Chrome Shelled Regios:Volume14 Chapter 2

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Chapter 2: Beasts of the Moonlight Bare Their Fangs[edit]

Layfon had spaced out as he looked at the ceiling.....

".............."

Leerin was also looking at the ceiling. She was living in a room prepared for her in the palace. Since it was impossible to move her into the Eutnohl house right away, Alsheyra had prepared this room for her. She had also introduced the maids who were to look after Leerin and who also made Leerin really uncomfortable. However, the maids didn't seem to care and they accepted her naturally. They had been looking after her until she fell asleep.

Leerin could breathe easily, as she was finally alone.

The bed was the same design as the one in Saya's room, with a similar ceiling too. The bounciness of the bed that Leerin had never experienced before made her unable to calm down and sleep.

So one couldn't say she wanted to look at the ceiling.

"..........."

And that wasn't the only reason behind her inability to sleep.

She felt an unfamiliar feeling as she touched the thing covering her right eye. She felt its surroundings and that feeling was not something she had had before.

The eyepatch. This strange thing covering her right eye failed to calm her down.

She thought she would get used to it one day but she was also scared of getting familiar with it.

(This must be.........)

This signified the past and present Leerin, signifying that she had made a choice to part with her past.

(What.)

She silently scolded her thinking. How long was she to fiddle around with it when she had already made up her mind? Besides, she already told Derek those words. She couldn't turn back. Was her resolve not enough? She had determined to give up the name of Marfes. Was this not enough? Did she need anything else? Or did she have to give up the name Leerin as well? If she were to do that........?

A whirlwind of uneasiness rose in her chest. She curled into a ball, unable to even look at the ceiling. The gentle feel wrapping around herself could take off some of the burden on her but it failed to ease off the pressure in her heart. Derek had left to stop Layfon. Though they had yet to fight, the fight would happen. Once Layfon had decided to act, the fight would happen.

Leerin and Layfon's adopted father was that kind of a person.

(So I shouldn't meet with Layfon anymore.)

Layfon and Derek. The outcome of this fight was obvious. Layfon would win. This was a matter of fact. Layfon became a Heaven's Blade successor at age ten. A Heaven's Blade successor that Derek had not become. Looking from a normal angle, Derek's job to prevent Layfon's footsteps wouldn't have worked. But he was his adopted father. Could Layfon keep moving forward even though his adopted father, who should have already reconciled with him, came to stop him?

And there was one more thing.....

Leerin's body curled up more as she thought of it, her hand applying more pressure on the right eye.

"What have I done.........."

The feeling of regret assaulted her all of a sudden, though she didn't consciously think of it. She regretted it a lot after thinking of the gap of strength between Layfon and Derek. This feeling came naturally, a natural feeling whose aim was to break down Leerin's resolve.

A thorn.

Looking from the viewpoint of the abstract, this was a thorn. One of the thorns growing on a plant. This thorn entered Derek........ This image floated up in Leerin's mind. One of the thorns on the wheel of thorns etched onto her right eye ball had entered Derek's body.

What did that imply?

And for this to happen, could it be........ She kept thinking of it and knew this wasn't the way to be. As she said already, she couldn't keep thinking of things to confuse herself.

"I must keep my spirits up," she said in a small voice, curled up on the bed. No one replied. This feeling made her lonely but her body could not curl up anymore. She hugged herself tightly. She kept this pose as the feeling of bitterness and pain flowed in her till it blocked her ears. She suddenly noticed some movement above her.

She was shocked as she turned around.

A beautiful girl who suited the darkness in the room stood before her.

It was Saya.

"Can't sleep?" she asked in a faint voice.

"You too.......?" Leerin sat up opposite Saya, still shocked.

"It seems a crisis is near. I can't sleep in this situation."

As expected there were no emotions in Saya's reply. The feeling Saya gave off in her words was similar to the beautiful Psychokinesist Leerin met in Zuellni. No. Saya's words were more mechanical.

"Crisis?"

"Yes."

Saya was the prototype of all Electronic Fairies. Rumor had it that all Electronic Fairies were imitations of her. This meant the crisis Saya felt must be filth monsters. She could feel the filth monsters and evade them just like the Electronic Fairies. But Saya had been sleeping in the Inner Court of the palace. The Haikizoku named Grendan took care of things like filth monsters and the movements of other cities while Saya slept. Hence, the crisis she felt shouldn't be as simple as mere filth monsters.

"Has it happened yet?" Leerin finally pushed the doubt through her throat.

"I'm not sure. The condition of this side is not complete and the opponents have no reason to wait for us. Of course, I have no proof that they're ready."

"Then......"

"Though I can feel the crisis looming, I don't yet know the real form of our opponents."

"I see."

"Yes."

Leerin didn't know what to do as she looked at Saya, nodded emotionlessly.

Uneasiness. Though she had asked Alsheyra what to do, she herself didn't know how to put down this sense of uneasiness. Alsheyra had said not to do anything. The cause was that things would happen as long as the condition had been satisfied. Alsheyra would protect Leerin until that time came.

The Queen, Alsheyra, had told Leerin so. No Military Artist in Grendan or in other cities existed with a strength greater than the Queen's. Leerin must be in this world's safest place. So Leerin's uneasiness must be unrelated to this? Once she made up her mind, many changes had occurred around her. Why did those changes happen? They must be things happening in response to the next event. So Leerin felt uneasy. Though she knew she had no other way, she still felt uneasy.

She was uneasy when thinking of whether she had made the right choice.

She was uneasy, wondering whether she could perform what she had to do, wondering whether the progress of things would be smooth.

She was uneasy as she thought of whether her actions were right or wrong.

But she didn't understand what was right. She only understood that something was to happen. This understanding was not enough to remove her unease. The information was too vague.

"But something is to happen, right?"

Saya woke from her slumber in response to the looming crisis. Her awakening implied something was about to happen.

The pupils of the girl of moonlight were looking at the window covered by curtains. Leerin was troubled a bit as she thought of drawing aside the curtains or not.


Perhaps it was about to rain. Contrary to the good weather in the morning, dark clouds were closing in from a distance where they guarded the night sky. The city would have changed its direction under the normal circumstances but this was impossible. Because Grendan had stopped moving.

"Looks like a deluge in coming," Dixerio said in a small voice as he looked at the dark clouds slowly drift close. The humidity in the air was increasing. It seemed it definitely would rain.

A heavy rain would not affect the city's air shield. The air shield would filter the pollutants in the raindrops that fell through it. The city's air and water purification systems were working hard, as incidents of unfiltered rain had occurred.

The rain blocked outside the air shield would turn into fog as the air shield prevented the raindrops from entering the city. The pollutants would merge with the fog and surround the city in a black layer. This scenery made one feel uncomfortable.

But it was another kind of entertainment to gaze at the scenery in these circumstances.

All that happened in Zuellni was to end in Grendan. The reason of everything, the pollutants that encircled Grendan implied something was to happen. Dixerio ate the bento he bought for lunch as he watched the scenery, standing on the city's outskirt.

"You look relaxed."

Dixerio was not surprised even though he was suddenly spoken to.

"Just what are you thinking.......?"

He had no need to turn around. A beautiful girl wearing a dark dress stood behind him, looking as if she was to melt into the night.

"What am I thinking? I just want to realize that child's dream."

A stirring in the voice. Dixerio could tell the girl was laughing.

"Deliberately. In this situation?"

"But one wouldn't understand if it's not in this situation? You think so too. Of course, for a Military Artist a problem of a similar level would appear after he overcomes the obstacle of a certain level. Especially for the Military Artist whose strength leaps after obtaining the Haikizoku. He can't escape this problem."

"............"

True. But how many Military Artists could exude Kei that outran the permissible limit of a Dite? This meant the power that was on par with a Heaven's Blade successor........

Nelphilia, the girl of night continued. "But to have lost his weapon while fighting desperately and then obtained it again....... There shouldn't be many who have had this experience? If it was different, he's either a stray dog I picked up or an Electronic Fairy's........"

Nelphilia suddenly stopped. Her gaze fell on Dixerio's back. Though Dixerio didn't like it, he still felt it.

The girl was smiling.

"It might be an interesting contrast."

"Humph."

"But no one knows the outcome of things."

"Any outcome is the same. The end is almost immediate. I've just a bit more left for my job. I don't care who it is. Ignasis, Riggzario, Airen........ I'd destroy anyone who stands in my path."

"So scary."

Dixerio ignored her voice of false feeling, draining the water left in the bottle.

"But I must meet with Saya."

"Ara, why?"

"There are things I want to find out from her."

"Even now you still want to confirm the event of that day?"

"No need."

"Ara?" Nelphilia still found it strange.

"No matter what happened on that day, this reality will not change. The things I've to do will not change. So there's no need to confirm the past anymore........ There's something I have to know so that my fangs are pointed in the right direction."

"Is that something you can't get from me?"

"That won't work."

"Ara, why?"

"Because you.......... Never mind. Nothing."

Dixerio spoke half of what was in his mind and shook his head. Though it was better to thoroughly solve the problem about Nina, it would only create redundant commotion. He didn't have room to waste energy on that issue right now. Besides, he had tasted his impotence because of Nelphilia. The time he had spent on Nina was wasted. Thinking of that, he didn't want to waste any more strength.

"Nothing else. All I can do is let loose the hound and tidy up the prey the hound has caught up with."

Nelphilia's mood hadn't changed. Finding that something troublesome had flown to his head, Dixerio lifted his head to watch the moon.

The inside of the air shield was very tranquil but the scenery outside the air shield seemed different. The typhoon was pushing the dark clouds to Grendan's sky. The dark clouds covered half of the city, blocking off half of the moon. The mirror of darkness was clearly reflected on Grendan. The dark clouds were swiftly covering Grendan and the moon as Dixerio observed, till the moon also quickly vanished from his side.

"I wonder whether that thing alone can manage till success?"

"Perhaps."

The clouds covering the entire city still moved with the wind, showing no signs of stopping. The layers of dark clouds slowly weaved together like black moss growing on cotton until they totally swallowed Grendan's sky.

Or, it was like a huge dam swallowing the rapids of a river.

"Never mind. It doesn't matter how it turns out."

Dixerio didn't know this city's fate. He only knew that those guys would move close once Saya woke up. And he could only get close to those guys' headquarter in this time.

"You should still have things to do for that?"

"Yes. But those guys......."

Dixerio's gaze moved from the moon to the city. Artificial light suppressed the darkness blocking off the moon. Groups of light crafted out the city's shape to resist the darkness. But the opponent was still quiet. It was only hiding its presence.

"Will it make a ruckus?"

"For sure."

"Isn't it better to do it quietly?"

"Probably. Either way, it's troublesome if it lures in a few Heaven's Blades or the Queen."

"What a troublesome dog. That side also is relaxed."

"Those things can be brought back as long as it returns to the hole."

"That's true. Really. This is what happens in a normal world. It might fast become something I don't need anymore," Nelphilia sighed.

"What? You still want to say you're human?"

"If we use that definition, it's the same for you and me and all Military Artists."

"I'm not stubborn on whether I'm human or not."

"You might be like that but, your way of thinking........."

"Uh?"

"Never mind. That's part of your end. Besides, for you, you aren't afraid of any end."

"Because my ending has been decided already."

"Even your own death is the same as your wish and prediction? Perhaps your desire is stronger than anyone else's."

"You should know what kind of person I am."

Nelphilia shrugged.

Dixerio stood up and took out the Dite from his weapon harness.

"Then let's begin."

"....... Geez."

The figure behind Dixerio moved as the moonlight girl waved her hand. Dixerio kept trying not to look at her. It was better not to look at her as he knew her beauty would conquer his heart. What he was about to do right now was pretty important.

"All right. You can go and make a huge ruckus."

Her voice seemed far. At the same time, he felt her presence retreating and finally disappeared.

"But the time is limited."

But he could still hear her.

That wasn't the only change. No one would have perceived such a tiny change? No. The people who existed here to notice that change weren't here.

Next came the other change.

The tiny change occurred in the artificial light. To say it correctly it was the face of the light because it hurt one's eyes to discern the seven lights.

And, and, one more change.......

"You have to take care of it because it's begging for new bait."

A tiny light appeared before Dixerio but that light swiftly expanded into a huge flame. It continued to burgeon and then it spat out a figure. A female writhed with fire.

"Bait like her."

"I know........"

Dixerio restored his Dite.

As if responding to the sound that restored the Dite, the girl of flame attacked him.


Gorneo found her.

Tonight was a clear night in which one could see the moon. But because the moon was too clear, so clear that it exuded a feeling of something dignified. Tonight was such a night as if the moonlight was filtering through a layer of ice, allowing its icy cold to slowly seep through the skin, making the people forget that the city had entered a tropical zone. Still, sweat continued to gush out from Gorneo's chest as he was constantly jumping and running, seeping through his clothes.

Where would that girl go?

In the end, he decided to search for Shante by moving from one rooftop to the next.

(Why am I doing this?)

He still asked himself this question even though he didn't want to deliberately think of it. Why? Why did he have to run around to search for her?

He had been caught into different kinds of trouble since entering Zuellni and meeting Shante. Shante had a habit of acting like a beast because of her upbringing. Her education with humans started from zero at the time when Gorneo started teaching her. Though Shante had grasped hold of human knowledge, she still acted before she thought, something she did out of habit, and any troublesome things that rose from her actions were dealt with by Gorneo.

The troubles that Shante caused were of a basic level. Gorneo would have stopped interacting with her if not for her talent in Military Arts. She was an exceptional Military Artist. Her ability was very useful in an organized fight. Besides, Shante herself seemed to really like Gorneo as she obeyed his instructions in the fights. Perhaps because of her childhood, living as part of a pack of animals to hunt preys, she might have viewed Gorneo as the leader of the pack.

The two of them were invited into a platoon, helping to turn the fifth platoon into one of the number one teams in Zuellni, and recently they almost took first place alongside Vance's 1st platoon.

"Really!" Gorneo complained and jumped again. His large body looked weightless underneath the in the moonlit city as he moved speedily over buildings.

Where was she? Would she be somewhere higher? Gorneo continued to leap through the night sky of Grendan, heedless of the consequences.

"That idiot........!" he murmured and continued to jump.

He continued leaping from building to building but he failed to find a clue. The only place of his search was Grendan because she couldn't be in anywhere else but here.

But why?

He believed that masked crowd was related to Shante's disappearance, but why had they targeted her? He had no idea why. He admitted Shante's physique was special. There was something she could do that even the Queen couldn't. Maybe the masked crowd wanted her physique. They wanted to capture her and use her in an experiment. But then why in that kind of place and with that timing?

Even Gorneo himself couldn't think of an answer. There were too few clues for speculation. Perhaps those nerds in the Alchemy Department had yielded to their curiosity to set this trap, or perhaps Shante was just lured to Grendan by her hunger for Grendan's food, and then there might be a trap to catch wild beasts next to the food.

That was why Gorneo was now jumping in Grendan.

He continued to leap and finally found her.

"Uh..........."

On top of a building that wasn't that high.

For a moment, Gorneo thought that thing was a decoration on top of the building. That type of decoration could only be found on old buildings.

It was one of them........ but either way, it just looked too big............ Through the weak light. Gorneo only understood after having his gaze stay on that thing for a long moment.

That figure was doing everything she could so no one knew she existed.

As if she was afraid of something.

In order to escape someone's eyes.

A feeling of waiting for something to walk past her. She held such a desperate mental preparation. That was why she kept very still.

"Shante!"

He had already decided what to do once he found her. Of course, to shout angrily. That was his decision. But in reality he breathed in deeply several times to dispel the exhaustion and anger in him. He couldn't scold her after noticing her unusual behavior.

Because she failed to detect his presence. Usually, she was very sensitive to him.

Her body that was intending to become a stone trembled, she turned around and saw him.

"...............................Gorneo!" she shouted with widened eyes and leaped for him. Her arms hung about his neck and she hugged him with unusual strength.

"Gorneo! Gorneo! Gorneo!"

She continued to shout his name as she buried her head in his chest. One could feel that she really could melt into his body.

"Slow down. Shante........ hey, what's the matter?"

He was used to her hugging him but she had never hugged him with so much strength, and he had never seen her so frightened. She was usually very lively and optimistic. A girl without any evil thoughts. Someone who was the same inside and out. She laughed when she wanted, got angry when she wanted. She never hid her emotions. All her feelings were shown on her face.

That was why he was used to her reaction and action. That was why he was anxious at her unusual behavior.

She stopped calling his name. She put all her weight onto her arms that were encircling his neck, and she curled up, biting her thumb like a baby. The shaking of her small body was sent into Gorneo's without reserve.

Gorneo looked at her. He didn't know what to do. Should he return to the Luckens home or head straight back to Zuellni? There shouldn't be anything he needed to take back with him. He suddenly realized that he had taken off his fighting suit in Zuellni. What he was wearing now was just the clothes he wore for practice. The density of a fighting suit........ The fighting suit could prevent pollutants from invading his body. That was something he should take back. Not that Grendan's fighting suits were worse though.

Anyway, Shante wouldn't want to see any unfamiliar faces right now. Gorneo himself wouldn't feel comfortable bringing her to his own home, a house full of strangers to her. It was better to return to Zuellni to calm her down.

"Uh."

He had decided.

He sat down. Shante curled up on top of him with her legs crossed like a baby.

"Really........." he complained as he patted her head. She lifted her head to look at him and then closed her eyes. She must not have slept after coming to Grendan, and several parts of her body were dirty. Either way, he had found her. He patted her head with a soothed heart.

That was it. The density of the fighting suit. Let it go. Grendan's technique wouldn't be behind Zuellni's. Besides, Grendan's scientists kept honing their skill to meet Cauntia's challenges. Grendan's technique would not be behind Zuellni's.

In that case, he could only act. But let's wait a bit. Wait till she had slept. Keep himself still like this until she falls into a deep sleep. After that, he could head straight for Zuellni. He knew Shante could sleep better this way.

But he had made a mistake. He should have moved once he had decided.

Because it was already too late even if he were to move immediately, and that event would still happen even they were in Zuellni.

Even so............... it was wrong to reproach him.

".......... What?"

He felt the air had changed.

The drifting cloud cover hid the moon. The artificial light in this vicinity was already stronger than the light of the moon.

It was already too late by the time he realized this.

The sound of rumbling thunder came from somewhere in the distant sky. Flashes of light illuminated the clouds. Gorneo didn't know what was happening. The tension felt different from a fight. The feeling of having pressed a wrong button of a control mechanism stimulated his skin. He couldn't quite express this feeling with words. He could do nothing but feel strange at this.

It was already too late.

"Ah!"

The sudden heat in his arms made him stand up but he didn't push away that heat. His instinctive reaction was to drop that heat source but he controlled it by sheer will. The heat source leaped from his arms in high speed.

That heat source was Shante.

"Hey.........."

".............."

Kei emitted from Shante's body, increasing so speedily that it changed into heat.

"Could it be............"

He could only watch this in shock.

Usually the controlled Kei would become ripples. Those ripples would become waves for stronger Military Artists and then they were turned into external Kei. The redundant ripples created heat. However, the current situation was different. It was impossible to keep releasing heat only.

............ In that case, this must be Karen Kei.

"Hey, Shante!"

She didn't reply. With her back facing him, she seemed to be searching for something. Her arms were by her sides. She hadn't touched her Dite. Without the restored Dite, the Karen Kei had no medium. Did that mean this phenomenon was created because she wasn't holding a Dite?

Heat twisted the scenery. He could clearly see the artificial light was separated into seven colors in the twisted air.

"Shante. Stop!"

The heat surrounding her had risen to an unbelievable level. Gorneo took a step back as she leaped forward.

"Hey!" he roared but she didn't stop. She headed for the city's edge with shocking speed, leaving only a red afterimage.

"Damn!"

Again. The same as that time...........

Someone was controlling her.

"Damn!" he shouted and chased after her.

"Wait up!" he kept shouting but she didn't stop. The distance between the two of them widened, showing no signs of shrinking. Her figure became smaller and smaller in his sight.

Until she disappeared.

"Shante..........."

He kept leaping in her direction and soon, he found her again.

A colossal pillar of fire was burning in the air on the city's edge.


A feeling he was used to came through the iron whips in his hands. It was heavy and strong, as if it was sucked to his palms. He gazed at the thing closing in on him as he felt that feeling in his hand.

A beautiful woman.

If one was to say that Nelphilia was beautiful beyond a demon, then this woman before him was beautiful beyond imagination. Flame writhed around the important parts of her naked body. The spear was pointed at the sky like an army's flag. The flame emitting from her body seemed to have let her red hair melt with her surrounding flames, making the flames obey her.

The woman leading the army of fire closed in on him.

Her name was the Fire God. That was how they called her. He took her power in the midst of battle against the Wolf Faces, abandoned her in the City of Forest Erupa, and she came to Zuellni through the playing of fate. She was Dixerio's spoils.

The Fire God.

Shante.

Her fangs were now biting down on him.

He had been waiting for this for a long time.

The spear went straight for his head. Originally, the point of the weapon was used to stab, and its handle used to bash.

Dixerio backed away and effortlessly avoided the attack.

The flame writhing up the spear scattered because of the impact and turned into a gigantic fire pillar, painting the night sky of Grendan red. Nothing existed in the city that could see this scenery. The world had been twisted by Nelphilia's power. Right now, Dixerio and the others were in Grendan that was in its original world but was also not in its original world. He was in this strange situation as he fought the Wolf Faces in the morning. The Wolf Faces used their rare powder to make this possible whereas Nelphilia used another method. That was why her originally white skin had turned greener without a hint of life. A sense of tragic was mixed in with her beauty. Still, she was beautiful and she was smiling as usual. Dixerio rested the metal whips on his shoulder as he faced Nelphilia with his back, using external Kei to dissipate the heat around him.

"Allow me to have a filling meal."

He covered his face with his left hand. As his hand left his face, a beast mask appeared. Green Kei enveloped his entire body. His Kei was increasing exponentially. He poured the Kei into his metal whips and released it.

Internal and external Kei combination – Raijin.

The explosion of internal Kei allowed his speed to increase tremendously. The external Kei in his metal whips was making sparks because of friction.

Dixerio rushed the Fire God, becoming like a streak of purple lightning. He was aware that the righteous anger of the God of Fire was aiming at him. She hadn't missed his every move even though he was in a world of extremely fast speed.

And the flame gathered in front of her chest in high speed.

"Heh!"

He couldn't not feel surprised about that. It was too late for him to stop the attack or change his direction because these two moves weren't taken into account for this move. This was a move for fools. Dixerio whipped out the whip that was previous curled. At the same time, the gathered flame had reached its peak and exploded.

The pressure of the explosion and the lightning clashed. The sound of the clash was like a beast's howl.

The two energies canceled each other. Dixerio ignored the soles of his shoes, which were quickly turning black because of friction as he backed away and away.

"Still as fast as before!"

"Don't die," Nelphilia said icily behind him.

"Then please move back a bit more!" he shouted as he increased the Kei inside him but the Fire God was faster than him. She was already near him and was stabbing at him with her spear. Dixerio, judging he couldn't cleanly avoid this attack, decided to counter with his whips.

The two of them exchanged several rounds, but they had not finished. The God of Fire continued to close in on him and not letting him widen the distance between them. The outer edge of the city was carved with burnt marks. The two fighters ran on the city's legs. They jumped up at the air shield's exit. The paths of their jump emitted sparks, and the long snake of fire chased after Dixerio.

The Kei from the God of Fire was bottomless. The principle of Kei being released from a normal Military Artist was the same as a heart, but it was obvious that the God of Fire was different.

"Damn!"

The burning air made it hard to breathe. Generating Kei was like how a heart pumped blood. One breathed in the elements one needed into the lungs, allowing those elements to enter the bloodstream and into the Kei vein, and then releasing. Unlike blood, Kei could be turned into internal and external Kei through training, and one could also direct its flow in one's body.

Breathing was needed to generate Kei.

But the flame around him was burning up the oxygen. It was difficult to breathe. In addition, the fire from the Fire God was burning up the essential elements to create Kei. The Fire God's Kei vein was different from a normal Military Artist's. It was of a much more ancient state. The elements in the air...... the Aurora atoms were the true body of the fire. That was why the fire was burning more intensely than usual.

Not much Kei was left for his defense. The flame was making wounds on Dixerio's body one after another.

"........ This is really bad."

Dixerio made a calm decision in this crisis. He was still defending even through the intense fight between metal whips and spear. Once he avoided the stab, his opponent would definitely attack with the handle. He could block with the metal whips once he saw through the direction of the spear handle, and then used the Fire God's power to change his own pose and leap away. Still, the God of Fire would immediately close in on him, never allowing the distance to widen between them.

What he was waiting for was a chance to fatally wound her. Dixerio smelled the burning smell coming from his hair as he pondered. What he wanted was neither the victory or loss after this fight, nor a move to deal a final blow. He breathed in the Aurora atoms that the Fire God's fire hadn't burnt off. He stored the atoms in his Kei vein and waited till the best moment to release them all. Otherwise, he had no chance of winning.

Though heat surrounded him, he could feel the chill on his back, seeping into his body. The tiny pressure originating from his neck did not come from the flame and the Fire God's spear. This was the pressure coming from Dixerio himself. A wish for himself to die was on his neck.

If you don't come, then I'll let you kill me off here. This was the feeling in his hands.

And the closer he moved towards it, the heavier the pressure became.

But...

"Tsk."

The tip of the spear cut across his left shoulder. Blood gushed out. The fire quickly took away the water in the blood. The foul smell of burnt blood filled the air.

The Fire God continued her fierce attack like a storm of flames. Dixerio couldn't find any gaps. The Fire God didn't even save up any to store her Kei. But the Kei that Dixerio stored up through effort was being slowly drained as he defended himself.

(This is getting difficult. But......)

Why?

He was still calm despite the situation.

According to her function, the God of Fire's power should be the same as before it was taken away, but right now Dixerio was being pressured. Death was quietly waiting, waiting for the tongue of fire to lick his body, waiting to use the sharp teeth to tear his body up. Dixerio couldn't shake off this situation. He had tried many times but couldn't—even though he managed to before.

The Fire God's serious gaze stabbed him. It was more intense than the heat as it pierced his body.

Why?

Had his strength weakened? This was possible. In fact, he was not in his best condition after so many things had happened. Was that why?

But this was different. He was near the thing that had poured strength into his mask. Behind him. Their distance was so short. His strength shouldn't have changed much from before.

Then what was going on?

As expected, that gaze, the Fire God's pair of eyes was what he was bothered with.

Why did she hate him so much? She didn't have that emotion at that time.

"Shante!"

It wouldn't be strange for the sound of the fire to smother this shout. But it still managed to reach the ears of the pondering Dixerio.

"That's........?"

He didn't need to move his gaze. He was looking at the Fire God to avoid her attack so he immediately saw the figure of the huge man behind her.

A man he didn't know. He also didn't know his name.

But the Fire God responded to him.

".............!"

The Fire God swung her spear as she called in a low voice. The intense attack carried with it a swaying heart. This allowed Dixerio a chance to open some distance. The Fire God didn't immediately shorten the distance between them. She stood rooted on the spot, looking at the unexpected arrival of the man with a surprised expression.

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"Shante!" the man shouted again.

"I see. You've lived like a human."

Dixerio understood.

A heart of anxiety, doubt and chaos calmed down through rationality. The God of Fire had not moved. She was calling out with a threatening sound at the man who was trying to get close to her. But the man couldn't get through either way because of the mad flames. She couldn't even notice that part. It appeared the God of Fire was really anxious.

"Humph......."

(To be alive.........)

This should be called a change. Just like the City of Debris to change its name to the City of Strong Desire. Or like Dixerio Maskane, who was born in that city and had become a beast of revenge.

As long as one was alive, his life would continue to change. Such a change was making the Fire God stop her attack and movement. Her gaze left Dixerio. Her heart was moved as she watched the man.

She was in a battle but she stepped out of it.

He would not let this chance go.

Dixerio rested the metal whips on his shoulder. The black metal added pressure to his shoulder. Kei continued to enter the metal whips through the mask. His Kei vein stirred as the Kei ran. Internal Kei filled his limbs with strength. External Kei turned into destructive energy as it entered his metal whips.

The Fire God noticed the change and turned around.

But it was too late.

Internal and external Kei combination – Raijin.

Dixerio had already released his move.

His body became a streak of lightning. The remnants of Kei blew away the flame as Dixerio came to stand before the God of Fire. The metal fangs from his shoulder bit down into her shoulder. The Fire God's legs lost their power and she fell face down onto the ground, her body being bounced back up into the air because of the rebound.

The red hair lost its vitality before Dixerio's eyes, and the feeling in his hands told him of the result.

He had won.

"Shante!"

The remnants of Raijin had blown out the surrounding flame. The world turned from sudden red back into original night. The remnants of battle called forth the original silence.

But, not everything had ended.

"Shante!"

The man ran for the immobile God of Fire. He lifted her up. The fire enveloping her was gone. She was now just a naked girl.

"Hey, Shante, hang in there!" The man's face turned white.

"Hey, did you hear me? Damn, I'm taking you to the hospital."

"Sorry, but it's useless as long as you're in this world."

"You bastard!!"

"But how did you come here? You don't look like a descendant of Grendan's royalty. Did other people get you involved or............?"

Dixerio took down the mask, but the mask did not disappear into the air like the usual.

"Did you get dragged into it because you've been following her for too long?"

"Who are you?"

".......... It seems you've been the one looking after her. Since you know her, you must have seen her like that a couple of times already."

"Answer me!"

Gorneo put down the God of Fire and stood up, restored his Dite and readied his pose. The restored Dite covered his fists. He used hand to hand combat. Dixerio seemed to have seen this style before.

Luckens. No. They might not be related.

"Really........ Why do you Luckens always have to block my path?"

"What did you say?"

"Nothing. The fact never changes that I have to do this."

"Huh!"

Gorneo moved as he felt the murderous intent.

External Kei variation – Metal Bullet.

A condensed bullet released from his fist. But Dixerio used his hand to make the bullet explode before it reached him.

"What?"

Dixerio moved swiftly behind Gorneo, took hold of his hair and pushed him onto the ground. There was only a split second to resist as Dixerio stepped on his stomach.

"Guh."

"Never mind. As long it's all in my original plan. Besides........ a human's memory should have too much effects. It wouldn't become like that. But it's still better to erase the memory if I have time."

He moved his gaze to the God of Fire. She hadn't given up struggling. The pressure from the mask would not lessen till she gave up her struggle.

"Shante! Damn, let me go."

"Give up. That's originally mine. Besides, she's only a weapon in the form of a human."

"These things you said......."

"Well. It matters not to me whether you believe me or not."

Though he did not admit it, the man's face showed his doubt because he had seen things that he had never seen before. No matter how strong a Military Artist was, it was impossible to make the growth of the body be so intense. The most one could do was stop growth or speed it up. The God of Fire before him was usually a girl, but she could suddenly turn into a mature woman when she became a Fire God. This was impossible. That went beyond the boundaries of any living creature. Her body was at the same time in here and over there. In the world of Regios and over in Zero Territory. That explained the changes in her. Her changes became more perfect because she was in this area that was closer to Zero Territory.

"I didn't have to do this if those guys aren't trying to take her back.........."

Dixerio hadn't caught up yet at that time.

"Luck really isn't reliable."

The man under his foot still hadn't given up his struggle, but his strength was obviously weaker than before. His heart doubted, doubting whether he should believe Dixerio's words. Knowing the truth of the Fire God was enough to make him doubt.

(His level is only this much.)

Confusion was not needed. The more confusion the less the power. Stubbornness, the good and bad of things, none of these were important. Toss them all behind your brain and head for the road you determine. This was essential to Dixerio.

".............."

The howling of the God of Fire became softer. The flame was gone. The beast mask continued to give out green light, and the light was about to entirely envelop the Fire God.

".........."

The Fire God continued to howl in a low voice.

No. Was this even howling?

"........ Gor......neo...... Gorneo," the Fire God called.

"......Shante."

The man called her name as if he was sighing.

"Gorneo........"

And the God of Fire kept calling out his name.

"Shante!"

Howl.

The one howling wasn't the Fire God.

It was the man.

"Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!"

External Kei variation – Absolute full power. Fangs.

The Kei that was totally different from before made Dixerio jump away in reflex.

"Tsk!"

The man's fist didn't hit him, but the man didn't care. He ran straight for the Fire God.

Dixerio wanted to catch up with him. He wouldn't let the Fire God release her Kei so he reached out and tried to stop the man.

But he failed.

Dixerio's hand only caught air as the man jumped on the Fire God and took hold of the mask on her chest.

"Oh!"

The power in the mask sent the man flying. Still, he had succeeded. The mask was peeled off the Fire God's body. Dixerio's target changed to the mask dancing in the air. He reached out again.

"Thanks for the help," Dixerio said with lips curled as he confirmed the feeling of the mask. He was being sarcastic but one could feel some goodwill in his words. For some reason, though someone was interfering with his plan, he was happy.

"Really.......... Never mind."

Dixerio looked at the Fire God. Her body was in two states as if it was the reflections of light. The mature Fire God and the red haired girl overlapped each other. Slowly, the Fire God figure became translucent while the girl became dense. Dixerio watched as the change became more intense, leaving only the red haired girl behind.

"Shante!"

The man ran for the unconscious girl.

"My aim here is finally reached."

Dixerio put on the beast mask with his back to the man. Dazzling green light covered his face.

The other side of the light said, "Hey, isn't it about time for you to get up?"

The beast mask sent vibrations like a pumping heart, as if to respond to that voice. The vibration went from slow to fast, and then light exploded. A soundless explosion that painted his sight green.

That thing appeared.

It came from the green light but it was a beast that was totally black. Strong fur that was like horns protected its body, and sharp claws of the same strength as the fur were on the paws. A lower jaw shaped like a pyramid revealed a row of sharp teeth in the huge mouth.

A beast appeared in front of Dixerio.

"Oi, Velzenheim. How do you feel?"

After hearing his words, the beast called, dissatisfied.

"Ha. This time it's you who are bad for wanting to eat others. Besides, aren't you gonna thank me for saving you?"

Still, the beast looked dissatisfied.

"........ There's still a next time. Just wait happily for it."

The two of them didn't care about the replies they gave to each other. The relationship between them was that of taking advantage of each other. Dixerio thought he didn't need to say more to this beast with a lowered head. He broke the beast mask in his hand and the beast disappeared in the air like the mask.

"You're.........."

The man stared at him.

But Dixerio didn't have to answer him.

"Not sure whether it's your good luck or that that guy is stronger. Either way, thanks."

The man didn't know whether to say he understood Dixerio's words or not. Even if he did comprehend it, he didn't know what would happen.

Nelphilia had given up maintaining the other dimension. The two worlds were once again combined. The weaker side had collapsed. The movement of existence attacked Dixerio and the others with nostalgic.

That was just a split second. Everything ended when he felt that feeling.

The artificial light was brighter than the light before. It enveloped the entire outer edge. He could feel the air was obviously different

"Hey........" Dixerio said with his back to the man. "Treasure your life that you saved with effort. Hurry and escape."

His gaze continued to fix on the sky.

Heavy rain fell from the cloud cover above the city. The black smoke issuing from the moments of rain droplets passing through the air shield covered the entire city. The changes in the dark smoke of dense pollutants didn't escape Dixerio's eyes.

(Have to hurry.)

He said to himself mentally. No time to lose. The other side was getting closer, and he still had things to do. He felt it a waste to spend time on Nina, but either way, time would not come back to him.

"Escape before morning," he said and left.

Nelphilia was gone too.

Leaving only Gorneo holding the unconscious Shante, Gorneo didn't move. Dumbfounded. As if he had just experienced a storm.



Nina didn't know why she suddenly woke.

"......... What is it?"

Though she was doubtful of why she suddenly woke, she noticed Felli sleeping beside her and so talked to her in a small voice, getting up to confirm her surroundings. Nothing seemed out of place. She felt a disturbance but she didn't hear anything.

Nina was skeptical. Was it her dream?

Since she didn't feel like sleeping now, she sat up and looked around. This was Lucia's room. Lucia needed to work, so she was in the workroom on the first floor. What stood out in this room was the bed Nina and Felli were sleeping on. This took up a lot of the space in the room. A lot of space on the bed was left unoccupied even with the two of them sleeping on it. The things Lucia used were quite plain, so this bed and anything special felt out of place.

Considering there was a child here then there must be a father. But he didn't seem to have returned. Lucia also didn't say much about the child's father.

It appeared this was a complicated issue. Thinking of how this might have something to do with how Nina herself got involved, she suddenly thought of something strange.

"No way?" she smiled bitterly.

"What is it?"

"You're still awake?"

"Because I have something to do."

At Felli's words, Nina felt she hadn't been cautious enough. This was Grendan. They were in the enemy's headquarters. Besides, Felli and the others caused quite a ruckus on the way here. Felli was also doing something to interfere with Grendan's Psychokinesists.

"Sorry."

"Just lying down is also resting."

"Really? Then that's good."

The two of them hadn't spoken on the bed because of their conversation before going to sleep. Nina felt like Felli wasn't that mad at her anymore. Since she was talking to her, she must have calmed down.

"Then, you still haven't changed your mind?"

"....... Sorry," she said with her head lowered.

Felli sighed. "Just when will this stubborn brain of yours open up?"

"Uh........"

"Didn't Layfon say it too? Your original aim is to protect Zuellni and restore Zuellni. Increase the number of Selenium mines and avert the crisis the Academy City faces. You shouldn't have forgotten it?"

"How would I!"

"Then why are you staying in Grendan?"

"Didn't I talk about that reason already?"

It appeared that Felli and Sharnid would not let her go that easily.

"The fate of this world? The confusion of the Electronic Fairies, the Wolf Faces, the creation of this world and the secret of Grendan's royalty. Don't know when the threat will appear. I've heard a lot from you."

".........Do you not believe them?"

"You think they are believable?"

"No, but.........."

She didn't know what to say, facing her icy gaze.

"And then you stand on the side of the Electronic Fairies in order to save the world? Just what fairy tale is this? Please come back to the real world before we return to Zuellni."

"Wu..........."

Not letting her off. Tonight, Felli was not letting her off at all.

No. This was not part of her personality at all. And tonight she seemed to have grown a body of thorns.

"...... Even if that's the case, this means an intense fight is about to appear in Grendan. Then Zuellni may get caught up in this. Do you understand? Zuellni still hasn't recovered from the filth monsters attack. If the repairs aren't done yet, what would you do?"

"Well......."

Suddenly speechless. Same as the time in the living room, she couldn't say anything.

She knew Felli was right. This was what she should do after calm consideration. Grendan had the Heaven's Blades and the Queen whose strength far exceeded theirs. Nina didn't know what she could do even though she had the power of the Haikizoku.

"If Zuellni can move, then returning to the Academy City will become a problem. Have you thought of how to return if we stay? This is war. The number of roaming buses is low. Besides, originally there aren't that many buses that come to Grendan. This is normal too. Roaming buses don't come often because the city is always at war with filth monsters."

"..........."

"........... Captain. How do you plan to return?"

"Uh!"

"Or are you preparing to stay in Grendan? Or to become a Heaven's Blade successor using the Haikizoku's strength?"

"Wu!"

"The 17th platoon would disband without you. And once my brother's not there, I can happily live my Academy life."

"Academy life..... Hey!"

"Yes, if you don't return to Zuellni, that would be the future."

"You can enter another platoon with your strength."

"Why do I have to enter another platoon and be a Psychokinesist when I don't want to? There's no reason for me to stay in Military Arts. I don't know whether you know, but I entered Zuellni as a General Studies student like Layfon."

"But because I'm not there........."

Nina was speechless again.

Because Felli was staring at her with her icy gaze.

"You and Layfon are both too good. I don't know what to say."

"Wh...... What......"

"........... Layfon and I move to your orders. I'd be troubled if you don't think the same."

"You.........."

Felli turned around. Nina didn't know what to say, surprised at her unexpected words. This was her first time hearing Felli say her true feelings.

They obeyed because of her. She herself had never considered this possibility. Karian recommended Felli and forced her into the 17th platoon. Layfon was the same. Only Sharnid was the one who entered because of Nina's effort. And she also didn't know why he decided to enter her platoon.

"In the end, I haven't contributed a thing."

This thought had always been heavy on her. The platoon had been winning matches because of Layfon. It was also because of Layfon that she took the flag in the Military Arts Competition. And at that time, he was fighting to rescue the kidnapped Felli. Nina couldn't help him but was helped instead. This made her feel impotent.

"As I thought."

Felli nodded with her back to Nina.

"You're always stubborn. You also aren't that particularly strong. Your strength doesn't stand out. The fight with the first platoon is a good example."

Her words stabbed Nina without holding back. Nina could only lower her head and listen.

"But your stubbornness is what I and Layfon don't have. If I've to say what can be boasted about you, that would be your spirit. No matter how confused you are, in the end, you'd tell us where to head for. On that point alone, you're the best out of the members of the 17th platoon."

"Felli........"

Felli turned her head around, her gaze icy as usual. This called back Nina's tension.

"But now you've forgotten your original aim. You gave up standing in front of us, and decided impulsively to stay. Just what is that for?"

"That's............"

She already told them in the reason in the living room. She could tell from Felli's words that she still remembered. The creation of this world, the speculation about the battle, many, many mysteries. Nina had told them of things that she knew. She used her wish to stay as a prelude to the conversation. To say it recklessly through her emotions was like blurting it out without consideration.

Though it felt heartless, Nina was happy that she said it. Otherwise, she would still be afraid of telling them.

"Even if I believe it, the fate of this world, what can we do? For us who were thinking of how to win the Military Arts Competition only days ago, what can we do?"

Nina wanted to retort but she didn't know what to say.

"Because Layfon's here? But if that's the case, this city has many Military Artists stronger than Layfon. You also saw that didn't you? Layfon lost. Even so, why do you still want to stay? Because you have the Haikizoku's strength? That thing is incredible."

"That's..........."

Incredible? She didn't know what to say. She just thought it was a reckless power. The Salivan Mercenary Gang, the Gang that left Grendan and was led by Haia, moved from city to city to search for that power. But Nina still lost to the Heaven's Blade successor Lintence even while she possessed that power. Was it because the strength of a Heaven's Blade was stronger than a Military Artist with a Haikizoku? Or that because the person who possessed the Haikizoku was Nina?

Why did Grendan want the Haikizoku?

"Do you not care about Zuellni as long as you have power?"

"That's not possible!"

"Then please think calmly of what you need to do next."

"I've been calmly.........."

"Stubbornness is your strong point but we only think so when it can help you guide us. If we don't want to follow you, then it's not a strong point."

"........."

"Please think carefully."

Felli buried herself in the sheets.

Nina couldn't sense the sleeping presence. This meant Felli was only lying down. She was still interfering with Grendan's Psychokinesists. Interfering with their senses. Nina wasn't all too clear on the technique of Psychokinesists, but she felt it must be something incredible.

Felli was really incredible.

But even Felli judged it tactless to stay in Grendan. She was implying that it was useless for them to stay even if what Nina said was true.

(Am I forcing myself to be reckless?)

No, this was why she was being reckless. Nina couldn't think of what she was like without being reckless. She had been acting recklessly from the beginning till now, and in the future if she was right about it.

If they were in Zuellni, they would follow Nina's recklessness.

Perhaps. But Zuellni didn't have Heaven's Blades and the Queen. There was no choice but to do it herself. But Grendan was different. It didn't need Nina. The Heaven Blade successors with the Queen at the top of the power chain were here, and there was also a large number of strong Military Artists. There was no place for Nina whose power was still immature and only knew to move recklessly.

Perhaps that was the case.

But.......

(Is this really all right?)

She didn't know. Besides, she had another thought too.

".......... What is Layfon thinking?"

Would Layfon leave Leerin behind in Grendan? Leerin was different from him. Grendan didn't exile her. She had only returned to the place she should return to.

But this explanation bore no relationship to Nina's current problem.

What was Layfon thinking? This was the most important problem to Nina now.

"........ I don't want to think about that." Nina heard Felli say after a long period of time.



Saya held her silence.

A feeling that some kind of noise was about to assault them filled the air, but she couldn't hear it clearly. It must be a noise outside here. The thick walls, glass and curtains were blocking off the outside noise. But still, the noise managed to enter Leerin's ears.

Saya kept silent. Her pupils, bright and translucent like gems, were watching the curtains. No emotions showed on her face. It was impossible to guess from her expression why she wasn't moving.

Leerin also didn't think this was the time to ask why. In the first place, she could never think of her as someone who would engage in unnecessary conversations.

(No..... She's older than me.)

It didn't feel right to call her a child.

Based on her appearance, Saya looked about the same as a senior student, but in fact, she existed since before the birth of this world. It should be more appropriate to say she had gone beyond such thing as age. But how should Leerin call her then? Was this an important or unimportant question? Either way, it was inappropriate to call her a child. However, her appearance was like a child's.

It might be an unimportant problem, but Leerin couldn't think of an answer to the other problems. They were things that she only barely knew of. And she couldn't sleep now. This was the only thing she could ponder about.

"...... What is it?"

Saya turned around as if she had noticed something.

"Ah, well..........."

Looking at Saya's face made her unable to calm down. She felt she was getting a little used to her but that beauty under the moonlight still seeped through to Leerin's heart. It had only been two to three times when they met face to face.

Looking at Saya staring at her in silence made Leerin impatient. Leerin had prepared herself so she talked a lot in the Inner Court when she met Saya. It wasn't that she was more relaxed now so she didn't talk. But she couldn't keep herself this tense forever.

(What am I doing?)

She finally gathered her courage and spoke.

"Uh......."

"............"

Being watched by Saya weakened her,

"Well....... I don't know what I should call you........"

"Call me?"

"Yes. You..... How should I put it? Well..... Aren't you the one who created this world? Then aren't you like a god? So I must be careful when I call you."

"That isn't important. Just call me Saya."

"Is that all right?"

"Yes. I haven't done anything that is worthy of being called a god."

"I think you've done some very great things........"

Saved many people, created this world. Was it very easy to make a world in Saya's generation? But not everyone could save others in a collapsing world.

It seemed she didn't plan to continue this conversation. Saya turned around to face the curtains again. Was something on the other side of this blocked window? Leerin couldn't obtain any information from her face. She only noticed she herself was being attracted by her beauty.

"What are you doing?"

Noticing she was being rude, Leerin came to but was then attracted by that beauty again. This process repeated many times till Leerin asked that question.

"Something is happening outside."

"Uh?"

"It's a familiar feeling."

"Is it an enemy......?"

"I don't know......."

"What is it?"

"If my speculation is correct, that thing does hold hostility towards me. But this doesn't mean it'll be an enemy."

Leerin didn't understand her, but what was about to happen was slowing revealing itself. This was what she felt, and she couldn't help but hug her shoulders.

And at this time, Saya's shoulders shook.

"It's here, please be careful."

"...........Eh?"

No time to even be surprised.

Saya jumped away from her spot. The glass that the curtains covered shattered at the same time.

The curtains were blown apart, blocking Leerin's sight and preventing her from seeing who leaped in from the outside. The humidity in the air entered the room and Leerin's nostrils along with the sound of shattered window. She could tell from the sound that it was raining outside.

Strange changes appeared on Saya's right wrist, but Leerin's eyes could catch those changes that were impossible for a human. Saya already held a metal rod of strange length when Leerin noticed it.

If you were to look at its appearance, it liked similar to a Military Artist's Dite.

"Wait a minute."

Leerin knew from the voice that the person who entered the room was a man.

"Your response is surprisingly fast."

"It seems you're someone I've seen before....."

"Hey, hey, didn't we see each other recently?"

The man's voice didn't hold any hostility. Leerin didn't understand battle but that wasn't the reason her tension eased. The sudden tension and anger in her suddenly disappeared and she herself found it strange too. She had been very confounded. But what was happening now?

And what was about to happen?

"Perhaps so. To me, it was something that happened in a dream."

"Really."

The curtains stopped moving. Leerin saw the man's face. It was a man with red hair.

And someone was behind him.

Leerin saw that person and was shocked.

It felt like a mirror but she immediately noticed the difference. She wasn't sure how to explain it, but the impression was not the same. The feelings exuding from them were different if you were to put them over one another.

Either way, Saya was holding a huge weapon whereas the other side held nothing. She was only standing behind the red-haired man. But it was enough to make Leerin's heart move just with her standing here. She was exuding a demonic attraction that was stronger than Saya's.

"..... Nelphilia?"

The person whom she met in Zuellni, who looked exactly the same as Saya.

And she was the younger sister of the owner of Leerin's right eye. Saya's original. The man who became the moon floating in the sky, who protected this world from Ignasis's hostility.

The woman behind the man looked at Leerin and revealed a beautifully flirtatious smile, as if she was confirming Leerin's thoughts.

"Since time is short, let's hurry up and resolve the problem. The most troublesome thing in this city is about to arrive in ten seconds," the man said quickly. "There's only one thing I want to know........."

At this time, a distant explosion sounded so the man's words didn't enter Leerin's ears. Leerin looked around for the source of the noise as the entire house shook.

Just what did the man ask and how did Saya answer...... Leerin missed it all.

"Thanks."

The man smiled and bowed by the time Leerin noticed him. The sound of explosions continued. Only the man's relaxing expression was genuine in this tense situation. He didn't say anything else and suddenly left. The time limit had probably arrived.

The sound of explosions continued, but this time it was the door.

"Leerin!"

A sound filled with tension rushed into the room. The wind pressure had messed up Alsheyra's hair, who was wearing her night clothes. She was watching the direction where the man had left with furious eyes.

"Don't get ahead of yourself!"

Leerin couldn't see anything from her position. Perhaps Alsheyra saw that red haired man as she was shouting, pointing at the window with anger.

A streak of light shot out from the elegant tip of her finger. Everything quieted down. Leerin could tell what the result was judging by Alsheyra's infuriated expression.

"Unexpectedly difficult," she said and spat.

But her expression changed all of a sudden.

"Wuah~ Are you ok, Leerin-chan? Are you fine? Really, that trash. How dare he enter a girl's room in the middle of the night? What rubbish he is."

Leerin couldn't catch up with her speedy change. Alsheyra was hugging her tightly, pressing down on her face with her breasts. Leerin couldn't think of anything but confusion.

Did she accept the event just like that?

"Nothing happened," Saya said behind Alsheyra. It took Leerin lots of strength to shake off Alsheyra's wrists. The weapon of the girl of moonlight had vanished.

"I won't let him off easy!" Alsheyra howled. "How dare he do that! That dirty man's fingers! I won't let him off easily if his fingernails touched Leerin-chan. I'll slice him into thin pieces starting from his feet when I catch him!"

Murderous intention exuded from her........ but Leerin wasn't scared. She knew she wasn't really mad. She was just worried about Leerin. Everything else was just pretense.

Why did Leerin have this feeling?

"Sen...... Your Majestic, do you know that person?"

"Eh? No. I don't know him. I just don't like his actions."

She gave a firm reply but Leerin felt something more in her words. She accepted it. Did she understand what she was thinking?

She touched the eye-patch over her eye. Her right eye hurt a little. Why? This right eye that was hers and wasn't hers........ No, this was what the right eye was from the very beginning. It didn't belong to her, but she had it now, and it was functioning as her eye.

Who did it belong to originally? The man who became the moon?

No.

This was just an imitated creation. It was made from the atoms that fell on the moon. The real thing was on the moon. The moon itself was the man's right eye. That must be it.

Then what about this right eye?

Thinking of this, a strange kind of admission came to Leerin.

Yes. This was originally Alsheyra's because Alsheyra had the blood of a Military Artist. Her body was made of atoms. It wouldn't have been possible without the royal families marrying one another. The imitation that was supposed to have been more perfect, Alsheyra, for some reason, deviation occurred in the process. The missing part formed another construction and entered Leerin's right eye. Perhaps an outside force had interfered to cause this. Leerin hadn't had this thought before, but the power in her eye had been discovered. She could explain this phenomenon of calling forth to each other.

(Are we the same person?)

That was why Alsheyra could feel Leerin was in a crisis far quicker than anyone else. Not because her strength as a Military Artist far exceeded anyone, but because a special connection that should have belonged to only one person existed between them.

If that were the case, what effect would it bring?

Leerin had lost the mood to figure out the conversation between the red haired man and Saya. She was more bothered by something else.

"Leerin-chan?" Alsheyra said, but she didn't give a reply.

Alsheyra hadn't noticed the feeling in Leerin but she could tell she was in danger? What meaning did this hold?

"What is it?"

Leerin shook her head. This wasn't a problem she could solve right now. She didn't know whether the speculation coming from a suspicion was correct. Perhaps she would talk about it when the answer was clearer.

Almost time. Immediately like a storm, it arrived.

"It's here," Saya said simply. She watched the window that the red haired man had shattered. Intense wind blew the curtains into the room.

The noise from the outside vanished, making the sound of the rain stand out more. The humidity rushing into the room made the temperature drop. The high humidity was uncomfortable.

Leerin thought she would see the outside better if she changed her position, so she stood beside Saya. Alsheyra was standing diagonally in front of her as if to protect her. No moon was outside. There was only darkness. The artificial light on the ground was feebly resisting the dark clouds and the smoke caused by the pollutants.

And lightning and rumbles in the sky dominated everything as if to mock this resistance.

It was just a split second, but she saw it clearly.

Cloud cover was behind the fog. The cloud layer made by vapor flowed in Grendan's sky like a large river. It showed no signs of stopping.

Something was between the cloud layer and the black smoke, separating the two colors. Something in a circular shape that was acting like a boulder trying to change the course of the river's flow. But the cloud layer didn't change its direction because of the boulder's obstruction. It continued to flow. If this truly was a river, the water would change its direction when hitting the boulder and create waves and foam. But not now.

It was a black hole.

"Delbone."

"Here. I already noticed it and have given the evacuation order. The Heaven's Blade successors have been called together for the emergency. The Military Artists are waiting on the third defence line. Is this fine?"

"Uh, yes."

Alsheyra stopped the short conversation with Delbone.

Leerin stared at the black hole. The light of seven colors shone from the edge of the hole. It wasn't bright but it stood out. The depth of the black hole seemed bottomless. It looked like a flat surface. Leerin hadn't seen it before but it felt like the thing that had appeared above Zuellni.

She couldn't help but reach up to touch the eye-patch.

Everything was about to begin.


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