Leviathan:Volume 3 Chapter 5
Chapter 5 - Bow and Arrow, as well as...
'Aren't the majority of New Town's administrative departments and the city council "frozen"?'
On the car's navigation screen, Hiiragi-san was speaking somewhat casually. She was SAURU's technical consultant as well as being the female executive on the inside track to become the next Kantou branch chief.
Currently at Yokohama, she was speaking through a video call over the internet.
'The cabinet and the national assembly have convened on their behalf for a number of days already. The main agenda was how to handle this "illegal occupation of Tokyo New Town by dragonkind." Anyway, since the Minister of State on the countermeasures committee has stepped down due to a public gaffe, a new minister will be taking over today.'
"Countermeasures have been delayed for too long, I suppose."
Seated as the driver, Hal gripped the steering wheel and commented quietly.
He had borrowed a 4WD military vehicle from the JGSDF and was speeding along a new highway on the coast. Orihime was in the front passenger seat while Asya sat in the back.
'There are a number of reasons. Firstly, no elites have appeared in the East Asian region including Japan for the past fifteen years. Secondly, a somewhat stable situation has been maintained during this period, ignoring Raptor appearances. Thirdly, people have grown complacent due to these reasons... Rather, they lack a sense of crisis.'
"Unlike the major war zones of Europe and North America, people here can't deal with sudden calamities."
'That's indeed the case. By the way, have you received the aid supplies I sent over?'
"Yes. However... Eating this many mooncakes will make me overweight."
Orihime was the one who answered. On her lap was a paper bag.
An unmanned remote-controlled helicopter belonging to the JMSDF had delivered a small quantity of supplies to the Shin-Kiba reclaimed land, including a package for Hal's group from Hiiragi-san.
It was a paper bag filled with dozens of mooncakes from a famous Chinese restaurant.
"Despite their small size, each mooncake contains a large amount of sugar with abundant fat and calories..."
'That's why they're good. Portable food with high calories will definitely come in handy. I went out of my way to buy them from Chinatown, so make good use of them.'
Waving goodbye from the screen, Hiiragi-san ended the call.
Hal muttered "I see" while Orihime looked at the back seat with a nod. Asya was currently meditating with her eyes closed, apparently oblivious to the conversation just now. At the moment, she was remotely controlling her partner that had finally gone through rebirth.
"I understand now. So virtually all of them are for Asya-san."
The 4WD vehicle was racing at maximum speed along the coastal highway, passing the vicinity of Shin-Kiba then successfully crossing the Arakawa to advance towards Gasai. Since there were no other cars driving on the road, Hal could drive as fast as possible without worry.
All the Raptors in New Town had started gathering in the Edogawa ward—
After receiving this news, Hal and company were hurrying to the scene. Using remote control, his childhood friend had sent Rushalka ahead first.
"By the way, Haruga-kun... It seems that Asya-san cannot hear us."
"Yeah, that's right, because she's concentrating hard, probably tuning herself to the revived Rushalka to carefully check the situation."
"Then allow me to change the subject... It suddenly occurred to me after getting in the car, actually."
Orihime looked like she was having trouble bringing up the subject. With some embarrassment, she said, "Didn't Rushalka use a finishing move against Princess Yukikaze—that dragon king of a girl?"
"Yeah, except that she was in the form of a dragon, that's all."
"Haruga-kun, you didn't touch... Asya-san there, did you?"
"C-Could it be that it is not an essential action...? In my case, the gun was actually lying back then to accommodate your dirty thoughts, Haruga-kun—That shouldn't be the case... Right?"
"O-Of course not, Juujouji."
Although Hal had admitted to being a closet pervert, he still asserted instantly with his honor on the line.
"Let's speculate. I think Asya did a Double Cast of pseudo-divinity when firing the bow. Perhaps that's why she didn't need my assistance?"
"I-Indeed, that might be true. After all, Asya-san and I are on different levels!"
Blushing to their ears, the two of them tried to ponder the reason.
Then silently, they stared ahead at where they were going, enduring the slightly embarrassing atmosphere.
"Say... Supposing that speculation were to be correct..."
"When the time comes, will we have no choice but to do that again...? Besides, this time's enemy is very strong too."
"Better to call her a super formidable foe far surpassing the last."
"So ultimately, there's no way around it... Let us do our best just as we decided together yesterday, Haruga-kun. I-I believe it is our obligation!"
"......Yeah, s-since it's an obligation, it definitely can't be helped..."
"B-But to do that to another girl apart from me—when fighting alongside witches who are not as strong as Asya-san, I suppose I'd like to say that I don't want you to do that sort of thing? I would be very happy if you could exercise greater prudence. M-My wish is that you'll only do it to me—"
"U-Umm, Juujouji... What exactly are you trying to say...?"
Juujouji Orihime kept murmuring softly, which was quite rare for her.
However, this uncharacteristic behavior of hers, murmuring emphatically nonstop, felt inexplicably adorable, even to the point of troubling Hal. But actually, somewhere in the bottom of his heart, Hal seemed to understand what Orihime was implying, but was it right to interpret it that way? The hesitation in his heart was making Hal unsure.
Hence, he asked timidly, causing Orihime to blush and bow her head.
"T-Take Hazumi for example. If you could restrain yourself and not do that to her, I would be very hap—"
Suddenly, Orihime jumped in fright.
"Ah... A-As her elder sister, I forbid you from doing anything sleazy to her. I was speaking out of duty just now without implying anything else."
Hal did not know if it was because she was already plunged into confusion or not, but Orihime was inexplicably speaking in polite forms.
"B-Besides, other than me, no girl could possibly be generous enough to accept a closet pervert such as you, Haruga-kun."
"Well... That's certainly true."
"I-In any case, let us do our best together!"
With many things still ambiguous, the topic of conversation reached an end by the time Hal noticed.
At this moment, a call was received through the internet on the cellphone that was connected to the navigation screen. It was Luna Francois. Operating the navigation system, Hal started the video call.
'Preparations are complete on my side.'
Luna Francois' face was displayed on the screen. Hazumi was there too.
"We're almost done too."
'Then let us begin as previously agreed. I shall pray for all of you to receive fortune's blessings... But frankly speaking, my true specialty is praying for misfortune.'
"Your confession really doesn't make me feel touched."
Listening to the girl who was called a "demon" by her fellow witch, Hal could not help but grumble. Then he spoke to his comrade in the screen while Orihime also nodded at the same person.
"Shirasaka, I'm counting on you."
"Don't make things out to be too complicated. Just cut loose and do it."
'I-I understand, Senpai. N-Nee-sama, watch me carefully. I will do my very best.'
Shirasaka Hazumi's angelic visage was displayed on the car's navigation screen.
Anyone could see that she was extremely nervous.
"Then let us begin. Although Hazumi-san will be chiefly responsible, our first objective is to clear a path—In other words, exterminate the Raptors gathered in that airspace as quickly as possible, so as to reduce Rushalka and Akuro-Ou's burdens."
"Y-Yes... But is this really okay?"
Facing Luna Francois who could be considered the commander, Hazumi asked.
The two of them were located at Shin-Kiba's pier. In front of them was the vast Tokyo Bay. In their surroundings, roughly fifteen police officers were on standby as support.
"We're not heading to the scene with Senpai and company..."
"Don't worry, it will be fine. Biding our time as reserve forces is also an important mission. Besides, it's not every day that we have handy projectiles at our disposal. Let us fight the battle with efficiency."
Hazumi nodded then looked east.
Reportedly, all the dragons circling around New Town had gathered towards Gasai. With determination, Hazumi called out to the air, "Respond to my summon, Minadzuki!"
A glowing pentagram appeared over the pier, then transformed into the shape of an infinity symbol before turning into a winged serpent.
It was Minadzuki, the emerald leviathan in the form of a serpentine dragon. Hazumi touched the back of her right hand. Appearing there was a pictograph reminiscent of a "tilted half moon"—
The Ruruk Soun symbol signifying the dragonslaying bow, the Rune of the Bow.
It was what Haruomi-senpai had entrusted to her before setting off.
"I want to be helpful to Senpai. And I also have to assist Nee-sama and Asya-san... So lend your strength to me!"
In a rare moment, Hazumi yelled shrilly at her partner.
Then Hazumi started controlling magic power herself. Three days ago, Hazumi had performed Enemy Detection and Spatial Awareness magic unfamiliarly, but this time, she was not controlling Minadzuki remotely.
Hence, magic control was much easier than last time.
As though looking down on a map, Hazumi scouted out the distribution of blue Raptors over the Minamikasai sky in the Edogawa ward.
Near the mouth of the Kyuedogawa river mouth connected to Tokyo Bay...
Dozens of Raptors were flying back and forth in excitement, surrounding the community center located there. The precise number was—sixty-seven of them.
The battle had already started on the ground next to the community center.
As though cheering for this fight, the sixty-seven Raptors opened their mouths and howled nonstop. It was probably crazy noisy at the scene itself.
Even the Raptors were concerned about the lineup of participants in the fight—
This unusual scene was rendering Hazumi dumbstruck but she had to prioritize the completion of her own mission first.
Hazumi took a deep breath.
Raptors were normally the color of steel, but the sixty-seven Raptors gathered here were blue. According to Haruomi-senpai, this type of Raptor was imbued with imitation dragonslaying power.
They were formidable enemies that even the Shootdown Ace's partner, Glinda, must not take lightly if she were to mobilize.
Not only that, the risk of getting killed by the enemy was not low. And this type of mission had been entrusted to her. Entrusted to her whom had been conferred the power of dragonbane, the Rune of the Bow—!
"Please... Will you lend me your strength?"
Again, Hazumi touched the seal on her right hand, the Rune of the Bow.
Instantly, Minadzuki called out gracefully as though singing a victorious song of triumph.
Raaaaa raaaaa raaaaa raaaaa...
—In the past, Minadzuki's right forelimb was extraordinarily developed and equipped with sharp claws. After all, that was the so-called horn counterpart. But after her rebirth, both the left and right forelimbs became the same size while a white jewel was added to the right hand to replace the long and sharp claws.
When Minadzuki opened her emerald right palm, the jewel floated up.
The jewel transformed into a "long white tube" on its master's shoulder. From Hazumi's perspective, it looked like a rifle. Both the barrel and the stock were long. It even featured a trigger.
"My goodness, it resembles a musket greatly."
Hearing Luna Francois' quiet remark, Hazumi could not help but nod in agreement. The "gun" transformed from the jewel was simple in design and as elegant as an antique.
Indeed, an arquebus or a musket would be an apt description for this type of antiquated firearm.
Hazumi was informed by instinct that this gun was the "bow" created by Minadzuki.
The instant Minadzuki's voice sounded out, the musket discharged a white flash of light. This light flew east into the distance—the sky above Minamikasai.
Traversing ward boundaries, it shot from Shin-Kiba in the Kōtō ward to the river mouth of the Edogawa.
At the same time, it accurately pierced the chest of a Raptor flying in the air at the scene. What a splendid long-distance sniper shot. After shooting down one Raptor, it immediately changed direction and angle to penetrate the next Raptor in the chest. Then it flew towards the subsequent Raptor—
This white flash of light repeated this change of direction and auto-homing for nearly sixty times in total.
The white light traced out lines in the sky above the Edogawa River's mouth like a pen in a frenzied dance. It was clearly visible even from Hazumi and Luna's location at the Shin-Kiba pier, almost like a night of fireworks.
Then, the Raptors with their chest pierced—
Their entire bodies broke down and crumbled, gradually collapsing into tiny particles.
Through magically amplified vision, Hazumi witnessed this scene unerringly. This was the power of the Rune of the Bow!
Gathered in the sky over Minamikasai, the Raptors were instantly whittled down to less than ten.
"Glinda, charge in deep! Long Ride!"
Luna Francois instantly commanded, summoning Glinda to the air.
The leviathan, bearing the appearance of a lion with additional heads of a green dragon and a black goat, flew towards the battlefield. Her mission was to restrain the remaining Raptors while remotely controlled by Luna.
Luna Francois yelled, producing a black magic circle behind Glinda.
Rivaling a the gigantic body of a "serpent," the large circle had a pentagram symbol inscribed within it. Like a carriage drawn by a horse, it flew in pursuit of the three-headed lion. Since it was not possible to invoke pseudo-divinity while controlling a "serpent" remotely, anything to entrust had to be done now.
Regardless, the mission was accomplished for now.
Just as Hazumi breathed a sigh of relief and was about to disengage vision amplification magic...
In a corner of her vision, a blue wyvern was rapidly descending towards the ground. Naturally, that was Rushalka, but her flying form was surging with unprecedented power.
"Target discovered. Developments are unfolding as predicted."
From the back seat, Asya suddenly opened her eyes and spoke.
She had kept her eyes shut all this time, focused on controlling Rushalka remotely. At this moment, Minadzuki had just used the Rune of the Bow to snipe from long distance, clearing out the almost sixty Raptors all at once.
The 4WD vehicle driven by Hal exited the coastal road and entered the Loop 7 main route.
They had already reached Minamikasai. From the front passenger seat, Orihime asked Asya in the back, "The shelter is nearby, isn't it? What is the damage situation over there?"
"I was worried about the same thing, which is why I sent Rushalka ahead of us... But it seems fine for now."
A blue wyvern descended gracefully in front of the speeding 4WD vehicle.
This was Rushalka, returning after being sent ahead to scout and rescue lives if necessary. Her flying form was agile yet powerful. Having worked with her for so long, Hal knew very well.
The "serpent" on the verge of death had completely recovered the speed and agility of her peak condition.
Rushalka was flying slightly above the Loop 7 route, so as to lead the way. Driving the 4WD vehicle, Hal followed the blue wyvern. Soon after, they arrived in front of the community center.
This facility was located near the Edogawa river mouth.
Just by crossing the road, one would immediately reach the river's wide and grassy shore.
Currently, the sky above had turned into a battlefield where two dragons were locked in a duel. As one would expect, one of them was the silver dragon, Pavel Galad.
Bathed under the illumination of starlight and street lamps, his gigantic body of metallic silver shone with luster.
The other side was the old dragon, Exhos. Having pledged allegiance to Princess Yukikaze four days earlier, this dragon was all bones except for a pair of steel wings.
'Hahahaha. Lord Tyrannos of the Sword, as I suspected, that body of yours cannot fight to your heart's content, can it?' it?' it?'
Mocked by the old dragon Exhos, the young Galad angered immensely.
Resembling a bone specimen, Exhos was riding a bronze discus hovering in the sky. This discus suddenly accelerated, flying towards the silver dragon.
With the wings on his back spread out, Galad was motionless in the air.
In his right hand, he was holding the dragonslaying sword—a longsword materialized from the Rune of the Sword. Galad swung this sword in an attempt to chop apart Exhos' discus that was approaching at high speed.
However, the dragonslaying sword shattered, accompanied by an acute sound akin to breaking glass.
Then Galad's damaged gigantic body was blown away violently, crashing to the ground.
He fell next to the shore of the Kyuedogawa. As a clearing consisting of a large stretch of lawn laid with pedestrian trails, it was able to withstand the impact from an elite dragon's massive body.
Seeing the silver dragon putting up a pathetic fight, unworthy of the formidable foe he once was, Hal muttered quietly, "So his wounds haven't healed yet...?"
"Not only that. What the old emaciated bag of bones is riding is also 'the power of dragonbane.' Of course, it is an imitation and not the real thing—But I do concede that it is quite well done."
"An imitation of dragonslaying power. So that guy really can use it too."
Listening to Hinokagutsuchi's voice echoing in the car, Hal nodded. Compared to before when she would only offer vague hints, she was providing guidance at opportune moments now.
This was probably the way the self-styled devil showed her care after merging with the magic gun and entering an alliance.
Hal stopped the car at the bus terminus in front of the community center.
There were three microbuses parked there as well. Furthermore, Rushalka was currently circling in the air slowly, waiting for her partner's instructions.
Just as Hal, Asya and Orihime disembarked together, planning to head to the shore...
"O-Oh my? Why are all of you here?"
"Uh, Haruga-kun, why can you drive!?"
Hal looked back, only to see his classmate Funaki-san in shock. Mutou-san was also staring wide-eyed.
Twenty or thirty apparently ordinary people, encompassing both genders and a range of ages, were standing in front of the community center aimlessly. Orihime spoke to her classmates, "You two... were taking shelter here, I guess?"
"Y-Yeah. Along with others, we're holed up in the main hall here, discussing stuff like when to escape. There are still a lot of people inside the building."
"With so many flying dragons gathered here, going outside is scary too. But—"
Compared to the distraught Funaki-san, Mutou-san was evidently far more calm. Pointing at the sky, she said, "A beam of light flew in from somewhere and took care of a whole load of dragons... That's why we took the chance to go outside to check out the situation. Besides, someone's gone missing."
"Missing, you say?"
"Yeah. But more precisely, that's not quite the right description..."
Confronted with Hal's question, Mutou-san hesitated, so Funaki-san interrupted, "U-Umm, there was a handsome guy who transformed right before our eyes. Transforming instantly like those red and silver giants in children's shows. That's right, he turned into that dragon!"
" " "......" " "
Hal, Orihime and Asya could not help but fall silent.
Funaki-san was pointing at the shore where the silver dragon was trying to get up. Compared to a Giant of Light, Pavel Galad ran out of strength and fell on his knees.
In the end, the dragon glared viciously at Exhos and the dragonslaying discus with seething rage in his eyes.
Meanwhile, Mutou-san shook her head with an expression of disbelief.
"Well, I'd like to say it was our imagination or mistake, but both Funaki-san and I saw it happen clearly. Our memories are definitely not mistaken... Although he had been glaring at us with a very scary look, as soon as that bone specimen monster showed up, he transformed..."
"Say, was that guy someone in the shelter with an unknown identity by any chance?"
"Wow, you're amazing, Haruga-kun. Right on the money!"
As suspected, he had taken on human form after all. Hal nodded.
Then Asya shrugged and said, "I get the basic gist of things now. Since there's no time, I'm going to give simple instructions. You two, please return to the building over there and tell everyone to evacuate. As for the Raptors—dragons—It's fine to ignore them."
At this moment, the three-headed leviathan happened to be flying overhead.
Luna Francois had sent her as agreed in advance. To fight the few Raptors remaining in this airspace, Glinda pounced with claws and teeth ready.
However, the blue variant Raptors were supposed to carry emulated power of dragonbane.
Wouldn't that put Glinda in a difficult fight or even a risk of dying?
Hal could not help but worry—But it turned out to be unnecessary paranoia. The orange-furred lion leviathan was leading a pentagram magic circle behind her as though drawing a carriage.
This magic circle suddenly jumped in front of Glinda.
It was almost like a shield. The blue Raptors spewed bronze-colored flames at the approaching lion. Hal could tell from sight that these were dragonslaying flames. However, the black pentagram blocked these flames reliably. This was a gravity shield that blocked physical attacks completely.
The power of dragonbane infused in the bronze-colored flames seemed to be relatively weak.
The gravity shield proved fully effective, protecting Glinda's massive body properly.
"Since pseudo-divinity cannot be invoked while controlling remotely, I sent her along with this first..."
Effortlessly defusing arduous situations, she obtained victory single-handedly.
Hal was thoroughly awed and impressed with Luna Francois' brilliance, worthy of her title as the Shootdown Ace, as well as her underlying strength as a master mage.
Protected by the gravity barrier, the hovering Glinda opened the jaws of the green dragon and black goat heads. Then she breathed out scarlet flames, incinerating the bodies of Raptors.
Inflicted with fatal injuries from the flame breath attack, blue winged dragons kept crashing down.
It looked like there was no need to worry about things on that front. Hal turned to face his classmates anew.
"Then I'm counting on you two to handle things on the shelter side. We still have business to attend to."
"See you in school. Bye!"
Hal made his request briefly and Orihime cheerfully bid them goodbye.
The two female classmates nodded in response with stunned looks. Seeing that, Hal and company immediately started to sprint, advancing towards the riverside.
"Rushalka, come to me. Prepare to fight!"
"Akuro-Ou, we will be starting a decisive battle too. Arrive instantly!"
Asya ran while summoning her partner. Orihime also raised her voice to chant a song of summoning.
The blue wyvern instantly responded to Asya's summon and went on the move. The white nine-tailed fox-wolf also appeared in the air suddenly. Witnessing the witches controlling "serpents," Mutou-san and Funaki-san were dumbfounded in surprise.
However, these matters would have to be dealt with later—
Hal and company arrived at the spacious lawn on the river bank.
In the air, the old dragon Exhos had summoned eleven runes of Ruruk Soun over his head, signifying "false weapon."
'Come, royal authority of dragonslaying. Give me even more power—!' !' !'
Exhos was riding the bronze discus and hovering in the air.
Eight identical discuses suddenly appeared behind him. Were they all made of dragonslaying power? Hal immediately summoned the magic gun to his right hand. Aiming at the old dragon skeleton, he fired.
One of the new discuses swiftly moved as a shield and deflected the magic gun's bullet of red light.
'Hohohoho... I was thinking it was about time for you to arrive, now that the winged lizards are all gone.' gone.' gone.'
Riding a discus, Exhos rotated his skull, pointing his empty eye sockets at the river bank. He was staring at Hal.
'Welcome, Lord Tyrannos of the Bow.' Bow.' Bow.'
"Sorry, I need the guy with the sword for something, so I've got nothing to say to you."
"W-What did you say...?"
Hearing Hal's declaration, Pavel Galad groaned.
The silver dragon was still kneeling on the ground, only turning his eyes to look at Hal. However, that already seemed to be taxing his limit. His gigantic body suddenly shrank.
Ten-odd seconds later, the silver-white dragon turned into a handsome human young man.
He was kneeling on the riverside lawn, a pained expression on his face while holding his hand against his heart.
"Hmph, to think you are weakened to the point of being unable to move a dragon's massive body. A body forcibly revived without using a secret ritual of resurrection will not heal so easily."
The magic gun whispered in mockery with Hinokagutsuchi's voice.
"Listen up, brat and priestesses. Hurry up and take care of this old geezer of a curtain raiser who has been a nuisance, making noise nonstop. It should take no more than a single arrow."
"Don't make it sound so easy just because you don't need to do the work yourself."
"And it feels a bit disrespectful to the elderly..."
Hal and Orihime bore serious expressions, joking only in speech only.
The enemy was an elite dragon and controlling emulated dragonslaying power to boot. Although his physical body was quite fragile, being bones only, he was probably the most experienced in magic out of all the enemies they had encountered so far. There were probably very few elites capable of controlling such a massive number of Raptors.
However, of Hal, Orihime and Asya, not one of them was afraid of Exhos.
They were vigilant, of course, but remained calm and composed. They knew that they had already obtained power surpassing the elite in front of them.
This was probably thanks to their mutual link to the Rune of the Bow through the bonds of their covenants.
"Putting questions of morality aside, Hinokagutsuchi's opinion definitely cannot be more right. Then let's eliminate him quickly. Use me—and Rushalka."
Asya delivered her words with stern dignity.
At merely the age of fifteen, she was already a seasoned veteran of a witch. Having suffered hardship countless times in the face of the elite dragons' overwhelming power, this girl had finally obtained the privilege to strike back.
This time, they were the ones in a position to trample the dragons—
However, Asya did not get carried away or lose herself to rapture. She simply maintained a warrior's calm and issued a declaration as though the enemy's defeat was set in stone.
This was Europe's former Shootdown Ace. Hal nodded greatly and shouted sonorously, "Then Asya, I entrust the queen's power to you!"
"Leave it to me. Rushalka!"
The instant they breathed in unison, a giant red body appeared in the air.
A translucent dragon king—The Crimson Queen. Thus, the queen merged with the blue wyvern in midair again.
Rushalka became equipped with chest armor and a pair of arms made of ruby material.
Speaking of which, this was the "Queen Form," right? Witnessing this sight, Pavel Galad's human appearance panicked noticeably.
"To think an imitation could... transform? What is that power—!?"
'Hmm, it seems that some bizarre little trick is being played.' played. played.'
Skeptically, Exhos stared at the "serpent" in Queen Form.
However, he still continued to attack, probably driven by a dragon's nature. Of the eight discuses summoned by the old dragon, two flew towards Rushalka at super high speed.
However, this attack did not work. It was deflected with futility.
The blue wyvern's entire body was enveloped and protected by pearly radiance. Identical to what surrounded Hal and Princess Yukikaze, this was imperishable protection.
'Hmm—!? But that is the protection only dragon kings and usurpers can use!' use!' use!'
"Rushalka, high speed flight!"
At Asya's command, the wyvern in Queen Form instantly took flight.
Her target was above the scattered clouds in the night sky. With astounding acceleration, she reached sonic speed in merely a few short seconds.
Breaking past the cloud layer, she ascended rapidly with momentum to reach the heavens.
However, Exhos' eight discuses also sped up violently, rising rapidly to chase after Rushalka.
The discuses also showed amazing speed. Looking absolutely determined to catch the blue wyvern, they finally arrived right behind her.
However, Asya issued commands at this point.
"Accelerate further! Pull ahead, Rushalka!"
The wyvern in Queen Form responded to these commands in calm composure—Or rather.
She broke the sound barrier matter-of-factly, emitting sonic booms while she flew, easily shaking off the eight discuses' pursuit behind her.
After creating a certain level of distance, Rushalka turned around with a twist of her body and stared at the arriving discuses with calm eyes.
Her left arm of ruby was holding a crimson bow with a blue-white arrow of light in her right.
Soaring the sky with her back turned, she nocked the arrow to the bow at the same time.
"Freeze and Crack!"
The arrow released by the ruby arms immediately split into eight to intercept the approaching discuses.
The attacks met their marks completely. Struck by the arrows, the discuses were all frozen, then shattered like ice sculptures. They exploded.
This battle, taking place in the far end of the sky—Hal was cognizant of it as though it was happening right before his eyes.
This was thanks to his link to Rushalka through the vassal covenant.
'Tsk! A mere imitation!' tion!' tion!'
This time, Exhos attacked using the discus he was riding.
Instead of Rushalka, his target was Hal's group on the riverside.
Hal calmly deployed imperishable protection. The pearly light enveloped not only himself but also Orihime and Asya.
Colliding with this layer of protection, Exhos was sent flying together with his bronze discus.
Furthermore, Hal fired his magic gun thrice—in triple burst mode. Struck by the bullets, the skull of the old dragon Exhos shattered.
But the all-bones dragon remained impressive as ever. He was still capable of speaking from his rib cage.
'Curse you. Do not believe that this is over!' over!' over!'
"Akuro-Ou, finish him!"
Responding to Orihime's command, Akuro-Ou descended rapidly from her standby position in the air.
Then using this momentum, she pounced with reckless abandon, knocking the bronze discus away. Riding on it, Exhos—the skeleton specimen with the missing skull—was sent flying too.
Without a moment's pause, Akuro-Ou instantly lunged at the ancient specimen, thoroughly crushing the rib cage within her jaws.
In addition, Rushalka flew back with lightning speed—
And swung her right forelimb at Exhos' back, stabbing dragon claws of ruby into his spine.
'GAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!' ' '
Ra Exhos' bones screamed in a deathcry, crumbling and scattering.
One could say that an old dragon had finally met his nihilistic demise. This was the moment of complete victory for Hal and company.
With the eccentric old dragon's demise, two inheritors of dragonslaying power were reunited.
At the shore of the Kyuedogawa, Hal and Pavel Galad were finally face to face. Two witches watched them from a slight distance away.
"Conferring the ancient sovereign's appearance upon imitations, thereby allowing temporary ascension to the throne—Truly a fearsome power. This ought to be named the secret ritual of imperial election..."
"Imperial election? Oh, you mean electing an emperor? Like what those prince-electors did."
Hal understood what Galad had implied.
Prince-electors. A name given to powerful princes of the Holy Roman Empire in medieval Europe who held the exclusive privilege of electing the "king." This authority was shared between high-ranking nobles and Catholic archbishops.
"I never expected such a massive gap to arise between us in such short time."
"Well, you were heavily injured, after all."
Galad muttered, unable to conceal his disappointment, hence Hal shrugged.
What was formerly such a powerful silver dragon was now kneeling on the ground in human form, because he did not even have the strength to stand up. The silver-haired and handsome young man looked extremely disheartened in demeanor.
However, Galad shook his head and refuted Hal's words in chagrin.
"That is not what I mean. The 'secret ritual of imperial election' you have acquired is but a mere step from reaching the lofty heights of the dragon kings—That is how potent a power it is. You are now the Tyrannos closest to the throne."
That being said, Hal totally had no wish to increase his ranking on that front.
He sighed lightly and decided to change the subject. After all, there were more urgent matters to attend to.
"Let's put the long-winded discussion aside for now. Anyway, do you want to join forces with me?"
"What did you say?"
"It's fine if you want to stay in Tokyo for a brief while. We'll reach an agreement to coexist temporarily without letting the Japanese populace know. Compared to having Princess Yukikaze as a neighbor, we—no, I—would rather accept you."
"You wish... to join forces with me?"
Facing Galad's handsome but dumbfounded face, Hal nodded.
The dragon before him was an extremely dangerous monster, having killed many humans personally in the past. If one were to seek the entire nation's opinion through a referendum, opposition would most likely be overwhelming.
However, Hal currently wanted to secure "another faction" even if it meant going against public consensus.
"Please. As the saying goes, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, right? Besides, both of us are weak and powerless in the face of the dragon kings. Instead of killing ourselves through infighting, taking arms together is how we can come out in a win-win scenario."
"Do not be ridiculous. As a pure-blooded dragon, how could I possibly join forces with the likes of a human—"
"Oh my, what's wrong with doing it once in a while? Besides, you're currently in human form right now."
"Also, the reason why Exhos failed to find you for the past few days was thanks to hiding among humans. I heard it from the girls who were with you."
It looked like Hal had exposed what Galad hated to touch upon. His gaze turned dark and vicious.
However, it only lasted for an instant. The dragon warrior's handsome face, full of manliness, showed an impressed look as he narrowed his eyes slightly to stare at Hal.
"More than just the power of imperial selection huh...? You have changed greatly within short time."
"Too much happened, after all. If possible, I'd rather live ordinary days as an ordinary citizen."
Hal never expected he would be making private deals with a dragon like this one day—
Right now, Hal was in a situation he never would have imagined in the past. However, he wanted to avoid death and also hoped to retire at the age of forty to live the rest of his life in leisure. And in order to achieve this goal, the world needed to become more peaceful than its current state.
Both active and passive, that was the nature of Hal's motives.
"Bow user... I recall your name being Haruomi."
"Yeah. I'm honored you remember me."
"Fighting side by side... If that is the case, naturally, I must confront that."
Galad glanced at the Kyuedogawa river mouth—Tokyo Bay's starting point.
He must have noticed too. A new enemy was approaching. However, the dragon betrayed Hal's expectations despite the beginning collapse of his obstinacy, rooted in his hot-blooded character, in a mere instant.
"Nevertheless, it is impossible. I have exhausted my powers in the earlier battle. I do not have any remaining strength to fight alongside you."
"Sigh, I was guessing this might be the case."
Hal sighed again, having lost count how many times he had sighed today.
Concerned about this point, He had discussed with Luna Francois beforehand to see if they could locate Pavel Galad before the Yukikaze faction did. The result of this negotiation also turned out as expected.
"I might make the same request if an opportunity arises in the future. Lend me your aid when the time comes."
"...Are you not going to kill me? Haruomi."
"The enemy's enemy could turn into a friend. I won't kill you off pointlessly."
After saying this on purpose in a casual tone of voice, Hal returned to his companions.
Since Galad could not be used, he should be shot and killed on the spot to eliminate a future threat. Hal had deliberately pretended to have overlooked this option.
"No good, I guess? Looks like I'll have to call negotiations a wrap for today."
"No helping it. It's our turn next."
"—So last time's giant turtle really is the princess' servant!"
Asya nodded after listening to Hal's report. Looking through binoculars, Orihime cried out. The Japanese girl was currently looking in Tokyo Bay's direction at the river mouth.
A "black dot" could be seen on the horizon. It was gradually approaching.
Facing Hal who was nodding in response, Asya said, "While Haruomi and Galad were talking, Luna brought news. The remaining Raptors have been completely destroyed by her Glinda."
"As expected of the Shootdown Ace from America."
"However, It seems that the JMSDF has also issued a report."
After the complete annihilation of the Raptors at Minamikasai—
Having summoned Glinda back to Shin-Kiba, the American witch had received a report. The dragon king's minion that had appeared offshore of Haneda four days prior, Genbu-Ou—that giant turtle—had apparently floated up from the sea in Tokyo Bay and was heading towards the Kyuedogawa river mouth.
The star performer was finally arriving on stage. Asya immediately announced, "We'll first have Rushalka fight as much as possible. Once she reaches her limit, entrust the queen's power to Akuro-Ou—I'm counting on you, Orihime-san."
"Yes, leave it to me!"
What Pavel Galad called the "secret ritual of imperial election" was the trump card of Hal and the others.
It did not equate to unlimited power. Only one vassal could take on Queen Form, which was why they decided to have Rushalka, whose capabilities were top-notch, to transform into the queen while relegating Akuro-Ou to support.
As for Glinda and Minadzuki, who had received the Rune of the Bow, they were in the back on standby.
Hal's magic gun also had remaining ammunition. There was probably no other city in the world with an anti-dragon lineup comparable to this.
"Unfortunately, this still won't be enough, but all we can do is try."
"Yes. Times like these could be described as having 'nothing to lose in trying,' right?"
"Even Orihime-san has learned these magic words at last..."
The three of them chatted while jogging over to the bank near the river mouth.
Genbu-Ou, the gigantic minion almost a hundred meters in length, was gradually approaching from Tokyo Bay. Its supermassive body was charging over the sea, probably two or three kilometers from the river mouth.
"Should I have Rushalka snipe with the bow first...?"
Just as Asya was murmuring to herself...
'Fufufufu. The time for a rematch has arrived so soon, Haruomi!'
Adorable laughter resounded across the night sky. It was Princess Yukikaze's announcement. She was watching Hal from somewhere up high.
'That being said, my earlier injury has yet to heal... For the time being, my minion, Genbu-Ou, shall serve as your opponent. Please do not underestimate Genbu-Ou.'
Backing up the princess' casual voice, Genbu-Ou vocalized loudly while approaching on the sea.
'Just as you are able to entrust the dragonslaying bow to subordinates, I, Yukikaze, can also turn my servant into a dragonslaying arrow. Fufu, although nowhere as light and agile as I, Yukikaze, Genbu-Ou is still a force to be reckoned with once turned into an arrow. Let's fight fair and square, Haruomi!'
The challenge she issued was dignified as a king's yet playful and innocent like a child's.
Perhaps Princess Yukikaze was treating Hal as a "rare playmate." Even Hinokagutsuchi whispered from inside the magic gun, "Hmm. The little lady seems to like you very much."
"It really doesn't make me happy to be liked in this manner..."
The instant Hal muttered quietly, Genbu-Ou underwent a transformation over the sea.
The gigantic body, a hundred meters in length, began to emit golden light. This was the same phenomenon as witnessed offshore of Haneda previously. Genbu-Ou's glowing brawny body was closing in on the river mouth.
Several hundred meters away from landing. Asya instantly yelled, "Rushalka, equip the queen's bow! And use pseudo-divinity!"
"Akuro-Ou, you use fire magic too! And with the Rune of the Bow!"
Orihime commanded immediately as well.
Using pseudo-divinity and the Rune of the Bow simultaneously, the two girls intended to attack with a technique of assured annihilation.
However, it seemed like they were not using the "sun-shooting divine bow," right? Being their greatest trump card, but extremely costly in consumption, it was imperative to wait for the right moment before using it.
Tasked with their orders, the two "serpents" happened to be hovering overhead, biding their time to act.
Rushalka in Queen Form first summoned the crimson bow to her left hand.
Then her right hand conjured an ice arrow—from arrowhead to the fletchings, the arrow was sculpted from ice—then shot it swiftly. As soon as the arrow left the bow, almost a hundred identical ice arrows appeared behind the blue wyvern's back.
The scene of a large amount of arrows in the air was both magnificent and fearsome.
"Rushalka, Magic Missile!"
Responding to Asya's command, the remaining arrows all shot at Genbu-Ou simultaneously.
It was like heavy machine gunfire. Meanwhile, Orihime also took the opportunity to yell, "Now is the time, fire!"
Akuro-Ou summoned nine black arrowheads.
These arrowheads flew to a position above the approaching Genbu-Ou before releasing flames together. Nine beams of flame attempted to incinerate the gigantic turtle minion. At this moment, the ice arrows rained down like a sudden downpour. However, none of this worked.
Enveloped in golden light, Genbu-Ou's gigantic body remained completely unharmed.
"Last time it didn't work either when I shot my gun..."
"Well, that humongous mass itself seems to be the 'arrow'..."
Hinokagutsuchi's voice whispered privately to Hal after he gasped.
"In all likelihood, that thing should be sluggish in reaction with substantial limits on speed too. However, stopping its advance will be as much of a hassle as preventing Yukikaze from flying, brat!"
"That's why it's best not to have a frontal clash, right!?"
"Let's shift locations first! Orihime-san, counting on you!"
"Yes. Akuro-Ou, please!"
Shining with golden light, Genbu-Ou invaded the river mouth.
Genbu-Ou was only dozens of meters away from Hal's group. However, Akuro-Ou descended from the sky at this moment, then shrank her body upon landing, becoming roughly three meters long.
Orihime, Hal and Asya climbed onto the white fox-wolf's back desperately.
After all of them had mounted, Akuro-Ou immediately took a leap, using the momentum to start flying. Suddenly, Hal looked down at the ground in sudden realization.
Mutou-san and Funaki-san might still be inside the community center.
No signs of people could be seen in that area. The three microbuses parked at the bus terminus had disappeared, so presumably, they ought to have evacuated swiftly. After all, with giant monsters battling nearby, it would be only logical—
Just as Hal felt relieved, the enormous monster from the sea reached the river shore.
Instantly, the golden light surrounding Genbu-Ou's entire body exploded. It was like some kind of gigantic detonation. Asya immediately yelled, "Rushalka, deploy imperishable protection...!"
The blue wyvern flew next to Akuro-Ou and deployed a pearl-colored defensive field.
Hal also ordered the Rune of the Bow to guard himself and his companions using the same power of protection. Next, the golden light's explosion devoured the surroundings—
Two minutes later, the field of view, dyed golden by the explosion of light, gradually returned to clarity.
Looking down at the ground from Akuro-Ou's back in their aerial escape, Hal and the others could not help but fall speechless in surprise.
The whole vicinity had been cleared out to become a new stretch of empty land. The vast lawn on the riverside, roads, houses in Minamikasai, towns and neighborhoods—Everything had been swept away cleanly.
On closer examination, one could see a crater near the river mouth with a radius of two kilometers.
Furthermore, the area five or six kilometers surrounding the crater had been flattened by the light's explosion, completely destroying everything above ground.
Within this vast plain, the only moving living creature was the gigantic Genbu-Ou.
"Haruga-kun, look at that!"
Orihime pointed in the air from atop Akuro-Ou's back.
Flying there was a steel-colored Raptor. Held by its hind limb was a handsome young man, Pavel Galad in human form.
The Raptor released Galad after landing on the plain, then took flight again.
"By exhausting his last strength, he managed to summon one... Looks like that's what happened."
"But since the Raptor immediately left... I suppose Galad really doesn't have any remaining energy to sustain the summon."
Similarly, Asya and Hal nodded at each other on top of Akuro-Ou's back.
Incidentally, there was roughly a kilometer of distance between Genbu-Ou and Galad on the plain.
'Oh, what is this? Isn't it the silver dragon who had inherited the sword?'
Naturally, the voice echoing in the air was Princess Yukikaze's.
'Speaking of which, I received news that you were hiding in these lands. This is perfect. I shall take care of you while I am at it—Genbu-Ou, attack again. Do it more thoroughly this time.'
On the ground, Galad did not respond to the princess' voice.
Lying on the barren plain, he was squirming in pain. Literally as one might describe in an insult, he did not even have the strength to retort.
But judging from his personality, it was possible that his heart was shaking precisely due to the shame.
And having received the master's orders, Genbu-Ou—stood up, surprisingly. The gigantic turtle, a hundred meters long, had originally been crawling on all fours after landing.
But suddenly, Genbu-Ou stood upright on stubby hind legs.
Then glowing golden again, Genbu-Ou took flight, flying up in the sky like a rocket—towards the night sky where fleecy clouds were floating scattered. Hal gasped.
"Since that big thing is also a 'dragonslaying arrow'... Won't it take the same action as Princess Yukikaze last time?"
"—! You mean the finishing move of descending from a great height!"
Orihime had apparently pictured the same thing. Her expression was very stiff.
"If that thing crashes down, let alone a street... I fear the entire region will be wiped out, right?"
"That would be least of it. Although it's ultimately just an intuitive hunch of mine, had we failed to stop the princess' rapid descent, around 80% of New Town would've been pulverized."
Adding an even worse prediction to Hal's estimation, Asya said quietly, "In that case, we'll just have to stop it the same way."
"Asya-san will resist with a finishing move too, like earlier!" said Orihime. However, Hal's childhood friend murmured with a gloomy expression, "Frankly speaking... I'm not confident I can achieve the same outcome as last time. As Princess Yukikaze pointed out, it was probably because she had been careless. She can't possibly repeat the same mistake twice—But I'll try my best."
With a determined look, Asya said, "We are not fighting in solitude. Let's gamble on this fact."
The giant minion, Genbu-Ou, was rapidly descending from an extreme height estimated to be ten thousand meters.
Rushalka, Akuro-Ou and the three humans landed on the ground, preparing to intercept. Although Pavel Galad's human body was also quite nearby, they did not have the luxury to tend to him.
In Queen Form, Rushalka nocked an arrow of light on the crimson bow, aiming it at the sky.
Akuro-Ou returned to her normal size and waited on standby some distance away. After Hal and the witches exchanged nods with one another, Asya cried out fiercely, "Rushalka, Double Cast pseudo-divinity of the Moon! Receive the power of the moon!"
Leviathans were heaven-sent children of the moon and night.
In order to receive magical power from the brightly shining full moon in the sky, Asya commanded the invocation of divinity, thereby pouring the obtained power into the crimson bow. Then twenty-one runes of Ruruk Soun appeared behind Rushalka's back, signifying "I will fire the sun-shooting divine bow at the sky, to exterminate the sun."
Shining with golden light, Genbu-Ou was currently falling from the sky, belly exposed.
Like a meteor, hurtling straight at Hal's group from overhead!
"Now is the time—!"
At Asya's command, Rushalka drew the bow and shot.
The arrow of light released from the crimson bow flew in a straight line and was about to pierce Genbu-Ou's abdomen—However, the runes of Ruruk Soun for "shield" manifested at that moment to block the arrow of light!
Nevertheless, the sun-shooting divine bow lived up to its name as a technique of assured annihilation.
Blowing apart the fifteen-rune arrangement of "shield," it pierced Genbu-Ou magnificently.
However, this did not mean that things were over. Enveloped in blazing flame, the turtle's supermassive body began to burn intensely—
Neither exploding nor stopping, Genbu-Ou continued to fall while burning intensely.
The divine bow's firepower was not enough to destroy Genbu-Ou completely!
'I just experienced that move not too long ago! Don't think that the same attack will work twice on I, Yukikaze!'
"Well... Of course we thought of that already!"
Despite replying to the princess' echoing voice with stalwart dignity, Asya found her legs refusing to obey her.
The Double Cast for firing the sun-shooting divine bow had robbed her of stamina. However, a girl caught the exhausted senior witch in her arms. It was Orihime.
"Akuro-Ou, it's your turn next!"
The white fox-wolf answered the command with a howl.
In that instant, armor appeared to protect Akuro-Ou's back and flanks. Sparkling and magnificent as though made of ruby, it was a set of beautiful armor.
At the same time, Rushalka's chest armor and arms vanished as though it had been passed along—
"Use the queen's power to blow that big enemy away! We must succeed this time!"
A large-caliber cannon suddenly appeared on the armor protecting Akuro-Ou's back.
It was almost as though a tank's main cannon had been stolen and grafted onto her directly. However, the weapon was made of shining and lustrous gold. Indeed—
Orihime and Akuro-Ou had inherited the Queen Form from the heavily exhausted Asya.
Meanwhile, the gigantic Genbu-Ou continued to descend. It was now roughly a hundred meters from the ground.
Aiming at the target, Akuro-Ou fired the cannon of gold on her back.
A red flash of light exited the barrel and ascended the sky, piercing Genbu-Ou's massive abdomen.
In a addition, a white beam came flying in from the northwest. On standby at Shin-Kiba, Minadzuki had fired the dragonslaying bow again. This attack utterly tore apart Genbu-Ou's shell.
Then unleashing the final blow was—
"Rushalka, Frost Breath!"
Asya, whom Orihime was supporting, and her partner.
The breath attack of ice shards and freezing air shot from the blue wyvern's mouth towards Genbu-Ou.
Although Double Casting had almost depleted her power fully, the reborn Rushalka still had enough remaining to launch one more invocation of pseudo-divinity.
Struck by a concentrated attack from three different leviathans—
The golden light surrounding Genbu-Ou finally vanished. The giant black turtle's massive body shifted slightly in its trajectory of descent, finally falling a hundred meters away from Hal's group instead of right on top of their heads.
The impact's heavy rumbling resounded in all directions.
However, there was no explosion of light. Hal and his team had successfully stopped the dragonslaying arrow.
Witnessing the sight while leaning on Orihime, the master-class witch said quietly, "Looks like we took out the enemy relatively painlessly..."
Hal's childhood friend closed her eyes, falling asleep directly in exhaustion. Forcing her weakened body to launch the deathblow after a Double Cast—She had presumably reached her limit.
Tonight, Rushalka had used pseudo-divinity five times.
As a Level 5 witch, Asya could order her "serpent" to invoke divinity five times.
In other words, she had fully exhausted her power. While feeling grateful to his childhood friend, Hal inquired of the magic gun in his right hand, i.e. Hinokagutsuchi.
"Is that big thing dead?"
After crashing to the ground, Genbu-Ou's massive body had not budged an inch.
Not only that, the pitch-black body was gradually turning gray. The discolored portions immediately began to weather away, crumbling in collapse.
"Yes. After all, it suffered such a harsh blow. Due to the excessive body size, it had no other method of fighting apart from charging using momentum."
"At that kind of size, simply charging is already enough to cause extraordinary devastation..."
Despite muttering that, Hal also felt relieved. At this moment, Hinokagutsuchi whispered "Hmm?"
After putting down the sleeping Asya on the ground, Orihime asked, "What is the matter, Kagutsuchi-san?"
"Well... I stand corrected. The little lady, Yukikaze, has made an interesting move."
The magic gun's guardian spoke ominous words.
The meaning of her words immediately came clear. Genbu-Ou's massive body kept weathering away before Hal's eyes, turning into dust. Finally losing all semblance of its original form, the body collapsed completely.
However, a large serpent was hiding within the debris.
It was twenty meters or so in body length with a black surface and even featured what seemed to be a pair of bat wings on its back. No limbs.
A black serpent with wings. Hal was doubting his eyes. Somehow, he found this monster's airs quite similar to one of his absent comrades, namely, the reborn Minadzuki.
"In other words, That Genbu-Ou, or whatever it was called, was being controlled from inside."
Hinokagutsuchi commented gravely.
'Bravo, Haruomi! I am impressed that you were able to strip away Genbu-Ou's armor to pull out the Huashe's true appearance. Fufufu, I, Yukikaze, approve of your capability!'
After listening absent-mindedly to Princess Yukikaze's praise coming from the sky, Hal searched his memories.
Huashe. This was the name of a monster featured in the ancient Classic of Mountains and Seas, an unusual Chinese text and illustrated bestiary of famous monsters. If memory served him correctly, it was a winged snake.
Hal examined the Genbu-Ou's contents again.
A winged serpent somewhat reminiscent of Shirasaka Hazumi's partner, Minadzuki. Hal figured out why. It was the lack of savage ferocity.
Whether leviathans or dragons, both were lifeforms whose purpose in life was to fight.
It was unknown whether this was the reason, but no matter which individual, they would exhibit savagery to various degrees within and without. In other words, one could call it a sense of wildness. However, the reborn Minadzuki did not produce this kind of impression.
Even in battle, she remained calm throughout, to the point that she was not equipped with an inborn weapon, i.e. a horn counterpart.
Hal thought it was due to influence from her partner with the gentle disposition, but...
'True Genbu-Ou, you were originally a merciful goddess. Although it pains me to issue such an order... Still, you must exterminate my enemy Haruomi and his followers.'
Meanwhile, Princess Yukikaze was announcing in what could even be called a gentle tone of voice.
'Choose your means as you wish. I shall entrust the arrow to you, so use it to your heart's content.'
True Genbu-Ou called out shrilly yet elegantly in response to the princess' command.
Then a magic symbol appeared behind True Genbu-Ou. The horizontal oval had an isosceles triangle inscribed within it—The Rune of the Arrow, almost reaching the size of the serpent's body.
"Hmph. Forcing an ancient goddess to don armor and enter the battlefield? Well, those beings are all gentle souls for the most part, after all..."
"K-Kagutsuchi-san, what do you mean by an ancient goddess!?"
The murmuring voice of the consultant in the magic gun made Orihime react.
"It's very reminiscent of Hazumi's Minadzuki to me. Is there some kind of relationship between them!?"
"Certainly. The imitations employed by you lot are made in reference to goddesses created by human hands during antiquity, are they not?"
Listening to Hinokagutsuchi, Hal jumped in surprise.
Ancient magi had created artificial lifeforms—imitations of dragons. The parent generation of Hal and the others had discovered the sample, Grandmother Immortal.
In other words, was the grandmother of the "serpents" the same kind of creature as True Genbu-Ou!?
"This is really bothering me, so you must tell me the details, but wait until later. Right now, that thing is our opponent!"
"I-I agree. Akuro-Ou, I am counting on you!"
After Hal extended his finger to point in the sky, Orihime nodded hastily.
True Genbu-Ou had spread her wings and flown into the sky. Then hovering motionlessly there, she gazed down upon Hal's group and Akuro-Ou with cold and stern eyes. She was practically like a cruel goddess.
Akuro-Ou fired her artillery against this solemn black serpent with wings.
The golden cannon on her back, acquired through Queen Form, fired a red beam.
"Juujouji, be careful with the timing for using pseudo-divinity!"
"Good point. After all, it's my final shot!"
By pouring magical power using pseudo-divinity, the golden cannon would be able to fire a technique of assured annihilation.
However, Orihime was a Level 3 witch, meaning she could only order the use of divinity thrice a day. And tonight, she had already used it twice.
Hence, Akuro-Ou fired five blasts in succession, but without the use of assured annihilation.
Meanwhile, True Genbu-Ou was using the "shield" runes of Ruruk Soun. Fifteen magic symbols were arranged to protect the winged serpent, deflecting the cannon blasts.
However, Akuro-Ou in Queen Form did not stop. She fired another three shots consecutively
The "shield" protecting True Genbu-Ou began to blink, weakening progressively. Under the Queen Form's blessing, even the firepower of normal shots were raised dramatically without invoking assured annihilation.
"Continue with this and defeat her, Akuro-Ou!"
However, Hal suddenly reacted in alarm upon hearing his classmate.
The divine beast cried out shrilly as before.
Immediately, the Rune of the Arrow behind True Genbu-Ou moved, arriving in front of its bearer who was gradually getting overwhelmed by Akuro-Ou. Then something unbelievable happened.
"What's wrong, Akuro-Ou?"
When the Rune of the Arrow moved in front of True Genbu-Ou, Akuro-Ou stopped firing at the same time.
The golden cannon, which had been firing nonstop, vanished suddenly. Taking its place, a symbol of a "tilted half-moon" appeared on the white fox-wolf's back—The Rune of the Bow.
Also, in True Genbu-Ou's surroundings, twenty runes of Ruruk Soun manifested.
It signified "ceasefire and quelled conflict." In other words, the lowering of arms and the cessation of hostilities. With the appearance of this arrangement, both runes, the Bow and the Arrow, disappeared at the same time.
"Th-The power of dragonbane was erased!?"
"Well, it should only be temporary..."
Just as Hal was taken aback in shock, Hinokagutsuchi sighed from within the magic gun.
"Although the enemy's power of dragonslaying is sealed, one's own power of dragonslaying must also be sealed away as well. As sons of conflict, dragons are incapable of accomplishing this. Only the race of goddesses with their gentle natures are able to perform such a miracle."
"Magic for preventing each other from using weapons huh..."
Orihime was quite stunned too, but she did not forget to instruct her partner.
"Akuro-Ou, the field is level for both sides, so don't lose. Even without the bow, you can punch and bite!"
Responding to Orihime's shout, the white nine-tailed fox-wolf howled sonorously.
Despite losing the golden cannon, Akuro-Ou was still clad in the queen's armor. In this manner, she flew with agility and rushed at True Genbu-Ou head on. This was close quarters combat distance.
One of Akuro-Ou's nine tails extended like an elastic band, performing a pummeling strike akin to a right hook.
True Genbu-Ou deflected the attack by using a runic arrangement of the "shield" again. However, Akuro-Ou did not give up. The nine tails extended one after another, launching a flurry of strikes like fists.
A total of twenty attacks, it was like a raging wave.
Then finally, Akuro-Ou released a heat beam from her mouth as a finisher.
—However, none of it worked. Akuro-Ou's various attacks were all blocked by "shield" runes, unable to inflict any damage on True Genbu-Ou's body.
In addition, just as Akuro-Ou paused from exertion, the black serpent suddenly cried out shrilly.
"Akuro-Ou, hurry and defend!"
At Orihime's command, imperishable protection instantly enveloped the white fox-wolf.
Then seven runes of Ruruk Soun appeared over True Genbu-Ou's head. The meaning of that arrangement—Hal was rendered speechless. It was Magical Attraction.
Immediately, Akuro-Ou howled in surprise.
The pearly radiance signifying imperishable protection—its particles of light—was gradually sucked into the runic arrangement of Magical Attraction, almost like how iron sand was attracted and would stick to a magnet.
The result was the gradual erasure of imperishable protection!
Confronted with this phenomenon, Hinokagutsuchi whispered inside the magic gun, "Imperishable protection is impenetrable... However, goddesses may choose to eliminate it in a circuitous manner instead of breaching it. This is magic usable only by their race."
"I-It's really a different lifeform from the dragons..."
Hal muttered and gulped.
All the theory accumulated over time was useless. This was truly a difficult predicament.
Meanwhile, Akuro-Ou attacked again. Extending her nine tails, she tried every way she could to pummel True Genbu-Ou. However, the "shield" still blocked everything.
Furthermore, True Genbu-Ou was biding her time to counterattack.
With a cry from True Genbu-Ou, four gigantic runes of Ruruk Soun instantly appeared in the night sky.
They meant "divine punishment." This arrangement brought a gathering of dark clouds, blotting out the starry sky. Deep rumbling shook the heavens—And lightning descended.
Worried about her partner, Orihime cried out. Guarded by protection, the white fox-wolf remained unharmed.
However, the imperishable protection was gradually disappearing due to the absorption spell. Instead of dispersing, the dark clouds above kept aiming lightning to strike Akuro-Ou.
At this rate, defeat would be inevitable—Hal raised his magic gun.
He had remaining ammunition. There was no choice but for him to personally step into the forefront now.
However, True Genbu-Ou's sharp gaze glanced at Hal while at the same time, she used the "shield" to block Akuro-Ou's attacks as before.
She was clearly aware of whom to watch out for the most in this situation!
"What a difficult enemy..."
It would get blocked even if he used the magic gun to attack? Hal sighed.
He had to find a way. How could he ambush True Genbu-Ou in a surprise attack? Ambushing that monster that was unlike a monster, overwhelmingly sacred, calm and composed with powerful magic at her disposal—
If Princess Yukikaze were in this situation, she would probably rely on her own powerful strength to charge like an arrow.
Then she would probably defeat the enemy magnificently. How envious. As a powerless human, Haruga Haruomi would not be able to carry out such a tactic to fruition no matter how hard he tried...
At this moment, Hal made eye contact with a non-human existence. Speaking of which, that guy was nearby too.
"You mentioned joining forces earlier, didn't you—"
From that deep and dark voice, he could sense all sorts of emotions.
Humiliation, competitiveness, pride, anger, misgivings, defiance and loyalty. He was an overly rigid and hot-blooded man. The current situation was probably forcing his hand.
"O Tyrannos of imperial selection. Just as you can see, my blade is chipped and my sword is broken... Nevertheless, if I were to say there is still something I could do, what would you do?"
My enemy's enemy could become a friend—Hal recalled what he had said before.
In fact, Hal had contemplated this earlier. He should not falter just because the enemy had a human appearance. Mustering courage to shoot and kill him to prevent future threats would not be a bad choice. However, Hal did not choose to do so.
From a realist standpoint on the battlefield, this should have been a good choice.
However, Hal could not do it. No matter what, he could not do it.
Hence, he decided to take a gamble. That guy's presence might end up affecting the battle's final outcome after all. It would be nice to gamble on this possible future.
And now, that man was relying on his last strength to get up unsteadily and extend his right hand.
Hal nodded and approached him, extending the magic gun.
He—Pavel Galad's human body—reached out with his right hand to hold the handgun of steel and gold. Gnashing his teeth, he said, "I entrust the last of my remaining strength to you... You must defeat the queen's servant!"
Thus, Galad collapsed powerlessly and lost consciousness.
Then Hal sensed Hinokagutsuchi's consciousness in the magic gun fall into deep slumber. She had gone out of her way to seal away her own existence in order to allow the magic wand's magical power to be fully used on combat.
With that, all that remained was for him to do his best. Hal immediately yelled, "Do it, Juujouji! Now is the time to struggle desperately using this thing!"
"Leave it to me! Haruga-kun, we will defeat that snake together, whatever it takes!"
After Hal and Orihime exchanged nods, the two of them began to sprint.
Their destination was Akuro-Ou's side. Attacked by lightning descending from the sky nonstop, the white fox-wolf had been pressured to land on the ground. Standing firmly on four legs, she maintained a low stance with imperishable protection deployed, enduring the lightning of divine punishment in this manner.
The winged black serpent was gazing down at the one-sidedly enduring Akuro-Ou from the air with aloofness.
It was evidently an unfavorable situation, but Orihime clenched her right fist and presented the back of her hand to her partner. Manifesting there clearly was the Rune of the Sword.
The magic symbol formed from a series of three inequality signs of "<"—
The same rune surfaced on Hal's right palm. Furthermore, the magic gun held in this hand also changed. A roughly fifteen-centimeter blade was fitted under the grip as a bayonet.
"Akuro-Ou! Here you go, use the dragonslaying sword too!"
A silver-white longsword was equipped onto Akuro-Ou's back.
An extra metallic arm of ruby from the back armor was holding this sword. Using a human arm as an analogy, it would be equivalent to everything below the elbow.
The entrusted trump card—the dragonslaying sword. The metallic arm was raising this sword horizontally.
At first glance, it seemed as though Akuro-Ou had sprouted a wing on her right side.
Having obtained a new weapon, Akuro-Ou howled powerfully. Orihime immediately shouted, "Cut her down with the sword!"
The metallic arm on the fox-wolf's back moved, gripping the raised dragonslaying sword vertically.
In terms of kendo, it would be the upper-level stance. Immediately, lightning fell from the sky. However, the longsword on Akuro-Ou's back deflected it, thus dispelling the lightning of divine punishment.
This dragonslaying sword, exhibiting a remarkable feat immediately upon its introduction—
Its blade was almost as long as Akuro-Ou's body. The sword was also quite rugged and broad.
The white fox-wolf raised the steel sword again as though spreading a wing and jumped up high, flying towards True Genbu-Ou which was staring down at her from ten-odd meters in the air.
Then the moment she passed by her target, she attacked using the dragonslaying sword with a horizontal slash.
Naturally, the winged black serpent continued to defend using Ruruk Soun's "shield"—However, the dragonslaying sword sliced through True Genbu-Ou together with the fifteen runic symbols!
This was the first time for True Genbu-Ou to emit something like a scream.
The central part of the long and stout serpentine body was sliced open, spurting red blood.
"No, not yet. Not enough damage!"
Although True Genbu-Ou was undoubtedly inflicted with a heavy injury, she was definitely still not neutralized.
This time, two "shields" formed from runes of Ruruk Soun appeared around the serpent, putting up a more sturdy defense.
Furthermore, seven new symbols manifested over the bleeding wound.
The meaning was "healing hand." Tragically sliced open by the dragonslaying sword, the wound stopped bleeding and slowly closed up... Hal groaned.
"She's like an RPG cleric. Now that's what I call a durable tank."
The majority of magic wielded by elite dragons were terrifying and offensive.
In contrast, this super lifeform, called a "goddess" by Princess Yukikaze and Hinokagutsuchi, was applying magical power towards defense. Moreover, she seemed even more skilled in this area than the elites.
"We need an even more powerful attack to overwhelm the enemy..."
By the time he knew it, Orihime was already leaning close against Hal.
She—Juujouji Orihime—would be akin to the joystick for controlling the vassal, Akuro-Ou, more effectively. Hal embraced his extremely attractive comrade.
"I'm counting on you, Juujouji!"
"Yes. Akuro-Ou, please!"
Orihime shouted out while entrusting herself to Haruga Haruomi.
Hal pulled her towards him and held her tightly in his arms. The sensation of her voluptuous bust was pressed against Hal. The potent magical power generated in Hal's heart was poured into Orihime's heart through intimate contact with her bosom and skin, finally flowing into Akuro-Ou's heartmetal—
Orihime had previously forbidden him from touching her in an obscene manner, so this result was the compromise.
However, this kind of tight hug was actually even more passionate than before. Furthermore, Hal also took this opportunity to use his left hand, which was not holding the magic gun, to squeeze her bottom hard.
Thanks to that, he was able to confirm that highly elastic feeling, accompanied by a sense of volume surpassing the bust.
"Mm... Mmmm. Th-This time, let us—do what we did last time!"
Despite squirming in discomfort from the scorching magical power flowing into her body, Orihime still gave instructions.
Her voice sounded more bittersweet than last time, causing Hal's spine to tremble in waves. He could not help but embrace Orihime even more tightly.
Locked in mutual embrace, the two of them witnessed the phenomenon. Nineteen runes of Ruruk Soun had appeared on the dragonslaying sword held in Akuro-Ou's arm.
It signified "I summon the thunder god's sword to unsheathe in haste—"
The technique of assured annihilation exhibited by Pavel Galad last time was being launched by Akuro-Ou this time.
The sky was filled with dark clouds. The white fox-wolf immediately summoned a rain of lightning to bathe herself, storing it as energy. Then howling, she flew.
Her entire body enveloped in white lightning, Akuro-Ou pounced at True Genbu-Ou and stabbed the longsword on her back deeply into the black serpent's throat.
In addition, Hal raised the magic gun while hugging Orihime.
Naturally, the muzzle was aimed at True Genbu-Ou. Activating assured annihilation, the magic gun fired in full auto. All twenty-odd bullets remaining in Hal's magic gun flew at the winged black serpent in the form of red flashes of light, repeatedly chipping away at the long and stout serpentine body.
Then True Genbu-Ou's body exploded, releasing intense light—
Thus she met her glorious demise in battle.
However, the black winged serpent had been hovering in the air close by. Less than twenty meters away, it was an explosion at point blank range.
Hal hugged Orihime tightly and used himself together with imperishable protection to defend her.
Hence, Orihime hugged him tightly in return.
Maintaining this posture—that of mutual embrace—they waited for the explosion and shockwave to subside. All they could lean on during this time was each other's sensation, temperature and supple bodies.
Then the explosion and shockwave finally dissipated.
"Not only that, I think we won..."
After saying that, the two of them released each other and smiled radiantly.
Then Orihime threw herself into Hal's arms again. Hal caught and her body strongly in return.
In the end, they were locked in a passionate embrace again.
"We succeeded, Haruga-kun!"
"It's all thanks to you, Juujouji!"
However, using "that method" to perform a technique of assured annihilation was severely draining, as one might expect.
Hal's legs suddenly stopped obeying him due to sudden fatigue. Since he was currently embracing Orihime, she hastily tried to catch and support him—but failed. Japan's former kendo champion girl did not even have the strength to do so.
As a result, Hal pushed Orihime down unintentionally, helplessly pinning all his weight on her.
"S-Sorry. If I don't hurry and move..."
"D-Don't worry. Haruga-kun, you don't have any strength either, do you?"
Hal apologized in embarrassment, so Orihime replied in a gentle tone of voice.
"I-It is the same for me... So how about we rest like this for a while, shall we?"
Despite being pinned to the ground, Orihime did not utter a single complaint. Instead, she hugged Hal while displaying a gentle gaze.
"I'm very grateful to hear that from you... But sure enough, this is still bad."
"Because it's you and we're pressed so tightly together, I'll definitely have dirty thoughts."
"Seriously... You're as lewd as always..."
Despite voicing her displeasure, Orihime continued to gaze at him gently. Wrapping her arms around Hal's back, she hugged tightly.
With Orihime under him, exhaling hot breath, Hal could feel a vivid sensation of her body.
Thanks to that, Hal finally experienced a real sense of "lucky survival" as a strong surge. He could not help but exhale deeply.
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