Knights & Magic Volume 5 Chapter 44
In the Kingdom of Žaloudek’s Central Kuscheperca Region, the Pan-Kusche highway connected the far end of the eastern region with the seat of the Viceroyalty – Delvincourt. Cutting across the Pan-Kusche highway was the Mulberry River, with its headwaters high up in the Aubigne Mountain Ranges. At the intersection of the two, the eastern fortress of the Tetraspides Fortresses stood.
The fortress was constructed on the banks of the river, and could easily repel any attackers with its daunting walls. As of late, the drawbridge that usually spanned the river was retracted to the walls, with its occupants seemingly on high alert.
To the east of the gatehouse were the vast Cauderlier Plains, where the open expanse was void of any cover – a perfect battleground for the highly mobile Silhouette Knights. After receiving the scout reports on the movement of the Kuschepercans, Žaloudekian forces could be seen in great numbers not only on the high walls of the Tetraspides Fortresses, but also on the Cauderlier Plains, visibly anxious for the upcoming battle. On the far end of the plains, the Kuschepercan army had long arrived and was forming up for the assault. As the two camps readied themselves for combat, the decisive battle for the gateway to the capital slowly unfolded.
Žaloudekians were in their usual battle-tested wall formation – an impenetrable black wall of countless Silhouette Knights, coloring the Cauderlier plains black with their shimmering armor. Opposite to Žaloudek, New Kuschepercan army was in the formation from their victorious battle of Missillier, with Resvant Vidos at its vanguard. Given their reliance on Silhouette Arms, having the tower knights at the front of the formation were indispensible.
Even with the black knights’ overwhelming defense, they were still vulnerable to the long range bombardments of the tower knights. As such, Žaloudekian field army stood steadfast outside the range of the Kuschepercans, and the immobile tower knights could not hope to immediately close the distance.
Just as the battle seemed to have devolved into a stalemate, a low rumbling sound was heard from overhead. As the air quivered, jet black Levitate Ships appeared through the dense clouds. The Levitate Ships’ blow engines slowly revved up as it approached the Kuschepercan tower knights’ formation.
“Levitate Ships! Enemy Levitate Ships sighted bearing south southeast.” At that moment, a Kuschepercan sentry alerted.
Immediately, a loud horn sounded within the Kuschepercan ranks, and the Resvant Vidos stirred to meet the newly arrived enemies.
“Vido units, enter anti-air formation! Do not let those Levitate Ships approach!”
While the Kuschepercan adjusted their formation, the Levitate Ships continued their relentless approach. Soon, the Žaloudekian fleet angled their ships just outside the range of Kuschepercan Silhouette Arms, and opened up their ports. From within, numerous catapults readied themselves and began to shower rocks upon the Kuschepercan army.
The Kuschepercan army swiftly prepared their defense. The tower knights launched a blanket of shots to blow apart the encroaching rocks. Accurately intercepting the rocks in midair was difficult for any unit. Therefore, the Kuschepercans relied on their sheer number of shots to overwhelm the attack. While many rocks were shot down, some did make it through and crashed into the Kuschepercan formation.
“Entering Silhouette Arms range! Anculosas, prepare for combat!” The commander of the fleet declared after hearing the report from the observers.
“Aye aye! Opening ether valves to lower ether concentration! Altitude decreasing for Silhouette Arms attack!”
As the Anculosas prepared their attack, the black ships slowly descended as they approached the Kuschepercan army. All of these ships had seen major reconstruction since the ‘Siege of Missillier’, with new platforms added on either side of the ship where a row of Silhouette Knights now stood. Each of the Silhouette Knights has a thick ‘Bulwark Robe’, with quadruple Silhouette Arms protruding out from their backs. Designed by Horacio as a specialized Silhouette Arms unit, the Anculosa was a model akin to the tower knights.
The Anculosas turned their Silhouette Arms on the tower knights and unleashed a barrage of shots the moment the Kuschepercan army entered range. The Levitate Ships themselves soon began to circle at range of the Kuschepercan army, bombarding the Kuschepercan army from afar. Down on the surface, the tower knights valiantly stood their ground and counterattacked with shots. As the exchange intensified, the skies were soon covered in shots.
While the Kuschepercan army had superior numbers, they were set in relatively tight and immobile formations, making them a poor match against the highly mobile airborne Anculosas. The difference in accuracy soon became pronounced, and before long, the Kuschepercan army could no longer ignore the mounting casualties.
“We won’t last with the Vidos alone! It can’t be helped… move up the anti-air Revantiers!”
Messengers were quickly dispatched to the rear, and soon, Revantiers were brought up to their aid. The Revantiers were each carrying a massive shield with an armored port in the center, and on their backs was a javelin thrower that had replaced the sub-arms. The construct was the same to the Vertical Launch Javelin Systems used during the Battle of Missillier, with the Revantier model carrying the single launch equivalent. Compared to the Tzendrinbles of the Silver Phoenix Knights, who could operate multiple launchers through their training and skill in the newer models, the Kuschepercan army’s elites could only squeeze in enough training to accommodate just one launcher.
To differentiate these anti-air models from the mass-produced Revantier models, the Kuschepercans tentatively named them the ‘Javeliniers’.
“Javeliniers, prepare for attack! First volley, fire!!”
Under the orders of the company commander, the Javeliniers launched their wired javelins, and with streaks of red flame, headed straight for the Levitate Ships.
“Javelin launch detected! Port side Anculosas, intercept the javelins with ‘Lightning Whips’!” The observers loudly shouted into the communication voicepipes.
Being able to change directions in flight and strike down Levitate Ships in a single blow, the javelins were a very threatening existence to the Žaloudekian air fleet. As such, even before the commander had issued an order, the Anculosas were fully ready to intercept the javelins. Their quadruple Silhouette Arms that were aiming at the Kuschepercan ground forces gave way to their two main arms, now pointed squarely at the approaching javelins. The javelins themselves continued to adjust and accelerate, until the silver nerves detached at their maximum length and the javelins continued on with their inertial force.
Immediately, a loud thunderous crackle was heard from the Levitate Ships, as the ‘Lightning Whips’ casted a bright light upon the approaching javelins. Unlike the usual flame magic, lightning magic has a relatively short range and abysmal accuracy. Yet, against the metallic javelins, there were no better choice as a counter, and the Žaloudekians once again demonstrated the incredible stopping power of their ‘proximal defense’.
While the Lightning Whips proved to be able to strike down many of the javelins, some did end up penetrating their impeccable defense. The Kuschepercans had long identified the most efficient way of sinking a Levitate Ship – that is, to strike down the Etheric Levitator located at the heart of the ship. To protect the core of the Levitate Ships from harm, the Anculosas bravely stood in the way as meat shields, only to be impaled by the powerful javelins.
“Do not panic! Status report!”
“A few javelins got through from the port side! Structural damage minimal, but two Anculosas were severely damaged and now have compromised defenses!”
“Return fire with the catapults and pull our ships back! Let’s pay those Javeliniers back for what they did to us!”
With one final return volley, the Levitate Ships withdrew before circling around and returning back into the fray with their fresh starboard battery.
As the aerial battle raged on, the black knights began their advance. The Kuschepercan tower knights were preoccupied with the Levitate Ships, so the black knights met little resistance in their march and quickly closed the distance between the two armies. The black knights were a model that emphasized ‘close quarter combat’, and as long as they can close the distance, the immobile tower knights would be of little consequence.
Seeing the flood of black steel marching under the sporadic fire of the tower knights, the Levitate Ships also renewed their vigorous bombardment of the Kuschepercan army in order to divert attention away from the advance. Soon, the black knights set themselves upon the tower knights and crashed into the Kuschepercan vanguards. Faced with the onslaught, the Kuschepercan army began to waver.
“Darn it, have the Vidos withdraw!”
Not willing to let the Žaloudekians maintain their initiative, the Javeliniers withdrew the javelin launcher and advanced on the black knights. While the javelin was an incredible weapon, it was not designed for close quarters. Against the black knights, the javelin lacked the necessary distance to accelerate and the penetrative power to break through their heavy armor. As such, the modified Revantiers brought out their swords and entered combat against the black knights. Soon, the battlefield devolved into a chaotic melee.
Even after an hour, the battlefield remained in a state of chaos. Tyrantors and Revantiers were engaged in brutal combat, while Vidos tried their best to provide supporting fire. Up above, the Levitate Ships continued to probe for an opening while countering the numerous javelins launched from the surface to sink them. As clash of steel and the explosion of shots echoed across the battlefield, the sounds soon reached the core of the Kuschepercan army. At the battlefield headquarters, the King’s Mount ‘Kartoga Ol Cauchard Secundus’ stood alongside her select Life Guards.
“I-is all these death unavoidable?”
“Ellie, you must stay strong. All of them are courageously fighting for the sake of our country and for you. Are you not here to bear witness to their noble sacrifices?”
Queen Eleonora clenched her fists as she listened to the sound. Even without seeing the battle herself, Eleonora could imagine the carnage her countrymen were enduring. At that moment, Eleonora could only feel her powerlessness at guiding her countrymen to a more favorable outcome.
“T-that’s right. Could we not send in the Life Guards to assist?” Eleonora suddenly asked.
“Calm down, Ellie. We must not weaken your protection. If by chance you were targeted and taken out, our country will lose our pillar. I am sure you are painfully aware of what will happen to the country without its king…”
Upon hearing the convincing argument, Eleonora could not help but descend into silence. Isadora, on the other hand, was somewhat relieved that the Secundus had a two pilot system. If the Secundus only had the Queen herself, Eleonora would have long pushed forth to help her beleaguered countrymen, and others would have a hard time stopping her.
“…Although, if we keep this up, the prospect does look grim.”
Isadora forcibly calmed her anxiety. However, her worry would soon come to reality, as a certain object slowly crept toward the chaotic battlefield.
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“…The wind is racing. It is getting stronger.”
Emrys, who was piloting Gordesleo that stood next to Secundus, was the first to notice the subtle noise through the loud clashes of the battlefield. Emry’s astute intuition led him to turn toward the distant sky. Soon, a low rumbling sound entered into the ears of the Kuschepercan forces and the Life Guards began to stir. It was a sound that everyone knew.
“So it has come… Guards, keep the Queen safe! Likely, it is here…”
Hearing Emrys’ warnings, the Guards created a protective cocoon around Secundus.
“As agreed, just leave it to us. You stay safe.”
As Isadora anxiously reacted to the tense atmosphere, the sound continued to grow louder, and a black silhouette soon appeared on the distant horizon. At first glance, it seemed to be a Levitate Ship, but as it drew closer, the Kuschepercan soldiers were rendered speechless.
“T-that is… the Žaloudekian Flying Dragon! No wonder, the outer appearance definitely resembled dragonkin, truly an intimidating presence.”
The Dragon’s massive body seemingly eclipsed the sun, casting an ominous shadow with its outstretched wings.
The Flying Dragon was an otherworldly monster. Its sheer size alone dwarfs even the Žaloudekian Levitate Ships. With its crimson jaws and outstretched wings, it bore little resemblance to a ship, and could only aptly be described as a ‘monster’. Even the stalwart Emrys could not help but stir at the terrible sight before them.
“If the Intel holds, that bastard should have a powerful siege weapon in its arsenal. It would be over for us if we let it get into our ranks… Hmph… The situation had certainly turned troublesome…”
At the rear of the Kuschepercan formation stood the Queen. If the Flying Dragon Battleship, which appeared behind the Kuschepercan ranks, were to enter combat, the Queen would be one of its first targets.
“That’s why we are here. Third company, give the Flying Dragon a warm welcome~”
“Got it, young master!”
Emrys had long anticipated the Flying Dragon’s arrival, and as of such, kept the Silver Phoenix Knights in reserve. With the order, Tzendrinbles fired up their Vertical Launch Javelin System, the era’s strongest anti-air weapon, at the prowling Dragon.
“Fire!” With one word, Helvi ordered the strike.
The javelins all launched in unison and accelerated rapidly toward the Flying Dragon. However, just before impact, the Flying Dragon Battleship had the Anculosas positioned on either side of the ship unleash its Lightning Whips to intercept.
“Lightning again? How predictable. With the sheer numbers of javelins we have launched, having one or two taken out is within expectations~”
“…Wait, something is different. That is more like a net! It seemed the defense has improved since the last time we fought it!”
The javelins that even Silhouette Knights could not resist were effortlessly stopped by the net of lightning and blown to smithereens. Faced with the reality that the third company’s full volley of javelins was unable to touch the Flying Dragon, the Kuschepercan army was awash with anxiety.
“…Fire the flare! The red one, now!” Emrys gave the order with a quivering voice.
The Lightning Whip of the Flying Dragon seemed to be of a different magnitude when compared to the usual Levitate Ship. If even the third company was unable to break through, then the Kuschepercan anti-air was meaningless on the Flying Dragon. As such, they had to summon the one person who could fight against that monstrosity.
“As expected of Collazo’s reconstructed ship. Silly Kuschepercans, your feeble javelins are rendered impotent before the might of the Flying Dragon. Let the Demon God come, we shall strike it down along with the rest of the rabble!” At the helm, Doroteo revealed a confident smile.
During the repair of the Flying Dragon Battleship, Horacio personally supervised many upgrades to the craft that were deemed necessary to win over the Demon God, among which was the improved ‘Lightning Curtain’. With the Flying Dragon now impervious to the anti-air javelins, the crew now confidently believed in their victory.
Doroteo scanned the chaotic battlefield and his eyes soon fell upon one particular point.
“That flag, that unit! Although I have heard the reports, I was still somewhat doubtful that the King’s Mount would appear. I can’t believe the ‘brat’ from back then would personally appear on the battlefield. I got to give it to her, she is showing more backbone than I would give her credit for~” Doroteo let out a sarcastic chuckle.
Doroteo had previously met Princess Eleonora at Lacepede castle, and his impression of her was a porcelain doll that would break at the slightest touch. Therefore, he was rather surprised that the same girl would lead a campaign the moment she became Queen. Deep down in Doroteo’s heart, doubt remained that the King’s Mount before him was just a body double, but soon shook the thought away.
“It matters little if the King’s Mount contained the real princess, as long as we just burn it all. Conversely speaking, we should instead be mindful of the missing Demon God. I am certain the Demon God is just waiting for the opportunity to strike, so we need to remain cautious…”
After a moment of thought, Doroteo made his decision and ordered the jaws of the Flying Dragon to open, revealing the unparalleled siege weapon.
“I have no reason to let this opportunity slip. Prepare ‘Dragonbreath’ and strike down those who dared to oppose Her Excellency, Princess Catalina! Burn them all to ash!”
Powerful magic began to stir in the mouth of the Dragon, and with the magic seals, soon erupted into flame. Before everyone’s eyes, the Kuschepercan army was about to be scorched along with the very earth they stood on.
However, moments before the Dragonbreath was unleashed upon the Kuschepercans, a streak of red light rose up from the surface. Along with the signal, a new Levitate Ship appeared on the battlefield.
“Huh? Who is in command of that Levitate Ship? I have not sent out any orders for the Jade Dragon Company’s Levitate Ship to assist… Wait, something about that ship-…”
The ship did not come from the same direction as the Jade Dragon Knights’ camp. Looking at the approaching Levitate Ship, Doroteo could not shake off a nudging feeling, as if something was amiss.
Doroteo soon realized the reason for his unease. The Levitate Ship lacked ‘sails’, and was bellowing fire as it flew.
“…No, that’s not one of ours! It is the enemy! This means-…!”
Doroteo knew that among Žaloudekian Levitate Ships, the only ship that relied on flame propulsion was the Flying Dragon Battleship alone. The standard Levitate Ships simply did not have enough mana to maintain such a propulsion mechanism. As such, only the originators of the technology, Doroteo’s sworn enemy, could fathom a method to make the mechanism viable.
“So you have come, Demon God! How dare you hold one of our glorious Levitate Ships captive, you bastard!”
As the Silver Phoenix Knight’s Levitate Ship continued to advance, Ikaruga stood at the bow of the ship, glaring at the Flying Dragon Battleship in the distant.
“Hahaha! Behold my ‘Levitate Knight Mk. IV, Modified Aerial Assault Levitate Ship’!” Eru loudly declared while piloting Ikaruga, “Ah, the name is a bit too long… Let’s shorten it to ‘Aerial Assault Ship’! Flying Dragon, I have the best welcome prepared for you! I won’t let you get away this time, and will wholeheartedly ‘gobble’ you up~ Aerial Assault Ship, charge!!”
The foundation of the Aerial Assault Ship was Cristóbal’s Levitate Ship. If Doroteo were to know such a fact, he would certainly be fuming in rage. In a way, it was to Doroteo’s fortune to be oblivious of this fact.
Ever since the ship fell into the Silver Phoenix Knights’ hands after the Battle of Missillier, the knightsmiths had performed a complete analysis of its functions and capabilities, and then had the ship fully modified for the battle against the Flying Dragon.
The outer appearance of the ship had seen much change. The sails were completely removed and new armor plating was copiously added to the bow. In particular, the propulsion method was changed to accommodate the large rocket engines in the rear. While not as powerful as the ones mounted on the Flying Dragon, the new engines were adequate for a Levitate Ship of its size and were able to match the Flying Dragon in speed.
With a massive burst of flames, the Aerial Assault Ship accelerated toward the Flying Dragon.
“Demon God, coming at me with your ship in tow? Perfect! Let us end this once and for all! Don’t think your Levitate Ship will stand a chance against my Flying Dragon just because it has flame propulsion! Signaler, inform the Jade Dragon Knights that I will leave ground support to them!”
The Flying Dragon Battleship had light magic apparatus installed for ship to ship communication. With different choice of color, it provided for commands to be sent over long distances. With the order received, two new Levitate Ships appeared from the rear.
Compared to the traditional Levitate Ships, the two new ships had increased armor for protection and was a model specifically designed to accommodate Silhouette Knights. The new arrivals, termed the ‘Amphibious Assault Ships’ by their knightsmiths, soon entered into the fray.
From openings within their thick armor, barrage of shots rained down upon the Kuschepercan forces. At the same time, a loud chain grinded as the bottom cargo door opened, where Silhouette Knights began to drop onto the ground one after another. Although the Žaloudekian strike force was few in numbers, they were able to land next to the Kuschepercan headquarters, as if bringing a dagger to the throat of Kuscheperca.
With the terrible Flying Dragon circling overhead, and the sudden appearance of an enemy to their rear, the Kuschepercan army could not help but waver.
“Guards, do not fear! We only need to keep them from reaching our Queen! Stop them and calmly strike them down!”
Emrys tried to rally the Life Guards stationed at the headquarters. While they had plenty of experienced veterans in the form of the lesser nobility, the Kuschepercans lacked a strong figure to command the battle. As such, despite being part of the volunteer force, Emrys naturally took on the position of commander with his exceptional martial skill and the blood of royalty.
“Inform the vanguards to not worry about the headquarters. The Flying Dragon overhead will be felled by the Demon God in due time, and the Queen’s defense could be left to us. If anything, the enemy had already revealed all their cards, and we only need to respond in kind to seize victory!”
Although Emrys had little basis for his confident declarations, his stalwart demeanor gave his statements a strange air of authenticity. Regardless of the circumstances, the commander must stand strong. As such, Emrys maintained a collected appearance to calm his anxious soldiers in an act worthy to be called a descendent of the Lion King Ambrosius, and soon, the wavering soldiers rallied themselves to combat.
On the chaotic front lines, the Kuschepercan vanguard reformed themselves into a wedge, seemingly prepared to smash through the line of black knights and bisecting the enemy army in two. Standing amid the vanguard, Baron Mazquiarán looked up at the sky.
“The Silver Phoenix Knights are courageously fighting with that Flying Dragon! I am certain they will avenge our fallen brethren, so we must do our part! Comrades, do not fear! As long as we advance, we will certainly carve a path to the Tetraspides Fortresses!!” He loudly proclaimed.
Despite the difficulties that lay before them and the old capital they had hoped to reclaim still far away, the Kuschepercan army’s morale was high.
Opposite the Kuschepercans, the Žaloudekians also experienced a surge of morale. With the Flying Dragon Battleship ‘Vouivre’ overhead and the strong walls of Tetraspides Fortresses behind, the intoxicating nectar of victory was right before them.
“Glorious black knights! Our guardian dragon has descended upon the battlefield, and it is only a matter of time before the sky itself submits to its might! Let the Kuschepercan rebels perish in its flames! Hold strong, glorious knights, and claim the victory before your eyes!”
With a loud roar, the Žaloudekians raised their thick shield and braced for the incoming Kuschepercan assault.
“Young master, what should we do? Is it about time we commit to the attack?” Knight Runners of the second company asked Emrys, as they observed the vanguard’s changing formations.
At their suggestion, Emrys surveyed the current progression of the battle. The front has once again reformed as the Kuschepercan pulled back to their new formation and steadily advanced. Fortuitously, despite the sudden arrival of the Flying Dragon and the airborne reinforcements, the Kuschepercan army’s morale stabilized with Ikaruga’s rapid response and their troops were holding strong against the black knights. The situation seemed to favor the Kuschepercans, at least .
“…No, we must not act hastily while the drawbridge is still up. Let us hold off an all-out assault until our allies have secured the objective.”
No matter how close they were able to approach the Tetraspides Fortresses, they would not be able to take the fortress as long as the drawbridge remained in Žaloudekian hands. Therefore, the assault would have to wait until they had successfully seized the drawbridge.
“Young master seemed to be quite different from Di~”
“Either way, let us hold onto our forces in reserve for now, and wait for the big push at the end.”
“Even if we managed to survive through the plains, we will still need to assault the fortress. Who knows how many enemies lie within…”
“Don’t be discouraged. The more enemy the better for our eventual rampage through their ranks!”
If the drawbridge could not be seized soon, then the New Kuschepercan forces would sink into the quagmire of war. They had no reserves to tap, and if the battle devolves into a war of attrition, the first to strike their colors would be the Kuschepercans.
“That wall is becoming increasingly worrisome. I wonder if we have received any word from the infiltration team…” Emrys stared attentively at the distant fortress, which, despite his apparent calm, was eating away at him inside.
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As the ground forces engaged in melee, the aerial battle also continued to develop.
Žaloudekian air fleet of Jade Dragon Knights and Steel Winged Knights, commanding the sky with their greater numbers, encircled the battered Kuschepercan land forces. At the center of the encirclement was a single ship with Kuschepercan colors, the Aerial Assault Ship.
With the Demon God at its bow, the Aerial Assault Ship accelerated straight at the jewel of the Žaloudekian fleet – the Flying Dragon Battleship. It was not unusual for the Aerial Assault Ship to eclipse the standard Žaloudekian Levitate Ships in speed, since it relied on rocket propulsion, for which the inferior wind propulsion could not hope to compare.
“…Its speed could easily match my Flying Dragon. If they keep accelerating like this, perhaps they intend to ram the Flying Dragon with that reinforced bow of theirs…?” Doroteo carefully analyzed the approaching Aerial Assault Ship and noticed the reinforced plating at the bow. It was not hard for Doroteo to figure out its intended use. “…Although, if the Demon God is involved, I am certain there is more to that reinforced bow than meets the eye.”
Doroteo could not imagine something like the Demon God, who commanded the most advanced technology of its time, to waste its only Levitate Ship on a suicidal attack.
However, as the Aerial Assault Ship did not veer from its collision course, Doroteo decided to probe the Ship’s intentions. The Flying Dragon Battleship opened fire on the Aerial Assault Ship with its contingent of Anculosas. The countless shots pelleted the Aerial Assault Ship like a swarm of angry wasps, and forced the Ship to change course.
However, either because of the long distance or the Aerial Assault Ship’s incredible speed, few shots were able to find their mark.
“Increase the magic barrage, and bring us closer!” Doroteo barked.
As the Aerial Assault Ship approached the Flying Dragon from its side, Doroteo ordered his ship to advance. The two ships began to spiral inward with their broadsides facing each other, and as the distance between the two ships drew closer, the Anculosas’ shots were able to find their mark more often.
“…How is that, Demon God? At this pace, you shall perish under my barrage!”
At the end, seemingly unable to resist the barrage any longer, the Aerial Assault Ship turned tail and cruised away from the Flying Dragon.
“Could they have thought that they would stand a chance if they had a Levitate Ship of their own, but failed to accommodate for the necessary crew to master the ship? How laughable! I won’t let this opportunity slip away! Prepare the Lightning Curtain at maximum power, and set the Dragon to ramming speed! Let us smash that Levitate Ship of theirs along with the Demon God inside!”
The Anculosas onboard activated their enhanced ‘Lightning Whip’, and encased the Flying Dragon with a powerful defensive cocoon. As the Flying Dragon glowed from the lightning, its speed picked up and rammed straight at the Aerial Assault Ship.
With the Flying Dragon’s maximum output, the distance between the two quickly shortened, but not before the two ships cruised far from the battlefield.
At the bow of the Aerial Assault Ship, Ikaruga’s head stirred as the crystal ‘eye’ focused on the Flying Dragon, and confirmed it has followed them away from the battlefield.
“…I have been waiting for this!” Eru revealed a devious smile, “After all, we cannot afford to activate my new weapon above allies, but it is a completely different story here…”
As the ‘wings’ extended from its flanks, the Aerial Assault Ship rapidly slowed down.
“Come, Flying Dragon. It is the time of your reckoning. With how long you had ruled the skies, you probably did not think my armored ship would be a challenge… but that overconfidence will be the end of you! I will teach you what happens when you get close to my reconstructed Aerial Assault Ship!”
Ikaruga’s two massive Ether Reactors began to hum as a surge of energy was produced. However, his Ikaruga did not stir at all, and seemed to be in a state of hibernation. Behind the hibernating Ikaruga, countless silver nerves connected its back to the interior of the Levitate Ship. It seemed Eru had no intention of meeting the Flying Dragon with his Ikaruga, and the mana was being diverted elsewhere.
“Awaken, ‘Multiple Launch Javelin System’!”
Eru’s computations were transmitted along with the massive surge of mana to every corner of the ship. Then, as if the entire ship was awakening from a long slumber, the outer shell of the ship shifted and hidden Vertical Launch Javelin Systems began to sprout upon the surface. The tightly packed javelin throwers soon covered the entire top deck like a porcupine, with a total count of a hundred and twenty-eight throwers.
Ernesti Echevalier demonstrated his greatest genius – his sheer computational ability that provided the expertise necessary to command the capricious Ikaruga. It was not far from the truth to say that his insane strength was all thanks to his unparalleled skill in computation. This javelin storm was the product of his full potential, and was the secretive trump card he had installed on the Aerial Assault Ship.
“Come… Our battle ‘sacrificial ritual’ has begun. Time to let slip the dogs of war!”
The scene where all one hundred and twenty-eight launchers firing in unison was awe-inspiring. The burst of flame that propelled the launchers almost seemed to consume the top deck, as the air atop the ship groaned and crackled from the heat. Like the branches of a magnificent willow reaching into the heavens, the javelins continued to rise before curving toward the Flying Dragon Battleship.
Before this sight, even the steadfast Doroteo was rendered speechless. As if sensing Doroteo’s momentary shock, the countless javelins let out a burst of flame as they accelerated toward their target.
“H-how… ridiculous! But… naïve! You are too naïve, Demon God! You think just by adding a few more javelins, you would be able to break through my perfect defense? All hands, erase those encroaching javelins from my sight! ‘Lightning Curtain’, activate!!”
Facing Demon God’s javelins, the Flying Dragon have its impenetrable ‘Lightning Curtain’. The Anculosas tapped into the energy of the Flying Dragon and activated their greatest defensive weapon to resist the torrent of javelins. A net of lightning rapidly covered the Flying Dragon, and all the javelins that made contact were blown to smithereens and seemingly rendered harmless.
“Futile! As long as we have the ‘Lightning Curtain’, mere javelins are harmless to us!”
Doroteo, who was sitting at the helm, failed to notice the subtle change and continued to laugh. However, for the Knight Runners of the Anculosas standing out on the deck, the situation was clearly abnormal.
The debris of the destroyed javelins, which should have been made from metal and magic catalysts, seemed to also contain sawdust and a sparkling ‘liquid’. These unusual debris continued to rain down on the Flying Dragon. At first, the Knight Runners were perplexed by the strange liquid. However, as the smell of the liquid drifted into their nose, they all turned deadly pale.
“T-this is… ‘oil’?!”
By the time the Žaloudekians had noticed, it was already too late and the liquid had completely drenched the Flying Dragon. At that moment, a small flash from the Aerial Assault Ship caught their eyes. It was a single crimson shot of flame fired straight at them.
They did not have any time to respond to the sudden coup. On contact with the airborne droplets, the crimson shot ignited the liquid and the flame soon reached the doused ship. Spreading rapidly from the bow to the rear, the flame consumed the entire Flying Dragon in a blinding fireball.
The structure of the ship warped and creaked from the intense heat, as if the Dragon itself was wreathing in pain. The once prideful visage that had dominated the sky sunk slightly from the shockwave before the Etheric Levitator fought against gravity to push the behemoth back into the air.
The deafening explosion and the tremors from the shockwave were the strongest at the helm. Doroteo was momentarily stunned, but thanks to his experience, was soon able to recover.
“R-report! What has happened?! Where is all this flame coming from?! All stations, report now! Anyone!” Doroteo loudly barked into the voicepipes.
However, all that greeted him was silence.
Staring at the brilliant fireball in the sky, Ikaruga slowly stood up from within the Aerial Assault Ship. The numerous silver nerves detached in unison from its back as Ikaruga rearmed itself with its weapons. Eru’s passion permeated the Demon God as its Ether Engines revved up, pouring immense energy into its every fiber.
“I knew full well you would respond with lightning. With the assumption that the lightning defense was certain to be rid of its flaws, the number of javelin should matter little. However, therein lay the trap. By preparing javelins with the full intention of being intercepted, I was able to create the perfect weapon against the Flying Dragon.”
The javelins launched by the Aerial Assault Ship were different from the standard anti-air javelins. It was specifically made with a hollow wooden center filled with ‘Magic Beast Oil’, a highly flammable substance.
In the previous encounter, Eru had learned of the Flying Dragon’s ‘Lightning Whip’, and soon came up with the decoy javelins. The plan was to have the javelins purposely intercepted and have its flammable liquid rain down upon the target.
“Did you enjoy it? The ‘magic missiles’ specifically designed for our date today~ With that opening spark to light the way, let us enjoy our battle to its fullest!”
As the surface of the Aerial Assault Ship returned to its original state, Ikaruga flew out from the bow with its boosters spewing out flames, and dived straight toward the burning Flying Dragon Battleship.
“H-how dare you, detestable Demon God, to commit such a heinous act against my beloved Flying Dragon and subordinates! Absolutely unforgivable!!” Doroteo no longer had an ounce of his usual cool as he let rage consumed him.
Certainly, Doroteo was mentally prepared for the attack, as he had always assumed the Demon God would have a trick up its sleeves. However, the reality was shocking to almost a maddening degree, and even Doroteo could not have imagined that the hail of javelins was but a cog to the sinister plan.
“H-how dare you use fire! Fire belongs to the Flying Dragon! Your ember shall not harm the mighty Dragon!”
The Flying Dragon remain consumed by the flames as the Magic Beast Oil, living up to its name as being hard to extinguish, continued to burn away its surface. At that moment, Doroteo had completely lost his reasons. He could not accept that the rightful power of the Dragon was usurped by a pretender, and continued his unabashed verbal assault.
The Flying Dragon Battleship started to creak loudly – not of the damage, but of the flexing of its crystal strands. With a sudden and daring twirl of its massive body, the Flying Dragon was able to use the centrifugal force to fling off the burning oil on its surface, and successfully cleansed its body of flames. However, the first words Doroteo heard were the pained cries of his subordinates.
“C-commander, are you alright?! The earlier twirl was able to shed the burning oil… but most of our Anculosas… are now inoperable.”
The officer’s report jolted Doroteo back from his rage. The explosion and shockwave had severely damaged the Anculosas stationed at the head of the Dragon. Of the six Anculosas, five were completely incapacitated.
“C-commander… the situation is terrible. At this rate, the m-mana supply will…”
Doroteo knew the fatal problem even without the officer pointing it out.
The unrivalled power of the Flying Dragon Battleship was built upon its enormous mana expenditure, which was barely held in check with thirteen Ether Reactors running in parallel. If they had lost five of those thirteen reactors, it won’t take long before the Flying Dragon run out of mana.
“…No. It is not over! I am certain of it!” Doroteo shouted as his bloodshot eyes stared attentively at the last card in his hand.
It was the ‘Dragonblood Reactor’ built by Horacio Collazo and represented the pinnacle of Žaloudekian Ethelite technology. According to Horacio, it was a gluttonous reactor that could not be satiated even with all the Ethelite they have.
“The damage is severe, but as long as we maintain the mana supply, the Flying Dragon should still be able to fight. That’s right, I doubt the Demon God could repeat that attack again.” Doroteo excitedly thought to himself as he extinguished his broiling rage.
In his calm, Doroteo was able to identify a fatal flaw to the Aerial Assault Ship’s earlier attack. Unlike magic shot, javelin was a physical weapon. As such, for them to repeat the earlier attack, they would need to have a stockpile of Javelins in order to replace the ones used. From the small size of the Levitate Ship, Doroteo could easily deduce that the ship would have no way of carrying that large a stockpile on board.
“The Goddess of Victory had not abandoned us. As long as we… activate the Dragonblood Reactor…”
In his fervor, he could not shake off a terrible premonition. If he activated the Dragonblood Reactor, it would quickly consume the entire remaining Etherlite stockpile, the fuel necessary to keep the Flying Dragon afloat. As such, he would no longer have the fuel margin to escape to the upper atmosphere. His only path would be to defeat the Demon God and the Kuschepercan army or face destruction – .
As he simmered over the difficult decision, time was rapidly running out. At that moment, an event that happened on the battlefield below dispelled all his uncertainty.