Leviathan:Volume 3 Chapter 2
Chapter 2 - The Girl of White Descends
There was a faint smell of burning in the air.
Pavel Galad could detect the presence of flames mixed in the atmosphere.
Those were no ordinary flames. Instead, this foul odor belonged to discharged flames that were stored within the bodies of dragons. Were there others of his kind lurking in these lands?
Galad scanned his surroundings with a sharp gaze. This was a city belonging to humans, very close to the sea.
Unbeknownst to Galad as a dragon, his current location was actually the residential district of Gasai in Tokyo New Town's Edogawa Ward.
He was currently walking along the sidewalk of a wide four-lane road.
The residential district was very quiet. Pedestrians and passing cars were few, without the slightest shadow that could resemble a dragon.
However, he could not lower his guard simply because of that. Currently, he was hunted prey. Prior to becoming dragon kings, inheritors of dragonslaying power were known as "Tyrannos" and would face hostility from other dragons. Galad hope to avoid encountering fellow dragons as much as possible.
Still, there were probably very few dragons capable of seeing through his disguise...
Pavel Galad was originally a giant silver-white dragon, but currently, he had taken the form of a human young man.
This was in order to hide among human settlements. He was even dressed in human shoes and clothing including a black open-collared shirt and chino pants. All this was to avoid attracting attention. Using a Hypnosis spell to put a man of similar build to sleep, he had stolen these articles of clothing. However—
"This again huh..."
Sensing gazes from young women, Galad frowned. Although he had taken human form to avoid attracting attention, for some reason, he still remained the focus of many gazes, especially from young human women.
—Actually, the reason was exceedingly simple.
He had transformed into a silver-haired handsome young man featuring a pale complexion with a tall and slim build.
This appearance was not only extremely conspicuous but also particularly prone to drawing female gazes.
Be that as it may, such a principle would not exist within the realm of a warrior dragon's imagination. Galad spurred his feeble body to quicken his pace. Simply doing that was making him pant and his heart—or rather, his heartmetal—to throb painfully.
"Has that girl noticed the power of dragonbane here...?"
Despite passing by him, the girl continued to follow Galad's back with her gaze.
This harassing gaze was causing Galad's thoughts to run wild. The Rune of the Sword residing in his right palm was precisely why other dragons were targeting him.
Elite dragons devoted their lives to seek the power of dragonbane.
As soon as they found out the Sword's whereabouts, they would either kill Galad or simply take away that right hand, wouldn't they? They would then proceed to conduct a magic ritual in an attempt to "transplant" the power of dragonbane.
It was said that this magic was extremely difficult, with a success rate less than 40%...
However, if he wanted to avoid that kind of fate, he really should get away from here as quickly as possible.
"But right now, I cannot leave this city..."
Galad gritted his teeth and stared at the western sky.
In the distance, the streets of the Old Tokyo Concession could be seen. Most imposing of all was the triangular prism of pure black, towering at over a height of a thousand meters.
It was the gigantic structure called a Monolith by humans and known to dragonkind as a "wedge."
"Were this city not filled with miasma, this body of mine would not be able to walk freely or even perform magic at all..."
At this moment, loudspeakers in the streets began a broadcast.
'Emergency evacuation order. Lesser dragons are invading Tokyo Bay's airspace. All residents, please remain calm and head to your designated shelter as quickly as possible—'
"Do-ra-go-n... Their word referring to the race of dragons, I suppose."
The female announcer's broadcast was replayed again and again.
A commotion began in the surroundings. Many vehicles driving on the road suddenly accelerated.
In contrast, many people also parked their cars on the roadside and began to head to shelter on foot. They were probably worried of traffic congestion later.
In addition, a large flood of humans surged out of houses, buildings and housing complexes in the residential district.
Thanks to regularly held evacuation exercises, the local residents were very familiar with escape routes. The people swiftly moved in the same direction without hesitation in their footsteps.
People of this era were already accustomed to the arrival of dragons.
Not only did they avoid panicking pointlessly, but they also evacuated in an organized and disciplined manner instead.
Even the children coming out of kindergartens were obediently following their teachers' directions.
—Entering the nearest elementary school like this, then returning to their rightful places after two or three hours when the evacuation order was lifted—
Although Galad had no idea, this was actually a common scene in lands where Raptors flew.
While residents in the vicinity were hiding, "serpents" serving as defenders would defeat the Raptors and eliminate threats to humanity. However, this preordained outcome was eventually going to be overturned—
And in the case of these lands, that would be today.
A Raptor roared while flying over the residential district.
Just as a woman screamed, panic erupted within the crowd.
The people began to scramble and run as fast as they could, scattering in all directions. Some of the slower people found themselves helpless.
Even if people got knocked away, people fell down, people got stepped on, no one had the luxury of tending to others anymore.
Children in kindergarten uniforms cried and wailed as teachers tried everything they could to comfort them.
Meanwhile, the Raptor landed, ignoring the people in chaos.
Descending on the roofs of mixed tenant buildings, it spewed blue-white flames from its mouth. Once, twice, thrice, the fire kept coming. Within a blink of the eye, the residential district had turned into a sea of flames.
Looking down at this fiery blaze from atop the building, the Raptor called as loud as it could.
It was thoroughly reveling in the joys of destruction. Furthermore, its heart was filled with sadistic impulses to massacre the moving organisms below.
Tsk. Galad clicked his tongue, because he noticed that the winged lizard had also targeted him.
Clearly fighting would be a monumental burden for this currently feeble body—
But even so, he still could not stop the smile surfacing on the corners of his lips.
Due to persisting in a lifestyle of hiding and disguise, which did not suit his true nature, he had accumulated rage and frustration in his heart.
Finally a battle to enjoy after so long. Galad pressed his right hand against his chest, extracting magical power from his extremely frail heartmetal. The depths of his chest ached convulsively.
If a person were to stab an icepick into their heart, they might possibly experience the same kind of agony.
"O Jabones, curse your misfortune of appearing before me!"
The instant he yelled loudly, Galad extended his right palm towards the Raptor.
The center of his palm flashed with light. The brightness formed a rune consisting of a series of three Vs—the Rune of the Sword. This dragonslaying rune was fired in the form of a beam.
Unerringly, the Rune of the Sword pierced the winged lizard's chest.
This attack killed the Raptor instantly without even giving it the chance to scream. Immediately, it turned into stone, resulting in a silent statue on the roof a building.
For dragons, their corpses turning into stone was equivalent to rigor mortis in humans after death.
Having emerged victorious, Galad smiled but he immediately fell to his knees, unable to bear the pain in his heart.
"However, the quantity of winged lizards seems unusual this time..."
Despite panting heavily, Galad still whispered quietly.
Wind was blowing from the sea's direction. Mixed within it were flames, the abnormally intense scent of unruly Jabones. Surely, an intense battle was taking place over there.
While feeling a sense of certainty, Galad groaned "urgh!"
His consciousness faded away gradually. This was the price he paid for using the Rune of the Sword in the current state of his body.
Hal's home was located at Narihira Bridge in the Sumida Ward. The nearest helipad was on the Sumida River's shore, an airfield used in the event of disasters.
Hurrying there together with Orihime, Hal boarded the helicopter sent to pick them up.
As a large helicopter designed for naval minesweeping, it probably belonged to the JMSDF. The space in the fuselage was meant for transporting supplies. Despite being guests, Hal and Orihime had to sit in small seats akin to auxiliary seating on buses.
Hal and Orihime took their seats there, becoming part of the not so numerous cargo.
Amidst the thunderous roaring of the rotors, the helicopter flew swiftly, finally reaching the destination.
Offshore of Haneda in the Tokyo Bay—This was a stretch of ocean only ten-odd kilometers away from Haneda Airport.
Hal looked at Orihime who was sitting beside him. During the flight so far, the novice witch had kept her eyes closed to concentrate, because she was using Astral Link magic to send her partner Akuro-Ou to the scene while controlling remotely.
Roughly one kilometer ahead of them, the white fox-wolf was engaging in an aerial battle against dragons numbering in three digits at least.
Furthermore, neither Hazumi nor Minadzuki were present at Haneda's offshore waters.
This was because they were on standby at New Town's shore, prepared to handle Raptors at the water's edge.
"Juujouji, it's almost time for you to cancel remote control."
Orihime whispered in response to Hal's quiet reminder. Due to using Astral Link, she was in too deep of a trance.
At this moment, the helicopter lowered its altitude and landed on the deck of a large destroyer.
This ship class had a displacement of fifteen thousand tons. The deck was very spacious, allowing many helicopters to take off and land without issue. Waiting nearby, two JSMDF crew members rushed over.
Since the door was already opened from outside, Hal took Orihime's hand and jumped off the helicopter.
Orihime slowly looked up and watched the aerial battle from the destroyers deck with a dazed look.
Orihime's partner was jumping around strongly.
The nine-tailed fox-wolf, Akuro-Ou. Although her beautiful fur was white, it reflected red light when bathed under the sun's rays.
Akuro-Ou flew with agility as though swimming through the atmosphere. She was currently flying in a straight line, biting a certain Raptor's neck firmly.
The enemies were Raptors, commonly known as lesser dragons. They were about seven meters long in size.
In comparison, leviathans, most notably Akuro-Ou, only approached double the size of Raptors. If the situation evolved into a one-against-many melee mess, one would reason there was no way for her to win against Raptors.
Akuro-Ou's large and strong jaws easily crushed the Raptors' delicate necks.
However, the number of Raptors was estimated to be two hundred at least. Even taking them out one at a time like this, there would not be enough time.
Furthermore, many Raptors were ignoring Akuro-Ou, flying towards Tokyo on their own.
In order to strike down these Raptors, fighter jet squadrons belonging to the SDF and the TPDO were flying back and forth in the sky. An interception fleet was also firing artillery from the sea surface.
Surveying the chaotic battle offshore of Haneda, Orihime's gaze grew sharp.
Presumably fully recovered from her trance, she immediately yelled, "Akuro-Ou! Use fire magic to blow them all away!"
Akuro-Ou roared in response to her covenantee's call.
Soaring through the sky, the white fox-wolf's entire body lit on fire, enveloped in crimson flames.
The flames exploded directly like fireworks, scattering in all directions from Akuro-Ou to incinerate everything. This was the result of her using the pseudo-divinity of Fire.
The shotgun blast created by Akuro-Ou rained down as sparks.
Even if hit by merely one spark, each Raptor was immediately swallowed by exploding fire, burning like a torch while crashing down into Tokyo Bay.
Such a spectacular display of mass extermination. However, only thirty or forty Raptors were taken out. Complete extermination was still far from achieved.
"Haruga-kun, try letting her use the Bow's power this time!"
"Okay, I got it!"
After half a month's absence, the Rune of the Bow was going to be used again to enhance pseudo-divinity to unleash a dragonslaying blast—
Orihime and Hal exchanged nods. However, they heard a voice from behind at this moment.
"Don't worry. I think there's no need to use the rune yet."
They looked back to see that Asya had arrived behind them.
Hal's childhood friend was dressed in her recent getup consisting of the school uniform with a military jacket on top. Asya swiftly motioned to the side with a glance. Her gaze was directed towards another witch.
A patrol helicopter happened to be landing on the deck.
The rotors continued to spin slowly and had yet to stop completely. Luna Francois Gregory jumped out from the fuselage nimbly.
She landed on the deck with something like a skip.
Noticing the gazes of Hal's group, Luna smiled and waved lightly to them, looking calm and confident.
Paired with that frilly black one-piece dress, she looked like an heiress out on a tour. However, that slender yet mature body of hers, brimming with feminine charm, was conveying her absolutely unshakable confidence as a master mage.
"Orihime-san, please take a good look at how potent the powers of a master-class 'serpent' are when in peak condition rather than on the verge of death. Although she has serious problems in personality and disposition, Luna is blessed with rare gifts as a witch."
"She is Luna-san...?"
Watched by Hal and the others, Luna Francois chanted a song of summoning.
"O stars! Bring forth my magic from the far end of the rainbow!"
A gigantic and ferocious beast gradually materialized on the destroyer's deck.
It was a lion ten-odd meters in length. No less impressive than Akuro-Ou in physique, she also had a beautiful mane. Her fur featured a vivid orange color.
And on the right shoulder—was a green dragon head.
There was even a black goat head on the left shoulder!
In addition, the tail was in the form of a black snake. Its scythe-like neck was raised like a vigorous snake's.
"Is that Glinda... Miss Gregory's 'serpent'!?"
The Trans-Pacific Area's Shootdown Ace, of equal renown as Blue Rushalka who used to be called Europe's strongest.
Hal recalled this rumor. Asya's partner was rare and precious dual-element leviathan possessing pseudo-divinities of Water and Moon. Glinda the "Good Witch of the South" was the same.
Her affinities were Illusion as well as—
"Glinda, exhibit your magic to everyone."
As soon as the order was issued, the three-headed "serpent" instantly cried out with all three mouths.
Immediately, a magic circle appeared over the destroyer where Glinda and Hal's group were riding. Illustrated in the center of the magic circle was the evil-exorcising pentagram adorned by complex surrounding patterns forming a circle.
Furthermore, this magic circle was traced out with ominous black light.
Seeing that, Asya instantly issued directions on the destroyer's deck.
"Orihime-san, please tell Akuro-Ou to stand down! It will be dangerous!"
Hal looked up to see that all fighter jets—friendly aircraft—had vanished from the sky.
They had already sought refuge when Akuro-Ou was invoking pseudo-divinity. This was to allow the "serpent" to unleash wide-area attacks without reservation. Furthermore, this was to avoid getting caught in the crossfire.
Similarly, the nine-tailed fox-wolf retreated away from the black magic circle's vicinity—
Luna Francois immediately issued the command.
As a result, the magic circle suddenly expanded. Furthermore, it began to expand spherically, finally turning into a gigantic sphere roughly a kilometer in diameter.
Undoubtedly, at least a hundred Raptors became trapped inside—
With a vigorous shout from Luna, the black sphere vanished without trace.
What happened next was exceedingly simple. All the Raptors that had been trapped inside the sphere fell into Tokyo Bay. However, the winged lizards' bodies had suffered tragic damage.
Wings, necks, limbs, torsos, spines, tails—
Various parts of their bodies had been broken and twisted, forcibly compressed, even flattened.
This was the damage caused by Glinda's pseudo-divinity of Gravity.
The lion leviathan had applied supergravity to crush these dragons to death!
"Gravity manipulation... I had heard rumors, but this is totally absurd."
"Rushalka and I follow the creed of elegance in battle, but Luna and Glinda rely on brute force. Yet she's always defaming me, calling me a savage or whatever..."
"Haruga-kun, there are lingering stragglers. Let us move out!"
Although Hal was hesitating whether or not to launch a witty retort against Asya's mutterings...
Since Orihime had invited him, Hal decided to forget about making witty comebacks. There were roughly forty or fifty Raptors remaining in the air. The elite dragon controlling them should be hiding somewhere.
To try using the Bow to snipe the hidden dragon huh?
While calculating in his mind, Hal decided to summon his magic gun first.
(Right now... Refrain from making a move.)
Suddenly hearing a whisper, Hal interrupted what he was doing.
It was a thought transmitted from Hinokagutsuchi. Why did she raise this kind of warning? While Hal was feeling doubt, an unexpected phenomenon occurred. The Rune of the Bow appeared on his right palm.
Hal instinctively knew the dragonslaying bow was trying to tell him something.
The weapon paired with it was nearby—Unmistakably.
(Feel free to continue if you have tired of the mundane world and wish to commit suicide. Do not summon your "wand" to provoke her pointlessly. That girl is a hundred times more belligerent than you...)
Listening to Hinokagutsuchi's voice, Hal looked up at the sky again.
It was here. Golden radiance was descending from the far end of the sky. Although only a small dot was visible in the beginning, it was gradually becoming bigger.
"W-What is that...?"
Orihime's whispered murmur was probably a question weighing on the minds of everyone present.
The sky was quite clear today. The golden radiance—no, a terrifying gigantic creature—swept away the few clouds in the blue sky, descending upon Tokyo Bay like a meteor.
More bluntly stated, it was a super enormous turtle a hundred meters long.
Furthermore, the giant turtle's massive body was enveloped in golden light. This surreal creature was descending to Tokyo Bay.
Only mere minutes had elapsed since he had noticed the light. It was falling rather fast.
However, as it neared the sea surface, the gigantic golden chelonian creature decelerated with astounding smoothness. Then quietly, it landed on Tokyo Bay's surface.
Despite its super large body, it was equipped with amazingly agile aerial mobility.
"I-Is that a dragon too!?"
"It's possible. There have been past reports pointing out examples of elite dragons using magic to transform themselves into bizarre forms. However—"
"However, that size and magical strength would be a bit too extraordinary..."
Asya replied to the inexperienced Orihime. Arriving by their side without anyone noticing, Luna Francois also interjected. The two master-class witches exchanged glances.
"Has a dragon king of legend arrived?"
"Red Hannibal, the Black Lightning Emperor... That term refers to the world's strongest dragons like them."
"Your guess is probably half wrong."
Hal's quiet comment made the three witches jump in fright.
At this moment, the golden brightness had vanished. In other words, the light surrounding the bizarre chelonian creature hovering in the air. Right now, the massive body's surface and shell looked greenish black.
Surprisingly, the giant black turtle landed on the water surface near the destroyer.
They were only ten meters apart. Observed from close range, the giant turtle's visage exhibited sacred dignity befitting a humongous monster.
In addition, a black-haired girl was standing on the giant turtle's wide forehead.
She was dressed in a white one-piece dress with her arms crossed in confidence, standing sternly upright with her feet apart. Her appearance was as adorable as a snow fairy with a sense of serene beauty.
However, Hal pointed at the beautiful maiden and warned his companions.
"According to what my rune and wand are telling me, the dragon king seems to be there—It's that girl."
The surviving Raptors howled shrilly in the air.
Terrified by the arrival of a sovereign standing at the pinnacle of their race, they were flying aimlessly all over the place in disarray.
"That insanely huge turtle is her minion... It's just a flunkie..."
"You're saying that's a dragon king—But she looks human in appearance!?"
As though speaking on everyone's behalf, Asya yelled out the biggest question.
But before Hal could prepare an answer, the girl standing on her minion's forehead took action. She shot a stern gaze at the noisy Raptors in the sky.
"These winged lizards are making such a racket..."
The young beauty parted his lips lightly and remarked quietly in displeasure. Then she shouted acutely.
"I have no idea who your owner is, but get lost. Disappear from Yukikaze's sight!"
The girl's intimidating effect was very shocking.
With one shout from her, the dozens of Raptors flew away, scattering like monkeys from a fallen tree, escaping as fast as they could in different directions.
"...Asya, did you feel that? All she did was give a shout—"
"...Yeah. The magical power controlling the Raptors has vanished completely."
Witnessing the scene, Asya and Luna Francois whispered quietly in each other's ear.
They no longer brought up any comments that could be construed as doubting the title of the dragon king. As expected of master magi, without relying on theory, they were able to clearly discern the absurdity of the girl called Yukikaze.
At the same time, Orihime murmured in shock.
"Eh, Haruga-kun, that girl... Doesn't she resemble Kagutsuchi-san a little?"
"Yeah, rather than appearance, it's the impression she gives off. After all, they're both queens..."
Recalling his dream of the battle between red and white dragon kings, Hal replied.
In his dream, the white dragon was called "Princess Yukikaze." And right now, the black-haired beauty standing there had also invoked the name of Yukikaze. Both presumably referred to the same being, although they did not resemble each other in face or figure at all—
Meanwhile, Princess Yukikaze looked at the sky, cleared of Raptors, nodding in satisfaction.
Her face seemed to read "scared ya, right?", making this dragon king of a girl seem especially childish. This was completely the opposite of Hinokagutsuchi who looked like a young girl but did not act like a child at all.
"Very well, it's the owner's turn next."
Princess Yukikaze shot a glance at Tokyo Bay's sea surface.
"I won't repeat myself. Come out if you intend to kneel and prostrate yourself before me."
'Since Your Highness has commanded as one of the Gildar, I am in no position to refuse.' fuse.' fuse.'
Emerging from the sea was a monster with a strange voice and appearance.
It definitely had the size and figure of an elite dragon's, but there was nothing more than bones. No skin, no flesh, no dragon scales either. It was merely a dragon skeleton.
And the voice coming from his mouth seemed like it was echoing from the depths of the earth.
'The winged lizards earlier were undoubtedly this old man's minions. Regarding their transgressions, I offer Your Highness my deepest apologies.' gies.' gies.'
This old man—Hal realized the meaning of these words.
The majority of the body had decayed, leaving only white bones. But even so, this old dragon must have lived for a long time.
Furthermore, Hal discovered that parts of the body were not made of white bones.
Namely, the wings on the back. The only part made of steel, a pair of steel wings.
(Perhaps some kind of magic was used to extend life. The strangeness of that voice is probably a side effect of the magic.)
(Is it possible to use Necromancy magic to reanimate a long dead dragon? I shall bet 100 USD on this possibility.)
(As expected of you, Luna, a lowly and vulgar idea.)
(B-But it's just bones. Indeed, it's very similar to zombies rising out of coffins...)
Looking horrified, Orihime joined in the conversation between the two master-class witches.
During this time, Princess Yukikaze announced sonorously.
"Elder, Yukikaze shall proceed to annex these islands—the country of Japan. If you happen to share the same objective, please make your choice between dying or escaping."
'In that case, I choose a third option—subservience under you.' you.' you.'
"Oh? Do you mean to become my lapdog?
'Precisely. The prey we seek exists only in this land.' land.' land.'
Confronted with Princess Yukikaze who had nonchalantly declared her intention to invade Japan, the old dragon skeleton expressed his wish to serve under her.
Hence, the princess snorted "hmph" in mockery and murmured haughtily.
"The silver dragon who inherited the sword rune? He is apparently hiding in that city."
'You are most correct.' rect.' rect.'
The silver dragon who inherited the sword. Hal, Orihime and Asya exchanged glances.
That meant Pavel Galad. Was he still alive!?
'Although he seems to have barely survived, this Tyrannos is most likely in no state to move around freely. He would become weak and powerless as soon as he transferred to land where miasma is low in concentration, rendered so destitute that even the crudest of magic will be beyond him—' ' '
"Well, I suppose you might be correct."
Listening to the princess express agreement haughtily. Hal remembered.
Hinokagutsuchi had said something about this before. The Old Tokyo Concession's Monolith was gradually maturing, causing magical power in its vicinity to activate smoothly—
And right now, Galad was so weak that he had no choice but to remain in such a land.
"He did survive a massive explosion after all..."
Ignoring Hal, who was muttering to himself, the old dragon that was all bones proceeded to plead.
'Using some unknown means, he is hiding on the ground like a rat. The winged lizards and I are willing to take on the task of rat hunting on your behalf, Your Highness.' ness.' ness.'
"Yes, I do feel that it would be quite a chore."
Princess Yukikaze chuckled and smiled with a fifteen-year-old beauty's face.
However, that smile would be better described as beautiful rather than adorable, belonging more to a warrior than a young girl. At this moment, Hal jumped in surprise.
The princess who had confidently faced off with royal dignity against the old dragon—
For that instant, he could see her figure superimposed with the solemn and awe-inspiring appearance of the white dragon king.
"Very well, I approve your offer. You will complete your mission as my army's vanguard."
'Your consent is much appreciated. I, Ra Exhos, shall fulfill my duty.' ty.' ty.'
"So, Elder Exhos, once you have successfully taken care of the sword's successor—Do you intend to become the new wielder of the sword?"
The princess laughed mischievously while testing him. The old dragon immediately answered.
'Well, it is said that transplanting the power of dragonbane is very difficult... But if that were to proceed smoothly—It might not be a bad development.' ment.' ment.'
'If that time should come to pass, please permit my act of betrayal.' yal.' yal.'
"Ha! Excellent, I permit it. Do your best to become the next Tyrannos. It would be a different kind of fun to crush this skinny body of yours that only has bones remaining!"
After listening to the old dragon, Exhos, request politely for permission to rebel, the princess agreed with laughter.
This dialogue between non-humans were truly exemplary of a warrior race's culture. Just as Hal was frowning at this conversation that he could not empathize with at all, Princess Yukikaze looked up without warning.
"Next... Thank you for waiting, humans."
Princess Yukikaze puffed out her flat chest proudly and slowly swept her gaze across her surroundings in a circle.
What entered her view was probably the assortment of military forces gathered on this sea on the human side.
Closest to her was the ship carrying Hal's group. In addition, there were almost twenty escort vessels and roughly ten squadrons of fighter jets from bases at Kisarazu, Yokota, Iou Island and others. Then there were the "serpents," Akuro-Ou and Glinda the Good Witch of the South—
"Dragon king, Princess Yukikaze, will speak to you directly. Listen carefully."
Despite her solemn tone as a dragon king, her voice was definitely not loud.
But even though that was clearly the case, her magically infused voice easily reached the ears of Hal and the others. Assuredly, it also reached the interior of the ships and fighter jets.
Because her intended audience consisted of all the humans gathered upon this sea.
"The country of Japan where you reside... The nation of the eastern sun shall become Yukikaze's territory before long. Comprehend my intent without fail and convey it clearly to the rest of the people."
Pavel Galad had made a similar declaration last time. However, the princess' decree was even more casual and open—In other words, it was filled with confidence.
Unmistakably. She was quite used to this sort of thing.
"First of all, I shall take over the area of the city around the towering black wedge."
Black wedge. That was probably a reference to the Monolith standing in the Old Tokyo Concession.
Hinokagutsuchi had also called it a 'wedge.' Hal remembered.
"I might arbitrarily order things differently, but please indulge me on this aspect. Because I, Princess Yukikaze, easily change my mind. Besides, the great general capable of accomplishing this feat of conquest is unquestionably me. And just now, I already decided to send that elder to that land as my vanguard."
The princess casually announced as though she had already conquered Japan.
Her beautiful face, brimming with confidence, was not only filled with ambition but also conveyed a vague hint of childishness. Hal believed it was part of her unique charm.
"Also, I must inform you all. My direct vassal, Genbu-Ou, will be standing by here."
Carrying Princess Yukikaze on its forehead, the gigantic chelonian creature gave a low growl. Although the sound was not fervent enough to call roar, it spread far and wide like the rumbling of the ground.
This giant black turtle, a hundred meters long, was precisely "Genbu-Ou."
"Thus concludes Yukikaze's declaration. Should there be any objections, express them directly with a show of force instead of wasting words. Feeble rebellions have no value to speak of, this is a dragon king's way of conducting business. Even I, Yukikaze, am no exception!"
Having finished what she wanted to say, Princess Yukikaze suddenly swung her right arm.
As a result, a streamlined white board flew over from the far end of the sky with speed too fast to capture with the eye. This object greatly resembled the surfboards of the human realm.
The princess took a mighty leap and jumped off the forehead of the Genbu-Ou the giant turtle.
Then before she fell straight into the sea, she landed safely on the incoming surfboard-like object.
The instant he saw that streamlined white object, the Rune of the Bow in Hal's right palm heated up. The magic gun residing inside told him it was also a magic wand.
In addition, that unidentified flying object was also part of the "dragonslaying arrow."
"See you later. Do not forget the name of Yukikaze. It is the name of the lord you will all eventually serve!"
Riding the streamlined white object, Princess Yukikaze asserted loudly and flew away.
She was rising straight as though aiming for the far end of the clouds. However, just before the princess disappeared from sight, Hal experienced bone-chilling terror.
This was because for one brief instant, he felt as though Princess Yukikaze had glanced at him.
Before he could shake off that sense of terror, someone spoke up.
'Next it is my turn to speak. The region the White Princess expressed her wish to occupy is the city you call "Tokyo," is that correct?' rect?' rect?'
Despite being a member of dragonkind, the old dragon, Ra Exhos, had used a Japanese geographic name.
Princess Yukikaze had done the same. Among dragonkind, there existed dragons who were well-versed in the state of affairs on the human side.
'In order to hunt down my compatriot hiding in that place—namely, the holder of the Rune of the Sword, I shall swiftly occupy "Tokyo." It is my wish that you remain silent and cooperate obediently with non-resistance. This is fait accompli.' pli.' pli.'
The old dragon even proceeded to make such a demand.
While Hal and the others were confronting the "dragon king faction" offshore of Haneda...
Shirasaka Hazumi was present at Shin-Kiba's region of reclaimed land. Her purpose there was interception and defense.
Considering the scale of the enemy invasion as well as the battle's location offshore of Haneda, the Raptors were guaranteed to show up here, trying to break through.
In order to strike them down at the water's edge as much as possible, she was on standby at the reclaimed land by the sea.
For the same reason, the ground, maritime and air forces of the SDF had mobilized with urgency from various bases of the Kantou region—Kisarazu, Matsudo, Narashino, Oomiya, Asaka, Nerima, Shinakawa, Yokosuka, Yokota, etc to form a defensive line. However, Hazumi's partner still stood out in terms of combat power.
Naturally, Hazumi and Minadzuki were obliged to take center stage.
"But in terms of operation, this is as simple as 'an easy job of pushing a button.' Feel free to relax, okay?"
"I-I don't think I can do that..."
Receiving her at the scene, Kenjou Genya spoke nonsense, putting Hazumi in fluster.
This joke in poor taste was typical of SAURU staff.
In any case, surrounded by Kenjou and tactical units sent by the Metropolitan Police Department as support, Hazumi summoned the reborn Minadzuki from a pier with excellent visibility.
Then news of the dragons' arrival finally reached them.
Straight away, she clumsily invoked Enemy Detection and Spatial Perception, which were magic spells for locating enemies afar and obtaining a top-down view of the situation like a map. Then she sent Minadzuki to places where Raptors were already invading, engaging in remote-controlled battles with single-minded focus.
Whether Hazumi or the reborn Minadzuki, neither were the same as before.
No longer having trouble, even when fighting multiple Raptors, they kept winning in place after place.
Just as Kenjou had said, these battles were definitely quite "easy."
Rather, it was the use of magic that proved more taxing. Once the fighting came to a close, Hazumi was already about to collapse from exhaustion.
This was the price paid for having Minadzuki fight successively in coastal areas of Tokyo New Town, Kanagawa and Chiba.
Still, she was not drained to the point of needing an intravenous drip. Although this was one area she had shown growth compared to before—
Hazumi lay down weakly, not making a sound.
Kenjou borrowed a patrol car from the MPD then put down the front passenger seat for her to lie down.
"If I could do even better, it would decrease the damage slightly..."
Wherever she had sent Minadzuki, she would witness devastated urban areas.
Damage was unavoidable once Raptors invaded. This could not be helped.
Besides, even if that rune had been at her disposal, today's outcome probably would not change. The reason why long-distance combat drained her so much was because her strength as a witch was insufficient...
Hazumi was well aware that this could not be helped. But even so—
The moment she sighed, Hazumi suddenly felt a leviathan's protection deployed in her surroundings. This was magic for repelling evil.
"W-What's wrong? Minadzuki..."
Her "serpent" partner seemed to be worrying about her. Hazumi jumped in surprise.
The same had happened before when an elite dragon attacked. Was it happening again? Forcing her feeble body to move, she desperately got up and left the police car.
"E-Everyone! Please be careful, the dragons are planning to launch wide-scale magic! Minadzuki, don't focus on me alone, you have to protect everyone—!"
Gathered at the reclaimed land of Shin-Kiba were people including the MPD's tactical units and Kenjou.
Wanting to protect them, Hazumi tried as hard as she could to summon her partner who had dematerialized.
However, her entire body was limp and could not exert any strength. She was showing signs similar to anemia. Suffering from such a severe case of exhaustion, it was impossible to materialize her "serpent."
Massive magical power was surging forth from the sea—the other side of Tokyo Bay!
Feeling this presence, Hazumi began to shiver all over.
Meanwhile offshore of Haneda—
'O runes of Ruruk Soun! Lend me the power to accomplish the mystic rite!'
The old dragon, Exhos, spread his steel wings and flew into the air.
His skull's gaze was directed towards Tokyo. In addition, almost thirty runes of Ruruk Soun had manifested as though to encircle his body.
Was he planning to cast some kind of big spell on Tokyo—!?
"Glinda, stop him from casting!"
As Luna Francois gave the order, Glinda kicked off forcefully from the escort ship's deck.
Despite possessing heads of a dragon and a goat, she jumped with feline agility like a lion. Then she started to fly towards Exhos in the air, accelerating all at once.
"We'll move out too! Please, Juujouji, hurry and call Akuro-Ou!"
"Yes! Leave it to me, Haruga-kun!"
Hal swiftly summoned his magic gun while calling to his companion.
Orihime responded immediately in return, ordering Akuro-Ou, who was on standby in the air afar, to fly in pursuit of Glinda. They intended to use the Rune of the Bow to blast the old dragon.
But at this moment, the escort ship began to shake violently.
This was because the nearby giant turtle minion, Genbu-Ou, had crashed over lightly.
Orihime screamed loudly and fell over.
Hal, Asya, Luna Francois and all member of the crew on deck were met with the same fate. Even the helicopter fuselages were shaking intensely.
Using its body to collide, Genbu-Ou was a hundred meters in length.
The ship carrying Hal and company was two hundred meters long. In terms of size, the ship held an overwhelming upper hand.
However, there was no way for a ship to wrestle with this kind of giant monster. Although the gatling cannons on the ship's aft were already firing continuously, Genbu-Ou remained unshaken regardless how much gunfire it was under.
Furthermore, the giant turtle was emitting terrifying growls from its mouth.
Immediately, four runes of Ruruk Soun, signifying "shield," suddenly appeared in the air, blocking Glinda and Akuro-Ou's path in flight.
The two "serpents" collided violently with these runes and were immediately deflected, crashing towards the sea.
"I can't believe this guy can even use the runes of Ruruk Soun!"
Despite his surprise Hal still raised his magic gun and fired in triple-burst mode. Three consecutive shots. However, the moment the bullets struck, Genbu-Ou's entire body shone with golden luster, giving off sacred light.
Hence, the three dragonslaying bullets were all deflected by the light.
"Don't tell me this is the Arrow's power of dragonbane!?"
At this moment, the old dragon in the air completed his mysterious ritual of Ruruk Soun.
The almost thirty runes summoned by Exhos flew inland with astounding speed. This was Shinonome and Ariake—the direction of Tokyo New Town and the Old Tokyo Concession.
Then in the following instant...
From the sea surface in the distance, Hal and company witnessed an unprecedented scene.
Thick white mist shrouded New and Old Tokyo with horrifying speed, covering the entire land within the blink of an eye—
Her full name was Mutou Natsumi.
Haruga Haruomi aka Hal called her "Mutou-san." She was Hal's classmate and fellow club member. Another classmate, addressed similarly as "Funaki-san," had a full name of Funaki Kyouka, actually.
What these two girls shared in common was their school, year level and homeroom.
In fact, they also lived near each other. Both of them were residents of Gasai in the Edogawa Ward.
However, their homes were separated by a fair distance. Even so, the two of them would often run into each other at the station or on the streets. Like this chance encounter while all residents were heading to the local designated shelter or some such would be very likely to happen.
"Dear me, isn't this Funaki-san? What a coincidence."
"Oh my, this must be what they call destined neighbors."
The short-haired girl with the outgoing personality, Mutou-san, greeted "Hi," prompting the twintailed girl who always greeted everyone cheerfully, Funaki-san, to respond with a smile.
This encounter was taking place in an elementary school's gym that served as the local designated shelter.
Serendipitously finding an acquaintance nearby due to a crowd of over a thousand gathered in one place, this was probably thanks to luck and living in the same area. Contributing factors probably included the fact that it was after 6pm when it would not be unusual for students to have returned home, right?
"The dragons are probably nearing Kantou by now, right?"
Despite being in the middle of an evacuation, Funaki-san spoke with an extraordinarily laid back air.
The Kantou region had been protected by the "emerald serpent" for many years. There were also many SDF bases nearby. Even if lesser dragons attacked, it had been a long while since the last time it evolved into a major tragedy. Consequently, the residents were not very tense.
But as an informed member of the UFO Research Club, Mutou-san shook her head.
"Hmm... Since they issued an evacuation order like this, I'm thinking that Tokyo Bay has already been breached. Rather than nearing Kantou, it's probably better to say that they're nearing Tokyo."
"Uh, how near is this 'near' you're talking about!?"
"I fear they might have reached Shin-Kiba or the Ariake area."
However, Mutou-san was not god.
She did not know that the dragons had not only breached Tokyo Bay but also reached the interior of New Town. Instead, she was just joking around to scare her classmate. Probably due to suddenly getting scared, Funaki-san's eyes began to well up with tears.
At this moment, a stretcher was lifted into the gym, startling the two girls.
"M-Mutou-san, he's so handsome! That guy is so handsome!"
"Uh, that's what surprised you? But yeah, that's definitely surprising too."
Funaki-san pointed at the young man lying on the stretcher.
A handsome silver-haired man. The deep-set features and pale complexion of his face were clearly not Japanese. Furthermore, his build was tall and slim.
It was unknown whether he was injured or not, but a pained expression surfaced on his face. His consciousness also seemed hazy.
Carrying the stretcher were not paramedics but two ordinary men. They were tirelessly speaking to people nearby, looking quite helpless.
—I heard that Gasai has been attacked by dragons. Yeah, this guy apparently got hurt there and so was sent here for treatment. Can someone have a look at him—?
After listening to the situation, nearby adults all gathered around a middle-aged man.
Mutou-san originally wanted to follow the crowd but gave up because there were too many people. Instead, she approached the stretcher that was placed on the gym's floor.
Funaki-san had already gone over there. Worriedly, she stared at the handsome silver-haired man.
"I-Is he hurting somewhere? But at a glance, I don't see any bleeding..."
"Well, it could be a fracture, internal damage, concussion or a pre-existing disease. Hmm, then all we can do is ask around to see if there's a doctor—"
The classmate was right, the young man definitely showed no external injuries.
Although Mutou-san herself was quite flustered herself, she still tried to handle the urgent situation. However, she noticed the young man was muttering something.
"Urgh... Although I know not where you came from, Zizou—Don't expect things to go your way...!"
After listening to this bizarre statement, Mutou-san went "eh?" in puzzlement.
At this moment, the young man pressed his right palm over his heart, causing a "bzzzt!" sound to emit from his body. Next to him, Mutou-san and Funaki-san trembled slightly, feeling as though their entire body had been electrified.
"W-Was that static electricity just now...?"
Just as Funaki-san cocked her head in doubt, a bizarre phenomenon happened, far beyond the realm of mysterious static electricity.
People around them suddenly collapsed one after another. And not just a few or a couple dozen. All the people in the gym, hundreds of them—
"W-What's with everyone...?"
The sudden calamity caused Mutou-san to jump in surprise from the bottom of her heart.
But even so, she still approached the nearest old man and pressed her hand against his neck.
Mutou-san could not help but feel shocked because the old man's skin felt icy cold.
She hastily checked the pulse on his wrist and brought her ear against his lips—Only then did she breathe a sigh of relief. Although it was frighteningly weak, the pulse was beating at least. There was also slight breathing.
"B-But at this rate, it's still bad. Are you okay!?"
Mutou-san tried to shake the old man by the shoulders. He did not wake up.
She also tried to pat his cheeks lightly. Still did not wake up. She then tried to shake him even harder. The man showed no signs of waking up at all.
With inexplicable unease surging in her heart, Mutou-san slowly looked around her in the gym.
Not everyone had fainted. Funaki-san was fine. Although the handsome young man was still tormented by unknown pain, his eyes still glinted with the light of consciousness.
There were six or seven more people like Mutou-san who were surprised by the sudden calamity—
Apart from that, everyone else had collapsed. Mutou-san's family, who had come to take shelter with her, had all fallen unconscious. Out of roughly a thousand people, to think that no more than ten remained fine...
"I-I will look outside!"
Ignoring Funaki-san's call, Mutou-san ran out of the gym without looking back.
It was already night outside. Furthermore, white mist was hanging in the air. The mist was frighteningly dense, limiting visibility beyond five meters.
However, she stared intently amidst this vision-obscuring mist.
The hundreds of people over on the sports ground had all collapsed, rendered unconscious.
Mutou-san tried to wake several of them, but the result was the same as before. No one woke up.
"What on earth is going on...?"
Although well-informed, Mutou-san was not an expert in handling dragons.
Shocked and helpless, there was no way for her to reach the conclusion that "an elite's high-level magic" was responsible.
"Senpai, Nee-sama, Asya-san! Are you all okay!?"
"Although it's not quite correct to say we almost lost our lives, we survived at least..."
"Seeing you in good health too, Hazumi, I can finally stop worrying."
After meeting up with the unharmed Hazumi, Hal and Orihime remarked respectively.
Getting off the large escort ship that had arrived at the Shin-Kiba pier, the group immediately made their way to the reclaimed land.
Whether the harbor or this place, thick white mist was hanging everywhere. Dozens of policemen in tactical unit uniforms were collapsed on the ground in deep slumber.
"Because Minadzuki protected me... But Kenjou-san and the police—"
Hazumi tearfully reported to her cousin.
"I failed to protect everyone properly..."
"This can't be helped. Even if Luna and I were here, we probably wouldn't have been able to do anything."
Asya patted her junior on the shoulder to comfort her.
The runes of Ruruk Soun released by the old dragon, Exhos, had summoned thick white mist.
Almost all humans within range of the dense mist would fall into an unconscious state.
The MPD tactical teams and Kenjou stationed here to support Hazumi and Minadzuki had mostly fallen victim, rendered unconscious. Currently, the ones giving them aid were members of the JMSDF and JASDF who had entered port together with Hal's group.
Shin-Kiba's reclaimed land suddenly became noisy.
Meanwhile, Luna Francois said with a laid back expression, "It seems that the area swallowed by this dense mist is almost fully investigated."
She announced while confirming on her cellphone. Telephone lines were still operating normally, hence it was possible to contact the outside world and aggregate information.
In particular, as the Shootdown Ace, Luna had no ordinary relationship with the TPDO.
Added to that was her position as a cadre of SAURU. She ought to have powerful information gathering abilities at her disposal.
"From what I hear, it practically covers the entire Old Tokyo Concession, all of Tokyo New Town except for the all areas north of the Arakawa in the Adachi Ward, as well as parts of Ichikawa City and Urayasu City in Chiba Prefecture. Since I am not familiar with the geographic layout here, I don't know the scope of the white mist's effects at all."
"Oh my, in other words, it's quite far reaching."
"In addition, the majority of humans under its effects are 'frozen.'"
"Frozen, you say?"
"Yes. Complete loss of consciousness, extremely weak vital signs, a state of suspended animation akin to cold sleep. That is why I used the word frozen. By the way, not just humans but even cats, dogs, birds, cattle, horses, reptiles and fish have ostensibly fallen victim too."
"I see. Magic to force living organisms into suspended animation huh..."
"But it seems that a number of people were fortunately spared—They were not attacked by the magic."
"Isn't Tokyo New Town's population roughly seven hundred thousand?"
After listening to the information provided by Luna Francois, Asya murmured.
Tokyo's population had decreased substantially from over ten million in the past.
"I suppose it is because the magic is cast over an extremely wide area upon nonspecific targets? This follows the same principle as how there are always people who escape infection no matter how virulent a disease."
"T-Then how many people are unaffected!?"
"The precise number is obviously unknown but from what I hear, it doesn't seem to exceed 20%."
After replying readily to Hazumi, whose face was filled with worry, Luna continued.
"We will be of little help even if we were to stay here. Why not head over to where information is pooled? Oh dear? What is that place called, Harry? This city's police headquarters."
"Are you perhaps referring to the MPD at Kanegafuchi?"
"Yes, that one. True to the name of Harry, your reply truly hit the spot."
Incidentally, the vicinity of Kanegafuchi had been redeveloped into modernized commercial and office zones.
This district, rich in the trappings of Shitamachi, the low-lying and traditional part of Tokyo, from the previous century was no more, transformed into an urban space similar to Shinjuku Fukutoshin in the past.
Hal shrugged and asked Luna Francois.
"Let me ask about something else. Is that totally sudden nickname actually referring to me?"
"Of course. Haruga Haruomi shortens to Harry. Don't you like it?"
"As long as it doesn't pop up without warning like just now. By the way, that nickname reminds me of a certain wizard who rose to prominence thanks to the clout of a father with strong asshole tendencies. That feels a bit annoying."
"Ah yes, Mr. Potter's son is a bit garbage, isn't he? But please rest assured."
Luna smiled tenderly.
"The Harry I am picturing is the dirty one."
"Although that guy isn't garbage, he's a sorry excuse of a human being with serious behavioral issues, right?"
"Who cares? I didn't have an easy time coming up with that one."
"As expected of you, Luna. How frivolous can you get? I can't believe you're still cracking these jokes in this emergency situation..."
"However, Asya, I saw it. Fifteen minutes prior, you were hiding away, wolfing down seven cans of beef stroganoff taken from military rations."
"W-When did you uncover a maiden's secret—!?"
"Fufufufu. Know that walls have ears♪"
"Umm, I understand that despite acting like this, all of you are actually thinking seriously about many matters—Because I believe that, I don't mind at all."
After listening to the conversation between Hal and the senior witches, Orihime sighed lightly.
At the same time, she hugged Hazumi who clearly had no idea how to react towards her elders' frivolous behavior.
"But I do hope you could stop saying things in front of Hazumi that could be a bad influence..."
"Don't worry. The current situation could be considered fortunate, actually, almost enough to hold a celebration party. After all, in a situation where an elite has cast high-level magic, the victims are merely sleeping as result. Instantly massacring all residents would be the worst-case scenario."
This comment, extreme yet to the point, was very much in the style of a master-class witch with serious personality flaws.
However, Luna Francois spoke softly with a pensive expression.
"The elite probably wanted to enchant the entire area of New Town and Old Tokyo, hence the level of the magic had to be decreased. Thus what resulted was not a death curse but something half-baked like cold sleep."
As one would expect, Luna Francois was evidently a very capable person.
No wonder Hal's childhood friend called her a "villain." In that case, communicating with her was easy. Hal spoke up.
"Can I make a request? I think the next course of action is to start assessing the damage or deploy rescue operations—But my hope is that first priority is given to searching and protecting Juujouji and Shirasaka's family."
"Understood. Leave it to me."
Luna replied very readily without even asking for reasons.
Listening to the above conversation, Hazumi panicked instead.
"N-No, we can't be the only ones to receive preferential treatment."
"You are so honest. But don't worry, this level of privilege is nothing special."
"Fair... enough. We will accept their kind gesture, Hazumi."
"We are not like Asya-san and Luna-san, capable of staying calm at all times. Since worrying about family will divert our attention, we should make use of privilege to eliminate uncertain factors."
Concern for family versus sense of public duty. Justice versus responsibility.
Orihime weighed all of this then declared firmly. To think that she could display such open-minded mental strength, sure enough, she was no ordinary character.
Seeing his companion was so reliable, even Hal nodded at Hazumi himself.
The law-abiding junior fell silent, lost in thought. Finally, she nodded vigorously in agreement.
"Hazumi-san, as witches risking your lives, this sort of trivial thing is part and parcel of your rightful privileges. No need to let this weigh on your mind. By the way, there is something slightly problematic about what Orihime-san said just now..."
"Eh? Did I say something wrong?"
Confronted with her puzzled junior witch, Asya began to complain.
"Basically, lumping me together with Luna. Compared to Luna's villainous heart and evil, even the four devas of Buddhism become insignificant characters, let alone someone like me? I am just a frail and gentle girl. That's why—"
"U-Umm, Haruga-kun, what do you think...?"
"Don't ask for my opinion. Go ahead and speak your mind."
"I-In that case, I still think that my impressions of Asya-san and Luna-san are locked in close race."
"Haruomi! Please stop giving advice that could fracture friendship between girls!"
Just as they were chatting intensely, Hazumi suddenly pointed at the sky.
A blue Raptor was soaring through heavy mist in the night sky.
Raptors were normally the color of steel. However, the surface of this Raptor's body was coated with quite a striking color, resembling a brilliant sapphire.
After observing the ground's situation with its head down, the blue Raptor flew away.
"In other words, Tokyo has been occupied by the dragons..."
Hal recalled the final scene that had taken place at sea.
This had happened not long after white mist appeared at New and Old Tokyo—
'Confirm with your own eyes what mysterious phenomena the mist will cause. What I wish to tell your ape-like race is actually very simple.' ple.' ple.'
The old dragon, Exhos, had returned to the side of the escort ship carrying Hal and the others.
Hovering motionlessly in the air with his steel wings spread out, he said, 'No one may leave this "Tokyo" that is sealed by the mist. If you abide by this rule, I will respond with appropriate action.' tion.' tion.'
Exhos' head was a dragon skull.
Where eyeballs originally resided, there were the depressions of eye sockets, merely empty caves remaining. However, the two eye sockets were directed at the escort ship's deck—Haruga Haruomi with magic gun in hand.
'Because it seems there are others to be wary of apart from the Tyrannos of the Sword! I will neither belittle nor underestimate the authority of dragonslaying power. Allow me to uphold the rightful level of respect.' pect.' pect.'
At this moment, the old dragon, who had turned into white bones, began to snicker as though the situation was unfolding satisfactorily.
'Fufu. Naturally, I could also choose to dispose of you lot first—' ' '
Genbu-Ou suddenly growled at this moment as though warning its compatriot. As a result, the old dragon, Exhos, suddenly switched to a solemn tone of voice.
'I understand, vassal of black. Let the jokes cease here. Well then, goodbye for now.' now.' now.'
After saying that, Exhos invoked Teleportation magic to disappear suddenly.
Then Genbu-Ou vanished together.
However, the whole time before vanishing, the gigantic and imposing turtle's eyes were watching the movements of Hal's magic gun intently as though keeping him under scrutiny. This too was the undeniable truth—
The next morning after the battle, offshore of Haneda and Tokyo was shrouded under a mist of suspended animation...
At roughly 9am, Hal drove a passenger car to the area of Adachi Ward and downtown Kitasenju. Asya was sitting in the front passenger seat while Luna Francois was also seated in the back.
"After one night, the mist has dispersed quite a bit."
Just as Luna pointed out, the thick mist hanging over all of Tokyo had thinned out greatly.
Currently, it was just a layer of light mist. Hence, visibility was not compromised and he could drive smoothly. However.
Tokyo New Town's appearance had changed dramatically overnight.
Cars and people had completely vanished off the streets, turning the city into a ghost town. Right now, Hal's passenger car was the only vehicle driving on the road. (Incidentally, this car belonged to Kenjou Genya. Since the owner was in a coma, Hal had borrowed it without asking.)
"Another Raptor flying over..."
"These are only tentative numbers but currently, visual estimates suggest that there are sixty Raptors circling the skies of New Town."
After Asya looked out to the sky from the passenger seat window and commented, Luna added supplementary information.
Just as Hal's childhood friend pointed out, Hal also saw the blue Raptors flying leisurely in Tokyo New Town's sky at the Adachi Ward.
Taking the place of the vanished people and cars, they had become the masters of the ghost town.
"Until yesterday, this was clearly a human city."
Hal gripped the steering wheel and muttered to himself. At this moment, he noticed something.
Although his car was driving along a national highway, there was a wrecked passenger vehicle abandoned on the side of the road. The vehicle had smashed violently into the guardrail, rendering its front end unrecognizable. No one was in the car.
In any case, the passengers inside the car had probably been rescued last night. Whether they were alive or dead, naturally, was an unknown...
"Looks like they were unfortunate enough to be driving when the mist rose."
"If only they had found shelter earlier..."
For better or worse, this type of accident was rare, probably thanks to the emergency evacuation order issued when the dragons attacked.
"It appears that an interim report has arrived. It says that citizens who remain unfrozen number less than 10%."
"Since local residents are virtually all gathered at shelters, counting them is a very quick job...?"
"Either way, the fact that the taking in and observation of victims can be carried out directly at the shelters means that plenty of labor was saved in rescue efforts. Ironically, this is all thanks to the dragons."
"But the people in charge of this line of work are also down to one tenth as well. Wouldn't the shortage of manpower immediately result in a hopeless situation?"
"Then how about pulling manpower from outside—But that would be impossible."
"After all, now that Tokyo has become the demon city occupied by dragons, attitudes everywhere else have become ambivalent and passive..."
Despite the deluge of headache-inducing news, there were good developments too.
Orihime's grandfather and Hazumi's parents were located last night and delivered to the MPD headquarters at Kanegafuchi. Although they were in a state of suspended animation, at least they would remain safe and sound no matter what.
The two witches of New Town were currently by their family's side.
Hence, only the SAURU trio headed out to scout this time.
"By the way, Luna, have you contacted Hiiragi-san who is at Yokohama?"
"Yes, so let her work to her heart's content outside on our behalf!"
Having arrived near the Arakawa, Hal drove the car onto the river bank.
The trio alighted the vehicle and climbed up the Arakawa's embankment. This wide shore area was home to many sports arenas and cycling roads.
On their way here, Hal's group had driven along the south side of the Arakawa, in other words, what was known as the right bank.
By crossing this river, one would escape the "freeze" effect's scope.
However, the major bridge located dozens of meters away, New Senjuu Bridge, had been destroyed. Although it looked like it had been bombed, Raptors were undoubtedly responsible.
Furthermore, near the river shore where this bridge was situated—
A crushed light truck had sunk in the Arakawa.
"This is probably that. Late last night, a truck carrying thirteen people left the shelter at Adachi Ward on their own without permission. Sure enough, they were trying to escape New Town..."
"So in the end, no one may leave Tokyo..."
After Luna Francois explained quietly, Asya quoted what the old dragon, Exhos, had said.
"The residents were clearly warned by public announcement not to act recklessly..."
"But you can't blame them for feeling anxious. After all, those things are flying everywhere."
Hal pointed at the sky.
Two Raptors had flown over here by the time they noticed. Slowly circling in the air to watch the ground—They were most likely watching Hal and company's movements. They were conducting surveillance.
"I heard that something similar happened at Tabata and Kameari last night."
"Regarding the current calamity, the government and the media have announced that 'investigations are currently underway in earnest.' However, the unsubstantiated report of 'Tokyo has been taken over by the dragons!?' already started spreading around early on as a hot rumor."
Luna Francois and Asya checked their cellphones and commented.
Hal also activated magical sight and looked in a certain direction.
Namely, the Old Tokyo Concession—the direction of what was formerly Ginza in the Chūō Ward. The towering triangular prism of pure black, the Monolith standing over a kilometer tall.
It was clearly visible from the wide-open Arakawa shore. Thus Hal stared intently.
Soon, he saw something. Namely, hovering over the Monolith was a rune consisting of three Vs in a series—The Rune of the Sword. Since the rune was gradually fading away, it was impossible to see unless he concentrated.
However, the dragonslaying sword's emblem was surviving, just barely.
"Not noticing it earlier... Was it our oversight?"
"Although you say that, I really want to object and say 'Like anyone would notice that kind of trick!'"
Hal summoned his magic gun. Rather than firing it, he wanted to check the rules of the game that the mysterious man named Sophocles had called the "Road to Kingship."
"...I, Galad and the other dragon kings must engrave one's dragonslaying rune in that manner in order to obtain the right to rule over a particular piece of land. And that right is lost only upon death. The stronger the magical power in the land being ruled, the greater the power of dragonbane..."
Hal realized after reciting the words surfacing in his mind.
"I get it now. As long as Galad still lives, that dragon king who's called Yukikaze won't be able to become Tokyo's ruler. That's why she's trying to find and eliminate him."
"But she's already the de facto ruler."
Asya shrugged with a weary look.
"With this many Raptors flying around with impunity, you won't find another city like this in the entire world."
"Although there is the option of using Glinda to take them out one at a time, I'd rather not resort to this solution. I feel that it seems to be some kind of trap. Were our positions reversed, I would definitely do the same."
"As expected of you, Luna. That sounds like the opinion from a famed master of traps."
"Is trap really the right word—?"
After listening to Luna Francois' murmuring, Hal spoke up.
"My gun detected from those things—the blue Raptors—the presence of dragonslaying power. By using that so-called techniques of dragonbane, they're able to confer dragonslaying power to their minions. A while back, the elite called Soth also did it, so more than likely..."
Although Raak Al Soth was not a successor of dragonslaying power, he was able to create an imitation to temporarily bestow his minion Raptors with the authority of dragonbane.
Probably recalling the battle against the bronze dragon, Asya sighed.
"What you mean is... That bones-only elite might be able to emulate dragonslaying power?"
"In that case, it would be best to avoid letting Glinda and Minadzuki engage those blue variants directly. If Harry's report is correct, the leviathans' movements will be sealed."
Just as Luna Francois nodded in agreement...
A blue Raptor immediately flew towards them and descended. However, killing it in a single shot would be an effortless task for the magic gun held in Hal's hand. Just as the group decided to observe the Raptor's movements for now—
'We meet again, Lord Tyrannos.' nos.' nos.'
Descending gracefully, the Raptor spoke with the voice of the old dragon, Exhos.
Hal came to a realization. This was also the magic of dragons. Employing a lesser dragon while taking control of its eyes, ears, nose and mouth to serve one's own purpose—
"Are you looking for Pavel Galad by any chance?"
'How astute of you, Lord Tyrannos. Precisely. If His Highness the Sword Tyrannos could be hypnotized successfully, it would probably take merely a night's duration to locate him.' him.' him.'
The Exhos-Raptor laughed while answering Hal's question.
'He appears to be valiantly holding on by the skin of his teeth, leaving me no recourse but to send out pursuers. Still, a hunt once in a while might not be so bad after all. Hahahaha.' ha.' ha.'
English nobles and hunting dogs shared the pleasures of the hunt. From Exhos' perspective, all this was probably like playing a game.
With a "hmph," Hal dismissed this sadistic hobby, typical of dragons.
'Your Highness the Bow Tyrannos, if you are willing to stand back and watch my hunt, I shall adhere to my earlier promise and respond with appropriate action.' tion.' tion.'
"Appropriate action means taking over this city like a gentleman would?"
'Hahahaha, precisely. I will have the winged lizards refrain from unnecessary destruction and slaughter. However, no one is allowed to leave this city. Those who violate this rule—' rule—' rule—'
The Raptor's eyes turned to the destroyed New Senjuu Bridge.
This meant extermination. Then without waiting for Hal's reply, the Raptor responsible for bearing the message flew away.
"That's why I always say these dragon bastards are..."
Just as Hal cursed dragonkind for their belligerence...
Hal and Asya's cellphones rang at the same time. Had text messages arrived? The two of them took out their phones to check—But were greatly surprised.
"I'm relieved you're fine."
"You took the same words out of our mouths..."
"Likewise, I can't believe you're both okay, President and Mutou-san..."
"It's not just me. Funaki-san from our class is with me at the same shelter and she's fine too."
The location was the cultural clubs building on Kogetsu Academy's premises.
This conversation was taking place between those present in the UFO Research Club's room on the third floor—President M, Asya, Hal and Mutou-san.
'Those who are unaffected, gather at school if possible! President's orders!'
Responding to the president's text, the group had rushed over as fast as they could.
Furthermore, Kogetsu Academy was not designated as a shelter because it was a SAURU facility. These four should be the only people in school right now.
"Among the people we know, there's also Juujouji and her cousin who are both safe and sound too."
"Wow—Wonderful, wonderful. We're actually blessed with amazing luck, right?"
After hearing the news from Hal, Mutou-san clapped her hands happily.
However, the witches were guarded by their "serpents" while Hal had protection from the Rune of the Bow. Mutou-san was probably the only one enjoying amazing luck for real. As for President M, surely she had defeated the freezing curse with her inborn vitality. Probably.
"By the way, is the bike outside yours, Mutou-san?"
"Yeah. After all, the trains aren't running. I had to rush over to Ryougoku here all the way from west Gasai. But since there were no cars driving in the roads, it was a surprisingly easy ride~~"
Asya asked for confirmation, prompting Mutou-san to bring up encouraging exploits.
The hybrid bicycle parked outside the clubs building turned out to be hers after all.
"Well, although this incomprehensible situation is quite tricky, it's good to have companions. What are your plans next?"
"I'm going back to my original shelter first."
Mutou-san was the first to answer President M's question.
"I heard the rescuers from the SDF say that they were going to gather all the unaffected people from each area together to establish a new shelter. I plan on heading over in a bit. What about you, Prez?"
"I am going to—train."
The president suddenly announced. The three ordinary club members went "eh?" at the same time.
"I said train. It appears that Tokyo has fallen to the dragons. I know not whether this is the reason but a voice inside me is quietly telling me 'Now is the precisely the time for new power to awaken.'"
Perhaps President M was receiving a message from something like the cosmic consciousness or Gaia. Normally, such absurd nonsense would only cause spit-takes but coming from her, it sounded unexpectedly convincing. How unbelievable, although it was still totally surreal.
Encouraged by President M's words, Hal could not help but feel an impulse to make a similar declaration.
"I have some usual business—no, sundry chores to handle, so I'll be living at school in the meantime."
"Eh? You're going to live at school?"
"Yeah, all the things I need happen to be here."
Hal nodded at the surprised Asya.
The blue Raptors were circling all over Tokyo New Town with impunity. But perhaps wary of the dragonslaying bow, they had strictly reined in their behavior the whole time.
In that case, there was still a grace period. Hal wanted to use it to do something.
"You look like you have considerations. Very well, you and I shall live here to hold an emergency upgrade camp!"
Ignoring Hal's incredulous childhood friend and Mutou-san, President M declared solemnly.
However, Hal shook his head and apologized, "Sorry, I will be camping next door."
Then he pointed at the library adjacent to the clubs building. It was the structure serving as the temporary Witch Mansion.
Ordinary logic would dictate that he should assist Asya and Luna to focus on retaking Tokyo in this situation.
However, Hal still had unfinished work that had to be handled first.
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