Horizon:Volume 5B Chapter 41
Chapter 41: Roarer of the Hunting Ground
If the memories sometimes return
While away from the battlefield
Just how far away are you?
Point Allocation (However Far It Feels To You)
It all came down to the moment before landing.
Torahide further twisted his body and built up his rotational force. In doing so…
…I increase the force of the impact when I hit!
For that, he twisted his body and aimed to land.
He dropped down to slam into the ship belly-first.
He was confident his rotation and the landing would match up perfectly.
And just then, there was movement below him. Something flew out below his falling throat.
It was Musashi’s Vice Chancellor.
She ran quickly in from the side and raised something below his throat.
It was a spear.
Musashi’s Vice Chancellor balanced it perfectly and placed her hands on it twice and then thrice to make sure it was solidly in place.
“Okay, Tonbo Spare, when I say ‘go’, extend with your extension device.”
Musashi’s Vice Chancellor instantly jumped back by about 100 meters. And as soon as she landed…
Everyone on the Musashi watched as the giant dragon bent backwards in the instant of landing instead of placing his forelegs on the ground to avoid the impact. But he failed to do so in time, the extending spear stabbed into his reverse scales, he bent back further, and his tail end smashed through two levels of the surface.
Far above Musashino, Horizon looked down from Tama while Asama supported her shoulders. She used a pause in the Song of Passage to turn toward Asama.
“What was that? I feel like a lot happened at once.”
“I-I’m not sure…”
But across on Murayama, Kimi was beginning their second time through the Song of Passage while dancing with Toori.
Asama knew what they were going to use that for.
“They’re supplying the people below with ether, Horizon!”
Torahide swung his foreleg.
With no sensation in his fingers, he could not grab the spear piercing his throat. So he used his great strength to scrape his arm along and force the spear out.
He flung the spear away. Or he meant to. However, he did not have a grip on the spear, so when he brushed it aside, it simply fell.
The blood erupted from his split throat. It was hot, but he could feel it dripping from his throat to his belly.
That’s the second time they’ve injured me there, he thought.
That was when he noticed something standing on the falling spear.
“The Peerless in the West!”
“I am currently the unaffiliated Tachibana Muneshige.”
He kicked the airborne Tonbo Spare.
He instantly moved in front of the dragon’s chest, spun around in midair, and did something.
He stood nearly perpendicularly on the edge of Torahide’s arched chest.
Muneshige breathed a mental sigh of admiration.
This was not his first time fighting a dragon. During his time in the New World, he had fought wild dragons a few times. However…
…While they were dragons, they were only about 30m.
The small size of their opponents had indicated what little progress they had made in developing the land.
This dragon was different. And he realized something while facing a dragon at this level.
Everything about them was on a larger scale. Yes, for example…
…Just looking at their external armor shows that most everything, from the structure to the maintenance, is on the level of a dragon.
Each individual scale of armor was made of a dense material, but it grew badly weathered and dirty.
Even if the front was well taken care of, the sides and back were the same as natural objects like stones or trees.
The dragon’s eyes could not see there, just like a human would not look between their fingernails.
“So if you try to set foot on one, you can do so almost anywhere.”
Then the dragon’s arm arrived. But Muneshige ran along the dragon’s chest.
He left the reverse scales, but he immediately returned and raised Kamenuki.
But not to pierce the dragon. Torahide’s reverse scales already had a deep wound. Plunging Kamenuki into that wound would be relatively meaningless. He needed to use Kamenuki as a pointer, and…
“Gin! Over here.”
The response arrived without delay.
It came from the air behind him.
Gin was there, pursuing him with Racing Words. So he spread his arms.
Gin twisted her body so her butt was pointed down and she plunged downwards while face-up.
The instant Muneshige caught her, Gin looked up with a combat expression.
Something there was targeting the dragon’s reverse scales.
“Pierce him…Arcabuz, Cuatro.”
She could still only summon one of Cuatro Cruz.
But combined with the two Arcabuz Cruzes, she fired thrice from close range and sent projectiles accurately into the dragon’s wound.
They were steel shells. And the one from Cuatro Cruz was meant for use against castles.
The dragon’s body was not as powerful as a castle, so his entire body shook violently from the throat.
Behind his forelegs, his back shook on either side and his body arched backwards.
The former Peerless in the West stood on his chest and held his wife in his arms.
He suddenly jumped down from that chest. The dragon had opened his mouth.
The great dragon swung his injured arms around, scratched at his chest, and tried to brush off his unseen enemy.
The former Peerless in the West had already jumped toward the ground and the cross cannons had been transferred back into their dual pitch space.
The dragon bent backwards and arched his chest.
He spread his arms and bent so far back his head was looking backwards.
Then the giant dragon roared, even as blood flowed from his chest and stained his entire body.
Everyone heard the dragon’s roar stretch out long and narrow.
It was loud, but the volume gradually grew even further.
He was not howling into the distance. He was simply crying out in a defenseless pose, so everyone fired weapons or spells while question marks formed in their heads.
Then the giant dragon’s entire body glowed with a dull light.
“His thrusters are going to blow!!”
After gathering ether with his roar, he would release the shockwave around him.
The dragon’s extended roar and the light simmering from his body told them something.
“This is gonna be the biggest one yet…!”
The dragon’s decision was obvious to everyone.
A straight-line dragon cannon might be blocked by the defense barriers opened by Musashino’s bridge.
But if he released a thruster explosion from close-range…
“He’ll destroy the already-damaged surface area and the underground area below…!”
When one of the gunners shouted that, everyone else responded.
“That sounds like one of the Secretary’s ideas!”
“Judge! One of those ideas that everyone has but no one ever goes through with!”
“Okay, Secretary! Give us a countermeasure!”
As the dragon’s roar rang loudly, something responded to their voices.
A sign frame appeared in front of them and it showed the Secretary pushing up his glasses.
“Leave it to me. I’m already putting something together.”
Everyone gave a serious nod, and then…
“He actually answered us…!?”
Me: “Hey, Neshinbara, could you settle this sooner rather than later?”
Hori-ko: “Yes. Sooner would be great.”
Novice: “Yes, I know what you’re trying to say: I still haven’t returned your knight and samurai, have I?”
Righteousness: “More importantly, here it comes! My auditory devices are starting to crackle! …It’s approaching the usual pattern when he releases his thruster explosion!”
Torahide looked up to the moons and opened every thruster on his body.
There was no stopping it now. From there, he only had to close his mouth, shut the solid sealing membrane in his throat, and let the dragon cannon circulate through his body instead of leave his mouth.
The moonlight feels nice, thought the dragon.
The injury to the reverse scales at the top of his chest was deep. The shells had entered deep inside.
But his dragon healing ability had chosen to heal him along with the shells.
The masses of metal remained inside him as the blood began to clot and close the wound.
The shells did not matter. When a dragon’s blood contacted the air, it would grow hot enough to melt and absorb any foreign objects. That defense mechanism “preyed on” germs and pathogens, but it could also affect any shells and blades that entered his body.
In a few hours, the shells would take the place of the iron he had lost in his blood.
The moonlight accelerated the process.
One of the moons, the closer-in one, was said to be made of Orei Metallo, making it a mass of ether. When it reflected the light of the sun on the other side of the planet, it poured the power of ether down on the night.
That was why moonlit nights were a time for nonhumans. Torahide found it pleasant as he closed his throat.
Then his moonward gaze saw something.
It was round.
It was humanoid, but it was round, attached to a chain, and clearly being swung vertically.
The mobile shell swung straight down and collided with the reverse scale wound.
Hori-ko: “I’ve been wondering. Is there any real reason for Adele-sama to be inside there?”
Me: “Honestly, I think Adele might actually like doing that.”
Aasma: “I had the more normal answer this time, right!? Right!?”
Righteousness: “Why do you upperclassmen have such childish arguments…?”
In the instant the falling mobile shell hit him, Torahide tensed his body.
And he realized he was unharmed.
The mobile shell had targeted his wound, but the blood had already clotted and was now as solid as armor.
That was not going to be broken by the mobile shell hammer.
He could convert the force of the impact into his roar and throw that power into the thruster explosion.
That settled it.
He could not destroy Musashino’s bridge, but he could tear away a large chunk of the ship and blow away the surrounding people.
So he did so.
He raised his voice as the impact hit him.
But that voice did not power the thruster explosion.
It was a cry of pain.
The dragon’s agony reverberated above Musashino.
One man saw the cause from Musashino’s bridge.
In the captain’s seat, Suzu turned back toward that voice and then she smiled.
“Judge. …I apologize about before. I will watch calmly this time.”
A large sign frame was open at the front of the bridge. It displayed a single moment: Adele’s mobile shell raising a weapon in its right arm.
It was a vassal’s long spear.
The spear had a beast emblem on it and it had been stored in the mobile shell’s tail stabilizer, but…
“Did she wait until the very last second to grab it so that the dragon would not see it?”
Yoshinao looked to his wife who gasped alongside him. He took her hand and spoke.
“It seems she has yet to master its use, but someday, surely.”
“The beast has left the kingdom of protection and entered the field of aggression.”
Adele’s body was covered in a dull sweat.
She had once fought a much smaller dragon than this. Back then, she had not used her mobile shell, so she had charged in without it and created a starting point for the others.
Looking back, she was amazed by her own courage.
After all, she was much safer now inside the mobile shell, but…
…The pressure is intense!
She was not laying the groundwork for or assisting an attack.
She had to do real damage as the main attacker.
If she missed, the entire strategy would fall apart.
She could not let that happen. So it was intense.
Her right arm shook from the tension.
Her right hand controlled the mobile shell’s right arm, which drove the 3m spear into the dragon’s throat.
This was not just a clash.
The mobile shell’s wrist slid back to the elbow.
Igniting the spell gunpowder there would create a simple pile bunker.
She had used this countless times in training and practice, but this was her first time doing so in actual combat.
She did it. But…
The footage sent in by her mobile shell’s sight devices only showed her the color black.
The nighttime brightness amplification was activated, but the dragon was probably just too close.
As soon as she wondered that, Raging Beast was tugged from behind.
The mobile shell rose quite quickly as Mitotsudaira’s silver chains pulled it.
And Adele saw the result of her action straight ahead, which was really down below.
The dragon’s chest had been badly broken.
Immediately afterwards, the dragon made a great noise.
It was not the thruster explosion. The enemy had great power built up, but that power burst from his entire body.
“He self-destructed,” muttered Mitotsudaira on the nighttime street.
She was in a student dorm district near the bow. That put her approximately 70m away from Torahide.
She faced forward while quickly pulling Adele back so the mobile shell slid along Musashino’s main road.
The dragon was there.
But even if he was shaking, he did not move any more than that. He simply spurted blood from his entire body while looking like he was trying to eat the moon.
…A great roar leading into a thruster explosion.
That was one of a dragon’s greatest techniques and it meant to release his power from his entire body.
It could be seen as the greatest form of presenting his awe. But…
“What if he felt uneasy just before releasing his pride?”
That unease did not have to be felt in his heart.
A dragon would respond to a threat as an animal. So…
“Gin’s shells wouldn’t have been absorbed by his body yet. So even if he closed the wound and solidified his defense…”
Mitotsudaira swung both arms to rapidly pull in her silver chains.
“The mobile shell’s spear damaged the wound. The spear pushed the shells further inside his body and the mobile shell’s collision smashed through the reverse scale armor to open the wound.”
As a result, his reverse scale weak point had been fully destroyed and the spear and shells had pierced into him.
The dragon’s body had reacted to those two results in one way.
Regardless of the dragon’s will, his body had rejected it.
No matter what the dragon wanted, if he left his weak point destroyed and the foreign objects inside him, his body would react. His entire body would avoid the enemy’s attack and close in on itself so no further foreign objects could be driven inside him.
The dragon’s body would instinctually close all sensory organs and thrusters.
But Torahide was in the middle of carrying out a thruster explosion.
What would happen if the dragon tried to breathe out from his entire body just as his instincts tried to close everything up?
The answer was right there.
All of the dragon’s thrusters had blown themselves up and blood flowed from his entire body.
He stood up, but he was unsteady and his raised arms slowly lowered.
There was light in his eyes, but…
His own attack power must have scorched him deep in his throat.
But, thought Mitotsudaira.
“A name inheritor isn’t going to end it there, are they?”
Horizon listened to Mitotsudaira’s words.
“Horizon? …You asked when is the right time to live and to die, didn’t you?”
“Unfortunately, I cannot answer that as I am still on the path of life that ends in death. In all likelihood, most everyone is the same,” she said. “But I think it is best to live and arrive at that end with no regrets.”
“What is it?”
Horizon asked a question of the silver wolf who stood so far below.
“Do you know how to do that? …To have no regrets?”
She received a short but definite rejection.
And the wolf said more as if to make up for that.
“But…my mother apparently tried to live on her own, grew bored, and decided it would be better to die.”
“Being with someone else might create regrets. But the more people there are, perhaps the regrets can be divided among them and the enjoyable things can be shared among them.”
Mitotsudaira had a sudden thought.
…It might be good to visit home every once in a while.
Of course, her parents had friends and plenty of people they worked with.
It was wrong to think they might be lonely because it was only the two of them.
“Yes, there’s nothing to worry about. It’s only the two of us here. …Eh? People walk through here? What do we do if someone shows up? O-oh, come on. Why would you say something so indecent? You know imagining it is only going to get me more excited. Also, there is no need to worry about that. I mean, you’re the only one with your clothes off right now. …Hee hee. You say you can’t hide with your back against the wall like this? …But I believe you were the one trembling with loneliness? A wolf isn’t about to leave someone like that to his loneliness.”
The moon is out, so my mother is probably in top form, thought Mitotsudaira.
…I’m no different.
She faced forward.
Between her and the dragon, Mary looked back her way.
Mary smiled, nodded, and waved.
The scary part was how she had not moved at all since the battle began.
…She has guts…
The Secretary had ordered her to stand there as bait, but the 1st Special Duty Officer had to be hidden and waiting somewhere nearby.
He was hidden to make Mary’s role as bait more effective, but…
Gold Mar: “I’ve been seeing some threads on the divine network titled ‘That Ninja Ran Away’.”
Mal-Ga: “Huh? I started the first one, but it looks like they’re already on thread #127.”
10ZO: “I-it’s not true! It’s not true at all! And one of you started this!?”
Mary could not hear them, but she seemed happy just being with the 1st Special Duty Officer.
But while they were unharmed, the enemy was still there.
The dragon was injured and he had broken his body. It would take too long for his healing ability to mend his body.
While giving him time to listen and respond to their words, she looked up at the dragon.
He looked black with the moon behind him and his bestial shape was revealed by the light reflecting off of his steaming blood.
She could faintly see his bloodstained dragon eye in the moonlight.
Because it was night, she could tell the pupil formed a black circle beyond that color. He was leaning a bit to the left and viewing her with his left eye.
Mitotsudaira pulled the four silver chains back and made an announcement.
“Withdraw. Sanada’s Chancellor and Musashi are on friendly terms.”
Tonbokiri: “We had him forcibly sent away on charges of molestation earlier. Does that count as friendly?”
Gold Mar: “That happens a lot among friends.”
Yes, it does, agreed Mitotsudaira before something else occurred to her.
…This dragon’s attack isn’t a response to sending away their Chancellor, is it?
No. It wouldn’t be that. Probably.
But Mitotsudaira cleared her throat and took a combat stance.
“What will you do?”
Her question was answered from an elevated position.
“Humans would look down on dragons? Telling me to withdraw is an insult to all dragons.”
“No,” said Mitotsudaira. “My king shall conquer the Far East. …He will be equal to the dragons. And I am his knight.”
Torahide released a short breath.
…Was that a laugh?
She did not know what it meant. Was he mocking her? Agreeing with her? She had not encountered enough dragons to interpret their expressions of emotion. But there was one thing she understood.
“Here I go.”
They were challengers.
Mitotsudaira set herself running.
She instantly passed Mary and filled the gap between herself and the dragon.
On the way, the English princess handed her something.
It was one of the Excaliburs. The wolf held that definite power in her hand. From there, she launched herself forward and leaped into empty air.
There was nothing there. She was too far away to reach the dragon. But there was a foothold there.
She had a silver chain bounce sharply off the ground and swung up the tight arm on the end. She used that toss to increase her altitude by 17 meters.
But that was still not enough if she was to confront this standing dragon on equal ground.
…I need another 30 meters…!
So she sent out two other silver chains.
The silver chains weaved together like a ladder, but with unpredictable movements, and she launched herself up between them and flew up into the sky.
As she picked up speed, the rapid ascent pushed at her stomach. And…
…Here it comes…!
The dragon launched an attack.
He used his left hand. He was already leaning somewhat forward and to the left, so he struck with the left.
And the high-speed trio of claws broke through a water vapor explosion as he swung his arm.
The strike was difficult to see and the noise did not reach her since it broke the sound barrier. Plus…
“The severed claws are recovering, aren’t they!?”
Torahide used his entire body to strike.
The prized claws of his left hand were still severed.
But the nerves and blood vessels that passed through those claws had been sealed up and the fist was not bleeding. The sensation of the claws was somewhat filled with heat, but otherwise fine.
He could use his claws once more. Torahide rejoiced when he confirmed that in the moonlight.
He had made his attack in time.
He had failed in his own thruster explosion earlier.
But there were no thrusters in his fingers.
And his first injury had been the severed claws of his left arm.
After detecting the injury, he had not forced it to strike and had instead kept the elbow bent and the hand protected.
He had known he would need his strength at some point.
He smiled bitterly in his heart as he wondered why dragons had such a tendency to plan for the future. But this was good enough for him.
After all, he was an animal, but…
“I am a member of Sanada…!”
Torahide thought about his former self.
He thought about eight hundred years ago and four hundred years ago.
During the history recreation of the Germanic migration, their forces had grown, they had swept across the Harmonic World’s Europe, and they had continued from there.
Of course, there had been more than just dragons. They had their origins in Northern and Eastern Europe, but there had been humans and other nonhumans too and they had mixed together a lot more in the early days.
He had destroyed and devoured as much as he had wanted, but the next thing he knew…
…The others were gone.
Among the dragons, the peaceful faction had broken away. Among the human and other nonhumans, most had found a land to settle down in during the migration and they had left.
Those who had remained had grown more radical and continued fighting, but they had ultimately ended up in Sicily.
…And four hundred years ago, we were defeated and retreated.
The humans had formed a Testament Cross-Borders Unit and opposed them. The weather had also begun to change, creating a disadvantageous time for the dragons.
When they had ultimately lost and obeyed the course of history, he had wondered something: Have I only been following the course of history?
Had his elation, joy, and conversations with his companions been no more than a part of predetermined history? So once that enjoyable time was over, would everything simply follow the course of history as before?
Torahide recalled his memories as a dragon and his roar changed.
“…Eight hundred years ago…!”
Where was that world full of his companions?
What were his companions doing after they had parted ways?
Where had the small humans and other nonhumans gone?
He did not know.
He did not know, but as a long-lived and intelligent dragon, he had to bear it all and could never forget. And if they were to become more than a mere Terrestrial Dragon’s memories and be placed on equal footing with the world…
…I must be one who moves history…!
He had to be equal.
And if he was fond of this world, he could be with it.
And if he was not fond of this world, he could change it or stray from it and be alone.
Was that decision no more than the selfishness of a single animal?
Or was it the decision of someone who was equal to this world where he had spent time with and spoken with his friends?
It made a major difference when he viewed it in terms of his own existence.
That was what it meant to face history.
That was what it meant to bear everything he had enjoyed and face it all on equal footing.
They had lost and fled, but the time spent with his companions…
…It was real!
Yes, thought Torahide.
I must be a fool, he also thought. I have been so focused on the freedom I had eight hundred years ago that I was restricting myself in the present.
He had not felt this excited in a long time. He spoke to the knight who was spinning around in the air and preparing to do battle with him.
…This takes me back.
It had been a group much like this that defeated them four hundred years before.
He raised his voice while thinking about that.
“I am a dragon! But I am a dragon who has inherited a name which places me on the same level as this world! So if you wish to rule this world…”
“Start by overcoming its scout!”
Mitotsudaira saw the enemy’s attack arriving from dead ahead.
She only had an instant to move, but the enemy’s attack was massive.
If she did not dodge enough, she would be swallowed up by the shockwave produced by that supersonic arm.
However, if she evaded too far, she would put Mary and the others in danger.
…In that case…
Mitotsudaira kicked off of the silver chain for a burst of speed.
She finally went in to finish this.
Torahide made his strike.
His left hand’s claws pierced the night air.
He definitely felt the hit land.
There was a weight there.
This was not like before. His claws were sensitive from the pain, so he could sense the weight of his enemy’s body.
…I did it!
He swung those claws and roared.
Eight hundred years ago, their king and the others had been defeated by humans. Four hundred years ago, they had been defeated and forced into retreat.
They had surrendered their world, even if that only meant Europe.
And now he was faced by a knight who said her king would conquer the Far East.
Humans always spoke of the world when opposing dragons.
As it should be, thought Torahide while continuing to swing his left claws.
The tips of his fingers tore at the air and audibly split the atmosphere.
A moment later, wind exploded along the line through which his arm had passed.
His claws were enveloped by a shockwave. The great noise passed through the sky and reverberated across the Musashi.
The echoing sound of impact had likely reached Sanada.
He had torn through his enemy.
As soon as his claws had pierced her, the weight caught on his hand had vanished.
The enemy was gone from the sky in front of him. That meant she had either been knocked away or torn to pieces before he could see her.
…I defeated my first enemy here!
This was enemy territory. Next up was the English princes who was standing there as bait. Then came Musashino’s bridge.
And he pulled back his left arm which was extended forward.
But it was not just his left claws that he used to strike the English princess in front of him.
Feeling had already returned to his right claws as well. So he used both forelegs and his entire body.
He would make full use of his great form to crush the enemy. So he leaned back, and…
Torahide felt an odd weight on his left hand.
That was the one he was pulling back.
There was a strong pulling sensation like it was caught on something. However…
…There’s nothing there?
There was no evident weight on the three claws and fingers of his left foreleg. But…
…There isn’t any blood either!?
What did that mean?
What had happened to the pieces of the struck enemy? Where had the obvious blood, flesh, and bone fragments gone? And what was this weight he felt as he pulled the hand back?
He saw a figure in the night sky ahead and a bit to the left.
They were soaring rapidly toward him.
The enemy was unharmed.
Mitotsudaira sliced through the air and made a midair charge with Excalibur at the ready.
There was a path in the air below her feet.
Musashino had released a few towing belts and created horizontal paths from them.
The silver wolf hit those paths and leaped between them as she accelerated.
She thought to herself while making several bursts of acceleration and racing forward.
She lightly clenched her back teeth while forming the words in her mouth.
…I’m barely scraping by with every last bit of this!
Yoshiyasu watched the wolf’s charge while Righteousness rapidly cooled.
…I’m impressed she would choose a method like that!
Yoshiyasu was not talking about the wolf’s attack.
She meant the evasion.
When faced with a decision about how to avoid Torahide’s claws, the Mito Lord had chosen a wide evasion.
She had likely decided she needed to keep her distance to avoid the shockwave. But…
“That is not enough to defeat Torahide.”
With the shockwave, she could still easily be blown away and removed from the battlefield.
So the Mito Lord had responded to the enemy’s strike with a method available only to her: the chains.
While moving far out of the way of the dragon’s claws, she had attached the silver chains to those claws. And those chains had been shaped like her own body.
Attaching the chains had swung her around from the dragon’s fist.
She had flown in a wide arc to starboard as she flew out and around the dragon’s left claws.
That position placed her in the dragon’s blind spot due to his claws and arm.
From there, she only had to adjust the length of the chains while they carried her through that safe zone.
…She intentionally let the dragon’s high-speed strike swing her around and toss her into the distance.
From Yoshiyasu’s perspective, the Mito Lord was swinging around the dragon’s left hand and had flown about 200m. And…
“When the dragon quickly pulled his arm back, she was pulled along with it, accelerating her toward him. She released the chains at the same time as the towing belt platforms appeared underfoot.”
The rest was simple.
She charged forward with the ultra-high speed built up by the dragon swinging her around and pulling her forward.
“She’s increasing the force of her charge using the ether support from her king and the others…!”
Mitotsudaira thought, I am not alone as I race through the sky.
Power was reaching her. It was quite a lot of power and it was coming from the sky above.
“Tama and Murayama. It’s coming from my king, Kimi, Asama, and Horizon…”
The ether supply lines bundled together and enveloped her charging body.
Light resided in Excalibur and purification entered it.
This purification power-up would allow nothing to get in the way of the blade’s power. Several torii-style sign frames appeared ahead of her and eliminated anything that might interfere with her flight.
And a few sign frames appeared. The first was from Asama:
“Your acceleration will reach its peak just before you hit the dragon. Please keep going and strike him!”
“Judge,” she replied as the sign frame showed Horizon standing in front of Asama and raising her right thumb.
Similarly, the next sign frame over showed her king beckoning her.
Eh? she thought as his sign frame gradually moved further and further out ahead of her.
“Okayyy, good girl. Come, come.”
“I am not a dog…!!”
With that, the knight accelerated and passed through her king’s sign frame.
“I will hunt down my prey…!”
Her king nodded and spoke.
“Go get him.”
So she did so.
The distance quickly shrank and there were only about 30 meters left.
At the same time, Torahide took action in front of her.
He bent back and opened his mouth.
He was firing a dragon cannon.
He could not have accumulated a full charge of ether inside his body, but…
“…This is a dragon’s pride, isn’t it!?”
But, she thought.
“A wolf’s pride takes precedence in the moonlight!”
The silver wolf first launched four attacks.
The charging wolf sent her chains out in four directions.
Their paths were more like ricochets than curves as they bounced off the surface and toward Torahide’s throat.
She targeted the reverse scales.
But the dragon did not care.
No matter what attack reached him, he was not going to stop the roaring in his throat and the way he opened his maw caused light to gather deep in that throat.
A moment later, four silver chains struck the dragon’s reverse scales.
Something shaped like giant blades stabbed sharply into him.
They were Torahide’s severed claws.
It would not have been so bad had they been foreign objects.
The dragon’s entire body was in the process of healing. His blood would digest all foreign objects and act as a catalyst for the restoration of his flesh, blood, and armor.
But his claws had been shoved into him instead.
A dragon’s claws were made of almost the same material as the external armor. Thus, they would not be digested or dissolved while repairing his body and they simply made their presence known in his reverse scales.
The dragon bent back even further.
But he endured. And he tried to bend his serpentine body forward to launch his dragon cannon.
In that instant, the wolf collided with the base of his throat.
The silver wolf struck with Excalibur while using an acceleration spell and gaining extra inertial weight thanks to a divine protection.
Suzu held her teacup and sensed the dragon’s entire body lift up.
Standing next to her, “Musashino” nodded once and spoke.
“Well done. Using the ether supply from Toori-sama and the divine protection from Asama-sama, Mitotsudaira-sama was virtually given additional collision power equal to 1/300th that of the entire Musashi. Normally, when creating the shell for firing the Kanesada main cannon-…”
“ ‘Musashino’…-san! H-here it comes!”
Suzu continued to monitor the enemy.
He had been hit by Mitotsudaira’s attack, but his head collapsed forward.
“I have determined he is targeting this bridge. Over.”
Gold Mar: “Eh? How? Are you sure he isn’t going to cry out in pain or blow himself up again after taking that much damage?”
Uqui: “I cannot know for sure, but he most likely sealed his throat in advance.”
The half-dragon explained what that meant.
Uqui: “If he is simply hit by an attack, the damage will break the seal. But if he predicts it in advance, the seal will be released naturally and the dragon cannon will be fired. That is a method of ensuring a final attack even if he dies or passes out.”
Four-Eyes: “That is useful information… Oh, where’s it going to hit?”
Novice: “Heh. Right here! Got a problem with that!?”
Suzu wondered if that was really the place for a “heh” of laughter, but the dragon had definitely released a beam of light.
It was a dragon cannon.
Light scattered through the sky.
It scattered between the dragon and Musashino’s bridge.
The dragon cannon flew in a straight line, but…
“Defense barriers, hm?”
Torahide watched as shards of light danced like a blizzard.
Some of them were the shards of the several layers of defense barriers that were instantly shattered and others were scattered pieces of his dragon cannon.
His final attack had been blocked.
“They measured my attacks during the battle. And they made adjustments so they could open just enough defense barriers to stop it, didn’t they?”
He looked across the scene overhead.
There were seven ships there and an automaton stood on the edge of each one.
Those were the captain automatons of each ship.
They had probably measured his attacks while Musashi’s shrine maiden had gathered that data and managed the ether supply. He was certain they had used the Musashi Chancellor’s ether supply spell to control Musashi’s own ether supply management.
He should have caught on when the silver wolf had used that to accelerate.
He should have realized they were not fighting individually.
He was a Terrestrial Dragon and a Lindwurm. His 120m body was too much for humans to handle.
But the Musashi was…
“Quasi-Bahamut-class. …I suppose that was too much for a single Terrestrial Dragon to handle.”
With that, his back exploded.
Blood splattered into the sky behind the dragon as if he had grown new wings.
It was a red blossom.
The silver wolf’s impact had permeated all the way through him and left from his back. His body was built to withstand the shaking he himself produced, but the damage that broke through that passed through his flesh and bones.
The connection between his shoulders and back split apart and the armor connections at the base of his wings were blown away.
The parts that moved his secondary and primary armor had evolved from muscles, but they now swelled out and burst.
And not just in one or two places. Blood intermittently erupted from points all across the back of his body.
However, this did not propel him forward.
At this point, the dragon could only collapse backwards.
He collapsed face-up. As if to expose his belly to the two moons in the sky, the giant dragon named Torahide collapsed as proof that his battle had ended.
But there was something to catch him there.
Gentle stalks of ether grew from Musashino’s surface. They made wavelike motions as they enveloped and held the collapsing dragon.
Someone had been watching the dragon’s defeat the entire time.
This manifestation of healing came from a spirit spell used by the English princess.
Torahide remembered something as he collapsed into and was caught by a massive amount of recovery spells.
“English princess, this spell…”
“Judge. It is a dryad recovery spell passed down by my mother’s family. In England, it is passed down as a Celtic method, but the spell was originally used by any European dryad.”
“My mother’s ancestors, the great dryad spirits, originally lived in Europe, but during your great migration, they moved to England to save the Celtic people. At the time, England had the geological features of the ocean bed’s bedrock, so it was difficult to grow trees there and my ancestor’s power was needed.”
As the ivy surrounded him, he watched leaves spread from it while a portion took a forest-like shape.
He recalled a former time. He recalled the healing ceremony his companions had used on him in between battles.
The dryads back then had not used a spell as large as this. They had used small spells that could only heal one of his claws.
He had laughed and told them it was no use, but he had still let them do it as they conversed in the night.
Then the English princess spoke gently to him.
“Of the dragons spoken of in England, the most important are the flying serpentine dragons known as Lindwurms. You helped my ancestors cross over to England and you visited out of concern a few times afterwards. …In England, the shape of the Lindwurm is often spoken of, but legends of your defeat or existence are rare. In fact…”
“One ancient noble family still uses your form on their coat of arms. …You are a Lindwurm, a descendant of England’s guardian dragons. I may not know what occurred in the past, but please allow this descendant of England to ask this just once more.”
“What is that?”
“Judge,” said the English princess, but he could only hear it through the forest of ether by this point.
It was a deep forest.
It was unlike the dark forests of Northern and Eastern Europe, but he knew he had once seen this forest in those small forms.
Now that he had inherited a name and faced the world on equal footing, everyone from back then had to be standing behind him.
And this resident of the new world asked her question.
“If you will calm down, I will remove Excalibur.”
“If you will not calm down, Excalibur will be removed.”
“Now,” she said. “Which will it be?”
Torahide smiled in his heart.
On the edge of his memories, the past aligned with the present.
He recalled those former times.
During the great invasion eight hundred years ago, they had fought on the front line and been injured on a daily basis.
They had often returned with the enemy’s weapons and fragments thereof piercing their bodies. The humans and spirits had been worried for the dragons, despite how small they were.
They had said the same thing back then. Even when he had told them the blades piercing him would be absorbed with time, they had stood before him and spoken without fear.
…If I will calm down, hm?
That was asking too much.
A dragon’s instincts made them react sensitively to injuries. Every single time, they would pull out the sword, his body would react to the pain, and he would say, “See? What did I tell you?”
But, thought Torahide.
Has nothing changed even now?
So he gave his consent while admitting defeat.
And a thought occurred to that dragon.
He was old, but he had not declined.
I used to be younger, he thought as he closed his eyes.
The dragon shut his eyes while remembering long distant times and his companions from those times.
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