Here's part 2. The whole volume should be done by Friday latest, but there will be the proofreading part to go. If all things goes well, Vol 1 should be completed by this weekend.
A black shadow streaked past his sight.
Leon jumped up instinctively before he could even figure out what that was. In the next instant, the collar of his coat was ripped apart, with its surrounding fibers decaying as though it had melted.
The mist monster were slowly advancing on him while giving off a strange sound from its mouth. Its sludge-colored limbs made a strange leap, and the grotesque claws at the ends came closing in. At the same time, Leon's great sword sliced through the body of the Yuugenshu, along with its claws.
The crystal core was smashed, and the body of Yuugenshu disappeared.
Before he could even catch a breath, crystal-machine <Iris> hanging in front of his chest gave a shout.
"Leon, behind you!"
The shiny blade of the sword had captured the scene behind his back. There was another Yuugenshu at an uncomfortably close distance behind him.
He spun his body with all his might.
However, he saw no deep-purple beast behind him. The only traces left were the smoke given off by the floor, which had corroded due to the Yuugenshu.
Is it above?
Before his brain had even processed the warning given off by Iris, Leon already gripped onto his great sword tightly with his hands.
The great sword is as long as his height. Despite that, he easily lifted the sword, which is heavier, more destructive, and out-speccing just about every other weapons available. The blade shimmering in azure light swept past his head.
The mateki-filled claws clashed together with the shinryoku-filled great sword.
Leon chopped off the claws of the opponent in a single slash, and pounced straight at the Yuugenshu's body - however, the Yuugenshu's body shone purple, and a light barrier was erected in front of it.
A repulsion effect occurred between the shinryoku-filled sword and the barriers of the Yuugenshu. The blade was repelled back.
"Leon, the barrier of the opponent is very strong. My analysis says it will be difficult to break through the mateki-barrier in a single shot. I recommend to attack it multiple times, so that you can split the destruction of the barrier into various phases."
"There is no time to be doing that......!"
Leon clenched his teeth tightly, and stomped hard on the ground. Ignoring the croaking sounds given off by the muscles of his shoulders, he swung his blade yet again.
The barrier shattered like glass. The Yuugenshu was busy regenerating its claws behind it, but before it could react in time, the great sword had already pierced through the core in the center.
"How should I put it...... Your strength is really astounding."
"Every second is precious now. I don't have a choice."
Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, two hundred and forty-first story, foyer.
Aside from the two Priestesses tasked with protecting the Grand Holy Hall, that place is the final line of defense. However, the situation of that floor was not looking good either. The people infected by mateki were lying in the corners of the room, waiting to be treated. The guards were barely standing up, and were more or less injured. Everyone on that floor were busy fighting with the Yuugenshu. None of them could spare any time to listen to Leon's commands.
"Syun-rei, Ymy...... I am sorry, please take care of it."
He firmly believed that he himself could stop a majority of the enemies, but it is an undeniable fact that there were still plenty of Yuugenshu that had managed to break through the defense line.
"Sennenshi Leon, the line of defense on the first floor of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> has been breached yet again! Over twenty Yuugenshu are heading upwards via the elevator shaft!"
— There was just no ends to it. After hearing the hasty report, a taste of bitterness spread in Leon's mouth.
Yuugenshu were constantly appearing from below, like the endless waves of tide. Not only do they arrive in huge numbers, but since they were able to bypass the line of defense on the first floor, they were all individuals which possesses strong mateki as well.
"How's the damage status on the first floor?"
"Over ten people are infected with mateki, as for the injured...... countless."
"Send a few of the apprentice-Priestesses over. They will die if the purification of mateki is to be administered too late."
"But, the apprentice-Priestesses of this floor are all exhausted as well......"
"Just the minimum amount will do! At least one of them must know the arts of purification!"
He roared in reply, and hurried back to the center area of that story.
...... Things were in a really bad state.
In order not to let his subordinates around him sense it, Leon feigned a calm expression.
There were originally about a hundred outstanding subordinates here, but as of now, most of them were suffering from injuries. As for the apprentice-Priestesses who were in charge of purifying the mateki-infected people, their energy were burning at a shockingly fast rate.
The sweat at his forehead flowed into his eyes - just then, crystal-machine <Iris> glowed.
"Reporting. The observation units of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> has detected a huge reading of mateki, one thousand three hundred meters below Orbie Clar. It is a large flying-type Yuugenshu, and its size is roughly the same as a small dragon. The analysis suggest that it is the commanding body of this assault."
"...... The commander?"
Yuugenshu usually acts individually. There are occasions when they will move in a small group, but up until now, they have never heard of a commanding Yuugenshu.
"From this assault of the Yuugenshu, we can see that there is a consistent modus operandi between all of them - which is to lock their sights on the Priestesses and Queen of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>. Adding on them realizing the weakness of Hyouketsu Kyoukai and using it to break past the barrier, plus the fact that they are attacking Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> as a strong group. All of these suggests that there is a strong commanding presence behind these actions."
"And it is that thing?"
"I think that should be it."
In their current fatigued state where they were all barely holding on, there was an even stronger presence lurking behind the scenes.
— What should they do?
For such a strong commanding Yuugenshu, there is probably only him left in the tower, who can fight against it.
However, as a Sennenshi, he is the commander of the two hundred and forty-first story as well. Seeing how the mental state of his subordinates were nearing their limits, they would probably not be able to hold on should the commander be absent from the battlefield.
"If only there is someone here who has the abilities of a Sennenshi......"
Despite knowing that to be an extravagant wish, his heart could not help but to yearn for it. That's right, if only his only best friend - the idiot who will never admit defeat, is still around—
"...... Haa, I have actually said such depressing things?"
Heaving a deep sigh, he reprimanded himself for being that weak inside. As of now, he should only focus on coming up with a plan to overcome the deadlock. He should not be thinking about the commanding Yuugenshu either. At the very least, he should be dealing with the swarming Yuugenshu first, before anything else.
"Second wave's incoming."
At the same time when Iris was saying that, the four corners of the floor were dyed pitch black. After coming into contact with mateki, the walls were slowly decaying and peeling off bit by bit.
"The enemies are coming, not a single one of them are to pass us!"
The walls of the story collapsed in succession, and the monsters in deep purple mist appeared together. The surrounding guards held their breaths. In front of them, were Yuugenshu, their numbers large enough to be covering the whole wall. There were just too many of them.
Everyone at the scene dared not move.
"Leon, there is a reading of another Yuugenshu approaching this floor. And it is a very strong reading."
"Is it that commanding Yuugenshu?"
Damn. If the commanding Yuugenshu is to appear at the same time—
"No, that's not it...... it's not the same Yuugenshu...... but, this—"
It was the first time Leon had seen crystal-machine <Iris> stuttering.
"What's with this...... it is a reading of mateki, but it is not a Yuugenshu that is coming up...... Even I am not sure what this is...... But there is a sort of...... nostalgic feeling."
Before Leon had the time to consider the meaning of that word, the Yuugenshu began to close in on them—
Just then, the approaching Yuugenshu were blown away, as though they were hit by an explosion,
Leon's eyes widened from the scene before him.
Deep in the deep purple glow of mateki - inside the strong shine of the cursed rays that will corrode human beings, all life, and just about anything in the floating continent, there was a blinding flash from a sword.
For the Yuugenshu that were blasted into the air, their mateki barriers were gradually breaking apart. In the end, even their cores were crushed as well. Their bodies then dispersed into thin air.
The floor regained its silence.
The surrounding guards, including crystal-machine <Iris>, could not speak a single word. It was then—
"Yo, Leon. It's been a while."
Despite being in the poisonous rays of light, the young man, who was holding onto a pair of swords, waved his hand and greeted Leon nonchalantly.
His messy tea-red colored hair, with an androgynous face. He was wearing the old ceremonial clothes of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> on his slim body - he is someone who Leon is familiar with, more than anyone else.
And he understood, the reason that caused the nostalgia in Iris.
Nothing has changed. Be it the shy yet mischievous expression of his, or the general feel that he gives.
"...... You bastard."
A warm sensation flowed out of his heart. His originally withering soul was once again burning up.
Why was that so? He just felt like swearing at Sheltis upon seeing him...... No, that should be fine. He has been sharing a close and harmonious friendship with Sheltis since a long time ago.
"Hmm? Could it be that Leon is on the brink of collapse?"
"You...... who do you think is the person responsible for the state that I am in?"
In reply to the provocative smile which the young man was showing him, Leon gave the same smile as well.
Speaking of which, Leon had nearly forgotten how to smile like that. It was not an expression of superiority as a Sennenshi, but a smile that he could show to someone who stands equal before him - a person whom he can speak freely to—
"You have returned too late, Sheltis!"
After leaving Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> for two years, his only best friend was standing right in front of him again.
"...... Mmm. I've caused lots of trouble for you guys. I am really sorry."
"It's fine. But, you'll have to pay that back twofold, together with your tardiness as well!"
Leon took off the necklace with crystal-machine <Iris>, and tossed it to Sheltis.
"Go quickly! The two hundred and eighty-first story - both Ymy and my Priestess are in the Grand Holy Hall!"
"...... Is this really fine?"
Looking at the young man, who was putting on an expression of shock, Leon stretched out his hands to instruct the people around him.
"I have to stay here to command them! You will have to think of something! Don't be telling me that your skills have declined drastically!"
"— Thanks, Leon."
Just when Leon was about to urge him to get going.
"Oh right, I'll leave the two girls here in your care."
He looked in the direction where Sheltis was pointing to.
"...... Ughhhhh....... I...... I will never ride on a catapult ever again...... ugh......"
"Eyri-nee, are you carsick?"
What he could see, was a teenage girl in overalls who was suffering from dizziness, and a small girl looking on with a concerned look.
...... What the hell? Ain't those two civilians?
"In any case, I'll leave these two to you!"
"Oi, hold on a second! What's with these two girls?"
However, the young man was already sprinting towards the direction of the emergency stairs.
"...... That fella, he always tossing the troublesome stuff onto others."
Leon gave a long sigh. He then lifted his head once again—
"Whatever. I am used to that personality of his since a long time back."
On the face of the silver haired Sennenshi, were a pair of eyes filled with a strong will. With his confusion and hesitation swept cleanly aside, his eyes were as clear as that of an innocent child.
"Everyone listen up! There are two civilians here. As the guards of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, we cannot allow them to come under any harm!"
He had remembered. He remembered the days when he was burning with passion.
Those days where he had wholeheartedly wished to become a Sennenshi, and swore that he will be the one protecting the Priestesses. The days of Sheltis, Ymy and himself. The days where the three of them were to look at Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, with the same aim of reaching the highest point of the tower.
— The three people back then were finally reunited together once more.
"Don't worry about me. You just have to worry about Ymy, and go all the way up to her."
Locking on to the Yuugenshu at the walls, Leon ran towards them with the great sword in his hands.
"The Grand Holy Hall huh......"
Sheltis was sprinting up the emergency stairs, which began from the two hundred and forty-first story.
The Grand Holy Hall located on the two hundred and eighty-first story of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> - the whole floor is not just a bethel, but it is also the biggest holy hall in the tower. Ymy and Leon's Priestess were both there waiting, and the two formed the last line of defense against the Yuugenshu.
There was already not much time left. The most important thing now is—
"Iris? Can you hear me, Iris?"
He called out to crystal-machine <Iris> that was hanging off on the necklace in front of his chest. He had obtained crystal-machine <Iris> from Leon earlier, but since then, it had lost its glow, and was not giving off any sort of reaction.
Weird. Since Leon was wearing it, it should mean that crystal-machine <Iris> is functioning properly.
"Are you still angry at me for dumping you? I apologize, so please say something. I have never been here before, so I have no idea where to go."
There was no response, which only caused Sheltis to get more and more anxious. The him of two years ago, had only traveled up to the two hundred and seventieth story. To reach the two hundred and eighty-first story, he will need someone to give him the directions.
"Urm...... I am in desperate need of some advice from the outstanding Iris?"
"The world's smartest and cutest Miss Iris, can you please help me out?"
"Ugh...... You are perfect...... and outstanding...... and...... Ahhhhhh, how frustrating!"
Sheltis could no longer stand the unnatural silence. He removed the necklace from his neck, and directly grabbed the blue crystal-machine <Iris>.
"Listen up—— Wake up, you piece of junk!"
That was all he had said. But what happened next—
"......Who...... W-W-Who...... W-Who............"
A bright glow was emitted from the center of crystal-machine <Iris>.
"Who are you calling a piece of jun~~~k! Sheltis you meanie!"
"Ah, that's great. So you are not broken."
"...... How terrible. You are calling me a junk just because I did not say anything for seventeen seconds."
With a sound effect akin to a sigh, the artificial intelligence continued on endlessly.
"Also, I have plenty of things to say to Sheltis as well. What's the meaning of dumping me all by myself? And for a whole of two years? There was not a single word from you after that. Do you still consider yourself to be my holder?"
"I apologize for that. However, I do have my own circumstances as well."
"I know that. Even so, in a situation like this, the guy should be the one who takes the initiative and apologize! Listen up, Sheltis. To dump and ignore a delicate and fragile machine such as myself—"
"...... I know, I know. I am at fault, for leaving you here by yourself."
Just then, the originally furious Iris went silent all of the sudden.
Her originally angry tone was replaced with a rather gentle voice.
"You will have to apologize to Ymy too, alright?"
However, what came next was a heart-wrenching pain. It was more far-reaching than any of the scoldings Iris could have said.
"Ymy has been waiting for you all this time. Because she firmly believes that you will be back some day. Even when you are not around, she has continued to do her best in the training of a Priestess."
"Are you reflecting on it?"
It was as though Iris was reprimanding him.
Grabbing hold of crystal-machine <Iris> tightly, Sheltis nodded his head strongly.
"I am reflecting on it. That is the truth."
"What's with that laugh of yours?"
"No no. I just like that straightforward personality of yours. Therefore—"
The crystal-machine <Iris> on the necklace was shining with an even brighter glow.
"From now onward, Iris shall once again acknowledge Sheltis Magna Yehle as my holder, and will do my best to assist him."
In the blink of an eye, the twin swords in his hand gave a clear sound, and the blades shattered.
"The twin swords that you were using is probably borrowed from someone, right? I'll be reconstructing the blade now, so as to match your frame and your strength."
A silver line began extending outwards from the hilt of the sword, which was now devoid of any blade. Azure frozen crystals began to form over the line, and they gradually turned into the new blades of the sword. A pair of sharp double-edged thin swords - it was the shape of the sword which he was using three years ago.
"Fixing a silver monad as the core, and encasing its surrounding with a layer of azure crystals of Hyouketsu Kyoukai. Its limit to destruction is set to be at sevenfold. These are the settings similar to that of three years ago. How's it?" [TLNote: The monad thing refers to Monadology. Click on link to wiki page for more info if interested.]
"...... It's longer than before?"
The blade which used to be just right for his size when he was fourteen, had lengthened as well to match his current height.
"I had calculated the distance of your steps from the vibrations detected as you were running up the stairs. After comparing to those recorded when you were fourteen, I've managed to obtain your current height. At the same time, I've measured the strength of your grip as well, and deduced your current strength, based on the data when you were fourteen years-old."
When did she do all that?
The question in his mind was answered easily without much thoughts. There was no response from Iris just now, no matter how he called out to her. So it was then—
"I was busy obtaining the data and comparing them..... That can be considered to be a sort of assistance, you know."
Iris said with a rather embarrassed tone.
"Just to confirm, are we heading towards the Grand Holy Hall?"
"Before that, I wish to go somewhere else first."
It is a definite must to reach the Grand Holy Hall before it comes under the attack of the Yuugenshu. However, there is something else that need to be done before that.
"The levels above us are under the attack of Yuugenshu as well, right?"
"You are saying that you want to destroy all Yuugenshu at every floor, and reach the Grand Holy Hall before the commanding Yuugenshu does? To be frank, that is impossible, with the amount of time you have in your hands."
The emotionless mechanized voice replied calmly.
"...... But, there is no one else aside from me."
The members of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> had set up the first line of defense at level one. Leon's commanding the second line of defense, and are repelling the Yuugenshu at the two hundred and forty-first story. As for the two Priestesses, they are the last line of defense, and are guarding the two hundred and eighty-first story with all their might.
— If so, who will be protecting the levels in between?
"This is the flight of emergency stairs at two hundred and fifty-fifth story, while Ymy's at two hundred and eighty-first story. What will become of the levels in between? Those who did not manage to escape may come under the attacks of the Yuugenshu."
"Yes. However, should the Queen's Hyouketsu Kyoukai collapse, then the whole floating continent will be finished."
She's right. Everyone knows that.
The Queen can only maintain Hyouketsu Kyoukai for a maximum of an hour more. They will have to defeat the commanding Yuugenshu, and allow the Queen to pass control of Hyouketsu Kyoukai to the Priestesses.
"Each and every one of these Yuugenshu is extremely strong. If you are to fight against them head on, even though you will most probably not lose, it will still take you a long time to destroy them. The worst situation will be the the commanding Yuugenshu infiltrating into the Grand Holy Hall while we are dragged down by other Yuugenshu."
"If so, I'll just have to mount a lightning quick offense."
"What do you mean?"
The memory crystal asked in doubt.
"...... Three years ago, I had fallen into Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>, causing the shinryoku in my body to disappear, only to be replaced by mateki - ever since I was forced out of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, I had been thinking all this time."
He is the sole person in the floating continent to have survived the ordeal of falling into Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>. However, the price of survival, is that mateki from Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden> has occupied his whole body.
"Upon thinking that I will never get to see Ymy again, my initial first year was filled with darkness, and I had barely any will to move on. I thought that no one will need me anymore. But as of now—"
He suddenly reverse-gripped his swords, and turned around. The white wall behind him was stained by darkness. Pores grew, and the wall was decaying fast.
"I have already decided. Even if I have to drag this cursed body of mine along, I will redo everything all over again."
The walls crumbled, and deep purple mist was given off from within.
"I've detected the readings of two Yuugenshu, and they are coming from the wall behind you!"
The two Yuugenshu crunched off the walls, and got into the passageway from inside the room. The beasts looked like lions shrouded in deep purple mist, and they both pounced at Sheltis at the same time.
"Sheltis, evade them immediately!"
Sheltis ignored Iris, and instead dashed towards the Yuugenshu in front of him.
— I can definitely do it.
He parried away the sharp claws which were coming from above his head with the sword in his right hand, and while grazing past the Yuugenshu he followed up with a slash from the sword in his left. That single slash was all it took for the Yuugenshu to vaporize into thin air.
"Just a single hit to destroy the barrier?"
The usually calm crystal-machine <Iris> exclaimed in surprise.
In the battle between humans and Yuugenshu, a repulsion phenomenon will occur when mateki and shinryoku comes into contact with each other - similar to the poles of a magnet repelling each other. Due to the phenomenon, when a Yuugenshu activates its mateki barrier, the power of the shinryoku-filled bullets or swords will be reduced significantly. That is one of the reason why it is difficult to destroy a Yuugenshu.
However, Sheltis's swords had totally ignored the barriers of the Yuugenshu, and instead struck the Yuugenshu directly.
"Sheltis, could it be, you......"
The azure blades are still constructed out of the azure crystals of Hyouketsu Kyoukai. However, due to mateki flowing within the swords in Sheltis' hands, the blades were giving off a violet glow.
Shinryoku will evoke a repulsion. However, if it is changed to mateki, then it will no longer be repelled.
Only Sheltis, who has mateki in his body, is able to bypass the barriers of Yuugenshu, which possesses the same properties.
Oe/ Dia =U xeph cley, Di shela teo phes kaon
<■ ■, ■ ...... ■ ■, ■ ■ ■ , ...... ■ ...... ■ ■>
The body of the other Yuugenshu began to tremble, and it released a curse-like sound. That is the curse which the Yuugenshu possess, filled with the powers of Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>. The reason it is called 'mateki', is due to these sounds.
Decay, poison, coma and brainwashing. There are various ways it can cause harm to anything that exists on the floating continent. One will never know what's the specific effects without experiencing it himself.
The deep purple lights had engulfed Sheltis......
"Sheltis, escape quickly!"
"— No need for that."
He turned his body immediately, and swung his wrists alone with the momentum. He sliced horizontally at supersonic speed.
There was not a single sound of moving air. All that could be seen was a quiet slash of the sword in a blink of an eye. The mateki, which had a distorted sound and glow, was cleaved away by Sheltis' sword.
The mateki produced by the Yuugenshu had totally vanished.
Before the Yuugenshu could recover from that, Sheltis had already sprang above the Yuugenshu. He jumped off the horizontal walls of the passageway to step on the ceilings. Using it as a leverage, he dived at the enemy below him.
A clean sound of dismemberment.
As the sound rang, the remaining Yuugenshu had already stopped moving. Its body gave a brief tremble, before bursting into tiny pieces with a dry sound.
"...... I have finally understood the reason for your confidence just now."
Iris continued on softly with an extremely serious tone.
"Up till now, there has never been a case of a human carrying mateki in him, but 'negating Yuugenshu's mateki with your own mateki' huh...... I see. Perhaps I should say you are lucky? In the case of fighting against Yuugenshu, the current you do possess a power that severely topples the balance of the game. However—"
After a slight pause, Iris said,
"Sheltis. Do not forget, that can put you in great danger as well."
Since he is carrying mateki in him, he has the ability to render the barriers of the Yuugenshu useless. But at the same time, it means that he is exposing himself under the attacks of the Yuugenshu without any form of protection. If the neck is attacked by the fangs of the Yuugenshu, a Priestess can use the shinryoku within her to form a barrier, thus lowing the damage done to nothing more than a scratch. However, since Sheltis lacks the shinryoku to protect himself, the result could very well be his artery getting severed from the attack.
— Any hit suffered will be a fatal one.
In the upcoming battles with the Yuugenshu, the harsh conditions will carry on forever.
"No problem. I'll just have to do the pre-emptive strike."
"What a simpleton...... is what I would love to say, but according to the data gathered, there is credibility to what you have said."
Since he can attack without having to worry about the barriers of the Yuugenshu, he is thus able to defeat them in the shortest amount of time. Even if he is to clear away the Yuugenshu that are to be found all over Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, he will still be able to make it in time before the commanding Yuugenshu arrives.
"I'll remind you again. If you are to suffer from an attack from the Yuugenshu, you will not be able to avoid the fatal blow. If you are to continue fighting against the Yuugenshu before the arrival of the commanding Yuugenshu, the possibility of that happening will increase greatly...... Despite all that, are you still going to do it?"
"Of course. I am here just for that."
A short moment of silence. Crystal-machine <Iris> then gave a flash, of what seems to be her agreeing to it.
"...... Understood. Well then, I'll do my best to assist you."
"Thank you. I have faith in your abilities."
"What a headache, to have an owner who abuses machines."
The memory machine gave a sigh, and its colors gradually became fiery red.
"The space required for the locating of Yuugenshu, confirmed and completed..... Beginning the synthesis of 'Second Hypothesis World', and the sub-interface shall be set as 'colors of rainbow'. Along with 'Crystal Language', program release...... Reporting. Currently, I am able to capture the locations of all Yuugenshu that is within a radius of ten thousand meters away from me."
"That's more than enough."
"Analyzing the location of the commanding Yuugenshu...... position captured. It is currently at the Third Residential Sector, and flying towards our direction. It is gradually rising from the current low altitudes of a hundred meters. Taking into account its flying speed, the estimated time of its arrival at Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, is only fourteen minutes."
Fourteen minutes. He would have to destroy all the Yuugenshu in the various levels, and reach the Grand Holy Hall within that period of time.
It was a race against time.
"Understood. Please lead the way."
"It is a great honor to be able to assist you. Sheltis, please be careful."
Holding on to the twin swords which he used in the past—
Sheltis sprinted towards the peak of the tower.