Chapter 17: Battle in the forest
Editor: Darkdhaos, Chris S, alkin
While Edgar was chasing the Tellestarles in his Earlecumber, the battle in Fort Casadesus between the Copper Fang Knights and the Red Rabbit Knights was entering its climax. The wreckage of defeated Silhouette Knights was littered all over the floor, the fire shot from the Silhouette arms dyed the battlefield orange.
Ernesti observed the intense fight from the damaged workshop. Usually, Eru would be shining with joy from watching the Silhouette Knights battle. But, right now, his face was full of regret.
“... They destroyed the machines they couldn’t seize, how thorough.”
On the floor behind him were several Karrdator that were destroyed by the Copper Fang Knights. Eru’s gaze kept switching between the wreckage and the battle.
“Silhouette Knights are having a large scale battle in front of me, but, I don’t have a machine. A pity, such a pity. I will just charge in without one. But, joining a fight between robots without piloting one is too unsightly! That’s unforgivable… But, without the all-important machine…”
Eru lifted his head towards the sky, sighing the deepest regret ever in his entire life. After giving his all towards robots, he couldn’t forgive himself for watching two opposing groups of robots battling and not taking part. But, joining the fray without a machine of his own is against his sense of aesthetics.
That was why he barged into the workshop shortly after the battle started, but, he could only see wreckage all around him, depressing him further.
As he was filled with regret, the Knights in the courtyard were falling one by one, and the fight would be over if this goes on. Pressured by his feelings of anxiety, he made a decision.
“... Alright, I will steal a machine that is currently in operation! There is nothing I can’t do if I put my mind to it!!”
Once he made his decision, Eru acted swiftly. He fired a human sized anchor wire and leapt onto the roof, observing the battlefield from there closely. Even with Eru’s skills, it was mission impossible to steal a Silhouette Knight that was being operated. With the persistence of a snake, agility of an eagle and the silence of a spider, he waited for a chance to come.
At this moment, Eru noticed something moving in the corner of his eyes. It wasn’t in the courtyard where the Silhouette Knights were fighting, but from the vicinity of the gate that was destroyed by the Tellestarle. Looking closely, he could see two carriages hurrying in through the debris of the gate.
Some weirdoes who are visiting the fort when there was a fight going on. Eru’s puzzlement didn’t last long as he spied some ‘object’ that looked familiar on the cargo wagon. His eyes widened with surprised for a moment, and jumped into the air. The silver flash left the sound of an explosion behind and moved in the night sky.
“Hey, can’t we go faster!?”
“This is the limit, Boss! The horses will fall if we go any faster!!”
A carriage was sprinting along the paved road with extraordinary speed. The Boss, who stuck his head out from within was urging the student to accelerate. The horses pushed to run at full speed were already foaming at the mouth as they ran, moments until they collapse from exhaustion. But, the group had a reason why they were in a hurry.
At this time, Edgar and Dietrich were fighting the Tellestarle that attacked them while they were travelling. The Boss had to report this to the fort.
But, when the group reached the vicinity of the fort, they were dumbfounded. Fort Casadesus which reigned over the Acquart Forest was glowing bright in the dark from the flames that erupted all over.
“Hey, what in the…”
Fortunately, they arrived at Fort Casadesus before the horses had fallen from exhaustion. Before them was the destroyed gate, burning buildings and the intense fight between Silhouette Knights. They couldn’t understand the situation and just remained in place. They were seeking refuge at the fort from a fight between Silhouette Knights, bu,t there was no telling if it was safe inside, either.
A silver bullet landed before them as they stood there baffled. Eru used ‘air suppression’ to cushion his fall after leaping down from high up, landing steadily before them. The series of sudden events made the group stunned, and the silver bullet asked while tilting his head:
“I was wondering who it was, isn’t this the Boss? What are you doing here? This is a battlefield here.”
“Ah, silver boy!! What is happening here!?”
Eru calmed the Boss, who was on the verge of pouncing on him, smiling awkwardly as he explained:
“I don’t really understand, either. I heard there were thieves entering the fort with Karrdators while posing as the Red Rabbit Knights. They occupied the workshop, stole the Silhouette Knights and created this disaster.”
As he was explaining, the flash of Overed spells and explosions continued, the chaos was still ongoing. The Boss and the students listened to Eru with their back to the battlefield. The expression on the Boss suddenly changed.
“... Oh right, it’s the Tellestarle… We encountered Tellestarle on our way here, and they attacked us without any warning!! Edgar and Di intercepted them, but I don’t know what happened next. Were they the thieves!?”
The Boss clenched his fist furiously while Eru besides him nodded, seeming to understand something.
“I see, so the thieves were targeting Tellestarle… No, I should say the ‘new model’... This is a ‘robbing incident’, what a bind. I didn’t think such a ‘cliche’ would happen to me.”
Luckily, Eru’s mutterings were covered by the noise in the battlefield and the Boss didn’t hear it. There was no telling how they would feel if they were to hear that, but right now, the Boss, who didn’t know that was full of wrath. He remembered something and turned to Eru.
“And, what are you doing?”
“I am looking for a Silhouette Knight. Remember that I said the thieves occupied the workshop? The machines they didn’t used were all destroyed… I couldn’t do anything but bite on my fingers as the Silhouette Knights fought before me. The actions of the thieves were rational, but, it made me so furious. I was flying around looking to steal a Silhouette Knight… Well…”
Eru ended his explanation and looked at what was behind the Boss. He pointed at the wagon with an ominous smile.
“The armour on the wagon… is ‘my Motor Beat’, right?”
The Boss stroked his beard. The last cargo on the wagon was the blue armour only Eru could use.
“Yeah, the little ones asked me to bring it along. Oh right, they took off to chase the Tellestarle.”
“They are here, too? And, they are chasing the Tellestarle? How envi… cough, cough, dangerous, I have to help them right now!!”
“Hey, you are enjoying this too much… yup, he is not listening.”
Eru gave a perfunctory acknowledgement and boarded onto his Motor beat. After the chest armour closed, mana flowed through its entire body and it stood up slowly as the crystal tissue contracted. The Boss couldn’t see Eru, who was behind the armour, but a joyous voice came from inside, and it was easy to imagine Eru’s expression.
“Activation complete… With a machine, everything… everything would be alright. Let’s have a good fight. I will settle things on this side and then assist them… Let’s go!!”
Before finishing his sentence, Motor beat jumped with enough force to almost crush the carriage. The churning sound of the winch overlapped with the noise of compressed air jettisoning, extending the wire anchor into the night sky, guiding Motor beat onto the battlefield. Under the shine of the moonlight, its armour had a blue glint that was prominent even in the light from the sea of fire.
The Boss spent quite a while chasing the figure of the Motor beat leaping onto the roof and running. He sighed in resignation, turned around and said:
“I don’t think a duel level Demon beast is as scary as him. Eh, there’s no need to sympathise with the thieves… There’s nothing else we can do, let’s escape.”
The group came to their senses after hearing him and rushed to the entrance of the fort.
The owl hooted and the nocturnal wild animals lifted their heads towards the skies. Under the bright moonlight, the aura of a battle crept into the usually peaceful Acquart Forest.
The giant intruder made from steel and crystal tissue barged through the forest. They knocked away branches getting in their way, flattening everything under their feet, shaking the ground. Kerhild Hietakangas, the Captain of the Copper Fang Knights had a sour face while piloting her sprinting Silhouette Knight— Tellestarle. She tightened her grip on the control stick and relaxed the pedal which was pushed to the limits.
“Tch! It would be bad to continue running like this.”
From Fort Casadesus to this place, she had piloted Tellestarle and ran for quite a long distance. That was why she noticed the machine losing the speed it had in the beginning, it was a sign that the mana pool of the Tellestarle gradually drying up.
There was still quite some distance before reaching the rendezvous point with the Wendebadalla. If she carried on like this, the mana would be exhausted before she reached the destination and forced to stop all movements. No matter how high the power output was— No, the high power output, the new models was the cause for the mana capacity problem. The Tellestarle didn’t have enough mana pool right now; its biggest weakness still remained unresolved. Kerhild didn’t care about all this, instead of the theory; she was more concerned about the depleting mana.
“We probably can’t run any more… I really don’t want to use this thing to fight.”
If she pushed on, there was a good chance her mana would deplete when the pursuers caught up. At that point, they would definitely lose even if the opponent wasn’t a new model. She decided to crush the pursuers completely before that happens, escaping would lead to an inevitable defeat. Clicking her tongue, she gave a gesture to her underlings, stopped the Tellestarle and turned around. Apart from the churning of the ether reactor, the forest was quiet once again. Kerhild glared at the approaching white Silhouette Knight on the holo monitor that seemed to be walking casually.
On the pilot seat of Earlecumber— the white Silhouette Knight, Edgar saw the Tellestarle decelerating and smiled.
“... It seems like their mana pool is running low.”
The two Tellestarle gave up on escaping and waited for Edgar to come. As someone who had ‘experienced’ the same problem, Edgar’s guess was spot on.
“We still have plenty of mana left, so we have the advantage in that area. I will attack straight on, you two will focus on disruption and support. Do not charge in!!”
The Silhouette gear running by the feet of the Silhouette Knight saluted half-heartedly and disappeared into the forest. Edgar suppressed his sigh and focused on the Tellestarle, attempting to conceal the movement behind the trees. Shots from the Tellestarle went through the forest, creating a large explosion when they hit the trees. But, Earlecumber didn’t even raise its shield, closing the distance fearlessly.
“Tch! He saw right through us!!”
Realising the shots from the back weapon were just a waste of mana, Kerhild yelled in frustration, withdrawing it. Unlike the Red Rabbit Knights, the cadet was inexperienced, but, familiar with Tellestarle. It was a tougher opponent than she had anticipated. All the tactics Kerhild could think of were within the expectations of the enemy, and resolved it one at a time. Even though her machine had better performance, she was still pushed to this point.
“Split up, pincer attack!”
She decided to fight honestly in the end, utilising their advantage in number to its fullest. The band member nodded and attacked Earlecumber.
In the dark forest, it was easy to find a Silhouette Knight that reflects light faintly. The presence of a ten meter tall body was difficult to conceal even in the darkness. Edgar noticed the pincer formation from the Tellestarles immediately. He maneuvered Earlecumber deftly, not letting himself become a target. Edgar closed in on one of the enemy— the Tellestarle piloted by Kerhild.
There was no way the Tellestarle would stay at the same spot and wait for him, and kept changing its position. Earlecumber used the woods as barriers and avoided fighting two machines at the same time. The Copper Fang Knight member accelerated his Tellestarle, attempting to flank to the back of Earlecumber. The three Silhouette Knight didn’t engage as they moved around the forest searching for the best position.
Something was moving around the forest, concealed by the noise of the three Silhouette Knights. It was an armour one quarter the height of a Silhouette Knight— the Silhouette gear, Motor beat. Chid and Ady hid themselves from the enemy, approaching quietly from behind. Chid was slightly out of the Silhouette Knight’s attack range, observing from behind the trees, calming his shallow breath and racing heart.
Looking from this angle, the Silhouette Knights are really huge…
Chid spent a lot of time with Eru in the pilot faculty, so he had plenty of chances to see Silhouette Knights and had gotten used to them. But, seeing it as a hostile enemy, the machine’s size and prowess made Chid intensely nervous. Silhouette Knights were the strongest weapon of humanity, which meant there were no other human weapons that could match the Silhouette Knight. The ability of the Silhouette gears were still unknown, but, judging from pure combat power, it couldn’t stand up to Silhouette Knights.
A strong and big adversary… When Eru was fighting the Behemoth, it probably felt like this.
Chid took a deep breath, drawing the sword from the back of his machine, as if he wanted to sever the fear in his heart. The blade was longer than two metres, an oversized two handed sword. There wasn’t any weapon that suited a Silhouette gear; this was something he dug up from the warehouse in a hurry. The giant sword that was difficult for men to handle was just the right size in the hands of the Silhouette gear.
I can’t run now. The people who took Tellestarle are infuriating, I will never catch up to teacher if I back down now, let’s do this!!
Chid breathed in deeply and rested the sword on his shoulder. Someone called out to him. Not far away, he could see Ady hiding herself with her ballista, and waved at her with his sword.
“Okay, let’s do this!”
Chid’s Motor Beat raised its arms and shot out the anchor wire with a soft bang. The arrow head with crystal tissue built inside flew to the top of the trees nearby, embedded into a Y-shaped tree firmly. Chid jumped with the roar of the winch churning. Ady, who was one step behind came out from the trees, aiming her portable ballista.
“We need to ‘support’ properly!”
Chid’s Motor beat reached the top of the trees, kicked at the branch, and charged ahead. At the same time, Ady’s Motor beat started attacking from long range. Steel arrows flew through the air, splitting it.
The two Tellestarles worked in concert, forcing Earlecumber into a corner. Earlecumber couldn’t overcome the difference in numbers, taking a few steps back. If the situation didn’t improve, the pilots would be under tremendous mental pressure. Despite risking death with any wrong move, Edgar, who was piloting Earlecumber was as cool as a cucumber, showing a serious expression and strong concentration. He was at an overwhelming disadvantage, but he refused to give up, waiting for the chance to counterattack. His strong determination frustrated Kerhild and her minions who outnumbered him.
The opportunity presented itself at this moment.
Kerhild and the Copper Fang member were focusing on Earlecumber, since there were no signs of other machines. The Knight member raised its sword, attempting to attack the back of Earlecumber again. Closing in, he aimed the sword at Earlecumber’s back.
After taking the first step, something flashed between Earlecumber and Tellestarle. From the faint moonlight in the woods, that thing reflected a threatening metallic light. It landed on the trees in front of the Knight member with a thud, shaking the entire tree.
“An attack!? Enemy reinforcement!!”
The shocked Knight member pulled back his leg. There was another force beside them and they were clearly hostile to the Tellestarles. This was a huge surprise to them, as the Tellestarle could afford to do a pincer attack because of their numerical advantage. The appearance of another enemy overturned this, making them hesitant to proceed as they searched for the unseen enemy.
Seeing this, the twins smiled. The attack just now halted the movement of the band (Knight) member, which was their plan all along. Chid’s Motor beat was moving at high speeds above the Silhouette Knight’s head, kicking off the trees to accelerate. It then raised its sword, aiming for the head of the Tellestarle.
As the Knight member turned its head, searching the surroundings, something humanoid was flying at him with amazing speed. The unexpected attack surprised him and he tried to dodge by twisting the body of the machine. The machine stopped in its tracks and turned its head unnaturally. The extended two handed sword stabbed at the inside of the helmet, creating screeching sounds and sparks. The Silhouette Knights were tough with its utilisation of physical boost magic, not only did this blow not leave much damage, the crystal eye was as good as new. But, the unnatural evasive movement made the Tellestarle lose its balance.
The twins didn’t let this good chance get away and continued attacking. Ady’s Motor beat was standing firmly at a place close by, lowering her centre of gravity as she aimed her ballista, firing without hesitation. Lock and load, whenever the dull sound of energy being released was heard, giant arrows that could easily be mistaken as lances shot skywards. The earlier shot had given her the bearings, allowing Ady to unleash a storm of arrows at the unbalanced Tellestarle.
Seeing the Copper Fang Knight member’s Tellestarle being toyed by the attacks from the Silhouette gear, Edgar changed his cautious approach and closed in on Kerhild’s machine in an instant. He didn’t know how long the twins could hold up the Knight member’s machine, so he had to fully utilise this opportunity and take some risks.
“Prepare to die!”
The sudden ambush and the cadet who switched to the offensive made Kerhild even more frustrated.
“These rascals!! Don’t look down on us!!”
Unlike the hesitation earlier, the Tellestarle’s sword was full of terrifying power. The change was incredible.
Facing this attack, Earlecumber didn’t dodge and took the hit head on. Tellestarle’s power was on par with the heavier models, so, Edgar will definitely lose in a direct confrontation. Other than arm power, Edgar put all its weight behind the sword, stopping Tellestarle’s sword for an instant. This was Edgar’s anti new model skill he came up with from his past experience. It would be useless once the opponent became aware of it, so, he couldn’t repeat it too often; it was a double edged sword. That’s why Edgar chose to show his hand to his adversary at the very beginning. The stalemate would be broken once the Tellestarle used more power. Before the Tellestarle could do that, Earlecumber pushed his sword down, bringing the Tellestarle’s sword along with it.
Earlecumber’s left hand that was holding the shield withdrew, and pushed out towards the Tellestarle with great force. This was known as a kite shield, the diamond shaped shield had a horn on its surface. Although it was blunt, it still made a simple bashing weapon. And, of course, Edgar aimed for the arm. The arms were closely related to the attack power, and structurally speaking, they were weaker than the other parts.
A weird sound came from the arm of the Tellestarle. The idea of a follow up attack flashed through Edgar’s mind, but he turned and backed away instead. The next second, a barrage of spells from the back weapon landed at where Edgar was standing moments earlier.
“It’s not going that well…”
Edgar observed his opponent calmly, and his face twisted bitterly when he realised something. The enemy didn’t realise his shock and retracted the back weapon and didn’t pursue. Edgar’s earlier attack didn’t cause critical damage, the arm seemed serviceable and the sword was still gripped tightly in its hand. Tellestarle’s calm and ominous silence changed Edgar’s shock into caution.
“My apologies to you, cadet.”
The Tellestarle said suddenly. There was no emotional fluctuation, the steady tone made Edgar even more cautious.
“To be honest, I had been underestimating you because you are a cadet. In the end, you have proven to be really capable.”
The movement of the Tellestarle became slower as it took up a stance, the stiffness in its movement disappeared. Even with an unfamiliar machine, Kerhild had gotten used to it after running such a long distance with it. That’s right, she was the Commander of the Copper Fang Knights— it might not be a regular Order of Knights, but the title wouldn’t be bestowed on one without ability.
“As my apology, I will show it to you. I might have gotten rusty from lack of use… watch this, ‘fang of the copper snake’!!”
Before she finished speaking, Tellestarle attacked with movements that were faster than her initial strike. The fierce attack was sudden and took everything Earlecumber had to withstand it.
“Strong! It’s a tough opponent!!”
Earlecumber kept a safe distance and defended with its shield probing the next step it should make. The white and steel colored Silhouette moved at the same time, sprinting with the roar of their machines.
The Copper Fang Knights member who was listening to the fight between Earlecumber and Tellestarle from a distance was yelling angrily from an unexpected development of events:
“These things keep squirming around!”
He could hear the sound of his enemies kicking the trees echoing in the forest, making it hard to determine their position. The Copper Fang Knight swung his sword wildly in frustration, but didn’t hit them. At this moment, another giant lance hit the outer skin of the Tellestarle, causing sparks.
This situation had been going on for quite some time. There were two opponents, one with a melee weapon flying around the forest; the other firing arrows as big as a lance from afar, working together seamlessly. Their teamwork toyed the Knight member around completely.
The size of the adversaries was much smaller than a Silhouette Knight, but this was an advantage in concealing oneself in the forest, helping with the sneak attacks. Their individual attacks were nothing insignificant against the Silhouette Knight’s armour reinforced by magic, making it seem tougher than it looks. But, a hit to the joints would be critical even for a Silhouette Knight.
They couldn’t deal significant damage with their attacks, but they were still a dangerous presence that couldn’t be ignored. Unfortunately, the Copper Fang Knight thought the opponents were too small and could be dealt with in one hit. While he was aiming at the enemy jumping through the sky, a barrage of lance attacks fell on his unguarded back.
The worst thing was the Tellestarle he was piloting had Silhouette arms on its back. The intrinsic engraving and low endurance couldn’t withstand the burst of lances, and lost its functionality from the damage.
Realising things were getting dangerous; the Copper Fang Knight went on the defensive. But, it was too late. The Tellestarle had lost one of its advantages. Even though he adopted a defensive position, it resulted in him being attacked one sidedly.
The Copper Fang Knight member was as furious as a wild beast pricked in the butt, and he thought about how to take down these damn enemies. The enemy in charge of long distance attacks was cautious and kept a certain distance, and would flee if he went near. He should dispose of the opponent in melee range. But, if he couldn’t stop that thing’s movement, or at least keep up with the opponent’s speed with his eyes, the plan would end there. While the Knight was forcing his mind that was burning from anger to think, the enemies’ attacks continued, fuelling his wrath.
Suddenly, a ray of moonlight shone through the trees onto the Tellestarle’s crystal eye. The Knight saw the image captured by the holo monitor and inspiration struck. His expression was like a wild beast that found a prey and couldn’t wait to pounce.
After his numerous attacks got deflected, Chid had given up on denting the tough Silhouette Knight. Basically, Silhouette gear had about the same attack power as humans; it’s not possible to defeat Silhouette Knights with it. Even though Chid tried increasing speed and aimed for the weak joints, the Tellestarle wasn’t foolish enough to allow that.
Edgar senpai is right, we could only stall for time. That should be enough, but I still can’t—
Chid’s Motor beat accelerated by swinging on the wire anchor and jumped. He released the arrow head embedded on the tree and stopped on the next tree with a great force. Chid focused and kicked at the tree branch to accelerate, attacking the Tellestarle that had turned around to defend against the attack from Ady’s Motor beat. The attack aiming for the shoulder joints was blocked, ending in failure.
As Chid’s Motor beat was preparing to retreat, the Tellestarle behind was moving in a different way than before. It had probably lost its composure, swinging its sword wildly. The vegetation was thick in this area; the random attacks won’t hit Chid’s Motor beat. The power stemming from the strand crystal tissue bashed the trees and branches, sending it all over the place.
“What’s with that, it’s dangerous—”
Does he really think it will hit just by swinging wildly? Chid felt the pilot of the Tellestarle had lost his cool and laughed lightly. He understood how his opponent felt, as Chid couldn’t bring the Tellestarle down and was troubled, too. The Tellestarle kept repeating its movement, felling some of the trees, but it didn’t affect Chid’s movement. The accelerating Chid approached the Tellestarle once again.
Just as the Knight expected, the Silhouette gear reflected the moonlight as it charged into the edge of the trees. It was bright in the dim forest, marking its position clear to the Knight, who was watching the surroundings.
“There you are!! Found you!!”
The Knight who was toyed with swung his sword with all his might. It was a fatal situation for the Motor beat that was using the darkness of the forest and its small size. Chid kicked the tree in an attempt to change directions, but the sword swinging down was faster than him. The irony was that this attack, which contained all the hate and anger of the Knight was more powerful than any of his previous attacks.
Ady stared with widened eyes and screamed. She was hesitant about taking action, but, it was too late to attack with the mobile Ballista now. Ady hung on to faint hope and ran.
Chid felt all the blood in his body flowing backwards as he stared at the sword of the giant that was closing in with frightening speed. He remembered something. It was related to his teacher— Eru. The advantage Eru has, was his agility and magic abilities. Didn’t Eru teach him the spell to ‘accelerate in mid-air without footholds’?
Silhouette gears was a structure made from metal frame and operated by crystal tissue, while crystal tissues were a catalyst that acted as a medium to draw out magic.
Chid kicked out his legs strongly, channelling his mana into the crystal tissue powering the legs. At the same time, an architect spell showed itself splendidly. With no regards to force or control, the burst of air exploded like a bomb. The spell named by Eru as Air Thrust violently twisted the momentum of Chid’s Motor beat. The diagonal slash of the giant’s blade went through the space Chid’s Motor beat was in moments earlier with destructive force.
Chid who almost died under the sword went out of control in mid-air. He wasn’t used to flying in the air like Eru, and couldn’t follow up after forcing himself to use a skill he was not familiar with. Betting on a lifeline, Chid shot out his wire anchor as he was spinning out of control.
Fortunately, the wire anchor latched into a tree branch securely, and would allow Chid to regain his balance by retracting it. But, before Chid could put this into action, he faced the problem of his wire anchor running out.
The wire anchor that had been pulled to its maximum length shook Chid for a moment; the strong momentum made Chid’s Motor beat changed its direction to the side. It was anchored to a tree by the wires, spinning around it in mid-air. Confused by the centrifugal force, Chid maintained his speed and saw the ground approaching and scream. He straightened the machine with all his might and moderate force to brake by Air Compression, learning from his earlier mistake. He followed that with Air Suspension— another magic taught by Eru personally— and used the air to slow himself down, absorbing the impact with the ground. Chid, who was about to crash heavily into the ground managed to make a slow and safe landing.
“Phew… That was close… really close…”
Because he was using large amounts of mana recklessly, Chid panted hard to replenish his mana and calmed his beating heart as he stood up. It’s not just the drop in his mana that made him tremble; the near death experience played a part, too.
But, the current situation didn’t allow him a chance to take a break. Tremours that shook the ground and the sound of the footfalls of a giant were drawing closer. The Tellestarle saw what happened, too. The Knight piloting Tellestarle thought Chid would crash into the ground and die, but realising his opponents were hard to handle, he had to confirm Chid’s death with his own eyes before relaxing. That’s why he was heading towards Chid to land the final blow.
There was no other choice but to escape. Chid forced himself to breath in deeply, and activated the Silhouette gear as he breathed out evenly. He tried using the wire anchor to move large distance, but was stunned when he saw the hand of the machine. The anchor that was bounded to the tree when he fell couldn’t be used, and didn’t work when he pulled at it. Chid gritted his teeth, pulled out the device from his arm. It would just get in his way right now.
Chid squeezed out his last ounce of strength to run, putting as much distance as he could away from the attack of the titan.
Ady’s Motor beat was sprinting in the forest, kicking up the dirt as she fired her mobile ballista at the Tellestarle going after Chid. But, the armour mercilessly deflected all the attacks. It did nothing to stop the Tellestarle, and had no visible effect at all. With both party moving, it would take amazing luck and coincidence for a hit to be effective.
Ady endured the raising anxiety in her heart, and kept firing her ballista non-stop, hoping to stall the enemy. But, the Tellestarle was like a hungry beast who found a wounded prey, licking its lips as it approached Chid step by step. Chid’s Motor beat appeared to be severely weakened, and it seemed unlikely it could escape. Right now, the only one who could stop the Tellestarle and help Chid would be Ady. With a prayer in her heart, she continued her attack.
But, her prayers weren’t answered.
The Tellestarle who had locked onto Chid’s Motor beat raised its sword again, speeding up in order to deliver the final blow. Just a few more steps and Chid’s Motor beat would be within sword range. The Tellestarle took a final giant stride.
Ady’s vision was blurred by tears, Chid’s Motor beat stopped struggling and the Knight was sneering, elated by the prospect of his revenge. Something unexpected happened. There was ‘something’ behind Chid’s Motor beat, right in the path of the Tellestarle, which was Chid’s broken wire. The wire was tied securely to the trees at the height of the Silhouette gear— which was the legs of the Tellestarle.
Not noticing the sudden attack— the Tellestarle, who took the step with all its might entangled the wire, the taut wire stopped the leg of the giant, stopping it in its tracks. This was the weakness of the bipedal Silhouette Knight which walks like humans were fated to have. The Tellestarle, who was tripping while shifting its centre of gravity, fell forward just like that.
The Copper Fang Knight pilot was probably lost in his anger and couldn’t react in time. The Tellestarle fell forward elegantly, bumping its head into a tree branch with a dull clang. A human would probably die from such a hit. The giant’s head maintained this position as it fell, leaving a cloud of dust and the sound of a crash in its wake.
“... Eh, what, what happened…?”
“Chid! Chid! Are you alright!? Are you still alive!?”
Chid’s jaw was slack the entire time, watching the event unfold behind him. The Tellestarle who fell loudly didn’t move, lying prone to the ground amidst the dust.
Ady, who arrived a bit late, ran to Chid’s side. Confirming that Chid was standing stunned in place, she breathed a sigh of relief.
“Great! I thought I wouldn’t make it!! Ahh, this is great…!! But, I didn’t expect you to prepare such a trap as you were escaping… Amazing, well done, Chid!!”
“Ahhh?... Eh?? Ahhh, hmmm? Ohhh, what?”
Compared to Chid, who was laughing dryly as he averted his eyes, Ady was all smiles, swinging her arms strongly to express her joy.
“Anyway, let’s take care of this fellow.”
After that, Chid clenched his slightly trembling hands.
The Tellestarle fell slowly.
It hit a tree on the way down, the Copper Fang Knight who was inside the twisted machine didn’t know what happened and panicked. The Tellestarle didn’t have time to break the fall and crashed onto the ground directly. Its momentum was slowed when it hit the tree, but the impact from the fall still affected the pilot inside the cockpit. The force coming from his back pushed out all the air in his lungs, making him cough a few times. Thanks to the seatbelt, he was fine after being shaken in his seat. If not for the seat belt, he might have turned into minced meat after tumbling around in the cockpit.
After the machine stopped moving, the Knight shook his head, and tried to grasp the situation. The head of the machine probably suffered serious damage; the image on the holo monitor was distorted and could disappear anytime. The damage to the entire body wasn’t clear, but, he knew the reactor was fine from the steady vibration under his seat.
No matter what, the first thing he needed to do was to stand the machine up. Pushing his aching body, the Knight reaches for the control stick. Suddenly, the sharp sound of air gushing out was heard. The holo monitor projecting a twisted image was gone as the chest armour opened. Replacing that was the cool night air and the scene of the real world.
Before him was the moon. The Knight stared at it, lost for a moment. The almost perfectly spherical moon was exceptionally bright, and someone was standing before it. He still couldn’t focus, thinking that this was the giant armoured Knight that he was fighting all this while.
“Taste my fist of punishment!!”
After hearing an exceptionally young shriek, his vision was filled by the view of an extra large iron fist, and that was the last thing he remembered.
Again, returning to the scene in Fort Casadesus.
After the Copper Fang Knights’ Captain Kerhild accomplished her main objective— seizing the new model, and had escaped, the rest of the Knights that chose to stay behind continued battling the Red Rabbit Knights. The Red Rabbits were full of wrath towards the invaders who had caused much destruction, determined to wipe them out. If the invaders turned their back, they would definitely be done in by countless swords. That was as good as suicide, so the Copper Fang Knights had no choice but to engage.
But, unexpectedly, the battle was still at an impasse. And, naturally, they rallied around the two new models that stayed behind. It might be hard to control, but its powerful performance more than made up for this. As the phrase goes, ‘an untamed horse could run fast, too’. Facing such tenacious enemies, the Red Rabbits couldn’t hold back their anxiety.
At this moment, a gust of wind swept through the burning battlefield, even knocking the red flames aside. It was a prominent blue whirlwind— the combination of the Silhouette gear, Motor beat and Ernesti. He used the anchor wire to fly around the walls of the fort and observe the situation. Watching from up high, it was easy to identify the enemy from the ally. The one standing with the Tellestarle was the enemy.
He leapt towards the enemy Karrdator nearby. Silhouette gear was one size bigger than humans, but was only a quarter the height of Silhouette Knights. He wasn’t discovered by the Karrdator when Eru landed softly on its shoulders.
“Good night Mr. Thief. I made you wait, let me join in, too.”
The Knight who was only focusing on the Red Rabbits was shocked by the sudden appearance of the armoured Knight appearing on the holo monitor. Before he could understand what was happening, the seemingly large palm of Motor beat covered the holo monitor. For Silhouette Knights, the head exists in order to protect the ‘eye crystal’. Naturally, it was covered by helmets and heavily protected by armour.
But, the Motor beat that was smaller than the Silhouette Knight reached in through the gaps of the armour and attacked the eye crystal directly. It was too close for the image to focus, the blurry palm was glowing faintly from magic, materialising into a mid-tier spell that was more powerful than Fireball — Flame Strike. No matter how tough the armour of the Silhouette Knight was, it wouldn’t last long if the insides were attacked directly. The flames filled every corners of his vision before the holo monitor finally lost its light— the eye crystal was destroyed. With the light source gone, the sealed cockpit fell into darkness. This unexpected development made the Copper Fang Knight panic.
Before the enemy Karrdator could thrash about from confusion, Motor beat fired the anchor wire to the Tellstarle nearby and swung in the air. With the direction adjusted slightly from air compression, the Motor Beat charged towards the back of the knees of the machine. Before the targeted Tellestarle realised a foreign object was entangling it, Motor Beat had fired a few dozen Flame Lances into the knee joint, creating a grand explosion at the thinner armour there, breaking the joint. The Motor beat delivered the final blow with a kick, and the Tellestarle lost its balance and fell.
When their comrades, including the new model fell one after another, the Copper Fang Knights fell into disarray. The Red Rabbits couldn’t fathom what was happening, but, they could see that the strange blue armour was putting on a spectacular performance.
When another Karrdator bent its knees, the Copper Fang Knights finally noticed the full plate armour that was flying around them. They attempted to strike it down with their swords in a hurry, but the blue armour was one step faster than the giant’s sword, disappearing from view as if something was pulling it in. The Motor beat stopped at the top of the fort’s wall once again, moving swiftly before attacking the other Tellestarle. Using Air Suspension while dropping from the blind spot at the top of its head, Eru landed on the shoulder of the machine like a shadow.
In order to fend off the Red Rabbits, the Copper Fang Knight deployed its back weapon. Eru showed a devious smile. He was the ‘proposer’ of the back weapon; no one understood its structure and functions more than him. Eru had a way of using this against his enemies. Keeping his balance, Eru swiftly took out the sub arms supporting the Silhouette arms, destroying the part equivalent to the ‘hands’ and pulled on the silver nerve to move the Silhouette arms. Eru deftly manipulated Motor Beat, turning the Silhouette arms that were taller than the Silhouette gear around, pointing it at the other Silhouette arms and securing it.
There was no way the Copper Fang Knight knew his machine was heading towards tragedy. He pulled the trigger without hesitation. The Silhouette arms received adequate mana and an Overed spell materialised at its tip. And, the tip which was sabotaged by Eru exploded immediately, sending a shock wave as the Silhouette arms exploded. Before the Tellestarle could understand what happened, it was sent flying by the force, falling head first into the ground and stopped moving.
“Tamayaa—” <TL: something you yell when setting off fireworks in Japan.>
Eru, who was on its shoulder moments ago let out a cheerful comment as it somersaulted gracefully in the air and casually landed. And, so, the outnumbered Copper Fang Knights were taken down in no time. The struggle earlier was like a lie, that’s how the victory felt like.
Molten couldn’t hold back his sigh of resignation. The invaders he himself couldn’t handle were put down like a joke with unorthodox moves—and, the one that did it was a small Silhouette Knight imitation he had never seen before. Other than ridiculous, he couldn’t think of a better term to describe it. Molten, who was suppressing his frustration couldn’t help sighing towards the sky, when he saw the figure exiting the blue armour after the battle ended.
“... Ah— Ernesti, it’s you.”
He worked very hard to not show any fatigue in his voice. Eru opened the armour of his Silhouette gear, Motor beat. The terrifying thing was that his face dyed in the red glow of the flames was showing a huge satisfactory smile.
“Yes, Knight Commander. Sorry I’m late; I couldn’t find a machine just now.”
That’s not the problem. Molten used his willpower to swallow back these words.
“... No, I need to thank you for helping us with these troublesome enemies. I have much to ask, but, let’s leave it for later. Since the issue here is settled, we need to chase the ones that ran off… We might not make it in time though.”
Molten stroked the neat beard he was proud of, and crossed his arms. Quite some time had passed since the thieves, who stole the Tellestarle, had left. It was normal to assume they were beyond reach.
“As for this, I have something to report to you. The students travelling from Laihiala Academy met the Tellestarle who was escaping by chance. They report that they were attacked as they were approaching the suspicious group, and engaged in battle immediately. They should have stalled quite a bit of time; the thieves might still be nearby.”
Eru might not be able to see him, but, a ferocious smile returned to Molten’s face, just like a hunter going after its prey. Hymerwort turned to the surviving Karrdator and ordered:
“You heard him, I will be going after the thieves that had run off, but, we can’t leave the heavily damaged fort alone. I order you all to stay behind to defend it.”
The Red Rabbit Knights, which has three companies at full strength, had only 20% of its combat forces left. Destroying the enemy was as good as dwindling their own forces, and that was the terrible part of the invader’s scheme. Even if they deployed the few damaged Karrdators here, it will only make them uneasy. Hence, they should be left to defend the fort, while the strongest machine that was almost undamaged, Hymerwort, pursued. They had no time to hesitate.
“Alright, Ernesti, as you can see, we are short handed. I would like to request you and your weird armour to lead the way and assist me.”
“Definitely. Be it leading the way or assisting you, I will do all that I can.”
They left this place to the Karrdator who saluted them. Hymerwort and Motor beat dashed out to the road gallantly.
The metallic clashes in the distance stopped.
Dietrich felt complicated with half uneasiness and half expectation, raising his eyebrow. He pressed on to the pedal harder, increasing Guyale’s pace. He raced on, the surroundings illuminated solely by moonlight, not decreasing his almost suicidal speed. The footfalls of the iron giant mixed with the scraping of metal against metal. Looking carefully, the crimson armour on it was twisted all over. With every step it took, some parts of the armour were even creating sparks from the friction.
Guyale was tangled up with Tellestarle before entering the forest, which stalled him. Dietrich was so angry that he fired his back weapon despite the damage to his own machine, regaining freedom for a short time.
But, the thing that stumped him was the half destroyed Tellestarle, who refused to release Guyale’s leg. That fearless determination took Guyale a lot of effort to break out of. The damage was minimal, but, Dietrich felt that the other party got his way when he thought about the time he wasted.
He finally subdued the Tellestarle completely in the end. Dietrich then chased after the escaping Tellestarle and Earlecumber who was following it. Acquart Forest was filled with signs of violent battles and movement of Silhouette Knights, so, it was easy to track. He focused on hurrying.
As he ran, Guyale suddenly came to an empty plot of land. No, the place wasn’t this bare originally. The signs of slashes on the trees and things falling all over showed that an intense battle happened here. Dietrich shook off the ominous feeling creeping up his back and surveyed the area. The surroundings was filled with dark trees with wild grass growing beneath. He looked around him and found something pure white that didn’t fit in the forest. The pure white here could only be one thing.
“Edgar! I have been looking for you, where is the Telle…”As he approached the white object, Dietrich’s voice became smaller. He recognised the giant resting against the tree— the Silhouette Knight, Earlecumber, and gasped.
The white and flawless armour was twisted from an intense battle, the colour turning dim and dull. It was probably slashed at the shoulder; the entire right arm was missing, even the chest armour nearby was peeled off. The lifelessly dangling left arm had a shield attached, which was covered with scars of explosion and slashes, it was still swinging slightly. There was slight damage, but, the legs were in good condition. That was the proof that Earlecumber fought until the very end.
At the same time, the sword that pinned Earlecumber to the tree by the stomach announced its defeat clearer than a picture that says a thousand words. They probably struck at the same time. An arm severed at the elbow was still holding the sword sticking through Earlecumber’s stomach, and seemed to belong to a Tellestarle. Listening carefully, a churning noise could be heard from within the machine. The ether reactor wasn’t functional, but it was still running.
Earlecumber remained motionless. Dietrich who couldn’t hold back his frustration ran towards it.
“...!? Edgar!! Hey, answer me! Are you alright!?”
An indescribable feeling filled Dietrich’s heart. The damage to the Silhouette Knight does not indicate the injury that the pilot incurred. But, because the Silhouette Knight was humanoid in shape, people tend to assume that the pilot suffered similar injuries. Reacting to Dietrich’s shouts, Earlecumber moved its neck slowly, as if it was rusted. Half of the armour covering the head had been squashed; the unsteady gaze looked over from the crystal eye.
“... Ugh, is it Di? Sorry, I let the Tellestarle get away…”
“Ah, I see. But, are you okay!? Hang on, I will send you to the fort…”
Dietrich relaxed and suggested, but, was interrupted by Edgar’s loud voice.
“Di! Earlecumber’s reactor is shot and it can’t move, but, it won’t blow up any time soon. Aside from some bruises from the crash, I am fine. More importantly, it hadn’t been long, go pursue Tellestarle…!!”
Dietrich was caught in a dilemma. Was it fine to abandon the seriously damaged Earlecumber and go after Tellestarle? Edgar said he was fine, but, there was no guarantee that it was true. Seeing his rival and friend, who competed with him in the pilot faculty all this time in a bind made Dietrich hesitate to chase Tellestarle. No, he was hesitating about leaving this place.
“Di, we got this far, don’t let him slip away, I’m counting on you!”
“... Alright, leave it to me!!”
The thing that made up his mind was the words of his friend. Dietrich could feel the strong determination within Edgar’s voice, and it swept his doubts away. He couldn’t ignore the will that pushed Earlecumber to fight on until it broke down. Dietrich’s friend had not given up on the fight. Guyale nodded firmly, turned around and chased Tellestarle, charging into the forest.
Hearing the footsteps of Guyale grow distant, Edgar managed to squeeze a smile onto his bitter facial expression. He could no longer see the twisted image displayed on the holo monitor. As he listened to the fading footfalls, he imagined the scene of someone running off.
“I’m counting on you, Di. I am going to rest for a while…”
Edgar breathed out, holding back his moan and slowly relaxing his body. He didn’t even have the strength to wipe the red liquid dripping from his forehead, and submerged into the darkness once again.
The crimson Silhouette Knight morphed into a whirlwind, sprinting in the forest. Dietrich used his anger to suppress the anxiety welling in his chest, pushing his machine to go forth. Guyale had already drawn both its swords and deployed its back weapon, ready to fight. The moment he finds Tellestarle, Dietrich’s blade smothering from wrath would joyously send a final blow to the enemy.
As he ran, Dietrich could tell from the tracks in the forest that the Tellestarle was in terrible condition. Earlecumber dealt serious damage to Tellestarle, as expected, and Guyale’s mission was to attack the enemy and deal the final blow.
“It couldn’t have gone too far with such damage…! Where is it!?”
After running for quite some time, Dietrich noticed something from the senses he honed through his many battles. In the tracks in front of him, something was squirming in the darkness.
“That is… No, it’s not Tellestarle!?”
His instinct told him the enemy he was looking for wasn’t in front of him. He felt there were ‘numerous’ beings. Those things seemed to notice that Guyale was approaching, and crawled out from the fog of darkness with a roar.
The true identity of these things was Demon beasts.
From their size, they were definitely duel level, and it was a ‘swarm’ in numbers. The track of Tellestarle vanished in the middle of this group.
“What… what is happening!?”
The track had been trampled by the squirming Demon beasts and was difficult to identify. He was just one step away from victory, and was stopped by an unexpected ambush.
Dietrich was furious, and had the illusion of everything before him turning red. His emotions reached the boiling point and he didn’t notice how unnatural this situation was.
Before him was a swarm of demon beasts from a ‘mixture of species’. Demon beast was just a general term and consisted of multiple types. It was normally impossible to mobilise them together, as they have the concept of territory and nests. In other words, the swarm that was blocking his way was a ‘unnatural occurrence’.
Several of them lowered their stance and growled at Guyale. They weren’t just gathered together, each one of them were highly agitated. There were some that bared their teeth at each other, trying to impose dominance over each other.
In such a situation, what would happen if a giant emitting an aura of fury was to approach? The Demon beasts were sensitive to changes. Using their instincts, the beast judged the giant, that was standing still from anger and confusion, to be an enemy and charged with crazed vigour.
Dietrich felt regret over showing this fatal opening as he took a stance against the Demon beast charging towards him. He had calmed down slightly after losing his cool earlier. The remnant of calmness in his mind grasped the situation, directing his wrath into the will to attack, allowing Guyale to display an even more powerful ability. A mighty slash decapitated a flame tiger, while the shot from ‘Kamtha’ killed another.
As he fought the Demon beasts, Dietrich realised ‘something’ and frowned. His original goal was to pursue the escaping Tellestarle; he didn’t have time to deal with so many Demon beasts. His only hope, which was the tracks left behind had already been trampled over. Even if he could break through this swarm, it would be impossible to catch up. What about going around this swarm? But, with so many Demon beasts congregating, their active area would be large too. How far would he need to detour in order to avoid detection? Just thinking about it made him feel it was foolish. Even if he avoided battle with the Demon beasts, he will lose the only clue to help him track the enemy. Dietrich wasn’t optimistic about his chances of finding his target by wandering around the forest.
Did I lose him? The thought flashed across Dietrich’s mind, and he was aware of something uneasy pricking at his heart. He cursed the ‘coincidence’ of the demon beasts blocking his path.
No matter how angry Dietrich was, he wouldn’t do something as dumb as charging into the midst of a swarm of Demon beasts. But, the situation developed by itself. As Dietrich stood his ground, the scent of blood from the Demon beast he killed spread out towards the other Demon beasts, agitating them further, and drawing them towards the source of the scent.
And, the source of the bloody smell stemmed from the crimson Knight. Watching the Demon beasts flooding out of the forest one after another, Dietrich couldn’t help groaning a curse. Despite his anger, he moved Guyale back. But, this action was too late and he didn’t have much choice. Dietrich couldn’t shake off the blunt bear and flame tiger no matter what he did. Dietrich needed to find a place to fight, but, there were too many Demon beasts. If they gang up on him, even the new Guyale would be in danger. As Dietrich retreated, he cautiously gauged the opportune time to attack.
The Demon beasts running on four legs were naturally faster than Guyale, and entered his attack range. As they were about to pounce him from behind, Guyale stopped in its tracks, and slashed behind him like a whirlwind. The endless power of the new model raised this attack into a fatal blow. Ignoring the flame tiger it defeated in mid-air, Guyale fired its ‘Kamtha’ to keep the others at bay. As the Demon beasts collided together and fell into confusion, Guyale retreated once again to buy time.
But, a strong force tugged onto its hand, making it stop. A blunt dragon was biting onto Guyale’s left hand. This type of Demon beast was strong; a normal Silhouette Knight wouldn’t be able to match it. Guyale didn’t lose in terms of strength, but, he was forced to stay in this position, a grave mistake. Meanwhile, the Demon beasts picked themselves up and drew closer. Dietrich moaned hysterically like he used to, thinking about how many he could take out, with his Silhouette arms before they come closer. Instead of resignation, his sigh contained the ferocious will to fight.
Suddenly, numerous objects flew over the top of Guyale’s head with a screech.
Instead of precision, the giant arrows that relied more on numbers flew in one after another, sticking into the faces and legs of the Demon beasts. Seeing several Demon beasts fall in pain, Dietrich used this chance to cut off the blunt dragon’s head. Guyale, who regained its freedom from the crisis used the chance to look at the armour on the trees, there were two Silhouette gears there. From what he remembered, there were only three people who could control Silhouette gears proficiently, and two of them journeyed with him.
“Di-senpai! We will cover you, so, please fall back a little!!”
“Why are there so many Demon beasts!? Ah— annoying!”
The two of them— the twins Chid and Ady didn’t hide their displeasure of the sight of the swarm of Demon beasts, aiming their mobile ballistas and firing off a barrage. The Demon beast who was hit in the head roared and fell in pain, and the swarm scattered. Dietrich finally obtained a break in the action, which was more valuable than gold, but—
“Ah—Di-senpai, sorry, that barrage used up all the arrows. Let’s use this chance to flee.”
“...It’s enough, thanks for the big help. You guys go first.”
Right now, the twins who strutted their stuff during the battle with Tellestarle had limited supplies left, and it was depleted in the last burst that was fired. Dietrich took a slow deep breath. The covering fire from his juniors cooled his overheated emotions down, allowing him to look at the big picture. Guyale was wary about retreating too hastily, but, Chid thought Dietrich wasn’t fast enough.
“They will catch up if you don’t hurry!”
“Yes, I think so, too. But, Edgar is still behind us, and he might get dragged in if we let them draw too close. It seems like we have to defeat these guys before that happens.”
“Edgar-senpai!? We can’t let that happen! We will help, too!!”
The twins were full of spirit, but they were down to the two handed sword in their hands right now. Chid’s Motor beat was even missing its anchor wire. Even with their help, it wasn’t enough against the swarm of Demon beasts.
“You have exhausted your arrows right? Thanks to you, the Demon beasts have scattered. I will figure this out myself.”
Dietrich gave an exceedingly calm reply. There was no hint of anxiety or anger in his tone. They couldn’t escape easily, these Demon beast are obstacles blocking his pursuit anyway. Since there was no choice but to fight, there was no need to be troubled over this. This made Dietrich feel more at ease.
“So, bring Edgar along with you and leave. This is nothing, leave it to me…”
“Then, let me accompany you in their place.”
Before the grumpy faced twins could say anything, someone replied from an unexpected direction. Immediately after that, the one replying leapt over their heads and showed himself. A familiar blue figure faced the swarm of Demon beasts with no hesitation. When Dietrich recognised who it was, the worries in his mind vanished. As he suppressed his smile, Chid and Ady cheered, and high fived each other.
The person who flew in from behind them—Ernesti, who was piloting a blue Silhouette gear, smiled audaciously as he watched the swarm of Demon beasts close in.
“Could you explain the situation? The prey… cough, the Tellestale, where is it? These prey… cough, cough, what is with this swarm of Demon beasts?”
In Dietrich’s eyes, that demeanor of being overly enthusiastic overlapped with his previous memories. This boy could even fight a hopelessly big Demon beast joyfully. Eru would definitely kick up a storm here, Demon beasts of this level were no match for him. Dietrich smiled bitterly.
“I ran into this swarm as I was chasing after Tellestarle. Its track goes right through the swarm… but, it had been trampled over, and is impossible to trace. I don’t know why there are Demon beasts at such a place. These things trampled over Tellestarle’s tracks and make me so mad. And, Edgar is down, resting somewhere behind us. I am thinking about stopping them right here.”
“I see, that means we should dispose of them first, right?”
“Ahh, yeah, let’s do that. Please give it your all, just like that time with the Behemoth.”
The blue Silhouette gear disregarded the heavy pressure from the Demon beasts and jumped right into the middle of the swarm. Compared to the Silhouette gear, duel level Demon beasts were much larger, and a swarm of them were coming like a tsunami. The small armour looked helpless before the tide washing in.
But, before that happened, the sound of an explosion overlapped with the sound of footsteps, and the Motor beat accelerated. It charged into the gap between the Demon beasts with the speed of a bullet, covered by the glow of magic as it passed by. The flame bullets which materialised hit the face of the Demon beasts, making the Demon beasts squirm painfully from their burnt nose and rampage. The swarm fell into a vicious cycle of chaos in no time.
Even though he had no time to spare, Dietrich had the urge to facepalm himself. He knew Eru would do something like that, and Eru didn’t disappoint and made a huge scene. Dietrich noticed something. The Motor beat was causing disarray among the Demon beasts, but that’s the limit of what it could do. It didn’t possess the attack power capable of taking down duel level Demon beasts after all.
Guyale aimed its back weapon and raised both of its swords. If that was so, his duty was to deliver the final blow. He couldn’t let this golden opportunity go. A few Demon beasts that broke out of the chaos charged at the crimson Knight. As Dietrich prepared to engage, a burst of wind dashed from his side.
A lump of metal smashed into the body of a Demon beast with a feral roar. This wasn’t just strength, it was also weight and speed that turned the Demon beast into minced meat, and sent it right back into the forest.
Ignoring the wide eyed Dietrich, Hymerwort raised its hammer and repeated the same procedure and crushed the incoming Demon beasts, sending it to its comrade.
“Hmmm, I heard the pilot of the new model in pursuit was a cadet, but I didn’t imagine you would not give an inch even in the face of this swarm of Demon beasts! Impressive guts. Allow me to help you!”
As Hymerwort chatted, it continued to turn one Demon beast after another into mush. Even though it wasn’t a new model, the tough armour of Hymerwort performed fantastically in this chaotic battle. As it was a heavy model, its power was on par with the new model and swept the Demon beasts away with ease. With the appearance of strong allies, Guyale didn’t just stand there. Using the typhoon created by Hymerwort as a shield, it acted like a guerrilla, taking down the Demon beasts one at a time.
There were a few dozen Demon beasts in this swarm, a far larger scale than the one which attacked Dallier Village. But, the group didn’t pay this any heed as Eru, Chid and Ady created havoc with their Silhouette gear, separating the beasts into smaller groups for Hymerwort and Guyale to finish off. Even if they were on a roll, it still took a lot of time to exterminate such a large number of Demon beasts. When the battle was over, the sky to the east had started turning white.
Eru opened the armour in Motor beat and surveyed the area. The forest which was the battlefield was a terrible sight. There were trees that were broken and had fallen over, barren grounds and the carcasses of gigantic beasts. Hymerwort and Guyale, who had taken down numerous Demon beasts were battered as the machines were pushed to its limit.
“... Let’s return to the fort.”
Eru calmly announced the end of the fight to Guyale, who was still ready for combat.
“... It’s no good?”
“Even if you want to pursue it, it will be too late. And, look at this terrible scene, there is no way to tell which direction the thief fled in. We accumulated too much fatigue, too, it is impossible even if we try.”
“It’s a pity, but, let’s call for aid from somewhere else…”
In response to Dietrich’s request, Eru shook his head.
“Fort Casadesus is in a terrible state, there is no telling when they can muster the manpower. And, with how well they executed the attack, I don’t think the thief would simply run. If they use decoys or disguises, it would be hard to track. We could try asking for aid, but, there is no guarantee…”
After hearing him say that, Dietrich forced his stiff hand to release the control stick and pull it back. Guyale’s back weapon screeched painfully as it retracted. The crimson Knight kept the swords in its hands and walked slowly towards the fort.
After the tense and chaotic night, the day was breaking. The sunlight scattered the darkness in the forest, revealing the trace of destruction left in Acquart Forest. Those involved in the incident were dead tired, and their reward was the damaged fortress and numerous sacrifices. The few surviving Karrdators pushed their tired bodies to perform their duties. Fortunately, the fort was built from stone, so the fire didn’t spread to the inside, allowing Fort Casadesus, which caught fire at one point to remain operational. But, its combat force was almost wiped out, with both manpower and the Silhouette Knights pushed to the brink.
Duke Knut Dixgard, seated in the Top Level War Room, a few wrinkles added to his aged, but sharp expression. Because of this incident that happened through the night, most of the people in Fort Casadesus stayed up the entire night. For the duke, who was between middle and elderly aged, working through the night was a heavy burden. But, his appearance and voice showed no sign of weakness.
“Including the gates, the fort lost twenty percent of its facilities. We suffered serious casualties, but, the pressing problem is the Silhouette Knights being just one step away from being wiped out.”
Summarising the report submitted to him, Knut couldn’t help sighing after confirming the losses suffered at the fort. The fort was in danger of falling after just one night.
… Thieves. I don’t know who their allegiance is to, but, damn… but, we were careless, too…
From what Knut knew, Fremmevira Kingdom had never suffered attacks from Silhouette Knights for the past century. Aside from there being nothing to gain from this, the natural barrier of Aubigne Mountain made it difficult for other countries to attack.
Politically wise, the Kingdom was stable and there were no signs of revolt, allowing all the territories to invest in anti-Demon beast defence. In this incident, the lack of experience was a serious flaw leading to self-destruction. The schemes of men were more terrifying than Demon beasts sometimes. Compared to the lesson learnt, the price they had to pay was heavy.
Molten knocked and entered the room. After saluting in silence, he skipped the opening greetings and got straight to the point:
“Pardon me, Sir. Regarding the new models… out of the five that were taken, four had been recovered, but, one of them shook off our pursuit and we lost track of it.”
“... It escaped?”
“During our pursuit, the Laihiala cadets joined in because of various reasons… But, something strange happened along the way.”
Knut told him to go on with his gaze.
“Demon beasts. Because of a swarm of Demon beasts appearing along the escape route of the thief, we had to give up on the pursuit.”
Another frown was added to Knut’s face. It’s nothing special for Demon beasts to appear, but, the timing of it showing up was too coincidental, and blocked the advance of the pursuing party? The Demon beasts might move as they pleased, but, that was normally part of their usual routine. Knut could sniff the scent of someone having a hand in this.
“I thought it was suspicious and investigated it thoroughly…”
Molten’s face which was known for being courageous had something bitter mixed in, including despise, anger and contempt. He said in a tone full of disdain:
“In the place where the Demon beasts showed up… I found remnants of a ‘curse bait’.”
In that instant, Knut, who was quietly thinking about the content of the report, opened his eyes wide from shock and anger. ‘Curse bait’ was a lure made from special medicine made for the purpose of attracting Demon beasts. It works by emitting a scent which the Demon beasts like, able to gather the Demon beasts nearby when used. But, the Demon beasts that congregated would be agitated and become more aggressive.
Hearing this, Knut stood up, knocking his chair backwards.
“Preposterous… curse bait!? It was used merely to ‘escape’!? Are they insane!! If that is true… No, as expected…”
The consequences of using that in the Fremmevira Kingdom were clear. It would create an epidemic of Demon beasts in the region, and was a great taboo in the Fremmevira Kingdom. Its production method was obviously heavily classified. Not just production, even possession could be punishable by death. Aside from legal issues, it was not acceptable rationally and emotionally by the masses. With the Demon beasts’ periodic attacks, both the Knights and civilians had to fight day and night in this nation. Doing something here would naturally be infuriating to the people, which exposed the origin of the thieves.
“I am thinking, could the thieves be from another nation…”
Knut nodded; he was thinking the same thing as Molten. Setting the issue with the curse bait aside, he couldn’t think of any reason anyone within the Kingdom would plot this incident. Knut had been considering this possibility for a long time, and, this new clue became the last piece of the puzzle. He pondered for a moment. This incident had serious implications, he needed to tidy up the situation and clear all his doubts.“... Molten, do what you can to gather information in the vicinity. There is no need to rush with the restoration of the fort. I have to report to His Majesty myself… I will be rushing to Känkänen. Prepare the carriage!”
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