Chrome Shelled Regios:Volume3 Chapter4

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Chapter 4: The Darkness of Gushing Water

Even if he wanted to forget what had happened on that day, he couldn't. To Layfon, it was a branching point of his fate, and to Leerin, it was the usual end of a day. The curtain of the stage fell on that day.

It was a fine day, as if nothing unfortunate would happen during it. The tiles of the roof used for rainy days were spread out in the audience seats at the battle arena, bouncing back the glare of the sun. The shadow of Queen Alsheyra could be seen through the thin curtain on the stage, and before her stood eleven Heaven's Blade successors.

The twelfth stood in the middle of the arena.

"Wolfstein!"

Loud cheering rose from the audience. The young Heaven's Blade successor waited in the arena, his Heaven's Blade already restored as he regulated his breathing with eyes closed.

Leerin watched with the kids from the orphanage in the audience stand. The young girls put their hands together in anxiety, as if they were praying. The young boys stirred in their seats, their hands balled into fists. They were all calling "Nii-san" (brother). Leerin confirmed the younger kids were all right, then turned her attention to Layfon.

Today's match was the deciding match as to whom the title of 'Heaven's Blade successor' would be bestowed upon.

There were only twelve Heaven's Blade successors. The only time when a vacancy appeared was when a Heaven's Blade successor died and a match was conducted to decide on the next Heaven's Blade successor. The other way to become one of the prestigious twelve was when the Military Artist who topped the year's fight record was appointed for a match with a Heaven's Blade successor of his choice, and won in that match.

The match for today fell into the latter category.

The challenger hadn't yet shown himself.

In a fight for a Heaven's Blade, the current Heaven's Blade successor was usually the one to appear first in the arena.

Leerin couldn't see Layfon's face as he was facing her with his back, but she could see him waiting with eyes closed on the screen. That was enough to put a stir in Leerin's heart.

She knew he was worried in the recent days. He was always smiling in front of everyone, but she caught the shadows flitting past his face. She knew he was worried, but she didn't ask him about it.

He was practicing as hard as usual and he was obviously avoiding being alone with her.

She had finally found a chance to be alone with him yesterday night.

She couldn't sleep, so she got up and went to the kitchen for some water, and as she passed through the corridor, she saw him out in the yard. She changed her route and headed for him.

"Layfon."

"You're still awake."

Layfon wasn't surprised at all. He must have noticed her when she entered the corridor.

"Yeah, I'm not sure why. Layfon too?"

"A little."

"Could you be worried about tomorrow's match?"

"That's part of the reason. My opponent was trained by the Luckens, from which another Heaven's Blade successor was raised. He'll be harder to beat than other opponents."

His voice was dry and irritated. She knew in the blink of an eye that that wasn't the reason behind his anxiety.

"But you won't lose."

"Of course not."

As expected.

Although he was indecisive about a lot of other things, he was full of confidence and arrogance when it came to Military Arts. Because of this reason, he had very few friends outside the orphanage. This end result was because of his being a Military Artist, a Heaven's Blade successor when he was outside the orphanage – Layfon Wolfstein Alseif.

Nobody knew the side of him when he was in the orphanage with his younger siblings. He picked up babies and paced around to keep them from crying. He stayed up all night to look after Leerin who had a high fever. He stopped going to school in order to earn money. So to comfort the angry Leerin, he flattered her like a dog to make her happy. Whether she was sad or happy, he was always by her side.

No one. No one understood Layfon.

But Leerin knew. She knew very well when it came to things associated with Layfon.

So.

"It'll end quickly," Layfon smiled......

"Tomorrow's match will be boring."

No one but Leerin would have noticed his heartbreaking back as he strode away.


"The challenger, Gahard Baren!"

As the announcer shouted out the name, the Layfon on the screen opened his eyes.

It was an extremely icy expression, an expression of a Heaven's Blade successor that would never appear in the orphanage.

The challenger appeared on the screen. He was in the same Military Arts school as the Luckens. The restored Dites that had changed into armors enveloped his arms and feet.

The Luckens family was a family of Military Artists, excellent in the Arts of hand to hand combat. Gahard had been trained by that family. The rumor that there might be two Heaven's Blade successors from the Luckens school was a hot topic before the match.

Strong and firm muscles showed on Gahard's sleeveless arms. The difference between Gahard's and Layfon's body builds was the difference between that of an adult and a child.

"Can Nii-san win?"

"Don't worry," Leerin patted a younger girl's cheek. "Layfon is invincible."

She didn't care whether he could win or not. What she worried about was his expression she saw yesterday night.

(Layfon. What are you thinking?)

More like, what was he planning?

But she never guessed his plan.

She thought she knew everything about him, but she still didn't know what he had in mind. She knew he was obviously troubled and it was something he had to make a decision on.

Leerin was angry and uneasy about herself for not understanding Layfon.

"Begin!" the announcer called.

Gahard readied his fight stance.

Layfon raised his sword.

The match ended in the next second.

Intense light enclosed the arena. The air vibrated and the ground echoed that vibration. The entire arena shook, and Leerin hugged the younger brothers and sisters as they gathered close. The keening of the arena ran through her head. Fear ate into her heart.

Silence came soon enough.

Feeling the pressuring silence in the air, Leerin lifted her head. She watched the screen. It showed nothing but rolling dust and sand.

Layfon stood in the middle of the arena – in the middle of a huge crater. He swung down his blade naturally, the end of his finishing move.

Gahard had flown back to a corner of the arena along with sand and debris.

"Oh......Ah......" His chilly screams echoed in the silence of the arena. He coughed up blood. His left hand trembled.

Pointing at his right hand.

"Aah......Ahhhhhhhhh......"

Moaning with despair as he bled.

Gahard's right hand was gone. More like his entire right arm was gone. Blood pooled around him.

"Ah, Ahhhhhhhhh......Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh......"

The screen cleared.

"Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!"

The screen showed the side of Layfon's face. Within that icy expression, his muscle twitched.

Gahard had exposed Layfon the next day to the entire population of Grendan. The match became the best proof of Gahard's accusation.

She remembered it all. When it came to anything with Layfon, she would recall that day. In that match, Layfon Wolfstein Alseif was turned back to Layfon Alseif.

The day when she didn't understand Layfon.

It wasn't that she hadn't wanted to ask why things turned out like that. But she couldn't blame anyone. Not Layfon, not father.

She couldn't consider things like "Just whose fault is it?"

If she didn't look for the reason behind this incident, but rather for the person involved in it, she might have traced the cause back to the debris scattered on her clothes.

That case must be something she couldn't easily face.

The time of peace continued. No filth monsters had yet attacked Grendan. Nothing had changed much around Leerin. Savaris and Lintence's worry hadn't affected her. She continued to enjoy her normal school life with Synola. These were Leerin's current feelings.

Protect. That was what Savaris had said.

To protect her from what......? Although she wasn't comfortable with his answer, she knew that it must have nothing to do with her. Heaven's Blade successors would never protect a normal resident like Leerin this closely.

But......It must have something to do with the city.

She pondered this question, but she didn't have a clue.

Noise that didn't match the scenery of dusk drifted to her. Leerin frowned.

The noise came from the high metal fence that was fencing in a flat-topped building. It was a familiar noise of something heavy. As the sound of sparks scattering off contacted blades drifted into Leerin's ears, her stiff expression softened.

She opened the door to the building and the sound pressed towards her.

Inside the building, it looked much the same as other Dojos in Grendan. Males and females wearing protective gears practiced with training swords. As a normal person, Leerin couldn't see the unseen force that sometimes hit her. The wind inside the Dojo blew her hair around.

She headed deeper into the Dojo to the audience stage.

The person sitting in an audience seat nodded at her. An aging male whose short hair was streaked with white. Leerin nodded back and opened another door to head deeper into the Dojo.

"Then......Next."

The waiting room was narrow, but it was enough space to live. Leerin walked into the kitchen, checked the food in the freezer and thought of what to buy. She picked up a shopping bag and the key to the medicine box, then left through the backdoor.

She bought what she needed in the shops nearby and returned to the kitchen to make dinner.

The noise in the Dojo stopped when the smell of food dispersed from the wok. As she set up the eating utensils, the people from the Dojo entered the kitchen in a racket.

"Good work, father."

"Aye," the person from the audience seat responded simply and sat down at the table.

Derek Psyharden. Leerin's adopted father.

"There seems to be more apprentices."

"Yeah."

"Looks good. Oh yes, did a letter come from the administration?"

"Yes."

"Really? Then let's look at it later."

The sound of moving eating utensils spread out in the kitchen. Derek was usually quiet, but his silence felt strange today.

His apprentices were being noisy as usual, sitting around the table as if it was a war.

Father had resigned as the Head of the orphanage. He resigned and gave the position to someone else so that the orphanage, the place from where Layfon hailed, could avoid public attention. The people living near the orphanage knew Derek's personality, so they didn't have much of a response to Layfon's event, and they came to the Dojo as usual, but it wasn't the same with others. The current Head of the orphanage also hailed from the same orphanage. In reality, the real Head was still Derek, but he didn't show himself in the orphanage and had moved out to live in the Dojo.

Leerin was given permission to live in the Dojo once a week to look after him.

"......Are you not going over there?"

"Hm?"

"There shouldn't be a problem even if you show up in the orphanage."

"......I can't."

"People over there should have calmed down and thought through it all by now."

"Perhaps......However, this is a problem of responsibility. I'm Layfon's comrade. To other people, I shouldn't appear in that place anymore."

"If you've decided, then there's nothing more I can say."

"That's the way things are."

The conversation ceased. They didn't speak till the end of dinner.

"......Did anything strange happen recently?" Derek asked suddenly when she was washing the dishes.

"Huh?" Leerin's hands stopped their motion and she turned around.

"What do you mean by strange?"

"Do you feel something awkward recently?"

"Awkward? Is something wrong?"

"Hm, it's difficult to explain. It could be caused by a human......or could be not......"

"What......"

She wanted to laugh, but she couldn't.

(Could it be......)

Was this what Savaris meant when he said she was targeted?

But she wasn't sure whether this was linked to Layfon.

"I have an impression of it. It feels like something totally different. How should I put it......Well......" he stood up, turned around to enter his room and came back out holding something.

"Father," she looked at him, shocked.

He was holding a Dite.

"Leerin, stay behind me."

"What?"

"There's a murderous intent in the air......It's here."

He pulled her behind him and restored his Dite, watching one of the walls in the room.

The suffocating feeling only stayed for one moment......

The next moment, the wall had been destroyed.

"Ha!"

Kei shot out from Derek's sword, bounding off the debris.

The cold night wind blew in. Leerin saw a huge hole in the wall.

"Who......?"

Water gushed out from the water pipe.

A figure appeared. Through the hole and the gaps in between the high fence, Leerin saw someone standing on the road outside the Dojo. That person drew close to them in a relaxed manner.

"......"

Derek resumed his fight stance.

Light in the room illuminated that figure.

"...... Huh?"

"What......?

Both Leerin and Derek were dumbstruck.

This person didn't have a right arm.

They had seen him before and they would never forget him.

In Layfon's last match.

The one who had turned Layfon from a hero into a criminal.

"Why......"

That person appeared before her......and in this situation.

He hated, but he had no way of avenging himself.

And he must still hate a certain person......

"Gahard Baren," Derek murmured.



A golden goat.

Layfon restored his Dite.

"Just what......is this thing?"

It was a strange feeling. Numerous horns extended from its head to legs like the many branches of a tree, and the golden light emitting from it overwhelmed the darkness around it. It was about as tall as Layfon. This wasn't some livestock.

Tension rushed up inside Layfon, gushing out, showing no signs of stopping. This was a warning Layfon knew from long-term battle experience.

He readied his fighting stance and cautiously kept his distance from it.

The golden goat watched Layfon.

(It doesn't look like a filth monster, but......)

He didn't feel the hunger from it that a filth monster would have standing before a human. Was it temporarily full because it had already eaten from this city......but that wasn't the kind of feeling Layfon had.

The golden goat didn't seem to want to fight. Still, Layfon was concerned about its eyes. Those green eyes continued to watch him. No murderous intent, but rather curiosity.

Layfon's image reflected in clear green pupils that were as calm as the surface of a lake.

He didn't like that feeling.

Those pupils weren't those of a normal beast. It was like a human in the body of a beast......That made him uncomfortable. He tightly held his sword.

"......You look different."

A sudden low voice entered Layfon's ears. The voice shook the darkness they were in. Layfon looked around for the source of it. But there was nothing worth his attention around him.

"Are you looking for the people in this territory? Then let me tell you."

"......Are you speaking to me?" Layfon looked at the goat, but its mouth remained closed.

The voice spoke again. "My body is rotten. It's useless. Driven by mad hatred, my body's turned into flame. I seek a new master. You who I hope for, obey my wish. Possess my soul and see my value. I'll turn the Dust of Ignasis into a sword, and burn your enemies into ashes."

"Were you the one who spoke? Who are you?"

Unknown terror filled Layfon. Was this a trap? Could there be a Psychokinesist controlling it? But he didn't sense any Psychokinesist. If there was one around, he couldn't have escaped Felli's attention.

So this beast was the only thing here......?

(I should know what this is if I capture it.)

He stepped forward.

(......Eh?)

He did step forward, but how come the distance between him and the goat had not shortened? Did the goat move? He confirmed again and the distance between them remained unchanged.

"Why......" He looked down at his feet.

(......How?)

His feet hadn't moved. His entire body was frozen stiff.

The goat watched him, its green pupils reflecting Layfon's image.

(I can't move......I can't move? Me?)

His Kei flow felt regular, running normally through his body and his sword. He didn't have the exhaustion he had had while fighting the filth monster a few days ago. He was in a good condition to fight again. But why couldn't he move?

(Could I......Could I......!?)

Fear dominated him. He felt his own reflection in the goat's eyes shaking. Impossible. He couldn't have seen that. This was nighttime. Even if its pupils reflected his image, even if his vision was strengthened through Kei, he couldn't have seen it.

But he felt he really did see it.

Somehow, the pressure from the goat had overwhelmed him.

(It......It's swallowed me?)

Could it be the goat's existence that had swallowed him? If not, then why couldn't he move?

"......I must convey this in detail," the goat said.

Layfon didn't see its mouth move, as if the voice came from heaven. This voice felt overwhelming.

"Who......are you?" he managed. It was difficult to speak. He increased his Kei, hoping that could break him out of whatever that was interfering with his body. Kei spilled out onto the ground, and the small stones around him exploded.

"Stop. You're fighting yourself."

His consciousness clouded, but he didn't give up. He was beginning to forget why he had to defeat the goat, but Kei still filled his body, spilling out from him. He was resisting by instinct. His Kei flowed out for that simple goal.

(Move......Move move move......)

He repeated that word in his brain.

What should he do if he couldn't move? No. Anything's fine. As long he can move......It didn't matter what happened next.

But......

(Dangerous. This guy is extremely dangerous.)

CSR vol03 169.jpg

That was his feeling.

It was all right if this danger was only before him, but if Nina and the others encountered it, who knew what would happen? For Layfon to become like this, Nina and the others had no way of countering this goat.

(I must not let it get past me.)

He must fight back. If he avoided the fight, what he would recall afterwards would be his failure, a failure that he didn't even attempt to overcome. He must not collapse inside himself.

"Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!" he roared.

His internal Kei changed......External type burst Kei burst out of his body. With the sound of the ground tearing behind him, Layfon's feet finally moved.

(Here!)

He swung as the point of the sword traced a line on the ground. The Kei burst forth to cut through the night sky. Explosions.

"Beautiful......"

The voice melted into the air.

It didn't hit back. The goat had vanished. Layfon couldn't sense it anymore.

"Layfon......Fon Fon!"

Felli's flake arrived beside him.

"Felli......Where is that thing?"

A relieved sigh came through the flake. Just how long had he been like this, fixed on the spot? His concentration was so intense that he didn't hear Felli's voice.

"I don't know. The response disappeared."

Confusion filled Felli's voice.

"It's run away? No......"

It had left.

He had no idea know why it left. It wasn't hostile, meaning it didn't plan to fight from the beginning.

"......How long have I been like this for?"

"About a minute. The captain and the others are about to arrive."

"One minute? Is that all?"

It felt like much longer. He felt debilitated for having released too much Kei. His body felt heavy, and his fingers shook.

"Just what was it......?"

He could still feel the terror. His body shook despite his trying to suppress it.

"Damn."

The sword point quavered.

Footsteps drifted to him. No matter what, he must stop his shaking before Nina and the others arrived.


They continued their investigation the next day. Felli and the Psychokinesist of the 5th platoon had investigated the city and found no traces of the goat from yesterday night. But, they did find something else.

"Who would have thought, it's like this......Ah," Nina sighed.

Layfon and Nina faced a huge agricultural field. From a distance, the green vegetables seemed to be waiting for harvest, but as Layfon and the others drew close, they smelled the rot in the air.

Before them were tea colored small hills covered in moisture.

"Seems to be this one," Layfon said.

The hills were about the size of a house. The smallest one was the same size as Layfon's room. They dotted the field in no specific pattern. The hills were piled up in a rough manner. Digging out a pit then refilling it. That was the feeling Layfon got.

Still, a certain level of difficulty and endurance must have been exhibited in how the remaining pieces of the city were buried like this.

"......This is painful," Nina said. Even Sharnid had nothing flippant to voice, watching silently at these small hills as Layfon did.

Just how long did it take to make so many graves? To search out for all the corpses, transport them, dig up the earth and at last bury them. A long time it must have been to finish that entire process in a city filled with the carnal smell of the dead.

"......Hey, what're you doing!" Nina shouted.

Looking around, Layfon saw the 5th platoon members digging at one of the small hills with spades that they had found somewhere.

"We're digging it out for our investigation," Gorneo said stiffly.

"What? Is there a need?"

"......This might not be a graveyard. And if it is, then who made these graves?"

"Well......"

"It couldn't be the beast from yesterday night? That's ridiculous. Can a beast do such a thing?"

Shante laughed.

"Besides, we're still not sure whether that goat thing is real or not. You were the ones who confirmed it, not us," Shante said from her sitting position above Gorneo's shoulders.

"You......"

Layfon wanted to stop Nina from rushing over to beat up the 5th platoon, but Sharnid had already pulled her back.

"Gorneo-san ah, is there a need to bring back a skull for a reward? We'll investigate somewhere else."

Gorneo glared at him.

"......Do whatever you like."

"Good......Either way, Zuellni'll arrive here at sunset. I pray dinner isn't a dish with meat."

Members of the 5th platoon frowned.

"Well then, let's go," Sharnid said, leading Layfon and the rest away.

Nina was harping on what just happened back then beside Sharnid.

It was good to have Sharnid senpai around. Layfon would never have been able to defuse that situation so casually. Neither could Nina or Felli. If Sharnid hadn't been there, who knew what the quarrel might have turned out to be like?

"Fon Fon......"

"......Senpai. That's different from our promise," Layfon said. At Felli's voice, he had turned automatically to observe Nina and Sharnid's reaction. He didn't want people to know of this nickname of his.

"They can't hear it," Felli said calmly. "More importantly, please crouch down a bit."

"Ha?"

"Just do it," she insisted. Layfon crouched down.

"Lower."

He was practically bending down on the floor, just like the pose he held in the sports hall.

"What is it?"

"......Your shoulders are a bit narrow."

"No, I think I'm pretty average."

"......That can't be helped."

He didn't have the time to think of anything else.

"Eh?"

Felli put her hands on his shoulders and added her weight to his shoulders and back. He felt something hard......knees? Something white appeared in his vision.

"What......What're you doing?"

"This can't be helped. I'm riding on your shoulders."

"......I don't think there's anything that can't be helped about this."

"Never mind. Let's go."

He stood up, thinking whether he had done something wrong to make her do this to him.

"Uh......Is this what it's like?" Felli sighed as if dissatisfied, but Layfon was increasing his pace to catch up with the other two.

"Fon Fon, please don't shake."

"That's not possible. You aren't a kid. It's hard for me to keep my balance."

"Hmm?"

"That hurts......Please don't pull at my hair."

"Then walk with a stable gait."

"The captain and Sharnid-senpai are a bit far from us now."

"I can tell where they are."

"Are you a kid? Really......No matter. Just hold on tight."

"I know."

Swallow.

"Hm? What is it?"

"Ah, nope, nothing......"

"......Your face is red."

CSR vol03 183.jpg

"Is, is that so?" he stammered.

(Da, Damn!......Careless......)

He could feel her thighs around his neck. Her skirt was right behind his head. It was made with a special material, but it was quite thin. The feeling of coldness seeping through his neck from Felli's pantyhose increased his heartbeat. Anyway, he must stay calm and not touch anyplace embarrassing. He gripped her legs tightly.

"Ah......Looks like they've decided to go to the ground."

He realized Nina and Sharnid had disappeared into the buildings below.

"Then we're heading that way?"

"Over there......Ah."

Felli pointing out the direction had destroyed his balance.

"Wo, Woah......"

"Fon Fon, don't fall."

"Even if you say so, I can't help it. Besides, it's already difficult to walk balanced. Why don't you get down and walk on your own?"

"No, you're wrong. There's a very good reason behind this......"

"It must be something shallow and twisted. Just leave it."

"......"

He tried to maintain his balance and kept on moving without thinking of anything else.

She spoke after a pause. "......I'm sorry about yesterday."

"Eh?"

"For letting you face an opponent that strong by yourself."

"I don't see it that way."

"No, I'm sorry. I'm ashamed of not keeping to our promise. My determination is so weak."

"......But that can't be helped."

"......Huh?"

"Didn't you say so, that we're this type of creature? I think so too. We're humans, but we aren't human. I've said this to the captain, that Military Artists aren't human. We just possess human forms that can use Kei. It's natural for us to use Kei, as natural as breathing. It's painful if we don't use it......That might be the reason for what happened to me in the opening ceremony. I've thought through this recently."

From the time of his last match in Grendan to when he arrived at Zuellni, he had never once used his Kei. He thought he had found a new way of living. The living of a normal human, unassociated with Military Arts.

"Was Fon Fon tolerating it too?"

"I thought back then that I had totally tossed it away. I thought I could spend all my time working for my living and studying to pass exams."

"But, it didn't work out."

Yes, there were times when it gnawed at him. Times when the area around his waist where the Kei vein flowed experienced spurts of pain like small explosions, but those times didn't show on his face. In everyone's eyes in Grendan, Layfon was dangerous. If he used Kei, even Leerin and the kids in the orphanage would get hurt, so all he could do was tolerate the pain in a casual manner.

All he could do.

"......If I really seek a life outside Military Arts, I must first overcome this problem."

The pain of a Kei vein followed one's entire life. It couldn't be removed through surgery. A Military Artist survived with his heart, brain and Kei vein. Lacking either one of these organs would lead to one's death.

Military Artists were stronger than humanity, but were also weaker than normal humans.

"......What that person said is right, but Felli's right too."

From the perspective of a student of Zuellni, Felli's words were unquestionable. Layfon was dragged into this situation because Zuellni's Military Artists were too weak. This was an insult to them. But to the Grendan-born Gorneo, Layfon following his old way of living was intolerable. Gorneo probably didn't know what he should do about it.

Felli was probably thinking the same.

Riding on Layfon's shoulders, she fell silent and waited for him to continue.

He spoke worriedly, "Her Majesty once said to me......"

"I must constantly remind myself that we, as Military Artists and Psychokinesists aren't normal. As humans, we must not allow ourselves to forget this."

"Eh? What does that mean?"

"......What I did was wrong."

"I suppose. That definitely isn't an excellent example of a Military Artist."

"Then do you know why I don't have the Heaven's Blade successor title anymore?"

"Eh? That would be......" Felli seemed to be thinking of something. "......Because Heaven's Blade successors are special in Grendan, so they are models for the Military Artists in Grendan as a whole?"

"That is incorrect."

"Eh?"

"Heaven's Blade successors aren't models. All they seek is to show their strength in battles with filth monsters. There aren't many in the twelve who have a noble heart. Of course, it's not like they'd commit a crime publicly."

"Then why......"

"But since they're Heaven's Blade successors, representing the best Military Artists, they naturally become the examples for Grendan's other Military Artists. The Layfon Alseif who broke this rule has no right to hold the Heaven's Blade successor title. They confiscated the Heaven's Blade and banished me. The duration is a year."

Layfon repeated what Almonise had told him.

"......They're already being soft on me for only exiling me."

"But that isn't the true reason, is it?" Felli asked.

"No. The problem lies with my actions during the match."

So he relayed to her what he told Nina last night. About what he planned to do in the match with Gahard Baren, about what he did do and people's reaction to it.

Felli remained silent. Only her breathing was conveyed to him.

"......Frankly, if Her Majesty didn't take back the Heaven's Blade and exile me, a riot might have broken out in Grendan. If I hid myself afterwards and Her Majesty placed Heaven's Blade successors around the orphanage as an excuse of surveillance, there might've really been a riot."

"......"

"This is what I mean to constantly remind yourself. Military Artists possess human forms, but they aren't human. It isn't as simple as having an extra organ. They exist to protect the city from outside threats, but like heavy weapons, they can be double-edged and end up injuring the city itself. Military Artists must be bound by good morals. Even though occasionally there are bad Military Artists, they're only an existence on the extreme end of the spectrum. They'll usually be eliminated by other Military Artists."

"Heaven's Blade successors must be righteous. This principle doesn't exist in the form of the city's law. You must constantly remind yourself that such an extreme Military Artist is actually a Heaven's Blade successor. For someone as strong as a Heaven's Blade successor to do that, then other Military Artists would laugh at and ignore the mutual principle. What would happen if more than one Heaven's Blade successors did what you did......If I ignore this deed, then this city is finished. Not because of filth monsters, but because of people going on a rampage."

Queen Alsheyra said this to him the next night.

"Today's situation is a direct result of your naive cunning. Do you understand? Your young age won't get you forgiveness, but it is what led to today's situation. Military Artists are weak. Without Military Artists, people have no way of escaping the threat of filth monsters, and without people, Military Artists cannot maintain a society. The truth that we can't survive if we don't live together is the same for both humans and Military Artists. We must sustain this relationship."

"Since I still don't feel I've done something wrong, there must be a problem in it," Layfon said.

"......And so Gorneo targets you?"

"Not only that. There must be a deeper reason. Gorneo Luckens, the younger brother of the Heaven's Blade successor Savaris Luckens, who is also trained in the Luckens' ways of hand to hand combat. I haven't seen this, but he might have trained in the same period as Gahard Baren. Gahard might have taught him the skill, since his brother has already given up in teaching Military Arts."

"So he's avenging someone from the same school?"

"I think so."

"......Is that ok?"

"I don't care if he targets me alone, but I'm worried about the safety of everyone in the 17th platoon."

If he attacked not just Layfon, but the entire 17th platoon......

He knew it was wrong. If that happened, he was prepared to fight the same way when he decided to kill Gahard Baren.

"That wasn't what I meant," Felli struck his head.

"Eh?"

"......Really, you really are stupid, aren't you?"

"Eh? Eh?"

"Although as a moron, you'll never understand it......we're about to reach the rendezvous point. Let me down."

In the end, he didn't understand her at all.



The smell of rot filled the air.

"......Ok, bury it," Gorneo ordered and his team members put the dirt back in place.

Beneath the small hills were corpses. Not a single corpse was whole. Pieces of bones, fragments of flesh. This wasn't even a burial. But someone had buried it all.

"The problem is, just who did this......?"

It must have been a maddening job to collect all the human pieces and bury them all, but it didn't look like whomever did this job had gone insane.

The day was about to end. Zuellni would arrive by sunset. Although they wanted to find out the reason before it arrived......They would rest a little then investigate the city one more time.

"......Hmm?" Gorneo realized his shoulders felt lighter. "Come to think of it, where's Shante?"

The second captain was nowhere in sight. She seemed to have jumped off him the moment when they started digging. He asked his team members and no one knew where she had gone off to.

"......She couldn't have."

He had a bad feeling about this. After ordering the team to continue putting the hill back together, he ran out of the production area using Internal Kei.


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