Arifureta - Chapter 242
Arifureta After II King's Understanding Last Part
Their steps were relying only on the emergency light shining faintly to descend the spiraling staircase that looked like it would continue until the bottom of earth.
Other than the short exhalation and footsteps, there were only the faint vibrating sound and explosion sound that could be heard. The place was quiet. The atmosphere was heavy with no one speaking any word, further fostering that silence.
「I'm fine, Ku-chan.」
Kuwaibel who was flying beside Roze turned a slightly worried gaze toward her. When Roze answered inside the broken silence, Olga and Jean, followed by the imperial guards were also sending her expression of consideration.
「Right now, let's concentrate in accomplishing our pbjective.」
Surely no matter what Roze said, the expression of the Crow siblings and the imperial guards wouldn't clear. That was just how terrible the expression of Roze who was giving the order to defend to the death at her parent replacement. Because Roze was aware of how her face looked, her words toward them naturally became like that.
「It will be fine Roze-sama. This is Sabas-sama――teacher who we are talking about. After all even among the imperial guards there is argument whether it's really fine to classify that person as human.」
「Roze-sama, it's just as Nee-san said. It might be even the case that he is only able to perceive the command of defending to the death to mean『defend by slaughtering all the enemy』. Even just worrying about teacher is only a waste of time.」
Olga and Jean's consoling words were followed by the imperial guards too. Their mouth were saying「That isn't human, but something else」, or「Actually he is a weapon of massacre that was created by the ancient civilization」, or「Rather, he won't get hit even when in the middle of crossing fire using machine gun」「I mean, if it's slow bullet like rocket or missile, he can normally catch it and then throw it back, seriously」, or「Every time he gave us hellish training while yelling 'what are you doing unable to do something this easy!', but we are just normal human here」, or「I want to hit the me ten years ago who thought that I absolutely will get payback when he turned senile」and so on......
Midway the complaints of the imperial guards were overflowing. The complaints were already coming out like flood. The eyes of all of them were gradually losing vitality even though they were in the middle of mission. The imperial guards were getting killed by their memory with gramps!
「Kufuh, fufufuh. The, then, surely, he will be fine.」
A small giggle resounded. The imperial guards were taken aback and returned to reality. There they saw the figure of Roze with trembling shoulders. It seemed that her heart was cleared slightly from the lovely reminiscence of the imperial guards.
While they were doing that, Roze and others came to the bottom of the spiral stair. There was a slightly spacious landing there with double-leaf door that opened by sliding. There was a console emitting bluish white light. Seeing the display, it seemed it would perform confirmation by putting a hand palm on it. Most likely it would analyze the royalty's bloodline.
Olga held back Roze who was standing in front of the console while she manipulated something like a tablet in her hand.
「Roze-sama. In the interior map that I received from Sabas-sama, the other side of this door is the floor that was a level above the lowest floor. If we go straight through the right and corridor, there will be a stair to the lowest floor.」
Roze nodded briskly and then she continued while turning her gaze to Kuwaibel.
「If I remember correctly, the lowest floor is partly like a labyrinth isn't it?」
At the lowest floor, so that even in the case of intruder the deepest part couldn't be reached easily, there were several traps installed through the way from the surface. Even the level where Roze and others were currently at were originally set up with traps that might make anyone without qualification to lose their life and also several locks that had to be unlocked.
If they had reached this far, then what was left was only to break through the labyrinth of the underground's lowest floor that was created for the sake of buying time against intruder, at this point, there wouldn't be any problem if there was a monarch dragon. Perhaps it was related with the【Spring of True Dragon's Tear】, because it was only a monarch dragon that could advance without getting lost.
Kuwaibel was confidently crying「Piih」, perhaps because he had already grasped some kind of intuition.
「Yes. Just a bit more. ......But even though I said that, it has been a few decades since the palace was snatched away. There is enough possibility that the underground's state isn't the same with the past. No matter what, don't get separated from us.」
「We will leave it to the two of you. However, we have to hurry as much as possible. Because right now, even while we are doing this, everyone in the sky is in the brink of death.」
When Roze said that, Crow siblings and also the imperial guards nodded strongly. And then, they faced the door with their rifle at ready. Olga and Jean took position at both sides of the door. And then, when Olga nodded quietly, Roze determinedly put her hand on the console.
*pi-* A small confirmation sound rang for a beat. After that came a small activation sound and the door slowly opened along with it.
Outside the door they found a passage that continued straight and a passage that that stretched to the left and right. There wasn't any sign of people.
The Crow siblings and the imperial guards nodded at Roze's words. They stepped out to the right passage with a smooth column movement.
After a while, they came to see a stair in front of them. Roze and others carefully and yet speedily rushed to the lowest floor.
They went down the long stair and jumped down on the last stair step――at that time,
Flash and sound exploded along with such small sound.
Olga immediately leaped at Roze and like that they retreated to the stair's wall as though falling on it, Jean called at Kuwaibel while returning back to the stair. The surrounding was overran by terrific light and high-pitched sound that paralyzed the eardrum.
(Kuh, sight and hearing got done in! Is it a trap, or else-)
Olga cursed inside her heart and uneasy expression emerged on her face from being unable to grasp the situation around her at all. Really sadly, Olga's fear was proved to be right.
A beat later, Olga's senses that got two of the five senses crushed by the light and sound that surpassed the permissible range recovered rapidly. What entered her sight that was painted white was a silver light enveloping her body and Roze who she was covering. It seemed, that her senses that were temporarily paralyzed by something like a flashbang got recovered by Kuwaibel.
But, naturally they didn't have any leeway to feel relieved. It was clear that the situation was urgent from the pained familiar voice of her family that reached her ear.
「-, Nee-san, an ambush-. This place is bad-」
Jean was kneeling in front of Roze and Olga while showing his back. Blood was flowing from his shoulder that was desperately supporting the collapsible small shield which looked like it was going to be blown away by impact.
Originally this small shield was something to be carried into a close-quarter combat in order to endure a few bullets. If it was unfolded to the maximum then it would have the size that could cover the whole upper body, but its impact mitigation's efficiency and endurance wouldn't be that high.
Even so, the shield could defend against the fired bullets this long was because Kuwaibel responded to Jean's call and he enveloped that small shield with silver light. And then it was also because of Jean's vigor that wouldn't let the existence behind him to get even a single scratch no matter the cost.
「Pike-, what about Serio!?」
「-, it's no good.」
The imperial guard called Pike answered at Jean's call while enduring bullets using similar small shield. There was a blood soaked figure of an imperial guard beside him lying on the floor. From Pike's expression, it was obvious that the body wasn't breathing anymore. Jean reflexively cursed.
Olga and the imperial guards covered behind Pike read the lines of shots and they returned fire. Right after that, multiple short voices of death agony rose from deeper into the passage.
The shooting stopped for a moment. Using that opening, the imperial guards gathered around Roze and then constructed a barrier using their small shield.
Olga fired even more bullets. However, this time she didn't fix her aim, she adjusted her bullets so they ricocheted into the visible passage and the passage at the blind spot. At the same time, she closed her eyes while focusing her ear.
「......Five people at the front passage. And then three people each at the left and right passage. Kuwaibel-sama, which is the right path?」
She calculated the enemy number relying on the echoing sound of the bullet and the enemy presence that reacted to the bullet. The number of the ambush soldiers was confirmed by Olga's signature skill. The questioned Kuwaibel cried looking a bit stumped before his tail pointed at the front passage.
Olga answered Roze's call along with a strong gaze.
「Roze-sama, there is no time. We are forcing our way through.」
Shaking off the gaze of Roze who was holding her breath, Olga ordered her important little brother as the captain of the imperial guard.
「Jean. Cut open the path.」
「Roger Nee-san, no, captain. Pike, Weber, suppress the enemy at the left and right. Raymond and Olson, you two charge forward with me. We are routing them!」
There was no hesitation. Jean and the imperial guards responded immediately. And then, when they were about to step forward,
「Fortunes of war with you-」
The corner of everyone's lips rose at that encouragement from the queen that they respected.
Jean and others rushed out all at once. Pike and Weber fired in full-auto into the left and right corridor without even fearing getting shot or running out of bullet. Although they were only raining bullets in order to hold back the enemy, but their skill was certainly in the level that was worthy to be called the most elite of Avenst.
They splendidly shut out the shooting from the left and right temporarily.
Not letting go of that moment, Raymond and Olson held their small shield to the front while sprinting. Behind him was Jean, and further behind him was Olga and Roze following.
Bullets were flying from the front like a rainy storm. The small shields that were clad in silver were already cracked and in the verge of getting pulverized.
Raymond raised a pained voice. A bullet grazed his leg. Although he had lowered his body as much as possible to enlarge the coverable range, it was impossible to defend everything using the small shield's range.
But, Raymond didn't stop. He put strength into the leg that although it wasn't hit directly yet it was still spurting out blood, and took a step forward.
Right after that, his small shield broke.
「Gah, guh, oaAAAAAAAH」
A shout surged. While his body was getting hit with bullets, Raymond――didn't stop even then. He covered his head with his arms while further stepping forward in the lead using his own body as shield replacement. It could be seen that for a moment, the enemies flinched at that intense drive and demonic visage.
The distance shrank even further.
The restarted shooting finally robbed the last strength from Raymond's body.
Olson who replaced Raymond to stand in the lead exchanged gaze with his war buddy for an instant. And then, he took over the baton along with loud yell of fighting spirit and broke further through the bullets barrage!
At the front passage, the figure of the enemies peeking out their face from the turn midway could be seen. Astonished expression from seeing something that was hard to understand was pasted on their face.
「Don't look down-, on Avenst's-, imperial guard's-, on my resolve-」
Olson's shield broke. His body shook from impact, but the momentum of Olson that was advancing as though he was burning his life to ash wasn't stopping. While getting drilled by bullets, he threw away the remain of his small shield and rapid fired his handgun. One shot splendidly bored into an enemy's forehead.
And then, he reached it.
「I'll-, leave the rest-. Vice captain!」
「Yeah. You did well-」
Rushing passed the falling Olson, the favorite pupil of the inhuman butler leaped out.
The bullets of the enemies lying in wait broke the lower half of Jean's small shield and pierced his stomach. But, as though such thing was just a fly's bite, Jean shot without even a moment of pause. His aim was terrifyingly accurate, the fired bullet destroyed the enemy's head and threw out his brain matter.
The other enemies were going to pull their trigger even now. Normally this would be the time to launch evade &counter attack. But, there was no way he could do that now. He couldn't let even a single bullet of the enemies lurking in this corner to pass behind him.
He bet his pride as the vice captain of the imperial guard. He bet the resolve of her majesty the queen. He bet the trust of his important sister-.
「Wha, what the hell, with these guys-」
He tackled toward the three enemies huddling together while his body was receiving bullets. It was a shield bash using the half-broken small shield that was carried on by betting the everything of the imperial guard's vice captain of dragon kingdom Avenst.
It possessed enough might to altogether cut a swath through the three enemies who turned timid from that bloody drive.
In the middle of collapsing on the floor as though tripping over, Jean yelled.
「Take care of Roze-sama! Nee-san-」
「Yes-. Leave it to me!」
Olga and Roze, and then Kuwaibel were rushing through from behind. For a moment, Jean and Roze's gaze tangled.
The thing dwelling inside Roze's eyes. There wasn't any feeling of pity or apology for having others became sacrifice. What was there was merely the color of praise and gratitude.
Beyond doubt, that was a reward for those who accomplished the duty given to them by betting their life.
(That's truly what is worthy, for a warring queen. ......You have become strong.)
Jean's lips unconsciously loosened at that color of heart showed by the queen that he respected.
That was a sight that was like a nightmare for the enemy side that was rallying over their posture. After all there was a man there who kept smiling even while getting blood soaked from receiving many bullets. It was only natural for them to feel so.
Toward them who couldn't help but trickling cold sweats despite being the side in advantage, Jean stood up while saying.
「You guys, feel free to learn the dreadfulness of the person who you turned into enemy. ――Avenst's imperial guard, is a bit stubborn you know?」
A beat later, yells and gunshots echoed from the passage Roze and Olga left behind.
Roze and Olga listened to the gunshots behind them while rushing through the passage following Kuwaibel's guidance.
There wasn't any word, the two of them were merely staring straight ahead.
A few minutes later after rushing through several turns.
「Yes, it seems we arrived.」
There was a large hall ahead of their gaze. Deeper inside the room there was a large double-leaf door around three meter tall, splendid stone statues of dragon were standing at the left and right. When they tried approaching the door, on the wall there was a largish depression modeled like a hand. Roze wondered if it was a kind of authentication device, but there wasn't anything like machine anywhere. It really looked like nothing more but a depression that was dug out on the wall.
「It cannot be passed by only a monarch dragon. It's meaningless with just a royalty. With a pair as partner together, for the first time the【Spring of True Dragon's Tear】will have meaning――I wonder, will the ancient selection recognize me as a king?」
She was a survivor of an usurped country. Sure enough, would she be recognized at a queen of the dragon kingdom......this wasn't any machine, but a door and spring of unknown principle that was said to be created by a true dragon and dragon knight from far in the past.
While feeling a slight anxiety, Roze put her hand on the wall's depression.
Right after that, a silver light ran through the door. It was as though water was flowing into a ditch, silver light traced the door surface and made a large dragon kingdom's crest to surface.
And then, the door――didn't open.
No, more accurately there was a path opened. The double-leaf door didn't open, in exchange something like a shining mirror, or perhaps a membrane was created.
「This is, the door toward the spring?」
Roze muttered to herself. Kuwaibel too, this was his first time seeing it, but he nodded「Pii」as though he understood that inside there was the place that was their objective..
Olga tried to touch the shining membrane. Her finger sunk smoothly. There wasn't any particular sensation. As expected, it seemed they could go inside.
「Roze-sama, let's hurry. Quickly, to save everyo――」
A sound of light plosive sound rang.「Eh?」It was unclear whether that voice leaked out from Olga, or perhaps Roze.
At the very least, the one who vomited out blood was Olga.
Roze yelled at the same time with Olga jumping at Roze and carried her to retreat in the cover of a dragon statue. Instantly, bullet storm rained down on Roze and co. The dragon statue was solid so although its surface got shaved but it was satisfactorily accomplished a role as defensive wall.
「Olga-, please get a hold of yourself!」
She must be trying to reply back, but perhaps her trachea was filled with blood, because she only coughed out blood without words. In exchange, she leaned on the dragon statue while pulling out her gun and returned fire toward the soldiers who were firing from the passage before the hall.
There were quite a lot of soldiers. A lot more than the number that Jean and the others were holding back. It was obvious that enemy reinforcement was following behind them using some kind of method.
Olga conveyed using her gaze to Roze so she would advance along with Kuwaibel. The shadow of death was looming on that face. Even from the bleeding amount it was undoubtedly a lethal wound. She must be planning to buy time in this nearly certain death.
Roze looked at that gaze, at the soldiers who looked like they would rush to here anytime now, and then at Kuwaibel who was crying out worriedly.
「Ku-chan-. No, Kuwaibel! Go ahead! I and Olga will hold them back here!」
Taking a rifle in hand, Roze leaned out half her body from the dragon statue's cover and returned fire. The moment her face peeked out, in a stroke of bad luck a bullet grazed her cheek. Fresh blood dyed red that smooth face. However, Roze didn't showed any sign of faltering, she continued to pull the trigger in order to buy time for Olga to reload.
「Even if we aren't beside each other, but our hearts are connected. Just like how human and dragon were once like that by the heaven and earth. Now, Kuwaibel. From here on, go by yourself!」
Kuwaibel softly crawled his tail on Roze's cheek. And then, the moment Roze yelled「Now-」, he flew out from the dragon statue and flew into the light membrane by himself.
The light membrane didn't vanish. Roze whispered「As I thought」with a glance at that. Thinking of the possibility that the spring would stay opened until the monarch dragon was given power, there was no way they could enter together. The light membrane let Olga's finger passed when it was opened.
In other words, the enemy soldiers could also enter into the spring.
If the soldiers rushed into the hall, they would become target for Olga and Roze. This place was optimum for holding back the enemy.
That was why,
「Please show me your figure that become splendid okay, partner.」
Seeing Roze saying that while making a faint smile, Olga who was still continuing to fire with fortitude will even while leaking out wheezing breath also made a small smile.
Their ammo wasn't that many. Thinking of the amount of shooting necessary to maintain the equilibrium, perhaps they could only continue for five minutes. But even before that Olga wouldn't last. If Olga's precise shooting was gone, it would be even quicker for the equilibrium to crumble.
But, even so, Roze and Olga's smile didn't vanish.
Roze's shoulder was drilled by a bullet. Blood spurted out, painting the girl even more ghastly.
However, her smile didn't vanish.
A lot of sacrifices were created, but they flawlessly let them reached this point.
The last monarch dragon magnificently laid hands on the trump card.
「This is, our victory!」
Roze's words assaulted the soldiers like a bullet.
During the time Roze and others were in a deathly battle deep under the palace, at the surface a similar, no, even fiercer battle was in progress.
『Sanchez squad was done in-. Somone-, can anyone reinforce!?』
『This is Cranks 1(Bovid). Los squad-. We will manage somehow here! Head there for reinforcement!』
『This is Odet 2-. There is only me left! Sink or swim, I'll launch kamikaze attack at the bridge!』
『Cranks 1-, this is Shunt 1! Simon squad is annihilated-. We cannot protect Averia with just us!』
『Siegel 1 here! This is bad-. Rozeria is receiving concentrated fire-. Stan squad and Ester squad follow――』
『Shit-, Siegel 1 fell! Siegel 2 will take over the command! Protect Rozeria!』
Communications of mixed angry yell and scream flitted about in the airspace. The number of the dragon kingdom's sky battlecrafts had been reduced until two third since Roze and others infiltrated the place until now.
To be able to sink seven ships of the defense fleet right after the start of battle could be said as amazing military gains even though it came from an impossible surprise attack. Even after that, further four more ships were felled from the main cannon of airship Rozeria and Averia, the enemy's battle strength was cut in half.
Perhaps, they would be able to even annihilate the enemy at this rate......
There were also people who were thinking such thing, but as expected from the last fortress of the divine country, they weren't that generous. When the defense fleet finally formed their barrier, the attack from Avenst side couldn't pass through to a despairing degree.
Even when airship Rozeria and Averia fired their main cannon from the maximum short distance, it only pierced the barrier slightly and damaged a part of the ship's frame, far from sinking the enemy. The story would be different if they could hit the bridge, but there was no way the defense fleet that was fully operating would give them such opening.
Even the sky battlecrafts that penetrated inside the barrier had their hands full against the enemy sky battlecrafts that could freely enter inside the barrier, they didn't have any leeway to attack the bridge at all, if they recklessly aimed there then that would be a good chance for the ship's weapon or the sky battlecrafts to shoot them down.
And then, the more time passed, the more the enemy put in order their counter attack readiness and they cornered the airship Rozeria and Averia instead.
『This is, Cline! Damage at Avenst's power mechanism! We won't be able to endure more attack than this!』
Mother ship Avenst that was attacking with manual armaments operated by civilians of all age and gender from above had smokes erupting from its rear hull while starting to tilt in a big way.
The one who was calling for reinforcement with uneasy voice was the captain of mother ship Avenst, Cline Sanders. He who was also the supreme commander was already at the limit and gave an order.
『All sky battlecraft squads focus on protecting Avenst! Rozeria cover for the sky battlecraft squads! Averia, hold position at Avenst's left wing!』
In the first place their role was to buy time. If their attacks couldn't go through properly, then what was left was to focus on defense resolutely and bought time. Mother ship Avenst falling was something that had to be avoided no matter what.
Rozeria and Averia rushed through the airspace in reckless orbit with the resolve to get shot. Both airships were already damaged all over too, but it seemed they still barely possess fighting capability.
Bovid and others distanced themselves from the defense fleet. Barrages were sent like a tsunami from the defense fleet to not let them got away.
The veterans like Bovid and others evaded that with maneuver as though they were possessed while returning to the mother ship Avenst, but the pilots who still hadn't left the immature stage were shot down one after another.
『All squads, report! How many of you are left!?』
The supreme commander of sky battlecraft squads Bovid was shooting down a pursuing enemy sky battlecraft with abnormal maneuver of midair spin while he raised his angry voice.
The returned report was a callous information that further three platoons were annihilated.
Bovid reflexively wanted to curse, but a death god approached from right beside him. A missile was fired from an enemy sky battlecraft that had circled around unnoticed.
The timing was impossible to evade, even so Bovid was going to make a vain struggle and he put strength into his hand that was holding the stick――
Right after that, a black flash blew up the missile.
「Ha, hahah. That's a narrow escape from death. Thanks, black dragon-chan.」
The black dragon that made a small purr as though to say「Don't mind it」while flying in parallel then swiveled in order to support the other sky battlecrafts. Bovid cracked jokes「That frail kid has grown big huh」, but his expression was grim.
Several black dragons were playing very active roles in many fields. Avenst that was unable to maneuver satisfactorily was still not falling was solely because of their efforts.
But, even that was near the limit.
He unconsciously whispered the queen that he respected. 'How much time they have to buy? Is she safe? Will Kuwaibel-sama really able to awaken in the【Spring of True Dragon's Tear】? And will that be enough to overturn this war situation?'
He believed. He believed in it, but Bovid who was a veteran soldier couldn't avoid the black mist of unease to be created in his heart.
「You guys-, just a bit more! Go all out! If Avenst is gone when her majesty come back, then it will be our shame for eternity!」
Even so as a captain, he addressed all the squads that everything was absolutely fine. He maintained his subordinates' morale with jokes and encouragement.
But, reality was heartless, and on top of that it was always moving to unwanted direction every time.
『-. Impossible-. Those guys, they are planning to fire their main cannon!? Averia-, Rozeria! Stop them no matter how-』
Cline's scream surged. When Bovid who was taken aback looked below, there was the figure of a ship aiming its main cannon at Avenst above.
It was only natural that Cline was flustered. Right now if Avenst was shot down in this kind of place, it would fall around the palace. The people living around the palace were unmistakably those with considerable post or pedigree even in the divine country.
Therefore, they estimated that the enemy wouldn't use their main cannon in fear of sinking the ship with one shot but......
『Damn it-. So those guys are also absolutely at their limit huh!』
It seemed, there was some fellow there who was unable to suppress their fear, or perhaps their rage from seeing a lot of the defense fleet ships getting shot down.
Airship Rozeria and Averia were charging their main cannon and they were going to fire, but they wouldn't make it in time at all. It went without saying that the sky battlecrafts wouldn't be able to do anything.
Bovid, and then everyone of Avenst imagined the scene of their other home town the nation on ship getting annihilated.
It vaguely looked like the other defense fleet ships were also panicking. In the middle of that, the main cannon was finally going to fire at the mother ship Avenst――right before that
A silver flash pierced the sky.
「Hah, you're late, your majesty, monarch dragon-sama.」
Saying that Bovid turned his gaze. Surely, it was undoubtedly a sight that was gazed in astonishment by everyone in this battlefield. In fact, even the defense fleet ship that was in the verge of firing also stopped moving.
What pierced the palace vertically, rising from far underground toward the sky was without mistake a pillar of light.
The pillar of light that was thinning down as though melting into air and then vanished stopped still the time of the battlefield.
Before long, a silver flew out into the sky of the world that was filled with silence.
It flew up to the sky like a cannonball, rolled midair and spread its wings wide. The sunlight caused the dragon scales to sparkle, just how beautiful that figure was.
Dragon scales shining silver. Majestic huge body. Dragon eyes that made anyone filled with awe. That figure with its back toward the sun even made anyone felt its divine majesty.
That was unmistakably a dragon's howl. No, it was the howl of the dragon king filled with a dominating aura that was worthy for a king.
Silver aura spread out like a ripple. It remained in all the people of the dragon kingdom.
Right after that, the words of the person who everyone surely longed for reverberated.
『Everyone-. Well done in enduring this long! Your queen, your monarch dragon-, are right here!』
A silver monarch dragon. The one standing on that back was their queen whose beauty wasn't lost even soaked in blood――Roze.
This was the moment, the strongest of dragon kingdom Avenst was revived.