Leviathan:Volume 2 Chapter 6
Chapter 6 - Sword or Bow
The location was in front of the former Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, in a corner of western Shinjuku. In addition, what used to be Tokyo Metropolitan Main building No.1 was one block away. Hal and Hazumi were bathed under the morning glow together.
The girl next to him clearly had a stiff expression. Hal could not help but speak to her.
"Actually, I don't want you to accompany me on such a dangerous task..."
"No, not at all, please allow me to come along. Minadzuki should be protecting me."
Hazumi looked extremely nervous but she still insisted firmly.
"U-Umm, if the battle goes well, I-I'd like to ask you for a favor..."
"I'll accept it no matter what you ask, but can you save that for later?"
Hazumi instantly stopped talking. She noticed it too.
Over in the eastern sky that had been dyed pink by the rays of dawn, there was a black dot. And it was expanding nonstop. It was the shadow of the dragon flying towards them.
"Successor of the Bow, thank you for waiting!"
Pavel Galad descended, accompanied by his energetic and beautiful voice.
Instantly, the ground shook from the impact. Hal and Hazumi almost lost balance.
"I didn't wait for long. In truth, I only just arrived."
Hal shielded the nervous Hazumi behind his back.
His throat was parched from nervousness as before. His heart was also pounding like a drum. Even so, Hal still reminded himself not to forget to speak in his usual tone of voice, as much as possible.
The silver-white dragon was standing very straight at a crossroad ten-odd meters away.
"I will listen if you have any words before the battle."
"No, I've got nothing to say. By this point, what benefit is there in wasting more effort on words?"
The dragonslaying sword appeared in Pavel Galad's right hand. In preparation for battle, Hal summoned the magic gun of steel and gold into his right hand as well. Both sides had prepared by materializing their respective "wands."
Then Pavel raised his sword up high.
"O secret runes of Ruruk Soun, purify this land with an explosive baptism!"
Five magic symbols manifested over the silver-white head.
The arrangement of "heat and explosion"! Just as Hal rapidly deployed imperishable protection, his surroundings were instantly engulfed in conflagration with a massive explosion. An attack caused by the runes just now.
"Trying to use his sword with magic at the same time huh..."
Hazumi screamed while under the protection of the pearly radiance. On the other hand, Hal muttered to himself.
Even when struck by an attack of Ruruk Soun's magic, imperishable protection remained solid as a mountain and definitely protected the girl beside him. In fact, Hal only brought her along because he trusted this defense.
Unsure of her sense of control over her "serpent," Hazumi had made the offer on her own.
I'd like to be closer to Minadzuki, which will make it easier for our souls to commune—
Defense-wise, there was nothing to worry about for now. However, flames and wind from the explosion were raging outside the protection. Concrete blocks and metal fragments were flying around. It was almost like a scene from hell.
Hal took a deep breath then pointed his gun's muzzle at the sky—diagonally above.
"So he fled to the sky because even he himself will be swallowed by the explosion..."
Due to the explosion's wind and flames, Hal could not see what was outside at all. However, he could imagine the enemy's location. Thus after firing two shots, Hal felt certainty rise in his heart.
Despite capturing Galad, who had fled to the sky, the two shots just now were deflected by imperishable protection...
Hal was wielding a gun-shaped "wand," in other words, a magic bow in the form of a handgun.
The gun could aim automatically to a certain extent, allowing Hal to know where he ought to shoot.
"Fufufufu... So you have started to grow accustomed to controlling the Bow."
As laughter rose, the explosion's wind and flames finally dissipated.
The asphalt of the road was cracked while street lights were bent. A large part of the former Metropolitan Assembly and the lower floors of office buildings were swept away in the explosion's wake.
As expected, Galad was in the air with his silver wings spread and his entire body enveloped in the light of protection.
Naturally, he was unharmed. Next, the silver dragon's left arm suddenly split open to bleed mercury-colored blood. Thus, the blood fell to the ground.
"I have taken last night as an opportunity to create a new minion. Now that things have come to this, I shall summon my own forces to add splendor to the battlefield!"
Nine runes of Ruruk Soun appeared over Galad's head and shone radiantly.
A dual arrangement implying "alchemy" and "bestowal of magical power." Instead of turning into molten metal as last time, the mercury-colored blood came together to form a different shape.
A metallic solid instead of a liquid. However, this shape was—
Hal exclaimed loudly. He had some impression of Galad's new minion.
It was the most symbolic carnivorous dinosaur from the late Cretaceous Period. However, what had appeared here was just a tyrannosaurus rex's complete skeletal model.
The mercury-colored metal had recreated a T-Rex skeleton perfectly.
The metallic skull opened its jaws, roaring like a living beast.
The body, made of bones only, started to move. Walking on the ground on its hind legs, bending down its skeleton of a body, it swung its long tail like a metal chain.
This skeletal model was a metal golem created by alchemical magic.
After all, Pavel Galad was an alchemist specializing in metal transformations and an enchanter who strengthened his creations by bestowing magical power upon them!
"Of course, things do not end here. By my privilege as a Zizou, I summon the winged lizards of Jabones from the realm of the sky!"
Galad swung the dragonslaying sword at the air above him while shouting at the same time.
Immediately, dozens of shooting stars descended from the sky. Hal had seen this scene many times before, the summoning of lesser dragons, Raptors, by elites.
This time, there were roughly forty of them. This many Raptors were descending at the same time, flying at maximum speed just for the sake of slaughtering tiny Haruga Haruomi.
Then the T-Rex's metallic skeleton finally started to sprint.
Needless to say, it was running towards Hal and Hazumi, of course. The ensuing impact was astounding, causing them to fall on their bottoms. This was because the T-Rex had collided into them in spite of the deployed protection of imperishability.
Hazumi and Hal were unharmed. They immediately stood up. However, the T-Rex skeleton was climbing over the pearly protective shield, biting down with its massive jaws!
However, the protection remained. Unlike last time when struck by the dragonslaying sword, Hal did not feel any pain in his heart.
Against attacks not powered by dragonbane, perhaps imperishable protection really was absolutely inviolable.
"But the enemy isn't kind enough to fight unarmed... Anyway, the next part seems to be key."
"Y-Yes. I will try my very best...!"
Hazumi replied bravely and spoke to their comrade that was watching the battle from a distance.
"Akuro-Ou—Come and help us now!"
Words of summoning. Immediately, a white silhouette came running over. It was the nine-tailed fox-wolf, Akuro-Ou.
Dashing rapidly, Akuro-Ou used her momentum to collide into the T-Rex skeleton. Hassling Hal's protection relentlessly, the monster was blown away!
Akuro-Ou roared with fighting spirit in abundance. Meanwhile, the forty-something Raptors finally flooded the sky. But just at that moment...
Hazumi, who had been shielded behind Hal so far, stepped forward and cried out in an adorable voice:
"Respond to my voice, Minadzuki!"
New words of summoning. Hazumi closed her eyes and clasped her hands together as though in prayer.
A glowing pentagram appeared in the air above then turned into an infinity symbol before transforming into the emerald leviathan whose form was a serpentine dragon. The reborn Minadzuki materialized.
Raaaaaaaaaa raaaaaaaaa raaaaaaaaaaaaa...
Minadzuki called out as though singing a song, spreading her pair of wings at the same time.
Shining with golden brilliance, the wings had sprouted from Minadzuki's back. In the past, Minadzuki's right forelimb and four claws had served as her horn counterpart and were unusually long, but now, they had shrunk.
Currently, Minadzuki's left and right forelimbs were equally long.
Raaaaaaaaaa raaaaaaaaa raaaaaaaaaaaaa...
When Minadzuki sang again, the Raptors rapidly descending to the ground suddenly halted. Then as though losing their bearing, they rushed about randomly in the air above Shinjuku Fukutoshin.
The forty-odd Raptors seemed quite afraid of Minadzuki.
"Successor of the Bow, you are human and yet you employ the kin of dragons to do your bidding?"
In contrast, their master, Pavel Galad, remained confident and composed.
Despite seeing two leviathans show up, he only focused his attention on Hal alone. He even said the following:
"Fufufufu. Indeed, battles cannot be limited to weapons and runes alone. As seekers of the dragon king's throne, we successors are obliged to lead armies and exhibit our talent as generals!"
"That's really not my intention at all..."
Starting now was the key moment. Galad seemed to think so too.
While sighing in response to his opponent's unchanging temperament of hot blood, Hal glared at the silver dragon.
Created using alchemical magic, the T-Rex skeleton was roughly the same size as Akuro-Ou.
However, its standing and running postures were completely different. Akuro-Ou would run along the ground on four legs like a fox or a wolf. In contrast, the T-Rex had pitifully short front limbs and relied only on its tough and well-developed hind legs to walk.
However, both were equal in speed.
Possibly due to her quadrupedal movement, Akuro-Ou was more agile, but the T-Rex held the upper hand in strength.
Right now, the T-Rex was charging with reckless abandon, trying to bite its opponent. Fortunately, Akuro-Ou dodged in the nick of time.
As a result, the T-Rex smashed into a building, pulverizing a wall of steel-reinforced concrete.
"Akuro-Ou! Try not to stand directly in front of the enemy!"
Acting separately from her cousin and Hal, Orihime issued orders to her partner.
The white fox-wolf was facing off against the dinosaur skeleton specimen next to the former Metropolitan Assembly. Both sides had moved to this place while fighting. A slight distance away, Orihime was watching the battle from a sidewalk.
Meanwhile, Pavel Galad was majestically overlooking the battlefield from the air above the former National Diet Building.
Furthermore, his dragon scales were glowing with sacred silver-white light, causing his appearance to brim with solemnity.
"As the successor to the dragonslaying sword, I shall try a dragonbane technique. I entrust this sword's sharpness to you all—Turn into my blades!"
Galad raised the dragonslaying sword up high, pointing the blade at the sky.
Then everything he summoned became enveloped in platinum-colored flames.
Whether the T-Rex skeleton facing off against Akuro-Ou or the Raptors in the sky, flying aimlessly in disarray ever since Minadzuki made her appearance—
The flames disappeared within seconds. In return, the Rune of the Sword appeared on forehead of the T-Rex's skull.
Next, the tip of its tail took on the shape of a cutting edge, resulting in a longsword's blade!
"Arming up with a sword, so that's what's going on..."
Orihime suddenly gasped. Her side was going to meet defeat unless they pulled out a weapon too.
In that case—Orihime pressed her left hand upon her voluptuous bosom.
Last night, this hand had obtained the mark of a rune, accompanied by an unexpected shock. At the time, he had something like that, causing her heart to race inexplicably. Even now, her heart was still pounding nonstop.
Unable to accept these feelings, Orihime frowned.
After all, he was a weirdo. In addition to being extremely insistent on doing things at his own pace, he was flawed in sociability.
Furthermore, they had not known each other for long. The girl whom Orihime had recently made friends with also seemed to be in love with him. However, clearly contrary to his usual style, this boy would often engage in inexplicable heroics.
That was the case yesterday as well as last time when he acted as a diversion to lead an elite dragon away—
"N-No. Never mind this, I must concentrate right now!"
Orihime shook her head forcefully and chastised herself.
"Haruga-kun, entrust the rune's power to me too. Please...!"
Logically speaking, her voice could not possibly reach his ears. However, the magical bond would surely transmit the message to him.
Sure enough, the Rune of the Bow appeared on the back of her left hand, then on Akuro-Ou's nine tails. A black arrowhead manifested near the tip of each tail.
These were stone arrowheads formed from a sharpened material resembling obsidian.
The nine arrowheads were all hovering in midair, their sharp tips aimed at the T-Rex skeleton.
"Very well... Let us decide the match, fair and square!"
Like the enemy's Sword, these arrowheads were enchanted weapons and also the Bow that Akuro-Ou had obtained.
At the same time, Hal and Hazumi were preparing to launch a fast assault.
The forty or so Raptors were originally wandering the sky aimlessly in fear of Minadzuki. However, they were now enveloped in platinum-colored flames.
"This is bad. Can you defeat them before the Sword's rune strengthens them?"
"V-Very well. I will try and ask Minadzuki!"
Hazumi clasped her hands together, looked at her partner in the sky and began to pray.
During this time, Hal randomly chose a Raptor as a target and aimed the magic gun at it.
The Raptor was flying roughly a hundred meters above in the air. It was not a range one could snipe using a handgun. Nevertheless, Hal still shot without concern. With the ejection of an empty shell from the handgun, a red bullet of light flew into the sky at the same time.
The excessively sloppy shot from the dragonslaying gun was slightly off target.
Although at first glance, it looked like the bullet would only graze the Raptor that was burning with platinum-colored flames—along the way, the bullet corrected its trajectory to strike the enemy directly. Thus, the bullet of light pierced its prey's heart.
"Sure enough, rather than a gun, it'd be better to call it an outrageous magic projectile."
Hal muttered while watching the Raptor crash somewhere in the wasteland.
An exclusive weapon that only Haruga Haruomi could operate freely. As the one who facilitated its birth, he ought to feel satisfied with such a perfect result. However, the one issue of remaining ammunition troubled him.
"Take as much of my power as you need... Hence, Minadzuki, I am counting on you!"
At this moment, Hazumi cried out. Then Minadzuki responded to her call.
Having obtained a pair of golden wings, the leviathan in the form of a serpentine dragon was originally overhead protecting Hal and Hazumi like a guardian deity, but now, she spread her wings wide.
In addition, a white orb appeared in the palm of her right front limb, giving off dazzling radiance.
Minadzuki's singing was heard once more. The voice was reminiscent of a choir's solemn singing of hymns.
However, her voice also carried immense destructive power. While the song spread in the air, Raptors were disintegrating one after another.
It was a scene resembling the collapse of sand sculptures in the wind.
Raptors lost their form without warning, turning into white sand to be carried away by the wind.
"So amazing. I can't believe Minadzuki is capable of doing this..."
"That's the pseudo-divinity of Wind, I guess? But this is really over the top..."
Hazumi and Hal whispered in conversation while listening to the singing.
Raaaaaaa... Raaaaaaaa... Raaaaaaaaaa...
The dozens of Raptors in the air were beginning to disintegrate at the same time.
This was wind—in other words, ultrasonic waves produced from vibrations in the air. And it was strongly directional, allowing Minadzuki to disintegrate only the targeted enemies.
Having obtained new life, Minadzuki's powers had clearly improved greatly from before.
In merely a minute or two after she began singing, close to twenty Raptors had already been destroyed, turned into sand. The remainder would probably get wiped out in the same manner—But just as that thought crossed Hal's mind...
"O secret runes of Ruruk Soun! Grant my minions a brand new form!"
Pavel Galad chanted a mantra.
Four magic symbols were lined up over his head. This arrangement was "metal manipulation." Next, the remaining Raptors all disintegrated and Minadzuki stopped singing.
However, bones flew out of the corpses that had turned to sand then started descending towards the ground.
All bones were the color of dull steel. Like the T-Rex skeleton, these bones were also made of metal.
"Even the Raptors—even the bones of minions can turn into metal too!?"
The contents could be recycled even after defeat. Hal groaned.
Should one feel impressed with the metal specialist and alchemist? Turned into bone specimens, the Raptors flew in the air and landed.
Furthermore, the tips of their bone-only wings were fitted with dagger blades!
"Minadzuki, protect us!"
Hazumi instantly made her request, prompting Minadzuki to release lightning from the orb in her hand.
However, the targeted Raptor skeleton dodged at the last second and even flew past Minadzuki instead, slicing the emerald serpentine body using the dagger affixed to its right wing.
Kyuahhhhhhhhhh. The leviathan cried out in pain.
Hazumi screamed loudly too. The bone-only Raptors swarmed towards Hal's imperishable protection. Ten skeletons harassed the shield, using the daggers on their wings to stab the protection repeatedly.
With every stab, Hal's heart would convulse in pain.
"H-Haruga-san, are you alright!?"
"C-Compared to me, I'm afraid Minadzuki is probably in much greater pain..."
After answering Hazumi who was worrying about him, Hal pointed his magic gun at the sky.
The remaining Raptor skeletons had surrounded Minadzuki in the air, subjecting her to a flurry of frenzied slashes with the daggers on their wings. At this rate, Hal, Hazumi and her "serpent" were simply going to end up chopped to death together.
"Looks like... I'll need to use a special move now."
Hal made his decision. The magic gun responded with clicking sounds of operation.
Hal pulled the trigger without aiming because it was not needed. In the next instant, all the bullets rushed out the muzzle of the magic gun of steel and gold.
The sky shook from the rumble of consecutive shots, fired at super high speed. The twenty-seven bullets were meant to be emptied in an instant.
Fully automatic fire. This was the mode where bullets would be shot continuously while the trigger was depressed.
If single shots or triple bursts could be considered normal moves in a fighting game, then this was undoubtedly a special move. Twenty-seven bullets of red light chased his targets, flying autonomously all over the sky.
Thanks to that, all Raptor skeletons were instantly shot to death.
Whether those harassing the light of protection or surrounding Minadzuki, all of them were eliminated. Although Hal even wanted to target Galad in the air as well, in the end, he cancelled the notion.
Such fierce firepower was only possible due to firing continuously all at once. Random isolated shots were meaningless.
"The dragonslaying bow you created is truly peculiar."
After his subordinates were eliminated, Galad landed on the ground.
He looked very stately, even giving an impression like the general leading a great army.
"A weapon unknown to dragons... A bow that spits out fiery stones? Magnificently done. You humans have not neglected to advance war research, thus creating new power."
"I think this type of weapon is frequently used against your kind, actually..."
"I stand corrected. My apologies, I never noticed."
It looked like the cannons and missiles fired by mankind so far had failed to catch Galad's eye.
Hal sighed despite his magic gun receiving approval even from a valorous warrior among dragons.
"It's clearly a magic weapon, yet it runs out of bullets..."
While Hal was muttering to himself, the magazine was ejected from the gun's grip.
Having started using the magic gun since yesterday, Hal had pretty much mastered its basic functionality.
He could select between single shots, triple bursts or full auto. The bullet capacity was thirty shots. The magazines were automatically generated by strange magic and reloaded. However, it required several minutes to do so—
Using this amount of bullets for fully automatic fire would mean running out of ammo in an instant.
"I guess I can only rely on this barrier and Minadzuki for the time being..."
Guarded by imperishable protection, Hal and Galad glared at each other amidst their respective glow.
Meanwhile, the underclassman aspiring to become Hal's assistant spoke up, "D-Don't worry. Minadzuki says she can endure!"
"Well actually, I just thought of something annoying."
Indeed, Minadzuki was currently keeping Galad restrained with a proud and threatening pose. Although the serpentine dragon had over ten lacerations distributed over her body, she could still fight.
Galad raised the dragonslaying sword towards Minadzuki in her current state.
"Intervening in a fight between successors would require a soul that refuses to bow down to the might of dragonbane. O imitation, do you have what it takes?"
Minadzuki's entire body suddenly went stiff, immobilized. She had been bound by the dragonslaying weapon.
Akuro-Ou had suffered at Raak Al Soth's hands previously. Ordinary leviathans were unable to resist that sort of pressure.
"Thus, we have plunged into a hopeless crisis..."
Although his choice of words sounded like a joke, Hal's tone was very serious.
Once again, he shielded Hazumi behind him and waited for the enemy to announce his intentions. Rather, that was all he could do.
"Shirasaka, tell Minadzuki to retreat first. She'll get taken out at this rate!"
"Y-Yes! Take a break for a while, Minadzuki!"
Responding to instructions from humans, the serpentine dragon leviathan vanished.
In response, Galad pointed the dragonslaying sword's blade straight at the sky.
"Since you have exhibited a technique of assured annihilation, I must respond with magic of equal standing..."
"So the enemy really has this kind of thing too..."
If the magic gun had a special move, then of course, the dragonslaying sword would have a trump card too.
This was totally logical. While Hal concentrated with bated breath, Galad yelled ferociously.
"O secret runes of Ruruk Soun, lend me the power to bring about annihilation!"
Nineteen magic symbols manifested right next to the sword's blade. This arrangement meant "I summon the thunder god's sword to unsheathe in haste"—
Then the sky was suddenly covered in dark clouds while lightning began to strike the land.
"O dragonslaying sword! Summon lightning from the sky to constitute the thunder god's sword!"
Lightning surrounded the longsword infused with dragonslaying magical power.
Next, the white lightning congealed behind Pavel Galad to form a great serpent.
A serpent of lightning was born. And this serpent continued to absorb lightning falling from the sky, gradually growing in size!
"Fufu, the dragonslaying bow seems to have exhausted its arrows. In that case, I shall summon lightning without fear."
"Yeah, without bullets, I can't stop you either..."
The lightning serpent had grown to a length of a hundred meters.
Hal grumbled while Hazumi gasped in suffering. Could imperishable protection withstand the "thunder god's sword" used by Galad? Probably not was Hal's conclusion.
He glanced at the magic gun. The magazine had not reloaded yet.
In that case, he could only rely on aid from comrades—
Galad's minion, the T-Rex skeleton.
After fitting a dragonslaying sword on its tail bone, it instantly became several times more dangerous because the chain-like tail was swinging with speed and agility rivaling a master swordsman, controlling the longsword splendidly.
Even a kendo practitioner such as Orihime was feeling impressed by the fierce swordsmanship.
"Hurry and dodge, Akuro-Ou!"
Despite her command, even the nimble Akuro-Ou could not evade entirely.
It happened again. Despite jumping back to dodge the T-Rex skeleton's sword in a horizontal sweep of its tail, Akuro-Ou suffered a slight cut in the area of her right shoulder. Some of Akuro-Ou's white fur fell on the asphalt road surface.
"We should use a weapon too—Use that Bow!"
Nine black arrowheads were hovering at the tips of Akuro-Ou's nine tails.
One arrowhead's tip fired a red flash of light akin to an arrow. Struck by the flash, the T-Rex skeleton was blown away, tilting backwards, but not to the point of falling over.
Despite a dent in the ribs area, it continued to move with agility.
Rushing into point blank range in front of Akuro-Ou's chest, the skeleton swung the longsword on its tail.
"So resilient... Is this also thanks to the Rune of the Sword?"
A tough opponent as expected. Orihime did not know if the vassal covenant was the reason, but she spontaneously learned how to use the Rune of the Bow. She even sensed that she could achieve total victory just by using a trump card.
Because vassals were able to use special moves too—In the case of Haruga Haruomi's magic gun, it was fully automatic fire.
"Fire magic... I've already used pseudo-divinity once, which means I can't be too wasteful with it. But right now, it would be best to be more decisive."
Akuro-Ou was currently dodging sword attacks using a quadrupedal beast's agility.
But judging from the enemy's skill with the sword, it would come as no surprise if Akuro-Ou's defenses were to fall any moment.
"Akuro-Ou, blow that thing away with massive flames!"
Orihime commanded with determination.
The black arrowheads on the tips of Akuro-Ou's nine tails glowed, releasing flames at the same time. The nine flames swallowed the T-Rex skeleton.
Her next instruction was to attack continuously while magical power from divinity lasted, using the same principle as fully automatic fire—
Orihime intended to shoot flames nonstop until the metal skeleton was incinerated to nothing.
This went on for dozens of seconds. Inside the flames, the T-Rex sank to its knees. Its front limbs fell off its body while it fell over forwards. But not long after she felt certain of victory, Orihime was suddenly stunned.
The skull of the T-Rex skeleton flew out of the flames.
More precisely, it was the skull with the spine, together with the attached tail and the longsword—Orihime understood. This skeleton was not living to begin with. Instead, it was an imitation lifeform created by magic.
Even if the absurd phenomenon of a skull and spine moving on its own would be nothing to be surprised about!
The T-Rex skeleton bit the white fox-wolf fiercely in the left shoulder. In such a state, it even swung its tail bone with lightning speed, producing a flash of the sword.
Such aggressive swordsmanship. This attack severed one of the nine tails.
Akuro-Ou screamed in pain but her eyes continued to burn with fighting spirit!
"We'll strike back, Akuro-Ou!"
Orihime yelled. Likewise, the enemy was within close combat range.
Akuro-Ou lifted a tail. Long to begin with, the tail stretched further like rubber, delivering a devastating blow to the T-Rex's skull like a left hook from a human boxer.
Things did not end with just one attack. The remaining seven tails launched seven hooks in succession!
Unable to the withstand the attacks, the T-Rex skeleton tilted back.
Then its jaws loosened, thus freeing Akuro-Ou. The white fox-wolf immediately lifted her head and bit the T-Rex's neck—or rather, its neck bone—sinking her fangs deeply!
"Release hot breath just like that!"
A breath attack released while biting the enemy, pouring all destructive power into the enemy's body.
Asya had used the same tactic before. Akuro-Ou immediately discharged a heat beam, scorching the T-Rex skeleton's neck bone like a burner.
Seeing that the resilient skeleton specimen had finally stopped moving, Orihime breathed a sigh of relief.
However, there was no time to rest.
By the time anyone noticed, the sky was filled with dark clouds while lightning descended repeatedly.
Orihime looked towards the Diet Building, only to see Pavel Galad raising the dragonslaying sword up high. Then a gigantic lightning serpent appeared behind him, raising its scythe-like neck.
The lightning serpent's head was almost as tall as the roof of a nearby high-rise building!
"Hurry, Akuro-Ou! Go and help Hazumi and Haruga-kun!"
The instant Orihime yelled, Pavel Galad swung his dragonslaying sword downwards.
Enveloped in lightning, the blade attacked the protection guarding Haruga Haruomi and her cousin. At first glance, the pearly radiance managed to withstand the sword strike, but...
The long and stout lightning serpent's lower jaw descended like lightning together with the sword.
The rumbling resounded across the sky. The immense lightning released light that dyed western Shinjuku white.
Haruga Haruomi proceeded to scream inside his imperishable protection.
Then he fell over forwards. Although he seemed unharmed from a distance, the lightning slash just now seemed to carry a mysterious power that inflicted a severe blow to him. Lying on the ground, his body was shaking slightly as though electrically shocked. He also seemed unconscious.
Hazumi cried out from beside him. Orihime's cousin was safe and sound, but the imperishable protection guarding the pair had vanished. Was it because Haruomi fainted?
She must not let her cousin and friend die. Despite feeling her heart invaded by despair, Orihime still urged Akuro-Ou to take action. Just at that moment—
A giant blue shadow descended rapidly from the distant sky above, accompanied by supersonic shockwaves.
"Still, for a foreign helper to arrive in Japan on the day of the battle, that's far too last minute."
"On the other hand, do note that she is a powerful master-class witch. Cut the grumbling when the Trans-Pacific's most powerful ace has agreed to come over."
On the final morning of the deadline period set by the silver-white elite dragon, two members of SAURU's Kantou branch were having this conversation.
Kenjou Genya was full of complaints while his boss, Hiiragi Yukari answered him.
They were currently at a hotel lobby, sitting on a sofa, having coffee.
"The Trans-Pacific's ace... In other words—"
"Yes, the one whom Asya-san knows."
"Isn't she the veritable Shootdown Ace as well as an executive in the organization? I'm impressed that you were able to hire someone of this caliber."
"Actually—I can't claim the credit. Because dragons have showed up in Japan unusually frequently these past few months, she had already made plans to visit Japan to carry out an investigation."
"Even so, it's still something to celebrate."
Kenjou rubbed his bearded chin and whispered. His suit was heavily wrinkled, looking even more uncouth than usual, presumably because he had been busy with the elite dragon incident these past few days.
"She is expected to land in Haneda Airport at 10am via a special plane prepared by the American military."
"Understood. By the way, is Europe's former Shootdown Ace still not ready?"
"Should be soon? She apparently woke up in hunger at five or six this morning."
This hotel was where Asya Rubashvili was staying.
Kenjou and Yukari had come here early in the morning to pick her up, holding a meeting while having breakfast. At this moment, a member of the hotel's front desk staff came over to them, carrying a cute yet solemn brown envelop on a tray.
Yukari took the envelop and read the contents. It was a letter.
"It's common for master-class witches to ignore collaborative relationships and take action on their own... But this is really too sudden."
Written concisely, the letter explained that the battle had to start ahead of time due to tactical reasons. In addition, there was also a brief note that Orihime and Akuro-Ou had been rescued, but without details.
This unexpected development caused Yukari to frown.
Asya entered Old Tokyo before daybreak. Instead of meeting with her comrades, she went to western Shinjuku on her own first then silently observed the battle flow.
Late last night, she had already discussed battle preparations over a satellite phone.
"Haruomi seemed inexplicably thrilled yesterday... His voice sounded a bit excited."
An hour before the date changed at midnight, she had received a call from Haruomi. But after the conversation, the subtle sense of dissonance was arousing Asya's suspicions.
(Haruga Haruomi's emotional changes were caused by the unexpected accident during Orihime's bath, but of course, there was no way for Asya to know.)
Regardless, the problem at hand was the showdown against Pavel Galad.
Asya looked at the back of her left hand, where the Rune of the Bow was currently visible. The Rune of the Bow would naturally appear to accompany heightened intent to fight dragons. Then she looked down at the world below.
Asya's current location was a roof of some building near the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building—
Holding binoculars, she watched the battlefield and wasteland of western Shinjuku from the edge.
"It's about time to enter the fray..."
She had been told that her childhood friend could now use the Rune of the Bow skillfully.
Presumably due to this, Asya also felt fully confident. She was convinced that she could use that rune of Ruruk Soun even more viciously. By applying the rune's power to a "gun" framework, it became easier to control.
As she was right now—She could do it! With unshakable confidence, Asya watched the battle before her eyes.
Pavel Galad finally swung down the most powerful blade strike.
The lightning serpent also lifted its head and twisted its long and stout body. Seeing that, Asya nodded. The instant Galad was about to swing his sword, she summoned her partner.
"O ancient divine seal of purity, send the transient blue dragon to the ground!"
Amidst the dark thunderclouds in the sky above, a light shone. Right now, the pentagram was probably transforming in an infinity symbol inside the clouds, then turning into a blue wyvern.
"Rushalka, get it done in one go."
In fact, there was the option of sniping from the stratosphere but Asya did not choose that approach.
To obtain far greater destructive power, she launched a double attack.
"Use pseudo-divinity to change forms. Begin to accelerate!"
The injured "serpent" responded to her covenantee's orders with a roar.
In the next instant, Rushalka flew out from the thunderclouds.
But instead of moving towards the ground, she flew higher up in the sky. Her body exhibited blue transparency.
Water—She had invoked pseudo-divinity to turn her body into a mass of water.
In this manner, Rushalka began to accelerate and descend. Flying above the thunderclouds was for securing the necessary distance for acceleration.
Accelerating nonstop, she finally broke the sound barrier.
A living body of flesh could not withstand this level of acceleration, but as a wyvern-shaped mass of water, it was a different matter. The mass of water, measured in tons, released shockwaves while descending rapidly at supersonic speed. Then she crashed violently into Pavel Galad's back.
Indeed, she crashed into the dragon who was about to chop Haruomi with the most powerful and biggest slash.
When swinging his thunder god's sword, his back and wings were exposed and completely unguarded.
Rushalka crashed violently there. A thunderous roar, impact and explosive wind ensued—
Despite getting struck in the back by Rushalka's supersonic charge, Galad still withstood it.
Keeping him unscathed in spite of such a hit, imperishable protection was truly terrifying. However, the protection could not dissipate the pressure from the supersonic collision. The silver dragon's gigantic body was sent flying in an instant.
Together with Rushalka, he rolled towards a certain high-rise building's spacious parking lot.
However, Asya's blue partner immediately stood up, prepared to fight.
"Rushalka, use pseudo-divinity to attack—Ice Storm!"
The real attack was next. Asya immediately issued orders.
Rushalka dispelled her transformation, returning to a wyvern's physical body as usual. Furthermore, dozens of white arrowheads of stone appeared behind her.
An enchanted weapon similar in appearance to Akuro-Ou's arrowheads, this was Rushalka's "Bow."
"Also use the rune's magical power for full burst!"
Asya ordered Rushalka to perform what was equivalent to the full auto attack of Haruomi's magic gun.
Dozens of white arrowheads flew towards the dragon. However, they rushed about in a flurry to generate a tornado instead of striking directly.
An ice tornado with ice, snow and cold air in a swirling vortex.
The arrowhead's tips repeatedly fired blue-white flashes of light at Galad in the center of the tornado.
These were dragonslaying lasers that could puncture even elite dragons. The lasers attacked Pavel Galad from all directions like fully automatic gunfire from heavy machine guns.
"O blue imitation, I was thinking you would make your appearance sooner or later..."
Bathed in the full burst attack of ice, Galad groaned.
He was unharmed thanks to imperishable protection. However, he was down on one knee with his left hand clutching his chest. Just as Asya had heard from Haruomi, his heartmetal was currently under immense strain.
In that state, it should be difficult for him to counterattack. But in spite of that, Galad still roared ferociously.
"Do you think I would not make preparations for an ambush!?"
"A rune of Ruruk Soun!?"
A magic symbol appeared in front of Galad.
A rune implying "swift execution of instructions." Watching the battle from a rooftop, Asya jumped in surprise. Galad was not holding the dragonslaying sword in his hand!
By the time she noticed, the sword had floated up into the air. It was also accompanied by white lightning.
Next, the dragonslaying sword turned into the thunder god's sword and flew rapidly at Rushalka!
However, the white fox-wolf rushed out, guided by Orihime's voice.
Indeed, she rushed to Rushalka's side. At the last moment, Akuro-Ou curled one of her extended tails around Asya's partner and dragged her away.
Consequently, the dragonslaying sword missed its target and stabbed into the ground instead...
"In that case!"
This time, Galad opened his jaws wide and expelled blue-white flames.
Naturally, the conflagration's target was Rushalka. Unless Asya invoked pseudo-divinity to defend, her partner would face certain death—
However, what came out of Asya's mouth were completely opposite instructions.
"Rushalka, using the pseudo-divinity you're currently using—Perform a Double Cast!"
Ignoring the advice of rationality, Asya followed instinct to abandon defense.
Kyuahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! The blue wyvern howled. Repeatedly launching attacks from the arrowheads and pseudo-divinity, she further strengthened the barrage of blue-white lasers.
Asya felt entirely drained of strength. Her body felt as cold as ice.
These symptoms resembled anemia. Witches would suffer from frightening consumption when performing a Double Cast of pseudo-divinity. Control of the "serpent" also became difficult.
Even so, Asya still gritted her teeth and forced herself to sustain the full burst attack.
The frontal showdown between the flames and the laser barrage ended in a draw.
Galad roared loudly and collapsed. The pearly radiance vanished suddenly while lasers descending from all directions viciously sliced his gigantic silver-white body.
However, Rushalka also fell down with a cry of "kyuahhhhhhhhhh!"
With both sides collapsing on the ground, the lasers, blizzard and conflagration all vanished.
Spurring her staggering body, Asya made her way to the roof's exit.
"A-Are you really alright? Haruga-san!?"
"Yeah, well enough... Urgh. How many minutes was my heart actually stopped...?"
Back when Pavel Galad had swung the thunder god's sword...
Despite withstanding the direct strike from the sword itself, the massive lightning had severely damaged the imperishable protection, causing its user, Hal, to collapse from cardiac paralysis.
Even so, he was still hazily conscious and did not faint. This was truly absurd.
Having witnessed everything at close range, Hazumi cried and ran over to hug him tightly. But during this time, Hal was still able to watch the entire process with glazed eyes despite his immobile body.
Once he was finally capable of speaking, he opened his mouth to comfort Hazumi.
"B-Because you stopped breathing all this time, I thought it was over for you—"
"Me too. I'm surprised I survived..."
Under Hazumi's tearful gaze, Hal finally got up.
Meanwhile, the silver-white dragon and the blue wyvern were collapsed on the ground. Asya had come to Hal's aid the moment before he was going to be struck by a fatal blow.
"It was worth being bait to serve retribution to that Galad..."
Hal exhaled in relief because the plan went off without a hitch.
Using the most durable unit to lure the enemy away first, then flanking the enemy using units with excellent mobility and striking power to ambush, surround and attack the enemy's side and back—These were tactics that humans had already developed since the time of the ancient Greeks and reportedly put to good use by Alexander the Great and Hannibal, the famed Carthaginian general.
Usually in ancient times, infantry was used as bait while cavalry forces were in charge of assault.
"The protection is clearly more durable than 'serpents' after all, so I guess this is playing to strengths... But it's really bad for the heart, in various ways..."
"Yes... My lifespan has been shortened too..."
Having shared the role as bait, Hazumi nodded as well.
It was truly wonderful that she was safe and sound. Hal thought that from the bottom of his heart and exhaled deeply.
Then driven by a certain sense of premonition, he turned his gaze to the enemy. During the battle just now, Rushalka was knocked out completely. But the other side was about to push up his upper body now.
Next to Hal, Hazumi gasped "!?"
Indeed, Pavel Galad was gradually recovering like Hal.
"Akuro-Ou! Use the Bow again with fire magic!"
Seeing Pavel Galad still surviving, Orihime swiftly issued orders. Acting separately from Hal's group, she was currently running towards them.
Responding to Orihime's command, Akuro-Ou's Bow, namely, the nine arrowheads, released flames at the same time.
Swallowed by the vortex of nine flames, Galad suffered in pain.
The pearly light—imperishable protection—was defending him, but it had become very dim, almost about to vanish. At this moment, Hal made a discovery.
Due to Rushalka's attack weakening his heart, or equivalently, his heartmetal, it had also diminished the protection's power.
But before the pearly light disappeared completely, Galad pounced towards Akuro-Ou.
And his right hand was wielding the dragonslaying sword he had called back!
"Flames of this level cannot burn me to death!"
Shouting valorously, he raised the dragonslaying sword for a downward swing. His target was Akuro-Ou's head. The white fox-wolf barely dodged but her left shoulder—the base of her front limb—was slashed viciously.
Akuro-Ou screamed in pain. Galad used this opportunity to swing his long tail as a dragon, pummeling the fox-wolf's body with a horizontal blow like using a log.
Then when his opponent shrank back as a result, he made a forward thrust with his sword.
The blade brushed past Akuro-Ou's neck. Red blood splattered out.
Next, Galad spewed out blue-white flames to burn the white fox-wolf's entire body. Burning and burning, he tried to burn his target to oblivion.
"Disappear for now, Akuro-Ou! You'll die at this rate...!"
The fox-wolf's gigantic body vanished from the earth at Orihime's command.
Galad ended the discharge of flames then turned his eyes, filled with fighting spirit—to Hal on the ground.
"Successor of the Bow, we have both lost subordinates and now it is finally time for a one-on-one duel. How elating."
"I don't share that kind of mood. Get lost."
While cursing his enemy, Hal mentally thanked Orihime and Akuro-Ou.
Thanks to them, he had made it in the nick of time. With a mechanical click, the magic gun's magazine was finally reloaded. Hal immediately started shooting.
BANG! BANG! BANG!
Galad had escaped in the air. The bullets missed their mark.
However, the three bullets of red light chased after the target that was rising in the air. This was homing functionality resembling that of air-to-air missiles.
"Fufu, the Bow is truly hard to handle without protection!"
In contrast to what he was saying, Galad's voice was filled with joy.
The silver dragon swerved in flight to disrupt the homing bullets while raising an index finger from his dragon hand. On that fingertip, a magic symbol was flashing brightly.
"O rune of Ruruk Soun, grant me more powerful wings!'
The gigantic silver body accelerated dramatically, instantly leaving western Shinjuku's sky.
"S-So this is the magic of High-Speed Flight...?"
Asya's voice. Panting heavily, she was approaching. Spurring her body that had been severely drained by Double Casting, she was running over here.
"He couldn't possibly have fled. Is he planning to withdraw temporarily and regroup?"
"It's called protection, right? How long does it take to recover?"
Hal stared at his magic gun, the gun-shaped "magic wand."
It was a guide to controlling the power of dragonbane. Whenever Hal wanted to learn about the Rune of the Bow's powers, it would provide him with instinctive understanding. Hal had taken action after becoming aware of this.
"A full recovery after giving the heart half a day's rest, apparently."
"In that case, we have to end things here. Considering that dragon's personality—"
"He'll likely return immediately. But it would be great if he had fled for real."
Hal nodded and agreed with Asya's speculation. Then he said, "Everyone, I will try fighting alone for the next part."
"Indeed, that might be for the best..."
In contrast to the surprised Orihime and Hazumi, Asya was the only one who nodded in agreement.
"Our 'serpents' have already reached their limits. Given the current situation, it's very hard for us to support Haruomi. Fighting alone might turn out to be easier."
Hal smiled wryly. As expected of the childhood friend, bound to him by rotten fate. It was great that they reached consensus so quickly.
"B-But my Minadzuki can still move!"
"She gets frozen just from the sight of the sword, right?"
That was Hal's reply to Hazumi's protest. Judging from the fact that Rushalka and Akuro-Ou were fine in this regard, establishing a vassal covenant probably conferred the ability to withstand it.
However, Minadzuki had not been involved with that covenant.
"I have no intention of dying or committing suicide, so don't worry, Juujouji. Also—"
Confronted with Orihime who was unsure whether she should stop him or encourage him, Hal said, "Starting last night, I've felt that my luck has been riding on a peak. What happened last night was definitely more effective than praying to a goddess of fortune."
"W-Wait, what are you referring to by 'what happened'—!?"
"Anyway, that's that. I'll be back."
Finishing in as relaxed a tone as possible, Hal turned his back to the witches.
He decided to advance towards the north side of the former Metropolitan Government Building first. Concentrated there were luxury hotels, university hospitals, etc.
Indulging himself in a sense of martyrdom while heading to his death, that was totally behavior unlike himself. Besides, he had no interest of that sort. Hal hoped as much as possible to stick to his usual attitude.
Even so, he still could not help but run uncontrollably.
"Orihime-san, we still have things to try."
Hearing what Asya said, Orihime jumped in fright, because she had sunk into deep thought while staring at Haruga Haruomi's back as he left.
"W-What kind of plan do you have?"
"Let's talk about the details while we walk. We need to hurry over to Rushalka."
The senior witch's gaze was cast towards her partner who was all covered in wounds. The blue wyvern was lying on the asphalt, collapsed in exhaustion.
Her body was not in peak condition to begin with. Then there was overuse of pseudo-divinity and Pavel Galad's flames.
The combined effect of these factors had pushed Rushalka to the limit. However, Asya seemed like she still intended to have Rushalka do something. For the sake of victory, such mercilessness was surely necessary—
As a swordswoman with nation-wide renown, Orihime nodded strongly.
"...Yes. Boys resembling the Black Ranger or the Blue Ranger shouldn't be my cup of tea, but this no longer matters now..."
To hide the worry in her heart when watching Hal leave, Orihime whispered softly.
"? Orihime-san, did you just say something?"
"The same goes for you, Hazumi-san. Even if Minadzuki can't fight the enemy directly, there might still be things she could do."
"Y-Yes. Please give the order no matter what it is!"
Hazumi answered with strong morale in response to Asya. The cousin with the quiet personality was showing a dignified and determined countenance in a rare display.
The battle was not over yet. The three girls hurried over to the "serpent" that was collapsed on the ground.
Hal sneaked into a certain office building's top floor.
With only eight floors, it was definitely no high-rise building. Climbing sixty floors or something when elevators were not in service? Hal would never do that.
"But trying to snipe through a building's ceiling is pretty absurd too."
This floor seemed like it used to be some sort of company. While lying on what appeared to be the reception sofa, Hal toyed with the magic gun of steel and gold in his right hand.
If Galad flew towards Hal, Hal would fire his gun to snipe him—This was fairly simple as a plan.
Hal was relying on the magic gun's firepower and ability to search for the enemy. Shooting through the ceiling was not a problem. Capturing the enemy, who was out of sight, to launch a sniping attack did not count as hard either.
"What's next is to see which of us can land a preemptive strike..."
Galad was probably going to use investigative magic to target Hal who was out of sight.
Whose ability to search the enemy was stronger—Unknown so far. Impossible to predict.
This was a gamble. Hal only had one source of hope. Last time, Raak Al Soth did not have an easy time locating Hal after losing his trail. Conversely, the magic gun of steel and gold allowed Hal to effortlessly locate Galad even when out of sight...
"But this alone would be totally unreliable."
Hal felt his shirt pocket to confirm the pocket watch's tactile sensation.
This was the Clockwork Mage that he had just used to perform magic. Hal had used Sound Suppression, Visual Interference, Olfactory Nullification as well as Enemy Detection magic together.
Having exhausted all methods at his disposal, Hal was currently waiting for his gamble to bear fruit.
"I hope fortune will favor me..."
The instant he whispered, Hal felt the enemy's presence.
He closed his eyes. Thanks to Enemy Detection magic working in conjunction with the magic gun, his senses were even sharper than when his vision was obscured by explosive flames.
Pavel Galad's massive body was flying back and forth at high speed over western Shinjuku.
He was probably swerving greatly as a precaution against Hal's long-distance shooting.
He was currently trying to disrupt Hal's aim. Stalling for time in this manner so as to seek out the location where Hal was hiding...
However, given this level of speed and aerial mobility—Hal pointed his magic gun at the ceiling.
Some elite dragons were able to survive even when their heads were destroyed.
Hence, Hal aimed for the chest. This was to pierce a dragon's greatest vulnerability, the heartmetal.
While lying on the sofa, Hal proceeded to pull the trigger thrice in succession. Three bullets of red light were shot from the muzzle, opening a large hole in the building's ceiling before flying out.
Then the bullets struck their target. All three shots had hit. That was the feeling Hal received.
For an instant, Hal felt troubled by his inability to confirm victory.
The target suddenly accelerated to descend towards the ground. And straight towards him, rapidly descending towards the top of the building where Hal was hiding. Hal instantly deployed imperishable protection.
Next, a thunderous crash resounded in all directions.
The building's ceiling easily collapsed with a large amount of rubble falling down. When the blue sky and the silver dragon's massive body appeared before his eyes, blue-white flames instantly surged into Hal's floor.
Thanks to protection, Hal was unhurt. However, he was buried alive by the collapsed ceiling. Debris of varying sizes was piled on top of the pearly light. Apart from that, he could not see anything.
And the light of protection was about to vanish.
Hal's heart had taken quite a lot of damage too. He immediately raised the magic gun to fire in triple burst mode.
The surrounding debris was blown away in one go, clearing out his field of vision.
The blue sky and Galad's gigantic body, hovering motionlessly in the air, entered his view. Galad had pulled back slightly from the building, holding the dragonslaying sword in one hand. Despite clearly being a dragon, he was using a fencing pose.
Hal used the magic gun to attack in burst mode. Three bullets of light were fired at the same time—
"O dragonslaying sword! Carrying the sword god's favored affection, bring victory to me!"
However, Galad used the dragonslaying sword to deflect all three bullets of light in the air.
Fast as lightning. His masterful swordsmanship had reached the realm of divine skills. Seventeen glowing runes of Ruruk Soun also surrounded the dragonslaying sword.
The runes meant "O blue sky, I beseech you to grant the sword god's favored affection unto my blade."
"A technique of assured annihilation, hidden within the dragonslaying sword... Do not think that the thunder god's sword is the only one."
"No, no, even as a special move, using a sword to defend against a gun is too much of a cheat..."
Realizing that the earlier sniping attack had been cut down in the same manner, Hal sighed.
Living up to its name as a trump card of dragonslaying power, its absurdity knew no bounds.
"However, my gun is also convenient to the point of cheating a little too."
"Indeed you are right. Putting aside the various dragon kings, one probably could not find among the dragons an opponent as troublesome as you."
Hovering in the air, Galad opened his jaws wide. He looked like he intended to breathe fire.
How much longer could Hal's protection last when it was about to vanish? Several seconds or ten-odd seconds...?
Hal reflexively fired a shot. However, it was deflected by the dragonslaying sword.
This was why the enemy did not approach. At extremely close distances, it would be hard to defend against gunshots.
Hal began to feel anxious. If he fired with full auto, he could probably get past that sword to attack a dragon's greatest vulnerability—the heart. However, Galad would probably prioritize defense. Chances of success were likely to be quite low.
However, there was no chance of victory unless Hal tried his luck...
Hal realized this was the devil's temptation. He could not possibly obtain a good outcome even if he risked everything on a gamble. But if he surrendered here, the outcome was undoubtedly certain death—
At this moment, Akuro-Ou pounced.
She bit Galad's neck without warning. Orihime's "serpent" had one of her tails severed, leaving eight. In addition, the fox-wolf's expression was unprecedentedly violent.
Collapsed on the ground, Rushalka had reached her limit.
However, Asya ordered her to invoke the pseudo-divinity of the Moon. This was an affinity governing faint moonlight, dark nights and disorientation. To put it further, even insanity was also—
Ever since ancient times, moonlight was something that induced madness in people. The night of the full moon was also what turned ordinary people into werewolves.
"Among our 'serpents,' Akuro-Ou is the only one who can fight right now."
"But the injury suffered earlier is causing Akuro-Ou terrible pain... I don't think she can fight without issue."
Confronted with Orihime's opinion, Asya replied.
"I will use Rushalka's pseudo-divinity to bring about madness, to make Akuro-Ou go berserk temporarily."
"Yes. Although it becomes impossible for her to obey trivial commands, at least it'll help her forget the pain, to charge with greater vigor than before."
After Rushalka released her physical form, Asya stood on the ground, looking up at the sky.
Because she had concluded that she and the other witch were going to become burdens.
"Will Nee-sama and Akuro-Ou be fine...?"
"The most we can do is pray for our friends' good fortune. We will now watch quietly to see how things wrap up."
Asya nodded and replied to Hazumi next to her, who was murmuring to herself in worry.
"M-Making Akuro-Ou go berserk huh..."
Realizing this was his childhood friend's idea, Hal muttered.
The berserk Akuro-Ou was astounding in horsepower. No sooner had she ascended rapidly like a rocket than she seized an opening to bite Pavel Galad's throat and even chewed on his neck.
In an attempt to tear Akuro-Ou off him, Galad grabbed the fox-wolf's lower jaw with his left hand that was not wielding the sword.
"Guh...! Stop interfering!"
"I've got to thank Asya and Juujouji," Hal whispered. Now was an opportunity to snipe successfully.
He raised the magic gun and pointed at the silver dragon that was wrestling with the fox-wolf in the air. The target was the heart. Although there was interference from Akuro-Ou on top of Galad's body, that was not a problem.
Hal imagined the ballistic trajectory while firing the magic gun.
A bullet of red light shot out from the muzzle. Its trajectory swerved greatly when flying past the dragon, tracing out a U-shape to attack Galad's back!
However, the valorous warrior of the dragons was no pushover.
"O dragonslaying sword, receiving the sword god's favored affection, become my clone!"
He suddenly tossed away the dragonslaying sword in his hand.
Unbelievably, a technique of assured annihilation, "the sword god's favored affection," was controlling the blade like an invisible swordsman, swatting the dragonslaying gunshot away!
Next, the sword made a rapid descent like a bolt of lightning, aiming for the building's top floor—aiming for the floor that had become the roof after the ceiling vanished—to attack Hal from above.
It looked like Galad intended to kill Hal off before dealing with the vassals. Hal instantly pointed the magic gun at the sky. Now was the time to take a gamble. Hal had already prepared himself.
Instantly, he fired all his bullets in full auto mode. The target—the dragonslaying sword!
"If the weapons of both sides are on the same level...!"
Rather than a collision of spear and shield, this was a clash between two ultimate spears.
However, the dragonslaying sword itself—the Rune of the Sword—had left Galad's hand.
This meant that its magical power should have diminished. In that case—Hal prayed while watching where the bullets went and knew he had made the right gamble.
Shot in the blade by full auto gunfire of assured annihilation, the dragonslaying sword shattered over Hal's head.
Hal exhaled deeply. He had managed to survive, some way or another.
However, his ammunition was completely depleted. Right now, his destiny was in Akuro-Ou's hands. Hal looked up at the aerial battle between giant beasts, only to see that the tide was gradually shifting to one side.
The silver dragon held the advantage while the eight-tailed fox-wolf had fallen into an unfavorable predicament.
Due to casting away the dragonslaying sword, Galad could use both hands to grab Akuro-Ou's lower jaw and pull her off his neck.
Akuro-Ou was trying her best to recover her original posture.
The fox-wolf was pushing her face near the enemy by any means possible, trying to bite and sever Galad's neck.
"Haruga-kun, are you alright!?"
Hal jumped in surprise to hear Orihime's voice. Right now, he was on the top floor of a building that had lost its roof. The serpentine dragon leviathan that had acquired golden wings, Minadzuki, was flying towards him.
Equivalent to arms, the two front limbs had Orihime carefully cradled in her hands.
"I asked Hazumi to send me here!"
After telling Minadzuki to let her off, Orihime finally arrived at the building's top floor.
"I'm safe and sound, although I'm out of bullets again. By the way, what happened to Akuro-Ou?"
"You mean going berserk? Rushalka used magic to put her in that state so that she could forcibly pounce on that dragon... But she won't listen to me at all now."
"I was thinking I'd have a better shot if I went nearer... But it's still no good."
"Figures. But even in a berserk state, you can't really expect a 'serpent' to have the ability to take care of elites like Galad."
Hal sighed and looked at Akuro-Ou and Galad.
Galad had detached the eight-tailed fox-wolf from himself completely.
Thus the two of them continued to fight in the air. Galad swung his silver-white arms and tore through Akuro-Ou's pelt with his sharp claws. Using his long tail as a log, he pummeled Akuro-Ou's body. He even used his dragon jaws to bite back savagely.
With every attack, Akuro-Ou's crimson blood would splatter in the air.
"Akuro-Ou! At least use the Bow to attack!"
Hal did not know if Orihime's thoughts had gotten through, but nine arrowheads appeared above Akuro-Ou.
But before they attacked, Galad swung his five-clawed right hand. The instant the claws lacerated Akuro-Ou's face, the nine arrowheads were dispelled.
"Fufufufu, I cannot allow you to use that. Once I take care of this accursed minion, there will be nothing to bar me from victory!"
In response to Galad's bold declaration and cutting claws, Akuro-Ou roared in wrath.
Hal now noticed. The Rune of the Sword was visible on Galad's right palm—That hand and its claws had turned into a substitute for the dragonslaying sword!
Speaking of which, Minadzuki had been staying quietly by Hal and Orihime's side since just now.
The serpentine dragon with golden wings had her head bowed towards Galad, probably intimidated by the Rune of the Sword.
"Although it's probably not as sharp as the true dragonslaying sword... at this rate, Akuro-Ou can't win."
"If only I could give Akuro-Ou more power..."
"Sigh, if only I could further increase the Bow's firepower..."
Seeing Akuro-Ou at a disadvantage, Hal and Orihime both sounded gloomy.
Power, strength, output, destructive power. Just as both of them sincerely desired the factors that Akuro-Ou needed the most—A thought suddenly occurred to Hal and he stared at the magic gun in his right hand.
As before, the gun-shaped "magic wand" allowed him to understand the method instinctively.
Orihime was surprised probably because the magic gun had also told her how to accommodate Hal.
Then Hal recalled last evening's events.
Touching Hazumi's heart, Hinokagutsuchi had extracted Minadzuki's heartmetal from there.
A witch's heart was possibly the part most intimately linked to her leviathan's heartmetal. In that case, all he needed to do was follow the method told to him by the magic gun—
This extremely inappropriate method was making both of them blush and look down at the same time.
"W-What should I say...? I guess we'd better give up..."
"H-How unexpected. I was thinking that as a closeted something or other, Haruga-kun, you'd use this as an excuse."
"Don't be silly. Despite how closeted I am, I still have a gentleman's pride."
"B-But now isn't the time for such idle chatter, right?"
This time, they gazed at each other with blushing faces.
Surprisingly, Orihime seemed to be actively saying what could be construed as hurrying words. However, Hal did not have the kind of carnivorous personality that would allow him to accept readily. As a side note, he was completely inexperienced. What a conundrum.
Just as Hal's entire body froze, hesitating over what he should do, Orihime yelled:
"W-Woman is judged by her courage, man by his charm! Haruga-kun, stop thinking and just do it!"
"Y-You've gotten the proverb backwards, Juujouji."
"Quit yammering! Make it quick!"
Orihime suddenly leaned her back against Hal, entrusting her weight to him.
Hal and Juujouji Orihime were in close contact. Feeling her warmth through his body, smelling an abundantly feminine fragrance from her hair and uniform, Hal became extremely flustered.
At the same time, he felt troubled—To go further, even his emotions were getting excited.
"Right now... Only in times like these am I willing to offer you my body and soul. Hence, Haruga-kun, let's defeat that dragon together, okay...?"
Leaning her back against Hal, Orihime spoke with sadness.
She was quoting words that Hinokagutsuchi had used before. Hal could not see her face but he could imagine that it had most likely turned as red as a tomato.
"A-Also, just between you and me here."
"I-I also feel that going out with you might not be bad. Although it's just a tiny feeling. N-No, just slightly more than tiny."
"I worry immensely whenever you take risks, Haruga-kun, but my heart keeps pounding the whole time. My chest feels tight with a slightly painful feeling... Oh, forget what I just said. R-Regardless, I hope the two of us will be victorious together. Together with you, Haruga-kun!"
Listening to Orihime murmur in a voice that could not be more adorable, Hal could no longer think about anything.
He lost his hesitation and embraced Orihime tightly from behind. Then he maneuvered his right hand—the palm where the Rune of the Bow surfaced—in front of her and grabbed fiercely.
What he grabbed was her breast, the left side of Orihime's voluptuous bust—the place near the heart.
This was the softest and most elastic sensation Hal had ever known in the world.
Orihime began to moan. Unlike during Akuro-Ou's birth, she did not sound like she was in pain.
Instead, it sounded slightly bittersweet. This further ignited Hal's emotions that were heightened to begin with. Riding on rising feelings, the rune in his right hand began to output astounding magical power.
The magical power was sent into Orihime's heart, transmitting to the heartmetal of Akuro-Ou who was fighting desperately in the air—
The white eight-tailed fox-wolf roared with unprecedented intensity.
While Hal and Orihime were having their little argument, the silver-white dragon had vicious tore into Akuro-Ou's body repeatedly, covering her with slash wounds. However, the fox-wolf's ferocity now increased explosively.
A gigantic Rune of the Bow appeared in front of Akuro-Ou.
Naturally, Pavel Galad instantly swung his right hand and the Rune of the Sword, to rip apart the bow's enchanted crest—Or rather, he attempted to rip it apart.
However, the Rune of the Bow deflected Galad's claws this time.
The silver dragon stared in wide-eyed shock.
Because Akuro-Ou was currently shrouded in crimson flames. The flames burned all at once then exploded greatly. At point blank range, even Galad was blown away by the explosion's power and fell towards the wasteland.
"Those are... runes of Ruruk Soun?"
Amidst flames and the explosion, Hal saw twenty-one glowing magic symbols.
This arrangement implied "I will fire the sun-shooting divine bow at the sky, to exterminate the sun." A technique of assured annihilation infused with the dragonslaying bow, the sun-shooting divine bow—
"Use my vassal... Turn Akuro-Ou into an arrow to be fired...!?"
The instant Hal realized this, arrowheads appeared around the burning Akuro-Ou in the air.
Nine black arrowheads. Previously, they were each roughly the size of the fox-wolf's head, but now, they were almost as large as Akuro-Ou's own body—
Thus leading nine arrowheads, Akuro-Ou rapidly descended upon the wasteland, charging at the massive body of Galad who was trying to get up.
Then the flames rose. A gigantic pillar of fire appeared in a corner of western Shinjuku.
It was as gigantic as this area's landmark, the former Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building.
A pillar of fire exceeding two hundred meters in length. The intrepid silver dragon was burning inside it, helpless before the divine might of fire. His entire body was ravaged by the conflagration.
Currently, Pavel Galad was like a piece of iron that had been thrown into a furnace.
The crimson flames swirled in a vortex, incinerating the silver dragon's gigantic body with temperatures almost high enough to drive one insane.
In the end, the silver dragon exploded, leaving a parting scream—He literally met his demise in a glorious death.
But after witnessing this scene, Hal and Orihime did not even have excess energy remaining to rejoice.
"Probably. But since the enemy was crazy strong, it doesn't feel real to me at all..."
"Me too. That dragon was a bit too strong, too troublesome..."
Orihime was resting her weight on Hal. Hal was embracing Orihime from behind.
In this posture, the two of them collapsed on the floor together.
This was because they were utterly drained, unable to stand. These were symptoms similar to anemia, which appeared whenever witches severely depleted their stamina. In addition, the two of them were panting heavily.
Both of them were completely exhausted, as though they had completed an intense athletic competition as partners.
Then there was Orihime's supple body. Hal knew that her weight and warmth were surprisingly pleasurable, but if he did not hurry and get away...
Just as Hal felt anxious because his body could not move, Orihime suddenly apologized.
"Sorry, Haruga-kun. Umm... I-I'm very heavy, right?"
"O-Of course not. You're amazingly light. Yeah, I'm speaking the truth."
"B-But I'm not as slender as Asya-san. All over my body, uh, I suppose there's a lot of meat...? Anyway, there ought to be a certain level of weight..."
"No no, it's the opposite. Isn't this great?"
"Hey—Haruga-kun, you are a pervert after all!"
Despite the argument, their dialogue finally started to become familiar.
Just as the two of them found it inexplicably funny and laughed at the same time...
"You two won a great battle!"
"So amazing. I'm so touched!"
Asya and Hazumi's voices. The two of them were panting heavily.
They must have gone out of their way to climb the building's staircase to arrive, happy about the victory. However, Hal and Orihime received them with embarrassed feelings.
After all, for a boy and a girl to be lying lethargically on the ground in such a posture—
As expected, Hazumi's gaze wandered left and right while she spoke, "Eh? Haruga-san, Nee-sama, what on earth is this...?"
She was completely flustered, unsure what to do.
Then the veteran witch and Europe's former Shootdown Ace glared and yelled, "H-H-H-Haruomi and Orihime-san, what are you doing heeeeeere!?"
"N-No, it is not what you think, Asya-san. Hazumi too, calm down and listen to me. This was a necessary evil, unavoidable for the sake of fighting dragonkind...!"
Orihime desperately tried to explain.
On the other hand, Hal simply looked up at the clear blue sky as though escaping reality.
A helicopter rose into the air, accompanied by the noise of propeller blades. More than likely, it was carrying personnel involved with the MPD or the SDF, or possibly Hiiragi-san and her men.
Regardless, these organizations had probably monitored the battle.
"Explaining to them will be such a pain too..."
Hal could not help but grumble. However, this was all because he had survived.
As this thought crossed his mind, feelings of joy finally surged in his heart.
|Back to Chapter 5||Return to Main Page||Forward to Epilogue|