Chrome Shelled Regios:Volume14 Chapter 4

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Chapter 4: To Block the Road Ahead[edit]

There would be no chance of Leerin appearing in battle. Alsheyra would ensure this. Even Leerin herself didn't know what she could do in the battle.

Her right eye wasn't normal, and that was all she knew.

To the eyes of the audience who observed the battle, Leerin's position was that of a VIP. Originally, the city's flag was placed on the top of the tall tower located in the middle of Grendan, the palace that was the highest point of the city. Leerin and Alsheyra were together, surrounded by the building built without any sense of aesthetics as the storm blew in through the windows without hesitation. The destructive wind. Just its remnants were enough to send Leerin's body flying.

Alsheyra had come over here after greeting the Heaven's Blades. Leerin and Saya had followed her.

This wasn't a safe place. Perhaps there wasn't a place considered safe in this city. The intensity of the battle taking place on the other side of the window was one that Leerin had never seen before. The Nano Celluloid Interface monster M Durindana covered the entire city. The Heaven's Blade successors were countering it with unbelievable power. An impossible battle was now on stage.

But what next?

Even if the monster's resilience wasn't limitless, the current situation wasn't advantageous for Grendan. Heaven's Blade successors and normal Military Artists were just normal humans. Their physical strength was limited. Though the trump card, Alsheyra, was here, according to Delbone, the Queen's power could only be used once. Not that she would use up all of her power, but that the city itself couldn't sustain the recoil of her attack.

A world that couldn't give people freedom. Even if one wanted to live ordinarily, the space of his movement was confined to the limits of the city. He still had to live constantly with the fear of being taken away by filth monsters. He would be limited by other things even if he had the strength to break through that fear.

What was something that Leerin could do?

What could this right eye do?

The eye that should have been born with Alsheyra had grown in Leerin. What meaning did this impossible event hold in this situation? Did it mean Leerin herself could do nothing? Or that Leerin's eye and Alsheyra's power must be separated? If these two things couldn't stay separated, they would not be able to overcome this crisis.

Leerin felt she was more useful if she thought of it this way.

It was very painful for her to be so useless. It already took her huge determination to stand here. It would be too heartless if she still couldn't do anything at this stage.

So she asked a question.

She asked a question of herself.

What could she do? If she could do something, what would the effect be?

So Leerin took down the blindfold and let the eyeball, carved with a cross made of thorns, expose itself in the air. This was hers but at the same time it wasn't. The pupil of the moon was here to protect Saya who created this world. Airen became the moon to seal off the enemies. This was his pupil.

This pupil existed to protect Saya. It must be here to do something and so Leerin took down the blindfold.

CSR vol14 277.jpg

(Set their gravestones.)

"Eh?"

(Adorn everything disturbing my sleep with the thorns of the graveyard.)

It wasn't a voice that Leerin heard for it suddenly appeared in her mind in the form of written words, resounding in her head as if she were reading it out herself. She felt that ahead of the words was a road of blood. It continued to grind against itself till pain came. At the end of that road, something was waiting for her.

This was the road she was to take, but it wasn't enough.

All Leerin understood was the intention of her right eye, the purpose of its existence. She had seen some of its power in the depth of the Inner Court. She had seen it even before she arrived there, while she was in Zuellni. When she saw numerous eyeballs, or you could say, tombs. That must be it.

But was this all? Was that all she could do?

There wasn't anything else. Could she, as an average person, do nothing in this situation?

She concentrated more in order to find an answer.

What then surfaced in her mind were twelve dots of light.

Questions kept piling up. And they then brought out another question. That was "Why?"

Unanswered questions kept accumulating. Weight that didn't exist in reality kept accumulating as if to press down on Layfon till it overloaded him.

"Why?" he asked and was ignored.

A cut path responded to his question. Vivid Kei cut apart the dimness. The intense Sakkei attempted to cut through Layfon. Layfon received the attack by the Katana that held the same shape. The weight pressing down on his hands made him understand his opponent wasn't joking with him.

At the same time.......

"Why?"

His foster father was strong. Though he was retired, his skill was the same as and maybe had already surpassed Haia's. But the amount of his Kei was probably below Haia's. The difference between pure power of Kei would be more obvious in a fight than the difference in technique. This gap of power would become a difference in strength when the two fought, using their own skills.

Layfon had always thought that Derek's Kei was of a lower level than Haia. Why did he think of it? Because the Derek standing before him now was not the same.

"Why?"

What meaning did this question hold? Why must they fight? Why had Derek's amount of Kei increased?

Katana clashed against Katana. Layfon should have won overwhelmingly through the increasing density of his muscles because of internal Kei. Plus this was in turn boosted by the amount of Kei in his body. But he couldn't do it now. Not that Derek's sudden assault on him had swayed him psychologically, but that his sudden increase in strength was unbelievable.

Layfon received Derek's strike as he pondered. This took only a split second. The weight of the strike made his knee touch the ground, confirming his suspicion.

"Father........."

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

Layfon called out but Derek didn't reply.

"Why? I just want to see Leerin..........."

"I already said you can't."

"Eh?"

Derek kicked at him.

It wasn't a surprise attack but Layfon didn't move. Derek had put his entire center of gravity into this kick. The two weapons lost their delicate balance as the sole of his foot was about to touch Layfon's abdomen. Layfon leapt back. The Kei surrounding Derek's foot destroyed their surroundings, kicking up a screen of smoke. Derek readied his pose and closed in on him again.

"Why?"

"Because this is Leerin's wish."

He stabbed the earth with his Katana.

Psyharden technique – Moving Ground.

The attack broke apart the earth as it headed for Layfon. Derek's figure was already gone by the time Layfon blocked the attack with external Kei.

Internal Kei variation – Fleeting Shadows.

Behind him. This was an illusion Derek created. The presence of people surrounding him.

But the real body was........... above him.

Derek was already close to him when he raised his Katana to point upward. Blade weaved against blade as sparks of Kei dispersed. Layfon's Kei that ran up along the blade cancelled out Derek's. They widened their distance using the rebound of the attack. And then they should counterattack. That should have been what it was like.

"Why!?" Layfon called.

Why was Derek, his foster father, blocking his way? Why was he rejecting his wish to see Leerin? This question weighed more than the increasing amount of Kei.

When Layfon had already reconciled with Toby. He should have already reconciled with Derek too. The Katana in his hand was his proof.

So why?

"You're wrong," Derek said curtly.

"Uh!"

Derek was already before him and chopping down with his weapon. Layfon backed off as he received one attack after another. The attack repeated itself many times. The cut paths weaved themselves together, striking at him no matter where he went as if to push him back to Zuellni.

"My anger for you had already disappeared."

A strike that came diagonally from above.

"I no longer regret what you did."

Next he turned his blade to cut upward.

"But if this is what my daughter wished for."

The cut path changed to horizontal. Layfon blocked it with the handle of his Katana.

"Then the duty to prevent you from seeing her should lie with her father."

"Why."

Layfon was speechless at his reason. But......

Psyharden technique – Shepherd's Crook.

"Um!"

Feeling the murderous intent nearing his neck, he quickly crouched. The scythe of the death god swept over his head. The external Kei at the tip of the Katana turned into a sharp scythe and cut through the position that was previously Layfon's neck.

No matter how he looked at it, Derek's murderous intent was real.

The attack following the crouching Layfon came straight after. He backed off immediately. The Katana that stabbed into the earth shattered the ground.

"If you don't intend to fight, then go away."

Derek's cold words cut into his chest. Layfon's face screwed up in tension at this invisible attack that he was unable to defend against.

"This is such a place. The person named Layfon Alseif is no longer registered in Grendan even though you're my son. He's already dead along with the title Wolfstein."

"How could it........"

He failed to say much. He couldn't utter anything else because he had too much he wanted to say. So much that he didn't know where to begin. But........... his anger increased at the end of his words.

"..….Why can't I see Leerin, Father?"

"Don't make me repeat myself. This is what she wishes for."

"Why does she think this way?"

"She made this choice herself, or do you think I'm lying? Perhaps I'd lie to you about Her Majesty, but I wouldn't lie to you about my daughter's words."

"I never doubted you!"

Layfon had already forgotten himself. Kei continued to pour out of his body, hammering the air with its huge noise and chasing away the noise of the surrounding fights. The light enveloping Layfon twisted.

"Why doesn't anyone tell me the reason!"

This was why he was angry. Derek didn't say anything. He only said Leerin had said "to return". He did it to for his daughter's will. The two of them had not told him the real reason behind their words.

Even though they were a family. That they were father and son.

Why. Why didn't they tell him anything?

"Am I that unreliable? Am I that impotent?"

That was true. He was unreliable and impotent. Just what had he done so far? He participated in underground matches. The Heaven's Blade was taken away from him and in the end, he was exiled from Grendan. He hadn't even lived the life he wanted when he was in Zuellni. He continued to live as a Military Artist.

He was only living by following the flow.

He didn't have a clear goal. All he wanted was to solve the problems before him. That was how he had been living.

"But we're a family. If there's something I can do, something, I........."

He couldn't make a complete sentence. Because his face was also very sad as Kei continued to flow out of his body through anger.

"What would you do if that family rejects you?"

"Eh!"

Layfon looked at him with a serious expression as he heard this new question.

"What would you do if this family says it doesn't want to have any ties with you anymore?"

Derek's words had proven everything that Lucia had said. No. What Lucia speculated had become reality the moment Derek came out to stop him. Leerin herself had made up her mind about something and she was trying to stay some distance from him. Lucia said Layfon shouldn't go see her. Leerin wouldn't change her mind once she made her decision. He also understood how stubborn she could be.

But Leerin's stubbornness and Layfon being unable to meet her weren't related at all.

They didn't want to have ties with him?

Why?

Because Grendan hated him?

"It doesn't matter," he said. "I've already decided to meet Leerin. I've been lost, troubled, but now I've decided. I want to meet her, hear her reasons and then decide what to do next. I've already made up my mind!"

It wasn't a problem to him if Leerin didn't want him close because the people of Grendan hated him. If he cared about how other people looked at him, he wouldn't have participated in the underground matches. He would still have been living honestly in Grendan, enjoying the privileges given to a Heaven's Blade successor. The current Layfon was here because he failed to do that.

"If there's something I can do, it doesn't matter even if a problem in Grendan is to arise from it," Layfon called out, conveying all of his intention to Derek.

Derek's expression remained serious and unchanged.

"........ As I thought, you really are my son," he murmured without any changes in his expression.

He lifted the tip of his blade and pointed it at Layfon. It wasn't words this time. The tip of his katana was pointing at him and Kei released from his body.

"Then defeat me and let me see your will."

Katana and katana fought once again. The father and master said so to Layfon.

Nothing had happened till now.

"The problem is, what do we do next?"

Nina's shock at the scenery before her only lasted a few seconds before she was called back by Sharnid's unhappy voice. She nodded at him.

They really hadn't had any problems till now. The two of them had come to the outer edge after parting with Lucia and Felli at the shelter. They walked past some Military Artists on the way here but they didn't seem to notice them.

They didn't have any more energy left to spend on Nina and Sharnid.

The scenery before them confirmed Nina's thoughts.

The outer edge that was wider than Zuellni's had turned into a tragic battlefield. One of the performers in this battle was the monster that covered the entire city. It didn't invade the city itself, or maybe it couldn't do it. Numerous creatures shot out from its skin like rain. They attempted to destroy this city.

Only one person stood on the other spot on the stage.

A group of Military Artists waited further back in the outer edge in case some creatures slipped through. But only one person was enough to handle the rainstorm of live-bullets.

Yes, just by looking at him with your naked eyes, the word "handle" was most suitable for what he was doing.

The man named Lintence Savoleid Harden.

One of his hands rested by his side, not doing anything. And even more unbelievable was that his other hand was near his mouth, holding a cigarette between his fingers.

Even so, what was happening before Nina was still hard to believe.

The rainstorm of living bullets passed through the air shield continuously to attack Grendan. To put it another way, it was as if Grendan was the enemy of the entire world. Or that a gargantuan hand was trying to grind down the entire Grendan.

He still looked calm with plenty of room to spare in this situation.

But the Kei exuding from his body was enough to make Nina feel numb. Lintence's Kei seemed to be released from the dimension itself.

It was very weak, but one could still see the light of his Kei if one looked carefully.

So weak........... such weak light. But perhaps Nina's lack of power could only show her this much light. This light might be more intense and rich for Layfon who could steal moves just by watching the flow of Kei. Still, even such weak light was dense. The master who taught Layfon the Steel Thread technique. The light of Kei that Nina saw now. One could say she was looking at Lintence's steel threads.

The entirety of this space, the area of the outer edge that Lintence was responsible for, Nina couldn't even take in the entire area through her eyes. The light of Kei ran in this wide space. There wasn't any gap on the net-like wall weaved by the steel threads.

It wasn't a line, but a surface.

There were several surfaces overlapping each other in the outer edge. The live-bullets crashed into the surface and were cut into powder as of a moth flying towards fire.

"........ To think he can sustain this scenery. If it were me, I'd have vomited."

Nina nodded in agreement to Sharnid's comment. She wiped away the cold sweat on the neck as she realized that she might have thought too highly of her power after obtaining the Haikizoku. If Layfon was here, she could ask him how to use the maximum level of Kei most efficiently in this formation that Lintence that weaved, but even though the efficiency was high........ so if not one drop of Kei was wasted, it was shocking enough that the Kei was running through every single steel thread, and there were so many thousands of threads here. This wasn't just because of Lintence's huge power but also his ability of control, freely controlling so many unruly steel threads. Both of those abilities were being shown, indescribably, in front of Nina.

"So what should we do? Zuellni is on the other side judging by the direction, but......." Sharnid stopped speaking.

Nina had seen it when she left the palace and escaped. Their direction was correct. Felli couldn't establish contact with Zuellni because of this monster's interference. In this case, they had to escape this monster's embrace to ensure the Academy was safe.

"Zuellni........"

Nina had made this promise after she came to the Academy. She had promised to protect the Electronic Fairy. Nina felt ashamed for forgetting this promise.

"Even though we find a way to get past this monster, we still have to go through this steel wall first. And that looks very difficult."

"Either way, we must get past this point."

"That's why I want to know a way."

Sharnid suddenly felt very tired. Sure, his words were worth taking note of. No. He had accurately grasped hold of the current situation.

The usual Nina wouldn't be able to do anything about the two difficulties before her; whether it was the steel threads or the monster. But right now, Nina had the Haikizoku's power. There might be a way to get past this point. No, this was the biggest power she could use for her current self. She had to rely on her only weapon to break through this stalemate. As for its effect, she could only wait and see.

In this period of wait and see involved a lot of hope. She didn't know whether her strength was enough to make a hole in the monster's body. She wouldn't know the result if she didn't try. Because no one knew how thick this monster's body was.

But she must give it a try.

"......... Then, what're you planning?" Sharnid sighed as he looked at her with a "giving up" expression.

"Like this."

The two of them were standing on the edge of the outer edge area. She called out to Lintence straight after she answered his question.

"I want to go to Zuellni!"

Her voice was loud. There was no doubt that Lintence had heard her. No, he should have already noticed them for someone of his caliber. And Delbone should have already caught their presence even if Lintence hadn't noticed them.

But he didn't turn his head to look at them. Only a thin thread of smoke wafted from his body.

"I have to make a hole in this monster's body and go to Zuellni!" she called again.

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

Sharnid didn't even have time to feel helpless. All he felt was confusion and fear. The most straightforward method was to tell the other side what they wanted. Since they couldn't go through the wall with their power, they had to persuade Lintence. Of course, this was more rational than coercing him through force.

The problem was Lintence was a Heaven's Blade successor. He was the one who made Nina unconscious so he could take her away. Perhaps he might recapture her along with Sharnid. But she didn't feel he would do that and that was why she did what she did.

If this wasn't the case, Lintence would have obtained her location from Delbone and recaptured her before she met Layfon.

But he didn't do it. So, it didn't matter.

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

Lintence turned his face to her, taking down the cigarette.

She could only see the corner of his mouth.

But she saw it. The corner of his mouth was moving.

"Go if you can do it."

She felt that was what he said.

"Hey hey............"

And a hole opened up in the wall of steel threads before them.

"Really? We only said we'll try."

Helplessness and shock mixed in with Sharnid's words.

A hole opened up in one of the steel thread layers, but it closed after Nina and Sharnid passed through it. A hole then opened in the next layer. The defense of the steel threads was lowered as long as a hole was opened. There was risk involved and that was why Lintence was using this way to open a path for them.

At last, they came to the last layer.

Lintence would open a new hole for them if they were to take a step closer.

Numerous live-bullets crashed into the steel threads before them and were cut into pieces. Corpses fell next to their feet.

"What will you do next?"

Nina felt the steel threads were asking her.

She restored her Dite and readied her pose.

Raijin.

This was the only move for it.

But numerous live-bullets would attack like a rainstorm the moment the steel threads opened. It would be a furious strike, giving her not even a moment to concentrate her Kei. They would become food if they made one wrong move. Their bodies would easily become mincemeat. A small amount of defensive Kei was meaningless in this situation.

But there was no other way.

"I won't let the captain be the only one who looks cool."

"Sharnid?"

"I can't defeat every one of them but I'll shoot down all of those that seem like they will hit you. But I can't keep that up for long. We've to finish this as quickly as possible."

Layfon would have understood what he meant but not Nina. Felli's flake was behind her. She must have wanted to explain something as the flake moved close to Nina.

"I see. Then please take care of it," Nina nodded before Felli had a chance to explain.

(You don't even know anything but you agreed so easily.)

"What're you saying?"

Perhaps Felli found her words surprising, but Nina didn't like it that they doubted her words.

"I trust all members in the 17th platoon. Sharnid must have a way since he said to leave it to him. Then all I need do is wait for the result."

She had developed a relationship of trust with them through the platoon matches. This wasn't just Sharnid but Layfon and Felli, and the ones who weren't here, Dalshena and Naruki. She trusted them. She trusted that they wouldn't lie to her and do something that they didn't have confidence in.

(............)

The flake wordlessly left Nina and moved to stay behind her. It seemed to be expressing Felli's helpless sigh, but Nina didn't notice it. She was only watching the space before her.

"You have to immediately catch up with me after I release my move. If it's the same as a filth monster, it should also have the ability to regenerate."

"Roger."

She prepared her move as he replied.

She had been putting some of her mind to the presence of Kei since Layfon taught it to her. An amount of Kei flowed continuously in the Kei vein and that had enabled it to receive training just like her own muscles. It was able to reach the level that she hoped for.

And right now, her goal was set even higher as if she was challenging her physical limit. The stirring of her Kei vein increased in speed. It must be able to raise itself higher. She believed her level wasn't just this much. She continued to increase the flow of Kei, pushing its density to the limit.

And then.......

Melnisc.

She called in her heart.

(I obey.)

The golden goat, the Haikizoku that lived inside Nina, the Electronic Fairy that had turned insane because of anger, calmly replied. A power from a different place poured into the Kei vein. The power that was originally used to move a city, to sustain the lives of an entire city, now turned into Kei and forcibly flowed into Nina's body. And this Kei flowed to the outside of her body through her breath, exuding blue light.

An enormous amount of Kei.

"Um........."

She tolerated the heavy pressure of this sudden increase of Kei. She didn't notice this when she fought the giants, but an amount of Kei that surpassed hers was continuously pouring into her. This was a forceful act to help her exceed her limits and so pain spread throughout her entire body.

Perhaps Melnisc was more serious this time, giving everything it had to inject his Kei into Nina's body. Nina didn't know, but this monster, Nano Celluloid Interface M Durindana, was the source of all filth monsters.

The source of the Haikizoku's hatred.

Still, she tolerated the pain to chase after power, constantly increasing the Kei inside her. She kept raising it because she didn't know how thick this monster's body was.

Lintence was probably watching them. The timing was perfect. A hole appeared immediately in the steel thread wall. A safe path suddenly appeared before the live-bullets that had been self-exploding without ceasing. The live-bullets could only keep flying straight as they fell, but this hole was too big. Big enough for Nina and of course, big enough for the live-bullets. They closed in on her at high speed.

But she didn't move. One's reaction was to reflexively release her move while facing such an overwhelming presence.

But she didn't do it.

She had already said that she'd leave it to him.

A Kei bullet brushed past Nina. The shot felt weak because the original quality of the weapon, a gun, and the setting of it didn't make the density of Kei that high. But this shot of Kei bullet hit a location a bit further beyond the creature and created an unexpected result. The shell of the creature spidered into cracks and destroyed itself. The changes happened too fast. The Kei bullet had changed the creature's trajectory, making it head for the wall of Steel Threads.

Nina didn't turn around while Felli watched Sharnid through her flake.

The light of Kei surrounded his right eye.

Internal Kei variation – Ocular Sight.

This move referred to the dot being used on the gun so to target things better. This was one of the basic internal Kei variants a sniper must learn first. It was very hard to snipe without using this move to strengthen one's eye vision.

And Ocular Sight had strengthened this technique even more.

Not only could Sharnid see his opponent standing far away, he could also see his targets. Sharnid's eye had captured its opponent's weak point as it captured his image. All that he needed do next was to shoot the Kei bullet. His target would go down.

Of course, he could only do this if his sniping skill was accurate.

Layfon said this was a dangerous move. Sharnid was increasing his level of Kei, executing the move he usually made while strengthening his body so he could hit his target more accurately.

More creatures attacked them. A second creature immediately took the space vacated by the first one. Sharnid continued to shoot. The creatures that got shot had the same fate as the first creature, deflecting and heading for the wall of Steel Threads.

Nina finally went beyond her limit and released her move when Sharnid made the fourth shot.

Combined Internal and External Kei variation – Raijin.

Rumbles instantly conquered the field. The huge snake of thunder created by the two iron whips evaporated one creature after another as it headed for the monster on the other side of the air shield.

"AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!"

Nina howled. The sound of rumbles swallowed her roar and became much louder as if to condense her will. The mad snakes of thunder came together because of the iron whips that Nina crossed in front of her. It became a beast of lighting and hurled itself out with fangs bared. It burst through the air shield with Nina and, aiming at a point on the monster's body, a point that was so tiny compared to the entire body, she struck with the iron whips.

The destructive power of the strike hit one point of the body, seeped in and created a chain of explosions. Nina didn't stop. The destructive power cut straight into the monster's body as she continued to release Kei, making the monster unable to repair itself.

Forward, destroy, move forward and continue to destroy.

Behind Nina was the inside of the monster's body, an overwhelming sense of being swallowed. Nina felt it even though she was in the world of Raijin.

"AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!" she roared to dispel that feeling. She kept moving forward.

Finally, she burst through.

"Ah!"

She fell onto the ground.

She had never executed such a powerful Raijin before. The remnants of the ripples caused confusion in her consciousness. This only lasted for a short moment, but that was the truth. Nina shook her head to confirm her surroundings. She was on the bridge linking Zuellni and Grendan. She could see the city's legs. This meant she must be in Zuellni since she was inside an air shield.

"Hurry and run!"

Sharnid was running madly through the hole inside the monster's body and already, the flesh behind him was regenerating, attempting to close up the hole. He flew out of the hole as it sealed itself after him.

"That was exciting!" he panted.

Nina picked up the thing lying beside him. The flake that had come through with Sharnid had become a simple metal piece because the refilled hole had cut off the transmission of Psychokinesis. This was the end of contact with Grendan.

"We'll come back for you," she said to the flake she held it tightly in her hand.

She then urged Sharnid forward as they ran for the place where the Student President was.



The blades weaved together. The Iron Dite cut through the dim atmosphere. The light of Kei became streaks, the scars of the sky. The two opponents' eyes were round as the two men continued to exchange positions, and they were both in the air. The creatures shot out from the monster's body continued to fall around them and in front of them. The rain of creatures became a rainstorm. They were blocked by a pillar of light covering the city's sky that prevented them from falling into the city.

That pillar of light seemed to be the Kei bullets of Barmelin. Barmelin was continuously shooting Kei bullets from two gun barrels, creating a river that continued to swallow the creatures.

And Layfon was in a position above that river.

If they went up a bit more, they could touch the air shield. Layfon and Derek jumped and used the creatures as their platforms. Their blades danced in the air.

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

They had nothing to say.

Or one should say they had missed their chance to make any questions. Both were moving their blades through their will. Layers of cut paths were drawn in the sky, cutting the creatures into pieces.

But both were canceling each other's moves as they read them. The apprentice who was using moves he learnt from his master. He was familiar with his master's movements.........

And the master who faced his apprentice's moves. He understood his every movement. Even though his apprentice was using moves that went beyond him, moves that he created himself.....

And the master was canceling those attacks through the experience that he held, experience that his apprentice didn't have.

Kei, as one of the abilities of a Military Artist, couldn't so simply fill up the gap, but it had now become something equivalent. Why did the master have the same amount of Kei as his student and was using it? This was unbelievable. But the student understood that knowing the reason now wouldn't have made any difference to his situation.

The master decided to stand before his apprentice. The apprentice decided to surpass his master. Perhaps this intention was related to this amount of Kei, but this wasn't the reason behind his master's decision. The master still stood before him even if he couldn't fill up the gap of strength in Kei.

In order to fulfill his will.

"Um!"

The cut paths clashed in a roar. The handles of the blades touched each other. On the other side of the blade was the harsh countenance of his master. The fight of Kei had changed the density of the air and twisted the vision.

They were on par in terms of technique.

External Kei variation. Internal Kei variation. They were on par.

There existed adaptable techniques in Psyharden even in the situation of two fighters holding off each other with the handles of their katana. The sparks created by the tiny clash adorned the two of them.

But it wasn't permitted to hold each other for long.

Shot down by Barmelin's Kei, the creatures would change their direction no matter where Barmelin's Kei hit, even if it was the tip of a nose. In the end, they were taken into the rushing river and became powder. The two fighters could only leapt away from their makeshift platforms and released long distance moves in the air to restrain each other.

Their moves cancelled each others’ out.

They were on par in terms of external and internal strength, as well as on Kei techniques.

It was as if the current Derek held the same level of Kei as a Heaven's Blade successor.

(But........)

The lightning of cutting paths struck the rain of creatures. Layfon pondered as he released his moves. Since both of them held a Heaven's Blade successor's level of Kei, then they must be limiting their Kei output through the Dite.

(I don't think father has completely grasped hold of the control of such Kei.)

Just when did Derek's Kei increase exponentially? If it happened over a long period of time, it must have occurred right after Layfon left Grendan. If it wasn't the case and was a recent event......... the timing between these two possibilities was huge. But it took Layfon a long time to master controlling his when he found out a normal Dite couldn't hold all of his Kei. It hadn't been a year since he left Grendan, so it wasn't possible for Derek to be able to take full control of the Kei he now held.

The pain Layfon suffered when he was still immature couldn't compare with the pain a fully matured Military Artist had endured, but the current Layfon had found out his opponent's weak point and he wouldn't let that go.

Besides, there was one more thing.

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

He held the handle of his Dite in a tight grip.

The weapon he gave up when he became a Heaven's Blade successor was his katana. And the first weapon that trapped him in such a situation was also the katana.

The crisis of a food shortage.

The minute reason of Layfon being a Military Artist gave him more food to eat than the other kids in the orphanage. The city would face destruction if its Military Artists' strengths were low. Food shortage had trapped the city in a crisis, but that wasn't the only crisis the city faced. Layfon was rationed with more food because he was a Military Artist. None of his siblings agreed with him, though he wanted to share his food with them.

Because he was a Military Artist.

He was the city's protector.

But he held a different opinion at that time.

No, what he wanted to protect wasn't the city but everyone in the orphanage. And he wanted to protect all orphanages in the city. He felt that he should protect all who were in the same situation as him.

Derek's katana had given direction to his feelings. Layfon continued to hone his skill and continued to climb upward as a Military Artist. He stood in a position that was higher than anyone else to protect the orphans of Grendan. This was the face he should have. This was the road his blade pointed out for him.

Layfon held that katana right now. He was releasing his move through the blade that pointed his path out for him. What pained him more was the fact that he was fighting the father who raised him in the orphanage. The murderous intent and fire of iron, blood and death weaved through this field.

The monster that covered the sky, the creatures shooting out of the monster's body, that all the Heaven's Blades were battling and yet were unable to stop this whirlwind. Father and son fought in this insane situation.

(No matter what............)

Layfon had decided.

Even if........ that too.

He jumped to the boundary of the air shield and landed on a creature. He let his Kei explode, increase, refine, continued to increase the density level. The particles of dust in the air around him burnt because of the Kei he released.

He buried his blade deeply in the vicinity of his left waist. His left hand pressed down on the blade.

He was ready to pull out the weapon.

Derek was in a position almost on the same line as Layfon and making the same pose.

The two of them were thinking the same thing. Or that Derek felt there wasn't any other move better than this.

This would have fallen right into Layfon's lap if it were the latter.

Psyharden technique – Water mirror. Reflected Water Ferry.

A silent, high-speed technique. Both fighters appeared on the creature they wanted in the next split second. They took away their left hands that were pressing down the blades.

Psyharden technique – Flame Cut.

The two flame writhed cut paths clashed into each other. The two Keis clung to each other like glue. The two moves were fighting each other.

And the result was as expected.

"Haaaaaaaaaaaaa!"

Layfon continued to raise the level of his Kei. He kept pouring Kei into the Dite even though it far exceeded the amount the Iron Dite was capable of receiving. A slight error occurred in the external Kei that were glued to each other, almost deciding the direction of the explosion.

"Ohhhhhhhhhhhh!"

Derek roared. Father was also pouring Kei into his Dite and turning it into external Kei. The two Kei became glue-like again.

And then..........

Kei continued to rise and rise and rise and surpassed the limit of the Dites.

The blades gradually turned red hot and then both Dites exploded.

Both fighters threw away their Dites and pulled open the distance between them. The explosion hadn't affected Layfon but his chest hurt. He had lost his Iron Dite. This wasn't the first time he had lost a weapon as it had occurred several times in Zuellni. His lack of control of Kei before he became a Heaven's Blade successor had damaged many Dites. He could ask Harley to make another Iron Dite when he returned to Zuellni. Harley had the data of his Dite. He could use the same material to make a Dite that was the same in shape, weight and balance.

But that Dite would never return.

The proof of father's forgiveness, the symbol of reconciliation that Leerin brought him, would never return.

This pain grinded at Layfon.

But......

He watched Derek as he bore this invisible pain.

Derek didn't have anything in his hand. He also wasn't holding another Dite in his weapon harness.

Exactly as Layfon suspected.

But in Layfon's weapon harness were three Dites, the Sapphire Dite, the Adamantium Dite and the Shim Adamantium Dite.

It would end here.

He had lost the Iron Dite, the proof of reconciliation. Even so, he wouldn't kill the father who had lost his weapon. He would only keep on going.

Though he didn't mean to let down his guard, the sense of relief and pain spreading through him wasn't a lie.

But Derek wasn't aiming for that. In reality, he didn't seem to want to.

Layfon didn't miss his reaction, but the appearance of that thing was too sudden.

A thing of nostalgia. That thing was closing in with incredible speed.

Unbelievable.

That thing was heading right for them as if it didn't want the fight to end like this.

"No way...........?"

Layfon's gaze moved away from Derek, but Derek wasn't moving.

His father had felt it too.

That thing flew into the sky, becoming a streak of white light. It flew for the position in between Layfon and Derek. It hit a creature and the light suddenly disappeared.

The creature was destroyed, leaving behind a tiny thing. It was very tiny compared to the huge creature it just destroyed.

It was rumored to be a material that didn't exist outside Grendan.

"A Heaven's Blade........"

The line of trajectory slowly faded.

Heaven's Blade.

Wolfstein.

The thing that Layfon held in the past.

He thought of that and immediately reacted. Derek moved too. He leaped for the weapon in order to fulfill his will. Layfon wouldn't let him take it. He couldn't let the fight drag on anymore. He jumped for it and reached out with his hand.

Both outstretched hands wove together.

Two lights.

Leerin saw them in the tower of the palace, but it was apparent that they didn't appear in her eyes in their physical form. The image appeared through her right eye.

Twelve lights.

Just what were they? Leerin knew.

The Heaven's Blades.

The twelve pieces of metal held different appearances. They lined up in front of her. Of course, this was just an image in her head.

"Why?"

Why could she see them now? No...... Just like the existence of the Queen who held the absolute power of a Military Aritst, and just like the existence of the right eye that Leerin held that was related to the creation of this world, the Heaven's Blade successors existed in Grendan, so there must be a purpose to them. The existence of Heaven's Blades that made the potential of Heaven's Blade successors into reality was necessary.

Perhaps similar, it held some important meaning just like Leerin's right eye.

But why?

The Queen.

The right eye.

And Heaven's Blades.

The world Saya created.

The moving city that Saya slept in.

The moon.

The cross of thorns.

"........... Uh!"

The sudden pain made her stop thinking. She felt that she understood something, a feeling of almost finding all the pieces of the puzzle only to have to reassemble it again. Remnants of unhappiness. The pain in her head made her think of something else.

The cross of thorns.

Tho........rns.

She did see the image of a thorn entering his body when Derek left. What did that mean? The speed of the answer came faster than that of the question surrounding the Heaven's Blades. The answer appeared clearly in her head. Why was the answer so obvious? The answer was simple because its predecessor already existed.

She had chosen her protector subconsciously, and had similarly given him a thorn. Did it happen when he was still a baby, when he was a small child, when he was an adolescent or when he left?

Layfon Alseif.

Leerin subconsciously chose him to be her protector just because Derek happened to pick him up on the same day that he picked her up. The power in her right eye, the cross of thorns, entered Layfon in order to protect the slumbering princess. Layfon held a huge amount of Kei from when he was young. He easily became a Heaven's Blade successor. Living inside him was Airen, the ancestor of all Military Artists, the man who had become the moon to protect this world, the particles from his body that brought Military Artists into existence. It held the same meaning as the thing that generations of the three royal families sought.

Leerin's power made Layfon into a Heaven's Blade successor. Because she had given him the power that was needed to become a Heaven's Blade successor.

Then it was also her responsibility that he was exiled from Grendan. The Queen wouldn't have exiled him for entering the underground matches if he wasn't a Heaven's Blade successor.

In truth, the other Military Artists who participated in underground matches weren't exiled. Leerin felt that Layfon was exiled not because of his participation but because of that tragedy in the Heaven's Blade title match. That was the real reason.

Either way, the ending would have been different had he not become a Heaven's Blade successor. So she didn't want him to get hurt anymore...... But, ah....... But to give Derek the thorn in order not to get Layfon involved...... She couldn't forgive herself even though it wasn't her intention.

She lifted her head as she hated herself. Because of that, she couldn't retreat anymore. She couldn't always be protected. She must do all she could for this desperate situation.

The hand he reached out did tightly grasp hold of it.

The two people used their momentum to brush past each other.

In Layfon's hand was the restored Heaven's Blade. Layfon landed on a creature. The remnants of the Kei flowing through his body shattered the creature and he leapt again.

He had time to confirm the Heaven's Blade in his hand as he jumped.

"Uh!"

The shape was different. He was holding a sharp katana. Wolfstein should have been a sword. No one had taken the title after Layfon. The setting hadn't been cancelled and so the blade should have been a sword. Either way, Wolfstein wouldn't have reacted to Layfon's voice and Kei and restored itself if the setting had been reset.

And this wasn't the only strange thing.

Kei filled with majesty headed for him like a storm. Layfon turned his gaze to it.

Derek was jumping between the gaps of the creatures to him.

He was also holding a katana, and the shape of it was the same as the one in Layfon's hand. Layfon was right. That was a Heaven's Blade. Besides, Derek was releasing more Kei than before. Only a Heaven's Blade could withstand that amount of Kei.

There were two Heaven's Blades?

No. That wasn't possible.

So the katana had split into two just like Savaris' gloves. But why? Layfon had no time to ponder because Derek was in front of him. He raised his katana to block the strike, wielding it as he poured all of his Kei into the blade.

The two Heaven's Blades clashed.

CSR vol14 309.jpg

And the remnants of Kei created from this clash destroyed the creatures surrounding them.

He didn't have to confirm it anymore. It was a Heaven's Blade. He didn't understand what was happening but he hated the katana in his hand. This battle would have ended if the Heaven's Blade hadn't appeared.

"No one would acknowledge that half-hearted result!"

Derek's voice echoed in the sky.

"This battle won't end until one side falls. Throw away the katana and leave if you don't want to fight."

Layfon gritted his teeth. The fact that Derek didn't understand his feeling made blood rush up to his head.

But he controlled himself. Father was showing his preparation, showing his all without reservation. He had to defeat him if he were to disobey his father. He couldn't see Leerin if he didn't do that because Father already said he wouldn't let him see her.

Father was prepared to die for his will.

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

Layfon could easily shatter his preparation no matter how strong it was, no matter how much it would hurt him if the gap of strength remained as it was before. But he couldn't do that now. They were even. Both of them held the Heaven's Blade that allowed them to use their Kei without regret.

He would die if he got distracted in this fight.

"Then show me your resolve again."

Derek rushed him.

He raised the katana to receive the strike.

The two jumped from one creature to another. The blades danced in the air. The remnants of their kei annihilated the creatures around them and making them lose their platforms, but they used the remnants to make themselves jump again to another creature, to find a new platform.

And then they clashed once more.

Numerous spaces were opening up in the torrent of creatures falling from Grendan's sky.

A few people thought this was good timing.

To put it correctly, they were Heaven's Blade successors.

".......... Layfon. Who is the other person?"

Ruimei watched the sky. His huge body hadn't moved, but the metal chain that was connected to a metal ball covered the entire area he was responsible for, exuding the light of Kei. The surrounding was shockingly quiet. Creatures continued to rain down in other areas and the Heaven's Blades were dealing with them. The battles were quite tragic yet grand, but that scenery didn't take place here.

Ruimei's chain didn't only cover the ground of the outer edge, it had also sunk inside the monster's body as if it was part of the monster's skin. The first strike of the metal ball had entered the body and left itself in it.

External Kei variation – Lightning Quake.

The metal ball and chain inside the monster's body flowed Ruimei's kei in a rampage. This was destroying the creatures being shot out of the monster's body. Unlike the silence in the surrounding, Ruimei's mad destructive power was eating into the monster.

But one could only say they were on par with each other.

Ruimei turned his gaze back to the monster, but the rough hand patting his chin showed he was thinking of something.

"............ Can't we use him?"

(You're right.)

Delbone's flake replied next to him.

This was what Ruimei was considering.

(Tigris and Barmelin don't have as many to deal with because of the fight in the sky. This is a chance to take action.)

What that fight was about, how it was connected to the current situation, who Layfon was fighting against, all these meant nothing to Ruimei. His current mission was to fight this monster and not to chase after the details of Layfon's battle.

He should take advantage of this if Layfon's fight could make changes in the current situation. This was all he was pondering about.

"Really, I wish that fight were happening near me."

This was all he took notice of.

"Ha? Better to come over to my side than yours."

Cauntia's voice came through the flake. This defensive fight must be boring for her as she specialized in offence. But then, Ruimei was the same.

"You're annoying. For someone who can't fight without Reverse, you've no right to speak."

"What did you say!? Careful else I cut your stomach in half!"

"Come over here if you were to do that."

"Both of you, stop arguing."

Reverse's tension-filled voice that was unlike his usual calm made the two stop arguing. His words in battle were that powerful.

"We have to defeat the monster. It matters not who beats it."

"Exactly."

Kalvan entered the conversation.

"Delbone, have you discovered the enemy's weak point?"

(My flakes situated outside the city can't work because the transmission of Psychokinesis is cut off. I haven't found anything inside the city. I'm afraid the inside of this monster is made of atoms from creatures.)

"Then we have to find it from outside the monster."

Kanaris entered the conversation too.

"We can't change our assigned locations. Then let Tigris or Barmelin make a hole in that monster. There isn't any other way. What do you think about a hole that can remain open for a long period of time?"

(That's good. A thorough investigation will take a minute or so.)

"Let's give this good mission to the young," Tigris said.

"Eh?"

Tigris obviously meant someone else, and that made Barmelin call out in disapproval.

"It's better for you old timers to do this than the creepy guy there."

"Shut up. So annoying."

"What did you say! You filth!"

"Okay okay. Let me do it."

"You shut up!" the two howled together when Troyatte tried to break up the fight.

"A creepy personality has nothing to do with your level of strength," Troyatte said with a bitter smile.

"Leave it to Lintence to keep the hole open, since he's got time."

".......... I'm not just playing around."

"Even so, you can do it right? You're the strongest Heaven's Blade successor."

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

Lintence chose silence at this obvious provocation.

"All right. We'll attack the other places. Should that help you out?"

"Unnecessary."

The others chose silence at his displeased reply.

"What is Her Majesty doing?"

(Her Majesty is concentrating. If she didn't accurately give the monster a fatal strike, the rebound and heat of her attack would be too much for the city.)

"That's troublesome."

Troyatte's sigh closed the conversation.

"Then, let's go."

"You annoying old man. Guard me well."

Tigris and Barmelin, who had been continuously shooting Kei bullets and arrows, regulated their breathing. The Heaven's Blade at Barmelin's feet, Swattice, seemed lonely for not getting the chance to be used.

"Ha."

Tigris shot out Meandering Haze to eliminate all creatures in his area.

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

Tigris took a step forward and changed his pose when Meandering Haze was swallowing the creatures. He pointed his bow at the sky and pulled his Kei together in an instant.

The light he released became a pillar, running straight through the sky.

External Kei variation – Meandering Haze. Scattered Luster.

Changes occurred to the pillar of light when it reached the air shield. It dispersed just like the meaning of its name, becoming tiny particles of light to swim in the city's city, to capture, chase after the creatures and destroy them. This scenery was playing out in the entire sky.

"Ah, I'm getting old. It took me so much to just make that shot," Tigris complained as he prepared the next arrow. Next to him, Barmelin threw away the guns in her hand, and then she lightly tossed Swattice to the sky. She carried the huge cannon that was about the same height as herself and poured Kei into it. The body of the cannon continued to exude the light of Kei.

The setting was set at the highest level.

A huge pillar of light that didn't lose to Scattered Luster burst through the sky, piercing through the air shield to assault the monster's skin. The heat in the pillar of the light immediately burnt through the skin. The melting and evaporating processes almost happened at the same time, opening a large hole in the monster's body. Still, the pillar didn't seem to weaken. It pointed straight at the sky and blew away the dark clouds. The huge moon finally appeared in the sky.

The monster, not the dark clouds, regenerated itself as if to cover up the moon.

"Tsk!" Barmelin brushed off the waste heat emitted as a result of firing Swattice. In the midst of that, she popped an adorned chain off herself. The Dite chain restored in mid-air, into a magazine as long as her arm. Catching hold of it, she inserted the magazine into the slit of Swattice. Other than the barrel used for Kei bullets, which was still emitting heat, another barrel that was used for real bullets gleamed dully.

Taking aim at her target, she pulled the other trigger in succession.

The cartridges that were expelled in succession from the cartridge expulsion port danced in the air. The empty magazine was ejected automatically, striking the ground.

As the six cannon rounds that were fired off surged into the atmosphere, they lodged onto the interior of the hole bored earlier, pushing back the regeneration, and were deeply embedded inside. Delayed blast. The broken projectile heads became fragments that were deposited with Kei, and increased the damage sustained inside the monster.

But even with that, it only slowed down the regeneration. The hole kept decreasing in size.

"...... I'm peeved."

Barmelin wasn't happy with the result but she didn't stop her action there. She immediately took up the gun and created a river of bullets.

The shrinking of the hole was stopped once again.

Sharp teeth that one couldn't discern with his naked eyes were destroying the new cells and widening the hole. Lintence's steel threads were preventing the monster from regenerating.

"Even he can't keep this up for long," Tigris said. He didn't look good.

"You annoying old man?" Barmelin couldn't turn around but she didn't like the presence she sensed. All she saw was the big river of bullets, the faint light of the hole that was kept alive by her bullets and Lintence......... Delbone's flakes.

"Please make it work, Delbone," Tigris' words left, following the flakes that disappeared through the hole.

The flakes passed through the hole.

A black haze surrounded the other side of the hole. Filled with dense pollutants, the haze writhed around the monster.

(Next.........)

Delbone activated her Psychokinesis. The flakes spread outside Grendan moved once more. Thousands of flakes drifted in the wilderness, looking down at the monster.

(This is..........)

One couldn't quite tell the scale of the monster just from inside Grendan, but even Delbone, who had experienced huge battles, failed to suppress her shock at the sight she saw outside the city.

Rain wasn't creating the black haze.

It was the monster.

(Seems to be called Durindana.)

It sounded like a woman's name, but one could only call it monster judging from its appearance. The membrane-like thing that covered Grendan wasn't the monster's real body. But just where was it........

Things that looked like flower buds covered the membrane. They weren't really flower buds but that term was the most suitable looking at the thing's shape. The flower buds seemed to about to bloom any moment. A long neck stretched inside a bug and numerous scales covered the bud. It opened its mouth and roared at the sky like the head of an insect. As if it was threatening the moon.

Such a monster with many heads were swallowing up Grendan.

(One of them must be its weak point.)

Saya, the creator of this world, the true will of Grendan, this monster must have a weak point if her words were right. Saya had prevented the monster from invading the city by strengthening the air shield through her power. Her words were believable. But it was very difficult to find the weak point.

(But we don't have a lot of time.)

One minute. That was the time she had promised the Heaven's Blade successors. She could do it if she used all the flakes outside Grendan to do a thorough investigation.

(Then let's have a try.)

There were ten heads. Just the size of one head was about the size of a filth monster with a name. Delbone would leave one flake above the hole for communication purpose and take all of the remaining flakes close to the head then use the transmission of Psychokinesis to investigate the inside of the monster.

(I hope I can really find the weak point.)

There wasn't much time. She put all of her consciousness on the investigation.

But Delbone had made a mistake.

Or perhaps she had lost the sense of concentration she honed through years because of the emergency. She gave all of her consciousness to Psychokinesis, no, because her body was deteriorating and her movements were more inconvenient, she had prioritized all of her consciousness to the use of Psychokinesis, including what existed above her consciousness, and if there existed such a thing as a soul, she had given hers to Psychokinesis too.

And so the counter-attack made a heavy impact on her.

"UGRrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!"

The long neck moved as all ten heads howled. Perhaps Durindana was controlling even the dark clouds in the sky. And then came the lightning.

Numerous spears of lightning landed on the monster's body. Electricity flowed through the monster's skin and chased away Delbone's flakes.

The flakes were all parts of a Heaven's Blade so they weren't damaged, but the impact of the electricity had bounced them away. And this information spread through the flakes, the Psychokinesis to directly assault Delbone's body.

This probably should have been a normal piece of information for an average Psychokinesist. The flow of information would have caused her dizziness and a little bit of pain. It wasn't enough to threaten one's life. It would have been a normal impact for Delbone.

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

A patient suffering from a serious illness lay in the sick room in an underground shelter. The old her who had slept many years on the bed moaned. Her hand that was like a withered tree branch pressed down on her chest. Blood flowed on the lips that had lost their radiance.

"What a failure," the old woman said lightly, her own blood becoming the makeup on her lips.

The silence in her mind was a shock to her. Her head had never been so quiet since her fights as a Psychokinesis. Dealing with a huge amount of data was the same as breathing to her.

But this was all gone now.

The lightning had chased away the flakes outside Grendan, and it had also cut off the connection with the flakes inside the city.

The peace was shocking.

The equipments around the bed sounded their siren once they discovered the abnormalities occurring in her body, but she couldn't hear it. The strike was nearly fatal for her whose body function was almost non-existent. She had to rely on Psychokinesis to live her normal life. She had already used up the last bit of her physical strength to talk to Elsmau.

The best physicians in Grendan would arrive in a few more minutes.

But that would still be too late.

Delbone noticed she was close to her death in the silence that she had never felt in the past years. The counter-attack had brought her an impact that her old body couldn't sustain, and so she couldn't even maintain her Psychokinesis with the flakes inside the city. Not just the Heaven's Blades, but the Military Artists who fought behind the line must be in confusion too. Though other Psychokinesists were there to support the rest of the Military Artists, the person who took care of all the information was Delbone.

The Military Artists were unable to fight efficiently without information. Their efficiency to handle the creatures that slipped through the Heaven's Blade successors would lower. Besides, the Heaven's Blades themselves who were in the thick of fighting must be swayed a little by this event too.

"I didn't expect to die in an ordinary way, but I never thought it'd be in this situation."

Delbone wasn't afraid of death. She needed all of her strength just to get down from the bed to see her granddaughter. It wasn't surprising that she cared naught when she was about to die.

But to die when she hadn't finished her mission in this important battle.........

"It can't be helped. Let's persist till the end."

She made the decision and held tightly to her Dite. She couldn't even pour strength into her fingers. Still, her fingers did touch the Heaven's Blade. Just a short period of time. A short period of time was enough even if she couldn't send it to the entirety of Grendan.

There were only two locations for the destinations of her Psychokinesis.


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