Chrome Shelled Regios:Volume7 Chapter3
Chapter 3: Two Paint Scrolls
Leerin adjusted the binoculars to the highest power and finally got a good look at the crest on the flag. "That is Zuellni......"
Zuellni, the city where Layfon was. Realizing this sudden truth brought her a wave of happiness, but the next wave of tension pressed hard on her chest.
"Only one more day," Savaris murmured behind her.
"So the war will begin tomorrow?"
Leerin and Savaris were in Myath, and this city was also an Academy City like Zuellni. Cities only fought those that were classified as the same type of city. That rule might last forever. This meant an Academy city wouldn't fight any other city unless that city was in the same class that it was.
Myath had stopped its movement in its journey to meet Zuellni. Leerin had been complaining about that delay, but she was too surprised now to say anything. Zuellni was right there. Was this luck?
"I think so, but if Layfon participates as a Military Artist, then there's no way they can lose. Of course, that's if he's still the Layfon I knew."
What was Savaris trying to say? She looked at him. His smile still told her nothing.
"Is Layfon really strong?"
A slight movement of his eyebrow. Surprised at the question, he answered, "One cannot become a Heaven's Blade successor if he's not strong."
"Uh, that's true."
She knew already.
"I knew already, but I can't look at it like something natural. Whether it's Layfon being a Military Artist or Layfon becoming a Heaven's Blade successor, and the truth that the orphanage wouldn't have survived if not for him. I knew all that, but I can't accept it without reservation."
Perhaps she was spoiled. She liked watching Layfon train alone in the dojo, but she never wanted to connect him with the battlefield.
"There's no doubt as to Layfon's strength. The other Heaven's Blades and I all acknowledged him after watching his match for the Wolfstein title. Aaah, but I've only fought with him once," Savaris said, closing his eyes, as if he was trying to recall something. "That was a terrible fight. A filth monster in its 6th stage named Behemoth. I, Layfon and Lintence fought it. If we don't count the combination of Cauntia and Ruimei, that was a rare cooperative fight between Heaven's Blade successors."
He opened his eyes as if he was seeing that scene of that day. He began his narration. "Aaaah......That fight was really......really interesting."
The smell in the air seemed to change before the battle. The change was so tiny that it was hard to notice it. It was a pain that felt like water being poured into one's nose.
"Really?" the new Heaven's Blade successor replied to Savaris's question with a tone that didn't make him likeable at all.
Layfon Wolfstein Alseif.
He looked like a student who had just graduated from primary school, but he had already taken the Heaven's Blade title since one year ago. He also had lots of experience in fighting filth monsters alone. No emotion showed in his eyes. On the contrary, darkness seemed to rule them.
"Sensei, do you have such a feeling?" Layfon lifted his head to ask the other Heaven's Blade successor.
Lintence Savoleid Harden.
This Heaven's Blade successor always gave an expression of being in low spirits. He was patting the stubble on his chin as he watched somewhere far away.
"No. Rather than wasting time on such feelings, it's better to train ten thousand times."
"Thanks for your advice."
An attitude that was always the same. A reply that suited the notorious reputation of Lintence as someone who hated socializing. But for some reason, he had taught this young man his steel thread techniques. Why had he done that?
"Speaking of which......" Layfon looked around. "Is this really a good place?"
The three of them were standing on the outskirt of Grendan. Grendan's outskirts were much more spacious than those of other cities due to its frequent contact with filth monsters. This area was made for the fighting convenience of Military Artists. Currently, only three Heaven's Blades stood here, and that wasn't a meaningless action.
"Delbone......That old woman said so. It can't be wrong."
Delbone Quantis Myura. The three of them gathered here because they listened to the prediction of the only Psychokinesist among the Heaven's Blades.
"But she fainted again after saying it. She should just die and give up the Heaven's Blade title."
"Don't think that will happen before the person to replace her appears."
Delbone was already over 100 years old. She stayed most of her time lying on a hospital bed, but no one had yet exceeded her in the ability of Psychokinesis, so she retained the Heaven's Blade title. As if predicting the future, her Psychokinesis had discovered the invasion of an aged phase filth monster. She had also predicted that it would appear here today. That was why the three of them were guarding this place.
"Lintence, no reaction yet?"
Lintence held a restored Dite. He wore a pair of leather gloves with white gold covering the fingertips. And stretching before those tips were millions of fine steel threads that spread to the outside of the city like antennas. The filth monster in Delbone's prediction had not yet appeared.
"But if Behemoth really appears here like Delbone had said, then we can be sure that it reaches a place in a blind spot of the steel threads."
"Ah, that's possible."
Behemoth, a name for the filth monster. No other cities had done this, and it was rare enough even in Grendan. Only a filth monster that had fulfilled a condition was given a name. An aged phase monster with fighting power that was unusually huge. Behemoth had already fought the Heaven's Blades, but it managed to escape.
"That was before I became a Heaven's Blade successor. And Delbone became a Heaven's Blade after that event. Behemoth must have some reason behind its actions," Lintence said.
Savaris looked at the scenery outside the city. A large number of huge filth monsters nests were currently located in Grendan's vicinity. Numerous filth monsters had left their nests for the city, and the ones to handle them were the Heaven's Blades and other Military Artists. But only Lintence and his two fellow Heaven's Blades stood in this spacious area at the outskirt of the city. The siren rang through the air. Normal citizens were now hurrying to the shelters. The rest of the Military Artists had gathered around the palace in case anything happened – in case Savaris, Lintence and Layfon lost the fight.
But that probably wouldn't happen.
"But no outside city gear was given for fights taking place outside the city. Her Majesty gave a bold order."
"We'll know once the fight begins."
"Millions of guesses cannot beat the truth. Here it comes," Lintence said suddenly without varying the tone of his voice.
First it was the mad shaking of the ground.
Next came the sound of metal, so shrill that it was about to pierce the eardrums. One of the multi-legs supporting Grendan was pulled back by something, causing an intense shaking of the city.
"Something........." Layfon said in a small voice.
And it was suddenly here. That something almost took over the entire field of vision, blocking out the sun. It was climbing up the city from the city's edge. Its back was covered by numerous slabs of rock. A displeasing noise of something rubbing against something accompanied its entrance.
Savaris lifted his head and saw a part in white.
".........Either way, this is a giant," he said.
Yes, that gigantic thing did resemble a human. More precisely, it resembled a mud doll made by kids. The filth monster Behemoth stood on Grendan as if waiting to be served in a restaurant.
"My first time seeing something this massive," Layfon said with the sword lowered, his pupils staring at Behemoth as if they were sinking into darkness. His expression was neither unease nor fear. He was just observing the thing in front of him – Behemoth.
Something fluttered down from the filth monster. Soil. Wet and humid soil from the depth of the earth was stuck on the entire body of the filth monster. It had been moving below ground, a blind spot of Lintence's steel threads. As for the Psychokinesist, she couldn't have predicted the movement under the ground without huge powers of concentration. Only Delbone could do it.
"Well, time to get rid of it?"
Savaris and Layfon nodded, and at that moment, they ran for Behemoth like wind. They naturally split without communication. One headed for the left. One headed for the right.
"Can you release your dirty hand?"
Savaris released his Kei as he headed for the hands that were about the same size as Grendan's multi-legs, clamping on the city's edge.
External Kei variation – Gourikiteppa Kouga.
External Kei variation – Sendan.
Savaris' palm faced Behemoth's right hand. A move of Kei that was released from the outside to the inside of the target and shattering the target at the same time. As expected, the front part of Behemoth broke into pieces as if it was bitten by a fierce beast. At the same time, Layfon cut apart Behemoth's left hand with his sword.
Savaris' move was intense and exciting, whereas Layfon's was quiet and calm. Losing balance, Behemoth fell and was trapped between a number of multi-legs.
(Aah? That was unexpected.........)
Both of them were surprised at how easy it was to defeat their target. The filth monster had once slipped through the hands of Heaven's Blades in the past, and it also had its own name. But it was so weak. Its muscles were weak.
"Fools, hurry and get away!" Lintence's voice sounded behind them.
The cut off hands changed, expanding in a shocking rate and exploded. Scale-like things scattered along with the explosion, and they were sharp. Leaping through the air did little to evade those scales because of the close distance between them and the projectiles. The two Heaven's Blade successors ended up sustaining some damage.
"I see. That's why we don't fight outside the city."
Lintence had landed somewhere above one of the multi-legs. He quickly checked himself. The injuries weren't deep but his clothes were in tatters. Blood seeped from torn skin. If they fought outside the city, the protective suit would definitely sustain damage. And when that happened, even Heaven's Blades could do nothing but wait for death from the invasion of pollutants.
"Her Majesty and the others are really mean. They should have told us about that already."
Lintence glanced at Layfon. It seemed he had sustained similar injuries. Meanwhile, parts of Behemoth were gathering at the place where the filth monster was attempting to stand up.
"That isn't regeneration. It's gathering its parts and combining them. Doesn't that make it an undying thing?"
Behemoth moved. It once again reached out for the city with its upper body. Savaris looked closer and saw its lower body was fused with the earth.
"Has that thing become the earth? That level of evolution is beyond common sense." He had the time to stand surprised and sigh because Lintence was here.
Lintence's steel threads cut away Behemoth's hands. A final shield stood between the city's outskirts and its outside. The second explosion came but the scales never reached a distance as far as before, and they became dust in the next instant. Lintence had weaved a net, controlling it with his Kei. The scales were cut by that net. He raised his right hand. His left hand controlled the invisible net, then what about his right hand? In there he held a weapon so fine that no one could see with his naked eyes.
Steel threads. That insignificant weapon had become powerful in Lintence's hands. His right hand moved, weaving the steel threads into a shape above him. Even a Heaven's Blade's power of vision could not discern the steel threads, but they now showed themselves through the Kei running in them.
A long cone.
"Break into a thousand pieces," he said as the cone hammered into Behemoth's chest.
Sougenkyouku - Hanemushi.
The huge cone entered Behemoth's body in waves of successive explosions. The cone underwent changes inside the body. The steel threads gathered together were now unraveling at a shocking rate, damaging the filth monster's body and shredding it into pieces.
"He really did show something else in a crisis........." Savaris said, crouching down to avoid the scales.
The upper half of the filth monster had been destroyed by Lintence. Would it revive again? Or......Savaris floated on the air with all his might, observing. But there were no signs of stopping.
Something huge was nearing him at high speed. Something that looked like an antenna with numerous mouths, its teeth grinding against each other. It must have escaped Lintence's attack. Savaris kicked it away and used the momentum of the kick to return to the ground. What about Layfon.........
He saw Layfon cut open the antenna in the air. A closer look. What wonderful skill in riding the air. Every time, Layfon managed to swing his sword and obtain balance, ready for the next move. He was fighting with room to spare in a stage that was disadvantageous for him. He also did well handling the explosions of the scales.
"I can't lose to him."
The density of Kei rose exponentially in Savaris. At the same time, changes came about in the Kei gathered in his wrists. A silvery white flame burst out from his wrists.
External Kei Karen Kei – Jaryu.
Rooted on the spot, he lashed out with his fists in lightning speed. Strange was that the fists did not produce any loud noise. His fists were quiet as of training. However, those attacks did reach Behemoth. Silvery white explosions crashed one after another on the damaged upper body where countless antennas stuck out. The directions of Savaris's fists were anywhere but Behemoth, yet Behemoth's body was sustaining heavy damages. The attacks of silvery white flame cleared out the antennas, and those fallen antennas then exploded. Savaris could see Layfon's figure caught in the explosions.
Layfon's determined expression was unchanged. His wordless eyes seemed to have seen through his opponent's moves. His posture showed that he was readying for his next move.
Heaven's Blade Technique – Karou.
One flash and Layfon had executed numerous cutting paths, destroying all scales before him.
"Are you trying to kill me?"
Layfon landed and asked without focusing on him.
"If you died at that level, wouldn't that rather be a relief?" He could feel the excitement inside him. How interesting. All three Heaven's Blades were each using their ultimate moves, yet the filth monster still lived. How many such filth monsters were there in this world? So interesting. So interesting that he couldn't control himself. This was more interesting than anything else.
The sound of stirring coming from outside the city never stopped. The Heaven's Blades' attacks appeared to be only scratches on this monster.
"Looks like we have to keep going," Savaris began using his Kei.
"I did enjoy myself," Savaris said, sipping tea after his meal as he reminisced.
The current location was the canteen. The announcement had just conveyed the discovery of Zuellni, and a wave of festive atmosphere from the people gathered in the canteen spread through the air.
Although this would be a fight to decide the winner of the Military Arts Competition, a fight between Academy Cities would not shed blood. In other words, this was like a festive activity on a large scale. The impending fight brought excitement to the audience, spreading out naturally from the crowd.
Leerin listened to Savaris talk about the past as she ate. She had never seen Layfon fight a filth monster. As an average person, she always headed for the shelter when an emergency arose. She'd probably never get to see a real battle. Hence, Savaris's description of Layfon was to her something refreshing and new, as if she was hearing about someone she didn't know. Either way, she had never seen that side of Layfon. And her heart acknowledged this fact, especially after Layfon's match with Gahard. Loneliness stuffed her chest. The Layfon who lived with her as a kid, whom she shared pain and happiness with, but suffered everything in a place she didn't know, suffering it without saying a word to anyone.
The man sitting behind Leerin spoke, "Who will win?"
"This side. Myath recently beat up some filth monsters. I heard Zuellni has a record of defeats. The strengths of Military Artists over there are low."
"Ah, that might not be it though. What if a very promising newcomer appears over there? It is an Academy City. They receive new students every year."
"Ha ha, who'd let a promising Military Artist leave a city so easily?"
Leerin looked behind her. They might be travelers who spent a long time traveling. They probably survived by buying and selling information. Savaris was also listening in. A promising newcomer in Zuellni. Of course, no newcomer was more promising than Layfon. But instead of talking about Layfon, he mentioned another person.
"It seems my brother fails to change the battle's fate. How sad."
Savaris's younger brother was in Zuellni. He had said that before in the roaming bus. Gorneo. If he was in his 5th year now, that meant he must have participated in the previous intercity match.
"Do you have a bad relationship with your brother?"
If one were to understand Savaris' words on the surface, then the Heaven's Blade really held little feelings for his brother.
"Not really. But my brother fears me. He probably feels pressure just by standing in my shadow."
A younger brother who had an older, elite brother. Leerin probably couldn't understand that feeling. She had no siblings. She couldn't comprehend Gorneo's feelings. Gorneo had to choose the same path as his brother.
"It might be better if he had no ability at all. Maybe it's because we're in the same family. He's not bad, but it's his bad luck to be born after me. But that's not a bad feeling."
A chill went down Leerin's spine at his last words.
"But he's your younger brother."
"Yes, so what?" he didn't seem to care about her retort. "Heaven's Blades only seek power. If he was preventing me from reaching that goal, I'd kick him out of the Luckens family even though he's my brother." The smile on his face became hard to discern. He had spoken his true feelings.
Leerin was an orphan. She didn't have anyone blood-related who would love her unconditionally. One could say from another angle that because one didn't have someone blood-related, that was what made one an orphan. So she understood better than anyone how precious it was to have a family.
"Aah, you're wrong if you think I'm the only one who thinks like that. Actually, most Heaven's Blades think the same."
"Heaven's Blades are the most powerful Military Artists in Grendan, and they also make the most unusual organization. They chase after power with any means they can find. Layfon is the only exception."
Only Layfon was different. That pleased Leerin. Savaris' tone seemed to exclude Layfon from the unusual organization.
"Excuse me, but if Layfon had wholeheartedly sought power, Gahard wouldn't have been able to grasp hold of his weakness, and he wouldn't have been exiled."
Leerin's comfort disappeared.
"Layfon's motivation to become strong is probably more complicated than us 'normal' Heaven's Blades' motivations. Of course, that reason might explain why he was so powerful in the past. But because of it......"
Leerin didn't know how to react to what he said next.
"He's now lost his reason to fight. He might have become quite weak. That's what I think." Savaris' thoughts turned back to the past, submerging himself in the excitement of past battles.
Leerin remained silent, holding her breath. Had Layfon really become weak? It'd be good if he wasn't like that. Yes, she thought from deep down that it'd be good if Layfon stood before Savaris again.
Three days and three nights. They kept on fighting Behemoth. Three days. One move came after another to destroy the filth monster. Power kept surging. Moves were improved. Kei was weaved again and again.
"About time. I've had enough."
Dry impatience shot through Layfon's voice. That wasn't because he was tired. Heaven's Blades would not collapse from a mere three days fight as they fought with internal Kei. However, psychologically, he was reaching his limit. He had fought countless times with countless numbers of enemies. He had fought much longer than three days. But usually he could see the results of his attacks in the forms of corpses. But Behemoth continued to recombine and recover. No result could be seen, and that had cracked through Layfon's mind. Besides, Behemoth varied its strategies as the fight progressed. It wasn't increasing its strength in self-explosions. It laid traps to cancel the enemy attacks. Every attack hid behind it a plan. Instead of weakening, it had become stronger. Layfon was probably thinking of how to quickly end the fight.
(He's reaching his limit?)
It was enough already that he had this level of fighting strength at his age, but his mental toughness had yet to match the level of his strength. This was a good time for him to flee the battle, but Savaris wouldn't know whether that was a good choice for him.
(Not good, if he dies now.)
Actually, he cared naught for Layfon's death. What he cared about was that he, falling under his own psychological trap, might interfere with the battle.
(And it's been so long since I had such enjoyment.)
Unlike Layfon, Savaris exulted in high tension. And that tension didn't weaken through time. Affected by this feeling, he felt satisfaction every time he used Kei and executed a move, as if he was discovering new things in this battle. The Behemoth standing before him told him that he could turn stronger so he must not allow interference in this fight.
(Let him retreat.)
Just when Savaris made his decision...
"What? Can't take it already?" Lintence called to Layfon.
Lintence nodded. "Good. You ought to know this situation is nothing. You've been fighting filth monsters till now, and you might keep living life like this forever after becoming a Heaven's Blade successor. One mistake can send you down to the god of death. And impatience is always what leads to tragedy. I think you have experienced that already."
A rumor had it that Layfon had tried out a move of the steel threads on his own and had sustained almost fatal injuries.
"Then you know what you need the most now?"
"Endure and keep on fighting."
"Since you understand, then keep at it. If you keep on being so shameful, I'll cut you up."
The impatience in Layfon's eyes gradually disappeared, and he turned silent again.
That was unexpected for Savaris. It was already rare for a Heaven's Blade to teach another, and that someone was none other than Lintence, the notoriously anti-social person.
Lintence continued, "Of course, I hate this kind of fight too. It's about time to think of a way to end it. 259,200 seconds. We've spent too much time appeasing this guy's hunger."
"But what do we do?"
The fight continued throughout the conversation. Behemoth's position hadn't changed much. He was still outside the city. The inside area of the outskirt had become a mess after the three Heaven's Blades' attacks and the exploding scales. Deep furrows tore the ground, and nearby buildings and facilities had been destroyed. A three day, three night fight, and the three Heaven's Blades had still to suppress the filth monster's attacks. Savaris thought the same as others, but he just didn't seem dissatisfied......
"Take a good look," Lintence said, and everyone turned to study Behemoth.
It was still aiming for the city, climbing up its surface and releasing all antennas for that purpose. Savaris and the other two were attacking those antennas. However, nothing much had changed.
"Deceived by its large size? Or because we were too focused on it and missed it? In truth, that guy has become small."
"Eh?" Layfon made a surprised noise.
Savaris didn't entirely agree with that point.
"Meaning it can't revive 100%. One possibility is because of its numerous self-destructs. If that isn't the case, the only possibility is because we've kept releasing Kei. The accumulated effects of each attack are decimating it."
"If that's the case, does that mean we still have to drag out the fight?" Savaris said, blocking the antennas reaching at him from all sides.
"Power isn't the only factor in preventing this guy from reviving. We have to think of whether those pieces of it, scattered around, move on their own. Our attacks are powerful, but if we look at Behemoth as a combined form, then we can't destroy its entire being."
"You mean......" Savaris didn't reply, but he got an idea of what Lintence was saying.
"Behemoth isn't a single life. It's multiple lives, made of many small cells?"
So that wasn't self-explosion. It scattered itself for the main body to reform and move. It was a self-defense mechanism. Compared to that, enemy attacks were just side-effects of its main objective.
"Not one thread, but one face. Not one part but the entire. We have to kill all its cells in a short time through some super-heavy pressure attack."
Lintence's declaration made the other two Heaven's Blades speechless.
"Use your most powerful Kei in the next attack. I'll take the first attack, then you two go at it at the same time......Don't tell me you need more than 10 seconds to prepare?"
A direct provocation that made Savaris' heart leap.
"Sure, let's do it."
"I get it, Sensei."
The two of them nodded at the same time.
"I probably don't need 10 seconds. You?"
"Anytime. As you like."
Layfon's reply was indifferent, but he had to also view this with anticipation. A wish to push himself to his own limit. Releasing Kei that far exceeded anybody's, executing a move that was more incredible than anyone else's. This was a competition between the three Heaven's Blade successors.
"Then, I'll start," Lintence said as he counter-attacked, destroying the antennas invading the outskirts with lightning-fast speed as if he intended to destroy the outskirts area too. Huge explosions blew in successive waves, enveloping Savaris and Layfon. A close study showed the two of them had already left the zone of explosions to stand on the very outer edge of the city – the last of Lintence's defense. In here, not even debris could get through.
Lintence had been working on the defense line till now, but he was gathering Kei and had no strength left for anything else.
The two of them executed their Kei techniques as they roared.
External Kei variation – Fuuretsukei.
External Kei variation – Kakei.
Wind spurted from the tip of Savaris' foot in his kick and from the blade of Layfon's sword as he swung down. They destroyed the cells that were scattered from the explosions. The air on the outside suddenly calmed. Lintence's preparation was done. An immense amount of Kei suffused the steel threads above them. The light radiating off of the steel threads covered the sky. Behemoth, trying to revive its antenna and the cells that had been turned to dust, were all sealed into that huge net of Kei in one split second.
"Let me send you to the other shore."
Sougenkyouku - Houraku. White light flooded the surroundings. The Kei in the steel threads became Shou Kei. Huge waves of Kei crashed from the net to the inside. The side effects of those huge impacts were sealed inside the net. Nothing leaked out of the net except the light. At the same time, Lintence ran Kei through the steel threads to sustain the Kei lost from the net. This perfect barrier was sealing the pressure inside it, gradually breaking down Behemoth.
Of course, it wasn't impossible to hear the filth monster's tragic moans from outside the barrier. One could probably see this huge block of light from the other side of the city. However, this powerful Kei technique wouldn't last long. Ten seconds. Lintence had used that number as a provocation, but that was also his limit. His level of Kei was reduced to his lowest level after 10 seconds, and the strength of the steel threads wavered. The block of light cracked. Numerous steel threads floated in the air, unraveling, returning to their master. Behemoth's howl didn't even sound like a voice. The sparkling particles around it were the remains that had lost their ability to revive. Even Savaris could see how small Behemoth had become. He and Layfon had already jumped into the air for this moment, closing fast on Behemoth.
Savaris was the first to make his move. No, he was already making it when he leaped. Internal Kei variation, a Luckens secret ability, Thousand Man Rush. The number of Savarises heading for Behemoth increased from one to two, to four, eight, sixteen, thirty two, sixty four, a hundred twenty eight......The number exploded until it far exceeded one thousand. And that all happened within a few seconds.
Lintence's steel threads had all loosened, releasing Behemoth's remains from the light. A thousand Savarises had planned their locations and started attacking the filth monster's right hand side.
Considering that he was in the air, the strength needed to dispel the side-effects from executing the move, and stopping himself in the air, so he only had 5 seconds left to fight......Savaris laughed. An honest and cruel laugh caused by elation. This was his first time reaching this level. Would they finish Behemoth, or.........Yet Lintence had managed to seal off this massive Behemoth's movements while releasing such terrible crashes of Kei at the same time.
How many Heaven's Blade successors possessed this secret technique?
"Ok, I'll show you," one thousand Savarises said.
One must use a secret technique against a secret technique. External Kei variation, Luckens Secret Technique – Roar Kei. Waves powerful enough to eradicate cell particles shot out of one thousand Savarises' mouths.
Layfon was still in the air. The sword in his hand was releasing a frightful light. An onlooker wouldn't be able to tell whether it really was a sword or not.
Not one thread, but one face. Lintence's strategy wasn't an easy task for Layfon who used a sword. But Layfon wouldn't say it was an unreasonable request. Lintence had shown him that he could do it – executing a heavy pressure attack in a short period of time, overwhelming and annihilating the target with an immense amount of Kei. Besides, Savaris was also making an incredible move while increasing his numbers with a Thousand Man Rush. Layfon had no other choice.
"I can only do this."
He raised his sword and swung down.
It didn't involve any technique. It was just a move to simultaneously release the flow of immense Kei and its destructive power sealed into the Heaven's Blade. A colossal pillar of light swung down, bathing the left half of Behemoth in a storm of Kei.
Savaris had succeeded in executing the two Luckens moves that no other person had managed to use. And Layfon, possessing a shockingly immense amount of Kei, had summoned a storm of Kei with horrible destructive power. These two people had already exceeded the limit that a Military Artist of their time could imagine. The filth monster could not counterattack or move under these two assaults.
Half of Behemoth's body became a mountain of sand. As if blown by a wind, the mountain collapsed.
The other half seemed to be bitten by a gigantic, insane beast, bitten into pieces. Behemoth began to collapse completely under two destructive forces.
The limit was near. Same as with Lintence, the time limit was about 10 seconds. These types of moves that exhausted lots of Kei needed its wielder to continuously release that amount of Kei for the move to work. As expected, the release of Kei gradually slowed.
"Did we......get it?"
Savaris had turned back into only one Savaris. He fell from the sky, exhausted, trying to confirm the result.
Numerous gray particles danced in the air. The remains of Behemoth showed no signs of joining. Did that mean it was defeated? Can't be sure yet. As Lintence had said, Behemoth was a body cohabited by multiple lives. It was difficult to confirm the death of each cell but if not all of them were destroyed......
"Huh!" Savaris's gaze was pulled to somewhere.
One of the gray particles was falling and twisting strangely. It was alive. The size of it was about the same as a human. Savaris wanted to rush over and destroy it, but affected by the impacts of using two stromg moves simultaneously, he couldn't even lift his finger. The filth monster didn't seem to want to fight, but it'd return to attack Grendan if they let it escape now. Savaris got a good fight today in which he could reach his limit, bringing him a dose of fulfillment. However, that sense of fulfillment suffered from the thought of being unable to eliminate the filth monster.
He called up the internal Kei in him, doing all he could to dispel his tiredness. But this was only enough to prevent him from falling dead. He didn't know whether it was enough for him to catch up with Behemoth. Urged by impatience, he increased his internal Kei flow. Just a bit more, just a bit more......He confirmed his level of recovery as the one second passed. Exhaustion began to fade. The numb Kei path began to awaken.
Three seconds. He had taken that much time from noticing Behemoth's sign of life to recovering enough to move.
"Good!" he readied his pose, pouring Kei into his running feet to increase his speed, at the same time......
A shadow appeared in Savaris's line of sight, accompanied by a rumble of explosion. A gaze from silent pupils pierced through the fleeing Behemoth. Layfon and his silvery white pillar of light were here.
Savaris was about to touch ground, and that was the moment when Layfon swung his sword without hesitation. The explosion made a large pit in the ground. The wind from that impact blew the gray particles into chaos. Savaris lay on the ground.
Layfon stood in a cloud of gray particles that spread out in the savage gale. Behemoth's remaining body had been split into halves and pounded into pieces by the Shou Kei.
Savaris was speechless. Layfon was the first to recover. Just one second. Perhaps it was a difference of less than a second. But he thought that only half a second would be enough to decide the victor if he were to cross blades with Layfon.
A young and new Heaven's Blade successor. The youngest Heaven's Blade successor on record who held no awareness of himself. Layfon was quicker by half a second. What feeling did it bring to him? Anger? Jealousy? No.
"As I said, this city is the best."
"I'll never get tired of it," Savaris murmured.
Her chest tightened as she listened to the story, but she quickly recovered. The Layfon that Savaris had described might not equal to the current Layfon. That was Layfon's past, but fortunately, it might not become Leerin's reason for worry. True. He might have become weaker than when he was still a Heaven's Blade successor. That might be true, but, what could she say?
That was Leerin's reply. To her, Layfon's value wasn't measured by how powerful he was as a Military Artist. She didn't care how powerful or weak he had become. She was just worried whether he was suffering from something. What she needed was not guesses based on his past, but preparation for the future based on his current condition. That was why she had come to Myath to bridge the past and future. Tomorrow, Myath would make contact with Zuellni. She had to move over to that city.
(Anyway, it's better to meet than to make guesses on my own.)
She had enough troubles in Grendan. And she came here because she had made up her mind. Staying at one place was the same as being stagnant. Thinking of this, she suddenly realized she was never good at making sense of big things. Actually, she didn't have the time to consider such a big thing, but the sudden appearance of Zuellni had given her a shock.
"Savaris," she said, calling back the daydreaming Heaven's Blade.
"What?" he said, reaching out for the tea. He drained the cup of tea that had gone cold, his eyes showing he wanted one more cup. Leerin stood up and poured him new tea.
"Ah, thanks. Uh, what is it?"
"I was thinking, aren't we going to move to Zuellni?"
"Ah, oh no," he sighed without feelings.
Leerin lowered her head.
"Sorry, it's just that my way of thinking won't be as appropriate."
"You mean normal travel won't work?" she asked.
"Yeah. Though I don't have much experience in intercity fights, but think about it. Normal passage should recover after the winner's decided. Well, Leerin, you've been in the shelter every time a fight happened. It's normal not to know what happens outside."
An unexpected difficulty had arisen.
"What should we do?"
Roaming buses wouldn't move for now. Did that mean they had to walk over to Zuellni? That wasn't something a normal person could do. Even without much knowledge in fights, Leerin knew the place where the two cities met would become the most intense arena. Then was she to wait till the fight was finished to ride the next roaming bus? No roaming buses were coming near because of the impending intercity match. A roaming bus might head over a few days after everything had settled. But.........
(I don't want to wait anymore.)
She could see Zuellni from here. She already knew she was so near the place she wanted to be in. How could she wait any longer?
"Well, don't have to worry so much," Savaris said, looking quite happy.
Leerin glared at him. If this atmosphere continued and he said something wrong, she might just get angry.
"Ah – Have you forgotten? I'm also a Military Artist."
She noticed what he hadn't said from his attitude.
The unpleasant memory surfaced.
"I can send you to Zuellni without being discovered," he guaranteed with a smile. He blew at the tea to cool it down. "Please prepare to leave."
Leerin went back to her room to pack. It didn't take long, as she hadn't planned to stay here long in the first place. She had washed the dirty clothes she wore in the roaming bus and had left the ones she needed for the next day, putting everything back into her luggage.
(Tomorrow......Can I see Layfon?)
That made today feel so long. She couldn't sit and stand. She couldn't calm herself. If she were in Grendan, she'd do chores.
She walked out into the corridor and took out the cleaning equipment. In theory, Myath's students were responsible for cleaning the facilities, but one couldn't expect a high level of service in an Academy City where its habitants' main purpose was to study. For example, meals were handed out in buffet style, and rooms weren't cleaned everyday. Instead, cleaning equipment was stored away for travelers to use. Leerin had cleaned her own room several times too because she thought the students didn't do a thorough enough job.
"I might not be here tomorrow, might as well do some good cleaning."
Time would fly if she were to aim to clean every single speck of dust. At the end of the day, she'd be so exhausted that she could get a good sleep.
(Speaking of which......)
She thought of something while holding the handle of the broomstick.
(Could that event have happened during that time?)
She recalled what Savaris had said in the canteen, and something else surfaced in her mind through Savaris' story.
(Three days. That was about it.)
A fight that lasted for three days. Leerin and the young siblings had left the shelter to return to the orphanage. She had then taken the shopping list and left the orphanage.
She found Layfon standing on a street corner.
She ran to him with small steps. "Welcome home," she said, feeling at ease at seeing him safe. .........Huh. Why was he staring at her with widened eyes?
"What is it?"
"Ah, no, nothing," he shook his head in a fluster. The shocked expression on his face slowly faded.
"Yeah, welcome back," she smiled. She was happy to see he had safely returned.
"Going to buy dinner?"
"Yeah, didn't have time to buy anything before heading for the shelter, so the fridge is empty. Layfon, what do you want to eat?"
"What did everyone say?"
The children at the orphanage had endured at the shelter by eating preserved food, so Leerin had gotten many suggestions when she said she was to go shopping. But today was special.
"Because you worked hard today, didn't you, Layfon? Let me reward you a bit."
"Um, how about adding burger meat to stew? I think that's good."
That wasn't just because he found it tasty. That dish was popular among the other kids too. It was one of the suggestions Leerin had received too.
He accompanied her naturally to the shops. They walked slowly, touching shoulders.
"Layfon, you have a sweet tooth."
"Not really. That was just really tasty."
"OK, but I won't make any snacks today. It'll be bad if we got rotten teeth, and we won't have space for dinner if we have sweets."
He took her basket with a bitter smile.
No one would have doubted that Layfon had hoped to see her.