Chapter 6 The Midnight Blazing Battle
“Hmm now where did they get off to now….?”
After walking around St. Lily Magic Girls’ Academy’s grounds, Glenn finally returned to the cafe where the going away party was at and let out a sigh.
“Re=L and Elsa are probably together right now but…..”
Rumia was standing next to him anxious. Right now, the students in Glenn’s classes had split into groups to search the academy grounds. Nevertheless, the school was large enough that even the forty odd students couldn’t quickly cover it.
“Ahh this blows couldn’t even find her….”
“I couldn’t locate them in the dormitories nor the main building.”
In the meantime Colette and Francine, along with entourage, had began to trickle back as well.
“Oh it’s you guys, sorry about this.”
“Don’t worry, Sensei. Today’s the last day after all!”
“Even though it was for a short period of time, we’re still friends who got along with one another right?”
Colette and Francine let out a smile. It was hard to imagine that just two weeks ago this pair were such unruly, rude girls. Of course there were still quarrels between the two’s factions…..but the degree to which they were fighting seemed to gradually ease up.
(Setting that aside….seriously, where did they go?)
They should’ve been back by now no matter how he looked at it.
From the beginning Re=L had always done things at her own pace, but now it seems like she’s joined at the hip with Elsa. It’s hard to imagine that they’d both completely skip the going away party…..but.
(……What’s this….? This unpleasant feeling in my chest….?)
Elsa was able to get along with the socially-stunted Re=L since almost the beginning for some reason….the slight feeling of discomfort he felt when thinking about her, and now she’s suddenly the center of such an unnatural situation. Ignorant to the real matter at hand, such thoughts were racing through Glenn’s head….
“Hey isn’t possible….that Re=L and Ms. Elsa….that those two….are doing that?”
Letting her suggestion run wild, Sistine smiled like an older lady gossiping in a tea shop.
“…Huh? ….What do you mean that?”
“S-Sensei! You know what I mean! That is that! Don’t make me say it!”
Sistine, who was strangely flustered, slapped Glenn on his back to hide her embarrassment.
“I mean, those two are so close to each other right……and they’re always together to the point where we can’t even see Re=L right….my marvelously precise love sensor has been going off since the beginning!”
“Marvelously precise love sensor……?”
Rumia let out a wry smile after hearing Sistine’s strangely boastful words.
“Mhh I bet that sensor probably doesn’t work for you does it? Mhh it’s okay I understand.”
“Eh? What are you talking about Rumia? ……Well, anyway!”
Puzzled by Rumia’s cryptic words, Sistine immediately pulled herself together a moment later and thrust her finger towards Glenn.
“I’m sure that those two are in love with each other! Kyaahh!”
You’re an idiot. It’s just some female bonding.”
“What do you mean!? The difference in gender is a trivial matter before the feelings of lov──”
“You read too much novels.”
Sistine took a serious stance against Glenn who wouldn’t budge an inch and ──
Everyone present suddenly turned their heads in response to loud sounds ringing out.
An outdoor table had been overturned due to a young girl being thrown against it──
“Haa…..haa….if I try I’m just able to do it huh….*cough*…..*cough*…..!?”
It was plain to see that she was mercilessly injured all over and on the brink of passing out.
“You’ve finally returned….but what the hell is this!? What happened to you!?”
“G-Ginny!? A-Ahh this is horrible! P-Please hang in there!”
With a look like she was about to cry, Francine immediately rushed over to Ginny to help her up.
“Ahh Ginny! Please….! If you leave me then I…..!”
“It’ll be okay m’lady….I’m not the type of person to die from just this much….in all honestly I’ve suffered a lot worse than this before….well, this was all worth it to run away though….”
“Rumia! Your healing spell!”
Rumia rushed over to Ginny under Glenn’s instruction. Even in this situation, showing no signs of worry or hesitation, Rumia began to quickly heal Ginny’s wounds……
“Wait, Renn-sensei. Save my treatment for later. Rather than that, there’s something urgent I have to tell you…..the truth is….”
Gently brushing aside Rumia’s healing hands, Ginny stood up and began to reveal the truth of the shocking situation unfolding right now ──
“The dean Marianne and….Elsa…..did that to Re=L……? You’re lying…..”
“And even a portion of this school’s students…..? Damn it….you can’t be serious.”
Sistine and Glenn were at a loss of words after hearing the information Ginny brought back.
“A top-secret magic research institute under the Ministry of Magic, the Azure Sky Cross Institute….during my time in the military I definitely heard rumors about such a thing but…I never thought that it could possibly be true….!?”
Glenn clenched his fist in anger after realizing the extent of tonight’s situation.
Riel’s weird short-term study abroad offer….it was for this reason.
“W-What’s going on…..this suddenly got too complicated for me to understand….”
Francine, along with the rest of her class, couldn’t help but stand there dumbfounded.
Meanwhile, Glenn suddenly remembered.
The words that his greatest nemesis, the distorted [Justice], spit at him like a parting gift.
── Glenn this country…..it must be destroyed ──
── This country’s a demonic Empire that was created for a certain nefarious reason ──
Azure Sky Cross Institute. A secret institute of the Imperial government. Seemingly connected to The Researchers of Divine Wisdom. The Imperial government and The Researchers of Divine Wisdom, ever since the birth of the empire the two groups seemed to be at odds with one another ──
No, in the first place.
Why has the Alzano Empire, one of the powerhouses of the world, being constantly toyed with by single mere magic society? That surely was a question clouding over most people’s hearts. And The Researchers of Divine Wisdom’s mages, who were constantly operating behind the scenes…..
(Impossible…..is that what this is truly about ?Or is this merely the tip of the iceberg?)
Jatice…..what the hell do you know? What the hell have you seen?
“── No, leaving that aside I need to focus on Re=L.”
Glenn started to think about his current predicament after shaking his head to get the uncomfortable feeling out.
“Sensei…..you can’t save them, it’s already too late….”
Receiving treatment from Rumia, Ginny continued talking while enduring the pain.
“Their group had stolen a train and they must’ve left already…..”
“Wh….they’ve already left!?”
“I’m sorry Sensei….because it took me so long to break through their encirclement….I couldn’t make it in time….”
“No it’s not your fault…..rather, you were able to bring back this information we needed…..however……”
The moment the train had left the station it was already too late. Even if Glenn chased after it pouring all of his magic power into [Physical・Boost] to increase his speed it’d still be no use. In the first place the white magic [Physical・Boost] was a technique used to improve combat performance for a short period of time. In order to avoid unnecessary magic consumption and reduce the physical burden, it usually wasn’t constantly applied but instead finely controlled in an on-off like manner. It wasn’t a magic meant to be used to transverse a long distance. If he were to use it like that then his magic power would be exhausted in the blink of an eye and his body would collapse from the overburden. The same was true for Rumia’s ability as well. If one were to catch up it’d be ──
“….White-Cat. Can you follow the train using [Tempest Feet] while carrying me?”
“I-I’m sorry….my control of [Tempest Feet]…..the most I can do is still by myself…..if I was carrying Sensei, then I’m pretty sure I’d stall, and we’d fall and turn into minced meat….”
Glenn let out a groan in response to the apologetic Sistine.
A train heading towards the Imperial Capital…..meaning that they’re planning to meet with their co-conspirators in the Ministry of Magic. If that were to happen then it’d really be the end. The Ministry of Magic was a powerful force that held power on par with the Ministry of the Armed Forces…..even worse was that the person was a part of the government. Becoming their target would only lead one to ruin. If they really did end up getting handed over….then the whereabouts of Re=L and Elsa would never be known again.
Why did this happen to me of all people…….Glenn was currently despairing.
“No, Sensei…..I still got a card in my deck…..”
“Yes, that’s right. If we all work together…..there’s a way.”
Colette and Francine said such words to Glenn.
“Well, it wouldn’t have been possible until recently but….if it’s now…..”
“That’s right….because it was impossible for us to cooperate till now….”
“You guys….? What are you on about….?”
Glenn asked them being a bit suspicious……
“Isn’t it obvious? I’ll tell everyone here to help us!”
“People of the [White Lily’s] of course we’re going to help right!?”
“You [Black Lily] lot! You’re not just gonna abandon them now are you!?”
In response to Francine and Colette’s questions….
“”””Of course we will!””””
All of the students of the moon class raised their voice in unison. This matter didn’t concern the [White Lily’s] nor the [Black Lily’s]. But for the sake of saving their fellow classmates……under that single purpose……they united together.
Glenn was taken back by the sight of the girls coming together in front of him.
“Let’s save Elsa and Re=L together!”
Francine and Colette let out a grand smile while extending their helping hand.
── A long night was about to begin.
Under the darkness of night.
*Choo choo* (TN: Like I said awhile ago I hate onomatopoeia but it’s an integral part of the story]
Its steam engine made a heavy noise as the train ran along the track.
In the first car, which was closest to the engine room. Sitting in an open-seat compartment, Marianne was sitting down staring out the window. She smiled as the night view of the forest passed along her line of sight.
(Everything is going perfectly…..the train engineer is a magic doll with the necessary operational skills pre-programmed into it….Re=L and Elsa have been carefully restrained and their currently imprisoned in the center compartment…..)
The girls around Marianne were completely at peace. They were all thrilled at the thought of the wonderful days that’d be starting from tomorrow on. Being able to escape that prison-like school……they felt a profound sense of happiness from the sudden liberation.
(….These girls are under my complete control….the clean up and post-work should be done by someone from the Ministry of Magic….that’s right, there’ll be no problems…)
There’s only one thing I’m concerned about.
(The children on patrol said they missed the girl named Ginny…..)
Marianne had an understanding of each and every pupil enrolled in her academy. In order to scout for which students would be suitable for the Azure Sky Cross Institute….she carefully investigated them all. Of course Marianne had a flawless grasp of Ginny’s profile but….
(At first glance she seems humble and reserved, but the truth is she’s actually extremely prideful and self-conscious……according to her profile, she wasn’t supposed to be the type of person who’d run away right….?)
A slight discomfort had crossed Marianne’s mind as she considered the situation.
(But, well in the end it doesn’t matter…..now that we’ve left there’s nothing that they can do…..)
Cutting off her thoughts, Marianne stopped thinking about Ginny.
(That’s right, everything is fine….without a doubt, nothing will go wrong….)
The darkness of night was spreading as the train drove threw the mountains ──
*Clop clop clop! Clop clop clop! Clop clop clop──*
In the darkness encompassing the forest, the sounds of hoofs galloping could be heard racing through the winds.
*Clop clop clop! Clop clop clop! Clop clop clop──*
The sounds of the hooves running along the ground at a constant interval, at a speed that no humans could hope to match on their own. If one were to look they’d see two magnificent horses side by side, their manes and tails blowing in the wind, their bulging muscles helping them explosively kick off the ground while they raced through the forest ──
Occasionally the shouts of two girls could be hear as their head’s bobbed up and down, along with the sound of a whip. The two spurring their horses on were Colette and Francine. Both of them magnificently handling their steeds, rushing through the dark forest without any fear──
“Gyaa!? I bwit my twongue!?”
“Owwww!? Is my butt supposed to hurt this much!? M-More gently”
Glenn and Sistine were sitting behind them.
Colette and Francine were dashing through the forest at such a speed that’d leave the horses devoid of strength in no time. Needless to say, even the best of horses couldn’t maintain such a pace on this rough terrain while carrying two. And before long, the horses had expended all their strength and were slowing down at a considerable rate…..
At exactly that time.
A flash from the magic [Flash・Light] had risen up in front of them.
If they were to look up they’d see two students from the moon class on horseback, carrying the reins of a spare horses alongside them ──
“Ms. Francine! I’ve been waiting for you!”
“Colette-neesan! Here’s a spare horse!”
“Right! I owe you one! I’ll be going first!”
“Renn-sensei! Sistine, please be ready!”
“Aahh geez! We’re doing this again!? You think I’m a damn acrobattttt!?”
Francine’s team who had started late were passed on to the spare horses prepared by other teams who had gotten a head start. At that moment, both pairs of Colette and Glenn, as well as Francine and Sistine had jumped onto the spare horses.
“Whoo! Let’s go! Hyah!”
Spurred on by the slaps to their behinds, the horses started their ferocious sprint.
“Aahh jeez! As expected of noble ladies! Being this good at horseback riding!”
Glenn was screaming loudly while clinging tightly to Colette.
“Wa- Sensei wait a second!? Clinging to me soo tigh ── hii!?”
As for the pair on the other horse, Sistine was similarly clinging to Francine’s back in fear.
“But…..I never thought your way of chasing the train would be this….!?”
Normally, if you run two up on such a rough path the overall performance of the horse would decrease, both in terms of top speed and overall endurance. But, if the starting group rode only one up and at the same time brought along a reserve horse, the second group who were riding two up would be able to switch to those reserves, resulting in them being able maintain their peak performance over a longer distance. Glenn’s group was following the train using this make shift horse relay system.
Right now all of the students of the moon class, except for the injured Ginny and her caretaker Rumia, were standing by waiting for Glenn’s group to take their spare horse after they had scrounged up all the horses they could find on campus grounds. Thanks to that Glenn’s group was moving at an impressive speed, but….
“No matter how many times we do this I don’t think we’re going to be able to catch the train! Besides, isn’t this a completely different direction from the track!?”
Speeding through the sea of trees, Sistine shouted at the top of her lungs.
“I mean it’s obvious if we chased directly after it we wouldn’t be able to!”
“But there’s a chance we could catch up to it around here!”
“What are you talking ab──?”
“Just be quiet for now and believe in us please!”
Following Francine and Colette’s orders, Glenn’s team switched horses time and time again and continued their race through the forest….beyond the mountain pass….single-mindedly devoted to the chase…..
…..And before long.
The forest had ended and their field of view had opened up. The steep slope of the grasslands could be seen descending quite rapidly under the light of the moon, in the far off distance one could see hills, mountains, lakes, and even more dense forest. And the train tracks could be seen flowing through the area, looking like a zipper connecting both sides….
Following the path of the tracks, a train could be seen slowly chugging along towards them.
“You’re kidding…..we actually caught up to it…..? No wait we actually passed it!?”
“Well how about that! This is what I’m talking about!”
Still manipulating the reins of her horse, Colette turned to the side and said that.
“Wasn’t it the same way when you guys came? The route from the Imperial Capital to our academy isn’t completely straight. There’s various obstacles that the trains have to detour around.”
“On top of that, there’s lots of hills on the way that require the train to reduce its speed.”
“I see! This is really an nature filled area!”
Glenn screamed behind Colette in complete understanding.
“Yes that’s right! Therefore, if you’re familiar with the area around here, have a decent enough skill in horse-riding, have a strong enough horse, and take the shortcut, then it’s simple enough to catch up even like this!”
Geographical knowledge, a quality horse, skills in horse-riding…of course it couldn’t be done by just possessing those qualities. This spectacular feat could only be accomplished due to the fact of the girls banding together towards one common goal despite being in differing cliques. Not too long ago, the various girls separated by cliques were working perfectly in sync with one another…..Glenn suddenly felt a warm feeling touching his heart and cried out.
“Nice work! Francine and Colette! I super-love you guys!”
“S-Sensei, saying you love me……even though I’m a girl….” (Blushing)
“M-My heart still isn’t ready….” (Blushing)
“….Eh? Ahh no you see…..I didn’t mean for you to take that literally….” (Sweating)
Strangely annoyed, Sistine forcibly stopped their conversation that was bringing about a weird ambiance.
“You two! Circle around the train and follow alongside it! And then Sensei and I will jump onto it!”
“Hyah hyah! Copy that! Hold tight for a moment!”
“I understand! Hya!”
Once again Colette and Francine handled the reins of their horse.
The horses broke out in a dash.
With their skillful handling of the reins, they’re able to descend down the steep slope without a hint of hesitation──
“Ugyaa! Ahh this is scary!?”
Glenn and Sistine’s pitiful screams could be heard echoing through the valley.
Traveling alongside the train……they’ve almost completed their journey. The distance between the train and the horses gradually got less and less….eventually, the two were parallel with one another. As one would expect, the horses weren’t able to match the trains speed running side by side.
Next to Glenn’s group, the train compartments steadily overpassed him as the wheels let out a steady hum……
“Kh…..are we going to make it…!?”
“Just a little closer, just a little closer and we can….! You two!”
More than half the cars had already passed them by. Handling the horses, Francine and Colette were gradually approaching the train…..one…..one more….then, as the train was about to completely overtake them….
The last car had finally broke even…..at that moment.
“Now! White-Cat! Let’s go!”
Glenn instantly let out a full powered [Physical・Boost] while Sistine recited the incantation for [Rapid・Stream] in order to perform the [Tempest Feet] technique ── standing up on the horse ──
They leaped off.
The two danced in the sky underneath the bright moon ──
The two had managed to land on the roof of the last train a moment before it had completely passed them.
“E-Even I think that was a bit crazy…..”
It was Sistine who said that as she turned pale and the violent wind was blowing her hair and clothes back.
“That’s right Francine and Colette are──!?…Kh…..huh?”
That’s when Sistine noticed. The two horses running side by side could be seen gradually moving farther and farther from the train…..but nothing else could be seen aside from then.
And the very next second.
Something sounded behind Sistine.
“Wheh! Everyone was able to make it!?”
“Let’s go Sensei! Sistine!”
Somehow Colette and Francine were able to make it on the roof of the car as well.
“Wa- why are you guys here too!?”
“C’mon, don’t be so stand off-ish Sistine.”
“Since we’ve already come this far, in for a penny they say….we plan to protect Sensei as well.”
“Why…..? It might be dangerous….!?”
“I bet you just want to be alone with Sensei don’t you.”
Colette was arguing against the half-angry and half-shocked Sistine.
“And it’s not like this is completely unrelated to us.”
“According to Ginny’s information…..aren’t there a decent number of girls from St. Lily Magic Girls’ Academy supporting the Dean Marianne?”
“Are you two really enough to handle all of them? Isn’t it necessary to have someone take care of those side pieces?”
They certainty had a point. As it was there was still a huge difference in overall battle power.
“S-Sensei…? What are we going to do….?”
Sistine who had a hard time making a judgement call shifted her eyes to Glenn.
Glenn folded his arms and kept quiet for a while…..eventually staring straight ahead at Francine and Colette….he cast a question towards them.
“….What are you guys?”
“…..I’ll say it again, Francine and Colette…..who are you guys? Are you guys just [regular magic users] or are you guys…actual [mages]?”
Francine and Colette turned and looked at each other….then….
“I’m a [mage]!”
“A [mage] of course!”
Answering at the same time, the two had a powerful smile on their faces.
Glenn let out a broad grin satisfied with their response.
“Then let’s go you guys! We’re gonna save Re=L and Elsa, beat the hell out of Marianne, and educate those bunch of girls confused by their growing bodies!”
“W-What is this!?”
Hearing the sound from a powerful impact behind her, Marianne screamed in a panic.
“T-This is bad Dean Marianne! We’ve been boarded!”
And then several female students rushed forward from the previous train car.
“What did you say!? Where the hell from!? How!?”
Marianne instinctively doubted the words she just heard.
“Uhm….in the last car, the intruders appeared out of nowhere and ──”
“They’re defeating all the guards we’ve placed and are heading here now!”
“Yelling stuff like [Return Elsa and Re=L]!”
It’s possible that the person chasing after them now had received their information from the escaped Ginny.
Anything else would be imaginable.
(TN: Don’t know why this image was placed in this spot doesn’t make any sense context wise but hey I don’t make the rules.)
“T-This is ridiculous…how could’ve they possibly caught up to the train…!?”
One possibility is that they used a horse relay and constantly switched but…there’s no way such teamwork could be displayed in a place where the girls were in constant strife with each other.
But it’s most likely what happened given the fact that they actually were able to catch up ──
“Kh…..Capture the intruders right now!”
Somehow pulling herself together Marianne immediately barked out her orders.
“There’s a lot of private-room type compartments behind us! We can’t make use of our numbers in such a confined space! Alert the students in each car and lure them to an open-seating type compartment and we’ll overwhelm them with our numbers!”
“Do you understand!? If you fail here then you’ll be back at that suffocating academy by the morning!?Are you fine with that!?”
Hearing Marianne’s outright threat the students rushed towards the rear compartments…..
“Kh….I’ve come this far…”
The sound of the training swaying couldn’t wasn’t the only noise present now, the sounds of battle were slowly getting closer and closer.
Marianne silently cursed after encountering this unexpected misstep.
Glenn’s group who had boarded the train, and the female students who moved to intercept them clashed with each other.
Not letting him pass, one of the female students attacked Glenn with her saber.
Glenn had easily fended off the attack the girl had so viciously unleashed upon him. Following that, he hardened his hand and unleashed a chop to the back of her neck, cutting her consciousness. In no time at all a group of girls lined up along the back of the compartment recited their spells trying to bring Glenn to his knees.
“[Thunder sprites, shock!]”
[White winter storm]!”
“[Heed my call great wind!]”
A bolt of lightning, a freezing wave, a gust storm all violently assaulted Glenn──
“[Shine my protective barrier!]”
As if she had predicted that, Sistine had summoned a [Force・Shield] in front of Glenn that blocked all the spells.
“Now! There’s a chance!”
Seeing the enemy encampment in turmoil, Colette used the opportunity to cast [Physical・Boost] on herself and immediately rushed towards them.
“A-Are you an idiot!? Colette you ──”
Glenn tried to stop her but it was already too late.
Seeing Colette rushing towards them one of the female students let out a gloating smile.
(…She’s going to get caught in a trap!?)
Just as Glenn had thought, the girl had set a trap. A [Stun・Floor] had been hidden in the middle of the passageway. The girl had started to activate her spell in response to Colette’s reckless suicide attack ──
But the very next moment the girl had lost sight of Colette.
Colette had jumped forward and to the right just before she stepped on the trap. Carried by her momentum she ran along the wall for three steps and then jumped once more. Doing a somersault, she unleashed a kick as she reached its apex──
She assaulted the student who had lain the trap with an overhead kick powered by the force of gravity in addition to her natural leg strength. Following that, she brought her gloved hand down as a cold aura propagated out from it.
Her fist and freezing aura had defeated the girls in the area, leaving them bruised and frozen.
“Kh….Colette! How dare yo──”
A girl had managed to escape Colette’s wrath and had turned her left hands towards her ──
“I won’t allow that! [Lightning ──”
Francine tried to cast a spell to help cover Colette ── but at that time.
Suddenly, from behind Francine…. the door connected to the rear car slammed open as a girl screamed and rushed towards Francine’s back holding her saber.
It was probable that she had hidden herself with magic in order catch them by surprise.
” ── HiiI!?”
This unexpected move left Francine scrambling to collect her thoughts.
However, Francine forced her brain to restart and suppressed the panic──
“S-Sensei! Behind me is ──”
Exchanging looks with Glenn for just a moment, Francine shouted her spell.
“[Thunder sprites, shock!]”
The lightning that had flew from her fingers had knocked down the girl preparing to attack Colette’s back ──
“Sorryyy! It’s time for the good kids to go to sleep now!”
And the female student behind Francine was easily taken care of by Glenn.
“Sigh….seriously you guys are stressing me out…..”
Glenn wiped the sweat off of his forehead as the passed out girls groaned on the floor.
“Don’t fall for the obvious path that their expecting but instead get them by surprise…..right?”
“Always have icy cold judgement. Don’t get flustered if your opponent makes an unexpected move….wasn’t that what you said?”
Colette and Francine turned towards Glenn with a proud look in their eye.
“Hahaha well I did say something like that! I’ll give you guys passing points!”
As Glenn was turning towards them to give out his praise….
“That’s far enough! I won’t allow you to go any further!”
“We’ll hold you here no matter what! Everyone!”
The door leading to the next car opened up and reinforcements could be seen rushing in one after another.
“Ugh, it looks like this group is actually organized….”
Glenn said that feeling a bit exhausted.
“But don’t you have an [okay] feeling? Right Sensei?”
“Now then! This is a crucial moment! Let’s finish this at once!”
Everyone nodded their heads after hearing Glenn declare that.
While Glenn’s group’s battle intensified in the rear cars ──
In a certain car located around the center.
(….Ugh….what is this…..what’s that sound that woke me up….?)
Elsa’s consciousness slowly roused as the sounds of battle gradually approached her.
With her mind still a bit hazy Elsa tried to confirm her current situation. In addition to being bounded by a sturdy rope her magic had also been cut off by [Spell・Seal]. The surrounding area was quite cramped. Judging from the swaying and floor layout, she was most likely in one of the private rooms. She rolled over while still on the seat. Sparing no effort in restraining her it seemed they had set up a strong barrier inside the room as well. There were countless magic equations etched onto the walls and ceilings, giving off a dim glow from the magic imbued in them. It seemed impossible for her to escape give the current situation. This private room truly was a prison.
(…I….that damn old hag….Marianne tricked me….made me hurt innocent Re=L….and now she even captured me like this….)
Elsa fell into a depressing spiral of self-loathing as she remembered what had occurred till now.
“….Elsa? Are you awake now?”
A familiar voice could be heard from behind her.
Elsa rolled over somehow turning her body around to face the direction the sound had come from.
.”…That’s a relief…..are you okay? Elsa.”
And on the seat across from her….with her whole body tightly bound in rope, almost as if she were in a partial cocoon, Re=L’s figure could be seen.
Elsa cast her eyes downward. An unpleasant silence flowed between the two.
After a while.
Elsa whispered that, barely managing to squeeze an apology out from her throat.
“?….Why are you apologizing?”
Re=L cocked her head to the side as if she couldn’t understand no matter how much thought she put into it.
“Because I was lying to you…..I got you caught up in this mess…..”
Elsa murmured that while looking at Re=L with her strange expression.
“You…at your core, you’re a different person from Ilushia….and even still, I…..”
“….Nn? How do you know about that?”
“After you collapsed a lot had happened….”
Elsa explained the circumstances with a smile that seemed to rebuke only herself…..
“Nn….I get it….that had happened….so that’s why Elsa was trying to hurt me….?”
“Yeah….I’m sure that right now…..you must really hate me…..because I did all of that…..”
Finally confessing the sins plaguing her heart, tears of regret streamed down Elsa’s cheek. The truth was that deep down inside, Elsa had noticed something was off. At first Elsa had approached Re=L to gauge her strength, to make sure she really was the target of her revenge. But somewhere along the way she got enamored with the sweet and innocent Re=L.
The [Memory of Flames] that continued to torment her to this day, scared of what people would think of her due to her trauma…..that was the reason why she kept everyone at arms length. Feeling burdened by the thought of others pitying her…..she always took a step back whenever someone took a step near.
And for such an Elsa, Re=L who wore her heart on her sleeves and didn’t fuss about Elsa’s past, it felt like salvation for her. She would never admit it but….the days she spent with Re=L made her feel at ease. To a person who had been imprisoned by their past and too afraid to move forward….despite being awkward and scared, she wanted to chase after Re=L.
She felt comfortable being along side Re=L….deep down she really did feel like they were friends. Despite that though, her mind was filled with the horrors of her past and heart burned with revenge ──
And the result of that was this: a terrible and miserable worst case situation.
(Before we get to the capital…..I’ll at least properly talk to Re=L and ──)
Re=L is Ilushia…..but that wasn’t something she’s confirmed herself. Marianne unilaterally decided to gift her those words and she went along with it cause it corroborated the memories she had. If Re=L and Ilushia were the same person…..then something’s off, is what Elsa was thinking. Re=L’s words, her eye and hair color, there were so many hints. But ──
(My desire for revenge…the enticing promise of joining the military….all of that was to cloud my eyes!)
Still restrained, Elsa crawled over to Re=L. She even went as far falling of the seat in order to get one step closer…..
“I’m….I’m sorry, Re=L….”
Re=L probably was…..the first real friend that she could make while stuck in this prison known as St. Lily Magic Girls’ Academy. Her first friend…she couldn’t stand it that Re=L would be the guinea pig for some tortuous experiments due to her own mistakes. How stupid that it took her this long to notice something as simple as that.
“I don’t care what happens to me…but at the very least….I want to save you….!”
Enduring the pain, Elsa rested her head on Re=L’s body and started to chew through the ropes. Sinking her teeth in as deep as possible trying to bite it off.
But it was tough. Too hard. What on earth was the rope made of? It might’ve been rope reinforced with magic. Regardless of its makeup, it wasn’t something that could be cut through just using ones teeth. But despite that, Elsa……
“Haa…..haa….keh….please….at the very least…you can get away…”
Her breathing getting heavier, she started weeping….gnawing through the ropes so much that her teeth felt like they’d shatter at any minute….
Elsa stopped her feeble attempts after suddenly hearing a whisper sneak out from Re=L’s mouth.
Timidly shifting her line of sight, she finally looked Re=L in her eyes.
And for some reason….she was greeted by a gentle smile from her.
“I had thought that Elsa hated me. That’s why….it’s such a relief.”
Elsa was overcome with surprise seeing the purity in Re=L’s smile.
“[I-I’ts such a relief]…..why….? Even though I did such terrible things to you…?”
“….Nn? Because….after all, I still like Elsa.”
Re=L’s plain, matter-of-fact words stirred various emotions within Elsa’s chest. She couldn’t stop the tears from streaming down her face.
“….Nn. Don’t cry Elsa……let’s get out of here together.”
“B-But…..we can’t like this….”
“It’ll be okay. I have escape magic. That’s why I was waiting for Elsa to wake up.”
“Escape magic….? Ah….but…..right now, magic is….”
It was sealed. Elsa tried to warn her of the current situation.
A sound suddenly came off from somewhere along Re=L’s body…..
Re=L unexpectedly stood up.
And so, the rope wrapped around her body dropped to the floor…..
As the rope fell to the ground, she caught of fleeting glimpse of a section of the rope that had a tear in it like it was ripped apart with brute force….but she wanted to believe it was just her eyes playing tricks on her.
“Nn. I’ll teach Elsa this escape magic as well.”
After saying that, Re=L who had freed herself, put her hands on the rope binding Elsa …
Re=L’s ingenious magic technique freed Elsa in the blink of an eye.
“….Yeah, magic…..of course that’s magic. Magic is the art of letting humans do what cannot be done….”
Elsa stopped herself from dwelling on it further as she rubbed her sore arm.
“B-But Re=L…..is it fine if we just go like this? Aren’t you injured….”
“No problem. I got healed during my nap.”
Being a person made from magic, Re=L had a much higher self-healing ability than normal humans had…..to Elsa, this girl named Re=L was such an amazing existence that she couldn’t help but be speechless.
“Now, let’s go Elsa. I can feel it…Glenn is somewhere close to us.”
“B-But…..this private room….it has restriction magic set in it…”
“No problem. I can also use lock-picking magic.”
Re=L somewhat proudly puffed out her chest. She had already become the straight man of this little comedy act. But….
Re=L tilted her neck to the side. Elsa refused to moved and kept her eyes down.
“…..Hey Re=L…..it’s pointless….I’ll just be a burden that’s why….”
“Huh? I think Elsa is super strong though.”
“You might be right….but it’s not that. You see…..flames or blood…..I can’t deal with anything red….if I look straight at it then my body starts to tremble uncontrollably and I can’t move…..”
“….Mmm….that’s called a trauma right? Glenn used to say that in class.”
“Yeah….our enemies know all about that…..that’s why I’m sure it’ll come back to bite us….I’ll definitely be a burden for Re=L at this rate….”
“That’s why Re=L…just leave me alone and …..”
Elsa attempted to say more but…at that moment.
“….Nn. it’ll be okay Elsa….I don’t quite understand what you’re talkiing about but…..”
Staring at Elsa head on, Re=L……
“Because I’ll protect Elsa.”
…….said that with a reassuring, trustworthy smile……
Elsa felt her own heartbeat pounding in her chest.
After hearing what she said, Elsa’s cheeks burned red hot and her head felt like she was turning delirious.
(What’s up with me…? S-somehow I feel like I can’t look Re=L in her eyes….)
She felt hot, but at the same time pleasant……her chest tightening so much so felt embarrassed. While Elsa was struggling to deal with this new emotion she felt budding in her heart…..
“….That’s why, let’s go together? Elsa.”
Re=L reached her hand out to Elsa with a sleepy but gentle look.
“Let’s escape together….then I want Elsa to listen to me…..my story about my older sister….about Ilushia. I still don’t know if I can speak well but….I want Elsa to know.”
Dazed, Elsa continued to stare at Re=L like she was in a dream….
But before long, she nodded her head and took Re=L’s hand.
The fight in the train started to heat up ──
The chaotic battlefield had already become the norm.
The girls stood up against Francine and Colette screaming with their voice full of resent.
“Hahaha! Too weak!”
Colette skillfully knocked down the sabers of the three approaching girls with just her first. Then she immediately moved to mow them all down with her kicks, elbows jabs, and punches──
Many girls waiting along the back took the opportunity of Colette being temporarily vulnerable to fire spells at her……
“[Scream towards the empty sky・ thy reverberation・wind spirits howl!]”
With the vanguard as her shield, the spell that Francine started earlier was quickly completed.
Bullets of compressed air flying towards her, any second now they’d drop Colette to the ground ──
The crowd of girls were blown away by a sudden shock wave ──
The impact caused the entire car to shake.
“Kh….who are these people….!?”
Right now they were in a car where the left half had private rooms lined up. The girls couldn’t make use of their superior numbers since they were forced to fight in such a narrow corridor. As one would expect of the St. Lily Magic Girls’ Academy’s dynamic duo, no matter how many bodies they threw at Francine and Colette they were all soundly beaten back.
They wouldn’t take the bait to be lured into a wider area, giving up their advantage. Francine’s group gladly took the chance to attack their backs as they retreated to a wider compartment, but the moment they turned around, Francine and Colette returned to the narrower car.
Thanks to that, even though they had an almost endless supply of allies rushing forth, they couldn’t beat Francine and Colette down ──
“Francine! Colette! Why are you hindering us so much!?”
One of the girls close Marianne’s ── a girl named Caeda shouted out.
“Aa!? Aren’t you the one hindering us!? [Thunder sprites, shock!]”
“I can’t just sit idle and watch my friends get captured like this! [Heed my call great wind!]”
Caeda hid herself in a private room avoiding the incoming spells.
“Elsa and Re=L don’t have anything to do with you to begin with! Reconsider this! Actually you should just join us instead!”
Caeda screamed as the exchanging of spells continued on.
“Come with us! Join the Azure Sky Cross Institute!”
“Ha!? Stop talking such nonsense ──”
“Isn’t this suffocating for you guys as well!?”
Colette and Francine’s movement stiffened for a moment after hearing Caeda’s cries.
“Isn’t this agonizing for you two? Being restricted at home, at the academy, not having the freedom to do anything! Don’t you want to destroy this way of life!? Didn’t you want something different, to be something different……… isn’t that why you played house in those [cliques] of yours!? Am I wrong!?”
Francine and Colette who had also hidden in a private room, had a bitter expression on their face and kept silent.
It was just a Caeda said ……. she hit the bull’s eye straight on.
Not missing the change in their demeanor, Caeda eagerly pressed on.
“That’s why you should come with us! To the Azure Sky Cross Institute! If you do, won’t you be able to get anything your heart desires!? Won’t you no longer have to suffer!?”
A silence born from a place that was just plagued by the turbulence of battle.
“I’ll have to reject your offer.”
Colette and Francine both forcibly responded at the same time.
“Ahh I mean it certainly is an attractive offer…..as a matter of face I really do want to go, being completely honest.”
“Being a researcher for a top-secret government institute….or in another words an intelligence operative…..you’re absolutely right that’s what I want. Free from my familial constraints, free to be whoever I want….to be honest hearing that made my heart sway a bit.”
“Haha not bad….if this was us from not too long ago we probably would’ve shamelessly gone with ya.”
“Yes you’re absolutely right….”
“T-Then just quietly come with ──”
“But now there’s no way we would!”
Colette almost immediately voiced her refusal.
“Likewise! Because if I did then it’d be something I didn’t obtain with my own hands!”
“Not a single thing would change! Enrolled in this academy without any purpose, convincing myself that I was someone special, not a single thing would be changed! The only thing that I could say would even changed a minuscule amount would be the shape of our birdcage!”
“B-but! If that’s the case what are you going to do!? What could we possibly do!? If that’s the case then there’s no hope for our future at this rate!”
Caeda howled that with a distorted face.
After all, the students going along with Marianne….should’ve at least comprehended the actual situation. That it was wrong. That their decisions were wrong. But despite that, this was the only solution those girls could think of ──
“I hate it! Don’t you want to refuse this life!? What should I do if ──!?”
“Certainly. We’re checkmated….in exchange for being comfortable financially, we’re extremely uncomfortable in terms of personal freedom…..haha but isn’t that noblesse oblige is all about you damn bastard.”
“If you’d just say that this was because of the naivety of some spoiled noble girls, then that’d be the end of it….”
“But didn’t Renn-sensei say this. That mages are just arrogant and sinful people who would distort even the very world for their own wishes and desires….”
“But that’s why I’m more free than anyone…..”
For some reason, the female students that were previously fighting against the two now dutifully lent their ears to them. Listening to every single word. Almost as if they were listening to the words of their messiah.
“Hey you guys. If you want to change the current situation….there’s a [power]. There’s a [power] to live without being under the thumb of someone above you, to follow your own wishes and dreams!”
“It’s not by playing house in a [clique] or defecting to a [special place]. Tempering your own power, making it a power that no one can ignore, a power that everyone can’t help but submit to….”
“Magic, swordsmanship, physical ability, financial power….the nature of power doesn’t matter….as long as it’s the power to stand by oneself.”
“That’s one card in the hand for [mages]. Just one of their means. [Real] [mages] pave the way for their dreams using their own wisdom ──”
“Hey you guys…..if we, who were unfairly crippled by nature, want to be free…..if you want to stand on your two feet…..if you want to break out of this birdcage…..then you have no choice but to become [real]!”
“Now’s not the time to get together and lick each other’s wounds! It’ll be painful, but work hard, struggle, wrack your brains…and then you’ll have no choice but to become [real]!”
“That’s right! Unless you wanna act like a spoiled brat your whole life huuh!?”
Colette and Francine’s scream felt like a life-changing sermon to them. The girls had no choice but to stand there aghast, crushed under the weight of their powerful words. That was the truth of the world, the answer they needed….it was ridiculously straight-forward and cruel. Wanting to avert their eyes, walking away from the path of hardship and struggle ──
At a glance, it seems like an endless path….but the truth of the matter it’s actually the shortest way.
“Now, let’s go! We’ll finish this Francine! I leave you to support me!”
“Of course! Let’s do it!”
Seeing the girls temporarily stopped due to having their spirits crushed, Colette and Francine took the opportunity to jump out of their private room and rush towards them in a single breath.
The matters at this place had already been decided.
And so ──
In an open compartment car, the first one right behind the train’s engine.
“Kh….worthless children…..as one would expect a bunch of naive girls!”
Marianne grew frustrated watching the situation unfold, using observation magic to watch it from afar. She saw her two enemies using her clairvoyance, Francine and Colette. Despite there only being two of the, Marianne’s carefully hand-picked protegee’s were being soundly defeated left and right.
“What are these kids….how have they changed so much recently….”
The straightforward fighting method of theirs hasn’t changed a bit. However, there’s an obvious change in how they wielded their power. They weren’t just recklessly throwing it around like how they used to before. In order to realize their goals, one would be wise to examine the cards in their hand and carefully pick out the one best for the situation and that’s just what they were doing.
According to her memory, there were countless teachers at St. Lily Magic Girls’ Academy that could teach the students how to obtain [power], but there were none that could teach them the [wisdom] on [how to use it].
“Besides that…..where on earth did Re=L = Rayford and Elsa = Viriff get off to?”
Having a bad premonition, she looked into the car that she had locked them in and discovered that they had managed to escaped. Inside the room was supposed to been an impenetrable magical barrier, but in all actuality all that was left was rope torn apart by a tremendous force and a door smashed by a similarly tremendous force.
The only person who could’ve possibly done something this ridiculous…was none other than Re=L = Rayford. That room wasn’t originally created to act as a magic prison to begin with, so the magic lock and reinforced door had an obvious limit restricting them……but she never expected it’d be that easily broken. She’d completely underestimated the power of the girl named Re=L.
“I can understand how Re=L = Rayford was able to escape with her brute strength….but why did Re=L, Elsa….!?”
It was clear that Re=L saved Elsa and took her with from the evidence left inside the room. But why did Re=L take Elsa with her? She should’ve been a hated enemy that had lied to her. Despite that, why…..?
“Kh…..there’s no doubt they’re still somewhere on this train…..if I can find and capture them then….”
But I can’t find any sign of them on the train. I can’t find them no matter how much I expand the distance of my magic. Where could they have possibly gone.
The roars of battle drew closer to her as she was thinking such thoughts.
“Why…why isn’t anything going my way!? Where did it get screwed up….!? Who the hells fault is this!? Who the ──!?”
While Marianne was irritatedly grinding her teeth…..at that time.
The glass of the window on the rear door was suddenly shattered and someone quickly dived through it.
Staring straight at the someone, Marianne’s lips trembled as she shouted.
“I see, I get it now…..! It was you…! I’m sure it was cause of you….!”
In fact, Marianne actually knew the identity of the person standing before her.
The true identity of the temporary instructor from Alzano Imperial Magic Academy, in charge Re=L whose been reassigned from her traditional military duties. Her speculation was spot on. But he was nothing more than a third rate bastard instructor, he shouldn’t’ve been a hindrance to the plan.
If I pushed too hard I thought that it’d be too suspicious, and it might cause some from strife from upper-echelon; that’s what I decided. But now that I think about it, I should’ve done my best to stop that man from coming. That was Marianne’s most critical error.
Francine and Colette’s attitude were changed by the existence of that man.
The plan was leaked due to the prideful Ginny deciding to take the shame of running away.
The girls of the moon class set aside their differences and cooperated with one another, letting them catch up to the train.
Elsa and Re=L had grown closer than necessary.
The result of the accumulation of all these trivial events ──
“It’s all your fault! Glenn = Radarssssssssss!”
“Hahaha! Let’s end this ridiculousness! You dirty old hag!?”
Marianne screeched at Glenn as he stood up and came to the ready.
── I’m hoping that a new professor and students will breathe a breath of fresh air into our academy.──
The words of her past were now coming back to haunt her.
“Aahh seriously! Ever the mastermind aren’t you, using Francine and Colette as decoys while we ran along the top of the train…..you’re just as unreasonable as ever!”
Carried by the wind, Sistine flew threw the broken window a second later.
She landed behind Glenn letting out of frightened shout.
“It’s no big deal right? Thanks to that we we’re able to meet with Re=L who also decided to go along the roof….”
Two more figures using their dexterous physical ability jumped through the window after Sistine. It was none other than Re=L and Elsa. Sistine had already dispelled the seal magic placed on them. Re=L was summoning her great-sword, while Elsa was preparing her katana. After meeting up, Glenn and Sistine had reconciled with Elsa after she explained the situation to them. Cooperating together for the sake of overthrowing the mastermind ──
Those four people had appeared before Marianne, who was trembling in a fight of rage and astonishment, for the sake of the same goal.
“Four vs. one is it? There’s no way you can win. Just surrender quietly.”
Glenn declared that already sure of his victory.
Rather than accepting his offer, Marianne just let out an ominous laugh seep out.
“Did I say something strange?”
“Of course not….dear me….it’s really turned into such a situation huh…”
And so, Marianne gently pulled out the sword hanging off of her. It was a long sword with an old-fashioned design.
“I brought this with me in case of an emergency, thinking it could be used to keep Elsa in check, but….I never thought that it’d be such a good idea!”
The moment she raised her sword overhead.
Flames erupted from the sword and swirled around Marianne’s surroundings. It was obviously not an ordinary sword. The intense heat wave radiated from the burning flames started to leave Glenn’s skin numb even from a distance of some ten odd metras ──
“Ouch, so hot!? What’s with this!?”
Glenn opened his eyes wide in shock.
“These flames, there were no signs of magic being activated….!? Could it’ve been a magic tool that…… wait no that’s not it! There was still no signs of the activation sequence either way!”
In the first place, Glenn who possess the unique magic [The Fool’s World] wouldn’t let any magic fly in a such situation where they had such an overwhelming CQC advantage. While Glenn was perplexed by the strange flame that Marianne was wielding….
“Impossible, is that sword…..the magical legacy…….Frey = Vood (Sword of Flames)!?” (TN It’s written using the kanji sword of flames but read as Frey = Vood.)
The one who realized it from its shape and properties was Sistine, who stood there stunned.
“The demon emperor who appears in [The Magician Megalius], the flame demon emperor Via = Dol…..one of the [one hundred flames] that he originally wielded, Frey = Vood…..! Why is such a thing in a place like this…!?”
“Ara ara~…..apparently there’s an ancient civilization enthusiast here so you didn’t even need me to explain……well that’s more or less right. This sword here is the magical legacy that can manipulate flames.”
Marianne laughed at them.
“You see, when I was at the Azure Sky Cross Institute and working on [Project: Revive Life], I did research on the reconstruction and inheritance of procedural memory and combat techniques……related to that was the question if an ancient hero’s combat techniques could be reproduced in modern times….? I was also doing something like that.”
“There’s no way, is this an actual application of the white magic [Road・Experience]!?”
In this world, there’s ritual magic to recall and reproduce the memory lying dormant inside objects.
“Yes that’s right? Certainly, similarly to Celica = Arfonia, being able to almost completely recreate the combat techniques of the past heros……wasn’t something I was able to do. But I was successful in implementing an incomplete, semi-permanent combat technique in this body of mine that relies on Frey = Vood.”
“This Frey = Vood……after all it’s nothing more than a mere fairy tale made by Loran = Eltoria, but despite that this demon sword…..no doubt it was wielded by a famous warrior in ancient times…..is was I surmise. I wonder if I’m right?”
Marianne’s figure had suddenly vanished into a haze──
“!? Dangerous, everyone get back!”
Re=L who reacted first jumped forward ─
A moment later a fierce metallic sound echoed out as two blades clashed together. Re=L and Marianne’s swords could be seen locked together in front of Glenn and the others ──
And a moment later flames sprouted from Marianne’s sword.
Just as Re=L was about to be forced to take the exploding flames at point blank distance ──
“[Atmospheric wall・become two・and protect us!]”
── a double barrier made of air instantly covered Re=L and prevented that. Sistine was barely able to cut the flames off that were about swallow Re=L from advancing by casting the magic [Double・Screen] in advance ──
Glenn pulled out his revolver that was hidden behind his back.
Drawing it an incredible speed, he let out three shots in quick succession of one another by fanning the hammer. (TN: Fanning is where they hold it with one hand and use the other to slam the hammer down rapidly)
But moving at an incredible speed, Marianne was able to intercept the bullets with her sword ──
“Fufu, what’s the matter…..? By chance did you think that I’d be that easy….?”
Glenn was left dumbfounded as Marianne showed off the under-belly of her sword, showing three bullets beautifully lined up with each other.
A moment later the bullets were burned to a crisp by the flames erupted from the sword. The flames continued until she was completely covered in them, now starting to radiate off her body. Continuing to spread towards the walls and ceilings as if it had a mind of its own. She had completely sealed off their path of retreat.
“….I won’t let you escape again okay….? I’ll hand over you two as the experiment specimens and burn the rest to a crisp…..”
(A flame barrier…..? This is bad…..it’s too powerful…..)
Glenn’s body started to tremble and break out in sweats as his world was engulfed in hellfire.
And then ──
“Haa…..haa….ha, aa……!? Uue….aaa…..”
As she turned paler and broke out in a cold sweat, Elsa feebly dropped to the ground. It seemed that her emotional trauma relapsed due to Marianne’s flames.
“Oi oi…..I heard what you said earlier but it was really this bad….?”
Sistine and Glenn were shocked at Elsa’s sudden change.
“If that’s the case, we’ll just have to do it with us three…..let’s go you guys!”
And so, the group now having lost a member took a step forward to confront Marianne.
Hyperventilating on the floor, Elsa weakly called out to Re=L’s back.
“….I’m…..sorry….that….I’m….a burden after all….”
“It’s okay. No problem.”
And a blunt, but powerful response was given in return.
“Because I’ll protect Elsa.”
And so, the final battle began as the trembling Elsa watched on.
The overflowing pasturelands, the serene atmosphere unique the region, and a beautiful lake…..
This was the lakeside village Lathslu of the Alzano Imperial Lake District.
Despite being late at night, the residents of the Lathslu were standing outside their homes staring at the railroad tracks running alongside the opposite side of the shore. The steam whistle and the roar of the engine could be heard even from this distance. This village had the particular luxury of being able to watch the train appear from the gorge four times a day…..
“A steam whistle….? The trains running this late….?”
“That’s strange…..the last train of the day should’ve already gone by right….?”
The villagers listening to the sounds of the train, staring at the gorge where it always appears from. Before long, while the villagers were attentively looking at its entrance…..the train had really appeared from its usual spot….but.
The gorge was suddenly dyed a bright orange.
“W-What the hell!?”
As the villagers gawked in astonishment, the train continued down its path like usual….slowly drawing close to the village like usual…..running along the tracks on the opposite side of the lake like usual…..
But, its very appearance, was unusual.
“W-What in the world is this….!?”
“It’s on fire!? The trains….on fire!?”
The train was slowly moving from the left side to the right like usual. But the beginning of the train, the area where the engine is, was engulfed in flames.
Marianne’s loud laughter echoed out from inside the train. Whenever she madly swung her sword, a scorching wave of flames gushed out from the tip of her sword setting the whole area ablaze.
“[Shine my protective barrier!]”
Sistine deployed the magic [Force・Shield] in front herself.
The magic barrier of light intercepted the flames approaching Glenn’s group.
“Ow ow ow!? Damn this hurts!? It’s so hot! It’s too damn hot!?”
Glenn still continued to get burned by the remnants in the air despite being protected by a barrier.
“Oi White-Cat!? You’re not blocking the heat so try to increase the output a little! Mix it up or something!”
“This is the most I can do!”
Sistine screamed back in response to Glenn’s criticism.
“The output of that magical legacy sword is too strange! It’s not my fault!”
“Tsk!? What’s with this!?”
Glenn clenched his fist and started to cast spells in rapid succession.
“Guardian, I beg of thee・bestow protection upon myself・from the trinity of calamities!]”
Black magic [Tri・Resist]. It’s a counter spell that attaches the resistance property from the three energy attributes, fire, ice, and shock, to its target. Glenn had cast it on himself.
“White-Cat back me up!”
“[Atmospheric wall・become two・and protect us!]”
Sistine had also cast [Double・Screen] as he rushed towards Marianne, now in-tow with her double barrier. Unlike [Force・Shield], which is a coordination-designation magic, [Air・Screen], and furthermore its derivative [Double・Screen], were target-designation magic.
That made it possible to move while maintaining the effects of the spell.
Trapped in a swirling sea of flames on both his left and right sides, Glenn had no choice but to rush towards Marianne head on.
He let out a straight jab powered by the momentum of him running forward.
Marianne was easily able to deal with it. In return, she let out a single slash towards Glenn’s defenseless body……..
Her fierce blade easily cleaved through the effects of the [Double・Screen] cast on him and ──
── were a hair’s breadth from cutting him in tow. The moment that Glenn was about to be bisected, Re=L had jumped in and blocked Marianne’s sword with her own.
As it was, she’d eventually force Marianne back but ──
Flames started to pour out from the tip of her sword once more and rampaged.
For the time being, Re=L had acquired flame resistance by casting [Tri・Resist] on herself, but this wasn’t something that could be completely negate the effects of the sweltering heat that the flames were giving off.
If Sistine hadn’t immediately affixed an [Air・Screen] to Re=L then there was a very good chance she would’ve came out with severe burns.
But that air barrier as well ──
Was immediately torn asunder by Marianne’s slash and dissipated completely. Then her flames reignited once more, swirling and rushing towards Glenn and Re=L ──
Assaulted by the tsunami of flames, Glenn and Re=L fell back to Sistine.
“[Shine my protective barrier!]”
Her barrier of light once again stopped the advancing flames ──
“Ow!? Like I said it’s too hot!? Do something White-Caaaaaat!?”
“Don’t be ridiculous!? Like I said this is the most I can do!”
In modern magic, the three spells [Force・Shield], [Air・Screen], and [Tri・Resist], were considered the fundamental defense spells. [Multi-purpose and strong, but you’re stuck in place so you can’t move], [multi-purpose and weak to physical shocks and easily disappears, but can move freely], [only resistant to three elements and the strength is dependent on continuous magical input, but can move freely], each of three spells had their own respective strengths and weaknesses.
However, Marianne’s Frey = Vood easily slashed through each spell capitalizing on their weaknesses. It wasn’t anything flashy, but was an extremely troublesome weapon.
“Damn it….if we use [Force・Shield] then we’ll be stuck in place and she’ll just attack us head on, she can easily slash through [Air・Screen], and she can put off more heat than [Tri・Resist] can handle…..oi isn’t this just blatant cheating at this point!?”
Sistine had her hands full casting defensive spells like [Force・Shield], and even if she had the time it was doubtful if she had the power to break through Marianne’s defense. Glenn’s three-verse chants were too slow and lacked the power to do any real damage to Marianne. And Re=L hardly knew what an attack spell was to begin with.
Marianne was unmatched in CQC due to possessing the ancient hero’s sword techniques. Their escape route had long been since cut off due to the cage of flames. It had already turned into a complete deadlock for them.
“Ahahahaha….burn….! Burn to hell~….!”
Even more overwhelming flames erupted from Marianne’s sword and rushed towards Glenn’s group like a tidal wave ──
“Ow hot hot hot!? Too damn hot!? I’ll be a burned to a crisp at this rate!?”
Investing more magic power into their [Tri・Resist], and even with Sistine doing likewise for her [Force・Shield] but…..it was already a wasted effort.
Naturally, the swirling flames ignited rest of the compartment, the rest of the car merely being fuel for the ever-growing fire. To make matters worse, it seems that the flame finally spread to the engine room, causing a strange abnormality in train’s operation. The engine room had began to overheat, and following that, the train started to take on more and more speed. The scenery outside the windows started to fly by at a terrifying speed and the train started to lurch up and down instead swaying left to right ──
“S-Sensei, at this rate….”
“Ahh seriously….this is bad!”
Sistine and Glenn both turned pale imagining the same thing.
Derailment, if the trains speed continued to increase like how it was, then the worst scenario will eventually come to. If that were to happen then it’d leave just one result for everyone on the train….death.
“Oi! That’s enough already! Cut the flames! Do you wanna die too!?”
Glenn couldn’t help but scream out at Marianne.
“Hyahahahah! Burn….everything will buuuurnnnnnn……! Ahyahahahaha!”
“It’s pointless, that woman’s…..she’s already a complete lost cause….I wonder what happened….?”
Marianne’s state of mind had gone awry the moment she started to seriously swing the sword and take in its power.
“I wonder if she’s being influenced by the sword’s memory….?”
“Ahh, it would make sense if she’s handling an object that houses the memories of a delirious ancient hero….”
Loran = Eltoria’s [The Magician Melgalius]……to this day the truth of it still isn’t completely understood. It’s unclear if they were really recounting ancient history or not. But, if by chance that [The Magician Melgalius] really was telling the history of ancient times…..if Frey = Vood really was the Flame Demon Emperor Via = Dol’s sword….then it’d be a demon commander’s weapon. According to the tales, demon commanders were entities that had quit being humans under various circumstances.
“Tsk! Oi White-Cat! According to the fairy tales how did [The Mage of Justice] defeat that damn Flame Demon Emperor Via = Dol!?”
“I think….the finishing move was…[a blade of wind that cut through the flames]”
“Alright, White-Cat! Use the magic [Air・Blade]! Didn’t I teach it to you the other day!?”
“That’s impossible! My hands are full with handling the counter spells! If I take the time to cast such a complex spell with that many verses won’t everyone be scorched to a crisp by then!?”
“Shit that’s right! Re=L and I will just have to do something about ──”
While those three were busy dealing with the swirling tempest of flames…..
(It’s hot…..scared….I’m scared….help me…..fathe-…..r….)
Elsa was sitting in the corner, holding herself while trembling in fear.
(Right now….I have the power to fight…..that’s why I have to get up and fight with them…)
In theory, in her own mind she understood. She completely understood it.
But it was hopeless. The [Memory of Flames] continued to haunt Elsa, mocking her. Once again stuck in fiery landscape, her body was paralyzed by fear. The trembling of her feet and hands, her strength disappearing, the dizziness, nausea, her heart throbbing, her hyperventilation….none of it would subside. Her whole world was once again dyed red and she lacked even the strength to pull herself up ──
At such a time.
Marianne’s fiery onslaught finally destroyed a portion of Sistine’s [Force・Shield], opening up a hole. And a torrent of flames flooded in from that hole ──
── heading straight towards Elsa.
Elsa froze up in fear as the stream of flames drew closer to her. Just as the flames were about to swallow her whole──
── someone appeared in-front of her, using their body as a shield.
It was none other than Re=L. The burning flames covered her in the blink of an eye ──
“[Shine my protective barrier!]”
In that moment Sistine was able to summon a barrier. Cutting off the source of the flame in turn was able stop its flow, eventually leading to the flames surrounding Re=L to be extinguished.
“It’s okay. No problem.”
Elsa slightly turned her head to look at Re=L, her voice full of worry. Despite being protected by [Tri・Resist], the half of Re=L’s body which was shielding Elsa had a considerable amount of burns inflicted on it. Her pain must’ve been been unimaginable.
There’s no way she could be okay. There’s no way that there could be no problem.
But despite that ──
“I’m glad that Elsa’s safe.”
Disregarding her injuries, readying her great-sword, Re=L turned towards Marianne to face off against her once again ──
“W-Why….for someone like me…?”
“Didn’t I say I would protect you.”
Re=L said that matter of factly.
Elsa couldn’t help but stare at Re=L in surprise.
“Tsk ── [Angel of benevolence・grant that person peace・with your hand of salvation!]”
Placing his hand on Re=L’s head, Glenn cast the white magic [Life・Up]. It was able to alleviate Re=L’s burn to some extent.
“Re=L! Are you good to go!?”
“Alright! We’ll somehow cut down that damn hag! Uooooooo!”
Glenn and Re=L once again rushed towards Marianne.
“[Atmospheric wall・become two・and protect us!]”
Meanwhile Sistine let out spell to support them.
Glenn let loose his fist, and Re=L her great-sword ──
But Marianne merely shifted her head to dodge Glenn’s attack and brought her sword up to deflect Re=L’s ──
She let out a loud laugh seeming to mock Glenn and Re=L’s joint attacks ──
Taking the offensive, Marianne jumped up and unleashed a stream of flames downward.
The heat wave swallowed Glenn and Re=L whole and continued throughout the rest of the train ──
Such a limited and narrow space was the ideal spot for the suppression effect of her flames to be truly realized. There were no tricks or deceptions in her attacks. Any mage worth their salt would’ve avoided such a constrained battlefield at the start, but now there was nothing they could do about it. At the very least the situation might’ve been different if they were in a wider area, but as it was now all the cards were in Marianne’s hand. The situation was getting worse and worse ──
Meanwhile the train continued to accelerated faster and faster while Glenn and co. could do nothing but sit back and watch. The shaking feeling intensified and the occasional bump could be felt like the train was taking off the ground. The time limit was drawing closer as each second passed.
“Damn it….no matter what it takes, whether my hands or legs….! What should I do….!?”
Glenn crossed his arms in front of his chest, single-mindedly pouring all of his magic into [Tri・Resist] as the fire breathed down his neck. Sistine desperately cast and recasted [Force・Shield] and [Double・Screen] trying to provide even the least bit more protection.
But as each second passed was a second more that mana deficiency grew closer.
“Ahahahahahaha! Hyahaha!? Hyahahahahaha! Buuuuurnnnn! Everything must buuuurn!”
Elsa trembled in fear seeing such a sight, unable to move even an inch. No doubt that this was like a reenactment of her [Memory of Flames]. And…….there was Re=L fighting in her [Memory of Flames].
A girl who had told me she’d protect me. A girl she had once tried to kill. No matter what Elsa thinks, I still like you…..a girl who had once said that, and even now is still desperately fighting. For the sake of protecting me. Her body being burned by the flames.
(Am….I….really…..fine with this…..?)
Certainly, I’m scared of the flames. of the color red. It’s my worst trauma that I can’t get rid of. But in such a situation, being scared, trembling, crying ──
Just like I thought. What was even the purpose of me picking up the sword. Why did I even hone my skills and aim to become a solder like father ──
── Elsa…..wield your sword only in defense. Wield your sword for the sake of saving people ──
Behind Re=L, who was fighting to protect a certain somebody, the memories of their father resounded in that persons heart.
She tightly grasped the scabbard of their sword, ignoring their trembling body. Elsa cast aside the thoughts of the burning fire plaguing her. Desperately thinking of what she should do──
(…..I see. There’s nothing I can do like this. There’s nothing but revenge burning in my heart, selfishly swinging my father’s technique, his honor…..this sacred sword…..dragging it all through the mud!?)
From here on out no more being scared, trembling, crying ──
“This is enough…..! My father’s name….his techniques…..I’ve defiled them…..spit on them!!”
At that time, Elsa roared.
Continuing to cry, Elsa howled while standing up.
“Oi wait!? Don’t force yourself!? Stay down!”
Re=L and Glenn noticed her standing up and yelled out, but that’s all they noticed.
They hadn’t noticed that the trembling of her hands, knees, her whole body hadn’t stopped yet.
They hadn’t noticed that she decided to fight against the unprecedented fear that was on the verge of crushing her heart. Such a weak heart that she thought should just be destroyed instead. That she should just die instead.
Elsa pulled her sword with her trembling right hand….the blade giving of a beautiful shine as it slid out….
And she tightly grasped the blade with her left hand.
The blade reached down to an artery, causing a large amount of blood to flow out from her left hand…..
Almost as to signify her maturity and her heart calming down, the blood flow slowed down to a trickle.
“…..The redness of blood is still a bit frightening…..but this world is already dyed red. Nothing is going to change anymore.
Her body might still be trembling and fear still dominating her heart, but Elsa slowly stood up as her thoughts grew clearer.
“Haa….haa….you guys….don’t have enough firepower right…?”
“Ahh….that’s right but….?”
“T-Then…..I’ll….find a way….to get us out of this mess….”
Elsa said that in a hoarse voice as she struggled with her hyperventilation. Glenn, Sistine, Re=L all stared at her in amazement.
“Don’t be stupid. Take a look at yourself. What can you do as you are now….?”
“…..I can understand…..haa….my own state….good enough……however…..”
The trembling Elsa raised her eyes and looked straight ahead at Glenn and said.
“….Even so….! I-I……I have to do this…!”
“Please….let me! Please believe in me….!”
The flames crackled. Burning even more violently. Only the sounds of the sparks snapping and Marianne howling in madness could be heard. Sistine was somehow managing to blow the oncoming flames away with her light barrier…..but she was nearing her limit.
The runaway train was on the verge of derailing.
They had no time……
“….Can you do it? Elsa.”
Panting and gasping, turning ghastly pale, sweat pouring off her like a waterfall. Despite that, Elsa replied with a voice full of confidence.
“Please…..you guys….should just….fight like usual….and when a chance…..comes up…..is when…..I’ll…..stri-……ke…..”
Elsa beggingly made her appeal….they could barely even hear her.
“Glenn….believe in Elsa. I believe in her.”
Re=L backed her up.
Glenn indecisively stared into Elsa’s eyes for a short time ──
“….Okay. I’ll believe in you.”
Glenn turned his back on Elsa and once again faced Marianne.
“I don’t know how else we can get of this situation…..so I’m going to entrust our fates to you, Elsa.”
“Now, let’s go! The final match! We’ll decide it with this!”
Glenn and Re=L rushed forward in their final assault ──
Elsa watched on as the scene played out just like earlier. Those two faced the onslaught known as Marianne’s flames.
They tried to close the distance to Marianne using various defensive spells and having Sistine’s support them. But Marianne’s flame wouldn’t let them take even an inch closer. Seeing such a scene, the main emotion that Elsa was feeling was mere regret.
Aah, red. Everything is red. A world bursting into flames, burning hot and red. Even now, it’s still scary. I want to disappear. My bones feel like they’re going to break apart from this constant trembling. My [Memory of Flames] appearing every day, tormenting me. Even so, I have to stand and confront this red sight ──
“Haa…! Haa…! Haa…! I….!”
She was severely hyperventilating. It was agonizing. She might’ve been breathing, but she wasn’t taking in much air. The lack of oxygen didn’t help her state.
No…..right now it’s fine. If oxygen doesn’t go to my brain them that’ll just make it that much easier to block out the bad thoughts.
Closing her eyes, Elsa cycled through her memories in this extremely physically and mentally taxing situation.
Her fathers technique.
The days spent training.
The power she’s cultivated till now ──
(…..Harukaze sword style’s…secret technique……)
After practicing it that much ──
(……From the standing position, draw my left foot back half a pace, gently lower my center of gravity, lightly grasp the swords scabbard with my left hand’s fourth and fifth fingers, add the rest with precision….)
(….Gracefully caressing the handle with my right hand…..prepare my right foot to be used as a springboard for my left….the distribution of my weight should be seventy percent on my right foot and thirty on my left and….)
Slowly recall it…..
(…….How the spinal column whips forth…the bending of the body like a smooth whip strike…..using the hip bones like a bowstring….the foundation of generating the driving force….)
…….She carefully prepared her stance as she recalled the steps one by one in her head.
(Raise the sword till it’s even with my forehead. The weight of the sword and even the truth of the weight are my companions…)
Elsa gently held the still sheathed sword as her vision wobbled…..
(……Take a deep breath filling my lungs. This is an act equivalent nocking a bow and pulling the string taut. Stop my breathing for two seconds…..and then release everything as if I’m spitting it out….)
Till now Elsa’s been scrumptiously preparing her posture……but now she’s stopped her movements. And calmly…..she opened her eyes once more ──
As soon as she did that, the red world that scorched Elsa’s retinas ──
The embodiment of Elsa’s nightmares.
“Ahahahaha ehahahahah! Dieeeeeeeeeee!?”
And the figure of her bitter enemy Marianne, were all in front of her.
Her preparations were finally complete ──
“Geh! Damn it──”
Just a little more.
Just a little more, and she’d reach Marianne. But despite that ──
Flames shot out from Marianne’s sword and once again dyed their surroundings a bright crimson. Both Glenn and Re=L were devoting their complete mana reserves into [Tri・Resist] while Sistine was frantically casting [Double・Screen] to cover them. But despite that, the overwhelming hellfire still managed to burn their bodies.
The scorching heat wave restrained them from even taking a step forward.
“Damn it, is it impossible after all!?”
That was how the current situation had unfortunately progressed. Marianne’s flame would soon penetrate their barriers if the situation continued as it was. And as soon as that happened they’d be burnt to death.
“Tch….it’s useless Re=L….back down….!”
Glenn was telling Re=L to withdraw ──
That’s right. Following the battle pattern till now, they both should’ve retreated by now. They needed to retreat.
“No! I refuse!”
This time it was Re=L who had screamed and rejected him.
“Elsa said she’d do something! I believe in her!”
Her usual sleepy eyes were shining bright full of trust in Elsa.
“Ha….seriously, there’s no helping it then!”
Broadly grinning at the one he considers his sister Glenn prepared himself for the upcoming situation. In for a penny in for a pound.
“White-Cat! I know you’re running on fumes but increase the power of the barrier on us! Please!”
“I’m still at my limit….but I got it! I’ll use everything I got!”
Sistine was exceeding her limits and unleashed all the magic power in her system. Releasing the magic power she held in reserves to protect herself with [Force・Shield]…..she reinforced the [Double・Screen] that was protecting Glenn and Re=L. That in itself would be a death warrant for her in this fiery inferno, she’d only be able to endure it for a few seconds.
But all three of them believed in Elsa’s finishing move and remained in that hellish place ──
And so ──
(…..They believe in me….thank you Re=L….everyone….)
Contrary to the world set ablaze, where everything was hot and scorching. Before she knew it, Elsa felt her world, her thoughts freeze over and sharpen. To speak figuratively….it was a sensation like a drop of water falling on a still body of water, the ripples gently spreading. Elsa’s intuition, which felt like it was everywhere and nowhere at once…..had already….found the chance…..at that moment.
Taking a breath──
(Re=L….this time…I’ll be the one…protecting you…)
── and then spitting it out.
The next instant Elsa’s body exploded forward accompanied by her yell full of fighting spirit. Using her right foot as the crux of the force of her propulsion, rotating her hips, her back snapping like a whip.
She drew the sword from its scabbard as she held it overhead. The scabbard sliding off.
The scabbard flew off the sword and fell straight down ──
Her technique was perfect. A technique that could only be done with [Uchigatanas] due to their innate thin razor-like blades. A physical martial art technique done with complete utilization of her whole body, producing exceptional [power] and [speed]. Instead of amplifying her magic power, she’d focused everything on refining her physique, letting out an exceptionally sharp slash that tears through the air and leaves a vacuum in its wake….creating a blade of wind able to kill from a distance.
A slash that exceeds the swords range. A special technique that wouldn’t be found in normal sword techniques. From the Eastern Sword arts, the secret technique of the Harukaze sword sect, [Kamikaze]. (TN Kamikaze actually means divine wind, it was coined due to the history of a typhoon destroying the invading Mongolian fleet and most people relate it to the suicide bombing of planes.)
She was going to unleash that here.
The moment Elsa brought her sword down, infused with her whole being ──
The air roared.
The tsunami of flames that were swallowing Glenn and the others suddenly split down the middle.
The blade of wind had seemed to slash Marianne in half from an impossible distance.
And a wind of blood quickly followed next. Marianne instinctively had managed to avoid a direct hit, but the blade of wind continued on its path towards the engine room behind her…..
Her movement had stopped for an instant. The flames were still parted, leading straight to Marianne. There was currently no obstacles in the way. This….would be enough.
Glenn and Re=L were rushing towards Marianne without a moments delay.
And mustering the last of her strength, Marianne faced them with a bloodcurdling expression.
Marianne had raised her sword overhead in an attempt to intercept them ──
“I won’t let you!”
Re=L managed to arrive there a moment sooner and unleashed a slash with her great-sword……
She had sent Marianne’s sword flying through the air. Rotating many times over until it eventually got stuck in the roof…….
And at the same time.
Kicking off the floor and leaping forward, Glenn reached out and grabbed Marianne’s collar……..
” ── Are you ready?”
Glenn had grabbed her arms, swept her feet out, and hoisted her up in the blink of an eye. Using his foot as a pivot point, he spun around like a top ──
Letting the force flow through him, he resigned his body to the momentum and flew ──
Carrying Marianne along with him.
“Go to sleeeeeeeeeeeeeep!”
Right now Marianne’s vision was spinning back and forth. Their bodies heading back toward the ground like a flash of lightning. Using their entire weight, Glenn mercilessly slammed Marianne on the floor.
The train shook due to the force of them hitting the ground. Marianne’s consciousness was soon cut off and started to fade into darkness thanks to Glenn’s brutish sumo technique.
While at the same time ──
A crack started to spread along the engine in the front.
The next moment a violent stream of steam poured out and dyed their vision pure white. It seemed that Elsa’s earlier blow had completely destroyed the engine block.
Letting out a loud squealing noise, the train slowly, slowly started to decelerate…..
And before long……in the dead of night without sound or sight except for the moonlight, it was coming to a stop in middle of the endless grasslands…..
The train…..had finally stopped.
Not a sound could be heard.
However, the flames still silently burned on.
Elsa quietly murmured. She was gazing at her hand with an expression like she couldn’t believe herself. The flames had considerably been weakened, probably due to Frey = Vood’s user losing consciousness….however, the flames still burned brightly around Elsa. But despite that……her hand wasn’t trembling at all.
“….Nn. It stopped.”
Re=L who had tottered over to Elsa, responded to her.
“No…..I’m not talking about the train…..”
And, at that time.
“Hahaha that was nice Elsa!”
Glenn had rushed up to her and slapped her back without holding back.
“Wasn’t that amazing!? What was that just now!? What type of magic was it!?”
Sistine was also somewhat excited.
“No, that wasn’t magic……”
“No way! You really saved us! I had no idea you had such a trump card hidden up your sleeve! I was really surprised!”
“Thanks Elsa! Hey, think you can teach me that magic next time!?”
Glenn and Sistine were smothering Elsa and screaming in joy…..
“Are you alright!? Something suddenly stopped the train!?”
Francine and Colette were finally able to catch up.
“Ohh you guys are still alive.”
“Of course we are!? We’ve finally beat the hell out of all of them!”
“There’s no way I could lose to such spiritless opponents after being instructed by Sensei!”
“That aside it looks like your guys part went well too!”
“Ahh it’s all thanks to Elsa….we somehow managed to finish it up with her.”
Hearing such words coming from Glenn.
Francine and Colette blinked their eyes in surprise and looked around. Even though the source of the flame had disappeared, the train continued to burn brightly. Surrounded by such flames, Elsa was neither trembling nor crying…….standing firm on her own feet, she continued to gaze at her own hands.
“I see…..Elsa…..you’ve finally…..”
Realizing something, Francine and Colette let out a warm smile towards Elsa.
Still staring at her hands in bewilderment, Elsa felt something on her shoulder. Raising her head, she saw the one touching her was Re=L.
“I don’t really get it but….Elsa saved us.”
Saying that, Re=L’s usual sleepy expression slowly transformed into a gentle smile covering her whole face. Elsa stared at Re=l’s face for a short while, stunned…..
Eventually, her expression started to soften…..
She suddenly started hugging Re=L.
“No…you’re wrong Re=L…..the one that was saved…..it was me….”
Elsa began to cry while hugging Re=L.
“?….Don’t cry Elsa….does it hurt somewhere?”
Leaving such an Elsa to Re=L to handle…..Glenn and the others exchanged looks and silently agreed that’d be the best option.
“Now then….I wonder how we’re supposed to get back to school now huh?”
Glenn scratched his head while complaining and gazed out at the night sky through a window on the train.
Under the quiet cold night air. A gentle evening breeze blew throughout the grasslands, rustling it as far as the eye could see. The beautifully shining white moon illuminated Glenn’s group from its place in the starry sky.
── The chill of the night was a pleasant feeling compared to the burning sensation of the flames.