The dark skies. The dark purple mist emitted from Yuugenshu were blocking off the rays of the sun. The surrounding vision were gradually getting obscured.
The visibility in darkness was reduced to below one meter, and it was spreading outwards......
"Everyone, I'll be dispersing these mist. It will be slightly blinding."
Meimel's telepathy message rang in their minds.
In the next instant, a strong ray of light appeared above Run's head, it was so bright that Run could hardly open her eyes. After emitting blue light that was more brilliant than that of the sun, Meimel's large-scaled shinryoku barrier expanded outwards in a flash, thus dispelling the mist that were lingering above the skies.
Beneath the glittering rays of the sun, were tens of Yuugenshu. Their body size ranged from that of a small cat to a lion, and one could vaguely see the four limbs in their mist-like body. They were Yuugenshu that walk on land.
Oe/ Dia =U xeph cley, Di shela teo phes kaon
<■ ■, ■ ...... ■ ■, ■ ■ ■ , ...... ■ ...... ■ ■>
The curse was changing into chilly and uncomfortable sound waves, that will cause decay to one's eardrums just by listening to it.
Mateki, the mysterious powers unique to Yuugenshu. However-
*Kra*. The sound of the road cracking from her steps.
Prior to the release of the purple lights of mateki, Run dashed into the group of Yuugenshu. Possessing superhuman reaction, nerves and muscles, Run's start to her sprint was already at a speed barely detectable by human eyes.
At the same time, the lights of mateki spread into the shape of a fan, with the possible intention of protecting the Yuugenshu.
...... A defensive barrier?
Clenching her shinryoku-filled fist, which was made possible via the ritual marks, Run slammed it into the light barrier created by mateki - however, her fist was repelled away. That was the repulsive effect created when shinryoku and mateki were to clash into each other.
"Stop hindering me—!"
Run let out a roar while riding on her unstoppable momentum.
She forced her repelled fist back, and broke the purple barrier. The fist blew away the mist of the Yuugenshu as well, and hit straight into the core in the middle.
The Yuugenshu gave a painful cry before it was destroyed.
"Is there no way to solve the problem of shinryoku and mateki repelling each other?"
She shook her hand, in order to relieve her numb arm.
Shinryoku and mateki are two opposing forces, and they repulses each other. Even if she is to attack with her shinryoku-filled fist, its power will decrease considerably from the repulsive effect of the mateki barriers created by the Yuugenshu.
"But Run. Thanks to that, the Priestesses are safe."
"............ I know."
Run's face cringed a little when Meimel pointed that out.
The same applies to both humans and Yuugenshu. If Meimel is to come under the attacks of Yuugenshu, her shinryoku will repels the mateki as well, resulting in a decreased in the strength of the attack.
— Meimel actually has the spare time to tsukkomi me.
Suppressing a bitter smile, Run felt a sense of relief.
"Then again...... Their target is still Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> huh?"
As Run had already destroyed over ten Yuugenshu, there were only a few remaining Yuugenshu left before them. However, the troublesome thing is that the Yuugenshu were not targeting the humans at their current area. They were always look for opportunities to avoid the battle, and head straight to Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>. Up till now, from what Run knows, there were already tens of Yuugenshu that had bypassed their defense line. She was in no mood to calculate the actual numbers.
— I can't let anymore through.
Run bit on her lips tightly, and took a leap. With the aid of the streetlights, she moved to an even higher position.
She destroyed two winged Yuugenshu with a single kick. She then allowed her body to fall, and swung her fist into the Yuugenshu which was directly below her. Within a short time span of only a few seconds, she had already destroyed three Yuugenshu.
"With that, I should be able to buy some more time—"
Just when she was about to wipe the sweat off her face, one of her subordinates suddenly gave a yell.
"Ah...... ah......? ...... Ah...... Ahhhhhhhhh......... Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!"
It was neither a scream nor a cry before death, but a strange cry from insanity.
He swung his twin swords madly, without caring whether he could have slashed anyone in accident. One could see a faint deep purple mist enshrouding the back of his head.
"...... It's mind control!"
That is one of the abilities of mateki - the power to send the person that it has cursed into a state of panic. Even though it will not directly result in death, the effect is way worse than decay and poison in a hectic battlefield. That is especially so if the person cursed is a well trained soldier. Even if he was just slashing about wildly in confusion, he would still be posing a huge threat.
"I'll restrain him. Meimel, purify him while I do so!"
Even though that would result in some Yuugenshu breaking through the defensive line, such a curse would have to be removed as quickly as possible. Just as she was suppressing her anxiety, and was about to act against her subordinate—
"There is no time to be purifying right now."
A young man with tea-red colored hair appeared before her all of the sudden.
The surrounding members could not react to the sudden intruder. The young man easily dodged the slash from the swordsman of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, then slid past the swordsman's side to his back. He raised his hand—
He gave a vicious chop at the back of the swordsman's neck. The swordsman collapsed on the spot, and fainted immediately.
"For mental control in battle, it is much more effective to just knock the cursed person out cold. Isn't it so?"
The young man gave a slight smile.
"Eh...... Ah...... Ahhh."
Regaining her senses, Run hurriedly nodded her head in agreement. Indeed, she could not be more familiar with the method used by the young man.
However, at the same time, she knew very well how difficult it is to knock out a swordsman of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> from his back. If it was not properly done, there is the chance of the executor getting injured by the swordsman instead.
As the commander, Run preferred the much safer option.
Then again, who is he?
He seemed to be extremely familiar with the attacking radius of the swordsman. After baiting the enemy's attack, he had skillfully avoided the slash with his clever movements. Aside from Sennenshi, how many people in Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> can actually execute a move like that?
Obviously, he was not an ordinary intruder. Who exactly is he?
"— Well then, I'll leave things here to you!"
"Ah, wait! Don't leave!"
Ignoring the looks from the surroundings, the young man turned around and escaped. There was a huge electric vehicle waiting in the direction that he was running to, which obviously looked like it had been illegally modified.
"Sheltis! What are you doing? Now is not the time to complicate matters!"
The name which the girl in overalls had called out sounded very familiar to Run. It was a name which she had heard of not too long ago.
"Sheltis is my childhood friend."
"Could it be...... Oi, are you Ymy's—!"
Just as Run was about to stretch out her hands, the modified vehicle had already gave a roar from its activation.
...... Could that person be the one who had fallen into Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>—
"Sh—el—tis—? Can you please tell me if you are planning to go or stay?"
After nodding to a unhappy Eyriey, Sheltis jumped back into the vehicle.
"Sorry, I just want to obtain a weapon before reaching Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>."
A pair of thin swords that was kept in a white sheath - Sheltis took the opportunity to borrow it after the swordsman had fainted from his attack.
"Whoa! Right after the illegal intrusion, you have committed yet another crime of stealing. Sheltis is becoming more and more of a criminal!"
"...... I'll return it back to him later. Ah, I won't be needing the sheath."
While sitting in the galloping vehicle, Sheltis threw the sheath out. What was left were the frozen blades bathed in azure light - it was a pair of swords made from Hyouketsu Kyoukai, and both carried strong shinryoku in them.
"Oh, how beautiful. Just like a crystal. Do all guards of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> use weapons like this as well?"
"Generally. Since weapons will not possess any destructive powers against Yuugenshu, if they do not contain shinryoku."
He held the blade under the sun, and the mirror-like blade reflected the surrounding landscape - a black dot appeared in the azure scene.
"Eyriey, turn left!"
"Don't ask, just turn the vehicle to the left!"
The vehicle spun leftwards with a skid. Just as the wheels were giving off a sharp screeching sound, the walls to the house on their right collapsed suddenly.
A strange-looking beast emerged from the decaying walls.
"Eyriey, maintain the current speed! Just keep going straight, no matter what happens!"
"B-But, it is chasing us!"
"Just do as I say!"
The monster chased them with a terrifying speed. It gradually caught up with the vehicle that was going at speeds of two hundred kilometers per hour. It leaped upwards with its weird limbs, with the intention of crushing the vehicle from above - at the same time, Sheltis jumped up from the vehicle as well.
The silhouettes of the mist beast and the young man overlapped, and—
*...... Rinnnnnn...... inn......*
The sounds of a bell. A ringing sound, beautiful enough to make one nearly forget about the current situation, rang throughout the street. Above them, was the mist beast hanging in mid air, with its crystal core destroyed.
"That's dangerous. These Yuugenshu are indeed elusive."
While listening to the melody of the breaking crystal core of the Yuugenshu, Sheltis landed back into the backseat of the galloping vehicle.
"...... You have defeated it?"
"Mmm. But this is just the beginning. Those that are attacking Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> will be even stronger."
The difference in strength between each individual Yuugenshu is huge, even if they look roughly the same. Some possesses mateki that is more than ten times stronger than your average Yuugenshu. One can only gauge their strength after having engaged with them.
— The real fight starts from there on.
The sharp white tower. A huge gate before its grounds came into their sight.
"Alright, we are breaking through!"
After breaking through the unguarded front gates, the three-wheeled vehicle sprinted on the grass turf.
The turf had already turned black, while the defensive and outer walls of the tower were already melted. Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> coming under the attacks of Yuugenshu is already an indisputable fact. They have no idea how many Yuugenshu had infiltrated into the tower currently. Not a single person was in sight - as a precautionary measure, all staff except for the guards should have already escaped to the shelters.
"Where are we going now? Are we going to enter the first floor via the main door?"
"Can't. There should be a line of defense set up there."
The first floor is a wide foyer, which should be one of the most efficient places to engage the infiltrating Yuugenshu. An impregnable line of defense should be there already.
"Eyriey, turn right at the next forked road! Circle the exteriors of the tower!"
The vehicle started to speed around the huge tower, which had nearly occupied all of their sight.
The tower is a gigantic building with a diameter of over a few hundred meters wide. The journey seems to be never-ending, as they traveled along the curved walls.
"Alright, destination? Since we are not entering via the main door, what is left are the side doors by the two sides?"
"Mhmm...... Ah, there's a red door over there! Stop the vehicle there."
A door which opened by parting both ways from its center was installed at the side of the tower. Different from the main door, which were shining in grandness under the lights, this was a heavy metallic door which was painted bright red.
"Hopefully, the password is still the same as before......"
Standing in front of the electronic screen next to the door, Sheltis began to key in a complicated password consisting of more than ten characters. The electrically locked door then began to open slowly from both sides.
"Oh- this should be a lift, right? The walls look pretty sturdy."
Eyriey took a knock at the the vertical walls, and listened closely to the sounds. It was a space enclosed by four walls. Aside from the pale colored carpet beneath them, all the other walls was of cold metallic color.
"A mechanical sound like that...... Could this be a catapult?"
"Yes, it is a type of mechanical cannon, which is said to be able to fire objects weighing over hundreds of kilograms to the foyer located at the two hundred and fortieth story. Though it is not designed to carry human passengers, now is not the time for us to be caring about things like that."
He turned his body, and the door in front of heavy metallic door in front of him closed once again.
— There is no turning back.
They could only depend on themselves, during the journey to the two hundred and fortieth story.
"This is indeed a most convenient shortcut. So we are to be fired upwards like a rocket...... Yuto, grab onto the hand rails tightly. It will be dangerous."
Eyriey extended her hand, and grabbed onto the lever that controls the firing mechanism of the catapult. Next to her, was Yuto, whose whole body was hugging onto the hand rails tightly.
"Sheltis, here we go?"
While holding onto the twin swords that were giving off an azure shine, Sheltis looked upwards. At a place beyond the ceilings, located at the highest story two thousand meters off the grounds into the sky, 'she' is right there waiting for him.
And so, I'll just go upwards.
To take back all the things that I had left in this tower two years ago.
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, machine crystal <Ilis> 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 Ilis, 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, machine crystal <Ilis> 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 Ilis 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 machine crystal <Ilis> 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 machine crystal <Ilis>, 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 Ilis.
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 machine crystal <Ilis>, 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—
"Ilis? Can you hear me, Ilis?"
He called out to machine crystal <Ilis> that was hanging off on the necklace in front of his chest. He had obtained machine crystal <Ilis> 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 machine crystal <Ilis> 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 Ilis?"
"The world's smartest and cutest Miss Ilis, 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 machine crystal <Ilis>.
"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 machine crystal <Ilis>.
"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 Ilis 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 Ilis 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 discipline of a Priestess."
"Are you reflecting on it?"
It was as though Ilis was reprimanding him.
Grabbing hold of machine crystal <Ilis> 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 machine crystal <Ilis> on the necklace was shining with an even brighter glow.
"From now onward, Ilis 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 Ilis 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."
Ilis 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 Ilis, 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 machine crystal <Ilis> 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."
Ilis 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, Ilis 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. Machine crystal <Ilis> 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 'rainbow colors'. 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.
Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>
The whole floor is a sacred praying hall, which is used by the Priestesses as a place to train and pray.
On the quiet altar, the black haired Priestess was praying with her hands clasped together. A pale azure glow was expanding from the young girl's surroundings. The dots of lights were gradually seeping into the interiors of the Grand Holy Hall.
Black stains began to appear on the brass floors next to the feet of the girl. The originally tiny stains of black dots increased in size gradually. Dark purple mist flowed in from the pores.
Just then, Ymy released the spells that she had been accumulating.
ele So Phi-a-s Arma-Riris
<Please accept all wishes that I can grant...>
*Shaaaaaaa.......* A spiraling barrier of red light covered the floors of the Grand Holy Hall, wiping clean the emerging Yuugenshu and their barriers together. That was baptism spell from the arts of shinryoku, used to purify mateki.
"............ Thank you."
Syun-rei opened her eyes and smiled gently.
"...... It's fine now, Ymy. The door has been activated."
She pointed to the only route to the highest level - the Sacred Door of the Grand Holy Hall. It is extremely sturdy. The solemnly crafted door is shimmering under the glow of the blue rays of shinryoku.
— The door was covered with an anti-Yuugenshu barrier.
As the place was used as the training ground for Priestesses, due to the long term usage for a thousand years, it had naturally came to possess the shinryoku of the Priestesses as well. Among other things, the Sacred Door's powers of shinryoku is the greatest, making it a sanctuary-class barrier strong enough to withstand all mateki thrown at it.
Syun-rei had originally thought that the powers of the door would vanish along with the breach of Hyouketsu Kyoukai. However, it had been confirmed that the door had regained its powers, along with the repairing of Hyouketsu Kyoukai.
"Next...... is the walls over here."
It is almost certain that the crucial door will no longer fall under any invasion. However, even though the floor is filled with shinryoku, there are still places that are weaker than the rest of the areas - in this case, it is the outer walls and the floors beneath them. The flying type Yuugenshu would be able to chew off the outer walls, while the floors beneath them can be penetrated like what had happened just now. All Yuugenshu that can reach there are variants that contains strong mateki in them. There was no room for carelessness.
"...... How very quiet."
The room was filled with an awkward silence. That was perhaps the usual atmosphere of the grand hall, but the usual silence which they should have used to, chilled their spines instead in their current situation.
Syun-rei muttered the name of the Sennenshi who was battling various floors beneath her. It was either due to her worrying about his safety, or her feeling uneasy from being separated - no, it was most probably due to both reasons.
"Don't worry, Syun-rei. I know very well about Leon's capabilities!"
Ymy gave a slight smile while patting on the shoulders of the girl, who had her head lowered.
She has already known Leon for over ten years. That silver haired young man has been competitive and strong ever since she knew him. She knew that better than anyone else in Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>.
Run and Meimel too. Everyone will be fine.
"Cheer up, okay? Since we are the last line of defense."
"............ Mmm, I'll do my best—"
Just as she was lifting her head up, Syun-rei stopped moving all of the sudden.
A drop of sweat streaked past Syun-rei's cheek, and dripped off her chin. Her black pupils turned light blue, a trait that signifies that she was currently using her powers of far-sight.
"............ It's a very strong mateki. It's flying...... and getting close."
Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>
"At the right of the next junction. There's one thirty meters away, heading towards us."
At the same time when machine crystal <Ilis> had sounded her warnings, a gigantic Yuugenshu crawled into sight from the junction. Its huge body filled up the passageway, which could have easily accommodate multiple adults walking shoulder-to-shoulder at the same time.
— He could no longer evade sideways.
Two clawed front limbs suddenly appeared from within the mist that was covering its body.
Dodging the incoming limbs, Sheltis jumped into the air. He gave the chandelier in the ceiling a kick, resulting in countless glass shards raining on the head of the enemy. The Yuugenshu was distracted by the falling objects from above its head, and its movements slowed down just a little.
That brief window of opportunity had been locked on by the pair of violet colored swords.
After breaking through the erected mateki barrier, the twin swords crushed the Yuugenshu, along with its core, at the same time.
"...... With that, this floor should be done."
The Yuugenshu gradually disappeared with a sharp sound of shattering. Not pausing to witness the scene, Sheltis changed his direction immediately, and ran towards the emergency stairs located at about ten meters straight ahead of him.
"Sheltis, listen to me while you run."
"We are currently heading upwards at a really fast pace. You can say that it has surpassed my predicted speed. However, that is due to you straining yourself. I must warn you, that your breathing is slowly becoming irregular."
The machine crystal <Ilis> informed him composedly.
"Your mission is not just to reach the Grand Holy Hall, but to defeat the strongest body, which is the commanding Yuugenshu. It is best if you start to conserve your physical strength from now on."
"...... And so?"
"Didn't you notice the injuries located on your right shoulder and your back?"
Under the reminder of Ilis, he touched his right shoulders with his left hand. A piercing pain could be felt from his shoulder to his back, and his palm was smeared with his own blood.
He was inflicted with the injuries while fighting against the hoard of Yuugenshu at the lower levels.
"It may be a small scratch in the past, but you no longer have any shinryoku to protect yourself, thus resulting in the injuries being much more serious than before. Your shoulder and back were struck by the claws of the Yuugenshu, and the wound is probably deep enough to reach your bones."
Not just that. Upon a closer look, countless lacerations on his cheeks, arms and thighs were already swollen red. Sheltis' body was filled with injuries all over.
"You should have antihemorrhagic agent with you, right? We are about to face the commanding Yuugenshu. I advise you to proceed with the minimal amount of first aid to disinfect your wounds and stop them from bleeding. It will all be for nothing if you are to collapse here."
Sheltis did not reply. He continued running up the evacuation stairs quietly.
"Sorry. However, I wish to spend those time on something else instead."
Should he continue moving like that, there is a chance for his wounds to widen from his movements, resulting in more bleeding. Even if that does not happen, the constant bleeding will cause a significant impact to his mobility. Despite knowing that, Sheltis continued running up the stairs, while enduring the sharp pain coming from his back.
"But, if you continue to ignore your wounds......"
"If there is enough time, I wish to apologize to Ymy."
Just one sentence will be enough. He hoped he has the time to apologize.
For leaving her alone, for not fulfilling his promise, and causing her to be uneasy. To apologize for all that.
"...... Ymy is not angry at you, you know?"
He himself knew that very well.
She is not that type of girl. He knew that more than anything else.
"However, I still think it is important. Since I am starting all over again, I wish for it to be perfect."
"You are really stubborn."
There was a slight teasing tone in the voice of machine crystal <Ilis>.
"I understand your personality very well. You are the type who will not budge once you have made your decision."
"I am sorry. You are just being considerate, and yet."
"I am used to it already. In return, don't complain when your wounds open up—"
Machine crystal <Ilis> went silent all of the sudden. The timing was way too strange, so Sheltis had thought that she was suffering from a malfunction. However, the crystal portion was still flashing normally.
"The position of the commanding Yuugenshu is confirmed to be in the skies, five hundred meters above Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> — it's here."
Upon hearing that, Sheltis could feel the goosebumps on his back.
"Move quickly. Fortunately for us, there are no other readings of Yuugenshu at the higher floors. Let us head straight to the Grand Holy Hall located at two hundred and eighty-first story."
While listening to the cold echoes reverberating in the emergency passageway, Sheltis dashed upwards by leaping past roughly ten steps with each stride...... Breathing was really difficult - and it was a sort of heavy breathing not caused by fatigue.
It came from the pressure in anticipation of his fight against the commanding Yuugenshu. Should he lose, Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> will fall.
"Are you alright?"
"— I can still hold on."
He answered with a slight smile. The door leading to the two hundred and eighty-first story was just before his eyes.
Despite shouldering on the huge pressure, Sheltis had already prepared himself mentally.
"Ilis, what's wrong?"
The tone of machine crystal <Ilis> reminded him of a depressed Ymy.
"Sorry, Sheltis. There is still something that I cannot bring myself to tell you. Though I should have informed you about it earlier, but I still could not say it...... That is something which you do not know, as someone who has never stepped into the Grand Holy Hall before."
"What do you mean?"
"No, in any case, try activating the door in front of us first. What happens next will be up to fate."
As Ilis urged on, Sheltis gently pushed the door of the emergency passage.
The door opened easily. Having heard Ilis' hesitant speech, he had thought that the door would be locked up.
"Just enter via the Sacred Door of the Grand Holy Hall in front of you."
A huge door appeared in front of him - a door that no one could refrain from looking up at it in awe.
The metallic door was decorated with solemn yet clear carvings. The whole door was giving off a pale blue glow.
"A door protected by shinryoku?"
"...... The door is not locked. Try opening it."
Suddenly, blueish white sparks similar to lightning was given off. He barely resisted the impact, which nearly blew him off. His hands were indeed repelled by the doors just now.
"............ Could it be, 'Elbert Resonance'......? But at a time like this......!"
Ignoring his burnt hands, Sheltis stared at the door before him.
The shinryoku of humans and mateki of Yuugenshu are two forces with totally opposite properties. When an especially strong shinryoku comes into contact with an equally strong mateki, a phenomenon will occur. The two forces will repel each other similar to the like poles of a magnet, and will even cause distortion to the laws of physics, resulting in the release of sparks.
"As I had thought...... the worst case scenario has happened."
"Ilis, what's the meaning of this?"
"The Sacred Doors of the Grand Holy Hall, holds power that is just a level lower than that of Hyouketsu Kyoukai. Meaning to say, this tightly shut door, is actually a strong shinryoku barrier by itself."
"I can see that! What I want to know is—"
"The reason for the repulsion...... Sheltis, it's because the mateki within you is overly powerful."
Mateki that is powerful enough to match the shinryoku of the Priestesses, and evoke Elbert Resonance.
"The barrier is just like a net. Smaller Yuugenshu possess weaker mateki, and thus they can slip past the holes of the net. That's because even if they pass through, they will not be much of a threat to the Priestesses or Sennenshi. However, you..... no, your mateki is viewed as a threat to the Priestesses."
The defense mechanism of the Grand Holy Hall had prevented him from passing through. Its standards for determining the rights to pass though, is if the person or thing possesses mateki that is strong enough to be of a threat to the Priestesses.
...... Just like back then.
Back when he was exiled from Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>. The mateki in him is viewed as a threat towards the Priestesses - no matter how much Ymy pleaded, the verdict did not change.
Everything was just like two years ago.
Ymy was just behind that door...... And the commanding Yuugenshu is about to strike......
"...... I'll never accept this!"
This was different from two years ago. Due to him having experienced the regret of two years ago, he had returned yet again. He would not give up at a place like this.
He lifted both swords in his hand, and swung them at the door.
A sizzling sound. At the instant the edges of the swords struck the door, the shinryoku barrier on the door would repel them back. The sparks created by Elbert Resonance hand burnt his limbs black.
"...... Not yet! It's not over yet!"
Grabbing on to the twin swords with his injured arms, he struck at the door again and again. However, the twin swords, which could easily break past Yuugenshu's barrier, could not even make contact with the door. They were repelled by the light barrier just before contact.
...... What can be more ironic than that?
He had rushed here to protect the Priestess, and yet he was denied entrance by Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, which viewed him as a threat to her.
In the next instant, the whole of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> shook wildly.
A deafening sound of rupture. The vibration originated from ahead of him, which is the interiors of the Grand Holy Hall. It was so violent, it was as though the outer walls of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> was blasted by a huge cannon.
"Could it be......"
Sheltis lifted his head to look upwards. The tremors had caused parts of the ceiling to peeled off in pieces.
"It's the commanding Yuugenshu. Seems like it has already crunched past the outer walls, and is infiltrating into the Grand Holy Hall—"
It was too late.
A cold shiver ran up his spine before his brain could even comprehend that.
" — Ymy!"
No matter how loudly he yelled, the tightly shut door prevented his voice from reaching in. That's right, regardless of his swords, his voice, or his longing for Ymy. Everything was crushed mercilessly by the door, and turned into nothing.
He shouted at machine crystal <Ilis> in a pleading voice.
"Ilis, anything will do! Is there anyway to open this door?"
After a moment of silence.
"The only way is to rid the mateki in your body, or—"
Machine crystal <Ilis> said wryly.
"To look at it from another point of view, you will have to obtain powers that are on par with the shinryoku that is protecting this door. In another words, you have to possess mateki of equal power to the shinryoku of Hyouketsu Kyoukai............ However, that is almost impossible
...... Mateki that is of the same strength as the Hyouketsu Kyoukai.
Having heard the suggestions of the mumbling Ilis, Sheltis suddenly raised his head.
...... That's right, I remember hearing something about this back in the past.
Ymy had once told him that among the Queen and the Priestesses who are maintaining Hyouketsu Kyoukai, exists a song of prayers that is used to do just that. Since it is linked to the skies way above, the tower is named as Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>. And as it is a melody <code> that is sung at the highest point of the tower, the song is thus named as 'Seventh Heaven Rhythm <Sophia Code>'.
It is a song that maintains the functionality of the ultimate shinryoku barrier - Hyouketsu Kyoukai. And speaking of the thing that is on equal terms with it, it must be something that exists within the Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>——
"...... I've got it."
On that day
At the ends of the world—
I had definitely heard the song that flows through the Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>.
"I've got it...... There is a way, Ilis."
Letting go the swords in his hands, Sheltis focused at the door in front of him.
"What's wrong? Could it be......"
"— I have found the way to open the door."
That's right. The answer lies back then.
At the bottom of Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>.
Along with a crumbling sound, the outer wall of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> was reduced to rubble, scattering all over the floor.
Despite all the rubble next to her feet, Ymy continued to focus her sight on the enemy that had appeared, following the destruction of the wall.
A pair of wings, and four thick limbs, and a lizard-like head that stretched out from within the deep purple mist.
This is a Yuugenshu which is very similar to the dragons that flew outside of the floating continent. Her body was probably about as large as the feet of the Yuugenshu. She would probably be crushed straight away if she was stepped by it.
Cold sweat was forming behind her neck. Up until then, they had faced quite a number of strong Yuugenshu, but none of the Yuugenshu was as overwhelming as the monster in front of them. Their face went pale.
...... No, I can't be scared. Because I am a Priestess who protects Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>.
Clenching her trembling hands, Ymy took a step forward towards the Yuugenshu.
A Priestess can still fight.
The baptism powers of shinryoku that can purify mateki - if that can strike the Yuugenshu directly, she would be able to defeat it. Spells of baptism are what she is the best at. She was confident that she could handle any Yuugenshu.
— However, the monster had already made its first move.
Oe/ Dia =U hiz gazzinis sis wei sighn. Quo zess wiz xes kyele
*Zzzzzz* A sound of electrical discharge rang, and a cursed tone came out of the mouth of the Yuugenshu. Violet flashes of light engulfed the surroundings. The tiny thread-like rays of light entwined with each other, gradually forming into a light wave.
The floors, walls and ceilings were dyed black and slowly decaying, when coming into contact with the rays of mateki. There was no time to dodge - in the blink of an eye, the mateki had already crept close to her feet—
A freezing cold and strong bouts of headache assaulted her.
"...... Ugh...... Ahhh......!"
In the Grand Holy Hall filled with poisonous rays of light, Ymy collapsed onto her knees. If she had possessed shinryoku of the strength of an ordinary human, all the cells in her would have already been corrupted and decayed.
"...... B-...... But......!"
Willing her weakened body, Ymy stood up again. No problems, I can still take this. I will probably not survive from the long exposure under the lights of mateki, but before that—
From her side, came a soft sound of someone collapsing.
The young girl had fallen to her side, her eyes closed tightly, and her greyish green lips were trembling non stop. Impossible. No matter how strong the mateki was, she could not have collapsed that quickly—
At the place of her collapse, another black stain was expanding from near her feet.
"— There's another one?"
Ymy began to activate the spell of baptism, to purify the floor Syun-rei was lying on. Under the purging lights, the Yuugenshu hiding in the floor gave a painful cry, then disappeared.
...... So there is another one hidden here.
Due to the surprise attack from below her feet, Syun-rei's barrier became unstable for a brief moment. The commanding Yuugenshu did not let that opportunity past by, and forced itself in.
"............ I am...... alright."
Syun-rei attempted to push herself up with both of her hands — how could she be fine? Her face were deathly pale, and the beads of sweat were falling off her forehead like a waterfall.
The thundering roar of the Yuugenshu caused a nauseating feeling to swell up in them. At the same time, a strange sound came - it sounded like the buzzing of the wings of an insect, only to be magnified louder by a hundred times. The sound gradually closed in, and gathered at the hole of the wall of the Grand Holy Hall.
That's right. It came from the hole which the commanding Yuugenshu had gnawed off.
A roar of the wind. Beyond the hole, was an endless stretch of clouds and the sky, together with the azure horizon.
Through the hole, groups of mist beasts squeezed into the Grand Holy Hall.
"It is summoning its allies......?"
One, two, three...... Lots of smaller Yuugenshu gradually appeared around the commanding Yuugenshu. Hiding their bodies within the shroud of mist, they expressed their hostility with those crimson eyes of theirs.
More than ten Yuugenshu were there, with the commanding Yuugenshu leading the pack.
Their mouth gave off the cursed tones at the same time.
Ymy began casting the purifying spells to clean away the mateki.
She could hear the sound of the black haired Priestess collapsing onto her shoulder. She had not fainted yet, but it was already difficult to retain her consciousness—
...... As expected, Syun-rei could not concentrate on controlling her spells in such a situation.
On the other hand, Ymy was preparing a highly effective baptism spell which had a narrow area of effect, which can only cure the mateki on her body. If so—
Upon understanding that, Ymy hugged onto Syun-rei tightly. She turned her to face the Yuugenshu with her back, and positioned herself to shield Syun-rei. Also, she changed the target of her spell to Syun-rei as well.
"Don't worry, just grab onto me quickly!"
"............ No........... Stop now............ Ymy will die."
Facing a struggling Syun-rei, Ymy hugged her even more tightly.
"Syun-rei, listen to me. Don't move."
As her friend, and not as a Priestess, she was really unwilling to lose Syun-rei.
...... Because, she is a friend whom I have made, after much difficulty.
...... I don't want to be separated from my friends again. The empty feeling which I had felt two years ago, when Sheltis left Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>. I don't want to experience it ever again.
"............ No............ You can't............ Ymy...... stop."
Ymy bit hard on her lips, but she had no intention of loosening her arms that were hugging Syun-rei.
Behind her, were countless Yuugenshu, and the evil glow of mateki.
............ Is there really no hope?
............ Will everything end here?
If she was to collapse, then Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> will lose the Priestesses who can maintain Hyouketsu Kyoukai. Along with the vanishing of the barrier, the floating continent will be totally annihilated by the attacks of the Yuugenshu.
............ Please, anyone will do......
............ Someone who has the ability to protect everyone on the floating continent......
............ I beg of you—!
Strange. The face that flashed past her mind, was not that of a Priestess, nor the Queen's, nor any Sennenshi's. The face that took shape belonged to the boy, who is her childhood friend.
The blinding shine of mateki.
Lights of poison were released from the Yuugenshu before her.
— Just then.
In the radiating Grand Holy Hall, rang the sound of that melody.
Mateki <melody> — 'Seventh True Rythym <Eden Code>'.
Oe/ Dix shel =E, pile noa myizis egic
<Dreams, sinking into the crevasse of ideals>
Oe/ Dix shel =E, cross Kyel solit xes Miqis I
<Wishes, returning to the loneliness of time>
At that instant.
All Yuugenshu stopped moving.
clar dackt, mihas /x-madel, elmei valen lihit ti-o yulis
<The shattering of the singing, the breaking of relationships, all prayers shall turn into emptiness>
Sera, X ele slin kyel cielis cley
<And I, shall head off to the place on the far side>
xeos loar sis flan-s-keen, Nel sis hiz tinny xes riris tes Zalah
<The icy-cold winds blew strongly, narrating a tale of promises and gospels>
A heart-wrenching melody that seemed to have gathered the pains and sufferings of all human beings. Despite that, there was a feeling of nostalgia at the same time, and the song was gradually filling up the emptiness in the heart—
...... Could this be a form of mateki as well?
kamis wire /x-gorn zay nazalis rei
<The rain, in the colors of sin, are causing the frames of memories to rust>
Nid hiz loar nec cross-Oz-yulis noa missis ciel
<The winds that will never come, has disappeared in the distant side>
It was totally different from the curses of Yuugenshu that she had heard up until now.
Ymy knew of another extremely similar melody. That's right, isn't that the 'Seventh Heaven Rhythm <Sophia Code>' that us Priestesses have been singing?
It forms a contrasting tone to the gentle and loving 'Seventh Heaven Rhythm <Sophia Code>'.
Just like a pair of wings. Two faces of the same coin.
Oe/ hypne Xe yanhe, ria ole /en-dackt stery
<Sleep, my body. For the shattered dreams>
Oe/ iden Xe uirse, ria elmei valen
<Sleep, my time. For all signs of prayers>
Oe/ kills Xe haul, ria mihas /x-madel zayxus
<Freeze, my lights. For the forever broken friendship>
...... But, how could this be?
It's neither the melody, nor the lyrics. What Ymy had noticed, was the 'voice' singing it.
That was definitely not the sound given out by the Yuugenshu.
"...... It can't be............"
She couldn't believe it for a moment. The singing voice was owned by the young man whom she was most familiar with. His voice—
=E mille- Ye-hypn pheno =E Mil kiss hiz qelno, belit elmei Eden cia iden
<The soundly sleeping child of birth, please attest. Even if the paradise is to fall into total silence>
ris-ia sophia, X ele dia kyel ririsis Uls
<Even then, I will still walk to the hills of oath>
The door of the Grand Holy Hall slowly opened, along with a dull sound.
The door with powers that nearly rivals that of Hyouketsu Kyoukai. The sacred door which Yuugenshu can never open, had actually released its own seal.
As though the seals of the door has always been waiting for the moment, when a tone like that would be sung.
Oe/ sia Eden, Ole ele, Selah pheno sia-s Orbie Cley
<For the world of all dreams>
On the other ends of the opened door, stood a young man.
Tea-red colored hair, with an expression that was pure, intimidating, and with a hint of shyness at the same time.
The young man slowly turned his body.
Ymy had forgotten to even breathe.
Because...... the man in front of her, was the person who had left Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> back then—
"Sorry, Ymy. I have...... made you wait for a long time."
With that, the young man gave a gentle smile.
The injuries on his body had dyed his shoulder red. His cheeks, arms and legs were all covered with countless scars. Even his breathing seemed laborious as well, as he required the heaving of his shoulders to assist in doing so. That look of his was not cool at all, and one could even say it was embarrassing to look at. However—
He was still smiling. His smile was cheerful, without a hint of gloominess.
"............ Ah...... ah......"
The fluid flowing out of her eyes were gradually obscuring her sight.
No matter how much she tried to hold it in, the tears just would not stop flowing. The tight sensation inside her had disappeared in an instant. Despite the fact that nothing has ended...... but as long as he was there, it just felt like she had protected the most important thing to her.
The young man with twin swords in his hands, who had sworn to be her Sennenshi.
...... You have finally came.
Sheltis Magna Yehle was standing right there.
With that, the frozen time started spinning.
The mateki of Yuugenshu resumed their flow, and an ominous glow lit up the whole Grand Holy Hall. However, the young man with twin swords had already dashed into the hall a step earlier than them.
Two bright slashes flashed through.
The sword in his right shattered the mateki and the barrier, while the sword in his left blew the crystal core of the Yuugenshu into smithereens. Seeing that their mateki barrier was rendered ineffective, the remaining Yuugenshu fall into a state of panic. Sheltis rode on the opportunity to destroy the three crystal cores of Yuugenshu to his left and right, and back.
The young man moved at a blazing pace, and did not pause anywhere for even a second. The high speed massacre looked like a blur from afar.
Having witnessed the swordplay and abilities of the young man, Syun-rei exclaimed in full of praise, while looking on at the side.
Avoiding the pounces from the Yuugenshu coming from all sides, Sheltis jumped on the candle-stands at the side walls, then leaped upwards to the ceiling. He then somersaulted in mid air, and landed behind the hoard of Yuugenshu.
The twin swords gave off a blinding flash of light.
In the blink of an eye, all the crystal cores of the smaller Yuugenshu were smashed, and they disappeared into thin air one by one.
The only one left was the commanding Yuugenshu.
However, the huge Yuugenshu was nowhere to be seen when the young man turned his body.
"............ It disappeared?"
Syun-rei looked at her surroundings with unease. The commanding Yuugenshu had disappeared without any traces or sound. Where could it have escaped to? Even Ymy, who was watching everything from a further distance away, had no idea about that.
Just then, the loud sounds of flapping wings came from the hole in the wall of the Grand Holy Hall.
"It's outside the Grand Holy Hall. It has abandoned this place, and is planning to directly attack the Queen at the highest level!"
The machine crystal <Ilis> at his chest was flashing intensely.
As the Queen was focusing on maintaining Hyouketsu Kyoukai, she was in an absolutely defenseless state. Queen Salah, the person who is constantly concerned about the floating continent, and sacrifices her everything in order to maintain Hyouketsu Kyoukai — she is about to come under attack......
Ymy shouted out loudly to the young man in front of her, after having realized that.
She knew that it was extremely selfish of her, to be requesting something like that, from the young man who had been exiled from Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>
...... However, I still wish to depend on him.
Because he is the only one here who can do it? No, that's wrong. Even if Leon or Run is here, I...... I'll still make my request to him.
A Priestess have to entrust her everything to her one and only Sennenshi.
— I have finally understood the meaning behind those words.
She was shouting to the person who she had been looking for all these while, the young man whom she can entrust her everything to.
"Please protect Queen Salah...... No, please protect the floating continent that everyone lives on!"
Her voice was nearly drowned by the raging winds that were blowing into the hole.
She did not know if her hoarse voice had reached the ears of the young man. However, Sheltis had definitely turned his head back to look at her into her eyes—
...... Sheltis smiled?
After a short pause, the young man jumped through the hole, and out of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>.
His could only hear the howling winds.
There was not a single day where the winds do not blow in the floating continent. The higher one goes, the stronger the winds get. The winds at the highest story of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> is strong enough to easily blow an adult off his feet.
Sheltis was outside Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> - two thousand meters in the air. The unfiltered rays of the sun shone into his eyelids, while his body was swaying to the winds.
He continued rising with just a single leap off the grounds.
— Found it.
The commanding Yuugenshu which was located at the airspace much higher than he was, and flying towards the highest story.
However, he had stopped rising after confirming the position of the enemy. After all, what was propelling him upward was just the single leap off the Grand Holy Hall.
Under the influence of gravity, his body slowly began to fall.
Below him, were the fluffy sea of clouds. He could faintly see the buildings scattered on the ground via the gaps.
"Sheltis, act quickly!"
Acting on the reminder of Ilis, Sheltis stabbed the sword in his left hand into the walls of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>. Using the sword as an bar, he pulled his body upwards with a single hand.
"This is your only chance left to jump. Good luck."
With that, Sheltis stepped on the hilt of his sword, and sprang upwards into the sky again.
The final leap. Riding on the winds that were blowing upwards of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, the young man was flung up high by the additional thrust, and he traveled to the head of the Yuugenshu.
At the same time when he passed the Yuugenshu, the sword in his right flashed violently, and swung out at the wings of the enemy with precision.
A dull sound rang. The sword, which had been killing Yuugenshu with a single blow, was actually repelled off.
There was a brown-yellowish luster on the wings of the monster. The cause of that was the countless reversed-scales, which formed a protective armor that is many times stronger than steel. Ordinary physical attacks will never inflict damage on it.
The enemy swung its front limbs. There was no need to confirm that with his own eyes - Sheltis could already tell from the expressions of the monster.
He switched the sword to his left hand, to counter the incoming blow. As the tip of the blade parried the limbs with ugly claws, his whole arm gave off a weird sound immediately. A great surge of pain followed as his body flew off from the impact. The sound was either his shoulder blade or muscles tearing, or perhaps it was the sound of both.
As he could not negate the force of the blow, he was smashed straight into the outer walls of the tower - just as he had noticed that, an overwhelming impact spread through his body, which nearly caused his breathing to come to a stop.
"...... Ugh....... Gya......!"
He had not much strength left in him to reply to Ilis.
The shoulder and back which he had injured earlier below, was giving off an incredible pain.
"...... I...... I am fine!"
The area around his shoulders were already dyed crimson red, but the young man still grabbed onto his sword. He propelled himself off the dent in the wall with the tip of his foot, and shot above the head of the commanding Yuugenshu again.
— I can't lose...... because...... this is the reason why I have came here!
A flash of the sword.
His target was the base of the Yuugenshu's wing, and it was the exact same place that he had struck earlier. The first impact had destroyed the defensive scales of the wing - this time, the sword of the young man had sliced the wing off.
The monster roared in anger. At the same time, its body began releasing the radiance of mateki.
Locking on to the young man, who could not evade in mid air, the corrosive and poisonous rays of light began to wrap around him layer by layer - it's mateki, the unique powers of Yuugenshu. The strongest attack.
However, the Yuugenshu could see very clearly. In the midst of the purple ball of light, the sword of the young man was shining exceptionally bright.
On it, was the azure crystals that held the shinryoku of Hyouketsu Kyoukai, as well as the lights of mateki.
Two rays of light which should absolutely not be compatible with each other, were actually appearing on the sword at the same time.
"I heard you, Ymy!"
In the next instant, Sheltis swung out the sword in his right hand.
The crystal core of the commanding Yuugenshu broke, and scattered into dust amidst a bell-like sound. At the same time, the huge body of the Yuugenshu turned into mist, and slowly disappeared into thin air.
Taking another look into the interiors of the Grand Holy Hall, one would never associate the scene with the word 'tranquil'.
The carpet on the floor were peeling off from the decay, while the lights on the ceiling had turned into a molten mess of corrosion. The candle-stands on the walls were bent due to the erosion from mateki.
— However, they were not too late.
Ymy and the Priestess in kimono attire were standing together at the center of the room. They did not suffer from any direct injuries, and the pains from mateki seemed to be disappearing as well.
That's right, I have finally protected the person most important to me.
But, why was it so? Even though everything had already came to an end, the anxiety gripping his heart did not seem to be waning. No, instead, that sort of feeling was becoming more intense, while he stood in front of her—
Suppressing his painful and wildly beating heart, Sheltis squeezed his voice out.
Sheltis had no idea what he should be saying, as he faced Ymy, who had her head lowered. Despite trying his hardest to come up with something to say, the words were cut off when it reached his mouth.
"...... You are alright...... that's really great."
No, that's not it. That's not what he wanted to say. Despite knowing that, that sort of ordinary speech was all he could muster. But on the other hand, he was really glad he could finally say something.
The girl was still lowering her head, and she spoke not a single word.
"Oh...... yeah, Ymy's a Priestess now. To be speaking with you like this...... for an ordinary person like me, that is just asking for too much."
He had saved Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> from the unprecedented danger. Ymy was fine too. As long as she can continue maintaining Hyouketsu Kyoukai, the floating continent will be safe. For someone who was forced out of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, that was quite an astounding feat already.
....... I actually want to tell her badly, that I want everything to start all over again.
But that wish would never be granted. The danger had subsided, and the situation in Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> was gradually stabilizing.
So, it was time for him to go back. As an outsider, he could not stay in Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> for too long.
"Ymy...... Sorry, but I cannot stay in Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> much longer. I..... am going back."
He turned around, his back facing the two Priestesses, and began walking towards the door of the Grand Holy Hall.
"...... Don't go."
He had only realized that it came from Ymy, upon seeing her trying to open her trembling lips.
"I-...... Idiot...... Sheltis you huge idiot! Why...... why......"
A huge tear appeared on her lashes, and her words nearly turned into a whimper. However, the young girl continued to clench her fists tightly, and held back by clenching her teeth.
"It's so unfair...... I...... I thought you are finally willing to see me again...... And yet...... you are planning to leave without saying anything? To think that I...... has always been waiting for you......"
Sheltis finally understood.
Even though she had became a Priestess, the girl in front of him still has not changed one bit.
Even after becoming a Priestess, the girl in front of him is still waiting for him all these while.
"Welcome back...... You have finally returned here."
The young girl opened her arms, and began walking slowly towards Sheltis with a soft smiling expression.
In the silent hall, the two reached out their hands at each other, and their fingertips touched - just then.
At the same time, both young man and young girl remembered the tragedy two years back.
*— Zzzz...... zzz......*
At the intersection between their hands, blueish-white sparks that were similar to electricity, began to form.
The pain was so intense that they could not even cry out in pain, so who was the one who gave a moan?
Their tightly clasped hands parted reflexively, and all that remained were the barely connecting fingertips. However, the blueish-white sparks burnt their fingertips yet again.
When an overly strong shinryoku comes into contact with mateki, the law of physics will be twisted. Electrical discharge will be released in the air, punishing the two parties for coming into contact with burning flames.
*— Zzzz...... zzz......*
The electric-esque flames mercilessly burned their reunited fingertips.
The young girl gave a silent cry of shock, and was pushed away by a strong force.
"............ Ah...... haha......"
What replied him, was a stiff laughter.
A bright red fluid dripped off the fingertip of the young girl. A thin red thread sank to the side of her feet, forming a pool of red liquid.
"...... It's the same...... two years ago......?"
The originally silent Ymy lifted her head for the first time. At the same time, Sheltis finally realized what that fluid was.
It was blood.
Blood flowing from the burns of her hands, caused by the repulsion of mateki and shinryoku.
"...... Strange...... we had not done anything bad, right...... So...... why..........."
A liquid flowed yet again, this time from her face.
The second liquid were sparkling, transparent drops of water.
The young girl collapsed onto her knees. Tears flowed out of her eyes continuously, like an endless stream of water.
"Why...... can't both of us...... do something as simple...... as holding hands...... Ahahaha............"
The young girl did not made any attempt to hide her face, which was in a mess due to her slight smile and her tears. She cast away all her reservations, and said her heartfelt words.
The young girl who maintains the barrier, and is the center figure of the world; The young man who possesses mateki, and is ostracized by the world.
The two who could not touch each other, were ultimately stuck in their current position.
"...... It's really strange isn't it? Towards you, I am actually that—"
The end of that sentence was drowned in her cries.
The young girl stood up again.
However, her sight was not directed at the young man. Rather, it was directed to the black haired girl, who is similarly, a Priestess like her.
"I know. It is already time."
The absolute time limit to the Queen's maintenance of Hyouketsu Kyoukai. The ones in charge of taking over were the two Priestesses in front of him. Meaning to say, Ymy would have to head to the highest story of the tower.
She turned around, and began walking slowly towards the elevator.
With an indescribable melancholy, Sheltis gripped tightly onto his burnt fingers.
...... Could it be...... that we are about to be separated like this?
No, definitely not. Ymy must not have wished for such an ending as well.
Looking at the back of the young girl, Sheltis squeezed out his remaining voice. He could not totally express his feelings in the little remaining time. Thus, he said only a single line.
"I...... will definitely not lose to the mateki within me!"
The body corrupted by mateki. He had sunk into a state of despair two years ago, due to that situation of his.
He wished to start from all over again. Even with a body occupied by mateki, for the current him...... no, that's not right. There must be things that only the current him can do.
"My body may have became like this, but I will never be defeated by such a curse! So..... I hope you can wait for me. I will definitely return back to your side!"
And this time, I must succeed.
To reach the distance, where we can touch each other with our fingertips.
Ymy did not turn her head as she walked towards the elevator.
However, his voice had definitely reached her clearly.