn’t seem to have been short. Nevertheless, he had zero injuries. He felt that maybe it was par for the course to say that it was expected that he didn’t even show exhaustion.
However, the enemy force made up of Maha’s creations wasn’t stopping.
Poisonous snakes came from blind spots below, monstrous birds created thunderous noises above and on top of all that, Maha’s clones were attacking from every which direction.
……Zeadoll hasn’t noticed me.
He could easily break through to the Holy Hall’s interior right now. But──
“We’re taking a detour.”
Holding his swords, Sheltis sprinted towards Zeadoll.
“Mu, you are……!”
The guardian sensed his presence and turned around. He didn’t answer him and swung his swords ── he cut down the poisonous snakes closing in from behind Zeadoll and smacked a single poisonous snake up towards a monstrous bird circling around overhead.
The bomb in the shape of a bird reacted to the impact and caused a huge explosion.
The flames and force of that explosion caused another bird to explode. The enemy’s forces were wrapped up in the chain explosions. Maha’s clones returned to gold dust and the poisonous white snakes returned to dirty mud.
The explosions stopped.
The ones standing there were only Sheltis and the guardian.
“……What are you doing?”
The man narrowed his eyes and looked over.
“Should I not have helped?”
“Wrong. I was asking why an intruder like yourself provided assistance.”
“I’m not an enemy.”
He returned the overpowering gaze head-on.
“I said this yesterday but we probably have a common enemy who’s been tricking us. They should be aiming for ‘Mikuva’s Crimson Eye‘. If you use the ‘Crimson Eye‘, you can discover their identity, right? They should be afraid of that.”
“……I’ll fight you later if you want. At any rate, we have to protect the ‘Crimson Eye‘.”
With an expression of resignation, Zeadoll slowly lowered his mace.
“I will consider your punishment later. Protecting the ‘Eye‘ is my foremost priority right now as well.”
His massive back seemed to be saying that as he ran off without an answer.
“Some time ago, a completely black man took those along and came here. ……No. The only one who came down the elevator was that man and those enemy forces suddenly appeared around him.”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t understand how. But while I was dealing with those forces, that man leisurely infiltrated the Holy Room. It is the greatest failure in my life.”
The guardian’s voice shook with indignation.
They ran at full speed to the north of the gigantic Holy Hall. After countless stone pillars flashed by to the side, they arrived at a mechanical door.
“It’s inside here.”
Giiii……with a strange creaking sound, the door parted to the sides.
It was a room filled with every radiance.
Red, blue, green, yellow, white. The grand room arrangement was blessed with fight vivid colors of light. In the middle was an egg-shaped giant crimson crystal. The width was several metres. Its height was close to ten metres. Even if Sheltis looked up, he couldn’t see the top.
“This is ‘Mikuva’s Crimson Eye‘?……It’s almost like it’s alive.”
The interior of the crystal was repeatedly flashing like the beating of a heart. It was like the precursor to something being born.
“I’ve waited a long……long time.”
A black shadow appeared at the summit of the crystal.
“Sheltis, I’ve wanted to meet you for a long time.”
A pitch black boot and pitch black shoes with a pitch black rimmed hat.
Amidst all the black, the pale blond hair swaying beneath the hat stood out as odd. [T/N: I feel like this is a huge plot point. But if I state what I noticed here, it’ll be too obvious and feel more like a spoiler if I’m right.]
……This man is Igneed?
……What is……this feeling……
The one looking up and the one looking down. Even with this much distance between them, he was suddenly assaulted by a bizarre intoxicated sense that he was locking eyes with them as though they were right in front of him. It was almost like he was meeting with a longtime friend after a long time.
Igneed didn’t even try to hide his smile. [T/N: Interesting point here is that the kanji for Igneed is written as “blank” (空白) instead of “black” (黒).]
“You know me. Ahh, that’s great. I’m really happy.”
“I……don’t know you.”
He suppressed the throbbing of his chest and glared at the opponent above.
That’s right, I shouldn’t know him.
But what is this ─── my chest is stirring ─── it’s feels like deja vu.
“That’s fine. It’s fine if you don’t know. It’s fine if you feel it even if you don’t know. Hey, Sheltis, ‘Nice to meet you.‘ and ‘It’s been a while.‘. I’ve been eagerly waiting the time we would meet in this world.”
……What does that mean?
It’s a certainty that this man is an ally of Maha. But even if he heard about me from Maha, his words are too deep. And why is he so friendly?
“Ahh, I can’t. I was so happy, I almost forgot my job.”
With the words Igneed spilled, Sheltis finally reconfirmed the current situation.
That’s right, this man’s objective is──
“You……! I don’t know who you are but that’s the Governmental Sector’s treasure. Entering this Holy Hall without permission is one thing, but who are you to step on the ‘Crimson Eye‘!”
With a thunderous sound, he struck the ground beneath him with the mace.
“If so, then immediately──”
Zeadoll’s expression changed with the unexpected response.
“This isn’t the Governmental Sector’s property. A single person……this is something an engineer created a thousand years ago. The Governmental Sector just happened to scavenge it. Though saying that to you will probably have no effect. Right, Sheltis?”
With his hand firmly on the rimmed hat, Igneed was constantly looking over at him.
“Do you want to know; you do, right? What this crystal is.”
“You……would tell an enemy that?”
“If you so wish.”
It was an eerie smile completely devoid of hostility.
“So I’ll tell you. This crystal is the product of humanity’s failed attempt at artificially creating ‘a certain existence‘, a shadow of its former self, so to speak. ……You should know the original. It’s the existence known as the ‘Forbidden Crystal‘.”
The floating archipelago <Lagoon> that he’d accompanied Leon to.
At the hidden research facility, the girl that had been displayed on the screen set up in front of the Yuugenshu.
……Is that you……looking at me?
……The one looking…………at the frozen dream of the Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>……at the Forbidden Crystal.
Why would that name appear here?
“……What do you mean?”
“I’m glad that I’ve aroused your interest. It had the intended effect. But──”
“It doesn’t look like you’re trying to get the ‘Crimson Eye‘ through force. ……Well, I tampered with the contents a bit so I’ll just leave it alone and run away.”
“If you want to know, chase after me. Now, Sheltis, chase after me. That is the beginning of everything. ……However, that’s for until after you’ve played with these.”
Igneed raised both hands to the ceiling.
Like a music conductor.
Awaken now, all you forgotten children
Li Xea = F shela, elmei/ x-delis tis, Selah pheno sia-s Orbie Eden
Beneath Igneed, the crimson crystal began changing color.
From crimson to red, red to blue, blue to green. After that, gold and white. Then at the end ── the crystal became half-transparent like frosted glass.
……What is that?
Something was squirming inside the half-transparent crystal. There were two of them. One was black and inorganic. The other was deep purple and had a hazy outline──
“This is from a thousand years ago……!?”
As if in response to the shout from machine crystal <Ilis>, the front of the crystal distorted like a heat haze and the two gigantic monsters alighted from it.
A massive mechanical weapon equipped with pitch black armor.
The other one was a four-legged beast whose entire body emitted a deep purple cursed mist.
“A mechanical weapon and Yuugenshu?”
“No, this is……”
Machine crystal <Ilis> responded to Zeadoll’s mutter.
“A heavy-arms mechanical weapon from a thousand years ago and……a Yuugenshu. They look the same as they do currently but they’re from before Hyouketsu Kyoukai was erected!”
“A thousand year beast. I tried using the memories of the ‘Crimson Eye‘ and calling it out. I could probably have found something stronger if I searched more but this should be good enough for me to run away.”
Tap. Igneed kicked off the crystal and jumped into the air.
“I won’t let you run……muu!”
Zeadoll tried to get to where the pitch black man would land but the Yuugenshu stood in his way.
■ ■, …… ■, ■ ■ ■, ■ …… ■ …… ■ ■ ■, ■, ■ …… ■
Oe/ Dia = U hiz gazzinis sis wei sighn. Quo zess wiz xes kyele.
Before Zeadoll reacted, a torrent of deep purple light radiated from the mist beast.
The particles of light formed a string and the string gathered even more to become a pattern of light. The instant Zeadoll’s foot touched that ring of light ── the deep purple light blew up.
Assaulted with strong heat and a strong impact and bathed in a curse, the guardian’s large body was blown towards the wall.
“……How rude of him to launch an attack without declaring his name.”
The shadow of the man stood up sluggishly within the dense cloud of mateki. Maybe his Sanctuary Arts had kept the damage to a minimum but there were nothing like wounds on his body.
“They’re simple phantoms that should disappear in half an hour’s time so do your best until then.”
Igneed headed out the door with a light smile.
──Half an hour.
This was no time to say such easygoing words. Ymy and Monica were still in Building Two.
“Just fine, I’ll defeat this swiftly and chase after you!”
Sheltis sprinted to close the distance with the mechanical weapon that was drawing nearer to him. It walked on two legs and had a large body close to three metres across with its entire body made of heavy steel.
……As I thought, its movements are dull.
Before the enemy’s aim lined up, he jumped to the side by kicking off the ground with one foot.
The mechanical weapon’s response was a moment too slow and he used that lull to close the gap in one go. The aim is the joint ── his opponent was a mechanical weapon armored in heavy metal so he’d aim to destroy it starting from the places where that armor was thin.
He jumped off the mechanical weapon’s elbow and then off its shoulder. He flew over ten metres high and towards the mechanical weapon’s head.
……I see it.
The blue internal parts were peeking out from a gap in its head’s armor. Even if it was from a thousand years ago, a mechanical weapon was still a mechanical weapon, and its basic construction was the same. If he destroyed the engine, it would become powerless.
He swung his right sword down at the gap. The sword’s blade stabbed into the internal parts……
His sword hit something hard.
The sword won’t reach any further than this. Was it stopped by the internal parts shining blue?……no way. Let alone the armor, the internal components which are the weak point shouldn’t have this strength.
“It’s a shinryoku carved seal. Just like with the Sanctuary Arts, it’s repelling your mateki!”
“……So that’s it!”
The enemy’s gun locked on.
“Pull out your sword!”
“At a time like this……what a troublesome bastard!”
A heavily armored mechanical weapon specialized for fighting against Yuugenshu. It was originally for mitigating the Yuugenshu’s mateki but because his swords were filled with mateki, it was dulling their penetration.
It wasn’t at the level of the Sanctuary Arts, but there was no changing that it was troublesome.
“What’s a good move?”
“There is a limit to the shinryoku carved seal. You can erase the shinryoku carved seal by piling on enough consecutive damage. Other than that, I’m reluctant to suggest it but it’s the use of mateki. You should be able to nullify the shinryoku carved seal if you use your Seventh True Rhythm <Eden Code>.”
“……Then we’ll go with the first idea.”
Somebody from Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> aside, he couldn’t use mateki in front of somebody from the Governmental Sector.
Explosive noises continued behind him. The explosive impact and thunderous sound of him being smacked into the pillars, as well as the guardians anguished voice came to him.
“Gu, this…………crafty thing!”
Zeadoll stood up using the mace as a support.
He didn’t look like he had any wounds but his expression was grim. Being smacked into the wall enough that it left cracks, he probably was suffering a light concussion.
■ ■, …… ■, ■ ■ ■, ■ …… ■ …… ■ ■ ■, ■, ■ …… ■
Oe/ Dia = U hiz gazzinis sis wei sighn. Quo zess wiz xes kyele.
The floor beneath the Yuugenshu shook and a ring of purple spread like a ripple on water’s surface.
“It’s mateki fixation. It’s the type that ruptures upon contact and spreads curses.”
“So it’s like a mine. Zeadoll, don’t touch that──”
“There’s no use in talking about it!”
Holding out the extremely heavy mace, he stepped on the mateki mine.
An explosive sound. Zeadoll’s large body was lifted into the air.
He received the curse shockwave and collided with the wall again.
……It’s strange. It’s completely different from the masterful fighting he showed yesterday. He looks just like a bewildered Cadet Guard who’s fighting against a Yuugenshu for the first time.
“It’s the first time I’m fighting a Yuugenshu!”
His stern face became even more like a stone and he rose up.
There was no way Yuugenshu would infiltrate the Holy Hall. It was a given that he wouldn’t have an opportunity to fight a Yuugenshu.
“Can you move?”
“You should worry about yourself rather than others!”
A rumble came from directly to the side.
The extremely heavy mechanical weapon causing depressions in the ground was approaching vigorously with the intent to strike him down.
He held out his left arm. He pulled it in as close as possible and spun to dodge. He circled around the exterior and hid around the left flank.
But it only caused a small scrape on the flank’s heavy armor. His sword wouldn’t reach as far as the crucial parts.
Running from the gunfire that was sweeping across in a line, he went around and hid in ‘Mikuva’s Crimson Eye’s‘ shadow.
“Neither one of us is in a good situation. I don’t want to chock it up to affinity though.”
Calming his breathing for the moment, Sheltis bit on his lower lip.
……Ymy and everyone else.
……I’m sorry, bear with it for a little longer.
A cloud of dust hung over the area.
In the world of dust from rubble, flashes that made one think of lightning drew arcs.
Landing on the rubble piled in the passage and once again jumping off there without a moment’s delay.
From the floor to the wall, from the wall to the ceiling, from the ceiling to the floor and then again to the wall. She was closing in using that method which would cause dizziness just by looking at it for a person with a normal sense of balance.
That was the lean spear user who clearly stood out even amidst the dust.
“Heaven Piercing Mother Earth.”
The one waiting was the shinryoku practitioner donning an ocher robe.
“Fire a hundred spears.”
From underfoot, overhead and to the sides. The bare rock walls that had their paint removed pulsed, and stone spears with a sharp outline flew out all at once. Even if it was wide, it was still a corridor. She couldn’t dodge spears approaching from every single direction. But──
Seeing that in front of her, Ishtar didn’t stop running or have any hesitation.
“Is just a hundred okay?”
The spear’s tip blurred from an instant.
Immediately after, the stone spears all broke apart with a dry sound. Iai. And it was with a sequence of movements at a speed where none of it could be seen.
“A hundred isn’t enough.”
Four metres until Maha. If she put strength into her step, it was well within her spear’s reach. Just before that, the wall directly to the side of Ishtar collapsed.
A giant forelimb stretched out from the large black hole created by the cave-in. The slimy claw with a brown sheen ripped the shoulder portion of her formal wear ── before her brain registered that, Ishtar jumped in the opposite direction.
A flash while she was flying.
She severed the claw that was sticking to the cut on her formal wear down the middle.
“I see, so you expected that I’d break through the stone spears and set a trap.”
She looked at her right arm which was exposed up to near the elbow and smiled. Only the formal wear was torn; there was not a single wound on her smooth flesh. Despite having taken such a perfect surprise attack.
“I haven’t had my clothes torn in anything other than a spar with Sennenshi recently. ……You’re brought out something quite large.”
A giant shadow appeared and broke through the wall to the side without leaving a trace.
An earth dragon. Its mouth could open as much as a person is tall and it had the body size to match. It’s black scales were hard enough to deflect steel swords and even a machine gun couldn’t do any effective damage. It was a large carnivore that served as the symbol for dangerous species in the Biotope.
Standing in front of the beast which let out a roar, Ishtar just shook her head carelessly.
“This isn’t all, right? It’s not enough, you’re not thinking that you can satisfy with just this, right?”
The two transcendentals glared at each other in that spot where the dragon was raging.
The one who disrupted that unnatural silence was the silent Golden spell caster.
“……It’s about time he returned.”
“……Igneed……it was a whim but……it isn’t going to be a hindrance.”
Maha said that with absolute confidence.
“I will……not lose. All creation, in other words……no unforeseen incidents…………the balance will be kept in this place and be resolved at the other locations.”
The other locations.
In other words, the Holy Hall that she’d sent Sheltis to.
Then there was Monica’s unit whom she’d entrusted the Priestess’ guarding to.
“Therefore, I will just buy time──”
“Shall we make a bet?”
Ishtar’s fearless smile cut him off.
“Whether or not the results for the other locations will be as you’ve exaggeratedly predicted. I’ll bet that you’re ‘wrong‘. If I get it wrong, then I’ll become your subordinate?”
“The tower is a gathering of weaklings. But they have strong fighting spirits. The Priestesses and Guards alike.”
The Cadres Guard silently raised her spear at that question.
“What creates a reform in the world has always been peoples’ resolve.”
Overhead was the shattered chandelier. The paintings that should have adorned the walls all bore traces of claws or fangs and the carpet underfoot was torn here and there, exposing the underlying stone floor.
What filled the large vacant space from which a large number of people had evacuated was the continuous ringing of clashes.
Monica’s shout echoed in the meeting room.
She pulled the trigger on her high voltage electric gun.
With an intense sound and light, the electricity stretched in a line and coiled around the white poisonous snake falling from the ceiling. It’s movements stiffened in midair……but it didn’t stop with just one shot. Aiming for Kagura below, it extended its fangs and opened its mouth──
Vaiel backhanded its head. Its rope-like thin body was blown away next to the wall and it began changing back to dirt upon hitting the floor.
“Come on, don’t space out.”
“I-I know that. …………But,”
Kagura tried her hardest to calm her ragged breathing by putting a hand on her mouth.
──It’s hard……with three people.
It would be fine if it was somebody other than Sheltis; right now, the important point was having a fourth person.
If they had four people, they could group up with two in the front and two in the back and cover for each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
They couldn’t do that with the three people they had now, and all three had to be in the frontline to protect the Priestess and General Affairs Bureau Chief’s entourage. Because even she who was inexperienced was in the frontline, Monica couldn’t concentrate on giving orders.
“Three more left.”
Three of Maha’s clones were slowly descending from the floor above. There were several poisonous snakes at their feet and red manticores waiting behind them.
“It’s the final part……we’ll……end it.”
But even as she said that, sweat was dropping from Monica’s brow like a waterfall. It wasn’t just from fatigue, Maha’s clone had likely landed a grazing blow on her torso. ……Her face is deathly pale. From her pained hand movements, it’s likely that her sternum or a rib cracked in that blow.
“You don’t have time to worry about others.”
Vaiel’s words pierced her painfully.
……I know that.
……The one most unsuited for direct combat here is me.
That was why Vaiel was sticking close and backing her up and Monica was protecting the opposite direction by herself. The strain on their stamina and mentality was completely different.
Maha’s clones floated from the landing above.
Monica prepared her crossed rods <Rosario> to respond to that ── but her body suddenly swayed.
Kagura reached out her hand but it was too far to her location.
Clack. The crossed rods <Rosario> fell to the ground. But she didn’t react to that. Could she be unconscious……? Dizziness. No, did she faint? No matter the case, at this rate……
Vaiel clicked his tongue and ran to support her but he was much too slow. The unit leader’s body crumpled and Maha’s clones were attacking──
“You have angered the one person in this world that must not be angered.”
Yuumei Space was filled with light.
The red warning lamps were dyed anew with the even stronger crimson.
Even Kagura who wasn’t a shinryoku warrior knew. The brilliance of shinryoku swirled violently and couldn’t be contained within this room.
The enemies were pressured into pausing by the incomparable shinryoku.
Within that light, the Priestess held up the female unit captain.
“……This is from my senior Priestess, Meimel.”
Wrapping her left arm around the fainted girl’s shoulder, she supported her delicate body.
“She said that if a Priestess resolves to head towards the frontline of her own will, then she should say so. That’s why……I’ll say it.”
In front of my eyes, everybody is protecting me and getting hurt.
……I don’t want that.
……I don’t want to become a Priestess who would just watch that.
Lending her senpai her left shoulder, she pointed at Maha’s clones with her remaining right hand.
Then Ymy made a declaration.
“I will be your opponent now.”
“Senpai, I’m happy you came to. You suddenly fell over.”
She smiled and brought her open right hand to Monica’s right cheek ── and pulled it as hard as she could.
“Fu, fuat ahh hu huing!?” [T/N: A really messed up version of “What are you doing!?”.]
“It’s encouragement. That’s a lie, it’s punishment to senpai who’s a unit leader from me as a Priestess. My earlier words included you, senpai, you know?”
You have angered the one person in this world that must not be angered.
……That’s right. There’s someone I really want to get angry at.
“Senpai, I’m at my limit for holding back. Senpai……you really treat me like your kouhai at the crucial times. Do you not see me as a Priestess?”
“Wha-what are you──”
“If the one here were Meimel or Syun-rei, Monica-senpai, you would have probably asked them for assistance. You should know at least how outstanding the defense of a Priestess’ barrier is.”
She stared intently at Monica who frantically pulled away.
“Even so, senpai just keeps protecting me. You just say to hide behind you.”
Monica was silent as she held a hand to her reddened cheek.
With her head downcast.
“Yes, maybe I would have asked Meimel-sama or Syun-rei-sama for support. But not wanting you to come to the front is…………really…………”
With her words coming in short bursts, the female unit leader put together her words earnestly.
“My prided kouhai who exerted and worked hard to become a Priestess…………in the slim chance that something were to happen……I don’t want that.”
“Yes. I know.”
She smiled and picked up the fallen crossed rods <Rosario>.
“But a Priestess can’t overlook such a kind Guard being hurt.”
To Monica who was looking at her with a blank expression.
Ymy handed over the crossed rods <Rosario> without a word.
“Let me support my Guard senpai. I have no Sennenshi so it’s my first battle and I don’t know what I should do. That’s why.”
“In place of the fourth Guard who isn’t here, I shall become the fourth member of senpai’s unit. Please command me.”
“Hah!? Wha……th-that’s really……!”
“It’s an emergency measure. A Priestess is saying it’s fine, so it’s fine.”
She stepped in front of Monica looking to defend her.
──I’m going to do it.
The gap created by Sheltis’ absence. I don’t know just how well I can fill it but I’ll do my best.
“Amazing, it’s amazing, Vaiel. Did you hear that? A Priestess being a part of our unit, that’s completely extraordinary!? It’s thanks to Monica collapsing!”
“Really, your worthlessness actually turned out helpful.”
“Those two are kind of annoying……saying that somebody who collapsed is worthless.”
Monica looked half-shocked as she smiled bitterly.
She took a crossed rod <Rosario> in one hand and raised the other crossed rod <Rosario> with her other hand.
“……Just this time, Ymy.”
“Support us with barrier-style spells. It’ll be fine if you can alleviate or obstruct their attacks. The scope is this entire room and the targets are limited to the four of us. Can you do it?”
“It would be troubling if you were to underestimate a Priestess.”
……Though I’m actually a little weak in barrier-style spells.
Even as she added that in at the bottom of her heart, Ymy replied with a smile.
……It’s a spell I’m weak at.
……But I can’t fail here.
She would do her utmost to the limit of those feelings.
No matter how difficult and no matter how large-scale, she didn’t feel like she could fail.
In the Holy Hall filled with light.
The armored mechanical weapon’s right arm shined black as it approached.
“Incoming simultaneous fire from the enemy’s large machine gun. Please deflect it as much as possible using your swords.”
“It’ll hit ‘Mikuva’s Crimson Eye‘ behind you if you dodge.”
“You’ve gotta be kidding me!?”
Staring at the gun barrel in the enemy’s right arm, he ascertained the angle that the bullets coming from it would travel at. The revolving ring on the side of the gun slowly began turning──
He reverse-gripped his dual swords and lowered his stance.
Then a single sound of gunfire. Sheltis mowed aside the dozens of bullets that came out with that one sound. It wasn’t to ‘cut’ but to ‘brush’. It was a technique that used the back of the sword to alter the bullets’ trajectories. Modifications made within the realm of tenths ── he would be shot if he read it wrong.
The gunfire ceased.
Sheltis clashed his sword against the mouth of the gun which was letting off white smoke.
……Looks like it went well.
He could feel dull pain from various places from his shoulder to his arm to his flank. They were wounds from the deflected bullets that had torn his clothes and the surface of the skin beneath.
“Even though I said to deflect as many as possible, you deflected all of them.”
“The creator of the ‘Crimson Eye‘ and Ilis are the same, right? Then you’re like sisters. I thought you might not want it to get broken.”
After a not-so-short period of silence.
“I didn’t say it with that meaning, just that the ‘Crimson Eye‘ would be useful as evidence………………idiot……it’s not something you have to put your body on the line for.”
“No matter what, it’s great that it went well.”
He switched back to reverse grip on his swords and sprinted once again.
──Now the only problem is how to defeat this.
His swords couldn’t reach the mechanical parts because of the heavy armor and the shinryoku carved seal was rejecting his mateki on top of that. He could defeat it if he took the time but he didn’t know how long that would be.
Before he collected his thoughts, Zeadoll’s large body was blasted over like a rubber ball. He hit the ground while still holding his mace and a large fissure spread out from there.
The guardian sprung to his feet with vigor.
“I was wondering what you were doing since a while ago. You didn’t defeat that mechanical weapon so it’s even getting me involved!”
“That’s a coincidence. You just happened to be at the place I led it to so it wouldn’t break the ‘Crimson Eye‘.”
Zeadoll had been at the location he led the mechanical weapon to and it had recognized him as a target too, then hit and sent him flying from behind. If it had been a regular person, their spine and flesh would have been blown to pieces but this man didn’t seem to have taken any damage.
“That’s not it. I was asking how long you were going to spend in a hard fight with that small fry. That amount of armor is like wet paper to me.”
“That’s because your mace has power. Me as well, I have the confidence that I can beat that Yuugenshu. If it’s a battle against a Yuugenshu……”
He said that much ─── and both of them widened their eyes.
……There is one.
The mechanical weapon and Yuugenshu. A way to clean up for certain these two thousand year beasts that Igneed had summoned.
“Ah─, that’s right……it’s an emergency situation so……right?”
“……Mu. Truly, chasing after Igneed is a priority for both of us. Normally, I’d never conspire with an intruder but……at any rate, it is necessary to hurry.”
“Then it’s decided.”
In response to machine crystal <Ilis>’ words, they both turned around.
“I leave that mechanical weapon to you.”
“You too, you said it so show me that you can eliminate that Yuugenshu quickly.”
Zeadoll of the Governmental Sector would deal with the heavily armored mechanical weapon.
Sheltis of Tenketsu Palace would deal with the Yuugenshu letting out sinister mateki.
──I trust my back to you.
Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> and the Governmental Sector had a long-standing history of opposition and this was their first cooperative battle.
“We’ll beat them in thirty seconds and chase after him.”
“Twenty seconds is more than enough.”
The two ran.
At the same time and in both directions around ‘Mikuva’s Crimson Eye‘.
■ ■, …… ■, ■ ■ ■, ■ …… ■ …… ■ ■ ■, ■, ■ …… ■
Oe/ Dia = U hiz gazzinis sis wei sighn. Quo zess wiz xes kyele.
The mateki seething out from the Yuugenshu’s entire body created a cloud that reached up to the ceiling.
Rain poured from the mysterious cloud. The mateki condensed into water droplet form fell to the ground and created countless ripples.
Mateki mines. If they were touched, they would spread curses and shockwaves. But──
Sheltis stepped into the middle of those ripples without hesitation.
He threw off the formal wear he’d been wearing.
The swaying surface of mateki. The thin film of mateki created a slight splash when he stepped on it……but that was all. The ripples were undisturbed and neither the explosion nor curses were released.
The mateki mines wouldn’t react to someone with mateki residing within them.
The Yuugenshu bent its body with a strange roar. It became more cautious of the human that had slipped past its mateki with mateki of its own and jumped far up to avoid his approach.
Sheltis jumped to follow that shadow.
The crimson crystal was spectator to the beginning and end of that part. Claws and his right swords, fangs and his left sword met……
The high-pitched sound of the Yuugenshu’s crystal core shattering rang out.
At the exact same time.
Directly below, the guardian’s swung mace pierced through the armored mechanical weapon.
“……It’s the mistake of my life.”
Touching her bed hair with her hand, Yuragi let out a long, long sigh.
“To have been knocked out by the rumbling and been sleeping in the waiting room all this time until things were settled.”
“It looks like you slept well.”
“Yes. I already slept twenty four days’ worth……is it okay if I cry?”
“Ahaha, now─ now─. Ymy-sama was also uninjured, so it’s fine.”
Ishtar spoke up with a smile.
But her face was covered with dust and her sleeve was torn starting from the shoulder……
“Mm? Ahh, this got a little torn─. It’s just clothing so it’ll be fixed with a little sewing, you know?”
The slow way she said things was the same as always.
“Was it from battle?”
“Yup, yup. They ran away halfway through but Ishtar didn’t have enough to finish it in one go anyway. On the contrary, it was convenient?”
Just barely managing to say that, Yuragi once again pulled out her memo book.
“By the way, about the plans after this, we were originally supposed to have a banquet on the fourth and final day of the conference──”
“……I think Yuragi-chan’s the one who’s hardcore though?”
The Cadres Guard showed a rare bitter smile.
“We’ll put aside eating. For now, at least.”
Behind them ── Ishtar pointed at the large sofa next to the wall.
“Let them sleep; it looks like they had a lot to deal with too.”
The Priestess Ymy and Guard Monica were sleeping together on the sofa in a friendly manner.
They might be seeing pleasant dreams. They were smiling broadly like one does in happy times.