Chapter 473 - The End of the Fifth Galahad War"...I won."
Simon listened to the victory shouts of the Sparda army that echoed through the Galahad Mountains next to the Taurus that had been reduced to a white wreck.
Wild. There is no other way to describe it. The soldiers and adventurers here are boiling over.
If you look far in the distance there were still screams and shouts along with a haze of snow and smoke. The retreating Cross Army is still in the middle of a relentless pursuit by the Sparda army.
How many more escaping white solders with their backs defenceless will return to the soil of Galahad? I'm not sure if it matters to me now that the fight is already over, and I stopped thinking about it any further.
"yo, are you hurt, Simon?"
Absentmindedly I was sitting on the snow covered ground when a clear voice called out from above.
Looking up, there's a bountiful brown figure exposed despite the cold weather. Wrapping up her excellent proportions in an alluring way was an outfit like a pure white dancer that dazzled in the eyes. Or so it should have, now it looked a bit sooty
When Simon finally noticed the beads of sweat floating on her glossy brown skin and the pale light blue aura that rose from her body like steam, he finally remembered.
''Um, thank you... I should ask you, Are you hurt, Sophie-san?''
"I'm glad you're worried about me. I'm fine, don't worry. It's just that I'm a little tired from using my blessing for the first time in a long time. My body, as you can see, is perfectly intact."
When his gaze was almost instinctively attracted to the deep cleavage that approached his face, Simon summoned all his reasoning and kept his composure.
''Well, that's good. That's...''
I'm glad she and I were both spared. From the bottom of my heart.
It should have happened just a few minutes ago, but strangely enough it already feels like a nostalgic, distant memory to Simon. That's how tense it was. Sniping at the Apostle Sariel.
Unfortunately, with Sariel's arrival the Taurus that he drove was destroyed in a single shot. Fortunately the cockpit area, which is boasts the thickest defenses, somehow escaped damage.
Still, the shock was tremendous and Simon lost consciousness in the pilot's seat. But he was quickly awakened by a terrible fairy's wake-up call that suddenly echoed in his head.
He knew of the plan from the beginning. After conveying through Lily's telepathy that he was safe and that he had no problem continuing the mission, Simon faced the battle of a lifetime.
It was not the 'Yatagarasu - Second Series' in his hand, but a new sniper rifle that he made to shoot Sariel without fail. Incorporating some leftover bones from the Slothgil, accelerating the bullets with lightning attribute magic just like Kurono's "The Greed", the latest from the Stratos blacksmithing workshop. It's name "Thunderbird".
with his new lightning attribute gun at the ready, all Simon had to do was waiting patiently and silently for the time to come. Keeping his breath, hiding his presence and praying to the black gods that he wouldn't be found.
"As I feared, you're too dangerous. I will kill you and all your friends."
"Ha, Idiot... You noticed that way too late."
Then Simon pulled the trigger. Here, he thought, and even without telepathy, strangely he felt as if Kurono's feelings were transmitted to him.
A hit. The mind-eating warhead 'Memory Burst' flew from the muzzle with the speed of a lightning bolt leaving behind a purple trail, closing in on Sariel's temples.
She must have reflexively guarded against it with her divine aura. The large-caliber special bullet didn't pierce her head, but the memory-destroying effect inside was still in effect. He was sure of it.
Yes, it hit!
The second I thought that, a bright white light enveloped me and I passed out.
Only now do I understand. I was hit by a strong counterattack from Sariel right after I had succeeded. And that Sophie took a stand to protect me from it.
Now that I've woken up, there's no one else in the snowfield where Kurono and Sariel had played out their epic battle. None. In other words, the fight is over. Kurono had defeated Sariel.
"...We really won."
"Yeah, that was a nice shot."
Sophie smiles behind the demon's veil, and for once Simon is honestly happy with her compliment. At the same time his heart is beating a bit faster. Feeling a little embarrassed.
"Oh, yeah, we have to get Gardan out of the cockpit"
"Isn't it fine to just leave him like that for a while?"
Recalling the big golem knight still stranded in the cramped cockpit.
Crude, rough and in some ways very much a stereotypical adventurer Gardan, but he is, or perhaps even more than me, interested in the Taurus. That fact made Simon feel closer to him than Sophie. Especially when the two of them rode the Tauros together kicking the Cross Army about, he felt a deep sense of friendship blossoming with him.
"The hatch broke, how am I going to get him out..."
It's going to take a lot of work and time to rescue them.
With that in mind, Simon looked around again.
Most of them were rejoicing in the victory, but some of them could be seen crying as they snuggled up to the corpses of their fallen comrades.
Almost all of those who had fallen near here had been killed by Sariel. She did so much damage in just a short amount of time. If Kurono hadn't finished her off early, the Sparda army would have suffered immense losses, even if their victory was certain.
"Hmm, aren't the ones over there... Wow, those people are still alive..."
What caught Simon's eyes were a group of people with huge, muscular bodies that made him want to ask which dungeon they were from. An Orc, Minotaur and Cyclops trio, namely the members of the "Iron Demon Squad".
''Yeah, they're tough. Besides, when it comes to monster type divine blessings, their life force is also raised to a higher level. If they don't properly finish them off, they'll stand up again and again like that.''
Certainly, he wasn't decapitated or pierced through the heart. However, the way he was beaten, the damage should have been so severe that it would normally be impossible to recover.
"Ah, I'm beat. That was really dangerous."
"Oh, God, I was so scared I thought I was going to die!"
"Mine face... still hurts"
Still, standing up on their own and chatting pleasantly like that, even if you lose, they're still rank 5.
''Huh... So that's how it is."
"Well, most of the time they don't survive. See, it looks like it is too late for the 'Blade Ranger'"
Colorfully equipped 'Blade Ranger' members lying in a pure white snowfield are awfully Conspicuous. Simon could easily find them when he looked to where Sophie pointed.
The one sobbing in front of the red-blue-yellow-green corpses, clad in a dazzling shocking pink suit. She was the leader of the Blade Rangers, Pink Arrow. Even if she was dressed like joke, the death of her friends would be just as painful.
"She was a frightening opponent, really. I've never seen such a skilled fighter before either. I'm amazed that Lily and the others were able to defeat her..."
Even Sophie, who always maintains an attitude of aloofness and composure, let her words slip out in a serious manner. Probably, since although she only defended against a single blow, she had experienced Sariel's attack in person.
"Oh, speaking of which, where is my brother? He won so he should be coming back."
Simon wanted to share the joy of victory over the Apostle which they had so desperately hoped for with Kurono. They were both survivors of the hellish defensive battle in Alsace and became close friends.
"Ah right, you didn't see that because you lost consciousness."
At Sophie's suggestive way of speaking a bad premonition crosses his mind.
''What, hey, what do you mean ... what happened to my brother!"
"Calm down and listen to me, he's not-"
"What do you mean, he's missing, Lily?"
Fiona's voice is flat, retaining her blank expression but she's emitting obvious killing intent while she grabs Lily up at her torn dress. Doing so with such force and threatening attitude against Lily in her young form that it looks like abuse.
However, Lily looked down for a moment, and then immediately looked straight into the golden eyes which were burning with anger.
"As I told you. Kurono disappeared along with Sariel, swallowed up by the teleportation magic."
Fiona's memory cut off when she blew up Sariel's right arm with 'Ignis Fortis Sagita' (Flaming Long Spear). With that covering fire, her body finally reached its limit and she fainted. The next time he woke up, she was in the infirmary of Galahad Fortress.
And now, after returning to the room in the inn, she had asked Lily about the current situation. Fiona had felt a bit uneasy not seeing Kurono after she woke up, but the truth spoken from Lily's mouth was more than enough to make her grab at her impulsively.
"Kurono didn't give up on killing Sariel in the end. He couldn't give up."
"kurono, would do that. That's the kind of person he is... but, Lily, you're were with him."
"I'm sorry. It's my fault that I couldn't stop him."
Fiona knew that Lily would feel responsible for the situation without needing to blame her. She didn't cry, nor get angry, she just calmly and rationally admitted her mistake.
Seeing Lily like that, Fiona let go of her grip.
In the first place. Even Lily, when Excelion (Fairy Fusion) was lifted she had already run out of magic power, she was no longer able to stand, let alone fight. It's not much different from me passing out. At that time, just like me, there was nothing that she could have done.
Despite understanding that, the anger smoldering in her chest would not subside. Instead, what rises up is an inexplicable frustration.
''Where did Kurono go?''
"I don't know."
"What direction did he go?"
"I don't know."
"What was the teleportation magic ritual? Did you read at least part of it?"
"I have no clue."
"Haah~", A big sigh was let. Was it Lily or Fiona? Or both of them?
After a few moments of heavy silence, it was Fiona who started to move. Still being tired her steps were heavy, she crossed the room and put her hand on the door.
"Where do you think you're going?"
"I'm going to look for Kurono."
"Do you have a clue?"
"No, of course not."
"Don't stop me"
As Fiona turned around, her eyes glared as the golden blazing sun.
It was insane, She herself knew that.
"Calm down a bit, Fiona."
"Lily, how can you be so calm?"
Instead of replying to these thorny words, Lily took out a single jewel from her pocket and showed it.
Rolling in the palm of her tiny hand ominously radiating a jet-black glow mixed with a shimmering red aura, was an artifact just like a human eyeball- or, more correctly, created from a human's, Kurono's, eyeball called "Evil eye".
"Kurono is safe. He's alive and well I can tell through this."
That's why I'm not distraught and I can stay calm.
What suddenly swells in Fiona's chest is not anger at Lily, but jealousy. Even though she is away from Kurono, she can't help but feel jealous that she can have such a solid connection with him.
"If you really care about Kurono's safety, then you should refrain from acting on your own. What we have to do so we can see Kurono as soon as possible is act with utmost care."
I know. I know, but an inexplicable sense of frustration scorches Fiona's chest, and the black smoke of anxiety shrouds her.
"Look, that Kurono is still alive means he wasn't captured by the Cross Army."
It is very unlikely that Kurono will be a prisoner of war.
His exploits, the damage he has done to the Cross Army and, above all, his maniacal fighting style, make him too dangerous too keep alive.
And above all, Kurono's status is that of a mere adventurer, he has no power in Sparda. He has no worth as a hostage at all.
There is no doubt that killing Kurono as soon as you find him is the safest and the best way to keep morale up.
"As I'm sure you know, Sariel had lost the power to fight. Kurono was pretty worn out too, but it was enough to finish her off."
There is no chance that Sariel will turn the tables on Kurono after they teleported. At worst, even if Sariel somehow managed to escape further, Kurono's survival is assured, and that was all that mattered to Lily and Fiona.
"It's already been a night since the fight. Kurono should have recovered enough to move."
Today's date is the 25th of the Darkest Month. The sun had already risen, and the time was almost noon.
With kurono's though body, just a night's sleep would be enough to recover the strength for him to walk around without any problems, just like Lily said. With Kurono having regained that much strength, he wouldn't make a mistake that would lead to him being discovered by the enemy.
With Kurono's strength he would be able to continue living even in the middle of a dangerous dungeon without any problems. Even if Kurono was sent to an area controlled by the Cross Army, he wouldn't necessarily have to risk approaching a human village.
"I'm sure Kurono will return to Sparda. If we aren't here then, we might pass each other."
"So you want us to wait patiently, then?"
"That's impossible. Neither you nor I can stand to just sit back and wait."
For just a moment a sarcastic smile appears on Lily's juvenile face. She quickly regains her serious expression and speaks to Fiona with a strong voice.
"I have no idea where kurono was sent to, but at least he's on the Pandora continent. There's no doubt about it."
"Why?", That almost left Fiona's throat when the answer flashed across her mind.
"Does that mean that the ability to stay connected to Kurono is the power of a divine blessing?"
The 'Evil Eye' was created by the Fairy Queen Iris, and the fusion magic 'Excelsion' to become one with Kurono in body and mind, is also a divine magic bestowed by her.
On the other hand, it won't work in places where the Fairy Queen Iris' power doesn't reach. As one of the Black Gods, its blessings could be expressed throughout the Pandora Continent.
If the 'Evil Eye' didn't show any reaction, then either Kurono was dead or the blessing didn't reach him. Those are the only two options.
If Lily can sense Kurono is still alive, then at the same time it proves he's still on the Pandora continent.
"It's a good thing that we don't have to cross the a sea to search for him, but..."
"Pandora's continent is far too big for us to find one person."
At least once, every adventurer has seen a map of the entire Pandora continent. From the land locked in perpetual ice and snow in the north to the islands of everlasting summer in the south where the sun shines all year round. I can't imagine how long it would take just to get from one end to the other.
"But only if he went to Daedalus will Kurono need help."
Needless to say, Daedalus is now in the midst of enemy territory controlled by the Cross Army. On the contrary, if it was in any other area he would have much trouble returning to Sparda. There may be some dangers along the way, but only the Cross Army are clearly hostile to the Kurono.
"If we're going to Daedalus, we'll need to make some preparations. We can't just rush out with whatever we have on us now."
At the very least, Lily will need to disguise herself as a human. Just as she did when she went to Avalon. Even for Fiona, it was too risky to act with her true face exposed.
"So I'll briefly go back to Sparda and get everything ready to set out for Daedalus. Fiona, you wait at Galahad Fortress. It's possible that Kurono will be back here sooner than I can get back."
I can only call it wishful thinking, but I still can't say there is no chance. It's possible that Kurono has been sent closer than we thought.
"I'll leave Simon at Sparda with Prince Wilhart. We'll know what's going on over here if we keep in touch with them regularly. So you and I will go to Daedalus to find Kurono."
"Okay, Lily... I'm sorry."
Yes, Fiona's face contorted as if she was about to cry. Gently, Lily took her hand and said.
''It's okay, I'm on the edge too."
On the 24th of the Darkest Month, the Sparda army narrowly survived the third attack of the Cross Army, and finally succeeded in repelling it.
The Cross Army withdrew their entire army from the camp in front of Galahad Fortress. The 2nd Sparda army, 'Tempest', gave chase, but the enemy showed an astounding persistence and were spared from being annihilated. This battle would be the last battle in Galahad.
The great walls of Galahad Fortress were partly destroyed by the enemy's ancient weapons. Furthermore, as a result of a fierce battle the casualties numbered in the tens of thousands. However, starting with His Majesty King Leonhart, the first prince Eisenhart, General Emelia and General Gesenbourg, the leaders of the Sparda army could safely meet the end of the war.
Thus, the Fifth Galahad War ended with a result that could be called a victory for Sparda.
"...on the face of it, that is."
"Hah~", Sparda's unfortunate prince, the second prince Wilhart, let out a heavy sigh.
He tossed the bundle of reports in his hand on the desk, made his habitual motion of raising the monocle over his right eye and then looked up.
"But I suppose we can be relieved for now."
Turning his golden eyes typical of Sparda royalty he looked at a lone maid standing there as if her presence is natural, but quietly like a shadow. Of course, she's Wilhart's pride and joy, from personal care to guarding to espionage, the almighty supermaid Celia.
"That's right, the outcome is good enough to save face in front of the citizens and allies"
"According to the reports, the numbers of the Cross army exceeded what the Daedalus army had in the fourth war. I think the damage we suffered is justified"
"Only if you look at the numbers... but what about the details of the battle? The fourth war, or rather, I have never heard of such a bizarre battle between the nations of Pandora.
Right now Wilhart is sitting in the boys' dormitory for executive cadets at the Royal school of Sparda. Because the executive cadets are mostly royalty and nobility, they all have a room for themselves.
However, in this private room of Wilhart who is only a student, information on the details of the Galahad War, battle reports, and other information that should have been delivered only to the Sparda Royal Castle was gathered.
It's not like he took out the classified documents without permission. Despite all, Wilhart is still the second prince, he could see a certain amount of documents if he went to the royal castle. He memorized all the information he read there down to the detailed numbers, writing down the main points in a memo and brought those back.
Although it was inferior to the information that was available at the headquarters, it was more than enough to give a rough idea of the course of the battle of the Fifth Galahad War.
Hence, Wilhart already knew how the battle went at the fortress.
''The Taurus ancient weapon, the mysterious dimensional magic to divide the battle field. And the Apostles... The strength and tactics of the Cross army know no bounds. To get carried away with this victory will put us at risk in the next war.
What he should worry about is not his father the King Leonhart's pride. He actually commanded on the battlefield, and furthermore, according to the reports he even crossed blades with the aforementioned 'Apostle'. There is no one else who has experienced the power of the Cross Army better than him.
Hence, it's the reaction of the allies that is the problem.
It's quite possible that having succeeded in driving them off once, they'll think that the next battle will easy and decrease the support to Sparda. Because they hardly send any troops, the amount of money and material support from the alliance is nothing to sneeze at.
It's only natural for people who don't actually shed blood to send support, but similarly it's natural to keep the expenditure down.
For Sparda, it is a diplomatic imperative to extract more support.
But while King Leonhart is a good fighter, he is not a good political player. Sparda should exaggerate the strength of their enemies, but it would be harsh to expect that kind of speech from the silent Leonhart.
"Come to think of it, Nero and the others joined in... hmmm, I'll appeal to Avalon myself"
As he's still a student, Wilhart wonders if that is all he can do now.
Although his father expects him to be a brilliant man, he does not hold and position or title. However, Kurono, who is the same age as him, has done well enough to influence the course of the war. And even that frail Simon had enough resolve to enter the battlefield out of his own volition.
"Now that the battle is over it is time for me to work."
From post-war processing to preparing for the next battle. If I can't get involved as a soldier or knight on the battlefield, then I should get involved in diplomacy. But how many years will it be before I can actually stand on that stage? At the very least, I will still have to wait a year before I can graduate from school.
Wilhart feels like his life is like a mine cart pulled on a rail. In his day, his father Leonhart went to the battlefield on his own, unencumbered by his status as a student. And yet I'm not capable of that much decisiveness.
"There is no need to hurry, Master Will."
"I know what you mean, Celia. I'm not so much a child that I'll run around blundering like an idiot from impatience."
"I was afraid you would run off with a stolen horse."
"That song was popular years ago... Your age is showing Celia."
Wilhart chuckles at the old phrase. While giving off a sullen vibe, Celia feigned ignorance. My nerves have relaxed a bit.
"By the way, Master Will, the victory parade is planned for tomorrow."
"Oh right, they're already coming home."
The news of Sparda's victory is already widely known to the public. The people of Sparda are now buzzing with excitement over the victory.
They are eagerly awaiting the return of the great King who led them to victory.
"As soon as my father returns, I will ask him myself, but Celia I would like you to make some inquiries too."
"Is this about Master Kurono disappearance from the battlefield?"
The information that Kurono went missing already reached Wilhart's ears.
Not wounded, nor killed in action, but missing. That raised some questions at first. However, once he heard that at the end of the battle with his bitter enemy, he got caught up in her teleportation magic she used to flee he finally understood.
If that teleportation magic was leading to the enemy's base, Kurono's survival would be doomed. There's no way I wouldn't be worried.
But Wilhart disagreed.
"I think we should leave the matter of Kurono to Lily and Fiona. Of course, we'll be happy to help them in their search."
"Are you sure?"
"Kurono is my sworn friend. All a man can do is quietly wait for his return."
Kurono would surely survive in any situation. And he would make it back to Sparda alive, that's what I believe. There was no proof or anything, but Wilhart thinks that this is what trust is all about.
"Therefore we should prioritize the one who calls herself the Eighth Apostle Ai that my father has captured."
In this war at Galahad, there were two apostles who appeared on the battlefield.
One was the Seventh Apostle, Sariel.
When the outcome was already decided and the Cross army were beginning to lose, She suddenly appeared from the heavens in a white light to protect them as they fled.
In just a moment, she had defeated rank 5 adventurers and killed nearly a thousand solders.
After that the specifics of the battle are unknown, but 'Element Master' fought the last battle, and as a result Kurono and Sariel disappeared from the battlefield through teleportation magic. The circumstances are not clear, but still, it has been confirmed that the Seventh Apostle Sariel left the Galahad War like this.
It was this Seventh Apostle Sariel who had caused the Sparda army noticeable damage. But another Apostle had appeared to help her out of her predicament during her battle with 'Element Master'
That was the Eighth Apostle Ai.
That name sounded familiar. Yes, she appeared at the end of the hellish Alsace Defense Battle, and was the indirect cause of the massacre of Kurono's friends.
With her entering the battlefield, it seemed that Kurono was going to die in battle this time, but it was Leonhart who had sensed the unusual presence of an Apostle and rushed in.
That battle maniac father of mine didn't go for a one-on-one duel but instead formed a temporary party with Prince Eisenhart, General Emelia and General Gesenbourg, the strongest members of the Spada, to take on a single opponent. That is enough to understand the power of an Apostle.
Perhaps he felt that he would lose. But as a king he couldn't die easily. He had to lead them to victory at all costs.
As it turned out, King Leonhart had fulfilled his duty.
"The Eighth Apostle Ai surrendered after a fierce battle and was captured after having heavy seals applied to her magic power. She will probably be transferred to Sparta in the near future."
"Are we sure we want to bring such a dangerous person to Sparda?"
"If she was just a vicious criminal we would put her in the southern Galahad military prison... But she's a monster with powerful divine blessing, we have no choice but to seal her up in the 'Cocytus Interval' in the depths of Sparda's royal castle."
"We're not executing her, but keeping her as a prisoner of war?"
"According to our information Apostles are not just powerful soldiers but are also respected more than royalty and nobility. They are important religious figures. We wouldn't release them under and condition, but their value as a hostage is immeasurable. Father is also intersted in the secret of their power. He has a mountain of question to ask her.
However, although Wilhart stated the reason for keeping the Apostle in captivity himself. The idea of keeping a terrible monster like the Apostle in the center of Sparda, he can't shake off his fear.