Chrome Shelled Regios:Volume16 Chapter5
Chapter 5: Lost Child of Fate
He had a dream about the orphanage.
Everyone was at the big table preparing for dinner. Layfon and the others arranged the plates, and from the kitchen behind him came Lucia's voice. The younger Toby and the others brought over many plates, and Layfon received the plates. A delicious aroma floated from the kitchen, and the children who weren't helping and playing nearby came to the table one after another when they smelled the aroma.
Peeking through the cracks, the figure of Leerin could be seen following Lucia's instructions to prepare dishes.
Lumina called out to go find their adoptive father to eat dinner, and several children who heard her instructions cheered while they ran out. Lucia upsettedly said, "Dust will fly into the food!"
The adoptive father who was pulled by the children had a smile on his face.
He instantly realized that this was a dream.
Because this was something that he had already lost. Even if he had already made up with Toby and the others, Layfon couldn't return to Grendan. Even if he returned there after graduating, the atmosphere of that time already no longer existed, and Toby and the others would have possibly left the orphanage. More importantly, the already independent Layfon wouldn't return to live at the orphanage.
Then, what if he returned with the identity of a Military Artist? It didn't seem like this way of thinking could become reality. Leerin was in the palace, a member of the three royal families stationed next to the Queen. She had abandoned Layfon. In this situation, perhaps it would be impossible to return to Grendan even with the identity of a Military Artist.
Layfon still didn't know what he could do outside of being a Military Artist. In the first place, he did not know the place for him in Grendan.
As he arranged the plates in his dream, he thought of these things.
Their adoptive father came to sit at the table, and the others began sitting down. Leerin sat next to Layfon, a slight smile on her face.
Leerin's young, smiling face made Layfon very sad, but also let him feel a slight comforting feeling. Just then, the surroundings suddenly darkened.
Everything became calm.
In the dream, Layfon first uttered a voice, and the sound returned to his own ears so loudly that he himself almost jumped.
He awoke at this moment.
Everything here was covered with darkness, and Layfon was the only person left.
"............Where is this?"
Layfon's head was still groggy. The fragments of his dream still lingered in his mind, becoming painful solitude inside his heart.
Was this darkness a dream, or was it reality......
The fog that covered his brain quickly dissipated. Layfon could only have fainted after receiving a blow.
"Damn, how long have I been unconscious for?"
He hadn't been shamed like this since he was very small. Layfon used internal Kei to heighten his clarity, while examining the surrounding environment. Judging by the feeling of his feet, under him should be the machinery that had been uncovered in the city just now. Then, did that mean that he was still in that city?
But, in that city that was all flat earth, where did it have this kind of place......
Layfon couldn't find any other reasoning that could explain this conclusion. Since this city did not have buildings, and no sunlight was shining in his surroundings, this could only be underground.
Layfon felt his weapon belt, and only the Adamantium Dite was left. Layfon reached his hand out and fumbled around him, noticing that the restored Sapphire Dite and Shim Adamantium Dite were nearby, letting him release his breath.
Even if he searched his surroundings, it didn't seem like there were any people other than himself in this space. Layfon repressed his anxious emotions, and used the Sapphire Dite to send steel threads in every direction.
The touch of the steel threads told Layfon of the surrounding conditions: this was a reasonably wide spherical space.
"Have I been caught?"
This situation seemed as if he had been sent to prison.
Judging from the unexpected manner of attack earlier, the opponent had used some unknown feature of the city, yet it wasn't something ordinary. Then, right now was Nina facing the same plight?
His shameful performance of fainting made Layfon unable to resist clenching his teeth. Himself who had made that kind of lapse in this kind of place, how could he think of meddling in the business that Nina could be concealing?
The empty city.
Layfon had never heard of this kind of city. This wasn't the ghost city that was often heard of in scary stories. That was a city that had been raided by filth monsters and had perished, but still wandered on this earth. Thinking back, perhaps that had been pointing at the Haikizoku.
But, this city was different.
However he thought of it, this was a city that had no residents since the beginning. Regardless of how he thought, it could only be moving around without people because it had some aim. Moreover, the only resident of this city should be that enigmatic attacker, right?
Why would this kind of thing approach an Academy City? What had happened to Nina this time?
What he could be sure of was that something had happened. Moreover this event definitely had something to do with the battlefield in Grendan.
What he had to do now was confirm with his own eyes what had happened, and see through its true nature.
At this juncture, if Felli were here...... Layfon couldn't bear that kind of thought. Felli was a Psychokinesist, and Layfon didn't think there was a good place to protect her here, even though Felli could help with things other than Psychokinesis, and perhaps could see oddities that Layfon couldn't. Layfon always missed many things, and Felli could perhaps notice crucial matters that Layfon would be unable to find by himself.
However, Felli was not here right now. In this unknown situation, Felli and the others returning here was definitely not a good thing. Layfon couldn't make that decision.
More importantly, even if he did make the decision, the fact that Felli wasn't here couldn't be changed.
Only Layfon and Nina were here.
"I can only rely on myself."
Layfon used the steel threads with more concentration than before. The surroundings were all covered by machinery. However, Layfon didn't feel that he had trouble breathing, which indicated that there must be something around that could serve as a air hold.
Layfon upgraded his five senses and the sensitivity of his steel threads to the limit, looking for leaking wind.
As he carried out the search with his steel threads, his movements became more precise, and his focus increased. Just as Layfon felt that his brain was about to explode, he finally found that place.
It was really a very small hole. There were countless numbers of these small holes, and they were everywhere, so air could leak into this space. Since the machinery was composed of tubes, it meant that it could breathe by itself. This space should be where pressure was collected during breathing, and then this strength would be used to circulate air.
Even though he had no way of entering, he could let his steel threads go through. If he didn't first extend his steel threads out onto the surface to grasp the situation outside and his location......
The operation that taxed his nerves continued, until finally, the steel threads felt a strong wind blowing.
The steel threads had reached the outside, and this was......?
"The city's outskirts? The underside, huh? Since it's like this......"
Layfon extended his steel threads upwards.
During this process, the steel threads felt a strong shockwave.
"What? A battle? Who's fighting?"
The shockwave that he felt wasn't energy that an ordinary Military Artist could create. Layfon quickened the movements of the steel threads, focusing his nerves on his sense of touch.
The earth transmitted the vigorous shaking produced by a giant mass.
"It isn't a fight between Military Artists?"
Even if Nina was currently fighting with that attacker, Layfon couldn't understand why there would be such strong vibrations. There was a significant time difference between the feeling of Kei flow and the vibration.
It felt like something like a giant was being disturbed.
"Could it be that there are filth monsters on the surface?"
However, Layfon who was staying in this place couldn't feel any vibrations. This was evidence of the machinery absorbing the impact.
"What's going on?"
Layfon couldn't understand the situation. When had the battle started? Judging from the strength of that attacker, if the enemy was an ordinary mature phase, regardless of its stage he should be able to relaxedly defeat it.
However, after he felt a strong ripple of Kei, the vibration of the giant things quick movement would be sent through the steel thread.
Then, the thing above was an aged phase.
Why would there be an aged phase in this kind of place? Then didn't that mean the information about filth monsters in this place was incorrect? Assuming he had stayed in this city for a whole day, at this distance, could Felli's Psychokinesis be unable to find an aged phase?
However, the response from above could only be produced by an aged phase.
Perhaps he was focusing too much on the steel threads, and Layfon had produced an excessive response to the change in conditions. He breathed deeply to calm himself down.
"First let's ignore that, I should find the Captain."
He still had other things to do. If he didn't save Nina, nothing else needed to be mentioned.
Was Nina one of the people on the battlefield?
The feeling of the Kei flow raging in the city above did not come from Nina.
Then, where was Nina?
In order to find Nina, Layfon's steel threads sped through the city.
Compared to Layfon who totally couldn't find any clues and could only search for Nina under the circumstances, Nina had no time to watch the fight between her great-grandfather and the giant.
"I didn't expect anything like that."
She could only blankly mumble.
After handing over Layfon to the city's Electronic Fairy, Nina had run to her great-grandfather's battle. But, she immediately noticed a change. A sound came from a different place that was not the battlefield.
The new, different sound produced an inauspicious premonition in Nina. Perhaps this was because of Nina's pessimism that nothing favorable to herself would happen here.
In the end, her premonition became real.
The sound came, and moreover the sound still continued from the direction of the city outskirts. After gazing in that direction, Nina was stunned.
Huge hands were gripping the city's outer edge.
It wasn't just one, nor was it two pairs of hands.
Three giants were preparing to climb the city's edge.
The climbing of the three giants made the city leg give off a sharp metallic sound. However, the city did not tilt. The sharp metallic noise was of the city's leg hitting the giant. The city had already prepared for the giants' attack, and did not sway due to the added weight.
Not to mention that it was originally an autonomous mobile city meant to carry countless people and buildings while walking. Perhaps this degree of weight was nothing after all.
Even so, to Nina, the added threat still did not change.
"Could it be......"
Vati had sent more giants here. Gildred knew Vati's true face, so Vati was definitely planning not to allow Gildred to approach Zuellni.
She indeed meant to kill Gildred. To Vati, her great-grandfather was one hundred percent an enemy, and her actions also showed her animosity towards him.
"Does she want to kill him together with me?"
She had no reason to let Nina live. Therefore, taking advantage of this opportunity to kill Nina who knew the truth wasn't a strange thing to do. If she died in the city, perhaps it would lead to other peoples' suspicions, but if she died in a battle outside the city, wouldn't no one suspect anything?
Nina's heart did not hold the thought that it would be fine if she herself were saved, but she also could not deny her speculation of Vati, making her hair stand on end.
More importantly, confronting these sudden additional giants, she couldn't produce the thought that 'as long as she could defeat them everything will be over' at all.
The enemy's fighting power was unlimited.
Not knowing why, she had this sort of feeling.
Nina had the feeling that, other than the sounds from the battle and the movement of the giants...... other than her surrounding noise, another deeper part of the air was being disturbed. Could this be because Vati was taking action in some place that she herself couldn't see?
"Pathetic, it's no time to think about those things!"
The new giants made their debut, making Nina reproach herself for showing a cowardly attitude.
What did she hold in her hands? It was the wish of Zuellni that had been entrusted to her. What was inside her body? It was the Electronic Fairy that had saved her life, and the Haikizoku that trusted her.
"I don't have any time to be perplexed!"
The Dites were in her hands. They had already been restored, asserting their presence in Nina's two hands.
Nina threw the Haikizoku's majestic roar behind her, charging towards the giants who had already climbed over the city.
As Nina roused her spirits and charged at the newly appeared giants, Layfon's steel threads also felt the change.
"The enemies have increased?"
However, Layfon could only rely on the vibrations sent through the steel threads to explore the situation outside, so he didn't understand whether this judgment was correct.
He understood that the moving creatures that had huge mass had increased by three.
However, he also felt a new Kei charging towards the huge bodies.
"What is the captain doing!"
Layfon had already worked out that those moving bodies were aged phases. Three more aged phases had appered, and the current situation truly could only be called despair.
However, Nina seemed to not feel despair.
Perhaps she had already given up. Layfon wanted to be able to trust that she had not done this, but the current situation wasn't like that.
"I need to think of a good method......"
He had already fully confirmed the surrounding situation, so next he should take action.
Layfon used the steel threads to probe the surroundings. He didn't know how he had been placed here, as this place didn't have entrances or exits. However, after extending his steel threads to the outside, Layfon already understood his current location, and roughly grasped his distance from the surface.
"It shouldn't be too thick to cut......"
The space here was sufficient. Layfon returned the steel threads to Dite form, and replaced the simpler Dite with the Adamantium Dite. Having replaced his weapon with the Dite that could best support his Kei, Layfon tightly grasped the large sword in his hand.
His Kei flowed.
Layfon confirmed the feeling of the Adamantium Dite in his hand, while interpreting its thresholds, converting energy into a Kei technique. He released his move, storing the energy.
The pressure covering Layfon's entire body made him clench his teeth.
This was a new Kei technique that he had used in his battle against Claribel, which Layfon had named 'Composite Blast'. No one had ever left behind such a technique, because the number of people who could arrive at the realm where Dites could not sustain their Kei was far too small. An unusable technique would gradually be lost. Even if there had been someone like Layfon who created such a technique, that technique might have not survived or been passed down. There really weren't many ways to pass techniques outside of cities, and if this kind of a Military Artist were in Grendan, they would definitely have become a Heaven's Blade successor. Once they received a Heaven's Blade, this technique would become scrap.
However, to the current Layfon, this was an indispensable technique.
Release, storing the energy.
Release, storing the energy.
He repeated continuously.
As he repeated, the weight covering his body multiplied alongside. It was like Kirik had said before, cumulatively increasing the energy of an explosion that already had nowhere to go was quite unreasonable.
However, Layfon still repeated the move, continuously carrying it out. To Layfon, this was just because he hadn't become skillful at the technique, and he was confident that soon enough he would be able to use it flexibly.
More importantly, right now he had to use it, so he did.
Release, storing the energy.
With the continuous repetitions, the blade's surrounding light lost its color, giving off a strong white light.
Layfon shook off his sweat, assuming the next posture with the Adamantium Dite, cutting the blade across the space above his head.
External-type Kei, Composite Blast variant - Kasane Sendan.
After Composite Blast had filled the blade, Layfon mixed them and wildly released the energy.
The skill turned into white light, becoming a giant ray pouring forth that lit up the surroundings. Kasane Sendan cut apart the machinery on the ceiling, and its heat melted and burned the tubes, continuously speeding forwards. Layfon confirmed the high-speed result with his own eyes. If the feeling sent by the steel threads was correct, this should open a hole to the surface.
Layfon howled in his heart, leaping to the cracks generated by the Kasane Sendan. The wind produced by Layfon's heat left a burnt smell, as he advanced endlessly towards the surface.
The white light of Kasane Sendan was far ahead of him, and even though he was still destroying machinery, his speed was slower than he had thought. In order to keep Layfon from leaving, some machinery added strength to resist him.
As he quickly chased Kasane Sendan, Layfon took up a stance again with the still-restored Adamantium Dite. Composite Blast. Though, the situation was fairly tense. He had no way to accumulate energy as he had before.
"Even so, I can still add power!"
External-type Kei, Composite Blast variant - Hunter's Pursuit.
In the process of unending training, Layfon had understood something. When he made changes to his Composite Blast skill, the edge of his Kei energy would become viscous. With a different Kei skill, it could be possible to add the power of Composite Blast to a move he had already released.
The flash ahead and the flash of him chasing it to add additional power superimposed with each other. After adding the power, the speed at which the flash destroyed the machinery rose.
Layfon chased the flash.
If his speed decreased, Layfon would stack on another Hunter's Pursuit, continuing to leap upwards.
Layfon used the cut-apart and Kei-scorched machinery as footholds to leap continuously, but even with destroying the solid machinery at a surprising speed, tubes would twist together and reconnect, once again forming machinery.
The re-formed machinery chased from behind.
If the power of Kasane Sendan ran out before reaching the surface, Layfon would become a prisoner in that place again. Or, if the speed at which the flash destroyed machinery was surpassed by the repairing speed, Layfon would also be enmeshed and face the same fate.
"How can I allow that......"
How could that happen! Layfon once again stacked on a flash while simultaneously leaping. During the process a rugged area that Layfon used as a foothold broke off, and he was almost in danger of tripping, but Layfon still followed the flash, and added his power.
Then, he suddenly broke out.
The radiance of the flash was gradually absorbed by the sun. Increasing its speed after losing resistance, the flash became a beam of light shooting into the city's sky.
Layfon who was chasing that flash also leaped out.
"What's the situation?"
Layfon gathered his steel threads while using his eyes to confirm the surrounding situation. The outskirts on the left had three giants, as well as the figure of Nina charging at them.
Layfon yelled, trying to chase Nina.
But, he had to immediately stop his steps.
At the same time as he felt something, Layfon swept the Adamantium Dite behind him. The shockwave produced spread in all directions, and Layfon released the Sapphire Dite whose steel threads he couldn't completely gather up, restored the Shim Adamantium Dite, and released Kasane Sendan upwards.
The strike's white light immediately spread in all directions.
At the same time, Layfon also leaped backwards to increase the distance.
"Well done crossing me here."
The voice had an oppressive feeling like iron.
"I won't fall for the same trick twice!"
It was the old man, that enigmatic attacker. Layfon cautiously examined his opponent's every move. Even though the two iron whips clutched in the old man's hands were hanging down, the pressure emanating from his body had not disappeared.
"The way you use Kei is interesting."
The old man spiritedly watched Layfon.
"That aside, won't your Dite break? That's not it, is it just because it's somehow sturdier?"
The old man had long before perceived how Layfon had gotten here and what kind of Kei he had used.
However, that sort of thing was insignificant to Layfon.
Why would he choose this time to attack Layfon?
"Is that aged phase your minion?"
The first order of business should be defeating that aged phase, right? Judging from the feelings sent by the steel threads, this old man should have fought with the first giant. Then where had that giant gone? Had it been defeated by the old man before Layfon?
But, if that were true, why didn't he go to the other three giants?
To Layfon's question, the old man snorted:
"If she can't suppress that level of enemies before this old man goes over there, then I can't hold any higher expectations of her."
Why did this old man hold expectations of Nina?
How was this old man related with Nina? Did he know her?
"What's the meaning of this? Why do you do this?"
"This is all you need to know."
"Who asked you to have that kind of technique...... Hey!"
The old man moved.
As the old man charged to him, Layfon leaped high to try to avoid him. During the process of using the steel threads to probe, Layfon had learned how much destructive power the old man had. Getting closer to fight was quite dangerous.
Not to mention that if they traded blows with their weapons, his own Dite wouldn't be able to handle it.
"That you don't have weapons that can exert your power means that fate has rejected you, kid!"
The movement of the old man seemed as if his onrush had braked. The old man changed the direction of his charge and again closed in on Layfon.
Layfon used external Kei to change his landing spot, but the old man completely ignored that kind of Kei, and charged forward.
Layfon once again released Kei, managing to create some ground distance and time for himself. At the same time as he created distance, he released the Kei that he had been continuously gathering earlier.
Combined Internal and External Kei variant - Thousand Killers.
The moment, countless figures of Layfon appeared, each charging to a different place. This was a move that Layfon had stolen from Savaris and added his own changes to.
The unfamiliar technique made the old man's response time slow by half a step. But, he didn't charge at the countless Layfons, but the old man released Kei towards an unexpected direction.
Golden Kei emitted a brilliant luster, and then exploded. When the explosions faded, only one remaining Layfon stood there.
He had planned to directly go to Nina's side, but the old man had seen through him.
Layfon couldn't help but stop his steps, once again confronting the old man. The time this battle took almost made Layfon's breathing grow disorderly, but he quickly calmed down.
Layfon had almost never met an enemy who had enough strength to force him to face him and fight. His massive level of Kei wouldn't let the opponent have that kind of opportunity. Moreover, even if the opponent attempted strong moves, Layfon would reflect them back. He could do that because the massive difference in strength.
But now, between Layfon and the old man, the old man had the upper hand. He had the destructive power to kill an aged phase in such a short time, and he held Dites that could contain his great Kei.
In the end, right now he could only dodge the old man's attacks and wait for an opportunity to make a reversal.
But, while he were doing this, if something happened to Nina......
"You have time to be perplexed in front of me, how bold."
This sentence caught Layfon by surprise, but the old man did not seize the chance to attack, a smile of goodwill even emerging on his face.
"From your performance so far, you truly don't bear the fate."
"What are you saying......"
"Not much, just the madness of an old man, listen carefully."
Was he dragging out the time? Layfon examined the old man's manner, while moving to a position where he could see Nina.
"You don't have to worry about that side. To that girl, this is a necessary trial."
Layfon's gaze had stayed on the old man's body, but the other party had seen through his attempt.
"Every person has something called fate, youngster. Ah, I'm not saying that you don't have any fate at all. No, you don't have the fate to be entangled with us. You and us won't become comrades, but also shouldn't become enemies."
'How should I know that'. Layfon though of saying this, but the old man seemed to understand the situation that Nina confronted. His tone also confirmed that Nina was indeed hiding something.
"Captain...... is she involved with that fate?"
"Correct. Though, that girl won't speak the truth. It's not because she has no need to speak, but rather because she has no need to get you involved. No matter what happens, you have no way of hearing everything from her mouth, and this old man won't explain things either."
Had his thinking been seen through? What the old man said wasn't the answer that Layfon wanted.
"Kid, being uninvolved is a good thing, you shouldn't insist on meddling in this. You are a strong Military Artist deemed unnecessary, and you arrived here only because you weren't careful. Though, that's only up to now. The path ahead isn't a place for people like you who can't use their full strength and lack spirit."
"What did you say......"
Layfon said this. But, his weak tone even surprised himself.
"This old man has information on you. Layfon Alseif, who once received a Heaven's Blade in Grendan. But, fate has declared you to be a non-notable person, so the Heaven's Blade has left your hands."
"You have no need to fight. You should live out your own fate, and obediently leave this battlefield."
"By 'leave', you mean......"
"The underground of this city is safe. Until things finish, you should obediently hide there."
The moment the old man said this, Layfon felt mortified beyond comparison. At the same time, he thought of the time when Zuellni had first been attacked by filth monsters. At the time he had wanted Nina to flee, he had wanted her to take refuge.
Was Layfon currently feeling the anger that Nina had felt at that time?
No, she had a sense of mission that he himself did not, so it should be completely different.
Layfon's mouth uttered this sentence.
"You want me to flee, you want me to listen to you and hide underground?
He couldn't stop himself from saying these words, and was eager to use even more intense language. However, regardless of how much he showed off his tongue, he didn't feel that he would be able to fully express his current feelings.
So, he ended it all with those words.
"Hum, indeed the words an energetic young man would say."
The old man didn't move. Layfon admonished himself for almost getting out of hand in his anger, while using Kei.
"Such a regret. It would be good if a strong person like you had been born in my city. But, you weren't born in Schneibel. You grew up in Grendan, and were given up by Grendan. That shows that Grendan has too much strength to fight fate with, or maybe you can't be saved, unable to surpass this fate?"
"Did you say Schneibel............?"
Though Layfon had decided not to listen to anything the old man said, he still hadn't missed that name.
That was the name of Nina's hometown.
"Did you know the Captain from before?"
"Hum, it seems like this old man has talked too much. Though, it's all the same. I obviously recognize her, because my name is Gildred Antalk."
The same family name as Nina.
"Nina is from the same family as I."
"Then you shouldn't be doing this, hurry up and go help the Captain......"
During the time that the two confronted each other, Nina's battle with the giants had already begun. Layfon felt a powerful flow. The ordinary Nina couldn't possess this wave of energy no matter what.
Layfon had only heard Nina speak of it, but this was the Haikizoku's power.
Still, to fight against three aged phases must be too difficult.
"Don't make me repeat myself!"
Gildred should have also seen that fighting, but the old man didn't move a bit.
"If she can't overcome that level of enemy, it shows that the being who pushed her into this fate has no talent for choosing people. At that time, our long-cherished wish will be covered by the clouds of fate. What she needs is not tenderness, but harsh trials."
"How can that......"
Was this something to be said about a family member?
No, perhaps it was? Layfon though of when he fought against his adoptive father in Grendan, thought of the fierce actions that Lucia put in front of him when he had left Grendan.
He thought of when he had been rejected by Leerin.
Even if they weren't from the same bloodline, they were still each other's family members. But, perhaps they weren't anymore, or perhaps it hadn't changed. Toby and the others had written letters to him. However, even if they still had contact with each other, he already didn't have any way to return to Grendan, and as Lucia pointed out, he was someone who had been coldly banished from Grendan.
Then, did this old man have tender feelings in his heart?
Tender feelings towards Nina.
Even if he did, Layfon couldn't understand them.
If he did...... If he meant well for Nina by not helping her.
"Then, what I have to do still hasn't changed."
Correct, his mission hadn't changed. Layfon repeated these words in his heart.
"I'll defeat you, and then go help the Captain."
"What an unreasonable youngster."
The old man's pressure increased. This feeling was completely different from when he fought Layfon earlier.
No, it was this.
This was the old man's pressure when he had fought with the aged phase.
Then, had he only been playing around earlier?
No, he had felt that this degree of power was sufficient.
Though Layfon felt angry at this, he didn't lose his calm. This kind of small thing didn't even need to be mentioned, as the pressure that suddenly burst out before his eyes made Layfon raise the Adamantium Dite, assuming the stance of Successive Bursts.
"You technique-using youngster, planning to defeat this old man with strength?"
Layfon didn't respond to his opponent's words.
His answer was on his blade.
Perhaps because he had guessed Layfon's thinking, Gildred showed a fearless smile.
"Alright, then I'll fight."
The color faded from the golden Kei released from Gildred's body. The old man's body was dyed black, as if the light released from his body had changed him to a shadow.
The shadow raised two iron whips.
"An impulsive youngster should be crushed by brute force."
The shadow's remarks flew towards Layfon.
Very fast, and moreover so quickly. Layfon repressed his restlessness, taking the moment to split his Kei into countless pieces and form them together into Composite Blast.
When Gildred had charged into attacking range, the strong Kei pressure almost scraped Layfon.
Layfon was patient. However, the pressure continuously pushed Layfon back. He absolutely could not be swallowed by this pressure. But, if he continued to wait, his stance would become stiff.
No, it didn't matter even if it became stiff. Layfon leaned his body forward, defying the pressure, while collecting the Kei of Composite Blast.
He released energy, storing it.
Up until reaching the critical point.
Up until the moment Gildred's iron whip was touching his body. For this strike, Layfon hadn't wasted half a second to gather Kei for Composite Blast.
Then, Gildred's figure arrived in front of him. His iron whips were raised high above his head, seeming to want to strike the iron whips downwards in a cross.
The target of the cross was Layfon's left shoulder. This movement made Layfon feel that Gildred was a little bit naive. Was it because he knew Nina, so the old man thought he couldn't kill him, and so had shown mercy up until this moment?
It didn't need to be said!
Layfon shouted in his heart, and at the same time released his blade.
External-type Kei, Composite Blast variant - Compound Flame Cut.
In a breath, Layfon swung the huge blade that the Adamantium Dite had become upwards. The sword drew a line cutting through the center of the iron whips' cross. But, he had not yet completed his goal, only locking against the two iron whips.
In that brief time, the strengths of the two clashed against each other.
But, this time was truly brief. The balance of strength could not be maintained, and Gildred's Kei was victorious. The Kei that collided at the point of contact exploded. The Kei techniques lost their form, and the blast of pure energy scattered in all directions. The force of the explosion did not only hit Layfon, meaning that Layfon's Kei was close to Gildred's level.
Still, Layfon had been defeated in the contest of strength.
The pressure of the explosion fell like rain, charging towards Layfon, whose entire body had left the ground because his body reacted and flew outwards.
Being thrown halfway into the air by the blow, Layfon urgently maintained his own consciousness. While he did this, his right hand that tightly gripped the Adamantium Dite suddenly felt nothing. Since it was unable to bear the burden of Composite Blast, it had been destroyed.
As Layfon flew through the air, he felt regret. The situation of the Dite being unable to endure Layfon's Kei power and breaking had occurred many times. But, Layfon felt that before the Dites had broken he seemed to always be using techniques.
This meant that what was happening around Layfon was quite urgent, but also very dangerous.
From another side of the feeling of his Dite breaking emerged the faces of Harley and Kirik, and Layfon apologized to the two of them. However, Layfon was also confident. He was confident that if it were those two, there would definitely be a day when they would be able to create a Dite able to sustain Layfon's entire Kei.
"So, right now......!"
Layfon fully grasped the consciousness that he had almost lost, slowly releasing the handle of the Adamantium Dite in his hand.
Layfon pretended to faint, while confirming Gildred's movements. His opponent did not pursue him here. Did he believe that Layfon had passed out?
Layfon was confident that his blade had at least brushed against his opponent's body, and that even if the tip of his blade had not touched his opponent, Composite Blast should have penetrated the pressure of the explosion to strike the old man's body.
If he himself wasn't even confident, then he would have no way of fighting at all.
And in order to know the secret that Nina hid in her heart, he had to let himself be confident in his body's ability as a Military Artist.
Then, Layfon began to fall.
In the moment before he fell, Layfon let his body that he had deliberately relaxed fill with Kei.
He once again restored the Shim Adamantium Dite, and then......
"What do you think you're doing?"
Gildred's figure was next to him.
Either his tactic of deliberately fainting had been seen through, or the old man had caught up to attack. Facing the figure whose golden pressure swayed, Layfon raised the Shim Adamantium Dite to block the iron whip striking towards him.
He blocked it.
Upon closer inspection, the old man's body that exuded golden Kei was stained by a crimson spot. Just as Layfon had been confident in, a part of his Kei had hit the old man.
"After losing to my skill, you turn to petty tricks? How idiotic!"
"Even if it's a petty trick I'll still use it!"
Even if the old man had been injured, the strength in the iron whips was still fairly heavy, and Layfon went down on his knees.
"I'll use any means!"
Layfon used his Kei.
The handle of the Sapphire Dite that he had released recently was at Layfon's feet, next to the place where he knelt. Being trained in the use of steel threads by Lintence meant that Layfon could use any part of his body to pour Kei in to the manipulation of the steel threads.
"I've been sent away because I knew nothing too many times!"
That moment, the steel threads that had been scattered all around the city moved together.
Gildred attempted to back off from his position.
However, he was too late.
External-type Kei variant - Sougenkyouku Madan.
Regardless of Gildred's strength, at that time he was unable to avoid the thrusts of the steel threads coming from all directions. The surprise attack also kept him from using his full Kei power to defend.
Even so, the paths of almost all of the steel threads bent because of the golden Kei, uselessly piercing through the air.
However, there were still a few steel threads that penetrated Gildred, and Layfon detonated the Kei in the steel threads that entered the old man's body.
This move was a technique used to destroy filth monsters from the inside, but the old man's body had not become that way. This was because Layfon who was at his limit was unable to fully pour his Kei. More importantly, even if it were Gildred who had been pierced by the steel threads, his body's defense could not permit this kind of thing happening.
Gildred fell to his knees.
The golden Kei lost its color in front of Layfon's eyes, and returned to the Kei of an ordinary Military Artist, slowly losing its radiance.
"Even if it were a petty trick, it was performed brilliantly."
"......Are you serious?"
The old man's rapid loss of power surprised Layfon instead. Using only that degree of Kei, even if he couldn't instantly heal the wound, he could at least stop the bleeding, and allow the damaged tendon tissue to heal, to where his body would be able to move. The steel threads had not pierced his Kei vein, and had not destroyed it.
In fact, it should be Layfon who had suffered more severe wounds from that initial trading of blows.
"Hum, don't tell Nina about this."
"How would I...... Your body's already like this, why do you still do these things?"
"Because this is fate. Youngster, you wouldn't understand. You wouldn't understand the sorrow of having the successor to my family that I protected become like this. Even if this is a dead end that must be traversed, you still wouldn't understand."
Layfon attempted to refute it, but he closed his mouth.
Not only was he unable to win against this old man in language, he also lost regarding the motives behind their actions as well as regarding their reasons.
"......Perhaps you are right."
But, Layfon didn't want to admit his powerlessness. Perhaps it was willfulness, perhaps selfishness. If the situation turned towards a bad direction because of this......? Layfon felt afraid just by thinking that way.
"But, if you tell me not to do anything just because of that, I still can't agree. There should be a place where even I can help."
Layfon didn't want to be rejected by the people next to him again.
"What a willful youngster."
The old man mumbled this. He seemed to not be trying to stand up.
"But, hah, oh well. Let this old man see what you can do. But once you get in the way, I'll kill you."
A genuine killing intent perfused his words. If Layfon wanted to take action he could take advantage of the present, but although Layfon had this kind of thought, his body didn't move. Perhaps it was because the old man was Nina's blood relative. But the more important reason was, although the old man's body was covered with wounds such that he couldn't even release his Kei, his spirit still oppressed Layfon. Layfon seemed to see the strong will and determination that he himself lacked.
Thirdly, Layfon's own body was also covered with wounds, and his self-awareness had become dull.
It was unknown what the old man thought of the stilled Layfon, as he simply stared at Layfon without moving.
But, activity stirred in the surroundings.
The ground under Gildred's feet collapsed. The tubes composing the machinery began to loosen, surrounding Gildred as if they wanted to protect him.
"Whatever happens, fate will continue on. Perhaps you will only be able to taste your own powerlessness."
The old man said this as he was being received into the cave formed by the tubes.
Layfon didn't respond with anything. He only healed himself with internal Kei as he watched the scene of the old man completely disappearing.
Since Gildred had disappeared, he had no need to be constrained.
Right now he had to go help Nina.
Nina had also noticed that behind her, two powers of Kei were in intense conflict.
However, she had no time to confirm this situation.
Before her were three giants, with gigantic bodies and keen movements that didn't fit them. Nina's evasive leaps back and forth in order to not be surrounded by them were already very tiring.
To be able to throw one of these things, to defeat one in the blink of an eye, her great-grandfather's power was really incredible.
One of the giants raised its fist, and Nina leaped high up the moment before the fist caught her. The fist crashed into the ground, shaking the city. Nina was by the elbow of the giant that was near the ground, and in a breath she ran up the arm charging upwards.
Her target was the giant's shoulder.
Nina dodged the hands that the other giants extended out, while this giant also raised its arm at the same time. This movement almost made Nina lose her balance because her body shook, but in the end she still reached the shoulder, and once again jumped.
Aided by the power of the Haikizoku, Nina used the recoil of External Kei to increase her speed of descent. She flew towards the giant's forehead, pouring Kei into her iron whip.
External-type Kei variant - Lightning God's Hammer.
Nina let the Kei erupt from one of her iron whips, increasing her speed even more using this means, and struck at the giant's forehead with the other iron whip.
A shockwave bearing strong Kei penetrated the giant's body, and its body tilted.
Nina leaped up high, jumping from the giant that had lost its balance to the other giants.
Her projected destination was near the head. After the giant quickly grabbed at Nina's position, it swept a jab towards her. The center of the fist struck at Nina, and she was too late to use the recoil of external Kei to change her path.
Nina turned her whole body upwards, raising the iron whips high, and hitting the fist with both iron whips at the same time. Shockwaves spread from the site of the fist and iron whips' clash. As she was pulled by the strong wind produced by the shockwaves, Nina twisted her body to gain control over it, landing on the fist.
Then she began running.
Nina did the same as before, landing a blow on the giant's head, and then breaking away, flying towards the other giant.
In order to not get surrounded, and also to not let herself simply evade back and forth, Nina felt that this was her best method of fighting.
However, the giants' stamina was seemingly endless, and they were very tough. Even if they were struck once or twice, there didn't seem to be any changes.
Moreover, considering the powerful regenerative ability of filth monsters, Nina couldn't help but feel that her attacks were of no significance.
Nina flew through the air, while feeling anxious.
What was the situation of the conflicting Kei behind her?
And before that, what was the pressure that gushed out from underground?
"Do I even need to think about that?"
It was Layfon. Layfon who had woken from his unconsciousness, had definitely come to the surface.
Then what had he done? Clashed with Gildred?
Nina was confident in Layfon's power. But, somehow she couldn't feel that Layfon could win against Gildred's overwhelming power.
Then, what had happened to him after all?
He couldn't have............
"I don't have time to think now............!!"
But, Nina still couldn't help but think about it.
It could be said that if she thought about that idea, it would cause her to make errors.
However, that wasn't all of it.
Perhaps the giants were waiting for the balance of the battle to collapse. Nina's midair battle, with the giants unable to catch her, and Nina unable to completely defeat the giants. Could it be that from the point where they had judged that this would be a protracted battle, the giants had been waiting for this change? If Nina kept repeating the same actions, her reaction time would decrease at some point.
Moreover, Nina already had no time to notice the situation behind her.
It was at that moment.
Nina let out that kind of voice.
Then, Nina felt that she had to respond somehow, but because she couldn't decide whether she should use Kongoukei or external Kei to change her path of flight, she was a second too late.
The giants were transforming in front of Nina, no, they were disintegrating.
They disintegrated, and then transformed. The giants' figures became something like sand in front of her and gathered together.
They became countless lances.
Not only the giant in front of her, but also the other two giants that were attempting to surround Nina.
At the same time as she spit out that word, Nina chose Kongoukei. She had no way to evade all of those lances. However, she didn't know if she would be able to get through this wave of attacks. Was she able to block the rain of lances with the mass of the three giants?
No, she had to block them.
Nina wrapped her arms around herself, compacting her body.
She had to get through this.
No, that wasn't right.
In order to find a clue, Nina who was at her limit dug through her memories for a clue.
Hurry up and think, when Layfon had first shown her this technique, what had she been doing? Nina dug through her memories, trying to find a clue. Her arm hurt. This was obviously because she had not mastered the technique, though something about this bothered Nina.
When striking a hard object, the power of the strike would always bounce back.
Could she push this effect to its limits?
Nina pondered. But, Nina wasn't Layfon. That moment, she couldn't think of how to change this technique into a different form.
She had no time. Nina used her Kei with all her might, letting Kongoukei cover her body.
Afterwards, the rain of spears fell from the sky.
Every lance was as large as a weapon that an ordinary Military Artist would use.
However, they numbered in the hundreds, or maybe thousands, and a truly uncountable amount hurtled towards Nina. Flame spewed from the end of the spears, as they attempted to pierce Nina, and the rest of the spear shaft emitted smaller flame for altering its trajectory.
Nina's Kongoukei stopped them. The spears whose paths were not deflected by the Kongoukei were stuck in the barrier and their propulsion died out with no way to pierce Nina.
Nina's figure was buried under countless spears, becoming a pincushion. The flames emitted from the front portion of the pincushion came in contact with each other, becoming a surface of flame.
The ball of spears became a burning ball of flame.
Nina who was stuck in the middle could only endlessly endure.
Kongoukei was that kind of a skill. Confident in her own Kei, confident in her training, her body braved the enemies' attacks.
She would endure.
Nina's willpower pervaded the layer of Kongoukei covering her body, allowing her Kei to pour through her body. The countless spears before her. She couldn't be afraid of being pierced by them. Fear would lead to cowardice, and cowardice would become thoughts of escaping. Once the idea of escape came up, Kongoukei would lose its intrinsic nature.
What waited ahead was death.
Her heart didn't fear it. When he had first taught her Kongoukei, Layfon had told her about the move's original user, Reverse. This person had the mentality that Nina strove to maintain.
With Reverse whom she had never met as her target, Nina maintained her rigid heart.
Finally, the wave of thrusting spears ended. The flame disappeared, with the appearance of a pincushion reemerging, and it once again began to fall downwards.
Nina who had been pushed into the air by the force of the spears fell as well.
The moment before she began falling, Nina had released external Kei to change her falling location in order to get away from the spears.
However, the Kei she emitted was quite weak, and the effect on her path was also minute.
It was the consequence of enduring the huge mass of the three giants. Melnisc was also silent, and Nina was unable to stop her body's strength from leaving her.
Because she was paralyzed, Nina landed on the ground defeated. She tumbled on the ground, and her face also hit the earth.
"Damn! Hey, Melnisc!"
Melnisc's voice was unfazed. However, the strength that returned to her body was not like the Herculean strength it had been previously. Did that mean the Haikizoku didn't have endless strength? Every organism had its limits. After perceiving this obvious truth, Nina only felt stunned.
However, this limit occurred at this moment.
Not only the Haikizoku, but her body was also this way.
Nina reclaimed some of the strength that flowed from her. However, she still couldn't move her body from the ground.
She felt impatient.
She had gotten through the rain of spears, but had only gotten through the rain of spears and nothing more.
They had not been destroyed.
Just as Nina thought of this, the enemies began to move. The spear shafts emitted flame, and the spears that had scattered in all directions stood up on end.
Perhaps as a final burst, the spears that stood up together once again sprayed flame and rushed into the air.
However, not all of the spears had done this. Some of the spears stayed down, shooting straight at Nina.
Nina brandished her iron whips to bring them down. Although only some of the spears had attacked, their numbers were still great. They hadn't attacked from all directions at the same time, so Nina was able to continually bring them down. But, this made Nina feel that she had instead fallen into another trap.
Nina was able to continually bring down the spears, but she noticed that as she did this, the speed at which the spears arrived seemed to coordinate with her speed of drawing back the iron whips.
In other words, the enemies had purposefully let Nina bring down the spears, and their goal was to keep her there.
The true attack was......
However, Nina was unable to escape the dangerous environment. The spears that followed her movements continuously shot out, and if she tried to escape, her defense would become disorderly, and Nina would be pierced by the spears trailing her steps.
Nina experienced Vati's killing intent with her own body. She who was staying in Zuellni attempted to kill Nina, attempted to eliminate the person who knew her true form.
But, why had she tried to conceal her true appearance?
Vati had used the battle in Grendan to arrive in this world, and hid her true self. In the end, what was she trying to do by doing this?
Nina didn't know the answer, and could only helplessly look at the spears that poured towards her from above.
Then, that scene greeted her eyes.
She saw the scene of those spears suddenly being disturbed.
External-type Kei variant - Sougenkyouku Nagigumo.
The steel threads that he had been unable to recollect at that time became an unknowing good fortune. When he had used the steel threads that he had scattered throughout the city, many of them had relaxed while he weaved the formation, so he was able to use Lintence's advanced skill, Sougenkyouku.
The steel threads that Layfon released scattered the rain of spears that was about to drop on Nina's head, stopping them from changing their direction.
Nina's whole body was transfixed by the change in situation into Layfon running towards her. The spears that had been swept away by the steel threads fell around Layfon one after another, but Layfon was the one who controlled their falls. He almost fearlessly rushed to Nina.
"Layfon, are you alright?"
"We have no time for leisure, let's leave this place first."
Saying this to Nina who was intertwined with peace of mind and confusion, Layfon grabbed her arm and helped her stand, then put her on his shoulder. Layfon had seen in a flash that Nina had put her Kei vein in a state of extreme fatigue from using too much Kei.
Layfon's situation had not improved much either. Layfon had only plugged the wounds he had received during the battle with Gildred using internal Kei, and he really had only just changed from having his whole body covered with wounds.
Even so, he still ran while carrying Nina.
"Layfon, what happened to my great-grandfather?"
Nina asked this. Saying that, she also confirmed that Gildred had not lied.
The moment her gaze crossed with Layfon's, Nina noticed that she had let it slip, and her expression twisted.
(Aha, so it was that way after all.)
Layfon and Felli had made many predictions. In the beginning, it had only been Felli's sixth sense. Grendan's battle had not yet finished, and Nina had some kind of connection to this event, but it had only been speculations. However, Layfon and the others were quite sure that Nina had something she was concealing from everyone, so they tried to find the truth.
The situation that happened in this city was proof that what Layfon and the others believed was true.
But at the moment, Layfon had the feeling that he had confirmed that his thinking was true.
Nina's expression said everything.
"He hid somewhere in this city, I think he should be fine."
But, for now Layfon only said that much.
The difficulties in front of him didn't let him continue pondering.
"First, we need to think of how to deal with them."
Layfon had also seen the giants changing into countless spears. During the first wave, Layfon was too late to support Nina. But, luckily Nina had gotten through it, and Layfon had enough time to recover to the point where he could move, and had weaved the formation of Sougenkyouku.
When he finished, from then onward Layfon was able to start Nagigumo at any time.
Layfon's side had completed their battle preparations.
Layfon had already lost his Adamantium Dite, moreover he and Nina's bodies couldn't fight with their full strength.
For now, Layfon let Nina's hidden secret and Gildred's words out of his mind.
At the moment, there was only a life-or-death crisis here.
Failing to get through this battlefield was equivalent to losing everything.
"We have to survive."
"Ah, got it."
Nina's voice replied to him.
Layfon listened to her voice, while at the same time looking at the disintegration of the spears stuck in the ground, which became a great amount of white sand-like substance, and separated into three groups.
They became solid, and once again returned to the form of giants.
Each aged phase had a different form, and Layfon knew these had acquired a form that was able to change a great amount.
However, he had never expected that there would be filth monsters that could change into anything in the world. At least among the aged phases that Layfon had seen, there were none that could morph from one form to another.
An aged phase that could change its form at will, and moreover three that were the same. If the one that Gildred had fought was the same kind, then that made four.
Layfon thought of the abnormal filth monsters that had attacked Zuellni , which had been a group of filth monsters with a unified appearance.
Was this group of giants the same after all?
Right now that kind of thing didn't need to be said. Though Layfon thought this way, he still pondered involuntarily.
If they didn't defeat them they would have nothing. What he was thinking now could wait for after they managed to survive.
Layfon tried out releasing the steel threads while the giants morphed, but they simply passed straight through the giants' bodies. Perhaps when their form was not yet in a fixed shape, it was impossible for an attack to affect them.
As they had no shape, the opponent should have no way to attack this side. Otherwise, the attacks carried out by this white sand form would be far too troublesome.
How could they defeat the enemy?
Layfon pondered this while waiting for the giants to finish morphing.
However, the giants didn't finish morphing.
The giants gradually took shape. The white sand swelled up like a mountain, and slowly took the appearance of a giant mud doll .
But, their morphing speed was very slow. Layfon and Nina had seen the speed at which the giants had changed into spears, so this kind of slow change made the two feel that this situation was out of place.
More importantly, after the white sand turned into its mud doll shape, it even seemed like it had reached a standstill. Layfon understood that the sand in this mud doll form was moving and undulating under the surface. But, this manner of movement didn't seem like movement that could let the giant form.
"Yes, what's going on? It's as if they're waiting for something......"
Just as Nina mumbled this in a low voice......
Layfon unintentionally shouted out.
The mud dolls moved. However, it didn't indicate that they were preparing to continue morphing into giants.
"They've started to collapse."
The mud dolls gradually collapsed in front of the two of them. After losing the strength to maintain their form, the sand began to crumble, returning to the form of a mountain. Afterwards, they began to flow outside the city as if they were being blown by the wind. In the blink of an eye, the giant mass just now had disappeared from the area.
"......Is it a trap?"
The tense atmosphere not yet released, Layfon had no way to confirm Nina's low mumble.
The two people stood back to back, staying alert to their surroundings.
However, the only thing that surrounded the two was a pointless feeling of tension, and there wasn't as much as a trace of an enemy around.
"Were they actually real......?"
Nina mumbled this, but Layfon still wasn't careless in the slightest as he looked in all directions. Just then, he saw a sparkling, glowing object drawing close to himself and Nina.
This voice allowed the two of them to let out a breath. Even if they knew they couldn't be careless, their faces showed a happy expression.
It was Felli's Psychokinetic flake.
(Just now there was unexplained Psychokinetic interference, but it's already stopped now.)
"Where are you now? No, what about the enemies? Felli, do you have any way to confirm?"
(If what Captain means is the enigmatic creature before you guys just now, it's already dissipated. Though there's still a portion that can be followed, right now it continues to dissipate outside the city, so more than eighty percent of it appears impossible to track.)
(Yes. At this stage I can't confirm if this empty city is dangerous.)
"......Is that so."
After deeply exhaling a breath of air, Nina said this.
(......We need around three hours before we arrive at the empty city. The Captain's protective suit seems to be in a damaged condition, so we plan to first send you a protective suit.)
"Ah, I understand, sorry. If Felli still can't confirm the enemies, then this place shouldn't have any dangers. Though, we'll still confirm again."
(Sorry to bother the Captain.)
(Don't make me worried, stupid.)
Just as Felli was about to turn off communications to Nina, another voice butted in.
It was Sharnid.
(Really. A great guy like me is gonna go pick you up, don't fall in love with me now.)
(Stop your wishful thinking and move faster.)
Dalshena coldly ignored Sharnid's joke.
Was he being overly suspicious? Her laugh sounded like it had a bit of sadness.
She was also pained.
Perhaps that's how things were.
Translator's Notes and References
- See Volume 12
- Essentially, an approximately humanoid shape (legs, torso, arms, head) with no distinguished features.