Chrome Shelled Regios:Volume8 Post Epilogue
Post Epilogue - Ordinary Days
That night, Minse Eutnohl violently threw the thing beside him into the wall.
That happened to be a wooden table, which exuded extravagance and technology in both material and design. But with Minse's strength, the table collided with the sliding door with loud noise before it fell to the ground in pieces.
Even that wasn't enough to suppress the rage in his heart, but at least it was enough to temporarily quell his impulses. If he didn't do that, he definitely would have stormed into the palace and completely destroyed the ceremonial banquet which should be going on over there right now.
Not only that, he would also personally gouge out the pair of sleepy eyes which belonged to that poor looking brat who would be there.
The center of tonight's celebration was that child.
Minse was still very young—somewhere in his mid-teens.
But he was even younger.
That's why Minse was so angry.
Tonight, they were commemorating the birth of the twelfth Heaven's Blade Receiver.
That kid's name was Layfon Alseif. Since he became a Heaven's Blade, his name became Layfon Wolfstein Alseif.
"Why isn't it me?" complained Minse piteously. His long black hair grew in a featureless messy tangle.
The Eutnohl was one of the three Royal families in Grendan. The current Queen Alsheyra was of the Almonise family. The family that the King or Queen originated from was known as the current ruling house.
There were to be twelve Heaven's Blade Receivers, as there were only twelve blades made from the mysterious Grendan White Dite, known as the Heaven's Blades.
Before Alsheyra's reign, there were five Heaven's Blades Receivers. But now, all twelve had been gathered.
Minse believed that he would be the twelfth. The people also held such hopes for him. The last member of the three royal families, Ronsmier's Tigris had already taken the title of a Heaven's Blade Receiver. Queen Alsheyra was regarded as the strongest royalty in history, with the purest blood running through her veins in the Royal Families, one whose existence itself demanded it be shown off proudly. Naturally, it was expected that Minse, the head of the Eutnohl family, would take the twelfth Heaven's blade title. In fact, calling it his inheritance wouldn't have been an exaggeration.
But, reality wasn't like that.
Layfon Wolfstein Alseif. A member of the small school of Psyharden, an adoptive child, became the twelfth Heaven's Blade.
What's more was that Minse wasn't even given a chance to challenge Layfon.
"This is a conspiracy," moaned Minse.
What he said wasn't actually nonsense.
There was no doubt that the Almonise family and the Eutnohl family were the current ruling houses. More accurately, it was between the Eutnohl and Almonise families.
The three Royal Families wanted to protect the bloodline of the first King, and they wanted to make sure that any marriages would give birth to more Military Artists. The minimal requirement for a suitor was being a Military Artist. And from the aspect of retaining the purity of the blood from the first king, the suitor had to also be of royal lineage from one of the three Royal families. But purifying the bloodline too much could also lead to the passing on of inherent defects in the genes.
After much argument between the three families, they came to an agreement that every three generations, there would be an intermarriage between the three Royal families.
The current Queen Alsheyra was born of the Almonise and the Ronsmier families.
And her husband was supposed to be of the Eutnohl family.
He was Minse's brother.
No, he was originally supposed to act as a brotherly figure.
Currently, that brother no longer existed.
He had eloped with some ordinary woman.
Alsheyra had just smiled bitterly at the news, and her next suitor had yet to be decided.
If they went in order, then in theory Minse would have been offered to take the position. There were rumors among the citizens that Alsheyra couldn't forget about Minse's brother, and thus was delaying her decision.
And privately, she hated him who had thrown her away, which lead to her hate of the Eutnohl family.
Minse had believed those rumors.
Unfortunately, his bad luck didn't end with the rumors. His parents were also successively unlucky. His father died in a battle with a filth monster, and his mother died of sickness not long after.
And Minse became the head of the Eutnohl Family. Even though he still had many uncles, according to the laws of the three Royal Families, they were very far down the list as heirs. If the situation arose where Minse died, the person who would inherit the position as head of the family wouldn't be his uncles but a child of the current head of another royal family. And if Alsheyra didn't have any children, then the place would be taken by some child of the Ronsmier family.
Minse firmly believed that Alsheyra wanted to use some legitimate way to annihilate the Eutnohl family.
In order to prevent that from happening, it was imperative that he become a Heaven's Blade. It wasn't only to spread his name as a protector but to also show off his abilities as a descendant of the bloodline.
And when there was a Royal Family marriage where the suitor was not of the royal family, then the next suitors would be chosen from the Heaven's Blade Receivers. This way it was possible for him to reclaim the right as a suitor to the Queen and recover the status of the Eutnohl family.
However, he didn't get chosen for the twelfth spot. Alsheyra had taken away even the chance to show his strength.
This was a conspiracy.
Minse believed this without a shred of doubt.
"If it's like this, I also have my own means."
Sooner or later, Alsheyra was going to come to eliminate Minse. But he wouldn't be sitting, waiting for his demise.
"......It's not like you can't attack the royalty no matter what."
Things like the law have no power over people who have been driven into a corner. In order to live on, they will bare their fangs at anyone.
Minse had changed his mood for the better, but looking at his face from the side there was a miserable expression unfitting of his age upon his face.
She would only be happy on that day.
The following days, she was as busy as a bee.
"I really can't take this!"
The Psyharden dojo was not far from the orphanage and Leerin stood outside with her hands on her hips.
Only ten years old, she was a mid-level student in elementary school. She had a steady personality and could usually be found cooking in the kitchen. She wore clothes designed for work and ease of movement. Her hair was also appropriately tied up in a bun. Following the latest trends, the hair in front of her bun curled to one side.
Leerin was standing in the makeshift reception area of the dojo.
The second day since Layfon had become a Heaven's Blade Receiver, which was today, the dojo had become unusually busy. Psyharden Katana School's dojo was only an old small-scale dojo.
The number of students in the dojo was as small as the dojo itself. There were countless dojos like this in Grendan. All those that taught the katana couldn't be counted with two hands.
Of course, there weren't many that continued existing for a long time. Sometimes it was because the owner of the dojo died in a fight with a filth monster, and there weren't any successors. Some of the dojos fell into ruin after losing in fights with other dojos.
However, despite its size, the Psyharden Katana School dojo had a long history.
But it wasn't an exaggeration to say that the size of a dojo in Grendan represented its status.
A youth, who had been winning in official matches for two years straight, claimed victory yesterday in the Heaven's Blade Receiver selection matches and officially became the twelfth Heaven's Blade Receiver.
That youth belonged to the Psyharden School.
That is, this dojo located at the edge of the residence areas which was barely struggling by.
In the morning, before the doors of the dojo had even opened, there was already a long line of people outside the dojo hoping to get in. Leerin busily responded to them, and even though it was already past noon, there were no signs of there being an end to all this.
"Leerin, take this chance and have lunch."
In an attempt to take her mind off the annoying problem, a nearby person went behind the reception area, brought a pot and started cooking.
It looked like that there was no end to the people who wanted to join the dojo, and they weren't about to wait obediently in line either. They had obviously already gotten an admission slip but they still couldn't line up properly.
Looking at the scene, Leerin was stumped.
"I can't take this! I really want to just stay here instead," complained Leerin. She was drinking some warm milk, and had recovered somewhat.
Beside the reception area there were tables prepared by the street's residents.
It's just as it appeared; it's a small dojo, without many hands. The kitchen didn't have many staff either.
Seeing Leerin complaining, the person who was helping with the cooking started laughing. She was also a Nee-chan who grew up at the orphanage, and she had married recently, living the life of a newlywed.
"Well, it's not like you can do anything about this, with Layfon doing all that."
A Heaven's Blade Receiver. For the military artists of Grendan, that title held great meaning.
It was equivalent to being called the strongest.
Wanting to study at the same school that trained one of the strongest is perfectly logical.
Some famous examples would be the Luckens School, created by a Heaven's Blade, and Rivanes, the school for the successors of the three royal families. And there was also the dojo currently regarded as the most prosperous, Midknot.
Those three Military Arts schools all had current Heaven's Blades Receivers as students.
Although Grendan has twelve Heaven's Blades, it doesn't actually have twelve prosperous Military Arts Schools.
For example, the Psychokinesists. The only Psychokinesis user of all the twelve Heaven's Blades, Delbone, was the oldest of them all. There were legends that said that she had already been a Heaven's Blade for several decades, and that perhaps she would have to step down from her position soon. For Psychokinesis, the abilities required far outstripped those demanded of a normal Military Artist, thus there was no dojo which was open to take in disciples and teach them.
Another example would be Karen Kei. Troyatte represents this school in the Heaven's Blades. As it is also very hard to grasp, there are very few Military Artists who are willing to learn it.
Including these two, with the three mentioned above, and excluding Layfon, there were still six others.
Of the six, the one known as the strongest of the current Heaven's Blades, Lintence, wasn't born in Grendan. He was a military artist who was visiting from another city, and under the Queen's recommendation entered the selection tournament and became a Heaven's Blade Receiver. So if he did not found a dojo, then there was no way for him to pass on his techniques to anyone else, and he had no intentions of doing so.
As for the other five, none of them fitted into any specific dojo in Grendan, and like Lintence, none of them had any intention of starting their own dojo's either.
Putting all this into perspective, Layfon is the only Heaven's Blade Receiver to become one having learned only the Psyharden Katana techniques.
So, if one was part of the Psyharden dojo, one could become a Heaven's Blade Receiver.
Of course, that's what everyone thought.
"But the thing is......"
Leerin gazed across at the people who were hoping to gain entry after lunch break with mixed feelings.
Wasn't there anyone who felt suspicious?
Perhaps nobody had noticed the Dite that Layfon was holding in tournament?
That was a sword.
Psyharden was clearly a school which taught the Katana, not the sword.
Thinking back, it was the day before the decisive battle.
Inside the dojo, other than the caretaker, the two who had grown under the shelter of the Psyharden dojo; Derek and Layfon were completely alone.
The two were holding restored Dites. In Layfon's hand, was a sword.
"I'm sorry," said Layfon to a completely silent Derek. He then stored his Dite away and placed it in its sheath.
Leerin quickly realized the meaning behind it.
That was Layfon making it clear to Derek that he was giving up the way of the Katana.
And then, Layfon became a Heaven's Blade Receiver.
"Why would Layfon......"
Even now, she still hasn't asked him about it.
Until now, Leerin always thought that she knew everything about Layfon. They were the same age, and thus they were placed into the orphanage at almost the same time. And at the time, they were both infants.
Leerin was an abandoned child.
So was Layfon.
The two had been together since before they understood anything. At that time, they didn't know that they shared circumstances with the other. They also had many other siblings unrelated by blood in the orphanage. Some were abandoned as well. Others had both their parents die, and nobody adopted the children who were sent here. There were various circumstances.
She only recently found out that Military Artists very rarely gave up their children.
Perhaps there was some sort of relationship like that, but the chances weren't high.
Layfon treated Derek like his real father. And likewise, Derek treated Layfon like his own son. Of course, the other children in the orphanage also treated this kindly old Military Artist of few words as their own father.
But, Layfon was a Military Artist.
Everyone in the orphanage had their own surnames.
The ones who had last names kept them. Those who didn't know had Derek give them one. All the children were siblings who had grown up in the same circumstances together, but they wished that they could share their surname with someone else.
This felt somewhat lonely.
But it was also something they could do nothing about. Derek's last name was the same as the dojo that he was part of. Even though it was very small, even if a normal person carried the name of the dojo, it showed a deep connection with a Military Artist generations back.
Not knowing her two parents, Leerin obviously didn't know her surname either.
This also meant that Layfon might not have his own surname. Layfon Psyharden. This name wasn't too shabby.
As they continued on with their ordinary lives, perhaps it had also become reality.
Derek adopted Layfon officially, and was originally meant to be the heir to the Psyharden techniques.
But in his hands, Layfon was holding a sword.
She couldn't think of any reasons. She couldn't understand why Layfon would do this at all.
Leerin was very surprised that when it came to Layfon there were things about him that even she didn't know about.
Leerin turned around after suddenly being spoken to.
In front of the reception area was a youth who was slightly older than Leerin. He stood there with a very amiable smile, with very thin eyes framed by a pair of glasses, and a head of long silver hair.
"Excuse me, is this the Psyharden dojo?"
From his manner, it was obvious he came from a family of status.
"Yes, I'm sorry, if you want to enter the dojo please get out your entry ticket..."
"Ah, it's not like that." The youth simultaneously cut Leerin short and spoke to those who were lining up, showing he knew what was going on.
"The thing is, I'm a foreigner."
Foreigner here referred to those who came by roaming buses from other cities.
"I saw yesterday's match by chance, and I was very impressed, so I wanted to meet that Military Artist personally, and came here."
Leerin nodded her head and at the same time became slightly more alert.
"Of course, I am an ordinary person; I'm not seeking to get into the dojo through meeting him. I just want to meet him."
Again, the youth expressed his plans loudly. The hopefuls who were lining up to gain entry to the dojo realized that he wasn't there to cut in front of them and stopped caring about what he was trying to do.
Dealing with a person younger than him by about five years, he was always very courteous. And Leerin who was always praised by others for her maturity felt that this youth in front of her seemed even more like an adult than she was.
The second day after the banquet, they started preparations in order for Layfon to have the same uniform as the rest of the Heaven's Blade Receivers.
It seemed that the adjustments to the Heaven's Blade, the measurements to his special combat suit for use outside a city, etc. all needed confirmation.
Layfon said he had to temporarily stay in the palace for all those things.
They didn't know when the filth monsters would come and ambush them. And Grendan had much more run ins with filth monsters than normal. For a newly appointed Heaven's Blade Receiver, there wasn't any time for rest.
Hearing this, the youth nodded his head with some comprehension.
"It really is a pity, it seems I won't be able to meet him before my roaming bus leaves."
"It's ok, it's ok, not like you're at fault...... And anyway, this place is very welcoming to us foreigners. In the city I live in, any foreigners who wanted to leave their accommodations had to undergo a relatively thorough inspection, and it's been the same for almost every other city I've visited as well. This treatment really surprised me."
Perhaps this youth was talking to himself, or perhaps he was simply trying to tell someone else his surprising experience here.
That's why Leerin wasn't about to answer his query.
"I think it's because very few Roaming Buses come by here."
The youth reacted with a look of surprise in response to Leerin's answer.
"Eh? But, that can't be the only reason can it?"
"That...... We have to treat our guests with hospitality, hoping that maybe we'll get some sort of gift from the guests."
"If you put it like that, then I'm a complete cheapskate of a guest who doesn't remember any favors."
"Ah, that's not what I meant," Leerin explained hurriedly and stopped what she was doing, facing the laughing youth.
"Don't mind me, I was just joking."
"Thank you, even though it's a pity that I can't meet that person, I still met someone very interesting."
He was referring to Leerin.
The serious youth revealed another smile, making Leerin's face burn with redness. But this time, the youth took no notice to her reaction, and left after saying goodbye.
"......A strange person."
Reflecting on her judgment of the youth, Leerin returned her attention to her meal. There were still many people who wished to enter the dojo, and recording their names and addresses was something that Leerin didn't have a choice in doing right now.
As he smoked a cigarette, Lintence responded, "I refuse" to this completely uninteresting topic of conversation.
"Go tell them that this is what I said."
Lintence lived in the district in Grendan reserved for receivers of the Heaven's Blade.
The letter he was holding left his hand. The letter itself and the envelope it came in were in the same state as when he had received them: they were defying physics and were floating horizontally in the air.
As they reached the rubbish bin, they were shredded. They were shredded so finely that even those who were used to putting together jigsaw puzzles would have trouble reassembling it, his paranoia making it nearly impossible to restore.
The floorboard was creaking. The robust male who had brought the message shrank back and retreated a few steps in the face of Lintence's attitude, making the noise. It was the fate of an apartment that was built with cheap materials, and this was the sound of the floorboards aging.
With a pair of spiritless, unfriendly eyes coupled with messy, long, uncut hair and that lazy beard covering his chin, Lintence laid on the sofa. He wasn't looking at the messenger at all, instead staring at the smoke floating about in the room like mist.
Lintence uttered the short sentence as he exhaled more smoke. The messenger escaped out the door, the floorboards he stepped upon making more creaking noises.
The ashes descended towards a shirt full of wrinkles.
But before they could land on the shirt, they were sent to the ashtray in clumps.
The door was just left open like that, and outside the door near the stairs were sounds of people bumping into each other. The anguished cries of women, the panicked sounds of men, the sounds of people falling from the stairs, as well as the laughter which echoed from upstairs.
As Lintence mumbled to himself, the door moved to close itself.
At the same time, a hand stopped it.
And from behind it, came a surprised sound.
"Wow, the pathetic state you're in really is surprising. It's only been a week, so how the hell did you manage to make this room so messy? That's amazing in its own way."
Pulling open the closing door, the woman walked in without reserve as she looked about the room in a dazed manner.
The woman, dressed in a maid uniform, took out a vacuum cleaner and stood in front of Lintence in a proud pose.
She didn't look to be older than twenty.
But nobody knew her real age. Regardless, this woman often used her leftover Kei for an internal-type Kei to control her body at will. Changing her skeleton was a little difficult, so she couldn't change her height, but she could limit her own growth. At least since the many years ago he had first met her; her height and her visage hadn't changed at all.
"What? You can't take it if there isn't that much smoke in the air? You smoking addict."
Saying this presumptuously, that woman strode past Lintence and opened the windows. Fresh air rushed passed the woman and blew in, but Lintence's sharp sense of smell still detected the stink of the rubbish dump placed next door in the construction room.
"...I believe I told you sixty four thousand eight hundred seconds ago to leave me alone, Your Crappiness."
Lintence was still lazing on the sofa as before, but the window closed by itself, and the breeze stopped.
"If you've got a problem, then go find somewhere else to live. It's not like that will damage that icy attitude of yours. All the maids I assigned to work here all came to me one after another crying, pleading me to let them work somewhere else."
"So just leave me alone. We've already had this conversation thirty eight times."
"If a Heaven's Blade Receiver lives in a place like this, then the Almonise ruling house will be questioned by others. I wish you could at least make it a little tidier."
The woman dressed as a maid...... Her Crappiness...... Alsheyra Almonise opened the window yet again. This time it wouldn't be closed again. She removed all the steel threads wrapped around the window.
Seen from outside, a pair of hands darted about grasping at empty air. Alsheyra tossed the steel threads in her palm beside her. Those discarded steel threads silently returned to their owner.
"Where are the clothes I gave you? I think they should suit your tastes."
"You've watched too many yakuza movies."
"Look at that mean glare in your eyes. I'd like to see what kind of malicious being you are if you aren't some hoodlum."
As she said these rough words, she laughed gracelessly. Laughing, she kicked the accumulating pile of magazines with a well-rehearsed action and after finding the power cord, she connected the cleaner into the hidden socket and proceeded to turn it on. The unique noise of the vacuum cleaner filled the room.
"I want to kill you, you know."
Lintence muttered this quietly in the midst of the chaotic noise the vacuum cleaner was making.
"I know that" replied Alsheyra calmly. "You idiot, you really piss me off. You don't even know your place."
"For that, I became a Heaven's Blade Receiver."
"That's why I'm saying, an idiot really is stupid. You've already revealed your real self. Just like that, you've leaked the information."
"Surely there must be some Heaven's Blade Receivers who aren't satisfied with you?"
When Lintence became a Heaven's Blade Receiver, there were some who expressed their disapproval.
Lintence wasn't actually the first foreign Military Artist who became a Heaven's Blade Receiver in Grendan.
However, such Military Artists usually appeared about once in every King or Queen's rule.
There had never been a person like Alsheyra who gave Heaven's Blades en masse to foreigners.
Of course, it was natural for the higher ups of the traditional Military Artists in Grendan to be offended by these actions.
As for the isolated city, information from outside cities took relatively high priority. Technology too, took high priority, along with expansion of the gene pool. They welcomed everything other than illnesses. But all these things needed time to fit together, and this was the new problem which this city was facing.
First was Lintence, then it was Cauntia and Reverse's combination. Suddenly three foreign Military Artists had become Heaven's Blade Receivers. Even though survival of the fittest was the Military Artists' motto, they weren't very pleased about this.
"So what." Showing no signs of wavering, Alsheyra, who continued to ponder, calmly went on.
"There's no problem with them harboring discontent. If they don't like it, there's no problem either. If they have any problems then it's good if they tell me and don't hold back. Even if I am royalty, I'm merely the descendant of the bloodline of one of the strongest families in Grendan. If you think you're strong, then do your best to do something. Keeping them all in line is my job. As for any disobedient little dogs, giving them the punishing whip is the job of the master. That's all there is to it, is it not?" declared Alsheyra as she cleaned the room with the vacuum cleaner.
It didn't fit her maid uniform. As he thought that, Lintence cracked a smile, looking at her face from the side.
She was a Queen at birth. She was the strongest at birth. This woman's behavior gave off an aura of splendor, totally out of tune with the obedient feel of her maid uniform.
"Well, just let me look forward to what sort of a song an idiot can sing. It's been really boring recently. I wanted to bully the new gentleman, but it seems he's not strong enough yet. Lin, can you go train him?"
"Well, I guess that'll be interesting."
Lintence had also watched yesterday's finals. But he only watched the opening ceremony and the participants before returning. For him, that was more than enough to predict the results.
And he didn't guess wrong.
"Oh? That was really unexpected. I thought you would decline."
"That's because he's very good at learning from others. I just want to know if he really has such a talent, so I'm going to go test him."
"Ah, I see. That will be very interesting," whispered Alsheyra interestedly, laughing. "There have been many like him. Children who sealed their weapon of choice and techniques while still becoming a Heaven's Blade Receiver."
"Anybody could do that."
"But they wouldn't do it like this. This is the nature of Military Artists, is it not?" replied Alsheyra quickly.
She revealed an expression as if Lintence had fallen for her tricks, and Lintence responded by closing his two eyes, as if an attempt to isolate himself from the noise of the vacuum cleaner.
A luxurious selection of cuisines were placed on the round table.
Facing master Minse sat three other people.
"We really couldn't get Lintence, eh?"
Washing down a mouthful of food with some wine, Minse revealed a pained expression.
He had already predicted this result. But, if possible, he didn't want to make an enemy out of him. Minse couldn't understand him using steel threads, and that ability scared him.
"Isn't that what I said? That guy is a foreigner. He's a pawn under Her Majesty."
The speaker was the one who was sitting in the middle of the three.
Kalvan Geordeus Midknot.
A fifty year old male. He kept a head short hair, some of which had turned grey. A portion of that had turned completely white, which was kept long and tied up. Maybe it was because he had been working too hard, but the wrinkles on his face were deeply etched.
"Lock it up, I'm afraid information here may reach her majesty's ears."
"There's no need for such worries. For the next mission, the new guy and Lintence are being paired up as a team and being sent out. You think she will know about that event?"
"That's how it should be in theory, but what I'm worried about is Her Majesty taking some sort of precautionary actions."
"That's another needless worry. I understand that woman's personality very well. If she figures out our intentions, she'll face us head on for sure."
"That's true. I think that's how she'd react as well."
The youth who replied smiled expectantly while nodding. He sat to the left of Kalvan, who was pulling a long face.
"Savaris. You speak as if you could win in a fight against Her Majesty."
"Oh? Isn't it because I've harbored such a thought that I'm sitting here right now?"
Savaris replied to Kalvan's question in a relaxed manner.
"I'm just trying to say that Grendan's current situation isn't very good."
"If that's the case, then what things can we tell Her Majesty directly? Isn't it the special privilege of the Heaven's Blade Receivers to be able to see Her Majesty at any time?"
Kalvan glared at that young Heaven's Blade Receiver extremely unhappily.
"But Her Majesty won't listen. It's true that Her Majesty can't just hand out the Heaven's Blades. But Her Majesty can choose to hold those tournaments to decide the Heaven's Blades. It's worth celebrating the gathering of all twelve Heaven's Blades, but bestowing it upon a ten year old child..."
"I became a Heaven's Blade Receiver at thirteen."
Savaris couldn't understand why Kalvan thought this was a crisis.
"Didn't Kanaris become a Heaven's Blade Receiver at fifteen? Just because he's young, he can't be a Heaven's Blade Receiver? An argument like that is baseless."
The last person...Kanaris, just watched the scene silently. She was a woman with a very ordinary visage. All the parts attached to her face seemed as if they were made to give off an impression of a total lack of personality, and if one's eyes left her for just a moment, you wouldn't know she was there anymore.
"There really are too many young people" complained Kalvan in a painful manner.
Just as he said, among the current Heaven's Blade Receivers, those who were relatively young took up a large proportion. There were four Heaven's Blade Receivers military artists who had served before Alsheyra's reign. Excluding Delbone who was an exceptional case, the other three had all been bestowed with their Heaven's Blades in their late twenties or early thirties.
Compared to that, starting with Alsheyra's reign, the oldest any Heaven's Blade Receiver had been given his or her position was Lintence, in his late twenties. The rest were usually made Heaven's Blade Receivers in their teens, with some just over twenty.
And then there was the ten year old Layfon.
"It's as if Her Majesty was attempting to crush the record of 'Youngest Heaven's Blade Receiver' eh?" said Savaris, laughing.
He had held that record just a few days ago.
"Following the record back, following that is Tigris-sama or Delbone-sama. It seems getting a ten or so year-old kid to carry such a burden will be very hard on him."
"This isn't a joke!"
Annoyed by Savaris' tone, Kalvan slammed his hand down on the round table.
The dish on the table shook. Kanaris looked at the spilt sauce spread across the tablecloth with displeasure.
"Well...cool down for a moment."
Minse reproached Kalvan mildly.
"I know what both of you are trying to say, and anyway, since we're all comrades with the same goals please treat each other more cordially."
The people who were gathered there were all Military Artists who came from Grendan's dojos.
For example, Kalvan Geordeus Midknot is one who had opened his own dojo.
And on his left, the ever smiling Savaris Qaulafin Luckens. He was a part of the Luckens dojo which had helped an early Grendan ruler create the Heaven's Blades, and he was also a descendant of those people.
And sitting on the right, Kanaris Aerifos Rivin. She was the successor of the three royal families...that is, she was a part of the dojo Rivanes, which gathered members of the royal family who hadn't inherited any positions among royalty. Among these three the one with the closest blood ties would have to be her.
"We can't let anyone look down upon a Heaven's Blade Receiver's authority again. Isn't that why everyone has gathered here today?"
Such direct words; who would dare say such a thing?
The Queen's assassination, the passing on of the crown.
The one who would step up to the place of king would be Minse. Going by age, it should actually be Tigris, but even before Alsheyra became Queen he had a chance yet didn't concern himself with such things, letting Alsheyra inherit the position.
If that were the case, he would probably do the same again this time.
Minse didn't have the ability to become a Heaven's Blade Receiver. Perhaps he could wait to become betrothed to Alsheyra, but right now, Minse wasn't considering that option at all.
Even then, that was only a possibility and there was no guarantee he would become king.
"After I become king, I'll give your dojos repayment in kind."
Minse didn't forget about making his promises.
He was very clear as to why those three were here.
They were afraid that the authority of their respective dojos would be diminished. All twelve Heaven's Blade Receivers were gathered. And few of them came from their dojos. This implied that even if one trained at another dojo one could still become a Heaven's Blade Receiver.
The Heaven's Blade was the ultimate goal of Military Artists in Grendan. There wasn't a better yardstick than that to measure one's own strength by. For that, young Military Artists went to open dojos to train and refine their techniques. Purely fighting for survival really was a little tedious. Everyone also wished to calmly enjoy the pleasure of grandeur.
For that, they all yearned for that seat of the Heaven's Blade Receiver, won through a competition of pure strength.
Of course, only people who wanted to reach the sky in one go dreamed of that. To those who had already achieved something, these up and coming rookies were nothing more than nuisances.
Naturally, the increase in Heaven's Blade Receivers put them on guard and until today, perhaps because they were so young, the new Heaven's Blade Receivers never bothered to set up their own Dojo's and were never regarded as a threat.
But this time, Layfon was different.
Ten years old, a Heaven's Blade Receiver who was too young.
He was trained by the Psyharden dojo.
A dojo built in some corner of the city, it looked as if it would topple over if you just threw a pebble at it. Among the numerous small dojos, Psyharden was potentially dangerous to the larger dojos.
Those who had a burden, have to strive to continue carrying that burden. These people existed as Military Artists in order to survive in this city. Even though they knew that strength was paramount, there were few who were willing to throw away their burdens for that power.
Kalvan was the same, and even including the heads of the other two's dojos they were few among many.
As soon as they learned that Minse was unable to take part in the selection battle for the Heaven's Blade, they began to run back and forth for today.
Which is why they were able to so quickly assemble three Heaven's Blade Receivers before Minse now.
"Then, what should we do next?"
Savaris spoke first.
"For us, the greatest threat right now is Lintence. Wait until he leaves the palace and then do it."
"Then I guess we'll do it like that?"
Minse nodded in response to Kalvan's inquiry.
"Our chance comes the next time the Heaven's Blade Receivers need to move out for battle. When the time comes I won't give any special signal. As soon as they start fighting, our battle starts too, and I'll leave it to you guys."
In a normal filth monster attack, it isn't the Heaven's Blade Receivers but squads of normal military artists who were mobilized. Perhaps Layfon would also be dispatched, but Lintence would likely be left to support.
They were waiting for the Mature Phase filth monster to attack.
When that happens, they wouldn't order normal Military Artists to sortie. Heaven's Blades would be dispatched to welcome it in battle.
And if the Heaven's Blade Receivers were dispatched in order, then Layfon would be first. But being his first time fighting a Mature Phase filth monster, then it was almost certain that Lintence would be sent out for battle as well. In order for Layfon to quickly gain experience fighting Mature Phases, Layfon would definitely be picked in the next Mature Phase battle.
"That's why your turn to step onto the battlefield will come very soon" declared Minse.
A month passed.
A very boring month.
Alsheyra's weekly, quick, but ineffective cleaning visits made the room seem even more chaotic. Although Lintence had reservations about all this, all his resistance was useless. Because Alsheyra firmly believed that all that was involved in cleaning was using a vacuum cleaner.
It really hurt his head.
It was the same thing yesterday. Lintence could only watch as everything was messed up. Afterwards, Alsheyra walked out of his home with a pleased look on her face.
Today, Lintence arrived at the palace's flower garden. It was the spacious central garden. There weren't any railings or the like to prevent falls installed. Only the gardener and the Heaven's Blade Receivers had access to this garden. The gardener would never appear here outside of his work hours, and the Heaven's Blade Receivers wouldn't do anything as stupid as falling from the garden and dying. Put another way, this place forbade Heaven's Blade Receivers who did stupid things.
Because this was a private area for the ruling family within the palace.
Except that's exactly where Lintence was.
There was another person there.
"...Only your memory is far superior to anyone else's," said Lintence as he watched the child who sat on the ground before him, sweating profusely.
"Th-thanks for your guidance."
"But you're too used to having Kei flow through your hands. Make the Kei flow around your whole body. Before you can do that, I forbid you from holding your sword other than during battles."
He originally thought that the child wouldn't understand what he was doing, but he was unexpectedly obedient, which made Lintence feel a little despair. On that visage which terrified many people, there had to be something that makes it seem unfriendly.
But that child wasn't actually afraid of him.
After calmly adjusting his breathing, he got up immediately. He wasn't sweating at all anymore. The breeze which blew through across the garden had aired his body dry.
"That's it for today."
"Thank you for your guidance."
Facing Lintence's retreating back after he had finished speaking, the child lowered his head. Like other children, those clear eyes seemed to reflect absolutely nothing, but in reality they were unconsciously absorbing everything before him and adding them to his understanding.
To this child, training his body was merely a confirmation process through which he could reproduce what he saw before him.
Leaving behind the child to self-training, Lintence returned to the palace.
There was a youth standing there. He was watching what was going on in the garden.
"So that's the new guy?"
That pair of hypnotic eyes that attracted womens' obsessions stared without reserve at the child's actions.
That child was Layfon.
"Why are you specially training him?"
"To kill time, I guess."
"It really is a great way to burn time, eh? I actually thought it was some game to protect this stupid kid who showed up out of nowhere."
The youth's name was Troyatte. One of the Heaven's Blades.
"The purpose is clearer than that."
"I know. But that child is the only person here that I didn't know before he became a Heaven's Blade Receiver. Only Ojou-chans who never leave their homes would think that that alone was enough to accomplish his goals. We're pretty annoyed by this as well, and even Ruimei-ossan is tired of him. What are you guys planning?"
"Really? So none of us get to fight?"
"That's brilliant! As long as I can sleep in a woman's bed its fine, nothing else could possibly better. I'm so happy I'm about to cry."
From his purposely opened palms he seemed unbiased and genuinely happy.
However in the next moment Troyatte's expression instantly darkened.
"Can't even be a bad guy, quite pitiful eh?"
The meaning of his words were very clear.
Minse had failed.
That wasn't to say that his attempt was exposed. If it was exposed, that pretty much meant failure. If it was a Heaven's Blade Receiver, surely he would understand that point.
Minse could only play the role of the pitiful clown.
Even though he understood...
"They're plotting something as well, right?"
The Heaven's Blade Receivers that were assisting Minse. And there were three.
"It was probably Kalvan-ossan's bad habit of meddling too much which caused this kind of result. If they just ignore that extra troublesome guy it'd probably be fine. But what's the status of the other two guys? Are they obstacles like Kalvan? Hey, this isn't good, you're not even that old and you're already being shackled down by all these conspiracies. Youths should just act like youths and live life passionately in order to get something out of it, shouldn't they?"
Having said this, Troyatte was after all, barely twenty years old.
"Compared to you who's only passionate about women, I think I'm a lot better."
"What? Boss is the type that prefers revolution?"
"How could I be, such a troublesome thing."
"I guess not. I guess Boss who left his previous city purely because it was too troublesome would never say something like that. Well, it's just that I can't tell how much of all this trouble Boss talks about is real, and how much is just you pretending."
"If you don't know then please shut that oily slick voice of yours up, otherwise I might actually leave, ne? And also, don't come too close; you have too much perfume on."
"Well, after all Boss is an ojii-san, so please don't infect me with your outdated tastes."
After having a go at each other, the two each went their own way. In the garden, Layfon was still doing his self-training. It's only been a month but he was already familiar with the basic usage of the steel threads. And adding on top of that his own abilities, there was no real problem using them in battle.
(Well, maybe not quite ready yet.)
Layfon was still not aware of the horror of the steel threads. Without tasting the effects of the weapon that he was using, he still couldn't say that his understanding of it was flawless.
Troyatte had already lost interest in Layfon and left.
Lintence also started moving away.
At this time, an announcement came echoing across the sky.
"The filth monster is currently getting closer. A Mature Phase Stage 2. It will come within the battle area in two days."
It was as if the sounds some obaa-san was making as she sat under the sun had been transmitted right to their ears.
Near the walkway's patio floated a Psychokinesis flake.
This was Delbone's voice.
Even though she was now an obaa-san who was lying in a hospital, her Psychokinesis showed no sign of weakening.
"Yes, it'll arrive around midday."
Somebody probably asked a question. The voice in the flake answered the question casually. It was as if the flake let you see her pondering the problem.
"You have to eat lunch properly. You can't skip, ok? If you don't eat properly you won't grow."
The person asking the question was probably Cauntia or Barmelin.
"Uh, uh, there's no need to measure a woman's charm with a man's scale. That's obvious. But a woman with charm can't evade the looks of men. Hence, they can't evade mens' measuring gazes, right?"
"There it is again, getting talked down by Cauntia."
Behind, Troyatte revealed a bitter smile.
"Stop it guys. The battle area will be roughly ten kilomels north-west off the outer edge of the city. There's no need to use the land rollers. You don't need any travel time either. Is this ok?"
The question was directed towards Alsheyra.
"Yeah. I got it. Then, Lintence go backup, Layfon go attack. Lintence, you better support Layfon properly. And Layfon, even though you're a child, you are already an outstanding Heaven's Blade Receiver, so go do your best."
In the midair garden, Layfon nodded to the flake in front of him several times.
"Good. A very good answer. I like kids with spirit. When you grow a bit older, I'll introduce you to my granddaughter."
"Delbone-sama, if you happen to know a young and charming woman, please introduce her to me."
"Troyatte, if you could place all your attentions on one woman only, I would introduce you to an exceptional beauty."
"That really is a harsh request."
"Then please give up. Ayaya, Kalvan-sama, can you not show such a gloomy and unhappy face? You should live your life a little more leisurely."
"Then everyone, I hope it's a pleasant battlefield." After saying this, Delbone's voice could no longer be heard.
The flake left from above Lintence's head.
Leaving the palace's corridors, leaving the midair garden, probably returning to their surveillance of the city.
A pleasant battlefield, eh...
Lintence pondered as he walked.
As to the reason for throwing away the city he had grown up in, then it would be because the environment there didn't have anything that could equal his strength.
A city where nothing really happened, a peaceful city where nothing would happen. There was nothing that he needed to protect with his life there, and he didn't know how much time would pass by before the city ran into a mature phase filth monster. Just a second stage male would be great already. Just that would be a huge deal for his city, but for Lintence that kind of level couldn't even be considered any opposition, merely an enemy.
It definitely couldn't be considered a pleasant battle.
Deciding to leave the city for a while was also because he discovered his great desire for danger.
The thing known as greatness is very difficult to maintain with a relaxed frame of mind. Seeing his steel threads wire technique, which he had bet his life on training and mastering, gradually rusting from not having a place to be used made him deeply felt how hollow his current life was.
It was during his twentieth year that he felt this.
And so he left his city.
The following five years, he lived a wandering life.
He arrived at Grendan because he heard it to be a city that had gone mad. He heard rumors of a city which frequently ran into filth monsters, a city which roamed in the danger zone. It was as if that city was taking the initiative and actually wanted to battle with the filth monsters, continuously fighting all year round.
So he arrived here.
If the rumors were true, then he could probably fully unleash his strength.
And the result far exceeded his expectations.
Because in his first encounter, he had allowed his arrogant self to taste defeat.
"You're very strong, onii-san."
Yes, a girl roughly the same age as Layfon right now wove through all of the steel threads that Lintence had released. And not only that, even when the steel threads bound her up, shredded her skin and flesh, they failed to give her even a single trace of a wound, and like that well known phrase, the bridge of his nose was broken. [In Japanese culture, breaking the bridge of a person's nose is associated with the defeat of an arrogant person.]
"Do you want to prove that you are great? Then enter the competition, so that you're recognized here."
The girl said this in an aloof banter with her foot atop Lintence's stomach, as he lay there with blood steadily flowing out of his nose.
"If you do that, sooner or later I'll have you experience a battlefield that makes you sigh 'ah, I'm so glad I'm not there.'"
He hadn't been on such a battlefield yet.
There did exist a battlefield which satisfied him a little. At least it was a billion times better than staying in his hometown, rusting.
But could he be satisfied with just that?
Please stop joking.
"I won't rest until I see it with my own eyes."
Lintence mumbled, directing it towards Alsheyra, no longer standing before him. After that, he returned to the palace.
The emergency alarm rang out across Grendan.
"Then let's go."
Layfon said this as he used an emergency use backpack to carry his younger brothers and sisters on his back.
The young children were running, revealing the urgent atmosphere. But that was just the mood of the bright children, excited by just leaving their front door.
It definitely wasn't the urgency of possible loss of life, that sort of sorrowful atmosphere.
"Ah, Layfon. Why are you wearing those clothes?"
Turning back, he saw his childhood friend standing there, her eyebrows creased.
"Isn't the new training uniform folded up nicely over there? Really."
"It's okay. I'm changing out of these pretty soon anyway."
"No. You're unpresentable."
Even though she said this, he obviously didn't have enough time to change clothes. As Leerin grumbled, she tried to make the wrinkles in his shirt less conspicuous, tugging on the collar and the sleeves. Layfon stood there uncomfortably, silently allowing Leerin to fix his attire.
"Make sure you do it properly next time."
Hearing Layfon's half-hearted answer, Leerin pinched Layfon's cheeks.
He was obviously acting.
"Don't get injured."
"No problem. Didn't I safely return all those times before? I'll return safely this time as well."
Before Layfon had become a Heaven's Blade Receiver, Layfon had already fought on the battlefield. In Grendan, those who didn't achieve a certain amount of results in the competitions weren't allowed to fight on the battlefield, and they also couldn't receive the Military Artists' grants. And the young Military Artists' grants would only be given until fifteen.
Layfon had been participating in the competitions since two years ago.
After achieving his goal in the first competition, he started participating in every battle he was allowed to fight in.
If one went onto the battlefield, a Military Artist's grants would be more than others. Layfon gave all of that money to the orphanage.
"But today you're alone, right?"
Leerin looked at the Dite belt strung around her childhood friend's waist. On it hung a unique Dite.
Today was Layfon's first battle as a Heaven's Blade Receiver.
"Lintence-sama will be there as well. That person is very strong. So there's no problems."
Him saying this didn't lessen Leerin's worry at all.
"Then let's make a promise."
Leerin was stunned by Layfon's proposal.
"A promise I'll definitely come back safely. So, you have to make me a week's worth of food without any green vegetables whatsoever."
"Uh-uh. If you don't eat properly you won't grow. Isn't that what Lucia-neesan said?"
Lucia was a girl who was helping with the cooking recently, and was the one responsible for working in the kitchen before Leerin. Also, she was the one who had taught Layfon and Leerin how to cook.
"So mean. Fine, I got it."
Layfon nodded his head very unwillingly, and after raising his hand and shouting goodbye he turned and left the orphanage. The younger brothers and sisters shouted towards his retreating back. Layfon waved back at them before leaping out.
Leerin sent Layfon off as she watched his shadow leaving, using his emergency high speed dash, flying across rooftops as she whispered.
"You clearly have nothing that you don't like eating."
But they had already made their promise.
Now she could only believe in him.
A late Layfon saw what the uniform he was going to wear outside of the city looked like.
It was a delicate grass-green-colored pollution isolation suit. Next to it was placed a helmet marked with 'Wolfstein.' The suit itself was labeled with Wolfstein, indicating the accessories were made especially for him. Although it didn't affect movement very much, it would still probably create a bit more wind resistance. But for Heaven's Blade Receivers, they had to carefully take into account that sort of minute detail as well.
But also, Heaven's Blade Receivers were a symbolic existence. Sometimes, when battling large numbers of filth monsters, their existence can improve the performance of other Military Artists, so they can't neglect the ornaments on their uniforms.
"Isn't sensei wearing a protective uniform?"
Even though he hadn't been ordered to be addressed as such, Layfon still called Lintence "sensei."
"You're the only one leaving the city."
Layfon had some doubts, as Lintence prevented the technical support members from getting close to him as he continued to wear his normal clothes.
"This is your battle. I'm just insurance. I'll deal with the guys you leave out. The next time there are orders it'll just be you by yourself. Don't embarrass yourself."
The obediently nodding child didn't have a look of fear at all. Because he was a child, his only reaction to anything in the world that he didn't understand was indifference. That pair of eyes no longer had their usual look.
A very good expression.
He had gotten rid of any emotions. It was an expression reflecting Layfon concentrating all his thoughts into the upcoming battle.
(The young child made such an expression. Was this a lamentable occurrence...?)
Having once lived in a peaceful city when he was young, he considered it.
However, he didn't have too many feelings on that point. And he didn't really think it was lamentable.
If one really wanted to dig towards the roots in search of the person to blame, then that would be the adults who made this child make such an expression.
Taking it a step further, in the entirety of Grendan, how many children other than Layfon could make such an expression?
That is to say, Layfon was a unique example.
"You still don't know how to use the steel threads, you understand that, right?"
Wearing only equipment for traveling outside a city, Lintence made all the technical support members go away. Layfon lifted his head to look at the helmet, playing with the buckle, and walked up to Lintence.
"For a person who originally uses a Katana, this fight will be rather constrained. But this is a battle that you have chosen, so just fight as you like."
Layfon showed a moment of surprise, but it vanished immediately from his face.
"There's no problem, I've made a promise with her to get home safely. If I provoke her anger, she's terrifying."
Although he didn't know who Layfon had made this promise with, it was fine, seeing how he was speaking with such passion.
Layfon took the helmet, strapping it on properly. After checking the connectors for gaps, Lintence slapped him on his back.
After the stairs opened up leading below, Layfon jumped out.
"Then, I wonder if the comedy over there will be able to meet expectations?"
Moving towards the outer edge of the city, Lintence whispered silently, the words never carrying across to that midair garden within the palace.
At the same time, in the midair garden.
The emergency alert was already fading, and the city had sunk into silence. Strong winds were blowing roughly beyond the air filter. Someone experienced could detect the approach of filth monsters in that wind condition. However, in Grendan, there were few days when the wind was calm. That's why inversely, in Grendan, people who could detect filth monsters only from the outside were rare.
All most people know is that on calm days, roaming buses are more likely to arrive.
Alsheyra laid on a long bench in a corner of the midair garden.
Hands resting on the arm rests, sleeping. The emergency alert did not wake her up. For the sake of sleeping here, she purposely stayed up all night. She had no intention of simply waking up.
She slept so deeply that she wouldn’t even have any dreams.
Strong wind from outside couldn’t reach inside because of the air filter. A breeze stroked her cheek, blowing her hair gently. Warm sunshine bathed her whole body. The perfect conditions for basking in the sun and taking an afternoon nap had been met.
Yet Alsheyra’s eyes were awake.
“What the hell is this?”
There was not even the hazy feeling one gets after waking up. The body was claiming lack of sleep. Her body stressed that it hadn’t slept enough, but despite that, Alsheyra woke completely from her slumber.
“Jeez, I really wish you did it more simply, y'know. Even among the Heaven’s Blades, You're the number one Sakkei user, right? Get a grip a little more, Kanaris!"
At those words, the people standing at the entrance of the Royal Garden trembled.
“Or is this not your fault, I wonder? Ah, that's right, you didn't have any bloodthirst. If you had a moment more, you could’ve approached about another ten steps, I think? If that’s the case, then who? Whose fault is this, I wonder? Kalvan? Savaris? Or is it Minse? All members come here for a moment!”
Alsheyra stood there with her hands on her hips, shouting.
Kanaris stood there, stunned, before hurriedly stepping forward, followed by Savaris and Kalvan. And lastly was Minse’s silhouette.
"I don't want to hear any excuses"
Alsheyra cut off Kalvan’s explanation.
"What is this unsightly behavior? You came for an assassination didn't you? Show more backbone."
At Alsheyra's rebuke, everyone was unable to move.
"It is very like us to express objections with military might, however the fact that you can’t even express the ‘suc’ in success is really lamentable. Especially for me. I've been really excited about this you know. Working through the night, I was filled with weariness as I waited here. Do you understand? The troubles that I went that far for has been made into nothing. Would you like some of my leftover anger as change?"
Her displeasure from sleep deprivation showed through as Alsheyra glared at the four of them.
“Ah, man. You wasted it all. What a bad feeling. I can’t take this. I’ve got no more energy. Minse, you have to take responsibility. If you can’t find something interesting that’ll make me laugh, then I’ll have to start the punishment game.”
Facing the various responsibilities he had to take, Minse shuddered.
“......You, it was because you didn’t let me participate in the competition that everything became like this!”
Unable to bear any more of Alsheyra’s slow scolding, Minse shouted out.
“Why can a ten year old child participate, yet I cannot? I can only imagine this was the doing of some sort of Almonise family conspiracy.”
“Hah, a conspiracy? Aren’t you getting a bit too far ahead of yourself? You’ve never participated in an official competition, have you? Those with insufficient results aren’t allowed to participate in the selection battles, right? You didn’t think that you would get special treatment just because you’re part of the three royal families, did you? Even Tig-jii followed the process step by step as well, didn’t he?”
“Ok, that’s that. Well? I’m sure the rest of you did something like this because you were displeased for one reason or another, right? Well, let’s hear it in order, starting from Kalvan.”
“Recently, Your Majesty’s Heaven’s Blade examination standards......”
“For those who have skills matching yours, and gain recognition in proper order in accordance with the laws, should I not give him a Heaven’s Blade? It’s what the Royal family is here to do. Ok, rejected. Next.”
Kalvan powerlessly drooped his head. The next person to speak, Savaris was lightly smiling as he began weaving his speech.
“I want to fight Your Majesty.”
“Is that all?”
“Uh-huh. I’m not like those other people who consider this world in such a complicated way. I only wanted to fight with Your Majesty, so I accepted Minse-sama’s request is all.”
“Sigh~ That’s so damn boring. Next?”
Kanaris kept her head lowered and said nothing. However she quickly whipped out her Dite from her belt and restored it. The hilt of the sword had a decorated guard, and the sword was very slender...... it was a rapier.
“Oya? Kanaris had the same intentions? Really? Ah.”
Looking at Kanaris’ silent, intense, glare, Alsheyra revealed a confounded expression, but that quickly changed into a smile.
“Ok, then so be it. If you guys can beat me, perhaps I will take what you guys said into consideration.”
“Then what about what I said?”
“As long as we battle, it’ll all be good, won’t it?”
“Well, I guess so.”
Savaris stood up as well, restoring the Dite on his hands and feet.
“What will you do, Kalvan-sama?”
“......Since it’s already gotten to this stage, I don’t suppose I have any choice.”
Saying this, Kalvan also restored his Dite. It was a great sword.
“For now, I want to make that ‘perhaps’ a certainty.”
“Oya? Is it that you have confidence in beating me?”
“I’ve never gone into battle thinking that I would lose.”
The Kei around Kalvan began to expand, making the flowers in the garden tremble, and even the trees were beginning to shiver. Kalvan’s tall and solid body let out a golden aura. The high density Kei being gathered in tandem with his fighting style was also undergoing change. The golden Kei was almost like a viscous liquid, as it seethed around him, still floating around Kalvan.
“...You Majesty, before, you wanted to ask us, if we could ever hope to defeat you with just this kind of level, right?”
“From the start, I never thought about assassination......”
What immediately followed these words no longer sounded like a spoken language.
The golden Kei which was revolving about Kalvan suddenly rushed towards Alsheyra.
“......but about fighting it out with you fair and square!”
Alsheyra wanted to move her wrist, but she was blocked by something.
It was an External-type Burst Kei Variant, Armed Sword.
It was a move Kalvan created himself. It was normally used as an armor, with the half materialized kei surrounding his whole body. Although its defense wasn’t as strong as Kongoukei, but it was like a liquid which could congeal instantly into blades the moment anything approached it.
It was different from creating Kei of the same hardness and defensive strength as Kongoukei. It was a sort of pre-emptive defensive measure.
That thing was currently wrapped around Alsheyra’s body, binding her with hardness and stickiness akin to industrial grade rubber.
But it couldn’t hold for long.
They had no intention to wait for it to break.
At this moment, Savaris and Kanaris mobilized.
In the moment it took to shake off the Armed Sword Kei, the two had closed in on Alsheyra.
They didn’t use any special techniques, but the fist and the sword were strikes charged with their respective owners' Kei.
If they couldn’t break through with one point of attack, then they would break through with two. Two Heaven’s Blade-level Kei energies came rushing from different directions.
The Midair Flower Garden shook intensely. The garden was filled with sounds of explosions and flashes of light. Evading with difficulty, Minse was sent flying into the wall joining the Midair Flower Garden the outer walkway by a full body hit.
As Minse landed within the doorway, his whole body was wracked with pain, but as he untwisted his body he expressed his confidence.
(With that, I’m sure she’s been gotten rid of.)
But Minse still didn’t notice.
His own naive understanding.
As the last heir of the main branch to the Eutnohl family, one of the three Royal Families living a greenhouse life within the Grendan Military Arts world, he couldn’t understand.
The force of their own strikes also blasted the three Heaven’s Blade Receivers apart from the center.
The lawn in the flower garden had been torn up, the soil lining the flower garden was scattered about, and the stones beneath the soil could be seen. It was like a small scale meteorite crater.
The dust scattered about in the center gradually settled.
“Uwah~ Well, I guess you guys get a ‘pass.’ ”
The voice ranged hair out from the center.
“To limit the damage around you to a minimum, you opened out two Armed Swords? Quite befitting your hardworking personality, Kalvan. But I’m quite fond of this place, so it’s great that this place hasn’t been wrecked.”
Alsheyra was standing there.
On that beautiful face of hers, there wasn’t a single speck of dust. She merely stood there, unperturbed.
Minse’s voice quivered, making incomprehensible noises.
That Alsheyra stood there without a single injury in that soil crater was an unbelievable sight for Minse.
A pained expression appeared on Kalvan’s face, and even Savaris smiled bitterly. Only Kanaris stood there, expressionless, although her eyebrows were slightly furrowed.
“But I should take off points for not being able to restrain me just like that, right? Well, I can sympathize seeing how you guys made the decision to give up after understanding you were defeated.”
“Thank you very much.”
The only one obediently lowering his head was Savaris.
“As expected, teamwork you haphazardly created won’t do very much, Kalvan-sama.”
“......It seems that way.”
Kalvan opened out his Armed Sword yet again. The golden Kei wrapped itself around his body anew.
“Then we’ll just have to act according to the situation of the battle on our own.”
“I suppose those are some good words.”
Agreeing to Kalvan’s suggestion, the three silently increased their Kei pressure. That’s all they did, but it began to warp the airflow. The intense Kei flow expelled the air, and created a strong gale.
It was as if the Midair Flower Garden was in the eye of a hurricane.
But in the center of that......
“Didn’t I say that I was kind of partial to this place? If you guys go all out, then it would be very troublesome, and you would break this place. Which – is – why......”
Alsheyra raised a finger.
Closing an eye, with a coquettish expression on her face, she quietly whispered.
“Let’s end this here ☆~”
What happened in the next instant was something that Minse would probably never be able to explain.
Victory was decided just like that.
The wilderness was just as wild and rough as its name suggested.
Despite wearing shoes with strong soles made specifically to cater for this, he could still feel that intense feeling penetrate throughout his body. Layfon carefully stepped on the ground as he marched forward, finally arriving at the point ten kilomels out from the north-easternmost edge of the city.
His target had already entered his line of sight.
Layfon pulled out his Dite and restored it.
The Heaven’s Blade.
A Platinum Dite appeared in his hands.
Even the weight of Grendan’s mysterious platinum could be adjusted according to the user’s wishes. Normally, one would have to compromise some aspect of density, hardness, viscosity, shape, or conductivity. But the Heaven’s Blade had no such issues.
Regardless of the hardness of the Dite, it was possible to make it whatever weight was convenient for the user. It was hard to break, and it could change to any shape freely.
The only setting Layfon was particular about was weight. As for the others, he entrusted them to the special Heaven’s Blade technicians.
“You’re the first Heaven’s Blade to say such a thing. Is it because you’re young, that you underestimate the value of a weapon?”
Looking at Layfon silently listening to his criticism, the old technician finally revealed a defeated expression, giving up attempting to persuade him, and set the sword to match Layfon’s physique.
(It’s just a sword anyway.)
As long as it could be set to the same weight that his wrist was used to, than anything else would be fine. All he needed to remember was that part and forget everything else.
That’s all the awareness he had for a sword. That weight he was so used to in his hands would quickly become a part of his body. The Kei spread out like the nervous system, making the inflow of Kei into the sword even more complete.
Was this the result of training under Lintence with the steel threads in the past month? Like being able to send Kei into his sword the same way his Kei would instinctively flow into his muscles. Even though his fighting stance was a little forced when he fought with the sword, it could still achieve what was desired.
This wasn’t just a feeling.
With this sort of ability, couldn’t he toss the blade into the air and manipulate it freely? Maybe he should try next time.
Even Layfon wasn’t brave enough to just toss it into the midst of a battle.
The enemy was getting closer.
Layfon reached into a small pack on his waist and retrieved two small objects, and tossed them skyward. The two arced across in a parabola, and using his External Type Kei, Layfon shattered them.
The shattered objects turned into yellow dust and scattered about in all four directions.
It was a kind of dried animal fat. After other refining steps, it could be made into soap. But right now it wasn’t like that. It was just to give the surroundings the smell of life.
Would the filth monsters react to the scent of living things? Naturally, people would ask such questions. But results were definitely produced. In terms of larvae moving in large herds, it could drastically change their movement routes.
But as for older filth monsters, the effect was minimal.
For Mature Phase filth monsters, it was impossible to tell if it even had any effect. The Technical Department had once told him that. But regardless, this was the first time he had fought a Mature Phase. Everyone bestowed their experience upon Layfon.
As if it were cautious, the Mature Phase didn’t change its bearing, but it noticed the existence of a tiny life form en route to Grendan. Although, it wasn’t affected by the smell, but by Layfon’s shadow.
A Mature Phase Stage 2, just as Delbone predicted.
As it got closer, the Mature Phase revealed that mysterious body shape. Like a bug in its larval state, when it shed, it would get rid of its legs, and specialize into a flying form. But the Mature Phase purged even its insect form, transforming into something akin to a reptile.
There was some doubt.
All of Grendan’s filth monster researchers held doubts.
Because of the lack of nutrition when growing up as filth monsters, they would attack cities. And when they transformed into Mature Phases, they would become extremely hungry.
Then why would there be some many Mature Phases in the area that Grendan wandered?
If cities in the same region were annihilated, it was impossible for the news to not spread to Grendan. But they didn’t hear of such reports of other cities being destroyed.
Then, couldn’t the Filth Monsters reproduce through the pollutants and cannibalism?
Then, why would they attack humans?
For Layfon, he couldn’t understand this.
But Delbone gave this answer.
“If you’re talking about diet, mankind can survive by only eating wild vegetation as well. Then why would they eat meat? And this is every kind of creature. Do we reproduce just to eat? That’s not all, we’ve also created various kinds of dishes and desserts. Why is this? Because they give humankind a kind of enjoyment. Can we just assume that Filth Monsters don’t know of this kind of enjoyment?”
Although he wasn't totally uninterested, he certainly wasn’t able to understand the Filth Monsters' feelings.
The Filth Monster near him was exactly as Delbone described: it had just entered the Mature Stage a week ago.
“Arara...... I’ve made a little mistake.”
From within the helmet came the voice of an obaa-san who seemed to be in a good mood.
“What is it?”
“At first I thought there were two, but it seems there’s only one.”
What Layfon saw before him were indeed two filth monsters. Some distance off, climbing below Grendan was a body far larger than those supporting pillars, sporting a pair of semi-transparent wings. Long and sharp teeth could be seen protruding from that long and strange mouth. Only the eyes were like those of a bug’s, with a pair of dark green glass ball eyes.
Those two looked as if they were stacked atop each other and flying.
“No, no, please look carefully. They’re linked together at their tail section, right? It’s like when dragonflies mate. It’s because there are two heads, so I got it wrong. I’m sorry.”
“Ah...... No problem.”
Compared to two, one was still a lot easier...... was what Layfon thought.
“The battlefield isn’t somewhere you can get careless, okay?”
As if reading Layfon’s mind, came those words of warning. Although obaa-san’s words weren’t actually severe, they were like water seeping into soil, irrefutable.
They no longer had any time to be having a conversation.
“Well, I hope you have an enjoyable fight.”
Once again hearing those words he heard two days ago, Delbone’s voice vanished, and following immediately, the Mature Phase opened its two huge mouths, and rushed towards Layfon with urgency.
Layfon jumped up, avoiding it.
The Mature Phase’s lower half smashed the hard ground apart. The upper half was chasing Layfon as he rapidly ascended. Tugging the lower half after it, the two halves eventually switched places.
It was as if they were twining around each other as they chased Layfon.
After adjusting his posture midair, Layfon engaged the Mature Phase in attack.
External-type burst Kei, Sendan.
The blade emitted brightly colored Kei. A paper-thin shockwave cut through a part of the Mature Phase’s wing and sliced the tail section where the two were connected.
The Filth Monster’s two halves let out a fierce wail. The scream itself had a lot of force behind it, completely sending Layfon’s small body flying.
If you said a creature had two heads, then a ten-year-old child won’t understand. Could you not kill it even if you cut off a head? As for the Mature Phases that came in all shapes and sizes, all that he had heard about them was that the scales on their heads were extremely hard.
Then, what about the section that connected the two bodies together? Although he had suspicions like a child’s curiosity, it was a fact that that part moved the least and was the easiest to target.
The Sendan beautifully divided the tail portion into two. From the wound came spraying out a viscous liquid.
However, the two separated parts were both still moving individually.
“What’re you talking about; this is clearly two Mature Phase filth monsters.”
Although he was unable to kill the filth monster, Layfon was hardly depressed at all. At any rate, he should land before worrying about anything else. The enraged Mature Phase filth monsters performed even more complex movements than when it was whole, in order to get closer to Layfon while preventing his escape.
Layfon didn’t retreat or evade, and instead took a deep breath on the spot. His breath temporarily fogged up his line of sight through the helmet.
Layfon was filled with Kei. In that moment with the heat pressing down on his whole body –
He gathered it all on his blade.
External-type burst Kei, Gouken (Resounding Blade).
The blade of the sword became wider and longer, transforming into a huge sword taller than Layfon. A sword that had been infused with Kei. This was a technique that could be used by any Military Artist of a sword-using style. However, normal Dites were unable to withstand the highly concentrated Kei that Layfon emitted and would self-destruct. For normal Military Artists, they were unable to use the technique to such an extent as to cause the blade to self-destruct. That’s why, for Layfon, if he didn’t have the Heaven’s Blade he was unable to use this technique.
Even at birth, Layfon possessed an enormous amount of Kei.
Was he adopted only because of that? He had also thought about this before. However, it was only because he had this power, that he could become a Heaven’s Blade.
By becoming a Heaven’s Blade he could even better help the orphanage.
When Layfon was very young, he realized that this was what life is all about. It was fortune and misfortune blended together. One moment of fortune was the result of overcoming many misfortunes, and a series of misfortunes laid the foundation for happiness to come.
Of course he wanted good fortune to come. It was because of his talent that allowed him to be adopted. However, it was thanks to this that he was able to meet Derek and Leerin. However, because they were in an orphanage, they experienced many tragedies as a result of the lack of food. But because he was a Military Artist, he could rely on his Military Artist grants to slightly ease the orphanage’s suffering. And in order to never be in such a state again, he decided to fully utilize his own abilities to become a Heaven’s Blade.
After becoming a Heaven’s blade, there was definitely the happiness that he was awaiting for. Layfon firmly believed this.
And then, he became a Heaven’s Blade.
The huge sword was one that even adult Military Artists couldn’t properly grip, yet Layfon wielded it with ease. He aimed at the circling Mature Phase. Making a feint, he rushed towards the Mature Phase in front of him, stepping on its forehead and jumping once again, somersaulting in the air.
As Layfon twisted in the air, the two halves collided with each other before his eyes. There was a resounding boom. The vibrations from the sound shook the outside of the contamination suit, and the sound of small pebbles striking the helmet could be heard.
Layfon held the gigantic sword in a reverse grip and landed on the Mature Phase’s back.
Then he plunged the sword into it.
And pulled out the Heaven’s Blade.
All that was left was the Dite-infused blade of the sword.
He then jumped up.
The remaining Gouken was blasted apart. It transformed into numerous Sendan, and sliced the Mature Phase’s body all over.
Escaping from the chaos of the storm of scattered Sendan, Layfon mentally pumped his fist. He had always wanted to know if he could do this, and he had always trained in his mind. And the result made Layfon felt very satisfied.
(Is it possible to focus the direction of the explosions onto a single point? If he can immediately get to that level next time......)
As he was thinking this, he landed and ran beside the Mature Phase’s body.
The effective area of the Gouken explosion was even smaller than he had imagined. Even though this was something for him to improve on later, at least he had managed to dispatch a Mature Phase. As long as it was effective, it was ok...... thought Layfon as he ran.
Suddenly, the back of the Filth Monster cracked open.
It wasn’t the result of the Gouken. From the vibrations he felt underfoot, it seemed that the cracking had come from within.
Something was surging out from within.
Before any sound from the cracking could be heard, Layfon had already jumped.
The scales and flesh of the Mature Phase burst open, and from it surged countless larvae.
This probably counted as his carelessness, right? In the prior lectures about Mature Phases he had heard that among filth monsters they were the ones who had given up the ability to reproduce. He had also heard that if filth monsters wanted to reproduce they had to molt into the Female form.
And he heard one more thing about Mature Phases.
There were strange Transforming types.
The pair in front of his eyes were exactly that type.
The two in front of him looked to be a pair. They were clearly Mature Phase, but they hadn’t given up the ability to reproduce. Or rather, they had become Mature Phases that had found some abnormal way to reproduce.
At any rate, in order to escape the larvae that were gushing out of the Mature Phases’ body, Layfon jumped.
He was a fraction of a second too slow.
His shoe was caught on a larva. It reduced his jumping power by a lot. The silver lining in the cloud was the fact that only the sole of the shoe had been caught. It was just that the sole of the shoe was shaved away a little, and hadn’t made a hole through which pollutants could seep through.
However, the momentum of his jump had been reduced, and it undeniably caused Layfon to lose his balance.
Without any threats to it, the Mature Phase did not fail to take advantage of that opening.
It opened its maw to swallow up Layfon.
“Ara ara, Layfon has been swallowed.”
“Oh, is that so?”
Lintence was standing alone on the outskirts of the city and hearing Delbone’s words allowed him to understand the situation. Although the sense of touch from the steel wires allowed a general understanding of the situation, the information it delivered couldn’t be compared to the precision of Psychokinesis.
The Mature Phase flew towards the sky. For the moment, Lintence took care of the Larvae that were overflowing.
“What are you going to do?”
“He’s still alive, right?”
“His life signal is very clear.”
“The protective suit should be able to resist the digestive fluids of the Filth Monster for a few hours.”
“Yes, I’ve heard that it can.”
“Then I’m sure he’ll be able to solve the problem on his own.”
“Ara, so harsh. Isn’t he your disciple?”
From the way Delbone spoke it seemed she was extremely interested by Lintence’s reaction.
“I never intended to take him as my disciple. I’m only teaching him a little. Also, if he’s struggling at just this level of an opponent, what is he going to do in the future?”
“Even if that is the case, regardless of what you say he’s still just a child. He’s like a grandchild to me. If he died in battle like this, wouldn't it be rather young?”
“If the city is destroyed, then there will be children even younger than him who will perish. Isn’t it the Military Artist’s duty to protect them? That they would die in battle was something that they never put into consideration. Weak Military Artists don’t have any value in their existence.”
This was the cold blooded reality of the battlefield. However, Layfon understood these principles from a young age.
And like this, without any unnecessary reserve, without any unnecessary blame, he underwent the baptism of these principles.
“Although I don’t have children, there’s also a time to spoil children, is there not?”
“I love my grandson very much, though. His parents can take care of his education.”
She clearly indicated that it had absolutely nothing to do with her, and passed the responsibility of education onto Lintence.
“Really, such careless words.”
“Of course, if you asked why, it’s because I've already experienced this sort of hard work. It’s obvious that this sort of work should be done by those who’ve never experienced it...... ara.”
Halfway through their conversation, Delbone’s attention seemed to have wandered off elsewhere.
After a brief pause, she started talking to Lintence once more.
“A message from Her Majesty. Bring Layfon to the Palace Garden.”
“Tell her we’re in the middle of a battle.”
“Her Majesty understands this.”
“How disorganized. What reason is there to act upon a child’s impulse?”
“You see, that child was orphaned very young, so Her Majesty has no choice but to take over the responsibilities of a parent, right?”
“I can’t take this anymore......”
Lintence, moved his body a little, and the steel wires abided by their master’s will and silently began to move.
After confirming that the steel wires had wrapped around the Mature Phase that was coming this way, Lintence had still not moved a finger and used the various rocky outcrops within a few kilomels of the Regios to restrain it.
“Tell her Majesty to increase the density of the air purification machine. At this rate the pollutants will get into the city.”
“Even if you didn’t say it, Her Majesty would have done it anyway.”
Dispersing the strong resistance resulting from the extremely heavy weight among the various rocky outcrops, Lintence started his large scale fishing activity.
Going back in time a little.
Alsheyra was considering how to deal with the scene before her.
“In any case, your Majesty, please forgive us.”
Kalvan was kneeling before Alsheyra. His clothes were tattered and dirty, and blood was oozing from all over his body. Although Savaris and Kanaris were able to stand up, after they did, they couldn't move a muscle.
The only one who couldn't move was Kalvan, so it probably had something to with the fact that he was the oldest, right?
(Well, even if age was a factor, it shouldn’t have that much of an effect, right?)
Alsheyra thought to herself. His physical body was already past its peak, and even now the downwards trend could be seen. However, being unable to match up to two young people just because of this is inexcusable.
Compared to those things, what she cared about most was Kalvan’s attitude.
“......Was this your plan from the very start?”
Alsheyra furrowed her eyebrows, glaring at Kalvan who had lowered his head, kneeling.
“The incident this time is definitely disloyal behavior, and it’s irreversible. But taking her Majesty’s circumstances into consideration, we did this precisely for those who, for the sake of protecting the Bloodlines, could not be born.”
“Then, are you saying that the fault lies with the system of the Three Royal Families?”
Kalvan had stood on Minse’s side because he wanted to take up the role of a problem solver. Of course, he was also displeased by Alsheyra increasing the number of Heaven’s Blade Successors, but he was really here so that he could appeal to Alsheyra directly.
Which was why Minse was able to propose such a hare-brained plan to him.
And Kalvan didn’t reject the plan either, so it was probably that personality of his that lead to a result like this.
“Rather than say you like to work too hard, it’s better to say this situation was caused by that personality of yours. Go find a way to change it for me.”
“And you say this only now...... Till today I’ve lived my whole life with this personality, and I have no intention of changing it.”
Kalvan raised his head. His forehead was fractured, and blood was seeping out from the wound. Half his face was dyed crimson, and his eyes revealed a light that showed he wasn’t afraid of death. This made Alsheyra lose interest.
“......The Psyharden Dojo has decided to expand. Although I was going to pay for the grants, I’ll have all expenses paid by your three dojos.”
“I don’t want to break my sword over such a trivial matter.”
Not responding to Kalvan’s wishes, Alsheyra redirected her attention to the other two and looked at Savaris.
“Well, what about you? Are you satisfied?”
“Well, your Majesty is simply too strong.”
Suppressing his already broken left hand, Savaris replied with a smile. A glance at the sweat dripping off his forehead made it obvious that the smile was a forced one.
“And I was hoping to have a bit of a competition to see who was stronger.”
“That’s a little naive of you, isn’t it? Well, what about you, Kanaris?”
Kanaris knelt there, motionless. But everyone there noticed her quivering shoulders.
A trembling Kanaris gradually lifted her head. Her face was covered with dirt, and she spoke with faltering lips.
“......Your Majesty, you really don’t need us anymore.”
Faced with such unexpected words, Alsheyra was also very taken aback. The tears that cut across Kanaris’ cheeks as she raised her head looked like thin pieces of string being guided out from her eyes.
“Because......I was raised for the sake of becoming her Majesty’s shadow. And since her Majesty no longer needs me......”
Alsheyra touched her head, realizing what Kanaris meant.
Kanaris came from the dojo that was set up by the descendants of the three royal families. One aspect of the dojo was to foster children from the three royal families that didn’t become the heads of their respective families. At the same time members of this dojo were also responsible for the security of the Palace. These duties of course included the protection of her Royal Highness. And if they were protecting her Majesty during public ceremonies, then for Kanaris this also included the job of being a Kagemusha (protector in the shadows).
Kanaris’ abilities had surpassed those of her peers a long time ago, so she was raised within the Rivanesu Dojo as Alsheyra’s shadow. And Kanaris had responded to the Dojo’s expectations, becoming a Heaven’s Blade at just fifteen.
However, Alsheyra had denied Kanaris that post.
“That’s because you don’t look like me at all, right?”
“Something as trivial as that can be done with plastic surgery.”
Kanaris appealed while wiping her tears away.
“......Huh? You’ll get plastic surgery to match beauty such as mine?”
Alsheyra’s incredulous manner left everyone present dumbstruck.
And then Kanaris began bawling loudly.
“Wahh, I’m better off dead!”
Kanaris was completely serious, as she held her rapier in a reverse grip and thrust it towards her throat. Seeing this, Alsheyra instantly snatched the rapier from her hand.
“I can’t take this anymore, stop this right now!”
Even though she was deprived of her sword, Kanaris continued thrusting her empty hand towards her own throat. Alsheyra caught that hand with some difficulty, and after suppressing the suicidal Kanaris, the sound of someone’s laughter came drifting over from the walkway.
“It’s great to see that everyone is so lively.”
“Tig-jii, is this really the time to be laughing?”
Carefully controlling the Heaven’s Blade Successors who were rowdy like a bunch of little kids indeed needed some skill. It had made Alsheyra break out in sweat for the first time. Even if this had made the guest who had just arrived laugh aloud, she didn’t find this situation amusing in the least.
Tigris Noiran Ronsmier. He was a Heaven’s Blade Successor as well as the head of the last of the three Royal Families, the Ronsmier Family.
“Aren’t you going to do anything else other than laugh?”
“Kalvan, about you......”
Alsheyra immediately realized why Tigris had appeared at this place at this moment.
If you were to choose someone to take the role of troubleshooter and problem solver, then the man who was a Heaven’s Blade Successor, an elder second only to Delbone, and Alsheyra’s grandfather – Tigris – was ideal.
Although more than half his head had balded cleanly, the remaining hairs had also lost their luster. However, his face and body still radiated vitality.
“Even though the King holds absolute power, if he doesn’t tell his own thoughts to his subordinates frequently, then they will become disobedient, right?”
“But things like a Kagemusha (protector in the shadows), I don’t need that at all. Quite frankly, it’s a role that’s even more boring than being a Palace Guard. Other than Jii-jii and Minse, who else would try and assassinate me anyway?”
The fact is, when you compared the Palace Guards to the Heaven’s Blade Successors, they were definitely doing a redundant job. But it’s not like they were in anybody’s way either. As for those Palace Guards who patrolled between the Palace and the city wearing those resplendent uniforms all the time, they were the children who were not the heirs to the Royal Families. It was a job that didn’t bring shame to their respective Families, while acting as a buffer that allowed them to obediently become reborn as commoners.
Roles to protect the King from assassination were unnecessary as well. It wasn’t because Alsheyra was too strong, but because there was no point in assassinating the King.
Interaction with other Cities was minimal, and in truth, controlling other Cities was physically impossible, so killing the rulers of other Cities didn’t have any benefit at all. At the same time, in a political assassination situation like this, the only one who would plan an assassination would be those who benefitted most from it – those aligned with the Three Royal Families. And choosing the Palace Guards and Kagemusha from the Royal Families only increased the likelihood that they would become assassins.
It really was putting the cart before the horse.
And this job was one that was as idle as that of a palace guard, in other words, it was a decorative role borne out of the formality of official events.
“There isn’t any need to make a Heaven’s Blade serve that role, is there?”
“But there just happen to be people in this world who were raised for that specific purpose, and these people obviously hold strong convictions about the role they undertake. Please understand, your Majesty, that if you don’t want them restrained like that, then you must do something for them.”
“If you think it’s a bother, you might as well give her your recognition. Wouldn’t that solve all the problems?”
It was unclear when Kanaris had stopped crying, her eyes fixed upon Alsheyra.
The others were also waiting for what Alsheyra would say next.
“At any rate, I’ll hold a test. I don’t want my Kagemusha to be an idiot.”
Kanaris nodded her head happily. Alsheyra revealed an inexplicably bitter smile.
Alsheyra turned her gaze past the happily smiling Kanaris, and looked at the last person.
In all, she had dealt with the problems of the three Heaven’s Blades.
And after was......
Alsheyra watched Minse. The youth who had blankly watched the scenario unfold, turned ashen when he caught Alsheyra’s eyes.
“Tig-jii. What do you think we should do?”
Hearing this, Minse cast a look begging for help towards Tigris. However, the elder stroked his proud beard, ignoring Minse’s glances.
“After his brother left, only this child was left. It seems we’ve coddled him far too much. Punishing him will be a very appropriate decision.”
Hearing Tigris’ emotionless words, Minse’s ashen face suddenly turned a tragic white.
“It looks like my family has no choice but to subsidize the Psyharden Dojo to smooth this event over.”
“The continuous Heaven’s Blade inauguration ceremonies have made the Royal Coffers a little lonely. Even though they weren’t that extravagant anyway. At any rate, making me provide funds when the treasury is tight makes things very hard.”
“Then, what does your Majesty intend to do.”
“What should I do......”
Alsheyra pondered the problem briefly, and began conversing through some nearby Psychokinesis flakes with Delbone.
“It looks like that side hasn’t gone well either. Why don’t we have a punishment game?”
Minutes and seconds ticked by. But for Minse, that time was like waiting for the execution of his death penalty. No matter how much time passed, his facial expression didn’t improve.
At this moment, a shadow appeared above the Palace Gardens.
The shadow, along with the noise, became rapidly larger.
The entire cast at the scene turned their eyes towards the sky.
Alsheyra, the Heaven’s Blade Successors and the rest didn’t let out any gasps of surprise. This was because they immediately knew whose masterpiece this was.
A Filth Monster descended from the sky.
But it was merely a part of it. The head and body had been sliced away, and only the abdomen landed in the middle of the Midair Garden.
“Ah...... it looks like I’ll have to completely renovate this place.”
As Alsheyra vented her complaints, she surveyed the remains of the Filth Monster. Looking at the wounds that were mutilated beyond recognition, it looked to have been cut up by Lintence’s Steel Wires. However describing the wounds as pockmarks caused by explosions would be more appropriate.
The Filth Monster’s fluids flowed out from various places, forming a puddle that gave off a stench.
Just as the entire cast had their attention on the Filth Monster, a sword suddenly stabbed out from the inside of the abdomen.
The sword first sliced the abdomen apart, before it traced a small circular opening. After pushing the cut flesh down from the inside, a child’s figure wearing a contamination suit covered in fluids crawled out.
“Uu...... Such misfortune.”
From within the helmet came a muffled voice that was shrill, befitting that stature.
That child was Layfon.
“I was way too naive. There’s no way I can kill it like that.”
As he said this, Layfon used his hands – slippery from the body fluids – to remove his helmet.
“Your Majesty, you called?”
Looking at Layfon, who was unperturbed even in a circumstance like this, made Alsheyra feel that he was very uncute.
“The uniform was newly issued, yet you ruined it so quickly. It isn’t very cheap either.”
“Ahh, I’m sorry.”
Looking at Layfon apologizing so obediently, Alsheyra stuck out her tongue.
“Bzzt – – This won’t do. Therefore, we’ll have a punishment game. You, go fight Minse over there.”
Even though he wasn’t perturbed, Layfon didn’t’ understand the situation at hand. Perhaps he hadn’t given the situation around him any thought after climbing out from the insides of the Filth Monster.
Alsheyra cast the surprised Layfon aside, and looked towards Minse.
“Minse. If I just punished you like this you probably wouldn’t accept it right? So I’ll give you a chance. If you can beat Layfon, then I’ll give this Heaven’s Blade to you. Of course, in return, if you lose, you’ll have to bear the entire cost of renovating the garden.”
That...... Alsheyra was pointing at where the Filth Monster that delivered Layfon had landed.
After learning the contents of the so-called punishment, Minse was stunned.
“Is just that much ok?”
“Ara, this garden cost a lot of money.”
“I wasn’t talking about that, I was talking about those who started a rebellion......”
“You call something like this a rebellion?”
Minse was speechless, and just stood there, dumbstruck.
“If you want to start a rebellion, you have to use your brain properly. Frankly speaking, even if you’re stupid, there has to be a limit, whether it’s your brain, or your ability or your common sense. Suppose you were lacking all three, then you really have no hope.”
And Minse was disregarded so easily by Alsheyra, just like that.
He silently drew the dite he carried on his belt, and restored it.
The excessively decorated blade of the sword reflected the rays of the sun.
Conversely, Layfon returned the Heaven’s Blade to its basic state.
Faced with such a flippant attitude, Minse shouted in rage. But Layfon paid him no heed at all and turned to Alsheyra.
“I can use any weapon at all, right?”
“Anything you like.”
Hearing Alsheyra’s answer, Layfon cracked a wide, happy smile. It was a smile befitting of his age, an innocent smile.
“Awesome. I’ve always wanted to try this.”
Layfon squatted down on the spot, and picked up a small pebble from the ground. It was debris created because the stonemasonry was exposed to the sudden shock of battle.
“Then, I’ll be using this.”
That is to say, that rock was going to be Layfon’s weapon.
“Don’t look down on me!”
Minse screamed madly and charged at Layfon.
But Layfon threw the stone he held in his hand. There was no arc, and it raced straight towards Minse. Minse easily avoided it and caught Layfon within his attacking range.
Standing before a defenseless Layfon, Minse revealed a self-confident smirk.
Leerin hearing these words was something that happened two hours after she had come out from taking refuge.
Leerin was in the kitchen preparing dinner, and seeing Layfon walk in through the back door she was filled with relief.
“I’m starving to death.”
“Ok, ok, just wait a little longer.”
“As promised, I didn’t get hurt at all, ok.”
“I know that.”
Leerin muttered helplessly. Among her prepared ingredients, green wild vegetables were nowhere to be seen, instead replaced by red and yellow veggies.
Of course, she had also prepared a lot of meat.
“This is great.”
Leerin noticed that the happily smiling Layfon looked as if he was holding something in his hand.
“Ah, you mean this?”
Layfon opened up his hand to show Leerin what he was holding.
It was a rock that looked like it was a piece of shattered stonework.
Layfon hadn’t finished speaking, and he threw it towards the ceiling. He hadn’t used any Military Arts, and had just thrown it normally.
“What’s so good about that?”
As she said this, Leerin watched what happened next, stunned.
The stone that was slowly rising towards the ceiling had changed directions.
The stone that was shooting around left and right suddenly returned to Layfon’s hand.
“This is what I thought up today. Great, isn’t it?”
Looking at her self-satisfied childhood friend, Leerin’s surprised expression turned into one of helplessness.
“Ok, ok. Stop messing with those tricks, go wash your hands. Oh yeah, why don’t you go take a bath to get rid of your sweat. It feels like your body stinks a lot.”
Looking at Layfon’s face filled with wonder as he dove into the bath, Leerin couldn’t help but smile.
Five years later, after Layfon’s match with Gahard Baren had ended, his inappropriate behavior was exposed. The masses were astonished by his power, and in truth they were worried about the dangers of his powers going out of control. However, the ones that treated him most like a danger and spoke out against him the loudest was the Eutnohl family. This was something that a mere ten year old wouldn’t consider.