Knights & Magic Volume 5 Chapter 39
The stage switch from Fontaine to the city where Žaloudek Kingdom set up its central governance house — Delvincourt.
This happened before the rejuvenation of the New Kuscheperca Kingdom, when the Žaloudek Kingdom has yet to recover from the setback in the battle of Missillier. In the middle of the former royal castle’s audience hall, a man was on his knees… no he was prostrating weakly before the throne as he wailed:
「Prince Cristóbal…!! To really… to really pass away before myself…!! That’s impossible, impossible…!!」
He was the confidant of Žaloudek’s Second Prince 『Cristóbal Hasslo Žaloudek』, the knight 『Doroteo•Mardones』. He kept pounding the ground as if he was trying to vent his rage. His adopted son Gustavo watched silently behind him.
「A lapse, my thinking is too naive! Even the Black Skull Knights escorts couldn’t protect His Highness! I should have ignored my confinement orders and went along with the expedition…!! If I was there, I would have safeguard His Highness even if it cost me my life!!」
「That’s enough. Raise your head, Doroteo. We’re the ones who ordered your confinement to reflect on your actions, it’s not your fault that you weren’t there. It’s useless to lament about things you couldn’t have helped.」
A melancholic voice from the throne before Doroteo reached his ears. That used to be the seat of the king of Kuscheperca. After the nation fell, it was taken by the commander of the Žaloudek Army — Cristóbal. And now, it had been transferred to a young woman.
She was 『Catalina Camilla Žaloudek』, the daughter of the king of Žaloudek Kingdom, 『Baldomero Bilt Žaloudek』. The first princess and also Cristóbal’s elder sister.
「But…! Forgive my insolence, but I have served His Highness as his mentor and as his subordinate for many years. Going by the laws of nature, I should die first! No matter the reason, if this isn’t my mistake, then…!!」
Doroteo retired from the frontlines because of his advanced age, but the higher ups think highly of his experience in the military and gave him the position as the Second Prince’s mentor. As Cristóbal grew older, his role gradually changed to that of a confidant. He watched the Prince grew up, so to Doroteo, Cristóbal was just like a son. Catalina sighed, then leaned back on her throne.
「Doroteo, I know how you feel. You have worked very hard for Cristobal all this time. And that is why, now isn’t the time for mourning.」
When Doroteo lifted his head and saw Catalina’s pale face, he held his breath from shock and quickly realized his mistake. Doroteo wasn’t the only one hurt by the loss of Cristóbal. As his sister, Catalina was the one most pained by his death. Doroteo was deeply shamed by his lapse for venting his emotions without thinking about how she felt. As explained, he was most loyal to Cristóbal, but his loyalty to the royal Žaloudek family was as unwavering as anyone else.
「I have decided. The one who caused such serious damage to our nation… and the one who took Cristobal’s life, I will find him and kill him.」
These words weren’t just a personal vendetta for her family. Cristóbal was a royal of Žaloudek, and also the commander of the Kuscheperca invasion force. Casualties in war were inevitable, but once royal blood has been spilled, vengeance was certain. Taking this lightly would be a disgrace to their kingdom’s name.
「Doroteo, you need to start by searching out the enemy and find out who killed Cristobal.」
The surviving Black Skull Knights brought back news of Cristóbal’s death. Cristóbal fell together with his Silhouette Knight Alkelorix from the flagship, and wasn’t killed in the chaos of the battle. Someone committed this murder.
「… I know who is the criminal.」
Doroteo raised his head resolutely. He had no hesitation in his eyes, as if he had locked on to his enemy.
「He can attack the Levitate Ship His Highness is on directly! Kuscheperca don’t have Levitate Ships, but they have him… the Silhouette Knight that can soar in the sky!!」
Now that he mentioned it, Catalina remembered the rumours she once heard in the past.
「… Are you talking about the one that sunk your ship?」
「Yes! He is the only one who can do such a weird thing. He suppressed the Levitate Ships in the sky by himself, and brought incredibly destructive powers…! Overturning common sense, must be that 『Demon God』 doings. He will definitely block our path sooner or later.」
Catalina sighed deeply, she had almost forgotten about this rumour. When she first heard Doroteo’s report, compared to the Demon God’s existence, her attention was drawn to the escape of the Kuscheperca royals. She never imagined that the Demon God actually killed her brother. If her memory serves her well, the enemy was a powerful existence that could only be described as uncanny.
「So you’re saying that Crist was murdered by that monster?」
Her soft groan didn’t even reach Doroteo’s ears, and simply melted into the suffocating air.
「Oh, seems like everyone is here」
The sudden appearance of an outsider swept the sullen air away in an instant. The dragging footsteps resounded on the stone floor. It came from a plain looking man.
「You are… Lord Collazo.」
「Yes. Horacio Collazo here, reporting as summoned.」
He bowed to the seemingly frustrated Catalina and the crazed looking Doroteo. Horacio seemed unfazed with the suffocating atmosphere, a gutsy person contrary to his plain looks. After all, this absolute mad man came to the very front lines just to see the performance of the Levitate Ships he designed in action. Soon, the one who summoned him — Catalina calmed her emotions, and wore her cool mask of a princess once again. To save time, she skipped the greetings and went directly into the topic:
「You finally came, Lord Collazo. Let’s not waste time, tell me how goes your plans for the Levitate Ships? To rejuvenate our army from that defeat, strengthening the Levitate Ships is a pressing matter. The Kuschepercas isn’t making any major moves, which means they need time to reorganize their forces. However, we need to take action as soon as possible.」
「I understand. I will use the best of my humble knowledge to do what I can and propose a plan.」
Catalina’s complicated expression relaxed a little when she heard that.
「Firstly, it’s hard to say this but… To come up with a perfect plan, we will need to reevaluate the designs of the Levitate Ship itself. If we want to take on such a big overhaul project, what we lack the most is time. In that case, we can only focus on small scale changes, and I seek your understanding on that.」
「… It depends on the content. Even if it doesn’t take much time, it’s pointless if it’s not effective.」
At this moment, Horacio glanced at Doroteo. Unlike Catalina who could conceal her emotions, he seemed barely able to suppress his feelings that were on the verge of exploding. Horacio will need to step on the tail of a beast later, so he adopted a resignation attitude as he said:
「Then let’s hurry… I want to start with reducing the number of Tyrants the Levitate Ship can ferry.」
「What…!? How is that an enhancement? If you reduce the number of core combat units, how can we fight!?」
Horacio soothed Doroteo who was panicking because of the unexpected answer with his hand gestures, and continued:
「It’s natural for Lord Mardones to have such doubts. Let me explain… In the past the combat capability of a Levitate Ship was dependant on the number of Tyrants it could transport. But that battle made me realize that this wouldn’t work. What the Levitate Ships needed wasn’t transport capability, in the upcoming era, the Levitate Ships will need sufficient offensive capabilities too. We already have the 『catapult』, but they couldn’t be use against moving targets. So I changed my approach and learned the enemy’s techniques and use it against them. I plan to create Silhouette Knights that specialize in magic projectiles fire like the 『Resvant Vidos』, then install them on the Levitate Ships to be used like Silhouette Arms.」
The place turned silent momentarily. They pondered what Horacio said carefully. In response to Catalina’s questioning gaze, Doroteo nodded a little bitterly:
「The thought of imitating them again is unpleasant, but I agree that we should use what available resources we have. Speaking of which, Lord Collazo, the offences should be adequate, but there is still another problem. Do you have any countermeasures against the strange powerful javelins that sunk most of our Levitate Ships?」
Horacio crossed his arms and said with a sigh:
「Ara… That’s the difficult part. I heard that the javelin can even pierce the Tyrant’s armour once it build up enough speed. That is far beyond what the Levitate Ship’s armour can withstand. But thickening the armour will increase the ship’s weight, killing off the speed advantage of the Levitate Ship. We will need the magic projectile Silhouette Knights I mentioned earlier to take on additional roles, and either knock off the javelins with spells or defend with shields.」
The group couldn’t understand the main point he was making right away, and an air of suspicion arose. But that wasn’t entirely their fault. The surprising thing was, Horacio’s proposal might be primitive, but was very similar to the concept of CIWS 『Close-in Weapon System』 used in vessels.
According to the pilots of the Black Skull Knights who escaped, they finally understood the gist of what happened in the battle of Missillier. Many new technologies appeared at that time, which stimulated him — and led him to propose even more advanced concepts.
Catalina tried her best to understand these ideas that were ahead of their times, and asked him:
「Do you think that will work?」
「Pardon me for being blunt, I believe it will have some effect, but it will be far from perfect. As I said in the beginning, the biggest problem lies in the constraint of time. The more fundamentally different the countermeasures are, the more time that will be needed. Since we don’t know when the Kuschepercas will act, I’m afraid we will lag behind the enemy if we start over with the construction of the Levitate Ships.」
Despite it being a rushed job, Horacio’s plan should have some effect. Since time was of the essence, it was true that they couldn’t proceed with any major overhauls. Catalina finally nodded:
「You mean this is better than doing nothing… Very well then, Lord Collazo, proceed according to your plan. The usage of the Levitate Ships will now change drastically. Doroteo, muster the surviving Steel Wing Knights and think of a better battle plan.」
「By your command. The surviving Steel Wing Knights will find a new purpose… Princess, we still have another powerful foe we must defeat.」
She didn’t need to look at Doroteo to know what he was referring to. During the battle of Missillier where the Black Skull Knights took tremendous losses, that thing was more destructive to the Steel Wing Knights than those strange javelins. The powerful foe was —
「The enemy who murdered Prince Cristóbal, that fearsome Silhouette Knight……『Demon God』.」
「Doroteo, do you have any good ideas on how to defeat the Demon God?」
Catalina’s query stirred his memory, things he couldn’t forget even if he tried. The incarnation of malicious power was still fresh on Doroteo’s mind. That single Silhouette Knight could actually dance nimbly in the air, unleashing destructive powers even the black knights couldn’t match. What method could there be to defeat that monster? Even a formidable pilot like him would have no chance. It was a shame, but he could only answer his mistress’ question faithfully:
「Even with Lord Collazo’s new Levitate Ships, I think it will still be difficult to defeat that Demon God…」
「Hmm, the Demon God you say? I heard about that too. It might be a product of insanity, but it is not impossible to take down.」
Before anyone could rebuke him for his rude interjections, they were shocked by what he was implying and focused their gaze on Horacio.
「What…! I know you are an excellent engineer, but you actually know how to fight!?」
「Yes. Well, I mention it is a way, but I’m just an engineer, so I can only provide the 『means』 to solve the issue. Whether it can be done will depend on the performance of the great knights piloting them.」
Horacio seemed to be disinterested, with only a faint smile at the corner of his mouth to show his confidence. A crack appeared on Catalina’s calm mask. She suppressed her anxiety and asked as coolly as she could:
「Pray tell, what is the means you speak of?」
「Overwhelm him with numbers.」
When he heard Horacio’s answer, Doroteo shook an refuted immediately:
「Did you forget the lesson we learned in Missillier? The Demon God can soar in the sky, and wasn’t fazed with fighting against a hundred others. The Black Skull Knights were brought to the brink of destruction because of this… Numbers alone wouldn’t work.」
「It is as you say, but let’s consider it from another angle. Since many weak units will be defeated easily, then we should consolidate the power of many into one, and create a powerhouse that will surpass the Demon God. What do you think?」
His answer had a tint of being ominous, making the others look at each other in doubt. What Horacio mentioned completely shattered their common sense. The technology that brought the Levitate Ships into this world was supplemented by the bits of other worldly knowledge glimpsed from the battle of Missillier, and would create an even more terrifying alien.
「What does Your Highness think? This would require some time… But with your permission, I will get it done.」
With Horacio lowering his head in front of her, Catalina closed her eyes and thought for a moment, then opened them and nodded:
「Permission granted. Lord Collazo, you must get it done.」
「Your Highness! Please assign the task of piloting that machine to me! I will take down our sworn enemy even if it cost my own life!! 」
Doroteo volunteered immediately. His greatest pride was his exploits and experience on the battlefield. Avenging Cristóbal and aiding Catalia would be his final quest.
「Very well, for the sake of that child, submit your life to me. Until we tear out the throats of our foe, we will never stop… I leave the rest to you.」
「I am honoured by your words!」
Seeing Doroteo filled with a ferocious aura, Catalina nodded her head with satisfaction. He might not be young anymore, but he was still a revered general in the Žaloudek Army. If he had the resolve to put his life on the line, then she trust that he would bring back good news. She then shifted her gaze behind Doroteo and said:
「Not just Doroteo, I will also cancel your confinement and assign a role to you. 『Gustavo Mardones』, use your skills with your swords to aid your 【adoptive】 father complete his mission.」
「By your will, I will put on a good show.」
Gustavo who had been kneeling quietly answered firmly. But contrary to his outward appearance, his eyes had a hint of sadness as he looked at the back of his fired up adoptive father.
Sigh — looks like Dad is bent on dying for the cause… It can’t be helped, since the Prince is dead.
His thinking was different from his father. He was a loyal direct subordinate of Cristóbal, but didn’t have the crazed devotion of his father.
Dad will probably take care of that sworn enemy. The adversary is getting stronger, so I can go all out now. I can help take revenge too, a worthy place to swing my swords.
From a perspective completely different from his father, Gustavo was plenty crazy too, a battle maniac. He was deeply attracted to swords, an absolute madman who thinks the greatest joy was to battle. The fighting spirit of Catalina and Doroteo hell bent on revenge was the reason why Gustavo was drawn in. Without giving any hints of such thoughts, he lowered his head in a pretense of being solemn.
「Because the Kuscheperca Kingdom won such a decisive victory, they can’t make their next move right away. We need to send out our troops to extinguish the spreading fire. As for the method Lord Collazo mentioned, that will take time. We need to make our base sturdy first. To do that, we need to strengthen our defences until the time comes.」
Catalina’s orders were conveyed to every zone under the rule of Žaloudek. And so, the Žaloudeks changed their strategy drastically for the first time since the war began.
The Tyrants assigned to the various territories were responsible for strengthening their fort’s defences, and to assume an impregnable formation. In the meantime, the construction of the 『Mimic Resvant Vidos』 and the modification of the surviving Levitate Ships were also ongoing. The Resvant they captured served as the base. Since this modification focused on magic projectiles instead of combat capability, this was a good chance to make use of the old machines. Since the foundation and the purpose of the customization was similar, the end product should be very similar to the Resvant Vido.
For the Žaloudek Kingdom that lost its Black Skull Knights, rebuilding the Steel Wing Knights and Levitate Ships was their lifeline. They have strict orders that this project was the top priority.
Žaloudek Kingdom’s defense strategy and the new Levitate Ships being developed in secret blunted the attack of the New Kuscheperca Kingdom, keeping the war at a standstill. While the alien squirms in the backstage. The birth of the 『Demonic Monster』 created for the sake of defeating the Demon God gets closer with every passing second.
C.E. 1282, summer is coming.
After the dramatic events of the New Kuscheperca Kingdom’s founding, the tensed situation gradually relaxed, and signs of change appeared slowly. The ace of the new kingdom — the Silver Phoenix Knights Knight Commander Ernesti gathered everyone for a secret meeting at this time.
「… Thank you everyone for coming. Let’s not waste time, and let me explain the investigation report on the Žaloudek Army’s black knight and Levitate Ship.」
And of course, this wasn’t a strategy meeting. Regrettably, the hobbyist wasn’t interested in how the war was faring, and only focused on the toy before him. He held a thick stack of paper that could be used as a murder weapon in his hand, and continued his explanation in high spirits.
「Sigh, I saw you rummaging through those wreckages. So you have finished your investigation?」
The people he had gathered includes the Silver Phoenix Knights craftsmen led by the Boss, who was already used to this. But the knightsmiths from the New Kuscheperca Kingdom couldn’t stay so calm. They looked at the petite youth before them with an amazed expression. The mysterious new weapon — the Levitate Ships have been giving the Kuscheperca Kingdom a hard time since the opening battle. It uses mysterious technology to levitate a ship and no one expected it to be unravelled in such a short time. The most baffling thing was Eru explaining it to them so openly. Although the Silver Phoenix Knights were reliable allies, the fact remains that they were a unit on loan from a foreign nation. Was it appropriate to make information about a technology which could decide a war public? At least to them, such information should be kept classified.
Eru ignored their confusion and made the fruits of his research public.
「There are many mysteries surrounding the Levitate Ship, but we have the actual thing with us and luckily found the key to the mystery… Well, I want to explain about the ship, but it’s better to start from their main combat unit — the black knight Tyrants.」
Eru turned to the blackboard as if he wanted to hum, and wrote down the important parts from the paper packed with the investigation data.
「Like its appearance implies, the Tyrant is a heavy weight machine. It’s structure includes the things we’re familiar with, such as capacity frames, back weapons and strand crystal tissue. Even the joints looks familiar… they had replicated the technology behind the 『Tellestarle』 very carefully. The parts they developed independently would be their fine tuning it into a high power output machine to maximize its advantage as a heavy weight machine.」
「Hmmp! It makes my blood boil, but I already expected that.」
The Boss’ face turned sour as he crossed his arms. He remembered how the source of these technology, the Tellestarle was stolen, and it wasn’t a fond memory.
「Yes, but there is something strange. If they enhanced the power output with the Strand type, their mana consumption will be intense and their endurance should drop drastically. We had a hard time when we built our machines back then too. However, the Tyrant can last for quite a long time. So there must be a trick behind this.」
「The problem of endurance is a big headache, and I don’t think it can be solved that easily.」
Eru could only smile wryly as he watched the Silver Phoenix Knights Knightsmiths’ thousand yard stare. There was no need to repeat how arduous their path in forging the Kardetolle from the Tellestarle was. And the engineers of Žaloudek Kingdom made a great achievement that the Silver Phoenix Knights couldn’t manage.
Eru then drew a strange device on the blackboard.
「This part uses the technology they developed independently. I found this device connected to the Ether Reactor. After studying the inside, I discovered that the design was very simple, with just the 『Ethelite』 attached to its core. This device is connected by silver nerves and controlled by the Magius engine, so I inspected the content of the Magius Engine a little.」
Even though Eru was talking about something big that didn’t match the term 『a little』, no one felt like retorting him.
「If this device is activated, the Ethelite inside will react and create concentrated Ether. Then the Ether will be injected directly into the Ether Reactor. Let me think… let’s assume this device is called 『Ether Supplier』.」
Enlightenment appeared on the faces of the knightsmiths, along with a hint of bitterness.
「As everyone knows, Ethelites, as it’s name implies, are 『shards of Ether』. If it is left alone after digging it out, it will dissolve into Ether in the air and disappear. Hence, it is thought to be useless in the past. However, they seem to have found the perfect way to utilize them. They create concentrated Ether with this, and inject them into the Ether Reactor, creating a temporary burst of mana. What an interesting technique, there’re people with unique idea in the Žaloudek Kingdom too!」
As they looked at Eru who was clapping his hands, everyone present slouch their shoulders weakly.
「Really now, why are you praising the enemy, boy?」
「I’m not praising the enemy, but the 『engineer』. Even though the 『user』 is the enemy, but I don’t think the 『inventor』 is one too. No matter what, good things are good. He spent so much thought on this, it is worthy of applause…! I feel that it’s a pity that he’s not our ally.」
When they saw Eru smile so leisurely, the Boss and the others were irked at the most, but the Kuscheperca knightsmiths couldn’t help groaning. From their perspective, the ones who develop new technologies leading to their nation suffering was the enemy. They only have hatred for them, and would never give them compliments. On the other hand, the new Silhouette Knights models designed by the knight commander of the Silver Phoenix Knights were stolen by those people. And after the enemy used his technology against him, he still found a part of the enemy that was praiseworthy. That might be the strong personality of the leader of the Silver Phoenix Knights, known for his engineering and combat skills. They looked at Eru with such feelings of awe.
Seeing the people around him sigh in admiration, the Boss felt the urge to remind them that 『this had nothing to do with his magnanimity, his just not interested in things unrelated to Silhouette Knights』. But in the end, he swallowed his words and merely showed an irked face. Since the Boss didn’t pop their bubble, it means that he could at least read the mood.
Eru then said 『speaking of which』 as an opener, changing the mood that was deviating away from the main topic.
「… This Ether Supplier isn’t that omnipotent.」
「Huh? What do you mean? From the sound of it, isn’t it the silver bullet that can solve the endurance issues of the『Eastern Mode』 machines?」
Seeing the Boss tilting his head in confusion, Eru showed a troubled expression.
「I should say this is……『poison』? Ether Reactors are designed to convert the Ether in the air into energy. If concentrated Ether is injected into it, it will put a lot of stress on the reactor, and doing it too often will cause the reactor to break.」
「Hey! The Ether Reactor is an important component of the Silhouette Knights! They are treating it as something 『disposable』!? That’s too wasteful! Damn it, there’s no good way to go about it.」
「Yes, so it can only be used as a last resort. I guess they don’t really want to use it either.」
The Silver Phoenix Knights machines, and the Revantiers made with the help of the new kingdom’s craftsmen, solves the endurance issue by lowering output and storing the excess mana.
However, the same system couldn’t provide the enhanced power of Žaloudek’s Tyrants, so they needed to install this queer device. This double edged sword increases its endurance at the cause of deteriorating its Ether Reactor, which was equivalent to the heart of a Silhouette Knight.
「That’s my opening speech for now, on to the main topic, the investigation results of the 『Levitate Ship』. Aside from the unknown technology that makes this humongous ship fly, we also made many new discoveries by studying its structure.」
Everyone’s expression turned serious. The Levitate Ship was the first aerial weapon deployed in live combat by the Žaloudek Kingdom, and the secrets behind them were about to be revealed. Eru ignored the wavering of the others, and wrote freely on the blackboard with his chalk. Every single white line drawn on it turns the unknown into known. This scene gave a strange sensation that was hard to describe to everyone.
「The ship structure is easier to explain. Most of it is made from steel and wood, and the workmanship isn’t that complicated. As you can see from its appearance, it’s propelled by its sails. It should be based on the techniques for building seaworthy ships, so the only strange thing about it is that 『it floats』.」
With the heart of the mystery in sight, someone couldn’t help gulping audibly.
「The core of the Levitate Ship is completely different from an Ether Reactor, and have a special 『reactor』. Everyone knows that I studied the captured ship thoroughly, but I can’t find the answer. But during my investigation of the black knights, I discovered a curious fact.」
Eru knocked the blackboard with a loud 「cock! 」. The place he was pointing at was the device he was explaining just now.
「The Tyrants are also equipped with this Ether Supplier. And this device is connected to the reactor of the Levitate Ship. There are also a large number of silver nerves connected to it. It’s function is just like what I explained… So this should be the heart, and proves that the reactor of the Levitate Ship 『requires a large number of concentrated Ether』.」
「… And your conclusion?」
「What makes the Levitate Ship float isn’t magic, but the 『effect of Ether itself』, there must be some sort of secret behind this. Someone made a discovery we didn’t know about.」
Eru laughed happily.
「Alright, the practice run is perfect. Next, let’s try operating the Levitate Ship we captured for real!」
Chatter broke out among the Kuscheperca knightsmiths, and a sense of unease spread amongst them. The enemy flagship was captured unscathed during the battle of Missillier, and the investigation should have been completed. In fact, according to the intel obtained from the captured enemy crew, they have grasped the general controls of the ship, just that the ship hasn’t been flown yet. Everyone treated this ship like a plague, unwilling to actually venture into the uncharted territory of flight.
「… Hmmp, just get on with it. What’s so scary about the sky? No matter what, our fates are tied to the boy, how can we back off because of something so trivial!!」
The first one to stand up was the Boss. He crossed his arms and nodded firmly. It seemed that he needed quite a bit of resolve to sound out his support for Eru, and the cold sweat on his brows seemed to express how he was feeling. After that the other Silver Phoenix Knights all responded bravely.
「Great! Everyone, let’s fly together! It will be fine, I often fly in the sky in Ikaruga, it’s really fun.」
「Now is the only time I feel so envious about your optimistic and fearless character…」
Not just the Boss, everyone present shared the same sentiment.
「It looks huge from up close, as big as a brigade level demon beast. Such a thing actually can float in the sky…」
Several days later, the Boss muttered with mixed feelings in front of a Levitate Ship. This vessel used to be the flagship of Žaloudek Kingdom’s punitive force, and was seized after Eru and Ikaruga forced their way on deck. It was the first Levitate Ship that was captured almost without any damage.
The inside of the Levitate Ship was big enough to hold Silhouette Knights, so it was naturally colossal in size. The Boss took another look at this massive thing, and was moved by the incredible phenomenon of this ship floating in the air. Eru who was making a rectangle with the thumb and index fingers of both hands and admiring the Levitate Ship through this gap he made turned and in response to the Boss’ words:
「Indeed, the most surprising thing is — it’s flight capability is solely provided by the 『Etheric Levitator』.」
「That thing is completely different from an Ether Reactor, and operates purely on Ether… Alright, everyone take your position, let’s begin.」
The Boss held his breath and intentionally boarded the vessel with a cool demeanour. Many members of the Silver Phoenix Knights were going about their tasks inside. They all focused on their job at hand, as if they were trying to suppressed their feelings on the unknown experience of flying in the sky. Only Eru looked excited and jubilant, as he looked up at the device at the center of the ship.
「The heart of the Levitate Ship, the Etheric Levitator… Fufufu, what exactly makes it tick? 」
「Hey, don’t break it. No, don’t you touch it. Listen, don’t do anything reckless!」
The Boss roared at Eru who was mumbling dreamingly and caressing the device with his fingertips. The Etheric Levitator looked like a giant lantern, and the central portion was covered in glass, so its insides were visible. It was big enough to fit a Silhouette Knight in there. It wasn’t in operation right now, so it was empty.
A moment later, the Boss who had given instructions all over the place raised his voice and yelled:
「Good, we will be beginning the test soon! This thing can fly in the first place, so there shouldn’t be any problems. But we have not seen this thing before, so everyone be on your toes.」
The members all acknowledged nervously and stood by at their assigned posts
「Initiate Ether supplier, inject concentrated Ether!」
After manipulating the controls, the Etheric Levitator awakened with a slight tremble. After the activated valve pumped out the air inside, the Ether supplier slowly inject concentrated Ether into the vacuum. The Ether inside glowed faintly as it gathered in the center, generating a levitating field as it did so.
The members watched the rainbow coloured lights shining out from the device with bated breath. At this point everyone felt the strange sensation of floating. A member looked out the window and couldn’t help shouting:
「W-We have lift off! We’re really levitating!」
「… Stop the ether supplier, and keep the levitator at its current status. Just a test flight for now, no need to go too high.」
Eru instructed quickly, and a member turned off the Ether supplier. It seemed that the Etheric Levitator would remain as it is without outside influence, and would stay at the same altitude. The Levitate Ship simply stopped a few meters above ground.
During this time, the Boss who was standing firmly on the deck without a word slowly exhaled, then stroked his beard.
「This large ship is really floating… I have heard about this, but experiencing it first hand still feels incredible.」
「Yes, it’s impressive how this unknown function is put into practical application. This is fun.」
Eru has knowledge from Earth, and didn’t find large flying planes unfamiliar. Earth had airships that use buoyant gases to float, or planes that generate lift with its wings. For the Boss who was born and raised in this world, this was an existence he had never heard of before.
As the Etheric Levitator was very quiet, the inside of the Levitate Ship fell into dead silence. Slowly, this silence was broken and the hull started getting rowdy. Some members went to the windows, while others walked around worriedly, confirming the situation in their own way.
「Let’s set down the anchor for now. The design of the ship and the effect of the ether, there’re tons of things to study… It’s going to get busy.」
Because they captured a fully functional Levitate Ship, their understanding of the technology behind it and the ether would advance by leaps and bounds.
Starting with this first experimental flight, many tests were ran after that, and the members of the Silver Phoenix Knights gradually got used to the flight controls. They even used the excuse of experimental flight to test the speed limit, or flying it upside down, resulting in the ship nearly crashing. They showed off the robot maniac energy they got from their knight commander to the fullest extent. At the same time, Eru inspected the structure of the ship energetically.
「This unprecedented flying machine is well made, and made use of techniques for ships brilliantly. On the other hand, the inventor’s thinking is too rooted in doing that, so there are parts that seem constrained by the concept of a ship. The biggest flaw is the lack of propulsion. It uses a blow engine — a type of Silhouette Arms that create wind, and they use their sail to catch that wind to move forward.」
「Oh? You mean that it is just a normal sail ship, aside from the fact that it is flying in the sky?」
「Yes, and it is loaded with Silhouette Knights, making it even more heavy. The Levitate Ship was unexpectedly slow, and thanks to that, Ikaruga could pursue them easily back then. If we want to speed it up adequately, we will at least need the propulsion from something like the magius jet thruster.」
「The only ones who would say this thing flies too slow is just you and Ikaruga. And even if a jet thruster was installed, no other machines aside from Ikaruga has the mana pool to support it.」
Eru nodded at the Boss’ complaints
「That would be difficult. Huge mana storage and Ether Reactor output would be indispensable. Even though it’s not impossible with the equipment we currently have…」
Eru closed one eye and said while lost in thought. As the Boss listened, he could guess what the solution was.
His title of 『Silver Phoenix Knight Chief Craftsman』 wasn’t just for show, and he had already arrived at the answer by drawing on his past experiences.
「… Sigh, it’s not impossible. But do we have to『go that far』?」
「This is just one possibility. We can approach it from other angles and see if there’re other ways.」
Eru immersed himself in his wild imagination and entered a daydreaming state. The boss couldn’t help shrugging when he saw Eru acting like this.