Leviathan:Volume 7 Chapter 5
Chapter 5 - Revival
Asya's childhood friend, Haruga Haruomi, once said, "The hiding place of treasure will reflect the owner's personality... Sometimes."
Avoiding a direct assertion, it was very much in line with his cynical style.
In any case, the young man whom Asya had known for many years was an expert in this area. She ought to respect the rule of thumb arising from his experience.
Furthermore, there was an example that served as corroboration.
The former dragon king, Hinokagutsuchi. The reason why she had hidden that there was shockingly arbitrary, stunning Asya when she first heard about it, but it was quite reasonable in hindsight and difficult for others to find.
Then there was Pavel Galad.
This hot-blooded and rigid man.
Given his personality, surely he would hide treasure in the depths of a building with excessive security, locked in an impregnable treasure vault, sealed with many layers of magic on the door.
"...But not cowardly to the extreme extent of 'hoarding without using,' which fits that hot-blooded hero's 'style,' I guess."
Locating what she expected to find, Asya nodded to herself.
"Because he would take out his treasure and make effective use of it when needed..."
Inside the desert barrier where Pavel Galad had trapped the witches, there was a set of mysterious ruins resembling an open-pit mine.
Its shape was like a bowl-shaped "hole" that had been excavated, with a radius of two kilometers and a depth of five hundred meters.
Riding on the miniaturized Rushalka's back, Asya arrived at the bottom of the pit.
In the center was a black stone in the form of a rectangular prism. It looked like an altar. If a two-meter-tall human lay down on it, his feet would probably not stick out.
An elite dragon could pretty much rest its palm on top.
There were two kinds of things placed on top of it.
One kind consisted of small stone fragments. Black in color, it was almost pulverized.
The other kind consisted of two sharp stones with virtually no smooth part on their surface. These stones were black too. Using minerals on Earth as a comparison, they resembled quartz.
Asya was seeing these things for the first time. However, she knew very well what they were.
She heard that Haruomi's late father had hidden one inside his pocket watch.
She heard that one had been casually left in the garden of Hinokagutsuchi's palatial residence, the Dragon Palace Court.
She heard that it was the fire-starting stone for reviving the "conqueror's runes." Without this stone, a dragonslaying rune on its own was a wasted treasure.
This stone could be considered the beginning of everything that had roped Haruga Haruomi into this war.
"Two flints... And one flint's worth of fragments. So Pavel Galad kept three of these precious stones here."
Why was one of them shattered? Asya could guess the answer.
It had shattered just before the Raptors began their attack just now.
When the flint shattered, it shot out a spark that activated the Rune of the Sword in the air, turning into the prime mover that had forced Rushalka and the others into a tough predicament...
Asserting as a master-class witch, she was certain she had seen the same fire yesterday too.
On that "island" that had appeared in Tokyo Bay to serve as bait, Pavel Galad had strengthened the dragonslaying sword in order to resist the dragonslaying bow.
The flames enveloping the sword's blade looked similar to the flint spark she had seen just now.
"Flint... It looks like it can be used as a magical catalyst for all kinds of purposes. This is a secret treasure that dragons would devote lifetimes to find. How many did he stock up?"
Pavel Galad was probably carrying a few on his person right now.
This was to use them as a trump card to oppose Haruomi's dragonslaying bow. Perhaps the silver dragon had discovered a mineral vein of flint instead of single stones.
"Impressive as always, President M. Her oracle was right on the money."
Rather than blocking it... The enemy rekindled the flame instead.
Just as President M described, Minadzuki's mystic technique of "armistice" had definitely sealed away the Rune of the Sword. However, the silver dragon had used a flint's flame to revive the dragonslaying seal.
The president had said something else, Asya remembered it was—
'Counter a treasure with another treasure. You are advised to release the stored goods.'
Asya came to sudden realization. She had jumped conclusions, thinking this advice was aimed at Haruomi, but—Now she understood.
"So... that advice was for me!"
The instant she felt certain of this, her imagination began to roam freely.
Right now in the mortal realm, Pavel Galad was probably using flint as the catalyst for magic to strengthen himself, putting Haruomi in a difficult battle. And the secret treasure used by the enemy as a trump card was right in front of Asya. If only she could take it back—
"This idea... isn't very realistic. It's not like I found a way to get back."
Despite what Asya was saying, she actually realized it early on.
The Rune of the Twin Katana used by her friends to return was definitely hard to control. Chances of using it successfully on her own were extremely low. However—
Low chance or no chance—No way to tell until she tried.
Naturally, doing this would challenge a witch's limits. Unless she devoted her entire mind and soul to it together with Rushalka, drawing on their full power, it would be futile.
Asya recalled something else. There was more to President M's advice.
'When it is time to make a decision, think about the future—three months from now, three years from now.'
'It will be too late by the time you regret it.'
With trembling hands, Asya searched her jacket's secret pocket.
Taking out a small packet of chocolates, she clutched it while staring at the two flints in front of her, murmuring to herself, "Even if I could return, the rest might not necessarily go well..."
Asya felt the words of denial get stuck in her throat, impossible to shake off.
Naturally, this was an illusion. But thanks to that, she was unable to keep finding reasons to justify herself. Instead, she found it impossible not to think about Haruomi, who was most likely in the middle of a battle. In all the battles so far, he had prevailed over his enemies splendidly.
In a way, this was because he had encountered opponents that he was good at dealing with.
During Pavel Galad's counteroffensive, she reached a clear understanding.
If the enemy was an elite dragon or dragon king unconcerned with details, Hal would be able to use the little tricks that were his specialty and overcome the crisis no matter who he faced. However, if the enemy were to carefully study ways to defeat Haruga Haruomi, then appropriate support was essential.
Because Asya's childhood friend was neither a warrior nor a soldier...
She was also very worried about the witches who had returned to Earth.
Pavel Galad was not the only enemy. After him, waiting for them was Princess Yukikaze, the formidable foe of outrageous proportions. Without Shootdown Ace Asya, how much resistance could they shore up against Princess Yukikaze?
"B-But if I return to my past self... The hypnosis will surely lose effect—"
Holding the bar of chocolate, her right hand kept trembling.
Conflicted. Distraught. Self-deception. Guilty conscience. Sincerity towards Haruomi and her witch companions. Maidenly feelings. A selfish desire to attain the happiness she was entitled to. Her pride as a witch. Hesitation. Hesitation. Hesitation. Hesitation. Hesitation...
Asya did not know how long she stood there in one spot.
But in spite of it all.
Arduously, her trembling fingers opened the packet of chocolates, took out a piece, then struggled to deliver it to her mouth—At that very instant...
It was the sound of a pebble kicked by a the tip of a leather shoe.
Asya looked back in surprise, speechless. This was inside a dragon's barrier. At the bottom of an open-pit mine that was like a world heritage site.
A man dressed in a black suit—A human male was walking towards her!
"Pleased to make your acquaintance. I am known as Sophocles to the lords of the dragon world as well as Tyrannoi of both human and dragon origin."
Recalling Haruomi's report, Asya glared at the man in black.
Sophocles. Juujouji Orihime had apparently met him once. This man was in charge of observing dragonkind's game that was called the Road to Kingship and would occasionally contact participants.
"Please forgive my sudden visit. My apologies."
"N-No need to apologize... How did you get here?"
"Didn't the Crimson Queen tell you? I can show up at any corner of the world, be it the surface of the Earth, the distant sea of stars, or passing through the dimensional portal to reach the secret realm of dreams."
He spoke of his elusive arrival in this kind of place as though it were no different from a gentleman's hobby.
Asya finally met the mysterious man named Sophocles. It looked like he was even more of an eccentric than rumored.
"In truth... Predicting that you are about to embark on an extremely dangerous yet meaningful adventure, I had to come meet you no matter what."
Sophocles was quite respectful in attitude, even earnest.
But Asya was certain that this man appearing in front of her was surely the devil's kin and must not be trusted easily.
"O witch. If you are prepared to make a desperate effort to move forward, I am willing to provide all the assistance you need for your adventure. That is how much value I see in the challenge you will be undertaking."
"As much as I'm reluctant to admit it... The emergency situation is finally here."
Luna Francois sighed.
An hour or two ago, the trio of witches had finally made their way back to Tokyo Bay. After getting up to speed on the situation, they requested a high-speed helicopter to transport them over to Kiyosumi-Shirakawa in the center of New Town.
This was because they had received news that the Crimson Queen had crashed there.
However, they were taken by surprise when flying over a certain middle school. The Crimson Queen was curled up in the courtyard, sleeping peacefully.
In addition to Luna, Juujouji Orihime and Shirasaka Hazumi were present too.
They immediately ordered the helicopter to land in the school yard, then hurried to the red dragon's side—
"With Harry gone missing, I had a bad feeling about this."
The Crimson Queen was sleeping alone in this kind of place.
One could accept that. Although she was like a puppet, she was a creature after all and probably needed sleep.
However, Haruga Haruomi was not nearby. Did he go somewhere else to get something done, leaving this monster here for now? This was hard to imagine.
Apart from that, Luna was informed by instinct.
She could sense something similar to thoughts from the sleeping dragon. They could be considered feelings too.
So far, the Crimson Queen had been a puppet that acted according to Haruga Haruomi's thoughts. The impression it gave was a lack of emotion, without any intelligence or consciousness.
In addition, there was one more thing. The sleeping red dragon seemed to be giving off an aura of dragonslaying power...
Luna Francois said to her companions, "What do you think?"
"She feels different from before. More like an elite dragon..."
"This might be a weird way of putting it, but to me, she seems more like a human than an animal. B-But it's probably just my imagination!"
Orihime commented worriedly while Hazumi had doubt in her words.
The three witches were in agreement. The sleeping dragon in front of them could very well be the transformation their companion underwent in the worst-case scenario.
The red dragon suddenly made a muffled growl.
Orihime and Hazumi jumped at the same time, huddling together nervously. On the other hand, Luna Francois was very calm, observing the dragon on her own.
The dragon's eyes were still shut. No change in posture either.
Sleep talking? Although the truth was unclear, it seemed like the dragon was not in deep slumber.
"Looks like a knight needs to be summoned as a guard. Glinda, immediately—"
Luna was just about to tell Glinda to "immediately come forth."
But before her partner could materialize, the red dragon shifted its body slightly.
It even exhaled deeply, blowing a gust of wind across the three witches, though it was impossible to tell if it was a snore or a breath.
Hazumi screamed lightly. The wind had startled her.
The red dragon opened its eyes slowly.
Its directed its unfocused gaze at the witches before it.
Luna Francois could read some displeasure, curosity, and a tiny amount of killing intent from the dragon's eyes. As a serpent-summoning witch and a seasoned warrior, Luna could not possibly mistake the warning signs of danger.
"I think... this dragon resembles Senpai a bit..." Staring at the dragon's eyes intently, Hazumi murmured.
She did not assert directly, but her words were as solemn as a divine oracle conveyed by a priestess. The witch who had obtained goddess power apparently noticed something missed by Luna Francois, the specialist in dark domains.
"It's true that this dragon is completely different from the 'queen' in the past."
Luna sighed and waved her hand.
Miniaturized to around three meters in body length, her partner immediately materialized. The lion leviathan with a dragon head and a goat head on her shoulders appeared. Regarding matters of a magical beast, it would be best to ask a magical beast.
"Glinda, what relationship do you think this dragon has with Harry?"
Luna was dumbfounded in the next instant.
The red dragon growled. Hearing this sound, the miniaturized Glinda shuddered in fright, before vanishing without a trace even though Luna had materialized her on purpose...
" " "!?" " "
The witches sensed it. Just now, the dragon had used its status as a Tyrannos and holder of dragonslaying power to command Glinda to leave immediately. As a vassal serving the bow and twin katana runes, Glinda obeyed her master's orders and dematerialized.
"Haruga-kun!?" "I knew it!" "It really is Harry!?"
The red dragon, i.e. Haruga Haruomi, growled again in front of the stunned trio, sounding a bit impatient but lethargic. But that was not all.
Impossible to understand. Not only Luna, but the other two had no clue either.
Grrh. The red dragon, i.e. Haruga Haruomi, grunted unhappily as though disappointed with the three utterly baffled witches.
"W-What is Haruga-kun saying?"
"There seems to be meaning in his sounds, but I can't understand it at all. Did he forget human language, or he hasn't gotten used to using his vocal cords yet? Assuming dragons use vibrating vocal cords to speak, that is."
While her two elders were whispering to each other, Hazumi took a step forward.
Perhaps she was worrying about the young man who had turned into a dragon. The worry in her heart compelled Hazumi to walk towards the giant red monster—Eliciting a roar as a result.
The approaching Hazumi lost strength in her legs due to fright, falling backwards on her bottom.
It was actually not that loud in volume, but the red dragon's acute roar carried magical power, turning into a physical telekinetic force to reject Hazumi.
"I-It's me. I'm Shirasaka! Senpai, don't you recognize me!?"
Hazumi stood up with difficulty and spoke to the red dragon.
The red dragon was still curled up in a lazy sleeping posture, but he opened its jaws slightly, exposing teeth that were as big and sharp as sword, looking very ferocious. He seemed to be declaring to everyone—I will kill anyone who dares to approach.
Another growl. The deep noise was enough to shake the witches to their innards.
Luna sighed and said, "Is he trying to say that he'll punish us if we mess with him...?"
The kindhearted Hazumi did not catch it—Or rather, she was unable to catch it.
But unfortunately, Luna Francois Gregory knew that there was slight intent to kill in the dragon's voice and gaze. If they were to do anything to aggravate him, the red dragon might bite them mercilessly. As birds of a feather, Luna naturally understood.
(I need to call Glinda out again...)
While observing every move of the red dragon that was Haruga Haruomi, she pondered.
To summon Glinda again, this time she must increase the magical power and mental strength of herself and her partner to the very limit so as to prevent interference. However, this would still be a most difficult task.
Because the red dragon swiveled his eyeball, staring at Luna intently.
He was observing her reaction. Under the red dragon's gaze, the master-class witch was frozen from head to foot.
Her throat was parched. The dragon's gaze immobilized her. Luna Francois had never experienced this before.
"S-Sheesh, Harry. You look like you're not in a good mood. Don't you remember me?"
She wanted to feign composure, but her voice went a little off-pitch.
(The situation is bad. I have a dragon's eyes on me...)
Luna gulped. She knew.
The magic of dragonkind was not limited to runes of Ruruk Soun. They used mystic techniques from many systems. In this short amount of time, Luna already witnessed magic that could be activated "simply by looking at the other party" or "simply by breathing"...
Just by looking at her, the dragon's eye was able to keep master-class witch Luna Francois intimidated.
Feeling one's life was threatened in the face of a magic beast, a dragon—The magical power in a dragon's eye amplified the terror originating from this, thus pressuring Luna. Of all people, he had to threaten Luna Francois Gregory, Shootdown Ace of the Pacific Ring area. How infuriating.
"I-I willl give you some good loving once you return to normal."
Just as Luna, driven by anger and pride, prepared to face off against the red dragon, i.e. Haruga Haruomi—
"Haruga-kun, I understand..."
Juujouji Orihime walked towards the red dragon with determination on her face.
"You always look lethargic, like you didn't get enough sleep. I-In any case, I'm sure you're trying to say 'let me sleep a bit more' or 'another thirty minutes, okay?' Something like that, right?"
Speaking to the dragon while she walked, her voice was trembling.
Hazumi did not notice the killing intent exuding from the dragon, i.e. Haruga Haruomi, but Luna apparently did. Regrettably, Juujouji Orihme also sensed it vaguely.
Samurai blood ran in the Juujouji family, after all, and every generation had always devoted themselves to the pursuit of martial ideals.
She could sense "that kind of vibe" from the opponent's eyes to some extent.
Even so, Orihime did not stop walking. She forced herself to ignore the fear in her heart. So-called bushido meant fearlessness in the face of death. Hence, she was fine. She should be fine.
Step by step, Orihime slowly approached the dragon—
"H-However, we all need you. The one we need none other than you... The one we cherish is you. The one we love is you. Do you understand?"
Speaking softly, she took another step.
She knew. If his transformation into a crimson dragon had turned him into a monster incapable of logic or reason, a carnivore that would show them neither compassion nor consideration, he would rip her apart in less than two seconds, devouring her...
However, even if that was the case...
Juujouji Orihime still did not stop walking.
On further thought, this had always been the case. Despite his vast knowledge and worldly experience, a boy who was great at his job, he had poor social skills and was clumsy and passive in his interactions with others. Without any one guiding him properly, he would immediately retreat into his shell. Quite a difficult character to deal with.
Getting along with such a boy required Orihime to dedicate a lot of thought to him.
Slowly increasing the amount of conversation.
Patiently bringing their hearts closer, bit by bit.
Starting with chatting, communicating about work, then gradually delving into each other's private affairs.
Starting from early spring when she first met him, Orihime had been carefully building up a smooth relationship with the young Mr. Haruga. In addition to caution, she would occasionally employ a bit of forcefulness to bring the two of them closer together.
By the time she knew it, she began to find him very endearing, wanting to be with him forever—
(At first I clearly thought of him as a difficult and exasperating guy.)
However, he had always been a responsible person from the time they first met, although it was also true that he was lacking in charm as a romantic prospect.
(Haruga-kun likes me too... Right? So please, I am begging you. Don't do anything scary—Alright!?)
Five more meters and Orihime would be able to touch the red dragon.
Using feelings of love to distract herself from the fear in her heart, she approached slowly. Approaching.
Four meters remaining. Three meters. It seemed fine. So Haruga-kun does recognize me...? Orihime told herself while advancing. However.
The red dragon, i.e. Haruga Haruomi, suddenly exhaled brusquely.
This breath carried magical power. It was wind, a wave of "blades" to slice apart everything that rubbed him the wrong way.
Her companions cried out in worry.
The magical wind ripped through Orihime's blouse and skirt. There were countless tears all over her clothing, exposing glimpses of the pale skin underneath.
With perfect control and intricate skill, the red dragon only sliced her clothing with the air blades.
There was not even a scratch on her skin.
Was it a warning? Orihime was frozen stiff in fear.
It felt like a close shave with razor blades. Furthermore, within the blink of an eye, the air blades made cuts on Orihime's clothing, one after another... The slightest deviation and let alone her skin, even her blood vessels would have been severed, most likely.
The chest portion of her blouse was also sliced open.
This resulted in a clear view of her cleavage. However, Orihime simply stared blankly at the the dragon that used to be human, even forgetting to cover up her exposed skin.
"Aren't you afraid I'll die if you do something so dangerous...!?"
With great difficulty, she squeezed out a trembling voice.
Orihime was so frightened that she could not even lift a finger, barely managing to stand. It would be perfectly normal to collapse limply or go incontinent from fear.
As a result, she could only gaze at him.
...The red dragon looked back.
He stared at Orihime's face and entire body as though watching for her reaction. From his sharp gaze, one could sense curiosity and sapience.
His eyes were full of energy, making the sleepy look earlier seem like a lie.
At that moment, Orihime suddenly understood.
"Haruga-kun, don't tell me that you are..."
Whenever he showed this kind of gaze, there could be no mistake.
It might be the case this time too. This guess was unfounded, but Orihime had no alternatives. More importantly—
Supposing the expression earlier was an indication of the human nature lingering in his consciousness...
"Y-You always put on an extremely serious face whenever you don't want others to discover you were having dirty thoughts... I-Is that happening again right now...?"
Orihime raised her arms stiffly while asking.
She did that in order to unbutton her blouse. Her heart was beating rapidly from fear and her fingertips kept trembling, forcing her to proceed slowly. Even so, Orihime still unfastened the buttons in sequence from top to bottom.
Then she removed the blouse and the tank top underneath.
She also removed her tattered skirt as quickly as possible, leaving just a set of pure-looking blue underwear. Rather bold of her.
The red dragon's eyeballs turned, staring intently at Orihime's body.
"L-Listen, I have already stripped this far. With no weapons on me, you should know... I have no intention of fighting you, Haruga-kun... Understood? A-Also, I think," said Orihime timidly. "You probably enjoy seeing me like this, right—?"
A low growl came from the dragon's mouth.
She could not tell if he was agreeing or disagreeing. Come to think of it, it was impossible to be certain whether the growl conveyed meaningful words either. However, she decided to take the gamble and go all the way.
"I-I know that erotic things are your favorite. Although as I've said before, it's a bit too soon for us."
One step, followed by another step. Orihime finally started advancing again.
She could feel the breath from the dragon's giant jaws—the flow of air. The memory of her clothing getting sliced reappeared in her mind. However, she did not stop walking.
"Nevertheless, if you wish to return to our side... I would probably feel very thankful and might even think that getting married during high school is fine. Although it is strange to hear myself say this, I am the type who makes decisions on momentary impulse... O-Of course, I won't force you if you're unwilling, also, we still need Grandfather's permission..."
Currently, the crimson magic beast's big and long snout was right before her eyes.
Making her way here had not been easy. The dragon's eyes were frighteningly serious, sharp and intense.
He was still lying on the ground, curled up.
However, the earlier impression of sleep deprivation was long gone.
He extended his neck, bringing his massive snout, teeth, and lower jaw towards Orihime. Any intent to kill... Unknown. Getting too close made it harder for her to keep abreast with the dragon's overall vibe.
Orihime could feel his breath. Maybe he might use air blades again.
Or devour her in one bite? So frightening. So frightening. However, Orihime steeled her determination and tossed out her last gambling chip.
On her own initiative—She hugged the dragon's snout.
Orihime pressed her voluptuous bust against the dragon's snout, telling him her thoughts softly.
"As I have said many times, I love you so much. Please, I beg you, Haruga-kun, remember...!"
The response she got was a low growl. Knowing it was imbued with magic, Orihime braced herself. Did the dragon finally deem her a rude human female, deciding to eliminate her?
Like most Japanese, Juujouji Orihime visited Shinto shrines on New Year's and attended funerals conducted by Buddhist temples.
Without singular devotion to a single religion, Orihime closed her eyes and prayed to a higher existence of indeterminate religious affiliation, waiting for the impending attack.
Several seconds later, pop. It was the sound of her bra unclasped by telekinesis.
Alarmed, Orihime let go of the dragon's snout on reflex.
The bra fell to the ground, leaving her upper body completely unclothed. She hastily covered her breasts with her right arm.
"Th-This wouldn't be your doing, Haruga-kun, would it!?"
She questioned the dragon that had almost certainly stared squarely at her upper torso's complete nudity.
Face to face with Orihime, the culprit was showing an aloof expression that read "I don't understand human language." However, he immediately exhaled with what sounded like affection, actively bringing his giant snout towards her.
"Y-You want me to hug you like this?"
Rather than a dragon, this behavior made him seem more like an affectionate dog.
Orihime could not refuse. She sighed and pressed her magnificent bust against the dragon's snout again, embracing "him" gently.
"My goodness... You are so perverted and exasperating."
She whispered lightly, as though soothing him, with an indulging tone in her voice.
Another growl. Orihime now understood this was an expression of love. He cared even less for whispering sweet nothings than when he was human, probably because he had turned into a dragon.
Anyway—With this, she could finally try out "that method" now.
"Listen to me. It seems to help you recover your memory when we do things to please you, gradually returning your mind and body to human."
She kissed the dragon's cold scales.
"So, allow me to hug you longer, alright? Although transforming into a dragon is quite cool, I would prefer if you continued being human, Haruga-kun."
Lying down in the middle school courtyard, the red dragon was curled up. On the gigantic body, a human suddenly appeared—That of a teenage boy.
The white dragon king, Princess Yukikaze.
Of all the dragons that had attained the rank of dragon king, she was the youngest. Her age was probably less than a thousand. Possibly because of that, there was a slight instability in her powers.
Namely, the ability to transform into a dragon.
Princess Yukikaze usually went around in human form.
However, she was unable to transform into a dragon on her own volition. Only when excited with raging emotions did she naturally turn into the white dragon. Apart from her, there were no dragon kings like that ever.
The Flame Emperor—Red Hannibal—could transform at will.
Pureblooded dragon kings such as the Black Lightning Emperor or the Blue Sea King were incapable of taking human form to begin with.
The youthful Princess Yukikaze's constitution was a little unstable as a dragon. Perhaps it reflected her free and unfettered personality?
However—Instability did not imply it was her weakness.
Princess Yukikaze's unstable constitution was due to her unfettered, outgoing, and whimsical personality. These traits also served as the origin of ambition, vigor, and animated spirit.
Especially when she was also the dragon king who had inherited the Rune of the Arrow.
Some measure of instability did not pose any problem at all, because an arrow's specialty was to fly far, fast, and incisively.
"...I hereby decree to my emblem, the Arrow of Sirius." Finally in dragon form, the white dragon king murmured.
Until two minutes ago, she had been in the sky over Tokyo New Town, engaged in an aerial battle against Pavel Galad who had defeated Haruga Haruomi.
But now, Princess Yukikaze was overlooking the entire islands of Japan, not just Tokyo.
Using her specialty of hyper acceleration to speed up, she reached the boundary between space and the atmosphere all at once. Below her was the blue Pacific Ocean and white cloud cover, as well as the landscape of the eastern Eurasian continent.
Descending from this height for a sneak attack, she would instantly turn her enemy into dust...!
"I, Yukikaze—will now transform into the dragonslaying arrow."
As soon as she spoke, Princess Yukikaze began to descend at high speed.
Instantly breaking the sound barrier, she descended from the sky like lightning.
From the perspective of a ground observer, it would probably be like a blazing meteor crashing down from the sea of stars. The silver dragon occupying New Town's airspace was about to meet her in battle—
At that moment, Pavel Galad was in the sky at an altitude of roughly four hundred meters.
Wielding the dragonslaying sword, he was motionlessly waiting for the dragon king's arrival!
"Choosing to take on my attack instead of fleeing, huh? Silver dragon! How foolish!"
"No, princess! I am convinced that this is the only method to defeat you!"
Princess Yukikaze was rushing in with supersonic speed.
The white dragon king's entire body was enveloped in the pearly glow of imperishable protection. All she needed to do was smash directly into Pavel Galad, then surely the silver dragon's body would be pulverized, turned in billions of scraps of flesh, scattering all over Tokyo New Town.
Pavel Galad swung the sword in his hand down to intercept the supersonic attack of white.
"Sever with haste the inauspicious instruments that begrudges dragons!"
Runes of Ruruk Soun encircled the dragonslaying sword.
"I am the user of the sword of divine alacrity." Increased to godlike speed literally, the sword succeeded in chopping Princess Yukikaze's supersonic descent head on.
Furthermore, the blade was burning with blue-white flames.
Against Princess Yukikaze, Galad was also using strengthening magic with flint as a catalyst!
Unfortunately, the result was rather tragic.
The blazing sword had clashed head on against Haruga Haruomi and the Crimson Queen without losing, despite their increased power. But because Haruga Haruomi had attained a level extremely close to a dragon king's, Pavel Galad did not manage to neutralize the impact completely at the time.
Besides, this time he was up against Princess Yukikaze at maximum speed and momentum.
The destructive power of her charge was probably the highest among all dragon kings—A direct clash between the dragonslaying arrow and sword. Without any suspense, the sword proceeded to lose and blown far away.
He fell. Falling to the ground.
Pavel Gald crashed into a commercial district in New Town.
Sliding along the road with the friction producing sparks, he knocked over a number of buildings and houses—And finally stopped.
Pavel Galad groaned.
The silver dragon also had imperishable protection deployed but when struck by a violent attack, the damage would pass onto the user. In order to sustain the barriers only available to dragon kings and Tyrannoi, the heartmetal was put under heavy strain.
Galad's heartmetal suffered an impact that was painful enough to think his heart ruptured.
Also, the silver dragon was mercilessly wounded by the dragonslaying arrow's residual power that imperishable protection had failed to block. His right forelimb, the one wielding the dragonslaying sword, was severed at the shoulder, blown away to parts unknown.
His right wing and everything below the knee of the right hind leg were also blown off.
Broken, contorted, then fallen off like the forelimb.
"Hohohoho. Even though it was only a single strike, the match has been decided, hasn't it?"
In her white dragon form, the princess landed gallantly, speaking with pride.
Princess Yukikaze was not unscathed either. Swung down with godlike speed, the dragonslaying sword had struck her, though imperishable protection managed to block all of its power. The damage inflicted to the barrier was transmitted to the heartmetal, turning into waves of sharp pain...
That being said, the silver dragon was in no shape to continue the fight. It was Princess Yukikaze's overwhelming victory. However—
The white dragon king narrowed her eyes.
Something was gathering around the battered Pavel Galad.
These were some of the remains of the thousands of golems wiped out by the Crimson Queen's use of the sun-shooting divine bow. Asphalt, concrete, iron bars, steel plates—The fragments of the minions that the silver dragon had created out of various construction materials.
The remains of the golems began to combine and transform.
This was to reconstitute the right forelimb, hind leg, and wing that the silver dragon had lost.
The final product consisted of ugly limbs and a wing in mixed colors of black, gray, and steel. Pavel Galad's physical body had recovered it original shape for now.
This was alchemy magic that processed the remains of his minions to be reused!
"O silver dragon, you created a new body!?"
"I do not have minions capable of using healing magic. I could not continue the fight unless I resorted to such crude measures."
Pavel Galad was the silver dragon that had inherited the dragonslaying sword.
Previously, he had been a beautiful silver dragon.
But now, the limbs and the wing created from artificial stone and steel were rough in texture with unpleasant colors. There was no unity to speak of and one could even apply the description of ugly. Although he had used alchemy magic to enhance hardness while adding flexibility, thus presenting no problems with functionality...
Princess Yukikaze looked upon his ugly body with pity instead.
Narrowing her dragon eyes, she sighed in praise.
"You wish to fight me to the bitter end, going so far as to pick up the corpses of minions? I, Yukikaze, acknowledge your mettle."
"Furthermore, princess, this is also the only strategy capable of bringing about your demise."
"What are you talking about?"
"Admittedly, taking on your attack resulted in my dismemberment. However, back then... It is true that the dragonslaying sword struck your body."
During the violent clash just now, Princess Yukikaze had charged, using her own body as the dragonslaying arrow. Pavel Galad had intercepted her using his sword of godlike speed.
A frontal clash. As a result, the silver dragon's body was worse for wear, smashed into a number of pieces.
However, the princess' heartmetal also suffered damage and was still hurting.
"I just have keep repeating the same move until your heartmetal shatters. In this manner I shall obtain victory."
"Hahahaha. Every time you use your sword to strike me when I have turned into an arrow, your body will gradually crumble, you know? Before my heartmetal ceases to function—"
Princess Yukikaze laughed coldly at her foolish enemy.
"Your body will turn into dust from head to foot, leaving not even a single scale behind. Do you intend to create a new body to swap into every time?"
"Precisely. So long as I can defeat you, giving up my body is nothing to worry about."
"For me, one who is not a dragon king, to challenge you, Princess Yukikaze, this is the only way."
Princess Yukikaze laughed. Unlike the cold laugh earlier, this was laughter of delight.
For elite dragons, the head and the brain were considered fairly important organs.
Even if their heads were blown away in one go, so long as the soul and the heartmetal were intact, it would still be barely possible to use the secret arts of Ruruk Soun. Then as long as "a substitute for the brain" was created at super-high speed to replace the lost head, it would still be possible to fight.
However, chances of success were probably no more than 50%.
What a foolish strategy, but if pulled off without a hitch, the gamble would pay off with great efficacy.
For Pavel Galad to challenge Princess Yukikaze right now, this was definitely the only method.
Because unlike Haruga Haruomi, a real dragon king would never be naive enough to be caught unprepared by a bit of trickery...
"Fufufufu. I really enjoy the small acts of cleverness from Haruomi, though your foolishness entertains me too—Hmm?"
Princess Yukikaze did not know if it was because she said his name.
But she suddenly felt a "certain presence." It was the bond with the man of her destiny, which could only be sensed by the successor of the Rune of the Arrow.
"Not only the silver dragon, but did I underestimate you too?"
The young man she sought single-mindedly was apparently recovering his strength rapidly.
To be frank, despite her acknowledgement of his wit and resourcefulness, Princess Yukikaze rated him poorly on the aspects of durability and willpower to live. Hence, Princess Yukikaze gave up on him the moment she saw him defeated.
Never did she expect—
"Then allow me to offer you another chance. You must satisfy me properly this time, Haruomi," said the white dragon king quietly.
The holder of the dragonslaying arrow was extremely sensitive when it came to the presence of the complementary bow.
Princess Yukikaze used the Rune of the Arrow.
The seal was an oval shape surrounding an acute isosceles triangle.
In fact, this was a pictograph of the star named Sirius by humans on Earth. Incidentally, the Rune of the Sword was based on the three stars in Orion's Belt. The Rune of the Twin Katana was the cross-shaped constellation of Cygnus.
Then there was the Rune of the Bow. Also called the Bow Stars of the Southern Sky.
Its prototype was Canis Major.
The ancient Greeks interpreted the constellation as shaped like a "dog" while the secret archives of Ruruk Soun viewed it as a "bow with a nocked arrow."
Of this bow and arrow in the sky—the part corresponding to the arrowhead was actually Sirius.
Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, was also known as Alpha Canis Majoris.
The constellation, recorded in the secret archives of Ruruk Soun as "a bow and arrow," was viewed as a set even by humans.
Shining together in the sky, that was how close together the two were in position.
Who was going to emerge as the victor? Pavel Galad? Or the one who shared a destiny with the arrow's holder? The time for a decisive battle was drawing near again.
Dreams were truly the stuff of self-satisfaction.
Until earlier, it had been a nightmare. Hal—Haruga Haruomi—had finally turned into a dragon, just as he had feared. He had offered many "dragon-like" riddles for the witches to solve when they encountered him by chance, but none of them understood dragon language.
However, Juujouji Orihime came to his side.
Hal was quite violent like a dragon at the time, but she disregarded her own safety and did that for him to soothe the displeased dragon—
By the time anyone noticed, Hal had appeared on top of the Crimson Queen.
The red dragon king's body was currently coiled up, lying on the ground. The human Haruga Haruomi was lying on top—near the center of the coiled up body.
Hal's eyes were spacing out towards Tokyo's blue sky.
His eyes lacked spirit but he had some awareness of the current situation at least. Juujouji Orihime—and it was such a shame that a girl like her was paired with Hal—Sharing his bed was something that could only happen in dreams.
As a side note, she was virtually nude.
(My goodness. Look at that leering face of yours...)
A human should not be able to read a dragon's expression.
However, Orihime said that after looking at the face of Haruga Haruomi when he had transformed into a giant magical beast. Despite scolding him, her tone conveyed indulging affection—It made him feel happy.
Orihime still had some clothing on.
But apart from the underwear covering her hip area, she was not wearing anything.
Almost naked, she was in direct contact with Hal, staying by his side. The warmth from her tender skin was quite comfortable. If he could move, he might hug her body as hard as he could, embracing her tightly. Unfortunately, Haruga Haruomi was unable to lift even a finger in the dream.
Orihime's figure was miraculous as always, voluptuous yet slender in all the right places, just like a goddess.
She even rubbed cheeks with Hal, casting an extremely gentle gaze upon him. This was already enough to feel her love.
—Such a wonderful dream. I guess I should continue sleeping.
As a self-respecting natural-born adherent of laziness, Haruga Haruomi found this sleeping environment so perfect that he could not help but make this decision. However, there were even more wonderful things waiting for him.
(Orihime-san, I will help out too.)
(E-Even you, Luna-san, why are you joining in!? A-And looking like that!)
Luna Francois had climbed onto the dragon's coiled up body as well.
She was reclining on the left side of the sleeping Hal, opposite to Orihime who was on his right side. In addition, she was pressing her magnificent body, whose charm surpassed that of the Japanese maiden and school idol, against Hal.
Pushed tightly. Pressure. Squishy bouncy supple softness.
In his dream, Hal enjoyed the sensation of a G-cup bust pressed against him.
Furthermore, Luna Francois was completely nude.
She had removed her usual dress, her brassiere, and the underwear that should be covering her lower body. Even bolder than Orihime.
As a result, Orihime was very flustered, plunged into panic.
(Y-Y-Y-You can help out, sure, we did agree before that we'd satisfy Haruga-kun together so that he can stay human, I also hope the three of us can make equal contributions of effort, it's been like this for the past month too, b-b-b-b-but, umm, haven't you gone too far with stimulation when you look like that!?)
(I don't think you have any right to say that, Orihime-san, when you were the first to strip...)
(I-I am fine. I didn't strip completely! B-But Luna-san, you are totally naked!)
(It is all for the sake of my beloved Harry. Also, haven't you earned a lot of credit by being the first one? I don't think I'll make enough impact unless I do this.)
Luna had Hal's left leg clamped between her legs.
The smooth interior sides of the American girl's thighs were not only soft but very elastic. She even tickled Hal mischievously with the soles and tips of her feet.
—Why is my dream catering to my tastes so much!?
The desires dormant in the bottom of his heart were way too wanton. Hal wanted to apologize to everyone in the world. Meanwhile, he also wanted to praise his own delusions and imagination. Oh well, who cares if I indulge myself a bit in this rare and wonderful dream? Master Freud, the closet pervert in my heart is definitely severe enough to lead to mental illness...
(I-I want to help too!)
(Oh my, Hazumi-san, you are very driven.)
(W-Wait. H-Hazumi, you're wearing nothing too!?)
(But Nee-sama! Luna-san is doing that too, and I believe that Senpai... Haruomi-senpai definitely prefers it this way!)
(Well, I think she's probably right. Given Harry's personality.)
(I totally agree, b-b-b-b-b-b-b-but this is still too soon for Hazumi!)
(B-But Senpai is still like this. We need to give him even more pleasure.)
Wow, how did this happen? Hal was deeply aware of how steeped in sin he was.
Even his adorable protege, Shirasaka Hazumi, was appearing in his dream.
Furthermore, she was buck naked, without a shred of clothing on her delicate body.
As expected of Orihime's cousin, a promising future seemed to be in store for her. Her bust was already above average while the curve of her hips was in full view.
Lying on Hal's right side was Orihime while Luna occupied the left.
This left Hazumi with the only choice of taking the position on top of Hal, pressing her light and still maturing body and tender skin against him. The kindhearted junior even reached for Hal's cheek, caressing him gently.
(So cold, so hard... Senpai won't turn back to human like this...)
The maiden's voice was filled with uncertainty and worry.
Next to her, Luna Francois nodded vigorously too.
(Yes... In order to help Harry recover, we need to combine our efforts. This is also for canceling the initial credit you earned, Orihime-san...)
Huh? Hal thought to himself in doubt.
Even Luna and Shirasaka know that I might turn into a dragon?
Only Juujouji was supposed to know—Because this is a dream, did some of the factual details get sloppy?
At that moment, Hal realized.
Lying on top of the queen, the human version of Haruga Haruomi was naked. Under the sunlight, his entire body was glittering brightly, because it was covered by a transparent coating that resembled glass.
Just as Hazumi pointed out, he felt cold and hard to the touch.
By the way, was the towel covering his crotch a considerate touch left by the god of dreams?
(L-Luna-san, you revealed your honest thoughts! M-My goodness. Everyone is acting like cheaters in rock-paper-scissors who play their moves late... I-If that's how you want to play, I too will—)
Orihime was clearly very confused.
The excessively anomalous situation had caused her to lose normal judgment, as evidenced by her rubbing her leg, trying to remove "the final article of clothing" using just her lower body and her hand while lying by Hal's side...
Hal was shocked. Even in a dream, shouldn't she show more propriety?
He was already satisfied. It was time to invoke a gentleman's self-restraint—
In the next instant, Haruga Haruomi's consciousness finally awakened.
"Oh dear, I was having a wonderful dream... Huh?"
Hal cocked his head in puzzlement.
Just woken up, he slowly sat up.
He should be sleeping on his bed at home. Despite having this kind of dream, he thought he had been sleeping in his stuffy and messy study that was also his bedroom.
But right now, Hal was sleeping on a curled up dragon.
In addition, he was naked with only a towel over his crotch.
Orihime was lying by his right side. She had already removed her "final article" down to near her knees. On his left was the naked Luna Francois. And he was even straddled by his naked junior, Hazumi...
"Haruga-kun, you returned to normal!"
"Sheesh! I was so worried about you, Harry!"
"Th-Thank goodness, Senpai!"
The three girls exclaimed at the same time. Their faces were overjoyed with tears glinting in their eyes.
Surrounded by the witches, Hal tilted his head again. How odd. Were those self-satisfying developments just now not part of a dream...?
"I-I see. I think I get the gist."
In the courtyard of a middle school on the Kiyosu Bridge road, Hal nodded.
Roughly twenty minutes passed after his miraculous awakening. During this time, he hastily searched his surroundings and fortunately found his usual clothing. Hal was now clothed.
In addition, the Crimson Queen was still sleeping behind him.
It looked like the queen had yet to recover her power completely.
"By experiencing human fulfillment, my body and mind reverts from a dragon back to a human. Knowing this, all of you did so much for me..."
"Yes, indeed, Harry," replied Luna Francois with a cool expression.
No longer naked, she was wearing her usual black dress. Orihime and Hazumi had also put on their clothes. However, the two Japanese girls seemed to have recovered their sense of shame and had their heads down, too afraid to look straight at Hal.
"S-Sorry... It looks like I caused a lot of trouble for everyone..."
"Don't let it bother you. At least I was a willing participant. Because—I love you more than anyone in the world."
"Th-That's why I was able to revive?"
"Yes. But in my opinion, what Orihime-san said earlier was very problematic... It sounded like she was your girlfriend, madly in love with you and willing to marry you just like that. I pretended not to hear because it was an emergency just now, but..."
Luna smiled and suddenly started to pursue the matter.
However, the master-class witch's eyes were not smiling. Instead, they showed firm determination that would send Raptors flying with brute force if necessary. Hal suddenly remembered it. Now that she mentioned it, that scene which he thought was a dream—Orihime had definitely shouted something like that.
Orihime herself was stunned on the spot.
It was probably only now that she remembered her promise to Hal . To avoid causing conflict within the team, their relationship needed to be kept secret for a while...
Even Hazumi was showing shock on her face while looking back and forth between her cousin and Hal.
"Speaking of which, Nee-sama definitely said that just now..."
"Oh, that! Haruga-kun and I are just pure classmates! Although we might be considered a couple whose relationship progressed with lightning speed, and it's not like we didn't discuss dating with an eye for marriage, putting each other into our plans for the future...!"
Orihime lost composure completely.
She was very poor at handling trouble of this sort. Hal found this quite adorable of her and almost failed to suppress the urge to shout, "Sorry for keeping it from all of you. We're actually dating. I feel very attracted to Juujouji, and happily, the feeling is mutual with Juujouji—!"
Hal was an energy-saving human who was extremely lazy in the areas of romance and real life.
Just as he was finally about to tear off this label, Hal suddenly detected "a certain presence."
"Now way... Is she coming?"
It was something that could only be sensed by the successor of the Rune of the Bow—A bond. The holder of the dragonslaying bow was extremely sensitive to the complementary arrow.
The witches also fell silent instantly, probably noticing Hal's nervousness.
Two seconds later, that nostalgic voice, full of vitality, was heard again.
"Haruomi, you survived, didn't you? Whether you or the silver dragon, none of the latest additions to the ranks of the Tyrannoi are to be underestimated!"
Needless to say, what descended from the heavens was Princess Yukikaze's voice.
Hal and company were at the courtyard, facing the school yard.
The white dragon king descended leisurely on the school yard. By her side was the other dragon, Hal's old foe Pavel Galad.
Hal thought he was imagining things.
The beautiful silver-white body was now a tragic sight.
The right forelimb, right wing, and right hind leg below the knee—All these formerly silver body parts had turned into a disgusting mixed color of black, gray, and steel.
Rough in surface, their forms were also distorted and ugly.
The texture seemed like a pointless alloy created by dumping fragments of concrete and asphalt into molten steel.
"W-What happened to your limbs!?"
"Nothing of particular consequence. I simply sparred with the princess while you were away. Nothing less expected of a dragon king. Had I not mended myself using alchemy magic, I would have lost already," reported Pavel Galad nonchalantly.
On the surface, it looked like Princess Yukikaze had not suffered much injury. Comparing the two dragon's gigantic bodies, Hal sighed. Unless Minadzuki's healing magic was used, Pavel Galad's lost body parts probably could not be restored.
"Remodeling himself as a cyborg huh..."
Hal did not know how to react besides sighing. Sure enough, the minds of the warrior race that was dragonkind were abnormal.
Unwilling to play along with their farce and wanting to "conserve energy" as much as possible, Hal made his suggestion, "Feel free to continue your fight. I'm basically defeated, so you two can just go ahead and decide the winner between yourselves."
"What nonsense are you suggesting? According to convention, we two must fight to the death first as Tyrannoi."
"Precisely. Defeat the opponent on your own level before challenging the king who is I, Yukikaze. Haruomi, this is the trial you must face."
It would be easiest if the two dragons took out each other.
Even though the Tyrannos and the dragon king could not possibly understand Hal's calculative intentions, they flatly rejected Hal's energy-saving plan. Hal had no interest in playing along with dragonkind's excessively dangerous foreign culture.
Furthermore, Princess Yukikaze even said casually while still in her dragon form, "However, Pavel Galad was severely injured during his fight with me. For fairness' sake, perhaps I should amputate an arm and a leg of Haruomi's before you two start fighting again..."
"I see, that would be logical."
"H-Hold on a sec! That's definitely unfair, so hear me out, okay!?" Hal instantly pointed at something.
Near the top of the outer wall of this middle school building, there was a large round clock. The old mechanical kind, using a long hand and a short hand to represent time.
The time happened to be 4pm exactly. It was already afternoon.
"I will end our match before the long hand moves from '0' to '5.' If our fight still isn't done by then, the princess can give Galad a hand... How's that!?"
"Oh? You intend to settle our score in merely five minutes?" Pavel Galad nodded. "I see. The longer the fight drags on, the worse the stamina drain on my injured body, which would tip the scales in your favor. You wish to relinquish this advantage on your own?"
"Yeah, that's the idea."
Galad's attitude was surprisingly candid, putting Hal at a bit of a loss.
Elite dragons and dragon kings were capable of understanding all languages on Earth.
Naturally, he could read Arabic numerals. However, the silver dragon had nodded in agreement without needing Hal to explain the "five minutes," a human measuring unit of time—Hal was very surprised.
So this guy even practiced how to read clocks?
Against someone so studious, would that move work? However, unconcerned about Hal, Pavel Galad talked to the dragon king on his own.
"I have no objections to Haruga Haruomi's proposal."
"Very well. If you are not opposed to it, I, Yukikaze, have no opinion either. You two can go about it however you wish."
Princess Yukikaze nodded generously and agreed at once.
"The winner shall earn the right to have a rematch with me, Yukikaze. Begin."
The white dragon king declared haughtily and transformed.
Her majestic body instantly shrank, swiftly turning back into the beautiful girl in the one-piece dress. Sitting on her flying surfboard to increase altitude, she approached the round clock that showed the time limit.
"Do your best, Haruomi. I have already witnessed the silver dragon's mettle. It is your turn to exhibit your potential."
The princess' entire being exuded royal authority.
Pavel Galad spread his wings and flew into the sky over the school yard to enter a combat stance.
Left on the ground, Haruga Haruomi sighed and turned to his witch companions.
"...So there you have it. I'm counting on you, everyone."
"Okay, Harry. I will pursue the details later."
"N-Nee-sama, don't tell me you and Senpai..."
"Forget about that for the time being! We need to focus, Hazumi!"
Luna Francois winked at Hal, Hazumi still seemed unsettled, while Orihime remained flustered. Furthermore, Asya's absence was a massive hit to their combat potential. She apparently stayed back alone in Pavel Galad's barrier in order to help her companions escape...
Regardless, the three witches materialized their partners.
The nine-tailed fox-wolf, Akuro-Ou. The three-headed lion, Glinda. The emerald serpentine dragon, Minadzuki.
The three giant beasts, ten-odd meters in body length, appeared.
"Anyway, this should be the final bout, Harry."
"If anything, it's more like the last round when playing mahjong through the whole night." Hal shrugged and replied to Luna. "After all, this is more like gambling than fighting..."
Would the trap he had laid from a flash of inspiration work?
Now that it had come to this, all he could do was believe in the horse he had his bets on.
Also, the incident this time had made Hal realize once again, Haruga Haruomi was not suited to fighting. Unless absolutely necessary, it would be best to avoid acting cool as much as possible...
The Crimson Queen was behind him, curled up in a ball.
Deciding to ignore the fierce and violent nature sleeping within the queen, Hal looked at the clock.
"Four minutes and a bit left... I'm counting on Glinda and Akuro-Ou to handle Galad first. During this time, I'll tell the Crimson Queen to get her bow and arrow ready. Shirasaka, can Minadzuki's power of healing still be—"
"No problem! It can still be used, though only once!"
"Excellent! Then please help the queen recover!"
While Hal was issuing orders, precious time was ticking away.
The witches reacted swiftly Orihime drew out the power of the Rune of the Twin Katana from Hal where as Luna used the Rune of the Bow, then applied them to their partners.
Akuro-Ou's nine tails—Blades resembling Japanese swords appeared at the tips of her tails.
Glinda's three heads—A cannon protruded out from each mouth of the lion, the dragon, and the goat.
"Akuro-Ou, we have the advantage in blade quantity!"
Orihime was the first to encourage her partner.
Obtaining nine swords instead of two, the fox-wolf rushed into the air to attack Pavel Galad who was waiting in the sky.
Slice. Slice. Slice. Slice. Slice. Slice. Slice. Slice. Slice.
Akuro-Ou's nine tails moved freely as though they were made of rubber, even more dexterous than human arms, swinging the nine swords to attack Pavel Galad continuously.
However, the nine blades were all blocked by the dragonslaying sword.
A single longsword. The holy inscription of Ruruk Soun, "I am the user of the sword of divine alacrity," appeared along the sword's blade.
"Hohohoho! How could a mere nine swords prevail against my sword of divine speed!?"
The dragon's roar resounded across the sky.
Luna shouted, "In that case, how about this!?"
Akuro-Ou swiftly retreated to get out of range.
At the same time, Glinda began to fire her cannons at the sky. From the lion, the dragon, and the goat's mouths, the three cannons shot glowing projectiles one after another.
Using imperishable protection—the personal barrier with a pearly glow—Pavel Galad deflected the projectiles of light.
Hal glanced at the clock. Three minutes and five seconds remaining.
The Ruruk Soun runes of "healing hand" appeared over Minadzuki's head.
The emerald serpentine dragon unleashed the magic of healing, to inject vitality into the red dragon that was still curled up on the ground.
The Crimson Queen with the damaged heartmetal finally got up.
She slowly stood on her feet and gradually extended her pair of red wings to the sides.
Her movements were definitely not quick. However, the queen's eyes gradually regained vigor. The massive body, twenty meters long, began to release potent magical power.
The heartmetal, whose magical power output had dropped to 30% or so, gradually increased its rate of output.
From 40% to 50%, then 55%, 60%...
However, this was not yet enough to use techniques of assured annihilation. Defeating his formidable foe would require the strongest attack from the sun-shooting divine bow.
"Senpai! Looks like it will take some time!"
"Don't worry... Akuro-Ou and Glinda will help stall for a while longer..."
Rather than to alleviate Hazumi's worries, Hal's words seemed more directed at himself.
Two minutes and forty seconds left. Orihime finally ordered Akuro-Ou to execute a technique of assured annihilation using her nine swords.
"Akuro-Ou, use fire... No, use sun magic!"
The nine blades sprouted from the fox-wolf's nine tails glowed golden—the sun's radiance—all of them turning into "swords of light."
However, the sword of dragonbane was also burning with blue-white flames!
"O fragments of the flint star, grant me power!"
Pavel Galad recited an incantation while swinging his flaming sword nine times.
The dragonslaying sword's attacks were aimed at Akuro-Ou's nine tails and nine blades. Every time it sliced audibly through the air, a clang would be heard from a sword of light, breaking from the resounding impact.
Next, a critical strike sliced through the white fox-wolf's body.
"A-Akuro-Ou, hurry and disappear!"
Furthermore damage could mean the loss of her partner's life.
Realizing this, Orihime commanded and Akuro-Ou instantly vanished. She had dematerialized. Two minutes and ten seconds remained. But with this development, it meant that there was no longer any worry about friendly fire—A mad barrage began.
"Glinda, fire everything!"
Luna Francois instantly commanded.
The heads of the lion, the dragon, and the goat finally engaged in rapid fire at a rate of thirty shots per second.
The projectiles of light formed a curtain of anti-air fire, with each bullet imbued with the power of dragonbane. Faced against this wave of attacks, Pavel Galad relied on more than just his defense from imperishable protection.
While using the pearly glow to block the projectiles of light, he even used a technique of assured annihilation.
"O god of the sword, fill the blue heavens with the wisdom of Ruruk Soun!"
Thunder clouds gradually blotted out the blue sky. Nineteen runes of Ruruk Soun also appeared in the air. "I summon the thunder god's sword to unsheathe in haste."
The technqiue of assured annihilation, the thunder god's sword. It was the most powerful mystic technique boasted by the dragonslaying sword.
Gathered in the sky, the thunder clouds kept striking the dragonslaying sword with lightning, successfully charging up the sword of dragonbane with the thunder god's power.
Not only that, but Glinda's sweeping fire of glowing projectiles were also erased by the lightning.
Pavel Galad slowly turned the dragonslaying sword to point at the three-headed lion. Lightning erupted from the sword's tip, striking Glinda's left shoulder—The goat head.
This lightning was also an attack imbued with the power of dragonbane. Further injury would be bad news. Luna clicked her tongue.
The lion leviathan also dematerialized and left the mundane world.
One minute and thirty seconds remaining. The Crimson Queen was finally ready to fight. Standing imposingly, she glared at the sky—Pavel Galad in the sky.
The dragonslaying bow appeared in her crimson left hand!
"I'm counting on you, queen. Use your full power."
Hal prayed to the queen. Currently, the heartmetal's output of magical power was about 85%.
Not completely revived, but it should be able to draw out enough magical power—An arrow of light appeared in the queen's right hand at last.
Nocking the arrow onto the dragonslaying bow, she drew and released.
"Incoming, the queen's divine bow, huh!?"
"As much as it runs counter to my personality, I'm gonna settle things with you fair and square!"
The arrow shot by the queen produced a vortex of swirling flame in its wake, attacking the silver dragon's body that was no longer smooth.
The aerial target raised his dragonslaying sword up high and swung down. The longsword was currently in an excessively decorated state with both blue fire and massive lightning.
The mystical sword of lightning and fire swung down on to the sun-shooting vortex of conflagration.
The vortex of conflagration was like a tsunami.
It was large enough to easily swallow the ten-odd-meter-long Pavel Galad. Massive threatening tide seemed as though it was going to burn all creation into ash. Currently, the holy words of "I will fire the sun-shooting divine bow at the sky, to exterminate the sun" were glowing radiantly over the Crimson Queen's head.
However, this conflagration failed to burn away the white lightning released by the dragonslaying sword.
Galad was pointing the longsword forward. The blade's body and the lightning acted like Moses' prayer to part the sea, chopping open a gap in the vortex of conflagration. Holding the dragonslaying sword, Pavel Galad was staying unscathed in that gap.
"My heartmetal, pour all power into the dragonslaying sword—!"
"Hang in there! Shirasaka already went out of her way to heal us!"
Galad spoke to the power source inside him while Hal shouted at the Crimson Queen.
In theory, offering encouragement to a heartmetal and the queen was practically pointless. However, this was a battle of limits where each side attempted to overpower the other with their most powerful technique of assured annihilation.
This was a contest of willpower and endurance in addition to magical power and martial force.
Whenever the vortex of fire inched forward, the sword's lightning would push it back. Both sides kept pushing nonstop.
This simple yet intense battle was like two sumo wrestlers pushing each other in a contest of pure strength. Perhaps because of the simplicity in the manner of contest, time was slowly ticking away mercilessly.
One minute and five seconds left. Fifty-five seconds. Fifty seconds. Forty, thirty, twenty-five seconds...
Vying for supremacy just a moment ago, the conflagration and the lightning exhausted their magical power simultaneously and vanished.
"Damn it! Is that the limit...?"
"What comes next is a battle of pure power without relying on my sword or your bow!"
Hal clicked his tongue while Galad shouted with delight.
Twenty seconds remaining. Akuro-Ou and Glinda had exited the stage. The remaining combatant—Hal instantly gestured to her with his eyes. The junior student nodded and repied, "Minadzuki, protect us!"
Minadzuki had been maintaining some distance from the sword-swinging Galad in the air. The gentle serpentine dragon bared her fangs ferociously and flew at Pavel Galad.
The mortal rival of silver calmly pointed his sword of choice at the serpentine dragon's face.
A flash of yellow light shot out from the dragonslaying sword's tip. Minadzuki deployed imperishable protection to block the attack, but only fifteen seconds remained until the time limit...
Hal nervously gulped. It was finally about to end.
In fact, he had been using a certain spell the whole time, the Eye that had helped him out so much several hours earlier. This magic offered an overlooking view of the surrounding area, providing "god's eye."
The battlefield was the yard of middle school at Kiyosumi-Shirakawa.
Two high school girls happened to arrive at the school gate at this moment. Their uniforms did not belong to this middle school but to Kogetsu Private Academy—the high school where Hal and his friends attended.
Perhaps the dragon hero was using magic under the same system and saw these two girls.
But Hal was very confident because instinct informed him that Galad's attention and focus were on the Crimson Queen and the hindrance in front of him—the leviathan Minadzuki.
(Galad only targeted the witches because they're my companions—Haruga Haruomi's. Mere "high school girls you can find anywhere" shouldn't be enough to attract his attention...)
Next, there was the sound of gunfire. Not one shot, but a fully automatic burst.
Bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang!
One of the high school girls—the one wearing her hair in twintails—had slowly taken out a semi-automatic pistol from her schoolbag, then pulled the trigger. This gun was primarily steel in color with golden decoration all over it. Magnificent and rugged in construction.
The rest was Hal's job. He imbued the thirty bullets of light, shot out from the handgun, with magical power.
Dragonslaying power—for piercing Pavel Galad's heart.
The two high school girls were his classmates, Mutou-san and Funaki-san. The pistol was Hal's usual magic gun which he had personally handed over to them eariler. As a result, this task was quite easy.
The thirty dragonslaying bullets reached the silver dragon's chest, striking it, rotating, then burrowing into it.
Normally, the bullets should have been blocked by imperishable protection, but the silver dragon had exhausted his magical power just now in his contest of techniques of assured annihilation with Hal. Pouring all magical power into the technique of assured annihilation had caused his defense to diminish greatly.
Galad was shocked. The pain from his chest told him he had been shot, injured.
He was stunned for only a moment, but this created an irrevocable opening, a perfect opportunity for Hal and Hazumi to attack.
"Shirasaka, counting on you!"
"Y-Yes! Minadzuki, use the Rune of the Bow. Please!"
Their shouts caused the emerald serpentine dragon to roar again.
Minadzuki discharged "laser breath" at Pavel Galad. Furthermore, due to the Rune of the Bow's power, this shot was imbued with the power of dragonbane.
Struck directly by the dragonslaying laser, Pavel Galad screamed.
Under the light, the silver-white head and body turned into dust and gradually crumbled. The arm, wing, and hind limb with mixed colors of black, gray, and steel were also blown away.
Time remaining: five seconds.
Having exhausted all his power, the successor to the Rune of the Sword vanished from Hal's sight.
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