Leviathan:Volume 7 Chapter 3
Chapter 3 - New Town in Turmoil
At Kogetsu Academy, Year 1 Class F was having second period.
Attendance was roughly down by 20% from the beginning of the first school term, due to the frequent dragon strikes in recent months.
Futhermore, three regular attendees were absent today.
Haruga Haruomi, Anastasya Rubashvili, and Juujouji Orihime—
To Mutou-san and Funaki-san, they were friends and "colleagues." Though they did not know the precise reason, the two girls realized vaguely that something big must have happened seeing as three important members of Tokyo's defense line, involved in the field of fighting dragons, were absent at the same time...
Perhaps because of that...
In the middle of second period, when the speakers installed all around town suddenly broadcast an emergency evacuation alarm, Mutou-san and Funaki-san were not surprised at all.
'Citizens, please remain calm and head over to the designated shelters—'
The female voice announced the approaching of dragons and the need to evacuate. Notifications for guiding citizens to evacuate also arrived one after another on their cellphones.
During this time, most of the people in the class were quite calm.
At most, there were a few anxious students. After all, they were living in the twenty-first century, an era when the existence of dragons had become taken for granted.
Just as they were preparing to evacuate in an orderly manner—
Noticing something alarming outside, a female student near the window screamed.
She pointed outside. Two giant creatures were flying at low altitude—around a hundred meters. One was crimson, the other was silver-white.
Of course, the two creatures were dragons, but both were much larger in size than Raptors.
In addition, both were giving off pearly glows that looked like barriers.
The silver-white dragon held onto the crimson dragon tightly, even using its right forelimb to choke the opponent's throat, dragging the crimson dragon towards the Sumida River!
"Isn't that the dragon from last time!?"
Seeing the silver monster, Mutou-san stood up.
Before the summer holiday, she had met a handsome young man by chance. Before parting ways, he had transformed into that silver dragon, in the same manner as space warriors whose color schemes chiefly consisted of red and silver.
"These two would both be categorized as elite dragons."
Through her classmate Haruga Haruomi, she had learned a great deal about dragons. That power and gigantic body, as well as the glint of intellect in their eyes. Unmistakable.
"I never thought I'd see this in person one day..." murmured Mutou-san, utterly moved.
However, the surrounding people were not as laid back.
The two elite dragons had flown past extremely close by, almost brushing the edge of the school yard. Furthermore, their bodies seem to be releasing magic-like energy, causing the classroom windows to suddenly shatter all at once.
Girls screamed again, followed by that of boys.
Fortunately, class was in progress, otherwise, students next to the windows would have gotten hurt.
Thanks to lesson time, everyone were at their seats and nobody was injured by the broken glass. However—
Instead, chaos broke out. Students and even the teacher rushed out of the classroom in panic, fighting towards the stairs, trying to leave the school as quickly as possible.
The students running in the corridor were not limited to those of Year 1 Class F.
The other homerooms—no, the entire school—were doing the same. An astounding number of students were congesting the corridors completely.
That being said, around a quarter of the students still remained calm.
They were calling to the other students, telling them to calm down, but to no avail.
Naturally, Mutou-san was among the calm minority.
"...Listen to me."
Someone tugged at her uniform sleeve. It was the twintailed girl, Funaki-san.
"Judging from the situation, we won't be able to evacuate for the time being. Wanna go see what's up with those two dragons?"
"Oh, good idea."
Funaki-san pointed at the classroom ceiling and Mutou-san immediately understood.
"Then let's go?"
"Yeah. Say, once we find that silver dragon, does that mean we'll be able to see that handsome guy again?"
"Assuming he—that dragon—is willing to transform for us."
The two of them left the classroom.
Shoving and squeezing, they made their way arduously to the stairs. Year 1 Class F was located on the fourth floor of the five-story school building. Compared to the school entrance on the ground floor, going up was an easier destination of course.
Furthermore, everyone else was moving downwards.
Hence, the two girls arrived at the roof relatively easily.
"Eh? It's the prez!"
Seeing someone already on the roof, Mutou-san jumped in surprise.
It was the senior student and president of the UFO Research Club—President M.
"It appears that you and I thought the same."
A hundred and twenty kilograms by visual estimates, the president was standing there with Old Tokyo's scenery as a backdrop.
The Old Tokyo Concession was actually less than a kilometer away from Ryougoku where the school was located.
Tokyo's former city center—the Yamanote Line, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Roppongi and other urban areas had become a wasteland of scrap iron and debris, silent and desolate.
However, Old Tokyo's landmark remained intact to this day.
The Monolith, a triangular prism of pure black, stood at the land that used to be called "Ginza." Towering at a height of a thousand meters, it could be seen very clearly from the school.
"The two dragons crashed over there."
President M pointed north—towards Komagata and the Azuma Bridge.
It was near the Sumida River. This first-class river served as a boundary between Tokyo New Town on its east and the Old Tokyo Concession on its west. Komagata was clearly on the east bank...
Mutou-san was stunned.
"Meaning that there are two dragons in New Town, hostile to us..."
"In my opinion, I don't think both dragons are hostile."
"What do you mean by that!?"
"The red one is probably Haruga's dragon."
"Really!? Then things might not be as serious as they seem!" Funaki-san exclaimed happily.
President M's superpowers—or rather, psychic abilities—seemed capable of seeing into the future. Not only Mutou-san but Funaki-san too were aware of President M's prowess, but—
"However, his situation does not look good either. I feel... that Haruga is fighting alone, apparently separated from his companions."
"At this rate... It might be over for him."
President M exhaled solemnly with a "mm-hmm."
The two first-year students held their breaths and stared at the weirdest weirdo in the school with uncertainty.
"O wisdom of Ruruk Soun, grant me power!"
"What he said. Grant me power too! Please!"
The two Tyrannoi recited incantations for using magic.
Pavel Galad was using the magic of High-Speed Flight to soar the sky. This was magic allowing dragons to increase their flight speed dramatically, breaking the sound barrier.
However, Hal also invoked the magic of Telekinesis.
This was to use an invisible force to impede the enemy's supersonic flight.
The silver dragon's speed was supposed to be able to reach Mach 10 or even Mach 20.
Hal's telekinesis was limiting the speed to fifty or sixty kilometers per hour. However, Galad was using his own telekinesis to counter Hal's, causing their speed to become comparable to that of an automobile on a highway. Moving from off the shore of Urayasu to Tokyo New Town, they crossed the Sumida River—
Finally, they crashed somewhere in the Asakusa area in the Old Tokyo Concession.
Asakusa was an urban area famous for tourist attractions such as Kaminarimon and Sensō-ji. The two elite dragons, one crimson and the other silver-white, both slid across the wasteland of former Asakusa like baseball players.
Smashing into a high-rise building near Asakusa Station, they finally stopped.
Pavel Galad happened to end up on top of the Crimson Queen. At that instant, Hal ordered the queen, "Kick him!"
"Hohohoho. Your strength has increased!"
Galad was sent flying, kicked by the queen's left hind leg.
However, the kick that should have sunk into the silver-white belly was blocked by imperishable protection, leaving the dragon hero completely unscathed.
Still, the queen was likewise unscathed too.
The queen launched seven runes of Ruruk Soun like a restraining device to seal off the opponent's movements. Since this did not inflict physical damage, imperishable protection could not be used to defend against it.
However, Pavel Galad was all too familiar with handling this type of magic.
Extending his left palm, he blocked the seven runes shot out by the Crimson Queen.
"O shield for purifying vicious magic!"
Two runes of Ruruk Soun appeared on his silver-white palm.
Signifying "shield of the sacred spirit," it was magic for sealing away evil curses. The queen's immobilizing curse clashed with this runic arrangement and vanished without a trace.
"So the enemy holds the upper hand in mage technique, huh?" Hal remarked quietly.
Using two types of Ruruk Soun magic simultaneously and instantly selecting appropriate incantations as counters, the pureblooded elite dragon was still the better mage.
However, Hal had his own advantage.
"Solomon-senpai—Lend me your power."
King of ancient Israel and great sorcerer of old, Solomon.
During the summer vacation, the Crimson Queen had swallowed his soul together with the Rune of the Ring. The great king's soul was currently akin to Haruga Haruomi's servant.
By allowing the queen's heartmetal to unleash its full power, combined with Solomon's ring and spiritual energy—
"This move was able to oppose Hannibal at least...!"
Hal had been in this same state during the decisive battle against the red dragon king in New York.
Back then, King Solomon was helping him with ulterior motives, but now, Hal was had the great king and the ring's power under his full control.
With a body length close to twenty meters, the queen was shrouded in a platinum glow.
"The Rune of the Bow—" Hal muttered, feeling deeply that this very moment, the queen had obtained magical power surpassing Pavel Galad's.
"I'm leaving the rest to you!"
Spreading out the pair of crimson wings, the crimson dragon took off from the ground again.
The dragonslaying bow manifested in the left hand while a fireball appeared in the right. The queen placed the fireball on the bowstring, drew the bow, and fired.
"This power rivals that of the vaunted dragon kings... Splendid!"
The fireballs multiplied into nine and crashed towards the ground.
Every fireball was targeting the massive silver-white body. A full burst technique of assured annihilation. The dragonslaying sword suddenly manifested in Pavel Galad's hand too.
"O sword, immolate..."
The familiar longsword began to change.
Like yesterday, the body of the blade burned with blue flames, together with fourteen runes of Ruruk Soun encircling the blade...!
The arrangement signified "I am the user of the sword of divine alacrity."
"Sever with haste the inauspicious instruments that begrudges dragons!"
With lightning speed, Pavel Galad swung his sword nine times.
The blazing longsword instantly pierced the nine fiery projectiles. The entire process might have taken less than a tenth of a second.
Furthermore, the fiery projectiles instantly vanished after being pierced by the tip of the sword...
Nine consecutive thrusts executed with miraculous speed of the sword. However, what Hal noticed was something else.
"The Rune of the Sword—hasn't it become more powerful than before?"
The Bow and the Sword. Two powers of dragonbane, their techniques of assured annihilation clashing, erasing each other.
This was the exchange just now. However, a draw could not occur unless both sides were virtually equal in power. The weaker side would have been blown away. When invoking the technique of assured annihilation, the Crimson Queen had used dragon king-class magical power.
The fact that Galad's sword could stand up to her implied that his sword had dragon king-class power too, right?
"In that case, here I go again!"
"The outcome is not going to change. Bring it on!"
The queen fired nine fireballs again and the silver dragon pierced them all with nine consecutive thrusts.
The same pattern of exchanges repeated like a replayed video. In other words, the power that Pavel Galad demonstrated earlier was not coincidence...!
"It appears that neither you nor the Flame Emperor noticed that—"
The silver dragon began to speak. The Flame Emperor was how dragonkind addressed Hannibal the dragon king.
"I sent minions specialized in stealth to the North American continent to record the battle between you two. Haruga Haruomi has come to possess power approaching that of the dragon kings. This is a fact long known to me."
"Here you go again, using little tricks that don't match your image."
Hal frowned and casually mocked Galad.
"This sort of stuff should be left to small potatoes like me. You should keep maintaining your dignity as one of the strong."
"Hmm. I am precisely imitating what you would do."
Galad's response was unexpected. Then he said something even more surprising to the stunned Hal.
"In order to surpass you, I studied and analyzed the man named Haruga Haruomi, as well as the race called humanity. In the end, this is what I think—As a human, you have many ways of doing things that are worth learning from... Want to try imitating?"
"W-What are you talking about?"
"Fettered by the ways of dragonkind, it is impossible to become king. In that case, the only solution is to change myself. Hohohoho, you taught me this, you know?"
Pavel Galad seemed to be thanking him.
Hal was dumbstruck. The dragon hero proceeded to give him an even greater shock.
"However, I am not the only one who changed, you know? Speaking of which, you are the first to transform into a non-human creature."
"You were no longer human the instant you absorbed a dragon king's heartmetal."
"Then after that, you kept growing as a non-human practitioner of magic, obtaining sufficient power to outclass us Zizou in such short time—In fact, I was quite touched yesterday to witness how much you have changed."
Pavel Galad's voice was trembling with excitement.
Evidently, despite his shift in philosophy and pragmatism, his hot-blooded personality remained wholly intact. However, Hal noticed something.
The whole time, this Galad bastard hasn't looked at me at all when speaking to me.
"Acquiring a heartmetal and magical power beyond human has led to gradual changes in your physical body. From what I have heard, this happens to the majority of human Tyrannoi—Will Haruga Haruomi follow the same path, I wonder?"
Currently, the silver-white dragon was gazing at the Crimson Queen.
The silver dragon was staring into the eyes of the giant red dragon as though conversing to Haruga Haruomi himself while holding the dragonslaying sword in his silver right hand.
—Hold on a sec, where the hell am I?
Hal finally discovered that he had started hovering above ground at some point!
He was floating in the air, roughly ten meters away from Galad and the queen.
While clothed, his body was exhibiting translucence.
(This isn't corporeal... Am I in a state similar to a soul!?)
He immediately corrected himself. Not "similar to" but he was in fact a spiritual entity.
All the things he had said to Pavel Galad just now had been transmitted out from the Crimson Queen's heartmetal.
Most likely, the silver-white dragon did not even see Hal's spiritual entity.
(Or rather, it's possible that my real body is about to turn into the queen.)
This terrifying possibility occurred to him.
Were he corporeal right now, he would most likely be trembling all over. Meanwhile, Pavel Galad grew more and more elated.
"I isolated you from those imitations and witches in order to secure my victory. Now that you are alone and unaided, together with my minions, I shall take care of you."
He pointed the tip of his dragonslaying sword to the sky.
Hal guessed that runes of Ruruk Soun would appear and he was right. However, Hal paled in alarm when he saw the massive rune in the sky.
The Rune of the Sword in the air, consisting of three inequality signs of "<" in a series.
Its size was frightening. If one were to draw a circle around this dragonslaying rune, the circumference would probably reach forty kilometers.
That would be comparable to the length of the Yamanote Line encircling Tokyo in the past.
The excessively large Rune of the Sword began to descend, scattering tiny golden particles across Tokyo New Town as though it were snowing.
No way—Hal gulped.
Was Pavel Galad intending to conduct some kind of large-scale magical ritual on all of Tokyo New Town?
Through the Crimson Queen, he transmitted a message to Galad.
"I heard you've been lurking all over Tokyo for the past two months... Sure enough, you've set up that crazy looking magic, right?"
This was not confirmation. Hal was already certain.
"What exactly did you do?"
"Anything too obvious would have been discovered by your faction. I simply synthesized some steel and mixed it into the large amount of stone and metal used in the construction of this city of Tokyo, thereby allowing it to react swiftly and sensitively to my magic."
"Speaking of which, alchemy is your specialty too..."
Synthesizing all kinds of enchanted metals according to their purpose then imbuing them with magical power.
Alchemy magic was Pavel Galad's specialty. Doing all this singlehandedly, and only requiring two months, this was impossible for any ordinary human.
However, if one applied the skills of elite dragons—
This would be nothing difficult. What exactly was going to happen next?
The instant Hal wondered, he heard a thunderous crash.
The two of them were at Sumida Park on the shore of the Sumida River.
A fairly large park in Tokyo New Town, this was a famous spot for flower viewing. Next to it, parallel to the Sumida River, was the New Town Expressway, previously called the Shuto Expressway.
A portion of this highway suddenly exploded.
The raised section and the massive supporting pillar underneath it exploded without warning, sending concrete debris of varying sizes flying in all directions.
...In addition, what looked like steel rods could be seen mixed among the fragments and debris of the explosion.
The steel rods began to twist and deform, turning into the shape of a creature's skeleton within the blink of an eye.
Concrete fragments adhered to it one after another.
"Is this a type of golem...?"
Hal witnessed the birth of a magic creature formed from concrete and a steel skeleton. Its size and shape was quite similar to a Raptor.
And there were more than one. The scattered fragments were all combining, transforming.
At a rough estimate, there were two hundred?
Their shapes were not identical either. Most looked like Raptors, but others resembled serpents, insects, fish, etc...
Featuring a body length of around seven meters, every golem flew into the air.
"Rune of Ruruk Soun..."
Hal immediately used magic. The single rune for Eye appeared.
This rune rose into the sky, offering an overhead view of the scenery below, a type of magic to facilitate the gathering of intelligence.
Just as he suspected, the same calamity was happening all over New Town. Hal was not surprised at all, but a little speechless.
"In other words..."
The explosion of the expressway in front of Hal and Galad's location at Sumida Park was not the only one.
A large number of golems were emerging from Horikiri, Mukoushima, Ryougoku, the Kiyosu Bridge and dozens of other locations.
Hal now understood Pavel Galad's plan.
"Using steel and concrete from buildings all over Tokyo as materials, you're trying to make a huge number of golems—An army under your command!"
In contrast, none of Hal's companions were by his side.
The witches and leviathans aiding him were all absent.
Isolated without reinforcements, did Haruga Haruomi have a chance of winning? A battle with dismal prospects was about to begin.
Tokyo was meant to be protected by four witches.
However, they had all fallen victim to Pavel Galad's mystic technique, disappearing from Tokyo Bay together with their four partners, the "serpents."
At the same time, the witches also gradually lost consciousness—This went on for a few minutes.
When they woke up, they first jumped in surprise. The situation was completely unexpected.
"Weren't we at Tokyo Bay? When did we teleport to these whatever sand dunes? Sand dunes of a certain prefecture where major cafe chains and convenience stores are pitifully lacking."
Luna Francois was grumbling with displeasure.
The four girls were currently on sandy ground.
White sand dominated the view as far as the eye could see, looking as though it stretched all the way to the other side of the horizon. It was vast enough that one could call it a desert. Instead of Tokyo Bay, this was a sea of sand.
"That being said, it is doubtful whether this is within the borders of Japan itself," Luna remarked sardonically.
The sky was gray.
However, this was not due to overcast weather, because there was not a single cloud in the sky. As though painted by watercolors, the sky itself was wholly gray without even a sun.
The air temperature was around twenty-eight degrees Celsius. Definitely not cool but not unbearably hot either.
It was impossible for a desert to have no wind, yet the air was completely still here. This was an anomalous world lacking in this thing and that.
Luna Francois shrugged and said to her fellow master-class witch, "Asya, can you send Rushalka out to scout?"
"Understood. But instinct tells me... Don't get your hopes up about finding useful information about this extremely bizarre space."
"I agree. I'm willing to bet a hundred US dollars that this ins't Earth."
"Because this place is definitely too weird."
While the two witches were discussing this anomalous world, next to them, Juujouji Orihime said to her cousin Hazumi, "Hazumi, have you noticed anything?"
"Well, Nee-sama, Minadzuki says that this place is very similar to Solomon-san's barrier that trapped Senpai and me during the summer vacation. The feeling seems to be the same..." The introverted Hazumi reported timidly.
Asya and Luna Francois nodded and remarked poignantly with a look of comprehension.
"Well, there you have it."
"We've been rendered captives in a dragon's castle?"
"Separating us from Haruomi so as to defeat each in isolation. Although it doesn't match the battle maniac style of the dragons, it's definitely a commonly used and wise tactic."
King Solomon had created an astoundingly vast barrier inside his ark and invited Haruga Haruomi as his guest. Pavel Galad was a Tyrannos like King Solomon, but his power level was thoroughly superior.
Even if he was using the same kind of barrier as King Solomon did, it would not be strange at all.
Ten-odd minutes passed.
"Anyway, I'll have Rushalka make one round."
The blue wyvern flew over Asya and the witches' heads.
Rushalka's flying speed was especially fast among "serpents," possibly unparalleled. Precisely because of that, she had been chosen for reconnaissance.
"A few dozen kilometers to the northwest, there's something resembling a set of ruins. Fairly large. No creatures such as dragons."
"Even if there aren't any right now, any number of them could be summoned if magic is used," Luna Francois replied.
Asya concurred, "I agree. Also, this is a completely barren land with nothing apart from that set of ruins, just as we suspected."
"I suppose the only way to break out of our predicament is to pay this place a visit? Let's take potential trouble into consideration."
"There is also the option of staying here, waiting for a rescue that may or may not arrive, but without food and water, who knows how long we can hold out for."
"With neither a roof nor walls, plus sand everywhere, personally, I'd rather not do that."
The two master-class witches reached a consensus and decided to take a gamble.
The two Japanese witches respected their seniors' opinion, hence it was decided immediately. The four girls summoned the rest of their leviathans.
A body length of ten-odd meters was the default size for "serpents."
They shrank their leviathans down to around one third of their original size. This was a command available to experienced witches. Riding their miniaturized partners, the girls began to move.
The quadrupedal Akuro-Ou and Glinda ran over the sand.
In contrast, Rushalka and Minadzuki flew at low altitude to avoid detection.
It was a journey across a plain of sand. With no particular obstacles, all they needed to do was move in a straight line. Boring and uneventful.
After roughly twenty minutes, the witches finally reached their destination.
"According to what Rushalka saw from the air, these ruins cover quite a wide area. You can put a dozen or so Tokyo Domes in it."
Asya was able to convert the scenery seen by her partner into visual information.
This set of ruins inside Pavel Galad's barrier—
Simply stated, it resembled an "open-pit mine."
With a bowl-shaped depression gouged out of the ground, underground veins of red-brown minerals were exposed. This open pit for mining probably had a diameter reaching two kilometers.
"I-It's huge, Nee-sama!"
"My goodness! How can it be so big!?"
The four witches were standing at the edge of the "bowl-shaped open-pit mine."
The sight was so grand that it would probably be listed as a world heritage site if it existed on Earth. Due to overwhelming emotion, Hazumi and Orihime had their eyes widened, looking down upon these ruins that resembled an open-pit mine.
By visual estimates, the depth exceeded five hundred meters.
Furthermore, there was a building on the bowl's sloping surface.
The building resembled a temple given the style of its roof and tower. The building material seemed to be a kind of stone with a texture similar to obsidian. Using structures from the human world as a comparison, the architectural style most resembled Greek.
In the sky over this open-pit mine, there was a transparent crystal ball hovering midair.
With nothing supporting it underneath or suspended from above, it was floating motionlessly in the air. With a diameter of fourteen or fifteen meters, it was roughly the size of a leviathan.
"That crystal ball looks very suspicious."
"...Oh. Could you all listen to me, everybody?" Orihime suddenly spoke stiffly after Asya gave her comment. "That hole—Something smells ominous about it. Akuro-Ou suddenly tensed up. It feels like this could be the enemy's scent."
" " "......" " "
Akuro-Ou was the nine-tailed fox-wolf leviathan.
A member of the canid family in form, Orihime's partner had the keenest sense of smell among the four leviathans here.
Carrying Orihime, she started to growl softly.
Next—Dragons surged out of the red-brown slopes of the bowl-shaped open-pit mine. Not from a single location but emerging from every corner like bamboo shoots in spring after rain.
A large number of lesser dragons, Raptors, showed up.
Before the girls' eyes, five of them popped out, then seven, followed by another nine—It was endless.
The newborn Raptors did not spring into action right away. Instead, they were spacing out without moving from their spot.
However, if they were to attack at the same time... The witches could not help but gasp at the thought of that.
"Prepare for battle, everyone!"
Asya swiftly jumped down from her partner's back.
In the next instant, Rushalka soared through the sky, gradually increasing in size. Her miniaturized body returned to its full size of ten-odd meters.
The other three girls followed suit, letting the three leviathans expand in size.
The quadrupedal Glinda and Akuro-Ou remained on the ground, standing by near the outskirts of the open-pit mine. Minadzuki stayed motionless in the air overhead, watching over the witches.
"But there are too may of them."
As though trying to encourage herself and her companions, Orihime said, "Raptors can't use runes, so we will manage somehow!"
"Wait, Orihime-san, that's...!"
In a rare moment, Luna Francois showed a frozen expression.
She was staring at the bottom of the pit. A blue spark shot out from there, striking the hovering crystal ball in the air—causing the suspicious sphere to explode.
The fragments scattered, leaving a magical symbol in the air.
Platinum light traced out a rune consisting of three inequality signs, "<" in a series.
"It's the Rune of the Sword!?"
The same instant as Asya exclaimed in shock—
The endless stream of Raptors emerging from the open-pit mine finally increased to around five hundred. Like a brand, the Rune of the Sword appeared on the forehead of each Raptor.
Originally very weak, these lesser dragons began to transform.
Their mouths and snouts merged, turning into what resembled swordfish bills. Sharp at the tip and sword-like in shape.
Dragonslaying swords were equipped on the snouts of the Raptors!
Next, the army of five hundred Raptors flapped their wings at last, intending to fly into the sky to attack their enemies.
One after another, the dragons took flight, aiming to exit the open-pit mine.
The enemy army was like a flock of feeble butterflies, flying unsteadily, but even so, they still made their way to the vast sky outside the pit, gradually raising their altitude. Although their speed had yet to go up, one could tell that they were going to awaken completely sooner or later.
And they were even fitted with dragonslaying swords too.
Asya said to her comrades, "Do we have a way of using the Rune of the Bow?"
"Doesn't seem to work, probably because Harry isn't here. As humans, we're not capable of magic that can pass through this kind of barrier and communicate with him—"
When witches obtained the power of dragonbane, the corresponding rune would appear on the back of their left hand.
Currently, no emblem could be seen. Whether the Bow, the Twin Katana, or the Ring, no dragonslaying rune appeared.
It was the same for Orihime and Hazumi in addition to Asya and Luna Francois.
"W-We clearly can't use the runes, but why can those dragons use the Rune of the Sword—!?"
"This is the enemy's home field, after all. Surely it must be related to the crystal and the spark we just saw... We'll have to look into it later."
Ignoring the panicking Hazumi, Luna shouted, "Glinda, pin them to the ground! Gravity Pressure!"
The three-headed lion leviathan invoked pseudo-divinity.
In the next instant, the more than five hundred Raptors that were flying unsteadily, almost about to fly beyond the open-pit mine, fell down swiftly, crashing hard into the pit's sloping surface.
Glinda had used her Gravity attribute to pull them down by force.
Drawing the Raptors downward from the sky, she smashed them into the ground.
The reason was quite simple, but targeting every single one of these five hundred Raptors and achieving this feat effortlessly was only possible due to the skills of the master-class witch Luna Francois.
"Luna-san, you're so amazing!"
"B-But those dragons still look energetic...!"
Orihime praised in admiration but Hazumi voiced her worries.
Immobilized inside the pit by gravity, the five hundred Raptors were struggling, flapping their wings and thrashing their limbs, but could not even lift their bodies up from the ground. However, it was true that their movements were strong and forceful with plenty of vitality.
The force of the fall evidently did not inflict much damage to the overly resilient Raptors.
This was most likely the blessing of the Rune of the Sword. Creatures granted the power of dragonbane would become extremely durable. Haruga Haruomi had experienced it firsthand himself, but—
"Although I don't know how long I can keep them restrained without Harry's help, I will pin them down for as long as possible. I leave the rest to you!"
Luna Francois called out loudly.
In the process of using pseudo-divinity, Glinda the three-headed lion had her limbs extended, stomping the ground at ful force, roaring fiercely.
Glinda's entire body was releasing magical power.
This was to reinforce the potency of the pseudo-divinity imprisoning the Raptors inside the pit. Among the five hundred Raptors, ten-odd of them struggled desperately, broke free, and were about to take flight again.
However, the gravity crushing the dragons to the ground increased again.
Even the Raptors about to fly crashed with a thud, their chins and upper torsoes smashed against the sand, unable to move.
Orihime was the first to take action next.
"In that case... Akuro-Ou!"
The nine-tailed fox-wolf leviathan—Akuro-Ou.
Orihime's partner used the pseudo-divinity of Fire, discharging vortexes of flame from the tips of her nine tails, immolating the Raptors that were trapped inside the pit!
This attack succeeded in burning around fifty of them to ash.
The strong Raptors were reaching the limit of their stamina too.
"Minadzuki will help out too!"
The emerald serpentine dragon leviathan—Minadzuki—opened her mouth, firing a white heat beam at the Raptors.
Seven Raptors perished at the same time. Having her partner refrain from using pseudo-divinity was evidence of Shiasaka Hazumi's growth as a witch.
Among them, Minadzuki was the only one capable of relying on "goddess power" to use healing magic.
Hazumi had learned how to decide the timing of pseudo-divinity, so as to be ready when her comrades were injured. In past battles, before she gained mastery in the realm of magic, she had never thought this far ahead.
"Rushalka, begin the attack. One hit one kill."
Asya issued orders calmly and mercilessly.
Currently, Glinda's pseudo-divinity was keeping every Raptor pinned to the ground.
To make the best of this opportunity, Rushalka descended swiftly from the air then ascended rapidly, repeating this over a dozen times. Using her hind legs to grab the heads of the immobilized Raptors, she twisted and broke their necks, causing fatal injuries.
However, the Raptors continued to struggle, trying to break free of their restraints.
Luna Francois and Glinda's magical power and concentration were not limitless. The shackles of gravity began to weaken. The number of Raptors dragging these shackles while taking flight unsteadily increased one by one.
The situation was getting more dangerous, but Asya remained calm and composed.
She issued orders one after another. "Rushalka, enter dogfighting range. Blitz them."
Seeing Raptors flying unsteadily, Rushalka approached swiftly.
Using her body, she knocked them away, crushing the startled enemies' heads with her jaws, instantly rendering her enemies dead or incapacitated.
However, the restraints of gravity control were gradually weakening while Rushalka continued to fight.
More and more Raptors recovered their agility, looking so menacing that their prior sluggishness seemed like a lie. Charging at Rushalka, they tried to stab her with their sword-like bills.
Unfortunately for them, the pair of Shootdown Aces remained calm and merciless.
"Rushalka, avoid head-on confrontations and prioritize attacking from behind."
"Rushalka, I allow you to use your breath, but only in emergencies."
"Rushalka, prepare to attack with your horn."
Every time the situation changed, Asya instantly issued commands.
Moving spectacularly, Rushalka circled behind the backs of Raptors, biting her prey's necks instead of attacking with her breath, then stabbed them using the horn on her forehead. Repeating this almost like a flow process, she kept slaughtering the Raptors.
Asya the seasoned warrior and her partner Rushalka.
In fact, the blue wyvern did not wait to listen until the final word in Asya's orders. The moment the silver-haired witch called her name, Rushalka would perform the action required by her partner.
Linked in mind and soul. As soon as Asya thought, her intent would reach her partner.
For the Shootdown Ace partnership renowned as Europe's strongest, words were merely an auxiliary means of communications.
Rushalka accurately put into action what the experienced Asya pictured in her mind.
Indeed. One could not rule out the possibility of Pavel Galad sending reinforcements.
The use of pseudo-divinity, with its limited usage count, had to be minimized, but complete abstinence would not be wise either.
"Asya, I'm planning to cast gravity on them again. Can I trouble you to guard Glinda while I am charging up?"
Luna made her request just before the restraining gravity ran out.
Most of the Raptors had regained their freedom and were flying out of the pit again to attack the four "serpents."
It was currently the most chaotic moment of the battle.
The enemies were down to three hundred or so. A few dozen of them were wandering on the ground near the brave Glinda, about to attack her with the swords on their snouts...
Rushalka flew right into the middle of those Raptors.
With wings outspread, she stopped in the air. Asya swiftly issued orders.
"Rushalka, while flying over to take the position directly above Glinda, use pseudo-divinity and exterminate them. Frost Breath!"
Frost Breath was a killer move combining pseudo-divinity of Water with a breath attack.
Rushalka discharged white breath mixed with shards of ice and snow.
Not just in front but behind and to the side as well, the whole area surrounding the blue wyvern was turned into an enchanted territory.
When Raptors inhaled the cold air, their hearts—or rather, their heartmetals—stopped.
They were frozen to death. In the next instant, the Raptors' physical bodies immediately crumbled into dust like ice sculptures that had been smashed by a hammer...
In the end, out of the thirty-eight Raptors, thirty-six were killed instantly.
Only two Raptors that happened to be on the edge of the freezing death territory survived due to good luck without suffering much apparent damage.
They flapped their wings to dissipate the cold air and flew into the sky again to attack.
At that moment, Asya's expression changed in alarm.
Instinct had told her that her attack would crush all targets in front of her without exception.
However, her sense of judgment had been off. She failed to take care of two Raptors.
One surviving Raptor used a headbutt on Rushalka, sinking the sword on its snout deeply into her left shoulder, digging in forcefully.
Then it shook its head up and down hard.
Rushalka's wing—the wing sprouting from the left shoulder in place of an arm—was amputated at its root.
Next moment, Asya was struck by an illusory feeling... She felt like her own left arm had been chopped off.
Even though it was an illusion, she still felt a sharp pain from the base of her left shoulder.
The Raptor was Pavel Galad's minion and was empowered by the Rune of the Sword. When damage was inflicted to a leviathan by a dragonslaying rune, the pain would transmit to the partner too.
Losing one wing while in the sky, Rushalka was severely injured.
Rushalka screamed in pain and began to fall.
Asya fell upon her knees in pain, pressing her head against the ground. Her left shoulder had lost all feeling, evidently from excessive pain. Her consciousness was fading too.
As for the other surviving Raptor, it flew over Glinda, stabbing the lion leviathan deeply in the back using its snout sword the moment it was directly overhead.
This time it was Luna Francois' turn to scream. She fainted.
Like Asya, she experienced her partner's pain. Glinda also seemed to be grievously injured, collapsing on the side.
"Are you okay, Asya-san!? Hang in there!" Hazumi cried out.
Orihime was speechless too.
However, the elder Japanese witch immediately called Akuro-Ou to her side.
This was to protect the heavily injured Rushalka and Glinda, who were right beside them, and Minadzuki, who was relatively close to the four witches.
The remaining Raptors immediately converged upon them.
The circled slowly, biding their time to launch a heavy assault. Akuro-Ou and Minadzuki growled to keep them at bay.
"Looks like we are in for a last stand."
Luna Francois was unconscious on the ground. Asya was groaning, holding her left shoulder.
Orihime glanced at the two senior witches and remarked softly. Although Hazumi walked over to Orihime's side with a determined look, there was no hiding the fear and worry on her face.
"Haruga-kun, it looks like we are facing a critical moment..."
Calling to the young man who was not by her side, she clenched her left hand.
The Rune of the Bow. The Rune of the Twin Katana. Normally speaking, the dragonslaying symbols would appear here on her hand. This time, the girls were deprived of aid from the power of dragonbane—
The elite dragon Pavel Galad and the Rune of the Sword.
Naturally, Hal regarded him as a formidable foe.
However, no matter what, he was probably nowhere as powerful as Red Hannibal or Princess Yukikaze—
Perhaps this kind of optimistic thinking existed vaguely in Hal's mind. As though mocking Hal for his naivete, the dragon hero used unusual moves, one after another, which were surprising to Hal—or perhaps, more potent than he imagined.
No witches by his side. Using mysterious flames to bolster the Rune of the Sword. Summoning a large quantity of golems.
"He's totally coming at me, pulling out all stops..."
Still in spirit form, Hal watched the battle situation, muttering to himself.
Currently, the battlefield was in the sky over Tokyo New Town. Two dragons—the Crimson Queen and Pavel Galad—were flying back and forth across New Town in an aerial battle.
Problematically, it was still not a one-on-one battle.
"I don't have a single ally here!"
Pavel Galad had used alchemy magic to create a whole bunch of golems.
Golems born from concrete and the remains of steel-framed structures, certainly abundant in manpower.
There were winged lizards resembling Raptors, serpents, and giant lizards without wings.
Praying mantises with sword-shaped forelimbs, stag beetles with swords for horns, swordfish whose bills were as long and sharp as swords, flying fish with sharp blades for wings and could serve as swords.
Also sharks, killer whales, crocodiles, and salamanders.
Plesiosaurs, pteranodons, ammonites, trilobites...
All of them were golems that had been born before Hal's eyes earlier. Reptiles, insects, fish, etc. There were more than two hundred of them in this airspace alone.
Every one of them was flying freely in the sky with the Rune of the Sword appearing on their foreheads.
Each golem was empowered by the rune, turning their swords into "dragonslaying swords." Even though Hal did not think he would be careless, it would be best to avoid being hit continuously by dragonslaying attacks. However, that was not possible.
Using the advantage of numbers, the golems swarmed in from all directions.
"Aiming at them one at a time is too slow..."
Full burst. Hal ordered the queen to use a technique of assured annihilation.
"Queen, take them out in one go!"
The Crimson Queen raised the dragonslaying bow and casually shot it into the sky.
Fired directly upwards, the arrow of light exploded like fireworks, producing a shower of roughly a thousand lights falling to the ground.
Mere contact caused golems to vaporize with a resounding sizzle.
In the end, Pavel Galad's creations, more than two hundred of them, were eliminated in an instant, returning the queen's surroundings to silence.
"Find that Galad. Who knows where he's hiding?"
The silver dragon was nowhere in sight.
Receiving orders, the Crimson Queen flew downstream of the Sumida River.
For better or worse, now that Hal had turned into a spiritual entity hovering in the air, tagging along was relatively effortless. Following the queen, he was just about to use investigative magic when—
"They finally gathered here, huh..."
A large number of enemies were flying from the Arakawa—the eastern part of Tokyo New Town.
Golems had been born from debris of concrete and steel again. Resembling Raptors, serpents, lizards, mantises, stag beetles, swordfish, flying fish... All shapes and forms as earlier. Their foreheads showed the mark of the Rune of the Sword.
This time, the golem army numbered roughly three hundred.
"What's the situation in other places?"
Earlier, Hal had shot the magic symbol of the Eye into the sky over Tokyo.
He closed his eyes and ordered the magic eye to show him an overhead view of Tokyo's entirety.
"I knew it..."
Seeing the scenery revealed to him, Hal groaned.
Pavel Galad had picked the former Shuto Expressway as his "mountain of raw materials." This highway network circulated in a giant oval shape in Tokyo New Town, allowing one to drive in a continuous circuit.
Explosions had occurred at sixty or seventy locations on the highway, becoming sources for the monster armies.
As a result, a casual count showed over a thousand golems flying unchecked in the sky over New Town as though it were their territory.
Furthermore, all of them were converging upon Hal's position at Mukaishima—
"Whatever, I've already resigned myself."
Pavel Galad's trap covered quite a broad area, probably calculated to hunt down Hal no matter where he fled and corner him. Even if he tried to jump through space using teleportation magic, interference magic would probably stop him.
In other words, he was going to encounter large numbers of golems no matter where he went.
Not like he could use a technique of assured annihilation to take care of things every time.
That would greatly deplete Hal's stamina and mental focus. Extremely draining.
Previously, he always had witches and leviathans to help share the burden, but this time, he was all alone and must handle things himself—
"Increase elevation first. Leave the ground!"
The Crimson Queen and Hal's spiritual form began to ascend.
Their altitude kept increasing. 150m, 200m, 250m above ground—By the time he reached a height where he could overlook New Town's streets as though viewing from the Tokyo Tower in the past, Hal was finally able to see the movements of the golem armies with his naked eye.
Coming from east, west, south, and north.
Over a thousand golems of various shapes and forms were flying in from all directions, trying to surround the Crimson Queen.
Hal ordered the queen to launch the offensive first.
The queen began to fire in succession. Repeatedly, the dragonslaying bow shot arrows of light, shooting down Pavel Galad's minions one after another.
But the enemy also closed in during this attack.
Just as both sides got close enough for close quarters combat, Hal suddenly felt a pain in his heart.
Originally firing, the Crimson Queen froze in the air.
A flying fish golem was roaming nearby. Every time it brushed past, it would attempt to slice the queen using its wings.
The flying fish's wings were simultaneously sharp blades, dragonslaying swords.
Naturally, a mere minion's slices would not be able to breach the queen's barrier. However, attacks blocked by imperishable protection would inflict minor damage to Hal's heart, i.e. heartmetal—
Incidentally, this was only a prelude to a heavy offensive.
A mantis, a Raptor, a serpent—Three golems of such types approached swiftly, using the "swords" fitted on their bodies to slash the queen!
The queen blocked all attacks using imperishable protection, but it caused waves of pain to Hal's heart.
Furthermore, the attacking golems flew away after one strike without engaging continuously with the queen in the air, but new arrivals kept attacking.
Up, down, left, right, front, back, all directions.
Raptors, serpents, lizards, stag beetles, swordfish... All sorts.
The Crimson Queen immediately breathed fire, burning to death the golems approaching from the front. This was a chance to use the sun-shooting—No.
It was still too soon. Hal changed his mind and ordered the queen, "Switch weapons! Use the Rune of the Twin Katana!"
Despite his spiritual form, the dragonslaying rune still appeared clearly on the palm of Hal's right hand.
Previously, it had been "the tilted half-moon," a pictograph representing the bow, but now it changed into "a cross shape" to represent a pair of katana.
The queen's weapons also transformed from bow and arrows to two swords, one big and one small.
Switching from a shooting battle to close quarters combat, the Crimson Queen equipped the larger sword in the right hand and the smaller sword in the left, slicing apart the golem in front and shoving it down.
At the same time, the queen used her tail as a whip, knocking away a golem approaching from behind.
As for enemies from below, she used her hind legs to kick them away, following up with fire breath of course. Using more than just the two swords wielded in her left and right, the queen used her entire body as a weapon, ready to take on incoming enemies.
In addition, there was imperishable protection.
Even though the golems attacked with all their might, all they accomplished was inflicting minor twitching pain to Hal's heart. In contrast, the Crimson Queen's effortless yet powerful strikes were able to deliver instant death to her prey. It was like moths drawn to a flame.
An impregnable stance as befitted a dragon king's body.
Rely on numerical superiority, the golems attacked endlessly. However, all the Crimson Queen needed to do was block the enemies' suicidal tactics calmly and confidently then counterattack as necessary.
"If only I could wait for victory like in those Whatever Musou games."
But of course, reality was never so ideal.
Hal's spirit muttered to himself while imagining a certain action. Next, the Crimson Queen acted according to the image in his mind. Crossing the swords held in her left and right, she formed a "×" shape.
Instantly, a thunderous crash resounded in all directions.
Initially, it was a sonic boom produced from breaking the sound barrier. This was was followed by the noise from a violent crash of metal.
Using the crossed pair of swords, the queen blocked a slash from Pavel Galad.
"Hohohoho. It seems that you have no intention of allowing me to win so easily!"
"You took the words out of my mouth!"
Galad and the dragonslaying sword had appeared instantaneously.
Blocked by the crossed blades, the dragonslaying sword was burning with blue-white flames. Sensing intense magical power from those flames, Hal stared at the fearsome magic swordsman.
Runes of Ruruk Soun, High-Speed Flight—
It allowed Pavel Galad to reach a speed of Mach 1.2 or so.
Seeing Hal and the queen losing concentration, he had suddenly closed in with supersonic flight to deliver a deadly strike of the sword. Hal only noticed it thanks to the Eye in the sky.
In addition to a wide visual range, the Eye was even able to capture supersonic speed.
Thanks to that, the queen just managed to draw with him. Had Hal not set up the magic eye ahead of time, defending against a sword flying at supersonic speed would have been impossible.
It was definitely a close call. Furthermore, the clash brought an unexpected windfall.
"You sword is almost equal in power to my twin katana... After a long absence, you've added some weird decoration too."
The dragonslaying sword in front of the Crimson Queen was burning with blue-white flames.
Looking at it from up close, Hal nodded vigorously. Rather than deducing through logic, a mage's instinct told him the answer.
This—the fire controlled by Galad—Hal had seen it before!
Apart from that, there was another discovery worth celebrating.
"The fire is starting to die down. Are you sure that's okay?"
Just as Hal pointed out, the fire on the dragonslaying sword was gradually weakening.
In the next instant, the twin katana and the sword were no longer in stalemate. Cracks appeared on the dragonslaying sword pushing against the cross of steel—the swords wielded in the Crimson Queen's hands, one big and one small.
Pavel Galad panicked a little.
The cracks grew, spreading all over the blade.
Proportional to the blaze of blue-white flames, the magical power on the dragonslaying sword also gradually decreased. In contrast, the queen's twin blades still possessed dragon king-class magical power.
The gap in magical power was reflected in strength and durability. The battle was shifting in the favor of the twin katana...!
"My hidden stash of treasure!" Galad suddenly shouted.
The flames on the dragonslaying sword instantly recovered their original intensity with a "boom!" The cracks on the blade also vanished without a trace.
Once again, the magical power of the sword rose to equal that of the twin katana.
Yesterday, President M had given a warning, could it mean that—Suddenly inspired, Hal asked Galad, "These flames granting power to a dragonslaying rune... Is it actually something I already know?"
"Oh? You realized it? Clever as always," Pavel Galad replied, impressed. "To be honest, I did not expect you to notice so soon."
"I don't claim any credit. I was simply lucky to run into someone who gave me advice. Without her, I probably wouldn't have figured it out."
"No need to be modest. Luck is part of a warrior's aptitude."
"Cut that nonsense out. I'm not some kind of warrior!"
Hal instantly retorted, but the silver dragon was no longer in front of him.
He suddenly flew away, swiftly leaving the Crimson Queen.
It was imperative to chase him. However, before Hal could do that—The enemy army counterattacked. The frightening number of golems attacked the queen again.
Wave after wave, golems of all sorts attacked.
Hal deployed imperishable protection in a wide area, defending all attacks regardless which direction the enemies attacked from.
The pearly barrier surrounded the Crimson Queen.
Golems in the shape of Raptors, pteranodons, swordfish, wasps, boars, sharks, killer whales, etc, approached the pearly light and slashed with their swords—
No matter how relentless the offensive, the swords of mere minions could not threaten imperishable protection.
Backed by secure protection, the queen slowly exhaled fiery breath, striking back using the greater sword and the kodachi in her hands, casually dispatching the golems within reach.
But amidst all that, one Raptor-shaped golem charged the queen.
Noticing the golem's unusual magical power, Hal swiftly used Ruruk Soun magic of Dispel.
"Queen, be careful!"
Just as he suspected, the Raptor-shaped golem began to slowly transformed after being hit by Dispel, turning into Pavel Galad with the dragonslaying sword in his hand. He had disguised himself using transformation magic.
"Hahahahaha, you found me again!"
The dragonslaying sword with blue flames and the twin katana clashed intensely again for the second time today.
The queen held the pair of swords in a cross, blocking the longsword's downward swing. Seeing that the surprise attack failed, Pavel Galad simply flew away from the queen at high speed.
Once again, Hal missed the chance to deliver a follow-up attack.
This was because as soon as Galad left as the leader of the army, the golems would start attacking the queen again.
"Is he gonna stick to hit-and-run the whole time today...?"
Using the mass produced golem subordinates as diversions to occupy the enemy, making full use of them, while Pavel Galad himself mustered all his power and wit to slice the queen in half.
Such tactics were hardly fair and square and did not seem to belong to a hot-blooded opponent at all.
Hal knew. In terms of pure power—He and the queen surpassed Galad by far.
Precisely because of that, Galad had used so many tricks to compensate for the gap. Separating Hal from the witches, using massive resources to pin down the enemy, using those flames to strengthen the dragonslaying sword.
All this was for the sake of defeating Haruga Haruomi and his powers of dragonbane.
To defeat such an enemy—Naturally, maximum offensive power was needed.
The bow and the technique of assured annihilation, the sun-shooting divine bow. This time, he must use a full-powered attack to achieve victory and avoid repeating the same mistake as yesterday.
"I will fire the sun-shooting divine bow at the sky, to exterminate the sun," Hal recited the incantation softly.
Enemies were all around. Gathered here, the number of golems reached several thousand. They were all attacking the Crimson Queen and Pavel Galad was lurking somewhere.
Surrounded by enemies, the queen finally turned her weapon into the crimson divine bow and nocked an arrow of light on the bowstring.
Then she fired. Up towards the sky.
The arrow of light exploded at a height of a thousand meters above ground, turning into a shower of thousands of lights...
It was similar to the full burst attack earlier.
But this time, the bullets were not being fired randomly.
Every light had to meet its mark. This was sniping. A technique of assured annihilation, aimed at the thousands of golems in Tokyo New Town.
Hal drew out even more magical power from his heart, i.e. his heartmetal.
Magical power was sent to every corner of the queen's gigantic body like blood, even added to the thousands of shining lights shot out from the bow.
Currently, the Crimson Queen was Hal's physical body.
Every arrow shot from the dragonslaying bow could even be considered Hal's avatar.
Pursue. Pursue. Pursue. Pursue. Pursue. Pursue. Pursue. Pursue. Pursue. Pursue. Pursue. Pursue. Pursue. Pursue. Pursue. Pursue. Pursue. Pursue. Pursue. Pursue. Pursue. Pursue. Pursue. Pursue!
The technique of assured annihilation, the sun-shooting divine bow, had fired thousands of lights.
Every light was a magical projectile of guaranteed death for exterminating enemies.
The instant a golem was pierced in the head or the heart by light, its entire body erupted in a fiery blaze.
The thousands of magical creatures created from enchanted steel and concrete all exploded amidst immolation, no exceptions. Numerous remains were scattered all over New Town.
Letting not even a single bullet go to waste, the Crimson Queen had enacted this miracle.
The whole process had taken ten-odd seconds. This massacre would have been a fitting feat for the past dragon queen who prided in her divine archery skills.
"Where did that Galad run off to?"
Hal's voice was emitted from the Crimson Queen—the dragon jaws.
After firing the divine bow, the queen's physical body and Hal's spiritual form began to meld together.
When using a top-class technique of assured annihilation to perform this task, the magical power in the heart, i.e heartmetal, belonging to Hal and the queen had risen to critical point, bringing the spirit and the body to virtually complete synchronization. Hence, the two merging into one was a result that could not be more natural.
Hal, i.e the Crimson Queen, muttered quietly.
Although it was a small spell frequently used in the human world, Enemy Detection was quite useful. This time, Hal could immediately sense all enemies flying within three kilometers.
After that, all he needed to do was confirm using the Eye in the sky.
The magic eye informed him that the enemy had used Invisibility to conceal his entire body.
However, the Eye created by the wisdom of Ruruk Soun had seen through it at a glance. A silver dragon, carrying a blazing longsword in his hand.
"The final blow..."
Hal, i.e the Crimson Queen, spoke mechanically in monotone.
He nocked an arrow of light onto the crimson divine bow, preparing to unleash a technique of assured annihilation. This time, Hal selected the bird-downing divine bow.
This was a mystic technique for piercing a prey's vital with one arrow, taking its life.
"We've known each other for a while now, but it's time to end things."
Hal muttered in a flat voice of indifference.
However, certain dark emotions were occupying his heart.
The sense of triumph from being able to kill the strongest prey. The sense of conquest from being able to personally crush such a fierce and powerful creature. This was an expression of the hunting instinct dormant deep in his soul, an impulse stemming from killing instinct, as well as the awakening of an instinct for strife.
Hal, i.e. the Crimson Queen, finally shot the arrow of light.
With the solemnity of someone closest to reaching the dragon king throne, he issued a brief yet powerful command.
During its launch, the arrow of light instantly increased five fold in length and girth, turning into what could be considered a spear of light, streaking across the sky.
0.2 seconds later, the arrow of light easily pierced the chest of the invisible Pavel Galad.
Thus the silver dragon of the sword became enveloped in crimson flames. A great explosion. A glorious demise in the air without leaving any flesh or scales behind—
Dark joy surged in Hal's heart. In the next instant, Hal, i.e. the Crimson Queen, jumped in surprise.
He immediately spread his wings and backed away as fast as he could, but it was too late. Pavel Galad suddenly appeared in front of him, swinging the dragonslaying sword down—Of course, Hal failed to dodge this deadly strike of the sword. Neither could he deploy imperishable protection in time to defend.
The blade, capable of exterminating even dragons, stabbed Hal, i.e. the Crimson Queen, cleanly in the chest.
The wound was deep enough to reach the heartmetal, or the heart organ of humans.
"How uncharacteristic of you..." said Pavel Galad, the formidable foe who had stabbed using the dragonslaying sword.
"Following the instincts of warriors and hunters to execute a vicious blow is fearsome indeed... But that belongs to the ways of dragonkind. The Haruga Haruomi I know is not like that."
Didn't I defeat you?—No no no.
It was a very simple trap. Galad simply kept a golem in reserve then used magic to turn it into his decoy. Then all he needed to do was ambush Hal, i.e. the Crimson Queen, during his intoxicating moment of triumph to bring about a quick conclusion...
Perhaps due to the sword wound, "Haruga Haruomi's way of thinking" was gradually recovering.
But it was a bit too late.
Pavel Galad said proudly, "What a shame. To be devoured by a dragon's soul at the final moment, thus losing your sense of self. Since you have gotten so close to the secrets of Ruruk Soun, this would be hardly unexpected—"
I see, so that's what it feels like inside a dragon's brain?
Hal wanted to sustain that state longer for further research.
However, he did not want to repeat the same mistake. Furthermore, he was evidently out of time and energy... How did this happen!?
"Let me offer you a parting gift. Your minions—the female humans known as 'witches' are currently facing a hopeless situation. I will see to it that everyone sets off for the afterlife. Rest assured, you will not be traveling alone."
The same as always, Galad was very polite in strange ways.
Although Hal wanted to retort "like hell anyone could feel assured after hearing of something like this!", he was unable to make even a sound.
Unaware of these thoughts of Hal, Pavel Galad drew out the sword from the queen's gigantic body.
The Crimson Queen no longer had the strength to fly and started to fall, crashing directly towards the streets somewhere in Tokyo New Town.
While Hal's consciousness was gradually fading, the faces of the witches surfaced in his mind.
Shirasaka Hazumi, Luna Francois, Juujouji Orihime, and Asya. He began to focus his mind, trying to reach the witches and their partners, the leviathans, telepathically—
Of course, it was too late.
Even so, Hal, i.e. the Crimson Queen, still clenched his right hand forcibly.
He grabbed something. This sensation felt nostalgic. Soft yet elastic, adhering firmly to his hand. One of them felt small and containable in one hand while the other surrounded Hal's hand instead.
He called out softly to the young maidens closest to him.
I must hurry and reunite with them. Hurry. Hurry. Hurry... His thoughts grew more and more dull. So did the pain from his chest.
Soon after, Hal could not think at all, finally losing consciousness.
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