The sound of timbre cracking can be heard repeatedly . The source is the mountain of mass― the carcass of the Land Emperor .
When the Behemoth died, the mana supply powering the physical boost magic stoped . The massive body over eighty metres in length couldn’t withstand its own weight and collapsed on itself . The shell armour that suffered countless cracks during the course of battle crumbles, the struts holding the body up crumbles one by one, the height falls slowly . The lower half of its body that supports the heavier weigh is in shambles .
The Jantunen garrison Knights cheers as the giant beast crumbles further, shooting their Silhouette Arms into the air with pride .
But the Knights suffered serious casualties . That’s why the ones who survived have to sing their victory song loudly as a tribute to those who fell in battle .
Some distance from the Knights, three Silhouette Knights are advancing . Among the band of Karrdator Knights, these three has a different appearance and stands out from the crowd .
One is the command Silhouette Knight ‘Sordwort’ piloted by the commander Philip . Compared to the Karrdators that focus on practicality, it has a prominent regal appearance and is covered in plate armour .
Besides him is the vice commander’s ‘Cardiaria’, a Karrdator that has been reinforced .
Behind them is the training machine from Laihiala Pilot Academy, ‘Earlecumber’ . Its appearance is crude, but it is covered in pure white armour, giving it a different aesthetic compared to Karrdator .
They walked pass the Behemoth that is still crumbling and approached their target . The closer they got, the clearer the pieces with red paint .
―Scattered around here were the remains of the Silhouette Knight Guyale .
The first thing Philip, who was leading the way saw was Guyale’s right arm . Its skeletal structure was broken and it was bent out of shape . The trio glanced at it and continued without a word, finally reaching their main objective . The torso without its head and limbs, the armour was in shambles, the crystal tissue has been utterly destroyed . The armour protecting the chest cavity has caved in, the whole torso is misshapen . The strong frontal armour was a twisted lump, showing how strong the impact was .
I did think it will be like this . . . From the looks of things, the Knight runner inside . . . It’s hopeless . . .
No one made a sound, thinking about the same thing . They had some hope, but if the impact shatters the torso, it is impossible for the pilot to survive .
Philip and Gottfried stares silently at the holo monitor . The scarlet Knight from Laihiala Pilot Academy fought the Behemoth to the last breath to protect its juniors . Compared to the Knights who were on the verge of collapse, it was on the very frontlines . It battled the giant beast like a burning torch of courage, taking down the Behemoth with its life . Philip wondered what the pilot was like . The pilot should be a student, but his future is immeasurable . He had the skills to take down a Behemoth, the virtuous attitudes to risk his life for others, and the indomitable spirit to overcome the odds . He possessed the three characteristics a Knight should have . Philip had not converse with him before, but Philip gives a silent prayer for the hero who sacrificed himself honourably .
Earlecumber moved ahead and kneels beside Guyale .
Earlecumber’s front armour opens with the sound of compressed air jetting out . Edgar stands on the armour, silently looking at the remains for a while before saying
“Di . . . I am late, but I still want to apologise . . . back then, I thought you abandoned us and escaped . ”
Unlike his calm tone, Edgar’s expression was twisted with regret .
“I lost all respect for you at that moment . . . But I empathise with you too . The scenario was too dire then, I told myself ‘Di won’t work with us in this situation’ . But . . . You came back . ”
Edgar’s clenched fists are trembling .
“And, so . . . Sorry Dietrich . I don’t know why you were hiding your real strength . Even so, you sacrificed yourself to save us . . . ”
Edgar’s monologue was interrupted by an explosion . Shortly after, Guyale’s chest armour flew into the sky before him .
The chest armour flew and made an arc through the sky and rolls loudly when it lands .
The three robots followed the movement of the chest armour that blasted off, and looked back at the remains by their feet . A short figure climbs out from the cockpit as they watched in awe .
“The front armour couldn’t open because it was bent out of shape . That took some effort to get out . . . Eh? What’s wrong everyone?”
” . . . Huh?”
Jantunen was under high alert because the deployment of the entire garrison Knights, but the gates are fully open to welcome the return of the Knights . The victorious garrison Knights returns in an orderly fashion, advancing slowly on the main street .
News of the Behemoth’s invasion has spread throughout the whole kingdom with the deployment of the Knights . The citizens who were trembling from fear cheered with reckless abandon for those who had returned safely . Their excitement matches that of winning a war, and in reality, defeating a Behemoth successfully has more value than winning a war .
Something followed the advance of the parade and the crowd was silenced when it enters the gate . That was the head of the Demon beast which was much larger than a Silhouette Knight . A carriage ferries the intimidating head, even the citizens that didn’t see it move knows it’s a threat . The silence spreads, and suddenly explodes in cheers twice as loud .
Everyone is singing the exploit of the Knights, deepening their respect for their guardian garrison Knights . Jantunen’s parade reached its climax at this point .
Some distance away from the main street, a quiet cafe that is isolated from the bustle of the city . Most of the citizens were gathered around the main street, leaving the cafe empty . There are just a few youths patronising the shop, they are people related to this incident: Edgar, Stefania, Archid, Adeltrud and Ernesti .
“Really! You are too reckless . . . ”
Edgar sighs and lowers the teacup in his hand . He is saying this on behalf of everyone present . He couldn’t help himself from commenting after hearing Eru casually describe his actions during the Land Emperor incident .
“This makes me sympathised with the ‘victim’ who was dragged in, Di . . . ”
After hacking into the magius engine, Eru exerts full control over the machine and fought . Just listening to this is enough to make anyone with common sense faint after screaming . The more detailed Eru’s explanation, the more troubled Edgar becomes . Stefania eyes widen and her surprise is evident . Chid and Ady are stunned, but accepts it since it is Eru . The twins looked at each other and said:
“See, he hijacked a Silhouette Knight as expected . ”
“You two, what do you mean by ‘expected’? Although you are right . ”
Eru looks unhappy, but averts his eyes guiltily when the twins glares back .
Apart from Eru, Edgar is the only one with experience piloting Silhouette Knights . That’s why he was shocked after listening to Eru, but was convinced . From what he remembered, Guyale’s performance was not that outstanding . If Eru didn’t hack in, it wouldn’t have been that powerful . But even with the facts right before him, Edgar just shakes his head . He suddenly thought of something .
“Ernesti, if Di didn’t run, what would you have planned to do?”
“Nothing . I just would have went with the flow back then, and would probably have boarded the carriage and escaped . ”
Edgar’s face sours . What would have happened if Guyale didn’t join the fray? Edgar won’t be sitting here in that case, and the Knight’s casualties would probably double . Not only that, the Behemoth might not be defeated . Without question, a medal of honour should be awarded to the petite youth in front of Edgar, but rewarding his outstanding performance was an issue because of Eru’s position . Edgar bit his lip and goes into the main topic .
“We . . . the surviving high school pilots, will be going to Känkänen for an awards ceremony . ”
Edgar felt conflicted even though he was talking about such a glorious event .
“The Jantunen garrison Knights will send representatives as well, probably Sir Hallhagen and a few others . This involves a battalion-level Demon beast invasion, a story that is worthy to be spread within the nation, no, to all nations . They say there will be a grand ceremony . ”
“You are right, congratulations . . . but you seem unhappy about it . ”
“The existence of the scarlet Knight will be covered up for this incident . . . This means Ernesti’s achievements will not be stated . ”
Stefania wears an apologetic expression and looks at the tea beside her hand . Chid and Ady understands the meaning of these words after a while and glares at Edgar . Only Eru seems unaffected and nods .
“I see . If I was a member of the Knights or an official high schooler, there wouldn’t be any problems . ”
“Hey, things would have been serious if Eru wasn’t there! Why can’t he receive commendations?”
Chid stands up in protest . Stefania stops him with a look, sighs and explains:
“Calm down . If a normal Knight performs so outstandingly, they will be promoted or commended . For high schoolers, they will be enlisted as an official Knight . . . But we can’t promote Eru that way . ”
“Why? Eru is obviously stronger than those run of the mill Knights!?”
“Being a Knight means he has to join a band of Knights . He can be a member with his exceptional power, but there are some who will be willing to work with a twelve year old . Working under an organisation means Eru can’t be willful in his actions . ”
“We can work something out if he is an adult . . . If they pass over the Knights and grant honours to a twelve year old, the Knights will look bad . The honour of the Knights is the honor of the Kingdom, no one wants that to happen . ”
Eru tilts his head and ask with a smile:
“I understand . Senpai are here to convince me?”
The expression of Edgar and Stefania stiffens . Eru didn’t say much about their expression and continues:
“Let’s forget about this incident . I am satisfied with piloting an actual Silhouette Knight . Instead of asking shamelessly for rewards, doing nothing is much more relaxing . Besides, I was the one who butted in without permission . I don’t want to be manipulated by others because of this incident . ”
Stefania nods her head in agreement .
“That won’t happen, I guarantee in the name of the Serrati family . ”
“That’s right, I will remind Sir Hallhagen . ”
Eru nods after receiving their promises . Unlike Eru, Chid and Ady are unable to accept this, asking with a moan:
“Eru, is this really okay?”
“Yah, Eru’s dream is to be a Knight and pilot Silhouette Knights correct? Are you giving in now?”
“This is an exceptional case . I don’t plan to demand for any rewards . ”
Seeing Eru consoling the unhappy twins, Edgar and Stefania breathe a sigh of relief . Guyale and ther Behemoth were both destroyed in the battle, a testament to the desperate situation Eru was in . Not giving any reward to Eru doesn’t sit well with them either . On the other hand, they understand the order of Knights won’t be able to handle Eru’s exceptional case well . They volunteered to convince Eru of the Knights’ dilemma in order to avoid using official orders to pressure Eru . They need not worry about Eru protesting violently, but the contents of their speech were filled with illogical reasonings, so they were prepared for the talks to be stall . They felt grateful for Eru’s generous disposition .
Phew, that was close . I barged ahead without thinking too much; there will be tons of trouble if I make the Knights lose face . Giving me a way to reject the commendation cordially was a big help . . .
Eru who appears to be drinking tea calmly was breaking out in cold sweat . To be honest, he was troubled over how to settle things on his end . It was hard for Eru to do anything in his position . The other party proposing a peaceful resolution made Eru relieved .
I did have a great time piloting . I even got to see the magius engine’s script, that is enough for a reward . And the Knights owe me a favour too . Being too forceful will blow matters up, just let them bask in the glory . Also . . . it will be good if I can build a close relationship with the Knights and the people present .
Eru finish his tea happily as he thought about how to resolve the matter .
The atmosphere was peaceful after ending the tense topic . The sound of cheers was continuing all this while . They chatted casually in the mean time .
―His consciousness recovers slowly . His first thing he feels is a question .
What . . . What happened? That time . . . the Demon beast . . .
He felt a sharp pain next from all over his body, stimulating his mind and waking him up .
“Eh . . . Uguu . . . ”
Dietrich groans from the pain of his protesting body and opens his eyes . The first thing he sees is a wooden ceiling . He turns his head and observes a white drape . He was still confused, but he understands the situation before him . He was warded in a hospital like facility― which means he is safe .
. . . This means, the battle was won . . . ?
He shivered when he remembered the giant beast . From the situation at that time, it was impossible to save him without getting rid of the beast . Dietrich deduced from this that the battle ended somehow, and was a success since he is alive .
“Ara, you’re awake?”
Dietrich relaxed after deducting the crisis has ended, and more importantly, he is safe . As he lies down groggily, a voice came from his side .
“This is Jantunen pilot’s infirmary . You have lost consciousness for over a day after the battle . ”
Dietrich turns his head with his eyes wide open . It’s not because of the content of the speech, but the person who is saying it―
“Don’t worry, you have many bruises, but no serious injuries . You are young and will heal up in no time!”
His white clothes almost bursting from his muscular body, and his hair was crew cut . His feet were a shoulder width apart but his knees were clamped together . He is speaking in a feminine way despite having a deep voice― This was a man .
A scream erupts suddenly and fills the entire infirmary .
A convoy comprising of carriages and Silhouette Knights are travelling along the gravel road leading from Jantunen to the capital ― Fremmevira Highway .
Inside the carriage are students from Laihiala Pilot Academy’s Knighthood faculty . The Silhouette Knights are escorts from Jantunen garrison Knights . The Knights were headed towards the capital for the award ceremony and were acting as escorts since they are heading in the same direction .
There is a person sitting on the top of a carriage . That person is basking in the sun, watching the long convoy line under the warm sun . At the end of the line was a wagon filled with recovered Silhouette parts . The machine that was wrecked by the Behemoth was turned into junk, but the most valuable torso was retrieved . The damage was assessed, if the magius engine and ether reactor known as the heart was fine, it will be easier to repair . And in the worst case scenario, they can place the heart into a new body .
Jantunen garrison Knight’s wreckage has been sent to Jantunen, the ones here are the Laihiala Pilot Academy’s robots .
The boy on top of the carriage, Ernesti looks towards the back with a blank expression . There must be parts from the scarlet Silhouette Knight on the wagon too, but it is covered by the canvas so Eru can’t tell where it is . The last scene of the fight with the Behemoth while piloting Guyale flashed across his mind . He feels the bump of the carriage as he reminisces .
The action I took was a gamble largely dependent on luck . In order to avoid this, I need a machine that won’t fall apart even when operating at full power . . . and this problem should not be entrusted to others lightly .
Right now, Eru is the only one who can make a robot break down in such a short period of time, so he is the only one who wants to resolve it . He will create his personal machine one day . He needs to plan for that day .
“Eru, are you brooding over here?”
As he was feeling troubled over many things, someone approached him from behind and hugs him . There is only one person who will do that in Eru’s mind . He turns to look at Ady behind him .
“Yeah, I am thinking about how to resolve the weakness in the previous battle . ”
“Why― are you thinking about that again!”
Ady looks displeased as she leans forward . Ady is taller than Eru, so Eru is squashed when Ady leans in with her body weight . Eru protest as his body bends forward uncomfortably .
“I know, but I have to think it over when I have time, or it will be a problem in the future . ”
The pressure behind him relaxes slightly, allowing Eru to breath . Ady stops moving and her displeasure fades, replaced by a troubled expression .
” . . . Eru, you really . . . I hope you can promise me one thing . ”
“Don’t go by yourself, take us with you!”
“That’s a bit . . . ”
Eru couldn’t see Ady’s face, but he can feel the sincerity from her voice . Eru didn’t turn back and looked ahead, thinking about Ady’s request . He has been setting Silhouette Knights as his goals, and working towards that means . . .
“We might not be able to help, but . . . ”
“Don’t say that . . . it depends on the situation . ”
“Really? I can’t pilot a Silhouette Knight . How about telling us what you plan to do!”
At this point, Eru couldn’t reject her .
“I understand . . . I will do my best . But it is an emergency, it will have to wait . ”
“Hmmp! That’s a cunning way to put it! Even though we can’t do much, but three heads are better than one!”
“Haha, that’s right, three of us is . . . three?”
Ady’s casual words made Eru think . In his heart is a famous story, and inspiration strikes .
“Three are better than one . . . three arrows compared to one arrow . One arrow is easy to break, but it is hard to break if there are three . Right, it is fragile and easy to break because it is separated . That hurts . . . Wut arf yu dooin?”
Ady pulls both of Eru’s cheek as he was spacing out .
“Pay attention when talking to others, that was rude . Hmpf!”
“That hurts . . . You are absolutely right, that was ill mannered of me . ”
Ady looks are Eru nursing his cheeks painfully and thought of a good idea . She approached Eru from the side with a smile . Eru has a foreboding feeling looking at Ady’s smile .
“Right, I know a way! Teach me how to pilot Silhouette Knights!”
“Wah― to use this method!”
Eru groans and smiles awkwardly at Ady, and wonders how things had come to this .
The roasted beef in the centre of the table gives off a delicious aroma .
The cramped place around it are full of dishes . Eru’s mother― Celestina Echevarria is pouring soup into a large bowl . Beside her is the mother of the twins, Ilmatar Olter (Ilma) who arranges the freshly baked pie . The extravagant dishes made the two happy as they laid out the plates .
“Is it time for your Ady to learn to cook?”
“Hoho, it’s about time . That child is always messing around with Chid . ”
They finished the preparation nimbly as they chatted and called their families to have dinner . The two families gathered shortly after and ate happily .
This is the Echevarria residence . The Echevarrias and the Olters are together for a party to celebrate the safe return of their children . The parents planned to welcome them back after the field trip all along . But the children were involved in an unprecedented Demon beast invasion instead .
The faces of every parent turned green when they received the news, including these two families . Ilma’s only family are the twins, her anxiety is indescribable . She couldn’t stay alone in that state, so the Echevarrias took her in for the time being . Now, both the children and their parents had deepened their friendship .
Fortunately, the crisis was over and the children had returned safely, all the families were busy and relieved .
“To be frank, it’s great that everyone is safe . ”
Ilma watched the kids finish off the dishes and sigh . Tears well up in her eyes and fell as she relaxed . Ilma quickly covers her face .
“We made you worry . As you can see, we are not hurt . . . This is a miracle . ”
“That’s great; the most important thing is that you are safe . Your appetite is good, as if nothing had ever happened . ”
“Swallow your food before talking . . . ”
Chid and Ady continues to stuff their face despite their mother’s instruction . They were eating tasteless preserved food while traveling, so they are focusing on the delicacy before them .
“We heard that it was really dangerous, but you all seem fine . What did Eru do?”
“Yes . Behemoth and I beat each other up . ”
“Cough! Cough, cough . ”
Mathias chokes on his food when he hears the conversation between the mother and child .
“Ara, wasn’t the Demon beast really big? Are you okay? Did you give it a good beating?”
“I borrowed a Silhouette Knight from a senpai, so I’m okay . It was rather dangerous, but I beat it up really well and won . ”
“Ara, ara, you can borrow Silhouette Knights? That’s wonderful, Eru . But don’t be too reckless . It’s not something you can borrow anytime you want, right?”
“That’s right . Luckily we had that ‘good senpai’ who aided me . ”
Mathias forced himself to look away from the two of them; the others casually ignored their conversation . In some way, this family was really disciplined .
Only Eru’s grandfather refrained from speaking during dinner, watching everything . After finishing, he called out to Eru .
“Eru, I want you to accompany me to someplace, alright?”
“Okay grandpa . Where are we going?”
“Erm, we are going to . . . ”
Fremmevira Kingdom Capital, Känkänen .
Located at the foot of mount Aubigne, it served as a front line fortress in the past . The highway on either side was made with robust stones, a legacy from its days as a fortress . Several layers of walls are erected with the capital at its heart . Only the outer most siege wall has defensive functions, the rest are used for zonal segregation . Its existence is a testament of the history of this city and nation .
In the centre of the capital lies ‘Castle Shreiber’ .
The castle has traces of its days as a fortress, ancient and majestic . Even now, the tough appearance of the fortress commands respect . Its reputation as the ‘Kingdom of Knights’ is presented harmoniously, allowing all visitors to feel the pride of the city .
In the heart of Castle Shreiber is an audience hall for the King to receive his guest .
It is a vast space with a high ceiling, enough for Silhouette Knights to enter comfortably . Elegant drapes are hung on all the walls in fixed intervals on the pillars . A red carpet is rolled out in the centre, and at its end is the throne for the King . An amazingly big seat is situated behind the throne, with a Silhouette Knight sitting on it .
That was the personal Silhouette Knight of the King ― known as the king’s Knight ‘Raids of Valor’ . Its appearance was more elegant than any machine within Fremmevira . A cape with the same pattern as the national flag covers its shoulders, displaying the majesty of a Knight standing at the very peak . Cardiarias piloted by the royal guards are positioned to the side of the hall with Raids of Valor right at the centre, a powerful and intimidating scene .
Sometimes, the hall will be cramped with soldiers and Silhouette Knights, but there are only a few people here today .
A middle aged man was sitting on the throne before Raids of Valor, the tenth King of the Fremmevira Kingdom, Ambrosius Tahvo Fremmevira . In front of him are Marquis Joachim Serrati and Jantunen garrison Knight’s commander Philip Hallhagen . According to customs, they have to address the King while kneeling on one knee with their heads down . After the King grants him permission, Philips raised his head to report .
“That concludes the report for the battle with the Behemoth . ”
King Ambrosius acknowledged with a grunt and a nod after listening to the detailed report from Philip . He was holding a concise report in his hand and was browsing it as he listened .
“And the carcass of the Behemoth?”
“Your Majesty, it’s impossible for the garbage collectors to harvest a colossal beast like the Behemoth, I have dispatched the Silhouette Knights to assist them . It should be completed in the next few days . ”
“I want to use its carcass to offset our losses . But our casualties are light, considering the opponent was a battalion-level Demon beast . ”
“Your Majesty, Jantunen’s forces are depleted, please allow me to send some reinforcement to support them . ”
Ambrosius focused on one point of the report as he listens to Joachim, it is the logs of the scarlet Knight and its pilot Ernesti . A baffled expression appears on the King’s face .
“Echevarria . . . Lauri’s grandson? What an exceptional performance . Isn’t that right, Philip? It is unbelievable; did this child really topple the Demon beast before everyone?”
“Yes, Your Majesty, I saw it with my own eyes . I understand the content seems dubious to Your Majesty . . . ”
Philip couldn’t give a precise answer to the King in regards to this and his voice grows gradually softer . In fact, Joachim was doubtful as he listens to the conversation between them .
“I don’t think you will spin such a ridiculous tale, but this makes me worried . . . Especially this part, rewriting the script in the magius engine . If that’s true, that is really marvelous . ”
“Half of it are rumours, but I saw it myself . . . and I’m convinced that it really happened . ”
“I heard the same report . . . Only Sir Hallhagen and the Knights know the truth . ”
Ambrosius closed his eyes . The ability to fight a Behemoth is amazing, but that is only a might of one man . But it is different if he can reprogram the magic engine, which is a skill that has no precedent .
After thinking it over, he mumbles:
” . . . This child is too dangerous . ”
Philip paniced when he heard this; Eru literally saved the lives of dozens of pilots with his participation . They couldn’t commend Eru because of the state of things, but Eru accepted it unconditionally, so Philip owes him a favour . He might be a youth that is much younger than him, but having fought as comrades, Philip won’t forget how Eru saved his Knights .
“You Majesty, allow me to report . This boy might be just twelve, but he is knowledgeable and courageous . His etiquette is fine and his peers like him . More importantly, he was always on the frontlines during the battle with the Behemoth . . . ”
Ambrosius stopped Philip’s words with a wave of his hand .
“Don’t worry; I am not planning to do anything to him . It might be fine now, but you say he is just twelve years of age . Having amazing power at such a tender age . . . Since he is just a twelve years old boy, he might grow wild with his exceptional strength . That’s my worry . ”
Ambrosius was right to be worried . No matter how talented or pure in character, people can change with the passage of time . Especially a twelve year old who is moving into a rebellious and emotional age . If he grows arrogant because of his talent, it will harm him in the end .
But inside Ernesti was a soul with forty years of experience, so normal conventions don’t apply to him . But that is beyond their imaginations, so they are worried that Eru will stray from the right path in the future .
“If that’s the case, what should we do?”
“Since he doesn’t chase mindlessly after glory, he might become a great Knight . . . We need to guide him . It might be unnecessary since Lauri is there . Hmm, alright . . . Arrange for Ernesti to meet me . ”
After Ambrosius issues his orders, Joachim and Philip bows and acknowledged .