Chrome Shelled Regios:Volume18 Chapter1
Chapter 1 - The One Striving Forward, The One Muddling Blindly Forward, The One Giving Up (50% Complete)
The current tranquil atmosphere was undisturbed.
He had left his position as the supervisor of the orphanage, and closed the dojo. Other than occasionally going to see the graduates of the orphanage and the nearby residents who liked caring for people, no one would deliberately come here.
Perhaps it was because of this, or because of the nostalgia he held towards this place, that Derek couldn't neglect the slight change in the air.
With the sound of rolling wheels, Derek advanced to that place.
He passed through the veranda of the place he normally lived, coming to this place. At first glance, it was only a wooden cottage, but actually it used strong building materials, so even a Military Artist conducted a small test of their skills it wouldn't create damage.
This was a place to let Military Artists practice their techniques - the dojo.
Derek entered the room.
There was already a person inside.
Sunlight shone in from the windows that hadn't been opened in a long time, making the floor and walls of the dojo shine. This kind of thing shouldn't happen, because this place had been abandoned for a long time, with no one to clean it. Therefore, this unknown guest must have cleaned it before when Derek wasn't aware.
The glaring brightness that he hadn't expected made Derek narrow his eyes, looking towards this unknown guest.
That person had already taken up a stance with a practice sword in the center of the dojo. He didn't seem to have any intention of moving, just calmly taking up a stance.
But, his stance was quite simple, giving him an involuntary pleasant feeling. It was a sort of ideal stance that wasted no strength at all.
Derek gazed for a bit, but that person still kept his stance without moving a muscle.
That unknown guest closed his eyes, calmly holding his stance.
From his body emanated the presence that made one feel as if he were communicating with someone. Derek couldn't deny that feeling that appeared in him.
It was actually like that.
This unknown guest had come here to communicate with someone who could only be felt here.
"I entered by myself, I'm really sorry!"
After some waiting, the unknown guest relaxed his stance, and apologized to Derek.
Derek who had just been gazing at his blade-holding stance once again looked at the male before him. A tattoo surrounded his left eye, and because of this, his face seemed somewhat impressive. But, Derek didn't overlook the calm demeanor hidden within those eyes.
"In any case, I'm already in this condition, so no one uses this place."
Derek patted the wheel.
He sat on a wheelchair. Because his Kei vein had been damaged, problems had emerged with the nerves in the bottom half of his body.
"If you want it, I'll give you this dojo."
Derek's sudden proposal made the male show a surprised expression.
"Hah, what are you joking."
"You think it's a joke? You have the qualifications."
Derek wasn't mistaken.
Though he didn't even know his last name, the male standing in front of him was the disciple of his good friend Ryuhou Gadge.
"I saw the figure of my good friend in your stance, a figure even stronger than the last time I saw him, and his disciple has returned. Therefore, you obviously have the qualifications to inherit this dojo."
"......You have successors like this."
"Ah, I had a successor. But, he has already gone far away, and will never return."
Derek recalled that day in front of the male. From intense, tearful, and confused swordfight appeared the figure of Layfon surpassing Derek and advancing forward.
"That person's very strong, right? Far stronger than me."
"He is very strong. But, it's his nature to be lost."
Though he had surpassed Derek, the haze in Layfon's heart had not been dispersed because of it, and he hadn't been liberated. In front of the reality that awaited him next, the haze that swarmed his heart would definitely become stronger.
"Lost, lost...... I fear that it's that person's nature to be only able to obtain things by being perplexed several times more than others."
"He's that way even though he's so strong?"
"It's because he's strong that he's like that."
Judging from his tone, the man seemed to know Layfon, but Derek didn't touch upon that subject, but rather continuing to speak.
"It's because he was already so strong when he grew up that he used that strength to skimp on many things, skimping on things that normal people would definitely experience while they grew up, so the current him can only be lost."
He had to continue being lost, desperately grabbing on to something. He had to experience the tears left behind by defeat.
"It's because he resolves anything he encounters with strength that he's deficient in some aspects. Until he reclaims those things, he can't obtain anything."
Derek couldn't say whether it would be a long or short time before his haze was dispersed.
But, there was something that was quite clear......
"This dojo doesn't exist only for him, and it is enough if there is a possibility to birth the disciples of Psyharden."
"So, if you can bear it, then I will give it to you."
The uninvited guest had no response.
However, he spoke his own name and left.
In the dojo that had only a single person left, Derek softly murmured the name:
His heart overflowed with memories of the past. Until that feeling disappeared entirely, the old man stayed inside the dojo.
When Haia returned to the house in the district that received people from outside, Karian was staying inside the room alone.
"What! You didn't go out?"
"I have no interest in sightseeing, and moreover it's best for Military Artists to gather information about Military Artists."
"Right, those two aren't here, huh."
Haia surveyed the room. Karian elegantly drank tea while reading a book in the living room. Once he walked inside, he could see a row of doors, each one having a single room and bed past it.
Karian and others had rented this big room made for traveling caravans to use as a group.
In this big room was only Karian by himself.
"I asked Stania and Myunfa to inspect the itinerary of the Military Arts competition."
"I know that!"
They had arrived to Grendan with a purpose.
In order to make Haia Laia a Heaven's Blade successor.
"But~ Is this okay?"
What's okay or not?"
"I feel that this deviates a bit from your goal."
Karian's goal should be to let the whole world understand the truth that he had experienced, to tell of the dangers hidden behind the truth to the people in these isolated gardens that were the moving cities.
And Karian's experiences were things that had happened in Grendan. In other words, even if Karian came here he couldn't do anything.
Visiting Grendan in order to make Haia a Heaven's Blade successor, could that action be in vain?
"It's not in vain."
The other party felt that he was being courteous, huh. Karian's mouth slightly curved upwards.
"How much time do you think it would take if it were just me traveling to every city in the world?"
"An impossible amount of time."
"Correct, in other words that method won't work."
"Therefore, we can only rely on the spread of information from one city to another. If this can make people feel in danger, there should be people who come forward and spread the truth."
"......Because it's dangerous, there will also people who pretend to have not heard the truth."
"Or people will think they need to do nothing, believing that the situation isn't urgent, or use the information to do evil things. I also anticipate those kinds of people will appear."
Karian nodded his head in assent to Haia's words, then put the book down to the side.
"I am currently trying to spread the outrageous information that the world is facing a huge danger. If I make one misstep, it will throw many societies into turmoil, and may create riots. No, it will definitely create riots. My meaning is, I may be a dangerous person traveling around the world and causing unsafe societies."
"Haha, sooner or later I'll become an accomplice of this dangerous person."
At Karian nodding his head in assent with a serious expression at his half-joke, Haia was speechless.
"Ah, I don't plan to pull Grendan to become partners in crime, nor do I think that we should take what we can. After all, they won't be satisfied with me taking a Heaven's Blade out of the city."
"Then why do you do this?"
"Didn't I say? The things I do can almost only rely on the unconfirmed variable of information spread. So if there's anything else I can do, I want to try it out."
"Like letting me become a Heaven's Blade successor?"
"Bringing the person who has a chance at becoming a Heaven's Blade to Grendan. Whether you can become or not is up to yourself."
"......Hm, how interesting."
Karian's words made Haia laugh.
"I will get a Heaven's Blade sooner or later. I already decided that, and if you want to help, I'll accept your help."
"That's how it is. Right, where did you go just now?"
Perhaps because he believed he had no reason to continue asking, Karian began reading again.
Soon after, Stania and Myunfa returned.
Karian listened to their report.
"......In other words, we have to first pass through several competitions, is that the case."
"Yes. We did not find out what qualities or prerequisites a Heaven's Blade successor needs, but judging from the information that we received of past Heaven's Blade successors, they had to first pass through several competitions to confirm their power in order for the Queen to conduct the Heaven's Blade successor deciding competition."
Stania replied skillfully.
"......Will our birthplaces mean anything?"
Perhaps it was the price that had to be paid in order for the moving cities to protect the people from harm by filth monsters, but the closed structures of society usually excluded foreigners.
How grand of a role would be held by those who came from outside the city yet were able to become Heaven's Blade receivers? Haia's concerns were quite reasonable.
"Ah, there seem to be no problems with that."
Myunfa happily replied to Haia's inquiry:
"Since there are already Lintence, Reverse, and Cauntia before. Even if you're a Military Artist from outside the city, as long as you have power, the current Queen will actively recruit you."
"That person is really incredible~"
Though Haia's words were strong, he showed a relaxed expression, and Karian involuntarily smiled wryly.
"Regardless, in the end, it's possible for you to obtain a Heaven's Blade."
"Nn, I know that. Then, next it should be enough to pass through the competitions, right?"
"Correct. But if it's only like that, it's unknown when the Queen will hold the qualification competition."
"......? What are you saying?"
Karian's words made Haia frown in surprise.
"The Queen decides whether to hold the Heaven's Blade successor qualifying competition on her own. In other words, regardless of how many honors you pile up, as long as the Queen hasn't decided to hold the competition, the competition will not begin."
"Ah...... It seems that way~"
"The Queen can't rely only on her mood to decide on those things. I think the Queen will also assess herself whether the person is a Military Artist who is capable of using a special Dite like the Heaven's Blade, and then carry out the competition."
"It's a very reasonable thought~"
"But, considering the information that I gathered on the Queen Alsheyra Almonise's personality, things can't be like that."
"What does that mean?"
"First, and perhaps this counts as the most important reason, she has a personality that likes to play around, and has a tendency to decide things on the spur of the moment. The Queen can't rely only on whether or not it's interesting to decide important positions like the Heaven's Blade successors. Though I'd say that that personality seems to seriously affect the speed of her carrying out the competition."
"So then will be your time to appear~"
A cunning smile appeared on Haia's face, and Karian also showed the same expression.
Karian's battle plan was this:
First, use normal methods to pass the preliminary competitions, to let the people of Grendan know the existence of Haia Laia.
"Try to use spectacular methods to win."
"Because that stands out rather more?"
"Correct. Regardless of whether the evaluation is good or bad, it is important for it to reach the ears of the Queen. Though, you must only keep from breaking Military Artist ethical conduct."
"Is it alright to stand out with a negative image?"
"My intuition is that the Queen seems to like eccentric people."
"That actually seems how it is."
The doubt on Haia's face made Stania open her mouth:
"I gathered assessments on the Heaven's Blade successors, and there are only a small group that are model Military Artists and behaved citizens, with all the others having some flaw in their personalities."
"People who have extraordinary strength should for the most part have some deviation in their personalities. It's very hard to decide that it has nothing to do with power."
"Not only this, but the personality of the Queen herself is very odd. From one of the facts among those that I gathered, the Queen openly uses a body double during formal ceremonies. The body double is one of the Heaven's Blade successors, and this is already a well-known thing among the city's residents."
"Is this body double significant?"
"No. But, thought the Queen knows that the city's residents have seen through it, she still continues to let that person stand in for herself."
"The Queen enjoys this kind of mysterious fun."
"So our goal of standing out is to incur the Queen's favor, then?"
"Are you dissatisfied?"
"That~ I wanted to achieve her approval with a frontal attack if I could."
"We don't have to cheat during the competition process. Moreover in the end, if you don't have the power to hold a Heaven's Blade, everything is meaningless. All I can do is make the Queen notice your existence as soon as possible."
"The one who actually implements this is you, so I have no authority to command you. But, in order for you to become a Heaven's Blade successor as quickly as possible......"
"Aah, I know, I know!!"
Haia raised his hands high in surrender, and Karian nodded his head.
"Hm, in that case, this is the next battle plan."
"There's more, huh."
"Of course, just standing out can't count as a battle plan, right?"
Haia showed a somewhat impatient expression, so Karian looked at Stania:
"I asked her to look for people who have been recognized as Heaven's Blade successors in waiting."
"What did you say?"
Under the gazes of the others, Stania once again spoke:
"First, there's a person who was seen as the foremost choice, but because of an unfortunate accident recently he was forced to retire."
"Yes. That person was called Terios, and supposedly he was injured in an accident, and then that happened...... That's how things are."
The expression on Haia's face carried some sort of meaning.
Perhaps understanding the meaning of that expression, Stania also nodded her head.
"That person was part of the royal family, so he could have hidden for some suspicious reason. In short, the person who was seen as the foremost choice has already departed from the battle for the Heaven's Blade."
"The person in the lead is out, so the current situation is hard to anticipate?"
"Correct. The people who are seen as secondaries......"
Karian looked at the data handed to him.
"In this case...... it seems feasible."
After scanning the data with pictures once over, Karian murmured this.
"What are you thinking?"
Haia looked over with some reluctance.
"Regarding this person......"
Karian spoke while tearing a photograph from the file, bringing it for the others to see.
"What does everyone think?"
"Seems to have an odd personality."
"Huh? That...... That...... How...... How should I say it."
"Seems to only have looks."
"Ah, never mind Haia, I wouldn't have thought that even our female companions wouldn't evaluate him highly."
Karian once again confirmed the picture in his hand. The facial features and hairstyle of the person in the picture were very good-looking, so Karian had thought that he would give a decent impression to females.
"I don't know what the girls who had been tricked by this man were thinking."
"Ah, I thought that you were a comrade of those girls."
"What did you say?"
"In other words, at the last this man possesses a charm that can't be ignored."
"Hearing the exchange between Stania and Haia, Karian confirmed that he had no reason to correct his thoughts toward the man in the picture.
"Then, who is this guy?"
Haia flicked the picture with his finger, seeming to want to escape Stania's glare.
"His name is...... Inbait Touslane? Ah, that name is indeed suitable."
"Now that you know, I will explain the plan. Haia, please become Inbait's rival."
"My meaning is that I want you to stage a show."
Karian tried to explain like this, but Haia first, followed by Myunfa and Stania all showed expressions of being unable to understand.
"I can't understand, isn't it enough to defeat all of the potentials in the competition?"
"It's true that the final conclusion will be like that. Perhaps among frontal attacks, the most suitable method is to knock down all of the potentials in a breath. After all, I have nothing to criticize about that kind of method."
"But doing that might not be interesting."
"Think about it, who will be made happy by that grand method of showing off strength? The normal citizens of the city. To the Heaven's Blade successors and the Queen who is even stronger than them, it isn't any curious happening."
"In other words, though flaunting a crushing strength can please the citizens, it might not entertain the Queen."
"......Then, using your methods the Queen will be happy?"
"Not only this, even the normal citizens will also be happy."
"Isn't it acting?"
Haia seemed to be very unwilling to do this.
"Do you hate cheating during a fight?"
"If it's this kind of fraud!"
It wasn't that Karian didn't understand Haia's way of thinking. Karian had a habit, that in order to make something certainly succeed, he would eliminate every dangerous element one by one, and conclude with an overwhelming offensive. If he could, Haia wanted to attack head-on and rightfully fight for the Heaven's Blade.
Karian clearly understood Haia's frame of mind.
"From my point of view, I want you to become a Heaven's Blade successor as quickly as possible."
"That's something I've heard before."
"Ah, in that case, I no longer have any other words to convince you."
Other than Karian, everyone felt a great sense of surprise at his sentence.
"Decide for yourself. To me, as long as you become a Heaven's Blade successor, I have already accomplished my goal here."
"Enriching your fighting power?"
"Correct. This world bears the fate of resistance, so I have to provide the impetus, cobbling together enough force to face this fate, and then I also want to arouse the awareness of other powers. This is my mission, the mission entrusted to myself."
"By now, I don't even want to hear your ambitions."
Haia showed an annoyed expression, and Karian raised his hands to indicate that he would say no more, and then left the room.
It was nearly dinnertime, and Karian walked towards the restaurant.
"Is this okay?"
Chasing from behind, Stania caught up to him like this.
"What's okay or not?"
"Young master is his employer, and if you only assert 'act according to my plan', he has no way to refuse."
"Something like obtaining a Heaven's Blade isn't something that can be carried out relying only on a mercenary contract. This is also a long-cherished wish to him, so the situation isn't that simple."
"When we started out he seemed very vigorous. But regardless of cheating during battle, he seems to really dislike cheating in places outside of battle."
"Because tricks in battle are also a way of offense."
But, Haia had once before kidnapped Felli in order to challenge Layfon to a fight.
So Karian had recognized that he was able to use such means.
"......Meaning that is a choice of last resort?"
At the time, Haia had taken advantage of the chaotic ongoing of the Military Arts competition to use such means, so the first time even Karian couldn't correctly grasp the entire situation.
Of course, Karian also couldn't learn of his thoughts at the time.
Even if Haia had complex thoughts towards Layfon, judging by the Mercenary Gang's actions afterward, it was definite that something had indeed happened to the Mercenary Gang at that time. Perhaps this also had something to do with the kidnapping.
"Is he unexpectedly good-natured?"
"What do you plan to do?"
"Ah, it's not that using a head-on attack and fighting battle after battle means he can't become a Heaven's Blade. If the situation turns into that, we can only wait for the conclusion."
Haia didn't know that there were people in the corridor discussing him, and was only pondering the situation in his heart.
"Ah...... I'm fine."
An uncomfortable voice made him raise his head. Eyes that seemed about to cry like usual looked at Haia.
Myunfa's worries weren't totally wrong.
"If it were normal, it would make no difference to follow Boss Karian's battle plan~"
Haia showed a forced smile. It wasn't that Karian wanted Haia to do evil deeds like kidnapping people, but only wanted him to act out a performance, letting him stand in the most favorable position. The situation was only like that. If things were normal, Haia could easily do these small things unabashedly. That should be the case.
Up till now, Haia had used that frame of mind to listen to Karian's words.
"Do you hate this plan that much?"
"Eh~ I'm not too sure myself."
Obvious disgust had not appeared in Haia's heart.
However, a slightly strange hesitation had indeed showed up in his heart.
"What should I say~ It's right that I only want a Heaven's Blade~"
But, this was because Haia felt that he could only repay what his adoptive father Ryuhou had given him like this. Also, this was because Ryuhou's friend and companion Derek's son Layfon had become a Heaven's Blade successor, inflaming Haia's competitive heart.
He wanted to prove that he was very strong.
"......Are those guys here?"
"............The Mercenary Gang seems to have disbanded."
"It really turned into this~"
Haia had known that in his heart long ago. After completing the mission in Zuellni, the Mercenary Gang began crumbling. Haia obviously had to supervise it, but more importantly, the Mercenary Gang might have already accomplished the expectations of its mission.
"What about Fermaus?"
"He seems not to be here."
Fermaus was the Mercenary Gang's Psychokinesist, an old member who had joined the Mercenary Gang at the same time as Ryuhou, and a person whose hometown was Grendan. After Haia left, Fermaus should have been the person in charge of the Mercenary Gang, so he should have seen with his own eyes the dissolving of the Mercenary Gang.
"His hometown should be Grendan, but somehow he didn't stay here!?"
Myunfa tilted her head to think with a serious expression, and Haia could only mutter the words, "Ah, no difference."
"Perhaps he went to travel by himself!"
Fermaus had only stayed and fought in the Mercenary Gang for Ryuhou, and had dutifully maintained the Mercenary Gang's operations after he died. However, Haia had been the one who destroyed the Mercenary Gang, and this made him feel apologetic.
"Is that why?"
Myunfa also cared about Fermaus.
"That's all I can think of."
The person who had always been by him had left. If he didn't know when they would cross paths or where they would see each other again, he could only trust that the other person was happy.
"Ah... but how should I say it, this impatient feeling......"
That kind of hard-to-describe feeling was truly very annoying. The situation with the Mercenary Gang suddenly appeared in his heart, so Haia felt that they were the reason his for his impatient mood. Because of that, Haia had asked Myunfa for news about them, but even though he asked, the situation wouldn't improve.
Haia didn't have any feeling of suddenly being enlightened, not did he feel more impatient.
In other words, the situation of the Mercenary Gang didn't have anything to do with his current mood.
"Ah... but, no. Those guys are also the reason. Though they're the reason, they're not the only reason, that's definitely correct."
Haia's response as he scratched his hair made Myunfa ask this in a worried tone.
Haia felt that he had almost found the answer. However, no matter how much more he said this was all he felt. Haia also didn't know whether this was truly the reason for his impatience.
"......In other words, its that?"
The event that happened in the dojo.
Haia had thought of going to see the place that was related to Ryuhou, so he had advanced to the Psyharden dojo, and then had come across Derek there.
That person was Layfon's teacher. Haia didn't want to reveal his identity, and hadn't thought of getting along well with Derek. Haia also knew of Ryuhou's thoughts towards Derek, but another kind of essentially competitive feeling had constructed a wall in his heart.
Derek had easily stepped across that wall.
Haia began feeling that the words Derek had spoken in front of himself at the time were the core of this kind of impatient feeling.
"......Becoming a Heaven's Blade means......"
"Becoming a resident of this city."
"Do you think I can set down my roots?"
"I'm sure you can."
"Really? I am Haia Laia, known even by Myunfa to be the trickster Haia."
"That's from the past."
"It isn't that easy to change someone's personality."
Haia thought of the things that had happened in his hometown. After his Military Artist parents died, no one was willing to adopt Haia, and because of this he had become an orphan, and his distrust of others let Haia begin misbehaving. After Haia escaped the orphanage he continually performed evil deeds, and at the end was finally caught by the city police, and received the death penalty of being expelled from the city. Ryuhou had come to inquire right before the sentence and sheltered Haia.
"I think the life of roaming from one city to another is very suitable for me."
In the end, Haia wasn't able to integrate well into even the Mercenary Gang that he had once thought as his home.
"Haia, but, then......"
"Nn, right, that's correct. After all I it's a fact that I want to become a Heaven's Blade successor.
Myunfa seemed to have wanted to say something.
However, Haia deliberately did not ask.
"Moreover, if the things from Boss Karian's mouth truly happened, then we can only fight. Or maybe escape, there's that option~"
"Okay, I'll go according to the boss's battle plans."
The impatient feeling hadn't disappeared, but Haia already saw it's true colors.
Setting his roots down in a city. When he was facing the reality of obtaining a Heaven's Blade, he had noticed another fact.
He couldn't set down his roots.
Haia planned to use this decision to scrub away the impatience.
In order to catch up to Karian and the others, Haia walked to the restaurant, However, that impatience still remained in his heart.