Horizon:Volume 7B Chapter 40

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Chapter 40: Princess of Primal Fear[edit]

Horizon7B 414-415.jpg

I race through the blameless night

I am a queen

I dance in the moonlight and the deep shadows

I am the werewolf queen

Point Allocation (I’ve Still Got It!)


Kasuya felt a mixture of relief and tension when her attack made it in time.

She was up against the Reine des Garous. Plus, that woman was in her great spirit form and moving through a forest made of ether.

She was headed for the other end of the bridge. So was Kasuya. All the withdrawing people were hurrying toward the Bousou Peninsula while the ground and trees rising from the land and sea held them back.

But the oddity following the Reine des Garous was on an abnormal scale.

It started at the middle of the Great Bridge Ruins of Edo Bay and stretched deep into Bousou. An area with a radius of about 20km had become a forest of bluish-white ether and it was continuing to spread in places.

It was a night forest.

Everyone fled in the underbrush below the tall trees where there was nowhere to hide.

Some gunshots rang out as a form of resistance and some arrows, throwing knives, and the like flew through the air.

But the wolf queen consumed them all.

She snatched the bullets, arrows, and knives from the air, and…

“Yes, I could use some iron.”

Kasuya had never before seen a living creature eat blades with a light crunch more suited for a soft rice cracker. For one thing, the blades and arrows did not break when she bit them. How sharp had she made her teeth using divine protections?

She took bites out of the arrowheads and knives as smoothly as if they were pears.

She even crunched the bullets between her back teeth like cooked beans. Kasuya could only think of one explanation…

Is she softening them with her saliva?

How powerful was her digestive system?

For her, normal weapons were only food to be chewed up and swallowed.

Of course, that was only the beginning of the threat.

Kasuya wanted to pursue her and protect her withdrawing allies, so the Reine des Garous’s ability to traverse the forest was the bigger problem.

The queen walked lightly along the bumpy unpaved dirt and grass.

But each and every step was abnormal. She easily traveled 10 meters with each one. Yet her stride was calm and she did not shake around all that much.

Her attacks were also unfair.

This was not about her weapons or power. She only had to send out the ether current surrounding her and have it reach the others.

That was enough for Kasuya’s allies to collapse and stop moving.

They were not dead.

But they all looked haggard and dripped with a cold sweat.

“Ah, p-please stop! A-any more of this and I’ll be too traumatized for anything but 2D!”

Based on their comments, they were being “eaten”. Right up to the very verge of death.

The queen was a predator, but since she currently had a partner, she did not seduce them. She instead used her original image of fear to forcibly rob them of their lifeforce.

She was fear itself.

But Kasuya’s allies’ efforts were not entirely wasted. Each time the Reine des Garous consumed one of those bullets, shells, or other small weapons, her pace would slow somewhat. Kasuya had to scold herself for needing their help to catch up when she was supposed to be protecting them, but…

“I made it!”

Between the tall trees of that forest, Kasuya circled in front of the Reine des Garous.

And she sent out her Argent Clou pile bunker without warning.


I want a single instant, thought Kasuya.

Not an instant to settle this.

An instant to make an accurate attack.

If she managed that, she could move on to the next attack even if the first was dodged. She could begin a series of instants that might eventually lead to a hit. However…

How is she fighting!?

Not even Kasuya’s speed was enough to capture the Reine des Garous.

She attacked at close range, but the woman was still only walking. She would occasionally shake her body, brush back her hair, greet the animals living in the ether forest, or let a small bird alight on her hand, but all of those actions ended up dodging Kasuya’s attacks.

She was predicting the attacks and then performing everyday actions that would also dodge them.

“Kh!”

It was not that the Reine des Garous was ignoring her.

She just was not worth any more attention than this.

She had had been successful against Takigawa and that had built up her confidence a fair bit. Even Katou Yoshiaki had recognized that result.

But this opponent was different.

Probably on a fundamental level.

Takigawa was powerful for a human, but this opponent…

She is powerful for a nonhuman.

Being a match for a human did not make you a match for a wolf.

They were not the same thing. Just like she had fought Takigawa as an anti-Takigawa fighter, she had to face this opponent as an anti-Reine des Garous fighter if she hoped to achieve similar results.

It was all meaningless if she did not specialize her fighting style for each opponent.

She had werewolf blood herself and she had fought this opponent’s daughter. So…

“A simple exchange of attacks would be meaningless.”

Kasuya prepared to fight as she ran.

She used her left nail device as a shield and readied the right one like a spear.

“Here I go!”


The Reine des Garous kept her eyes on her enemy’s movement.

She was reexamining the girl.

She was in her spirit form and this was her first time making a complete manifestation like this.

Back when she had eaten people, she had surrounded herself with an image of herself as a seducing barrier, but she had not even done that recently.

She would sometimes enter a similar werewolf state when having fun with her husband during the full moon, but…

Maybe I should start using this on special days like our anniversary.

She wanted to learn how this complete manifestation felt so she could reproduce it.

The increased power raised some concerns about the effect on her husband’s health, but he would probably be fine thanks to the circulated divine protections. Although their sensitivity would also increase, so they would have to make sure they did not both pass out. And she needed to make sure the effects did not spread to the surrounding area like they were here. A couple’s fun is best done in private.

Now, as for her enemy…

She’s changed.

She was no longer fighting like a wolf.

The Reine des Garous could also turn herself into a beast using instantaneous acceleration. That was originally used as a way for less powerful beasts like her daughter to take advantage of their light weight. She used it to dash over short distances, but she usually let her superior strength do the talking for constant acceleration.

If both sides were fighting like a wolf, her opponent would have to be very well trained to reach her level.

Her daughter had managed it after getting over her slump in her battle against Rudolf II, but…

“When she did, she fought in a different way.”

She had changed how she fought.

Since fighting as a beast was not enough…

“She also fought as a human. And…”

And…

“Humans can reach the level of werewolves using fighting styles designed for use against nonhumans likes werewolves.”

The Reine des Garous saw that the enemy’s weapon had changed.

The cross tower on her left arm had opened up. The silver armor at each corner had expanded out.

It was now a cross shield.

And the right cross tower had transformed again after making its long nail attack. The central line of the vertical bar bent in a mountain shape while its contents grew thicker. The silver shape visible at the end of the cross was no longer the point of a nail.

It was a flat cross-shaped…

“Cross drill!”


Kasuya swung Argent Clou.

She was 12m away from the Reine des Garous.

That was too far for the reach of her arm and Argent Clou, but…

I have to check something!

There was something she needed to do before piercing her enemy.

And the attack she made was not simply meant to deliver a blow.

She had put Argent Clou in anti-nonhuman mode and she used the drill at the end of the cross shape.

“And an anti-nonhuman spell!”

That was attached via divine transmission. The anti-nonhuman spell installed into Argent Clou’s memory device guaranteed striking power against a nonhuman’s personal barrier or divine protections.

A Klassisch Kunst was drawn in ether in the air. Kasuya accurately struck the approval stamp spot to apply the divine protection to Argent Clou.

“Take this!”

She attacked.

The cross drill was launched from Argent Clou and it rapidly rotated while slicing through the air. It wrapped the surrounding ether light around it like a vortex as it raced straight from her to the Reine des Garous.

But that attack struck something: the empty air.

“…!?”

The attack should not have hit anything due to the distance, yet the drill tore into the air far before reaching the enemy.

The sound of impact rang out at 12m.

“You have a barrier, don’t you!?”

That was a divine protection that nonhumans had. Its range of effect extended beyond the body in a way that allowed them to sense and rule over that space.

It would be very bad if the Reine des Garous’s had a range of 12 meters.

When fighting a nonhuman with a special trait, there were two basic strategies to choose from.

The first was to get in a critical blow with a weapon that took advantage of the nonhuman’s weakness. This was the simplest and most effective method, so as long as you had an appropriate weapon, even a child could slay the nonhuman.

However, this method had its risks.

If the nonhuman could activate their divine protection beyond their own body, you would be trapped by that before you could approach with the appropriate weapon.

It was like a spiderweb.

The closer you got, the more the entangling divine protection would have accumulated and the less you could move. Then the nonhuman could either ignore you or deal with you at their leisure.

Humanity could not win like that.

Thus, a second strategy had been developed.

“Breaking the barrier.”

The second strategy was to use a charm, a spell, a catalyst, or a weapon to destroy or restrain the enemy’s barrier and then get a critical attack in on them.

And since the enemy’s barrier was removed before the attack was made, you did not always need a specific weapon to get the job done.

However, this method had its flaws.

First, the enemy would notice when their barrier was brought down.

And worse, it could take time to bring down their barrier.

The latter problem could allow them to do even more damage in the time it took you to bring it down.

If you were going to do it, it had to be all at once and quickly.

But that was far from easy when the divine protection increased their defenses, put you to sleep, or applied hypnosis.

Then you had no chance of winning unless you suppressed the divine protection in advance. And…

The Reine des Garous is that type!

This was abnormal.

Kasuya’s attack must have hit the woman’s defensive divine protection.

Normally, a defensive divine protection affected the nonhuman themselves or the area around them. Even a high-level demon’s divine protection barrier only extended about 10cm from their body.

So how was hers 12m?

This meant she was surrounded by armor 12m thick.

Kasuya had set Argent Clou in anti-nonhuman mode to break through that barrier, yet she had failed to break through.

Besides, at this distance, the barrier’s divine protection should have thinned out quite a bit, yet it had solidly stopped her blow.

When applying the divine protection to Argent Clou, she had instructed it to ignore weaker barriers. If it detected and reacted to even the faint ones, it would use up all its power before breaking the barrier she was targeting.

But the very first reaction had fully stopped it.

She had a lernen figur perform an automatic search for the divine protection her enemy was using.

<Result: Fear.>

A psychological one!?

<Result: Fear! Fear! And more fear! Scared, ain’tcha!? Shocked, ain’tcha!?>

This useless piece of junk!

But after giving it a farewell, the search’s final result popped up.

<Matches: Unsearchable – Avoid Connection – Limited Release Level 6>

“What is this?”

It provided no information, but that did not mean none existed.

“Unsearchable” was telling her not to look into this, “Avoid Connection” was telling her not to get involved, and “Limited Release Level 6” was telling her…

<If a corresponding threat manifests and you believe it will continue to harm civilians, all Catholic combat personnel are to gather at Testament Union HQ to prepare for a joint strike.>

That was one step below Level 7, which referred to an ultimate showdown.

According to Testament Union records, Limited Level 7 had been used to gather the Party of Seven Hundred during the Age of Dawn before there was any such thing as “Catholics”.

A Level 6 Summons had been used for the end of the Harmonic Unification War.

Even during the fight against the European dragons during the Middle Ages in the Harmonic Divine States, Level 5 had been the highest used. Of course, that was probably because the problem was spread out across Europe so their forces could not be gathered at a single point.

She really is a monster.

She was Europe’s night and shadows. She was the presence felt behind you and the threat felt in the mountains and the wild. She was the man-eating beast and a manifestation of its will. The oldest threat to humanity was the wolf.

For this brief moment, she had stripped away the human shell and let that out.

The wind blew.

It was the stormy wind of the Loup-Garou.

But the queen walked down the center of it all and smiled while knowingly wielding her power.

She was an overwhelming presence, but her actions supported a war against an entire nation and against the allies and families belonging to that nation.

That immense fear was physically converted into a presence capable of consuming lives and it was controlled by…

“Relationships?”

The queen’s smile grew as if to answer that question.

She smiled because she saw her actions as absolutely necessary. Kasuya did not know if she felt bad about striking down her enemy, but she definitely saw justification for it. So…

“Hee hee.”

The queen lightly spun around while walking through the forest. She placed a hand on her cheek, swung her waist, held her little finger between her lips, and breathed a blushing sigh.

Wh-why is she getting turned on!?


Mar-Ga: “Mitotsudaira, is it just me or is your mom getting horny?”

Gold Mar: “I thought she might be pushing herself to hard, but yeah, this looks different.”

Me: “She’s got a lucky husband.”

Asama: “T-Toori-kun, let’s not say things like that about other people’s families!”

Wise Sister: “But Mito’s mom is always super cute, so her papan must be a busy man.”

Silver Wolf: “How am I supposed to respond to any of this!?”

Tonbokiri: “This makes my job really easy. If only it was always like this.”

Vice President: “But we can’t exactly ask her to get hit by a cannon every time…”

Flat Vassal: “Vice President! Vice President! Can you say that again!? Except about me this time!?”


Narumi removed Unturning Centipede.

She was on the western side of the Great Bridge Ruins of Edo Bay, which were safe now.

She breathed a sigh that vanished into the summer night. Even after fighting late at night, her breaths were not white in this place. She made a mental note to make sure she did not overheat.

“Looks like we can secure the bridge now. …Although it feels like we sort of cheated toward the end there.”

“Hashiba has used those dragon line reactors in the past, though. But the Reine des Garous is environmentally friendly and this is a one-off thing, so they cannot really complain.”

“Judge,” replied Narumi while thinking.

What should I do if I ever have to fight her?

“Narumi, do not waste your thoughts on such things.”

“I should have known you would know what I’m thinking.”

“Judge. Wondering if the Reine des Garous has an elder sister is meaningless. Because she belongs to the mother genre.”

“I should have known you were thinking something stupid.”

But I guess it’s fine since he considers me an elder sister, she thought before getting back to her previous thoughts: what she would do if she ever had to fight that woman.

Date and Mogami were neighbors, so she had considered a fight against Mogami Yoshiaki if she released her nine-tailed monster fox power.

But even the Testament says the monster fox is primarily used to confuse the central governments of large nations.

Precisely manipulating and confusing human bases was the true nature of the fox that cursed people. A werewolf was different. If that werewolf was an embodiment of the fears common to the vast land of Europe, she would be powerful even for a god.

She had retuned herself to a human form, but that was only because she wanted to live like a human.

“What a pain.”

“What is?”

“Well,” said Narumi. “That human relationships trump all. …I can see why political marriages are so popular.”

“Not necessarily,” he said while crossing his arms. “The strength of a relationship comes from the strength of the action that brought the two parties together. …Look at that.” The half-dragon pointed at the 1st Special Duty Officer and the English Princess standing next to him. “Mary Stuart and Tudor were both married on paper to advance England’s policies, but she ultimately went to be with that breast worshiper. In other words, breast groping is a stronger action for forming a relationship.”

“Is that your way of saying what you did was no accident?”

“With you, it was an accident. Or, to put it another way…”

“Yes?”

“You could say my god granted me a grope to reward me for how much I love elder sisters.”

“So you refuse to accept responsibility for your own actions, is that it?”

“That is how it is for inquisitors.”

“I chose quite the troublesome idiot, didn’t I?”

He continued despite her comment.

“That troublesome aspect exists because of our relationship, Narumi. And if relationships are the strongest, we can find a reason why that is.”

Such as…

“We argue, fight, and disagree, but a lasting relationship is built from exactly those conflicts. If that is what you want, then seek out that sort of relationship. …I do apologize for being so much trouble, though.”

“Oh, I am lots of trouble too.”

“Which is why we get along so well.”

“I am in a very good mood right now.”

The Technohexen were giving them quite a look while fanning each other with Magie Figurs that had “Cool Breeze” written on them, but Narumi chose to ignore it.

Besides, she had arrived at an answer for her previous question.

She heard a metal sound from across the bay and deep within the spreading forest.

Most likely, Kasuya of the Ten Spears had begun battling the Reine des Garous.


Kasuya made an attack.

She struck the Reine des Garous’s barrier.

She did not actually know if she could break through a barrier formed from a seemingly endless supply of ether, but continuing the attempt was the only way to get the woman to pay attention to her, not to mention stop her.

Her enemy was nonhuman.

Spirits, gods, and werewolves were all considered nonhuman.

And through much sacrifice and praise, humans had developed and perfected methods of fighting nonhumans.

Kasuya herself had nonhuman blood, but she had lived as a human and learned techniques for use against both humans and nonhumans.

Her strikes were generally head-on. She placed her right elbow below the right side of her chest and, to guard her face, she moved the fist so close to her cheek she could bite the thumb.

Then she threw a punch.

She made rapid-fire strikes. She made the bare minimum of approach from her foot to her hips. Placing her right leg a bit ahead was perfect. But she pushed her shoulder out front. And instead of swinging it, she seemingly pushed the shoulder blade forward from behind.

She treated her shoulder like a gun turret to stabilize the thrusting punches and reduce the exhaustion.

This was a human technique, not the brute-force technique of a beast.

And when she thrust her arm out, she would eject Argent Clou from the right cross tower.

It took the form of a rotating cross drill.

She suppressed the recoil with her arm and supported it with her shoulder. And once the resistance from a certain point was gone…

“…!”

She struck.

The ejected cross drill would crash into seemingly empty space.

A solid sound would reverberate out, ether light would shatter, and the drill would be deflected.

But Kasuya did not pull back there. She kept swinging her fist to push it forward.

“I will break through!”

The cross drill tore into empty space.

It left a long “hole” of ether light in its path.

And she did not let up even then.

The hole left by a single punch was not even scratching the surface of this enemy’s true power.

So she repeated the process. If the hole was too small, she just had to keep drilling.

I will reach her!

She was 12 meters from the enemy How long would it take her to drill that far through the barrier? But while reaching her was important, getting her attention was more important.

If Kasuya made it clear she could reach her, the Reine des Garous would have to focus on her over her withdrawing allies.

So she breathed in.

“…”

And struck again.


Kasuya focused on her attacks.

The enemy was not stopping, so her own feet carried her back.

Giving her attacks the proper strength while also moving backwards took a lot of practice and experience.

But Kasuya could do it.

She struck.

She fell back and struck.

She would take a step and dig her toes into the ground to secure her footing for the attack, but once the attack landed, she would let the recoil push her back.

She was entirely going for counterattacks.

She used the strength of her approaching opponent to deliver a flurry of blows.

She tore into the barrier.

She kept the left cross tower in the form of a shield. Using both arms for drilling would have been more efficient, but a wolf was sure to “devour” her.

The shield’s silver armor would occasionally block a torrent of light.

Those gusts of glowing wind resembled wolves. It was almost like a pack of wolves was running around the Reine des Garous and devouring Kasuya’s allies.

When they were devoured, their power was stripped from them, so she had to maintain that shield.

She felt like the density of wolfish wind was growing and she hoped it was. That would mean the Reine des Garous was focusing more on her now.

A wolf approached.

She added a side-stepping sweep to her falling back motion. She used her toes to give herself a backwards burst of acceleration and landed on toes then heels while the bottom of her feet slid a bit back.

She built up her strength.

While sliding, she built up strength in all the bent parts of her legs: the ankles, the knees, and the toes.

“––––––”

That would give weight to her counterattack strike.

She repeatedly made that kind of minute adjustment while moving so quickly.

I have to stop her.

She attacked from the right.

And she stopped the approaching wind on the left.

The wind sprayed out and shook the forest’s trees. The rustling of the leaves sounded cold in the night and seemed to echo in her bones.

But she attacked from the right again. And she made a third attack from the right.

“Left.”

She kept up her combination of attack and defense.

Left.

Then right.

Another right, right, an immediate left, and left again.

She threw a right. She prepared a left. Now was the time for right. So right. But she knew that was bait. So she went with right anyway and worked to push it through by…

Left!

She shoved her shield forward where it crashed into a wind wolf.

The shield bash worked. In that case, she thought while adding in a new motion. Whenever she saw an opening in her defensive actions, she would make an attack with that left shield.

She was focused on just one thing: breaking through the barrier.

Her weapons were the fangs and claws of a wolf, but she used them with human techniques.

An inhuman terror unleashed what humanity used to confront the inhuman. And if she could do that…

“I just need to keep it up!”

Kasuya did not let herself stop and even accelerated.


The Hashiba forces withdrawing from the ether forest could see it happening.

Kasuya had been tasked with being their rear guard and she had begun producing a series of loud blows.

She was fast.

Each sound blurred together with the next. The metallic noises sounded a lot like several bells ringing. And…

“Hey.”

As Kasuya swung herself side to side while falling back with bursts of acceleration, she would seem to blur and then reappear. And by repeating the process…

“I can see more than one of her.”

It started as just two or three, but it soon passed four and even five.

She was only visible in the instant one of her blows landed. The sound and the image coincided at first, but eventually…

“She’s outpacing the sound!”

Her movements surpassed the intense sounds they produced.

She was definitely falling back as she struck, but she was gradually stepping further and further “forward”. However…

“…!”

Everyone cried out and hurried their withdrawal. The whirlwind blowing around the Reine des Garous quickly grew stronger and larger.

The ground had been visible before, but now it was hidden by ether fog. And that fog had the unstoppable force of waves splashing up onto the beach. So…

“Fall back!”


The Hashiba forces withdrawing from the bridge looked back at the pursuing fog while they ran as fast as their legs would carry them.

“If that fog reaches your feet, it’ll suck you dry!”

“Suck me dry!?”

“Of lifeforce! So not the fun way!”

They laughed and bumped their fists together before looking back again.

“Hurry!!”

“We aren’t gonna make it in time!”

That was true. The fog was picking up speed. The freshmen were still not used to moving through a forest, so they were falling behind and the upperclassman had to push on their backs or pull on their hands.

But the wolves were still faster.

“Here they come!”

The mist raced forward while ducking below branches and between tree trunks.

“Damn,” everyone said as they ran. The forest seemed to continue forever out ahead of them. They were probably still on the bridge, but they had lost track of which direction they were running. And…

“Wah!”

The fog nipped at their heels as if testing them. And they could see the very front of the mist occasionally taking the shape of a wolf’s front legs or head. Now, that might have been an illusion brought on by fear, but…

“D-dammit.”

They all felt like their legs were not taking them anywhere.

“Hey,” one of the running boys said. “At this point, wouldn’t it be easier to just let her suck us dry!?”

“No, thank you!”

“Really!?”

“Yes, really! Come back to your senses, everyone! We’re trying to withdraw from here so we can be useful in the rest of the battle! So why are you acting like we can turn a blind eye to our current hardships and accept defeat? I’m not going to accept that kind of loser’s talk! Besides, I’m not into wife stuff! 18’s my age cutoff!”

The fog wordlessly sped up and swallowed him up.

The others screamed and exchanged a glance. Then another boy suddenly raised both hands.

“I-I’m super into wife stuff! 4/5 of the data on my dorm computer is wife stuff! You’ll spare me for being such a big wife-lover, won’t you!?”

He was swallowed up.

They all screamed and leaned forward to run even faster. They leaped over a small stream and used tree roots as footholds to propel themselves forward.

“D-damn! This fog swallows you up whether you’re into wife stuff or not!”

“Wouldn’t it be weirder if it did choose based on that!?”

They hurried on while discussing the matter, but some of them were falling behind.

The freshmen were having trouble keeping up.

“Damn! The freshmen can’t keep up with our banter!”

“Literally, you idiot!” snapped back another as the upperclassmen worked to help the freshmen.

“Our job here is to get them safely out of here!”

But the fog was coming. Just as it swallowed them up, it grew much taller and tried to bite at them.

“Damn you!”

But just as they roared that at the fog, the light burst.

And they all saw who had circled between them and the pursuing fog to strike it.

“Kasuya Takenori!”


A girl among the freshmen saw it happen.

Something stood in the way of the fog that was trying to bite at her and swallow her up from behind.

A shadow!

This was not the forest or fog made of ether light. The color black blocked out all that light.

And that was not all.

“You forgot something.”

With that, some of the allies who had been swallowed by the fog were tossed their way.

There were three of them and this person had carried them all this way. And…

“…!”

She made an attack.

The fog shattered and her attack tore into the barrier beyond it.

The girl realized this name inheritor’s actions might only have the smallest of effects on the threat pushing in toward them. After all, this threat was massive. It was possible not even a name inheritor’s high-speed movement and attacks could defeat an opponent like this. However…

“Get going!”

Pushed by those words, the girl took off running.

“Hey,” called one of the upperclassmen. “Let’s go,” added everyone around her.

The girl looked back while speeding up again.

The black wolf was making attacks while the bluish-white fog nearly swallowed her up.

The spray of light and shattering sounds were both swallowed up by the black guardian standing in their way.

The black wolf vanished beyond the fog while making sure all the others could escape, so the girl raised her voice.

“Someone…”

She could tell just how powerless they were as she did so.

“Someone help her!”


I am fine on my own, thought Kasuya with a smile at the voice from behind her.

Right now, she had to focus on attacking.

She was definitely approaching the enemy.

She had drilled a good ways into the 12m barrier. And…

“I was told not to aim for mutual destruction.”

She had no intention of being defeated.

But her allies were in danger if she did not do what she could here.

If she could draw the attention of that fog, she could at least keep it from pursuing one extra person.

And if she went on an even larger rampage, she could draw it away from a second and third person too.

Rampages were her specialty, so she kept up the attack.

“Kh!”

She struck.

She drilled into the barrier with her right arm and pushed it away with her left. She could feel real progress being made as she repeated that process.

This was the Reine des Garous’s forest.

Kasuya suddenly saw a silhouette. She saw the shape of a woman carrying a child on her back while walking through the forest made of similar dark blue silhouettes.

What is that?

Was it one of the Reine des Garous’s memories?

She soon noticed other silhouettes as if to prove her guess right.

She saw the silhouette of a woman watching from a distance as a boy using scissors to cut the fruit from a tree.

She saw the silhouette of a woman looking down to the foot of a mountain while waiting for someone on a small forest path with a view.

She saw the silhouette of a woman holding hands with a boy to pull him along while also pressing their shoulders together.

These many silhouettes passed her by and vanished into the distance.

“Is all of this a part of that werewolf’s true form?”

Kasuya found it strange.

Werewolves ate people and were the very fear of the darkness and the wild, so could they really contain such happy images as well?

Can fears and threats begin to carry things like this once they develop a personality and live their lives?

A will and a life residing in something inhuman was not an unusual thing what with automatons and data entities, but Kasuya was still surprised to see what was allowed inside them.

Even though she had werewolf blood herself.

But if this was allowed…

“It means I can have something like this in me too.”

She made another strike while speaking to herself.

But just then…

Eh?

She sensed someone’s gaze on her.

It was coming from straight ahead, it was powerful, and it felt like a great heat. And a moment later…

“Ah.”

Something leaped over to her side.

The Reine des Garous!”

The woman had charged in with her instantaneous acceleration, so Kasuya turned toward her.

But then the Reine de Garous’s presence shattered.

It was only a silhouette.

That was only a memory contained within the Reine des Garous. Most likely…

When she fought Musashi’s 5th Special Duty Officer!

Kasuya had heard rumors of that unofficial battle. If that had been a part of it…

“Just how fast were they moving as they fought!?”

That had to be something the Reine des Garous never wanted to forget. She replayed it while retuning herself because it was such a precious memory, but it filled Kasuya with an emotion similar to frustration.

Her enemy was enjoying her past memories instead of focusing on her.

Thoughts of “I cannot let this stand” and “can I really hope for anything more” filled her mind simultaneously.

She kept moving.

But not just to attack. Attacking was just one of the many movements she was making.

She struck, blocked, swept aside, move forward, stepped to either side, and repeatedly dodged and attacked.

She could repeat those actions so accurately thanks to her training.

These were human techniques.

But the enemy would not stop.

The pack of wolves snapped at her with a density and length that seemed never-ending.

She moved.

“Ah.”

She was out of breath, but that was all the more reason she could not stop and she focused on keeping her balance. And once she was in a stable position once more, she took a deep breath.

“Nh.”

And she moved some more.

She could no longer hear the withdrawing footsteps around her.

She felt like someone was calling to her from the distance.

But she was confident that she was approaching the enemy.

This was a test.

The leader of the werewolves was testing this ignorant newcomer who had lived as a lone wolf for so long.

The queen was showing her what it meant to defy her. So…

“Reach her!”

Something approached as if in response to her shout.

It was a pack of wolves.

It was even larger than before and, while the previous ones had all rushed straight toward her, some of these circled around to her sides.

This fierce attack was proof that she had reached the deepest part of the Reine des Garous’s fog.


Kh!

Kasuya saw the enemy’s attack.

At a glance, she could tell the fog had grown into a wave that towered above her.

Many wolves were jutting out in front of it. And since some were circling around to her sides, she had to respond to more directions at once now.

There were too many to see past and she also had to respond to the left and right, but Kasuya sent out a combination with her right arm.

She drilled into them and then thrust out the shield on her left arm.

She moved.

She stepped back while striking to the left and right, but…

Above!

The wolves were coming so fast it looked like they would leap over her.

And just as she moved to respond, a figure rushed in next to her.

“–––––!?”

It was the Reine des Garous, but not the real one. It was only a silhouette.

This was the woman when she had fought Musashi’s 5th Special Duty Officer.

It was a fake.

That silhouette of course quickly vanished.

But Kasuya’s reaction had briefly stopped her movement.

Oh, no!

The fog was not about to overlook that opening as it rushed in from overhead.

Kasuya reacted to that by raising the shield in her right arm and using the right cross tower as a deterrent in the other directions. However, this choice was akin to defeat for her.

Why am I defending myself!?

She was supposed to be drawing the enemy’s attention so her allies could escape, but if she started focusing on her own defense, she made herself ignorable.

She still could not fully read the flow of battle. With so many enemies rushing in, she should have been using more circling motions instead of straight-ahead ones, but it was too late to realize that now.

“…!”

It really was too late. She had frozen up.

Why did I do that?’' she wondered.

But then someone else arrived.

“Kasuya!”

A small form tore into the surrounding wolves and leaped onto the battlefield.

It was Kani.