Chapter 6 - Each Decisive Battle
『"ーNo. 7, report on the situation."』 The voice, which contained irritation, got straight to the business.
The man, ーGold Eye, the No. 7 of the Black Cat Instituteー briefly responded. “There is no problem.”
『"Then, it’s fine."』
“What about your side?”
『"They appear to be obedient. It doesn’t look like they’ve contacted the Hunter Guards and there seems to be no movement of the Shadow Star, either. But, aside from those youngsters, there is that vixen at Seidoukan. I don’t think that she will stay quiet like this."』
A space window did not open from the portable terminal, which was for the exclusive use of the Black Cat Institute. It was possible to send an image, but this was basically voice only communication. And above all, the other party to whom this portable terminal was connected to was only one person ー Le Wolfe Black Institutes's student council president.
『"Actually, I’ve also heard that around the area, there was a guy who was snooping around, looking for the kid. Well, as you know, the Rotlichtentertainment district isn’t under my direct control, so I don’t know the authenticity of the rumor."』
Generally, it was thought that everything in the redevelopment area was under management of Le Wolfe Black Institute, but the internal conditions were a little different. This was because there are a substantially large number of various Mafia groups who managed the Rotlichtentertainment district and their upper echelon (top brass) consisted of dropout students from each academy and other criminals from outside of Asterisk.
Of course, since even among them, the percentage (ratio) that Le Wolfe graduates occupied was quite high, and many active students also had their names entered as constituent members, its relation with Le Wolfe was strong. Even looking historically, it was also a fact that Le Wolfe’s influence was strong.
However, they, and the current student council president, ーDirk Eberweinー were on very bad terms. Therefore the relations, between the Rotlichtentertainment district and Le Wolfe, were completely broken now. Since the students of the anti-Dirk faction within the academy were the most active, it might be said that a parts of the Mafia were close to antagonistic towards Dirk.
And; Dirk had tolerated it.
The man did not know the reason and he did not intend to know it, either. That was because it was not his duty.
The man had only to perfectly complete the mission, just as he was ordered.
He could ask for information necessary to carry out his duty, but it was ultimately the master who made judgment.
That’s why also, this time, the man asked to his master. “And in case that someone was to get in the way?”
『"We’ve a hostage on our side. Use that advantage. Even so, if they don’t withdraw… I don’t mind if you use her and then throw her away."』
The man looked towards the young girl sitting on a corner of the room.
As she was asleep, there was no motion except for an occasional subtle stirring.
『"If I leave that boy as is, he will definitely become an obstacle in the future. I must have him understand, even if just a little, that I’m serious."』
“Understood.” The man answered indifferently.
The man’s heart was not shaken no matter how cruel the order was.
In the first place, such a thing did not exist.
『"What’s wrong?"』 As if guessing that the atmosphere changed, the voice quizzically asked.
“It looks like someone apparently has come to get in the way.”
As the man said that, he cut the communication and looked up at the ceiling.
- ψ -
“…Is it really here?”
Saya looked up at the building in front of her and doubtfully inquired.
“Well, after checking it, the most suspicious place is here. As such, I think it’s very likely to be this place.” Though Eishiro shrugged his shoulders as if playing dumb, his eyes were serious.
“B-But, Yabuki-senpai really knows a lot of people. I was surprised.”
“Gee, it's not that many.”
However when he was praised by Kirin, he floated an embarrassed grin as he did not seem to be dissatisfied.
“…In other words, it means that Yabuki usually plays around in this area.”
“Ugh…! That’s, um, how should I say it…” Eishiro awkwardly averted his gaze.
That said, certainly his popularity was the real deal.
No matter how much Ayato had narrowed the location down, it still was not as if they already knew the exact location of Flora. It was the first time that both Saya and Kirin has come to the Rotlichtentertainment district, but many shops were closed in daytime. There were only small casinos, that were open for 24 hours, which crowded with people. Due to that, there was also not that much pedestrian traffic so Saya and Kirin had hard time collecting information, but Eishiro heard interesting stories about this and that from familiar shops easily.
“So, specifically, what kind of suspicious place is this?”
“Uh huh, the building here was a fairly well-known casino, but it seems that it was remodeled just a little while ago.”
After hearing his reply, she once again returned her gaze to the building. It was a sizeable five-storey building. Although it faced the main street, it was built in a somewhat secluded place, so it was in the shadow of the neighboring buildings and its surroundings were somber.
Although there was no light now, the outer walls, which were decorated with lights that usually shone brightly in the town during the dazzling night, were comparatively new even to the point where one would not think that a remodeling was necessary.
“They say that, recently, guests seemed to go on rampages, and exterior aside, the interior was awfully messy.”
“He~e… It’s scary, eh.”
“Here, the replacement of tenants is incessant and renovations aren’t something unusual. There are also some specialists. But, it seems that the construction has been halted for these several days.”
“…It was halted?”
As Saya frowned, Eishiro chuckled.
“There was apparently some trouble on the side of the specialist which was in charge of it. The particular Mafia group, which was the owner of this, also seemed to be pushing for the renovations, in various ways, so I think that the next specialist will be decided before long.”
“…But, till then, it’ll be a building in a state of vacancy.”
“Well, something like that.”
Saya and Kirin simultaneously looked at each other, and silently nodded.
“All right, well then, won’t you check inside?”
What Saya and company had searched, up until now, were mostly abandoned buildings. They did not go as far as to enter on their own ー to be exact, the abandoned buildings were targeted by the Hunter Guards, as they wanted them under their control ー but this place was not. Regardless of whether it was under renovation, it was a casino so it probably had some sort of security system.
“Hey, hey, it was decided that I’d leave this to you. I’ll go check out the surroundings.”
Contrary to their expectations Eishiro took out his portable terminal, he connected it to the terminal of the front gate side.
And after he operated the optics keyboard with experienced hands, the door opened with a tepid sound.
“Hey, it’s opened.” Eishiro spoke casually
With blank expressions, both Saya and Kirin glared at him.
“It looks like when the insides were damaged, the conventional security system was damaged at that same time. The one which operates now is an un-challenging, simple version. Since it’s a makeshift system and the building is under renovation, they probably thought that it was enough with that; so we're lucky.”
“No, even if that’s the case…”
“…No matter how you put it, your skill is too good.”
In response to the suspicious gazes, Eishiro hurriedly looked for excuses.
“N-No, something like this isn’t really a big deal, I say! The tool is something I found on the net, and it’s something I’ve also tried several times…”
Though there was doubt remaining, there was no time to investigate it now. After all, it was nearing noon, if they did not do it quickly, the finals would begin.
“C-Come on, come on, more importantly, we should hurry!”
While saying that to escape questioning, Eishiro entered to the building, and Saya and Kirin had no choice but go along with it.
The inside was in a much worse state than they had thought.
As the casino’s equipment had already been moved, the spacious hall, with a stairwell connecting to the second floor was empty and lonely, the walls and pillars, now without their luxurious adornings, became naked and were once again only supporting the floor above. For some reason, only the luxurious lighting was deliberately left intact, the shadows of pillars, which stretched on the bare floor, looked eerily creepy.
There were many big holes in the ceiling, but since one would not think that construction was necessary, it was probably something left by the guests who 'went on rampage'. In that case, they could also agree that renovation was necessary.
“For the time being, it looked like there’s no one here.”
Kirin, while being cautious, looked around at the surroundings.
“Hmm, from the feeling I get, when I take a look at this building, it appears to be a six-layer structure of one floor basement and five floors above ground.”
Certainly there was a large set of stairs in the inner part of the hall, and they led to the second floor. The back looked like the downhill stairs. There was also an elevator on the side, but as expected they could not use it in this situation.
“…Above or below?”
“Hmm… either way, if the criminal is here, it’ll be dangerous to split; it’d be better to act together.”
“If possible, I would also like to do so. I’m bad at fighting after all.”
At Kirin’s words, Eishiro strongly agreed by saying “yes, yes”.
“…If you’re a man, you should say that we leave it to you instead.” Saya said with scornful eyes.
Eishiro answered without being timid. “It’s said the right person in the right place. Besides, I’m also doing my best for once, you know?”
“Doing your best?”
“I can’t help you, but then I should just call someone useful. Well, I don’t know if he’ll come, since I can only requestー wait… What’s that!?”
Shifting their attention to Eishiro’s voice, something was wriggling as if gushing forth in the shadow of a pillar.
“Is that… a person?”
While unsheathing the carp mouth of Senbakiri, Kirin quizzically muttered.
“…Mana is gathering around there. It’s probably a setting type ability.”
In other words, it would be a trap or defense device.
As Kirin said, it seemed to have a human shape, but the “shape” was only just close (in shape). The whole body was pitch-black, as if a shadow was cut out and had no ruggedness whatsoever, and the distinction of which was the front and the back could not be grasped. Both hands were pointed out like a sharp horn, and even if it was unpleasant, one could guess what kind of purpose it had. If compelled to say, was it certain it was a “person’s shadow”?
“At the very least, there’s no doubt that we're right on the mark. Isn’t it all right?”
Eishiro who said that had already withdrawn to a position near the wall. It looked like he really intended to leave it all to Saya and Kirin.
The shadow, which had been doing nothing but standing stock still, suddenly attacked Kirin.
But, Kirin, without panicking, slew it with one stroke of her sword. The shadow which received Senbakiri’s blow vanished like mist just as if it were sand blown by the wind.
Although its movements were not that fast, the attack was simple, easy to read and above all it was too much fragile (brittle). Frankly, it was not at the level of being Saya’s or Kirin’s opponent.
“What, it isn’t that big a deal. Even I can manage just this much…”
The expression of Eishiro who was comfortably saying such things stiffened in middle of sentence.
This was because shadows arose once again from the shadows of the pillars. And this time, it was not just one or two.
“This… I wonder how many there are?”
The shadows which gushed forth from here and there in the shadows were about 50 in number when only assessed roughly. Moreover, they were still increasing.
The shadows attacked Saya and company one after another.
As Saya activated her hand gun type Lux in an instant, she defeated five shadows almost simultaneously by using quick shots.
“T-This is an ability of autonomy type! No matter how you put it, it’s impossible to control all of these simultaneously!”
From the words of Eishiro, who shouted while running around the hall while trying to escape, Saya recalled a story she heard from Ayato.
A person with ability called Cyrus who once fought against Ayato seemed to have the power to control more than one hundred puppets, but in actuality it was about ten puppets that he could control simultaneously.
However, such uniformity could not be observed at all in those shadows’ movements.
“Autonomous type ability means that the most they can do, is to only execute a simple order! The criminal probably commanded them with something like ‘eliminate the intruder’!”
“…I see. In that case, there is no real need to keep fighting them.”
Both Saya and Kirin still had damage from the semifinal. Especially Kirin, who had not yet recovered from the injury of her right leg, as for Saya, she had yet to fully recover her Prana. Even though their opponents were small fries, their stamina would not last if they were to take on all those shadows.
“…Kirin. I’m sorry, but I will rely on you for a little while.”
They were physically and mentally harmonized. Kirin who immediately understood Saya’s intention took one step forward and changed her stance in order to protect Saya.
After Saya put away the hand guns, she activated a huge Lux with a large gun barrel.
Most of the armaments on hand had received so much damage during the semifinal that maintenance was required, but as for this, the damage was still relatively shallow (light).
“Lux Type 39 Laser Canon Wolfdora ー sweep”
When Saya squeezed the trigger, a torrent of light gushed out. A large amount of Prana was consumed and everything before her eyes turned dark for an instant, but she shook her head slightly and endured.
The pillar of light mowed down the shadows with a roaring sound, when silence returned once again to the hall, nobody aside from Saya was remaining standing.
“Saya-san, are you all right…?”
Although she pretended to be all right as she muttered that to the anxious Kirin, she had not recovered as much Prana she'd thought. After the semifinal, since she had run about since yesterday to until now, with almost no rest, one could say that it was natural; This might be kind of bad.
Aside from the small armaments like hand guns, Saya’s heavy armaments were all of the Lobos transition system, as such one shot from one of her heavy armaments consumed as much Prana as meteor arts.
(At this rate, I can only shoot about two or three times. Huh…)
Although, in truth, she wanted to beat the criminal who kidnapped Flora into a pulp, it might be better to avoid battle as much as possible in this state. If the criminal obediently handed over Flora, it would be good. Of course, depending on the situation, it could not be helped if they had to fight, butー
“Hey, hey, you two! It looks like it’s still early to relax!”
Eishiro suddenly raised his face with a sharp voice.
Shadows in likeness of people began to arise again from the pillars’ shadows.
The number was the same as earlierー no maybe even more than that.
“Th-There is no end to this…!”
Slight impatience could also be felt in Kirin’s voice.
Now that it came to this, they could only force their way through, but there were a swarm of shadows on the other side of the stairs. Though they would have no problem if they were in perfect condition, for the current Saya and Kirin, there was a slight uneasiness remaining towards the breakthrough.
Even so, it was much better than continuing a war of attrition.
“…Kirin, it’s a little unreasonable, but we will break through.”
“Yes… we have no choice.”
It looked like Kirin was thinking the same thing. They nodded at each other.
Just before the shadows surged like an avalanche and were about to attack the two girls.
“Tch! Geez, what are you guys doing!”
A violent shock ran from the side and blew up the shadows altogether.
“Oooh, you finally arrive, huh! I was waiting for you!”
In contrast with the dumbfounded two girls, only Eishiro went out to meet that person while clapping his hands.
“…Lester MacPhail … Why are you here?”
Right. It was indeed Seidoukan Academy rank #9, Lester MacPhail who appeared with a sullen face.
“I was forcibly called by that bastard Yabuki! Otherwise, why would I expressly come to such a place?”
He shouted with the huge Halberd type Lux in his hand.
“Oh dear! "Forcibly" is saying too much. I just intended to ask a request though.”
“Negotiating while grasping hold of someone’s weakness is what a bastard like you calls a request? Shouldn’t you rather say blackmail?”
I see. It was like Eishiro to do such a thing.
That said, it did not change the fact that they were saved. The shadows charged forth anew, and most of them had turned towards the new intruder. They did not let this chance slip.
“…MacPhail, we leave the rest to you.” Saya said quickly, and took off shamelessly.
“S-Sorry! Please!” Kirin, who was honestly sorry, politely bowed.
After that, they cut into the swarm of shadows.
“Huh!? H-Hey, wait a minute!”
Though Lester’s perplexed voice flew from behind, there was no time to wait.
As Saya once again activated the two hand gun type Lux, she asked so to Kirin beside her while opening a path. “And, Kirin… above or below, which is it?”
“Which do you think it is, Saya-san?” Similarly, while swinging Senbakiri right and left, Kirin returned the question.
There was no reason. It was intuition.
“Me, too.” While chuckling, Kirin answered with that.
Back on the other side.
“Well then, MacPhail. Do your best.” Eishiro, while leaving those words, ran off somewhere.
Also, Saya and Kirin disappeared on the other side of the shadows…
Remaining in the hall were only Lester and the countless shadows.
The beginning of how it came to this was last night. When he wondered why he was suddenly contacted by Eishiro, he was allowed to help out with no chance to refuse.
It no longer mattered where Eishiro had learned his secret.
Though briefly, he was also told about the situation; even Lester could not stand a coward who tried to achieve their goals by kidnapping a small child.
The pent-up anger, from being eliminated in the third round of the Phoenix, had also piled up.
The shadows attacked Lester, who was looking downwards, and muttered to himself.
As Lester sent them flying with one swing of his halberd, he shouted in a loud voice to display his foul mood.
“Why am I the only one made to play such a role?”
- ψ -
As Ayato checked the time, he called out to Julis who was sitting on the sofa of the waiting room with her eyes closed. “It’s already time, Julis.”
“…I see” As Julis briefly answered, she stood up, stretching herself out greatly.
“Good grief, in the end, there was no call from Saya and the others.”
Since they did not know the situation over there, they could not contact them.
And the fact that they themselves were not yet contacted, it meant that it was probably that sort of situation.
“Fufufu, don’t make such a face, Ayato. Come on, let’s go.”
However with a calm look, Julis floated a wry smile and opened the door of the waiting room.
How many times had he already walked down the passage heading to the stage like this with her? At very least, he felt like it had been a very long time that had passed here since the first time when they had to fight in the first round. Even though it was only two weeks ago.
Julis suddenly muttered,
“ーHey, Ayato. It’s a good thing to have reliable comrades.”
Ayato stopped walking at the unexpected words.
Julis likewise stopped and continued as if speaking to herself.
“You know, Ayato. Flora and everyone in my country are important to me more than anything. That’s why I swore that I will do anything for them, and I thought it was fine as long as everyone is alright. But, when I think about it now, I was just shutting myself off from the world. ーAyato, I understood it well. Um… After having you as p-partner.”
“I can still make more important comrades like everyone in my country. Like Saya and Kirin.”
While looking straight at Ayato’s eyes, Julis smiled as she felt embarrassed.
“Now, I can honestly believe in them. So, don’t worry. I’m all right.”
“I see… Yes. Then well…”
Ayato and Julis who began to walk again stood side-by-side in front of the stage.
Julis who took a small breath while strongly clenching her fists, and went through the gate.
『"Now, player Amagiri Ayato and player Julis-Alexia van Riessfeld of Seidoukan Academy also make their entrance from the east gate! It’s finally the last match in this Phoenix where various fights have been unfolding for a period of two weeks! It’s the final!"』
『"Gee, I can’t wait."』
A boisterous dance of dazzling lights.
While advancing within it, Julis muttered;
“It’s really strange. Even though we’re in a situation such as this, ーnowー I want to win this match so much that it’s unbearable (I’m dying to win this match).”
“Yes, me too.”
After he replied with that, Julis joyfully nodded.
“Ok, then, both you and I shall try to be as greedy as possible. Let’s obtain everything we desire.”
“Without losing anything.”
Ayato and Julis stared at the two autonomous type puppets before them.
One of the other duo, the owner of a large build that was as if it was piercing the heavens, heartily laughed.
“Fuhahahahahaha! We can finally face each other, Amagiri Ayato! I have been eagerly waiting for this time!”
“Master has been always talking about you, I am expecting so very much of you! By all means, give me the excitement which exceeds what Sasamiya Saya and Toudou Kirin gave me!”
While straightly tracing the sword cut carved from his forehead to his cheeks, Ardi shook his large build.
“Unfortunately, I can’t guarantee it…”
Although slightly nervous at that high tension, Ayato answered with a serious expression.
“But, this match ー I will win it. Absolutely.”
“Fufufu! Those words are enough!”
As Ardi stared at Ayato’s eyes, he happily nodded for some reason.
“And we only hope that, like those girls, you are humans suitable for giving you our respect. And…”
“ーIt’s before the match, and yet you already talk too much, you blockhead! Listen, in the first place, since you have a body with bad Mana consumption (fuel-inefficient body), at least respect yourself. If possible, if you could never again open your mouth, it will help me very much.”
Rimsi who was standing beside Ardi put a damper on him in a cold tone.
“Mmm… But you have been obviously talking more than me, though.”
“Do you not understand when I say to stop your impudent talk?”
Seeing a huge gun type Lux appearing in Rimsi’s hand, Ardi finally shut his mouth.
“…I already knew it, but they are really unusual puppets. Eh.” While observing their exchanges, Julis muttered, somewhat amazed.
“Hahaha… But, only a little, I think that I’m glad that our opponents in the finals are them.”
“Because we can confront them without hesitation.”
For example, judging from their strength, Irene or the twins of World Dragon might also have reached the finals, but it would not probably have been like this with them.
“Well, you’re right on the point wherein they are worthy opponents”
Julis activated Aspera Spina while saying so.
As Ayato also activated a blade type Lux, the live reporter and the commentator greatly rustled.
『"Oooh, as expected it looks like player Amagiri won’t use Ser-Versta in this final, either!"』
『"If you normally think about it, rather than not using it, may it not be that he can’t use it? the Ogre Luxes… especially that Ser-Versta is an item known to be hard to please, so there might be some trouble."』
『"According to some rumors, there are talks that an urgent freezing process was applied (requested), but… oops, while we were speaking, the start time approached! Come on, everyone, whether you like it or not, now this is the last match of the Phoenix! Which pair will stand at the top?"』
While ignoring the voice of the excited live reporter, they focused.
The match start was exactly at noon.
Still three, two, oneー
“Phoenix Final, Battle start!” The school badges on their chest's announced the last signal.
At the same time, Ayato released his power and headed straight towards Ardi.
『"Mmm! Is this a strategy of Amagiri-Riessfeld pair where they will beat player Ardi first with the two of them?"』
『"It’s standard strategy to aim at either one of the opponents, but for player Riessfeld, who should be in the back, going forward is a little unusual."』
Right. When fighting against those two, the most troublesome thing was that fusion state which overwhelmed Saya and Kirin.
In that case, they should simply defeat either one of them before that.
Considering only from the aspect of defensive power, it was probably better to aim at Rimsi first, but that said, Rimsi had that flight unit. If she were to escape into the air, there would be no way to have a two-on-one fight.
“Let’s go, Julis!”
Ayato immediately adjusted his breathing and set up his sword.
“Amagiri Bright Dragon Style Sword Intermediate Technique ー ”
Nine consecutive attacks which combined five thrusts and four kinds of slashes.
It was a technique of the highest difficulty even among the Intermediate Techniques, but all of that was prevented before the defensive barrier which Ardi instantly deployed.
“Fuhahahaha! Unfortunately, I already have the data of that technique!”
Ardi proudly declared so.
“…Looks like it.”
Even so, to Ayato who showed a composed smile, Ardi leaked a voice as he was puzzled for an instant.
Certainly, he had also happened to use this technique once when he fought against Cyrus’ puppets. Since they were puppets which Ernesta made, it would not be strange for her to have gotten the data at that time.
They took that into account.
“Bloom proudly ー PrimroseDancing nine-spirering-flower!”
Immediately after, an intense heat rose behind Ayato.
Ardi’s defensive barrier was, so to speak, something like a shield, and the range in which it was able to defend was limited.
Even so, the speed with which it could be instantly deployed and the area of the deployment range covering 360° established it as an absolute defense.
But, when it came to simultaneous attacks from many directions, it would be difficult to defend with just the defensive barrier.
Ardi shook off the flame flowers which came attacking from all directions with his huge hammer. Though they were activated in a much shorter distance than usual, there was not even a slight disturbance in Julis’ control.
“Amagiri Bright Dragon Style First Sword Fighting Skill ー ”
At that chance, Ayato stepped forward further and let out the next technique.
The aim was of course the school badge on the chest.
“To ignore me like that, you are quite cheeky.”
Just before that, a swelling torrent of light attacked Ayato and Julis from the side.
It was the built-in weapon which Rimsi’s left arm changed into ー Ruinsharif.
“…No way, there is no way we would ignore you.”
However, before it hit directly, Ayato led Julis by the hand and dodged it, barely.
“We’re properly cautious.”
Rimsi opened her eyes wide, atypically, in surprise.
She was probably thinking it was a perfect timing.
Actually, if it was the usual Ayato, he would have not been able to dodge it.
But, the current Ayato’s perception expanded to the utmost limit, so he could grasp the information of the Battle-Stage with a bird’s eye view.
It was a technique called Field (state) of “Cognition” in Amagiri Bright Dragon Style.
This technique originally displayed it's maximum (greatest) effect when in a situation of one-on-many fight, so it was not very useful in a situation of one-on-one fight. It was only tiring.
However, Julis applied this and devised a bold strategy.
Create a two-on-one situation in a tag battle and quickly defeat one opponent was, as the commentator said, standard strategy among standard strategies, but there was a suitable risk that came along with it. It was natural since the other opponent would become completely free. You might say that he could aim from the side as much as he liked.
Ayato, being able to grasp overall the movements, in the state of “cognition” meant that he knew not only Ardi’s and Rimsi’s movements, but also Julis’ as well. If so, then to take Rimsi by surprise, like now; if she was close to Ayato it was possible for him to evade by interfering with her movements.
Of course, it was in the end a theory; so even with Ayato’s reaction speed, it would be fairly limited. Originally there was nothing they could do against the attacks which Ayato could not deal with (for example, the state of “cognition” was inefficient against Kirin’s "Conjoined Cranes"). Above all, if Julis did not trust Ayato from the bottom of her heart, they would not have been able to do it at all.
(However, certainly we can considerably reduce the risk of the two-on-one fight like this…!)
Thinking about Ardi’s and Rimsi’s learning speed, they could not keep this up for much longer; in short, they should settle the match before that.
“Ayato, we will press him!”
Julis was completely concentrated on Ardi as the opponent.
While fighting side by side at a distance in which their bodies could collide, it was precisely because Ayato had the state of “cognition” that they did not collide.
“Bloom proudly ー Livingstone DaisyFlaming Crimson Decapitator!”
Countless flames blew up from the ground and chakrams of flame appeared as if swirling.
That they were slightly smaller than usual was probably because Julis gave priority to the number of them over their individual power. The crimson chakrams, which numbered were more than twenty, attacked Ardi.
It seemed that Rimsi’s supporting fire was not aimed at Ayato and Julis, but at the chakrams. As expected, her correction was quick.
Although the chakrams were shot down one after another by the light bullets which Rimsi fired, there was also no way that she could shoot all of them.
“Amagiri Bright Dragon Style, Intermediate Technique ー .”
From that place, Ayato rotated and put the force of his whole body into two consecutive strikes.
The tip of his sword was repelled by the defensive barrier close to the school badge, but while that happened, several chakrams shallowly cut Ardi’s armor.
After that, as Ayato set up his stance again ー he promptly turned around and shortened the distance to Rimsi in one movement.
Rimsi, who was currently devoting herself to Ardi’s support, managed to immediately change her aim over to Ayato; unfortunately Ayato was a step quicker.
Dodging the barrage scattered to restrain him ( by diverting his attention), Ayato delivered a flash from a low position.
He bisected the gun which Rimsi had on her right hand, and when he was about to release another strike, a wall of light suddenly appeared and stood in his way. It was Ardi’s defensive barrier.
Though Ayato dodged it as he stepped to the side, at that time, Rimsi released the flight unit and flew to the sky.
But again, this was expected.
“Fufufu, I was waiting for this moment…!”
They noticed it when watching their match against Saya and Kirin, but if Ardi’s defensive barrier was close to him, the deployment speed was faster. If he used it to protect another person who was in a distant place like now, a time lag would occur before he would be able to re-deploy the next barrier no matter what.
“Come out ー GloriosaGlorious Rending Flame Claw Flower!”
At the same time as Julis swung Aspera Spina downward, a magic circle materialized on the ground. A huge flame claw blew up and crushed the now defenseless Ardi.
“Gunuuuuuuuuuuuuh! This much is nothing!”
But, surprisingly (As surprising as it may seem) Ardi swung his hammer and blew off the flames, thereby breaking out of Julis’ trap with brute force.
Although there were burn marks on his armor, here and there, it did not seem to be serious damage.
“Kuh, what armor…!”
After clicking her tongue in vexation, Julis retreated to Ayato again.
“We have to go back to square one, huh.”
“That said, they aren’t opponents who will fall for the same trick twice.”
While moving his eyes as he adjusting his breathing, Ardi and Rimsi took their distance as well. It looked like they were thinking the same thing.
“Honestly, it’s really painful that our attack just now was not enough to decide this match. Though I think that we can still keep this coordination up for a while…”
Now that he could not use Ser-Versta, Ayato and Julis had almost no way to pierce that defensive barrier. They might somehow manage with Julis’s strongest firepower, but Ardi and Rimsi would not be so easygoing as to let her prepare it.
“Even the sword skills which Kirin used were not useful? That’s, leading the defensive barrier…”
“That’s a skill which could be done precisely because Kirin-chan… or should I say, the Toudou Style is the school which excels in it. That said, even I can do something like that, but it will be difficult to reproduce it at that level; besides I don’t think it will work on Ardi who has already experienced it once.”
After all, in the second half of the semifinal, he was already able to deal with Kirin’s attacks.
“In that case, the only choice we have now is to overwhelm him with the number of attacks. Huh…”
Julis muttered that with her face expressing “it can’t be helped”.
“Fuhahahahahaha! Splendid! It’s really splendid! It was a combination which surpassed my expectations, Amagiri Ayato! And Julis-Alexia van Riessfeld!”
Ardi’s noisy laughter resounded throughout the stage.
“Yesterday more than the day before yesterday, today more than yesterday, the self-confidence that we have certainly developed. Though, it seems like you are ahead of us. In that case, we have no choice but to quickly play our trump card.”
At those words, the entire audience got excited.
『"Oooh, it came, it came, that declaration from player Ardi! Does that mean that we will finally see that fusion again?"』
Though the live reporter was also really excited, it was not the same for Ayato and Julis.
“No, well, originally, I intended to do so from the beginning, but as usual, Rimsi did not allow it.”
“…Naturally. We have repetitively been told by Master not to use it carelessly, after all.”
Rimsi who turned a cold gaze towards Ardi openly breathed a great sigh.
“However, to be certain we will win against you, it looks like I can’t do anything but agree to do so. It’s extremely unpleasant though.”
“…We don’t intend to let you do so easily.” Ayato, while saying that, adjusted his stance again.
Though Ardi and Rimsi said that, in a matter of fact fashion, their current power, and that of Ayato and Julis, could be said to be on par, even if looking at it in a favorable light. It looked like they were overwhelmed precisely because they got caught up in Julis’ strategy, but it was obvious that they would recover if the battle was dragged on.
“I’m sure that even you know, but there is a big opening in the moment of preparation for the union. It isn’t like us to overlook it.”
At Julis’ words, Ayato greatly nodded inwardly.
It was understandable that Saya and Kirin were wary since it was the first time that it was done before their eyes, but Ayato and Julis already knew what it looked like. They would not hesitate.
“You are right. Certainly that requires a little time, and if it is you, you will probably not have any trouble in defeating us with that chance. However ー do you think our Master did not prepare some sort of measures to deal with that?”
As Rimsi said that, she stretched (held out) her left hand; Ruinsharif held right above.
“Ruinsharif, mode "Wolkenwurf" ー Maximum output.”
Then, Ruinsharif’s shape further changed. It was now just like huge cannon.
“I won’t let you do…!”
Though Ayato promptly jumped out, a huge light bullet was shot from Ruinsharif earlier than he could reach them. The bullet's speed was surprisingly slow and at the moment one thought that it completely unmoving in the airー
“Julis, step back!”
It suddenly exploded and scattered countless small light bullets.
He tried to somehow reach Rimsi while dodging the light bullets which poured down as if they were rain, but it was not easy even with the state of “cognition”.
“ACM unit, first external armor, various Luxes purge… Limit control transfer”
Meanwhile, Rimsi and Ardi were steadily advancing the progression of their union.
“Eeih, now that it came to thisー!”
Ayato plunged into the rain of light bullets prepared to sustain some damage. No matter how high the bullet's original power was, if they were finely separated to this extent, he should be able to pull through by investing as much Prana in defense as possible.
A shock much stronger than he expected struck Ayato’s body, but he endured it and charged through in one movement.
“…It’s too bad, Amagiri Ayato.”
Passing by Rimsi, Ayato swung his sword with all his might.
It accurately cut off the school badge on Rimsi’s chest ー but.
“Fuhahahaha! It looks like you were a step too slow!”
It was after the unit which separated from Rimsi had already united with Ardi.
“Camilla Pareto, badge broken”
At the same time, the school badge announced Rimsi’s defeat. It was Camilla’s name, because Rimsi participated in this Phoenix as her substitute ー in other words, it was because she was using Camilla’s school badge.
As Ardi who further expanded his large build said that and swung his hammer once, by just by doing that, a wind strong enough to blow a person away, was created.
“Good grief… Well then, I leave the rest to you.”
“Yea! Good work!”
Rimsi stepped back with slow steps and Ardi stepped forward in her stead.
“Well, let’s begin the second round!”
- ψ -
As Kirin and Saya descended underground, they immediately ran into a huge door. It did not have an electronic lock, but was a normal door which could be opened by hand.
Since Saya and Kirin had fought so many shadows upstairs, if the criminal was here, they should have already surmised that Kirin and Saya had invaded. So now, they did not intend to move stealthily, but the other party had a hostage. As such, It was probably wise for both or them to prepared for if something happens.
“Saya-san, I’m going first.”
Even though she had an injured leg, it was Kirin’s role to be the vanguard.
Saya should stand back and watch the situation until she could grasp it and then move only necessary.
Seeing that Saya nodded, Kirin slowly opened the door.
In there, a hall was spread out like on the above floor. However, unlike the first floor which had an open ceiling, the ceiling was not too high and there were also a lot more pillars.
Lighting in the form of lanterns was hung all over the place, but since the lights, which could be considered as the main lighting, was not switched on, overall it gave a gloomy impression. However there were still a few lights, some that were much brighter than others in places, and a small girl was illuminated by one of them. The girl’s feet and hands were bound, and she wearily hung her head in as she leaned on the pillar.
However there were still a few lights, some that were much brighter than others in places, and a small girl was illuminated by one of them. The girl’s feet and hands were bound, and she wearily hung her head in as she leaned on the pillar.“Flora-chan.”
When Kirin called out to her, the girl startled raised her face.
Though one could not know what she was saying, as a gag had been forced in her mouth, she repeatedly shook her head greatly.
At that moment, Kirin suddenly felt bloodlust and leapt back a large distance.
A huge black thorn flew out from the shadow of the pillar a moment later, but it pierced the empty space where Kirin had been standing just a second ago. In appearance, it looked most like a thorn from a sea urchin.
Moments later, similar thorns flew out from other shadows, aimed at Kirin as well.
Kirin dodged those attacks while bearing the pain running through her leg, but all of them were dangerous. After all, she could not grasp at all from where they would fly out from.
(Be it these thorns or the shadows on the first floor, as expected, it’s someone with the ability to use “shadows” as weapons…!)
Since there were countless lights placed in the hall, any one object produced multiple shadows. She had to look out for not only the floor, but also the walls, the ceiling and all four directions. In other words, the adversary was able to display his ability to its full potential in this place.
However, it’s as if he actually controlled the shadows; he probably collected Mana on the shadow image's core.
“ーI see, Toudou Kirin, huh. A very big shot came over.”
Before long, exactly when the attacks stopped, one man came out from the pillar against which Flora was leaned. It looked as if he oozed out from the darkness, and he had cold, inhuman air which would make one shiver. His voice also seemed cold, just like something without emotion.
“…Are you the kidnapper?”
The man, without answering Kirin’s question slightly shook his finger. As if responding to it, a thorn which extended from Flora’s shadow thrust towards her throat.
“If you get in my way, I can’t guarantee this girl’s life.”
“N-No way…! Please stop it already! Even if you do such a thing, you’ll just put yourself at a disadvantage!”
For example ー Kirin was also frightening just to imagine it, but if by chance he was to do such a thing, she would lose all self-restraint. The man’s desire would not be achieved, but his crime would just become more severe.
However, the man looked at Kirin with his eyes like stones without warmth.
“I will just tell you one thing. It doesn’t matter what will happen to me.”
Kirin shuddered at those words.
It was because she understood that he was serious.
If Kirin did not obey, this man would pull it off without hesitation.
“First of all, throw away your weapon.”
Since she understood it, Kirin had no other choice but thrust it aside.
Helplessly, she slowly put Senbakiri on the floor.
At that moment, “Kirin! Flora!” Saya’s voice sharply resounded in the hall.
At the same time the thorn, which was thrust at Flora’s throat, was shot out, and became dust that disappeared.
In addition, with a single dull gunshot sound, before long, the hall was filled with dazzling light.
(A flare bombー!)
That strong light temporarily wiped out any other current shadows, and created a new shadows instead. But, that meant that it changed from where the opponent’s attack could come.
After Kirin picked up Senbakiri, she ran to Flora with all her power.
The pain on her leg no longer mattered. She did not even mind that it tore and the wound got worse.
The man slightly knitted his eyebrows and shook his finger. Mana wriggled, and a new thorn was created from Flora’s shadow.
“I won’t let you do that!”
Kirin’s sword slash cut off that thorn with little room to spare, and she held Flora while rolling over.
As support, light bullets were continuously shot towards the man from the direction of the entrance of the hall.
“This shooting… Sasamiya Saya, huh.”
The man easily dodged them, but it was enough to give time for Kirin.
Still holding Flora, immediately, she was returning to the entrance ー On the way, her right leg reached its limit.
Desperately enduring so she did not to fall down, she relieved herself of guarding Flora while gritting her teeth in pain.
“I-I’m all right! More importantly, take Flora!”
As Kirin removed the gag at last, Flora said with a face ready to cry at any moment.
“T-Toudou-sama! Thank you!”
“No, more importantly, head quickly to that door…!”
She made a smile so she di