Zero no Tsukaima:Volume6 Chapter7

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Chapter Seven: The Illusion at Dartanes[edit]

The 8 o’clock bell rang across the battleship Redoubtable, signifying the start of the morning shift.

The morning in which the fates of two countries and that of another would be decided.

Malicorne, who had been standing atop the watchtower, took in a long, deep yawn, before hurriedly looking left and right about him. If an officer cadet was to be seen yawning like that by a deck officer, a cruel punishment would surely await… Malicorne’s body did well to remind him in the two days he had been here.

Malicorne was the sentry on duty.

The ringing of the morning bell… it should be 8 o’clock in the morning right now… his shift had finally ended! All that was left to do was to change shifts with the next group of officer cadets, then he could finally return to the cabin for an eight hour sleep, the belltower in the morning was cold as hell... Malicorne could only idle his time by as he waited for the next cadet to climb up the tower. And the person who climbed out of the tower opening was his upperclassman at the Academy of Magic – Styx.

Malicorne remembered how he had said he was going to kill Bowood, but at the moment, nothing was more important to him than returning to his warm, cozy room and enjoying a nice warm cup of orchid tea.

Upon seeing each other, they both greeted and smiled to one another.

“Well, it looks like I’m gonna be freezing in this frozen wasteland, fat-boy.”

“But I still envy you, upperclassman, I mean, at least the sun is up and shining.”

“Do you still remember, Malicorne?”

“Remember what?”

“How I said I would take care of that Albion guy someday.”

“Of course I remember that.”

“I think it is best to proceed with it in the heat of battle.”

“I think so too.”

“Who knows how long it’ll be, before the fighting finally starts?”

In order to demonstrate his courage to the younger cadets, it was said that he almost couldn’t wait any longer. Malicorne looked up at the clouds absentmindedly… and drew in a sudden breath.

“What’s wrong, Malicorne?”

“…It doesn’t look like you need to wait any longer.”

“Eh?”

Styx turned and stared at where Malicorne was pointing, his face paling immediately.

“Enemy ship sighted!”



It was five past eight in the morning. The divisional command aboard the Varsenda, on which Saito and the rest were aboard, had just received reports of the enemy ship sightings.

“It was earlier than we had planned,” muttered General De Poitiers softly.

He had originally planned to make contact with the Albion fleet around ten o’clock.

“They're a bunch of impatient bastards,” commented one of the staff officers.

“What about the ‘Void’?”

“The spell had been decided upon last night. The plan will proceed accordingly.”

“What kind of spell is it?” General De Poitiers enquired in a low voice while looking through the battle plans. A staff officer leaned towards the General’s ear, and whispered to him the details of the spell Louise had reported.

“Interesting… It will be a triumph if it succeeds! Courier!”

A courier quickly ran over.

“Order ‘Void’ to deploy. Mission objective: ‘Dartanes,’ full operational freedom. 2nd Dragon Knight Squadron as escort. Repeat again!”

“‘Void’ deploy! Mission objective ‘Dartanes,’ full operational freedom! 2nd Dragon Knight Squadron as escort!”

“Good, now pass it on at once!”

The courier immediately headed towards the upper deck of the carrier where Saito and the rest were.

“With this, we can now head towards Rosais without worry.”

"Indeed."

De Poitiers then handed down a command to the subordinates responsible for engaging the enemy fleet.

“Transmit to all battleship captains. Once engaged with the enemy, do not let a single ship near the ground army’s transport ships!”



Up in the upper bridge, Saito, in the pilot seat of the Zero Fighter, began running through the starting operations of the plane. Sitting in the rear seat, Louise had her eyes closed, concentrating her will.

Just last night, Louise, having found the spell to use, had reported directly to the high command.

Upon receiving her report, the high command had decided upon a plan of action, and drew up a battle plan accordingly. It was that battle plan which Saito currently held in his hands.

It was on this morning, that the battle plan would commence.

In the meantime, a deck officer, standing on the wings of the Zero Fighter, was trying to instruct Saito, pointing to a hand-drawn goatskin map he held in his hand.

“Didn’t I already tell you? I can’t read the writing of this world!”

“Look here at this map! Dartanes! It’s here! Anyway, all you need to do is just bring Master Void here! Leave everything else to Master Void, she’ll handle it!” The deck officer yelled at the top of his voice.

W-What ‘Master’ Void? Saito couldn’t comprehend. What kind of weird call sign was that? Just hearing it made him uncomfortable.

On that piece of goatskin was drawn a map of the entire continent of Albion. For someone like Saito who had never learned navigation of any sort, he was completely lost as to how he was going to navigate through the landmark-less cloud-filled sky. Compared to when he could use landmarks to find his way towards La Rochelle, this was a completely different story.

“The dragon knights will lead you. Just make sure you don’t lose them!” Remarked the deck officer, upon seeing Saito’s unease.

Okay, okay, I understand… Saito nodded repeatedly.

True, a wind dragon’s speed could even rival that of the Zero Fighter. The experience back when Wardes had chased him was still clear in his mind.

Suddenly -

Boom! Boom! A fierce pounding noise rang out. The noise came from behind.

Saito spun around and looked towards the sky.

At that instant, a squadron of battleships that looked completely different from that of their own appeared from the clouds in the distance, advancing rapidly towards their position.

The armada, numbering roughly sixty combat ships if the Varsenda was included, rapidly changed directions and began rising slowly, preparing to engage with the approaching enemy fleet. Of course, Saito was oblivious to the fact that Malicorne was aboard one of the battleships.

The order arrived at that moment.

“Deploy ‘Void’! Mission objective ‘Dartanes’! Full operational freedom! 2nd Dragon Knight Squadron shall act as escort!”

Deploy now? Isn’t it too early? No… is it because of the enemy’s unexpected appearance that they want us to deploy so suddenly?

Saito shot a signal to a nearby magician, to help start up the plane.

However the magician, probably at a loss as to the starting procedures, just remained standing blankly. In order to start the plane, the propeller needed to be spun first…. But it looked like he was completely lost as to how he could get the propeller spinning. If Colbert were here, he would have understood what Saito meant immediately, and gone into action.

“Didn’t I already tell you!? This! You just need to spin this!”

“Huh? This? I don’t get what you are saying. Can you explain more clearly?”

As they were busy fiddling with the propeller, from the midst of the enemy fleet, three ships suddenly appeared, rapidly heading in their direction.

“A fire boat!” Someone had yelled out.

Saito turned and looked. The boats were all blazing with fire. Designed to be sent straight into an enemy fleet, these were pilotless craft packed to the brim with powerful explosives.

Before a response could be made, the ships had already shot their way to the front of the fleet. A ship near the Varsenda exploded.

The shockwave from the explosion rocked the Varsenda, tipping it violently.

Before Saito could even yell for help, the Zero Fighter had already began sliding towards the side of the ship… falling off the edge of the upper deck shortly after.

“Ahhhhhhhh!” Saito screamed.

The Zero Fighter, with its engine still idling, dived with its nose downwards toward the earth.

“We're gonna crash! We're gonna crash! We're gonna crash!” Saito could only frantically yell. Just then, Derflinger spoke:

“Partner.”

“What is it!?”

“Well, I’ve got some good news for you.”

“This is really not the time or place for this! Man, I never thought I would die like this… How cruel.”

“The propeller’s spinning, isn’t it?”

Huh? Saito immediately raised his head to look. Of course, the wind from the plummet was enough to start the propeller, if somewhat shakily. Regaining his composure, Saito activated the ignition switch. The propeller began winding up with a whine, before it quickly began spinning with a full roar. Saito pulled against the handle, and regained control of the plane.

“Phew… What a relief!”

Saito relaxed while wiping off the beads of cold sweat on his forehead. He turned his head and glanced behind him, Louise was still busy focusing her will. This girl is normally so restless and unsettled; it's only in the period before she casts a Void spell that she’s able to concentrate, becoming completely oblivious to the outside world.

“Partner.”

“What is it?”

“You could always praise me a bit more, you know…” remarked Derflinger in a dejected tone.

“You're great.”

“Just a bit more, just a bit, Partner. You threw me aside for so long… for you to not flatter me a little now, don’t you think that’s just a bit wrong?”

“Oh… you are so brilliant, so magnificent.”

Why are all the people I’m stuck with like this, stubborn and insecure! Thought Saito, completely ignoring the fact that he himself was no different.

Before he realized it, the 2nd Dragon Knight Squadron was already flying around him. There were ten of them.

Adjusting the speed of the propeller and his throttle, Saito brought the cruising speed to roughly 110 kilometers per hour.

Unrivalled in terms of speed, the wind dragons kept up with the Zero Fighter easily. Saito waved at the members of the 2nd Dragon Knight Squadron, freshly formed since yesterday. They waved back. Sitting in the back seat with The Founder’s Prayer Book open across her lap, Louise, deep in her trance, paid them little heed.

It seemed like the job was to simply escort this user of "Void" to the target objective.

It was for this reason that the roughly-formed squadron of ten dragon knights and a single plane were headed in the direction of Dartanes.

One of the dragon knights flew to the head of the pack, while the tail of his dragon shook left and right. It seemed like he was the leader.

He was the dragon knight that was said to have a sweetheart waiting for him in his village back home. A mere seventeen year-old blonde-haired boy, he was the same age as Saito.

To his left was a dragon knight of eighteen years-old. Having finally achieved his dream of becoming a dragon knight, his face was bright and cheery. As the third son of a noble family fallen from grace, he hoped to prove himself by winning glory in this war. To his right was a sixteen year-old pair of twin brothers.

The people present here were all friends and comrades who had been drinking all through the night till dawn. Those among the dragon knights were all very warm and welcoming, though they were all nobles. Their philosophy was, “When you are all flying through the skies, what difference is there between nobles and commoners?” meant that they all looked upon Saito as a fellow friend.

The roaring of the cannons of countless ships firing could be heard in the distance.

It seems the combined fleet of Tristain and Germania and that of Albion had begun firing their broadsides. The epic clash between the hundred plus ships had been set in motion.

The smell of gunpowder could be smelt even through the cockpit of the plane. Staring at an overwhelming display of smoke and flames, Saito was captivated by the sight, but…

Saito turned his head away. Within each and every explosion, were also the charred remains of tens or dozens of sailors being blasted to pieces. Such a thought sent a chill down his spine.

Before he could even sympathise with their deaths, a feeling of relief crept up, relief at how great it was that he did not have to be there. In an instant, Saito, to prevent such shameful thoughts from crossing his mind, began concentrating ahead. Without something to protect himself from, he wouldn’t think like that.

Amidst the canopy of blue skies and white clouds, Saito flew the Zero Fighter towards Albion, under the protection of the dragon knights.



In one swift motion, the Tristain-Germania combat fleet opened ranks and, developing a line formation, surrounded the three-pronged line formation of the approaching Albion fleet. As the Albion fleet tried to breach the blockade, the combined fleet hurriedly reinforced it, preventing a break-through.

If successful, it could perhaps be finished in one stroke… But, the distance was simply too close. With the two fleets so near to one another, the battle quickly broke down into a muddled chaos of close-quarters ship-to-ship fighting. Aboard the upper deck of one such ship, the Redoubtable, sat the trembling figure of Malicorne. Huddled next to him was the similarly shaky Styx.

Their teeth couldn’t stop shaking. Even when they tried to stand, they found their legs unable to exert even the slightest of force to push them up.

Apart from the thick bellows of smoke from the gunpowder, and the lightning flashes of the enemy cannons firing, they could see nothing of their surroundings. The hull of their ship crashed against the bow of the enemy’s, producing a huge crushing noise, followed by an equally loud crack.

Dragged suddenly into such a battlefield, Malicorne’s world had been turned upside-down in an instant; he was unable to grasp what was happening all around him.

They, having been drawn into the chaos around them, no longer cared about dealing with Bowood. They no longer had the will left to do so.

All they could comprehend was that their ship and the enemy’s had clashed together, marking the beginning of a ruthless melee not unlike that between swordsmen, in which you either killed or got killed.

Peering through the settling dust and smoke, one could glimpse the enemy ship… It was at that instant that they heard the order to fire from the decks above and below them.

A thunderous roar echoed from the cannon fire that followed. Numerous holes pierced through the enemy ship, blowing to pieces both wood and men alike. The enemy did the same, responding with cannon fire that just breezed past them.

The floorboards about them exploded into pieces, sending splinters flying through the air. Ropes danced through the air as they snapped, and spilt oil flowed down the deck.

Someone yelled to quickly release the sand.

Chaos. Yelling. Smoke. Blood. The smell of gunpowder…

The sound of metal cannonballs smashing against the hulls of battleships.

The endless rolling of repeated cannon fire… and the smoke…smoke so thick you couldn’t even see ahead of you.

This was the battlefield that Malicorne witnessed.

Unable to bear the horror any longer, Styx sprinted towards the deck hatch. It was probably to escape to the relative safety of the deck below. However, an officer was already standing there, with a wand in his hand, prepared to prevent any of the soldiers from deserting their posts. Styx could only slip back, huddling on the floor with his head hidden in his arms. The deck officer headed towards them and bellowed:

“You two! What are you doing! Get up! I said, get up! Show me your courage! Aren’t you supposed to be nobles!? Stand up and do your job! If you have none, then cast magic! There are enemies all around you! It doesn’t matter where you shoot, you’ll still hit the enemy!”

Malicorne tightly bit his lips, and placing his hands on the deck floor, forced his body up with all four limbs.

Just as he finally stood up, a foot kicked his behind.

Didn’t I already stand up! I-it was all done with great effort! Malicorne grumbled.

But, before he could even suffer the humiliation of the act, he was yelled at again by the deck officer,

“You! The fat pig-head! Yes, I’m talking to you! Get up and fight! I don’t want gutless, death-fearing officer cadets who won’t fight!”

Malicorne drew up his face.

Wasn’t it because I didn’t want to be called a death-fearing pig that I volunteered for the army? If I continue like this, all I’ll ever be is a coward!

“You! Pig! Why are you still dallying about?!”

The bellowing officer, upon finishing these words, was swiftly pierced by a magical arrow.

Beyond the smoke was the enemy. So close was the enemy, that his face could be seen clearly. On board the deck of the enemy ship was a young man with the same chubby build as his, with a magic wand pointed in their direction. Even his age was practically the same. The opponent also couldn’t stop trembling like him.

The paleness on his face, the shaking of his entire body.

Lying besides Malicorne was the contorted body of the deck officer, his chest pierced through by the magic arrow, his body twisted as a result of the convulsions that came just before death finally took him. Sniffing uncontrollably, Malicorne cried out. Whether he was really yelling, or whether his mouth was just gaping open, it was impossible to tell with the endless rolling of cannon fire. Raising his wand towards the dark clouds above the enemy ship, Malicorne began chanting.



Just as the cloud cover broke to reveal the continent of Albion, Saito and company were spotted by warning ravens. Using the many flight-capable raven familiars which acted as an early warning screen, any intruder could be reported immediately to the dragon knight garrisons through the familiar’s master.

In such a situation, the vision of the familiar would become the vision of the master’s after concentrating.

Readying to pursue Saito and company, a dragon knight squadron took off from their base.

With the danger increasing, Saito and company picked up their speed.

The wind dragons of the dragon knights who flew ahead shook their tails violently.

The knights atop them pointed ahead with their fingers.

Ten dragon knights had spotted Saito and the rest, and were headed straight towards them. They would collide head-on if they didn’t do anything.

“Damn it! What do we do!?”

Sitting in the pilot seat of the Zero Fighter, Saito shouted out.

If the opponent managed to come down at them from above, they would leave themselves vulnerable to attack.

Yet, the dragon knight leading the pack still didn’t change direction. Regardless of whether they were attacked or not, they had decided upon continuing straight ahead.

“Aren’t we just inviting ourselves to be attacked like this?!”

Saito frantically prepared the fighter’s machine gun… before remembering it had run out of ammo.

“That’s right, I think we ran out of bullets already…”

Within the plane’s machine gun, there should still be around two hundred bullets left. However, with so little left, it might as well have been none.

Saito then suddenly remembered what Colbert had said.

“Louise! Colbert's new weapon! Wasn’t there an instruction manual!?”

But Louise, caught up in her trance, did not hear a single word Saito had said.

Saito grabbed Louise’s legs and frantically shook.

“Hey! Louise! Louise! Now’s not the time to be focusing! Before you can cast your Void, we're going to be shot down by the enemy!”

“Huh? W-what is it?! W-What are you doing?!”

“I don’t care what you say; just get me that damn manual! It’s under the seat!”

Louise frantically searched beneath the seat, and found the manual Colbert had written using goatskin.

“Found it!”

“Read it!”

“Um, this…. ‘Secret of the Flame Serpent’.”

How disgusting.

Wasn’t there a better title to choose?

“Um – Dear Saito, when you are reading this, I assume you are already at your wit’s end. That won’t do however, so make sure you read this properly.”

“Don’t bother reading the preface already!”

The dragon knights of Albion were getting closer and closer.

Fast.

The enemies are riding wind dragons as well! Damn it!

“Um – You must first calm down, then pull the lever next to the stick that controls the speed of the ‘moving machine’.”

“This one?!”

Saito saw beside the speed-control throttle; a lever he had never noticed before.

“Let's pull it!”

The moment the aiming sight filled with the approaching enemy dragon knights, Saito pulled the lever.

Boxes hidden beneath the aiming sight popped open, and from it emerged the head of a toy snake. Watching its mouth open and close, only for it to say:

“Come on Saito! Come on Saito! Come on Miss Vallière!”

“What the heck is this?!”

The toy snake emitted a voice through magic.

It seemed that was all it did.

As for the enemy’s attack –

Since they were wind dragons, they did not breathe any fire. However, magical arrows flew towards and struck against the fighter, shaking the craft. A hole the size of a fist had been pierced through the wing.

Luckily, a hole like that wouldn’t affect its performance much, at least temporarily.

Louise continued reading the instruction manual.

“You already pulled the lever right? Yup, The Happy Little Snake shall give you courage! Come on! No matter what the obstacle is, you must persevere! No matter what, I’ll always protect you!”

“That goddamn baldy!”

Saito cursed, while staring incredulously at the ‘Happy Little Snake’ he had remembered seeing in class that had emerged from below the aiming sight. Louise, thinking that those rude words were directed at herself, couldn’t help but scream:

“Who the hell are you calling a goddamn baldy! Wasn’t it you who asked me to read it?”

The opposing dragon knights rose up into the air again.

To advance head-on from the front with both sides bearing fast-flying dragon riders, meant that they passed one another in the blink of an eye, leaving very little opportunity for an attack.

Therefore, the enemy decided to begin an assault from behind.

Meanwhile, on their side… their objective was to head to the target destination at all haste, to cast the Void spell, and thus they could only keep flying ahead.

If they were to engage with the enemy dragon knights there, reinforcements would quickly be dispatched, and hope for the entire army would be lost.

Diving to gain speed, the enemy dragon knights were slowly catching up behind them.

“Louise! Isn’t there anything else?!”

Louise continued reading the manual.

“Um… It then says something about a secret weapon to use when being chased by the enemy.”

“That! That’s it!”

“Pull the tongue that sticks out of the Happy Little Snake. Remember, pay attention! If there are allies around, make sure they stick close to you.”

“Why’s that?”

“How am I supposed to know?!”

Saito pulled a blackboard from below his seat, followed by a chalk. It was amazing that such things were in a zero fighter. It looked like the previous pilot used this to communicate. Saito passed it to Louise.

Louise wrote the words, "Come over here," on it, and, raising it out of the cockpit, waved it a few times.

The dragon knights nodded their heads and approached the Zero Fighter; forming a pack, they continued flying ahead. Rather than continue being fired upon, might as well give it a try.

Saito shut his eyes and prayed:

“Please don’t let be something like the Happy Little Snake again…”

Saito turned back and, watching the approaching enemy dragon knight squadron, pulled the Happy Little Snake’s tongue.

Nothing happened.

Damn it! Next time I see Colbert, I’m going to beat the crap out of him! I don’t care if you're a teacher or not, I’ll worry about that after! Of course this is only if I survive and return, but I’ll still beat you up! thought Saito, clenching his fist in rage.

Just then –

Various objects blew out from the wings of the Zero Fighter.

They were the circular objects that he saw floating from the metal box when they left.

The sound of the object’s lighting up, overlapped with Louise’s explanation:

“I really think that my talent is almost too frightening! A metal rocket powered by combustible powders and fitted with magical artifacts enchanted with ‘Detect Magic’! You may call them…Little Flying Snakes! Since it uses its reaction to magic to approach the enemy, if you have any allies in the area, make sure they are gathered around you! To prevent harming your allies, it doesn’t react to anything within a twenty meter radius!”

Emitting a clean rattling sound, the roughly ten or so rockets launched themselves backwards, headed towards the pursuing dragon knights.

Several of the large, powder-powered rockets collided with the Albion dragon knights, and exploded with several bangs.

As the cloud of smoke dissipated, only half the pursuers remained.

The remaining dragon knights, their wind dragons having lost their will to fight, halted their pursuit.

“Yes!”

Saito and Louise cheered as they hugged one another.

As the tightly packed dragon knights began to separate, the sight ahead of them was again ominous.

Saito turned his view to the front –

The smile on his face faded in an instant.

Upon seeing this, Louise’s smile also disappeared.

“What’s going on?”

Louise slowly turned to where Saito was facing.

Appearing ahead of them was a flock of dragon riders, its numbers exceeding a hundred.

Albion’s dragon knights were unrivaled.

It wasn’t just their natural skill; even their numbers were totally unrivaled.

The surrounding dragon knights quickened their speed.

Nonetheless, they could only charge forwards.

It seemed they had accepted that.

But… there were countless enemies before their eyes.

Innumerable magic arrows began flying towards them from the enemy dragon knights, all directed at Saito’s Zero.

To withstand an attack from this many projectiles…he couldn’t dodge it even if he tried.

They were almost going to impact!

Suddenly, Saito witnessed something that shocked his very being –

A dragon knight unexpectedly jumped ahead of the Zero, and using himself and his wind dragon, blocked the approaching magical arrows.

After having been struck by the magical arrows, the dragon and its rider fell from the skies.

“W-what’s going on?!”

The first to realize what was happening in front of them was Derflinger.

“It looks like they are using themselves as shields.”

“Shields?”

“Yup. As long as you guys reach Dartanes, the mission will be a success. They probably received the order to sacrifice themselves if necessary.”

The countless horde of dragon knights continued to approach.

A massive fireball came next. Again, a dragon knight appeared and shielded the attack, before promptly dropping down.

“Hey! Hey! Stop doing that!” Saito exclaimed.

Derflinger moved towards Louise:

“Hey, missy, when I give you the signal, just pull the lever down there below the seat. That’s the last weapon that uncle installed.”

The legendary Derflinger could be said to be unrivalled in his knowledge in the field of weaponry. Louise nodded while quivering.

“My partner’s mind is in a bit of a mess at the moment, so it seems you’ll have to do it. Do you understand?"

At that instant, Saito’s squadron and the horde of dragon knights brushed past one another.

The enemy dragon knights were just like the ones before, rising up immediately, and pursuing from behind. The remaining eight dragon knights began separating from Saito’s Zero.

“Hey! Hey! What are you guys planning to do?!”

The one riding at the head of the pack smiled to Saito and waved his hands. Like how one would wave their hands goodbye once class had ended in school, it was truly too simple a way to bid farewell.

He was always the one that was friendliest to Saito; the captain of the 2nd Dragon Knight Squadron. A slightly chubby, blonde-haired boy who had once won the bet as to whether the "Zero was a dragon or not". Like Saito, he was seventeen years-old, with a sweetheart waiting for him back in his village… parents who awaited his return… he had told him that becoming a dragon knight had been his dream.

Saito suddenly remembered, he hadn’t even asked for his name.

The eight dragon knights turned around together.

Following the lead of the seventeen year-old blonde-haired young man, knights who had only become friends yesterday charged headlong together into the pursuing pack of dragon knights.

To allow Saito and Louise to escape –

It was all for this objective and nothing more.

“Turn back! Turn back already!” Saito frantically yelled at the top of his lungs.

“Now!” Derflinger instructed loudly.

Hearing his command, Louise immediately pulled the lever below the seat.

Swoosh. The sound of various objects separating could be heard from behind.

From below the wing of the tail, emerged a hidden object.

It was a metal cask many times larger than the rockets before.

The rocket, invented by the Fire-mage Colbert, left the craft and ignited.

Phooooom! All that could be seen was a pale blue smoke, before the Zero rapidly picked up speed, as though it had been kicked by something.

At the same time, the dragon knights were quickly swallowed up the enemy’s massive squadron… and quickly faded from view.

Louise panicked once she realised that Saito planned to turn around and head back. Derflinger also guessed Saito’s plan, and warned loudly:

“Partner! Don’t pull that stick! If we were to turn around at this speed, this thing’s going to tear apart!"

The abrupt warning made Saito lean tensely back into his seat, screaming,

“We only met yesterday! Those guys actually killed themselves for us! Even though they only met us yesterday! Isn’t this screwed up to you?!”

“I know that as well! But! But! Our mission is to use the Void spell at Dartanes! They were sent to protect us to ensure that we safely reached the objective! If we are to turn back now, and cause the plan to fail as a result… wouldn’t that make their sacrifice meaningless?!”

Saito rubbed his eyes, and facing forward, muttered,

"I… I didn’t even know their names!"

To be saved by someone you didn’t even know the name of, or to be killed by someone you don’t know the name of; is that what war is?

“Don’t kid me! How can I accept such a thing! Damn! Damn! Damn! Damn!”

Saito cried. To yell and scream like this was meaningless; he knew that, but he couldn’t bear to not yell out.

The Zero Fighter, flying at a reading close to 450 kilometers an hour from the speedometer, flew forwards.

Despite being in the violently shaking craft, Saito was trembling all over for another reason.



After shaking off the enemy, how long they flew for, they didn’t know.

After what seemed like an eternity, a port appeared over the horizon before their eyes. On the open expanses of a mountain, on which stood numerous steel spires used to anchor the ships floating in the skies… several things that resembled a docking bay could be seen.

“That’s the port of Dartanes…”

“Go up.”

Louise said softly into Saito’s ear.

Saito raised the Zero Fighter towards the sky.

In the wake of the speed boost, the Zero Fighter slowly lost speed.

Once they had reached a suitable height, Louise stood up, and opened the cockpit.

Gusts of wind blew in.

ZnT06-213.jpg

Louise sat atop Saito’s shoulders and began chanting the spell. The Founder’s Prayer Book she held in her hands began glowing. The most fundamental of magics.

"Illusion" – One had to imagine with their full concentration in their minds the image they wished to conjure.

In this way, the caster could replicate even the sky itself. The chant Louise was using was the Void spell that could conjure up illusions. The Zero Fighter slowly circled the sky over Dartanes.

The boundless clouds were seemingly wiped away from the sky, an illusion forming in its stead.

It was a huge fleet of battleships… a fleet supposed to be hundreds of miles away; a mirror image of the Tristain invasion fleet.

Having such a large fleet suddenly appear in the skies above Dartanes had a huge impact; the sight of it shocked everyone who saw it.

“What! Dartanes?!” Exclaimed General Hawkings, upon receiving the urgent report from Dartanes. He was heading the thirty-thousand strong Albion army in the direction of Rosais. According to his predictions, the landing point of the Tristain army would be there. And yet, the place where the enemy had suddenly appeared, was to the north of the capital Londinium – Dartanes. “Turn the army around!”

It would take some time before the order propagated through the entire army. I wish we could begin marching quickly... Hawkings thought as he turned to look towards the sky.

The sky was a canopy of pure blue, completely devoid of any clouds, a far cry from the chaotic war that raged on the ground below.

He had a feeling that this war would become a muddled one...


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