By the collision of Sakuya and the dark dragon, the sun’s light pierced through the battlefield covered in thick clouds.
Neither side could pull back. On that bog of a battlefield, Eunius rushed over to Luecke. The reason being, the enemy had begun to amass around Luecke’s forces.
Issuing orders from the center of a magic formation, he seemed to be carrying out some form of preparations.
“What the hell’s so important you’d isolate yourself away to do it!? The enemy’s at your doorstep!”
Without turning his face to Eunius’ yell, taking notes and calculating something out, Luecke indifferently answered.
“This magic formation is anti-dragoon. I’m going to use it.”
Recycling the formation the enemy had been using, he would help out Rudel and Aleist. Luecke earnestly carried out his calculations.
(No use talking to him. But will this guy’s troops hold out?)
The enemy on their last stand, they stood in unity charging straight forward without knowing retreat. Luecke’s army detached from the main force was nothing more than an easy target for them.
It was partly due to their lack of a proper offensive that they were trying to reuse their circle in the first place.
The empire’s soldiers were strong. Eunius recalled his own honest impression as he gave up on persuading this idiot of a friend.
“… No way around it. I’ll buy you some time. How long do I have to hold out?”
Hearing Eunius’ voice, Luecke’s memo taking hand stopped for a brief moment. Once it had resumed, he made his request.
“… One hour. If we use it once, the enemy will see it coming the next time, so it’ll be a one-time thing. But that alone should be plenty for Rudel up there.”
Eunius turned Luecke his back and walked off.
“Then I’ll protect you while you get on with this thing. If the time comes, I’ll drag you away whether you like it or not, remember that.”
“Thanks,” came a small voice from Luecke.
Her body draped in golden armor, with two new black arms, Sakuya exchanged blows with the dark dragon.
The black arms gripped golden weapons, its right hand the white knight’s sword, its left hand the black knight’s. Two golden shields floated to protect her, fending off the dragon’s fists.
The two grappled, they punched, they cut at one another and exchanged dragon breath. The attacks from these two giants generated massive shockwaves, and in no time at all, the surrounding clouds had almost all been blown off, giving way to a blue sky.
The dark dragon bit into Sakuya’s neck. Each and every one of its sharp fangs concealed power greater than a magic sword fashioned to slay dragons.
Opening her mouth in a scream, Sakuya hammered a body blow into the dragon’s stomach. A stroke from her thick arms caused cracks to race across the dark dragon’s tough skin.
Writhing in pain, the dragon’s mouth wretched open as it parted from Sakuya’s neck. Before it could get away, Sakuya lowered the golden sword at its head.
While the dragon immediately took evasive action, Sakuya grabbed it with both arms to hold it in place. By turning its head to one side, it contained its injuries at a portion of its horn and one eye.
‘Nggh, my wounds aren’t healing. Why!?’
Even as blood dripped down her nape, Sakuya offered the dragon an answer.
‘Sakuya’s power is being drawn out by Rudel and Aleist. So she won’t lose. Sakuya is strong!’
Young. Terribly young, yet Sakuya gave off the will to never lose.
Spreading its remaining eye wide, the dark dragon opened its large mouth to roar.
‘You sham lizard! When you’re merely a cobbling of sham odds and end, who do you think you’re biting back at!?’
The dragon who would call Sakuya a sham went right on to drive a breath into her. Yet the black and red muddled mana gathering in its mouth found itself bisected by a sword of light, exploding before release.
There stood the enraged form of Rudel.
“Bastard! You got something to say about my Sakuya!? Very well, I’ll answer that deathwish!”
Spitting smoke from its mouth, the dark dragon cried out Askewell’s name.
‘Askewell! What are you doing? Kill him already!’
Sakuya and the dragon. Using both airborne beasts as footing, Rudel, Aleist and Askewell fought.
But Askewell found himself held up by Aleist.
“What do you think I’m doing!? If only, if only you didn’t exist!”
A wrinkle gracing his brow, Askewell swung his lance with the face of a demon. Shockwaves and magic emitted with each revolution before the point abruptly shot towards Aleist.
But Aleist turned it aside with a magic sword, and with his other sword, he cut at his foe. Askewell sacrificed his left arm to take the attack. While the blade cut deep into his flesh, it stopped just short of lopping the limb off.
However, Aleist was a dual blade user, and in the moment Askewell’s attention was occupied, he immediately used his other sword to inflict a followup blow on his stomach.
He didn’t bleed. Askewell’s body swiftly regenerated, but without faltering, Aleist kept up an offense.
“Rudel! Help out here too! The most I can do is hold him in place!”
And yet, Aleist let out a pathetic voice. It only served to rub Askewell the wrong way.
Askewell forcefully swung his spear to knock Aleist back. But using that intent to take distance, Aleist produced a stream of spears from his own shadow, sending them flying towards him.
While Askewell easily hit them all down, those black spears burst, emitting a smoke that stole away his vision. In that opening, Rudel cut down from above.
Despite him catching it with his spear, Rudel’s strike with all his weight behind it bisected the shaft, carving deep from Askewell’s right shoulder to his abdomen.
Seeing that, Rudel offered a word.
“Even that won’t do it.”
Not shedding a drop of blood, Askewell’s body had already begun restoring itself, causing Rudel to take distance. With a large lurch of the dark dragon he was using as footing, Askewell’s stance was thrown a bit off.
“What are you doing!?”
Askewell grew irritated, however, they were in the sky… with uncertain footing, and the stage being atop a dragon’s back, every aspect favored the dragoon.
Without a moment’s delay, Rudel cut again, and Askewell’s leg soared through the sky. Following on, having recovered his footing, Aleist cut in to finish the job with his arm.
Thrown into freefall, Askewell attempted to float on his own while regenerating his body. But right before his eyes came the white approaching fist of a dragon.
He was likely about to question the nonsensical nature of coincidence. But to the dragoons who could communicate telepathically, the knight and dragon existed as a set, and their coordination was to be expected.
Smacked, sent flying, with a large portion of his body crushed, while Askewell continued falling, his body was still regenerating. His healing was gradually growing slower.
“Why. Why are you—”
His body back in order, Askewell stood on the battlefield once more. Against Rudel and Aleist, a battle of numeric inferiority.
On the ground, Eunius was pushed into a close fight to protect Luecke.
“Don’t let a single one through!”
Swinging down his greatsword, he cut aside an imperial soldier as he cried out; his surrounding subordinates wrung out their voices in response.
A battlefield over which flew mud, flew iron, flew blood, and flew flesh, this truly was a hell on earth. The imperial soldiers pushing in on them wave after wave were driven mad by the fear of inevitable death.
Believing in Luecke, Eunius would protect this point to his last breath, swinging his sword. Before his eyes, a knight-looking man stepped out front.
A glance was enough to know he was strong. Swinging about a large hammer, he mowed away allies as he charged towards Eunius.
“So you’re their commander!”
Eunius laughed at the enemy knight’s words.
“And what if I am!?”
Magic sword. A swing with all his weight and might, the enemy was split in two- hammer and all- no longer able to move. Eunius gasped for breath as he looked forward.
No matter how low their numbers fell, the imperials would even climb over their friends’ corpses to grit their teeth and press on.
“Just surrender already!”
Swiping his great sword to the side, he sliced down another when an impact rang out behind him. Both friend and for turned an eye towards it.
“Did Courtois do something!?”
“That light it—”
Behind Eunius’ forces, a light broke out from the magic formation Luecke had been working on.
“The bastard really did it!”
Believing in Luecke’s success, Eunius issued a manifesto to his troops!
“One final push! If we overcome this, it will be our Courtois’ victory!”
A war cry resounding across the battlefield, and the intense collision of two camps.
In the center of the magic circle, Luecke stationed shield knights over various places in and out of it as he looked to the sky.
Light flooded up from the formation, amplifying his magic even further.
A look up to two dragons fighting in the distance.
With a magic called farsight, Luecke confirmed his foe’s positioning before nodding. Vargas sent over a shout.
“Young master, this shield’s at its limit!”
“Vargas, don’t call me that! But this is the end. Rudel, you’d better not waste my aid… my and Eunius’ aid.”
Hoisting his right arm high, when he snapped his finger, an orb of light formed above the formation. With fire, water, wind, lightning, earth attribute magic revolving around it, the round was fired into the sky towards the dark dragon.
After seeing it off, Luecke collapsed at the knees. The light vanished from the circle, Vargas rushed over to him.
With Vargas calling him what he once had before, Luecke smiled.
“You fool. I’m your employer, Vargas. But not bad… Vargas, we’re going to help out Eunius.”
Forcing himself to his feet, Luecke issued out orders to send reinforcements to Eunius.
Rudel clanked down from the sky.
He was in the midst of cutting at Askewell when he noticed something was fired from below. He immediately identified it.
Perhaps it could be called instinct, or perhaps one might say he could trace the thoughts of his close friend from his school days… he understood help was on the way.
“Luecke! I owe you one!”
Rudel’s words greatly irritated Askewell.
“Don’t look away on the battle—”
Rudel kicked Askewell away as he collected up Aleist, making a dash for Sakuya’s shoulder as he cried out.
“Sakuya, get back!”
Sakuya immediately followed his orders to take distance from the dark dragon. The wound-ridden dragon and Askewell thought to use this chance to heal their wounds—
A little late to notice the lights encroaching on them from below, they shifted to evasive action. However, the light went right on to capture the dragon, the mana within it exploding, wrapping the prince and dragon in a blazing inferno. Immediately after, water broke out to drown them, and electricity after that.
A harsh wind blew, trapping the two in a storm, and finally large rocks mixed in with the gale smashing into them.
To Rudel’s side, Aleist watched over the scene, reeling back somewhat.
“I’m surprised they’re enduring that one.”
Aleist was tattered two. A portion of his armor had been blown off, he was covered in wounds with blood dripping down his face as well.
Rudel wasn’t much better. Wound-ridden, his shield dented, chips running down his sword.
Rudel took in the surrounding circumstance and determined now was the change to seize victory.
Holding out his left hand, he gripped his fist.
“… Aleist, the next one will decided.”
His serious voice compelled Aleist to nod.
“Got it. I’ll bet my all one this. We’ve made it this far. With everything I’ve got le— huh! What!? Whaaat!?”
Aleist’s surprise was justified. Sakuya suddenly grasped the two riding on her shoulders. Rudel in her right hand, Aleist in her left, she prepared for the next step.
Aleist cried out hysterically.
“Wait! I can see where this is going, but don’t tell me!”
“You’re quick on the uptake. That’s right… Sakuya’s going to give us a boost. Wager it all on this one blow, Aleist.”
Sticking up his thumb, Rudel directed Aleist a smile. In the gaps between her fingers, Aleist hung his head, letting out a dry laugh.
“Aha, ahahahah… goddammit! Let’s do this shit!”
The two of them had made their resolve just as the magic bolt from the ground faded out.
Askewell and the dark dragon released from it were covered in wounds, their regeneration wouldn’t make it in time.
“Sakuya… chuck us.”
Rudel flowed magic into his sword and shield. He poured in the techniques he had forged to that point. As he imbued his armaments with magic, the light waved and flickered like a flame. A wind blew around him, swaying the flames even more.
Aleist similarly flooded his two swords with magic.
His inexhaustible mana was long gone. What he had was what he had cultivated himself, Aleist’s own mana. That which Aleist could shape however he liked coursed through his two swords like black lightning.
With their preparations in order, Sakuya swung both her arms at once, throwing them towards the dark dragon.
The dragon roared, Askewell emitted mana from all over his body.
While they readied themselves to intercept, Rudel made for the dragon, Aleist to Askewell, both on a complete offensive.
“— The end!!”
The dragon’s roar shifted into a breath aimed at Rudel, yet from right within its stream, Rudel blocked the damage with his shield as he pressed on. He extended the blade of the sword in his right hand, and cut at the dragon.
‘If only, if only you didn’t exist!!’
Askewell put every ounce of his being into facing Aleist. Sparks flew as his spear met with Aleist’s crossed swords.
“This world went mad because of you… it’s you, it’s all your fault!”
Hearing Asekwell’s words now, Aleist no longer had any hesitation.
“I do feel guilty. But, even so… I want to press onwards with my friends! I decided we’re all moving forward together!”
As Askewell heard Aleist’s words, his power softened. Aleist’s swords tore through his spear and then him.
As the two of them were thrown into the air, Rudel used his air movement to collect Aleist. Returning his sword to his sheath, he directed his right hand at Askewell and the dragon.
Aleist looked over the scene in awe.
“So many dragons…”
Enclosing the dark dragon and Askewell, the dragoons and dragons were stationed, their mouths at the ready to fire their breath.
Sakuya was also at the ready, and with Rudel clenching his open palm as the signal, each and every dragon opened fire at once.
“Not even ash will remain. Rest in peace.”
With Rudel’s whisper, the dragon and Askewell disappeared into the light.
Only Askewell’s severed torso fell towards the ground.
While they wanted to chase after it, both Rudel and Aleist were close to their limit. In the midst of their fall, Sakuya gently caught them, the gold armor and black arms having faded away.
‘Rudel, it’s getting quiet down there.’
‘… So we really did it. The fatigue’s kicking in.’
Rudel said and closed his eyes in Sakuya’s hand.
Askewell lay battered on the ground. What had regenerated of his body was mere human flesh.
Opening his eyes, he saw Mies and his subordinates nearby.
“Askewell-sama! I-I’ll get a doctor at once. So get a grip—”
But while his surface wounds had closed, he couldn’t say the same for underneath. Askewell could sense his own death wasn’t far off.
This had to be the compensation for borrowing that black existence’s power and overexerting himself.
(I see, so this is where I end.)
Askewell grasped Mies’ arm. To Mies’ surprise, he squeezed out a faint voice.
“Mies… t-the responsibility for this war… is mine.”
“Please don’t talk, Askewell-sama!”
Spitting up blood, Askewell continued on.
“I-I have to. Someone has to take responsibility. Otherwise… even more chaos…”
Askewell knew of the empire’s exhaustion. He knew they needed an existence to smash their discontentment into. It would soften their hatred, if only slightly. And he thought over what he was capable of as he was now.
“Y-you just have to take me to the empire. This life will finally find its meaning on the gallows… so… so, take me to the empire. There, before its people…”
As he went on coughing blood, Mies wept.
“Let’s run, Askewell-sama. If it’s just a few of us, we’ll be able to keep low.”
“We can’t! That won’t work, Mies… I’m begging you. Please.”
Breaking into tears, Askewell wished for an end executed by the empire. As the big bad who impoverished and brought ruin to the country, he would become the existence for them to alleviate their hatred.
(I see, so I ran away… this all happened because I gave up on my dreams and ran here.)
“Mies, there are rooms full of research material at my manner. They’re all on agriculture: nothing but failures, but I’d be happy if you made some use out of them. I won’t say it’s for the empire’s sake anymore. The empire will eventually fall apart. But for the future… please.”
Mies gripped Askewell’s hand, and shedding tears, she nodded. With a warm smile at her, he gave the order for his own capture and a retreat back to the empire.
Izumi looked at the retreating imperial army.
Courtois was too exhausted to give pursuit.
Chlust looked up at the sky.
“My brother’s coming back. You should go to him.”
“you have my gratitude!”
Of the dragons descending to the ground with teetering feet, Izumi picked out the single white dragon among them.
Sakuya slowly descended, gently placing Rudel and Aleist on the ground. As soon as she saw him, Izumi jumped right at him.
Similarly, Aleist’s harem members crowded around Aleist. It looked as if Aleist was going to be crushed.
Perhaps he could no longer speak, as Aleist could only entrust his body to the female members.
Izumi embraced Rudel.
“… You keep pushing yourself. You’re wounded again.”
As Izumi said that, Rudel opened his eyes ever-so-slightly and smiled.
“My bad. But I feel somewhat pleasant.”
Upon seeing a smiling Rudel, Izumi grew worried.
“You finally overcame it.”
Her voice was shaking.
“Yeah, so I have to work hard from here on.”
Rudel reached his hand towards Izumi’s face.
“You know… I’ve been thinking.”
“My achievements this time… I think I’d like you as a reward. If Chlust can do a good job with the Arses House, I think I’ll confess my feelings to you.”
Rudel’s hand brushed up against her face. She gripped it.
“Yeah, and I’ll accept them. I’ll always accept them, so…”
“That’s great. Then I have to think of the right words to propose… I’ll consult with Eunius or Luecke… do you think Aleist will do?”
Rudel’s voice turned just a bit dubious. Izumi spoke in jest.
“I don’t know about those three. Rudel, how about you think something up? I won’t be surprised no matter how off-beat it is. So…”
As Izumi shed tears, Rudel wiped one away with his fingers.
“I’ll get thinking… don’t get mad if I fail.”
Rudel closed his eyes.
“I won’t be mad! So… so stay with me!”
Rudel took just one deep breath.
“Yeah, now that the relief’s set in…”
Rudel’s hand slipped out of Izumi’s and fell to the ground. Izumi bawled out her voice as around, starting with Bennet, a great many individuals surrounded Rudel.
Every closed their eyes to offer a silent prayer.