Editor: alkinThe sound of timbre cracking can be heard repeatedly. The source is the mountain of mass― the carcass of the Land Emperor.
When the Behemoth died, the mana supply powering the physical boost magic stopped. The massive body over eighty metres in length couldn’t withstand its own weight and collapsed on itself. The shell armour that suffered countless cracks during the course of battle crumbles, the struts holding the body up crumbles one by one, the height falls slowly. The lower half of its body that supports the heavier weigh is in shambles.
The Jantunen garrison Knights cheers as the giant beast crumbles further, shooting their Silhouette Arms into the air with pride.
But the Knights suffered serious casualties. That's why the ones who survived have to sing their victory song loudly as a tribute to those who fell in battle.
Some distance from the Knights, three Silhouette Knights are advancing. Among the band of Karrdator Knights, these three has a different appearance and stands out from the crowd.
One is the command Silhouette Knight 'Sordwort' piloted by the commander Philip. Compared to the Karrdators that focus on practicality, it has a prominent regal appearance and is covered in plate armour.
Besides him is the vice commander's 'Cardiaria', a Karrdator that has been reinforced.
Behind them is the training machine from Laihiala Pilot Academy, 'Earlecumber'. Its appearance is crude, but it is covered in pure white armour, giving it a different aesthetic compared to Karrdator.
They walked pass the Behemoth that is still crumbling and approached their target. The closer they got, the clearer the pieces with red paint.
―Scattered around here were the remains of the Silhouette Knight Guyale.
The first thing Philip, who was leading the way saw was Guyale's right arm. Its skeletal structure was broken and it was bent out of shape. The trio glanced at it and continued without a word, finally reaching their main objective. The torso without its head and limbs, the armour was in shambles, the crystal tissue has been utterly destroyed. The armour protecting the chest cavity has caved in, the whole torso is misshapen. The strong frontal armour was a twisted lump, showing how strong the impact was.
I did think it will be like this... From the looks of things, the Knight runner inside... It's hopeless...
No one made a sound, thinking about the same thing. They had some hope, but if the impact shatters the torso, it is impossible for the pilot to survive.
Philip and Gottfried stares silently at the holo monitor. The scarlet Knight from Laihiala Pilot Academy fought the Behemoth to the last breath to protect its juniors. Compared to the Knights who were on the verge of collapse, it was on the very frontlines. It battled the giant beast like a burning torch of courage, taking down the Behemoth with its life. Philip wondered what the pilot was like. The pilot should be a student, but his future is immeasurable. He had the skills to take down a Behemoth, the virtuous attitudes to risk his life for others, and the indomitable spirit to overcome the odds. He possessed the three characteristics a Knight should have. Philip had not converse with him before, but Philip gives a silent prayer for the hero who sacrificed himself honourably.
Earlecumber moved ahead and kneels beside Guyale.
Earlecumber's front armour opens with the sound of compressed air jetting out. Edgar stands on the armour, silently looking at the remains for a while before saying
"Di... I am late, but I still want to apologise... back then, I thought you abandoned us and escaped."
Unlike his calm tone, Edgar's expression was twisted with regret.
"I lost all respect for you at that moment... But I empathise with you too. The scenario was too dire then, I told myself 'Di won't work with us in this situation'. But... You came back."
Edgar’s clenched fists are trembling.
"And, so... Sorry Dietrich. I don't know why you were hiding your real strength. Even so, you sacrificed yourself to save us..."
Edgar's monologue was interrupted by an explosion. Shortly after, Guyale's chest armour flew into the sky before him.
The chest armour flew and made an arc through the sky and rolls loudly when it lands.
The three robots followed the movement of the chest armour that blasted off, and looked back at the remains by their feet. A short figure climbs out from the cockpit as they watched in awe.
"The front armour couldn’t open because it was bent out of shape. That took some effort to get out... Eh? What's wrong everyone?"
Jantunen was under high alert because the deployment of the entire garrison Knights, but the gates are fully open to welcome the return of the Knights. The victorious garrison Knights returns in an orderly fashion, advancing slowly on the main street.
News of the Behemoth's invasion has spread throughout the whole kingdom with the deployment of the Knights. The citizens who were trembling from fear cheered with reckless abandon for those who had returned safely. Their excitement matches that of winning a war, and in reality, defeating a Behemoth successfully has more value than winning a war.
Something followed the advance of the parade and the crowd was silenced when it enters the gate. That was the head of the Demon beast which was much larger than a Silhouette Knight. A carriage ferries the intimidating head, even the citizens that didn't see it move knows it’s a threat. The silence spreads, and suddenly explodes in cheers twice as loud.
Everyone is singing the exploit of the Knights, deepening their respect for their guardian garrison Knights. Jantunen's parade reached its climax at this point.
Some distance away from the main street, a quiet cafe that is isolated from the bustle of the city. Most of the citizens were gathered around the main street, leaving the cafe empty. There are just a few youths patronising the shop, they are people related to this incident: Edgar, Stefania, Archid, Adeltrud and Ernesti.
"Really! You are too reckless..."
Edgar sighs and lowers the teacup in his hand. He is saying this on behalf of everyone present. He couldn’t help himself from commenting after hearing Eru casually describe his actions during the Land Emperor incident.
"This makes me sympathised with the 'victim' who was dragged in, Di..."
After hacking into the magius engine, Eru exerts full control over the machine and fought. Just listening to this is enough to make anyone with common sense faint after screaming. The more detailed Eru's explanation, the more troubled Edgar becomes. Stefania eyes widen and her surprise is evident. Chid and Ady are stunned, but accepts it since it is Eru. The twins looked at each other and said:
"See, he hijacked a Silhouette Knight as expected."
"You two, what do you mean by 'expected'? Although you are right."
Eru looks unhappy, but averts his eyes guiltily when the twins glares back.
Apart from Eru, Edgar is the only one with experience piloting Silhouette Knights. That's why he was shocked after listening to Eru, but was convinced. From what he remembered, Guyale's performance was not that outstanding. If Eru didn't hack in, it wouldn't have been that powerful. But even with the facts right before him, Edgar just shakes his head. He suddenly thought of something.
"Ernesti, if Di didn't run, what would you have planned to do?"
"Nothing. I just would have went with the flow back then, and would probably have boarded the carriage and escaped."
Edgar's face sours. What would have happened if Guyale didn't join the fray? Edgar won't be sitting here in that case, and the Knight's casualties would probably double. Not only that, the Behemoth might not be defeated. Without question, a medal of honour should be awarded to the petite youth in front of Edgar, but rewarding his outstanding performance was an issue because of Eru's position. Edgar bit his lip and goes into the main topic.
"We... the surviving high school pilots, will be going to Känkänen for an awards ceremony."
Edgar felt conflicted even though he was talking about such a glorious event.
"The Jantunen garrison Knights will send representatives as well, probably Sir Hallhagen and a few others. This involves a battalion-level Demon beast invasion, a story that is worthy to be spread within the nation, no, to all nations. They say there will be a grand ceremony."
"You are right, congratulations... but you seem unhappy about it."
"The existence of the scarlet Knight will be covered up for this incident... This means Ernesti's achievements will not be stated."
Stefania wears an apologetic expression and looks at the tea beside her hand. Chid and Ady understands the meaning of these words after a while and glares at Edgar. Only Eru seems unaffected and nods.
"I see. If I was a member of the Knights or an official high schooler, there wouldn't be any problems."
"Hey, things would have been serious if Eru wasn't there! Why can't he receive commendations?"
Chid stands up in protest. Stefania stops him with a look, sighs and explains:
"Calm down. If a normal Knight performs so outstandingly, they will be promoted or commended. For high schoolers, they will be enlisted as an official Knight... But we can't promote Eru that way."
"Why? Eru is obviously stronger than those run of the mill Knights!?"
"Being a Knight means he has to join a band of Knights. He can be a member with his exceptional power, but there are some who will be willing to work with a twelve year old. Working under an organisation means Eru can't be willful in his actions."
"We can work something out if he is an adult... If they pass over the Knights and grant honours to a twelve year old, the Knights will look bad. The honour of the Knights is the honor of the Kingdom, no one wants that to happen."
Eru tilts his head and ask with a smile:
"I understand. Senpai are here to convince me?"
The expression of Edgar and Stefania stiffens. Eru didn't say much about their expression and continues:
"Let's forget about this incident. I am satisfied with piloting an actual Silhouette Knight. Instead of asking shamelessly for rewards, doing nothing is much more relaxing. Besides, I was the one who butted in without permission. I don't want to be manipulated by others because of this incident."
Stefania nods her head in agreement.
"That won't happen, I guarantee in the name of the Serrati family."
"That's right, I will remind Sir Hallhagen."
Eru nods after receiving their promises. Unlike Eru, Chid and Ady are unable to accept this, asking with a moan:
"Eru, is this really okay?"
"Yah, Eru's dream is to be a Knight and pilot Silhouette Knights correct? Are you giving in now?"
"This is an exceptional case. I don't plan to demand for any rewards."
Seeing Eru consoling the unhappy twins, Edgar and Stefania breathe a sigh of relief. Guyale and the Behemoth were both destroyed in the battle, a testament to the desperate situation Eru was in. Not giving any reward to Eru doesn't sit well with them either. On the other hand, they understand the order of Knights won't be able to handle Eru's exceptional case well. They volunteered to convince Eru of the Knights' dilemma in order to avoid using official orders to pressure Eru. They need not worry about Eru protesting violently, but the contents of their speech were filled with illogical reasoning, so they were prepared for the talks to be stall. They felt grateful for Eru's generous disposition.
Phew, that was close. I barged ahead without thinking too much; there will be tons of trouble if I make the Knights lose face. Giving me a way to reject the commendation cordially was a big help...
Eru who appears to be drinking tea calmly was breaking out in cold sweat. To be honest, he was troubled over how to settle things on his end. It was hard for Eru to do anything in his position. The other party proposing a peaceful resolution made Eru relieved.
I did have a great time piloting. I even got to see the magius engine's script, that is enough for a reward. And the Knights owe me a favour too. Being too forceful will blow matters up, just let them bask in the glory. Also... it will be good if I can build a close relationship with the Knights and the people present.
Eru finish his tea happily as he thought about how to resolve the matter.
The atmosphere was peaceful after ending the tense topic. The sound of cheers was continuing all this while. They chatted casually in the mean time.
―His consciousness recovers slowly. His first thing he feels is a question.
What... What happened? That time... the Demon beast...
He felt a sharp pain next from all over his body, stimulating his mind and waking him up.
Dietrich groans from the pain of his protesting body and opens his eyes. The first thing he sees is a wooden ceiling. He turns his head and observes a white drape. He was still confused, but he understands the situation before him. He was admitted in a hospital like facility― which means he is safe.
... This means, the battle was won...?
He shivered when he remembered the giant beast. From the situation at that time, it was impossible to save him without getting rid of the beast. Dietrich deduced from this that the battle ended somehow, and was a success since he is alive.
"Ara, you’re awake?"
Dietrich relaxed after deducting the crisis has ended, and more importantly, he is safe. As he lies down groggily, a voice came from his side.
"This is Jantunen pilot's infirmary. You have lost consciousness for over a day after the battle."
Dietrich turns his head with his eyes wide open. It's not because of the content of the speech, but the person who is saying it―
"Don't worry, you have many bruises, but no serious injuries. You are young and will heal up in no time!"
His white clothes almost bursting from his muscular body, and his hair was crew cut. His feet were a shoulder width apart but his knees were clamped together. He is speaking in a feminine way despite having a deep voice― This was a man.
A scream erupts suddenly and fills the entire infirmary.
A convoy comprising of carriages and Silhouette Knights are travelling along the gravel road leading from Jantunen to the capital ― Fremmevira Highway.
Inside the carriage are students from Laihiala Pilot Academy's Knighthood faculty. The Silhouette Knights are escorts from Jantunen garrison Knights. The Knights were headed towards the capital for the award ceremony and were acting as escorts since they are heading in the same direction.
There is a person sitting on the top of a carriage. That person is basking in the sun, watching the long convoy line under the warm sun. At the end of the line was a wagon filled with recovered Silhouette parts. The machine that was wrecked by the Behemoth was turned into junk, but the most valuable torso was retrieved. The damage was assessed, if the magius engine and ether reactor known as the heart was fine, it will be easier to repair. And in the worst case scenario, they can place the heart into a new body.
Jantunen garrison Knight's wreckage has been sent to Jantunen, the ones here are the Laihiala Pilot Academy's robots.
The boy on top of the carriage, Ernesti looks towards the back with a blank expression. There must be parts from the scarlet Silhouette Knight on the wagon too, but it is covered by the canvas so Eru can't tell where it is. The last scene of the fight with the Behemoth while piloting Guyale flashed across his mind. He feels the bump of the carriage as he reminisces.
The action I took was a gamble largely dependent on luck. In order to avoid this, I need a machine that won't fall apart even when operating at full power... and this problem should not be entrusted to others lightly.
Right now, Eru is the only one who can make a robot break down in such a short period of time, so he is the only one who wants to resolve it. He will create his personal machine one day. He needs to plan for that day.
"Eru, are you brooding over here?"
As he was feeling troubled over many things, someone approached him from behind and hugs him. There is only one person who will do that in Eru's mind. He turns to look at Ady behind him.
"Yeah, I am thinking about how to resolve the weakness in the previous battle."
"Why― are you thinking about that again!"
Ady looks displeased as she leans forward. Ady is taller than Eru, so Eru is squashed when Ady leans in with her body weight. Eru protest as his body bends forward uncomfortably.
"I know, but I have to think it over when I have time, or it will be a problem in the future."
The pressure behind him relaxes slightly, allowing Eru to breath. Ady stops moving and her displeasure fades, replaced by a troubled expression.
"... Eru, you really... I hope you can promise me one thing."
"Don't go by yourself, take us with you!"
"That's a bit..."
Eru couldn't see Ady's face, but he can feel the sincerity from her voice. Eru didn't turn back and looked ahead, thinking about Ady's request. He has been setting Silhouette Knights as his goals, and working towards that means...
"We might not be able to help, but..."
"Don't say that... it depends on the situation."
"Really? I can't pilot a Silhouette Knight. How about telling us what you plan to do!"
At this point, Eru couldn't reject her.
"I understand... I will do my best. But it is an emergency, it will have to wait."
"Hmmph! That's a cunning way to put it! Even though we can't do much, but three heads are better than one!"
"Haha, that's right, three of us is... three?"
Ady's casual words made Eru think. In his heart is a famous story, and inspiration strikes.
"Three are better than one... three arrows compared to one arrow. One arrow is easy to break, but it is hard to break if there are three. Right, it is fragile and easy to break because it is separated. That hurts... Wut arf yu dooin?"
Ady pulls both of Eru's cheek as he was spacing out.
"Pay attention when talking to others, that was rude. Hmph!"
"That hurts... You are absolutely right, that was ill mannered of me."
Ady looks are Eru nursing his cheeks painfully and thought of a good idea. She approached Eru from the side with a smile. Eru has a foreboding feeling looking at Ady's smile.
"Right, I know a way! Teach me how to pilot Silhouette Knights!"
"Wah― to use this method!"
Eru groans and smiles awkwardly at Ady, and wonders how things had come to this.
The roasted beef in the centre of the table gives off a delicious aroma.
The cramped place around it are full of dishes. Eru's mother― Celestina Echevarria is pouring soup into a large bowl. Beside her is the mother of the twins, Ilmatar Olter (Ilma) who arranges the freshly baked pie. The extravagant dishes made the two happy as they laid out the plates.
"Is it time for your Ady to learn to cook?"
"Hoho, it's about time. That child is always messing around with Chid."
They finished the preparation nimbly as they chatted and called their families to have dinner. The two families gathered shortly after and ate happily.
This is the Echevarria residence. The Echevarrias and the Olters are together for a party to celebrate the safe return of their children. The parents planned to welcome them back after the field trip all along. But the children were involved in an unprecedented Demon beast invasion instead.
The faces of every parent turned green when they received the news, including these two families. Ilma’s only family are the twins, her anxiety is indescribable. She couldn't stay alone in that state, so the Echevarrias took her in for the time being. Now, both the children and their parents had deepened their friendship.
Fortunately, the crisis was over and the children had returned safely, all the families were busy and relieved.
"To be frank, it's great that everyone is safe."
Ilma watched the kids finish off the dishes and sigh. Tears well up in her eyes and fell as she relaxed. Ilma quickly covers her face.
"We made you worry. As you can see, we are not hurt... This is a miracle."
"That's great; the most important thing is that you are safe. Your appetite is good, as if nothing had ever happened."
"Swallow your food before talking..."
Chid and Ady continues to stuff their face despite their mother's instruction. They were eating tasteless preserved food while traveling, so they are focusing on the delicacy before them.
"We heard that it was really dangerous, but you all seem fine. What did Eru do?"
"Yes. Behemoth and I beat each other up."
"Cough! Cough, cough."
Mathias chokes on his food when he hears the conversation between the mother and child.
"Ara, wasn't the Demon beast really big? Are you okay? Did you give it a good beating?"
"I borrowed a Silhouette Knight from a senpai, so I'm okay. It was rather dangerous, but I beat it up really well and won."
"Ara, ara, you can borrow Silhouette Knights? That's wonderful, Eru. But don't be too reckless. It's not something you can borrow anytime you want, right?"
"That's right. Luckily we had that 'good senpai' who aided me."
Mathias forced himself to look away from the two of them; the others casually ignored their conversation. In some way, this family was really disciplined.
Only Eru's grandfather refrained from speaking during dinner, watching everything. After finishing, he called out to Eru.
"Eru, I want you to accompany me to someplace, alright?"
"Okay grandpa. Where are we going?"
"Erm, we are going to..."
Fremmevira Kingdom Capital, Känkänen.
Located at the foot of mount Aubigne, it served as a front line fortress in the past. The highway on either side was made with robust stones, a legacy from its days as a fortress. Several layers of walls are erected with the capital at its heart. Only the outer most siege wall has defensive functions, the rest are used for zonal segregation. Its existence is a testament of the history of this city and nation.
In the centre of the capital lies 'Castle Shreiber'.
The castle has traces of its days as a fortress, ancient and majestic. Even now, the tough appearance of the fortress commands respect. Its reputation as the ‘Kingdom of Knights’ is presented harmoniously, allowing all visitors to feel the pride of the city.
In the heart of Castle Shreiber is an audience hall for the King to receive his guest.
It is a vast space with a high ceiling, enough for Silhouette Knights to enter comfortably. Elegant drapes are hung on all the walls in fixed intervals on the pillars. A red carpet is rolled out in the centre, and at its end is the throne for the King. An amazingly big seat is situated behind the throne, with a Silhouette Knight sitting on it.
That was the personal Silhouette Knight of the King ― known as the king's Knight 'Raids of Valor'. Its appearance was more elegant than any machine within Fremmevira. A cape with the same pattern as the national flag covers its shoulders, displaying the majesty of a Knight standing at the very peak. Cardiarias piloted by the royal guards are positioned to the side of the hall with Raids of Valor right at the centre, a powerful and intimidating scene.
Sometimes, the hall will be cramped with soldiers and Silhouette Knights, but there are only a few people here today.
A middle aged man was sitting on the throne before Raids of Valor, the tenth King of the Fremmevira Kingdom, Ambrosius Tahvo Fremmevira. In front of him are Marquis Joachim Serrati and Jantunen garrison Knight's commander Philip Hallhagen. According to customs, they have to address the King while kneeling on one knee with their heads down. After the King grants him permission, Philips raised his head to report.
"That concludes the report for the battle with the Behemoth."
King Ambrosius acknowledged with a grunt and a nod after listening to the detailed report from Philip. He was holding a concise report in his hand and was browsing it as he listened.
"And the carcass of the Behemoth?"
"Your Majesty, it's impossible for the garbage collectors to harvest a colossal beast like the Behemoth, I have dispatched the Silhouette Knights to assist them. It should be completed in the next few days."
"I want to use its carcass to offset our losses. But our casualties are light, considering the opponent was a battalion-level Demon beast."
"Your Majesty, Jantunen's forces are depleted, please allow me to send some reinforcement to support them."
Ambrosius focused on one point of the report as he listens to Joachim, it is the logs of the scarlet Knight and its pilot Ernesti. A baffled expression appears on the King's face.
"Echevarria... Lauri's grandson? What an exceptional performance. Isn't that right, Philip? It is unbelievable; did this child really topple the Demon beast before everyone?"
"Yes, Your Majesty, I saw it with my own eyes. I understand the content seems dubious to Your Majesty..."
Philip couldn't give a precise answer to the King in regards to this and his voice grows gradually softer. In fact, Joachim was doubtful as he listens to the conversation between them.
"I don't think you will spin such a ridiculous tale, but this makes me worried... Especially this part, rewriting the script in the magius engine. If that's true, that is really marvelous."
"Half of it are rumours, but I saw it myself... and I’m convinced that it really happened."
"I heard the same report... Only Sir Hallhagen and the Knights know the truth."
Ambrosius closed his eyes. The ability to fight a Behemoth is amazing, but that is only a might of one man. But it is different if he can reprogram the magic engine, which is a skill that has no precedent.
After thinking it over, he mumbles:
"... This child is too dangerous."
Philip panicked when he heard this; Eru literally saved the lives of dozens of pilots with his participation. They couldn't commend Eru because of the state of things, but Eru accepted it unconditionally, so Philip owes him a favour. He might be a youth that is much younger than him, but having fought as comrades, Philip won't forget how Eru saved his Knights.
"You Majesty, allow me to report. This boy might be just twelve, but he is knowledgeable and courageous. His etiquette is fine and his peers like him. More importantly, he was always on the frontlines during the battle with the Behemoth..."
Ambrosius stopped Philip's words with a wave of his hand.
"Don't worry; I am not planning to do anything to him. It might be fine now, but you say he is just twelve years of age. Having amazing power at such a tender age... Since he is just a twelve years old boy, he might grow wild with his exceptional strength. That's my worry."
Ambrosius was right to be worried. No matter how talented or pure in character, people can change with the passage of time. Especially a twelve year old who is moving into a rebellious and emotional age. If he grows arrogant because of his talent, it will harm him in the end.
But inside Ernesti was a soul with forty years of experience, so normal conventions don't apply to him. But that is beyond their imaginations, so they are worried that Eru will stray from the right path in the future.
"If that's the case, what should we do?"
"Since he doesn't chase mindlessly after glory, he might become a great Knight... We need to guide him. It might be unnecessary since Lauri is there. Hmm, alright... Arrange for Ernesti to meet me."
After Ambrosius issues his orders, Joachim and Philip bows and acknowledged.