Knights & Magic Volume 5 Chapter 46
TL/N: For those who are asking about the release schedule, just pretend it is a monthly release schedule. I try not to bank any chapters, so release speed vary a lot, but you can roughly expect it to be within a month of each other. ;p
The New Kuschepercan army finally seized the initiative in the Siege of Tetraspides Fortresses.
The Silhouette Gears wonderfully broke through the impregnable fortresses, and, by dropping the drawbridge, the Kuschepercans now have gained a foothold. With newfound vigor, the Kuschepercans took the opportunity to press their advantage. As long as Tetraspides Fortresses fell to New Kuscheperca, the old capital, Delvincourt, would be within arm’s reach.
Faced with the disadvantage, the Žaloudekians did not wish to just meekly wait for their demise. With Gustav at their lead, the Jade Dragon Knights launched a daring attack on the Kuschepercan field headquarters. Their target was the King’s Mount and the Queen within. Opposite to the Jade Dragon Knights stood the Silver Phoenix Knights’ second company, tasked with the Queen’s defense.
“Charge!! Break through their advance! As long as we take the head of the Queen, victory will be ours!!”
The ground rumbled loudly as dust shrouded the air. The black knights continued their relentless charge in their armored formation, like a boulder rolling down a hill, smashing all that dared to stand in their way.
On the other end, the Silver Phoenix Knights’ second company stood at the ready. Despite the heavily armored black knights that could plow away the Karrdatolles with ease, the second company remained steadfast in their approach.
The Karrdatolles began the battle with a salvo of their Silhouette Arms as they closed the distance. The focus of their barrage was the upper half of the black knights, with the hope to destroy the Tyrantor’s heads and disable their vision. However, the Tyrantors simply raised their shields in defense and easily resisted the shots that rained down upon them.
“Do not underestimate the black knight’s armor! This level of bombardment is impotent before us!”
With their enemies before their eyes, the black knights steadied their charge. Like a hammer of destruction, the black knights poised to plow through the lightly armored Karrdatolles, smashing them to dust. However, the agile Karrdatolles avoided the brunt of the impact and, with a gentle sidestep, let the black knights flow through their ranks.
The Jade Dragon Knights wanted to change course and engage the Karrdatolles, but their momentum precluded them from any immediate response. Understandably, with the sheer momentum of the charge, it was only expected that the Karrdatolles would choose to avoid. The Jade Dragon Knights knew that a dodge was likely, but the hail of shots dulled their senses and obscured their view.
With the Karrdatolles’ timely maneuver, the second company was now optimally wedged against the side of the Tyrantor formation. Taking advantage of the opportune development, the Karrdatolles launched a devastating counterattack on the Tyrantors’ flanks with their dual-wielded swords.
Karrdatolles were built with the superior strength of the ‘eastern models’ and, with large slabs of thick steel in the vague shape of a sword that seemed to pummel more than it slash, cut deep into the armored Tyrantors. Shards of strand crystal and armor were scattered with every blow, and, with the crippling damage to their frames, the heavy Tyrantors began to wobble from the loss of balance.
“Ugh… Bastards! Why? Why would you dare to fight the Tyrantors frontally! Do you not realize a single Tyrantor blow would smash you to pieces?!”
The Tyrantors’ knight runners were flabbergasted at the recklessness of the second company. To attack an enemy that could easily destroy them with a single blow, no sane person would take up on the task.
“A single blow? That is just a normal day with the magic beasts! How could we possibly call ourselves knight runners if we are afraid of something like that?” The Karrdatolle’s knight runner replied.
Certainly, no one present could point out that even among the Fremmeviran knights, few could match the second company in ferocity. Under the unrelenting attacks, the black knights were being slowly forced back and crushed. Furthermore, having their unstoppable advance turned back had thrown the Jade Dragon Knights into disarray.
Tyrantors were built with a focus on the overwhelming power in their strikes. This concept had worked to their advantage against the Kuschepercans, but had revealed a critical flaw in the melee against the Silver Phoenix Knight’s second company. The overt focus on power had led Tyrantors to neglect their agility, with the powerful but unwieldy hammer as an exemplary result of the doctrine. In combat against the Kuschepercans, Tyrantors would use their superior armor to shrug off blows and then counterattack in force. However, against the powerful Karrdatolles, their armor could no longer be relied upon.
Unlike the stopgap Silhouette Knights used by the Kuschepercans, Karrdatolles were able to pierce through Tyrantor’s armor with its large swords and cut deep into the strand crystals underneath. With a lateral slash inside the Tyrantors’ soft interior, the strand crystal structure would become irreversibly damaged, and, with the loss of structural integrity, the Tyrantors would be open to further attacks. In this vicious cycle of attacks, it was only a matter of time before the Tyrantors fell to the Karrdatolles.
Under the ferocious attacks, the second company steadily shaved away at the numbers of Tyrantors.
◆ ◆ ◆
“Hahaha! This is certainly problematic. Losing the longsword has turned into quite the handicap for me. This fellow is not going to be defeated by a mere backup sword.”
The battle between Emrys and Gustav was tilted in favor of Death Sword. Gordesleo had endured countless blows, with clear signs of damage sewn all across its armor. If Eru had not designed Gordesleo with improved defense, Emrys would surely have perished under Death Sword’s powerful strikes.
“Ha! What happened to all that spirit earlier? You can’t seem to mount a counterattack at all. If my blow was a little bit heavier, you would have already been finished!” Faced with Gordesleo’s pitiful appearance, Gustav scoffed with a condescending remark.
“Hmph! Dream on. Gordesleo and I will not be defeated that easily!” Emrys shot back at Gustav.
“I don’t mind a bit of bluff, but you clearly could not back that statement up in your current state.”
Emrys has remained steadfast against the overwhelming odds. However, Emrys knew very well that the longer he drew the battle out, the less the chance for his victory, especially with Gordesleo’s mounting injuries.
No, I still have a chance. As long as I can find an opening to use ‘Blast Howling’!
Gordesleo’s secret trump card, Blast Howling, was an attack strong enough to wipe out a medium-ranked magic beast. Therefore, no Silhouette Knight who received such a powerful shot could survive. However, the powerful attack required time to charge, time that Gordesleo desperately lacked under Death Sword’s relentless strikes. At that moment, Emrys could only hope for an ally to capture the attention of Death Sword, long enough for the opportunity to present itself.
“Hey, are you underestimating me? I’ll teach you to let your mind wander while fighting me!”
In the moment of thought, Emrys revealed a small crack in his defense. Before Emrys could cover the weakness, Death Sword has already moved to attack.
“Ugh, another one of those absurd moves!”
Emrys has only fallen behind by just half a beat, but was pressed into the corner by the aggressive Death Sword. Taking aim at the critical joints, Death Sword sought to cripple Gordesleo and break through the deadlock. Emrys barely managed to parry one of the swords before the other swung down hard on Gordesleo.
“You know, swords are not the only weapon in the world!”
Gordesleo clenched its left hand into a fist and blocked the second sword with its arm. Upon impact, shards of crystal and metal scattered to the wind. It was a move of desperation that would surely not last a second time.
“Oh? Not bad, but now you are done for!”
Hearing Gustav’s loud declaration, Emrys could only grit his teeth. Certainly, he had to sacrifice his armor to endure through the attack, but the fight was far from over. With a twist of his body, Death Sword carried through the momentum of his attack and quickly launched a third blow. By now, Gordesleo was completely spent and could no longer defend against the impending strike.
Just moments before the strike, a unit flew between Death Sword and Gordesleo and, with an unsuspecting shot, broke Death Sword’s longsword mid-swing. The surprised Gustav quickly leapt back as he drew a replacement from Death Sword’s impressive arsenal.
“Hey, don’t cut into another’s fight!”
“Hahaha! So what? This was my intention all along! But aren’t you a slow one, Edgar! The battle over here had heated up for quite some time already!”
Seeing the new arrival, Emrys could not hold in his excitement.
“Apologies, young master. I had an appointment with an old ‘acquaintance’ that I could ill afford to miss.” Edgar responded in the battered Ardiladcumber, holding a Silhouette Arm in hand still glowing faintly from the recent shot.
“Haa…! To think after all that boasting, Copper Fang was done in so easily. Regardless, I give you praise for your victory, but I hope you aren’t seriously thinking about challenging me with that piece of scrap!”
Gustav was not wrong with his statements. Ardiladcumber’s damage was not any less than that sustained by Gordesleo. Its characteristic mobile armor was lost, and its once beautiful white armor was now dotted with holes. Even the Silhouette Arm was torn from a dysfunctional sub-arm and barely made to work.
“Do not underestimate me. As long as Ardiladcumber could move, it would be sufficient.”
“Seriously! It seemed the fools have multiplied!”
“…Or so you think. With my arrival, our tactical options have also multiplied!”
Edgar’s boasts were not without basis.
While he kept the attention of Gustav, Gordesleo has been silently circling around to Death Sword’s rear, poising to sandwich Death Sword between the two. It was a simple but effective maneuver, as no matter how brilliant a pilot, Gustav would be hard-pressed to defend against attacks from opposite sides.
“Not to mention, you think we are your only opponents? Look around you. Gaze upon the remains of your subordinates while you indulged in your fight!” Edgar raised his sword and pointed to the surroundings.
Gustav was alerted by Edgar’s words and quickly scanned around. Many of the original formation of black knights that had followed his charge were left disabled on the ground, a clear reflection of the ferocious second company. Only a few straggling black knights continued to fight.
“Fools! How dare you do that to my men! I see that you half-dead bastards are getting a bit full of yourselves! In that case, let me bury you with your pieces of scrap!!”
Before Death Sword could act, Ardiladcumber took the initiative and swung its sword at Death Sword. At the same time, Emrys launched an attack from the opposite side. Despite the injuries sustained by Ardiladcumber and Gordesleo, Gustav would still have a hard time responding to a simultaneous attack from opposite sides. However, contrary to expectations, Death Sword swung its weapons with maddening efficiency and repelled the pincer with ease.
Having their offensive parried, Ardiladcumber and Gordesleo were put off-balance and could not defend against Death Sword’s follow-up attack. With a short sword, Death Sword delivered critical strikes to their units.
“Heh, I think it’s about time to wrap this up. Oooh!! ‘Awaken, Death Sword’!!” Gustav roared.
In an instant, countless swords on Death Sword’s back flew out of their sheaths and, with simplified sub-arms, were held at the ready. Gordesleo and Ardiladcumber were taken aback by Death Sword’s sudden transformation.
“What the heck? Are you playing porcupine? How could you possibly fight like that?”
“This is perfect. I am no longer the parrying blade, but a powerful sword devoted to cutting you all down. Let your body experience my wrath!”
It was the ramblings of a madman. For Gustav, the countless swords on Death Sword served not only as weapon, but also as armor. To abandon the ‘sheath’ meant that Death Sword was now wholly devoted to attack, unshackled to demonstrate its power as an avatar of destruction.
With an entire body covered with swords, Death Sword lunged itself toward Ardiladcumber. Ardiladcumber quickly readied its sword and shield to defend against the onslaught.
Sparks flew as the two units clashed head-on. Under the flurry of strikes, Ardiladcumber was clearly being pressured. Before long, Death Sword broke through Ardiladcumber’s defense and thrust itself into the chest. As shards of crystal flew, Ardiladcumber slowly crumbled onto the ground.
“Hahaha! And that’s one! Now… time for number two!” Gustav loudly declared.
Without a care for his surroundings, Gustav swiftly turned to engage Gordesleo. At Death Sword’s charge, Gordesleo reflexively shielded its vulnerable core with its arms. However, Death Sword had seen through its intentions and, using its countless swords, pushed Gordesleo aside. In a simple comparison of strength, the awakened Death Sword was greater, and, with Gordesleo’s balance broken, Death Sword launched a critical strike at that opening. To avoid being skewered, Gordesleo punched at the approaching blade, but was blown back by the sheer impact.
With the two units brought down in quick succession, Death Sword proudly stood as the air intake valves roared to feed the voracious reactor.
“…That little act had drained a surprising amount of mana.”
Following Gustav’s specifications, the ‘Awakening’ would unleash powerful offensive capabilities at the cost of increased mana consumption. With a complicated smile, Gustav activated the Ether Supplier. As Ethelite were broken down to its constituent parts and converted to concentrated Ether, Death Sword recovered its usual vigor.
“Hehehe, thanks to you two, I have finally gotten around to needing this little toy. Therefore, I bid you to sleep soundly, knowing you had pushed me to such lengths!”
With that said, Death Sword leapt toward the wobbling Ardiladcumber with the clear intent to finish it off. The critically damaged Ardiladcumber was no different from a living target and meekly stood there as Death Sword approached. As the sword on its back rattled, Death Sword swooped at Ardiladcumber.
Given the damage it sustained, Ardiladcumber would not survive a direct attack from Death Sword, and the only way to avoid destruction was to dodge. As such, Gustav was fully prepared for any suspicious movements that would bring Ardiladcumber out of harm’s way.
However, Edgar remained steadfast at the approaching Death Sword and, rather than displaying any intent to dodge, stepped forward to receive the strike. Despite Ardiladcumber’s inexplicable actions, Gustav remained on course, since Gustav knew full well that there was little Ardiladcumber could do to reverse Death Sword’s overwhelming power.
“…Ardiladcumber, let’s do this!”
Moments before impact, Ardiladcumber had its fist outstretched to intercept the sword strike. As Death Sword sunk its swords deep into Ardiladcumber, shards of metal and crystal scattered when the strand crystals were torn asunder.
“Hahaha! Now you won’t even be able to hold a sword! Since you are so eager to die, let me fulfill your wish…?!”
Before Gustav could finish, Ardiladcumber pushed forward and, in doing so, lodged more of Death Sword’s swords into its injured body.
At that moment, Gustav noticed that despite its crippling injuries, Ardiladcumber had perfectly preserved the cockpit from harm. As such, it could only be explained as a sacrificial move to pin Death Sword in place.
“…Finally stopped you from prancing around. Are you ready? It’s time of your reckoning!”
“Lies! What could you possibly do in that state of yours? It won’t take long for me to break out, and when I do…” Gustav suddenly stopped halfway and turned to look behind him.
Certainly, Ardiladcumber wasn’t the only enemy he had to worry about.
“That’s right, we are not fighting alone.” Emrys declared.
During the exchange with the white knight, Gordesleo had long stood up and, under the control of Emrys, revealed the hidden magic devices tucked underneath the golden armor. As mana surged into the activated scripts, the magic devices began to hum with energy.
“That bastard… has a hidden weapon?! Darn it! Let go, you madman! Are you planning to take me to the graves with you?!”
Realizing the gravity of the situation, Gustav began to struggle frantically to break free from Ardiladcumber’s grip. On the other hand, Ardiladcumber slowly turned the panicked Death Sword toward the charging blast.
“Taste Gordesleo’s greatest attack! ‘Blast Howling’!!”
The magic devices all activated at the same time as Gordesleo unleashed ‘Blast Howling’, a form of wind magic. The magic concentrated and pressurized the nearby air, refracting even the light. In a sudden burst, the blast tore through the air as it washed over Death Sword and Ardiladcumber. With all its mana spent, Gordesleo slowly collapsed onto the ground after the magnificent display of might.
Across from Gordesleo, Death Sword and Ardiladcumber were both caught in the blast wave and tossed helplessly into the air before crashing into the ground. Covered from head to toe with broken swords, Death Sword rolled on the ground before coming to a motionless stop. The concentrated ether leaked out from between the armor plating, creating a cacophony of color as it sprayed into the surrounding air. Having received the brunt of ‘Blast Howling’, Death Sword has been inflicted catastrophic damage, with both its air intake valves and Ether Supplier irrecoverably destroyed.
Behind Death Sword, Ardiladcumber also lay motionless on the ground. As its mangled chest armor was forced open, Edgar peered out through the cockpit door.
“I have no intention to accompany someone as obnoxious as you in death, but that was quite the gamble.”
Moments before the impact, Edgar had forcibly pulled Death Sword in front of him as a human shield to keep Ardiladcumber from the brunt of the blast. As such, he was able to escape complete destruction. However, despite their best efforts, Ardiladcumber still ended up with crippling injuries, with its limbs completely immobilized by the strength of the blast.
“Hey, Edgar, good to see that you are still alive! Even though we timed our opportunity perfectly, I was still anxious when we carried it out.”
At that moment, Emrys climbed out from the battered Gordesleo in a similar manner as Edgar. With a bright smile plastered across his face, Emrys raised his arms toward the sky in triumph.
“Honestly, it was quite close. Young master, your control of ‘Blast Howling’ is terrific.”
Edgar had seen the full power of ‘Blast Howling’ during its testing. If Emrys had unleashed ‘Blast Howling’ in full, Edgar would surely have perished alongside Death Sword. As such, Edgar was certain Emrys held back out of consideration for his survival.
“Ahaha, really? That was probably because of the lack of magic-… I mean, aren’t I awesome?!” Emrys nervously replied and turned his gaze away from Edgar.
Emrys’ slip of tongue made the two share a nervous laugh together.
“Haa~ Looks like I have lost again.”
Surprisingly, Gustav also survived through the blast. Thanked to Gordesleo’s lack of mana, the well-built royal-exclusive model was able to shield him from harm.
Gustav tried to fiddle with the controls, but to no avail. He could only gaze helplessly as the display slowly faded to black from the loss of power. With Death Sword’s eyes fixed squarely at the Flying Dragon that casted a plume of flame across the sky, Gustav opened a communication channel.
“Sorry, old man… looks like this is as far as I’ll go.” Gustav lamented.
With the defeat of the Žaloudekian sortie led by Death Sword, the Tetraspides Fortresses’ defense was sure to crumble. The only one left to defend Kingdom of Žaloudek was the Flying Dragon.
“… I shall leave the rest to you, old man. Please avenge us.”
With the last of the message sent, Gustav descended into silence. With all the haphazard modifications made to the unit, Death Sword could not hold its structure together with the loss of its mana supply. As Death Sword’s ember of life slowly burned out, Gustav sat silently in the darkness.
◆ ◆ ◆
The Flying Dragon appeared to fly drunkenly through the sky. Rather than mechanical failure, it was a dance brought about by the desire to throw off a particular Silhouette Knight latched onto its tail.
Ikaruga slowly moved toward the body of the Dragon, firmly anchored to the structure by the repeated launch and retraction of Rahu’s Fists. Certainly, given the Dragon’s chaotic movements, Ikaruga would not be able to advance with such leisure if it was not tethered down like a mountain climber.
Soon, Ikaruga made its way to the trunk of the Dragon. With its body fastened onto the surface, Ikaruga raised its Sword Cannon.
“The massive weapon made possible by combining Levitate Ship with Silhouette Knights… its combat potential is certainly stunning. However, in the end, it is just a single unit, and, as such, weaknesses could easily be found. As long as I am tethered down like this, it is impossible to shake me off.” Eru gazed upon the back of the Flying Dragon Battleship affectionately, “Weapons created by the hands of men always sought greater destructive capability. However, to equate size with power is, for lack of better words, simply tasteless.”
With a few simple commands, the Sword Cannon held by Ikaruga’s many arms began to glow.
“In the end, I still find humanoid weapons to be the best. In its perfected form, humanoid weapons are an effective amplification of the human body. I am very fortunate to have arrived in a world where that wonderful principle has existed since time immemorial, so how could you carry on such blasphemous thoughts? Even if you obstinately pursued a large weapons platform, it should still be as mere support to Silhouette Knights. Either way, I think it is about time for our battle to end and for you to be laid to rest.”
Ikaruga stood on the Dragon, where the Lightning Curtain could not reach. Tethered together with its target, Ikaruga could not possibly miss. As it turned all the Sword Cannon on the Dragon, Ikaruga unleashed a hail of shots.
“Hahaha! Taste this!” As if announcing the climax of the battle, Eru let out a devious laugh.
As the barrage punched through the layers of armor, the Flying Dragon twisted as fire bellowed out from its interior. Some of the shots pierced all the way to the helm of the ship, where Doroteo and the others sat in command of the ship.
All around him, the reinforced structure began to disintegrate, as pieces of the Dragon fell toward the ground below. Faced with the crippling strike, the massive Flying Dragon shook violently as it was forced to change direction. However, despite the explosions, the experienced Doroteo maintained his tight grip on the controls.
“No, it cannot be… How can an existence so easily surpass the power of the Flying Dragon?!” Doroteo loudly cried out with bloodshot eyes.
Enduring the terrifying bombardment, Doroteo and his subordinates were fraught with anxiety. In his worry, Doroteo once again tried to dislodge the Demon God from the surface of the Dragon with a vigorous swing. It was likely a fruitless endeavor, but with Demon God tightly latched onto its body, Doroteo was left with few tactical options. With most of its Anculosas disabled, the Flying Dragon could no longer hope to screen the Demon God away with shots.
“Oh? Still trying to throw me off? You should know that trick won’t work for a second time.”
Feeling the sudden shift in balance, Eru immediately added a few more Rahu’s Fists to strengthen its anchor. With four fists tightly gripping the Dragon’s body, Ikaruga would not be so easily thrown off.
Before his eyes, Eru could see the rapidly rotating landscape. As the wave of centrifugal force washed over Ikaruga, Eru gritted his teeth and endured through the crushing g-force.
“B-before you can get your way, I shall make you… stop!”
Ikaruga stabbed its Sword Cannons into the deck and forced shots directly into the interior of the Flying Dragon. Despite repeatedly missing the Etheric Levitator, Eru was able to inflict crippling damage to the internal frame and shaved off pieces of crystal and steel. As the damage slowly mounted, the Flying Dragon could no longer risk any aggressive maneuvers and resolved to meekly fly through the sky.
“W-why?! Why is this happening?! Why can’t we win against a mere Silhouette Knight?!”
Doroteo’s common sense screamed out against the abnormal development. The Flying Dragon and Ikaruga were like a pair of twins, both born far ahead of its time. Based on the most advanced theories and honed by passion that bordered madness, the opposing pair was heralds of their type.
On one hand, Flying Dragon was the synthesis of its many Silhouette Knights. As a crystallization of teamwork, it subsumed the output of an entire squad to a single will and granted the Flying Dragon with unimaginable power.
On the other hand, Ikaruga relied on the existence called Eru. Aside from its powerful twin reactors, Ikaruga’s greatest potential lay within Eru’s unique ability to assume ‘direct command’ of its scripts, through which every one of Eru’s thought could be translated into action and allowed Eru to act as one with his unit.
In contrast to the Flying Dragon’s emphasis on quantity, Eru demonstrated the pinnacle of quality Silhouette Knight operation. It was the product of a madness not native to their world and, without Eru, would likely to never have come to existence.
“Darn it. This is not over!!”
Doroteo shook away the fear that had gripped him and, with all his will, regained control of the Dragon.
With a blast of flame, Flying Dragon accelerated through the sky while resuming its vigorous maneuvers. Despite the crippling injuries, Doroteo knew the Dragon would not last if they could not find a way to dislodge the Demon God on its back. At the risk of spontaneous destruction, Flying Dragon increased its violent thrashing.
Doroteo and the entire crew gritted their teeth as the loud groaning and creaking of the Flying Dragon entered their ears. At the same time, they remained steadfast as their bodies were assaulted by the incredible force generated by the Dragon’s twist and turns.
“The Demon God will not take this lying down… we must find a way to win before its retaliation!”
The Demon God was likely debilitated by the same severe forces. However, even if they managed to temporarily disable the Demon God, the Demon God was certain to restart its rampage once the Flying Dragon stopped.
While struggling to find their hope of victory, Doroteo was soon presented with a new problem.
A single Levitate Ship came to view. It was not a ship flying Žaloudekian colors, but the companion to the Death God. It was the Aerial Assault Ship.
“Not only the Demon God, but that Levitate Ship as well… even for the Flying Dragon…”
Doroteo had a terrible premonition. With the arrival of a new enemy, the Flying Dragon’s Etheric Levitator was certain to be destroyed, and the Dragon would crash onto the ground below. Doroteo could almost sense death looming nearby, waiting for its eventual feast.
The Flying Dragon was built with incredible dexterity with its countless joints sewn together with strand crystal. It swiftly turned in place, revealing its flank to the approaching Aerial Assault Ship. Despite losing all its Anculosas at the helm, the Flying Dragon still had a functioning contingent of Anculosas at the lower deck. With line of sight clear, the Anculosas unleashed a hail of shots toward the Aerial Assault Ship.
As the shots landed on the approaching ship, Aerial Assault Ship slowed down its advance, providing the Flying Dragon with valuable time.
“Our Dragon’s life is at its end. I hate to admit it, but the Demon God had won.” Doroteo muttered to himself.
The Flying Dragon could not reply to Doroteo, but the creaking sound from the damaged frame sounded almost like a pained cry. The Flying Dragon had half of its Anculosas taken out by Javelins, its powerful claws severed, and its proud flames proved useless. Even if the Flying Dragon still had the mana output to maintain the fight, it no longer had a weapon to counter the Demon God, not to mention the Aerial Assault Ship prowling in the distance.
Heralded as the vanguard of the sky, Levitate Ships were the world’s first viable combat airships. Among which, the Flying Dragon, designed as a powerful counter to the anti-air javelins, was in a class all by itself. With powerful claws that could cleave Silhouette Knights with ease, and a flame that consumed all that dared to stand before it, the Flying Dragon was destined to dominate the skies.
In their era, the Flying Dragon Battleship was indisputably a technological marvel and should have reigned the skies for decades to come… that is, if it weren’t for the existence called the Demon God.
“However, I will not meekly hand you your victory. If we simply give up, how could we face the valiant Žaloudekian army fighting below?”
Hearing Doroteo’s words, gasps were heard through the numerous voicepipes. Certainly, the moment the Flying Dragon fell, the Demon God would be free to descend upon the Žaloudekian army below. In the minds of the surviving crew, no existence could stand against the Demon God, and the Žaloudekian army was sure to perish alongside the Flying Dragon.
The guardian dragon was the protector of the Kingdom of Žaloudek. The weapon of immense power was now littered with injuries and only moments away from certain destruction. If the Žaloudekian army were to suffer a crushing defeat, even Princess Catalina was sure to perish in the ensuing chaos.
Despite the hopelessness of the situation, Doroteo could not let such misfortune befall upon the ones he wish to protect and, with all his remaining will, steeled his resolve.
“We could not simply give up. If we do, how could we face the late Prince Cristóbal… and Princess Catalina? Even if we were to perish, let us strike at the heart of the Kuschepercans! Alert the signalers and let them announce our resolve!!”
With the flashes of light, the crew aboard the Flying Dragon transmitted their resolve to the Žaloudekian army below.
“I, Doroteo Mardones, will not let our death be meaningless!”
With words that bordered insanity, Doroteo channeled all the remaining energy to propulsion, and the Flying Dragon began to accelerate at an incredible pace. It no longer tried to dislodge the Demon God latched onto its back, nor worried about the frame that was slowly coming apart. The Flying Dragon simply accelerated and descended.
Even Eru could do little but endure the sudden acceleration. With crushing g-forces pressing down upon him, Eru could not help but be baffled by the Dragon’s decision to ignore his presence.
“It would have no chance at victory or escape if it could not throw Ikaruga off its back. So what is it up to-… Ah!”
As Eru gazed ahead, the Flying Dragon’s intentions were slowly becoming clear, and, for the first time since the start of the battle, Eru revealed a complicated expression. At the end of its acceleration was a massive Kuschepercan standard – the Kuschepercan field headquarters.
“The Queen! As long as we take out the Queen, the rebels will lose their cause! This way, even if the Dragon were to perish, Kingdom of Žaloudek will survive!!” Doroteo loudly declared.
With all its remaining mana, the Flying Dragon pushed its flame propulsion to the limits. Shards of metal and crystal continued to chip off from the surface, and the Dragon seemed to be barely held together. Doroteo neither cared to activate the claw nor the dragonbreath and, with a singular will, sought to use the crippled Dragon’s body for its final strike. His intent was to turn the smoldering wreck into a hammer of judgment to be brought upon on the Kuschepercan field headquarters. As such, Doroteo continued his advance without a concern.
“I… won’t let you!!”
Certainly, Eru would not stay idly by.
Despite the limited time, Eru deemed Ikaruga’s destructive capability to be sufficient to bring the Flying Dragon Battleship down. With its frame reinforced with magic to resist the crushing forces, Ikaruga aimed its Sword Cannons at the center of the ship. As long as Ikaruga could destroy the Etheric Levitator, the Flying Dragon would prematurely crash into the ground.
Moments before Eru commenced his bombardment, a single shot flew toward Ikaruga. With ease, Ikaruga deflected the shot aimed at its torso.
“Seriously, why continue this pointless struggle?”
The statue of the Dragon Knight fired the shot. Despite the crushing acceleration, Doroteo was still able to accurately aim the shot at Ikaruga, a clear reflection of his skill as a knight runner.
“Hahaha… accursed Demon God, while I could not defeat you, I will not let you torment my people! In our remaining time together, I hope you will keep me company and not interfere with our resolve.”
The Dragon Knight unloaded shot after shot on the Demon God. While all of the shots were harmlessly deflected, Doroteo did not seem to mind, as his objective was to keep the Demon God occupied from interfering. On the other hand, Ikaruga could not bear with Doroteo’s delaying tactics as time slowly ticks away.
“Seriously, why won’t you just die quietly! Don’t think you could keep Ikaruga occupied by something as petty as this!”
While blocking shots, Ikaruga steadied its stance with support from Rahu’s Fists. With thrusters perpendicular to the Dragon, Ikaruga activated its propulsion. Fed by the mana from two massive reactors, the thrusters pushed strongly against the Flying Dragon, and it didn’t take long for the Dragon to start shaking from the irreconcilable force.
“To think you would still find a way to obstruct us! However, if it’s just shaking…”
Doroteo could barely resist the massive force bearing down on the Flying Dragon from above, and the Dragon was becoming incredibly difficult to control. With his attention divided between firing at the Death God and piloting the Flying Dragon, Doroteo did his best to maintain the course.
◆ ◆ ◆
From the Kuschepercan field headquarters, the sight of an unsteady Flying Dragon soon came into view.
“Your Majesty, there! The F-Flying Dragon is falling!”
The jubilance of the Guards was soon overtaken by horror. Certainly, the destruction of a powerful foe was worthy of celebration, but it was a different matter if the wreckage were to fall upon them. Even the crash of a standard Levitate Ship would cause massive damage to its surroundings, to say nothing of the catastrophic damage from the crash of the significantly larger Dragon. If by chance it were to land upon them, the Guards were certain to share the Dragon’s fate.
” Is it planning to crash into us? Quickly, have the Queen moved to a safe location!”
Although they had the intent, the Guards were unsure where they could possibly move the Queen to keep her safe. Other than the panicking Guards, Isadora, who sat behind Eleonora in Kartoga Ol Cauchard Secundus, also turned deadly pale at the approaching Dragon.
“Eleonora, what should we do? If we do not get away, then…”
“Where could we possibly go? At that speed, it is already too late for us to evade.”
With how violently the Flying Dragon was shaking, it was impossible to predict where it would crash. Not to mention, they were unlikely to escape from the fast approaching Dragon with the limited mobility of Secundus.
One thing was certain, Eleonora’s designated knight was on the Levitate Ship chasing after the Flying Dragon.
“…I know you will definitely protect me. If even you could not stop the Dragon, I am certain nobody can.” With her hands clasped, Eleonora gazed upon the sky.
◆ ◆ ◆
“Open Ether valves! Do not overthink it! We should be good as long as we ram that bastard from the side! Thrusters to full, get that mana burning!”
“Boss, the thrusters are already operating at their maximum power!”
Boss shouted loudly from the helm, with Batson tightly gripping the wheel. They were frantically trying to match the Flying Dragon in altitude while pumping all their available mana into the thrusters. Thanks to Ikaruga’s efforts, the Flying Dragon Battleship was slowing down, allowing the Aerial Assault Ship to close the distance.
“Time to stop that bastard! Chid, let’s do this!”
“Yeah! I won’t let it gets its way!”
Within the two Tzendrinbles, the twins activated the Multiple Launch Javelin System. With their modified Javelins exhausted in the initial engagement, they only had standard Javelins at their disposal.
The Javelins flew straight at the Flying Dragon. Occupied by the fight against Demon God and the control of the Flying Dragon, Doroteo did not have the spare capability to dodge the approaching Javelins.
The target was quite large, so the Javelins had little problem finding their way onto the Flying Dragon and pierced into its body. Yet, despite sustaining a massive barrage of Javelins, the Flying Dragon showed little change in its course. It was well armored interior helped to mitigate the concentrated strike and prevented any crippling damage to its key components.
“H-how? It is not stopping! D-darn it!” Addy cried out in disbelief.
The Flying Dragon remained staunchly on course for the Kuschepercan field headquarters, and time was quickly running out.
“J-just a little more! We have almost caught up! Is there any way…”
The Aerial Assault Ship had finally caught up to the Flying Dragon Battleship, but the difference in speed between the two was negligible, so the Aerial Assault Ship was at a loss with what to do.
“On the Dragon’s back… It’s Ikaruga!!”
Chid noticed the pillars of flame on the Flying Dragon’s back, and at its base was a lone Silhouette Knight parrying shot after shot. It didn’t take long for Chid to understand what was happening; Ikaruga was using its thrusters to delay the Flying Dragon, while trying its best to derail the Dragon’s plan.
Chid suddenly had a thought. If he could defeat the enemy unit, Ikaruga would be free to unleash a barrage upon the Flying Dragon. More than anyone, Chid knew Ikaruga’s terrifying firepower, and, as long as the deterrence was gone, the Flying Dragon would not last long under the concentrated bombardment. However, Chid had just recently fired all of the Javelins, and reloading would take too long.
Looking around, Chid desperately tried to find a weapon that could reach the Flying Dragon, and, in his panic, his eyes fell upon a large lance nearby.
“Ahaha, I think I have a way, but I am going to be kicking myself later for this.” Chid jested as he let out a deep sigh.
It didn’t take long for Chid to commit to his plan. Chid immediately disconnected the tethers and slowly had the Tzendrinble stand up. Picking up the nearby lance, Chid dashed across the top deck of the Aerial Assault Ship.
“Hey, Chid? What are you doing?! If you leave, I won’t be able to keep up the mana by myself!”
“Sorry! Please try holding on for now. I will need to go smack that Dragon and make it slow down.”
Chid’s Tzendrinble lowered its stance as power gathered at its soles, and Addy immediately knew what Chid was planning.
Before Addy could protest, Tzendrinble took off and, with a loud roar, leapt from the edge of the deck. The distance between the two Ships was not far, and Tzendrinble was able to gently land on the back of the Dragon.
“W-who is it? Not that it matters. Anyone coming over from that Levitate Ship is certain to be an enemy. Either way, you will not get in the ways of our plan!”
The sudden arrival of an interloper surprised Gustav, but it did not take long for Gustav to regain his usual calm. Gustav’s plan was simple enough that there was no need for any hesitation. On the other hand, Eru was shocked by the unexpected reinforcement.
“Tzendrinble? Which one? Rather, why are you over here?”
“Is it not obvious? I am here to beat that bastard down! Eru, I will leave the rest to you…”
With that said, Chid charged toward the Dragon Knight. At the charge, Gustav had to respond and turned his shots on Chid. Under the hail of shots, Chid tried his best to block with his lance and shield. However, some shots easily sneaked through his defense and punched into Tzendrinble. Despite the mounting injuries, Chid was unfazed in his charge toward the Dragon Knight.
“Just a little more! Tzendrinble, let’s do this!!”
“Don’t get in my way!!”
At the fast approaching Tzendrinble, the Dragon Knight could finally no longer divide its focus and unloaded all the remaining shots. However, it was already too late, and Tzendrinble’s lance stabbed deep into the stationary Dragon Knight.
With a lance firmly lodged into the Dragon Knight’s torso, the cockpit was completely pierced through. Inside, the half-crushed Doroteo looked at the lance in shock as he coughed up blood.
“Ugh, Y-Your Excellency… Looks like I won’t be a bearer of good news.” With that said, the famed Doroteo Mardones breathed his last.
Having lost its will, the Flying Dragon began to slow down as the flame propulsion sputtered out.
“Oooh! The youngsters did it! It’s our turn now, ram it!”
Before Boss was able to finish his order, the Aerial Assault Ship had already turned to ram the Flying Dragon, pushing the Dragon away from its collision course.
“Ugh, how worrisome. I wonder how long we can keep this up with a single Tzendrinble…”
As the Aerial Assault Ship hungrily consumed mana to feed its thrusters, the remaining Tzendrinble was clearly inadequate to keep up with the voracious demand. Addy looked on anxiously as the mana reserves were rapidly depleting, before a familiar shadow flew over.
With the destruction of the Dragon Knight by Chid’s powerful charge, Eru was quick to spring into action.
“Chid did say to leave the rest to me~”
Landing on the Aerial Assault Ship, Ikaruga immediately shot out Rahu’s Fists to reconnect itself to the silver nerves. Through the connections, Ikaruga began pumping massive amount of mana to supply the Aerial Assault Ship, instantly amplifying its acceleration.
“Žaloudekian Dragon, it is time for you to scoot out of the way!”
The Aerial Assault Ship pushed the Flying Dragon away from the Kuschepercan formation and turned it to the Tetraspides Fortresses. With Doroteo dead, there was no one left to command the Dragon, and the Dragon could only meekly bend to the will of Eru. As the two approached the Tetraspides Fortresses, Ikaruga raised its Sword Cannons for the last time and unleashed a terrifying bombardment.
Ikaruga’s shots tore through the trunk of the Flying Dragon. As the Flying Dragon became engulfed in flame, the structure slowly unraveled and the Anculosas were consumed by explosion one after another. Even the Etheric Levitator was not spared from the fate, and, with its passing, the massive Flying Dragon began to fall toward the ground.
“Ah, it seemed the situation has turned a tad problematic.”
Sitting in the cockpit of the Tzendrinble, Chid felt the shifting gravity as the Dragon plummeted toward the ground. With the lance still lodged in the Dragon Knight, Chid felt a tinge of regret for his reckless behavior. After all, Tzendrinble couldn’t fly.
As he savored his last moment before embracing the ground with the Dragon, Chid saw an approaching Silhouette Knight in the corner of his eye.
“Chid! Forget about the Silhouette Knight and jump over here!”
Ikaruga flew over after delivering its final blow on the Flying Dragon and landed near Tzendrinble. At Eru’s word, Chid unhesitantly leapt out from the cockpit.
As the strong winds washed over Chid, Ikaruga reached out with its hands.
With Ikaruga’s dexterous control of the thrusters, Eru managed to carefully catch Chid before he was blown away. Ikaruga then kicked off from the Dragon and returned to the air, before safely landing back on the Aerial Assault Ship.
“…Seriously, how reckless could you be?”
Ikaruga opened its hands, and, from within, Chid emerged with an exhausted smile and mangled hair.
“It’s not reckless! There just weren’t many options available at the time. Either way, Eru, sorry for losing the Tzendrinble.”
Behind Ikaruga, the flying dragon fell faster and faster without the support of the Etheric Levitator. The Tzendrinble still aboard would certainly not survive the impact with the ground below.
At that moment, the cockpit of Ikaruga opened up, and Eru made his way next to Chid. There, Eru reached out with his hands and patted the exhausted Chid on the head.
“I am not angry at your efforts: it’s just that what you did was quite dangerous, and I hope you will never do something like that in the future. As far as Tzendrinble is concerned, we can always build a second one. The important thing is that you are safe and sound.”
With a loud explosion, the flying dragon smashed into the ground below.
◆ ◆ ◆
From inside the Tetraspides Fortresses, the remaining garrison stared in shock at the sky.
Above them, the smoldering carcass of their guardian dragon fell ominously toward them. The Žaloudekian army was in a complete state of panic, but they had no time to run for cover as the massive fireball came crashing down on them.
In a blazing inferno, the Flying Dragon smashed into the ground. Without the reinforcement magic to support its structure, the behemoth collapsed into itself in a smoldering wreck. On the other hand, the black knights caught in the blast shared the Dragon’s fate. Despite Tyrantor’s impressive defenses, all was for naught before the catastrophic explosion.
With this, the Jade Dragon Knights held in reserve were sent to the afterlife alongside the Dragon.
◆ ◆ ◆
As the battle drew to an end, the Aerial Assault Ship turned off its propulsion and calmly floated in the skies above. At the top deck, a small shadow went up to Eru and Chid as they observed the fireworks below.
“Ah! It’s not fair that only Chid gets praised! Other people were working quite hard as well!!”
From inside the remaining Tzendrinble, Addy leapt out from the cockpit and, with a slight physical reinforcement magic, joined Eru and Chid on Ikaruga’s hand. The moment she arrived, Addy grabbed Eru and hugged him from behind. Only until Eru gave her a satisfactory pat did she release Eru.
Soon, the rest of the jubilant crew came to join the trio on the deck. As the members of the Silver Phoenix knights celebrated their hard won victory, the Aerial Assault Ship made its way back to the Kuschepercan camp.