『”ーNo. 7, report on the situation.”』 The voice, which contained irritation, got straight to the business.
The man, ーGold Eye, the No. 7 of the Black Cat Instituteー briefly responded. “There is no problem.”
『”Then, it’s fine.”』
“What about your side?”
『”They appear to be obedient. It doesn’t look like they’ve contacted the Hunter Guards and there seems to be no movement of the Shadow Star, either. But, aside from those youngsters, there is that vixen at Seidoukan. I don’t think that she will stay quiet like this.”』
A space window did not open from the portable terminal, which was for the exclusive use of the Black Cat Institute. It was possible to send an image, but this was basically voice only communication. And above all, the other party to whom this portable terminal was connected to was only one person ー Le Wolfe Black Institutes’s student council president.
『”Actually, I’ve also heard that around the area, there was a guy who was snooping around, looking for the kid. Well, as you know, the Rotlichtentertainment district isn’t under my direct control, so I don’t know the authenticity of the rumor.”』
Generally, it was thought that everything in the redevelopment area was under management of Le Wolfe Black Institute, but the internal conditions were a little different. This was because there are a substantially large number of various Mafia groups who managed the Rotlichtentertainment district and their upper echelon (top brass) consisted of dropout students from each academy and other criminals from outside of Asterisk.
Of course, since even among them, the percentage (ratio) that Le Wolfe graduates occupied was quite high, and many active students also had their names entered as constituent members, its relation with Le Wolfe was strong. Even looking historically, it was also a fact that Le Wolfe’s influence was strong.
However, they, and the current student council president, ーDirk Eberweinー were on very bad terms. Therefore the relations, between the Rotlichtentertainment district and Le Wolfe, were completely broken now. Since the students of the anti-Dirk faction within the academy were the most active, it might be said that a parts of the Mafia were close to antagonistic towards Dirk.
And; Dirk had tolerated it.
The man did not know the reason and he did not intend to know it, either. That was because it was not his duty.
The man had only to perfectly complete the mission, just as he was ordered.
He could ask for information necessary to carry out his duty, but it was ultimately the master who made judgment.
That’s why also, this time, the man asked to his master. “And in case that someone was to get in the way?”
『”We’ve a hostage on our side. Use that advantage. Even so, if they don’t withdraw… I don’t mind if you use her and then throw her away.”』
The man looked towards the young girl sitting on a corner of the room.
As she was asleep, there was no motion except for an occasional subtle stirring.
『”If I leave that boy as is, he will definitely become an obstacle in the future. I must have him understand, even if just a little, that I’m serious.”』
“Understood.” The man answered indifferently.
The man’s heart was not shaken no matter how cruel the order was.
In the first place, such a thing did not exist.
『”What’s wrong?”』 As if guessing that the atmosphere changed, the voice quizzically asked.
“It looks like someone apparently has come to get in the way.”
As the man said that, he cut the communication and looked up at the ceiling.
– ψ –
“…Is it really here?”
Saya looked up at the building in front of her and doubtfully inquired.
“Well, after checking it, the most suspicious place is here. As such, I think it’s very likely to be this place.” Though Eishiro shrugged his shoulders as if playing dumb, his eyes were serious.
“B-But, Yabuki-senpai really knows a lot of people. I was surprised.”
“Gee, it’s not that many.”
However when he was praised by Kirin, he floated an embarrassed grin as he did not seem to be dissatisfied.
“…In other words, it means that Yabuki usually plays around in this area.”
“Ugh…! That’s, um, how should I say it…” Eishiro awkwardly averted his gaze.
That said, certainly his popularity was the real deal.
No matter how much Ayato had narrowed the location down, it still was not as if they already knew the exact location of Flora. It was the first time that both Saya and Kirin has come to the Rotlichtentertainment district, but many shops were closed in daytime. There were only small casinos, that were open for 24 hours, which crowded with people. Due to that, there was also not that much pedestrian traffic so Saya and Kirin had hard time collecting information, but Eishiro heard interesting stories about this and that from familiar shops easily.
“So, specifically, what kind of suspicious place is this?”
“Uh huh, the building here was a fairly well-known casino, but it seems that it was remodeled just a little while ago.”
After hearing his reply, she once again returned her gaze to the building. It was a sizeable five-storey building. Although it faced the main street, it was built in a somewhat secluded place, so it was in the shadow of the neighboring buildings and its surroundings were somber.
Although there was no light now, the outer walls, which were decorated with lights that usually shone brightly in the town during the dazzling night, were comparatively new even to the point where one would not think that a remodeling was necessary.
“They say that, recently, guests seemed to go on rampages, and exterior aside, the interior was awfully messy.”
“He~e… It’s scary, eh.”
“Here, the replacement of tenants is incessant and renovations aren’t something unusual. There are also some specialists. But, it seems that the construction has been halted for these several days.”
“…It was halted?”
As Saya frowned, Eishiro chuckled.
“There was apparently some trouble on the side of the specialist which was in charge of it. The particular Mafia group, which was the owner of this, also seemed to be pushing for the renovations, in various ways, so I think that the next specialist will be decided before long.”
“…But, till then, it’ll be a building in a state of vacancy.”
“Well, something like that.”
Saya and Kirin simultaneously looked at each other, and silently nodded.
“All right, well then, won’t you check inside?”
What Saya and company had searched, up until now, were mostly abandoned buildings. They did not go as far as to enter on their own ー to be exact, the abandoned buildings were targeted by the Hunter Guards, as they wanted them under their control ー but this place was not. Regardless of whether it was under renovation, it was a casino so it probably had some sort of security system.
“Hey, hey, it was decided that I’d leave this to you. I’ll go check out the surroundings.”
Contrary to their expectations Eishiro took out his portable terminal, he connected it to the terminal of the front gate side.
And after he operated the optics keyboard with experienced hands, the door opened with a tepid sound.
“Hey, it’s opened.” Eishiro spoke casually
With blank expressions, both Saya and Kirin glared at him.
“It looks like when the insides were damaged, the conventional security system was damaged at that same time. The one which operates now is an un-challenging, simple version. Since it’s a makeshift system and the building is under renovation, they probably thought that it was enough with that; so we’re lucky.”
“No, even if that’s the case…”
“…No matter how you put it, your skill is too good.”
In response to the suspicious gazes, Eishiro hurriedly looked for excuses.
“N-No, something like this isn’t really a big deal, I say! The tool is something I found on the net, and it’s something I’ve also tried several times…”
Though there was doubt remaining, there was no time to investigate it now. After all, it was nearing noon, if they did not do it quickly, the finals would begin.
“C-Come on, come on, more importantly, we should hurry!”
While saying that to escape questioning, Eishiro entered to the building, and Saya and Kirin had no choice but go along with it.
The inside was in a much worse state than they had thought.
As the casino’s equipment had already been moved, the spacious hall, with a stairwell connecting to the second floor was empty and lonely, the walls and pillars, now without their luxurious adornings, became naked and were once again only supporting the floor above. For some reason, only the luxurious lighting was deliberately left intact, the shadows of pillars, which stretched on the bare floor, looked eerily creepy.
There were many big holes in the ceiling, but since one would not think that construction was necessary, it was probably something left by the guests who ‘went on rampage’. In that case, they could also agree that renovation was necessary.
“For the time being, it looked like there’s no one here.”
Kirin, while being cautious, looked around at the surroundings.
“Hmm, from the feeling I get, when I take a look at this building, it appears to be a six-layer structure of one floor basement and five floors above ground.”
Certainly there was a large set of stairs in the inner part of the hall, and they led to the second floor. The back looked like the downhill stairs. There was also an elevator on the side, but as expected they could not use it in this situation.
“…Above or below?”
“Hmm… either way, if the criminal is here, it’ll be dangerous to split; it’d be better to act together.”
“If possible, I would also like to do so. I’m bad at fighting after all.”
At Kirin’s words, Eishiro strongly agreed by saying “yes, yes”.
“…If you’re a man, you should say that we leave it to you instead.” Saya said with scornful eyes.
Eishiro answered without being timid. “It’s said the right person in the right place. Besides, I’m also doing my best for once, you know?”
“Doing your best?”
“I can’t help you, but then I should just call someone useful. Well, I don’t know if he’ll come, since I can only requestー wait… What’s that!?”
Shifting their attention to Eishiro’s voice, something was wriggling as if gushing forth in the shadow of a pillar.
“Is that… a person?”
While unsheathing the carp mouth of Senbakiri, Kirin quizzically muttered.
“…Mana is gathering around there. It’s probably a setting type ability.”
In other words, it would be a trap or defense device.
As Kirin said, it seemed to have a human shape, but the “shape” was only just close (in shape). The whole body was pitch-black, as if a shadow was cut out and had no ruggedness whatsoever, and the distinction of which was the front and the back could not be grasped. Both hands were pointed out like a sharp horn, and even if it was unpleasant, one could guess what kind of purpose it had. If compelled to say, was it certain it was a “person’s shadow”?
“At the very least, there’s no doubt that we’re right on the mark. Isn’t it all right?”
Eishiro who said that had already withdrawn to a position near the wall. It looked like he really intended to leave it all to Saya and Kirin.
The shadow, which had been doing nothing but standing stock still, suddenly attacked Kirin.
But, Kirin, without panicking, slew it with one stroke of her sword. The shadow which received Senbakiri’s blow vanished like mist just as if it were sand blown by the wind.
Although its movements were not that fast, the attack was simple, easy to read and above all it was too much fragile (brittle). Frankly, it was not at the level of being Saya’s or Kirin’s opponent.
“What, it isn’t that big a deal. Even I can manage just this much…”
The expression of Eishiro who was comfortably saying such things stiffened in middle of sentence.
This was because shadows arose once again from the shadows of the pillars. And this time, it was not just one or two.
“This… I wonder how many there are?”
The shadows which gushed forth from here and there in the shadows were about 50 in number when only assessed roughly. Moreover, they were still increasing.
The shadows attacked Saya and company one after another.
As Saya activated her hand gun type Lux in an instant, she defeated five shadows almost simultaneously by using quick shots.
“T-This is an ability of autonomy type! No matter how you put it, it’s impossible to control all of these simultaneously!”
From the words of Eishiro, who shouted while running around the hall while trying to escape, Saya recalled a story she heard from Ayato.
A person with ability called Cyrus who once fought against Ayato seemed to have the power to control more than one hundred puppets, but in actuality it was about ten puppets that he could control simultaneously.
However, such uniformity could not be observed at all in those shadows’ movements.
“Autonomous type ability means that the most they can do, is to only execute a simple order! The criminal probably commanded them with something like ‘eliminate the intruder’!”
“…I see. In that case, there is no real need to keep fighting them.”
Both Saya and Kirin still had damage from the semifinal. Especially Kirin, who had not yet recovered from the injury of her right leg, as for Saya, she had yet to fully recover her Prana. Even though their opponents were small fries, their stamina would not last if they were to take on all those shadows.
“…Kirin. I’m sorry, but I will rely on you for a little while.”
They were physically and mentally harmonized. Kirin who immediately understood Saya’s intention took one step forward and changed her stance in order to protect Saya.
After Saya put away the hand guns, she activated a huge Lux with a large gun barrel.
Most of the armaments on hand had received so much damage during the semifinal that maintenance was required, but as for this, the damage was still relatively shallow (light).
“Lux Type 39 Laser Canon Wolfdora ー sweep”
When Saya squeezed the trigger, a torrent of light gushed out. A large amount of Prana was consumed and everything before her eyes turned dark for an instant, but she shook her head slightly and endured.
The pillar of light mowed down the shadows with a roaring sound, when silence returned once again to the hall, nobody aside from Saya was remaining standing.
“Saya-san, are you all right…?”
Although she pretended to be all right as she muttered that to the anxious Kirin, she had not recovered as much Prana she’d thought. After the semifinal, since she had run about since yesterday to until now, with almost no rest, one could say that it was natural; This might be kind of bad.
Aside from the small armaments like hand guns, Saya’s heavy armaments were all of the Lobos transition system, as such one shot from one of her heavy armaments consumed as much Prana as meteor arts.
(At this rate, I can only shoot about two or three times. Huh…)
Although, in truth, she wanted to beat the criminal who kidnapped Flora into a pulp, it might be better to avoid battle as much as possible in this state. If the criminal obediently handed over Flora, it would be good. Of course, depending on the situation, it could not be helped if they had to fight, butー
“Hey, hey, you two! It looks like it’s still early to relax!”
Eishiro suddenly raised his face with a sharp voice.
Shadows in likeness of people began to arise again from the pillars’ shadows.
The number was the same as earlierー no maybe even more than that.
“Th-There is no end to this…!”
Slight impatience could also be felt in Kirin’s voice.
Now that it came to this, they could only force their way through, but there were a swarm of shadows on the other side of the stairs. Though they would have no problem if they were in perfect condition, for the current Saya and Kirin, there was a slight uneasiness remaining towards the breakthrough.
Even so, it was much better than continuing a war of attrition.
“…Kirin, it’s a little unreasonable, but we will break through.”
“Yes… we have no choice.”
It looked like Kirin was thinking the same thing. They nodded at each other.
Just before the shadows surged like an avalanche and were about to attack the two girls.
“Tch! Geez, what are you guys doing!”
A violent shock ran from the side and blew up the shadows altogether.
“Oooh, you finally arrive, huh! I was waiting for you!”
In contrast with the dumbfounded two girls, only Eishiro went out to meet that person while clapping his hands.
“…Lester MacPhail … Why are you here?”
Right. It was indeed Seidoukan Academy rank #9, Lester MacPhail who appeared with a sullen face.
“I was forcibly called by that bastard Yabuki! Otherwise, why would I expressly come to such a place?”
He shouted with the huge Halberd type Lux in his hand.
“Oh dear! “Forcibly” is saying too much. I just intended to ask a request though.”
“Negotiating while grasping hold of someone’s weakness is what a bastard like you calls a request? Shouldn’t you rather say blackmail?”
I see. It was like Eishiro to do such a thing.
That said, it did not change the fact that they were saved. The shadows charged forth anew, and most of them had turned towards the new intruder. They did not let this chance slip.
“…MacPhail, we leave the rest to you.” Saya said quickly, and took off shamelessly.
“S-Sorry! Please!” Kirin, who was honestly sorry, politely bowed.
After that, they cut into the swarm of shadows.
“Huh!? H-Hey, wait a minute!”
Though Lester’s perplexed voice flew from behind, there was no time to wait.
As Saya once again activated the two hand gun type Lux, she asked so to Kirin beside her while opening a path. “And, Kirin… above or below, which is it?”
“Which do you think it is, Saya-san?” Similarly, while swinging Senbakiri right and left, Kirin returned the question.
There was no reason. It was intuition.
“Me, too.” While chuckling, Kirin answered with that.
Back on the other side.
“Well then, MacPhail. Do your best.” Eishiro, while leaving those words, ran off somewhere.
Also, Saya and Kirin disappeared on the other side of the shadows…
Remaining in the hall were only Lester and the countless shadows.
The beginning of how it came to this was last night. When he wondered why he was suddenly contacted by Eishiro, he was allowed to help out with no chance to refuse.
It no longer mattered where Eishiro had learned his secret.
Though briefly, he was also told about the situation; even Lester could not stand a coward who tried to achieve their goals by kidnapping a small child.
The pent-up anger, from being eliminated in the third round of the Phoenix, had also piled up.
The shadows attacked Lester, who was looking downwards, and muttered to himself.
As Lester sent them flying with one swing of his halberd, he shouted in a loud voice to display his foul mood.
“Why am I the only one made to play such a role?”
– ψ –
As Ayato checked the time, he called out to Julis who was sitting on the sofa of the waiting room with her eyes closed. “It’s already time, Julis.”
“…I see” As Julis briefly answered, she stood up, stretching herself out greatly.
“Good grief, in the end, there was no call from Saya and the others.”
Since they did not know the situation over there, they could not contact them.
And the fact that they themselves were not yet contacted, it meant that it was probably that sort of situation.
“Fufufu, don’t make such a face, Ayato. Come on, let’s go.”
However with a calm look, Julis floated a wry smile and opened the door of the waiting room.
How many times had he already walked down the passage heading to the stage like this with her? At very least, he felt like it had been a very long time that had passed here since the first time when they had to fight in the first round. Even though it was only two weeks ago.
Julis suddenly muttered,
“ーHey, Ayato. It’s a good thing to have reliable comrades.”
Ayato stopped walking at the unexpected words.
Julis likewise stopped and continued as if speaking to herself.
“You know, Ayato. Flora and everyone in my country are important to me more than anything. That’s why I swore that I will do anything for them, and I thought it was fine as long as everyone is alright. But, when I think about it now, I was just shutting myself off from the world. ーAyato, I understood it well. Um… After having you as p-partner.”
“I can still make more important comrades like everyone in my country. Like Saya and Kirin.”
While looking straight at Ayato’s eyes, Julis smiled as she felt embarrassed.
“Now, I can honestly believe in them. So, don’t worry. I’m all right.”
“I see… Yes. Then well…”
Ayato and Julis who began to walk again stood side-by-side in front of the stage.
Julis who took a small breath while strongly clenching her fists, and went through the gate.
『”Now, player Amagiri Ayato and player Julis-Alexia van Riessfeld of Seidoukan Academy also make their entrance from the east gate! It’s finally the last match in this Phoenix where various fights have been unfolding for a period of two weeks! It’s the final!”』
『”Gee, I can’t wait.”』
A boisterous dance of dazzling lights.
While advancing within it, Julis muttered;
“It’s really strange. Even though we’re in a situation such as this, ーnowー I want to win this match so much that it’s unbearable (I’m dying to win this match).”
“Yes, me too.”
After he replied with that, Julis joyfully nodded.
“Ok, then, both you and I shall try to be as greedy as possible. Let’s obtain everything we desire.”
“Without losing anything.”
Ayato and Julis stared at the two autonomous type puppets before them.
One of the other duo, the owner of a large build that was as if it was piercing the heavens, heartily laughed.
“Fuhahahahahaha! We can finally face each other, Amagiri Ayato! I have been eagerly waiting for this time!”
“Master has been always talking about you, I am expecting so very much of you! By all means, give me the excitement which exceeds what Sasamiya Saya and Toudou Kirin gave me!”
While straightly tracing the sword cut carved from his forehead to his cheeks, Ardi shook his large build.
“Unfortunately, I can’t guarantee it…”
Although slightly nervous at that high tension, Ayato answered with a serious expression.
“But, this match ー I will win it. Absolutely.”
“Fufufu! Those words are enough!”
As Ardi stared at Ayato’s eyes, he happily nodded for some reason.
“And we only hope that, like those girls, you are humans suitable for giving you our respect. And…”
“ーIt’s before the match, and yet you already talk too much, you blockhead! Listen, in the first place, since you have a body with bad Mana consumption (fuel-inefficient body), at least respect yourself. If possible, if you could never again open your mouth, it will help me very much.”
Rimsi who was standing beside Ardi put a damper on him in a cold tone.
“Mmm… But you have been obviously talking more than me, though.”
“Do you not understand when I say to stop your impudent talk?”
Seeing a huge gun type Lux appearing in Rimsi’s hand, Ardi finally shut his mouth.
“…I already knew it, but they are really unusual puppets. Eh.” While observing their exchanges, Julis muttered, somewhat amazed.
“Hahaha… But, only a little, I think that I’m glad that our opponents in the finals are them.”
“Because we can confront them without hesitation.”
For example, judging from their strength, Irene or the twins of World Dragon might also have reached the finals, but it would not probably have been like this with them.
“Well, you’re right on the point wherein they are worthy opponents”
Julis activated Aspera Spina while saying so.
As Ayato also activated a blade type Lux, the live reporter and the commentator greatly rustled.
『”Oooh, as expected it looks like player Amagiri won’t use Ser-Versta in this final, either!”』
『”If you normally think about it, rather than not using it, may it not be that he can’t use it? the Ogre Luxes… especially that Ser-Versta is an item known to be hard to please, so there might be some trouble.”』
『”According to some rumors, there are talks that an urgent freezing process was applied (requested), but… oops, while we were speaking, the start time approached! Come on, everyone, whether you like it or not, now this is the last match of the Phoenix! Which pair will stand at the top?”』
While ignoring the voice of the excited live reporter, they focused.
The match start was exactly at noon.
Still three, two, oneー
“Phoenix Final, Battle start!” The school badges on their chest’s announced the last signal.
At the same time, Ayato released his power and headed straight towards Ardi.
『”Mmm! Is this a strategy of Amagiri-Riessfeld pair where they will beat player Ardi first with the two of them?”』
『”It’s standard strategy to aim at either one of the opponents, but for player Riessfeld, who should be in the back, going forward is a little unusual.”』
Right. When fighting against those two, the most troublesome thing was that fusion state which overwhelmed Saya and Kirin.
In that case, they should simply defeat either one of them before that.
Considering only from the aspect of defensive power, it was probably better to aim at Rimsi first, but that said, Rimsi had that flight unit. If she were to escape into the air, there would be no way to have a two-on-one fight.
“Let’s go, Julis!”
Ayato immediately adjusted his breathing and set up his sword.
“Amagiri Bright Dragon Style Sword Intermediate Technique ー
Nine consecutive attacks which combined five thrusts and four kinds of slashes.
It was a technique of the highest difficulty even among the Intermediate Techniques, but all of that was prevented before the defensive barrier which Ardi instantly deployed.
“Fuhahahaha! Unfortunately, I already have the data of that technique!”
Ardi proudly declared so.
“…Looks like it.”
Even so, to Ayato who showed a composed smile, Ardi leaked a voice as he was puzzled for an instant.
Certainly, he had also happened to use this technique once when he fought against Cyrus’ puppets. Since they were puppets which Ernesta made, it would not be strange for her to have gotten the data at that time.
They took that into account.
“Bloom proudly ー PrimroseDancing nine-spirering-flower!”
Immediately after, an intense heat rose behind Ayato.
Ardi’s defensive barrier was, so to speak, something like a shield, and the range in which it was able to defend was limited.
Even so, the speed with which it could be instantly deployed and the area of the deployment range covering 360° established it as an absolute defense.
But, when it came to simultaneous attacks from many directions, it would be difficult to defend with just the defensive barrier.
Ardi shook off the flame flowers which came attacking from all directions with his huge hammer. Though they were activated in a much shorter distance than usual, there was not even a slight disturbance in Julis’ control.
“Amagiri Bright Dragon Style First Sword Fighting Skill ー
At that chance, Ayato stepped forward further and let out the next technique.
The aim was of course the school badge on the chest.
“To ignore me like that, you are quite cheeky.”
Just before that, a swelling torrent of light attacked Ayato and Julis from the side.
It was the built-in weapon which Rimsi’s left arm changed into ー Ruinsharif.
“…No way, there is no way we would ignore you.”
However, before it hit directly, Ayato led Julis by the hand and dodged it, barely.
“We’re properly cautious.”
Rimsi opened her eyes wide, atypically, in surprise.
She was probably thinking it was a perfect timing.
Actually, if it was the usual Ayato, he would have not been able to dodge it.
But, the current Ayato’s perception expanded to the utmost limit, so he could grasp the information of the Battle-Stage with a bird’s eye view.
It was a technique called Field (state) of “Cognition” in Amagiri Bright Dragon Style.
This technique originally displayed it’s maximum (greatest) effect when in a situation of one-on-many fight, so it was not very useful in a situation of one-on-one fight. It was only tiring.
However, Julis applied this and devised a bold strategy.
Create a two-on-one situation in a tag battle and quickly defeat one opponent was, as the commentator said, standard strategy among standard strategies, but there was a suitable risk that came along with it. It was natural since the other opponent would become completely free. You might say that he could aim from the side as much as he liked.
Ayato, being able to grasp overall the movements, in the state of “cognition” meant that he knew not only Ardi’s and Rimsi’s movements, but also Julis’ as well. If so, then to take Rimsi by surprise, like now; if she was close to Ayato it was possible for him to evade by interfering with her movements.
Of course, it was in the end a theory; so even with Ayato’s reaction speed, it would be fairly limited. Originally there was nothing they could do against the attacks which Ayato could not deal with (for example, the state of “cognition” was inefficient against Kirin’s “Conjoined Cranes”). Above all, if Julis did not trust Ayato from the bottom of her heart, they would not have been able to do it at all.
(However, certainly we can considerably reduce the risk of the two-on-one fight like this…!)
Thinking about Ardi’s and Rimsi’s learning speed, they could not keep this up for much longer; in short, they should settle the match before that.
“Ayato, we will press him!”
Julis was completely concentrated on Ardi as the opponent.
While fighting side by side at a distance in which their bodies could collide, it was precisely because Ayato had the state of “cognition” that they did not collide.
“Bloom proudly ー Livingstone DaisyFlaming Crimson Decapitator!”
Countless flames blew up from the ground and chakrams of flame appeared as if swirling.
That they were slightly smaller than usual was probably because Julis gave priority to the number of them over their individual power. The crimson chakrams, which numbered were more than twenty, attacked Ardi.
It seemed that Rimsi’s supporting fire was not aimed at Ayato and Julis, but at the chakrams. As expected, her correction was quick.
Although the chakrams were shot down one after another by the light bullets which Rimsi fired, there was also no way that she could shoot all of them.
“Amagiri Bright Dragon Style, Intermediate Technique ー
From that place, Ayato rotated and put the force of his whole body into two consecutive strikes.
The tip of his sword was repelled by the defensive barrier close to the school badge, but while that happened, several chakrams shallowly cut Ardi’s armor.
After that, as Ayato set up his stance again ー he promptly turned around and shortened the distance to Rimsi in one movement.
Rimsi, who was currently devoting herself to Ardi’s support, managed to immediately change her aim over to Ayato; unfortunately Ayato was a step quicker.
Dodging the barrage scattered to restrain him ( by diverting his attention), Ayato delivered a flash from a low position.
He bisected the gun which Rimsi had on her right hand, and when he was about to release another strike, a wall of light suddenly appeared and stood in his way. It was Ardi’s defensive barrier.
Though Ayato dodged it as he stepped to the side, at that time, Rimsi released the flight unit and flew to the sky.
But again, this was expected.
“Fufufu, I was waiting for this moment…!”
They noticed it when watching their match against Saya and Kirin, but if Ardi’s defensive barrier was close to him, the deployment speed was faster. If he used it to protect another person who was in a distant place like now, a time lag would occur before he would be able to re-deploy the next barrier no matter what.
“Come out ー GloriosaGlorious Rending Flame Claw Flower!”
At the same time as Julis swung Aspera Spina downward, a magic circle materialized on the ground. A huge flame claw blew up and crushed the now defenseless Ardi.
“Gunuuuuuuuuuuuuh! This much is nothing!”
But, surprisingly (As surprising as it may seem) Ardi swung his hammer and blew off the flames, thereby breaking out of Julis’ trap with brute force.
Although there were burn marks on his armor, here and there, it did not seem to be serious damage.
“Kuh, what armor…!”
After clicking her tongue in vexation, Julis retreated to Ayato again.
“We have to go back to square one, huh.”
“That said, they aren’t opponents who will fall for the same trick twice.”
While moving his eyes as he adjusting his breathing, Ardi and Rimsi took their distance as well. It looked like they were thinking the same thing.
“Honestly, it’s really painful that our attack just now was not enough to decide this match. Though I think that we can still keep this coordination up for a while…”
Now that he could not use Ser-Versta, Ayato and Julis had almost no way to pierce that defensive barrier. They might somehow manage with Julis’s strongest firepower, but Ardi and Rimsi would not be so easygoing as to let her prepare it.
“Even the sword skills which Kirin used were not useful? That’s, leading the defensive barrier…”
“That’s a skill which could be done precisely because Kirin-chan… or should I say, the Toudou Style is the school which excels in it. That said, even I can do something like that, but it will be difficult to reproduce it at that level; besides I don’t think it will work on Ardi who has already experienced it once.”
After all, in the second half of the semifinal, he was already able to deal with Kirin’s attacks.
“In that case, the only choice we have now is to overwhelm him with the number of attacks. Huh…”
Julis muttered that with her face expressing “it can’t be helped”.
“Fuhahahahahaha! Splendid! It’s really splendid! It was a combination which surpassed my expectations, Amagiri Ayato! And Julis-Alexia van Riessfeld!”
Ardi’s noisy laughter resounded throughout the stage.
“Yesterday more than the day before yesterday, today more than yesterday, the self-confidence that we have certainly developed. Though, it seems like you are ahead of us. In that case, we have no choice but to quickly play our trump card.”
At those words, the entire audience got excited.
『”Oooh, it came, it came, that declaration from player Ardi! Does that mean that we will finally see that fusion again?”』
Though the live reporter was also really excited, it was not the same for Ayato and Julis.
“No, well, originally, I intended to do so from the beginning, but as usual, Rimsi did not allow it.”
“…Naturally. We have repetitively been told by Master not to use it carelessly, after all.”
Rimsi who turned a cold gaze towards Ardi openly breathed a great sigh.
“However, to be certain we will win against you, it looks like I can’t do anything but agree to do so. It’s extremely unpleasant though.”
“…We don’t intend to let you do so easily.” Ayato, while saying that, adjusted his stance again.
Though Ardi and Rimsi said that, in a matter of fact fashion, their current power, and that of Ayato and Julis, could be said to be on par, even if looking at it in a favorable light. It looked like they were overwhelmed precisely because they got caught up in Julis’ strategy, but it was obvious that they would recover if the battle was dragged on.
“I’m sure that even you know, but there is a big opening in the moment of preparation for the union. It isn’t like us to overlook it.”
At Julis’ words, Ayato greatly nodded inwardly.
It was understandable that Saya and Kirin were wary since it was the first time that it was done before their eyes, but Ayato and Julis already knew what it looked like. They would not hesitate.
“You are right. Certainly that requires a little time, and if it is you, you will probably not have any trouble in defeating us with that chance. However ー do you think our Master did not prepare some sort of measures to deal with that?”
As Rimsi said that, she stretched (held out) her left hand; Ruinsharif held right above.
“Ruinsharif, mode “Wolkenwurf” ー Maximum output.”
Then, Ruinsharif’s shape further changed. It was now just like huge cannon.
“I won’t let you do…!”
Though Ayato promptly jumped out, a huge light bullet was shot from Ruinsharif earlier than he could reach them. The bullet’s speed was surprisingly slow and at the moment one thought that it completely unmoving in the airー
“Julis, step back!”
It suddenly exploded and scattered countless small light bullets.
He tried to somehow reach Rimsi while dodging the light bullets which poured down as if they were rain, but it was not easy even with the state of “cognition”.
“ACM unit, first external armor, various Luxes purge… Limit control transfer”
Meanwhile, Rimsi and Ardi were steadily advancing the progression of their union.
“Eeih, now that it came to thisー!”
Ayato plunged into the rain of light bullets prepared to sustain some damage. No matter how high the bullet’s original power was, if they were finely separated to this extent, he should be able to pull through by investing as much Prana in defense as possible.
A shock much stronger than he expected struck Ayato’s body, but he endured it and charged through in one movement.
“…It’s too bad, Amagiri Ayato.”
Passing by Rimsi, Ayato swung his sword with all his might.
It accurately cut off the school badge on Rimsi’s chest ー but.
“Fuhahahaha! It looks like you were a step too slow!”
It was after the unit which separated from Rimsi had already united with Ardi.
“Camilla Pareto, badge broken”
At the same time, the school badge announced Rimsi’s defeat. It was Camilla’s name, because Rimsi participated in this Phoenix as her substitute ー in other words, it was because she was using Camilla’s school badge.
As Ardi who further expanded his large build said that and swung his hammer once, by just by doing that, a wind strong enough to blow a person away, was created.
“Good grief… Well then, I leave the rest to you.”
“Yea! Good work!”
Rimsi stepped back with slow steps and Ardi stepped forward in her stead.
“Well, let’s begin the second round!”
– ψ –
As Kirin and Saya descended underground, they immediately ran into a huge door. It did not have an electronic lock, but was a normal door which could be opened by hand.
Since Saya and Kirin had fought so many shadows upstairs, if the criminal was here, they should have already surmised that Kirin and Saya had invaded. So now, they did not intend to move stealthily, but the other party had a hostage. As such, It was probably wise for both or them to prepared for if something happens.
“Saya-san, I’m going first.”
Even though she had an injured leg, it was Kirin’s role to be the vanguard.
Saya should stand back and watch the situation until she could grasp it and then move only necessary.
Seeing that Saya nodded, Kirin slowly opened the door.
In there, a hall was spread out like on the above floor. However, unlike the first floor which had an open ceiling, the ceiling was not too high and there were also a lot more pillars.
Lighting in the form of lanterns was hung all over the place, but since the lights, which could be considered as the main lighting, was not switched on, overall it gave a gloomy impression. However there were still a few lights, some that were much brighter than others in places, and a small girl was illuminated by one of them. The girl’s feet and hands were bound, and she wearily hung her head in as she leaned on the pillar.
However there were still a few lights, some that were much brighter than others in places, and a small girl was illuminated by one of them. The girl’s feet and hands were bound, and she wearily hung her head in as she leaned on the pillar.“Flora-chan.”
When Kirin called out to her, the girl startled raised her face.
Though one could not know what she was saying, as a gag had been forced in her mouth, she repeatedly shook her head greatly.
At that moment, Kirin suddenly felt bloodlust and leapt back a large distance.
A huge black thorn flew out from the shadow of the pillar a moment later, but it pierced the empty space where Kirin had been standing just a second ago. In appearance, it looked most like a thorn from a sea urchin.
Moments later, similar thorns flew out from other shadows, aimed at Kirin as well.
Kirin dodged those attacks while bearing the pain running through her leg, but all of them were dangerous. After all, she could not grasp at all from where they would fly out from.
(Be it these thorns or the shadows on the first floor, as expected, it’s someone with the ability to use “shadows” as weapons…!)
Since there were countless lights placed in the hall, any one object produced multiple shadows. She had to look out for not only the floor, but also the walls, the ceiling and all four directions. In other words, the adversary was able to display his ability to its full potential in this place.
However, it’s as if he actually controlled the shadows; he probably collected Mana on the shadow image’s core.
“ーI see, Toudou Kirin, huh. A very big shot came over.”
Before long, exactly when the attacks stopped, one man came out from the pillar against which Flora was leaned. It looked as if he oozed out from the darkness, and he had cold, inhuman air which would make one shiver. His voice also seemed cold, just like something without emotion.
“…Are you the kidnapper?”
The man, without answering Kirin’s question slightly shook his finger. As if responding to it, a thorn which extended from Flora’s shadow thrust towards her throat.
“If you get in my way, I can’t guarantee this girl’s life.”
“N-No way…! Please stop it already! Even if you do such a thing, you’ll just put yourself at a disadvantage!”
For example ー Kirin was also frightening just to imagine it, but if by chance he was to do such a thing, she would lose all self-restraint. The man’s desire would not be achieved, but his crime would just become more severe.
However, the man looked at Kirin with his eyes like stones without warmth.
“I will just tell you one thing. It doesn’t matter what will happen to me.”
Kirin shuddered at those words.
It was because she understood that he was serious.
If Kirin did not obey, this man would pull it off without hesitation.
“First of all, throw away your weapon.”
Since she understood it, Kirin had no other choice but thrust it aside.
Helplessly, she slowly put Senbakiri on the floor.
At that moment, “Kirin! Flora!” Saya’s voice sharply resounded in the hall.
At the same time the thorn, which was thrust at Flora’s throat, was shot out, and became dust that disappeared.
In addition, with a single dull gunshot sound, before long, the hall was filled with dazzling light.
(A flare bombー!)
That strong light temporarily wiped out any other current shadows, and created a new shadows instead. But, that meant that it changed from where the opponent’s attack could come.
After Kirin picked up Senbakiri, she ran to Flora with all her power.
The pain on her leg no longer mattered. She did not even mind that it tore and the wound got worse.
The man slightly knitted his eyebrows and shook his finger. Mana wriggled, and a new thorn was created from Flora’s shadow.
“I won’t let you do that!”
Kirin’s sword slash cut off that thorn with little room to spare, and she held Flora while rolling over.
As support, light bullets were continuously shot towards the man from the direction of the entrance of the hall.
“This shooting… Sasamiya Saya, huh.”
The man easily dodged them, but it was enough to give time for Kirin.
Still holding Flora, immediately, she was returning to the entrance ー On the way, her right leg reached its limit.
Desperately enduring so she did not to fall down, she relieved herself of guarding Flora while gritting her teeth in pain.
“I-I’m all right! More importantly, take Flora!”
As Kirin removed the gag at last, Flora said with a face ready to cry at any moment.
“T-Toudou-sama! Thank you!”
“No, more importantly, head quickly to that door…!”
She made a smile so she did not worry Flora and strongly pushed her back.
Meanwhile, thorns attacked from the shadows in the surroundings, but they were all repelled by Saya’s light bullets.
Wiping her tears while muttering, Flora began to run. Even though a child, she was a Starpulse Generation. She soon reached the entrance.
After watching her back, Kirin turned to face the man.
“Now, then… what will you do?”
“As if you need to ask. I will eliminate you guys and take the girl back.”
It looked like he did not feel like backing down.
A black-lacquered blade slipped out from the man’s arm. It was not a Lux, but a real sword. Though it was about the size of a dagger, it seemed to have been equipped directly in the arm. It probably hated that his hands were closed.
“In that case, even if it costs me my life, I can’t let you pass here.”
Kirin who said that also got in a stance with Senbakiri.
Guessing from his attack patterns so far, there were several restrictions to the man’s ability.
First, his shadows could not be subject to quite complicated movements. If this was possible, Kirin would have already been skewered long ago.
And at the same time it let one guess another restriction. Perhaps, the man’s ability could not activate if it was not a situation which he had a visual of the targets shadows. Since the shadows on the upper floor were setting-type ability, it would be all right as long as he could see them when setting them up.
(In other words, this ability specialized in surprise attacks and assassination…)
When used in that manner, it was an extremely frightening ability, but when faced with a direct confrontation, it was another issue. Surprise attacks from a blind spot would be troublesome, but fortunately, now Kirin had Saya’s support. As long as there was Saya’s shooting skill, there was no need to be any more afraid.
ーHowever, Kirin immediately realized that it was a naive (optimistic) thought.
Kirin’s Senbakiri blocked the man’s slash. It was nevertheless a heavy blow which precisely aimed at the vitals.
Though Kirin parried it, the man immediately rebuilt his stance and returned a sharp thrust.
Although Kirin who thought that she had handled it well as she dodged it by jumping aside, her right leg could not follow. The black-lacquered blade grazed her left arm, and the man’s knee hammered into her abdomen in a place that caused her movements to became dull.
Though she almost collapsed on the floor unintentionally, she could not do it.
Kirin mustered her power and leapt back greatly taking a distance.
A thorn from a shadow attacked her as it aimed at where she was to land, but it was eliminated by Saya.
She could by no means afford to underestimate him. There was also the handicap of her injured foot.
However, even if Kirin was in perfect condition, would she really be able to defeat this man…?
In terms of sword skills, Kirin was above him, but she was completely losing in Taijutsu. Moreover, there was no hesitation at all in his attacks. An art of combat with sole purpose of killing the opponent.
Since Saya must protect Flora, she probably had her hands full by just dealing with the man’s ability.
If Kirin used “Conjoined Cranes”, she might be able to defeat him; but it would be difficult considering the condition of her foot.
(It’s all or nothing… No, but if I fail…)
But, the man did not give her room to think.
As he shortened the distance with a surprisingly quiet run, he let out sharp, consecutive attacks.
Throat, chest, temple, abdomen.
If any of his attacks which contained blade, fists and kicks were to hit her, the fight would be settled as these attacks aimed only at her vitals.
“ーIt’s the end”
The man suddenly muttered and his figure disappeared from Kirin’s eyes.
At that moment, Kirin noticed that she had been maneuvered into a trap.
Before her eyes, a wall. It was the light behind her that caused Kirin’s shadow to be projected there.
(Like this, my body will get in the way and Saya-san won’t be able to shoot…!)
Though she turned her body as she heard Saya’s voice, she was slightly late.
A thorn which extended from the shadow pierced Kirin’s flank.
To the pain which felt like a lump of burning iron was pushed (in), a scream was unconsciously leaked.
Her clothes were quickly dyed in red and she was rapidly losing strength.
Though she almost dropped Senbakiri, she bit her lips and endured it somehow, and cut off the thorn with her trembling hand.
But, it was the best she could do, and she forcibly stopped her body which almost fell down by using Senbakiri as support.
“It’s a vital point. You are no longer able to fight with that bleeding. She will lose her life if you don’t treat it quickly.”
The man indifferently declared and calmly advanced.
But, Kirin stood so as to block his way with unsteady steps.
“What can you do with your body in that state?”
There was neither scorn nor self-conceit in the man’s voice. He was just telling the fact.
Right, it was a fact.
Kirin was probably not able to wield her sword anymore.
“Do you want to try, and see…?”
Then, it must be after the next strike she would give up.
As Kirin forcibly fixed her breathing, she sheathed Senbakiri and took a stance.
“A quick draw, huh…?”
The man also narrowed his eyes as he was cautious.
He must not be careless for even an instant here.
“Toudou Style, art of sword drawing ー “Folding Feather””
Muttering so, Kirin unsheathed Senbakiri.
ーAt least, the man probably thought it would be like that.
To the man’s pupils which were like stones, surprised surfaced for the first time.
It was because Kirin had not even drawn out Senbakiri yet after all.
“Toudou Style, art of sword drawing ー “Folding Feather”.
However, the man’s body had reflexively moved so as to deal with her illusionary slash.
From Kirin’s perspective now, it was similar to a figure full of openings.
This time for real, Senbakiri ran through its scabbard and drew a sword slash.
The point of the sword splendidly cut off the tendons of both arms of the man.
The Toudou Style’s secret technique is “Conjoined Cranes” ー in other words, an unending chain of continuous attacks.
However, its essence is to trick the opponent by use of gaze, breathing, and preliminary movements or gestures.
Making use of that was the Toudou Style, Art of Sword Drawing ー it was a sword of illusion which made it seem like it was drawn out even though it was not. This was the first time that Kirin had succeeded in doing it in actual combat though.
But, Kirin who reached her limit staggered and fell to her knees, drained.
On the other hand, the man was still standing in front her, languidly hanging both of his arms.
“It’s a great technique, but you’ve reached your limit. I can still…”
“ーNo, it’s enough.”
Before the man finished speaking, a whirlpool of light swallowed his body.
Wolfdora’s shot, which Saya fired, sent the man flying into the wall, and the wall which received it could not take it and raggedly crumbled down. Just like that, the man’s body had been swallowed in the collapsed debris.
Of course, there was no way that Saya would have overlooked such an opening. If the line of fire was cleared because Kirin squatted down, the only thing she had to do was to leave the rest up to her. Right, she trusted her.
“Kirin, pull yourself together!”
While hearing the voices Saya and Flora who rushed over, Kirin thought of Ayato and Julis as her consciousness faded.
(That’s right… the Senpais’ match, I wonder how it’s going…)
– ψ –
It was a strength that could not be expressed as anything other than that.
“Fuhahahahahaha! What’s the matter, Amagiri Ayato?”
While dodging Ardi’s hammer by a hair’s breadth, Ayato had sneaked around to his blind spot and swung his sword.
Only to have it stopped by the defensive barrier as if it was natural that it did not reach.
In addition, another barrier forcibly sent Ayato flying, and Ardi’s hammer attacked him with a strike on his side as his body floated in the air. As Ayato extended his arm and thrust his sword into the ground, he changed his trajectory by using it as a pivot point and somehow dodged the blow.
“Bloom proudly ー PrimroseDancing nine-spirering-flower!”
At the same time, Julis’ fireballs attacked Ardi, but they were also stopped by multiple defensive barriers.
“Eeih, what on earth is happening? No matter how you put it, he (it) has become too strong!”
“Really, I agree…!”
As Ayato created some distance and congregated with Julis, he nodded while smiling wryly.
Though they had thought that since the time they watched the semifinal’s match, Ardi’s strength after the union was abnormal.
From basic specs such as power and speed up to the power of the weapons armaments, roughly all of the abilities which could be considered had improved. Even if Rimsi gave all her power to Ardi, it should be impossible to be strengthened like this.
Moreover, what was frightening was that that strength was completely different even in comparison to what he showed in the semifinal.
“Even when he fought against Saya and Kirin, he did not deploy multiple defensive barriers!”
This was no longer an issue at the level of whether his learning ability was high.
It was fortunate for Ayato and Julis that Ardi was not assertively attacking. It looked like Ardi wanted to enjoy this battle for as long time as much as possible.
“Fuhahahaha! Splendid! So, this is what it means when power boils! And the current me is able to use this power much more efficiently than before! What delight! What excitement! This is what was given by Master, my true power!”
At these words, Ayato suddenly thought of one possibility.
“Hey, Julis… If the current Ardi thinks that those are his original specs, how is it (what do you think)?”
If the purpose of the union was not to strengthen, but to display his original power.
“Like your seal? It isn’t something impossible, but for what reason would they do such aー Ayato!”
When he returned his gaze, after being startled by Julis’ voice, Ardi was heading towards them as he positioned a large gun.
“Now, take this! This is my Walneil Hammeeeeerrrrrrrrrrr!”
The head of the hammer was launched with a shock strong enough shake the air.
“Julis, hold on!”
As Ayato drew Julis close to him, he greatly jumped to the side.
While being stirred up by the blast and rolling on the ground, Ayato and Julis immediately stood up and fixed their stances. When looking at it, the area where the hammer hit directly was gouged out.
“The power of that also seems to have increased…”
In addition to the fact that it was a really destructive power, like this, even if they avoided a direct hit, it looked like they would receive considerable damage by just being caught in the blast.
“Fuhahahaha! Come on, I can still keep going!”
After Ardi caught the hammer head, which had come back to the handle, he prepared to shoot again without a moment’s pause.
“What’s more, a rapid-fire (successive discharges)…!?”
Ayato and Julis began to run around the outer circumference of the stage. As if chasing them, explosions occurred behind them many times.
“Though it’s late to ask, isn’t there any strategy?”
“Don’t be absurd! If I could at least do something about that defensive barrier, it’s not as if there isn’t something we can do, but….”
Although searching for their next move while running, it was, as expected, difficult with this much of a difference in power.
“Hmm… As expected unlike Rimsi, I am not very good at shooting. It will not easily hit. ーNo, wait.”
Then Ardi, who just thought of a good idea, laughed loudly.
“Fuhahahahahaha! That’s right! In that case, how about this?”
At the same time as Ardi loudly said that, the hammer was launched.
Even though they hurriedly changed the direction, multiple defensive barriers were already deployed to surround them.
“Like this, you cannot easily dodge!”
At the same time as Ardi loudly said so, the hammer was launched.
“Eeih…! Bloom proudly, AnthuriumGreat Crimson Heart Blazing Shield!”
Although Julis promptly manifested a shield of flames, it was easily broken, and Ayato concentrated Prana to protect Julis. A shock, which tore at their limbs, assaulted them and their visions became dark for an instant. Thrown against the Battle-Stage defense wall, his bones creaked, and it was as if all his internal organs had been crushed.
(This is how it is when one invests all the Prana to the defense, huh…)
While wiping blood on his lips, Ayato totteringly (unsteadily) stood up.
“Julis… are you all right?”
“Yes, somehow since you protected me… Sorry, you saved me.”
It looked like Julis also sustained considerable damage, but she somehow stood up and smiled wryly.
That said, it would be probably impossible to endure once again that attack just now.
“Hohou~u, you receive that direct hit, and you still stand, huh… as expected!”
Though Ardi praised so, he retrieved the Hammer head which came back, and set it up once again. One could understand that power gathered there.
(Now it came to this, I must at least be prepared for mutual defeat…!)
Even if Ayato was defeated, they would win as long as Julis remained. He did not think that he could break that defensive barrier even if he went towards it with the risk of being defeated, but it was much better than being defeated like this without doing anything.
Just when Ayato resolved himself for it and positioned his swordー
『”How overwhelming, Player Ardi’s power! Now, finally this final will come to its… wait, eeeeh!? Hey!?”』
『”Uwaaaaaaaah! What is it, what is it?”』
Confused voices suddenly resounded from the live reporter seat.
And just after that, in a familiar voice different from both the live reporter’s and the commentator’s;
『”ーErrr, ahem. Ayato, Julis, do you hear?”』
That calm, yet gentle voice was without doubt Claudia’s.
『”Flora is safe. So rest assured. And ー fight to your heart’s content.”』
One could see that Ayato, Julis, Ardi and even the whole hall were dumbfounded for an instant.
『”Fufufu, well then, please excuse me.”』
『”Come again!? Just n-now, that was Seidoukan Academy student council president, right!?”』
『”Ah, yes, it was… It was Ms. Claudia Enfield, I think.”』
Both the live reporter and the commentator were still confused about the sudden intruder. And all the more so since they did not understand at all the meaning of her speech.
However, Ayato and Julis looked at each other’s faces and burst into laughter.
“Puh, Hahahahaha! Geez, that girl, no matter how you put it, she is too reckless!”
“To think that she would barge in the live reporter seat expressly just to communicate with us…”
That said, it was also a fact that there was no other way than that to communicate with the players during a match. If one were follow the rules of the Festa, there might be some sort of censure, but Claudia, surely aware of that, had done it for Ayato and Julis.
Ah, yes, it was… It was Ms. Claudia Enfield, I think.
“Now then, we can’t afford to lose after she went as far as to do it.”
“Also for Saya’s and Kirin-chan’s sake.”
Ayato said that and took an activation body from the holder on his waist.
Since those two girls did it, next was their turn.
“Hmm, I don’t know what it was just now… but, I will just merely fully use my power!”
Ardi fixed the aim of his hammer to Ayato and Julis and the Hammer head begun to rotate with an intense force.
“Walneil Hammer, fire!”
The hammer head which was released with a heavy low-pitched sound approached them at high speed.
But, Ayato calmed down and activated his Ogre Lux which lit up it’s deep crimson Ulm Mana Dite.
“…Ok, lets go, Ser-Versta.”
He said to the pure white blade, with a jet black pattern that surrounded it.
As the large blade of its huge single edge bisected the Hammer head with one swing, it also cut all the defensive barriers which surrounded Ayato and Julis.
“ーIt’s the beginning of the counterattack.”
– ψ –
“Can’t you do anything, Ernesta?”
Meanwhile in Allekant’s watching booth, Camilla was pressing Ernesta (for an answer).
“Well, even if you say that.”
“Even you understand, don’t you? The increasing rate of these numbers isn’t normal! We should stop him as soon as possible!”
Compared to Camilla’s serious expression, Ernesta’s expression on the other hand was really loose.
“Even you understand, don’t you Camilla? Since the limit control has been already transferred by Rimsi, we can no longer do anything at this point.”
“There is still the forced outage, right?”
In all puppets, for emergency one was obligated to put a function so as to shut down all the functions from the outside. Ardi was not an exception.
“Hey stop it! Do you ask me to forcibly shut out my own child?”
However, it will give damage to the nucleus part (nerve center) of puppets, and irreparable damages were more likely to occur in the software than in the hardware.
“You should do so if necessary. You have that responsibility.”
As Ernesta said that monotonously, she turned to face Camilla with a slightly serious face.
“You know, I may not look like this, but I earnestly believe.”
“Believe, you say? In what? In the you that created them?”
Ernesta just shrugged her shoulders without replying.
Camilla glared at such Ernesta for a while, but she greatly sighed before long and sat on the chair.
“…I think that it’s a reckless gamble though.”
“Fufufu, I said it before, right? That the life is a series of gambles.”
“But, there is no existing human being who keeps winning.”
To Camilla who admonished as she gave up, Ernesta chuckled and answered.
“Well, that’s true. But, isn’t it precisely why it’s interesting?”
– ψ –
As Ayato set up Ser-Versta, he shortened the distance to Ardi in one movement.
Ardi faced his enemy and deployed another defensive barrier again to block Ayato, but he easily bisected it.
“I see, as expected an output of this level is nothing for you, huh… In that case!”
As Ayato jumped towards Ardi’s bosom with godlike speed, he slashed with Ser-Versta from below. No matter how thick Ardi’s armor was, it might as well be paper before Ser-Versta which had easily burned away that defensive barrier.
With the timing being so perfect, the current Ardi did not have any technique to defend against this blow.
ー Or that should have been the case.
But, Ardi repelled Ayato’s Ser-Versta’s attack with his hammer.
Ayato opened his eyes wide in surprise and looked closer.
Ardi’s hammer head should have definitely been destroyed a little while ago.
“Fuhahahahahaha! I will be troubled if you underestimate my defensive barrier! Even if I can’t defend with a single barrier, if I bundle and compress them like this, even Ser-Versta will not be able to break it easily!”
Certainly, in the hammer which Ardi wielded, there was something which was made up of multiple compressed layers of light barriers instead of the normal head.
“But, in that case…!”
If he refocused the barrier, which he had used for defense up until now, into a weapon then, in the end, it was no difference in having diverted the defensive barrier.
Only one stroke of sword.
It would be all right as long as it reached Ardi’s school badge.
Ayato’s Ser-Versta and Ardi’s hammer violently clashed and scattered sparks.
When Ayato slashed his sword diagonally from the shoulder, Ardi parried; when Ardi mowed down the hammer, Ayato dodged it. Even after exchanging dozens of blows, both of them did not yield, not even a little.
“Fuhahahaha! It’s fun! It’s really fun! But, not yet! My power is not still something like this!”
“I’ll be troubled if you forgot about me!”
After the dragon of flame spread its wings, it lightly soared and attacked Ardi from the sky.
“Bloom proudly ー Antirrhinum MajusSnapping Firebloom of the Engulfing Dragon!”
As the dragon of flame spread its wings, it lightly soared and attacked Ardi from the sky.
For Ardi, who was exchanging blows with Ayato currently, there were no means to defend against it.
After Ardi strongly repelled Ayato’s blow, he leapt back taking a distance and repositioned his hammer in order to confront the flame dragon and destroy it.
However, Ayato was not so naive as to allow it.
“Amagiri Bright Dragon Style Sword Intermediate Technique ー
Six consecutive thrusts after taking a stance in the haze.
With this timing and this time for sure, either Ayato’s Technique or Julis’ dragon, Ardi should only be able to deal with one of them.
“Nuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh! Not yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet!”
However as Ardi conspicuously roared loudly, blue light gushed out from all of his body.
At the same time Ayato was sent flying with a tremendous power and the dragon of flame disappeared.
(Blue light…!? I see, so that’s what it is…!)
Julis rushed over to Ayato who somehow straightened his posture and managed to land.
“Are you all right, Ayato?”
“Yes, I’m all right… But, this is a little unexpected.”
Ayato said that and looked at Ardi.
Ardi’s roar resounded without a pause and the blue light increased its shine more and more.
An invisible power seemed to be swirling in its surroundings and one could not readily approach.
“However, what on earth is that…?”
“Julis, didn’t you notice? We should have had fought against a similar opponent.”
“What did you say?”
“I should have noticed it earlier. In the first place, no matter how much strong the barrier was, it shouldn’t be able to exchange blows head-on against Ser-Versta. In the past, what was able to do it was…”
As if also realizing it, Julis muttered with an amazed expression.
“Exactly. If it isn’t another Ogre Lux, it shouldn’t be able to defend against Ser-Versta’s attacks.”
Ayato calmly nodded and continued.
Ser-Versta was a non-defensive demon sword which burned all creation. The Ogre Lux Gravi-Sheath owned by Irene, whom they fought in the fourth round, was the only weapon which was able to exchange blows with Ser-Versta.
“ーIn other words, Ardi is probably using its Ulm Mana Dite as a power source.”
Originally, the light given by Mana Dite’s were always green. It was only Ulm Mana Dites which possessed peculiar colors. It’s not as if a color could not be somehow applied by processing, but that blue light was clearly different.
“But… then, don’t tell me, it means that Ardi himself is an Ogre Lux…?”
“Who knows? I don’t know whether it’s correct to call him that, but… A least, we could presume that that is its ability defensive barrier.”
In any case, that would explain everything.
It was because the fusion turned (invested) the Ulm Mana Dite’s power into output ー rather, it was probably intended to restrain (hold down) the overly powerful output of the Ulm Mana Dite by the use of multiple Mana Dites. If thats the case, the parts received from Rimsi were probably the control unit.
“Wait! Then, the current Ardi, could rampageー!?”
As she recalled the scene with Irene’s battle, Julis turned pale. Certainly, the current situation was quite close to the time when Gravi-Sheath rampaged.
But, Ayato thought differently.
“No, it is certainly sure that that power isn’t easily managed, but Ardi is probably…”
Just as Ayato said that, Ardi’s roar suddenly stopped.
The force field, which had been rampaging so much, disappeared as well and a sudden silence fell on the stage.
However, only the blue light which overflowed from Ardi’s body did not disappear and it even seemed to increase in strength.
“…Fu, fuhahahahaha! I see! So, this is my power! It is no wonder that Master warned us!”
“Perhaps, did he control it…?”
Julis opened her eyes wide in surprise, but Ayato, though vaguely, had expected that it was probably like that..
The Ogre Lux, by the affinity between its user and itself ー in other words by the compatibility rating ー depended on how much power could be drawn out. If so, then Ernesta should have taken this into consideration.
Though only a guess, even this personality of Ardi was probably something adjusted in accordance with the personality of the Ulm Mana Dite.
“Now, though regrettable, we shall soon put an end to this.” Ardi said.
On the armor of Ardi, upon closer inspection, there were countless cracks. The blue light also began to leak from there.
The body of Ardi could not endure the output of the Ulm Mana Dite.
“Here I come!”
But, as Ardi once again built the hammer with defensive barriers, he rushed without taking a stance.
Ayato put Ser-Versta in a horizontal position to meet it.
That blow was clearly faster and heavier than when they exchanged blows a little while ago.
Although managing the huge hammer in his hands should be difficult, the overwhelming output and his learning ability surpassed it.
Probably for that reason, after exchanging dozens of blows, Ayato was beginning to gradually get pushed back.
Tough not to the extent of Ardi’s hammer, since Ayato’s Ser-Versta was also quite big, it was not easy to handle it effectively. Following the speed of the current Ardi was the most he could do.
(At this rate, I will be overwhelmed soon…!)
“Ayato, step back!”
Julis’ sharp voice struck his ears.
Ayato, who immediately guessed her intention, blocked the hammer which was deflected downwards with the flat part of Ser-Versta’s blade and leapt back with that momentum.
“Fufufu! Did you set a trap or something again? All right, I will show you that any kind of techniques will no longer work on the current me!”
“Hou, you said it right? Then, fully taste this!”
As Julis swung downward Aspera Spina, a huge magic circle emerged at Ardi’s feet.
“Come out ー RafflesiaGreat Sparkling Bomb Ring Flower!”
At that moment, a flame flower of a tremendous size manifested before Ardi’s eyes and swelled up.
“Fuhahahahahaha! Look! With the current me, even something like this is possible!”
Defensive barriers locked it up from every direction so as to crush its petals.
Ardent flames and blast raged within that box, but the defensive barriers did not waver at all.
Julis muttered with an astonished face.
It was no wonder, since this large Great Sparkling Bomb Ring Flower was the technique with the highest heat even among Julis’ setting-type abilities. It had also been outdone by Gravi-Sheath before, but even then it was only prevented locally. If it was completely blocked, the shock would be probably big, as well.
“Then, I shall return the favor!”
As Ardi held up his palms, this time he overlapped the defensive barriers and deployed them into a huge sphere. And enormous energy was gathered within. He would probably pour all of the output of the Ulm Mana Dite into it.
Ardi tightly grasped his hands, and before long the sphere was quickly compressed and settled it into his fist.
“Don’t tell me…!”
Ayato’s intuition informed him of a danger of high level ー but, he could do nothing about it.
“Now, burst open!”
As Ardi opened his fist, the compressed energy was released all at once.
It was a huge explosion big enough to drag the whole stage into it. Of course, there was no way out of it.
Everything went white by a flash of light, and Julis’ scream was drowned out by a thunderous sound.
Ayato who was blown away like a piece of trash was about to lose consciousness for an instant due to the force impact, but fortunately, the acute pain which ran throughout his body forced him to stay awake.
Ayato, who was knocked down, somehow managed to raise his body and checked out the situation. Although his uniform, made of composite fibers, was torn all over, his school badge was safe with only a couple scratches as if he partly protect it unconsciously.
He was relieved but as he raised his gaze, his expression unconsciously hardened.
The stage, which spread before his eyes, was completely destroyed.
The ground had been gouged into a crater, and the artificial soil used for shock absorption was completely blown away.
Even on the Battle-Stage’s defense walls, which were protecting the audience, sparks were scattering here and there.
Just one point, a little section at the center of explosion, remained intact.
Multiple defensive barriers layered in a dome around Ardi, who stood there.
(Even if it was in the center of that explosion, is he unscathed…?)
If so, then the solidity of the defensive barrier might be able to endure Ser-Versta’s offensive ability. It might have been different if Ayato could draw all the power of Ser-Versta, but it may not be equal to that of the current Ardi who was able draw out all the power of his Ulm Mana Dite.
“Fuhahahaha! Now, now, let’s continue! I have not yet…”
However, after only saying that much, he suddenly fell to his knees.
Was it disintegration due to the high output of the Ulm Mana Dite? From both his legs, blue sparks scattered.
It did not seem to be that big a deal, but thanks to that, it gave enough time, even if only a little, for Ayato to fix his stance.
As expected, if he was chased in this situation, he would not get away.
“Ayato, are you safe…?”
When turning her face with weak voice, Julis just raised her body behind Ayato.
However, an anguished expression surface on Julis’ face and she immediately fell down again.
“I-I’m all right… is what I would like to say, but as expected it’s been a little tough…”
Even though she was helped up by Ayato, Julis, completely exhausted, just floated a wry smile.
“To be honest… do you think that we still have a chance of winning?”
“…It isn’t like there’s none, but…”
For example, if they gained time as is, the possibility that Ardi would self-destruct was high.
But it was not likely that Ayato and Julis would be able to hold on until then. After all, they already had wounds all over their bodies. They still have enough Prana, but most of the damages accumulated were draining Ayato’s physical strength and he was reaching his limit.
It would probably be enough to be able to exchange at most dozens of blows at full power.
“That plan isn’t too realistic… Anything else?”
“If I could at least surpass him in speed, I would go for a bout…”
Under the present condition where he too fell behind in sword speed, even desperate (suicidal) tactics could not be used.
Just as a side-note, there was also meteor arts, but even with the power increased, because the sword blade would become larger, the sword speed would drop further. In that case, it would not even be able to hit the current Ardi.
As Julis thought of something, she suddenly lifted her head.
“I recall having heard from Claudia before that Ser-Versta originally takes the most suitable form for its user. But, I don’t think that this form is like that. If you can somehow do something about it, wouldn’t it improve a little?”
“Even if you say that…”
“Didn’t you make it grow bigger when you used the meteor arts? The point (idea) is probably the same.”
She said it plainly, but at that time, he had just merely poured Prana into it.
“I’m extremely bad at small adjustments of Prana.”
After a little thought, Julis resolved herself and told Ayato;
“ーUnderstood. Then, I will handle it.”
“Allow me to touch Ser-Versta for a little while.”
With a sidelong glance to the surprised Ayato, Julis stretched her hand to Ser-Versta which Ayato was holding.
Julis who touched Ser-Versta however removed her hand immediately. Even though she had touched for only a short time, her palm had been thoroughly burnt.
“Fufufu… as expected, It’s hard to deal with. It doesn’t even let those whom it does not approve of touch it, huh… Well either way, I, being a Strega, am not able to handle this guy anyways.”
Most of the people with ability such as Dante and Strega could not use an Ogre Lux. It was something which Julis herself said before.
“Well, it’s fine. That now was enough. ーAyato, try to use the meteor arts.”
“Meteor arts? In this state?”
Urged by Julis who nodded, Ayato poured Prana into Ser-Versta which he held into his right hand.
As if responding to it, Ser-Versta’s edge extended and the sword blade lengthened.
Julis softly put her right hand on Ayato’s right hand.
“Bloom proudly ー AlexandriteOrnament King Flower of Blazing Bindweeds!”
Soon after, Julis’ Prana ran through Ayato’s right arm, and flame was lit as it coiling around Ser-Versta blade
“It was originally a technique for allowing a weapon be clad in flames, but this time I will assist your Prana adjustment through this. Anyways, you should just pour Prana into this guy.”
Anyways, he believed in Julis and did as she said; Ser-Versta, which was expanding until now, suddenly stopped.
“Ayato, visualize it ー The form, the size and the appearance, the ideal Ser-Versta which you are the most comfortable with.”
Ayato silently visualized (imagined) it.
Then, Julis’ flame, which surrounded the sword blade in spiral-shaped pattern, thinly stretched as if tightening it, and began to follow the black pattern on Ser-Versta.
The Ulm Mana Dite, which was the core, increased its shine, raised a groan and shuddered.
Before long, Ser-Versta changed to a thin, flexible form ー it was fixed to a form slightly bigger than Kirin’s Senbakiri. On its sword blade, the black pattern and the flames were alternately intertwined, making it amazingly beautiful.
“Phew… we’ve done it. This is your ーAmagiri Ayato’sー Ser-Versta.”
Julis took a deep, heavy breath and weakly laughed.
“This is as much as I can help you for this match. I leave the rest to you, Ayato.”
“…Roger that, Julis.”
As Ayato gently lay down Julis, he turned Ser-Versta to Ardi with one swing.
“Sorry, did I keep you waiting?”
“No, I was also in a somewhat bad condition, you see. I was performing emergency measures.”
Ayato slowly advanced to the center of the Battle-Stage ー though still calling it the stage, it was already only the leftovers after the soil and the fragments of the stage had been blown off and scattered.
From the opposite side, Ardi likewise advanced calmly, and the moment that they stepped into each other’s rangeー
Both of them shortened the distance all at once and clashed in the center of the stage.
With a war cry, Ayato swung down Ser-Versta in a straight line.
(Amazing…! It’s incredibly light and it fits perfectly in my hand!)
In terms of bodily sensation (sensorily), the sword speed seemed to have doubled.
Ardi barely blocked it with the hammer, but that moment, the hammer head constructed of defensive barriers flew off. It had not burnt, but melted by the heat and popped.
As expected, even Ardi raised a voice of surprise, but he immediately reconstructed the hammer head and swung it downward from an overhead position.
Even if Ayato recovered his speed and was now above in terms of weapon power, if he was to receive even one hit, it would be over. In addition, Ayato did not possess enough physical strength to keep exchanging blows.
(I will decide the match here…!)
As Ayato dodged it with the smallest margin, he aimed at the school badge on Ardi’s chest and let out a thrust with all his might butー
Before that, Ardi’s blow swung downward had crushed the floor of stage.
As he jumped back in order to escape from the large hole opened at his feet, Ardi who sprouted the flight unit on both his shoulders moved at high speed in the sky and attempted to grab Ayato.
“I got you!”
However, Ayato used the hammer as a stepping stone, at the same time the Battle-Stage was further blown away with force to squash even the wind, and flew even higher.
Even he thought that he made movements which exceeded the limits, he had enough conviction to make it possible for the current him.
He jumped off a large fragment which was blown into the air by using the state of “cognition”, and sneaked around to Ardi’s back in the sky.
“Nuuuuuuuuh! I will not let you do that!”
The blue light emitted from Ardi’s body further increased its shine, and the flight unit rotated his body with a force as powerful as a rocket. At the same time, Ardi swung his hammer for a strike from the side.
“Amagiri Bright Dragon Style’ Hidden Technique ー
However, Ayato had reach Ardi’s bosom a moment earlier.
At the same time that Ardi’s hammer smashed the fragment which he used as scaffold (footing), Ser-Versta traced a sword slash that resembled a half-moon.
Ayato used the hammer as a stepping stone, at the same time the Battle-Stage was further blown away, and he flew even higher.
Both of them who passed by each other in the air and fell to the ground, their landings sent up smoke flashily.
The physical strength of Ayato, who fell on his back and had been exceeding his limits long ago… could no longer even stand up let alone swing his sword.
What came into view was only a dazzling light which shone on him from the far away ceiling.
He did not know if his sword even reached Ardi.
Without even the physical strength to check, what reached Ayato’s ears was the mechanical voice that told him the conclusion.
“Ernesta Kühne, badge broken.”
“End of the battle! Winner, Amagiri Ayato & Julis-Alexia Van Riessfeld!”
As the whole hall fell silent, the laughter of a very human machine resounded.
“Fuhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! ーIt is my complete defeat!”
He soon heard the applause like wavelets from here and there which changed into explosively loud cheering all at once.
『”F-Finally! Finally the conclusion! After an intense, fierce battle, it is the contestants Amagiri and Riessfeld of Seidoukan Academy who have reined in this Phoenix!”』
『”Haah, I watched it. It was a splendid match suitable for a final!”』
Cheers, applause, ovations, whistles and the voices of live reporter and commentator.
As various sounds and voices poured down to him, Ayato slowly closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
Jump up↑ the fact that he knows a lot of people Jump up↑ in the area of construction/renovations Jump up↑ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koikuchi_shirt A weak reference, but kinda gets the idea across. Jump up↑ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halberd Jump up↑ in other words he was blackmailed Jump up↑ when she quickly understood that aiming at Ayato and Julis at this point now would be useless Jump up↑ art of drawing one’s sword, cutting down one’s opponent and sheathing the sword afterwards Jump up↑ 炎蔓の飾王花, please help TL this