Chrome Shelled Regios:Volume4 Chapter5

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Chapter 5: The Vow on that Day

The day of the match had arrived. Zuellni had finished its resupply. The Student President said they'd spend the next two to three days tidying things up, then continue moving.

Although they couldn't see the War Field, the enthusiasm of the audience had reached the room. Layfon found it unbelievable that he would see the day where Naruki was frowning in the waiting room for a platoon match.

"Are you all right?"

"Seems I have some problems," Naruki made some noise, exhausted. She let out a heavy breath, her hand covering her face. Layfon understood that feeling. A feeling of being unable to control her consciousness. Although she had returned to the platoon in order to observe, she still needed to adapt to some areas.

The atmosphere on Layfon's side was also heavy. Today, he had to defeat Dinn and Dalshena. He knew he didn't have to kill them. He just had to inflict injuries on them that would make them lie in the hospital for more than half a year. And to do that, he had to use a Katana. Psyharden techniques had to be executed with a Katana. To make it clear, a sword could also be used, and for Layfon who excelled at Military Arts, he might be able to do it with a sword. But a sword wouldn't allow him to reach the same level as a Katana. It might mean inflicting more severe wounds than intended, wounds that might never heal. Pressure weighed down on Layfon. Having been taught the skill of a Katana, handling a sword was not within his field.

(This isn't my first day using a weapon outside my field. But......)

It was the same when he took on the title of the Heaven's Blade successor. The Heaven's Blade he received had the form of a sword, and that was how Layfon fought. However......

(I still have to use a Katana in the present.)

As a human, he was embarrassing. And not just that......

"Layfon........."

It was Nina's voice. Her face didn't wear that dominating expression that she always donned in platoon matches. In other words, even Nina couldn't approach today's fight with her usual self.

"Are you all right?"

The question he asked Naruki before was now directed at him. Layfon could only smile bitterly.

The student acting as communicator headed over to them to relay a command. Without a word, Nina followed that student. Sharnid patted Layfon's shoulder and followed Nina's example. Next came Naruki. Layfon slowly sat up and kept a distance from them. Felli walked over to him.

"Fon Fon."

A soft, everyday greeting. The usual Layfon would have worried about Nina and the others hearing this name of his, but he felt nothing today. For some reason, he didn't worry about it at all. He didn't know exactly why he was like this today. Fighting with a Katana, the conversation he had with Sharnid yesterday, Nina's determination, and Haia's goal......All sorts of things flew through his head, leaving no room to agonize over Felli's greeting.

But Layfon answered as usual. "What is it?"

Felli cocked her head. Layfon couldn't tell the meaning behind her expressionless face.

"What is Haia's goal?" she asked.

"He probably wants to hunt down that thing, but......"

What did he intend to do once he caught the thing? Neither Layfon nor Felli knew.

CSR vol04 191.jpg

That thing was the goat that Layfon met in the ruined city. It said something curious to him and then disappeared. Layfon suspected the goat was the one who buried all the dead in the city.

Nina speculated that the goat was the city's consciousness, the Electronic Fairy. Her speculation was spot on.

Haikizoku. Haia called it by that name. Having gone insane, the Electronic Fairy underwent a change, freed itself from the city and went on a rampage.

Haia said he had to do something about it, so he wished for Karian's help.

Layfon didn't know why Haia infiltrated Zuellni just to obtain the Haikizoku. He was suspicious of Haia's promise to repay their help by protecting Zuellni from filth monsters for a year.

Zuellni had nothing to lose, and that deal was just too good to be true. Layfon had too many things to think about. He had no room to speculate on Haia's goal.

"I don't know," was his only answer.

Felli appeared displeased at his reply. She deliberately walked up to Layfon and kicked him.

"What was that for?"

"I was careless," she left.

"Just what's with her......" Well, since it was Felli's kick, it didn't hurt that much, but he had no idea what he did to make her mad. No time for that now. Light flooded his entire vision.

The match was about to begin. Layfon's hand moved automatically to the weapon harness hanging around his waist. The Sapphire Dite and the Shim Adamantium Dite......Sword or Katana. Layfon's hand stopped, hovering and hesitating.



The female voice of the commentator cut through the war field. This time the 10th platoon was on the offensive while Layfon and his team defended their flag. The 17th platoon had the disadvantage of being a small team......Mifi had said that before. The biggest reason behind it was that the 10th platoon was also best at attacking, just like the 17th platoon.

The siren rang to signal the start of the match. The audience fell silent, holding their breath as a collective whole as the 10th platoon took action.

Dalshena rushed straight for the enemy team with her lance, ignoring the attacks from the Psychokinesist. She strove forward with the innocent belief of winning against many enemies all by herself. Dalshena's image showed on the huge screen opposite the audience stand. Dense golden curls danced with the wind. Dalshena wore a fighting suit that had seen many battles. The color of white outlined the edge of a red top that stretched down like a dress behind her. The image of it advancing in a half flying style was like Dalshena riding and controlling a powerful beast.

But there was a reason behind Dalshena's lone attack. A figure followed behind her like her shadow. Dinn. He held a number of ropes in his hand. They looked like Layfon's steel threads, but they were thicker and fewer in number. A sharp hammer adorned the ends of each rope. Dinn controlled those ropes as he moved to carve a path before Dalshena. Any enemy that came close would have to deal with those ropes first. Behind Dinn were four other team members, and the six of them moved together to cover for Dalshena's attacks. The 10th platoon was best at this type of formation.

(Can you see!?) Dinn thought as he and his team moved through the war field. He still hadn't seen anyone from the 17th platoon. They probably planned to hold a decisive fight at their own camp. Dinn laughed at such a cowardly strategy.

(We can do it even without you!)

Dinn wasn't the type to overestimate his own ability. His growth in the four years he spent in Zuellni wasn't much. When his body growth was at its peak, his skill in Military Arts hadn't seen much improvement. This fact plagued Dinn the most. For him to catch up to Dalshena's speed and wield the ropes at the same time, he needed the illegal drugs. Both Dalshena and Sharnid excelled in abilities that differed from Dinn. While knowing those two from years 1 to 3, both Dalshena and Sharnid had grown exponentially. Dinn couldn't have been able to flank those two if not for his invention of this weapon. He called himself fortunate to have met those two.

But Sharnid betrayed him.

(Did you see that!?)

Inside Dinn, he screamed painfully. The three of them formed the best formation, but Sharnid had to destroy it, declaring the formation meaningless.

"Shena! We'll get past them like this," Dinn called.

Dalshena didn't reply, instead, she increased her speed. She penetrated any obstacles ahead. The light of Kei encircling her lance pierced through the war field like a beast's fang. Once they went past the trees, they'd see the camp of the 17th platoon.

And a change happened right then.

At the time when they were about to clear the trees, the ground exploded. Dinn's ropes and the Psychokinesist's flakes failed to detect the traps since they weren't set in the direct path of the 10th platoon.

"No harm done. Keep going!" Dinn called to ease Dalshena's worry.

But the aim of the explosion wasn't to stop the 10th platoon. The explosion resulted in a smoke screen that covered half of the war field. The Psychokinesis-supported camera failed to pierce through that smoke screen. The screen for the audience stand showed nothing but smoke, proof that the smoke screen covered a huge area.

"It's coming. Watch out."

The targets were the team members at the back of the formation. Dinn had read the meaning behind the smoke screen and the direction of the attack. But to lower the visibility of the 10th platoon and the audience was......

The Psychokinesist conveyed to the 10th platoon the movements of the 17th platoon. Nina Antalk the Captain, Layfon Alseif, the new member and the Psychokinesist Felli all stood before the flag. Only Sharnid had gone missing from the start of the match. It seemed he was masking his presence through Kei and hiding in areas that the Psychokinesist could not detect. For snipers to attack from a distance, leaking their position was the same as having their plan read like an open book, so they underwent a lot of Kei training. Sharnid did well in that area.

No, Dinn should say that no Military Artist in Zuellni was as excellent a sniper as Sharnid.

"Careful. Don't get sniped," Dinn advised, thinking of which person in his team would become the target of Sharnid's first bullet. Best not be Dinn himself and Dalshena. He stepped back and used the other team members as his shield. Failure was imminent if he fell here, so other members didn't object to Dinn's move. Dalshena was responsible for attacking, and if she fell, the attacking power of the team would fall drastically, but she didn't mind Dinn's move either. She continued to rush forward as if she was receiving an attack. A gap appeared between her and Dinn.

It was too late by the time the Psychokinesist reported the movement of the 17th platoon. An attack came from the front right hand corner of the 10th platoon, as if to tear apart the team.

It was Layfon.

As the smoke screen spread out, Layfon's Whirl Kei separated Dalshena from Dinn.

"Go!" Dinn roared at Dalshena. He thought Layfon was here to suppress him and the rest of the 10th platoon, leaving the other members of the 17th platoon to finish off Dalshena. That was Nina's plan, a strategy that took advantage of Layfon's excellent abilities. If Dalshena fell, it'd be a five versus three situation. Very disadvantageous for the 10th platoon. But Dinn was confident in Dalshena's attack power. Nina Antalk was good at defense, but she was nothing before Dalshena's lance. The new member of the 17th platoon was there to make up for the numbers, and as for Sharnid? Dalshena would have no problem repelling his bullets......At that time, Dinn found the other flow of Kei, his timing a bit slower than others because Layfon had blocked his path.

"Sharnid!" Dalshena's surprise and outrage drifted to Dinn's ear.



Layfon headed to an audio-visual room of the Military Arts Training Complex on the day before the match. Sharnid had called him over to watch something. The Training Complex contained a number of audio-visual rooms because if the equipment was placed in the training rooms, the platoons might end up destroying them during training. Room 2 was locked. Layfon didn't see any key around.

"Oi, sorry for that."

Layfon never thought of analyzing his opponents so he had never entered an audio-visual room before. White tiles covered the floor of the audio-visual room. In the room were chairs and a large screen. The purpose of this room was to show the records of previous matches so the team watching the records could use them to plan their strategies. Sharnid had put together two chairs like a bed and lay on it to watch the screen.

The screen showed a match of the 10th platoon. Dalshena's valiant attack was enlarged. Nina's DV skill didn't do much as the shaking in the screen intensified. Either way, normal DV skill was unable to capture the high-speed movement of a Military Artist.

Layfon tried his best not to look at the screen. It was because if he didn't watch it, he would keep his guard up. He wanted to have a fair and square fight with her tomorrow. Normally, he wouldn't deliberately opt for a fair fight, but tomorrow was different. This was why he had chosen to sit opposite Sharnid rather than opposite the screen.

Layfon didn't know everything. All he knew was that Sharnid used to be very good friends with Dinn and Dalshena.

"Shena's not part of it."

"Huh?"

"The illegal drugs......"

"You sure?"

Layfon didn't know whether Dalshena was part of it, but Dinn, the captain, was using illegal drugs. It was natural to think that all the members of the 10th platoon had taken them.

"So you think she doesn't know?"

In this case, Layfon wouldn't have to fight against Dalshena, and that fact put him at ease.

Sharnid shook his head. "I think she knows. She understands the current Dinn more than me. She couldn't have been oblivious to Dinn's change. Really......" He bit his tongue and rapped his toes with a knuckle.

"What a good person. To have fairness as her motto but at the same time lying about being a knight. She works with a double standard when her comrade breaks that motto. She wants to investigate but can't make a decision. Of course she fails to find anything. What an unsightly coward." Sharnid's voice was extremely cold. Layfon took care not to annoy him.

"Listen here. We knew each other since year 1. We weren't in the same class, but we were in the same team in Military Arts class for one on one fight training. We've been partners since then. Having the same goal, like idiots. The captain of the 10th platoon took notice of us at that time. He was a good person. We thought of fighting for that person. We thought of that in our youth......... That person was very sad when Zuellni lost in the last Military Arts Competition. He cried for being unable to do something for the place he liked the most. Seeing him like that, we swore to protect Zuellni with our hands," Sharnid sighed.

To protect Zuellni. It was the same oath as Nina's. Sharnid was different from Nina in that he stood in the field of the Military Arts Competition as a member of a platoon. Other than that, there wasn't any difference between the two.

"But then our relationship was already cracking at the time when we swore together."

Surprised, Layfon kept quiet. What was Sharnid about to say?

"It was pretty simple. Dinn was the captain. Shena's feelings for Dinn, my feelings for Shena......It was a romance of a mouse waving its tail. Dinn was the captain. Shena swore because of Dinn, and I swore because of Shena. I already understood our relationships at that time. Even so, I still thought I had a chance. I hid my feelings and suppressed them. I swore to cover them and I lied to myself. I entered the platoon in my 3rd year and participated in the matches. We did pretty well. We fought for our own goal, and because of that, we succeeded. But I'm a sniper. I observed the field from a distance. I thought from an objective viewpoint and realized this relationship would eventually collapse. Someone wouldn't be able to keep at it. It might be all right for Dinn, but it was different with me and Shena."

So Sharnid must have been the first one who couldn't keep at it? That must be what happened.

".........This is the result of that guy's weakness, and also the thing that I destroyed by leaving halfway. We should have broken that relationship in a clearer way. It was my failure to break that relationship."

Could......Sharnid have joined Nina's team to make up for that failure?

"Layfon," Sharnid said.

"Have you decided?"

"......Yes."

On that day, Layfon conveyed his thoughts to the Student President.

".........Can you leave Shena to me?" Sharnid asked.

Layfon nodded to that request without resistance.



"Sharnid~" she called, wondering what he was planning. Sharnid had appeared before her, in a position that a sniper should never be in. He held two guns instead of a sniper rifle.

"Do you plan to receive my attack with such a toy!" Blood rushed to Dalshena's face. What she couldn't tolerate the most was Sharnid's fighting suit. A custom-made suit, the same type as Dalshena and Dinn's. It was designed for the three of them at the time when Sharnid and Dalshena joined the 10th platoon.

Sharnid laughed. "Whether it's a toy or not, is up to your body." He readied his fighting stance and attacked.

Kei ran from his hands to the Dites and shot forth with the bullets. The bullets flew towards Dalshena with a speed that exceeded that of an External Type Kei. Dalshena changed her route and jumped to avoid them.

A variation of External Kei – Hairoushou. A sound like an explosion shot from Dalshena's back. She used the momentum of that explosion to rush at Sharnid. Sharnid retreated as the ground shattered and the smoke danced apart.

"Ku!"

Surrounded by smoke, Dalshena looked awkward. The ground of the war field should not be like this under normal humidity. There were more dust and sand than smoke.

"Did you change the quality of the soil!?" she called, unable to see anything clearly.

Nina had previously buried bags of dry sand in the field to delay Dalshena's attack and blur the visibility. The flow of External Kei filled Dalshena's surroundings, keeping the sand from falling. Sand and dust covered a large part of the war field.

"Damn."

She had lost Sharnid in the dust and sand. She couldn't sense his presence. Sakkei. Sharnid was masking his presence and was looking for an opportunity for a surprise attack.

"Where are you!?" She narrowed her eyes. It was difficult to open them because of the sand in the air. She kept still and raised the lance.

She moved.

"Over there!"

Her lance swiped like that.

"Tsk."

On her right, Sharnid jumped back with his guns crossed before him. He failed to maintain Sakkei in the split second when he shot the Kei bullet.

"As I thought, it's not easy."

"Don't underestimate me."

Dalshena's lance stabbed towards him. Sharnid bent down and stepped inside her range, blocking her lance with his right gun as he pointed forward with his left. Dalshena twisted around as he pulled the trigger. The bullet brushed past her clothes. She retreated. But Sharnid followed close to her as if his right hand was attached to the lance. The clash of Kei from the lance and the gun gave off a huge amount of green sparks. If Sharnid wanted to aim with his left gun, Dalshena would use her bare left hand to change the direction of his gun.

The two of them attacked and defended in a fight that weaved them together.

"Sharnid, why?" Dalshena asked because they were stuck together. Of course, this would loosen her concentration on her opponent.

"Because you're an idiot."

"What?"

"You knew but you did nothing. Does that make you an idiot?"

Dalshena's expression changed. She probably thought of Dinn and the use of illegal drugs.

"Then this plan is........."

Dust and sand covered the war field.........This setup was overboard just for a strategy planned against the 10th platoon. It was probably made to hide what was happening from the audience.

"Exactly," Sharnid signaled with his eyes.

"Why didn't you stop him?" he asked.

"And you have the right to say that!?" External Kei shot from Dalshena's entire body, preventing Sharnid from getting closer.

"Why do you think it turned out like this? Sharnid, it's all because of your betrayal!"

"The oath? Does our oath have that much value? Shena, did you make that oath because it came from your heart?"

"........." She couldn't answer.

"You should understand. Our oath was not genuine. It was an excuse made through our feelings."

"Shut up!"

She attacked and stabbed with all her strength. Sharnid was forced to take evasive maneuvers, his body very close to the ground. He climbed up and immediately readied himself. But Dalshena ignored him and kept moving. Her attack was a feint. Her real aim was to meet up with Dinn.

"I won't let you."

Sharnid pulled the trigger, aiming for Dalshena's leg. His sniper rifle would have done well at this distance but what he held now were guns that were designed for physical attack. Black alloy for close combat. The conductibility of Kei was reduced so Sharnid couldn't shoot as accurately as when he was using a Dite made of lighter alloy. The bullet exploded beneath Dalshena's feet. It didn't hit her but it did stop her.

"I won't let you go."

Sharnid sped up to block her, once again entering a close range fight.

"Do you really think this is all right, Sharnid?"

"There's no right or wrong. Didn't he choose his own ending?" Sharnid called, leaping over the lance and returning an attack.

"Dinn really thinks of the city. Perhaps I did feel something for him at the beginning, but we now fight for the city."

"I know."

He knew. Dinn was serious, like an idiot. He didn't protect this city just because of his feeling for a certain someone.

"Then why are you stopping me?"

"His method is wrong."

Yes, because of that, Dinn was gradually twisted. There really wasn't such a thought to protect the city because of the city, and to protect the city for the people living in it. Dinn only used it as his own belief and pushed himself harder because of it. He became twisted because of that.

"Why do you think it's wrong? How can you say it's wrong to increase his own power for the sake of that thought?" Dalshena retorted bitterly. Sharnid's face twisted. Dinn can't be wrong......Her words were like that of a religious zealot, and they shook Sharnid's position.

Sharnid hesitated and stopped his movement. Dalshena swung her lance at him. He would have fainted from the impact of that attack if he didn't manage to defend with his guns. Sliding away from the ground, he continued to shoot at her.

".........If he's not wrong, then why didn't you say something about the use of illegal drugs?" he said, managing to stand up. "Why didn't you use the drugs?"

Dalshena's expression changed again. "......Shut up."

"Why didn't you tell me about them? If you don't feel guilty, then why do you keep silent?"

"Shut up!"

Her lance pierced the ground. Right now, she could have defeated Sharnid and joined up with Dinn, but she suddenly stabbed the ground with the lance. Sharnid didn't understand her actions, but the atmosphere shut him up.

(That's good.)

He couldn't do anything to prevent her from meeting up with Dinn. He can only leave her to Layfon. All these thoughts flashed past him behind his expressionless face.

No. It can't turn out like that. It must not turn out like that. This is an ending Dinn must accept. It's got nothing to do with Dalshena. Dinn would have wanted it that way too.

Dinn probably didn't realize that he had unconsciously prevented Dalshena from participating in the illegal affairs.

"He didn't tell you because he feels guilty. That must be it?"

".........I said, shut up," Dalshena said quietly, tightening her grip on the lance. The surface of the lance cracked apart, revealing the blade of a sword.

"Hey, hey......"

And she snatched it out before Sharnid had a good look at it. A thinner blade exuding elegance appeared in her hand.

"You think you're the only one hiding your real strength?" she raised the sword and charged.



"Your mission is to silence the enemy Psychokinesist."

She recalled Nina's words before the match. It'd be troublesome if the 10th platoon found out their plan. The 17th platoon confused the enemies' vision with the screen of dust and sand, cutting off the Psychokinesist from the battle and destroying the enemy team's communication network, completely isolating them one by one. The sand and dust were gathered to cover the audience's eyes, but it also did well to confuse the 10th platoon.

Naruki ran after Layfon.

(So fast!)

A distance quickly pulled open between Layfon and her. Tension spread out like a growing seed. Her movement didn't flow as well as usual, but it had reached at least about 80% of her usual self. Except it wasn't enough to match Layfon's speed.

(What amazing speed......)

In this split second, she felt the burning agony of the difference of strength between them. Layfon was very strong......exceeding any student here. She knew from the matches he had participated in till now and also from the work he did with the City Police. She knew, but what she knew was totally turned over by what she saw now. Her previous understanding was just an innocent feeling of a first year Military Arts student. In another way, Naruki might have been cheated till now.

(Damn.)

She wasn't as confident with External Type Kei, but internal Kei was different. She had always thought that it wasn't that difficult to fight with platoon members. She increased her speed.

The members of the 10th platoon did not attack, as expected. Nina was confident in the effectiveness of Layfon's suppression of the 10th platoon, but Naruki held her suspicions. She didn't stop to help Layfon even though she felt uneasy about him fighting so many people alone. No matter how powerful he was, he was still alone. Nina's conclusion was clear-cut. She seemed to know more of Layfon's real strength than Naruki. The Layfon with Naruki and the Layfon with Nina and her team......Who was the real Layfon? That was the question hovering in Naruki's mind.

He was probably Layfon on both sides. Anyone would seem different in different situations. It wasn't manipulation, but rather the expression of oneself according to what suited the situation best. Naruki had the same experience when she was with Meishen and Mifi, and when she was working with the City Police. But looking at the other side of someone she knew was new and surprising.

(She probably can't trust him at this level.)

Naruki thought of Meishen. Meishen wasn't a Military Artist. She didn't have to consider trusting her comrade's ability during a fight. Meishen was gentle and kind. She cried when Naruki returned at the time of filth monsters assaulting Zuellni. But it should be all right since this was a platoon match. Nobody's life was threatened. However, if the same life-threatening situation occurred and Layfon had to face danger alone, could Meishen be all right like now?

(I think not.)

Would that difference happen......Naruki didn't know now. She hoped the difference wouldn't be too great. The importance was that Naruki's childhood friend was interested in someone in Zuellni for the first time, and that someone was of the opposite gender. This was probably what first love was like. Naruki wanted it to be all smooth between Meishen and Layfon......But Meishen wasn't the only person interested in him.

(Geez......)

She hadn't the time to think of it now. Having run through half of the war field, the camp of the 10th platoon entered her vision. No dust and sand covered this area. The sound of the audience suddenly rose, and the excited voice of the commentator drifted into Naruki's ear. Everyone's gaze gathered on the dust-stained Naruki.

"Uh, Uh!" Naruki raised her gaze. She was looking for the enemy Psychokinesist. The 10th platoon did make changes to their site, but because it wasn't entirely necessary, the changes were only minimal. Having spotted the Psychokinesist behind the screen of soil, Naruki rushed over to him.

A Psychokinesist's observation of enemy movement was keener than a Military Artist, so he was able to stay behind and feed updated information to his team members who fought at high speed. The Psychokinesist of the 10th platoon quickly noticed Naruki was near, but his fighting ability was about the same as an average normal person. The problem now was what sort of defense had the Psychokinesist made in the time when he noticed Naruki was around?

"You have a few flakes ahead of you. Please watch out," Felli's voice came lightly to Naruki. Naruki changed tact and ran in a zigzag fashion. The air exploded behind her and on her sides. Flashes beamed everywhere. Rumbles filled her eardrums and purple lightning flashed before her. A Psychokinetic storm. This was about the only attack mode of a Psychokinesist. The flakes followed Naruki, matching her speed and exploding accordingly.

Naruki's eardrums and balance still worked. She had stuffed her ears and she ran through the gaps in between explosions, eyes half closed.

She opened her eyes, confirmed the location of the Psychokinesist and threw over the Dite in her hand.

It was something that Harley made – a rope. It wasn't a real rope. It was a chain made of black alloy. The small chains chained together and made them look like a rope. It landed on the Psychokinesist and wrapped itself around him. Naruki went over and struck him once. The Psychokinesist fainted.

"Wa........."

The audience cheered. Naruki breathed a sign of relief and looked back on the dust filled field.

(Layfon, what're you planning?)



Layfon had yet to hold a Dite. Grains of sand hit his skin as he moved. Despite the lowered visibility due to the sand in his eyes, he managed to block the four enemy team members. Dinn was giving orders from behind his teammates and with delicate timing, assaulted Layfon with the rope in his hand. The rope waited for Layfon until he had avoided the attacks of the four enemies. It felt as if a Psychokinesist had set a trap.

But Layfon remained unhurt. He observed the flow of Kei with his eyelids half closed. One glance told him the unusual flow of Kei was caused by the use of the illegal drugs. What was strange was Dinn's lack of control. He was controlling his External and Internal Kei, but he failed to stop the excess Kei from spilling out of his body. This was proof of his inability to control his Kei vein as he wanted. Zuellni's level hadn't gone so low as to pick that level of Military Artist for a platoon.

(He's already wounded.) Layfon thought so. Dinn must be tired, a consequence of using the drugs. This was the same as when Nina fainted from exhausting her internal Kei. Dinn could still use his Kei since his reaction wasn't as serious as Nina's, but the unusual symptoms were there and they would eventually turn into something very serious.

(If it's not stopped......) Layfon thought and counter-attacked. He changed the rhythm of following the defense against the 10th platoon's continuous advance. Dinn and his four team members also changed their rhythm accordingly, and their formation collapsed.

Layfon seized that chance. He struck down all four enemy members in that one moment.

"What?" Dinn looked at his fallen subordinates. "Just who are you?"

Dinn didn't know what Layfon did, but simultaneously striking down all four people wasn't something that a normal student in Military Arts could do. This fact made Dinn understand how unusually powerful Layfon was.

"Your end is here," Layfon burst out what Sharnid had said. He didn't plan to threaten Dinn, but he couldn't think of any other suitable words. He pulled out his Dite, let his Kei run into it and restored it.

The Shim Adamantium Dite.

"I don't have any other choice."

This thought helped him forgive himself for holding a Katana. He found himself very unsightly, but he was the one who made this choice. He didn't choose to face this situation when he agreed to become Nina's strength. It was the same as when he was in Grendan. It wasn't for the sake of that ending that he abused the position of a Heaven's Blade successor. Since he had made such a choice, all that remained was the question of how to resolve it. Layfon chose to stay with the 17th platoon. But in the 17th platoon were Sharnid, Felli and Harley, and now it also had Naruki. Things associated with them were all entangled.

This time, it had to do with Sharnid.

In this case, Layfon couldn't give himself an answer to the solemn question he raised. He could only answer with a Katana even though it felt like he was betraying himself a second time.

The first betrayal was when he wielded the Heaven's Blade and did not choose the form of a Katana. That was the equivalent of rejecting the Psyharden skills that Derek had taught him when he was small. Once he became a Heaven's Blade successor, he decided to do anything to earn money. The him back then could not use the skills taught by his adopted father because that would taint his name. And now, Layfon had broken the vow he made.

Pain swam in his chest. His arm felt the weight of the Katana. The settings on the Katana revealed Harley's exceptional skill. Not only that. The feeling of being exiled was gone. Calmness descended on Layfon. This was matter of fact. The feeling he had at present was the basics of Psyharden's skill. Everything had come back to him. He was calm.

Layfon frowned to prevent himself from sinking in that nostalgic and natural feeling. He knew that feeling would leave him quickly.

"Here I go," Layfon said.

"Ugh, Oooooh!" Dinn roared in response.

The rope attacked as Layfon started running. The rope went through Layfon as if he were not there.

That was Layfon's afterimage. He had increased his speed in the second when the rope was about to hit him. This was a variation of internal type Kei – Fleeting shadow. His control of speed caused his opponent to misjudge distance. The afterimages helped to intensify that confusion. The illegal drugs had increased Dinn's Kei, but Dinn lacked the skill to use his extra Kei. While the rope struck out, Layfon had slipped past the weapon to stand right in front of Dinn.

(And I'm affecting this consequence. What a bad feeling.)

External type variation – Houshintotsu.

Layfon's Katana swung down. The Kei enveloping the blade trembled as if to cut through water. It poured onto Dinn. The Kei jumped in a route that differed from the Katana's, and it formed needles to stab Dinn's body.

"Gah......Ah........."

Dinn moaned and knelt down. The rope fell onto the ground. Layfon understood Dinn's feelings as he had gone through the same experience when Derek taught him that move. The pain wasn't intense but what he felt was the exhaustion of having all of his strength being sucked away. Layfon had blocked the flow of Kei in Dinn's limbs. As long as Dinn was like this for a few minutes, his Kei wouldn't flow well for half a year.

Now Layfon just needed to keep Dinn in this situation for a few more minutes. He looked around to see the sand and dust still covering half of the field. The flow of Kei in the air prevented the sand from settling. Sharnid and Naruki seemed to have finished their respective battles. The sand would probably settle down by the time Layfon released his Kei.

"Ugh, Uuuuu."

"I hope you don't force yourself," Layfon said to Dinn, who was trying to stand up.

"If you force yourself too much, you'll damage your Kei vein."

The effect of the illegal drugs still stayed with Dinn's Kei vein. Forcing Kei to work in this situation was like pouring water continuously into a waterway that was dammed. In the end, both dam and waterway would be destroyed.

Dinn forced himself to move a little. His face was all red. "You won't understand the feeling of wanting to do something even though your own ability isn't enough. You won't understand that feeling."

Layfon frowned. "......Even my life wasn't all smooth sailing. I'm here because I failed."

"......"

"Being strong can't solve everything. I failed because I couldn't solve everything. You haven't solved your problem either, and you chose the worst choice. In that case, this ending is the least objectionable."

"......Who made this decision?"

"Eh?"

"Who decided my ending? Sharnid? Nina Antalk? The Student President? I won't let anyone decide my ending. I'm not that weak......"

Feeling the disturbance in the air, Layfon raised his Katana. The air flow was stirring. Was Dinn pouring new strength into his Kei vein? No......Kei was spilling from his Kei vein, but it shouldn't be enough to speed up the flow of the air.

As if a whirl appeared in the air......

Layfon remembered something about this unpleasant pressure.

"I'm doing this for the city. You, who doesn't understand the natural mission of a Military Artist......" He continued to murmur as Kei flowed to his limbs.

"How can you stop me!" he shouted.

At Dinn's shout, Layfon felt the Kei needles in Dinn's body shatter.

"Could it be..."

Standing behind Dinn was a golden goat.


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