Leviathan:Volume 8 Chapter 4
The Conclusion between the King and the Imitation
Asya and Juujouji Orihime had stayed on the Moon to control the Rune of the Mother Dragon.
Normally, it would be impossible for anyone to know Haruga Haruomi's situation thirty thousand kilometers away on the orbit of an Earth satellite—But it was different for these two girls.
The mini-wyverns encircling Princess Yukikaze had reduced in number from forty thousand to less than a thousand five hundred.
For this large group, the two girls who had conducted the birth ritual were their mothers.
This was a magical bond that rivaled that between lord and vassal.
Precisely because of that, the mini-wyverns could share their sensory data with the girls.
"The Crimson Queen..."
Asya spoke in astonishment.
Just earlier, Princess Yukikaze had been wounded grievously in a distant battlefield. However, the princess' human form had separated from the dragon body to attack the Crimson Queen that was hiding in satellite orbit.
Then she had used some kind of magic—
This caused the powerful Crimson Queen to start collapsing.
The ruby-like dragon scales lost color, turning into what looked like century-old weathered brick. The gigantic body began to flake and fall apart.
The body seemed like it could no longer sustain its form, having lost its source of magical power.
Sooner or later, it would crumble completely, weathered.
In human form, the princess witnessed with satisfaction the red dragon's demise, riding her magic surfboard to soar again. Her destination was the white dragon body floating in space. She was planning to merge with her injured body again.
However, the two witches on the Moon were in no mood to pay attention to Princess Yukikaze.
"What happened to Haruomi...?"
"Look at this, Asya-san."
Orihime called out to Asya in a completely unemotional voice.
With a hollow expression, and reluctance to face a vague realization of the truth causing the brain to shut down, she showed the back of her left hand to her witch companion to see.
"The Rune of the Bow—Haruga-kun's rune has disappeared..."
Asya had lost her soul link to Haruga Haruomi when she became a Tyrannos.
If this link remained, she would be able to have his emblem, the Rune of the Bow, manifest on the back of her left hand any time. Orihime should be able to do this too—
Asya used flight magic to fly into the sky.
She summoned her blue partner. Rushalka had been standing by, flying over the Rune of the Mother Dragon at the Plato crater.
"Let's go! Attack target is Princess Yukikaze, follow me!"
This was the only chance to bury Princess Yukikaze and eliminate this threat forever. She and Rushalka had no chance of winning except by attacking the wounded princess.
Hence, Asya valiantly flew into the sky without any hesitation.
More importantly, this was a battle of revenge. She was to avenge Haruga Haruomi, who had lost to a dragon king.
The blue wyvern flew over, following her master who was flying towards Earth's satellite orbit—
As for the Crimson Queen...
Hinokagutsuchi's former body and Haruga Haruomi's avatar had started to fall.
It was gradually approaching the blue planet's ocean.
Drained of power, the Queen could not even overcome the Earth's gravity.
The shock and heat from crashing into the atmosphere was mercilessly obliterating the red dragon's body.
In the process of crashing to an altitude of ten thousand meters, the gigantic body became more and more severely damaged—
The Crimson Queen was now in the sky over the northern Pacific. She had lost her lower body, left arm, and most of her two wings.
Nevertheless, someone still succeeded in transporting her there.
"Glinda, I am counting on you again! Gravity Control!"
Master-class witch Luna Francois invoked pseudo-divinity a second time.
At the Hawaiian island of Kauai, on a beach near Kilauea. Luna and Glinda, the three-headed lion leviathan, were looking up together at the falling Crimson Queen.
From this vantage point, the Crimson Queen looked like a meteor crashing to the Earth's surface.
Catching the powerless Queen, pulling her towards the Earth's gravity—In fact, it was Luna Francois and her partner using pseudo-divinity, drawing the Queen on a trajectory leading to the Earth's surface, then applying force to bring her to Hawaii's immediate waters.
"I managed to bring her here at last..."
Maintaining maximum magical power output from Glinda, Luna murmured to herself.
Since the Crimson Queen happened to fall into the sky over the northern Pacific equator, Luna was able to drag the Queen over forcibly. A little farther away and even the master-class witch might not have been able to accomplish such a feat.
"Luna-san, Minadzuki is warning us! She says "
"I know! Don't worry, leave it to Glinda and me!"
Shirasaka Hazumi was on the shore too, while Minadzuki was standing by in the sky.
The two of them had removed their winter coats and changed into lighter wear, looking up at the stars dotting the night sky on this island of eternal summer.
The Rune of the Bow on the full moon had disappeared.
Same for the rune that was supposed to be manifested in the two witches' left hands. The implied significance left Hazumi in terror. Even so, Luna still issued orders.
"Glinda, final attempt. Truly the third time, Gravity Control!"
This was gravity manipulation for deceleration.
Ruohhhhhhhhh! Ruohhhhhhhhhh! Ruohhhhhhhhhh!
Glinda's three heads, the lion, the goat, and the dragon all roared at the same time. The eruption of magical power sustained the gravity that was pulling and guiding the Queen.
After a few minutes, the moment arrived.
The giant dragon body of the former Crimson Queen landed on the sea at Kilauea like a landing craft that had used a parachute.
"Hazumi-san, let's go!"
Ships, helicopters and ground units of the US Armed Forces were standing ready at the back to support them.
The two witches, one Japanese and one American, made the call to head over to the Queen's landing spot with the military and nodded to signal to them.
Twenty minutes went by.
Luna and Hazumi had boarded a US Marine helicopter and flown to the sky directly over the Queen that was floating on the sea surface.
Normally, the Queen would have sunk into the water, but Glinda was supporting the body using pseudo-divinity.
However, Hazumi instantly gasped when she looked at the red dragon on the sea from the helicopter.
"This is one out of many possible outcomes, so naturally, I predicted it, but..."
Luna Francois sighed lightly too.
The Crimson Queen was floating on the sea, face up.
Everything below the waist, the left arm and both wings were practically gone. The rest was all covered with wounds and missing bits and pieces. More seriously, the two open eyes showed no signs of life. One could not sense any consciousness or reason from them.
Deep in the Queen's left chest—The heartmetal had stopped beating.
No signs of movement, no magical power. The giant red body had turned into a corpse.
"Senpai—Senpai... Sob sob sob sob sob!"
Hazumi collapsed on her knees, her head down, crying.
As for Luna Francois, she was a seasoned warrior despite her young age and had gone through similar farewells many times. However, she felt a certain liquid, one that she had never seen before until now, slide down from the corner of her eye. In that very instant—
Luna looked left and right, surveying the interior of the helicopter.
She perked her ears then stared at the sea surface—the Crimso Queen's remains—then placed her hand on the back of the softly sobbing junior witch.
"I am sorry, but it looks like we have a mission to complete."
"With the Earth's fate on the line, we must find something lost."
With great fortitude, Luna nodded at Hazumi whose face was wet from angel's tears.
"Over there, huh?"
Riding her magic surfboard, Princess Yukikaze approached the Earth's atmosphere.
Because her injured dragon body had drifted to this region.
Pursuing her other body that was floating in space, she ended up in a zone five hundred kilometers above the Earth's surface, quite near the orbit of the International Space Station.
(As a side note, altitudes beyond a hundred kilometers were essentially a vacuum and considered part of space by humans.)
At this very moment—
"Her body that was on the brink of death" was lying there in front of her.
The white dragon king had been sniped from a great distance by Haruga Haruomi and ended up all covered with wounds.
Roughly fourteen meters in body length, her body was the most petite among the dragon kings. Right now, unable to fly on its own power, it could only drift like a reed in the sea of stars.
However, a smile appeared on the face of the princess' human form when she recalled the culprit responsible for this.
"Fufufufu, that Haruomi."
Quagmire. Formidable foe. Tumultuous events. Challenge.
These were all what Princess Yukikaze loved deeply. She felt the most alive when focusing her mind fully on overcoming extreme crises.
Tasting joy for the first time in a long while, the princess was in a very good mood.
"Going this far to delight me... How adorable of him."
Smiling, she focused her mind.
Of the wyverns that had attacked the princess' dragon form, there should be more than a thousand left, but they were apparently not nearby.
Did they scatter like a ragtag army that had lost its master?
"Or are they planning a comeback...?"
I hope so—Princess Yukikaze thought.
She needed to regroup in case of emergencies.
The white dragon's left arm and left wing were about to fall off. Injuries large and small covered her entire body. The right eye was blinded too.
"Let me have a look."
Princess Yukikaze used runes of Ruruk Soun.
The arrangement of "healing hands." A spell for treating her dragon form that was on the verge of death.
Although she had no idea when she learned it, the princess also possessed the ability to control "goddess power." Just like True Genbu-Ou.
The white dragon's minor wounds began to heal and close up.
"Impossible to recover instantly, huh...?"
The injuries were not light enough that healing magic could cure them instantly.
Princess Yukikaze shrugged. In the next instant, her body and the surfboard both vanished. She had merged with her dragon form.
"Although this ending isn't boring... Hmm?"
An adorable girl's voice was coming from the white dragon king's jaws. At this moment, the princess noticed.
The approach of a dragonslaying aura.
However, it was not the dragonslaying bow, instead, it was most likely—
"The chain user, huh?"
Her right eye's vision had yet to recover.
However, using just her remaining left eye, she could see clearly. The imitation lacking in forelimbs—a blue wyvern—was approaching.
Next to her was the successor of the Chain.
The Tyrannos and her vassal were under imperishable protection.
"Aren't you going to run or hide!?"
"Normally speaking, dealing with the likes of you would be a waste of time."
Fufufufu, Princess Yukikaze in dragon form laughed suggestively.
"After all, you are but a baby bird that became a Tyrannos for barely two days. Nevertheless, for this battered body of mine, an opponent like you may prove just right. More importantly—"
The Tyrannos of the Chain confronted the white dragon king squarely, glaring viciously at her.
Sharp, intense, yet without loss of wisdom. Though her experience was lacking for a Tyrannos, here eyes belonged to an excellent warrior.
"The fighting spirit you exude... is not bad. I, Yukikaze, like it."
"Then it's my turn after Haruomi?"
"Hahahaha. Only if you can compare to Haruomi. I am not expecting that much. Show me your mettle. Bring it on!"
"You don't need to tell me that! I'll be the one to avenge Haruomi!"
"Haruga-kun... He didn't—die... did he?"
Unable to cry or get angry over it, neither did she dare accept it.
Juujouji Orihime was sitting paralyzed on the Moon, her mind blank.
The significance of the Crimson Queen crumbling as she fell towards the Earth, and the significance of the Rune of the Bow disappearing from her left hand, she knew.
Even so—As long as she refused to confront it, refused to acknowledge it...
Perhaps she could still believe in miracles.
"Probably... impossible. Because Haruga-kun despite being a boy, he is a complete mismatch for descriptions like resilient or immortal. Why on earth did he get roped into this kind of thing...?"
Haruga Haruomi's talents were actually the opposite of his original personality.
So far, this juxtaposition ended up being the reason he could compete against the immensely powerful dragon kings. But the gap in power had finally manifested now.
Still, this was probably inevitable.
There was no method for obtaining greater power except by turning into a dragon.
But taking such a path would mean he would lose his memories as Haruga Haruomi, probably undergoing a dramatic change in personality—
"So long as he is still alive, perhaps that might be a better outcome."
Orihime finally spoke those taboo words.
Tears welled up in her eyes. Impossible to control. Her tears flowed without stop. She could hear nothing except her own sobbing. However.
"I must go after... Asya-san..."
Sitting on the Moon, Orihime clenched her fist.
Just as she mustered what little was left of her energy, intending to go after her companion who had left on her own, Haruga Haruomi's childhood friend—
Orihime's parter howled softly to emphasize her presence.
The white nine-tailed fox-wolf's massive body was ten-odd meters long.
Using her giant face—her white fur-covered cheeks—she rubbed against Orihime's body.
"A-Are you comforting me?"
Though leviathans were known as "serpents," they were not violent magic beasts.
They were intelligent, loyal, and quite considerate of their partners. Especially Akuro-Ou, probably because of her canid nature, she was gentle like a loyal dog.
Orihime finally lifted her head. Seeing the white fox-wolf's expression, she gasped.
Akuro-Ou seemed to be pleading with her, pleading "give me power—" The one and only partner, shouldering the fate of fighting dragons together with witches, was definitely asking Orihime "give me more power."
"Could it be for avenging Haruga-kun...?"
Orihime dismissed her speculation as wrong as soon as she finished her sentence.
Akuro-Ou's eyes were clear. Neither anger nor hatred were visible, instead, her eyes were filled with selfless determination to complete the mission whatever it took.
"What—are you trying to do...?"
Her partner simply gazed at her sincerely.
Then Orihime noticed. Why were they still alive?
"We are clearly on the Moon..."
What had been protecting Juujouji Orihime from all unfavorable elements in space and on the Moon—lack of oxygen, weak gravity, radiation, solar heat, low temperatures in places shaded from sunlight—was the barrier known as "imperishable protection."
Normally, it was pearly in color. Previously, Haruga Haruomi had turned the protection transparent at Asya's suggestion, which was why Orihime had not noticed instantly.
The protection granted to Orihime by the young man Haruga was still in effect? If he were gone, then the protection would no longer be sustained, right!?
"No way—Is it you? Akuro-Ou."
She focused her mind and tried to sense where the power protecting her was coming from.
No mistake. With certainty, Orihime asked. The nine-tailed fox-wolf rubbed her face against Orihime again in apparent affirmation.
"Why are you able to...?"
Only Tyrannoi and dragon kings were capable of using imperishable protection.
Akuro-Ou could not possibly possess this power. Could it be—Orihime remembered. There was one decisive difference between her partner and the others such as Minadzuki, Glinda and Rushalka.
"The connection is still there?"
Saying that, Orihime noticed.
Earlier when taken to the silver dragon's barrier, she had made the same mistake. Her link with Haruga Haruomi's soul had not vanished completely.
It was simply harder to connect because the two of them were in different worlds.
Haruga Haruomi was the one who had conducted Akuro-Ou's birth ritual. Orihime's partner was the leviathan with the most intimate bond with him.
Not only that, but Akuro-Ou's senses were sharp, beyond any comparison with humans.
Hence, she could not jump to conclusions that the link between their two souls had been broken...
"I couldn't help it. I saw with my own eyes the Crimson Queen crumbling and falling to the Earth."
Orihime's lips were grumbling, but a smile appeared on her face.
Akuro-Ou noticed. Even though the link seemed like it was no longer present, it was still possible to summon the power of dragonbane as long as they prayed with sincerity.
Then to protect Orihime—
"You used power for my sake..."
Akuro-Ou called out in apparent confirmation.
The white fox-wolf's eyes were calm with no signs of vengeance. She was still pleading with Orihime "give me power—" However, the power Akuro-Ou wanted was most likely—
"Let me try!"
She was finally able to comprehend the thoughts of the partner who could not speak.
"It is the second time now. Even without Asya-san's presence, I will succeed! O Rune of the Mother Dragon, let the blessing of life descend upon here!"
Orihime and Akuro-Ou were still at the center of the Plato crater.
This time, she performed the secret ritual of life on her own, manipulating the Rune of the Mother Dragon, the magic symbol in the shape of an infinity sign.
Naturally, Orihime's magical power could not compare with Asya who was a master-class witch, and on top of that, a Tyrannos.
However, she had a trump card.
"Akuro-Ou, pour the power of the sun into the Rune of the Mother Dragon!"
The Moon's cycle of night and day took fifteen days to complete. Fortunately, it was currently daytime at the Plato crater on the Moon's surface.
Sunlight—The "fire of life" that nurtured all life was abundant right now.
Orihime tired to use the spiritual power of the Rune of the Mother Dragon to activate the secret ritual of birth. For her, sunlight was the most reliable ally. Using magical power from the pseudo-divinity of the Sun as well, Orihime and Akuro-Ou focused, trying to elicit a new miracle.
The land underfoot began to glow golden.
The infinity sign on the crater began to give off light again.
In addition, the white mini-wyverns from earlier had gathered in the air above by the time she noticed. There were more than a thousand of them, those that had not self-detonated in the fight against Princess Yukikaze.
They were all taking surprising action.
One after another, the wyverns landed in front of Orihime and were absorbed into the infinity sign on the Moon.
The goal was not returning them to the rune that had given birth to them.
"These children are willing to led us their power. This will probably succeed!"
Juujouji Orihime was trying to bring about the birth of something else—
Over a thousand wyverns had returned to the Rune of the Mother Dragon, offering their bodies as sacrifices, to become part of it.
Understanding that through intuition, Orihime nodded vigorously.
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