Chrome Shelled Regios:Volume15 Chapter3

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Chapter 3: The Dispatched One[edit]

On the letter was written such a short sentence.

"I'm near. I'll be at your place soon!"

Not that he hadn't thought of its meaning. Though it was common not to have the sender's address written on the envelope, the location of the sender was evident by the seal of Kelnes.

"What's this?" Sharnid said, tightening his hold on the letter. This name attracted his notice. Kelnes, the City of Medicine. Sharnid was trying to deduce the deeper meaning behind it.

Had that person come?

But what was he planning?

And why Kelnes?

The letter in his hand had become a ball. His hand hurt. This level of pain was nothing to a Military Artist, not to mention a normal person, but right now, it seemed to be stressing on its own existence in the pain it inflicted on him. Sharnid left the room and headed for the Training Complex as usual. But how meaningful was this act? Probably not very. But Military Artists started training in order to survive, and then the future situation was ended by some faceless person.

"I wasn't thinking of becoming a hero, but even I couldn't predict this result."

This was what it felt like to be helpless. He hated himself for not being able to do anything. But he didn't think the choice he made back then was wrong. He only did what he could do at that place, accurately evaluating his strength, and made the correct response to prevent the situation from worsening, and then he survived. If he had died, nothing could have be done. Otherwise right now, he wouldn't have been able to do anything, whether it was about a goal or to obtain something he desired. Everything was meaningless in death.

He pondered as he walked. When he came to, he realized he was outside the hospital. The area here was different from the area that received outside patients. This area was especially tranquil. The nurses came and went. Visitors and patients chatted. But for some reason, there were no echoes. The quietness seemed to be absorbing the noise, making it vanish. Background noise was not background noise. Sharnid balked at this quietness. It halted his steps.

Once he reached upstairs, he had reached his destination. He knew this place already, but he still had to check the room numbers he went. Coming to the hospital was part of being polite. He didn't have to do that much, but he still did it.

Though he had said something to her that he "can't come", if he couldn't even do such a simple thing as visiting, then he really could do nothing.

Dinn was before him. His best friend whom he later firmly parted with.

"What do you mean?"

That exaggerated threat broke the silence.

"Shena."

The atmosphere in the hospital turned heavy through that piercing voice. The air seemed to have turned stiff. Sharnid ran to the room. The door was opened, and entering Sharnid's vision was Dalshena's angry face and the back of a man standing in front of him, plus Dinn, looking outside the window, ignoring everything around him. For some reason, this felt like a strange comedy. Sharnid swallowed the words he wanted to say and waited quietly.

"Sharnid."

Dalshena looked at him.

"Uh?"

That man heard the noise and turned around. He wasn't someone from Zuellni. He was around 20 years or so. Underneath his slightly dirtied clothes was a build with muscles that Sharnid would never be able to have no matter how hard he trained.

The man's face was turned sideways. He seemed to be looking this way, and he was also someone Sharnid knew. What a laughable comedy.

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He knew all three of them, but they shouldn't be meeting here.

"Oi, son."

That man greeted him.

He was tall and powerful, taller than Sharnid by a head, and the body bigger by a waistline. And he possessed Sharnid's handsome features, plus the solemn dignity of a boulder that had been baptized by days of wind and snow. That man was called Elrad Elipton.

"Old man, how come you're here?"

"Didn't someone send you a letter?"

"Ah, I only got it yesterday."

"What the. We arrived at the same time. As I said, letters can't be trusted," Elrad said with a sign of tiredness on his face. He watched Dalshena.

"You knew each other? Then that's good. I'm here because of work. But this little girl here is interfering."

"What?"

"Work? What work?"

The first thing Sharnid thought of in this unexpected situation was to calm down. If everyone reacted through their emotions, they would never get anywhere.

"Well........"

Saying that, his father pointed his thumb, fairly slender for his enormous build, at Dinn, who was still continuing to act as if this did not concern him.

"Is this part of your work too, dad?"

"Ah, I'm like a weed here without roots. If the job description matches the pay, I'd do it no matter what."

Sharnid felt Dalshena's gaze behind Elrad, and he felt a chill down his back. She must hold him in contempt now, he thought.

"He can be treated here too. Isn't it reckless to get him to ride a roaming bus when he's ill?"

"He's a patient, but he won't die as long as the drip is there. I have comrades to look after him too. Besides, he's not a baby who needs constant care, lying on a bed."

"You."

Those were words that couldn't solve the problem even though he had been insulted, besides, he knew his father had said it deliberately. Because he knew his son's persuasion would be fruitless. Even so, it didn't sit well with Sharnid that his dad had seen through him.

"Shena. Stop."

Right now, he must stop her no matter what. But his words were useless. The furious Shena had no intention of stopping.

She pulled out her Dite, restored and rushed him. A wind materialized in his not so spacious room, and the floor tiles promptly became a mess. Dinn was still gazing out the window with his empty eyes.

Elrad hadn't changed his position, but he had grabbed hold of the lance with his bare hand. What came next was the thundering sound of metal breaking. The lance was broken by his force.

"Ah."

Dalshena's expression was one of disbelief as she watched the event unfold.

"Calm down a bit, little girl," Elrad said to her, turning around, forcing her to his table through his overwhelming advantage.

"I won't take him and leave immediately. My side needs some preparation too. Of course, we'll take care of the cost of transport. Besides, it isn't that far away."

"Uh."

Though she knew she could escape by leaving her weapon, Dalshena didn't do that. She looked at him with abhorrence, the man who had stopped her with one hand only.

"That's enough, dad. Let her go."

"Right."

He released the weapon and Dalshena sat down on the floor.

"That's it son. Take her and go. We don't get to meet much. Should take some time to solidify our father and son relationship."

"You always say such revolting thing."

Elrad smiled and left the room.

But Sharnid had no intention of seeing him go.

Regret filled Dalshena. Dinn kept looking through the window as if nothing had happened.

"Kuh."

Dalshena turned to him. She didn't mean to. Perhaps she wanted to chase after Elrad but that wasn't it. Sharnid didn't know what to do so he only stood there.

Elrad Elipton was a professional mercenary. Sharnid's time with his dad was when hid dad was a mercenary. Sharnid had followed him, traveling from city to city for many years. From when he turned from a mere boy to someone with awareness, he had only been on the roaming bus. They had never settled down in any one city. It was already incredible to Sharnid that he managed to stay in Zuellni for four years.

Not that it felt good to him.

He had once attempted to destroy such a life.

He never thought his father would appear here.

Not knowing what to do, Sharnid left the hospital as if Dalshena had kicked him out. He wanted to think of the next move but he couldn't think of anything. Was he to return to the old days? Even if he was to ponder it, no answer was forthcoming. Besides, he just couldn't imagine it being with his father.

"Ah, damn."

Sharnid let out a breath. Things hadn't been resolved. He was just confirming the irritation inside him. Where should he go? He didn't know.

"What should I do?" he murmured as he lifted his head to look at the hospital.

Still, it wasn't as if there weren't any possible actions available. Since Dinn's condition hadn't improved, this meant Zuellni's current technology wasn't enough to treat him. Besides this was an Academy City, a city of students. It wouldn't be entirely impossible for students to be experimenting with Dinn due to the lack of mature technology. They might need that experiment in order to invent technology to call back one's consciousness. That was for Dinn and for patients in the future who might exhibit Dinn's conditions. But there existed a certain risk, and that remained unknown to Dinn.

Was it good to leave his former best friend in this condition?

This doubt surfaced in Sharnid's mind.

Then wasn't it better for Dinn to be taken back? Dinn belonged to a Military Arts family in Kelnes. He was part of the upper society. It seemed that Dinn left his home due to dissatisfaction with his family. For Dinn, he left his home city to look for help rather than to protect Zuellni. He must have borne a heavy determination to do this. Zuellni understood there must be a reason behind Dinn's action.

He hadn't seen Dalshena's angry eyes for so long. Sharnid had lost but he still wasn't willing to let go. Was he to wait till the time when he was to truly lose it?

"No."

In a sense, he could think that the current Dinn belonged to Dalshena.

"Don't think of it the wrong way."

The wrong way? Dalshena? Or was it himself thinking of such foul things?

Probably the latter.

It didn't matter about Dalshena. Even Sharnid himself didn't want to let Dinn go. He was now heavily swayed because he knew Dinn might die.

"What should I do?" he complained again as he finally left the hospital.

One answer came to him. Do nothing.

He walked for a while, turned a corner and could no longer see the hospital.

"Uh."

Elrad was waiting.

"Dad."

"Long time no see. Can't we chat for a bit?"

"I'm touched to tears by your love for always guarding me."

Elrad must have been watching him otherwise he wouldn't have appeared here right at this moment.

"Be moved."

The eyes that looked so much like Sharnid's were filled with love, but Sharnid hated that feeling. He sighed.

"Anyway, take that pretty girl to a quiet place for a chat."

His request was quickly denied. There was a café nearby but it was still quite some time till it opened.

"What a boring city."

"Where do you think this is?"

"A little flower full of liveliness. Oh, yes, how about hiring me as a teacher? Then I can give you a discount. Call me a good person."

"Ah, I'd be happy to tie you up and kick you out."

"What? You want to have me to yourself? In that case don't call me father. Might as well call each other brothers."

They entered the shop as they chatted. It was a shop with atmosphere but there weren't many customers.

"What?"

"You're noisy. It's still early."

"Time is of no consequence to a brat who is in love."

"What're you saying?"

"My theory."

No one would say that with a confident air. Besides, the world didn't have such a place for such a person. Sharnid silently chose a table without any customers around it.

"Then why did you accept that job?" he asked after the waiter had left with their orders.

"Well, sometimes I also want to do something befitting a parent, to come and see my son. But I never thought my item would be someone you know well."

"Don't compare a person to an item."

"Um?"

Elrad sat down on the narrow chair and frowned.

"Ahh. I see. Someone you know. I'm not all that sensitive with that kind of thing. Sorry."

Sharnid shook his head at his father's insincere apology. Never mind.

He knew his father's personality. And so no further words were exchanged on the topic. He also knew their relationship wouldn't improve because of this.

"Speaking of which, have you done it with that girl?"

The waitress bringing over two cups of tea gave a shocked expression at his words. She looked at Sharnid with contempt.

Sharnid watched his father with dissatisfaction. He knew dad was that kind of a person. He didn't hold a grudge anymore as he finally understood, and it was exactly because he was that kind of a person that it was normal for Sharnid not to know who his mother was. But. Never mind. Even now he still wanted to know who his mother was, but knowing wouldn't change the fact that he was still Sharnid Elipton. The important thing was she was a woman who would give her son to such a father. Even in a part not hidden in a dramatic TV show, it was a boring fact that one would know. The important thing was Sharnid himself wasn't all that adverse to it.

Apart from feeling regretful for creating such a scene.

"What. Not yet?" Elrad stared at him regardless of the consequence. "I don't understand it. When I was your age, I wouldn't give a woman I wanted time to rest."

"You're so annoying. I don't want to repeat your path," he said to his father who was prone to abandoning his work.

"Compared to that, dad, can't you think of a perfect plan to not bring Dinn back?"

"What? So your aim is to rely on someone else?"

"Tsk."

"Impossible." Sharnid had expected a debate but his father's personality wouldn't allow it.

"If you still hold a father and son relationship with me, then think of that brat's parents. The job was requested by his parents."

Sharnid could only listen.

"The important thing is the level of technology here can't treat him. The city of Kelnes is good at treating post-Kei acceleration drug symptoms."

"What did you say?"

"You're so stupid. I'm saying the City of Kelnes invented the Kei acceleration drug."

That fool of a city that never thought of the consequences of its actions. Dinn hadn't rejected it. Or perhaps to Dinn, who wanted to increase his strength, using drugs itself wasn't permissible.

Yet Sharnid thought this suited Dinn's thinking.

"So you........"

"Uh?"

"Have already used it. The way to increase your strength. The one I taught you."

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

"It comes from your feelings. Did you use it to run away? You idiot."

"But that couldn't be helped."

Feeling the sudden chill down his back, Sharnid turned his face away. At that time, he had over-exhausted his Kei vein by using that move, and he was forced to stay in the hospital for a whole day. But for the present Sharnid, that wouldn't have been a problem.

Still, he couldn't escape Elrad's eyes.

"Couldn't be helped."

Elrad's cold gaze pinned him.

"A fight has already begun from the moment of creating victory. The last moment to turn a situation around also embodies the victory or defeat of a fight. You did that even though your strength was not enough, and that is evidence of your immaturity."

"....... What would you do if you can't see victory no matter what?"

"Run away. I already told you that's why that move was made."

Sharnid looked at the ceiling seriously. His dad's hypothesis "though defeat is very probable but escaping is not impossible" didn't exist. Of course it was natural to want to run away when that happened. And if the city was destroyed, then all he needed was to escape from it. That was the way the mercenary, Elrad Elipton, thought. A very human factor. To rely on a factor of non-defeat. Elrad would never miss that chance.


On the second day.

Sharnid could only pass his day in confusion as he still hadn't thought of a good way. The Training Complex was closed off because it was being fixed, and so they didn't have platoon training.

The plan to rebuild Zuellni was almost at an end. The entire city exuded relief, but not Sharnid. Either way, his conclusion was that it was good for Dinn to return to his city, but Sharnid wasn't happy about that.

"What should I do?"

With nothing to do after school, Sharnid sighed as he walked through the school ground aimlessly.

"Ah, Sharnid-senpai."

Sharnid looked up and saw Harley driving a truck. The city had made many of such vehicles to transport items that were too big to move by hand. The truck could even transport people.

"Hey."

"You look bored."

"Yeah, bored."

He replied with his usual flare. He didn't feel that pained right now.

"Speaking of which, what are you doing?" Sharnid couldn't think of a reason behind Harley's action as he was just leaving the Alchemy building.

"I'm borrowing this to help move."

"Moving?"

At this time, the junior students were finding houses to move into. It would take the graduates some time to move their things out.

"Didn't you hear? Layfon has found a new house."

"I see."

"I'm helping now."

"Right."

Layfon hadn't been showing up at platoon training. Sharnid understood that and had decided to leave him alone. Only time could heal the wound in his heart, though as for whether it would heal or not, Sharnid didn't know. Was his own problem the same, one that only time could wash clean?

"Since I've nothing to do, I'll go check it out. It is Layfon's new home after all."

"Come and help out."

"Ok."

Sharnid took the wheel and pressed down the switch button. The truck accelerated. Harley wailed as the engine howled, seeing how Sharnid was driving over the speed limit.

Their destination was Layfon's former home, the male dormitory 1.

"Who remodeled the truck?"

Harley was exhausted when they arrived.

"Isn't this thing quite good?"

"No. It's not possible for it to have that speed. Damn. I'd get caught for remodeling it."

"Well, we've saved some time thanks to this truck," Sharnid gave Harley a pat on the back and headed for the door. Layfon was already waiting with his luggage.

"Hey, that's all you've got?"

By Layfon's feet lay the sports bag he had been using since the beginning of term, a suitcase and three boxes.

"The furniture is originally the dorm's. I've already packed everything like clothes except for the textbooks."

"Ahhh. Can't you be less ridiculous for being a bore?"

"This is already more than I expected."

Layfon had thought one suitcase was enough.

"Well, never mind. It's not bad to finish this quickly."

They quickly stowed the luggage on the back of the vehicle, which made the vehicle lose its balance. But at least the front wheel hadn't left the ground. Harley drove the vehicle while the two fell behind it.

"And where are we moving these things to?"

"Somewhere near the cargo area."

"Really?"

Though he was speaking, the distance between the two of them hadn't widened. Besides, Harley was driving at the running speed of a person. A normal person could speak while running next to the vehicle.

............Still, he wasn't so sure of the content of the conversation.

Looking at Layfon, it seemed he was recovering. He didn't look to be particularly anxious. This was a special trademark of Layfon's in times of peace, or perhaps it was a symbol of cunningness. An expression that could be seen through so easily meant Layfon still hadn't tided up his feelings. He still hadn't let it go. Sharnid felt that Layfon didn't even dare think about it.

For Sharnid, he felt he didn't understand his own feeling. Feeling like light wind was his natural demeanour. He didn't think Layfon was the same as him, but if he was what Sharnid thought he was, then perhaps he was unconsciously operating behind his own defences. (Meaning, he was running away.)

(It's not possible to recover simply.)

Sharnid was not party to the details of the things that happened to Layfon in Grendan since he returned to Zuellni halfway. Felli seemed to know everything but she hadn't spoken to anyone about it. Nina too. But probably not the Student President.

But Sharnid could kind of guess from Layfon's expression. The Layfon who dragged his feet back to Zuellni as he left Grendan. And he looked like he had lost his soul. This was enough. This was the cause of his childhood friend, Leerin. He had failed to take her back, whether it was physically or mentally. Even if Leerin didn't return to Zuellni, Layfon wouldn't have had this expression if the two of them had talked it through.

(Ah~Ah.............)

The current Layfon was like Sharnid.

(If it were me, what am I trying to protect?)

Or, one could say, what did he want to take back?

They arrived at their destination while Sharnid was pondering. It was a very old and dirty building. The house was originally white on the outside but spots of black adorned its walls after long periods of erosion from rain and wind.

"Wah. No way?"

Sharnid couldn't believe this building was still standing.

"You can tell there's no one instead, but it still has its value," Harley speculated.

That must be it. There was a residential area around here, and this place was very close to the cargo area, but it was quite far from the more popular streets. Since it was close to the cargo area, it wouldn't be too far away from the farms and the fish farms. It would have been dangerous to place cargo near the residential area and the streets because of fire concerns. Of course it should be placed somewhere further away from houses. And so this housing area was only temporary. It would be demolished if the cargo area needed expanding. But right now, there was no such need.

"I was wondering whether you really were going to move in."

"It's close to the tram station so it's not that inconvenient."

"But isn't that the tram for cargoes?"

Ignoring the suddenly speechless Sharnid and Harley, Layfon started moving his luggage into the house. The two could only leave this topic. The luggage was not much and since there were two Military Artists here, they didn't need to return to the vehicle again.

They realized someone was already here after they entered the house.

"Ah, Layton. The furniture is almost done," Naruki said.

"Thanks. Ah, sorry about this."

"That's fine. It's pretty easy."

Nina showed herself at the voice. "Layfon, come and decide where the furniture should be placed."

"Sorry, Captain, I should be assembling the furniture."

"Don't worry. Didn't Naruki say that it was easy?"

It seemed Nina and Naruki had already assembled the furniture when Layfon and they went to move the luggage.

"What. There's nothing for me to do," Sharnid said.

"There are still some electrical appliances that need installing," Nina pointed at the boxes.

"Wa, that's too complicated."

"Speaking of which, that seems to be my job."

"Oh, then I'll leave it to you. So there's nothing for me to do now?"

"Right right."

Layfon, Nina and the others already headed inside the house to put the furniture in the right places.

Sharnid opened the box. Inside were cheap electrical appliances.

"........ Uh?"

He found her.

Sharnid was in the living room at the moment. This room was very big. Even the left-behind boxes and various rubbish from the furniture weren't enough to fill the room. And in the area, with her back leaning against the wall, was a person.

"What are you doing?"

Felli.

"Reading because I have time."

Felli flipped a page.

"Come and help."

"You want me to do physical work?"

"Then what are you sitting there for?"

"This."

Sitting next to her was the Light Dite in its restored form.

"Uh?"

"I have a feast to attend after this, so we have to prepare the dishes. It'll take about one more hour to finish the work here, after that, I'll have to help out with bringing the girls over."

So Felli was here to take care of the communicating.

Meishen and Mifi were currently preparing the dishes. Since eating utensils weren't enough, plus the house was in a dusty state, it was more hygienic, less time consuming, and much cheaper to get a restaurant to prepare dinner than here. And that was also the reason why Naruki was left behind, though she was always with the other two.

"And then. That's it?"

"That's it. Are you not satisfied with anything else?"

"No. Let's do our best."

Sharnid said to the Felli who looked like she was about to bite a piece off of him as he took out an electrical appliance from a box.

It took them less than an hour to assemble the bigger appliances. Naruki took the car to get Meishen and Mifi. Layfon was tidying up the room. Nina and Felli took care of the boxes and began to sweep the floor. Harley started checking the finer details of installing the electrical appliances.

Having finished his part for now, Sharnid went to the veranda. From here he could see the entire view of the storage area, all the way to the legs of the city and then the scenery of the outside world. It was as if a veil of white was shrouding the wilderness, as if one were flying in the sky.

And Dinn was about to leave here.

From the very beginning, Sharnid had been the one to abandon others.

He had begun his journey when he followed his father around, who was hired as a mercenary. He traversed between cities. Day by day. He was used to sleeping on a roaming bus, so used to it that he wouldn't be able to sleep on a bed. That was how he lived his daily life. Sharnid was always the one to first say goodbye to friends of his own age.

He hadn't been abandoned before.

The word "goodbye" was good to the one who said it, since he had already prepared his heart for it. But for the side that received this word, the feeling probably wasn't mutual.

He recalled the faces of those he had to suddenly part with, trying to understand their feelings.

They probably felt the same as he did now. Though this wasn't unreasonable, it wasn't something he could have done about it.

It was impossible to simply walk through the air shield. Could he survive out there? He remembered......... The former captain of the 10th platoon. He recalled the scene when she left. That wound had been healed, or perhaps it made people feel that it had been healed, but (in reality), it was just a way to avoid the feeling of loneliness.

Sharnid had been in this city for 4 years now. What changes had occurred in him? Could he now sleep in a bed?

Training in Military Arts required his own persistence, and that point hadn't changed. He didn't feel any discomfort for continuing to stay here. He was full of spirit when he was training alone. That part hadn't changed.

Still, he hadn't managed to be honest with others.

Ahah. Speaking of which.

That night at Grendan. The honest talk. Layfon hadn't given off this feeling.

He felt embarrassed, but then that timing was the worst ever.

Perhaps the Academy City was the same. At least it was that kind of an existence to him. Sharnid was here because of the people he had met. Perhaps even he himself wasn't sure. He had suddenly come to the Academy City. Suddenly left Elrad. He still didn't know why he made that decision back then. But it was certain that he had prioritized learning by staying in Zuellni. In that case, it was a matter of fact to accept the near-future that he would have to say farewell to Dinn.

Could he really accept it?

"What's wrong?"

He turned around at the sound. Nina was putting down a bag of rubbish on the veranda. Sharnid felt embarrassed that he didn't even know she was near as he was too deeply in thought.

"What is it?"

"Ah. Nothing. You look terrible."

"Uh? Really?"

"If anything is troubling you........"

"It's nothing."

He tried hard to hide it, turning back to his normal expression.

"Really?"

Nina didn't believe him but she turned back to the house. They had almost finished tidying up the place, and Layfon was almost done with his luggage. Only Harley seemed to be still busy, checking things here and there. And he seemed to want to make some suggestions.

Layfon was in a fluster, not knowing what to do. Because Felli was glaring at him with a pale face.

Layfon was here.

Nina was here.

The Military Artist with immense fighting power and was an original Heaven's Blade Successor was here.

The Military Artist with a power like fire, her body taken by the Electronic Fairy of an abandoned city, was here.

Even Elrad couldn't be able to fight against these two. Besides, he wasn't interested in a fight he couldn't win.

Sharnid could stop him from taking Dinn if he gave it his all. He was their senpai, their comrade. He had fought with them till the last person. There must be a way if he asked them. He just needed to ask for their help, facing their laughing faces.

There were still two years.

Still two years till he graduated. The same year as Dinn. Either way, he would have to leave this city after two years. That was the rule of the Academy City. Not that he wanted to break the rule. But he only had two years. It was good that he still had time left. He could persuade them.

"............ What am I thinking?"

Could he tell them? What kind of expression should he make? He couldn't imagine it. He had always been talkative. Pretentious. With what expression should he say this? Back then when they fought against the 10th platoon he had talked to Layfon alone about it. He regretted his immature action. Did he want to do more regrettable things?

But it was too big a temptation for him.

"Ahhhh. I can't stand it."

Something had changed on the opposite side of the glass. Naruki and her two friends were here. They were carrying a large number of bentos, and they were backed by Meishen's powerful cooking. They had all tried the tasty cooking in the camp. Everyone cheered. Only Felli seemed to feel different with a reluctant expression on her face.

"Ah. This is how it is," Sharnid said. "I felt the same before."

Sharnid, Dinn and Dalshena.

He recalled the time when the three of them were together. The scenes that he couldn't take back were trapping his feet. No matter how much time had passed, Sharnid still couldn't genuinely melt into the circle now.

After that, the feast lasted till deep into the night. Claribel came midway with a gift to celebrate, making the feast more vibrant. When everyone was tired, they went to sleep. Sharnid was the only person to leave the house.

The time limit was up.

Sharnid came to the outer-edge of the city, where the roaming bus stop was.

The roaming bus was painted with a special color to show that it was private property. There were many people in the waiting area.

All roaming buses were connected by the Electronic Fairy of the Traffic City Joeldem, in order to correctly coordinate the buses according to the locations of various cities. However, roaming buses for travelers were not the only type of buses. There were other buses also that served other purposes.

The roaming bus of the Salinvan Guidance Mercenary Gang had come to Zuellni before, and now Elrad. The roaming bus at the bus stop might belong to Dinn's family.

"Yo, you're here."

Elrad was waiting with nothing to do in the waiting area. He waved at Sharnid. A number of adults immediately headed over as if to guard the person sitting in the wheelchair, Dinn.

As if they were protecting someone important. Not everyone was here, but there were Military Artists in the group.

"Ah..........." Sharnid muttered helplessly.

Dinn, who was sitting in the wheelchair, didn't look at him. His glassy eyes were staring at the scenery of the outer-edge.

It was impossible for him to reply. And even more impossible for him to choose.

Sharnid had no other way but to watch Dinn leave.

"Ah, what bad timing. The preparation is done but the other side is bad. We can't leave as long as the wind doesn't stop. I want to head out early too, but that can't be helped since we can't see anything before us."

"Oh........"

Speaking of which, Sharnid already noticed it, that the wind outside the city was particularly strong today. A roaming bus wouldn't be able to move even if it was in the middle of the wilderness. This situation wasn't uncommon. The problem wasn't just low visibility. Accompanying the wind were pollutants of high density, and at times, filth monsters. Sharnid seemed to have heard of it before.

But all that mattered not to him as he watched his father who was about to leave.

"Do you have anything else to say? This is your last chance."

Was what Elrad said.

"Well, don't say anything if you plan to leave this city for Kelnes," he continued. Elrad had no conclusion as to where his son decided to settle down in eventually. No. Elrad probably had a different way of thinking than normal travelers. Or perhaps he would never have thought so deeply about this issue.

"Never mind."

Sharnid turned around and didn't look at the faraway Dinn anymore. He didn't know what to say. He didn't know what to say to Dinn. Not sure if words could convey his message. Besides, even if it worked, he wouldn't have known how Dinn would comprehend those words. Did Dinn still harbor hatred for him now? Or had he let it go already? Or was it all just Sharnid's own thinking?

Sharnid's feet wouldn't move. He could only watch Dinn's back from here.

"Isn't it better to give up?"

So sudden.

Elrad said so suddenly.

Other voice came to Sharnid before he had time to digest the meaning behind the words. It was the sound of running feet. No. The sound of leaping feet and wind being cut apart.

Shena.......

Not only was that the case.

Someone else was quietly following Dalshena apart from her rude voice that tore apart the sky, as if even the air itself was giving way to him. Both of them stopped before Sharnid.

"Bastard.........."

The word came from between clenched teeth.

It was Layfon. He was standing with Dalshena. Hanging from his weapon harness were his Dites. His expression was sharper than when he was moving house, and he was now standing a little ahead, adjacent to Dalshena.

"Aya....... This guy is hard to handle."

Elrad had already seen through Layfon's fighting strength with one glance.

No. Sharnid couldn't sit still and do nothing.

"Shena!" he shouted.

"What? What else you have to say?!"

Why? Even he himself didn't know. It must be the words of the devil. Just like how it attacked Sharnid, it had also said the same words to Dalshena. The correct reasoning was to have an overwhelming power that would make Elrad back off. And so Sharnid had stopped thinking and acting.

But Dalshena had acted.

"What do you know?!" Dalshena was angered by her inability to do anything. "How can you know my feelings? You who easily gave up?"

Sharnid was speechless, shocked by her words.

"Ah....... Anyway, let's deal with the situation now."

Elrad watched the two of them as he instructed the guards.

"Don't let the boy go. Want to use full power? Not bad. And then?" he asked Dalshena. Elrad watched her twisted face. He never once glanced at Layfon.

Elrad knew Dalshena was the one who triggered this situation.

But Sharnid was worried. He hadn't seen Layfon's expression in the midst of battle for a long time. Layfon's expression gave him a sense of unease.

Elrad finally glanced at Layfon. Perhaps he had been defeated by the feeling Layfon exuded.

"You sure this is fine? Zuellni has no way to cure this guy. He might be cured in Kelnes. Either way, that place is his home city. Are you fine with this?"

What Elrad said was correct. He continued to throw the right words at them, making them unable to breathe. Correctly drawing the boundary between feelings and what was right. The skills that came from experience became crucial here. Smother one's feelings.

Sharnid couldn't breathe either. Dalshena's expression remained twisted. Only Layfon was unmoved. The passion in his pupils made one think he could do more than just saving others.

"I don't care what is right or wrong," Layfon said curtly. Even Dalshena was shocked by him.

"I don't know what is right. I'm doing what I'm doing now because I heard the wish of not wanting that person to leave."

Ahah.

That feeling while looking at the sky. He looked at Layfon with that kind of feeling.

Layfon was influenced by that feeling, so much that he wanted to cry. He must now be feeling again the pain of losing his childhood friend, Leerin.

Stupid.

Sharnid could not mutter. Even he himself didn't know who he was saying those words to. To Layfon? Or Dalshena who told Layfon of this? Or to himself who could do nothing but stand here.

"Tsk."

Elrad stood before them with impatience. In his weapon harness were three Dites. Layfon also leapt over to him.

Sharnid didn't see how he leapt.

The light of restoration was already lit in Elrad's two hands. In Layfon's hand too. The Sapphire Dite in the shape of a katana.

A sharp cut path was drawn. It was drawn.

Next were two blades blocking the attack.

Guns. In Elrad's hands were two guns. They had blocked Layfon's attack.

"Gunmanship......."

"Don't underestimate me, little brat," Elrad roared. And next he was gone.

Release Sakkei and moving in an instant. All high level moves. Though Sharnid knew what techniques Elrad was using, he had no idea where he was now.

But Layfon knew.

Layfon hadn't moved. But he had blocked the attack slightly to the left of his back. This was the biggest blind spot for a right-handed fighter. But Layfon blocked it without moving an inch.

"Not bad."

Only Elrad's voice came to Sharnid's ears. That figure had once again moved with Sakkei to confuse his opponent. Disappeared from view. Layfon now moved. Countless number of bullets headed for his spot. Numerous bullets shot through the brick-paved area of the outer-edge.

Elrad wasn't standing beside Layfon. He had judged Layfon's fighting power in a split second and turned this into a long distance fight. Sharnid's sight couldn't capture Elrad's presence which continued to appear and disappear. Elrad was in the outer-edge, appearing and disappearing ceaselessly, while Layfon was calmly evading in the rain of bullets.

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

Layfon was saying something.

The Sapphire Dite lit up again in his right hand. And it became the Steel Threads. The weapon was too powerful. It was sealed due to the orders of the Student Council. It wouldn't have become reality in a peaceful period if not for Harley.

Did all members of the 17th platoon know of this?

No............

It was strange that Nina wasn't here. Was this Layfon's decision alone? Had he decided that there was a need for the Steel Thread setting when he heard from Dalshena? Or was he worried that he couldn't use his full strength? He was much better at using katana than the Steel Threads, but he had used both in Grendan.

He couldn't forgive himself for not using his full strength here.

Layfon stopped once more. The steel threads stopped Elrad's attack in the air, giving off lots of sparks. On the other hand, he had moved the Sapphire Dite to his left hand. In his right hand was a new Dite. He had pulled out the Shim Adamantium Dite. Restored. The blade of the night appeared. He stood with sparks wreathing up an invisible blade. A blade of darkness. His pose made Sharnid shiver. He had seen Layfon in numerous battles, but he had never seen his expression like this. Never.

CSR vol15 143.png

He was about to use something unbelievable.

That was Sharnid's instinct. Appearing and disappearing again. Attacking again and again with his guns, Elrad's expression could be clearly seen. Layfon was an opponent stronger than he had expected. Elrad probably felt that.

In that case he would have to stop Layfon from using more moves.

Not sure of the reason, but Sharnid knew that he couldn't keep that expression while selfishly thinking this had nothing to do with Layfon.

"That's enough...." But he couldn't continue with his words.

The sudden murderous intent made him jump. Dalshena was ready with her lance.

"Shena!"

"You can't stop me!"

"Damn."

Sharnid restored his Dite. Two guns appeared in his hands. Sharnid was ready for battle as he watched her.

"This isn't the time for it........"

"Then do we let Dinn go? To see them? Dinn hates them."

"Yes."

Right. Dinn hated Kelnes. And that was how Sharnid knew of the ugliness of that city.

"I won't allow it!"

The balance collapsed. Though Shanrid was good at close quarters combat, he had no chance of winning against Dalshena who was born in the world of it. Strength suffused the tip of the lance. Sharnid evaded it just before it reached his eyebrows. He wanted to escape from the consecutive attacks but that wasn't possible. Dalshena had grown a lot compared to when she was in the 10th platoon, especially with her training of her lower limbs. Her feet were directly controlling her attacks so the distance between the two of them wouldn't widen.

The bullets in his guns were the anesthetic bullets used in a match. They couldn't kill a person. Sharnid shot without a burden, trying his best to control Dalshena's movements.

".................tsk!"

A bullet skimmed across her abdomen. The expression of Dalshena twisted. A direct hit from the bullet and Kei in it would have paralyzed her, but the previous attack wasn't one and so had no such effect. Still, Sharnid could see she was a bit flustered.

The hope of settling it once and for all could only prove Sharnid's naivety.

"Tsk!"

She wasn't too far from him, adjusting her breathing while continuing to attack. He almost evaded the attack, but his moment of opening made it impossible.

The lance broke through....

Her lance came straight down. Kei made its tip a weapon to stab through Sharnid's abdomen.

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

He felt the sound from his ribs and retreated with quick steps. But Dalshena closed the distance between them. She held the small blade hidden in the lance. The lance stabbed without pattern as the small blade turned into a dance. Close quarters combat. But also a fight that could be decided by the lance in the blink of an eye. It was gradually becoming a one on one sword fight, and that was way beyond what Sharnid could handle.

The safety setting of her Dite wouldn't go out of control because it was Dalshena. But no matter how clumsy the small blade was, it had left injuries on Sharnid's body. Pain assaulted him.

This wasn't the time for that. Sharnid continued to evade as he thought. Though this wasn't the time to look at Layfon, he knew Layfon looked different from usual. He must stop this fight. Layfon was here because he didn't want to lose again.

"Damn..........."

He deliberately made an opening as he desperately evaded the attack. At the same time, he had finally seen through Dalshena's messy attack. This really was like her style. She obviously wanted to finish this quickly, thinking that she could end it without hesitation.

And so she had seen his opening.

And so came the stab.

This was as expected. She used the small blade to influence the fight, to find a breakthrough point in moves that were set in stone.

Sharnid himself made this opening and so he knew which direction the stab would come.

Though the tip of the lance was slow, the apparent result was inevitable as he wanted to stop the tip with his palm.

Pain pierced him. He felt metal bore through his hand. He used his fingers while terror cut through him. His hand grabbed hers rightly.

Dalshena was speechless.

"What're you playing at?" Sharnid said through clenched teeth as he bore the pain. "Don't involve others in our problem."

"What........"

"Do you want that guy to follow our footsteps?"

Perhaps in this situation, perhaps these words, were what made her properly see Layfon for the first time, the him who was fighting Elrad. Perhaps she had now seen his serious expression.

"We can't let him see this, he who has just lost her."

"But."

"Ahah. I'm in the wrong too. I did what we should have done quickly. We can't not do this."

"What......."

Ignoring her question, he pulled his hand from the blade. And ignoring the pain, he shouted.

"Stop right now!"

Layfon and Elrad stopped at his shout.

"Layfon. Thank you. But this is our problem. Ignore Shena's confusion."

"But........"

Layfon wanted to say something, but he swallowed his words when he saw Sharnid's hand. Blood flowed from the pierced palm.

Sharnid ignored that and looked at his father.

"Dad, let us bet."

"On what?"

"Don't involve yourself with Dinn anymore if we win. Either way, we'll graduate in two years."

"If you lose?"

"Take him away."

"I have nothing to gain here."

"My dad is that incredible to think about this using our gamble."

"Ha," he snorted.

But the laughter in his face meant he understood it. Sharnid retrieved the gun from the ground. The injury in her hand was interfering with his movement, but he still picked up the gun.

"But you've made such a foolish choice."

"Let me live the way you can't. Father and son are copies."

"Ha, and so you want to stand out?"

"That needs courage that an adult lacks."

Sharnid's roar pressed down on Elrad.


"Ah --- it hurts."

The colour of the sunset was beautiful.

Not sure if time had flown or that he had fainted. Sharnid lay on the icy bricks, watching the sky with no pain in his body. He had wanted to keep going, but not only could he not defeat Elrad, he couldn't even use his full strength.

Perhaps because Sharnid said "us" or maybe for something totally unrelated, Dalshena had entered the fight. Still, that didn't mean much in front of Elrad's strength.

The wound in his hand had stopped bleeding. It might have become worse had the blood not stopped flowing. He hadn't taken notice of the loss of blood in the fight, but he knew it needed immediate care.

"Are you ok?" Layfon asked.

"It hurts, but I'm still alive."

He judged according to the level of pain. He had stayed in the hospital for a day, and lay on the bed for three days while exercising his Kei. The bones seemed fine, as well as his organs. In the end, Elrad had been merciful, and he had also scolded him severely...........

CSR vol15 153.png

"........ Has he left?" Sharnid said.

Layfon was silent.

"Is that fine?"

"Never mind. You think it's not good?" he burst out. He couldn't hide things inside him, and that was why this was the truth from him.

"I wouldn't have known the results regardless of which way it goes. Then the only thing left to do was to give it my all."

He didn't know how Layfon took his words.

He sat up slowly and saw Dalshena looking at scenery beyond the outer edge of the city.

The hair painted in the gold of the sunset was beautiful. Too bright. Sharnid squinted as he watched her back.


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