Editors: PervySageChuck, Nate, Skythewood
The officers of the JGSDF Special Region Expeditionary Force Headquarters, most of them field-grade, were heatedly debating each other. If things went poorly, it might even break out into a fistfight.
Hazama looked at his subordinates, and thought that they had probably held it in for a long time.
Many members of the JGSDF Special Region Expeditionary Force were bored and restless. After all, there had been nothing for them to do after they came here.
For example, there were the tasks they were doing now, which would be base defense, dispatching small recon teams to gather information for future planning, fine tuning the unit’s operational standards, all of which were largely administrative tasks.
As for base defense, there had only been a few live engagements in total, and the enemy’s movements and strength were completely unknown.
So under normal circumstances, they would maintain perimeter security, build up the base, or maintain their personal equipment.
As such, the responsibility for defending the base was given to the 5th Combat Group, while the offensively-oriented 1st and 4th Combat Groups repeated their combat drills day after day in the base.
By the way, the 2nd and 3rd Combat Groups were not on this side of the “Gate”, while the 6th Combat Group and beyond were not fully formed yet.
At the present time, the Ministry of Defense was slowly rearranging troop deployments, citing that there was no need to mobilize everyone since they were not planning a full-scale invasion. The additional mention of “operational budget” silenced all dissent.
These restless men must have been intensely jealous after hearing that a certain recon team had “Encountered a dragon”, and “Defeated a dragon and saved innocent civilians”.
In the homeland, where life was peaceful and nothing of mention was happening, they could endure it. However, this side of the “Gate” was a battlefield, and the artillery and anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) teams could be proud of their showing in battle, while the infantrymen eagerly discussed the tension before firing and the feeling of pulling a trigger. The engineers, on the other hand, were busy building walls and roads, and their uniforms were constantly stained with mud.
And yet, some people were given missions where they could win glory, while they themselves…
Their twisted feelings, combined with the daily boredom of the 1st and 4th Combat Groups’ lives, rotted the men’s hearts. The officers who led these men had been infected by their restlessness as well.
And then, like manna from heaven, Itami’s request for reinforcements came in.
The personnel who got word of this were overjoyed, and naturally there was a noisy and boisterous response from the troops.
Itami’s request could be summarized thusly:
① Within the past month, a group of deserters from the enemy armed forces’ central command has committed acts of plunder, violence, arson and wanton murder within the Italica domain. Several villages have fallen prey to them and many lives have been lost.
3rd Recon Platoon was attacked while attempting to visit the town of Italica. The defenders have tried their best to mount a defensive battle, but losses have been heavy. A second large-scale attack is coming soon.
By the request of the town’s representative, Piña Co Lada, we have accepted the duty of providing security and protection for the local population. Please send help immediately.
② The deserters from the enemy’s armed forces’ central command, also known as “bandits”, are heavily-armed by the standards of the Special Region. We have confirmed the presence of cavalry, infantry and bowmen in numbers exceeding 600. The exact abilities of their mages are unknown.
③ The city has no ability to eliminate these “bandits”, and although the local authorities as represented by Count Formal’s family have already submitted a request for reinforcements to higher authorities, they will take a minimum of three days to arrive.
In other words, this was the perfect opportunity to save innocent civilians in the name of justice, beat the crap out of the bad guys, relieve their restlessness, and gain live combat experience!
The colonels stomped their leather shoes as they argued fiercely beside Gen. Hazama.
Col. Kamo of the 1st Combat Group must have been tired of the endless arguments, because he came before Gen. Hazama saying, “Please! Let us go!”
The 1st Combat Group was a combined-arms unit, built around a company of infantry, supported by artillery, AAA, tank, engineer, signals, sanitations, weapons and logistics platoons.
“Our 101st Reinforced Squadron is at full strength and mission-ready! We’re ready to go at any time!”
Behind Col. Kamo, Ltc. Tsuge stood up as well, saying something very troublesome. It was troublesome because he had gathered his men before the order to move out had been given. At this moment they were probably in full battle gear and running laps.
“No, if we take our time jogging along the ground, we’ll take too long to get there. Under these conditions, only we can get there in time. Commander, please order the 4th Combat Group into action.”
Col. Kengun said this as he strode forward. The 4th Combat Group was a helicopter-centric aerial combat group… in other words, an American-style air cavalry unit.
“We’ve prepared the amplifiers and speakers, as well as Wagner CDs,” said Ltc. Youga of the 401st Squadron.
“Very good, Ltc. Youga,” Kengun nodded. It seemed Kengun wanted to bring him along too.
Hazama pinched his nose between his thumb and forefinger, rolling it slightly.
What should he do with them, these guys… were they possessed by the spirit of Colonel Kilgore? (TL note: see Apocalypse Now https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKaYOW9zMoY) Maybe their brains had rotted away...
Even so, he had no choice but to send reinforcements immediately. That being the case, the fast-moving 4th Combat Group would be the best choice.
Hazama gave Kengun his orders.
Col. Kamo and Ltc. Tsuge, among others, stood still as though bearing mute witness to the end of the world. Conversely, Kengun and Youga were all smiles.
“And what are you going to play?”
“The Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, of course.”
As he watched the two of them leave, Hazama could guess what the two of them would be like in a few hours.
The squadrons of AH-1 Cobra and UH-1J helicopters flew on a NOE (nap-of-earth) course, while their loudspeakers blasted Wagner’s operatic score through the sky.
All around them, the bandits fled.
What came from the sky were wings of death.
Though there was no way there would be anti-aircraft missiles pointed at them, the helicopters launched flares anyway. These flares were weighed down by gravity and traced a trajectory through the air, and the dozens of smoke trails they left resembled the wings of an angel.
When the locals saw it, they must have trembled in fear at the descent of a goddess of war.
The AH-1 Cobras fired their rocket pods, and turned the ground into a sea of fire.
Bullets rained from the sky and mowed the bandits down.
There were no blind spots under their overlapping fields of vision. The troops did not even need to dismount, and they cut down the bandits from their perches on their helicopters.
The residents watching this must have taken this apocalyptic vision to be a glimpse of hell…
At this moment, the residents of Italica were desperately repairing their walls and barriers.
Once they heard that they would be aided not just by the Apostle of Emroy, the Elf and the mage, but even by the “Men in Green”, the townspeople’s courage multiplied a hundredfold, and the soldiers’ morale soared.
If they did have the power to defeat a Flame Dragon, then routing these broken men who had become bandits would be a trivial task. Of course, the men in green only numbered 12, so they would still have to fight. However, once they took out their “rods of steel”, they would destroy the bandits easily.
The despair that filled the town from earlier had vanished, and the peoples’ eyes were filled with light and hope. Nobody wanted to leave their homes behind and flee, so if they could, they still wanted to protect this town. The presence of Itami and the others was the source of their hope.
The eyes of the townspeople were locked firmly on the backs of Itami and the others.
At Piña’s request, Itami had moved his people to the frontline on the south gate. This way, it would not be hard for them to respond to requests for help.
According to her, the south gate had already been broken through once, and the defensive preparations there were completely destroyed. As such, it was a weakness in their defenses. In the upcoming battle, it should be the site of intense fighting.
The last time, they had halted the enemy advance with berms and fences, but the ensuing melee had left many dead. Now the townspeople were mobilized in full to repair the fences and strengthen the berms.
To Itami, in order to safeguard the defensive line of the city wall and gate, it would be best to concentrate their fighting strength there, but Piña insisted that they would have a second line of defense behind the walls of fences in the interior.
Her tactics seemed to assume that the main gate would be broken down.
Unlike Itami, who was waiting for reinforcements, Piña did not think they could hold out long enough for help to arrive, so her plan was to make the invaders pay in blood for every inch they advanced, in the hopes of breaking their morale. In truth, the idea was not a bad one, so Itami held his tongue.
Itami gathered his men atop the city gate, and from there they had a good view of the beautiful stone streets of a medieval-age city, under the light of the setting sun.
Although it was a regional town, Italica had a population of over 5000 people. It was located at the crossroads of the Appian Way and the Tisarian Way, and there were shops and inns located along the streets that ran in the four cardinal directions. Behind them were various warehouses, stables and merchant offices.
In the forest to the north was the large manor of Count Formal, which was surrounded by other luxurious homes, turning it into a high-class residential district.
The south, east and west portions were surrounded by stone walls, while the north was surrounded by cliffs as a natural barrier.
Itami turned back, and looked along the outskirts of the city.
There were roads that stretched to the horizon. There were planting fields and fallow fields where the cattle grazed. There were fallen trees, forests, and a few small houses. And then...
Itami’s binoculars caught sight of the bandit scouts, who were several men on horses. They moved slowly, probably trying to spy out the state of the defense preparations.
Beyond them, he could see the bandits’ hideout.
“So, we’re going to take their attack head-on, huh.”
Itami nodded to Sgt. Maj. Kuwabara. That was definitely a possibility.
The bandits did not have the option of an enveloping attack.
There were far too few bandits to encircle the town, and a siege would take a very long time. That would be very bad for the bandits. Similarly, tunnelling and a slow, cautious advance by digging trenches were out of the question.
That being the case, the bandits could only pick a point and assault it. However, that was not simply an application of brute force, but an attack that would make use of the unique advantage of the attacker.
This advantage was the attackers’ ability to dictate the time and place of their engagements. With this freedom, they could feint an attack and then break through the weakened defenses elsewhere. That was the typical approach.
The objective they would attack would still be weak, despite it being a feint.
“I see, so the reason they gave us the south gate was…”
They planned to deliberately make a weakness along the defensive line, which would draw in the enemy’s attacks.
That being the case, Piña’s tactics were understandable.
During the last battle, they had also deliberately feigned a vulnerability, so the enemy would think it was an easy target. When the enemy committed themselves to the attack, they began a battle of attrition with them from the strong second defense line. Practically speaking, even if the enemy broke through the city gate, they would be stopped and worn down against the sturdy inner defensive line.
Since the attackers’ and defenders’ forces were too small for a pitched battle all over the city, they favored concentrating their forces like that.
Giving the weaker south gate to Itami and the others was a tacit admission that they were going to be bait, in order to turn the south gate into the site of a pitched battle. Thinking of that, it made more sense that she would focus on reinforcing the inner defensive line.
“Well, you say that, but will the enemy fall for it twice?”
The enemy should have considered this after being beaten once. Would they really try to attack this weakly-defended location?
In addition, this tactic had another big problem associated with it.
“Furuta! Put the machine gun over here. Azuma, rifle goes there.”
Kuwabara assigned each soldier their designated Area of Responsibility.
The troopers braced themselves and their Type 64 rifles against the crenellated walls.
They would be firing down from a height of three stories. If the enemy drew close enough, they could start firing arrows at them, so they designated the range of the bows as the FPL (final protective line), and apart from that they could pick their own targets at their own pace.
There was only an hour left until the sun completely set. Kuribayashi distributed the night vision gear while Kurokawa was left to mind the vehicles and equipment.
Behind Itami and the others were a large number of citizens carrying farming tools or wooden clubs, waiting uneasily for directions. Just then, Nishina came, holding a phrasebook in one hand with both arms out, making digging motions, and indicating that they should fill the sacks they had with earth and bring them over.
The others were collecting burnable wood, in preparation for a bonfire. The townspeople wondered why they weren’t making a fire at night as they worked.
Meanwhile, someone asked a question of Itami, who was looking through his helmet-mounted night vision gear with Tuka and Lelei.
“Eh? Why are we helping the Imperials who should be our enemy? Well, it’s to protect the people of this town.”
Rory laughed as she heard the answer.
“Do you really mean that?”
“Yes, I do.”
Itami’s attempt at humor made Rory shrug in a “stop kidding me” way.
To Itami, the Empire was his enemy.
If they went by the reasoning of “The enemy of the enemy is my friend”, it would not be strange to take the bandits as allies, but Itami did not do that.
Piña was an Imperial Princess defending Count Formal’s family. Because of that, she had negotiated with Itami and asked for his help.
Rory was there too, but since she couldn’t stand Piña’s presence, she left shortly after.
And then, Itami agreed to “the protection of the people of Italica”. Officially, they could fight together because they had the same objective of defending Italica.
Even so, she still could not understand why Itami was taking orders from an enemy princess. After all, he should have expected that the south gate would become a forlorn hope and the site of a fierce battle.
“Do you want to know why?”
Itami was clumsy, and could not properly attach his night vision gear to his helmet. For convenience’s sake, he let Rory hold his helmet with both hands.
Due to the difference in body height, it made Rory look like she was holding up her hands in prayer, while Itami was lowering his head to listen to her.
“Emroy is a war god, so He does not forbid killing. However, the motive for killing is important. Lies stain the soul.”
Itami wanted to take his helmet from Rory and finish working on it, but Rory did not hand it to Itami, but made to place it on his head instead.
Itami raised his head to let Rory put his helmet on.
As for her question, he quirked the edges of his mouth up. It looked like a smile.
“I wasn’t lying when I said I wanted to protect the townspeople.”
“Of course. Although, there was another reason…”
Rory looked at Itami like she was going to bore through him with her eyes.
“I want that Princess to understand that it’s better to get along with us than to fight us.”
Rory smiled malevolently, as she believed she understood Itami’s words.
“Interesting. Very interesting.”
He would carve the word “fear” into the Princess’ heart. He would show his fighting power to her without holding back, and make her tremble at the thought of doing battle with him. That way, getting along with him would be much more attractive than fighting him.
“Well, if that’s the case, I’d like to help too. It’s been a while since I last had the chance to cut loose.”
Rory lifted her skirt and curtseyed to Itami, like a dancer bowing to her partner.
The battle began when the night was almost over.
The attack was executed just before the sun rose.
In the darkness before dawn, the bandit archers launched flame arrows at the eastern gate.
At the eastern gate was the knight Norma Co Igloo.
Under Norma’s direction, the sentries and militia returned fire with their bows. Though they were called militia, they were farmers who had never touched a bow in their lives and expecting accuracy from them was impossible. However, their arrow fire would suppress the enemy and might even cause a casualty or two.
In this way, the battle became an exchange of arrows for a time.
The soldiers, the farmers, the broken men who had become bandits, they all screamed and fell.
Between the archers marched footmen in armor and carrying sturdy shields. They pressed close to the wall. Their uniforms were varied while their shields were of different sizes and shapes, which suggested that they were of mixed origins.
Against them the stout grocery shop aunties and the older children hurled rocks, or poured cauldrons of molten lead down on them. These weapons were more effective and destructive than the inaccurate bow volleys.
Below the walls, the bandits raised their shields in an attempt to protect themselves from the storm of arrows and rocks raining down on them. Even if they were shot by arrows, knocked out by rocks, or burned alive by boiling oil, they did not retreat.
They must have wanted to expend the hatred and frustration they felt at not being able to attack Arnus against this place, and they rammed the eastern gate with huge logs.
As for the bandits… for the remnants of the defeated coalition army, the Battle of Arnus was not a battle.
Without having even glimpsed their enemy, without knowing what was going on, their own people had simply fallen over. The hatred for the Empire which had cruelly kept them in ignorance of their foe, their grudges against the useless commanders who could only urge them forward to their deaths, these feelings were deeply carved into their hearts.
Without commanders, without comrades, without allegiance, without supplies, without food, they wandered around in the wilderness, and in the end, they had become bandits, without even their homes. Soon, others who had suffered as they did came, and their numbers had grown until now.
Their respect for the Empire had become an equal amount of hatred and anger, which ruled their souls.
This was war, which sliced with swords, killed with arrows, burned with fire and trampled with hooves.
This was war, with its rape, its plunder, its massacres, and its deaths.
Indeed, they had made war their motivation. A personal war, a war that could satisfy them. A simple slaughter, a simple spreading of death. The feelings of stabbing, slashing and being stabbed, bathing in one’s opponents’ blood, hugging the cold earth as they died. They threw themselves forward to experience this. If not, the war would be over for them.
Several ladders caught on the city wall.
The bandits raised their shields and climbed them.
Avoiding the arrows that flew at them, the bandits finally reached the top of the wall.
A brave farmer hacked up a ladder even after taking an arrow in the shoulder. The bandits praised his courage as they fired their arrows, cheering for him even as they cut him down.
The ladder that had lost its grip on the wall fell with the soldiers to the ground, along with the farmer that had brought it down.
Even the loud crash as it hit the ground brought a round of cheering.
It was as though they had gone mad at a festival, banging on the shields with their swords and screaming in their own tongues.
This was the song of praise they sang to Emroy, god of war.
The madness of battle was their sacrifice to Emroy and the flames of war, fuelled by the souls of the dead combatants, burned fiercely.
The flame arrows struck the clock tower, which burned wildly out of control against the black of the night.
The Apostle, Rory Mercury, was trying to endure it.
She hugged herself to endure it.
Sweat gushed down her forehead.
The spirit of battle that floated around her infected her flesh and penetrated her spirit.
“Why aren’t they attacking here?”
The flames of war scorched her soul, and sweet movements flowed from her heart and up her swaying spine.
Her arms and legs moved on their own, and she shook like a priestess who was intoxicated by hallucinogenic drugs.
The pleasure flowing out from inside her nearly brought her to climax, and against the black of night, the demigoddess twisted her body so everyone could see her bewitching form.
“Is she alright?”
Itami wanted to go over to Rory, since he was surprised by her sudden frenzy, but Lelei and Tuka stopped him.
“It’s because she’s an Apostle…”
He did not quite understand, but that seemed to be why Rory was so frustrated.
If she was like this while she was so far away from the battlefield, what would she be like in the center of it?
She would probably see everyone as an enemy and slaughter them all. Nobody would be able to stop her, not even herself.
Lelei’s explanation just made Itami nervous.
“Bandits should go attack villages! You’re pretty damn bold to attack a town!”
This was Norma the knight’s cry. He had discovered that none of the arrows on his side had hit. Even if all the people on his side were amateurs, he could see that the path of the launched arrows had mysteriously diverted from their targets, as though they were protected by the wind.
“Could it be that the enemy can summon spirits?”
Norma drew his sword and cut down a southern bandit who was scaling the wall. The stricken soldier fell off the wall and to the ground.
However, a bearded bandit from the north tried to hack Norma down from behind.
After intercepting it with his sword, the bandits behind continued attacking the militia on defense. They had spears, clubs, morning stars, twin swords, scimitars and more.
The endless flow of bandits overwhelmed the people of Italica, and they had nowhere to run.
There were some differences in the current situation from Piña’s battle plan.
They had expected the first line of defense to fall, but it had fallen too soon. Now the tops of the city wall were a battleground and the sentries and militia had been forced off.
“We’re too weak. That’s even when you consider the raised morale.”
They’d had expected the enemy to be aware of their schemes and to be on guard for it.
However, in truth the enemy was not on guard at all.
They attacked and attacked, without any tactics or strategy,
And the militia and sentries who took this attack were caught wrong-footed right from the beginning. Thus, they could not pin down the enemy like Piña had hoped. They could not even inflict significant losses.
Still, on the whole, the defenders could still fight.
“Reality is different from what you picture in your head.” Piña, who knew this, was not surprised that her plan had not turned out exactly as she had hoped.
Even if she felt a vague sense of foreboding, like something stuck between her teeth, Piña followed the plan and moved her main fighting strength from the east gate to the defensive barriers they had built in the interior.
The east and northwest gates were reinforced with a second defensive line of berms and fences.
Although a second defensive line sounded good on paper, they had been built with the assumption that the first line would be overrun. So the first line was essentially a sacrifice.
The militia did not understand this when the battle started. However, now they understood that the people manning the gates had been abandoned from the start.
Their allies stood at the berms and other barriers they built behind them, yet none of them stepped forward to help. They were merely watching them fight and die. How many people would not despair after realizing this?
Some people realized this and gave up, swinging their swords wildly until they soon fell.
“Where are the men in green? Where are our reinforcements?!”
They could not possibly come. After all, they had been stationed at the south gate, as fellow sacrifices.
And so, as the townspeople watched, the gate’s last defender finally fell.
Piña had assumed that the bandits would immediately press the attack once they took the east gate, but the bandits did not do so. They raised their swords and spears, and cheered three times. This was a literal sacrifice, after all. After that, the city gates opened slowly, and the cavalry and soldiers from outside entered.
The horsemen dragged the corpses of the militia and sentries who had fallen from the city wall. They began tossing those bodies into the city.
Among them were the bodies of the rock-throwing children and the aunties.
They hurled the severed heads of farmers and merchants at the inner fence.
As the townspeople waited for the enemy to attack, the corpses of their friends, relatives and family piled up like a small mountain.
The townspeople facing the bandits from behind the fences gritted their teeth against their tears and despair, while the bandits mocked them.
They cursed and insulted them as cowards hiding in a cage.
They toyed with the corpses as though they were puppets.
How could the militia, made of farmers and merchants with weapons, bear to watch this?
A hot-blooded young man leapt over the fence, shovel in hand, while others also joined him.
In this way, the battle inside the city was completely different from how Piña had envisioned it, and her battle plan fell apart.
Rory’s lewd moaning and physical contortions grew more intense as time passed.
She held her breath and shook her hair. Her body bent backward like a bow. She grabbed her head, on the verge of tears, and her feet stamped the ground.
Her feverish gasping and twisted expression looked like she had been cursed, like she was a puppet shuddering on her strings, her body twitching and her arms flailing.
It was a cursed, mad dance she could not control by her own will, but it was beautiful.
According to Lelei’s explanations, the souls of the fallen were passing through her body on their way to Emroy. Although she would be influenced by the personalities of the soul and their fighting spirit, to a demigoddess like her, they were like an aphrodisiac.
Just giving in to this frenzy would be easy, but she couldn’t just give in, or rather, she was not allowed to give in. The heat and anxiety burning through her chest was making her suffer.
“No, no, noooo! I’ll go crazy if this goes on!!”
Tozu, watching from behind, whispered, “Dammit. I’m hard.”
“Shut up, man, so am I.”
Although neither of them were into children, Rory’s moaning must have made them think of something pleasant. The voice from Rory’s shuddering body was just that seductive.
As expected, Kuribayashi whispered, “This is bad, right?” Tuka covered her blushing face, while Lelei’s was a picture of calm indifference.
Itami’s sigh was his answer.
It would seem both sides had forgotten this place. There was no sign of the enemy, nor were there any messages from their allies. Thus, they had no way of knowing what was happening at the east gate.
The reinforcements from Arnus should be here, and they needed a forward observer to guide their attacks, so he decided to send someone over.
She replied with a “Yes”, and stepped forward.
“Sorry about this, but could you accompany Rory? Having men around might cause problems. After that, we, including Tomita for a total of four people, will head to the east gate. Sgt. Maj. Kuwabara, I’ll leave the rest to you. Rory, we’re going! Just hang on a bit more!”
But Rory could not bear it any further.
She jumped down from the three-storey high city wall, and darted toward the east like a rabbit.
Itami and the others followed her.
They ran to the base of the wall and got onto the nearby Type 73 truck. Tomita revved the engine, and amidst the squealing of tires, they raced over to the east as well.
The three helicopters, one AH-1 Cobra leading and two UH-1s behind it, raced through the brightening sky.
“Col. Kengun! 5 minutes to the objective!”
Ltc. Youga said, “According to the report from 3RCN (3rd Recon Team), the east gate is currently engaged. For safety’s sake, we should approach from the east and wipe out the enemies at the gate.”
Kengun nodded in approval, and said, “Take care of it, Ltc.”
The men in the helicopter cabin loaded the magazines for their rifles.
As Youga said that, he pressed the button on the amplifier.
He turned the volume to its maximum, and then pressed the “play” button.
The sound of horns rang out.
The light sounds of woodwinds raced through the air like a Pegasus, and the main theme commenced with the blaring of the trumpets.
This was a song written in honor of the eight Valkyries.
One of the troopers who had finished loading his rifle placed his helmet between his legs. His curious comrade asked him:
“Why does everyone sit on their helmets?”
“So we don't get our balls blown off!”
Blades carved into flesh and blood sprayed out.
A human head came apart like a watermelon being split at the seaside. The sound of the sword hit echoed around.
There were shouts of men facing their dooms and bitter cries of suffering.
Like a train station at rush hour, people were pressed against each other everywhere.
Nobody could spare a thought for the overall situation. All their attention was focused on the enemy in front of them while they hacked and slashed with their swords. Of course, some people were cowering on the ground, trying to crawl to a place without enemies, but they were trampled into the ground by horses.
The ground was strewn with corpses and bodies and remains, and the stone floor was dyed a reddish black by dried blood, and the brighter red of freshly-spilled blood flowed from friend and foe alike.
That was why they did not hear the distant sound that thundered through the air.
A woman’s singing rang through the sky, accompanied by trombones.
At this moment, time stood still.
It stood still when she leapt over the berms, the fences, and landed on the ground.
She knocked over men and horses, friend and foes, and cleared a space around her.
In that instant, everything stopped.
Under the force of that impact and its destructive power, all sound vanished and the clamor of battle faded away. In its place, they heard the sound of trumpets:
「Ho-jo to-ho! Ho-jo to-ho! Ho-jo to-ho!」
Everyone’s eyes were fixed on the black object that had appeared before them.
「Ho-jo to-ho! Ho-jo to-ho! Ho-jo to-ho!」
It was a girl in jet-black priest’s clothing, edged with lace.
「Ho-jo to-ho! Ho-jo to-ho! Ho-jo to-ho!」
Both her knees rested on the ground.
Her left hand was planted on the floor.
In the other was a halberd that sent chills up people's spines.
She raised her head and her mad eyes looked forward. A radiant silver glow limned her hair.
In that moment, as the demigoddess smiled mockingly while the horns blew, the top of the east gate caught fire.