Toaru Majutsu no Index:Volume18 Chapter5
Chapter 5: The Mercenary and the Knight's Encounter and Clash. Another_Hero.
October 18th, 12:30 AM.
Forty-three elite knights stood on a mountain path on the outskirts of Folkestone in Southern England.
The leader of the coup d’état, Carissa, held Curtana Original in her hand.
An innumerable number of blades sought Third Princess Villian’s life.
However, a single man stood in their way.
He was William Orwell.
He was a thug of a mercenary who was once to become a knight.
He held the spiritual item known as Ascalon in his hand. It was the result of a certain artist exaggerating the events of a true legend and calculating out all the necessary figures needed for the sword that had not actually existed to do what it was said to have done. As a result, it could theoretically kill a 50-foot dragon. What the man intended to do with that sword was quite simple.
He was not going to charge into the enemy lines and recklessly cut down the knights.
Nor was he going to create a trap or form a strategy and toy with the group all at once.
He simply brought up Ascalon and swung it down.
Doing so caused the ground at his feet to explode.
An explosive noise and a shockwave erupted.
A large amount of dust flew up and the curtain of dust obstructed the knights’ vision almost instantly. The vibration that shook the earth was close to an earthquake and even the strictly trained military horses cried in fear.
“Tch!!” Knight Leader clicked his tongue amid it all.
A number of his subordinates drew back their bowstrings and fired arrows into the center of the explosion, but it was pointless.
The night wind swept away the dust.
No one was there. Only an ominous crack remained in the ground where Ascalon had been swung down.
“I see. You’re thinking of Villian’s safety first. If this area turned into a fierce melee, she could easily be killed,” muttered Second Princess Carissa as she calmed her horse. “…At first glance it seems to have been a calm action, but it exposes your weakness. In your prime, you would have fought while protecting my pathetic little sister at the same time.”
“What should we do?” asked Knight Leader.
Carissa gave a disinterested sigh in response.
“Bring me both their heads.” She tightly gripped her sword that had no blade or tip. “I will see how Curtana Original is doing and have it fit my hand. Have your results before I am done.”
“This enemy may be your old friend, but don’t go easy on him.”
“I cannot think of an enemy that I am acquainted with,” said Knight Leader before running into the darkness without bothering to mount a horse.
The enemy was close.
At that distance, he would arrive more quickly on his own two feet.
Third Princess Villian was being held within a certain mercenary’s arm.
One arm held her and the other held the sword that was even larger than a human being, but there was no weight behind the mercenary’s movements. In fact, William Orwell’s trajectory was not that of a normal human.
His movements were not the movements of running.
Much like a ball thrown a long distance, he travelled over 20 meters with each step. His feet did not land just on the ground. Between his large leaps, he also found footholds on the trunks and branches of trees.
The bluish moonlight was quite striking.
The slicing cold air was pleasant.
The unique sense of floating felt like a release from the confined feeling that had been sticking to the princess.
The mercenary and the princess travelling across the night sky looked like something from a picture book.
It looked like something from the kingdoms seen in fairy tales, not the real Royal Family that had led her around as a political bargaining chip.
“Heh. Heh heh.”
A laugh came from Third Princess Villian’s lips.
Not even she knew why she was laughing.
Perhaps it was from the relief of escaping her immediate danger, perhaps it was the elation at having managed to outdo Second Princess Carissa who had seemed like a precipice before her, perhaps it was due to the fact that there was someone, even if it was just one person, that was willing to stand up for her, and perhaps it was simply due to the beauty of the scenery.
Whatever the reason behind it was, she laughed.
Her mouth opened wide for the first time in a very long time. She cast aside her fetters as the third princess of the United Kingdom and gave the defenseless laugh of a normal girl.
“Ah ha ha!! Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!”
She waved her arms and legs around in laughter so much it seemed she would slip from William’s grasp, but the mercenary did not stop.
Finally, William Orwell arrived at an unilluminated mountain path.
He softly lowered the princess in his arm to the ground and Villian asked him a question.
“Hee hee. What are we going to do now?”
“You need to run away to somewhere safe.”
As he responded, William walked over to a thicket a short distance from the mountain path. A small hill that looked like nothing more than a pile of dirt about a meter high stood there with a worn out cloth covering it. William removed the cloth and a horse made of metal with its four legs folded up underneath it lay below it.
Looking at the letters carved into the silver horse’s surface, Villian’s expression turned to one of puzzlement.
“It does not possess the effects of the horse dreamed of by the writer at the end of the 16th century, but it does possess the ability to slip past and hide from magical searches. As long as they do not see it with their naked eyes, the knights will be unable to find it.”
“Bayard is set to the coordinates of a Necessarius hideout. Unlike the old fools at Canterbury, the magicians who actually fight will not abandon you.”
Third Princess Villian breathed a very, very thin breath.
Not noticing this, the mercenary continued to check over Bayard.
“I will catch up soon, but you leave on Bayard. I will deal with the knights. At the very least, I will prevent them from tracking you, so you don’t need to worry about anyth-...”
For the first time, William’s words trailed off.
The reason was Villian’s fingertips.
The third princess hung her head down and stretched out her hand slightly to grab at the mercenary’s clothes.
“That’s enough,” she said with a slight smile on her lips. “What am I supposed to do after fleeing? What am I supposed to do just because you saved my life here? My sister will soon control all of the United Kingdom and I will then be dragged out to be executed even as I struggle. I will either be killed now or a bit later. That is all you are changing here.”
Her smile lacked strength.
William Orwell merely looked at her expression.
“The Necessarius hideout Bayard will take me to will not necessarily take me in. Even if I am a member of the Royal Family, I have no real power or authority. Protecting me simply is not worth the risk.”
The princess’s wavering gaze seemed to be saying she did not believe what she was saying.
But then why was she lying to the mercenary?
“So that’s enough. I have given up hope. Yes, that’s right. Even Knight Leader who has helped me out so much in the past has started this coup d’état and come for my life. Surely, you are the same. If the situation compelled you, you would betray me as well, wouldn’t you? Then that’s enough. I do not trust you. I just do not trust you.”
Only Villian’s words continued on.
Only her voice continued on as she carefully suppressed her feelings so as not to have her words fall apart.
“I will most likely die resenting this country and this world. There is no more reason for you to fight. No matter how much effort you put into wielding a sword for someone who does not trust you, isn’t it all for naught?”
Basically, Third Princess Villian was telling him to abandon her.
No matter how strong the mercenary was, he was still only a single person. If he truly clashed with Second Princess Carissa’s forces that controlled the entire United Kingdom, William Orwell would clearly not fare well.
So she was telling him to abandon her.
Villian was ordering him to give up his civility and leave.
William placed Ascalon on the ground next to him.
Now that both of his hands were free he moved them.
“Hyah!?” shouted Third Princess Villian.
The mercenary put his hands under the princess’s arms and lifted her up like a small child.
Ignoring Villian’s surprise at the sudden action, William placed the princess on Bayard’s saddle. He then lightly stroked the metal horse on its neck. That must have been some kind of signal because it rose onto its legs that had been folded up underneath it.
Letting go of Villian now that she was looking down at him, William Orwell placed the reins in her hands and spoke.
“Do not worry.”
He did not smile.
The mercenary did not know how to calm others. For that very reason, he expressed himself with his actions.
“Even if you do not trust me, my reason for fighting for you remains unshaken.”
Before Villian could respond, William Orwell lightly tapped on Bayard with the back of his hand.
As if in response, the metal horse began to move.
Third Princess Villian was thrown back and she instinctually grabbed the reigns more tightly. Bayard was moving on autopilot and she did not immediately know how to cancel that mode. She steadily moved further and further away.
Without jumping off, Villian used her small hands to grip the reins as if attempting to crush them.
She had uttered those words in order to bring that mercenary away from his place of death, but they had only resulted in isolating him even further. She gritted her teeth.
“That isn’t what I wanted to hear you say! You foooooollll!!”
William Orwell stared deep into the darkness until Bayard had completely disappeared from view.
His shoulders finally relaxed and he picked Ascalon up from the ground where it lay.
Sensing a presence, he turned around slowly.
“So the third princess is over there.” The familiar voice belonged to his old friend, the leader of the knights. “But why are you here standing in my way? Acqua of the Back, a member of God’s Right Seat of the Roman Catholic Church, should have no reason to risk his life for a princess of this country.”
The thug of a former mercenary responded with actions instead of words.
He horizontally swung the giant mass of iron that was 3.5 meters long and weighed more than 200 kilograms.
The sound of the air being sliced could be heard.
Immediately afterwards, a flash exploded out.
Not many people would have been able to tell that he had flipped the giant sword upside down and used the thick, sharp spike near the base of the back to strike a large nearby rock.
The nearby mountain surface broke to pieces as if it had exploded. A large amount of earth and sand flowed horizontally completely sealing the narrow mountain path behind William. That wall both cut off pursuit of Third Princess Villian and prevented William himself from escaping.
The knights in the area looked shocked and raised their guard, but William’s old friend, the head of the knights, silently nodded.
“I see. So no matter who you are or what group you belong to, what you must do does not change. That certainly does sound like how you would think.”
William held Ascalon out horizontally in a single hand as his gaze raced around the area.
With the mercenary in the center, a circle of silver armored knights spread out in a half circle with a radius of 30 meters. Swords, spears, axes, bows, staffs, and other weapons glinted in the moonlight.
There were just under 40 of them.
Looking at Knight Leader standing in the center of them, William moved his lips slightly.
“…It seems more people are going to have to die.”
Hostility swelled up from the surrounding knights at those words, but Knight Leader alone nodded frankly.
“Even though our strength has been augmented with Curtana’s power to a certain extent, not many of us have reached your level.”
As he spoke, Knight Leader pointed his thumb at his own chest and spoke two simple words.
“This is a true battlefield. I have no interest in the etiquette of refined nobility. If you are serious about this, come at me all at once. If you would rather not die in vain, leave now.”
“You need not worry.”
Knight Leader lightly shook his arm.
At some point, a longsword with a 3 cm wide blade had appeared in his hand. It was a sword with an 80 cm long blade that was optimal for knights to use on horseback. However, its silver surface was covered in something rough and dark-red.
“I mean a duel in the old sense: a fight to the death.”
The surface of Knight Leader’s dark-red longsword started to bubble.
The bubbling was not a mere chemical reaction caused by some chemical. Some of the bubbles were even about the size of a basketball. The tens and even hundreds of those large bubbles that were clearly wider than the sword itself appeared and altogether destroyed its silhouette.
The sword took on a new form.
It was now a gigantic sword over 3 meters long just like William’s Ascalon.
“So that is Hrunting.”
Hrunting was a magical sword from an old legend that was said to have been tempered in the blood of slain enemies and to grow stronger and sharper as more powerful enemies were defeated with it.
“…Here lies the 10 years since you left. I am no longer as I was when you knocked me out in Dover,” Knight Leader quietly reported as he held that spiritual item that held the same name as a legendary blade. “I will use my 10 years to test just how much you have gained from your 10 years.”
That was a sign.
The clash between the mercenary and the knight began as they both wielded weapons made to slay superhuman monsters.
William and Knight Leader charged in straight at each other and Ascalon and Hrunting struck each other. Despite the simplicity of the action, the aftereffects that spread about the area were tremendous.
With a few moments of delay, an explosive wind blew out.
Along with a tremendous roar, a dome-shaped shockwave spread out with the two men at the center. An explosive storm spread out in an area with a radius of 100 meters and blew away the fully equipped knights. Trees were torn to pieces, the mountain surface crumbled, and the paved mountain path shattered as if it had been made of glass.
However, by the time the shockwave had expanded, the two men were nowhere to be seen.
They had leapt up into the night sky.
With a slight delay, the sound of their footsteps resounded through the darkness like gunshots. At almost 10 meters in the air, the giant swords struck twice and then a third time. The sparks looked like flashes of lightning and the knights saw the shockwaves spreading out spherically like fireworks.
Someone gave out a cry.
Someone bent over so as not to take as much damage.
The spiral of shockwaves knocked them back evenly.
Knight Leader landed on the very top of a thick tree and looked down at his pathetic subordinates.
That was most likely why William Orwell had let the third princess escape ahead of him. It wasn’t because he would have trouble fighting while defending her, and it wasn’t because he was heroically planning on protecting the princess to his last breath. He was simply taking measures against foolishly killing the very person he was trying to protect with his own strength.
Knight Leader stared again at his old mercenary friend who was standing atop a different large tree.
At first glance, it might have appeared that the two men were battling in a purely physical battle of clashing swords, but magic was at the essence of their actions. They could not produce such destructive force simply by increasing their physical strength to a ridiculous extent. After passing a certain line, only a path of self-destruction where one’s own muscles crushed one’s own organs awaited.
At the same time as they were producing such overwhelming destruction with their bodies, they were also predicting what the various negative effects and other side effects of creating the ridiculous strength and speeds were and then using assisting magic to meticulously deal with those effects. Hundreds and even thousands of those negative effects were constantly being created in battle and overlooking even one while the situation changed from instant to instant would lead to death in that high speed fight. “Exceeding the limit” was an easy thing to say, but it took all that to actually accomplish it. And even with all that, the limits of a physical body could not be completely wiped away. In some situations, it was possible to come up with an ingenious solution in the construction of ones tactics such as with Kanzaki Kaori’s drawn sword technique making the battle quick. Both with Saints and with the power of Curtana, just having a large amount of power did not make one strong. In the end, someone who wished to wield a large amount of power needed the skills and disposition required to control that large amount of power.
William was strong.
Knight Leader was strong.
They did not stand in that position because they had been given some type of power. Because they had always had a large amount of power and skill, they had been able to add a special extra “power” to that and set foot in a territory that normal people could not even imagine.
This all also meant that, if one were to obstruct the magic one’s opponent was using to assist in their high-speed battle, one could indirectly defeat them. However, that was not so when it came to those two.
William had his disposition he was born with as a Saint and his spells that had been further polished in God’s Right Seat.
Knight Leader had Curtana and the All-English Continent as well as magic that had been optimized in his time as a knight.
The symbols that acted as keys to their magic were not something that could easily be taken from them. The two of them were extremely skilled magic users and they had gained minds that were not easily shaken by overcoming numerous wars. Even if a limb or two were severed, they would not lose control of their magic.
Just by looking at the other’s pose, they gained much more information than a mere soldier would have.
It had nothing to do with their old friendship.
During the time that had passed and on the journeys they had gone on, they had constructed spells the other did not know of.
“Heh. It’s true that you are quite skilled for a Saint, but it seems you aren’t showing off your specialty.”
“With each strike, I can feel your wounds throbbing. Since you aren’t using that water of yours and you aren’t carrying out that sliding high speed of yours, your defeat in Academy City must truly have had a lasting effect on you.”
William did not respond.
He merely brought the giant sword up in front of him slowly.
“Do you really have a reason to go this far to protect the third princess?”
As if in response to William’s action, Knight Leader began to move, too.
At the top of a huge tree, he silently and smoothly moved the dark-red Hrunting.
His subordinates were struggling on the ground down below and he saw one holding a bow in his shaking hands, but he did not look back in their direction.
“It’s true that the kindness and morality that are at her core are worth mentioning. However, I do not think they are enough to move a nation. Basically, this is an issue of what policy will most effectively move the country. This is a question of whether a policy of military force or one of benevolence will save Britain now, and there is only one answer. It seems Lady Carissa is worried about it, but I seriously doubt that the third princess could wield Curtana Original. Her personality would not allow her to and she also simply does not possess the ability.”
“I am not saying that Curtana is everything, but you cannot deny that it is an effective means of military strength. We of the knights will always choose the option that is best for England. As long as that option is Lady Carissa with Curtana Original, then we will support her with everything we have.”
Knight Leader’s words suddenly cut off there.
A small laugh had cut him off.
The mercenary’s shoulder’s moved up and down slightly. However, his expression was not the wild smile Knight Leader knew to appear on his face when faced with a formidable enemy.
His smile was one of amusement.
“You seem to have a lot to say, my friend.”
William Orwell rejected all of the words that had entered his ears.
His expression said the words had been so ridiculous they weren’t even worth remembering.
“So you’ve come to the point where you cannot take up a sword and fight without making excuses to yourself and others.”
No voice came in response.
With a loud noise, the mercenary and the knight kicked off from the tops of the trees and clashed in midair.
Their legs gave off so much power that the two trees they had been standing on were smashed to pieces.
William and Knight Leader had jumped straight forward from the large trees. They seemed to slide through the air as their display of strength twisted gravity and their bodies and swords relentlessly clashed at the halfway point.
A seemingly never ending stream of shockwaves spread out.
The energy they had used to drive themselves forward was completely lost in the first strike and the mercenary and the knight began to fall directly downward. However, a free fall was no threat to those two. They continued to swing their swords in close quarters.
Their swords bit into each other complexly.
In a midair battle with no footholds, one could not properly use one’s own weight to swing one’s sword. Instead, William and Knight Leader used the energy gained from stopping their opponent’s blows to rotate their body around and return the powerful blow from many different angles. This repeated again and again and again and again.
As they fell while entangled in such a complex manner, they looked somewhat like two gears.
But those gears were like industrial circular saws as their thick blades scraped against each other.
This 360 degree exchange taking advantage of the lack of footholds would not last forever. The ground was approaching and the instant they landed was a huge chance to get the upper hand in that competition.
That instant came soon afterwards.
Their feet made contact with the ground covered in undergrowth.
A thunderous roar sliced through the air.
William Orwell and Knight Leader’s bodies both moved about 50 meters from the center of the explosion. They seemed just like small pebbles blown away in a large explosion.
However, the two of them did not put that distance between themselves intentionally.
The instant they landed, they had come closer and closer and a full-strength strike had sent them sliding along the ground due to the combined force of the two colliding attacks.
The bottom of William’s shoes scraped along the ground making a horrible noise.
It was the noise of the undergrowth and even the black soil below being torn up. The route William had passed through was torn up so that it looked like a cleared path.
The battlefield had moved from the place where a large number of knights had collapsed due to the aftereffects of the battle. William’s back was almost touching the 100 meter wide slope he himself had created with the landslide that cut off the escape route. Opposite him, Knight Leader adjusted his grip on the dark-red longsword. William could not fall back any farther. This was not due to the thickness or the height of the wall. It was because crossing that wall was the same as surrendering the path that lead to the third princess.
There was something you could tell by looking at William.
He had already started to move his weight forward while holding Ascalon.
He looked just like someone about to start a sprint.
Knight Leader also looked as if he were on the verge of assaulting.
“So you are afraid for the third princess. On the battlefield, we have determined so many people were our enemy and slaughtered them. What good will wielding a sword for this reason do you now!?”
“How light. Those words are much too light for the surface!!”
“Heh. Are you trying to say that you can’t stand killing people who have agreed to surrender!? That may be just like you, but that’s all it is!!”
An explosive noise sounded.
Knight Leader charged toward William with his dark-red sword in hand and the mercenary responded in kind.
“And even so, you’re making an enemy of the military side to protect benevolence. Do you really believe that benevolence has enough value for you to support it this much!?”
Sparks and shockwaves scattered about and spread around while the two men moved at high speed.
Sword struck sword and the men glared at each other at close range.
“I do not need decorative words to speak to others.” William’s Ascalon pressed on Knight Leader’s sword. “The reason I fight is expressed with my body and my sword!!”
The mercenary purposefully drew back his sword and then filled the open space by forcefully striking Knight Leader’s dark-red sword with the blade. The tremendous shock threw Knight Leader’s balance off ever so slightly and William continued with a second attack.
However, the head of the knights was not one to be done in from just that.
He swung his dark-red sword around to receive the blow and moved back instead of opposing the momentum.
A space of 10 meters opened up between them.
(…Most likely, this mercenary is fighting without a single military or political reason in mind. Whether the third princess is actually a princess or not holds no meaning to him.)
Knight Leader guessed at what was going on in his opponent’s head and poured more strength into the hand gripping the hilt of his sword.
Flere210. The one who changes the meaning of those tears.
As the magic name he held suggested, the reason he held his weapon was to transform cold tears into warm ones.
(But that’s still too superficial. That reason is nowhere near enough to kill me, you failed mercenary.)
On one side, William had finally stopped moving and adjusted his grip on the hilt of his gigantic sword.
It was the spiritual item Ascalon
It was 3.5 meters long and weighed over 200 kilograms. The sword had the same effects as the sacred sword that appeared in a story based on a real legend and a magician had calculated out all the necessary values and created that sword that could theoretically slay a 50 foot dragon.
The sharpness of the double sided sword was not uniform. The thickness and angle of each part were adjusted so it could also be used like an axe, like a razor, or like a saw. It also had a can opener-like spike and a wire close to the blade like a coping saw on it which made one wonder if the magician who had made it had been drunk. Scales, flesh, bone, muscle, tendons, fangs, claws, wings, fat, organs, sinew, blood vessels, nerves. It seemed to have truly been designed with the idea of being able to cut through every part of a dragon using that one device.
On the other side, Knight Leader held a dark-red sword in hand.
It was the spiritual item Hrunting.
It was 3.9 meters long and its weight was unknown, but it probably didn’t weigh much more than the longsword used at its base. The spiritual item held the same name as the magical sword used in the legend of Beowulf. Apparently, the sword became tougher and sharper from the blood of slain enemies that blocked ones path, but Knight Leader had most likely had Telesma act as the blood so that the a large amount could be compressed into it in order to give it a tremendous amount of destructive power. Already, the ordinary laws of physics did not apply to the steel of the sword. It felt lighter than its original mass should, it was tough enough to not have received a single scratch from the strikes it had received from Ascalon, and – most importantly – it was so sharp that it would kill William instantly were a single strike to hit him.
(…So it works on idolatry theory just like the cross in the Christian church.)
In contrast to his violent actions, William calmly analyzed the situation.
(He’s using Curtana and Hrunting, two swords that symbolize the United Kingdom, to further strengthen the ability to control different types of power within the country. …Hmph. I was wondering how his physical body was storing and using a mass of Telesma greater than the power held by the average Saint. To give his life to his sword and his country, he’s just as devoted to the theory of the knights as ever.)
At that last thought, William’s lips bent slightly.
Not noticing that, Knight Leader spoke.
“In a one-to-one battle, there is no need to hide anything. How about I explain the details?”
“That isn’t something I expected to hear from someone who deceived the queen.”
“The second princess’s plan was effective, but I did not like every aspect of it. Well, I can give my mercenary opponent a short breather to get a grasp of my style.”
“I see. But that won’t be necessary,” William denied him. “I know the trick behind it, but you are not an enemy who will be defeated just from that.”
“That was fast,” praised Knight Leader. “But it’s too bad. Just once, I wish I could have fought you at your peak.”
An odd noise split through the darkness of the night.
Knight Leader did not move a step from where he stood.
He merely casually swung Hrunting.
However, the distance meant nothing.
William had immediately dodged to the side upon hearing the sound, but he did not make it in time.
A wound was gouged into his left shoulder and even into his collarbone.
(…That wasn’t Hrunting…!?)
That had clearly been a different type of attack than before.
Before blood could come spurting out, William had already adjusted his grip on Ascalon in his right hand.
“Did you know that the magic sword Hrunting in Beowulf is mysteriously never used in the battles pivotal to Beowulf’s life?”
There was no noise.
Knight Leader charged towards William faster than the speed of sound.
He swung Hrunting to the side and William received the blade on Ascalon while only holding the sword in one hand. Despite that, the sound of something slicing through the air reached William’s ears. In response to a strange chill, he swung his head to the side as hard as he could and a light wound appeared on his cheek.
“In Beowulf’s battle against Grendel, he used his own strength, in his battle against the water sprite, he uses an old sword he found in the enemy’s hideout, and in the final battle of his life against the dragon, he uses yet another sword.”
At that point, Knight Leader made another move.
In order to evade, William had slightly lost his balance and Knight Leader pulled Hrunting back from Ascalon.
He then swung the long sword.
William received the blow with Ascalon, but his inability to support his weight due to having lost his balance and his single-handed grip on Ascalon caused his body to become airborne.
With a tremendous sound, William Orwell flew through the air.
“There is a lesson in what I am telling you: you should always prepare multiple trump cards when your fate is in the balance.”
As Knight Leader’s lips moved, the mercenary’s body struck a large tree and the thick trunk broke.
Ignoring the snapping and cracking noises made by the collapsing tree, Knight Leader spoke.
“It seems this is the limit for a failed mercenary.”
Blood squirted from William’s left shoulder, but he still stood up with Ascalon in his right hand.
Knight Leader’s words rang in the mercenary’s ears.
“In a one-to-one battle, there is no need to hide anything. How about I explain the details?”
Kamijou Touma had snuck aboard a freight train on the Eurostar line heading from London to Folkestone and was lying face down on the roof.
The train was moving very quickly. Kamijou didn’t know what the average speed of foreign trains was, but he doubted they normally moved at almost 300 kph. Due to power trouble in London, a slower diesel engine had been used, but the power must have come back up because it suddenly picked up speed.
It was late at night and probably near the time of the last train of the night, so there wouldn’t have been many other trains out normally and – more importantly – a coup d’etat had broken out over the entirety of Britain meaning the normal rail schedule wouldn’t be kept. The train was only able to move at that ridiculous speed because there were no other trains on the track.
The skin of Kamijou’s face was subtly distorted due to the wind created by the 300 kph speed. The reason the knights inside the train couldn’t find that amateur as he shivered in the cold was quite simple. They would never think that someone would be stupid enough to hide there.
That said, Kamijou hadn’t gotten up on the roof because he had wanted to. Originally, he had hidden within the freight train. However, it had been too dangerous to stay in one place because he had to prevent the knights from finding him when they irregularly patrolled the train. To do so, he had been sneaking from place to place matching the movements of the knights. Before he knew it, he had been forced up onto the roof.
(Ahh, I’ve heard about illegal immigrants sneaking from Mexico into America by clinging to the walls or roof of a freight train. I wonder if it was something like this…)
Kamijou recalled a documentary he had seen in his dorm back in Academy City.
But for him, merely reaching his destination was not his goal.
Kamijou subconsciously gritted his teeth.
When the coup d’etat had broken out, Index had been travelling with the second princess who was said to be the one behind the coup d’etat. He had no idea exactly what kind of situation Index was in, but it was clear her situation wasn’t one where her safety was guaranteed.
She held the knowledge of 103,000 grimoires in her head.
It wouldn’t be surprising if someone who wanted to increase their battle ability as much as they could tried to misuse that knowledge.
To be completely honest, he knew it wasn’t a situation a single amateur should be heading into.
(…But it’s not like I have to defeat the enemy leader and all the troops protecting her.)
Kamijou looked down at his right fist.
(I just need to strike at an opening and rescue Index. If that’s all I need to do, this is better than heading for the enemy lines with a large group of people.)
Then Kamijou saw something at the very edges of his vision.
Looking over in that direction, he saw the top of a silver helmet at the connection between two of the freight train’s cars. And the knight wasn’t moving between cars. It looked like he was climbing the ladder.
(A patrol…? Shit, someone’s coming up here!?)
The armored man was at the front of the car, so Kamijou hurriedly headed for the back. With the wind caused by the train’s high speed pushing at his back, Kamijou moved back while sliding along the flat roof. He got a chill thinking about the fact that it was all over if he fell down onto the gravel flowing by at high speed as he jumped down to the small space between cars.
The connection between cars on the freight train was not made into a passageway like on public trains. Each car was isolated, so Kamijou had jumped down onto a small space surrounded by a metal handrail.
It looked like he could move to the next car by climbing over the handrail. With another chill heading down his spine at the sight of the rail and gravel moving by much too quickly below, he moved to the next car.
(Dammit. We’re moving pretty quickly, so we should reach Folkestone before long, right?)
He cursed in his heart, but it would all be over if he was found whether they were 10 minutes away or 1 minute away. There was nowhere to run within the train, and it would be difficult to deal with a large number of knights gathering in one spot with only a single right hand. He didn’t know exactly how many were on the train, but the train was heading down there to transport additional military personnel to the second princess. It seemed likely that there were a hundred or two onboard.
(…Oh, crap. This is way beyond the level of a fight against some delinquents.)
Kamijou used both hands to slide open the train car door and slipped inside.
The cars in the area he was hiding in were truly being used as freight cars because they were loaded with equipment instead of personnel. A large number of swords and spears were casually piled up by category looking something like the bonfires seen in old stories. It was quite a frightening sight. They were not accessories for decorative suits of armor in some mansion. Each and every one of them was a true weapon that was there for the purpose of killing people.
Kamijou sighed within the dark freight car.
He could not speak very much English. If each letter and word were pronounced distinctly like in an English textbook, he could probably understand some, but when local speakers spoke quickly while running words together or eliminating them to make things easier to say, he couldn’t understand a thing.
Even so, he had picked up on the fact that the knights onboard the train seemed almost panicked about something. It seemed some kind of emergency had sprung up. He couldn’t pick up on the details behind it, but he felt like they kept saying a certain name again and again.
He had a feeling that that was a rather popular Western name and he couldn’t think of anyone he knew with that name. He was willing to bet there were a lot of people in England named that. He guessed that the person might be a Necessarius magician and then decided that thinking any more on it wasn’t going to help anything.
Hearing that sudden voice come from the depths of the car, Kamijou thought his heart would stop.
It was a girl’s voice.
He quickly turned around in that direction and saw something wriggling behind a pile of silver armor and helmets. It was a human. The girl had her hands restrained behind her back and had restraints on both her ankles.
(Wait, those clothes are…?)
Kamijou looked puzzlingly at the girl’s clothes that were almost like a lacrosse uniform.
(I think I’ve seen that outfit before… Is it popular in London right now?)
The girl then unconcernedly spoke to Kamijou.
“You don’t look like you’re with the knights and you don’t seem like a young apprentice either. Are you being transported after having been captured, too?”
Her voice sounded irritated, but he didn’t understand a word of her quickly spoken English.
She must have picked up on what Kamijou was thinking from his expression.
“Hm? Oh, I see. Sorry, sorry. It seems you’re Japanese, so I guess I should speak in your language.”
“Y-you can tell I’m Japanese…?”
“An Asian person who gets a disturbing thin smile on his face when he first meets you is always Japanese.”
(…Is that how a Japanese polite smile looks to them?)
Kamijou was feeling a tad dejected, but the girl didn’t seem to notice.
“Anyway, I’ll ask again: you aren’t with the knights, right?”
Kamijou didn’t know what the girl’s true motives were and he looked back at her face.
She looked about 15 years old and had white skin and blonde hair. Her hands behind her back and her ankles had restraints on them. The restraints were not modern handcuffs. They were something like the wooden board with holes in it that was used to restrain one’s head in a guillotine.
When Kamijou didn’t respond, the blonde girl frowned in displeasure.
“…Do you not actually know Japanese? Or is my pronunciation that bad?”
“N-no, I understood you. I understood you, but…”
“Oh, I see. My name is Floris. I’ve taken part in a bit of a fake magic cabal, but…that doesn’t really matter now. Just give me some help.”
William Orwell had a 5 cm deep gash in his left shoulder.
Quite a bit of blood was flowing from the dark red wound. Ignoring his weakened left arm, the mercenary held his gigantic sword in only his right hand.
He was a little less than 10 meters from Knight Leader.
At that distance, each could attack the other in an instant, but Knight Leader did not move a step.
He sliced his dark red sword through empty air as if he were taking the situation lightly.
A horizontal cutting attack came from a completely different angle and threatened to behead William.
When William bent over to dodge the attack, a number of flashes glittered in straight lines around him.
Immediately afterwards, Knight Leader moved his longsword like a baton and invisible cutting attacks rushed towards William from all directions. The undergrowth was sliced in straight lines, claw scratch-like cuts ran across thick tree trunks, leaves floating in the night sky were sliced in half one after another.
William either recognized it in the sound of the wind, identified it in some other way, or used some kind of sixth sense to gather all the not yet classified information because he swung his head to the side, jumped back, swung his right arm to receive the attack on Ascalon’s thick blade, repelled the attack, and kept out of the range of Knight Leader’s deadly attack.
A storm of sparks erupted.
While swinging his large sword at supersonic speeds to protect his back without really turning around, William spoke to his slightly distant enemy.
“I’m sure you didn’t really think you could easily kill me just by adding a trick into your attack range.”
“…Once again, you catch on quickly. And as usual, you make sure to say nothing more than is necessary to a detestable extent.”
Knight Leader’s face held a bitter expression as he swung his dark red sword around at a high speed.
He was using a pattern.
In the stories of Norse, Celtic, Charlemagnic, and Germanic warriors and knights, many legendary weapons were spoken of, but a certain pattern existed in all those weapons.
“I mastered the many paths of knighthood and thought I would compensate for each one’s weakness by unifying them, but it seems the more complicated the combination gets, you have to simplify it down to a single strike. I suppose it is similar to the demise of a star like the sun. When a star grows too large, it finally explodes and gives birth to a black hole. …It becomes a mere gravitational field. It becomes something that is theoretically simple but still produces a great power.”
It was a single strike born from combining all sorts of spells.
As such, magically interfering with it or cancelling it out was incredibly difficult. To find the solution, one had to head down every one of the paths Knight Leader had taken.
“However, this is not the kind of complete demise that turns the star into a black hole. There are many ways for a star to meet its demise. If the star’s mass is not at a certain level, it can apparently turn into other things such as a neutron star or an interstellar cloud. It seems my strike gained the characteristic of the sword due to this imperfection.”
Knight Leader’s slim fingertips tightly held his dark-red sword.
“Theoretically, this level of characteristic can be divided into a few categories instead of being lumped together in a single category. Simply put, there is the Slicing Power that can cut through anything, the Weapon Weight that creates tremendous destructive force, the Enduring Solidity that cannot be destroyed, and the Movement Speed that makes no one able to catch up to me. There is also Special Use, a rare pattern necessary to slay particular monsters, Precise Accuracy that automatically has me move toward the vital points, and the pattern I just used against you.”
“…The Attack Range, you mean?”
He had reanalyzed the laws behind the Norse Gungnir and Mjölnir, the Celtic Fragarach and Brionac, and other weapons, combined them, and then condensed them. His evolution had constructed completely new spells much like a black hole being created from the death of a star that grew too large.
And the similar legends from around the world other than the European ones that Knight Leader loved and so put into his spell could also be added into the birth of this black hole.
“I realized something when I reanalyzed all the spiritual items and weapons from various cultures and legends in order to create this Attack Range. I realized that all kinds of humans wish to win by unilaterally pouring powerful attacks on their enemy from a position their enemy’s attacks cannot reach. I do not like giving affirmation to that boring society of guns, but I cannot deny that it is quite effective.”
(And the actual materials he used to make this a reality are…)
William used Ascalon to repel a “long range” strike approaching his temple from the side. A blade that looked like dark red rust only a few millimeters long struck the thin wire held on like a coping saw creating sparks and then pierced into a nearby tree trunk.
“It is a fragment of the sword.” Knight Leader easily revealed the trick that he should have kept hidden and continued swinging around his sword. “The fragments of some excellent weapons and spiritual items still display the power of the original. For instance, the sword used by King Charlemagne had the fragment of a sacred spear inside it.”
“So someone who is about to fight against France is using the legend of one of its kings?”
“That was a surprisingly pointless comment coming from you.”
Knight Leader grinned.
Guided by his sword, a few dozen blades of rust targeted William.
“I will use anything I can. If you want to go down that path, even the name ‘Curtana’ comes from a French word. I believe it means ‘short sword’ due to its broken off tip.”
Suddenly, Knight Leader stopped moving his hand.
William looked on suspiciously.
“Don’t get that look on your face.” Knight Leader readjusted his grip on Hrunting. “I told you I did not like giving affirmation to that boring society of guns. A proud knight has sworn to crush his enemy while allowing the enemy to use all his strength.”
“Are you planning on turning your sword on even powerless servants to boast of that pride?”
William Orwell clicked his tongue slightly.
A red flash of light shot from Ascalon as he held it on his right hand.
No. The light was not just one color. From each angle of the blade, the shine changed just like with the surface of a CD.
Strictly speaking, even that wasn’t accurate.
The 3.5 meter long sword did not have just one blade. Its thickness and angles changed and it had a portion like an axe, a portion like a razor, and a portion like a saw. It also had a can opener-like spike and a wire close to the blade like a coping saw.
Ascalon’s shine originated in those different functions.
The color changed depending on how and where the different methods of attack would be used. The axe-like blade was red, the razor-like blade was blue, the can opener-like spike was green, and the coping saw-like wire was yellow. Like that, magical power was being supplied and converging on each of the sections of the spiritual item. The real time regulation of what would provide the greatest destruction decided on the color of the light that split between the routes of each blade.
“I had hoped I wouldn’t have to use this.”
“That isn’t like you. Were you holding back against one who the dragon symbolizes?”
Knight Leader smiled and gripped Hrunting’s hilt.
In the values of the Christian Church, the dragon was the symbol of more than one thing.
For example, it represented pagans and foreign invading forces.
It also represented a fallen angel stained with evil.
Inside the freight train, Kamijou Touma faced a girl with her hands and feet restrained.
It seemed her name was Floris.
Someone familiar with the full story of the recent events might immediately have the organization name “New Light” come to mind. Kamijou did not know the names of the New Light members other than Lessar who had been terribly injured before his eyes nor did he know what they looked like.
“C’mon, quit standing there with that blank look on your face and help me already.”
“Help you…? How?”
“Surely you can figure that out just by looking at me. Help me take these off.”
She thrust forward the wooden restraint binding her ankles.
A look of displeasure came over Kamijou’s face.
“…What the hell did you do to get those things put on you?”
“Well, I don’t really think I did anything wrong.”
She then whispered something quickly in English.
“(…I was kinda glad the knights had rescued me from the Necessarius sanctuary, but then they threw me on this freight train without removing the restraints. They really must have been planning on silencing us from the beginning. Dammit Bayloupe, this is what happens when you trust public servants like the knights. I’m not willing to bravely have my life come to an end for just one mission like Lessar.)”
“Oh, nothing. Anyway, you’re in a similar situation, right? Like you got on the knight’s bad side and were taken in or something.”
“I snuck onto the train to get to Folkestone.”
That response had a lot of meaning behind it, but Floris did not respond to it.
She had only needed to know that he wasn’t with the knights.
“Anyway, just help me get these off. Due to the effects of the spiritual item, I can’t leave this 2 meter square area. That means…well…I can’t grab the key on the wall over there.”
“Ahn? Is that all you need?”
Kamijou started to reach for the ring of keys on the wall, but then he froze.
A puzzled expression appeared on Floris’s face.
“What is it?”
“Well, my right hand is known as Imagine Breaker. To put it simply, if the key you need is magical, it’ll be destroyed the second I touch it. If that happened, there would be no way of removing your restraints.”
After his own explanation, Kamijou suddenly looked up.
“Huh? But then we don’t have to deal with the key at all. I can just destroy the magical restraints directly with my right hand.”
“Hah? Eh? Wait, wait, wait!! I don’t know what you’re planning to do, but-….!?”
As Floris complained, Kamijou grabbed the restraint around her ankles.
With a cracking noise, the restraint fell to pieces.
“See? I should’ve just done this from the beginning.”
Kamijou circled behind Floris and destroyed the restraint binding her arms.
“There we go. Ha ha. You’d better be really damn thankful, Floris-kun.”
“Gwaah!? Wait, destroying the restraints that crudely will-…!!”
An alarm began to sound within the train car.
The two of them could sense presences gathering at the front and back of the car. Then they heard physical armor-sounding footsteps clanking.
Floris glared at Kamijou with deathly bloodshot eyes.
“Wh-what are we going to do!? We’re going to be at a complete dead end 10 minutes after this begins!!”
“N-no, it’s too soon to give up!!” Kamijou replied as he headed for the iron door.
In addition to the doors at the front and back of the car, it also had a large sliding door on the side wall for loading. Kamijou removed the latch and used both hands to open the sliding door slightly.
A blast of wind roared into the car.
“Where are we?”
“Aren’t we almost at Folkestone?” replied Floris.
Hearing that, Kamijou looked back out the door and in the direction the train was headed. A green plain spread out before his eyes. However, one glance at the ground quickly flowing along down below made it clear what would happen if they carelessly jumped out.
“Looks like we have to jump,” he said.
“Are you an idiot? You can commit suicide if you want, but I won’t!!”
“No, not that. We’re approaching a river! That’s the only place we can escape at!!”
“Eh? No way. Diving down into a cushion of water from a great height and miraculously surviving is just something from Hollywood. It isn’t going to work in reali-…”
“Let’s go. It won’t be as scary if we hold hands!!”
“E-eh? Wait, this is really gonna kill uuuuuuuusssssssssssss!!”
The freight train was crossing an old stone bridge.
Kamijou had grabbed Floris’s arm while she chattered on and jumped from the open sliding door.
They were roughly 10 meters from the water’s surface.
Perhaps out of fear, Floris was clinging to Kamijou’s body and she looked like she was about to burst a blood vessel as she shouted.
“We’re done for!!”
“No, we’ll be fine. The water will act as a cushion and-…!!”
“That river isn’t even a meter deeeeeeeeep!!”
Kamijou’s eyes turned to dots.
He looked back up and saw a number of knights on the freight train holding longbows. However, their shoulders were relaxed and they looked completely dumbfounded. It was as if they were saying, “My duty says I should shoot them, but that would definitely be a waste of tax money.”
“Ahhh, dammit!!” Floris yelled in midair and her shoulders suddenly started to glow.
Something made of metal parts was attached there and a few thin metal rods like the frame of an umbrella jutted out on both sides seeming to ignore the law of conservation of mass.
“Grab on!! I’m going to try to somehow offset our speed with my wings!!”
A film of light sprouted out connecting the umbrella frame-like rods. Seeing the entire thing spread out like bat wings, Kamijou’s cheek twitched slightly.
(Umm, didn’t she hear me explain my right hand? If she’s trying to lower our speed by using magic, I sense some real misfortune headed my way.)
Various colors of light glowed from Ascalon.
Knight Leader’s long sword was dyed in the single dark-red color that resembled both blood and rust.
The distance between the two swords was less than 10 meters.
“Let’s go,” said William Orwell quietly.
“Come,” Knight Leader quietly responded.
With a tremendous roar, Knight Leader’s long distance strikes attacked William from all directions.
It was the Attack Range type of evolved strike that was constructed from analyzing the spells and spiritual items appearing in the legends of knights from various cultures, putting them together, and condensing them much like a star that grew too large and gave birth to a black hole. It was Knight Leader’s enveloping attack that thoroughly investigated every type of attack that unilaterally attacked the enemy from a seemingly impossible range combined with fired small rust-like sword fragments.
William used only his right hand to swing up his large 3.5 meter sword and then reversed his wrist in order to put the back of the sword in front of him.
The blade glowed crimson.
Crimson indicated the axe.
The mercenary’s attack was fired in a straight line directly down and was not intended to repel the attacks flying in from all directions.
He was aiming for the ground.
With a loud impact, the solid earth below shook.
An area with a radius of 20 meters with William in the center sank deep down. This included where Knight Leader stood and the innumerable strikes he had fired sliced through the air above the head of the mercenary who had sunk down about 3 meters.
Either because his sure-fire attack had missed or because his footing was unstable, Knight Leader’s movements dulled slightly.
It only lasted an instant.
However, William Orwell swung up the blade that was pointing straight down and used his bent over posture to its fullest by explosively stretching his tightened muscles in a charge towards Knight Leader.
The explosive sound of his footsteps came after a slight delay.
The already slipping ground was utterly destroyed.
Ascalon’s glow turned from red to blue. William reversed the double-edged sword with his wrist again in order to bring the thin and sharp razor-like section to the front. He then swung the sword horizontally right in front of Knight Leader so as to slice him in two.
It was as if he were nonverbally saying that Attack Range was no problem for him and that a trick like that would not determine the victor.
“I do not recall saying that Attack Range is the only pattern I can use, you failed mercenary.”
There was no sound.
Knight Leader merely disappeared from before William’s eyes.
Even with his level of kinetic vision, he had been unable to keep up with the enemy’s movements.
“Movement Speed,” said a voice behind him.
Feeling approaching wind pressure, William stabbed his large sword back below his arm without turning around.
The sound of steel clashing with steel rang out.
Perhaps because of the posture he had attacked from, William felt a dull pain run through his wrist.
Ignoring it, the mercenary spun his entire body around.
The blade’s color changed from blue to green. He turned his wrist to turn the back of Ascalon’s blade to the front. He attacked Knight Leader who had gotten behind him with the can opener-like spike.
He was met with an unexpected shock.
He was assaulted with a recoil even greater than when he had received the attack from an unstable position before. William’s body was thrown backwards like he had tried to stab a shovel into a boulder as hard as he could.
The mercenary’s feet slid along the black soil.
A mere 3 cm was all it took to prepare.
In that time, Knight Leader swung his dark red sword up above his head.
With an eerie sound, William gave up on trying to block the attack.
He immediately jumped back to get some distance between them.
He avoided Knight Leaders’ blade by a few millimeters and the blade made contact with the black soil.
The solid earth was split open.
William had to hurriedly jump to the side so as not to be swallowed up by the rift.
An unpleasant noise exploded out.
William Orwell’s side was lightly cut.
By creating that phenomenon, Knight Leader had proven what he had said.
He could use more than just Attack Range.
He also had Slicing Power that could cut through anything, Weapon Weight that created tremendous destructive force, and Movement Speed that made it so no one was able to catch up to him. Although they hadn’t been seen yet, he most likely also had Enduring Solidity that made the sword unable to be destroyed, Special Use that was necessary to slay particular monsters, and Precise Accuracy that automatically had him move toward the enemy’s vital points.
By condensing the legendary spiritual items and spells appearing in the Norse, Celtic, Charlemagnic, Germanic, and other warrior and knight cultures and then condensing them further, he had simplified them down into attack patterns. And by making them his own, he could freely use them as means of attack.
“You are going to die,” quietly reported the man holding the dark red “weapon” as he looked at the blood flowing from William.
What Knight Leader held was no longer Hrunting.
It wasn’t even a sword.
“I have seen all you have. As you are now, you cannot overcome my blade.”
It was merely a weapon.
It was a tool that should not have been created that annihilated all of its enemies whether they were man or monster.
Its strike was overwhelmingly sharp, overwhelmingly heavy, overwhelmingly fast, overwhelmingly tough, and overwhelmingly long, it held specialization to slice in two even monsters that could not be pierced by swords, and it even led its aim towards the enemy’s weak point that would cause the most damage.
Previously, Knight Leader had compared his attack to the explosion of a star.
While everything up to that point had been like a star with insufficient mass that instead became a neutron star or an interstellar cloud, that attack should perhaps be referred to as the ultimate black hole born from a star that grows too large.
Attack Range and Movement Speed did not allow it to be avoided, Slicing Power and Weapon Weight did not allow it to be blocked, and Enduring Solidity did not allow it to be destroyed.
If Knight Leader went all out, he could end the fight in the next strike.
William Orwell would definitely be sliced in two.
Why had he not done so before?
Was it sentiment?
“Will you cast aside your sword and depart from England?” Knight Leader slowly moved the “weapon” that he held in both hands. “Or will you become one with the soil of England along with your sword?” The tip of his longsword pointed towards William who stood at a distance. “Choose. Which do you desire?”
The result was clear.
William was not unscathed. Due to the wound in his left shoulder, he had lost feeling in one arm, he was losing even more blood due to the cut in his side, and he could not use his full potential due to his defeat in Academy City.
If Knight Leader’s ultimate strike was exactly as he described, the mercenary had no way of winning.
As such, it was clear what he had to do.
“…I have one thing to ask you before I choose,” said William with Ascalon in hand.
Knight Leader frowned as the mercenary continued speaking.
“Do you truly think that this country will be saved if you support the second princess and kill the third?” That mercenary was not a talkative person, so there was a reason he felt this was a necessary question. “The first princess is intellect, the second princess is the military, and the third princess is benevolence. …Can you assert that the one you chose and the ones you cut away were the correct ones?”
“…It is difficult to say that it was ideal,” said Knight Leader with a sigh.
Even so, the glint in his eyes did not waver.
“However, history has already begun to move. As time cannot be reversed, I must choose one of the camps. And I choose the most beneficial camp.”
“I see,” muttered William.
He placed his bloody left hand back on Ascalon’s hilt to join his right hand. The white cloth wrapped around it to prevent his hand from slipping was dyed red almost instantly.
“Have you made your decision?” asked Knight Leader remaining motionless. “Have you decided whether you will run or die?”
“No,” William Orwell rejected those options. “My two options are to cut you down or to not cut you down.”
“…I see. It seems you have made your decision.”
Knight Leader sighed.
He wouldn’t directly say it, but William’s goal was most likely to rescue the third princess.
The mercenary’s retreat would more or less guarantee the complete success of the invasion and suppression of the United Kingdom that would lead to the third princess’s execution. As he was her final fortress, it was hard to imagine him fleeing.
“So you truly will not leave.”
“There is no point in speaking,” William immediately responded to Knight Leader’s words.
The head of the knights clicked his tongue.
“To be frank, I cannot stand having to execute Third Princess Villian and I do not like some of Second Princess Carissa’s methods.”
“However, Lady Carissa has already begun her revolution. Every one of this country’s knights knows that she is not someone that can be stopped by mere words.”
The battle was already over.
Holding a sure-fire attack in his hands, Knight Leader spoke some final words to the mercenary.
“Now that history has begun to move, we cannot act lightly. If this revolution remains a civil war for too long, the United Kingdom’s overall power will fall and external enemies will be able to easily defeat us using that opening.”
This was all in accordance with the chivalrous nature of showing mercy to the weak.
The reason the head of the knights wielded his sword lay there from beginning to end.
“To save this country, we must sheathe our weapons and construct a new order. The real problem is who will stand at the top. If that position goes back to her majesty the queen, we cannot escape this crisis. As such, someone else must take the throne. Between the intelligent first princess, the militaristic second princess, and the benevolent third princess, the answer is clear.”
“Pathetic,” spat out William Orwell. “Do you really think you can pile unnecessary phrase upon unnecessary phrase and fill in the pit of your barbarity with the word ‘justice’?”
“And are you still not going to speak?”
“Is it really something I need to say?” said the mercenary as he ignored his wound-covered body.
The head of the knights guessed what the words that would come next would be and spoke.
“So you want to ask me what would happen if the military acted without benevolence? My response is that there is no absolutely correct order of precedence here. We merely decided which card we will choose.”
William held his large sword that held numerous methods of attack and had the knight’s crest brazenly displayed on the side.
“I see. However, I have already indicated what my reason is.”
“Hmph. It too is something that does not need to be said.”
He did not need any chance of victory.
The mercenary gathered more strength in his hands gripping the hilt of the large sword that was dyed in his own blood and glared directly at the head of the knights.
(That is the type of man he was.)
Knight Leader narrowed his eyes slightly and swung his sword up so the forward pointing tip was pointed straight up.
His ultimate strike contained Slicing Power, Weapon Weight, Movement Speed, Enduring Solidity, Attack Range, Special Use, and Precise Accuracy.
“In that case…”
Knight Leader did not hesitate.
He gave his final words to his old friend of an enemy.
“If you will not retreat, you will die.”
They both moved simultaneously.
The explosive noise of a shockwave cut through the dark night.
William Orwell ran.
He ran only forward.
Using all the power he had, he moved in close to his enemy as quickly as he could.
On the other hand, Knight Leader’s single step was not taken to move.
He shifted his weight and swung his sword down using both hands with all his might.
He did not need to run up close to his enemy.
Just by swinging his sword down, he fired off his strike that contained his enormous Attack Range. His overwhelming Movement Speed did not allow one to evade, his overwhelming Slicing Power and Weapon Weight did not allow one to defend, and his overwhelming Enduring Solidity did not allow his sword to be broken.
It was a certain kill.
And Knight Leader mercilessly swung down his longsword the instant before the mercenary reached him.
The sound of the air being sliced reverberated throughout the area.
Immediately afterwards, a slicing attack much too long for the sword that had produced it rushed down on William from above. The mercenary reacted immediately by bringing Ascalon above his head.
The two strikes clashed and were repelled.
Knight Leader’s attack that should have been a certain kill had been stopped.
(…There is nothing here that is worth saying.)
William thought as he ran.
(A certain kill with overwhelming sharpness, weight, speed, toughness, and range. …If he was really using something like that, I wouldn’t have gotten off with just a gash in my shoulder!!)
It was true that Knight Leader could freely use Slicing Power, Weapon Weight, Movement Speed, Enduring Solidity, Attack Range, Special Use, and Precise Accuracy as methods of attack.
However, William had never seen him use more than one at a time.
In other words, he could only use one pattern at a time. If he gave precedence to Slicing Power, Attack Range would fail and if he gave precedence to Attack Range, Weapon Weight would fail. Because each one of Knight Leader’s attacks followed one of the directions to its limit, he could not use them at the same time.
The reason he had not carried out a “certain kill” yet was not because he was hesitating for some reason or another. On a true battlefield, he would have no reason to be unwilling to use his full strength.
Such a convenient ultimate attack simply did not exist.
As such, William had a chance of victory.
For a strike that gave precedence to Attack Range, the mercenary would be able to stop the attack!!
And then William had brought Knight Leader within range.
He swung his 3.5 meter sword horizontally.
“!? Movement Speed!!”
Knight Leader’s arm moved at high speed and he just barely managed to block the mercenary’s attack.
However, there was no weight or toughness behind it.
In response to the full strength blow, Knight Leader was knocked back a bit.
It did not result in even a second of lost time.
In that time, William turned the blade around with his wrist and focused on the spike near the base. He then swung Ascalon again.
The light turned white.
When large swords like the ones William and Knight Leader wielded were used in extreme close quarters, they were not as powerful. That sharp spike attached at near the base of the sword had been prepared to solve that problem. Most likely, its original purpose had been to rip the dragon’s thick nerves from its flesh using the principle of leverage.
William gathered his magic power in one point and its penetrating power increased even further.
If Knight Leader did not stop that attack, he would be defeated.
Immediately after William Orwell said that, the spike near the base that had been installed for close quarters combat slipped past Knight Leader’s defenses and mercilessly pierced into the right side of his chest.
He did it all to save the third princess who was being led around by the military coup d’etat and was to be executed despite having committed no crime.
A loud explosive noise rang out.
There were no longer any birds around to fly off in fright.
More than half of the trees in the surrounding forest had been blown away, so the birds and beasts had long since fled.
Meanwhile, three people were hiding on a different train than Kamijou Touma had been on.
The three people were Agnese, Lucia, and Angelene.
The girls were on a normal ten car train heading from Edinburgh to London. The train was heading down a track that went straight from northern Britain to southern Britain.
However, as the other trains had all been stopped due to the coup d’etat, the train was flying along at a much faster speed than usual and heading right past the stations it would normally stop at.
A cold wind blew on Agnese Sanctis’s cheek.
They were neither within the train nor on its roof. They were on the wall. Lucia specialized in blowing up a giant wooden wheel and attacking with the fragments, but she currently had the sharp fragments sticking into the aluminum wall to use as footholds and handholds.
Holding on like at a climbing wall, Agnese twisted her body in order to peek in a window. The car would have usually held a large number of students and company workers, but the only normal things inside were the bright fluorescent lights. However, there were tools for maintaining swords and armor inside as well as a communications spiritual item that all must have been brought in by the knights.
Seeing that, Agnese spoke while barely moving her mouth.
“(…It looks like they really are keeping the captured nuns in the front cars with the knights gathered in the back of the train.)”
Lucia and Angelene both nodded.
“(…So this is the midway point between them?)”
“(…I-if so, we might be able to rescue them without having to face the knights head on if we disconnect the cars.)”
Most of the nuns of the former Agnese Forces had been captured in Edinburgh. They had not been beheaded there either because they wanted to at least officially have an inquisition so it would be lawful justice instead of an unreasonable slaughter or because Second Princess Carissa wanted to eliminate a large number of old enemies during her coronation as queen.
Either way, the captured nuns did not have a good fate awaiting them when they arrived in London.
As such, it was clear what Agnese and the others had to do.
“(…Let’s get started. Sisters Lucia and Angelene, use your projectile weapons to attack the guards through the window.)”
By attacking the knights from outside the window, they could give the illusion that the train was being sniped from elsewhere. The knights would eventually detect the location of the “snipers”, but that wouldn’t be a problem if they finished things before that could happen.
“(…I will use the Lotus Wand to destroy the link between the cars and then directly attack the disturbed knights. You two cover me.)”
“(…P-please be careful. A preemptive surprise attack is one thing, but we don’t know if the three of us together can actually defeat a single knight in a frontal attack.)”
Angelene looked worried and Agnese was about to lightly strike her face, but she staggered while clinging to the wooden fragments and hurriedly grabbed onto the stake again.
The three nuns nodded to each other and began to move.
Lucia and Angelene moved from wooden fragment to wooden fragment heading for the roof of the train. Watching them go, Agnese moved along the wall to the back of the train car. She was heading for the link between the cars.
“Tutto il paragone. Il quinto dei cinque elementi. Ordina la canna che mostra pace ed ordine. (In accordance with all things. The fifth of the five elements. Open the crosier that symbolizes peace and order.)”
Her weapon, the Lotus Wand, was bound to her shoulder with a rope.
As those words came from her small lips, the wings of the crouched angel statues on the end of the wand opened up like a flower.
“Prima. Segua la legge di Dio ed una croce, Due cose diverse sono connesse. (First idol. In accordance to the laws of the son of god and the cross, link a different object with a different person.)”
When Agnese had gotten near the link, she held onto one of the wooden fragments stuck in the wall using one hand and used the other hand to grip the Lotus Wand.
Her wand ignored distance and directly struck the air itself. The destructive force of the spell was dependent on the strength with which the wand was gripped. In other words, it was dependent on Agnese’s strength.
(Of course, I don’t think I can tear apart a steel connection with the physical strength of my arm.)
She looked down at the gravel flowing by at high speed below her feet.
(If I press the wand against the ground and use the power of the momentum of the train against the connection point, I should be able to destroy it.)
She twisted her body slightly to check the coordinates of the connection and then slowly lowered the bottom of the wand towards the gravel.
Suddenly, the door to the connection area opened and a man in silver armor came out. Agnese was mostly clinging to the automatic door in order to get close to the connection and she franticly tried to hide herself, but it was too late.
However, the communications spiritual item that had been left in one of the seats made a small noise. The knight was in a spot where he would notice Agnese if he turned his head even slightly, but he hurriedly ran toward the spiritual item.
He spoke while listening to the communication.
“That Imagine Breaker snuck aboard the freight train heading for Folkestone? Damn him. Is he planning on retaliating against Lady Carissa?”
“(…Nice one, boy! I love you!!)”
Agnese gestured toward Lucia and Angelene who were waiting on the roof giving them instructions and changed where she was aiming the Lotus Wand.
At the same time as the train’s automatic door was blown away, the roof above the knight’s head collapsed. The knight franticly tried to draw his sword, but the three of them all focused their attacks on him.
Despite the 3 surprise attacks from 3 different directions, the knight still managed to block both Lucia and Angelene’s attacks.
It was foolish to think one could win in a frontal attack against a member of the knights who was borrowing power from Curtana Original and the All-English Continent.
That was why Agnese did not attack the knight himself and instead attacked the floor below his feet.
The knight’s immediate response may have helped her. A normal human would not have been able to step through that floor, but that silver armored foot broke through it like it was made of Styrofoam.
Of course, that was not enough to defeat a veteran knight.
(Not good. If I apply any more power, this car itself will be broken in half and the Anglican prisoners kept in the front cars will slip from our fingers!!)
To think through that much in an instant and immediately stop moving, the knight must have been fairly clever.
The dull noise of an impact reverberated throughout the car as a strike from Agnese’s Lotus Wand ignored space and mercilessly attacked the knight’s body. Ignoring the presence of the thick armor, it directly struck his flesh-and-blood body.
It hit him in one of a human’s weak points.
Specifically, it hit the knight’s crotch.
Like the moment after two samurai exchanged iai strikes in a historical drama, the knight remained motionless for a few seconds.
Finally, he muttered a few words.
“…That was an unchivalrous attack…”
It must have been due to the effects of Curtana and the All-English Continent that he did not collapse after that single strike.
Giving a snort, Agnese Sanctis puffed up her chest and gave her rebuttal.
“Yeah, well I’m a nun!!”
That unpleasant noise of an impact could be repeatedly heard coming from the same spot and the knight’s armor trembled. Due to his helmet, his expression could not be seen, but it would most likely have been quite a sight to behold.
“Hm, it seems my attack is the most effective because it ignores distance. I can just directly strike the flesh and blood body within the thick armor,” Agnese said as she poked the motionless knight with the wand to see if he would still attempt to resist.
“Ah wah wah wah wah!” yelled Angelene as her face turned bright red. Perhaps to turn her focus elsewhere, she headed for the communications spiritual item to intercept some of the knights’ information.
“U-umm…It seems that spiky-haired boy escaped the freight train with a female magician from New Light.”
“Really, what is going on? Although I suppose that’s more or less business as usual for that boy.”
“A-and it seems they failed in diving into a river, struck the water’s surface, and floated downstream where they happened to run into Third Princess Villian who was also fleeing. The knights are pursuing the three of them.”
“What kind of situation is that!? The Japanese Momotaro!?” Lucia snapped back and Angelene’s shoulders shuddered.
“D-don’t ask me… S-Sister Agnese, can’t you say something, too….Eee!!”
When Angelene looked back in Agnese’s direction, she let out a scream.
She saw Agnese trying to get more information out of the defeated knight by force. She was moving the Lotus Wand in a rather questionable manner.
“Oh. So you like being struck more than being caressed? Ah ha ha. What are you trying to tell me with that twitching body of yours? Oh, what’s this? You react here, too? You seem to be much more sensitive here. Hee hee hee. A gentleman like you feels good having someone mess with his hole? What a pervert. How about I stick this wand all the way up there directly?”
“G-gyaaaaahhhh!! S-Sister Agnese is in her full-blown naughty mood!!”
“…Sister Angelene. Why is this surprising you now? Sister Agnese was acting like this in the incomplete Orsola Church during the Book of the Law incident.”
“Y-yes, b-but…I thought Sister Agnese was actually a lovely pure maiden!! I thought being seen naked by that boy was a new thing for her!!”
“Yes. Sister Agnese is the type of person that loves to flip up others’ skirts but hates having her own skirt flipped up.”
“Th-that’s horrible!?” said a flustered Angelene.
“…I recall you doing something similar,” said Lucia with a sigh of exasperation. “We should probably stop her soon. That may merely be a method to gather intelligence with no love or lust behind it, but it looks like that knight is going to fall into depravity if we don’t stop it now.”
“C-can we really stop Sister Agnese now that she’s this far gone!?”
“Returning her to her senses is simple. Don’t you remember what I just said?”
Lucia stared at Agnese’s ass while Agnese was too lost in operating the Lotus Wand to notice their conversation.
“Sister Angelene. This is a job for you. As I said, Sister Agnese is the type of person that hates having her own skirt flipped up.”
Two silhouettes appeared in the dark night.
One was William Orwell.
The other was Knight Leader.
The two stood perfectly still, despite having moved here at beyond the speed of sound. Knight Leader's longsword, having failed its defense, became awkwardly rooted in mid-air; William took the spike at the base of his greatsword and drove it past Knight Leader's defenses and into the right side of his chest.
The spike fitted on the back of the grip wasn't in the same size range as a nail.
Matching the greatsword's full length of 3.5 meters, the spike was practically a stake.
Realistically, even if the attack wasn't instantly fatal, the right ribs must have been pulverized.
The two faces hidden by the darkness were mirrored.
One was in anguish.
The other was aloof.
the expression of anguish belonged to William,
and it was Knight Leader who was aloof.
While William's strike wasn't meant to be fatal, its destructive force should have been enough to ensure that Knight Leader became immobilized.
But in truth, there wasn't a single wound on him.
The spike which should have been rooted into his chest hadn't even penetrated the cloth of his suit, let alone draw a single drop of blood.
The unnatural sponge-like sensation naturally brought an expression of doubt to William's face.
(The impact was displaced... no, that can't be. Is this...?!)
"Do you know of a Norse warrior called Thororm?"
Knight Leader spoke without a change in his expression, as the spike continued to push against his chest.
"He used a magic which had the power to reduce the sharpness of an enemy's blade to zero. Thus, no attack could harm him, while Thororm's would be the only sword which could cut at the opposition."
"I have constructed a technique by which I can reduce the offensive power of any and all armaments I recognise as such to zero. And I will let you know, that it makes no distinction between science or magic. Theoretically, it can neutralise even a nuclear weapon. As for those against which it has been proven... yes, it should be able to handle something on a level similar to the slashing attack wielded by the Saint of the Far East, designed to fight divinity."
Knight Leader slowly shook his head.
I told you that I had prepared multiple trump cards, he continued.
"It is effective against each weapon for ten minutes at best. Of course, there is no need to consider arrows and bullets once they have fallen to the ground, and bombs would not suddenly explode ten minutes after their first attempt failed, though that would necessitate the prevention of any further 'explosive triggers' - not that this relates to you. In any case, I have simply created a grace period of ten minutes... but you should know well what end awaits one who presents that much time to his enemy on a true field of battle."
Knight Leader glared directly at William.
"I was subjected to a terrible ambush at Dover, long ago - it was enough so that I wished to take measures against something like this."
Using his bare hands and seemingly holding the sword by the blade, William drew back Ascalon swiftly. Once he had opened some distance, he released several slashes, each in a different attack method.
The light was red - an axe-like thick blade to cleave at the sinews of the evil dragon.
"Turn to zero."
The light was blue - a razor-like thin blade to cut away at the fat of the evil dragon.
"Turn to zero."
The light was green - a churchkey spike in the blade to tear off the scales of the evil dragon.
"Turn to zero."
The light was yellow - a fretsaw wire nestled on the blade to disembowel the evil dragon.
"Turn to zero."
The light was purple - a giant saw on the back to severe the bones of the evil dragon.
"Turn to zero."
The light was pink - a hook spike attached to the pommel to pull out the fangs of the evil dragon.
"Turn to zero."
The light was white - a close-combat spike near the grip to gouge out the nerves of the evil dragon.
"That's already been turned to zero!! Are you quite done yet?!"
The series of booming noises suddenly ceased.
Ascalon, being swung at the closest possible distance, was seized by the bare hands of Knight Leader, like it was a styrofoam board. They glared at each other, as William put even more power into his grip of the greatsword with a grinding sound.
Knight Leader, standing atop an absolute advantage, readied his red-black sword with his other hand.
"This is the end."
Their gaze clashed in the minimum distance between the unmoving pair.
Knight Leader, while holding down the greatsword of the mercenary, said with a steady voice,
"Or you can forgo weapons and use magic - yes, in your case, you might be able to kill me with your runes or such. Perhaps you would like to try?"
His suggestion wasn't made seriously - his tone had conveyed that.
The speed of William and Knight Leader were equal. If he were to neglect the techniques which governed his body in favor of other kinds of magic, he would be quickly cut down and killed.
"This power was lent to me to protect England through the Original Curtana. A mercenary who would throw the country into chaos for his own sentiments without any thoughts of consequences, will never be able to kill me."
Knight Leader aimed his red-black sword at William.
Able to kill the mercenary with one more swing, he spoke again, at the last.
"Ascend to Heaven, together with the Third Princess."
"...You still don't know it yet?"
It was then that he heard these words spat out.
They were coming from the old friend and enemy before him.
"I hadn't thought that I would need to say this on purpose."
The doubtful Knight Leader then looked at the sword he had sealed with his own hands, Ascalon.
Or rather, he saw on its side - a coat of arms, fixed by metal.
"You - what are you thinking? What are you planning?"
"You're being a pest. Even now, you still ask with words?"
Hearing this, Knight Leader became even more dubious.
William Orwell was not a simple optimist. In a way, perhaps he was more intimate with the tragedies of war than the one who had remained in England, Knight Leader himself.
A mercenary like that should understand - between 'military affairs' and 'human virtues', which strategy should be supported to better protect England. Eliminating Carissa to support Villian - with her mentality, they wouldn't be able to repel even France, the country which would become the spearhead of the Roman Catholic Church.
This man always had a core.
However, it was unthinkable that this road to destruction would be constructed on William's own steady heart.
Wasn't there something that Knight Leader was mistaking?
What was it that the mercenary called William Orwell was fighting for?
And again, he looked at the weapon wielded by William.
Or rather, to the escutcheon attached to the base of the sword.
That coat of arms had originally been meant for when a certain mercenary was to be dubbed with knighthood.
In the end, that chance had been lost, and a white space would forever haunt the halls of Buckingham Palace.
The shield was split into four and painted in blue with various patterns.
Above that were arranged three creatures in green - the Dragon, the Unicorn, and the Selkie.
(It can't be!)
Four sections and three creatures.
There was only one thing that these could represent.
(It can't be!!)
The blue foundation was England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
The green creatures were 'the Royal Family', 'the Knights', and 'the Church'.
This coat of arms represented the complete harmony of the organization known as the United Kingdom.
For this mercenary, it was not a matter of killing who or supporting which.
His wish - disregarding both the Second or the Third Princess - was to combine the strength of the three sisters and the Queen.
"...Are you serious?"
Knight Leader groaned.
"Is that what you are really thinking?"
Against this, William Orwell's hard face loosened slightly.
As though he was saying, so your thoughts have finally reached that far?
"I've already said that there's no meaning in saying it."
"That doesn't matter."
Despite this situation of absolute despair, William replied with frightening ease.
"This is not a 'reason' covered by words, meant to be understood by millions. As you have said to me again and again, all along, this was just the personal sentiment of a worthless mercenary. I won't say that this should end with words. You simply need to act according to your beliefs, wordlessly."
Strangely, it was here that Knight Leader was lost for words.
On the other hand, as the mercenary had said, their swords would not be stopped here.
No matter how he thought about it, it was for the sake of England that they carried out this reform.
If the Second Princess didn't come into power during this dangerous situation, there was no telling how many enemies may advance upon them.
(...In the end, it doesn't change what needs to be done.)
They had both presented their reasons.
Words were not necessary.
One of them would win, and one of them would lose.
That was all there was in their world.
(However, now that you have lost all your weapons, you stand no chance.)
Knight Leader had already stopped Ascalon in his grasp, and his own sword was ready to cut down William at any moment.
Thororm's technique to reduce a weapon's offensive power to zero was only active for about ten minutes. His mission had to be executed before his powerful foe, William Orwell could recover his weapons.
"I will have to settle this now."
It happened right after this frank reply caused slight doubt to appear on Knight Leader's face.
Immediately, William Orwell put all his strength into Ascalon and pulled at the grip - only for that grip to abruptly slip out.
Knight Leader, now holding onto the blade of Ascalon temporarily bereft of power, felt his balance topple slightly.
(He destroyed it himself?)
Though he thought this, it was not correct.
Extending from William Orwell's grip was a blade over 1 meter long.
It was the last grand sword, hidden within the 3.5 meters long greatsword.
Normally, a part of the blade's steel would be imbedded within the grip (or it is caught between two sheets and used as the grip) and then kept in place by screws or wedges, to prevent the blade coming off the hilt when it was swung.
For Ascalon, it was the opposite.
Stowed in the greatsword, nestled in the shape of the steel imbedded in the grip, was yet another smaller sword.
It was a trick only possible because of the sword itself being overly large.
because it was hidden, Knight Leader did not recognize the sword.
William turned his back to him, as though trying to hide the sword behind his large frame. And from that stance, he twisted his body at a high speed, releasing a blow on a horizontal track.
The air was cracked with a resounding woosh.
For the first time, Knight Leader's expression changed. He had moved back with all his might; his suit was ripped, and a wound like a straight line ran across his chest. A spray of red liquid followed after.
Wasn't the Thororm of Norse mythology killed by a hidden blade that came flying out from under a sleeve?
The words pierced his heart, heavier than nails.
His last resort, his continual fighting spirit, and his wordless strike.
Considering this the proof of William Orwell's legitimacy, Knight Leader involuntarily roared out.
It was not only Knight Leader who shouted.
William Orwell, the last grand sword in his hand - or perhaps this blade was the true core of the spirit weapon Ascalon - chased down the retreating Knight Leader, breaching his defenses.
Whether from his gouging wound, or his blood loss, Knight Leader's movements became dull.
However, it was not a fatal wound.
He still possessed two means.
Either to cleave at William's body with his red-black longsword,
or to render William's sword powerless with Thororm's technique.
(Crush the sword.)
He made a prompt decision.
(Even if this mercenary is killed, if that sword which symbolizes his conviction remains, it won't be my victory!)
Because he believed in his own justice,
he would not settle for an easy retreat, but instead would completely trample over the justice of his foe.
Ignoring the pain of the shallow wound in his chest, Knight Leader moved to crush William's last weapon. If he could manage this one stroke, afterwards it would become a one-sided offense in his favor.
"Turn to zer-!!"
The mouth that tried to speak, stopped.
There was no blade in William Orwell's hands.
Both his hands were on the grip, but the blade which should have been above that wasn't there.
The technique of Thororm which Knight Leader controlled could select as a target any object he recognized as a weapon, and turn its offensive power to zero.
Reversely, it could not interfere with weapons that could not be recognized as such.
It was then that he saw a glitter, something shining.
Extending from the sword grip William was wielding was an extremely small wire. And the mercenary's thumb was touching a button-like object on the grip.
(He shot it upwards?!)
Most likely, he would have relied on Knight Leader missing the timing of the strike, connecting the blade to the hilt again by rolling up the wire, and releasing a second strike.
While it surely would have dealt great damage to him had it succeeded,
(It is over once I have discovered it! Turn to-!!)
Just as he shifted his gaze from William directly before him to above his head, something moved in the corner of his eye.
It was a branch about 2 meters long, thick as a human arm.
Having broken and fallen onto the ground, William stepped on one of its ends, forcing it to stand up like a seesaw.
The blade from above, or the branch from below.
While they were both weapons, it didn't even need to be said which was more dangerous.
(You thought, that you can buy time?!)
Without hesitation, Knight Leader's gaze moved up.
He turned the offensive power of the grand sword that would fatally wound him, to zero.
Confident in his assured victory, he put more power into his two-handed grip of the red-black sword.
However, there was an abnormality.
The sword grip William held, and the small wire that connected it to its floating blade; something like tree sap came bursting out of what was strictly speaking a microscopic tube. Hardening like glue once it contacted the air, spikes flew out in every direction, and was reborn as a primitive club.
It had changed to the weapon William Orwell cherished above all else, the giant mace.
(Will I make it?)
This was the final blow.
It would be his victory if he could hold against this attack; it would be William's if his attack could overcome him.
Knight Leader focused his attention on the giant mace closing in right before his eyes.
(Turn to zero!!)
The ruined mercenary swung his mace down with all the strength in him.
The master of the knights, with no thought of defense, answered him with a swing of his red-black longsword.
The two giant weapons clashed.
Boom!! A rumbling noise exploded.
The unpleasant oscillations of crushed flesh echoed across the surroundings.
At that instant,
in the last moment, Knight Leader's technique had exercised its effect.
The giant mace and stake that William Orwell wielded had its offensive power reduced to zero; even if it was a direct attack which surpassed the speed of sound, it was not in a situation capable of damaging Knight Leader at all.
Within the darkness, the two men became still.
Regardless of who saw it, the result would be obvious.
Knight Leader opened his mouth first.
He could freely control the 'pattern' of a weapon that appeared in mythology, using it as an attack method. For the final strike, what he chose was 'cutting power', the might to cleave everything apart. Against a blade which could rend the earth just by touching it, even if the opponent was a Saint, a direct hit would be fatal.
"Good grief, what a dull ending."
The mercenary did not reply to his words.
And then, Knight Leader's body quivered and swayed to the side.
William's mace was sunken into the side of his neck.
Or rather, the grip of the mace - and the sword.
Under closer scrutiny, it was a part of the mechanism which shot out the blade - the small clasp which secured the blade to the grip, and which had protruded slightly, buried in his neck.
Knight Leader could select anything he recognized as a weapon to be a target, reducing its offensive power to zero. Reversely, even if it was something right in front of him the entire time, as long as he didn't recognize it as a weapon, he could not interfere with its offensive power.
"It's been 10 years since we separated... I thought... I'd trained myself enough... but, it's just another ambush, like Dover, huh..."
His red-black sword, thrown off its path by William's attack, slipped from his hand and fell far away onto the group.
"Even so... to shame, a knight... what a, conceited man... Certainly, to have... added, my name... onto your coat of arms... of English unity..."
The match had been decided.
"Now, that I think about... you... were always, that kind of man..."
His body leaned further, and he fell onto the ground.
He wasn't dead.
Like being hit by the back side of a katana, he was knocked unconscious by the strike on the neck.
Even if he couldn't interfere with its offensive power, in the first place, Knight Leader wasn't so weak a man as to die from a single clasp. And William Orwell, knowing this, took it upon himself to decide the outcome of the last attack relying on that small clasp.
The reason was clear.
"After all, I'm just a shallow, ruined, rogue mercenary. Compared to you formal knights, I fight with much less restraint."
Alone, the mercenary muttered this.
"I'm sorry to say that, I didn't bring a suitable blade for cutting an old friend."
It was idle talk - rare enough for him.
Kamijou Touma arrived at Folkestone.
He was shivering and soaking wet with river water, but he wasn’t about to complain about it. Perhaps from the tension of being right in the middle of the enemy lines, his senses had begun to dim.
(Dammit. Which way is the Eurotunnel terminal!? I hope Index hasn’t been taken from there…)
Kamijou stared into the darkness of the mountain forest road that had no street lights.
He had met the mysterious magician girl Floris and Third Princess Villian on the way there, but they were no longer with him. The three of them had run into an Amakusa scout and the two girls had been taken in by the Amakusas. It seemed they had received information from Agnese that they were in Folkestone, so the Amakusas who had used a rescue seaplane to get to the area had sent out scouts to look for them. For some reason, Floris had yelled out “Y-you tricked me, you bastard!!” upon seeing the Amakusas, and Kamijou looked puzzled as he wondered what that had been about.
It seemed a powerful enemy named Knight Leader was in Folkestone protecting Second Princess Carissa. He had defeated a Saint like Kanzaki Kaori and his whereabouts were currently unknown.
They wanted to avoid a pursuit after the wounded Kanzaki and an important person like the third princess was there too, so the Amakusas had no choice but to choose an inevitable defensive battle. It seemed they were currently hiding to escape the knights’ search and then find an opening to get the rescue seaplane moving.
“We could always break formation and send a few people with you…”
When one of the Amakusas had told him that, Kamijou almost accepted the offer, but he had decided against it and thought through the situation calmly.
“No, you need to focus on the rescue plane. We can’t have Villian get captured again. And isn’t Kanzaki having healing magic cast on her? Instead of coming with me, you should get her back to the battle as soon as possible.”
“After I save Index, how am I going to escape Folkestone? I’m telling you to guard the goal point. That makes me feel safer.”
By indirectly bringing them all together as a large group, he had finally got the Amakusa members to reluctantly understand. It seemed they didn’t like abandoning others.
Third Princess Villian was the top priority target for the knights.
It made sense to have all of the Amakusa’s strength focused on protecting her and Kanzaki.
(…Itsuwa’s face was all red and the others were physically holding her back from going with me. She must have really wanted to save Index. I guess the two of them must have become friends during all that Acqua of the Back stuff.)
Kamijou had no problem thinking that, although that probably would have gotten him stabbed with a spear if Itsuwa had heard it.
At any rate, he was currently alone.
Kamijou suddenly lifted his head up.
He had heard a noise.
Immediately afterwards, a shockwave like blast pounded at his ears.
He rather pointlessly kneeled down and looked up.
However, he still couldn’t see anything in the darkness.
He could tell nothing good would come of approaching whatever it was, but he couldn’t save Index if he didn’t charge in the direction of danger.
Kamijou slowly headed for the source of the noise.
He had been walking on a small paved road with fallen leaves on it. At some point though, it turned to a cracked and broken mess that was difficult to walk on. Even further along, the black soil was torn up and thick trees were knocked over.
As before, there were no street lights.
However, there was a light source.
Something was about 10 meters ahead of him.
He thought it was a carriage.
On the front of the very old looking vehicle hung something that looked like a glass lamp with reflectors surrounding it on 3 sides. It might have been the predecessor to the flashlight known as a lamp. It seemed to actually be using fire instead of some kind of imitation. The light illuminating the darkness occasionally flickered.
However, that was not the only light.
Light was also being given off by sparks from clashing swords and steel suits of armor.
It was a true battlefield where human fought against human.
Looking closer, the carriage was not undamaged.
One of its four wheels was broken causing the carriage to lean unnaturally.
The battle was expanding out around the area of the broken carriage. Actually, it was perhaps wrong to refer to it as a battle. At the very least, it did not look like a battle between people who were evenly matched.
The numerous knights wearing silver armor were attacking from various angles.
In the center stood a man wielding a 3.5 meter sword.
Something happened, but Kamijou’s eyes could not follow it.
He could only tell that attacks and defenses had developed at an overwhelming speed resulting in great showers of sparks exploding from the silver armor and the knights being knocked far, far away.
One of them landed right next to Kamijou.
It hadn’t been a coincidence.
Without moving his head, the man standing in the middle stared at Kamijou just by moving his eyes.
A muscular body.
A blue outfit.
A gigantic weapon.
Seeing all those together, a chill ran down Kamijou Touma’s spine. The feeling was nothing as vague as a foreboding. Danger signals erupted within Kamijou Touma due to his experience in Academy City’s 22nd district when he had been driven to the very brink of death.
The cause of that experience stared Kamijou in the eye and spoke.
“Hm. Now that is a face it annoys me to see again.”
“Acqua…of the Back!?” Kamijou yelled without thinking.
That large man wielded an exceptionally great power even for a member of God’s Right Seat. He had been repelled once in Academy City, but that had been with the help of every Amakusa member as well as Kanzaki Kaori, a Saint. Even then, they had just barely won.
(He’s…alive!? I thought he had blown up in the underground city’s lake back then! Don’t tell me he survived even that and then escaped Academy City!!)
In his confusion, Kamijou still managed to come up with a number of possibilities.
His stiffened body shook.
(But why is Acqua here? Is God’s Right Seat trying to make this pain-in-the-ass coup d’etat even worse!?)
Kamijou didn’t know why that man was there, but he definitely wasn’t someone Kamijou could deal with on his own.
Kamijou gritted his teeth and muttered to himself not realizing he was doing so out loud.
“(…Dammit. And everything was bad enough with this coup d’etat. Just how much misfortune can be packed into a coincidence!?)”
“This is no coincidence,” Acqua responded to Kamijou’s muttering despite standing quite a bit away.
While Kamijou became even more cautious of the sharpness of the man’s senses, Acqua casually pointed towards the broken carriage.
“If your long term goal is to resolve this coup d’etat and your short term goal is to recover Index Librorum Prohibitorum, then there are a few points where the actions we must take are the same.”
“What?” said Kamijou as he turned his gaze in the direction Acqua was pointing.
Through the half-open door of the carriage, he saw a cloth that looked like the hood to a nun’s habit sticking out. It was not a normal hood. It was white with gold embroidery like a teacup.
“Index!!” he yelled, but no response came.
He wanted to run over to the carriage right then, but it was too dangerous to take his focus off of Acqua.
In contrast to Kamijou’s intense caution, Acqua seemed not to be all that interested in Kamijou. He indifferently turned his back on Kamijou and started moving from the carriage.
“If your goal is to recover her, you should do so quickly. In a way, this place is more dangerous than a conquered city like London.”
Kamijou stared suspiciously at the God’s Right Seat member who was oddly lacking in hostility.
However, the situation did not stop there.
“Hm. From the look of things, I suppose Knight Leader was defeated,” said a sudden voice.
Kamijou and Acqua turned in that direction just in time to see a woman walk out from between some trees. She was a member of the Royal Family who wore a basically red dress with red leather covering various areas. In her right hand, she held a sword with no tip or blade.
“I ordered him to bring me two heads while I was having this fit my hand, but he quits just from getting wounded? He does nothing but add to my troubles.”
She was Second Princess Carissa.
She was the leader of the coup d’etat.
Kamijou put himself on guard, but the second princess was not looking in his direction.
She was staring at Acqua while slightly swinging Curtana Original.
“What a pain in the ass. With him gone, I have to deal with all the small fries myself.”
“Your troubles will soon be gone because this coup d’etat ends here.”
“Don’t underestimate me so much. Did you forget that I hold Curtana Original?”
The second princess smiled faintly while looking at Acqua hold up his giant sword.
He was not aiming for Carissa. He hit a nearby large tree with the side of the sword and used the shockwave to knock Kamijou away.
Meanwhile, Second Princess Carissa raised the strange sword above her head.
“This is a ceremonial sword that was originally used to cut the United Kingdom apart from the planet Earth and control everything within the kingdom. If I apply that special quality, I can even do this.”
She curtly swung down the sword.
In the next instant, Kamijou Touma saw a dimension being severed for the first time in his life.
Its range was a little less than 20 meters.
With a strange noise, something passed through along a line that Kamijou and Acqua had been on just a moment before. Something like a belt or a wall that was only about as wide as Curtana Original expanded. It was white and looked a little like a plastic model before it was colored. That object that looked not entirely complete appeared before Kamijou’s eyes.
“I could feel it when I was practicing before. This spiritual item is quite old, but its disposition seems to change a bit when someone wields it based on modern military knowledge. …Well, I’m sure my mother would be able to do something similar because she has the same nature.” A tone of enjoyment could be heard in Carissa’s voice. “Did you know that the cross section you get by slicing a 3 dimensional object is 2 dimensional? And slicing a 2 dimensional object creates a 1 dimensional cross section.”
With a clunk, the mysterious belt-shaped object that had been irrationally floating in the air fell to the ground right next to Kamijou.
It felt something like pottery, but it was actually extremely heavy despite how it looked. Even after it fell, it continued to sink into the black soil.
“Similarly, when a dimension higher than our 3 dimensions is sliced, the cross section appears in this world in a 3 dimensional form. As a result, the ruins of a cross section appears like this.”
The second princess rested Curtana Original on her shoulder.
She was not attacking.
Even so, the dimension was sliced apart in the trajectory of her sword and a colorless belt-shaped object fell to her feet.
“This simultaneously severs every dimension at the coordinates whether they are higher dimensions or lower dimensions. It seems the only cross section objects created that we can perceive are the ones that can appear in a 3 dimensional world.”
Kamijou was completely dumbfounded.
If what she was saying was true, that sword was a monstrous weapon that could cut right through dimensions which did exist but were more of a concept than anything. No matter how much steel someone used to protect his body, Curtana Original could cut right through the dimension to cleave him in two.
Even so, Kamijou did not feel any fear. The scale was simply too great. Apparently the universe was constantly expanding due to the big bang, but no one could concretely feel the universe expanding with their 5 senses. Second Princess Carissa was using a power on that level.
“All Dimensions Severing Spell.”
Carissa spun Curtana Original around with a snap of her wrist and a smile slowly spread across her face as the ruins of the world that were the cross section objects spilled about.
“This is the first I’ve used this, but it’s much easier to use than I expected. If it has a flaw, it’s that it makes things too easy which takes some of the fun out of it.”
Finally, Kamijou brought his brain out of its state of shock.
Second Princess Carissa was the leader of the coup d’etat.
He had had a proper conversation with her in Buckingham Palace and even laughed with her. He didn’t want to get in a fist fight with her if he could help it, but it looked as if it would be difficult to end things with just a discussion. And if he screwed up, Index, who was unconscious in the carriage, would be in danger.
(…Dammit. I guess we’ll have the discussion after we fight!!)
Carissa held up her sword that could slice through not just a manmade nuclear shelter but the earth and the universe itself.
Kamijou glanced over at Acqua.
Could he trust him?
Whatever anyone said, it didn’t change the fact that Acqua was a member of the Roman Catholic Church’s God’s Right Seat. But he had been fighting the knights led by Knight Leader before.
It seemed they had a common enemy.
Kamijou hesitated a bit, but it seemed he didn’t have time to think about it.
“Hey, can you buy me some time?”
Acqua frowned like usual when Kamijou spoke to him without taking his eyes off Carissa.
He ignored Kamijou, but the boy continued to speak.
“It looks like that dangerous cutting ability is only on the edges of the sword. The sides must be normal steel. You just need to hit that part with your sword to make her stagger for even a second. Then I’ll destroy that spiritual item with my right hand.”
“Oh, how scary,” Carissa said in a clearly mocking tone of voice. “If I remember correctly, that’s your patented Imagine Breaker.”
She stopped spinning Curtana Original around.
The flat end with no tip was pointed down.
With the sword completely frozen in place, she spoke.
“So allow me to show you how I deal with that.”
Carissa stabbed the end of Curtana Original into the ground.
The great noise of a shockwave pounded on Kamijou’s ears.
With the second princess in the center, a dome-shaped storm of destruction with a radius of 500 meters erupted.
She had most likely taken the flow of magic power focused on the all dimension severing spell and changed it to a different route. Although the created destructive power was not as high as the power needed to slice through other dimensions, shockwaves were scattered evenly in all directions in the 3 dimensional world.
It was basically an explosion.
The ground was torn up, trees were knocked down, and the large wall of destruction reached Kamijou in an instant.
As he yelled, Kamijou held up his right hand.
However, that failed.
The power was both too great and too continuous, so Kamijou’s right hand was not enough to completely negate it. He had lost his memories, so he only had the knowledge, but he was forcibly reminded of Innocentius and Dragon Breath.
A terrible pressure attacked his right hand, he heard the unpleasant noise of his bones creaking, and pain ran up his arm.
Pushed by that power, it took less than 2 seconds for his feet to be lifted from the ground.
Once he was in the air, the rest was simple.
Kamijou’s body flew further up into the air.
The dome-shaped explosion had a radius of 500 meters.
Kamijou’s body was fired diagonally up by its force until he was 200 meters up in the night sky. In the instant when the force pushing him up and gravity were in equilibrium, Kamijou Touma floated motionless in the air and looked at the sparse night view of Folkestone.
(What do I do…?)
The countdown for his fall began.
And Kamijou’s right hand did not have a convenient power that would allow him to land safely from a fall of 200 meters.
(What do I do!?)
The always present force of gravity bared its fangs towards Kamijou Touma.
Between the lines 3
Queen Elizard was riding a horse.
She was not riding along an elegantly maintained dirt course meant for horse riding. Instead, she was on a narrow paved road heading from Windsor to London. Just a bit before, she had been travelling through a dark forest, but now gentle pastures stretched out before her all the way to the horizon.
(…Really. The British flag is a fusion of the flags of England, Scotland, and the others as a symbol of our union and yet we’re completely scattered. It looks like I really have to recover that from London to bring us all together again…)
She had travelled about 50 kilometers.
Compared to the previous forest and hills, the path was not all that complex. (If she ignored the speed limit) she might have been able to arrive in London in only 30 minutes using a car.
(It looks like this is the limit for a horse even if it is militarily trained.)
Elizard sighed as she held the reins.
Some of the thoroughbreds that appeared in horse races could run faster than a car, but that speed was only possible on a soft surface like dirt or a lawn. If a horse dashed at full speed atop hard asphalt, its hooves would break.
Also, horse tracks were like short or medium length races to the horses, so they couldn’t keep those speeds up for a longer distance of 50 kilometers.
As a result, the queen was moving along at about 20 to 30 kph while taking occasional short breaks to ensure she didn’t wear out the horse.
(The horse is wearing special horseshoes for public roads and I could increase its physical strength and stamina with one of my spells…but I suppose I shouldn’t force it. This would go much faster if I could use the large scale magic circles placed occasionally along the old road that increase the horse’s horse power, but I can’t exactly do that.)
The magic circles along the old road were under the jurisdiction of the British government, so people under the influence of the second princess would be able to tell she was using them. If that happened, things were sure to get much more troublesome.
Her slow progress did not bring an irritated expression to the queen’s face.
Instead, Elizard’s gaze held pity for the horse she was overusing.
“Sorry for having you come along with me in such a dangerous situation.”
The horse did not understand human language of course, but the queen spoke to it regardless. The horse did not respond, but there was no dissatisfaction, fear, or confusion in its strong movements. As she watched the mass of muscles propelling her ever forward, the queen decided that she had been blessed with a truly excellent subordinate.
A car’s headlights then came shining from behind.
Thinking it might be pursuit from the knights or the Royal Family, she focused on Curtana Second as it hung from her hip, but that was not who it was.
A gaudy youth riding in a gaudy convertible drove right up next to Elizard and the military horse. The man in the driver’s seat was gaudy, but so was the woman in the passenger seat.
Actually, looking closer….
“Yaaay! The hitchhiking was a success!”
“Y-you’re kidding, right!? You really stayed there in the forest waiting for a car to come by!?”
Sitting in the passenger seat, Laura Stuart smiled and nodded towards Elizard who was sitting atop the horse in shock.
The edges of the gaudy youth’s lips bent up.
“At first I was afraid because I thought she was some kind of hitchhiking ghost, but it turned out she was just an annoying pervert. I was just going to throw her out somewhere around here, but if you know her, can you take her?”
“Sorry about that. I’ll take that other-worldly idiot.”
Elizard sincerely apologized, grabbed the woman in the passenger seat with an arm, and pulled her over onto the back of the horse.
At that point, the man holding the convertible’s steering wheel finally got around to noticing something.
“Huh? Is that a horse? That’s a horse!”
“…Of course it is.”
“Gyah ha ha! That horse just said brrr! It said brr! Oh, wow! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a horse this up close before! Let me get a picture!”
“No, don’t take out your cell phone, you idiot! The flash will scare the horse! And you shouldn’t use your cell phone while driving!!”
“Okay, here goes.”
Ching-a-ling-a-ling! With a ridiculous electronic noise, he took the picture.
Elizard reflexively made her perfect queen’s smile that she used for photos.
“Aw, shit. The horse is all blurry. You can’t tell what it is at all. It looks like the old woman on top is ascending into heaven or something. Wait…? I think I’ve seen you before. Are you one of my aunts or something?”
Still smiling, Queen Elizard reached for Curtana Second.
The ceremonial sword may have only had a fifth of its power left, but it could still slice something as trifling as a dimension.
With a slicing noise, the convertible’s radiator was cut clean off and the coolant leaking out led to the engine burning out.
The queen gave a “hmph” of triumph in the direction of the convertible that had stalled and would no longer start.
“Aww. You ruined the car I waited so long for.”
“Kh! Oh, no! I could have saved a lot of time by taking that car and heading to London!!”
Hearing Laura’s words, Elizard now regretted what she had done, but she turned her thoughts back in a positive direction.
She grabbed the horse’s reins again.
“Well, I suppose I can’t just leave you behind here.”
Elizard and Laura Stuart headed off in the direction of London.