Unlimited Fafnir:Volume 2 Chapter 4

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Chapter 4 - Red-Winged Tiamat[edit]

Part 1[edit]

"Mitsuki!"

I rushed into Mitsuki's room on the second floor of the dorm. Everyone had already changed into their uniforms and were gathered next to the window.

"Shh!"

Iris brought her finger to her lip and shushed me. Upon closer examination, I saw Mitsuki urgently calling somewhere on her portable terminal.

"—Please respond ASAP! Command center! Shinomiya-sensei! Please respond!"

Despite Mitsuki's desperate cries, no one answered. Mitsuki finally gave up, disconnected the call and turned around to face us.

"Everyone—Just as you can see, this is an emergency. Central command is demolished and we cannot expect backup support. Hence, our countermeasures shall be centered around ourselves, is that alright?"

"Of course! Mitsuki-san, issue orders now."

Lisa replied to Mitsuki while the others nodded with tense expressions to concur.

As official members of the Dragon Subjugation Squad, they were all wearing tiny communicators on their heads.

"Well then, Ariella-san, please head to the girls dormitories and take charge of directing the scene. After confirming whether there is someone whose dragon mark has changed color, gather the Dragon Subjugation Squad. As for ordinary students, have them head to the underground shelter. If anyone is discovered with a dragon mark that has changed color, please send her to the shelter to be isolated then call me."

"Got it, I'm heading off immediately."

Ariella manifested her fictional armament then enveloping herself in wind, she flew off in the night sky.

"Firill-san and Ren-san, stay on standby in the air above Hekatonkheir to await my instructions to attack."

"...Understood."

"Mm."

Firill and Ren manifested their fictional armaments and flew out of the window.

"Nii-san and Iris-san, please come with me. We will approach Hekatonkheir via the ground."

"Understood."

"Yes, got it!"

Iris and I nodded but the unmentioned Tia and Lisa spoke up.

"Yuu... Are you leaving?"

"Hold on, Mitsuki-san! Did you forget me?"

Tia gazed at me with an uneasy expression while Lisa questioned Mitsuki.

"Lisa-san, you are responsible for guarding Tia-san. Attacking Hekatonkheir requires Nii-san's power no matter what, but we cannot send Tia-san to the frontline. Consequently, I hope you can stay by her side, Lisa-san, having gained Tia-san's trust."

"B-But..."

"Although it should be Basilisk that has its eyes set on Tia-san, we cannot completely rule out the possibility of Hekatonkheir targeting Tia-san too. As a precaution, we need someone who can be adaptable in emergencies. I am counting on you, Lisa-san."

Mitsuki bowed her head to request the hesitating Lisa. Seeing her like that, Lisa sighed.

"...Fine, I understand. I accept the mission. Tia-san, we will watch over the house together."

Lisa bent down in front of Tia and said to her gently.

"B-But Yuu..."

"Don't worry about him. No matter how you look, he doesn't seem like someone who will die that easily. Trusting a man and seeing him off is part of a woman's fortitude, you know?"

"A woman's fortitude?"

Not quite understanding what the words meant, Tia titled her head in puzzlement.

"Perhaps you can call it the qualities of a virtuous wife. You have no cause for worry, because you will not be alone."

Lisa held her hand and Tia's face relaxed slightly. She was probably scared of being left alone like the time she lost her parents. That was why she refused to leave me so adamantly in the beginning. But now, apart from me, there was someone else who could accompany her.

"Lisa will stay with Tia... together?"

"Yes, we will stay together."

Seeing Lisa nod in agreement, Tia turned her gaze to me.

"......Got it, Tia is a virtuous wife, so Tia will wait for husband to come home. Yuu... You must return no matter what, okay?"

Tia spoke to me with serious eyes.

"Yeah, I'll definitely return."

I rubbed Tia's head and agreed to her demand.

"—Then let us depart, Nii-san and Iris-san."

Mitsuki hurried us.

Thus, to handle a dragon's surprise attack, an internal defense battle took place on the island, the first crisis of this sort since Midgard's inception.

Part 2[edit]

We ran along the road leading from the dorm to the school campus.

Mitsuki's dorm was located on the southwest side of the island while Hekatonkheir was on the east. Even though Hekatonkheir was still quite far away, it was impossible to capture a complete view of its figure. After all, its size was too extraordinary, allowing it to reach the school campus in the middle of the island just by bending over and extending its hand.

"It hasn't moved after breaking the clock tower. What's with it?"

Iris ran while voicing her doubts.

Indeed, after doing that, Hekatonkheir had stood in the same spot without moving.

Neither walking nor destroying.

"Pondering a dragon's actions is futile, because we do not even understand why they are moving about all over the world. Hence, there is no way for us to understand its reason for not moving."

Mitsuki answered bitterly.

She was probably recalling about three years ago. Back then, we were wondering: why here? Why was Hekatonkheir advancing towards our town...?

"But since it stopped, that's a good thing for us. We'll find a way to take care of it now. You brought me because you intend to drive it away like three years ago, right?"

"Yes, that anti-dragon weapon you used in the past, Nii-san... Please lend me that power."

Mitsuki nodded to confirm my question.

Three years ago, I obtained power at a great price, destroying Hekatonkheir temporarily. Although it could not kill the dragon completely, as long as we used the same method, surviving this crisis should be quite probable.

"It's just that... Midgard will suffer severe damage if we shoot from here, you know? A bit of carelessness and we might end up flattening half the island."

"I know, which is why I intend to push Hekatonkheir into the sea first."

Mitsuki's plan was very appropriate but there was a problem.

"Is it even possible... to push that thing?"

I muttered while I looked at Hekatonkheir's figure, covering the eastern sky.

The mass difference was too great. Besides, the fact that such a gigantic body could walk on two legs was in itself quite abnormal. According to the data I saw at NIFL, Hekatonkheir was quite light in weight relative to its physique... But even so, humans still could not compare to it. Furthermore, Hekatonkheir's characteristic was the power of immortality. No matter what damage was done to it, that thing would immediately recover.

In fact, three years ago, Mitsuki still failed to stop Hekatonkheir no matter how hard she tried.

"Worry not, because unlike three years ago, we have reliable comrades now."

Mitsuki replied confidently then looked at Iris.

"Eh? M-Me?"

"Yes, right now, Firill-san and Ren-san are on standby in the air. Ariella-san will also bring the Dragon Subjugation Squad over soon. Since we have so many people, we will surely succeed."

Mitsuki declared firmly and Iris nodded with a blush.

"Y-Yes... That's right, I will do my best!"

Mitsuki was running ahead of us. When she reached the fork in the road leading to the girls dormitories, she stopped.

This location happened to be the spot where Hekatonkheir could be viewed across the school campus.

"If we attack from this direction, we should be able to push Hekatonkheir towards the eastern shore. Iris-san, are you ready?"

"Yes—Caduceus!"

Iris manifested her fictional armament and stared at the giant on the other side.

"Nii-san, please remain on standby until you are ready. Firill-san, Ren-san, can you hear me?"

Mituski pressed the switch on the small communicator on her head, calling to the pair that was supposed to be in the air.

'...I hear you.'

'Mm.'

"You two coordinate with us and simultaneously attack Hekatonkheir from the west. Counting down! Nine!"

Mitsuki started to count down while manifesting in her left hand the fictional armament of a bow—Brionac. Then she nocked an arrow of dark matter with her right hand.

"Eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one—!"

At zero, the girls all attacked at the same time.

"Second Arrow—Night Blaze!"

"O holy silver, explode!"

'...Flare Burst Quintet.'

'Mm!'

Stacked together, the four girls' attacks caused a giant explosion in front of Hekatonkheir. A mixture of red and white light blew way the canopy of night briefly, illuminating the surroundings as brightly as day.

Several seconds later, the blast pressure reached us. To avoid getting blown away by the hot wind, I stood my ground firmly while narrowing my eyes, confirming the outcome of the attack.

After the bright light subsided, what appeared was Hekatonkheir with large holes gouged out of various parts of its body. The entire right arm was gone from the shoulder down. Compared to Leviathan from the previous battle, Hekatonkheir was incomparably fragile, however—

"Eh...?"

Iris exclaimed in surprise. It was only natural for her to be taken aback if it was her first time seeing it.

As though rewinding time, Hekatonkheir's wounds healed up within the blink of an eye. Rather than regenerate, it would be better to call it restored. That was how outrageous a power it was.

Recovering its original appearance in merely a few seconds, Hekatonkheir seemed as though nothing had happened, towering under the starry sky, it had not been pushed back by a single step.

"...Its body is more fragile than imagined. All impacts were absorbed. Next time, suppress your firepower to a lower level."

Mitsuki called to everyone with a solemn look but Iris made a troubled expression.

"Mitsuki-chan, since attacks will work, why not attack even harder to destroy it in one fell swoop?"

"Be that as it may, the result is the same. NIFL used thermobaric and nuclear attacks in the past and succeeded in destroying its entire body all at once... But before long, Hekatonkheir revived again. The only exception was that time three years ago... Only Nii-san's trump card has the potential."

Mitsuki spoke calmly and drew her bow again.

Thus, the attacks resumed. As for me, I waited behind Mitsuki and Iris, waiting for the time for me to enter the stage.

However, attacks that were too strong would repeat the same mistake as earlier, while attacks that were too weak would be unable to move Hekatonkheir's gigantic body.

The only saving grace was that Hekatonkheir did not move at all.

It made no signs to strike back no matter how many attacks it suffered. Perhaps because it was immortal, it did not need to react to danger... Still, I felt that something was not right.

The fact that Hekatonkheir had attacked the clock tower without hesitation, paralyzing Midgard's functionality in a precise and effective manner... It was almost as though it knew that the clock tower was the central core.

Although Mitsuki believed that pondering a dragon's actions was futile, supposing Hekatonkheir was thinking... Then there might be meaning behind why it was not moving. Either its goal had already been achieved or there was no reason to take action.

I felt inexplicably unsettled in my chest, unable to calm down. It felt like I had somehow missed something.

And from just now, I was having this sense of deja vu.

An easily penetrated body, instantaneous recovery... That scene was overlapping with previous images. But rather than from three years ago, it was a recent memory—

"Now everyone, transmute maximum volume of air! We will use wind to push Hekatonkheir to that side!"

Under Mitsuki's command, everyone created raging winds.

Hekatonkheir's upper body shook slightly. The wind's wake caused the surrounding trees to rustle. Carrying leaves, the raging winds blew all over the place.

However, the wind produced by the four girls did not seem powerful enough. Hekatonkheir remained standing where it was.

"Hmm... Looks like reinforcements might be necessary."

Mituski murmured in chagrin. But the wind just now made me figure out why the situation felt so familiar.

What surfaced in my mind was the red dragon, glaring at us from above, surrounded by a swirling storm—

"Right, this is very similar to that time..."

"Huh?"

Reacting to what I blurted out, Iris looked at me.

"This is very similar to Tia when she went out of control and became a dragon. A body composed from a fictional armament will immediately restore its form even after getting cut up. That scene overlaps inexplicably well with how Hekatonkheir restores itself."

Hearing me say that, a troubled expression surfaced on Iris' face.

"Mononobe, are you saying... that Hekatonkheir is someone's fictional armament?"

"Well..."

Now that she pointed it out, I realized how absurd my suggestion was.

Then Mitsuki interrupted.

"Impossible. Creating such a gigantic fictional armament is impossible. Even Ren-san, believed to have the greatest dark matter generating capacity to date, she cannot achieve the amount necessary to form Hekatonkheir at all."

"...You're right. I knew my idea was too absurd."

However, many things would make sense if one thought of Hekatonkheir as a fictional armament.

Appearing in Midgard without anyone noticing. Attacking as though it knew that the clock tower was Midgard's central core.

No matter which one, if one were to assume that Hekatonkheir was fictional armament created by someone, then it would all be explained. Just by transmuting its surface and limbs, it would be able to walk on the ground and destroy buildings with its arms. If the majority of its body was weightless dark matter, then it made sense how such a gigantic body could walk on two legs.

No—Hold on, following that assumption, it meant that the culprit was a human... a D?

At this time, I could only think of one person, and that person's aim was to—

"!?"

Realizing the enemy's goal in alarm, I looked back in the dorm's direction.

The explosion occurred within my view after that.

Part 3[edit]

I dashed as fast as I could, my feet striking the ground with full force.

Even forgetting to breathe, I raced along the road back to the dormitory. Black smoke, billowing into the starry sky, entered my view. I drove my legs to move furiously.

After I started sprinting, I immediately heard Mitsuki call out to stop me, but I had no time to attend to her.

By merely the difference of a second, it could mean the boundary of life and death for someone.

Honed on the battlefield, my instincts told me that was what the current situation was like.

I also understood clearly the risks involved in deserting my post, being the trump card for taking care of Hekatonkheir. Also, there was no concrete proof that the giant was a fictional armament.

But I followed my own instincts. What I should be fighting now was not Hekatonkheir. Tia and Lisa could very well be the ones facing the greatest crisis.

I could now see Mitsuki's dorm ahead. The smoke seemed to be rising from the back of the building.

Hence, I circled around to the back of the dorm. In the instant just as I turned the corner, I felt a blast of hot wind.

"Kuh..."

Sensing danger, I halted and swiftly checked out my surroundings.

The thick black smoke was rising out from Mitsuki's room. An explosion had apparently occurred. Even the surrounding walls were scorched black.

The spacious lawn in the backyard had tongues of flame flickering all over the place. Part of the grass had been burnt away completely, exposing the soil beneath.

Over there were three girls.

One was Lisa with Gungnir in hand. Her clothing was burnt and blackened while there was even bleeding on her forehead. To protect Tia behind her, Lisa seemed to have deployed a shield of air, with strong wind swirling in the surroundings.

Tia was hugging her own trembling body, staring at the girl facing off against Lisa.

Even confronted with the tip of Gungnir, the girl was still smiling.

Tied up, her long black hair was swaying in the hot wind. The lenses of her glasses reflected blazing flames.

I recognized her.

Tachikawa Honoka.

She was the girl who had transferred into Midgard together with Tia. I had talked to her a number of times and became familiar with her. Not long ago, we had just corresponded through email.

Why was Honoka here?

The question occupied my mind but as a soldier, I was already calmly analyzing the situation and reached the conclusion.

—No need to think of a reason. She is the enemy.

UnlimitedFafnir v02 209.jpg

Enemy... Honoka? No, wait a sec, it was too early to decide that. Because she already counted as a friend to me and was also someone I originally wanted to help as much as I could...

Honoka glanced at me, a smile appearing on the corners of her lips.

"Fufu, because it took some time, he ended up coming. I can't be bothered to hold back anymore."

Her tone of voice made her sound like a different person. I saw Honoka clap her hands at Lisa.

Instantly, a foreboding feeling rushed along my spine.

—Act quickly! Otherwise, Lisa will be killed!

My instincts shouted, dispelling my hesitation.

Anti-personnel weapon—AT Nergal!

I used transmutation to create an anti-personnel projectile-based electroshock gun then pulled the trigger at Honoka.

A small explosion occurred in front of Honoka with a bang. Only shortly did I realize that the fired bullet had vaporized. At the same time, Nergal felt scorching hot in my right hand.

"Gah...!?"

I frantically released Nergal and jumped backwards.

Nergal became deformed as though it was candy. Heated red-hot, the gunpowder inside exploded.

—What? What did she do?

Aware of slight burns on my right hand, I gazed at Honoka at the same time.

"I can't believe you fired a gun so suddenly. How mean. But that was the correct decision. Had your reaction been slightly slower, her pretty face would have been wrecked."

Honoka chuckled as though she found it amusing. Hearing her say that, Lisa yelled angrily:

"Don't you get too arrogant. Likewise, I have not gone all out yet. But I have resolved myself now—Pierce, flare!!"

Lisa shot a wide laser beam from the tip of her spear towards Honoka. This attack, capable of penetrating a giant block of diamond in an instant, was not a move to use against a human. A direct hit would mean melting, even to the point of becoming unrecognizable.

However, that powerful attack did not touch Honoka. The laser's trajectory was mysteriously bent in the middle, flying off somewhere else.

I felt the surrounding air temperature rise even further. The rising hot air was making the image of Honoka's figure waver. Perhaps she was using this heat to create a lens of air, bending the laser.

"What..."

Lisa exclaimed in surprise while Honoka stared at her coldly.

"You... are truly a nuisance."

Boom, without any warning, an explosion suddenly happened next to Lisa.

"Kyah!?"

Lisa was blown away by the blast, smashing into the dorm's wall. Thanks to her shield of wind, she could avoid a direct impact, but with her back leaning against the wall, she slowly collapsed. The fictional armament in her hand also vanished.

"Lisa!"

Tia screamed and ran towards Lisa. Although I wanted to rush over immediately to help, I could not move.

Honoka was looking at me. My instincts told me that the instant my focus was distracted, it would become a lethal mistake.

"Now we can finally talk in peace... Yuu-san."

Honoka called my name sarcastically.

Parched from the hot air, I wetted the interior of my mouth with saliva and asked in a stiff tone of voice:

"Honoka... Why are you doing this? Is Tia your target?"

"Yes, indeed. I will be taking Tia to Basilisk."

Hearing her reply, I gritted my teeth.

"...In other words, Honoka, you are a member of the Sons of Muspell?"

"Oh~ It seems that you expected us to make a move, judging from your wording. In that case, I don't need to introduce myself again, right?"

Honoka asked in a testing manner. Hearing that, I figured out who she was.

Since Honoka was a D and belonged to the Sons of Muspell, there was only one person meeting all the criteria.

"Are you... Kili Surtr Muspelheim?"

Although her appearance was completely different from the girl in the photo sent by Major Loki, I could not think of anyone else matching the criteria.

"Bingo. But that was just a randomly chosen name, so it's perfectly fine for you to call me Honoka too, okay?"

"Forgive me for declining. I won't call you with a friend's name."

"Really...? What a shame. I really like this name of Honoka."

Honoka—No, Kili smiled with a bit of apparent sadness. She threw away the glasses she was wearing.

Fallen on the ground, the glasses gradually twisted in shape and melted. Those lenses were probably purely cosmetic. Even after taking the glasses off, she still looked completely different from the Kili in the photo.

"Who could have expected you to infiltrate us as a transfer student, how on earth did you do it? NIFL should have acquired your biometric data... Even if you disguised yourself, your identity would have been exposed in an examination, right?"

Hearing me say that, Kili scoffed as though finding it ludicrous:

"Ha, something like an examination can be easily handled. Whether blood or DNA, just use dark matter to create counterfeits."

"What... How could such complicated transmutations be possible—"

"It is possible. Just as Tia's horns are also my present to her."

Kili explained simply and easily, which meant that—

"...Tia did not make herself look like that?"

I felt emotions of anger rush out from the depths of my heart.

"Of course, how could Tia possibly have accomplished it? Besides, given the specs of the human brain, it is impossible to fully handle the massive amount of information required for biogenic transmutation."

"Haha... You almost sound like you're saying you're not human."

I ridiculed her sarcastically but Kili nodded her head seriously.

"Indeed, because I am a dragon. This human appearance is just a disguise. Just by using biogenic transmutation, I can change my appearance and face any time I want. To find Tia who had been taken away by NIFL, I believed the simplest and fastest way was to turn myself into someone else and get sent to Midgard."

"...A dragon huh?"

I gritted my teeth. Because of that sentence, I understood that she was the culprit who had twisted Tia's mindset.

Kili had probably been active while changing her appearance constantly. No wonder NIFL was unable to get a grasp on her information. Whether the appearance captured in that photo in her profile or her face as Tachikawa Honoka, all were surely fake disguises.

"Jeez, could you not make such a scary face? I've no intention of fighting you. Had I wanted to kill you, I would've done so long ago. I just want to take Tia away."

Saying that, Kili turned her gaze to Tia. However, Tia did not notice and kept trying to call Lisa.

"However... I never expected her to change so much in merely two days. Until recently, she was still my very obedient student."

"So you're the one who taught Tia..."

I muttered bitterly. While tutoring Tia with her homework, I had concluded that Tia probably had a good teacher. But I was totally mistaken. What she had given to Tia was the most awful education to make her into a dragon.

"Yes, that's right. I found Tia in Midgard as expected. Since that child did not recognize her disguised teacher, I greedily thought I'd investigate the internal secrets of Midgard... But I was wrong. I shouldn't have spent extra time on that."

I recalled how Honoka was staring at the school map on the first day of transferring in. That was Kili trying to memorize information about the enemy camp.

Speaking of which, Tia had said something about not wanting to go near her. Even without knowing her true identity, Tia perhaps instinctively feared her.

"Also, I almost killed a classmate. So many setbacks."

Kili turned her gaze back to me, shrugged and spoke.

"Almost killed, you say... Don't tell me that the transmutation accident you mentioned at the infirmary was..."

"Yes, someone bad-mouthed Tia and I accidentally lost my temper. Tia's value far surpasses that of ordinary Ds. She is excellent talent who might become Basilisk's mate... That girl really did not know her place."

Kili spoke with a cold expresion.

"—In other words, your regrets back then were all lies. Someone like you... I'll never hand Tia over to you. I'm not going to let Tia become a real dragon!"

"Fufu, you're really stubborn about Tia, aren't you? The blonde girl was also desperately trying to protect her... It feels like she has too many burdens. Why don't I lighten things for her?"

Saying that, Kili's dark gaze turned towards Lisa.

"Stop!"

I frantically called out. Kili immediately narrowed her eyes in joy.

"...Just kidding. If I attacked her now, wouldn't Tia next to her get caught in the crossfire? You're so amusing. Talking to you is never a bore."

—Liar. This girl acted according to whim. She really would have done it.

My back was drenched from cold sweat. Currently, I seemed to be feeling fear—fear that Lisa would die.

Three years ago, the price I paid for power was that my emotion of fear had become very diluted. And the crisis before my eyes was enough to summon that minor sense of fear.

The murderous intent I had sensed at the beach last time probably came from Kili. That time, Kili was surely watching us from somewhere.

"Phew..."

To calm my mind, I exhaled deeply. I noticed my breathing had become rather irregular just now.

I never knew that a friend coming to danger... would make me lose composure to such an extent.

Perhaps I had not lost my sense of fear to begin with. It was just that due to a large part of my memories getting eaten away, it shook my confidence in asserting I was Mononobe Yuu, hence I could not feel any value in myself.

Precisely because of that... Now that I had obtained things of value, that was why I felt fear.

"—Kili, make one false move and I'll kill you."

To protect precious people, I quietly declared.

I did not even know my opponent's method of attacking. To perform transmutation, generating dark matter was a necessary step, but Kili was able to cause explosions without any preparatory motion.

No wonder Major Loki said she was stronger than me. The opponent was undoubtedly more powerful than me, but if I intended to kill her, it would be a separate matter—

"Fufu... How scary. But by this point, I can't back down either."

Despite facing my murderous intent head on, Kili still smiled confidently.

"What's the meaning in letting Tia become Basilisk's mate?"

"Rather than meaning, it'd be better to call it using the right person for the right job. That's the only use for Ds."

"I can't believe you said... use?"

She was virtually treating Tia as an object. It made me agitated in tone.

"Because Tia has talent, I originally looked forward to her other potential... But judging from the current situation, that potential is tiny beyond measure. In that case, turning her into another Basilisk would be the best use of resources."

Resources... I realized that Kili merely viewed Tia as material for making a dragon.

Human words were not going to reach Kili.

Although I did not know why she wanted to increase the number of dragons, I believed with certainty that she and I were irreconcilable enemies.

To protect Tia from her evil grasp, if I must do that no matter what—

"Enough, I get it. I will stop you... Even if it means I must kill you."

—Fictional armament, Siegfried.

Holding the ornamental gun formed from dark matter in my hand, I treated Kili as a target for slaughter. I awakened the being slumbering in my subconscious, gradually turning myself into a monster.

Redundant thoughts vanished. My mind became clear. My sharpened senses transmitted information to my brain that I previously did not feel.

A feeling of omnipotence as though everything was in my grasp, it heightened my emotions.

"I really had no intention of fighting you... Very well, try killing me. If you kill me, I'll stop."

Kili grinned and responded like that.

Instantly, I felt the surrounding air temperature rise all at once.

"!?"

Just as I jumped to the right, an explosion happened. Accompanied with flames, the shockwave struck my entire body. I took a defensive posture and hit the ground, rolling on scorched bushes.

Very likely, she had used transmutation to create some kind of flammable material.

The information sent by Major Loki said that Kili used flames to attack. Judging from the current situation, this info was correct.

However, using transmutation would require the generation of dark matter the instant before attacking. Yet I did not see her doing so. It puzzled me greatly.

"To think you just declared so forcefully, yet now you're in such an awkward state."

Sensing her pursuit, I aimed Siegfried at the ground and fired.

"Nitro Bullet!"

I created a large volume of nitrogen to produce a gust of wind. I thought that using noncombustible nitrogen would blow away the elements of fire that Kili might be creating, but—

Whoosh, a violent sense of heat and pain attacked my right shoulder. Feeling flesh getting seared, I frantically escaped.

Since it was emergency evasion, I had accidentally stepped into the downwind part of burning bushes. Enveloped in rising black smoke, I covered my nostrils and mouth with my left hand. To prevent my fictional weapon from getting consumed through contact with smoke, I used my body as a shield.

—No, what Kili created was not flammable matter.

I understood that my prediction was wrong.

Considering I was getting scorched without an explosion, the attack's main vector was intangible heat itself.

She was most likely transmuting dark matter directly into thermal energy. Although it was a high-level technique, this type of skill was not beyond common sense in the same way as biogenic transmutation.

That explosion was quite probably the result of the produced heat causing oxygen to react.

Even after solving one mystery—The greatest problem still remained.

Since Kili's dark matter could not be seen, it was impossible to predict where attacks would come from. Unless this mechanism was figured out, even approaching Kili was impossible.

I racked my brain amid smoke, but during that time, Kili did not attack for some reason.

"Aren't you going to kill me? Come, do it now."

Despite taunting me, she did not attack further.

—What's with her?

Inside smoke, due to the interference of particles, dark matter would get consumed at a faster rate. But if a larger amount of dark matter was generated in the beginning, it would be enough to attack. However, I still had yet to see her dark matter even once.

No, wait... If it was purely invisible—

A possibility surfaced in my mind.

—Worth a shot!

While rushing out of the smoke, I used all the remaining dark matter in Siegfried and poured it into the bullet, firing it.

"Smoke Bullet!"

Instantly, the surroundings became shrouded by pure white smoke. My fictional armament disappeared from my hand. Since it could not be sustained inside smoke anyway, vanishing did not matter.

Racing through a world covered in white smoke, I charged straight at Kili.

I did not encounter any intercepting attack arising from the transmutation of heat.

My guess turned out to be correct.

Kili was probably generating dark matter in sizes smaller than the eye could see, spreading that dark matter in the area. Although I did not know how wide the area was, it could be described as Kili's zone of control. I was at her mercy as long as I was within that zone, which was why she could be that confident.

But tiny the dark matter may be, this also had a weakness as a result. Small pieces of dark matter would vanish just from being covered by light smoke like this.

"You saw through my realm of calamitous flame, Muspelheim—I'm impressed. How about this move then?"

On the other side of the smoke, Kili apparently laughed.

I instantly felt my hairs stand on end. Instinct told me this was leading to death. I instantly dug my heels in the ground for emergency braking.

Many dark particles appeared in the white smoke.

It was as though black snow was floating up from the ground.

This time, while shrouded in white smoke, Kili was spreading out dark matter that was large enough not to be eliminated by the smoke.

I had stepped into a world of black snow. This was a realm that I could not escape even if I saw it.

Anti-explosive armor—Uruk 73E!

I hit the ground in desperation and formed a shield to cover myself. This was the only method of handling an omnidirectional attack using my meager generating capacity.

However, red light caused the shield to crack.

"...!?"

First came a thunderous noise, then heat and force that shook my entire body. Unable to understand what had happened, I rolled on the ground, tasting fresh blood and soil in my mouth. Then intense pain rocked my brain.

My entire body felt scorched and painful. I could no longer tell where I was wounded, but at least I was still alive.

—Move if you're still alive! Stopping means dying!

I spurred myself to get up and check out the situation. I was apparently blown far away by the explosion, distancing me from Kili. The dark matter enveloping Kili's surroundings did not reach my location.

With exception, all Ds had limits to their dark matter generating capacity. If every particle increased in size, that Muspelheim ability she mentioned would cover a smaller area.

I wanted to enter a combat stance but discovered that my left arm could not move. Taking a closer look, I found a fragment of my shield stabbed into my shoulder. The bleeding flowed along my arm and dripped on the ground.

In the distance, Tia seemed to be yelling something, but the explosion had disabled my ears, preventing me from hearing clearly.

Kili also made an expression certain of victory as though saying something, but I still could not hear. Neither was there any need for me to listen.

—Because I was about to kill her next.

"Huff... Huff... Huff..."

My irregular breathing echoed in the depths of my ears, sounding very vague and unclear.

The intense pain centered on my shoulder was preventing my mind from operating smoothly.

The harder it was to think, the more the emptiness in my mind spread. Some kind of existence was gradually expanding its borders.

"Huff....... Huff...... Hah....... Hah......"

The interval between breaths lengthened, exhaling became acute, inhaling became silent.

The monster of the unconscious did not miss the opening when my consciousness grew faint, gradually taking control of my body. From my fingertips to the beating of my heart, everything fell under its control, switching me with a different being.

"———..."

Finally taking a deep breath, then it stopped.

I was no longer myself at this point.

He started to walk slowly towards Kili. Gradually, he accelerated. Every time the tip of the foot kicked the ground, he increased his speed slightly.

An expression of surprise surfaced on Kili's face.

Simply by stepping in the domain shrouded in black snow, the outcome would be the same as previously. This was obvious.

However, a certain existence that was not me was completely unfazed, approaching the prey head on.

All I could feel was heat scorching my left hand. Rather than originating from my wounded shoulder, the back of my hand felt scorched as though by fire.

I did not know the reason. Neither could I think.

However, the Fafnir currently in control of my power should understand everything.

Surely after understanding, he must have chosen the simplest way to kill Kili then put it into action.

—Running began.

He invaded Kili's Muspelheim at top speed.

Kili yelled out with a nervous expression. Instantly, the view was covered by red flames. The atmosphere was set aflame from the thermal energy transmuted from dark matter.

However... He did not stop.

Fafnir broke through the blazing fire and ran along the ground.

I felt neither pain nor scorching heat.

Were my senses numb? Or did I turn into a monster unfazed by explosions? My current self could not understand either.

I could see a small white light flashing in my view, but I had no idea what it meant.

Kili's expression was full of shock.

"WHY!?"

Due to closing the distance, I only heard sound for the first time.

As though responding to her, Fafnir roared.

"GAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!"

Language no longer had meaning, what it needed was sharp fangs for hunting prey.

Roaring, he used his right hand to draw out a shield fragment that was stabbed in the left shoulder. Blood instantly splattered around from the bleeding wound.

"Muspelheim!"

Kili extended her palm, firing a red flash of light.

That was probably the attack that had broken my anti-explosive armor just now.

Nevertheless, Fafnir did not take any evasive action. Instead, he casually swung his right arm.

With a faint flash of white light, the scenery was distorted for a brief instant.

Immediately, the red light's trajectory became mysteriously bent, flying off in another direction.

"Could that power actually be that of 'White'—"

Baring its fangs, Fafnir closed in on the bewildered Kili.

Then swinging the sharp fragment, all covered in fresh blood—

...Honoka...!

—I stabbed the fragment's sharp edge deeply into Kili's body.

My right hand could feel the sensation of slicing through flesh.

"Cough..."

Kili spat blood, splattering on my face. Having recovered control from Fafnir, I felt an unpleasant stickiness and moistness from the warmth of life and the smell of fresh blood.

"Cough, cough... Cough...... Fu... Fufu... Liar."

Blood flowing from the corner of her mouth, Kili laughed.

"..."

I did not answer. Simply feeling the temperature of the blood flowing from Kili's abdomen, I cursed my naivete.

"Clearly saying you were going to kill me... yet you avoided vitals in the final moment... Why?"

"...My hand slipped. Even if it's not a vital, this is already a severe injury. If it's not treated immediately, you'll die from blood loss. So—Surrender."

My instincts told me I should kill Kili now.

Even so, I still stopped Fafnir at the crucial moment, that was because... I recalled Honoka's smile. Despite knowing clearly it was fake, I could not erase my feelings from that time.

"Fufu... How kind of you. But your kindness is meaningless, because even if you were to pierce my heart, the result doesn't change."

Kili whispered in my ear then shoved me away. Next, she reached out and grabbed the shield fragment embedded in her abdomen.

"Hold on! If you pull it out, the bleeding will—"

I called out to stop her, but Kili pulled out the fragment without heeding me. Blood gushed out from the wound, dripping audibly on the ground forming a dark red stain.

But the instant black masses of dark matter appeared in the wound's surroundings, the bleeding immediately stopped. After Kili wiped the blood stains away, there was no wound there anymore, only pale skin.

"No way..."

Seeing me surprised, Kili shrugged.

"How is it? This is what biogenic transmutation is about. If you want to kill me, you have to aim here."

Kili tapped her head with her fingertip and smiled faintly.

"Damn it!"

I had to start all over again. With unsteady steps, I back away.

"You don't need to be so flustered. If possible, I'd like to take Tia away peacefully, but it looks like time's up."

Looking at me in my combat stance, Kili smiled wryly.

"Making such a big scene... How dare you talk about peace. Also... Time's up? What the heck do you mean by time's up?"

Not understanding what she meant, I stayed on guard and asked:

"Despite how I may look to you... I do want to keep harm to the Ds to a minimum. But due to your meddling, she seems to have lost patience."

RUMBLE~~~~——...!

No sooner had Kili spoke than the ground immediately shook. I looked up to see Hekatonkheir, originally motionless, starting to turn its body towards us.

"...Hekatonkheir—"

"I told her I'll be the one to secure Tia and asked her to wait there, but looks like she decided to take action herself. Prepare yourselves—She's not going to be as nice as me, okay?"

She? Asked her to wait...?

"...What's your relationship with Hekatonkheir? That thing... Isn't it your fictional armament?"

Looking at the blue phosphorescent giant, I asked Kili.

I had speculated that Hekatonkheir might be someone's fictional armament and the enemy's target was Tia. However, judging from what she just said, it sounded like Hekatonkheir was not under Kili's control at least.

"Fufu—How could that be possible? Even if it's me, I can't create a fictional armament that large. No, rather... In fact, I've already told you lots about her, you know?"

"Already... told me?"

"You don't get it? How slow."

Kili laughed in mockery.

Was she avoiding the topic? Or was she speaking the truth? I could not tell.

But judging from the way things looked, it would be better to regard Hekatonkheir as a dragon, probably.

RUMBLE!

Then Midgard shook again, because Hekatonkheir started walking, and it was in our direction—

That scene forced me to recall from three years ago, the scene of Hekatonkheir advancing towards our town. The footsteps of destruction were heard mercilessly. The closer that gigantic body approached, the narrower the night sky seemed.

...In the end, that thing must still be defeated?

Just as my attention was drawn to Hekatonkheir, Kili turned her gaze to Tia.

"—I will ask you one last time."

Tia was hugging the unconscious Lisa while watching our battle. At this moment, her shoulders shook.

Most likely in Tia's heart, the fear of Kili's power was already deeprooted. Seeing Tia unable to even respond, Kili asked her:

"Are you willing to become Basilisk's mate? For everyone, no matter whom... Even for you, it would be a happy choice."

...!

Stop talking crap—Just as I was about to yell that, Tia answered quietly.

"...No."

Kili frowned.

"By this point, you still want to live as a human? Don't be silly, you're already a dragon. There's no way you can mingle among humans. Your parents originally planned to—"

"Tia doesn't get it! Tia doesn't get something so difficult! Tia only doesn't want to separate from Yuu and Lisa!"

Hugging the injured Lisa tightly, Tia yelled loudly.

Perhaps woken up by her voice, Lisa opened one eye.

"...Tia... -san?"

"Everyone is so warm... These are Tia's happiest times ever... So Tia wants to stay here! And Tia wants to be Yuu's wife! Compared to Basilisk, Tia super super super loves Yuu!!"

Tia...

Hearing the expression of her sincere feelings, too direct for comfort, I felt my face heat up.

Confronted with Tia's upfront will of rejection, Kili stared silently at her then sighed deeply.

"Really...? How unfortunate. My action was really taken in your interests."

"You're saying it was for us? Attacking Midgard, hurting Lisa, how dare you say something like that?"

Hearing Kili's presumptuous claim, I could not help but protest.

"Once Basilisk lands, the disaster will definitely surpass this. Everything will return to dust, leaving no survivors. That was why I wanted to take Tia over to Basilisk before all the Ds perish, and in much gentler way than hers."

Speaking in a serious tone, Kili glanced up at Hekatonkheir. She sounded like she was worrying about us, but I could feel that she was still simply treating Ds as resources.

"Mind your own business. We will defeat Basilisk and protect Tia."

"In that case, you have to find a way to handle her first. I'll be leaving before I get trampled in the chaos. After all, it's almost time for Midgardsormr to restart from a different circuit after it was temporarily disabled when the core was damaged."

After saying that, Kili flew up into the sky, her entire body wrapped in flame. Rather than using air, she was flying by jet propulsion through the transmutation of combustion.

Looking down at us from the air, Kili continued:

"A word of advice, she—mother—isn't going to listen to pleas for mercy."

Mother...?

Speaking of which, Honoka had said that she and her mother traveled all over the world. Her email also said that her mother would be visiting Midgard in the near future, but I never expected she was referring to Hekatonkheir.

Seeing Kili gradually rise in height, I asked her:

"Kili... Who the heck are you?"

Capable of using biogenic transmutation, impossible to handle by the human brain, calling Hekatonkheir mother, this girl—I really did not think she was an ordinary D.

"God knows who I am? If it's okay with you, can I ask you to decide?"

"...Meaning you don't intend to answer?"

"I have no intention of avoiding the subject... Whatever, I'm off now—If the same miracle happens as three years ago, we shall meet again."

Saying that, Kili immediately rose in the starry sky, leaving a red trail.

Kili knew about my battle against Hekatonkheir three years ago?

Many questions occupied my heart.

RUMBLE~~~~—...!

However, but my consciousness was pulled back to reality by the giant footsteps that sounded even nearer than just now.

Swaying its giant body, Hekatonkheir approached step by step. Although blindingly bright explosions kept occurring in its surroundings, Hekatonkheir did not stop walking. Most likely, the assembled Dragon Subjugation Squad was trying to push it towards the sea.

If what Kili said was true, Hekatonkheir's goal was also to capture Tia.

The original plan was probably to have Hekatonhheir destroy the core facilities to draw everyone's attention, thus allowing Kili to seize the opportunity to take Tia away while Midgardsormr was paralyzed.

However, due to interference from Lisa and me, Hekatonkheir was taking matters into its own hands now.

But... With such a huge body, how was it going to capture Tia who was even smaller than its finger?

"Nii-san!"

Hearing Mitsuki's voice, I looked in her direction.

I saw Mitsuki and Iris appear from the side of the dorm, running towards us.

"Sorry, I arrived late because I was issuing orders to the gathered Dragon Subjugation Squad. Are you guys alright?"

"...I'm alright. You should check Lisa's condition first."

I tore off a sleeve that was already tattered. Biting the cloth's edge, I wrapped it around the wound. Although the cut was deep, it was fine as long as I stopped the bleeding first.

"Lisa-chan, are you okay!?"

Iris knelt down next to Lisa and asked with worry.

"This bit of injury is nothing. Rather than being concerned with me, we must find a way to handle that..."

Lisa stood up unsteadily and looked up at the approaching Hekatonkheir.

Our gazes were all fixed upon the blue giant.

"All members of the Dragon Subjugation Squad are in position. Although our pace was disrupted slightly by Hekatonkheir beginning to move suddenly... As long as we time things right, we will surely push it back this time. Everyone, please lend me your assistance."

Mitsuki called out to us."

"Yes, of course."

"Yup! Feel free to give orders, Mitsuki-chan!"

Iris and I nodded.

"I can still fight."

Lisa manifested her fictional armament in her hand again and smiled with determination.

"Tia will... fight too."

Tia's voice was heard. Everyone looked at her in surprise.

"Can you? If you lose control again, let alone help, you may end up dragging everyone down."

Lisa bluntly stated the unease in everyone's heart.

"—Yes, no problem. Even though Tia has horns and might not be human anymore, even so... Tia still wants to stay with Yuu and Lisa. Tia wants to live the same way as everyone!"

Tia made her stance clear.

Even though she could not change her existence, she still could choose her way of living.

By her own will, Tia was choosing to walk into the future together with us.

"I understand. Then as comrades—We shall fight our hardest."

Lisa made a gentle expression and extended her hand. All smiles, Tia held her hand tightly.

Having checked their condition, Mitsuki pressed her communicator and issued orders to everyone.

"—Well then, everyone, please follow my countdown. All units perform air transmutation of maximum scale. Please aim for the stomach, the center of gravity! Counting down! Nine!!"

Following Mitsuki's orders, Iris and Lisa raised their fictional armaments.

Tia also generated dark matter in the surroundings to form her fictional armament.

Appearing in the same manner as last time, the dark matter gathered around Tia, but the outline sculpted was different.

What appeared was a giant pair of wings, shining with red light.

In a human's form with dragon's wings sprouted from her back, Tia even gave off a holy impression.

If seeking power, it was inevitable that Tia would choose something whose appearance approached that of dragons. But no one would blame her because in spite of that, Tia still said that she was going to live as a human like us.

"Seven, six, five—"

During the countdown, I concentrated and waited for the opportunity for me to make a move.

Perhaps noticing that something was unusual because the attacks stopped suddenly, Hekatonkheir raised its giant right hand.

But it was fine, there was quite a bit of distance. It was unable to attack our location.

That was what things should have been like—

But the sky turned dark and the stars suddenly went out of sight, because something dark—blocked them.

"Eh?"

A giant palm was over our heads by the time we realized.

Resembling a drawing with perspective errors, Hekatonkheir's arm was extending unnaturally.

Wait—It was extending!?

There was no precedent of Hekatonkheir changing its body shape before but dragons were unknown existences to begin with. There was nothing surprising even if they possessed previously unconfirmed abilities.

Perhaps due to conservation of mass, the arm became thinner as it extended. Even so, the palm was still too gigantic to escape. As though compressing the atmosphere, it descended.

"Hey—Tia's here too, you know!?"

I looked up at the palm and yelled loudly but it could not possibly understand me.

And even if Hekatonkheir's movements were delicate even to pick up only Tia, those of us in the surroundings would surely get flattened.

"Switch target to right arm! Countdown cancelled! Attack directly!!"

Deciding that there was no time for the countdown to finish, Mitsuki swiftly yelled out.

"O gale, explode!"

Iris caused compressed air to explode.

"Make haste, spear of wind!"

Lisa shot out concentrated wind.

"Fly!!"

Tia spread her red wings and started a storm.

The entire island shook intensely. The massive amount of air produced by everyone deflected Hekatonkheir's right hand upwards.

However, Hekatonkheir then extended its left hand towards us.

The sky was blotted by a blue palm again.

Because everyone had just fired attacks at full power, very few people had the energy to attack again.

Only Mitsuki and Lisa were able to attack a second time immediately.

"Lisa-san, take care of the left hand by destroying it! Please use your strongest attack!"

"Understood!"

Mitsuki nocked an arrow of dark matter onto the iridescent bow whereas Lisa aimed her golden spear at the sky.

"Terminating Arrow—Last Quark!"

"Pierce, divine spear!!"

Mitsuki and Lisa's attack turned the sky white, vaporizing Hekatonkheir's left arm. The attack's destructive power was astounding. The expanding beam of light even swallowed Hekatonkheir's main body.

When the wind and light from the blast subsided, the only parts of Hekatonkheir remaining were the right arm in the air and the lower half in the distance.

The lower half's outline began to collapse, breaking up and disappearing like bubbles.

After that, the remaining right arm expanded and Hekatonkheir was instantly restored.

RUMBLE~~~~——...

Shaking the ground, Hekatonkheir landed next to us.

"Kyah!?"

The intense shock and wind caused Mitsuki and the others to fall down. Unable to maintain balance, I knelt on my knees.

Due to being too close, even if I looked up, I could only see up to its waist.

Also, the restored left hand was approaching us.

Its movements were far too quick. Now driven by a goal, Hekatonkheir had turned to an enemy even more formidable than three years ago.

What should we do...!?

Due to falling down, everyone had released their fictional weapons. At this rate, everyone will—!

"...!"

I raised my arm to generate all the dark matter at my disposal.

But I stopped my motion at this time. My thoughts halted.

I could not think of any solution. Game over was fast approaching. There was no time to construct an anti-dragon weapon.

—Tell me! Fafnir! Tell me how to kill this thing!

I yelled in my heart, but the slumbering monster of the unconscious did not respond.

Actually, I knew long ago that Fafnir was purely a trump card against humans. It was useless against dragons.

However...

—Neun, request activation—

I heard a mechanical voice in my head.

Yggdrasil... Huh?

The voice belonged to "Green" Yggdrasil, the one I made a deal with three years ago to defeat Hekatonkheir. In a robotic voice devoid of emotion, Yggdrasil spoke on its own to me.

—By exterminating Vier, Leviathan, authority inherited. Request activation, Code Vier. Request activation, antigravity—

"Anti... gravity?"

It was the power of repulsive fields possessed by Leviathan—

The instant I uttered that word, the dragon mark on my left hand heated up and gave off pure white light. That glow was the same light as what I saw in the battle against Kili after handing my body over to Fafnir.

—Crack!

White cracks appeared in the mass of dark matter generated in front of my left hand. With a resounding crunch, like breaking a shell, the dark matter turned from black to white.

In that instant, I felt my entire body enveloped in a floating feeling.

"Kyah!?"

I heard Iris scream and looked back to see everyone in the surroundings floating in the air. Fallen leaves on the ground were also floating lightly as though in water.

More unbelievably, Hekatonkheir's hand, originally directly above, also stopped falling, remaining in midair. Even Hekatonkheir's gigantic body was hovering slightly.

"Nii-san... Could that actually be... antigravitional matter...?"

Looking at the white sphere in my hand, Mitsuki asked in surprise.

But even if she asked me, I had no idea.

However, I had felt the same scorching on the back of my left hand when fighting Kili. Fafnir had deflected her attack matter-of-factly, if that was antigravity—the result of a repulsive field—it basically made sense.

But I had no concrete evidence and there was no time to explain either.

What was important right now was not to miss this excellent opportunity.

The white sphere produced from dark matter gradually shrunk. Suppose the current phenomenon was going to stop when this thing disappeared, we had to hurry and act.

"Mitsuki! Anyway, let's use this opportunity to attack again!"

"—I understand, all units prepare the next attack! Target is the center of the chest! Counting down! Five!"

Mitsuki instantly resumed an expression as the Dragon Subjugation Squad's captain and issued orders to everyone.

Hence, while floating in an unstable posture, everyone manifested their fictional armaments anew and aimed at the floating Hekatonkheir.

"Four, three, two, one—Attack!"

Wind from various locations on the island gathered together and struck Hekatonkheir directly in the chest In a state of weightlessness, Hekatonkheir's upper body tilted back greatly from the impact. The gigantic body flew high in the sky.

Then the white sphere finally vanished and gravity returned to normal in the surroundings.

"Kyah!?"

Just as Iris and the girls fell on their bottoms, I landed on my feet and looked up into the sky.

That gigantic Hekatonkheir was knocked flying to an unbelievable height. At this rate, it was probably going to fall into the sea as we hoped, but the resulting impact would be hard to estimate. What was certain was that the resulting tidal wave would be disastrous for Midgard. In that case—

"Tia, lend me your strength. I will destroy that thing in the air."

Saying that, I extended my left hand to Tia.

"Just by... holding hands?"

"Yes, I'm counting on you."

I nodded affirmatively. Tia's little fingers interlocked with mine and held my hand tightly.

"Tia is Yuu's wife... so Tia will work hard with husband."

"Thank you, Tia, then let's blow that thing away!"

I extended my right palm sideways and let the blueprint in my mind flow into the generated dark matter.

Tia's fictional armament, the red wings, turned into tiny particles, mixing together with my dark matter.

"Anti-dragon armament—Marduk!"

The constructed turret was a lost weapon from a pre-civilization that existed long ago.

But this was only one part of the enormous weapon known as Marduk. During the battle against Leviathan, it was Marduk's main cannon that had inflicted the decisive blow. Right now, I was making the weapon of extermination that had destroyed that thing three years ago too. Having obtained additional data, I now knew its name—

"—Special artillery, Megiddo!!"

The giant barrel took form through transmutation. Its external appearance had what seemed like strange geometric patterns, giving off an impression different from other civilizations. Due to it being only one part of a gigantic weapon, after all, its structure was incomplete. There were exposed wires and pipes all over the place. It would break from just one shot.

However, one shot was all that was needed.

While I stared at the Hekatonkheir floating in the starry sky, the turret connected to my mind moved automatically, aiming at the giant whose flying trajectory gradually turned to descent.

"Let's do it—"

"Okay!"

Hearing me shout, Tia responded. Dark matter was transmitted through our tightly connected hands. I turned it into the bullet's energy—

"—FIRE!!"

I fired Megiddo's boundary-incinerating blue flames.

A bullet shining with blue light was sucked straight into Hekatonkheir's body... Then a massive explosion swallowed even the giant's body.

The scene was like a blue sun had suddenly appeared in the night sky.

Because it was too bright, it caused the stars to disappear from the sky, even making distinct shadows on the ground.

Then the blue light dimmed. When darkness returned to the world of night, the giant blotting the sky had disappeared completely.

"How are things...?"

I looked into the sky for a while then checked the surroundings, observing the situation.

Hekatonkheir was an immortal monster, which was why I could not lower my guard immediately.

But just like three years ago, no matter how long I waited, the blue giant did not reappear. With peace returned to the night forest, the sounds of bugs calling gradually began.

"Hekatonkheir... was defeated?"

Tia looked up at me and asked.

"Yeah... Looks like it was defeated."

I spoke hesitantly and Mitsuki nodded in agreement.

"Usually it would have resurrected by this time. Considering the case three years ago, the chances of completely defeating Hekatonkheir are extremely slim but in any case, we seem to have succeeded in driving it away from Midgard."

"Wonderful! We won!"

Iris cheered and the tense atmosphere finally eased up.

"Goodness gracious... It made us expend so much effort."

Lisa was apparently at her limit. As her knees gave way, she sat down on a bush.

"Hey, are you okay?"

"Lisa!"

Tia and I rushed over to her side and steadied her.

"...No need to worry about me, rather... The color in your face is looking quite terrible."

Lisa looked up at me and smiled wryly.

Speaking of which, I felt my vision shake. I touched my left shoulder to discover the cloth wrapped around the wound completely wet. Perhaps I had lost too much blood.

Seeing the way we looked, Mitsuki instantly called somewhere through her communicator.

"—Second command center, please respond. Is anyone there? Please respond—Oh... Shinomiya-sensei, so you are safe and sound. This is Mononobe Mitsuki, there are two wounded here—Please send paramedics as soon as possible."

Wonderful... So Shinomiya-sensei was safe.

Hearing the news, I breathed a sigh of relief. Beause the clock tower was destroyed, I had been worrying the whole time.

But who knew where the principal's office, located at the top of the clock tower, had flown after getting struck by Hekatonkheir's swipe. If the principal and Mica-san were there—

I was filled with gloom. But just at this moment, the surrounding bushes rustled and a golden head poked out.

"Curses! What a tragic occurrence! Ahhh... My, my room... My treasured collection... Unforgivable, unforgivable! That blue puppet!"

Muttering to herself in an angry tone was the principal of indeterminate age. All covered in dirt with her clothing tattered, but she did not seem harmed.

"Charlotte-sama, that was because you built your personal room in that sort of place on purpose. As the saying goes, a certain type of person and smoke both prefer high places. It is very true."

Behind the principal, out appeared a woman in a maid uniform—Mica-san. Her clothing had holes all over the place but she looked very energetic.

Discovering us, the two of them walked over.

"Wow, you guys are fine too. How wonderful, I was worried about you."

"No, that's our line... I can't believe you stayed safe. Weren't you at the principal's office at the time?"

I asked in surprise.

"Hmph, something of that level's not going to—Mmmph!"

The principal puffed out her chest and nodded but Mica-san muffled her from behind.

"Indeed, Charlotte-sama and I happened to go out together for a stroll in the night. What a close call."

Smiling, Mica-san answered.

"O-Oh... I see, that's wonderful."

They had apparently emerged from the bushes opposite to the school campus' direction, but confronted with Mica-san's intimidating aura, I could only nod and concur.

But if they not possibly be unharmed if they really were in the office that was sent flying. Perhaps they had escaped into the jungle then gotten lost.

"Eh..."

Perhaps because I relaxed all at once after confirming that everyone I was worrying about was safe, I felt a sudden wave of dizziness.

"H-Hey, what are you doing!?"

I was originally supporting Lisa but ended up leaning on her unknowingly. Boing, my face became surrounded by something big and soft.

"Oh no, Yuu! Don't cheat!"

Although I heard Tia's voice, my body could no longer exert any force.

"Seriously... I only permit you specially just this once."

I heard Lisa's quiet whispers by my ear while my head was caressed gently.

Embraced by a sensation of comfort, I fell into deep sleep—

Part 4[edit]

In the sky dozens of kilometers away from Midgard, Kili Surtr Muspelheim was watching the blue light shining in the distance.

"What is this? Mother, you were defeated."

With a hand to her mouth, Kili smiled in delight.

"To think that flame has transcended the boundary again... Sure enough, what happened three years ago was not a miracle. Mother must be in pain on the other side, ahhh, serves her right."

Perhaps feeling excited, Kili spun in circles and danced in the night sky before laughing sonorously.

"This is the outcome when you interfere without permission. If only you had refrained from unnecessary meddling, I would have found a chance to bring Tia out... Looks like you really are rather anxious."

Kili flew nimbly through the air and murmured. She looked back towards Midgard, which had sunk beneath the horizon, and smiled, partially closing her eyes.

"However, with this, mother and I are out of options. Regardless which side wins, they or Basilisk, the initial plan will fail. When that time comes, you will no longer be able to hide, right? Perhaps they might discover Hekatonkheir's true nature soon."

Kili untied her hair, allowing it to flutter apart in the wind. As though talking to someone, she said:

"...No matter what the outcome, mother will probably lament the heavy losses. But as long as he wins, I shall profit, because—"

Saying that, Kili pressed her hand on her abdomen.

Lovingly caressing the spot where his fang had struck, Kili smiled.

"—Perhaps he might be a dragon worthy enough to be my partner."

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