Ch15 The things squirming in the darkness
Editor: Darkdhaos, Chris S, alkin
Under the clear blue skies, two figures were dragging their feet as they walked through the Laihiala Academy campus. It was the twins, Chid and Ady. The two of them, who were lectured along with their elder sister by their father, were also warned by the teachers after returning to school. Battered all over, the two of them walked gloomily along the corridor of the campus renowned for its size.
They were out on a walk to change their mood, but they had a strong urge to give up on everything and just lie down on the ground. They were pushed forward by the need to ‘check on Eru’s situation’. Squeezing out their last ounce of strength, the two made it to the pilot faculty’s workshop, and rushed at the Boss when they saw him.
“The silver boy? He should be educating the Duke… Cough, cough, explaining to the Duke right now.”
The Boss looked at the exhausted twins, who collapsed onto the floor with a mix of sympathy and pity. The two of them realised that if they had asked the Boss from the start, they wouldn’t have blown the matter up, so they were laughing dryly, too.
“And, so, the boy won’t be back so soon. Ara, what a rare sight. The Duke even cried…”
The Boss said as he stroked his beard, and the twins just muttered an acknowledgement on the ground. The Boss didn’t really mind and simply nodded. He then started explaining the things decided at Casadesus. The Boss thought of the twins as people related to the development of the new model, and he felt the obligation to inform them accordingly.
“Just sit there; it’s fine. The new model is under the charge of the Duke now. This means the development project would be directed by the Duke. Depending on their progress, the craftsmen here might be sent to the NTR Lab, or some factory to manufacture the new model.”
The tired Chid lifted his head in surprise.
“Are you going to leave, Boss?”
Chid couldn’t conceal the loneliness in his voice. For Chid and Ady, the senpais in the pilot faculty weren’t playmates like their friends in class, but comrades on the same team, an existence similar to older brothers. When the twins heard they were going to leave, it hurt them a little.
“I was going to graduate next year, anyway, so don’t show such an expression.”
The Boss poked Chid’s forehead, wanting to dismiss the gloomy air. But, the power of a dwarf’s fist was so powerful that it made Chid fall over.
As Ady pulled away, the Boss cleared his throat and went back to the topic.
“Ah— there’s one more thing. The reason why the boy has yet to return… is probably due to them squabbling over how to handle him.”
“Yup. The boy said he wanted to stay in the academy until graduation, but, honestly speaking, the circumstance doesn’t allow this. We also did our best to develop the new model, but the ‘essence’ of the boy was different from us. It’s impossible for him to keep the status quo and continue schooling.”
The twins spent a bit of time understanding what the Boss said. They just heard the Boss was leaving, and adding in this dire news made the faces of the twins turn green.
“Eh… Nee, nee, Boss, do you mean, Eru will go to the NTR Lab, too?”
“Eru… Will leave!?”
This was a possibility they had never considered. With the introduction of the new machines, there was no telling if they could become a Knight. But, they had always assumed that they would be together with Eru until they graduated. This wasn’t a one sided wish, the three of them were classmates with the same ambition, after all. But there had been a drastic change to the situation, stopping this path they had always taken for granted. The shocking content made the twins hang their heads in silence. The Boss wanted to call out to them, and at this moment—
Chid lifted his head, his body emitting a steel resolve.
“I have decided. I will find Eru immediately.”
Chid’s soft words stunned the Boss and Ady, who turned towards him.
“Damn it, how long do you think it would take? It’s not so simple that you can go, if you want to! And, the boy will be back sooner or later, there is no rush…”
“I don’t care! I want to find him now!! And, ask him face to face!! I won’t allow him to stay there by himself!!”
Chid who was usually lazy became full of anger, showing the others his determination.
“Calm down, how will you get to somewhere so far away?”
“Silhouette gear! With that, we could move faster than a horse!!”
Ady raised her fist as well, making the Boss hold his head with a headache. He knew the twins were the pupils of Eru, so they could actually do it, if they wanted to. But the trip to Casadesus was easier said than done. Domestic travel with the Kingdom of Fremmevira was paved with danger. Only those with experience and adequate preparation could survive the trip. No matter how good the twins were, they were definitely underestimating the dangers. The Boss was doing all that he could to stop their recklessness.
But, the one who stopped the agitated twins was a calm voice that came from behind.
“And, of course, we won’t let you do that.”
Edgar grabbed the twins by their arms, restraining them.
“Edgar-senpai!? Unhand me!”
“No. Both of you listen up, the journey to Casadesus is dangerous! Even with Silhouette gears and your skills, I won’t permit you to go. I understand… how you feel, but we can only wait for now.”
The twins were still calm enough to not draw their staves. Edgar was grabbing their arms; mere children wouldn’t be able to break free without using physical boost. It became a match of tug of war. Helvi and Dietrich who walked towards them from behind watched them with a troubled expression.
“... Oh right, Di, that thing isn’t repaired yet, right?”
An awkward atmosphere was hanging over the workshop because of the intense debate, when these untimely words were uttered. Under the gaze of everyone present, the Boss smiled mischievously, and gestured behind him with his chin. Everyone was baffled by the sudden change in topic, but they still looked in the direction indicated.
Before them, a machine that was being repaired was seated on the Silhouette Knight repair platform at the end of the room. It was customised with strand crystal tissue with the primary armour, the outer skin had not been installed yet. One man reacted strongly to the armour that was painted red.
“It’s Guyale! I remember it was only half finished when you all set off for Casadesus. Ara, it is almost complete… Nee, Boss, isn’t the construction of the new model under the purview of the Duke and had been stopped? What are you planning?”
Guyale’s pilot, Dietrich, turned from joy to troubled, an expressive face.
“Well, we won’t be building new ones, but it would be a shame to stop those that were half done. So, we will finish this one.”
Dietrich asked gleefully, while the Boss nodded his head while explaining. The others ignored the two who were chatting harmoniously and was puzzled.
“The new models are under the charge of the Duke, so we can’t just leave this one here in Laihiala. We can’t trouble the Duke over such a small matter, so we have to deliver it over, right?”
The smile on Dietrich’s face froze, while Edgar and Helvi, who were starting to understand what the Boss was saying had a complicated expression.
“It’s not safe for Guyale to travel alone, Edgar, bring your Earlecumber along. We will follow in carriages, so we can make repairs if needed on the way there. And, we might have extra passengers on the way back.”
Understanding what he was trying to say, Chid and Ady stared at the Boss with wide eyes. The face of the Boss covered under his beard had a wide grin.
“Hey, Boss, even if you want to help them, you shouldn’t spoil them like this.”
“Oh—? I am not doing this for them, it just so happen that I have ‘some business there’. But, things might not go so smoothly.”
Edgar who heard this couldn’t help but shrug. The Boss was definitely going out of his way for the twins. But, Edgar could only hold back a wry smile.
“Hee— I didn’t think you would be so nice to kids, Boss.”
“Hmmp, those who have wielded a hammer with me are my brothers, a Dwarf would never ignore a brother in trouble… The boy is their friend, right? There’s no better time to help them.”
The Boss puffed his chest out righteously, and the others could only give a bitter smile. Edgar wanted to stop the twins, but he understood how it was to part with friends, and wanted to aid them too. These actions were very ‘intentional’, but Edgar understood the importance of keeping up appearance and let go of the twins’ hands.
The two children happily bumped their fist against the Boss. This scene warmed the hearts of the maintenance department, who were watching them bicker. They rolled up their sleeves and started moving purposefully.
“The outer skin is about eighty percent complete! Just a bit more!”
“We can use the spare parts for the delicate areas. Get the crane over here, install this quickly!”
The warm atmosphere a second ago was gone. The workshop regained its vigour of fire and iron, operating as usual. With the noise of rollers as the background, it overlapped with the noise of the crisp sounds of metal being hammered. After their experience in the recent days, the skills of the maintenance crew had grown even more. Under their skillful hands, the red Silhouette Knight became closer to completion.
“... Sob, are we taking Guyale away? It is finally repaired… Should I ask Casadesus to hire me directly?”
“Di, well… Cheer up.”
In the hot and steamy workshop, Dietrich was the only one watching the red machine being finished in sadness.
The Red Rabbit Knights saw the smoke signals and were dispatched to its source, Dallier village. The company comprised of nine Karrdator and one command Karrdialia. As the distance was relatively near, the Silhouette Knights travelled at a pace faster than normal.
All villages in the kingdom of Fremmevira have walls that could repel Demon beasts. But normally, villages won’t be able to erect walls that surround itself completely. Instead, they would focus on the village centre, building reinforced walls there and erecting a mini stronghold with supplies to tide over the danger. When they were attacked by Demon beast that couldn’t be defeated by humans, the villagers would seek refuge there, raise the smoke signal and waiting for the Knights stationed nearby to help them.
The stronghold was small, but as the last line of defence for the lives of the villagers, it was built to be very sturdy. But, the smoke signal was red this time, meaning duel level Demon beasts were attacking. Facing monsters that could match up against the strongest weapon of humanity, the Silhouette Knights, the fortress couldn’t hold on indefinitely. The Knights suppressed their anxiety as they rushed to the Dallier village.
There was quite a number of duel level Demon beasts in the nation, so, such attacks were common. But, when the Red Rabbit Knights reached Dallier village, the Demon beast weren’t just one or two— there were more than a dozen duel level Demon beast around the village, with numerous mid-level beasts congregating there. The entire village had been morphed into the playground of the Demon beasts.
The scene before them made the cavalry scouts shiver in disbelief. They could see armoured bear, blunt dragon, flaming tiger and all sorts of Demon beasts. Each of these Demon beasts lived in the area around here, but they all have their own territory and wouldn’t act in concert. It was unfathomable for them to be gathered here like this. All of them were in an aggressive state; there were even some fighting among themselves.
The scouts advanced cautiously, and found something that shouldn’t be happening. Reflected in their eyes was the ruins of the sturdy walls that was supposed to protect the villagers. An armoured bear was sticking its head into the stronghold, savouring ‘something’. The company leader piloting the Karrdialia issued his order without hesitation, once he received the report from the scouts.
“All units, charge into the village centre at full speed. Wedge shaped formation; take down all the Demon beasts in our way. Protect the stronghold at all cost!!”
Charging into the centre of the Demon beast encirclement was suicidal, but there was no voice of opposition coming from the pilots and they acknowledged firmly instead. The company adopted the wedge formation with amazing speed, kept their shields and equipped their Silhouette arms and swords. They were prioritising their offence over their defence. With the command from the company captain, the group began their assault.
The sprinting giants were as loud as thunder, drawing the attention of the Demon beasts. The Karrdators’ Silhouette arms ‘Culverin’ glowed brightly from the charging Overed spell and blasted at the Demon beasts mercilessly. The Karrdators seemed to be chasing their own magic shots as they ran, forging the shortest path to the centre of the village with brute force.
Although the Demon beasts had the advantage in numbers, they were scattered all over the place. The company repelled the Demon beasts with their tight formation, making it to the stronghold in one push.
The sound of explosions finally grabbed the attention of the armoured bear that was sticking its head into the stronghold. Lifting its head slowly, the beast growled unhappily for being disturbed in the middle of its meal, turned its head back— and lost its chance to put up a fight. A roar of thunder came at it as the entire company fired a barrage from their culverin, before rushing at it en masse.“Die! Bastard!!”
The vanguard of the wedge formation did not slow down, moving forth with the momentum of the Karrdialia and struck with its spear.
Although the armoured bear had hardened skin, it couldn’t guard against the rampage of the Karrdialia. The strike hit the armoured bear in the head, piercing the skin and smashing its insides, killing the armoured bear instantly. The Karrdialia did not slow down and crashed into the carcass of the armoured bear.
In order to protect the company captain, who took care of the Demon beast splendidly, the other Karrdators changed their formation immediately, arranging themselves in a semi-circle outside the hole. They had an aura which screamed ‘You shall not pass!’. The other Demon beast became more ferocious when they smelt the scent of the armoured bear’s blood, and swarmed up in a frenzy. Facing the tsunami coming at them, the Karrdators stood their ground.
The first wave of the attacks had reduced the Demon beasts’ numbers, so, that they were about on par with the company, but the reckless charge into the midst of the Demon beast group left them in a crisis. The assault earlier depleted most of the mana pool, limiting their means of attack. Mana was being created as the ether reactor groaned with the intake of air, but it couldn’t keep up with the depletion rate the machines were using to evade the Demon beasts’ vicious attacks.
Blocking the fire of the flaming tigers with shields, dodging the tail whips of the blunt dragons, taking on the charge of the armoured bears. Utilising the intelligence of humans, which the Demon beasts lack, the Silhouette Knight overcame the crisis with teamwork and their skills, but were constantly in danger, just like walking on a tight rope.
“We will never retreat! Exterminate them right here!!”
Breaking the stalemate was the company captain. The high performance command Karrdialia was damaged in the assault of the armoured bear, but it still took out the Demon beast that engaged him. Before the mana of the machine was completely exhausted, it delivered the last burst of attack.
The battle ended shortly after that. The Knights who gained the advantage in numbers charged into the enemy’s formation and achieved victory. After taking down the last duel level Demon beast, the mid-sized Demon beasts were all repelled.
All machines in the company were damaged. Three of them were half destroyed, another two were total losses. It was a close victory, but they completed their mission.
After the long battle ended and the area was secured, it was already dark. The support units on standby outside entered and provide relief to the survivors. Bonfires were set up around the stronghold and tents were erected to tend to the wounded. It was a disaster within the stronghold; the armoured bear that broke through the walls killed half the population of Dallier village.
The surviving villagers expressed their thanks to the Knights for making it in the nick of time. There were some who thought ‘if only the Knights came earlier’ or ‘I will mourn for the neighbour who passed on’. But the most important thing was that they were still alive. Everyone congratulated each other for living on. This was the unique thought process of citizens who lived alongside ‘Demon beasts’. Their cold and extremely positive attitude became the motivating force supporting them in this harsh environment.
Apart from the loss of lives, the damage to the buildings was great, too. The Knights weren’t just tasked with driving the Demon beasts out. In situations like this, when the Demon beasts caused large scale damages, the Knights would be stationed there temporarily, ensuring the safety of the area and assisting with restoration works. Only in emergencies, such as this will the Silhouette Knight be used as extremely strong construction machines. It won’t be used in this way normally, because the cost would outweigh the benefits. The scene of ten meter tall Karrdators repairing the houses would carry on for quite some time.
As the repairs of the village began officially, two Karrdators capable of walking by themselves were dispatched to fort Casadesus to report the safety of the village and the start of restoration works. They will need to request reinforcement from the fort to retrieve the badly damaged machines.
The pilots only did basic repairs to the machine and returned to base, consoling the partner whose machine short circuits every now and then. The journey was uneventful, and they reached the forest near Fort Casadesus in no time. They will reach the Fort after passing through the woods. Bearing news of victory, they advanced along the forest path while chatting casually.
While the company of Red Rabbit Knights were subjugating the Demon beasts in Dallier village, a shadow that wasn’t the Knight’s support units was observing from the forest. The figure was covered with a cloth that blended with the forest, hard to detect like a shadow.
The shadow left the place after most of the duel level Demon beast had fallen, jumping onto a horse that was tied to a tree in the vicinity. The horse walked slowly and silently through the forest for a while before a cabin came into view.
The cabin was originally the rest station for hunters working in the forest. It could be used as a refuge if they were chased by Demon beast. Made from sturdy logs, the cabin was small but durable. The shadow dismounted and rapped the door in a certain rhythm. After the sound of unlocking was heard, the door was opened.
The cabin was unexpectedly crowded. Everyone was wearing dark coloured leather armour and seated around the table in the middle, discussing something. On the table was a map that detailed the terrain of the surroundings, with arrows and legends marked on it. The person that entered the cabin slowly unraveled the cloth around his body— it was the man who got the information about the new model from the student in Laihiala Academy City.
“Captain, as expected, the Red Rabbit Knights defeated the Demon beasts.”
“I figured that would happen, those Knights exist for this very reason. How large was the dispatched forces?”
“About a company size.”
The woman that was addressed by the man as Captain crossed her arms after hearing the report. She pointed out her sources that told her there were roughly three companies deployed at the Fort, so there should be two companies left in Casadesus plus the new models.
“Alright, withdraw the scouts. We will proceed as planned— the job we have all been waiting for.”
After saying that, the woman looked out of the window. There were figures that looked like the mythical giants in fairy tales, covered in canvas, vines and plants. The giants completely occupied the vast space around the cabin. The objects that were camouflaged by the items placed on them were silent, eagerly waiting the moment when they would be activated.
In the workshop of Laihiala Academy’s pilot faculty, the craftsmen were wielding their hammers as usual. The noise of the rollers could be heard overhead and a roar which could be heard over the entire din announced the conclusion of the final checks.
A Silhouette Knight was seated on the giant chair-like repair platform.
The chest armour was open, allowing easy access to the pilot cockpit. The craftsmen who were repairing the machine moved away as a student walked passed them towards the machine. Pilots— those with the skills to manoeuvre Silhouette Knights and possessed the training of a Knight, the cadet of the pilot faculty. He boarded the machine and unlocked the control stick by his legs and pulled hard. The sound of gears clicking into place and the compression of air overlapped, closing the chest armour of the machine slowly.
“It’s been a long time. Tellestarle wasn’t bad, but I feel more at ease in here.”
Dietrich leaned back in the cockpit of his repaired machine, ‘Guyale’, and was moved. With ninety percent damaged— a never seen before number, the Silhouette Knight was reforged with the efforts of the craftsmen. Almost everything in the cockpit was replaced, the smell of new leather tickled Dietrich’s nose.
“You had just been reborned, but I have to send you away. Ughh…”
He had a face that ‘looked good when he kept his mouth shut’ which showed a bitter expression. Dietrich pushed the control stick lightly; it was the only thing that was salvaged from the destroyed cockpit. The wear and tear and familiarity troubled him. Even though it was contrary to the wishes of the Boss and the twins, it was still decided that the new models would be under the Duke’s management now. He smiled wryly and shook his head, pushing his troubles behind him and opened the cap of the sound amplifier.
“Guyale is standing up, please clear the area.”
Dietrich stepped on the pedal and operated the control sticks, and Guyale with his new outer skin followed the instructions of its master faithfully. The ether reactor came to life, the sound of the air intake revving noisily. The magius engine applied the mana from the reactor onto the scripts and the crystal tissue flexed accordingly, making the sound of tensing and moved the giant Knight. The armoured Knight trembled and after the gap of several months, the ‘Crimson Knight’ rose once again with heavy steps.
Guyale stepped out from the edge of the workshop. Its shattered armour reforged with no sign of the damage it once had, reflecting the bright red glint under the sun. Because it was customised in the same way as the Tellestarle when it was repaired, the interior was totally new, even though it looked about the same on the outside. The back weapon had been installed on it with the Silhouette arms ‘Kamast’. Learning from its lesson from its weapons breaking, there were four swords equipped on its waist, with two of them being reserves, it was heavily armed.
Guyale was a machine which focused on offense with dual blades. It might not have a shield, but the armour from its shoulder to its arms was reinforced to make up for its lack of defences. Standing beside the standard model Earlecumber, Guyale looked rather bulky.
“Alright, no problems from my side. Are the preparations ready?”
Earlecumber, who was standing in front of the workshop raised a hand to acknowledge Dietrich. Aside from Earlecumber, there were two carriages and other familiar faces.
“David, isn’t this Silhouette Knight a property of the academy? Handing it over like this troubles me.”
“It’s just for a moment, so, its fine. And, it had already been agreed that the Duke-sama would exchange each machine with a Karrdator. The number of machines in the campus would be the same.”
“That’s not the issue… Well, forget it. The pilot faculty had been breaking the tradition all year long; it’s too late to bring this up…”
Dean Lauri, who had been more opened minded recently mumbled and waved his hand casually. Batson who was on a carriage said in a soft voice:
“Loading of the goods is completed… Isn’t this pushing it a bit too much? But, it won’t fit if I don’t do this.”
Including the ones used by Chid and Ady, the three Silhouette gears— Motor beats were secured with steel wire. Even though they were smaller than Silhouette Knights, not much space was left after squeezing in these large armours. Just three of them took up an entire carriage.
“Three? We are bringing Eru’s machine along?”
“If we only bring ours, he will definitely throw a tantrum…”
Chid and Ady nodded at each other. The Boss completed loading the other carriage and called out.
“Alright, let’s make a trip to Casadesus. Move out!”
“Understood—! See you, Batson! We will bring Eru back!”
“Yeah— it’s a rare chance, so lecture him in my place—”
The carriages set off quietly under the watchful eyes of everyone. The Boss, several maintenance staff and the twins sat in the carriages with the red and white Silhouette Knights following behind. Batson, who was left behind waved his hands for a while. Lauri changed his mood, turning his head back and said:
“We need to prepare for the Karrdator that will be coming. We might need the help of your juniors, so, plan with that possibility in mind.”
The group acknowledged sparsely, and the craftsmen who were left returned to the workshop. Many things might have changed, but they were living their usual lives.
This happened about a week ago—
A man walked on the streets of Laihiala Academy City, walking ahead without reservation towards a non-descript house. The people inside the house were surprised by the visit; even the tall woman sitting at the very end was surprised. But, she composed herself in no time and smiled mockingly, squinting her eyes with a hint of a threat and said:
“Ara, I wasn’t expecting the envoy from the ‘home country’ to visit, this is a surprise.”
The ‘envoy’ wasn’t fazed, standing tall before the woman and spoke in a businesslike manner.
“... ‘Kerhild Hietakangas’, ‘His Majesty’ has orders for you and your ‘Copper Fang Knights’.”
“Ara, His Majesty is so kind to address us as Knights.”
Ignoring Kerhild’s teasing, the envoy conveyed the purpose of his visit plainly.
“His Majesty is very curious about your report on the ‘toy’, and would like one to be sent to him. They are too extravagant for mere ‘Demon beast guards’, only our ‘home nation’ is worthy enough to have it. Obtain them by all means necessary and present it to His Majesty.”
The orders were within her expectations, so Kerhild simply shrugged.
“We were just complaining about the mission being too boring, this came at the right time.. That’s what I wanted to say, but that ‘toy’ is in some place called a Fort after all. And it is a bit too big to steal, you understand?”
“I get it, but, like I said, ‘by any means’. His Majesty knew about this… so you can use ‘everything you have’.”
A smile that came from the bottom of her heart surfaced on Kerhild’s face for the first time. To supplement the description of her smile, it was like ‘a predator that got its prey alive’.
“Hee… if everything is at my disposal, then, that includes the treasured ‘Wendebadalla’?”
“Of course, even ‘cursed bait’ is fine too.”
The answer that went beyond Kerhild’s imaginations made her eyes widen before she burst into laughter.
“Haha! This is interesting! Ara, the miser Majesty is being generous this time! He must really like this ‘toy’.”
From the depths of the narrow eyes of the envoy, strong determination could be seen, but Kerhild didn’t mind at all. She didn’t care about others when she talked or acted.
“Sigh, guess we have to do this… The men are prepared. Help me convey to the ‘Dear Majesty’, I will definitely deliver what he desires.”
“... Very good. Those Demon beast guards should be very pleased with themselves right now and let their guard down, so act with haste.”
After this, the envoy turned and left after completing his job. Kerhild who watched the envoy leave couldn’t help smiling as she said to the others.”
“How cold, just like usual. Never mind, men! After being chased to this hell hole of a country, we are finally in luck!”
“That’s right; it’s our win if we complete this mission!”
The men around her were all in high spirits. The smile on Kerhild’s face darkens.
“Alright, let’s bring the ‘toy’ the Demon beast guards are so proud of as a gift.”
And, so, the ‘Copper Fang Knights’ began their operation in this country silently.
One week later, ‘Acquart Forest’ near Fort Casadesus.
In the dense Acquart Forest, it was dim even in the middle of the day and the air was heavy and still. The path through the forest was illuminated by sunlight, making the surroundings brighter. But, outside the range of the sunlight, a group of people were squirming in the depths of the vegetation. They were wearing dark coloured armour that didn’t draw much attention, prone and keeping still, waiting for the right moment. Aside from the occasional chirping of the birds, it was absolutely silent.
After an unknown period of time had passed, a shadow meandered through the forest. Wearing dark coloured armour similar to his comrades, he reported.
“Captain, message from ‘reindeer’: ‘The hunter had put down the prey’.”
After hearing the quiet report from her subordinate, the Copper Fang Knight Commander, Kerhild Hietakangas, instructed softly:
“Alright boys, are you ready? Activate ‘Wendebadalla’.”
The subordinate nodded and disappeared into the depths of the forest without much noise.
This group was known as the Copper Fang Knights, but normal ‘Knights’ won’t be able to conceal themselves and hide in the darkness to execute their plans. Calling them a ‘band of Knights’ was almost a mockery— they were an existence known as ‘spies’. For them to act in a group, it meant that their goal wasn’t simple.
The birds resting on the trees became agitated, chirped and flew away. At the same time, A giant object that was camouflaged behind them was preparing to stand up slowly. That object which was about five times the size of a human showed its true form. It was a humanoid machine made from steel and crystal tissue— Silhouette Knights.
The Silhouette Knight known as ‘Wendebadalla’ to Kerhild and the others had many strange features: A smooth exterior, partial armour, visible Demon beast leather, two holes on its oval head for vision, with its lifeless eye crystal swaying inside. The skinny appearance felt unpleasant.
Most incredible of all, ‘Wendebadalla’ did not make any churning noise unique to Silhouette Knights. The sound of the air intake was soft and vague, blending into the noise of the forest.
Somehow, the crystal tissue that should be emitting a shrill string-like instrument noises were almost silent, and its footfall was non-existent compared to other machines.
The faceless giant with a thin presence was like a spirit in the dim forest. Kerhild watched its blurry figure and smiled deviously.
“You are the trump card we worked so hard to smuggle in, so show us what you are made of. Okay, get ready for battle. There is only one chance, so don’t screw this up. Give it your best shot!”
She waved her hand and the three Wendebadallas started advancing in silence. The squirming spirits headed towards the main road of the forest, where the two Karrdators would definitely pass through. They were waiting for the Red Rabbit Knights who were bringing news from Dallier Village.
When the spirits detected the Knights, they went forth like a shadow, approaching them from behind quietly.
The pilots of the Karrdator weren’t careless. It might have looked like they were strolling casually, but, they were watching their surrounding carefully, looking for Demon beast that might pop out. But, their focus was on the sound. The more threatening the Demon beast, the bigger the disturbance, so they had been trained to ignore the unnatural sound emitted from their machine. That was why the Knights didn’t notice the spirits sneaking up on them, concealed by the noise of their machines churning.
Sneaking behind the Karrdator without a sound, the Wendebadalla closed in speedily. In their hands was a thrusting weapon stiletto. Sacrificing combat prowess for speed and stealth, the Wendebadalla had below average power, light armour and lacked endurance. In a straight up fight, it would take three Wendebadalla to match up against one Karrdator. It’s a pure assassin type.
The stiletto was aimed at the flank of the machine. The arm joint of the Silhouette Knight was thin; it was at best covered by chain armour or Demon beast leather. In order to draw in air into the reactor, intake valves were usually situated above the abdomen, and the chest cavity had the most fragile part of the Silhouette Knight — the pilot. That was the biggest weakness of the Silhouette Knight.
The Wendebadallas hugged the Karrdators from behind, stabbing the blade into the flank. The weapon specialised for thrusting attacks pierced the thin armour easily, hitting the pilots inside. Before the pilots of the Karrdator could react, the blade of the giant took his life. The Karrdator didn’t move, stopping like a puppet that lost its strings. A Silhouette Knight that lost its pilot won’t go out of control like living beings. Seeing both Karrdator stop, Kerhild laughed softly.
“Alright, things are progressing smoothly. Let’s make the next move, get ready!”
After the Wendebadalla slowly laid the Karrdator onto the ground, the soldiers came out from the woods. The Stiletto could take out the pilot in one hit in most cases, and had the advantage of damaging just the armour, intake valve and the pilots. This meant it wouldn’t affect the operation of the Silhouette Knights much. If someone else controlled it, the Karrdator could be moved once again.They ‘cleaned up’ the pilots of the Karrdator, and sat into the bloody cockpit without hesitation. And, so, the Karrdator became real spirits and slowly stood up. The ironic thing was that the Karrdator which was easy to control benefitted the assassins. The Karrdator which fell into enemy hands as though nothing had happened walked forth steadily, while the Wendebadalla blended into the darkness of the woods once again. The spirits marched step by step towards Fort Casadesus.
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