The sports car roared along the road towards the foot of the mountain from the chairman’s house.
The artistically sharp metallic blue body shot along the road like a bullet.
It was a Mazda RX7 FC3S.
Its engine had even been exchanged with its successor’s, the FD’s 13B-Rew engine.
The highly balanced machine, making a mockery of machine’s twenty years older, descended the ridge with the gentle engine sound characteristic of rotary engines.
Choosing the one corner on the twisting road, it shot through, passing in a near straight line.
The driving with such grip was what could worsen the tyres.
The co-efficient of friction of the tread was pushed to the limits, with the perfect distribution of weight.
If you were looking on from a gallery, your breath would stop at a car being able to travel so fast.
In the driver’s seat, exhibiting precise handling, delicate control of the acceleration, smooth gear changes, and perfect braking was none other than the ten year old Maya.
Her visibility through the windscreen was like she was on a roller coaster.
Satsuki had gone completely pale, sitting in the passenger seat.”
“H-hey… don’t you think we’re going a little fast…? And it’s a little late, but do you even have a licence…?”
She looked at the driver’s seat, shuddering.
Snuggly sat within the hard racing seat, she could only feel uneasy.
She was scared and couldn’t see the speedometer.
While daringly pressing down on the accelerator, Maya answered.
“You can’t get a licence at ten, teehee.”
Satsuki gripped the handle with both hands.
“It’s okay, I’ve driven a lot thanks to Mari-oneechan, so I’m used to this.”
The principal and she sure had some unexpected skills and hobbies.
“Saviours can’t ignore road laws, can they…?”
“It’s a skill to help in emergency situations, so there was an exception made.”
Satsuki once more realised the outrageousness of the organisation she belonged to.
“C-couldn’t you a-at least s-slow down a little?”
“If I do, Sir Edward will catch up.”
“But if we have an accident, it won’t matter. Drive safelyyy.”
“If I don’t hit anything, I am driving safely, teehee.”
“No more. I want to go hooome.”
So now, even though they were going home, Satsuki screamed with teary eyes.
“I love this thrill, teehee.”
“You speed freak little giiiirrl!”
She didn’t pay attention to that either.
On the roof, still embracing strongly, Moroha and Shizuno were watching the surroundings attentively.
“It would be nice if Edward didn’t chase us like this…”
Moroha himself didn’t believe his wishful thinking.
Eventually, a thirst for blood welled up from in front of them to the left.
Just as fast as the roaring car, a knife, shining green came flying at them.
Deadly accurate, it punctured the rear-left wheel and burst it.
It was a rear wheel drive, so it lost balance as if it was suddenly missing half its body, going in to a violent spin. Going at such a speed, the backlash when you lost control was huge.
At this rate, they’d go through the guard rail and tumble down the mountain!
“The chains of hell bind all dead, with no release…”
Atop the roof, Moroha spelled out a Bind uncommonly fast.
Jet black chains, braided from mana stretched out from his left hand, wrapping around a conspicuous tree.
At the same time, his right hand let off prana as he bored holes in the roof with his fingers and held on.
Moroha was using chains to fasten the massive lump of metal that the spinning car had become and control it with his own slender arms.
The chain tightened, and put a huge weight on his arm that felt like it would tear it off.
Letting out a roar like a beast, Moroha mustered his Titan Strength Link.
Gritting his teeth as if to bite into prey, he finally brought the heavy car to a stop.
Using Light Techniques and Dark Arts, he’d forcibly held it down and saved everyone from the spin.
He checked that the car had completely stopped and dispersed the chains of mana.
The burning smell of the tyre rubber that had been shredded onto the road filled his nose.
“If it hadn’t been you, that would have been the end…”
Clinging to his chest, Shizuno spoke with a displeased face.
“I told you not to go so faast.”
“Whaa, I’m dizzy.”
Satsuki and Maya shakily opened the doors and got out.
Seeing that everyone was safe, Moroha jumped down from the roof while holding Shizuno.
Putting Shizuno on her own feet, he glared towards where the knife had come from.
Appearing in their path from the trees was AJ, Angela Johnson.
No longer in that helmeted outfit.
She was in a British style maid outfit, with a strange double-bladed sword.
Precisely because it was surreal, it brought about a dangerous, destructive atmosphere.
Shizuno, Satsuki and Maya’s bodies stiffened.
“Were you trying to kill us?”
Amongst them, Moroha protested without a hint of fear.
“It would have been an unfortunate accident.”
The beautiful woman’s threat held an indescribable force.
“No, it’s my own revenge.”
“You can’t hate me that much, can you?”
AJ’s eyes sparkled with rage as she suddenly ripped off the front of her outfit.
Completely exposing her cleavage down to her navel.
Atop her ivory white skin, were several bruises snaking over her.
“It’s the mark of my defeat, carved by your Dark Art.”
It was two days since that fight, and even a White Iron’s high regeneration hadn’t removed the marks.
“I can’t show such an unsightly figure, so I couldn’t serve in Sir Edward’s bedroom.”
So perhaps that was why she was filled with such a thirst for blood.
“You’re the one that attacked me, you’ve not got room to talk.”
Moroha took it in stride, and pushed that feeling away.
But, if she wouldn’t move, they’d have to force through.
Moroha was burning in white prana, and AJ was burning in green prana.
It was a hair trigger situation.
“Geez. I just said to watch them. You’re a bad girl, aren’t you, An?”
Together with a calm voice, a man appeared, bringing them further into the coals.
It went without saying, this was Sir Edward Lampard.
He had most likely ran after them, but there was no sign of sweat at all.
“To think the head of the English branch would come all the way out here for us.”
Moroha snapped on guard.
There was a master White Iron in front of them, and an S rank monster behind them.
Even Moroha would grow serious in this situation.
“I couldn’t let you have your say and then just run off.”
“Are you that attached to Shizuno?”
“We want Dark Saviours so much, we could fill three volumes with it, but I doubt you want to hear about our problems, do you?”
That was completely correct.
“I just don’t intend to hand over Shizuno, that’s all.”
At his side, Shizuno’s face reddened slightly at his firm declaration.
“And I just want to take her back to England. That’s all.”
The corners of Edward’s mouth lifted like a lion.
It was easy to understand, a conflict of interests.
In which case.
“If you defeated a Metaphysical alone and are claiming to be S rank, then you can take her back from me by force. You should be able to, right?”
Again, Edward was exactly right…!
“So, An. You keep those three alive. Alright?”
“…Yes, my lord.”
At Edward’s repeated order, AJ regretfully, but still respectfully assented.
She glared once more with eyes that seemed to burn with a dark fire at Moroha, before diverting her gaze as if uninterested.
She focussed solely on the other three.
Moroha couldn’t help them.
Sir Edward didn’t move his gaze for even an instant, fixing it on Moroha.
Going after AJ would be the end, Edward would cut him down from behind.
It was a bitter decision he couldn’t avoid.
“Got it, Nii-sama, leave it to me.”
With just a word, and understanding passed between them, she would try and protect Shizuno and Maya.
From the resistance in the park, Satsuki wouldn’t measure up to AJ, but there was no other choice.
He just had to believe in her.
He could only hope that Shizuno and Maya would support with Dark Arts.
Then, defeat Edward as quickly as possible, return and knock down AJ.
Even Moroha couldn’t guarantee he would win against one of only six S rank Saviours in the world.
However, he couldn’t make those complaints.
Thus, the battle appeared to be split into two.
Moroha vs. Edward.
Satsuki, Shizuno and Maya vs. AJ.
To concentrate on his own fight, and to avoid accidentally bringing the others into it, Moroha moved the battlefield to within the trees.
“You kill-joy, worrying about the surroundings. I’ll go along with it.”
Being a gentleman in word alone, Edward answered the invitation.
Once they were far enough away, they faced each other again.
Within the dark trees, shaded from the evening sun.
The evergreen trees were steeped in twilight, dyed a deep red.
An ominous location for the fight to the death that seemed to be about to occur.
Moroha poured prana into the tag already in his hand.
His beloved sword quietly formed, enveloped in an aura that looked like white fire.
“That’s a nice sword. You can tell it cuts at a glance, and if you were to polish it up a little, it might even rank with that demon sword that the Man-eater has, I can feel its worth. Mine’s a bit of a shabby piece in comparison… look, don’t be disappointed, will you?”
Looking like he was having child-like fun, he thrust forward his right hand, holding his ID Tag.
“Charara, chachachachacha, charara♪”
And then, as he hummed, his sword manifested as if he were drawing it from a scabbard.
That was the word the two handed sword impressed upon you first.
He took it out like a toy as he hummed, but it was a ridiculous thing.
The massive sword was coated with Edward’s prana, and the violet that should have been noble somehow seemed ominous and like the burning of an evil will-o’-wisp.
White Knight. Lionheart. The Model Image. Lampard the Rampart.
It was a suitable weapon for the Lord Edward, a living legend holding these pseudonyms.
Just unsheathing it seemed to cause the temperature to drop.
“What’s with that ‘don’t be disappointed’?”
To relieve the pressure, Moroha put his right foot forward slightly.
His chest was raised triumphantly, the long sword held in his right hand.
It was a stance fixed in his body, but Moroha’s heart had sharpened it, making it a natural posture.
“Dan, dadadada, da, da, da, da, dadada♪”
Edward readied his sword in both hands too.
He was still humming the music that sounded like it was from a game.
It was a stubbornly joking attitude, but there wasn’t a single gap visible in his stance.
It was as if it raised his fighting spirit, heightened his concentration and put him in a particular mind-set.
To preserve the tone, Moroha kept his stance firmly.
The two’s prana swelled, filling the space between the trees with cold.
As if hit by it, the birds took flight.
At that sound.
The two of them charged forward like a shot, exchanging a slash.
The bright white trail of light left by Moroha’s longsword and the noble violet left by Edward’s large sword mixed together right in the centre, colliding.
The clash of iron that rang out was a belated gong to start the fight.
All expression vanished from Moroha’s face, merely swinging his sword as if he were a machine to just cut people down.
His specialty slash from the shoulder. A splendid reverse slash. A horizontal slice at the torso, and back, a vertical slash down.
He attacked relentlessly, sparing no breath.
His sword was smaller than his opponents, but its manoeuvrability was helpful for the amount of attacks.
“How fast! And sharp!”
Edward had room to laugh as he parried the consecutive attacks.
The larger sword’s manoeuvrability wasn’t good, but its length was much longer than usual. The flat of the blade could act as a shield, obstructing Moroha’s slashes.
As the swords clanged together, the white and purple prana sparked off of each other.
“Are you going to just keep artlessly swinging like this?”
Still with his lion-like smile, Edward provoked him.
“Aren’t you calm? Not worried about those girls?”
“You’re pushy for a Six Head, aren’t you? Can’t win without psychological warfare?”
“You too, don’t be miserly, you won’t beat me without showing your trump card, you know?”
Edward implicitly told him to fight with Dark Arts too.
“I’m not enough of an idiot to show you my trump card while you’re waiting for it.”
“Ah well, then I guess I’ll show you my technique first.”
Breaking the ice, Edward took his sword in his right hand and brandished it.
It was like a telegraphed punch in boxing. It was a poor stance, begging to be attacked. Showing gaps asking to be hit.
Moroha was suspicious, but boldly attacked.
Faster than Edward, sharper, more manoeuvrable, he slashed diagonally.
Visiting an attack on him from ahead.
“I don’t care what you’re planning, I’ll just obliterate you from in front.”
So he put even more prana within the sword and raised its destructiveness even more.
Ancestral Arts Light Technique, Venus.
Saratiga’s blade shone all the more.
“Nice! Even tempted the theory doesn’t change, your swordsmanship is truly straightforward. I like it.”
Edward applauded it, and then performed a shocking act.
He reached out his left hand, and suddenly caught Moroha’s slash.
A condensed purple light shone in his palm, completely blocking the sword circulating destructive prana.
Moroha was lost for words from shock.
With no consideration, the attack Edward had prepared earlier swung down.
Whether escaping or blocking, Moroha’s sword was still captured.
As the huge attack that seemed it would crush him approached, just before it impacted, Moroha kicked out with his left foot.
His toes hit at the base of Edward’s left hand, hitting right in the gap between the radius and ulna. With how the human body was made, his grip loosened, and at that moment, Moroha pulled back his sword.
He immediately dashed backwards.
The intense blade of wind dashed over him as he went to escape the trajectory of the swing… but, he didn’t make it in time. The huge tip of the sword sliced through his combat uniform and lightly into his skin.
A vertical line of blood spurted forth.
Edward’s sword was strengthened with Venus too.
Prana refined into absolute destructive power was poured into the sword, and rampaged in Moroha’s body. Internal damage was a secondary effect of Venus.
Moroha had used Diamond Skin Link and expelled the remnants of Edward’s prana, avoiding a deep wound in his body.
He’d avoided further troubles, but that didn’t change the reality that he’d taken a blow.
“If you’d stopped at being a C rank, that would have been the match, I guess you’re not such a small fry.”
Edward ostentatiously waved his left hand around.
The strength of the prana condensed in that palm only made Moroha shudder…
That was the reason that Moroha was shocked at him blocking the attack with his left hand.
He wasn’t shocked into silence at something unprecedented like blocking a sword bare-handed.
No matter what happened, he wouldn’t be surprised, his heart would beat and he would attack. But that wasn’t the case.
Precisely because he wasn’t unsurprised and understood, Moroha was shocked at him blocking a blow with his full force behind it.
It wasn’t as Edward had said, but if he was a B rank, then his arm would have been cut off.
That defensive technique was called Sun.
A high class technique of Diamond Skin Link, that didn’t protect the entire body, but condensed the user’s prana to protect a point, and that point alone, even as it was living flesh, would be an absolute defence.
How much of your body you could cover with the condensed prana was determined by strength and skill.
Moroha could currently only cover a fingertip.
It was that difficult a technique, and yet Edward had just covered his entire palm.
It was an astoundingly skilled Light Technique, so Moroha couldn’t supress his shudder.
“Daran! Daadadadadadadada, daadada, dadada, dadada♪”
Edward’s humming raised in tension as he attacked overbearingly.
To cover the distance Moroha had opened up in his jump, he charged with his sword overhead.
“Formless blade, invisible sword, come forth, Render!”
To intercept the attack, Moroha quickly spelled out a Dark Art.
It was the first step art, Fracturing Gust.
“Now you’re talking!”
Edward didn’t move to avoid the fangs closing in on him.
He took it head on, appearing defenceless.
Moroha felt a chill run down his back.
As the fangs sunk into Edward, the Fracturing Gust dispersed.
That scene chilled his heart and as he retreated, he launched the next Dark Art.
“Fire discriminates not against good nor evil as it burns and purifies with ferocious mercy.”
The first step Dark Art, Flare.
The crimson flames vaporised the underbrush as they snaked towards Edward, and of course, vanished.
Closing in on Moroha’s eyes, the large sword struck forth.
Moroha somehow blocked it with the sword in his right hand.
Earth shattering pressure beat down on him from above as he withstood it with Titan Strength Link.
At the same time, his left hand spelled out a third Dark Art.
From nearly point blank range, the Flare would burn Edward… but the second and third both vanished like mist as they touched his purple, flame-like prana.
“What kind of trick is this? Don’t be stingy and tell me.”
“It’s nothing big, I’m just using Moon.”
Edward smiled like a lion that had cornered its prey, answering as he pushed on his sword.
A Light Technique Moroha didn’t know.
It wasn’t taught at Akane Academy, and no-one in the Strikers used it. He hadn’t seen it in the dreams of Flaga either. It was possible that it wasn’t that Flaga hadn’t used it, but not needed to.
“Oh, have you not studied enough? How naughty.”
Edward read Moroha’s expression and jokingly teased him.
At the same time, he hit a second and third time, so Moroha struggled to endure.
Edward changed his tone to a teacher’s.
“It’s a high class Diamond Skin Link skill that can be combined with Sun. If Sun is a skill that defends by compressing space, Moon is a skill that defends by compressing time.”
In other words, it was a technique that, for a mere instant, made you completely invulnerable.
“Doesn’t seem practical.”
No one used it.
“Unlike Light Techniques, Dark Arts are slow, so if you watch carefully and calculate the timing, it’s okay.”
“A good lesson.”
Thinking of the risks when you failed, normally you wouldn’t want to try is.
Edward’s courage and skill was enough like that of a monster to make you laugh.
Moroha thought cynically as his face warped.
Yes, as they exchanged dozens of blows, the two swordsmen exchanged nonsense.
This was certainly a mind-set from their high skill with the sword.
In other words, Moroha was an extremely high class White Iron. He didn’t realise it himself, but he was actually among the foremost within the Japanese branch.
Despite this, Edward was yet another step ahead.
“If I don’t take risks myself, it’ll just drag out…”
It was annoying, but Edward’s initial advice was right.
Moroha would have to show more skill too.
“I’ll go ahead and use my trump card too…”
Moroha purposely proclaimed as he held his sword in a reverse grip and held it behind his back.
It wasn’t a manga or anime, so it was a completely meaningless show.
If he could get him to hesitate even an instant-
“I said I liked it straightforward too!”
Edward didn’t mind the meanings and thrust his sword forwards, straight on as if to crush.
Moroha sharpened, tightly inhaling a breath.
He condensed prana into his left index finger.
And with that shining glint within his finger, stopped the huge sword.
Ancestral Arts, Light Technique, Sun.
The meaningless reverse grip was because he’d read Edward’s personality and was inviting a frontal attack.
If you could guide the sword, you could even stop it with an index finger.
“If I’d been a little off, I’d have lost my fingers…”
It wasn’t really a point of pride. Even if he couldn’t cover his entire palm with prana, there were several ways he could use it defensively.
Edward let out an impressed whistle as he back stepped.
“Think you’re getting away.”
When Moroha blocked the sword, he’d already begun to swing his sword, still in the reverse grip.
Drawing out a straight bright white line of light.
The sword tip hit the lower part of Edward’s chest… and he escaped backwards with only a slight wound.
His sword was slower than normal because of the strange hold.
A horizontal line of blood spurted from Edward, but that was all, the wound was shallow.
In any case, with this they had each gotten a hit.
Edward leapt back and Moroha didn’t chase after him, opening up some distance.
There was a little over ten metres between them.
But the tension of battle hadn’t relaxed yet.
Moroha corrected his hold on his sword without letting his guard down, and cautiously, cautiously breathed in preparation.
His entire body was covered in a cold sweat.
Terrified, going out on a limb, he’d finally gotten a blow in, but it wasn’t a telling blow.
It wasn’t worth it.
If it hadn’t been for Satsuki and Shizuno, he would have thrown shame and dignity to the winds and ran.
“Well, outstanding, Moroha.”
In contrast, Edward was still relaxed.
Looking down at his own wound, he traced it with his left hand.
He stared at his palm, dyed with blood.
“My blood’s red too, it’s been a while since I’ve known.”
He smiled innocently like a child.
“Whoops, did that sound like I was bragging?”
Moroha didn’t answer.
“I’m not. Being looked at like a monster all the time means I sometimes I forget like I’m human too.”
Moroha didn’t answer.
But he started.
It was hard to admit, but he couldn’t think of it as someone else’s problem, it sounded unpleasant.
Edward was still just saying what he wanted and didn’t seem to care what Moroha thought. Still speaking like a teacher.
“Yeah, being able to draw blood from me is magnificent. I’ll raise you to an A.”
He self-importantly judged Moroha’s fighting style.
“But maybe you’re still far from S?”
“Quit your prattling.”
Moroha angrily thrust out his left index finger.
He began spelling a long Dark Art.
Different from earlier, there was plenty of distance, so there was enough time to trace a better phrase.
Edward’s Moon seemed like it could only be used for an instant, but that instant had completely supressed Moroha’s first step Dark Arts.
But what about his exceptionally strong third step?
Would that be supressed in an instant? If it couldn’t, surely the remnants would burn Edward.
“There exists purgatory in the underworld, and fields of fire in the corporeal world.
Fire discriminates not against good nor evil nor chaos-”
Moroha wrote out his specialty third step Dark Art, Incinerate.
He concentrated, to finish it even an instant before Edward and his sword reached him.
“See, that won’t get you an S rank.”
Still with his lion like smile, Edward licked his lips.
He was approximately ten metres away, off in the distance.
But suddenly, he was in front of Moroha, with his sword raised.
Moroha wasn’t able to grasp when he closed the distance.
He’d been watching without even blinking, but it was almost like there was a gap in his consciousness, letting him approach.
Ancestral Arts Light Technique, Alkaid.
The ultimate secret within the seven types of God Speed Link, a method of Shukuchi.
By the time he noticed, it was too late and the massive sword was approaching.
He stopped his chanting, stopped his spelling.
He held his sword in both hands and tried to block it, but the blade was repelled.
With Titan Strength, his sword was thrown into the air. His lungs were crushed.
Moroha had been focussed on weaving his Dark Art, so was completely too slow in responding. He couldn’t put the strength in his body with how he was standing.
He’d only seen it once, but Moroha cursed his carelessness.
Edward swung his sword like a baseball bat and hit his now defenceless stomach.
Moroha used all of his prana to protect himself, focussing it solely on his torso.
It was a slight adlib between Diamond Skin Link and Sun.
At the moment of impact, white and purple light fought against each other and sparked.
The amazing strike hit him in the pit of his stomach.
It was done with Titan Strength Link so he couldn’t simply withstand it.
Moroha’s body shot off like a cannonball.
He hit and battered down the trees in his path, but that didn’t stop his momentum.
If he hadn’t immediately used Diamond Skin Link, his spine would have been shattered.
He finally hit the sixth tree and stopped, bouncing down onto the ground.
“Hah… hah… hah…”
Rolling over, Moroha breathed heavily.
The numbness from the impact still pervaded his body and he couldn’t properly move.
Somehow moving his left hand, he stroked at his bloodstained chest, checking on it.
It was painful. One or maybe two of his ribs might have been broken.
Even so, if it wasn’t Moroha. That attack would have killed him, or at least grievously wounded him.
“Shall we end it already?”
Edward spoke candidly, his sword over his shoulder.
He walked slowly from where he’d blown Moroha away, giving him time to think.
He was saying that he’d let him off.
Of course, that was followed by saying that he’d take Shizuno after that…
He couldn’t recover from the numbness, he couldn’t stand, and Moroha grit his teeth.
“Gentlemen need to pay respect to warriors. If you won’t give up, I can’t be pathetic either.”
He slowly stepped forward.
When he reached Moroha’s side, Edward would no doubt mercilessly strike him down.
How many steps were left?
Twenty steps? Fifty?
That was how long Moroha had to live.
AJ, or Angela, was anxious.
Her opponents were merely three girls, she was enraged to be having so much trouble with them.
The White Iron, Satsuki was already covered in wounds.
A D rank who could only open the five gates on each hand, each leg and her forehead shouldn’t be able to give a match to an A rank like Angela…
This was absurd.
Her limbs were clad in a pure gold prana that Angela had never seen before, and she couldn’t just pulverise through her defences. It was enough to make her think she was out of form, in other words, Satsuki held comparable power and toughness to Angela.
The ragged girl looked like a single push would make her collapse, but there was no response from her.
“Doesn’t it hurt? Aren’t you in pain? You’ve got to be right? Why are you still standing? Why won’t you give up?”
Curious to the depths of her heart, Angela couldn’t help but ask.
“Nii-sama will come running soon.”
“You think Sir Edward will lose? Are you sane?”
“I’m sane. He promised long ago. My Nii-sama won’t lose to anyone.”
It was a logic against common sense.
Blind faith, on the border of fanaticism.
“I’ll protect Urushibara, and Nii-sama will praise me.”
Despite that, she couldn’t laugh at Satsuki saying that with a fearless smile.
She could feel a quiet force from her.
It was hard to believe, but she was overawed by this lower rank.
“Oh? I want to be praised too, you know?”
Being protected by the stubborn girl, Shizuno launched an offensive Dark Art, limiting her movement.
It was a third step Dark Art that even B ranks would struggle with, but she was throwing them around like they were child’s play.
Against a third step even Angela could take a fatal wound if she took them lightly.
In all actuality, Edward had only focussed on Moroha from the start.
However, it seemed they had made light of these Japanese boys and girls.
“I thought they would only be a distraction, but…”
Moment by moment, a cold feeling settled in Angela’s heart.
To shake off that chill.
“Get too carried away, and I’ll kill you.”
Angela’s bloodlust gushed forth even more strongly.
This was AJ’s fighting spirit that would make even C rank Saviour’s tremble.
But the girls didn’t lose to it.
“Are you sure? Weren’t you beloved Sir Edward’s orders to ‘keep us alive’?”
In fact, it was her that ended up being provoked.
Angela grit her teeth like a fighting dog.
“I warned you. I am a loyal woman, but I’ll show you that I’m not my lord’s puppet.”
She took the two headed sword apart, into two swords.
She bent further forward, was more ferocious, sharper, taking a sword to her right and left.
Blinded by rage, Angela didn’t notice that the lovely third girl had vanished at some point.
Edward’s slow death march continued towards where Moroha was, still numb and laid out on the ground.
“Don’t panic… there’s no point in panicking…”
Moroha still hadn’t given up.
On Shizuno, or on winning.
He mustered his strength and used all the prana he could to revitalise his body.
The white light he was clad in slowly began to dance boisterously.
He still hadn’t recovered from the attack.
Death was still approaching.
Extremely quiet and sluggish, it was an earnest match he was betting his life on.
At that moment.
“Hang in there, Moroha!”
A young cry split the air.
Moroha looked that way in shock.
It was Maya.
Avoiding the trees, pushing her way through the underbrush, working hard to go along the trackless path with her short legs.
“What a damper on the mood.”
Edward said, let down, thumping his sword on his shoulder.
However, his pace didn’t change at all, it didn’t slacken.
“This isn’t a battle someone of your level should interfere in, ‘Half asleep little witch’. Even if you’re a child, you’re a Saviour, so I don’t mind involving you. Do you get it? To put it frankly, you’ll get in Moroha’s way more than anything, so leave.”
He waved his hand as if to ward off a puppy.
“Help… the other two… not me…”
Moroha told her to pull back.
However, despite this, Maya didn’t stop, and shook her head.
“Shizuno-oneechan said to support you!”
That battle couldn’t be easy either.
They needed all the help they could get.
But their wholehearted desire was to help Moroha.
“Satsuki-oneechan said to tell you! She won’t forgive you breaking your promise!”
Those words breathed live back into his heart, his soul, his very bones.
Even if he couldn’t see her, even if they were both in a fight to the death, Moroha knew it.
If he closed his eyes, he’d always be able to touch Satsuki’s heart.
Just as Moroha was worried, Satsuki would be worrying too.
Whatever painful battles he face, whatever formidable enemies, however far they were separated, even if they were to be torn apart by the gods-
“I will win, and return to her…!”
Moroha held his sword.
Putting strength into both his hands.
And then rose, gritting his teeth.
Using the sword as a cane to stand with.
If his body didn’t want to move, his heart would.
A roar tore itself from his throat.
Spontaneously, prana blazed from his body.
Moroha was revived…!
Seeing that revival, Edward stopped dead.
His firm gait, that, by his own rules would not be swayed by anything, his eloquent resolve, stopped.
Hearing the ferocious roar from Moroha, who was normally quiet, he felt something.
Perhaps that was why he was an S rank.
Readying his massive sword, he watched Moroha’s transformation from where he was.
Moroha once more took his sword in his right hand and once more faced him head on as a swordsman.
“Thank you, Maaya. You were so much help.”
His body was in tatters, but his eyes held a wild light as he smiled fearlessly.
Something passed his mind. The other day, when she had visited his room and cheerfully proclaimed herself an express home delivery service.
“This is from me too.”
Maya held something reverently in front of her chest.
It was a strange, multi-faceted object, half transparent and holding a strange lustre.
He remembered seeing her with it the other day.
“It takes a while to raise it, I’m sorry to keep you waiting.”
As if releasing a bird back to the skies, Maya spread her arms and let go of the strange multi-faceted object.
As she released it, it rapidly expanded.
At a ridiculous speed, to a ridiculous scale, it steadily swelled up.
As it swallowed the surroundings, it grew enough to envelop the mountain.
Suddenly, with a violent shaking, an intense drowsiness assaulted Moroha/
But after an instant, it vanished like a lie.
He remembered this illusion.
It was the drowsiness that assaulted him when he entered the arena.
Moroha felt it on his skin.
Now, this mountain was like the arenas, a different space.
That feeling was correct.
The barrier attached to the arenas, and the one that Maya had just attached to this mountain were the same.
A special Ancestral Art that only Maya alone could use. An Origin.
It shifted the phase, making the world half asleep, a barrier Dark Art.
Its name was Dream Stone Hedron.
Maya called loudly to him.
“But because it’s covering the entire mountain, it can’t shift the phase of living things. If you get hurt, that’s it!”
Without taking his eyes off of Edward, Moroha thanked her.
Maya was a clever girl. Her important task complete, she gave an angelic smile and ran away at full speed.
Yes, it was unmistakably important. He understood the reason Shizuno had sent her.
Edward’s own mockery was correct, he was human in form only, a true monster.
Just like that nine-headed hydra.
So to defeat him, a big technique like he’d used to defeat that would be necessary.
However, Kurikara for example had the force to destroy a huge shopping mall.
If he used it here, it would probably change the terrain. Completely gouging out the mountain. And the day the earth was destroyed, would harm those at the foot of the mountain, swallowing up crowds of people in rubble.
But, within the Dream Stone Hedron, he didn’t have to worry about the outside.
He didn’t need to hold back any more.
He didn’t need to hide anything either.
From here on out, he’d be at full power.
Moroha began spelling out a long phrase with his left hand.
“You don’t learn.”
Edward had a disappointed expression.
His tall figure appeared to vanish, but he had moved instantaneously in front of Moroha with Alkaid and swung his large sword down.
There was not a single wasted movement, the king’s sword dropped.
With no way to escape, Moroha was cut in two.
Or so it appeared, it was nothing but an illusion, what Edward cut was Moroha’s afterimage!
Just like Alkaid, this was a technique derived from God Speed Link, crowned with the name of a star of the Plough.
A walking technique that left afterimages, Merak.
“You were the one that said circle round to counterattack from behind weren’t you? I quite agree.”
“Haha! A clever pretence, so the Dark Art was a lure!?”
That was wrong.
As he circled back, he completed the fifth line.
Though there was the likelihood it would act as a lure, it certainly wasn’t just a feint.
“The corrupt world is eternal, the horns sound, the time of judgement is now!”
The fires of hell.
The black flames, manifested by the Dark Art, dwelt in Moroha’s sword.
Yet more prana ran through the blade, multiplying with the mana.
The white and black fought, strengthening each other.
The fifth step Dark Art, Black Gehenna, multiplied with the Light Technique, Venus.
It was a technique Moroha himself had developed, only useable by him as he had two past lives.
Ancestral Art, Yin Yang.
With the Devil Conquering Black Sword that had defeated the hydra, Moroha leapt forward.
“So that’s you true trump card!?”
Looking back over his shoulder, Edward swung his sword like a tornado to meet his attack.
Sword met sword.
A clear, beautiful sound like a bell’s chime echoed around.
Moroha’s sword, sparking with white light and black flames had sliced through the middle of Edward’s sword like butter.
“Well, this is an issue…”
Now holding half a sword, Edward was dumfounded.
Moroha swung his sword back with no pause.
This would decide it.
It should have, it normally would have.
Moroha felt a hard resistance in his hands as he swung.
It cut. It certainly his.
At the moment of impact, Moroha released all the power from the blade, eye-searing white light and black flames ran amok.
Just the aftereffects were enough to ignite the trees, and dye the surroundings scarlet.
When the gale of light and dark subsided, what was reflected in Moroha’s eyes was a silver armour.
It possessed both a solemnity and dignity, with a refined design.
The entire thing was decorated in patterns edged in gold.
It held a mysterious lustre and didn’t look like any metal found on Earth.
Just as a favoured weapon could be brought back from a previous life, there was no reasoning saying it couldn’t be something protective.
Clad in that dazzling armour, Edward had stopped Moroha’s sword with his gauntlet.
The sword that had slain even a dreadnought hadn’t even scratched the surface.
“And that’s your true trump card then?”
The sword he cut in half was just a hunk of metal to Edward.
There was a reason he was the White Knight.
Arms of god’s majesty that gave him the legend of invincibility.
That was this armour, Snow Capped Augustine.
“You did well. But it’s over now. No one has wounded me when I’m like this.”
“I couldn’t let you have your say and then just run off. Right?”
Moroha threw back Edward’s words.
“Ha ha ha, you’re right!”
Edward wielded his half broken sword. Even so it was still an average size blade.
His humming rose even further in tension and you could imagine his lion-like grin underneath his helmet.
Moroha moved fast enough to leave afterimages and swung at his back.
But the armour was unharmed.
He placed an Incinerate in his sword and magnified it with prana. The aftershocks alone opened up large holes in the ground.
But the armour was unharmed.
He used a Yin Yang of Frozen Shade, attacking with a sword cursed with ice, planning to crack it with the sudden extreme temperature difference.
But the armour was unharmed.
His speed exploded, seeming to leave clones as he attacked near simultaneously from four directions.
But the armour was unharmed.
It was armour, so it should impede movement. Edward’s movements dulled slightly.
That slight difference made him appear full of openings to Moroha, like a sandbag.
In the time Edward’s sword cut the air once, Moroha had slashed three times.
No, his speed rose even further.
He attacked incessantly. No space even for breath between them.
Flash, flash, flash.
Unharmed, unharmed, unharmed.
Moroha’s fierce attack was enough to defeat other saviours a hundred times over.
Perhaps because Edward was the opponent, it looked like he was going around in circles.
“Hahaa, it’s useless! Useless, useless! I’m invincible!”
Edward roared with laughter, daringly spreading both arms and exposing himself defencelessly, making a display of his valour.
“If you were an invincible hero, you wouldn’t re-incarnate!”
Moroha roared and once more traced a Black Gehenna, driving his black sword into his torso with all his might.
It had first cut Edward’s sword, now the returning sword slashed at his armour.
This time, with everything put into one slash.
“Ha ha ha ha, it doesn’t even itch!”
Perhaps because of the adrenaline, Edward laughed madly.
Those words were no lie. However, they were a faulty expression.
At the same time as Moroha’s roar.
A breaking sound assaulted his ears.
The sound of Moroha’s all-out attack breaking a crack into Edward’s armour.
The sound of that legend of invincibility being harmed.
Inside the helmet, that lion-like smile that had remained on Edward’s face all throughout the battle, bent.
Edward was an S rank White Iron.
His existence itself mocked the concept of ‘easy to attack, hard to defend’.
To go against this monster, Moroha would have to go against common sense too.
If Edward were to stand in his way with an absolute armour.
Moroha would only make his own peerless sword.
Throwing away nature, unbinding himself and running wild.
Gritting his teeth like bared fangs, roaring like a wild beast, like a creature that existed only to sate its hunger, he attacked and attacked and attacked.
Basic techniques, high class techniques, regardless of secrets, he attacked with all the Light Techniques and Dark Arts he had.
His adrenaline flowed strongly.
Good! Thanks to Maya’s support he could end it without worrying about his surroundings, good!
Each blow rent the ground, gouging swathes out of the land and scattering it. Like a tiny natural disaster, changing the very landscape itself.
Moroha screamed. Black flames dwelt in his sword.
They rode on his sword as he swung it with both hands at the White Knight.
At the moment of impact, an unpleasant jarring ran down the grip.
Many cracks ran up the blade, the sword finally unable to cope with the abuse.
But at the same time, a crack shot through the helmet like a falling star.
Visible through that crack, was Edward’s true face.
He was smiling.
Not the smile of a lion drunk on the slaughter, but one of absolute joy at being able to meet the person he had been waiting for.
“You’re one of us!”
Laughing loudly, he attacked with his broken sword.
“You’re an S rank!”
Still laughing, he attacked with more and more blood curdling strikes that Moroha barely turned aside.
The heavy shock pulverised his sword as it returned to an ID tag, broken into fragments.
He was now unarmed, but he didn’t mind the details.
Fighting like a wrathful demon, he gouged at the crack in Edward’s helmet with his right index and middle fingers. Edward used the flat of his blade to shield against this and struck at Moroha, leaving it to his strength to throw him away.
He didn’t pursue, he stood there imposingly, overcome with emotion and excitement.
“Our seventh comrade! Seven monsters out of eight billion! Only seven in this wide world! Even Metaphysicals are no match, you’re a freak masquerading as a human! It was worth getting involved with Japan, you’re just the man I hoped! Now! Why don’t you ascend to solitude with us!?”
Proclaiming the logic of being a human in form only, he laughed loudly.
Taking the defensive and standing firm, Moroha replied.
“Quit your ranting!”
He roared like a lion.
Who was his comrade?
He’d made Shizuno cry.
He’d angered Moroha.
And now he was playing with words?
“Dance, dance, wings of the phoenix, as light as the fleeting sparks, unbind me from the yoke of gravity!”
He traced out Decrease Weight with his left hand and with both legs covered in prana, leapt.
Higher, higher, to the sky where no one other than he could reach.
Invading the red sky, ruled over by the setting sun, he looked down upon the earth as if he owned it.
It was the sight of gods.
An inviolable region that not even Edward could reach.
“I don’t give a damn about rank! But…”
Moroha’s mind flitted around.
Every day, complete, noisy, that he’d spent with Shizuno and Satsuki.
In the classroom, in the courtyard, in the arena, in the restaurant after training, all of it, all of it, all of it.
It was more than he deserved, he didn’t want to lose it. So.
“I won’t forgive… anyone who takes from meeeee!”
Moroha’s roar shook the heavens.
His right hand drew out ancient magic characters.
Along with his rage, memories filled him from within his mind.
Pandora’s Box was opened.
Mouth agape, Angela looked to the sky.
Satsuki and Shizuno were both also focussed on a point in the sky.
Of course, they had halted their fighting. Now wasn’t the time for that.
While she had so much trouble with the two girls, a sense of unease had endlessly grown in Angela’s chest.
It had finally been realised.
Borne fruit in an unimaginable way.
Suddenly. Truly suddenly, an absurd amount of mana surge overhead, filling the heavens.
Angela, Satsuki and Shizuno all suddenly looked to the sky.
And then, they witnessed it.
High in the distance, where none could reach, Moroha looked down aloofly from above.
And then, his proud use of a Dark Art.
No one could stop that technique now.
In the bloodstained sky, Moroha’s aria echoed clearly.
Oh ice wolf, ender, lend me your breath, freeze them into a silence deeper than death.
Even the affluent perish through the providence of this world, an inevitable karma given by the gods.
As water flows downwards, take all life.
Show me a world that is still, as though time itself were frozen.
Show me the heights of beauty that none can destroy, where none who can destroy exist.
Angela’s eyes froze, confirming the phrases Moroha had written.
One, two, three, four, five.
“A fifth step Dark Art…! What kind of person can use that kind of huge magic!?”
She shuddered while she looked up at the heavens.
From his skill in her match with him, she had felt that while he could use both Light Techniques and Dark Arts, he tended towards being a White Iron.
But it was still too early for Angela to shudder.
“There’s more to it you know? That technique.”
Shizuno looked up in ecstasy at Moroha, speaking as if intoxicated.
Even as Angela struggled to believe it, Moroha’s aria did not end there.
I reject understanding, I desire only absolutes.
The weirdness of life gathering, writhing, spreading its stench, and multiplying.
I do not accept that, I will not understand it.
Hearing the voice roaring through the heavens, Angela finally could not stop shaking.
She was tormented by a fear as if she had been thrown out into the middle of winter with no clothing.
“I hadn’t heard that anyone other than Russia’s Lightning Empress could use an eighth step Dark Art!”
Moroha’s aria had already passed its eighth stanza.
But his lips still spun their curse.
“Stop already! Don’t destroy my reasoning!”
The complaints of the people of this world did not reach the heavens.
The Dragon King held no mercy for one who had trodden on its tail.
Moroha wouldn’t stop.
My desire is a vision of white,
My desire is a beautiful world of death,
My desire is for an enclosed world, where all ugliness is buried,
My desire is for all to stop, stop, stop.
Thirteen stanzas in total, Moroha traced and chanted.
In other words, this was a thirteenth step Dark Art.
An Origin, only Moroha’s.
A forbidden spell.
The White Knight Order would later name it.
Range of Absolute Zero, Cocytus.
As if she were pushed to move, Angela ran off.
Abandoning Satsuki and Shizuno, trampling her orders.
Running to aid her master, her hair streamed out behind her.
With a frantic expression, she went into the trees Edward had vanished into.
The sky’s colour had changed.
The sky had seemed endlessly red with the sunset, but it had been painted over in a pure white.
This was a technique a person used!?
The temperature had suddenly dropped. As if even the weather prostrated itself before that fiend.
Their breath came out white too.
Far from being snow, crystals of ice rained down, a dusting of diamonds.
As far as the eye could see, the ground was engulfed in frost, the trees were frozen.
The world was enclosed in white.
That, was the end.
Angela’s path, around where Edward should be, was even worse.
There was a localised, concentrated, multi-layered blizzard raging, shrouding everything.
“I give in! I give in! This is the first time I’ve felt such pleasure! I give in to it!”
She thought she could hear Edward’s laughter, stained with joy and madness, but the howling winds soon erased it, carrying it away on the snow.
The heavy wind, cold air and slicing hail made a wall in her path, she couldn’t help, could draw closer. It was an absolute barrier, thwarting even Angela, beyond normal people as she was.
She couldn’t imagine what it would be like in the middle of this world of death.
Ahead of her was sectioned off, as if the cold air, hail and snow had formed a coffin around it.
White, white, white, white, white, white, white, white, white, white, white, white.
It was all swallowed towards demise.
“Ahh… ahh… aaahhhh…”
Perhaps she had gone mad with despair and was seeing things.
She could see creatures of ice around, exulting in their world, dancing around.
It was hell.
This was without a doubt a frozen hell.
“It’s our loss! My lord admitted it too! So please, lay down your arms!”
Angela cried to the heavens, but of course, her voice didn’t carry.
Moroha had entrusted himself to gravity, and detachedly descended, disappearing to somewhere.
The sky was covered in a bright white, and filled with a sense of loss, as if they were forsaken by the gods.
Angela’s determination was exhausted, and she collapsed there on her knees, falling on the snow covered ground.
“Damn you Urushibara… Damn you Tadanori… You shouldn’t have fallen for such cheap words… I should have warned against it… That wasn’t an opponent we could take lightly…!”
Her heart broke, forcing remonstrations of their foolishness and her regrets from her mouth.
If they had known he was a Grimoire Holder, would they have so easily interfered?
It was a complete defeat.
Angela’s tears of regret continued to melt the snow as she seemed to bow towards the coffin of snow her master was enclosed in.
Moroha and the three others walked down the mountain through the snow.
There probably wasn’t going to be anyone following them now, so they were relaxed.
Satsuki was exhausted from protecting Shizuno from AJ, and was sleeping on Moroha’s back.
Clinging to her beloved brother, she seemed happy as she slept.
She was proud, and actually had plenty of reason to be.
Maya was a contrast.
She sniffled as she tottered onwards.
The beloved car they’d came with was now buried in a tremendous snowfall and they couldn’t retrieve it.
“The barrier will go by tomorrow, right? Then the snow will go back too, right? So the car will be safe too.”
Moroha tried to cheer her up, but her expression didn’t clear.
“AJ broke the back wheel. And it’s too much for it to be safe after that spin, the body is unstable. That was before the barrier, so it’s beyond repair.”
“Complain to the English branch, get them to give you a new one.”
“It was an old car, so it’s not in production anymore. There aren’t many second-hand ones in good condition either.”
“…That’s a disaster.”
“It was a famous car Jeremy praised on TV, he said it wouldn’t lose to the more expensive Mitsubishi GTO, the FD.”
“Ah, I see, I see.”
Maya’s complaints were those of an enthusiast, so he couldn’t follow, but he felt sorry for her, so consoled her anyway.
He didn’t even ask who on Earth Jeremy was.
“I’m sad, and when I imagine Mari-oneechan being angry, I’m even sadder.”
“I’ll apologise with you.”
Moroha said apologetically, but Maya softly shook her head.
“It’s not your fault, it’s the English Head’s fault. But…”
She looked up at him and gave an innocent smile.
“It’s good you killed Sir Edward.”
“I didn’t kill him.
Moroha replied with his eyes half open at her saying such scary things with a smile.
He’d put him in ice, but in about an hour, the localised blizzard would stop, and AJ would rescue him. It would probably take time to melt from outside, but there were ways to survive using Light Techniques, so that immortal monster should have room to spare.
“I was sure you’d take revenge for it.”
“In fact, if there’s a way to kill him, I want to know…”
Moroha dejectedly responded to Maya’s morbid joke (or so he wanted to think).
What kind of a cheat was that armour that had taken a full force Kurikara to even scratch? Maybe ten thousand would have done it, but he would use one every ten seconds, so with three thousand six hundred seconds in an hour- ah forget it, it’s a boring calculation.
He couldn’t defeat him, so he’d just immobilised him, Moroha had no way of doing anything more.
“Let’s just call it a draw due to injury.”
“Mgh, I guess so, he is one of the S rank Six Heads.”
Maya begrudgingly agreed and this time gave a truly angelic smile.
It was a very nice smile.
Moroha was hooked into smiling too, and looked at the snowy scene.
He didn’t remember it clearly. But in his previous life, Shuu Saura had used that forbidden spell and destroyed a part of the world, turning it into hell.
Today, Moroha had been able to not worry about his surrounding because of Maya’s Dream Stone Hedron. Without her barrier, the town would be forevermore buried in snow.
He wouldn’t be able to look upon it this freely.
“What would have happened if I was alone…?”
Just the same as he thanked Satsuki for drawing off AJ, he thanked Maya, acting behind the scenes, from the bottom of his heart.
And the, he turned his head back to the third girl.
She was walking behind them, a little slower, staring up brightly at the white expanse as she walked.
Her hands were clasped behind her, her steps light.
And above all, there was a beautiful smile on her face.
It wasn’t mask like at all.
“What are you smiling about?”
Moroha teasingly spoke, taking his revenge for what she normally did.
“Am I making that strange a face?”
“You are, you are.”
“I see… I can’t help it, after all…”
Shizuno answered with a smile.
“You’ll be keeping me from today, won’t you? Aren’t you happy?”
Moroha’s entire body froze.
“How did that happen!?”
“Well I can’t go back to the Urushibara family, can I? You took me from them, almost like we eloped, right? So I want you to take responsibility, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with expecting a man to be reliable. In exchange, I’ll do my best to learn how to take care of a house-”
“Wait wait wait!”
Moroha interrupted Shizuno’s expressionless, well thought out explanation.
She fell silent, but steadily stared at him with questioning eyes.
Moroha felt sweat drip down him.
“Munya, Nii-sama… if you’re a man, take responsibility…”
Satsuki let out some timely sleep talk, almost as if she was actually awake.
Actually, he wanted to ask what kind of dream she was having.
Maya had a shameless face, pretending she was a child so she didn’t know.
Moroha prepared himself and answered truthfully, with no word of a lie.
“…Honestly, I hadn’t thought that far.”
He’d gotten angry and kidnapped Shizuno, spoken sharply at her family and eventually rampaged.
“The worst you could say, isn’t it?”
Moroha couldn’t refute her.
Mentally in tears, calculations were going around in his head, calculating the cost-benefits of the salary he got from the strikers, the money he sent to his adoptive parents, and a girl’s life.
Moroha looked more exhausted than fighting Edward, and Shizuno spoke.
“It’s a joke.”
It wasn’t a full-faced smile, but one that just made dimples at the sides of her mouth.
It was an annoying face that Moroha knew well, but couldn’t hate.
“Even though your smile is so pretty, what a waste.”
He saw her back to normal, but Moroha wasn’t fully satisfied.
“For the time being, let’s talk to the principal. If you’re going to choose someone, adults are reliable”.
“It’s a good choice.”
“Are you sure you’re not just trying to get out if it?”
Her stinging teasing put Moroha at ease.
He though in his heart that she’d finally returned to how she always was.
He was proud of taking her back.
“I’m sure I’m making the same face as Satsuki now.”
Even with no mirror, he could check.
The sky was still dyed white, and snow kept fluttering down.
He thought the sun ought to have set by now, but he couldn’t tell at all. Was this a white night? It was a strange feeling it still being light when it should be dark.
But it was beautiful.
The sky, and the path of virgin snow stretching out ahead.
Moroha and the others made new footsteps on the road, like it was a brand new canvas, as they peacefully headed home.