Chrome Shelled Regios:Volume22 Chapter4
Chapter 4: Each Others' Battles
Down below, endlessly advancing underground......
Karian's steps continued moving downwards on the stairs. The sound of him stepping on the metal staircase echoed in the empty space underground.
He didn't know when the lights that illuminated the surroundings had disappeared. Now the only light source was the white ball of light ahead of him that was guiding his advance.
She should be unable to see that light source. What goal was she moving forwards for? It didn't seem like the surroundings were that dark.
Or perhaps the scene surrounding them was one that only Karian could see.
Were the guardians of the other side peering over at them? That kind of doubt couldn't help but appear.
But, Karian was completely confident that this cluster of light before him belonged to an Electronic Fairy.
He was being led.
"Young Master, are you alright?"
"It's alright, just trust me for now."
"I trust you, but......"
Karian didn't feel the confusion of Stania behind him at all. Right now he was focused fully on what was before him, and he could no longer feel other emotions. Karian only walked downwards without stopping.
Did the unnatural stairs heading down before him truly belong to this city? It made one think that it was unreliable and dangerous.
Other than the ball of light guiding him, he couldn't see anything.
Since he couldn't see downwards, he feared that if he raised his head he wouldn't be able to see the place where he first entered this place.
Stania's voice was full of anxiety. If there were a battle, then she wouldn't be very suited for the situation.
Even so, Karian still stepped on the stairs going down.
Going down without stopping.
Not long after Stania's hand seemed to have grabbed on to the clothes on Karian's back......
The light disappeared.
Just as he thought this, the next light appeared.
The light spread out as if they were looking into the night sky.
This wasn't the only change.
The underground space that had oppressed the two up till now and given them a kind of enclosed feeling suddenly disappeared. It gave a kind of feeling like being released, and the presence of the metal frame that had originally surrounded them also disappeared.
The light spreading out above their heads swept away the darkness, and Stania behind him seemed to have also seen this.
"Can you see it too?"
"Yes...... but, what's going on?"
Hearing Stania's reply, Karian could firmly believe that the thing he saw was not a hallucination, and his heart relaxed slightly.
But, he couldn't find a clue that could correctly reply to her question.
Though he didn't have any reason to worry either.
Because after this he would be able to understand.
Karian once again looked at the surroundings.
There was no one else in this space filled with illuminated night other than Karian and Stania.
"We don't know what will happen next, I guess?"
The target of Karian's question was the light that had guided them. Even if it had disappeared without a trace, things couldn't have just ended like that.
After letting Karian and Stania see the scene in front of them, things wouldn't end like this.
Changes happened quickly.
The light once again flashed before their eyes.
Strong light made the two unable to help but use their hands to block their eyes, and through the flow of the air, Karian felt Stania stand in front of him. Stania had moved like this to guard him.
But, this blinding light didn't continue for too long. Though the light hadn't completely disappeared, it was no longer blinding to the degree where they couldn't open their eyes.
"......Who is it!?"
Stania's stern voice showed that changes had happened.
After opening his eyes, Karian saw it.
It was light.
Though it wasn't enough to force him to shut his eyes, it was still a bit blinding.
It wasn't the white light that had guided Karian, but rather blue light.
The origin of this light had taken shape and stood there.
It was a person.
No, though its external appearance was very close, it wasn't a human.
"An Electronic Fairy......"
Karian muttered, and Stania made a surprised sound when she heard it.
It wasn't Zuellni there. What had appeared in the blue light was a translucent female body. Light cloth-like objects floated by the woman's side. Two protrusions extended out of her naturally curling hair, making her extremely noticeable. They were animal ears. Things that seemed like animal skins were wrapped around the waist of this being that looked like a woman, but it was actually one of her many tails.
So beautiful, and so dignified. The woman's gaze had a strength that pushed Karian back.
"Who are you?"
Karian asked carefully.
"I'm the mother of your hometown, children."
Hearing Karian's words, the woman's expression softened slightly.
That name belonged to the city that Karian had been born in.
"Why? Is this......?"
After raising his doubts, Karian thought of the special information network between Electronic Fairies he had once heard of that had been called En.
But, even so, it wasn't a reason for the Electronic Fairy Saintberg to have appeared here.
"No...... then, is this inside En space?"
"What truly keen thinking. That's how it is, my child."
Saintberg who confirmed his thinking had already turned her back to them.
"Right now we will begin an important meeting. As a result of a proposal by myself and several others, we have decided to let you attend this meeting."
"Then...... the situation might be as you have thought."
In the depths ahead of the vaguely-speaking Saintberg, several new lights appeared. These were all Electronic Fairies with unusual humanoid shapes.
The light of the emerging Electronic Fairies slowly gathered in this space, forming a circle.
"As long as you are here, regardless of where you are you can hear every sound and see every thing. Just watch from the side for now."
After saying this, Saintberg also entered the circle of Electronic Fairies.
Karian and Stania had been left behind, only able to silently watch Saintberg move far away.
Their mixed emotions still hadn't calmed down.
Moreover, there was still an incredulous mood.
"Young Master...... this isn't a dream?"
"Yes, it's definitely not."
Responding to Stania's question, Karian once again rectified his mood, looking around again.
The light that had gathered in this vast space...... the number of Electronic Fairies wasn't very great.
It wasn't very great...... More correctly, it was much less than the number Karian had thought.
Though it hadn't been a year since he had left Zuellni, he had already been to quite a few cities through the roaming buses.
Considering the number of cities he had been to, the number of Electronic Fairies gathered here counted as small.
If the Electronic Fairies gathered here, their goals were the same as what Karian was thinking...... That was a prerequisite.
But with that hypothesis...... that expectation, he could confirm that he was correct.
The Electronic Fairies here were Electronic Fairies of cities that Karian had been to when he was spreading information and images of the crisis.
"Then everyone, is it about time to begin?"
Saintberg said this.
The responses of the other Electronic Fairies weren't sounds. But, Karian somewhat understood what was represented by the blinking lights.
"What we want to discuss is obviously the battle that began not too long ago in Grendan."
Hearing Saintberg's words, Karian's entire body couldn't help but shake. It took his entire strength to simply nod at Stania's light call of 'Young Master!' from behind.
"Oh...... so it's already begun."
That kind of nightmarish battle had begun in Grendan again.
They could also win this time.
But perhaps they would be defeated.
The fighting power that they had gathered in order to not be defeated, what would happen if it lost?
Because he had those kinds of thoughts, Karian couldn't stop traveling.
The results of this journey would now be revealed. Karian was already so tense that he forgot to exhale the air that he gulped down.
"What does the information coming from Grendan say?"
Other Electronic Fairies asked, and Saintberg shook her head.
"The situation isn't that simple."
"The conditions change continuously. Grendan's pure-blood holders are currently beginning to fight, and also, the mother's secret plan has also completed the transition to the next-generation successor, and is currently preparing to depart for Grendan." 
Grendan's pure-blood holders...... That should mean the Heaven's Blade successors.
Then, what did the 'mother's secret plan' mean?
That was information that Karian didn't know, and moreover he couldn't even speculate.
But, the situation that Karian had always been bringing up had already happened, and the strength that had been prepared for it had truly begun moving.
Then, what about the preparations that Karian had made?
He looked at Saintberg, and the Electronic Fairies' talk still continued.
"There's no reason to discuss the trends of the battle. It is already too late to decide according to the developments of the situation like we have done up to now. Right now the decision we should make is to act or not to act."
"This is only a precaution, and it's still quite a late precaution. An action like taking precautions after waiting for an illness to be confirmed is something that would be spurned by an insurance company. But it's a peculiar situation this time, because the policyholders began insuring after creating the insurance company themselves."
"That's quite the metaphor."
The one who said this was an old Electronic Fairy that looked like a tree. Things like tree branches grew out everywhere from his body, and green leaves would float down lightly seemingly at any time.
"In terms of significance, it's a similar thing to insurance. But, there's Grendan and our mother. There's already these two preparations, and they're all extremely strong. Since it's called insurance, then at the least we should prepare side by side with them, no matter what. But, can we do that?"
"We probably can't."
The other Electronic Fairies' thoughts were the same as the words of the old-looking Electronic Fairy.
"Then what should we do next?"
It wasn't Saintberg who said this, but a new voice.
It sounded like the voice of a girl even younger than Saintberg, and words that seemed as if they were managing the old man resounded in the vast space.
"If both preparations are defeated, will we be destroyed without having done anything?"
A warm voice entered Karian's ears, but there was a strong force contained inside that warmth.
Karian cast his gaze downwards, and then once again looked into the group of lights.
After looking carefully, a shape surrounded by the lights was clearly revealed.
A young girl.
A young girl that Karian had seen before.
She was there, and had begun speaking to the other Electronic Fairies.
"Though it's correct to assign things to those who can complete them. However, are we currently in a position where we can do other things only after completing the mission given to us?"
"Is there anything we can do?"
The old man asked. He seemed to be the representative of the opposing faction.
"Isn't it only because he trusts that there are still things he can do that he continues to travel and that we gathered here?"
Touching his beard, the old man turned his gaze to Karian.
Though he had the external appearance of an old man, his gaze was filled with youthful heat. The age relationship between his external appearance and his mind should be different from humans, and Karian must have been bound by human common sense, getting an incorrect feeling.
While he was puzzled by that incorrect feeling, Karian was unknowingly surrounded by the Electronic Fairies' light.
Stania behind him made a surprised sound.
Had they been the ones moving? Or had the other parties moved? Regardless of which, it had occurred at a speed that the Military Artist Stania hadn't noticed.
"Then please ask him to explain."
The old man spoke.
Gazes focused on Karian.
A sudden weight oppressed Karian's body. He who had made speeches countless times to audiences before as the Student Council president of Zuellni was now enduring a completely different kind of tension from before.
What really was this weight?
"It's the weight of lives."
At the same time as Karian put his hand on his chest, a voice sounded.
Zuellni was by his side.
The light that covered her body also covered Karian.
A warm feeling spread out from the center of his body, letting Karian feel that the weight pressing down on him gradually lightened.
"It's because of your hard work that we have this meeting today."
Zuellni said warmly.
"......Things wouldn't have become like this either if it weren't for you telling me the situation that one day."
Karian replied, and after listening, Zuellni showed an innocent smile befitting of her external appearance of a young girl.
That day, after that nightmarish day when Zuellni and Grendan came in contact, Karian had come in contact with various things. In a laboratory, he witnessed a girl awakening from a deep sleep that had continued until then, and had learned everything that was happening to the world in the Academy City's Mechanical Department from Zuellni.
Why would Zuellni tell him this?
After hearing Zuellni's words, Karian had asked her.
"I haven't only told this to you."
She had replied like that.
Though it was very short, in the history of the Academy City, she had already told this to several students.
But as expected, they didn't know what to do unless the crisis was appearing right by them, and it seemed that there was no one who could come up with tactics to confront it.
"If it were a Military Artist, then maybe it would be enough if they decided to fight."
At that time, she had said this.
"But, is it enough for a normal person who is not a Military Artist to just not know anything?"
Her pure doubt, like a child's, was given to Karian.
The right to decide had been given to Karian.
Zuellni had probably told these things to those who could do something.
But, she only conveyed it, nothing more.
It was prohibited for the Electronic Fairies to tell people of the world's crisis that had always been a hidden secret.
Zuellni usually couldn't speak because of this.
"Why would you do this?"
Karian who knew these things asked Zuellni.
There were already sufficient preparations to face the world's crisis, and it should be that there wasn't anything else they could do, and moreover he didn't have that power.
It wouldn't be strange for the people preparing for the fate of this world to have already considered everything.
But then, why would Zuellni tell Karian about this?
Could it be that she only wanted to spread anxiety?
"Whether you like it or not, as long as there's a possibility, it's better to tell this to those who will worry about the world. Because this is the city filled with possibilities."
Zuellni had said this with a naive expression.
The Academy City.
A city filled with possibilities.
Yes, perhaps there were indeed innumerable possibilities gathered there.
But because of that, because she was the Electronic Fairy of the Academy City, Zuellni had thought of acting like that.
"You're really a foolish person."
Karian had said this, but he himself had made his determination.
He had determined to embark on his journey.
He decided to go to many cities, to tell of the crisis of the world to many people.
Even if Karian couldn't think of any strategy on his own, perhaps there were people who could. Perhaps they had some special means.
Even if their strength wasn't reliable as individuals, if they gathered together, perhaps they could do it.
So, when Karian graduated, he embarked on a journey.
Because of this, Karian was here now.
Being surrounded by Electronic Fairies, in order to tilt the balance of their decision, Karian took a deep breath.
Then, he spoke.
In order to make all of them act, he wove his words.
Had Lævateinn been exhausted slightly...... it truly couldn't be told from her external appearance.
Layfon felt the heat of the Dite grasped in his hand while he panted for breath..
Leerin was behind him, and Lintence by his side, with the Queen slightly in front of them.
Together, they faced the enemy, Vati Len.
No, she was no longer the Vati that Layfon knew. She had become slightly taller than before, and the impression from her clothing had changed.
She was Lævateinn. An enemy of this world since the world had been born.
A battle machine that served someone who had been imprisoned in the moon.
Nano-Celluloid Interface 1 Lævateinn.
That was her.
He no longer had anything to say to her, and Layfon only watched Lævateinn in silence.
As expected, she didn't have any appearance of weariness.
She only seemed to have a sliver of sorrow, looking expressionlessly at Leerin, and the black-clothed girl next to her.
Lævateinn's target should be the life of that girl called Saya.
Though Layfon was still dubious whether that was truth or lies in this kind of situation, this world would be destroyed because of that girl's death.
This world had been created by that black-clothed girl.
The world had already been split originally, and the world had crumbled because of fighting after being split. In order to protect the people who had fallen into the gap between worlds called the Zero Territory, Saya had acted as a container that was created, which was the current world.
Harpe had said this when they were on the road to Grendan.
The concepts in his words were too huge, making it hard to believe.
But regardless of whether Layfon believed or not, the situation had continued unfolding according to that information. Countless people and Electronic Fairies had prepared to protect the world, and enemies like Lævateinn had appeared.
The Heaven's Blade successors were gathered for that goal, the Queen had become the strongest existence because of this, and the peculiar power inside Leerin definitely also existed for this.
Then, Lævateinn had appeared here to eliminate Saya.
It had nothing to do with Layfon's feelings. They wouldn't stop the situation regardless of what unfolded, and now, this kind of situation had already come to be.
If he didn't do anything, then the situation would unknowingly develop into something that Layfon was unable to match.
Layfon was here because he felt that wouldn't do.
Whether he believed or not, that was the most meaningless question to Layfon.
There was a being here who could overturn all of his doubts.
There was a reason here that was able to make Layfon act.
Right now he only needed to respond to this reality.
Layfon nodded his head after speaking softly.
He didn't hate this kind of method of switching moods.
Actually, it should be said that he relied on switching moods to live to the present.
The person before him could be the neighbor or a classmate of his, but right now it was no longer that way.
Since right now she was threatening Leerin who was both his family and his childhood friend, as well as the enemy who endangered the people of his hometown.
He had to deal with the cold reality that she had to be gotten rid of.
Letting his opponent live while at the same time allowing himself to remain intact...... Layfon's power was insufficient to pursue that kind of ending.
Alsheyra standing before him pointed a finger. Though Layfon couldn't see from behind her back, her voice was sufficient for him to understand clearly that she was extremely pleased.
"No one will come anymore, right? Then...... It's about time to make a scene."
Lævateinn didn't make any response.
In a moment, Kei sprang up as if covering the skin on his face, and sparks scattered in front of Layfon. Something must have come in contact with that defensive Kei.
A similar scene appeared in front of Lintence.
Leerin behind him was also the same.
The disappearing light told Layfon that he couldn't take his gaze away from what was ahead of him. Layfon only silently accepted the changes that occurred, and gathered his mind to watch the Queen's next action.
A hurricane of Kei formed with the Queen as its center, and this situation was just from her increasing her Kei. Layfon endured the hurricane in order to keep from being blown away.
Layfon heard a muttering sound inconsistent with the Queen's normal style.
In a moment, the Queen's slender body had disappeared.
Layfon barely caught the afterimage that her black hair left behind. But, his eyes didn't catch her movements until after the Queen once again appeared in front of Lævateinn.
Facing the suddenly-appearing Alsheyra, Lævateinn still reacted calmly.
Evading the fist that was struck out, and blocking the simultaneous kick.
As expected, it was impossible to use his eyes to catch the process of these stances being formed. It seemed as if their movements stopped for a moment, being played frame-by-frame.
Though she had blocked the kick, it didn't mean that the attack's momentum had been completely stopped. Lævateinn was kicked flying all the way to the wall.
Though Lævateinn had been smashed into the wall, her figure quickly appeared again.
But she didn't counterattack.
Lævateinn who emerged from the hole in the wall turned her neck as if examining her body.
Her appearance seemed very surprised.
As expected, the voice that Alsheyra let out was filled with a joyful air, but Layfon didn't have the leisure to feel pleasure in this situation.
That disparity shouldn't only be a gap of strength, because such a thing could also be seen in Savaris.
To her, this battlefield was a rare one that wouldn't end with a single strike of hers.
"Let me have some fun again."
At the same time as she spoke, the Queen's body had already disappeared.
The Queen who moved in front of Lævateinn opened her offensive with a fist. The weapon in Lævateinn's hand was smashed after a single blow, and this forced her to choose to endure the Queen's assault.
Bouncing shockwaves were everywhere underground. Moreover the entire underground space was shaking, and the noises as the metal creaked under pressure gave a very inauspicious premonition.
"......Is it alright? The city."
"You also saw things above, how could it be alright."
With a sentence, Lintence overturned the thing that Layfon had been worrying about.
"......It's fine as long as the shelters don't have trouble?"
"We should think that way."
As long as the city's residents inside the shelters were alright, that meant the city's death wasn't important. It was currently that much of a severe situation.
But, from his face it could be seen that he had other things that he worried about. No, Layfon wasn't clear on whether Lintence was worried about something or not. They were currently in a battle, but Lintence's slightly grim face made Layfon unable to help but think of that kind of thing.
In the worst situation the shelter might not even be left. He feared that Lintence also had that kind of thought.
This battlefield had that degree of intensity.
A battle to make Lintence, the strongest Heaven's Blade successor, make that kind of troubled decision.
"We really can't go back on guarding the shelters."
"My family is still in there."
His brothers were inside. Since he hadn't seen him fighting, then his adoptive father was definitely also inside.
Just like protecting Leerin, protecting them was very important to Layfon.
"......Protecting the city's residents is the obligation of Military Artists."
Lintence used a low-spirited voice to respond.
Hearing his master's words, Layfon nodded his head. His consciousness returned to the battle. This extraordinarily high-speed battle made it so that just following them with his eyes was tiring for Layfon.
But, if he wasn't suited for the battle in front of him at this moment, then right now he didn't have any use here.
Raising his Kei, flowing as much Kei as he could into his body. Until his mind cried out, he endlessly quickened his movement ability, in order to be able to chase the Queen's battle.
He saw it.
Layfon saw Alsheyra and Lævateinn tapping off the walls that surrounding the underground space as they engaged each other in an endless midair battle.
It wasn't short afterimages, but rather he clearly saw their movements.
"......But whether I can do that or not is something else."
To be able to follow their movements with his eyes and to be able to pursue them were two completely different things.
But even so, Layfon could feel around for some action that he could take.
The powers of these two weren't comparable. Though right now wasn't a leisurely time, he did have time to think.
He had to use this time as well as possible.
A long battle would be useless to them, and regardless of what they did they had to find a way to finish the opponent in one strike.
But in that case, they would have to prepare a huge Kei technique.
And they really didn't want to use that kind of destructive force in this underground facility so close to the Mechanical Department.
"What should we do......"
Just as Layfon was still thinking about these things.
The joyful Alsheyra called out a name.
As if responding to the call, a four-footed beast appeared not far from Layfon.
A mysterious beast whose entire body was covered with glowing light...... the Electronic Fairy Grendan.
The Electronic Fairy responding to the Queen's call made a bestial howl, and then a ball of light appeared on its head.
By the time that Layfon saw the light before him was being compressed, it had already suddenly flown out.
Flying towards Alsheyra.
The Queen deftly caught the rapidly-flying light, revealing its shape.
Though its external appearance seemed very plain, the energy of an Electronic Fairy indeed composed this spear.
As the Queen flowed her own Kei into it, waves of Kei spread outwards with the Queen as the center.
Every time, the spear became even sturdier than before. The originally light-blue colored spear slowly became red.
The battle didn't stop as the spear continuously changed. Sweeping with the spear point, striking with the spear haft, and then using her feet to kick to widen the distance, and finally casting the spear out towards Lævateinn from far away.
Layfon had felt this kind of Kei color and vibration before.
This light had ended the battle in Grendan before.
The destructive light that stimulated Layfon's memories was drawn towards Lævateinn's body.
......One moment before, Lævateinn who was still flying through the air reached her hand out to the light.
She opened her fingers, as if she wanted to grab the spear.
Regardless of the speed or her posture, Lævateinn couldn't possibly succeed at what she was doing. Layfon had felt in the battle before that the attack this time contained enough might to be called certain death.
But, Lævateinn grabbed the spear.
Starting from the moment it had been cast out, the spear had abandoned maintaining its form, and after Lævateinn touched it, the energy contained inside was released in the form of explosions, making the light swell up.
But, it still needed some time before it reached full capacity.
In that short moment, Lævateinn didn't completely catch the spear, but changed its trajectory, letting it continue to fly out.
Facing that kind of unexpected development, Layfon couldn't help but gape.
In this case, then this side would be involved.
Layfon quickly moved to a position where he could block it for Leerin, pouring all of his Kei into defense.
But, this time Layfon was worried more than necessary.
The light of the explosion was bounced back before Layfon's eyes.
An invisible wall had blocked the explosions.
"It's Saya's power."
As the chaotic explosions blocked Layfon's vision, Leerin spoke from behind him.
"She has the power to create boundaries in this world."
Layfon turned his head to look at the nodding Leerin, and he didn't really understand the meaning of 'boundaries'.
She pretty much understood this by just looking at Layfon's expression.
"Nn...... Roughly speaking, it's a very strong defensive technique?"
Spoken this way, it was easy to understand.
"We only have this world because that power became great."
As expected, that aspect of things was still hard to understand.
It was hard to understand, and even more difficult to accept.
"I was created in an emergency shelter as a human, to be thrown into the Zero Territory."
A new voice suddenly broke into the conversation of the two of them.
It was Saya who had been silent up to now.
"Because of chance, I met Airen, and then became as I am now, but originally I was only a machine."
On the other side of the invisible wall, the force of the explosions slowly weakened.
A great hole had been opened in the city, and the outside world could be seen at a glance. The earth hidden underneath the night and the city's shadow was quickly covered by walls made of vine-like objects. The city's emergency defense system had activated, and machinery proliferated and formed walls afterwards.
Hearing Saya's words, Layfon turned backwards.
On the other side of the invisible wall, the battle between Alsheyra and Lævateinn still continued.
Lævateinn was also a machine.
She had the form of a human, and had lived with Layfon and others, but she was still a machine.
Because that was reality.
Indeed, her body had changed.
But, Layfon didn't doubt that Vati who had lived with them wasn't a human.
"......Machines will only complete their mission. They have no other doubts. They originally don't have anything like thinking ability, and opposing their original mission is like opposing their reason for existence."
Saya shouldn't be able to tell what Layfon was thinking.
But Saya still watched the battle while speaking.
"If she was something like me with a single function, then her worries should probably be easily eliminated? The functions she possesses should be 'use the abilities you have been given to serve your master'. Because of that kind of mixed and vague function, she feels worried about her own existence."
"............Is that how it is?"
Saya seemed to understand what she was talking about, but she also seemed to be a bit unclear.
"She has wanted to become closer to human emotions since the beginning, those thoughts are hidden inside her. I can tell from her outward appearance."
"I mean the emotions of her creator. His desires were all mixed into the plan. That sort of lack of unity made her a bit unbalanced, I think that's the reason."
The battle still continued. Layfon's eyes were trying to catch the two fighters.
But, Saya's words caught his attention.
"Though it's groundless, that outward appearance is probably according to the person the designer was thinking of."
Though Layfon thought about the words 'the person he was thinking of' for a moment, he understood in a moment.
"Being a machine whose one function being pursued is completely different from the other tormented her until now. So, she has always been searching."
"Searching for what?"
"My love has never betrayed my function. But, her function leads to chaos in her love, that is why."
The battle..... still continued. The sounds of battle rocked the underground, probably shaking the entire city.
All of the people in Grendan could probably hear these shocks.
The sounds of the Queen fighting with the one who wanted to destroy the world.
But, in those sounds, Layfon couldn't help but feel a bit of sadness from a different perspective.
"She endlessly betrays herself."
The battle continued.
Alsheyra and Lævateinn used the underground as an arena, jumping and fighting back and forth. Shockwaves distorted the surrounding darkness, and the waves of Kei that spread out tormented the surrounding metal foundations.
The battle between the two of them was indeed in a blind spot of the city.
If it were above ground, then the current situation might be insignificant, but a battle so close to an important place like the Mechanical Department gave one a strange tension.
As Layfon lost the optimal chance to act, Leerin's voice came over.
"Regardless of what that person hides......"
"I know. I understand as well."
If they didn't defeat Lævateinn, then the world would be destroyed. Layfon was very clear on that.
After hearing Saya's words, Layfon had indeed lost a chance to act.
The black-clothed girl's words made him think of Vati who had once lived with him in Zuellni, that had not been a lie.
'She wants to become closer to human?'
He finally understood the meaning of 'Vati B's words that he had heard from Felli.
If he hadn't understood anything, if Lævateinn stayed a simple enemy, then this would have been a much easier thing.
But, things obviously wouldn't become like that.
"I know that she's a being we must defeat."
If he wanted to save Leerin who was caught in a whirlpool, that meant he would have to go fight.
In order to be able to protect his family members, he could only do this.
It was impossible for everyone to be able to obtain their desired outcome, he had known this for a long time. Clashes would happen all the time regardless of the stakes. Happiness wasn't the same to everyone, and these things couldn't fit together like a puzzle. In order for one person to be happy other people had to be discontent - that was a common thing.
Layfon's world was an obstacle to Lævateinn reaching her goal, so wanting to protect the world could only mean eliminating Lævateinn.
Layfon wouldn't know any method that could avoid battle.
"I'll go. I didn't come here to run away."
The labors he had undertaken before weren't so he could experience a setback here.
He hadn't gotten Felli involved in this on purpose.
Though she had said he didn't need to concern himself with that, Layfon still felt guilty that he had involved her in these dangers, and pain seeped into his heart.
Of course there was also warmth.
He couldn't ignore the throb he felt in his heart.
It was something he couldn't deceive himself about.
Layfon's focused his will into the solid sword hilt he grasped in his hand. Kei was already rushing through his body.
The battle had already begun.
"I can start at any time."
"......Really, then it's about time to start moving."
Lintence said this.
"Do we have any tactics?"
"Incinerate her after stopping her movements. Other than this, do we need anything else?"
In truth, there was only one way.
Though he had originally thought that there could be some other way, he could only rely on Lintence if he had to catch up to the speed of the battle between Alsheyra and Lævateinn.
"The Queen is even less fitting for the word cooperation than I am, so we can only think of some way to coordinate with her."
If he made a wrong step, he could be killed by the Queen's fist.
After making that kind of determination, Layfon jumped out.
Passing through the invisible wall that Saya had created, he didn't encounter any resistance. So, Layfon wasn't clear whether he had actually passed through it or not.
But, he was sure that he had crossed it.
The Kei pressure permeating the battlefield almost blew away Layfon as he was leaping through the air. The surrounding airflow was chaotic because of the shockwaves produced in the battle of the two.
With sometimes tailwind, sometimes a headwind, and sometimes wind blowing in opposite directions, Layfon searched for a way to jump closer to the two of them.
But, the obstruction that the chaotic wind produced was more than Layfon had thought.
Layfon restored the Sapphire Dite to steel threads, and then created a surface to run on by spreading the steel threads out.
As he got closer and closer to the battle, the pressure became greater, and he felt a sharp momentum from the shockwaves. Just trying to get closer was already risking his life.
Layfon clenched his teeth, jumping in.
"You're in the way!"
Alsheyra didn't seem very pleased with Layfon and Lintence getting involved.
But, that had nothing to do with Layfon and Lintence. After evading the Queen's fist, his blade attacked Lævateinn in a flash.
But the slash hadn't hit Lævateinn, but rather flew through the empty air.
However, Layfon wasn't the only one who had entered the battle.
Passing through the Kei pressure of the battle, countless soundless and presenceless spikes formed of steel threads attacked Lævateinn.
Different from Alsheyra's storm and Layfon who was pushed around by the strength chaotic airflow, it was a strike of another intruder who had quietly gotten close.
They hadn't expected the opponent to make any response.
But, it still didn't work, and their expectations were cleanly betrayed.
Moreover the one who destroyed them wasn't the enemy.
As if trying to push Layfon away, Alsheyra ran out before him and unleashed an attack. The pressure produced from that attack wiped out the power of the steel threads, blowing them away.
Lævateinn received the Queen's fist with a braced posture, and was sent flying.
"Don't get in the way!"
Alsheyra glared at Layfon as she leaped out chasing Lævateinn.
That kind of serious look from her who usually always wore a leisurely smile couldn't help but make Layfon stop his feet.
Lintence's voice was very low, coming from behind his back.
"Don't get intimidated. If you care about that woman's capriciousness we won't be able to accomplish anything."
Capriciousness...... It was probably only Lintence who could say that after seeing the Queen's look. Layfon reclaimed his momentum, once again chasing after them.
Once he got close, a wordless roar battered Layfon's entire body. It was Alsheyra's anger.
But, just like Lintence had said, in order not to get intimidated by that imposing manner, Layfon roared back.
Though his roar didn't have any meaning, by letting out his voice, Layfon who was about to be intimidated by her imposing manner once again reclaimed the courage to return to the battle.
A fistfight still continued between the two. Alsheyra released Kei power, and no weapon existed that could endure that kind of destructive force.
Their speed was extremely surprising, and just clearly seeing their movements already used all of his power.
But, since he could see their movements, then he would be able to make predictions about their next moves.
He could find a gap to attack from his predictions, and release a slash.
Lintence's steel threads would also find a matching attack.
Alsheyra didn't roar this time. Though he could feel that she was displeased, she didn't deflect their attacks.
It couldn't be told from one or two moves whether the participation of the two had a favorable effect on the battle for their side or not.
On the third and fourth move they checked their opponent.
On the fifth and sixth move they released moves more smoothly.
On the seventh and eighth move they overcame the distance.
On the tenth move they had already transcended the problems, and the battle still continued.
The battle had been successfully maintained.
Though it was at the same time an exhausting battle, he could already keep up with its rhythm.
He could participate in the fight.
(We can win!)
He began firmly believing in that kind of confidence somewhere inside his heart. While he guarded against his confidence becoming pride, he crossed the threshold of death and continued the fight.
Though Lintence's steel threads wanted to catch Lævateinn, they passed through her body.
Layfon's slashes also encountered a similar phenomenon. Like a sensation as if cutting through empty air, though Layfon was already used to it, the different feeling threw his plans afterwards into disarray the first time he felt it.
This wasn't a hallucination.
It was only that the moment the steel threads and the blade made contact, the contacted particles forming Lævateinn's body would momentarily separate.
In order to not get confused by that extraordinarily fast response, he didn't have the leisure to get arrogant.
However, why hadn't that strange phenomenon happened with Alsheyra's fist?
Was it because her speed was even faster than Layfon and Lintence? Was it because her destructive power was too strong?
If it were truly because of the two of them, then it would be difficult even if they wanted to find a way to resolve it. But if it had some other reason, then there might be the possibility of winning.
Could they find it?
Layfon put more of his focus into his eyes in order to find it. The sensation of Kei rushing under his skin stimulated him. Though Layfon couldn't see it, perhaps the nerves around his two eyes were glowing because of the high concentration of Kei.
Fists, blade, and steel threads wove a deadly dance preparing to pull that mechanical doll into the abyss of death.
But, the doll endured everything.
Not only this, she also tried to override it.
Alsheyra clicked her tongue, but it wasn't towards Layfon and Lintence.
Layfon who was sticking to the battle searching for an opportunity for victory knew that their side was slowly turning passive.
Was it because the addition of him and Lintence only made Alsheyra unable to unleash her original power?
Layfon only thought this for a moment.
But, he was quickly negated.
It was purely that Lævateinn's speed and power had overcome their side's.
Layfon unconsciously spoke to himself.
Receiving the assault from the Heaven's Blade successors aboveground, and sustaining Layfon and Lintence's attacks on the road here, and then having the Queen also enter the battle after coming underground, Lævateinn should clearly have been continuously destroyed in that period, but right now, at this stage, Lævateinn's strength was still stronger then theirs?
Her overcoming their methods made him feel an abnormal sense of crisis.
That kind of feeling made Layfon decide to leave the battle for a moment.
It wasn't only Layfon who left the battle.
Almost at the same time, the other two also left Lævateinn's side.
The battle stopped.
With a silence as if trying to make one forget the intense battle up till now, they stood still. The attackers and the defender's gazes converged.
"It's truly tangled. But this is also my first time, please be gentle."
Lævateinn didn't make any response to Alsheyra's words.
But, Layfon felt that some change had happened.
Not to say that an expression emerged on her, nor that she made any small movement.
Then, what was it......?
It was Lævateinn's face.
Her crystal clear skin was dirtied by the dust of the battle, though that was a natural thing.
But up to before she arrived in this underground space, she hadn't had this dust on her body.
Because of her strong regenerative ability, she could restore herself the moment she suffered wounds, and that was definitely also linked with her clean skin that wasn't fitting for this extreme battlefield.
Was that relationship slowly crumbling?
"There's something that's very strange, which is your expression."
Watching the unmoving Lævateinn, Alsheyra spoke.
"Or perhaps, has the puzzle already been solved?"
"It's the special ability of the 'Thorn Princess'."
Seemingly interested by Alsheyra's words, Lævateinn also opened her mouth.
Just as Layfon was feeling confused, Lintence told him from his side.
Ignoring Layfon, Lævateinn continued speaking.
"She is using her space manipulation abilities to remove the Aurora particles from this pace."
"Ah, that's true. Are they called Aurora particles? It's a different way of saying pollutants. Because we also know that those are the source of your strength, so we only have this kind of outcome after spending quite a bit of labor to remove them!"
"It was Saya who thought of and implemented all of this, it has nothing to do with Her Majesty."
Leerin muttered softly.
"......But this way, won't you Military Artists be unable to wield your latent abilities?'
"Yes, if we were normal Military Artists."
Layfon didn't really understand the conversation between the Queen and Lævateinn, so he listened while regulating his breathing.
Kei rushed through his body, and even so, nothing at all was irregular.
"The Kei vein that Military Artists possess originally had the function to convert Aurora particles into energy. So in a situation without Aurora particles, normal Military Artists would be unable to fight."
Layfon felt that 'normal Military Artists' had been stressed repeatedly.
"But, the Heaven's Blade successors here...... the original Heaven's Blade successors were people with that kind of power. To possess such a power, there had to be some kind of factor in the Kei vein. And that factor was Airen's factor."
He had heard that name inside Harpe.
It seemed to be the name of person who had imprisoned Lævateinn's master, Ignasis, inside the moon.
"Airen who was the origin of the Military Artists has a rare Kei vein with a certain factor, and possessing it meant possessing the possibility of becoming a Heaven's Blade successor."
"......Airen's factor was an abnormality. It could also be called crystallized Aurora particles."
"It seems like that was the case."
"So that's how it is, in that case battle would be possible even without Aurora particles."
"Yes, and so, I'm very sorry, but you've been destined to be killed after being slowly weakened."
Lævateinn's goal was to eliminate Saya, so she couldn't escape from her 'invisible wall'.
Considering that it had defended against the explosion just now, perhaps an attack from outside the 'invisible wall' was no use.
"I apologize, but I will not accept that kind of ending."
Lævateinn's expressionless face didn't change at all.
Perhaps that was normal. Her expression had never changed when she was in Zuellni either. That expressionless appearance made one think of a Psychokinesist. Just like Felli, it made one unable to do anything but guess when they would be able to understand the movements of their hearts.
But things weren't like that.
It was impossible for him to understand her lack of expression.
Because Lævateinn was a true machine.
......Then, did her words right now contain emotions or not?
Were they only just recounting facts?
Even if they were only recounting facts, weren't there several meanings contained among them?
Because this was her goal so she refused to leave......
She didn't have any reason to leave so she refused to leave.
Because she couldn't lose so she refused to leave.
If it were the final meaning, then he had to keep alert.
If she overexerted herself, there could be a sliver of hope.
But, if she only said this because she was already confident......
"Your Majesty, please be careful."
"Hm. But being careless is my trademark!"
Alsheyra still made a silly response to Layfon's proposal.
At the same time as these words were being spoken, Alsheyra moved.
If he had paid less attention he probably wouldn't even have felt her disappear, but Layfon still saw her movement.
The fistfight began again.
He had thought so.
But, it was wrong.
A surprised gasp and a shockwave came, passing through the area behind Alsheyra.
Her fist had been caught.
Lævateinn still stood still, using a single hand to catch the Queen's fist.
"You are indeed extremely strong, and that girl and Saya are also extremely strong. But......"
Alsheyra's body shook slightly as she let out broken words.
Could it be that she couldn't take her fist back?
"But, your lives will probably have burned out before I am exhausted completely."
Cold words seeped into Layfon's mind.
He heard words announcing their destruction without any hesitation.
No, that was the truth.
Complying with her mission, Saya had said.
Complying with her master's orders, she had said.
In order to rescue her master who had been imprisoned in the moon, it didn't even matter if Lævateinn's own body was destroyed. Layfon believed her words held that meaning.
The underground battle still continued.
Then, what about aboveground?
A strange silence dominated everything.
It should be said that it was a silence that made one panic.
The surrounding air was incredibly tense, and one had to be cautious at every breath, as if worrying that something would explode. As he breathed, Haia watched everything that was happening in the surroundings.
Only a few minutes had passed since the giant that Lævateinn had left aboveground had been defeated.
The sacrifices had not been small.
And that crazy laugh that Savaris had made at the end still lingered in Haia's ears even now.
There was a huge hole before him.
It was the place that the giant had originally occupied, forming a giant bowl-shaped hole. The center was a dark and deep hole.
The giant's original body, Lævateinn, had entered the underground there.
Heading to the place where the Queen was.
He couldn't not go.
That sentence continuously occupied his thinking.
The battle still continued, the battlefield had just changed positions.
But he still had energy.
Then right now he should quickly advance, and meeting up with the Queen and the others was an urgent priority.
That was the appropriate way of thinking.
"......It should be that way~"
Haia muttered discreetly.
As if not to disturb any explosives hidden anywhere, he spoke cautiously. Because he didn't know whether that thing would detonate because of something, he was quite cautious.
That kind of atmosphere filled the surroundings.
But, he couldn't move.
If it were just him then perhaps he might have classified this feeling as an illusion. There were many people here whose battle experience far surpassed Haia's, and following behind to act would be enough.
But, Haia wasn't the only person who didn't take action; the others were all the same.
In other words, this atmosphere told them that there was still something that would happen.
"Damn...... What's going on with this lukewarm situation~"
Haia gathered all of his power into recovery for the moment. The situation he was in right now could be said to be a lukewarm condition.
Regardless of what he thought, the battle underground couldn't have ended already. He should have decided on the battlefield he would advance to next long ago.
But his body told him the battle hadn't ended.
Others were in the same situation.
But, they didn't have any way to believe it.
So it was a lukewarm situation.
If someone said 'Let's go underground' at that time, Haia would have happily followed.
But, no one said so.
"What's going on~............"
Muttering this, Haia took note of something and raised his head to look at the sky.
Because of the battle just now, sporadic fires were everywhere. Because everyone other than the Heaven's Blade successors were pretty much all in the shelters, the things combating fire were all firefighting machines.
The fire retardant scattered everywhere was completely unable to block the flames.
So, the night sky was polluted red and black with flame and smoke.
Because of the air filter, the smoke lingered in the city air.
On the other side of the smoke, the moon could be seen.
The moon today seemed bigger than normal, as if encompassing the sky.
Yes...... it seemed extremely big.
"......What's going on~?"
A change had appeared on the moon. As time passed, the smoke above his head had become more and more dense, making it too late to observe.
Moreover, who in the world would make this into a crisis?
At that time, the people who didn't know the relations between the moon and Airen wouldn't possibly care about those things.
Haia focused attention to his eyes.
The appearance of the moon felt strange.
The exterior of the moon had countless bowl-shaped holes.
Why was the moon in the sky, and why did the moon's exterior have so many bowl-shaped holes? That was an eternal mystery.
As Haia noticed this mysterious appearance, countless cracks emerged.
It was a scene that was even less real.
Was it because of the air, it seemed like the exterior of the moon that had been imprinted on their eyes after looking through some screen, and the cracks continuously increased, as if a picture being drawn on paper, completely deviating from the moon that had existed until now.
But, they had almost no doubt that these things were happening on the moon.
Even if he understood, if there was nothing that he could do, then he wouldn't think of doing anything.
Haia only wordlessly watched the phenomenon occurring in the sky.
The other Heaven's Blade successors behind him also noticed this phenomenon.
But, they were the same, and couldn't do anything.
Other than watch everything develop, they could do nothing.
The cracks drawn on the moon continuously emerged, extending, spreading their area, and finally covering the entire moon.
After the portion they could see was filled with cracks...... the moon began to crumble.
The spherical form began to crumble and disintegrate.
Did the moon's location not have the concept of gravity? The pieces didn't fall to the ground, but rather became small satellites, spreading in all directions.
Not to say that he didn't think of it, but amazingly, Haia didn't feel any fear of such a giant thing falling down even from the start.
The moon became many pieces and scattered out.
Then, everyone felt that the changes should have ended.
Because the next change should have needed quite some time.
However, it began from an unexpected place.
The first one who made a sound was Claribel.
Though he didn't know whether or not it had to do with the city's current condition, at the same time as the huge change in the sky attracted their eyes, something new had invaded and the next event occurred.
They couldn't judge the relationship between them immediately.
A shaking of the earth occurred.
"How's the situation?"
Haia asked into the Psychokinesis flake.
At the same time as he asked, all he could think of was that the battle underground had finally reached the place where the Queen was.
But, the answer he received wasn't like that.
(There are new energy responses, growing at a shocking speed!)
Haia hadn't even thought of that kind of situation.
At the same time as he noticed the presence and turned his head, explosions occurred.
Blazing flames spread everywhere, revealing a figure.
"I hadn't thought you would be left~"
Something he had originally thought already defeated still remained.
Powerlessness, terror, and then tension. The bored feeling that he wanted to continue was unexpected still there even after all of this, and the two feelings strangely merged together, raising his awareness of the battle.
Flame and smoke were blown away, revealing a figure.
The thing slowly rising from the ground was long like a snake, a fantastically-shaped belt-like object.
Haia was confused.
Something was different.
The problem of the giant thing was different from the things up to now.
It had become tattered, which should be as a result of the battle up to now. But this wasn't the only reason.
Its outer appearance seemed to give an inconsistent feeling.
Roughly speaking, the appearance of the enemy in the battle up to now had a certain aesthetic, and it felt like its outer appearance had some meaning other than what was necessary for function.
But right now there was no such feeling.
The tattered thing...... It was unsightly like something that was forced to scrounge around for things in order to survive.
"It's not the same thing~?"
Haia had that kind of feeling.
But, if it were truly the case, the situation still wasn't simple.
Something else had already entered the battle. Though it had only been a short time, because of his concentration on recovery, he felt that he had already restored quite a bit of his Kei power.
"Though it can't be called a completed state~"
Though he said this.
Even if the condition of the enemy was the same as its outer appearance, if he thought about the destructive power that was necessary to break through that regenerative ability, then the state of the current Heaven's Blade successors made him feel unsafe.
That they couldn't match up, or perhaps would be defeated.
Those kinds of thoughts appeared in Haia's mind.
"Then, what should we do......"
Though he thought in his mind that it was better to act quickly, then, how could he act? He couldn't think of it.
(Do we have any tactics?)
Troyatte's voice came through the Psychokinesis flake. That question showed that he was the same as Haia, with the same doubts.
Not long after, a moment after Haia's feet took a step, a change occurred.
Psychokinesis had succeeded in sensing that change.
It came from the sky.
In the place where Grendan's Psychokinesists were gathered, Felli unconsciously mumbled.
She didn't have enough to prove the reason of the change was a single person.
But there was something closing in on Grendan at a high speed.
Just noticing this, Felli was already convinced that the true nature of that thing was a single person.
Though it wasn't a fitting feeling for a Psychokinesist, she didn't think of denying it.
That thing became a streak of red light falling towards Grendan.
Quakes rocked the earth.
It wasn't created by the mass of the falling thing.
Rather, it was produced by the vibrations of Kei from the strike that went out at the same time as the thing touched down.
Felli concentrated her Psychokinesis on the landing area. Through the smoke and the visible red light of Kei, there was a person standing there.
It was a person Felli was very familiar with.
Nina Antalk stood there.
Translator's Notes and References