Sakuya boasted the body of a gaia dragon subspecies, and she had grown bigger than even that.
While her length made her look slender, her torso was just about as thick as a gaia dragon’s. And her powerful jaw was the same.
She only looked slender due to the sheer size of her body.
But her skin, a dragon’s armor known as scales were exceedingly tougher than the average dragon. Even a gaia dragon’s strength wouldn’t be able to let her fly, and yet her four large wings could keep her airborne.
If you’re asking what we’re trying to say… looking at her latent abilities, Sakuya stood at the summit of the dragons. And Sakuya’s soul was the soul of the ‘Once-Goddess Sakuya’.
The body that became her vessel belonged to the strongest variant of gaia dragon.
Her heart had been passed from Cattleya to Lilim, to Fina, Sophina and Mii, and finally, she had inherited Sakuya’s heart. While they were a somewhat problematic lot, she carried on the heart of proficient personnel.
By holding the soul and heart of Sakuya, she held feelings most closest to Sakuya, and the memories and the experiences definitely did exist somewhere within her.
While she was evaluated lowly as a dragoon, Sakuya was undoubtedly a goddragon.
Even if her evaluation was the worst, young as she was, she possessed abilities as a dragon that placed her in their upper ranks.
“Hey, why did you stop? If you stay like this, you’re a sitting duck.”
Sakuya roared, floating on the spot as if to wait for the wind dragon. It was proof that she was capable of hovering, and Rudel could feel Sakuya’s growth.
“It’s alright. That output from before won’t be able to harm Sakuya… Sakuya, right!”
As Rudel issued orders, Sakuya answered them by holding her right arm out towards the wind dragon. While Enora took on a basic strategy of attack and move, Rudel chose to prioritize defense over evasion.
Sakuya took the wind dragon’s breath on the palm of her right hand undaunted.
Seeing Sakuya’s defensive prowess you could even call abnormal, Enora instantly changed her strategy. Perhaps intending to wear Sakuya down, as from a midrange battle of concentrated breaths, she changed over to close combat.
Flying around at a speed Sakuya couldn’t follow, she planned to aim at her back the moment she got the chance.
Even if Sakuya’s own back was heavily armored, Enora’s aim was Cattleya. Rudel had noticed where Enora’s eyes had been directed the whole time.
“Why is she challenging us to close combat? But that’s convenient, trying close combat with a gaia dragon is a madman’s plight.”
“No, it’s dangerous, so please lay low. And keep a firm grip on the lifeline.”
One usually wouldn’t initiate close combat with a gaia dragon. That was clearly the gaia dragon’s arena.
But knowing Enora’s aim, Rudel produced a shield of light to defend Cattleya. That large shield covered Sakuya’s blind spot to create an impenetrable fortress.
For the current Rudel, his shields of light could easily be destroyed by a dragon’s might. But he just had to use the time its destruction would buy them.
He could use that space to turn Sakuya around.
Perhaps his foe understood that as well, she wasn’t making any careless attacks.
“That Enora girl, just what is she doing?”
After looking at Cattleya glaring at the wind dragon gliding about the sky, Rudel succeeded in capturing Enora in his magic eyes.
After looking into Rudels eyes, she vexingly issued her dragon orders in a way akin to a jeer.
“… Her aim is you, Lieutenant.”
“Like hell. Are you saying I did something to her?”
While Cattleya took it out on Rudel, her expression was unperturbed. She was, in her own way, trying hard to remember what she could have done.
“No, I don’t know the specifics either. But she despises you, Lieutenant Cattleya. That’s the sort of eyes she was making.”
Rudel recalled Cattleya’s eyes of old. Often finding himself hated, Rudel could sense the emotions close to loathing that dwelled in those eyes.
“And why would you know…!”
Before Cattleya could continue on, Enora continued the rapid fire of her dragon’s breath. Moving at her maximum speed, she fired that breath towards Sakuya as she changed her plan.
But Sakuya only changed her facing direction without doing anything else in particular.
‘Come at meeee!!’
Knowing he couldn’t just leave everything to Sakuya, Rudel produced a few dozen shields of light, using them to avert the breath attacks. Hit only once, they would explode and fade away, but he was able to counterbalance.
Those shields of light stationed to protect Sakuya gave off a glimmer, lending divinity to the form of the white dragon.
“Why, why is he protecting the likes of her!”
Unable to raise a hand against the iron wall that was Sakuya, Enora cried out atop the back of her own dragon. It wasn’t as if she thought she could finish it with a surprise attack.
But she had never imagined she would be so hard-pressed.
Even if Rudel himself was proficient, she had misunderstood Sakuya as a failure. In essence, she had been convinced she could win with her own dragon’s speed and rapid-fire breath.
But right now, she had yet to accomplish a thing.
If Enora’s condition for victory was Cattleya’s murder, then that was definitely not going to happen. At mid-range, her attacks showed no effect, and at close-range, she had the disadvantage.
Even if she wanted to aim at Cattleya alone, Rudel’s shields got in the way.
According to her dragon, it was more than possible to break them, but that would create an opening. Enora had picked a fight with the wrong foe.
If this was how it was going to be, then fighting Cattleya’s red dragon would’ve given her a higher chance of victory.
But if she had challenged Cattleya and her partner red dragon, Enora would have been dead. That was just how great her gap in ability was from Cattleya.
‘Kuh! What are we going to do, Enora!?’
On her partner’s voice, Enora gave a slight smile.
“Having come so far, I’m going to face such a disappointing defeat… I’m sure it’ll be quite the spectacle. The famed Campbell House is losing out against a single genius, after all.”
Unable to win against Sakuya, Enora’s dragon didn’t think there would by this great of a gap in abilities either. There was a hint of impatience in his voice.
“Aha, why do I have to come so far and fail? I finally became a dragoon. I finally thought I would be recognized…”
Laughing as she shed her tears, Enora wiped her tears away before making a serious expression. Before her eyes was a shining dragon, and Cattleya being protected by Rudel.
“How irritating. At the very least, I wanted to steal her man.”
Without noticing the fact she had been captivated by Rudel, Enora issued orders to her dragon.
“Let’s go, Falk.”
‘… Very well. My pride won’t allow me to lose just like this.’
While they had no prospects of victory, Enora and Falk’s objective was Cattleya. Even if they couldn’t defeat Sakuya or Rudel, they wanted to fulfill that objective alone.
Falk thought the least he could do was fulfill Enora’s purpose. He understood that he wouldn’t be able to beat Sakuya. But from his pride as a dragon, he didn’t want to lose without doing anything.
As Falk started his attack on Sakuya, Rudel matched it and changed the positioning of his shields.
Cattleya was looking at Rudel’s back.
His form as he issued orders to Sakuya, shoddy as it was, it was beginning to take shape. From not being on her own dragon, she had felt some anxiety in Sakuya’s movements, but now, she didn’t feel it at all.
(Just how heavily armored is this child?)
An impossible level of sturdiness and the stamina to continue taking attacks. In that regards, Sakuya had gone beyond the level where she could make a comparison to her own dragon.
(This isn’t normal. But if it’s like this, then we won’t…)
The moment Cattleya determined they could win if they brought it to a war of attrition, Enora suddenly changed plans. Of all things, she tried challenging Sakuya to close combat again.
“That woman’s doing the same thing again…”
While Cattleya didn’t feel anxious, Rudel was different. He shouted a loud order for Sakuya.
“Sakuya, be careful, she’s coming!!”
Repositioning his shields, Rudel made it so Enora couldn’t enter their blind spot so easily. Cattleya still hadn’t shaken off the sensation of her own dragon.
With Sakuya, there was a limit to the speed at which she could react to her opponent wind dragon. If it was Cattleya’s dragon, that wouldn’t be a problem.
But right now, she was on Rudel’s dragon, on the back of Sakuya.
The wind dragon that showed its maximum acceleration slipped into a spot diagonally back from Sakuya. Cattleya looked at that scene as if it were someone else’s problem.
Understanding in an instant, from the fact she was the target and Sakuya’s positioning, Cattleya realized she was in for it.
Just as she thought her life was a bit too short-lived, Rudel’s voice resounded out.
“No, the other way, Sakuya!!”
As Cattleya was unable to hear Sakuya’s voice, she had no idea what Rudel was telling her to go against. But she could feel it with her own body, how Sakuya’s build suddenly wrenched to the left.
Just as the wind dragon’s front claws were about to assail her, Rudel leapt at Cattleya. Thrown off of Sakuya’s back, the two of them were cast freely into the air.
The moment they reached the end of the long belt called the lifeline was accompanied by an intense jerk.
Sakuya’s movements had caused Enora to subtly miss the mark, saving Cattleya. Of course, Rudel putting his body on the line after that was yet another reason she was saved.
And the scene the two of them saw, fished along by the belt, was one of Sakuya’s backhand hitting Enora’s dragon as it passed by.
But more than that, Cattleya’s face was turning red, being carried by a princess cradle as she hurtled through the sky.
(Hey! What’s with this situation!!)
Unable to keep up with what was going on, Cattleya panicked; meanwhile, Rudel’s gaze was locked on Enora, and her partner dragon.
As the dragon was blown away, Enora had been tossed from its back as well.
“This is bad! Sakuya, I leave the lieutenant to you.”
Rudel removed the metal fixing him to his bely before using wind magic to head towards Enora. As she was told, Sakuya gently collected Cattleya up in her large hands, watching the scene of Rudel catching the blown-away Enora.
As Cattleya popped her face through the gaps in Sakuya’s claw, she was making a bit of an irritated expression. Lifting off the hair stuck to her face with a finger, she pouted a bit.
“What’s with him…”
A maiden for her age, it felt to Cattleya as if her prince had been taken away.
Catching Enora, who had been thrown into the air, Rudel made a landing in the forest that spread out below them.
As she let her tears flow in his arms, Enora was using both hands to hide her face. But her mouth was warped in vexation. Sobs were leaking from her mouth.
“… If you’re able to answer, then please tell me. Why did you do something like this?”
Putting her down on the ground, Rudel warily leaned over her. While he was dealing with a crying woman, she was an elite dragoon.
Sakuya had gone off to pin down Enora’s wind dragon, so Rudel decided to seize Enora.
Of course, the reverse was impossible, so even if it couldn’t be called the best plan, it wasn’t a mistake.
Because normally, Enora would have to be immediately restrained on the spot. By Rudel’s compassion, Enora hadn’t been bound.
“I-I’d jus ad enuff! So I…”
As Enora wept and answered, Rudel extended her a hand, patting her head, he spoke to her as he did to Lena whenever she cried when they were younger.
“I see, so you had enough. But do you understand what it is you’ve done?”
On Rudel’s words, Enora cried as she nodded.
Rudel couldn’t understand what she had enough of, but a dragoon had used her dragon for a personal affair. Just like Lilim before her, she wouldn’t be able to avoid punishment.
There, Cattleya appeared to confirm Enora’s situation.
“Rudel, Enora’s dragon has been restrained. When it’s being pinned down by your dragon, I doubt it’ll be able to run away, and it doesn’t seem to have the intent to resist.”
“Is that so.”
Hearing of Sakuya’s situation, Rudel had hopes that this might help build her self-confidence. Now the remaining problem was Enora.
“Lieutenant, for this matter,”
“Don’t even think about it. I understand what you want to say, and it’s definitely possible to save her. But listen here, when I was almost about to be killed by her, there’s no way I’d overlook it. What are you telling me to do about these feelings of mine?”
Cattleya didn’t seem to show any hatred towards Enora. More than that, her tone was one informing Rudel of the feelings of the victim.
Even if Rudel alone wanted to save her, Enora wouldn’t be saved.
Hanging his head, Rudel experienced his own lack of power… of authority. Just with the title of future archduke, he would probably be able to clean up this time’s mess.
But Cattleya was telling him that was no good. He would have to answer to that as well.
“… I’ll report the truth. But if possible, I’ll plead for her clemency.”
“Well I guess that works out? Whether you plead for clemency or not is up to you. You’re a victim here too, after all… just this once, okay. And this puts you in my debt.”
Telling Rudel it was a loan, Cattleya forcefully stood Enora to her feet. While Rudel made a smile, when Cattleya immediately went into smacking Enora, his smile stiffened up.
Seeing Cattleya stand before Enora, rolling across the ground after a few good blows, Rudel wasn’t able to do a thing. Since Cattleya said she wouldn’t report Enora’s sins, he mulled over whether or not it was right to stop her.
“But we still have to give this girl a punishment.”
Enora cowered from the terrifying smile on Cattleya’s face.
“Don’t worry, I won’t make it public. But I’ll be reporting to your papa.”
After that, until Rudel came in to stop her, Cattleya’s fists showed no signs of stopping. While it was more decent than a possible execution, after that incident, Enora was unable to raise her head to Cattleya again.