Editor: alkinThe trees in the plains increased in number gradually, until its density matched that of a forest.
A road paved with stones extended to the east of this forest; it was the biggest road in the Fremmevira Kingdom that leads to the east ― 'East Fremmevira Highway'. From Känkänen to Jantunen was the 'West Fremmevira Highway' and from Jantunen to the Kingdom's border was the ‘East Fremmevira Highway’. These two highways are built with cobble stones, a historical route that was paved for the ease of transport when constructing the fortress at the frontlines. It now shoulders the duty of intra-kingdom transport; its active use matched its reputation as the leading traffic junction.
The road that is used frequently by caravans with Silhouette Knight escorts was desolated. It might be due to the Demon beasts stampede or the rumours spreading among merchants about the sightings of a gargantuan Demon beast.
There is a tense silence on this road, which was broken suddenly.
The sound of hooves from dozens of carriages reverberated in the air, as they ferried the Laihiala Pilot Academy students who are escaping. The high school Knight runners are risking their lives to cover the evacuation, so the carriages were running at full speed. But this was too taxing on the horses, so the pace was slower than normal. Even so, they were already halfway to Jantunen.
The exhausted students sat in the carriages. They weren't chased by any Demon beasts during this period. They had calmed down after some time, but the uneasiness in their chest lingers.
"What happened to Eru―?"
With this solemn atmosphere, Chid and Ady sat on the last carriage, looking behind them blankly. Eru jumped off the carriage and entered the forest when they were escaping from Cloquet's Forest. It happened so suddenly, that they lost track of him before they could even try to stop Eru.
"... Hey, could it be..."
Chid mumbled, as if he thought of something. Ady tilted her head questioningly.
"That guy, did he hijack a Silhouette Knight to join the fight?"
Impossible― Ady wanted to dismiss it, but fell into deep thought. The probable deduction morphs into a clear image in her mind. Common sense tells her that Eru, who did not attend pilot school can't control a Silhouette Knight. But he might make it work with what he learned through self study― She didn't know that Eru has actually succeeded. Ady easily imagined the face of Eru challenging the Land Emperor head on, it seemed so natural.
"Ah― Yeah, that makes sense. Eru will probably do that."
"No need to worry. He can run away with those legs of his if things goes awry."
The magic invented by Eru called 'Aero Thrust' is surprisingly fast. Who can catch up with Eru who was faster than wolves and rivals that of a bird? Even if the opponent was that mammoth Demon beast, Eru can run away if he puts his mind to it. The two of them imagined that scene and laughed.
As they predicted, Eru had hijacked Guyale and was charging towards the Behemoth. It was hard to tell if it was a blessing or a misfortune that the twins, on the shaking carriage had no idea about this.
The instructor on the carriage in front alerts the entire convoy. Clouds of dust can be seen in the direction they are heading, and they heard the sound of the horses’ hooves in the distance. Everyone understood what was causing all that racket. A group of Silhouette Knights― the standard model 'Karrdator' was advancing in a column. All citizens of Fremmevira Kingdom were familiar with these figures and understood why they were here.
"...The garrison Knights of Jantunen!"
The voice of the instructor on the leading carriage reached the carriages at the back. The students poked their head out of the carriages one by one, their face bright with excitement.
This group was a scale larger than two platoons, consisting of roughly ninety Silhouette Knights. They are followed by the maintenance and supplies corps. Most of Jantunen's military forces are here, the most they can muster one day after receiving the envoy from Balguerie.
Karrdators are the official mass produced standard model, with rugged exterior. After experiencing many battles, it has a unique charm to it. Their shoulder armour was decorated with the Fremmevira Kingdom flag and the Jantunen city crest, displaying the pride they had in protecting this land.
The Laihiala students are not uneasy anymore. No matter how mighty the Demon beast was, the band of Knights will defeat it. They had faith in the power and credibility of the Knights.
A sense of relief spreads among the Knights who had discovered the carriage at the same time. Although they had set off as soon as they could, they had already mentally prepared themselves for the possibility that the entire Laihiala student body being massacred. From the looks of things, most of them made it out safely, and had brought with them valuable information about the current location of the Behemoth.
"I see... the high school Knight runners..."
It included information on why the Laihiala students managed to evacuate safely. A lot of the Knights are graduates of Laihiala Pilot Academy, and are moved by the honorable actions of their juniors and steeled themselves.
"Please rest assured. In order to protect our kingdom, and not let their sacrifices be in vain, we will crush the enemy."
The Jantunen Knights engrave this determination within their hearts; their morale grew stronger than before. The band of Knights learned that the Laihiala students met the Behemoth less than half a day ago, so their meeting with the Behemoth is at hand. The tension of the Knights grew sky high with each step they take.
A red Silhouette Knight was sprinting wildly in the lush forest. Its speed was incredible; double that of a normal Silhouette Knight.
Because Eru is controlling it with magic scripts, he is now in sync with the magius engine. His thoughts are converted into scripts that are transmitted to the entire machine without any lags. The crystal tissue of the Silhouette Knight is being moved, its reaction speed is better than organic muscles, executing commands without delays. Guyale now has double the reaction and movement speed of a standard Silhouette Knight.
Guyale maintains its peak performance as it runs, and heard the sound of howls in front. It was a mix of lightning explosion and raging winds. He will engage the Behemoth in a few minutes. Eru's expression twisted with joy, showing unrestrained happiness as he begins his first battle in a Silhouette Knight.
With a dull thud of metal against metal, the steel giant was knocked into the sky. It flew under the tremendous force and hits the ground hard, tumbling a few times. No one could spare the effort to confirm the safety of the pilot, but from the way it lands, the caved in torso and the smashed arms, the pilot couldn’t be unharmed.
The high school Knight runners kept on fighting after the middle schoolers evacuated. It's not that they didn't want to run; they don't have the luxury of showing their back to the Behemoth. The battle has raged on for some time, compared to the fatigue showing on the pilot's faces, the Behemoth lived up to its name of being a fortress, showing no signs of slowing down. There was also an overwhelming difference in strength between them, the discrepancies in endurance was surfacing with each passing second.
Facing pressure that the Knights at the borders failed to withstand, the high school pilot's machine fell one by one, there were only three left.
The Behemoth's tail swung towards Earlecumber, whose pilot Edgar was distracted by his comrade's demise. Edgar instinctively felt that he couldn’t dodge the tail bent like a whip, and pushed the stance of Earlecumber as low as possible while swinging the shield on his left arm, parrying the blow. An incredible technique only Edgar, who was the elite in high school, can pull it off with the help of Earlecumber's excellent performance. But the shield was knocked away from his hand with just the tail's glancing blow. Earlecumber cautiously steadied its stance and pull away from the Behemoth.
I lost my shield! This is bad, the situation is desperate!
Even so, Earlecumber's damage is slight, the other two machine's mana pool and damage was at their limit and might cease any second now. Edgar couldn’t shake off the foreboding sense of doom that flashed across his mind. His team couldn't hold on much longer and might be wiped out in five minutes...
The Behemoth didn't let up its attack, shooting out Tornado Breath again. The raging wind has a large area of effect; they could be pulled in if they didn’t get further away.
"Please... Trandorches, move!"
Helvi realised that the Tornado Breath was aimed at her and scream like a banshee as she tried to get away. Trandorches squeezed out its last ounce of strength, despite the accumulated fatigue and damage, but lost its balance because of the fierce air current.
"Helvi! ― Damn it, make it in time!"
Edgar roared, commanding Earlecumber to charge at the Behemoth, who was in turn closing in on Helvi in order to distract it. He hung on to a glimmer of hope and fires his Silhouette Arms, Arquebus. His full power attack bounced off harmlessly against the armoured shell, while the Behemoth was still locked onto the Silhouette Knight before it. The running Behemoth accelerates, closing in on Trandorches that was struggling to stand.
Just as Helvi and even Edgar was prepared for the next victim to appear―
"Ah hahahaha! Hue hahaha! Found it ― I am here!"
A red Silhouette Knight intrudes into the battle field with arrogant laughter. The first thing he saw in the forest was the Behemoth that was about to run over the robot lying on the ground.
Guyale increased its speed instantly, rushing to the Behemoth's left flank like a scarlet bullet. It draws its sword and lunges without thinking ― concentrating his power at a single point, aiming at one of the few weak points of the Demon beast known as a fortress, which were its eyes.
Guyale not only moved at a speed beyond normal machines, but it was accurate and precise.
Before Guyale's blade reached the Behemoth, it noticed the red figure ― because of that, it turned its head on reflex. The distance was too close to avoid, Guyale's sword accurately caught up with the eyeball on the Behemoth's head as it turned. The sword looks as if it was drawn in, stabbing at the eyeball and colliding with the shell.
This was a pure coincidence.
The shell that should be protecting the Behemoth's eyes had a slit. That was a crack a certain Knight inflicted at the cost of his life, half a month ago.
If the Behemoth didn't move and took the hit, this blow would probably be deflected by the shell covering it. But because it turned its head, the sword coincidentally pierced it from the gap.
Guyale used double the speed of a Silhouette Knight and attacked with a stab that focused its entire metallic body weight. The sword screeches and sparks flew because of the friction, as it penetrates the pupil of the giant beast. Eru thought his concentrated fatal attack will continue until it reached the hilt, but it snapped in two loudly and shattered.
The surprise attack took out that eye, but it didn't reach the skull. The sword can't withstand the impact of their collision and fractures.
Eru lets go of the sword when he realised that it broke, and leapt into the air to avoid hitting the Behemoth head on. Guyale slips pass the Behemoth's charge with its massive body, spinning in mid air, followed by two back somersaults as it lands, pulling away from the Behemoth before stopping.
The Behemoth let out an angry howl that was never heard before. Blood sprays out profusely from its left eye socket, something it has never experienced permeate its body. The defense of the Behemoth is top class among Demon beast, and doesn't suffer injuries even when attacked. The pain of its eye being pierced and losing half its vision is a setback it has seldom experienced.
The Behemoth's remaining right eye is bloodshot as it searches for the accursed enemy that took its left eye. It lost interest in everything else; the only thing that matters is the red figure he last saw with its left eye.
The high school Knight runners forgot that they were still one a battlefield as they stared at the scene before them, dumbfounded. They couldn’t keep up with the development. They thought Guyale abandoned them, but it was back with amazing speed, and broke through the invulnerable shell of the Behemoth and blinded it.
The giant beast before them was howling furiously as it took aim at the red machine. It was only concerned about Guyale, ignoring Edgar and the others.
Edgar rush to the downed robot while the Behemoth was distracted. The exhausted Trandorches was damaged and couldn’t walk properly. But Edgar was relieved that Helvi was still alive.
Edgar felt a tremour and took a stance with Earlecumber. He then realised that the Behemoth was charging at Guyale with an angry howl. The one eye Behemoth was even swifter than before, but Guyale was more agile. Edgar questioned what he saw, the Guyale he knew had never displayed such a performance before.
He even doubts whether Dietrich was piloting it. But he didn’t have the time to worry about that. If Guyale can dodge the Behemoth's fierce attacks, then that means Edgar has time to rescue his wounded comrades.
Sorry Di, please hold him off for a while longer...!
They turned their back to the scarlet robot dancing with the giant beast, leaning on each other as they escaped.
Edgar didn't know that Ernesti was piloting Guyale or what his situation was like. Inside Guyale, Eru was gleefully staring at the holo monitor that was displaying the approaching colossal body.
"So this is a Behemoth, a Demon beast and battle. This is... using a Silhouette Knight! To battle!"
A ferocious smile appeared on his face.
His surprise attack yielded results beyond his expectations. But the wounded and bloodied giant beast harbors even stronger killing intent and charge at Eru. With majesty comparable to mountains, it closes in with murderous intent and power that twists the scenery. Even though the scene before him was enough to scare off veteran Knights, Eru only felt intense joy.
"Come at me, come at me, come on, come on!"
―Piloting robots and fighting massive enemies.
It was the dream of every robot nerd. Was there anyone who didn’t wish for this? He had no intention of backing down, to move away from his happiness. Driven by the elation of his body, his chosen action was―
"Come on, I'm going ahead!"
Guyale bends slightly and ran at the Behemoth while kicking up earth with each step.
To close the gap in an instant. The moment before impact, Guyale disappeared from the Behemoth's vision. The Behemoth, who lost an eye didn't notice, charging at Guyale's previous position. Guyale jumped a second before they collided, kicked off the Behemoth's uneven armoured shell and jumped over it. For the blinded Behemoth, with its limited field of vision, catching Guyale was mission impossible. Eru somersault in mid air deftly as he thinks.
"Ah, ah, ah, amazing! A shell with no gaps or weak points, invincible armour! It is too tough, even slashing at it with a running start won't help, magic attacks are useless, too. Alright, just use one of the cliché moves in destroying massive weapons!"
Eru mumbles nonsensically with heightened emotions, bending his knees smoothly to lessen the impact upon landing and drew Guyale's spare sword.
"The weak point of massive guys is usually the legs and joints. Let's start there!"
Guyale uses his running momentum and stabs with terrifying accuracy at the back of the kneecaps, aiming for the gaps between the shells. This attack hit the muscles behind the shell, but it felt tougher than he imagined. Eru noticed it and pulled out the sword, retreating from the Behemoth.
"Hmm ― it didn't go in! Other than the shell, is the rest of the body this tough too?"
Eru didn't expect the Behemoth's physical boost to raise the endurance of its internal tissues. To support its massive weight, the Behemoth must focus on strengthening its four limbs, which was obvious and a nightmare for its foe.
The Behemoth was agitated by the injury to its hind leg and turned around. Even a slight graze from the limbs of the turning Behemoth will be enough to destroy Guyale. Eru pulls further back and runs out of the Behemoth's sight again as he reviews his previous attack.
"I didn't harm the joints just now, but it is more effective than hacking at the shell."
Hehe ― Eru is wearing a happy, cute smile for some reason. He still stands a chance, but the execution is difficult, and needs tenacity and patience.
"Seems like this will be a long fight... Eh, I'm fine with that, I don't really hate that."
Eru is smiling casually in the face of the raging beast and advances with the red robot. The battle is just beginning.
'He' finally wakes.
He sees a dark space in front. As his dull conscious clears, he feels pain from his uncomfortable body posture.
"Uguu... here... here is..."
He tries to resume a normal position in the cramped space and groans, but a special pressure pins him to the wall in front.
He let out a muffled scream, the pressure clears his mind. What he felt was inertia ― A familiar sensation for all Knight runners. But the inertia he felt was stronger than he remembered. This must be the pilot seat of the Silhouette Knight. When he thought about this ― Dietrich Cunitz recalls the last image from his memory. That's right, a short junior appear before him, and―
He hastily assumes a normal position and lifts his head from the back of the seat. The first thing he saw was the looming Behemoth that filled the entire holo monitor.
You can't blame him for screaming like a headless chicken. He saw the close up of the ferocious beast straight after waking up. The sudden scream surprised Ernesti and he almost lost control.
"Oh no! Ha!"
After he recovered from tripping, Guyale slides to the left of the charging Behemoth, evading it safely. Eru pulled away from the Behemoth and glanced behind hime before the Behemoth gets ready to charge.
"Eh ― good morning senpai. We are in a life and death situation, so please keep quiet."
Dietrich’s jaws drop after listening to his calm tone that contradicts its contents. The words sound logical, but he couldn’t understand why he was back here when he should have ran far away, his head is full of questions.
"You... you! Are... you insane!? No, before that, why are you fighting!?"
He had loads of questions to ask, but has to shut his mouth as Guyale starts to run.
The Behemoth's furious face fills the whole holo monitor. The giant beast is emitting a much more murderous air compared to his prior escape. This was beyond the extent of chasing obstacles away, but raging killing intent. Guyale is moving at a speed that was faster than anything the Knight runner Dietrich has experienced, dodging the massive beast's attack by a hair's breadth. After seeing several scenes of imminent death, Dietrich didn't care about appearance and was on the verge of tears. He suppressed his voice and gritted his teeth, enduring it with a pitiful face. He knows if he said anything that distracts Eru, Guyale might really be done in.
What... is this!? What's happening!? Is this my punishment for running off alone?
Although he didn't know, the other machines are either destroyed or had fallen back, there is only Guyale battling alone here. It is ironic that the situation is the opposite of what happened when he fled. If Eru, who is piloting the machine, fights on, Dietrich couldn’t escape again.
Seems like I am fated to stay here... Why did he bring me along? He wants me to see the fight until the very end? He wants the man... who abandoned his comrades to watch?
Eru couldn’t leave him behind even if he wanted to ― Dietrich won't be able to guess the truth. The titanic beast didn't care about Dietrich's feeling and the battle between the two rages on.
The Behemoth used its devastating strength to shatters the earth, its Tornado Breath uproots the trees. A glancing blow from these will be enough to kill, but Guyale that is piloted by the petite youth is evading them happily and is even counter attacking the limbs of the beast.
Dietrich lost his cool when he woke up, but has gathered himself now and was perplexed by another issue. Unbelievably, the young pilot is a match for the giant beast, although he is on the defensive. Because Dietrich was the pilot of Guyale, he understands how amazing this is. The performance of this machine is average, the training robots at Laihiala Pilot Academy are second rate equipment anyway. This was clear since the other Silhouette Knights piloted by high schoolers can't match the beast.
The problem lies with this pilot. Dietrich also knows this short first year that shows up at pilot school occasionally. He would never have believed this small youth had such outstanding piloting skills. But since he is taking the beast on right now, Dietrich have to give in.
Too amazing, no, that is an inadequate description. This is 'strange'... But if I... If we want to survive, I have let him fight...!
Dietrich fell into the chasm of despair once, but he saw hope in the scene before him. A sense of longing grows in the feeble youth who lost to himself.
In Dietrich's eyes, Guyale and Eru are fighting a steady battle. But in reality, they are not doing that well. There are two big and pressing issues.
First is the mana pool of Guyale. The maximum time a Silhouette Knight can fight at full strength is one hour under normal conditions. Anymore than that and the mana supply will not be able to keep up with the usage rate, leading to diminished performance. It has been two hours since Guyale started the battle... This means that it has kept up peak performance for double its time limit.
This was thanks to Eru's delicate control and his grasp of the operating system. The optimisation of the script lowers the mana consumption rate, limiting the usage of mana in tissues not in operation to conserve energy. Also, he is not running Guyale at full power all the time, and this includes breaks for Guyale to 'breath' and restore mana. His actions looked intense at first sight, but he has been secretly minimising its consumption rate once he decided to fight a long battle.
But that was still not enough; he has exhausted half his mana reserve. If this goes on, he can optimistically hang on for about two more hours.
Next will be the weapon's wear and tear.
After attacking the Behemoth repeatedly for two hours, Guyale's blade is twisted and is full of cracks, making the attacks that causes minimal damage even less effective. There is also the magic armament, but Guyale's 'Chasm' <kanji: wind blade> is not suitable for pin point attacks.
Eru considered programming an overed spell, but doing that while controlling the Silhouette Knight is too great of a burden, especially if it is a tactical level magic. He gave up on that but his morale is still high, although lacking the means of attack made him feel helpless.
If I knew this would happen, I would have armed myself with several swords like a porcupine.
Even though he was upset, Eru persist with his battle tactics. Or rather, he couldn’t change it. Guyale relies mainly on evasive manoeuvres while looking for a chance to win.
As the battle continued, even Dietrich noticed the frequency of counters was dropping. If they just want to survive, dodging will be fine, but they will lose in terms of endurance. If they plan to escape, they had to use this chance to attack the giant beast's legs and lower its mobility. And attacking is a possibility with Eru's piloting skills. But Eru has let a number of opportunities go.
Why are you not countering...! If you keep running like this, our chances of escaping will fall!
Dietrich anxiety rises as he can only watch. As a Knight runner, Dietrich knows Silhouette Knights can't fight for long. He chose a time when Eru has evaded an attack and asked:
"Hey... Hey, Ernesti, you have not been countering for a while, what's wrong!?"
Eru was slightly surprised when the Dietrich, who has been quiet, suddenly spoke. But Eru explained the situation.
"The Behemoth is too hard, the sword is tattered. The attacks are not damaging it."
Dietrich stole a glance at the sword through the holo monitor; the blade was twisted badly and was totally blunt. Dietrich moans.
Need to think... find a weapon... we made it so far, we can't die now!
He searched frantically from the scene displayed on the holo monitor for something that can be used as a weapon. Ernesti is piloting Guyale, but there are things Dietrich can do as well. Dietrich is finally back on the battlefield by his own will, his mentality has changed drastically without him noticing, and his participation yielded great results. Eru was also scanning the surroundings as he fights, but he has to dodge the Behemoth's charges, so he can't focus too much on their surroundings. That's why Dietrich was the one who noticed 'that'. He shouted loudly when he discovered it:
"Beside the fallen Silhouette Knight! Take its weapon!"
Eru took just a second to look at the spot Dietrich pointed at and saw a Silhouette Knight that had broken down. Eru comprehends Dietrich's intention, accelerating after evading the Behemoth with a low posture almost hugging the ground. Eru charged forward and picked up a sword from the fallen robot. Since the high school pilots mainly used Silhouette Arms to attack, there was almost no damage on the sword. An invincible smile returns to Eru's face.
"Thank you, senpai. I have been troubled because of my weapons."
"No... No need for thanks, just carry on fighting the Behemoth!"
Eru faced the Behemoth immediately and reevaluate its status. Its legs are bleeding after numerous slashes, meaning the damage it took was not trivial.
"Okay, mana pool is less than 50%. If I don't take down a leg, it will probably catch up if we escape."
Guyale raise its new sword and began its counterattack. The Behemoth was massive, but it was bad with intrinsic movements, so its natural enemy is Guyale which uses speed and precision as its weapons.
The Behemoth used its endless stamina to rampage. Although it has been attacking nonstop, it has yet to land a single hit. Guyale on the other hand is dealing damage consistently to the giant beast. The wounds on the Behemoth's leg is significant. Dripping water can hollow a stone. With its eyes and limbs bleeding, even the fortress Demon beast Behemoth was slowing down.
Dietrich was the one to notice again.
Eru heard a shout from behind and scanned their surroundings quickly, and saw many Silhouette Knights. He won't miss that even if it is just a glance. These are 'Karrdators' that are synonymous to Silhouette Knights in Fremmevira Kingdom. They are spread out, surrounding Guyale and the Behemoth in layers. After seeing their machine model and the flying flags, they understood their identity.
"Karrdator!? Ah, ahhh... that flag... It’s Jantunen garrison Knights! Reinforcements are here to rescue us!"
They are here... sooner than I expected, I thought it will take a bit longer before I can escape and rendezvous with everyone.
Eru quickly thought about his next course of action. Guyale can still fight, but the mana pool was below 30%, it is at a critical juncture. Since the Calvary is here, there was no point in buying time, and let the Knights take over and retreat. The firepower of Guyale alone is not enough, the forces here should do. He was just stalling for time when facing the giant beast just now, but the time to 'defeat' it has arrived.
The gargantuan beast is not concerned with the situation around it, and continued to stubbornly chased Guyale. Eru dodges easily, luring the Behemoth to turn its back to the Knights. He then slipped past the left side of the Behemoth where it is blinded and dashed towards the formation of the Knights. The band of Knights probably understood Guyale's intentions and aimed with their Silhouette Arms.
The giant beast only had an eye for the detestable red figure, and was finally being led to the stage of the final battle.
A short time before the Knights arrived at the battlefield.
Several Silhouette Knights travelled deftly in the forest, instead of the stone pavement of Fremmevira's Highway. They are the scouts of the Jantunen garrison Knights, their mission is to reconnaissance the status of the Behemoth before the main party arrives.
After bashing into the forest from the highway, they found the density of the forest to be very high. Compared to using carriages and traveling by the highway, the team travels much faster by cutting through the forest. The Behemoth is much closer to the highway than the position reported by the students, so the scouts completed their mission and reported back in no time.
"Is that so? That is right ahead of us... the Behemoth not taking the highway is a silver lining."
Philip Hallhagen comments, after listening to the scout’s report. He was prepared to fight the Behemoth on the highway if the situation calls for it, but that wasn't necessary. But his face turns stiff as he listened to the next report.
"We have linked up with three of the training robots, there is still one more engaged in battle..."
The high schooler's Silhouette Knights retreated from battle because of Guyale's intrusion made it to the highway, and was being protected by the garrison Knights. Trandorches and another machine were critically damaged, and were sent to the maintenance crew at the back for major overhaul. The remaining Earlecumber suffers minor damage and joined the fighting ranks after receiving simple repairs.
The robot still in battle was Guyale. When the scouts saw the scarlet Knight, it was attacking with a fearsome might. The scouts did not know how to report this, so they just gave the position of the beast and the fact that a machine was engaging it.
Philip and Gottfried plans the operation based on the gathered intelligence and relays the orders to all units. Their plan was as follows: They will spread out by squad level (9 machines) around the target in a semicircle. From the intelligence of the students who fought it, it is judged that close quarter combat with the giant beast is very dangerous, so they will be using Silhouette Arms and attacking in waves from a distance to damage the Behemoth.
They have also drawn up contingencies for the Behemoth's charging and Tornado Breaths. They are expecting casualties, so the worse scenario will be the targeted squad will act as bait and stop the Behemoth's movement, while the others move in for the kill. The Knights move into the forest with the resolve to risk death in battle.
The howl of the mammoth beast makes the forest tremble.
As the Knights move into position, the beast keeps turning in circles at the same spot, rampaging painfully. The Knights were confused by this and were dumbfounded when they saw the reason. They saw a red Silhouette Knight moving at incredible speeds as the giant beast chased it with blood gushing out of an eye and howls of rage.
"What, what is that..."
The beast can shatter the Silhouette Knight with one blow, but the scarlet machine was using its superior speed to toy with it. Even the commander with his elite skills doubted whether he can match that speed. Everyone was impressed and sighs at this display. They understand that the giant beast is staying in place because it is persistently chasing the scarlet machine. It was too focused on the enemy before it and lost track of its surroundings.
This is a great chance for the Knights.
Suddenly, the red robot notices the Knights and stops. In the next instance, it lures the Behemoth to turn its back to the Knights and slips past the flank of the beast towards the Knights. Philip grasped its intention and commands his entire force:
"Scarlet Knight... Thank you! Don't let this chance slip away! Everyone, ready your Culverin <TL: kanji is Spear of flame>!"
Receiving the command from Philip who lifted his sword, the Karrdators readies its magic armament 'Culverin'. Their objective is to attack in unison with magic, using their numbers to overwhelm the enemy.
The red machine did not slow down, slipping to the back of the formation. Philip swings his sword down as it pass through the last of their ranks.
"All units, fire!"
The Knights anticipated this signal and shot out flames on cue at the Behemoth with their culverins. The high pitched sound reverberated as fire trails flashed through the sky towards the centre of the semi-circle, raining down on the mountain sized monster.
Countless Flaming Lance pierced the Behemoth, who was engrossed with the scarlet Knight. The overed spell Flaming Lance exploded in columns of flames like a lotus within the forest. The tongues of flame engulfed the entire beast; the fire was so big that they couldn’t see what was happening. Even so, the Knights did not slow down their persistent attack.
Guyale who made it past the Knights stopped at the rear of the formation to rest his machine and recover its mana pool. The machine appears to be fatigued after making through a fierce battle; the ether reactor churns noisily as it runs at full speed.
"... That's great! Well done! How, how's that? Damn Demon beast, this is the power of the garrison Knights! Hahaha!"
Eru frowns when he heard the maniacal laughter of Dietrich behind him. Eru didn't relax as he watched the hellish flame before him. The culverins kept up its attack and the scale of the fire was increasing gradually, determined to burn everything inside it. Even the Behemoth, who took pride in its defenses won't be able to escape unscathed from this attack.
But it is not an opponent that can be dealt with so simply...
It was impossible for the situation to go as Eru hoped and the space that is burning is changing. The fire that is burning fiercely is swirling in the form of a whirlpool. No, it was not just the flame that are swirling, but the air current around it was sucking the flames in, turning it into a tornado of fire. The Knights sensed that something was wrong and adopted a defensive stance, but kept up their attack.
The tornado flame finally evolved. The next second, it turns into a slithering burning snake and whips at the Knights.
"What, what is that!"
The burning snake spits at the Knights as it struggles, the flame that was shot out by the Knights was dispersed into the surroundings. Fortunately, the Knights kept their distance when they attacked, so the Tornado Breath was not fatal. Although they knew about the existence of the Tornado Breath, they didn't expect the Behemoth to use it inside that fiery pit, stunning the Knight and disrupting their formation.
With the formation falling apart, the attack from the culverins slowed down. The Behemoth realised this and kicked at the remaining fire and leap out of the fire pit. After its shell was baked in hellish flames that can melt steel, it is burning hot and several wounds can be seen on the giant beast. The injuries on its limb sustained from Guyale's slashes are burnt badly after the baptism by fire. On the whole, the colossal beast suffered serious damage.
The movement of the Behemoth has also slowed significantly, but it is still known as an extraordinarily tough beast with absurd endurance. The charge of the beast was enough to make the Knights who are reforming scatter. The Behemoth's massive body is in the middle of the reforming group. The movement of the Knights are slow because they are in the midst of forming ranks, making things worse. A number of machines was knocked away during the giant beast's advance, the robots that fell down were mercilessly trampled into lumps of metal.
Some of them tried to engage the Behemoth. The shell that was weakened by the heat can be sliced by the sword, but the blade twist and shatters before it reaches the interior. Even wounded, the close quarters battle between the beast and the Silhouette Knights are hopelessly one sided, a squad of Knights are forced into a corner.
Although the Knights are prepared to sacrifice their lives, they are unable to attack in a position that will hit their allies. The occasional magic attack stops and their 'ace' showed itself.
"Squad two, four and eight, ready the 'hammer'!"
Phillips in his command machine 'Sordwort' swings his sword; his instruction gives a sense of purpose to the battle. The Knights were prepared to die in this battle, and with the battle turning into a melee fight, they restrains the beast's movement and showed their ace in the hole.
The Silhouette Knights carrying a massive weapon and starts running to either flanks of the Behemoth. They are moving the 'Hard Crust Bunker' that requires four Silhouette Knights to use ― simply put, it is just a giant lump of steel in the shape of a stake.
As shown from its name, the Battering Ram that requires four Silhouette Knights to move can easily destroy a siege wall, the ace they prepared for the Demon beast with the reputation of a fortress.
The Battering Ram is a powerful weapon, but it has the weakness of being 'slow and heavy'. It is a type of weapon that changes mass into destructive force, so it requires four Silhouette Knights to wield. It is also big in size, so it is a hassle to deploy or withdraw with it. To hit the Demon beast, they need to seal its movement. That is why the Knights are deploying their ace when the giant beast stopped its advance.
The problem with the Battering Ram has been briefed to all Knight units, including the squad that was engaging the Behemoth. They knew they couldn’t last for long but they refused to back down, facing the Behemoth to stop its movements.
The Karrdators that are charging with the Battering Ram can see this scene clearly. The Knight runners in their seats grip their control sticks so tightly that it creaks. They step on their pedals with all their might, wanting to crash into the Behemoth immediately. This is the battle where they are ready to sacrifice their lives. Even so, their wrath towards the enemy that massacred their allies burns on. The Battering Ram squad roars as they charge in respond to the sacrifices of their allies.
The air intake valve plays a high pitch screech, the Karrdator charge at their maximum speed. As they close in towards the beast, they are covered in the shadow of the mountain liked beast. The first Battering Ram reached the Behemoth's side. This was not a precision weapon, so they used their momentum to aim at the biggest target which is the flank and rams it in.
The weight that requires four Silhouette Knights to move has amazing destructive power. The shell being cooked in flames, causing it to soften might play a part. The Battering Ram pierced cleanly through the shell of the Behemoth into its stomach.
The stake seems to shake in that moment, the Behemoth's colossal body starts to move and it howls painfully, louder than when it lost its eye. Its howl to the sky makes the ground tremble and a massive amount of blood gushes out from its stomach wound.
"Great! The Hard Crust Bunker is effective! Use this chance to attack and kill it!"
Cheers erupt among the Knights. They know the Battering Ram is difficult to use, but its power can hurt a battalion level Demon beast. There are two more teams with Battering Rams and they are closing in on the giant beast. The beast is still writhing in pain, not noticing their advance. The two teams are aiming for the head and the other flank respectively. If they hit these two places, it will be fatal even for a fortress Demon beast. Most of the Knights are convinced of their victory. The Battering Ram team that is shouldering the entire army's hope is right before its target.
The moaning and dazed Behemoth suddenly looks downwards. All the Knights and Eru didn't know what this means and was perplexed. The team that is charging with the Battering Ram didn't notice―
The Behemoth shoots a Tornado Breath at the ground. The fierce wind this close to the ground digs up the earth and the flying debris in this confined space explodes. The Battering Ram team was unable to evade this; the team aiming for the head was hit by flying boulders and smashed into smithereens.
Amazingly, the Behemoth uses its stomach to withstand the explosion and the impact of the tornado and 'stood up' with this momentum. All the Knights that were maintaining the encirclement of the Behemoth stared at the images on their holo monitor in awe. The eighty metre long Behemoth had incredible weight, and its foreleg is completely off the ground as it stands. This bizarre situation made everyone's reaction slower by a beat.
"Oh no! Danger, get away!"
The team aiming for the stomach knew something was awry before Philip shouted and attempts to dodge. But they are carrying the heavy Battering Ram with them and had been charging at full speed. Even if they wanted to retreat, they couldn’t stop their accelerating machine in time.
The Behemoth's massive body fell with the pull of gravity right on top of them. The destructive force of the gargantuan Demon beast's weight was beyond that of the Battering Ram. It caused a small earthquake when it landed, shattering the ground and shooting debris like a shotgun to the surroundings. The dust flew sky high, covering the beast's entire body.
The Battering Ram team that didn't get away in time was decimated, the Ram was flattened and the Silhouette Knights were beyond recognition.
This attack was too rash, and the Behemoth that used it was hurt too. More blood flows out from its gaping wounds, and several cracks appears on its shell. It was not obvious, but the attack that penetrates its physical boast injured some of its internal organs, the Behemoth was also desperate.
But the Knight’s casualties were more severe. Including the squad that was attacked in the beginning, they had lost 40% of their forces and the flying boulders caused medium damage of another 20%. And losing their ace seriously hurt the Knights’ morale. The attack they placed their hopes on was negated, this impact their psyche deeply. Anxiety higher than before seizes the Knights.
The culverin held by the Karrdator are shaking, the movement of the Knight runners were unconsciously transmitted to the machine. Not only the giant beast's power, but even its existence brings pressure that corrodes their heart.
Guyale watches the string of attacks from the rear of the Knights, Dietrich was trembling inside the machine. Even the special attack that sacrifices part of the Knights was negated in front of the beast's strength; can they really take it down? The generous amount of fighting spirit in his heart recedes instantly. The damage to the Behemoth is significant, but seeing the power he had absolute faith in failing, shook his heart. Dietrich couldn’t make collected judgment. The thing that returns Dietrich back to normal is the angry growl from the seat in front of him.
Dietrich could only see the silver hair of Ernesti sitting in the seat, but he can understand the abnormal atmosphere emitting from Eru's body.
"You dare destroy robots before my eyes!"
"The only thing that is permitted to destroy robots... is other robots..."
Eru mumbles reasons unfathomable to Dietrich as he stands Guyale up. Although he has a faint smile, his blue eyes differed from its usual shine, burning like a devil. As if it is channeling Eru's wrath, Guyale's air intake valve screeches louder, the mana flows through all the crystal tissue in the body, the body encased in armor is full of power.
Mana pool is over 50%, the sword in its hand is serviceable and the machine is undamaged.
The scarlet Knight took a step forward, Eru who has become a vengeful spirit returns to battle. The red Silhouette Knight charges at the giant beast, the cry of despair from Eru's passenger can be heard along the way.
The Land Emperor emerged slowly from the thick dust. Despite its body being covered in wounds, it can still move, displaying its amazing endurance. Battalion level-Demon beasts are truly impressive.
On close observation, it is on its last legs. But the Knights with their devastated morale lost their will to fight when they see the Behemoth is still moving. They shoot their culverin in response, but their scattered efforts are ineffective. It can't even break through the weakened shell. The encirclement of the Knights that was sealing the Behemoth's movement also fell apart.
Commander Philip felt a strong sense of danger from the sight before him. He has issued numerous orders, but it is not easy to build up lost morale and he is growing anxious. Suddenly, a scarlet wind pierced through the loose encirclement.
The red Silhouette Knight was prominent among the earth colored Karrdators. It made a beeline for the Behemoth before anyone could react.
"This is impossible! We are doomed; it can't be done, the Knights are here, there is no escape, ahhhhh!?"
Eru, who is piloting Guyale didn't even look at the Knights and Dietrich's nonsensical scream didn't reach their ears. Eru's deep blue eyes locked onto the Behemoth.
Leaving the Knights out of his mind, Eru closes in on the Behemoth. Even though the Behemoth was heavily wounded, it howled when the red figure in its memory appeared. It ignores the gushing blood and tattered shell and moves its limbs.
The gap between them disappears.
The speedier Guyale has the advantage. With suffering many cracks and fractures from the previous fight, the Behemoth's defense is full of holes. The scarlet machine turns into a whirlwind, slashing repeatedly at the Behemoth with its speed. The sword cuts accurately through a fissure, causing sparks and screeching noise as the shell cracks and fell to the ground.
"Sword attacks are effective! This mean the enemy is at its limit!"
Guyale glides around and slashes, turns back and pounces at the Behemoth again, turning his evasive tactics to offense. These two have traded their position.
The Knights were shocked by the scene before them. In their eyes, Guyale is a machine piloted by a Laihiala Pilot Academy student. A student younger than the Knights is standing up to the giant beast without fear and attacking it. At a glance, it seems like foolish bravery, but this is why it has a motivational effect that fires up the hearts of the Knights.
"All units, assume encircle formation! Form new ranks! Renew the attack!"
The Knights felt shamed from losing heart before the Demon beast's might and move with renewed conviction. The units with restored morale formed up quickly and encircled the Behemoth. Each squad took note of the scarlet machine's position and started magic attack support, restraining the Behemoth's movement and damaging it.
The sword of the scarlet Knight peeled off the shell of the beast, the culverin pierced the Behemoth's legs. The attack of the giant beast is sealed and it becomes a static target board.
The table has been turned and the Behemoth was on the verge of defeat. This bolsters the morale of the Knights and Guyale moves freely. The colossal beast finally reached its limit, its shell is dropping off from the damages and its blood turns the ground into marsh. Anyone can tell the beast has lost its ability to resist.
But something unexpected happened.
A sudden pressure assaults Eru and Dietrich out of nowhere. As Guyale was turning its body to evade, the strength in one leg disappears and it leans heavily to one side. A strong force pushes the scarlet Knight to the ground and Guyale's red armor was twisted and peels off, scattering in mid air.
Eru continued to control Guyale in a panic, rolling backwards and kicking off the ground with all its might. Guyale finally steadies its posture with one knee on the ground.
"The Behemoth didn't hit us, so why are we hurt..."
Eru shift the machine's head to scan the status of the legs, finding the joints stiff and sees shards of crystal tissue falling out from the gaps in the armour.
Eru finally understood the situation after seeing this, this was not caused by attacks. Eru made intrinsic control possible with his full control piloting. But his high output demands made Guyale break under the heavy burden.
This long battle has also exceeded the operation time of a normal Silhouette Knight, which adds to the stress, damaging the legs which took the brunt of the burden. Living beings will be alerted through pain stimulus. But Silhouette Knights are robots without the function of reporting feedback of abnormalities. You will only know when it exceeds the limit and suffers damage.
Eru frowns deeply. Guyale holds the advantage because of its excellent mobility. But it can't fight on with its legs busted. Eru can only abandon the machine and run for it.
There is not much time left for him to worry about this. The Behemoth is rushing at the hated red machine as usual.
The culverins fired by the Knights rain down on that Behemoth as they try to save the scarlet machine that suddenly kneeled down, but it didn't stop the giant beast. The Behemoth's remaining right eye is bloodshot and full of hatred, an angry howl came from its mouth. The shattered shell and flowing blood didn't even faze it, the Demon beast charged with the conviction to decimate everything. Its speed was much slower, but it is a death sentence for the immobile Guyale.
To break down with this timing... It's a pity, but I have to escape.
With his capabilities, Eru can get out of the giant beast's range once he abandons the machine.
That's right, if... it is just me.
Eru can do it, but Dietrich behind him can't. Eru releases the harness and stares at the Behemoth on the holo monitor. There is no time left, the charge will shatter Guyale. Eru's thinking speed reached its peak.
It is not good for my conscience to leave senpai here... But it is not easy to survive this.
He desperately went through all sorts of possibilities. What Ernesti can do, what Dietrich can do and what Guyale can do.
... There is a way, but it is a gamble. There is only one chance; the chips are our lives... But to die with a robot is an acceptable way to go out with a bang.
That's the best a robot nerd can hope for. Eru has no hesitation in choosing this insane option. To risk his life and fight the giant beast.
"Senpai, can you hear me?"
Eru's calmness doesn't match the situation before them. Will Dietrich sitting at the back listen? He is already in despair over their fate, mumbling as he pants. He is not acting normal.
"If you hear me, please switch with me and take over the controls."
Eru tone is the same, but the strange aura in his voice made Dietrich tremble in fear.
Eru ignores him, pulling Winchester and the silver nerves to the front, almost hitting the holo monitor. Leaving the empty seat.
"It's hopeless! What can I do by piloting..."
"It doesn't matter. Sit on the chair now if you want to live."
Dietrich reacts to the words 'if you want to live'. He is on the verge of breaking down, but he still slides into the seat.
"Shit... Shit! What are we doing! What can we do!?"
"I will only say this once, so listen carefully. First..."
Part of the silver nerve was pulled along with the Winchester, but several of them are still connected to the control stick. It can still be operated normally. Once he confirms Dietrich is holding the control stick, Eru release his control from the magius engine's domain.
The Behemoth is right in front of them. It is critically wounded with nowhere to run, but its massive body is still imposing, filling their entire field of vision. Eru takes a deep breath and stares at the figure in the holo monitor and concentrates.
He push his unique skill 'the processing speed that can fully control a Silhouette Knight' to the limit and programs a large scale script. It's an overed spell in scale, similar to those used by Silhouette Knights but larger.
He has a bigger mana pool than others as he has trained nonstop since childhood. But that is the standard for humans, and not enough to execute tactical level spells. Even if he can process and construct the script, he can't use tactical level magic. But he is sitting on a large supply of mana right now. That's right, the mana from Guyale.
Silhouette Knights can't construct magic alone. Eru didn't have the mana for tactical level spells. But they can cover each other’s weakness and Eru is executing this never seen before plan.
Dietrich screams without realising. Fear made him stiff, but Dietrich believes the young boy before him and acts.
Eru focuses on the processing, creating a large and powerful spell to his limit.
The Behemoth's head is like a protruding boulder, closing in on Guyale to smash it. Their distance is close enough to make out the details on the Behemoth's skin.
Everything that follows happens in an instant.
Guyale extends its arms as if to hug Behemoth and creates an air bullet but did not fire it out, constructing an air bag. Eru uses the magic he conjured to decelerate when moving at high speed, 'air suspension' and enlarged it to the tactical level.
The air cushion he made collides with the impact of the Demon beast's charge. The compressed air was squeezed even tighter from the collision. A force that is still tremendous after hitting the air bag pushes at Guyale. The pressure deforms the armour and blows away the crystal shards.
"Now! Jump back―!"
Eru opens his eyes and shouts. He heard a reaction from Dietrich. Dietrich didn't think about the content of the instructions and reacted on reflex ― extending his legs and pushing down hard on the pedal. Guyale's leg is broken and can't walk, but the crystal tissues that are still working executes the command faithfully and expends all its energy.
The Behemoth has broken through the air cushion and is about to pierce the scarlet Knight ― Guyale leaps back recklessly at this moment. The crystal tissues in the legs snap completely, but it has completed its task.
"It's not over! Hang on! Hard skin!"
Eru's operation is not over, he casted an armour hardening spell on Guyale's front armour. At this moment, the Behemoth's head touches Guyale and the hit lands.
Weakening the impact with air cushion, minimising the force by jumping back and defending with hardening magic. Even with this, it didn't negate the force of the blow as the armour dents and the pieces surrounding it breaks and flies off. The holo monitor in front of the pilot seat shatters, making Eru gasp.
"It is not enough after doing all this...!"
All his effort was negated, making him think about giving up. But a small blessing aided him ― The training machine used by the Laihiala Pilot Academy places its priority on pilot safety, so the torso armor is made thicker. The front armor reinforced by Eru's magic stays true to this priority, denting heavily but still was able to withstand the Behemoth's strike, protecting its passengers completely.
Anyone would think the red machine was lost, but Guyale looks like it is hugging the head of the Behemoth, still retaining its humanoid shape. The Behemoth was baffled by the Knight that didn't fall apart from its charge. The attack still carries on, the Behemoth advances and pushes Guyale along.
"... If we make it through."
The time to strike back is here.
Eru grabs the control stick and move Guyale's body. He only moves the robot's right wrist and lifts it up and punches at the Behemoth's head. No matter how weak the shell is, the body of the giant beast will not be damaged by bare hands. But the arm is not aiming for the shell, but the left eye socket.
The broken half of a sword is stuck in there. Eru grabs the broken sword and activated all the remaining mana in Guyale's crystal tissue. He overrides all safety limiters, emptying all mana reserves, using all his processing power to construct the largest spell.
After uttering this phrase softly, the largest scale lightning the world has ever seen channels through Guyale's arm into the broken sword, striking the Behemoth's head directly.
The Behemoth is a living being and has a brain in its head. The lightning through the eye socket is conducted through the optical nerves and the blood vessels, hitting the brain directly. The large current ravaged the brain of the Behemoth, frying the interior components. Even the giant beast couldn’t take it when its brain, which is the control hub of living things burn.
The Land Emperor finally took its last breath.
The electric current continues to burn the nerves, making the Behemoth spasm and jerk. That flings off Guyale that was hugging the head onto the ground. Guyale has exhausted its mana pool, so it can't even harden its structure, breaking into pieces upon impact with the ground.
― The giant beast collapsed to the ground slowly.
Death comes to the powerful beast that rampaged. The ending was brutal and sudden, everyone was silent. When they comprehended that the Demon beast will not move again, joy spreads among the Knights in waves. It didn't take long for them to cheer in victory.
"... It was dangerous till the very end, any mistake and we would have turned into minced meat."
The decimated Guyale was in a pitiful state. The limbs had fallen off; the inner skeleton was breaking apart with the connection magic gone. Every piece of the armour was battered and there were only bits of red paint left. The pilot seat was also shaken up, but Eru casted air suspension with his own mana to absorb the impact safely. Dietrich was almost crushed to death from the pilot seat's inertia, but that was better than becoming minced meat for real.
Although this was a plan that might kill them along with the Behemoth, Eru was relieved to have survived. He let out a long sigh and showed a gloomy expression.
"...Ahhh... in pieces... Guyale is in pieces..."
Eru ignores the unconscious Dietrich whose pupil had turned up and shakes his head, worrying about the wrong priorities.
"Ahh, I can't stay depressed. Guyale, I will fix you, please wait for me!"