Horizon:Volume 3C Chapter 69

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Chapter 69: Resigners in the Metal Tower[edit]

Horizon3C 0217.jpg

Oh, my

Are you all right?

Point Allocation (Carefree)


The battle in the ring began with an exchange of strikes and evasions.

First, they both pursued the other who was trying to move around to their side.

They pursued each other like a ballroom dance, but they also rotated their bodies with quick hooks and backhands or tried to land a lethal blow by jabbing a hand at them.

But neither of them forgot to have a backup plan if their attack was avoided. As they spun about like blooming flowers, combination attacks were added in after the fact.

They did not stop.

They would throw a kick to tear into their enemy’s advance or launch a quick kick from below when that enemy was focused on their upper body.

Their footwork was primarily composed of stepping forward and immediately evading. They would charge in with all their strength before twisting their body and leaping away.

They would spin, step in to attack, evade, and spin some more to move back in.

They would dizzyingly swap positions and Rudolf II would sometimes put some distance between them.

“Hmmm.”

He would swing his body into the chains and use the reactionary force to charge quickly forward.

Mitotsudaira responded by determining the point he would begin his lariat or knee-blow and hit him with her heel or a slash of a sword. But with his instant regeneration and lack of pain, no amount of crushing or cutting would stop him.

The wind whipped up, sounds of impact rang out, and blood sprayed.

High-density actions produced countless noises in the center of the large steel room’s illuminated ring.

And instead of stopping, those actions and noises picked up speed.

“————!”

A voice escaped both of them. It was a groan that sounded both delighted and furious.

“…!”

The sounds of impact grew even stronger.


What a troublesome opponent!!

Mitotsudaira thought while deflecting her opponent’s attacks with the sword in her right hand.

This enemy used more than just physical blows. He would sometimes spread his fingers and grab at her joints by entangling his fingers around the back of her knee or her wrist. She had nearly been thrown several times and she had actually been lifted from the ground a few times. Each time, she had kicked off the floor to accelerate the throw herself and escape.

I’m at the disadvantage here, she thought.

Don’t be so fainthearted, she scolded herself, but facts were facts.

For one thing, their rate of recovery from injury was completely different. A broken arm would be a major disadvantage for her, but he would recover instantly.

Currently, he was rushing toward her.

“…!”

She brought her heel down on his knee, destroying it, but that crushed knee regenerated after only a moment.

In fact, his knee pushed up on her heel and sent her flying into the air.

She spun around in midair to regain control, but…

“You really are troublesome!”

“I love that you aren’t calling me a ‘monster’.”

With those words, Rudolf II sped up and she saw someone circle around to her left.

A woman!?

She had never seen this woman before. Her brown hair fluttered behind her, but…

“He’s faster than when he was a man!”

She knew why. In his male body, Rudolf II had the ideal athletic form, but the male body was large and entirely covered in muscles.

When those muscles were perfectly balanced, they included muscles that provided acceleration and muscles that provided endurance.

The all-purpose male physique was quite inefficient for high-speed movement.

Its initial speed was slow and its maneuverability was poor.

On the other hand, the female physique was skinnier and shorter, giving it maneuverability and flexibility.

In a limited space like this, the female form could fight at greater speeds than the male form. And…

His muscle density must not be what it seems!

This was still Rudolf II’s body. When he became a smaller woman, his body would grow denser.

He was a maneuverable woman with the explosive strength of a man contained within.

As a man, he could make large movements. As a woman, he could make precise movements with instantaneous power behind them.

He was switching between the two forms more and more quickly as the battle progressed.

“Kh…”

As the woman rushed in to her left, Mitotsudaira threw a left backhand and she kept her fingers together for a finger jab bent like a duck’s neck.

However, the woman accelerated even further. She transformed into an even shorter woman and leaped behind Mitotsudaira.

“…!”

Acting on reflex, Mitotsudaira jumped forward.

And she heard something like clapping hands directly behind her where her head had been.

The movement of the shadow on the floor told her Rudolf II had tried to grab her in his male form. He had brought his hands together to grab at her head.

To hold him back, she swept back the sword in her left hand and she turned around. As she did, Rudolf II swung his hands straight down, leaned his upper body forward, and…

“Here I goooo!”

He accelerated in his male form, but a moment later, he became the spear woman, the smiling woman, an unfamiliar woman, and consecutively smaller women while continuing to lean forward.

That’s…!

It was her. It was her silver hair and gold eyes. The only differences were the holes in the right shoulder and right side of the M.H.R.R. uniform.

“I have more or less figured…nn, you out!”

With those words, her other self rushed toward her.


Rudolf jabbed a hand forward as he ran.

What a wonderful body!

This Demi Loup-Garou girl had been born between a non-human and a human. And from what he had heard, she was the Reine des Garous’s daughter.

Her body was made to hunt her opponent. She would have no problem moving just like a human and her wrist joints and other points on her skeleton were well-balanced for attack.

His initial jab was enough to tell him that. A normal human needed to explicitly move to thrust their hand forward, but with this body, he simply had to attack and leave the details up to the body.

He did not need to twist the muscles beyond their limits and he did not need to focus on turning the joints. As long as he decided he wanted to thrust his nails into his opponent and then swung his hand, the rest happened automatically.

This was a beast’s body.

He had not yet perfectly read the positions of her joints and muscles, but if he could move like this already, just how much could he do once he read it all perfectly?

“Magnificent!”

He then quickly moved within range of his opponent.


“!?”

Mitotsudaira’s mind was taken over by surprise and confusion.

That was fast!?

She understood that her opponent had copied her body.

But why is he faster than me!?

The way he was carried by his initial speed was completely different. She did think he had built up acceleration by starting in his male form and transforming into smaller and smaller bodies, but his speed had not dropped even after remaining in her body.

In fact, his speed had increased.

Mitotsudaira was confused.

“…”

As he attacked, she made a broad counterattack by swinging her sword diagonally upwards.

Her own face ducked below the blade. It was an instantaneous duck, there was a smile on the face looking up at her, and that smiling face continued up toward her chest.

He’s so fast, she thought. But how? she also thought.

His initial speed was completely different. The rest may have been the same, but there was an overwhelming difference in that initial speed.

“Just to be clear, I’m keeping my muscle layout as close to yours as possible.”

Meaning…

“The two of us are the same right now. Except…as far as the quality of the muscles is concerned, mine are a strengthened human version while yours are naturally half Loup-Garou. Yes, so yours should be superior.”

Mitotsudaira was confused by that comment in her own voice.

Then why is he faster than me!?

She received an answer in another statement.

“In other words, I know better how to use this body. I have copied so many different people and studied the formation of their bodies, so…yes. I use their body better than they can and surpass them. …That is what I do. So…”

As her own face approached, it seemed to ripple and distort. It showed its teeth in what could be seen as a smile or protest.

“What am I!?”

Then the attack arrived.


She is slow, thought Rudolf II while observing his enemy.

She had not mastered the use of her own body and she was simply relying on its basic abilities to fight.

While she could very well be strong that way, she became a heavy tank that lacked the advantages of a female body.

“That’s not how you do iiiit!”

Rudolf II jabbed his sharp fingernails forward again and again.

After throwing his right hand forward, he pulled it back, reversed his rotation, and threw in his left hand. He then swung his outstretched left hand to the outside, rotated his body to the left, and thrust his right hand up from below.

He kept stepping further and further forward as if making quick jabs with his feet and he would use each step as a launching point for his hands while making sure his opponent could not escape to the left or right.

She could only continue moving back with an occasional large leap away.

“…Hoo!”

So he spread his hand and tried to grab her instead. She shrank down during her jump, avoided having him grab her during that stiff moment, and immediately dropped back down.

She has excellent reflexes, he thought. And she seems to have a knowledge of joint locks and throws.

She had likely been trained by one of her fellow students. She was especially good at escaping in the instant when he grabbed her and tried to knock her from her feet.

That was why he could try to grab her as a simple feint to control her movement.

However, she continued to avoid his attacks and she would occasionally counterattack with solid blows. She seemed to have adopted a tactic centered on evasion and defense. She had already dropped her sword onto the ring and only attacked with her more maneuverable bare hands.

But you have nowhere else to go!!

She had just about reached the western corner post and she would have no escape once he pursued here there.

They were three steps away, then only two, and finally…

One step!

There was still the one step left, but Rudolf made his attack there. He forced his way forward.

A moment later, the enemy took action as if she had been waiting for this.

“You were luring me innn!?”

She did not answer, but she was staring directly at him.

She sent out the nails of her right hand as he stepped forward. It was a diagonal slash from below, making it a difficult attack to see.


Rudolf II forcibly twisted his body.

As Musashi’s 5th Special Duty Officer’s attack raced diagonally from the lower left to the upper right, he tilted his body back and to the right.

He tried to lean away from the attack and he had perfectly judged its range.

“————!!”

So he managed to dodge it. Her nails tore a deep gash in his left cheek, but the wound would heal in half a second. He doubted it would pain her heart to have hurt him either.

And now that he had dodged, it was his turn to attack.

He used his leaning body to move his right foot outwards and his left foot forwards. As he swung his body forwards, he launched his left hand straight forward to corner his opponent.

He targeted the center of her body: the chest.

In an instant, she pulled her right hand back from its failed attack to guard her neck and chest.

That was a wise decision. She was protecting the center of her body and her neck.

But Rudolf II did not mind.

Your body has more than enough strength to tear itself apart!

He would break through her defenses and pierce his hand through her and out her back.

It would destroy his arm, but that would regenerate soon enough.

Victory was his.

With that in mind, he simply launched his hand straight forward.

But then he saw his opponent vanish from before his eyes.

“…!?”

He knew why: her speed had increased.

But how!?

His hand gouged into something.

It stabbed wrist-deep into the angel-shaped corner post he had cornered her against.

And then he sensed his enemy circling around behind him.

He had thought of her as slow until now, but she had suddenly sped up.

How!?


Mitotsudaira’s body felt light.

Rudolf II’s back stood before her with his hand stuck in the corner post. It was identical to her own back.

The only difference was the uniform.

Rudolf II wore an M.H.R.R. girls’ uniform, but…

I removed mine!

Something floated in the air by the corner post past Rudolf II’s back.

It was a uniform. She had removed the coat and skirt, including the hard point parts.

She had removed it just before her earlier evasion.

When thinking about her speed, she had reached a certain answer.

Fighting in an unfamiliar uniform was dangerous.

The M.H.R.R. girls’ uniform had quite a few metal parts and excellent defenses, but her usual Far Eastern uniform and the Hexagone Française girls’ uniform on which her personal combat dress was based allowed for more graceful movements.

That made a large difference.

So when she had made the diagonal swing of her arm, she had removed her waist’s hard point parts and her skirt. When she had pretended to bring her hand to her neck and chest to guard, she had actually removed her neck’s hard point parts and her coat.

She now only wore the inner suit and the tights. She could not lighten herself anymore without stripping down to her underwear or completely nude.

She removed as much of the unfamiliar clothing as she could and then attacked.

“…!”

She grabbed the sword she had dropped on the ring and went for…

The neck!!

As her other self started to turn around, she made a rising horizontal slash.

It flew through above the shoulder and into the center of the neck.

The quick slash produced a sound much like chopping through a tree.

“How about that!?”

And her own head flew through the air.


I did it!

It’s a good thing he wasn’t wearing my usual clothing, thought Mitotsudaira.

Anyone with a combat position was trained in slaughtering livestock and dissecting animals, so the sensation of the attack and its result were not enough to fill her with revulsion.

But I have never done it to myself before.

So I’m glad for that slight difference, she thought as she watched her own head fly through the air.

At any rate, that ends this, she also thought.

Decapitating him would prevent his body from moving. The severed hand had turned to bloody smoke earlier, so the beheaded body would likely do the same and move to the head.

That meant her enemy had lost his body. And…

“This is my chance to take the memo!”

Leaving him unable to move and swiping the memo had been her plan for victory.

The memo had always been her only objective here, so as long as she got that, nothing else mattered. She did not even need to continue fighting. That was a very un-knight-like thing to think and she felt some shame, but…

I honestly don’t think I can win.

Their skill or their pure “strength” was too different. She was hardly one to talk with her non-human blood, but his transformation ability, lack of pain, and rapid regeneration was a veritable smorgasbord of unfair abilities even for a monster.

She needed to find victory somewhere outside of defeating him in battle.

And that was what she was doing. She stepped forward and took action to rob the airborne head of its freedom.

“…!”

She thrust her sword up into her other self’s head to pin it in place.

But instead, a certain color exploded before her eyes.

It was the red of bloody smoke.

That was the spell smoke that appeared during Rudolf II’s regeneration, but it had not come from where she was expecting.

It was the headless body that was supposed to vanish.

But that proved wrong.

Instead, her own decapitated head vanished from the air in front of the sword.

“The head disintegrated!?”

“That’s right. The thing about my body is…the bigger part is always the main part.”

Silver hair suddenly spread out atop the headless body in front of her.

He was regenerating quickly and she saw gold eyes turn back toward her.

Then!!

He had said he wanted to feel pain.

“Then…!”

As her own face turned toward her, she pierced her raised sword through its side.

With a cold and solid sound, the blade stabbed through the side of her own head and into the medulla oblongata.

“What about this!?”


Mitotsudaira felt the version of herself before her eyes looked like a corpse.

She had taken three steps away as soon as she made the stab, but she had let go of the sword.

And ahead of her, her other self had stopped moving. The sword was stabbed in up to the guard and most of the blade was sticking out the other side of her own face.

This tilted that head in the opposite direction, but…

“How very heavy.”

Her other self gave a casual comment and smiled a little.

“That was a good idea. …It really was.”

Yes.

“Even if my head can regenerate, I still see with my eyes and hear with my ears. In that case, it is my head that tells my body what to do, so you might be able to stop me by attacking there. And if you’re going to do that, you should go for the center of the nervous system. You should make a quick attack on the brain and medulla oblongata that send instructions to my body.”

Her other self tapped on the guard of the sword sticking from Mitotsudaira’s side of his head.

“And if you leave the weapon there, the constant damage to my nerves would cause me pain. Was that your idea?”

He was right and she saw no other possible way.

However, Rudolf II pointed something out to her. He slowly stuck a few of his fingernails between the blade and his skin.

“Let’s see…”

He peeled both sides away as if spreading them to create a gap.

The blade and sliced portion of his head opened up and she could see inside.

That’s insane!

But she could see inside all the same.

“Well? The cut is so clean, isn’t it?”

“———”

The sight just about made her want to vomit, but he was right. She could see the cut, but there was no blood or any other kind of fluid. It looked like it was lined with soft glass.

“It can’t be… Did your regeneration power block off the cut as soon as the blade stabbed into you?”

“If anything, it was my shapeshifting power that did it. I transform into the kind of creature that would survive being cut without removing the blade.”

Her other self laughed and returned the blade and gap to normal.

“It’s true I feel a brief twitch when something hits my brain or medulla oblongata, but it’s more like an itch and it never reaches the level of pain. If you want to do it…”

“I need to continually use new blades?”

Her other self nodded at that impossible suggestion and that enemy used the downward motion of the nod to grab the sword’s hilt from below.

“There.”

With the sound of breaking bone, Rudolf II pulled the blade through the top of his head like removing a hairband. Mitotsudaira realized something when she saw it.

“You didn’t feel pain even with the blade moving through your head?”

“Not at that speed, no. It was blocked from the beginning. And you know what?” He threw the sword aside. “No one has ever succeeded in making me feel pain.”

He turned toward her in the time it took the sword to fall.

“Now, I think I’ve figured it out.”

“Figured out what?”

She knew the answer, but her pride as the “real” one forced her to ask. And the “fake” one was forced to answer.

“You. …Yes, I’ve mostly read how you work.”

With those words, her other self rushed toward her.

And at a speed she had not seen before.


Mitotsudaira did not hesitate to fall back.

She was light and he was fully-equipped.

Full speed away!

She moved back, but not by back-stepping. She turned her back and ran with all her might. She poured in all her strength starting with the first step and she was moving toward something three meters ahead and a little to the right.

The western corner post!

She would jump over it and land beyond it. If he pursued, she could attack in the slight opening as he landed. If he sensed that danger and stopped, she could put some distance between them and prepare herself for what came next.

“…”

She gathered strength in her thighs and made the three meter dash.

And she saw herself run right in front of her.


“!?”

Mitotsudaira was truly surprised.

She had nimbly moved away and then run at full speed, yet her other self had still cut in front of her.

How fast is he!?

She was briefly reminded of her mother. When they had fought at IZUMO, her mother had also demonstrated abnormal bursts of speed like this.

This brought back the thought that had been carved into her heart eight years before and had returned to the surface just the other day.

It was the thought that she could not stand up to her mother.

But that was not accurate.

“What’s wrong?” asked her other self.

Her mother was not the only one she could not stand up to.

It was one thing when she was no match for an ally, but this opponent was an enemy as well as a copy of herself.

And I still can’t do anything!?

She felt something hit her left side. While circling in front of her, her other self had used that motion to perform a roundhouse kick.

The sound of impact reverberated through her entire body and she was torn from the floor and into the air.


The chains that caught her lightened body gave a heavy groan.

The corner posts supporting the chains were made of metal, but they still bent from the force.

The recoil sent the chains back forward and launched Mitotsudaira high above the ring.

The other silver wolf jumped up to meet her there.

Her enemy lowered down until he was skimming by just above the metal ring’s mat and then he used his great strength to jump straight up. He used his entire body as a giant spring, but used it to produce speed rather than height.

“Here I goooo!”

The right of his spread legs hit Mitotsudaira back down.

As soon as her body bent downwards, the other silver wolf’s left leg flew upwards and kicked her bent body toward the ceiling.

The midair double kick produced a tearing sound and moved their bodies apart in the air.

The kick from below sent Mitotsudaira upwards and the other silver wolf dropped down.

However…

“I’m not done yet!”

The fake silver wolf used the recoil of kicking Mitotsudaira to perform a flip.

Using the acceleration of his great strength, he stretched out his body for a roundhouse heel kick from above Mitotsudaira.

That made three midair kicks.

It sounded more like a stake being driven into her flesh than a simple blow to her flesh and she quickly shot diagonally downward. The fake silver wolf kicked off the ceiling and jumped in the opposite direction.

They rapidly flew diagonally down to the west and east where the ring’s chains awaited.

They fell.

Mitotsudaira and the other silver wolf were simultaneously stopped by the chains. Mitotsudaira’s entire body shook from the shock and she sprawled out limply, but the other silver wolf looked like he was lounging on a sofa.

“Next.”

One of them was thrown into the air, the other jumped up into the air, and they crossed paths.

As they crossed, the fake silver wolf flipped onto his side and shrank down.

“…!”

And he hit Mitotsudaira with a repelling drop kick.

Mitotsudaira was sent right back to the chains.

She had already lost control of her body due to the repeated strikes, but the other silver wolf showed no mercy. He flipped around in midair, landed in the ring, and moved below Mitotsudaira as she was bounced back by the chains again.

“Now, time for the main eveeeeent!”

The fake silver wolf grabbed her ankle.

For an instant, some slight life returned to Mitotsudaira’s face. After all…

“Heh hehn. I’m not going to do what your mother did.”

As he spoke, the false enemy spun around. He stood on his right toes with Mitotsudaira’s right ankle in his left hand.

“Half giant swing!”

The fake silver wolf spun in place, tore through the wind, and waved Mitotsudaira around like a flag.

And he accelerated.

By the third rotation they were producing a tremendous sound, by the fifth the wind was shaking the entire room, by the ninth the weapons were rattling in the stockers, and by the fifteenth…

“Max speeeeed!”

The fake silver wolf threw what he held. Instead of just letting go to make a side throw, he forcibly bent his entire body forwards for an overhand throw.

It resembled a one-armed shoulder throw, he bent far enough for his forehead to reach the floor, and he launched Mitotsudaira.

“That’s where you wanted to go, wasn’t it?”

She collided with the western corner post.


The post bent at its base and the chains burst off of it.

A wave of metallic sounds filled the room and chain links sprayed outward while reflecting the light.

After taking the blow to her back, Mitotsudaira saw something in her blurry vision.

“Now, then. When I make my body so small and skinny, it leaves something to be desired in attack power. Then how about I try this?”

She saw her other self spread his arms and change form in the center of the ring.

That’s…

She recognized the silver hair, the height, the sharp gold eyes, and the huge breasts.

This was the Reine des Garous.


Seeing her mother’s form shook Mitotsudaira’s heart.

“———”

Her body was still shaking from the beating it had taken, so she could not move. She had a concussion and the swinging had thrown off her inner ear and her center of gravity.

She could not stand and she even slid down the tilted post until her butt reached the floor. However, she kept her eyes open to view what stood before her.

Her fake mother demonstrated the same instantaneous acceleration as her real mother had.

“…!”

But this fake hit her chest with a drop kick using both feet.

She no longer felt any pain.

It’s no use.

She did her best to hold back the thought that she had lost. If she let herself think that, she knew she really would lose.

But her body could do nothing about the attack and simply became a medium for the force to travel through.

The western corner post broke from its base behind her.

“————”

And she was sent flying through the air.


The angel-shaped corner post flew through the air.

Below it, the girl known as the silver wolf was knocked outside the ring.

Her light body crashed into one of the stockers of metal weapons surrounding the ring.

“———!!”

It broke and it was not the only one. Like a spreading wave, several of the weapon stockers were destroyed and the grips attached to blades or blunt metal flew up into the air.

A moment later, a crashing sound came from the western wall of the round room. Mitotsudaira had reached the outer wall and she was buried in a pile of broken weapon stockers.

All that remained was the fake Reine des Garous standing in the ring.

The airborne weapons and fragments clattered loudly on the floor and other objects that had fallen ahead of them.

The overlapping sounds almost sounded like rain or applause.


“The sounds have stopped,” said the smiling woman at the wall’s entrance below the tower.

The spear woman at the tower’s entrance gave a deep nod.

“Master Rudolf excels at that combination attack. He rarely makes it to the end, though.”

“Didn’t he get to the end with you?”

“No.” The spear woman smiled bitterly. “He slammed me against the post and then stopped just before making the finishing blow. And he was using your form at the time. I had no idea what was happening to me.”

“I see,” said the smiling woman. “But it sounded like he made it to the end this time. And it seemed faster than usual. It must not have been my form. I’m too light.”

The Reine des Garous nodded and sighed.

“That girl must not have been able to keep up. She can be rather slow.” She placed a hand on her cheek and sighed even deeper. “She’s always been so smart and diligent. …And that’s what slows her down. She overthinks everything.”

“Hm? Is Nate really that slow? I’m not sure I get it.”

“Well,” began Tenzou as he looked up at the tower.

He saw Mary worriedly holding his arm and gave her a reassuring nod.

And then…

“As far as speed is concerned, Mitotsudaira-dono is not all that fast.”


I’m being harsh, but it’s the truth, thought Tenzou.

“She lacks speed both in her attacks and her movement. I’ll set aside Futayo-dono and Muneshige-dono since their speed isn’t exactly measurable, but she is the slowest of our special duty officers outside of Naomasa-dono.”

“Are you one of the faster ones, Master Tenzou? And does this have to do with stamina?”

“Well, I am relatively quick and my stamina is pretty decent… Why are you recording this, Naito-dono!?”

He turned back to the crossdresser before continuing.

“Anyway, you can probably tell by watching Naito-dono or Naruze-dono, but reflexes are vital in battle. But on the vanguard where one uses their whole body, attack speed and movement speed are more important. Of course, someone who uses a god of war like Naomasa-dono is different. But as I said, Mitotsudaira-dono is only a little higher than Naomasa-dono in attack speed and movement speed. You can find it all in the measurements we have taken.”

“Then why is she able to fight on the vanguard?”

“Her constant attacks with the silver chains, her superhuman strength, and her endurance.”

It was because she lacked speed that she used four silver chains to protect herself and to continuously attack without stopping.

But she doesn’t have those chains now.

Against normal students, she could still manage with her superhuman strength and endurance. Depending on how she fought, she could even handle someone on the level of a special duty officer.

But at the vice chancellor level or higher, that was no longer the case. One only reached that level by having skill, speed, and strength. Some vice chancellors like England’s Dudley gained the position as a commander of the other warriors, but otherwise anyone at vice chancellor level or above was truly non-standard.

Tenzou felt Mitotsudaira was at a serious disadvantage here.

But…

He mentally tilted his head. He had long known Mitotsudaira as a classmate, so he had a solid understanding of her speed.

“Did you give Mitotsudaira-dono the silver chains because you had noticed her speed? Is that it, Reine des Garous?”

“Didn’t I tell you? That girl is too diligent. That’s why I thought the silver chains would suit her better than my silver cross.”

“What do you mean by diligent?”

That seemed odd to him. It was true that Mitotsudaira was diligent. In their class, she would take it too far, become overly conservative, and be teased by Kimi and the others.

And a lot happened in the past, too.

“What happens because she is too diligent?”

“You don’t know? Overly diligent people tend to overthink things.”

He did not know what that meant, so he guessed it was something only Mitotsudaira and the Reine des Garous would understand.

But then he felt a tug on his arm and saw Mary tilting her head.

“Um, you keep saying Lady Mitotsudaira is slow, but I think she is plenty fast.”

“Eh? Oh, well, we were talking about a different standard for speed.”

“You mean in battle, right? Then she showed plenty of speed last night.”

Oh, thought Tenzou as he found himself speechless. Mary had to mean what Mitotsudaira had done in the battle the night before.

That high-speed throw.

As if to agree with his thoughts, Mary smiled and spoke.

“She seemed to be thinking about something when we bathed in the spring today, but I think it was about that. So…yes. I think she will be fine,” she said. “After all, people who don’t simply stew in their thoughts and instead search for an answer are sure to find that answer somewhere.”


Rudolf II sighed in the ring.

Two minutes had passed since the final attack, but there was still no sign of his opponent moving from the corner of the room where he had sent her.

This is over.

My final job as Holy Roman Emperor is over, he thought.

Technically, he had never done any real work, but that was exactly why he thought what he did.

As Holy Roman Emperor and as chancellor I did nothing that would give another academy a piece of M.H.R.R.

Still in the Reine des Garous’s form, he tapped the right chest of his uniform, where Carlos I’s memo was sealed.

As M.H.R.R. Emperor, he had protected the records left by the great chancellor of two generations prior.

And he had driven back a representative of Musashi, that academy that had quickly become the talk of every other academy.

He had shown the other academies that M.H.R.R.’s chancellor could easily handle an attack from a Musashi student.

“Will my brother think I was at least a little bit capable now?”

The enemy remained motionless, but he did not let his guard down. This was the Reine des Garous’s daughter. Even if he had felt the blows land and even if she was battered and concussed, he doubted her bones had broken or that she had been fatally wounded.

She is not moving because her heart is no longer struggling.

She had decided she was no match for him.

Once he had begun his high-speed combo, he had no longer sensed any ambition in her movements. The surprise and resignation on her face had been especially strong when he had taken on the Reine des Garous’s form.

“I did something horrible to you, didn’t I? I really did.”

But it is over now, he thought while turning to the room’s exit.

In the end…

“Even as the emperor, I still don’t know what I am.”

As soon as he said that, he heard a noise.

It was a metallic noise.

In the corner of his vision, he saw silver hair swaying and rising on the western edge of the room.

The battle was not yet over.