Record 3: Black’s Motives, Heaven’s Seal
Sharing hegemony over the world with the dragons of the Surface Realm and the demons of the Underworld. A realm ruled by the angels.
Paradise, or perhaps Shangri-la. It was a place that had been the subject of countless paintings and legends. However, in reality, only a handful of humans had been permitted to set foot upon it.
Finding a Trial Gate hidden by a high level concealment spell and undergoing ‘judgement’ handed down by Cupids. Even if one managed to ascend to Heaven by some stroke of fortune, if deemed unwelcome, one would face heavy retaliation from the angels and would be driven away.
However, right now—
“Well, that sure was disappointing.”
Routing the angels who ruled Heaven, a group of knights looked down upon the angels who had fallen beneath their feet as they pointed the tips of their swords at them.
Their bodies were enveloped by jet black armor.
『…Is it the same armor worn by those guys we met back in Great Volcano Galia? …No. What’s with those strange symbols on them?』
Patterns shining in violet light rose up from the surface of their armors.
Indistinctly, runes of light giving off faint glimmers.
“Even for these so called angels, once deprived of their abilities, they only amount to this much huh.”
An angel girl had collapsed facing down.
A black clad knight glared coldly at her, trampling upon her back with the tip of his boot.
“Where is the place the Goddess resides in?”
“So you think silence to be the best recourse? I shall have to question your body then.”
The sword tip shining in gray light touched the wing of the maiden.
“Hold up man. What are you playing at by being all threatening like that?!”
Ren deflected the sword which was brought down with his own blade.
The swordsman, who had his long, black hair tied behind his back, turned around.
A mixture of anger and shock was present within his sharp glare.
『He might have already noticed me when I approached. But he didn’t actually think that I would forcefully interfere with his interrogation.』
Perhaps as proof of vigilance.
The foot that treaded upon the angel was removed. He then drew away and took some distance.
“Are you okay? Hey Cupids. Please take her somewhere safe.”
The angel had injuries caused by a sword. Though she was not covered in blood; which she should have been if she were human; the marks that were carved all over her body by the sword looked quite painful nonetheless.
She was gently lifted up and was entrusted to the Cupids who were flying above.
“What’s the meaning of this?”
The black haired knight observed the whole scene with a dubious look.
His appearance seemed to suggest his age to be in the mid-twenties. He had a body devoid of excess flab. Although slender, there was no impression of frailty. Rather, his entire bearing radiated power.
“Why is a human like you aiding the angels?”
“Let’s set aside the problem of being a human or angel for later. Suddenly rushing into Heaven and forcefully trying to find out where the Goddess is. What you guys are doing is basically just an invasion.”
“Forcefully? There should be a limit to misunderstanding things. If the angels just simply guided us to the Goddess Resflaze, then we would have proceeded with things in a more peaceful manner.”
“Truly regrettable. What is your reason for stubbornly asserting we——”
Before the black haired swordsman finished talking, Ren pointed at the jet black armor that the man was wearing.
The battle gear which had runes shining in dark violet light. The gear of the members of Elmekia Dusk whom they met in Great Volcano Galia did not come equipped with that specially engineered [Black Light].
“You people have gone out of your way to dig up ancient technology that has been long discarded and used it for countermeasures against angels. Who would actually believe that you don’t have any intention of acting violent here in Heaven after all that?”
The pupils of the opposing knight narrowed till they were akin to that of a needle tip.
“To positively identify this armor as anti-angel equipment just after seeing it once. We were under the impression that we haven’t allowed even an iota of information about this Lost Technology [OVER] to leak outside. And yet, how do you know of it?”
“No big deal. I just heard it from some rumors going adrift in the wind.”
He took a sidelong glance at the figures of the injured angel maiden and the Cupids who held on to her. Ren then turned his attention towards the group of five knights who had now encircled him as he swept his gaze at them.
They were clad in the standard black battle gear of the Royal Order of 72 Special Knight Brigade [Elmekia Dusk], but strange runes of light were floating above their armor.
…He had already met with a different unit back in Great Volcano Galia.
…It was thanks to that.
The armors of the unit which appeared during the subjugation of the [Demon General of Blaze] Achendia were simply black colored.
It was due to this that he was able to compare the equipment from back then and the equipment right now and is now able to make a firm assertion.
If this was not the case, even if he got the information about anti-angel armaments from Fear, he would never have been able to make such a definite judgment.
“The Royal Order of 72 Special Knight Brigade [Elmekia Dusk] is the largest Party in the world. Don’t you think that there shouldn’t be a day when people aren’t talking about you guys?”
The black knight laughed in a taunting manner.
“Rumors? Your source of information should not be something so vague. Perhaps it was from a spy within the Supreme Metropolis, or something gleaned from the research institute. I shall have you spit it out.”
“What’s it gonna be then?”
The black haired swordsman brandished the rapier he held horizontally in silence.
“What are you doing, Tsuirt?”
Tsuirt. The expression of the black haired swordsman named as such stiffened.
He sheathed his rapier back into its scabbard which hung on his waist.
He then turned around in a prompt manner.
It wasn’t just him. All five of the men who were surrounding Ren sheathed their swords. They then turned towards the owner of the voice and straitened themselves up.
“Mop up the gathered angels. Afterwards, interrogate them regarding the whereabouts of the Goddess Resflaze. Have you actually forgotten such simple orders?”
The black haired swordsman hung his head down while sporting a tense countenance.
A grim, low pitched voice.
Faint footsteps which tread down on the cloud sea, along with the sound of clanking armor approached.
“We’ve received a report from the unit dispatched to subjugate the [Demon General of Blaze] Achendia on Great Volcano Galia. They said to have met a peculiar four man Party. A knight who uncannily resembles the [Brave Hero] Eleline. …You’re the one, aren’t you?”
A robust looking knight who held a bastard sword aloft with one hand.
Dark brown hair which was cut quite short. Cold, gray colored pupils. The skin which showed from the gaps of his armor looked as if it was burned by training under scorching heat for many years, and was tanned to the point of almost being the same color as his black armor.
…It was different.
…His bearing was of a completely different level compared to the other five men.
Ren involuntarily swallowed a breath.
The Royal Order of 72 Special Knight Brigade [Elmekia Dusk] — seventy two elites chosen from among seven hundred twenty seasoned warriors of the [Supreme Metropolis] Elmekia. Together, they formed the world’s largest Party. With [Knight King] Zelblight at the helm, it was quite well known for having an exceedingly harsh competitive ranking system where [Strength Reigns Supreme].
The problem was this man’s rank.
Ascending to Heaven, which is one of the most well-known uncharted regions, and forcefully subjugating the angels with pure might. The ranking of the man who leads such an elite force capable of these should not be low in the least.
“Are you the leader of this Party?”
“And if I am?”
“Then there’s something I want to ask you. Why did you invade Heaven? I want to know the reason.”
“What an absurd question. I don’t think I’ve any reason to tell you anything.”
Without changing his rigid expression, he made a reply which was laced with contempt.
“I think the ones in need of answers are us instead. For us, who pride ourselves with being the largest Party in the world, being able to grasp the location of Heaven’s Trial Gates and successfully ascending them should not be such an unthinkable matter. To explore uncharted regions, especially realms which remain largely un-trodden by humans, is what Parties are all about. But what about you lot? The Party which successfully drove off the [Demon General of Blaze] Achendia from Great Volcano Galia – [Knight of Reincarnation].”
The words of the man did not waver in the least.
Absolute self-confidence. He spoke as though he was completely sure that the Party which fought the [Demon General of Blaze] Achendia were Ren, Kyelse and company.
“A Party that was completely unknown till this past month. A newly formed Party composed of just four members actually fought off the [Demon General of Blaze] Achendia. Furthermore, after finding a Trial Gate of Heaven, you defeated the [Sacred Beast of the Gate] Chimera and successfully ascended to Heaven. All these surely can’t be simply attributed to luck, no?”
“In other words, things are as such. The mysterious Party you and the other three girls formed. Because your origins right now are a complete mystery, you lot, [Knight of Reincarnation], quickly ended up gaining the attention of the entire world. Even more so than you lot would like to think.”
“That’s why you won’t tell me a thing huh?”
Ren asserted that the equipment worn by Elmekia Dusk were Anti-Angel Armaments. On the other hand, the opponent also believed that Ren was one of the members of [Knight of Reincarnation].
Thus, they both maintained silence.
The opponent had a general idea about them. Because both of them understood this fact, they couldn’t carelessly allow themselves to bring up information which could confirm their assertions about each other.
『…What are these guys motives? …Field testing the Anti-Angel Armaments? No, it shouldn’t be just that.』
Due to the fact that they kept asking for the whereabouts of the Goddess, their objective should most likely be the Goddess herself.
He’d worry about that later. After reaching the place where the Goddess was, just what was Elmekia Dusk hoping to accomplish?
They exchanged piercing glares as they continued to probe the other.
“This should be enough. We’re wasting time.”
The knight declared as he brought up the bastard sword he held with one hand and pointed it towards the direction of the [Garden of Seraphim].
“Leave this person for now. We should prioritize securing the Goddess. The Cupids from earlier carried that injured angel towards that direction. Pursue them at once!”
The five knights answered in unison.
『…This is bad. If all six of them make a move at the same time, I won’t be able to stop them alone. How do I get Elmekia Dusk’s attention? What can I do to make the six of them stay here and focus on me instead of going for the Goddess as their primary target?』
『If there’s a trump card I can use to bait them, then it’s—』
“You’re after the Goddess’s Seal, aren’t you?”
The footsteps of the knights who were about to depart promptly stopped.
“…What did you just say?”
“Your final objective after coming to Heaven should be that, right? You need the permission of the Goddess in order to reach ‘that place’ after all. You all want to take it by force. Am I wrong?”
The robust looking Knight let out a glare with a piercing glint.
His gaze confirmed it all.
『…Bingo. They’re really after the Goddess’s Seal. …These guys are already aware of the possibility that the Encore is somewhere within [Apocalypse Island].』
Sweat welled on top of his palms.
He discreetly wiped it off so as to not let them notice.
Just then was a gamble that was akin to a double edged sword for Ren.
Elmekia Dusk’s objective may had been something else entirely after all. And he was giving out crucial information regarding the Encore as well. They could also have completely ignored him too.
But his intuition was proved to be correct.
『No. Come to think of it, there were already signs that this was the case earlier.』
“You guys dispatched some of your reserve forces to subjugate the [Demon General of Blaze] Achendia at Great Volcano Galia.”
“This should be common knowledge. What of it?”
“A test run.”
Ren indifferently declared towards the knight who was unleashing an intimidating pressure.
“You’re going straight to the Underworld after Heaven right? Before you guys headed out to invade the Underworld, there came a good opportunity to gauge the strength of the [Five Great Disasters] and their high ranking demon subordinates. That’s why you went to the trouble of crossing the ocean in order to send some members to Great Volcano Galia.”
『Come to think of it, the Elmekia Dusk forces dispatched at the time split into two. One squad guarded the [Blazing Cliff Town] Jio, while the other headed towards the summit just like us and attempted to break through the interference of the demons.』
“That’s your real objective. Gaining combat experience against demons before going to the Underworld. But the place was teeming with Parties. That’s why you purposely split up your forces in order to minimize the possibility of others finding out your true objective, and stationed a squad in Jio. You can then claim that you were dispatched ultimately just to guard the town. You made an alibi that you could use to deceive others in order to mask your motives.”
Supreme Metropolis Elmekia had already managed to get the information about the Encore possibly being within the land where the Apocalyptic War occurred, as well as the fact that this land was sealed up by the dragons, angels and demons.
“Am I correct?”
Six black clad knights.
Ren felt all twelve of their pupils focusing on himself.
The tip of the bastard sword held by the dark brown haired knight pointed towards him.
“It’s quite obvious that you want to take our focus away from the angels and direct it towards yourself. …Why is that? Though I’m also curious about how you were able to acquire information to that extent, why is it that you side with the angels even though you are human? Were you brainwashed by their magic? Or were you promised such a great compensation by the Goddess for your troubles?”
“Nope. What you guys are doing is nothing but an invasion. It just doesn’t sit well with me y’know. The fact that I’m human or the standpoint of the angels; those things have nothing to do with me at all.”
“I won’t let you go to where the Goddess is. If I let you reach the Goddess, you’ll surely start a great battle with the angels. Ah, but that should be okay as well. But y’know. How about you try putting yourselves into the position of those being invaded instead?!”
True, the Surface Realm did suffer damage due to the war between the angels and the demons. But, historically speaking, there were no instances of angels descending to the Surface Realm with the express purpose of conquering humans.
『…I know after being with Fear senpai. …It’s not just me. She was truly gentle towards everyone.』
Within the transcendent existences, the angels were the race most favorable towards humans.
『And truthfully, during the four years in St. Fiora Journey Academy, aside from me, she didn’t discriminate and treated all of the students nicely.』
“You had better stop. What good will fighting with the angels bring?”
“Spoken just like the Brave Hero of old. You’re copying not just his appearance but his words as well huh?”
The knight brandishing his bastard sword with one hand.
The one who called out to this squad leader was the black haired swordsman from earlier who was at his side.
“—Commander Casadine, we’ve been surrounded!”
As if to further surround them, tens of angels descended from the air and encircled the six knights who were around Ren.
『…The reinforcements made it. With these numbers, we can finally prevent these six from reaching the [Garden of Seraphim].』
“You’ve done well with stalling for time.”
“It feels complicated to be helped by a human, but thank you just the same.”
Angel Commander Zedek who was brandishing a large war mace. Heavenly Minister Melusel. The two commanders of the angel patrol team which was going around Heaven landed on both of Ren’s sides.
“What are we going to do sir?”
“Stick to the plan. Do not falter no matter what their numbers!”
The dark brown haired commander raised one hand and leveled it as he made a stance.
Third Rank – [Heretic Knight] Casadine. One of the highest ranked leaders of Elmekia Dusk, which boasted of the strongest knights. One of the world’s strongest experts, whose name was known to all who aspired to become knights.
“I see… So you’re that [Heretic Knight] Casadine.”
“Oh. So you know of my title. Although, for you, who is already aware of Anti-Angel Armaments, it isn’t so surprising that you know of things such as this as well.”
The black clad Knight slowly raised the bastard sword he held with one hand overhead.
“Tsuirt, Sukna, Dixor, Ray, Nestlit. You five take care of these bothersome angels and, this time, get to where the Goddess is.”
“Understood! But getting through these numbers would take a bit of time sir.”
“It matters not. We’ve managed to draw quite the number of these angels who are now trying to stand in our way. This means that the second squad in the west would have had to face this much opposition otherwise. As a result, the area surrounding the Goddess’s location has likely become short on guards.”
Even when faced with a large number of angels, the Third Seat of Elmekia Dusk did not falter in the slightest. Warlike laughter emerged from his mouth instead.
“If it comes to it, we can just leave the honor of capturing the Goddess to the Fourth Rank Naphress. Rather than that matter, there’s a more interesting enemy right here.”
The one locked on to by those gray colored eyes was neither the Angel Commander Zedek or the Heavenly Minister Melusel. It was—
Not minding the reactions of the angels surrounding them, the [Heretic Knight] approached the one who knew of his title in an exceedingly imposing manner.
“We saw someone who was the spitting image of the Brave Hero. When I first heard of this report from the troops who returned from the [Blazing Cliff Town] Jio, I thought it was utter nonsense. But this turned out to be quite interesting after all. Just who are you? Just a completely unrelated person? Or perhaps you’re the true reincarnation of the Brave Hero?”
“You’ve got to be kidding me. If I really was the reincarnation of the Brave Hero, then I would have thrown you back down to the Surface Realm already.”
Different from that of angels, it was an intimidating aura unique to human Knights.
Ren fought the urge to involuntarily draw back and held his ground.
“I see. But it’s not like you don’t want to do just that yourself, correct? You lot standing in the way of these five and myself, I mean. Just as well. This should be an opportune time to test the Anti-Angel Armaments. But then, apart from the [Seven Luminaries], you so called angels are merely some disorderly rabble after all.
Ren held back the Heavenly Minister Melusel and stepped forward himself.
“I’m more familiar with Elmekia Dusk than you guys are. I’ll fight this guy. Please monitor the movements of those five instead.”
“Familiar? I’m afraid you’re making quite the wrong assumption there. Whether it’s you, all the Parties around the world or the Capital itself — there is absolutely no one who fully knows of the true caliber of the Supreme Metropolis Elmekia.”
The knight declared as such in quite an arrogant manner. But this man was the owner of such a personality in which one would not take his words to be mere overconfidence or bluster.
“However, today, I shall be the one to ascertain the identities of you and the Party [Knight of Reincarnation]. All the more reason if you really are the reincarnation of the Brave Hero. You, the [Knight King] Zelblight and the [Sword Saint] Shion. I shall surpass you all. And I will take the crown of the strongest swordsman!”
“I’ll leave those five to you guys!”
After reminding the angel maiden, Ren kicked off from the cloud sea.
Third Rank – [Heretic Knight] Casadine. He was a high ranking executive of Elmekia Dusk, and quite a famous Knight as well. Despite this, Ren did not have any memory of ever having heard of his fighting style. In the first place, having an executive like the Third Seat head outside of the Supreme Metropolis and lead a squad was a rare occurrence itself.
『…If I fight with him head on with swords techniques, I’ll lose for sure.
…But this isn’t really a problem.
The goal of this fight isn’t about us proving our mettle as swordsmen.
It’s for having Elmekia Dusk give up on their invasion of Heaven and retreat. The point would be just how many of them we’ll manage to wear out.
And besides, this is Heaven.
For them, this is the main base of the angels. They shouldn’t be able to afford staying that long.』
“You’re fighting as if you want to buy time. Just how long will you be able to keep that up with me as your opponent?”
In an instant.
An indistinguishable ‘thing’ slashed open the cloud sea beneath Ren’s feet and came flying out.
“How about this?!”
Ren reflexively slashed out his sword towards seemingly empty air. A dull, grating, metallic sound rang out as a small, sharp weapon failed to clamp down on the blade of his sword and fell downwards below Ren’s feet.
『A dagger? No…… It somewhat looks like a short sword one can carry as a spare weapon. But the difference is on the blades edge. A sword with an edge designed to clamp down on its target like a talon should be something rarely seen, even in the armory of the Metropolis.』
“Hidden weapons (Anki)?”
“You’re quite knowledgeable, as befitting your appearance, no?”
His right hand held on to the bastard sword which boasted of a large blade.
His left hand held four disk shaped weapons. The Throwing Coin Weapons (RAKANSEN) wielding [Heretic Knight] Casadine.
(Note: basically a small size chakram, for your knowledge, this is translated as Arhat coin in Chinese, which, by all means, sound a lot better)
Their origins are quite diverse; however they were originally intended to be portable weapons which were cheap and easy on the pocket. Afterwards, they were developed into small weapons which were really hard to detect, and eventually became the weapons of choice of assassins who were feared by even the Royal Family of the Capital.
But that was already a thing of the past. Ren gained knowledge about them through reading some old documents in the Academy archives.
“Isn’t Elmekia Dusk an organization composed of swordsmen alone?”
“Indeed. But mastering sword techniques is nothing more than one of the means to an end.”
The Third Seat replied as he warily observed Ren’s reactions.
“By mastering other techniques which allowed me to further elevate the strength and potential of being a Knight, I managed to attain the right to challenge the other High Rankers in Elmekia Dusk.”
Knight and [ARIA]Caster.
Knight and [FULLTYPE]Fighter.
Not limiting himself to standard Job specializations used in regular Party compositions, he continued to engage in learning other derivative abilities. If not, he would have been unable to keep up with the fierce competition for higher rankings.
This was The Royal Order of 72 Special Knight Brigade [Elmekia Dusk].
It gathered the strongest swordsmen and implemented a fiercely brutal ranking system among its members.
“And finally, I have become—”
“A Knight who has mastered hidden weapon techniques (Anki-jutsu) huh.”
Casadine then used rakansen — simultaneously launching the four throwing weapons he held simply by snapping his wrist and fingers.
Eschewing any preliminary movement.
Different from throwing a stone by lifting ones arm until it comes up above ones elbow — as if to completely mask his movements — he had launched rakansen in a way that was utterly devoid of any evident preparatory gestures, as he ran up.
Ren did not choose to retreat, but moved forward instead. He ran while slanting his body to one side, avoiding two of the the four disk shaped throwing weapons in the process.
As for the remaining two.
The sharp disk blades cut through the void and caught up in less time than it took to blink—
A rising flash. Ren slashed his sword upwards and deflected the rakansen Casadine threw out back towards Casadine himself.
The hidden weapons he threw out now went after him instead.
In the face of that spur of the moment counter, the man called the [Heretic Knight] was actually made to draw back.
“Hidden weapons are things from the ancient past. I don’t believe you’ve ever had the chance of fighting with another hidden weapons user apart from me, right?”
“Yeah. That’s why this is the first time.”
Deflecting the miniature rakansen with just the sword held within his palms.
He did hold confidence in being able to repel them. But sending them straight towards Casadine’s direction was almost sheer coincidence.
“Your first time? And you actually managed to pinpoint those miniscule throwing weapons?”
Ren briefly glanced at the hidden weapons which had fallen down on the cloud sea, and brought his sword to bear once again.
“I’ve already trained against stuff which would allow me to deal with things like these for quite a few years; so much that I’m actually almost sick of it.”
Completely head on. In sword matches between student Knights, not avoiding the sword of your opponent, taking it head on and seizing the initiative through sheer power was the method evaluated to be [Brave] and [Excellent].
The way of Knights was apparently to be firm like a mountain and to attack like fiercely raging flames.
『……I wasn’t able to win against anyone at all by using that fighting style.』
So he desperately thought things through, and worked harder than anyone day in and day out.
Within the grounds of St. Fiora Journey Academy. In the dead of night.
He swung his sword to cut the countless tiny raindrops as his entire body continued to be bathed by the cold rain.
On nights when violent winds raged, he kept brandishing his sword, with the leaves dancing midair as his opponents.
From mornings, when the skin of his palms which gripped the sword handle swelled bright red and peeled off—
To nights, when the blisters on his hands finally bled up and covered the sword hilt in fresh crimson—
『…Besides, I wasn’t alone.
…Kyelse was with me.』
[A sword thrust that is able to pierce through a single drop of water or a single spark of flame.
Eleline’s sword arts lie farther beyond this point.]
With the swordsmanship polished together with Kyelse, who had willingly taken up a sword in order to accompany him in training, he was now capable of intercepting the hidden weapons thrown by the [Heretic Knight].
“Your rakansen are really fast, but they’re too linear. With that simple trajectory, there’s no way I won’t be able to react, no matter how fast they are.”
“I see. It seems I had misread your abilities a little. Even so—”
The Third Rank raised the bastard sword he held in his right hand aloft.
“How will you deal with this?”
The instant Ren’s awareness focused upon him, the figure of the Elmekia Dusk executive suddenly blurred.
The one handed bastard sword wielding Casadine had actually closed in and swung down a slash right above Ren.
Upon seeing the sword that instantly approached overhead, Ren gripped the hilt of his own sword tightly with both hands and positioned it to block the attack.
What rang out was not a heavy, shrill, metallic keen after the swords met each other. The sound that reached Ren’s eardrums instead was that of his shoulder muscles snapping after taking a blow they were not able to withstand.
“According to legend, [Sword Emperor] Eleline’s sword attacks crushed the earth to pieces with their unparalleled might. Therefore, I thought that you, who greatly resemble him, should be a swordsman of the same caliber. Seems I was wrong. Just like you’re appearance suggests, the swordsmanship that frail body is capable of severely lacks in power — to the point that it’s even inferior to swords swung by women and children.”
Ren held his sword with both hands. But Casadine held his bastard sword with only one. And he didn’t even seem to be making much of an effort doing so.
“That’s all you have, isn’t it? I have already seen through what you polished in your swordsmanship after you deflected those hidden weapons earlier. I shall recognise the precision and response speed of your sword. But those are ultimately the result of you not having confidence in the strength of your own body.”
The opponent’s sword gradually pushed forward.
『……I already braced myself for the possibility of being completely overpowered once I locked swords with him.
……But he’s actually using only one hand. He’s even displaying a wait and see attitude while doing so. The difference between us is just that great huh.
The instructors back at St. Fiora Journey Academy also had former Knights who managed to make their names famous during their time as members of first class Parties. But the weight of the sword strike I received just now is leagues above those of the instructors. He may be called the [Heretic Knight], but the foundation of his strength is unmistakably that of a genuine Knight.』
As he wielded the bastard sword with his right hand, Casadine brought something out and held it with his left.
Before realizing what the thing was—
“With this, you’re finished!”
With a simple flick of the wrist, Full Moon Disk Blades (CHAKRAM) were released at point blank range.
Two disk shaped blades that were as thin as leaves flew out; aiming for both shoulders of the sword wielding Ren.
『…Will I make it?』
Ren pulled his sword away in a flash and leapt backwards simultaneously.
His eyes turned away from the blade of the bastard sword, which plunged down and stabbed the cloud sea due to left over momentum. Ren immediately swung down his sword and slashed out diagonally from his shoulder while in the air; in the middle of his backward leap.
An unmistakably metallic sound echoed out.
Sharp pain ran through his flank.
He deflected one chakram with his sword and attempted to dodge the other one. But the chakram still reached him just before he could completely turn his body away.
“Your response by attempting to dodge my chakram launched from point blank range was quite impressive.”
The [Heretic Knight] closed in after Ren once more.
Once he confirmed the bastard sword being raised up again, Ren abandoned the option of meeting it head on with his sword, and chose to repeatedly leap backwards to create distance instead.
『…Even if I somehow manage to properly receive this guy’s sword, the same thing will happen again.
…He’ll just launch hidden weapons from point blank range once more.』
But the instant Ren’s feet landed on the cloud sea, excruciating pain suddenly ran through them.
“Oww! These… are… metal barbs?”
Right on the place Ren landed upon were dull colored metal thorns akin to those of roses generously scattered about.
It felt somewhat like ones bare feet stepping on sharp glass fragments.
Thorns made of metal pierced through Ren’s boots. The soles of his feet were seemingly gouged by them. If he took off his boots, his soles would surely be already covered in blood.
“So… these are also your hidden weapons huh?”
“It’s setting-type trap items called (CALTROPS). Cavalry riding on top of horses and even Greater Monsters (Kaijuu) prowling about would be tied down just by using them.”
Just when was he able to set up these things? No, what was truly terrifying was the sharpness of his intuition, which allowed him to accurately predict the place Ren would land on before he even jumped back.
“Your feet are now as good as dead. You won’t be able to make agile jumps like you did earlier, no?”
Biting his lips, Ren gazed down towards his feet. The cotton-like cloud sea was shining. But only the place he was standing on was slightly dyed red with blood.
——This was the [Heretic Knight].
——The final result of one mastering both Knight and hidden weapon techniques.
While wielding a bastard sword which boasted of a long reach with one hand, he simultaneously uses countless hidden weapons to methodically corner his enemies.
At a distance, he used rakansen and chakram to sap ones stamina. Once the opponents focus got disrupted, he immediately closed in on them with his bastard sword. In case this attack was avoided, he meticulously continued to shave ones stamina and mobility by setting up caltrops beforehand.
Even if he were to only use his bastard sword, he was still a world class swordsman.
But the man called Casadine was not satisfied with this. In order to ascend through the ranks within Elmekia Dusk, he sought for further strength, and found things called hidden weapons as the answer.
A self-taught fighting style that suppressed opponents from any range.
Undoubtedly [Heretic]. In other words, ‘Wicked’. Casadine’s anti-personnel combat ability was filled with an overflowing fixation on victory; to the extent of being branded as such.
『…Just how many more? And what other types of hidden weapons does he still have?
…It would be too dangerous to close in on him without knowing these.』
As Ren struggled to prevent himself from stumbling due to the intense pain shooting up his soles, he fixed his attention towards the [Heretic Knight]; trying not to miss any movement.
“So you chose to stand your ground while staying wary of my hidden weapons huh? But you will have no choice but to move from there, I’m afraid.”
The [Heretic Knight] declared.
As if calling out to one another. The caltrops scattered below Ren’s feet simultaneously emitted a faint glow. And within moments, a huge magic circle was formed.
“A magic circle?! You enchanted magic on the caltrops……!”
Flames burst forth.
The shining cloud sea was dyed with the glow of emerald colored flames. At a glance, the flames seemed to glow with an enchanting light that captures one’s eyes. But this beauty hides something terrifying beneath.
『……The black plumes of smoke I saw before coming here.
……So the cause of those is this flame!』
The flames which burned Heaven.
Its exceedingly intense heat could be inferred from the sweat that instantly gushed out of Ren’s body.
Ren fully turned his body away. He endured the intense pain running through his soles and flank, with his expression turning unsightly from the effort. He moved to evade the flames that were chasing at his back.
The flame sea suddenly split into two.
The flames conjured by magic ripped open, and a black silhouette shot forth.
“That’s right. If you want to evade the flames, then you can only go in this direction.”
It was all planned. Only a single point where the flames were weakest was left. The opponent then got baited towards it. If the attacker circles around toward that opening first, then he would be able to finish his opponent up personally without a hitch.
Towards the man who brandishes a bastard sword that possesses the power two end it all in one hit—
“I already knew. You’ve used the same strategy on the angels before I came here right? That’s why there were plumes of black smoke earlier, and even the Cupids were surprised by them.”
The moment he was surrounded by the flames, Ren had come to understand.
“What you’re going to aim for next.”
The only instance of conceit the Third Rank, who was sure of his victory, had shown during the entire battle.
“(Ancestral Spirit of Fire) Salamander—!”
Ren’s left hand held the feather of an archangel.
The moment this medium shone in radiance, a Spirit which had wings of burning crimson flames materialized above Ren’s head.
“Nope, the opposite! Make it swell up like crazy.”
The Spirit in the form of a small dragon nodded its head.
An explosion dyed in crimson.
The emerald colored flames behind Ren and Casadine changed into bright crimson ones, and burst forth in an explosion.
“Wha… A Spirit?!”
With his bastard sword still raised, the [Heretic Knight] got caught up in the sudden heat wave and got blown away.
The whirlpool of flames roared.
The raging flames which scattered countless sparks around further intensified—
“(Ancestral Spirit of Fire) Salamander—? You…”
As he continued to tightly grasp his sword, Ren looked up at the Spirit floating above him.
——Crimson Spirit Sword.
The flame wave which blew away the black clad Knight gathered in the air, condensed, and wrapped around Ren’s sword.
With the flames of the Spirit residing within its blade, the sword transformed into a Spirit sword shining in bright crimson.
The Third Seat brushed away the sparks of flame still clinging on to his body.
He gazed at both Ren, who now wielded a Crimson Spirit sword, and the (Ancestral Spirit of Fire) Salamander.
“You’re the second person qualified to be accompanied by Spirits. That utterly unpleasant prophecy on the [Epitaph of the Three Sages] wasn’t entirely some nonsense after all.”
“[Epitaph of the Three Sages]?”
Not bothering to answer Ren’s doubts—
“It’s quite fortunate that we’re in Heaven. Since we’re not on the Surface, you won’t be able to manifest the (Ancestral Spirit of Earth) Gnome, correct?”
“Gnome?! How’d you find out about that…?”
“I should have already told you. There’s absolutely no one who knows of Supreme Metropolis Elmekia’s true caliber.”
Thirds Rank – [Heretic Knight] Casadine. He was one of the executives of Elmekia Dusk, and a famously known Knight. And yet, he was still undoubtedly just a human. It’s not like he possesses unusual prediction abilities or psychic powers after all. If so, then why did he know about the existence of a Spirit that wasn’t even summoned over?
“Well then, it starts from here!”
The black clad Knight roared. He grabbed the joint sections of the armor covering his right shoulder. Immediately afterwards, the man tore the black colored armor off his shoulder with his own hand.
“What? I just removed the part that made my armor into an Anti-Angel Armament. It’s a bit convenient when fighting against angels. But this equipment is still being tested out after all. It’s too cumbersome for me.”
The black clad Knight slowly rotated his shoulder.
He glared intensely at Ren’s Crimson Spirit sword.
“You’ve gone and summoned yourself a Spirit. I’ve also thrown off an unnecessary burden. Let us continue, shall we?”
[Heretic Knight]. The aura of intimidation which the man who had this alias was releasing further intensified.
He had thrown off his shackles. It was neither a boast nor an empty threat. Ren was made painfully aware of this, whether he liked it or not.
“Here I come.”
The [Heretic Knight] brandished his bastard sword.
Casadine and Ren moved at the same time; the two of them heading straight towards each other as they ran atop the cloud sea—
“Hold it. This battle. [Investigation on the Spirits] will take over from here.”
A voice with a calm, intellectual tone.
The owner of the voice suddenly interrupted Ren and Casadine and barged right in the middle of them.
“Both of you sheath your swords. The opportunity has already passed. Continuing this battle has no more meaning.”
“…Gabrie?! You bastard! What is a member of the Party [Investigation on the Spirits] doing here?”
“Oh nothing. Just some minor business.”
A monocle wearing, intellectual looking [ARIA]Caster.
——[Truth Seeker] Gabrie.
A member of the Party led by [Sword Saint] Shion — [Investigation on the Spirits]. One of the strongest [ARIA]Casters in the world, who has been granted the highest Class of [Truth Seeker]. Always coming up with new (ORIGINAL) spells that are comparable with those used by the angels and demons, his name and exploits are widely known the world over.
“Minor business, you say?”
The [Heretic Knight] pointed the tip of his bastard sword towards him.
“Such a pointless lie. Do you really think that we have no idea about you people investigating [Apocalypse Island] and have already learned of the three seals that can be used to unlock the way towards it?”
“What of it?”
“I cannot let you off here. I don’t know what you’re planning by intervening here and playing mediator, but the ones who will obtain the Seal of the Goddess will be us — The Royal Order of 72 Special Knight Brigade.”
“Are you counting on the separate squad deployed on the other side, I wonder?”
The tall [ARIA]Caster shrugged his shoulders in a theatrical manner.
His monocle trained straight toward Casadine—
“Please fall back. The squad that was led by the Fourth Rank Naphress has already been driven off.”
“Fear — the strongest archangel in Heaven. She’s an angel whom I’ve only heard of in legends from long ago. But I was fortunate enough to actually get an opportunity to bear witness to a fraction of her power today. Even your prided Anti-Angel Armaments were absolutely no use in front of the simple but violent force of her fists. Anyway, that’s the deal.”
The [ARIA]Caster displayed an expression of pity on his face.
“You lot are just decoys. The plan was for another infiltration squad to be the ones in charge of capturing the Goddess. In surprise blitz operations such as this, time is of absolute importance. But the second squad has already been routed and sent back to the Surface. And you’ve already taken too much time executing this operation. I’ve already said so. The opportunity has passed.”
“I’ll say it once more. Fall back.”
“And what if I refuse?”
The [Heretic Knight] Casadine asked in a tone that seemingly contained his true feelings as well as personal curiosity towards the opponents response.
And the reply was—
“It’s regrettable, but we’ve already achieved our objective in coming to Heaven.”
A hand suddenly patted Ren’s shoulder with a *pon, which made him jump back slightly in surprise. A black haired maiden suddenly appeared beside him. He wasn’t able to perceive even a whiff of her presence nor form earlier.
The young girl of short stature wore an atypical red and white robe which left both her shoulders bare.
Her age should be close to Ren’s own. Despite her small size, she had a lively face and voice. Her overall impression was akin to that of a prideful little kitten.
『…Did she get this close to us while maintaining a concealment barrier?
…I couldn’t even feel her presence.』
It was a high level spell not one whit inferior to those used by the angels Ren had met recently.
“[ENCHANTER]Barrier Master – Karei. Two members of [Investigation on the Spirits] huh?”
“That’s right. [Sword Saint] Shion will also be coming soon y’know.”
The young girl replied to Casadine in a confident manner.
Karei. Similar to her companion, Gabrie, who is an [ARIA]Caster of the highest Class called [Truth Seeker], she has also reached the highest Class of an [ENCHANTER]Barrier Master — a [High Priestess]. A genius girl who had managed to achieve such a feat at the tender age of fifteen.
Ren had heard of her countless times during his enrollment at St. Flora Journey Academy.
“Do you really want to fight it out with us, the [Investigation on the Spirits]?”
But after a few moments, Casadine let out a sigh and smiled bitterly.
“I see. The angels surrounding Heaven. Eleline’s reincarnation. And you [Investigation on the Spirits]. Taking you all on at the same time will be much too troublesome huh.”
“A calm judgement that’s not clouded by emotion. As expected of the Third Rank of Elmekia Dusk.”
Gabrie pushed up the edge of his monocle. But the one the [Heretic Knight] was glaring at was not this [ARIA]Caster. It was Ren.
“I’ll leave the Goddess’s seal with you for now. I shall be waiting for you in the Supreme Metropolis Elmekia, reincarnation of the Brave Hero.”
“Supreme Metropolis? What the heck are you going on about? Why would I…?”
The city-state boasting the greatest military might in the world. It’s also where the main base of the Royal Order of 72 Special Knight Brigade [Elmekia Dusk] is located in. Carelessly going there would be akin to charging towards the enemy fort recklessly; right from the front.
“Don’t count on me going to the Supreme Metropolis or whatever. And I’m not some reincarnation of the Brave Hero—”
“Why do you think did I know about the (Ancestral Spirit of Earth) Gnome?”
Casadine asked as he sheathed away his bastard sword. His mouth curled into a derisive sneer.
“If you want to know the cause of the Spirits’ restlessness, then come after us, Knight served by the Spirits.”
“The restlessness of the Spirits? What do you mean by that…?”
“You will come to know eventually. Once you obtain the Seal held by the Goddess and by the time you face the Supreme Metropolis Elmekia. Whether you would like to or not.”
The Third Rank turned away. The other five Knights, who have been continuously exchanging blows with the surrounding angels earlier, gathered and formed up behind him.
All six men, including Casadine, were bathed by faint light and vanished soon after.
“Can’t you see it? Isn’t a Trial Gate right there?”
“Right on the spot where they disappeared. It’s hidden by a concealment spell, but they took it in order to return to the Surface Realm. Just like what Gabrie said, those six served as diversions. They’re supposed to go on a rampage in Heaven and draw the attention of the angels. But, just in case they got overrun by an unexpectedly fierce retaliation, they made sure to have a backup plan and fought their battles while staying close to the Trial Gate.”
The [ENCHANTER]Barrier Master Karei pointed her finger towards the place where the six had disappeared to and explained in a matter of fact manner.
“The location of the World Record [Encore]. So, Elmekia Dusk has already managed to get a rough idea of its whereabouts. Will the [Knight King] Zelblight finally move his lazy ass, I wonder?”
“No. Haven’t they kept making moves behind the scenes since long ago?”
The monocle wearing [ARIA]Caster answered back with his mature sounding voice.
“We’ve only finally managed to find out some things owing to our visit here in Heaven. Other Parties around the world aren’t capable of acquiring even a single clue.”
“That’s true, I guess. Our timing for intervention this time was also somewhat of a close call. But this did allow me to witness something rare, so it seems we profited a lot huh.”
Karei glanced at Ren while displaying an impish grin.
“W- What is it?”
She swept her gaze at Ren’s figure from head toe, in a presumptuous manner. Was she observing him? No, it seems more like he was being appraised.
“So you’re one of the members of [Knight of Reincarnation] huh.”
The focus of the young girl’s gaze was then urged towards—
The Crimson Spirit Sword Ren was wielding, and the (Ancestral Spirit of Fire) Salamander, who floated above Ren’s head and was fawning over him—
“Oh, that’s right! We just kept talking onesided-ly amongst ourselves huh. It’s alright now.”
“Yeah. See, I’m already fine now.”
After seeing Ren nod in assurance, the form of Salamander slowly disappeared. Right afterwards, the Crimson Spirit Sword lost its glow and turned back into a normal steel sword.
After bearing witness to those events.
“Well then. I believe we still haven’t introduced ourselves.”
The monocle wearing [ARIA]Caster said in an unhurried manner.
“My name is Gabrie. And the girl with a severely lacking figure who’s standing beside you is—”
“I’m gonna punch you in the face y’know.”
“……I spoke poorly. The girl with a lithe and graceful figure who’s standing beside you is Karei. Although, I’m sure you already have an idea about who we are.”
“[Investigation on the Spirits] right?”
[ENCHANTER]Barrier Master – Karei and [ARIA]Caster – Gabrie.
Ren had no idea just how many times the names of these two people have been mentioned during his stay at St. Fiora Journey Academy.
The Party [Investigation on the Spirits]—
It’s the most famous Party in the world and is led by the [Sword Saint] Shion. It’s composed of only four members. But all these four are the best of the best within their chosen Class type.
“I suppose… it’s now fine for me to say thank you huh. I’m grateful that you intervened.”
Ren then sheathed his sword and took a deep breath.
Continuing the fight with the [Heretic Knight] would have offered no advantage. Since the intervention from these two members of [Investigation on the Spirits] resulted in [Elmekia Dusk] choosing to retreat, they’ve ended up giving out much needed help.
“There’s no need to thank us. Right, Mr. Brave Hero Lookalike?”
“Um… I do have a proper name see. I’m Ren. I’d like it if you could call me by my name please.”
After being stared at by Karei with a gaze filled with curiosity, Ren finally remembered that he hasn’t properly introduced himself to the other two yet.
—Well, I don’t really know your real name. So I can only call you [Brave Hero Lookalike] right?
—At least tell me your name.
After arbitrarily interpreting the meaning of Karei’s words earlier as such, Ren then gave his answer.
“Hee~ So you’re called Ren. I see, I see.”
At the side of the young girl who was nodding repeatedly, the monocle wearing [ARIA]Caster inquired in a steady voice.
“This is just to confirm, but the reason you’re here is order to obtain the Seal kept by the Goddess. To further elaborate, you wish to obtain all three Seals in order to unlock the area where the Encore is possibly located — Apocalypse Island. Am I correct?”
“You’re not the type to tell lies huh. Your face gives it all away.” Gabrie concluded while smiling wryly.
“But it’s truly unfortunate. If Shion would have known that you would come here, then he would have absolutely ascended to Heaven as well.”
“Ah! That’s right. Where’s the [Sword Saint] Shion—”
The youngest Master Swordsman. Along with the Royal Order of 72 Special Knight Brigade’s [Knight King] Zelblight, he is one of the two hailed as the strongest swordsmen of the present age. Even after looking around, Ren failed to spot his figure.
“Come to think of it, didn’t you say he would be coming here soon earlier?”
“Oh~ That was a lie.”
“Cause taking on six high rankers from Elmekia Dusk would be such a pain y’know. Gabrie here would be alright, but I’m an [ENCHANTER]Barrier Master and I mainly do support work. ‘Bringing Shion’s name up would probably scare them away’ was what I thought earlier.”
Karei declared so while waving her hand in amusement.
“Shion should be in the Surface Realm. He’s probably still playing tag with the (Gate’s Sacred Beast) guarding the Trial Gate right now.”
“Shion reasoned out that even though it was the Guardian Beast, there’s no reason for it to be arbitrarily beaten up. So, while that non-violence advocate ran circles around the (Sacred Beast) without even using his swords, Gabrie and I took the chance to ascend the Trial Gate.”
“……Shion’s really that kind of guy?”
[Sword Saint] Shion.
Since he was someone who has attained the highest title bestowed upon Knights, the [Sword Saint] Shion Ren had envisioned within his mind was the mighty figure of a Knight overflowing with ambition. Always filled with fighting intent anytime and anywhere, he would continue to search for worthy opponents in order to hone himself.
That’s what he thought.
“Um, he’s probably the complete opposite of the image of him that you’re thinking of. Well, for better or for worse, he can probably be described as the world’s number one most carefree Knight, I think?”
“That’s him in a nutshell.”
Gabrie voiced his agreement while smiling bitterly.
“Let’s move back to the earlier topic. It seems that Shion’s intuition was wrong this time.”
“Yeah. He predicted that the next place you guys of [Knight of Reincarnation] will appear in would be the [Holy Land] Canaan.”
“Us going to the [Holy Land] Canaan?”
Neither Heaven nor the Underworld.
The place the genius [ENCHANTER]Barrier Master girl mentioned was the city which is the center of Spirit Worship.
It also serves as the main base of the Party [Sacred Vessel of Canaan Pilgrimage]. And most of all, it was the capital city where the only other known user of Ancient Summoning techniques, the [Holy Maiden], resided in.
“That’s right. At first, the only ones Shion told of this were me and Elies. You guys of [Knight of Reincarnation] are really famous back in the Holy Land y’know. In fact, they’re actually gossiping about just when you guys would actually come to the Holy Land. Aren’t you aware of this info?”
“Unfortunately, I had absolutely no idea.”
[However, if you wish, I can arrange a visit for you to see Saint Elies-sama.]
Ren remembered the words spoken by one of the lead officers of [Sacred Vessel of Canaan Pilgrimage] — the [FULLTYPE]Fighter, Thyrus.
Ren knew about [ENCHANTER]Barrier Masters who specialize in long distance telepathic communication via the use of spells. A skilled spellcaster would have been completely able to send a telepathic message across the sea until it reaches the Holy Land.
Even so, he didn’t think that their existence had actually turned out to be such a big matter of discussion in the land of Spirit Worship.
“But, why are you people so interested in our movements…?”
“The reason for this is actually quite simple.”
The monocle wearing [ARIA]Caster gave Ren a wise looking gaze.
“Us [Investigation on the Spirits] and you [Knight of Reincarnation]. Both our groups are rivals vying for the Encore, as well as colleagues wanting to bring to light the secrets behind the Apocalyptic War which happened three hundred years ago, correct?”
When heard the term, Ren came to know. The two before him, and the organization behind them, [Investigation on the Spirits], had already made the connection between the Encore and the Apocalyptic War.
“I daresay that you actually possess information about those matters that only you are privy to, right?”
Gabrie and Karei.
After feeling the gazes of the two of them fall upon himself, Ren unconsciously grit his teeth.
…I haven’t been able to reach that stage yet.』
Ren only knew a small part about the things regarding the Apocalyptic War. The Three Great Princesses who fought together with Eleline — Kyelse, Fear and Elise — knew of the truth. But it was not something that they would easily divulge.
“Um, I don’t know if you’ll actually believe me or not but—”
As he looked at both of the people before him.
A wry smile which contained traces of self derision floated on Ren’s lips.
“There are certainly some parts of what you said that are on the mark. The reason why we went to Heaven was really for one of the Seals. But…”
“It’s not like I want to immediately reach all our goals. I’d be glad once we do find the Encore. I also wanna know more about the Apocalyptic War. But those are things best left for the future. I just feel really happy being together with my companions so…”
Kyelse, Fear and, of course, Elise.
If it’s simply looking for the Encore, then going with just the three of them would be far more efficient.
After all, he couldn’t say for certain that what Dragon Lord Calra feared wouldn’t happen — that he would become everyone’s burden and would be the eventual cause of his companions’ downfall.
『…And yet, they still invited me to their Party.
…So I want to answer their expectations. And most of all, I don’t want our journey around the world, which I’ve always dreamed of, to end.』
“I’ve been invited to the Party just recently. So I don’t want to think about some final goal or something yet. I don’t want to just decide on a goal and end everything after reaching it.”
“I see. I’ll make sure to tell Shion of your intentions then.”
“I’m really looking forward to his reaction. Okay then. We’ll leave the Seal of the Goddess to you.”
“You’re leaving? W- Wait. Just wait a moment!”
After seeing Gabrie and Karei turn their heels and walk away, a panicked Ren hurriedly went after the two and stood in front of them.
“What do you guys mean? The Goddess’ Seal? Didn’t you come all the way here for…”
“We’ll leave the Seal of the Goddess to you.”
The [Truth Seeker] Gabrie straightforwardly answered.
“Just like what I said earlier, we’re rivals vying for the Encore. But the goal of [Investigation on the Spirits] led by [Sword Saint] Shion, lies beyond that. To discover the truth about the Apocalyptic War. In order to unravel its secrets, exchanging information with other Parties is well worth it.”
“By the way, it’s the same for Elies.”
“Elies… The [Holy Maiden] of Canaan?”
“Yup. We also get a lot of info from her after all.”
Karei answered Ren while putting her hands on her hips and nodding.
“The journey around the world you mentioned is also one path a Party can take. But I think it would still be worth your while to pay Canaan a visit. Please meet with Saint Elies. There’s no one else in the world who knows more about the Spirits and their behaviour than that woman. I’m sure it’s the same for the (Ancestral Spirit of Fire) Salamander which you summoned.”
“You’re planning on going to the Underworld sooner or later right? I’ll say this just in case but, you should really be careful of Elmekia Dusk once you do so.”
After declaring this—
The direction Karei faced towards next was where two angels who were observing the events were at. The [Angel Commander] Zedek, who held a giant war mace, and the [Heavenly Minister] Melusel.
Both of them did not have any indication of suffering any serious injuries in the earlier fight against Elmekia Dusk.
“Hello, you two. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I’m sorry. We humans of the Surface Realm keep causing trouble. We, the [Investigation on the Spirits], will help you keep those guys from the Royal Order of 72 Special Knight Brigade in check.”
“…Good grief. We’d really appreciate it if you did so.”
“We’ll only close our eyes on these matters this once. If anything like this happens again, even we angels won’t be able to stay silent.”
The two angels gave their replies which were mixed with sighs.
Karei gave them an apologetic smile in a charming way. She then waved her hand in an easygoing manner.
“Alrighty then. For now, we’re going to take our leave. There are other things we need to investigate on after all. If you’re going to negotiate with the Goddess for the Seal, then don’t forget to mention our efforts kay.”
“Let us meet again. We’ll also have Shion with us next time.”
The two members of [Investigation on the Spirits] then turned away. They headed towards a direction different from where Elmekia Dusk disappeared to earlier as they walked with relaxed steps.
[ARIA]Caster – Gabrie and [ENCHANTER]Barrier Master – Karei.
In an unexpected turn of events, Ren had managed to meet with the Party [Investigation on the Spirits]. He gazed at their receding backs until they disappeared as they headed down the hill of clouds.
“Oww. It really gets quite painful if I remain standing like this…”
With his soles which were subjected to the hidden weapons of the [Heretic Knight] aching, Ren, who had kept enduring the severe pain earlier, finally raised a cry and sat down.
Heaven.The [Garden of Seraphim].
The first thing Ren saw as he stepped back into the main hall of the vine covered temple were seven individuals standing in front of seven massive, white pillars. The [Seven Luminaries].
These archangels serve as the guardians of the temple and are also responsible for administering divine providence.
And in the central part of the main hall in which they stood guard was—
At the very top of the central part of the main hall lies the throne of the Goddess.
The Goddess Resflaze, who was sitting upon it while cradling her cheek with her hand, slowly got up.
“Aren’t you quite late?”
“Um, well… Forgive me for that. They were quite the opponents.”
“Fumu. You do appear to be quite beaten up, don’t you?”
The young maiden with brilliantly shining, heterochromatic (Odd Eyes) made a bitter smile as she looked at Ren, who walked in while using the scabbard of his sword in place of a crutch.
——His flank was gouged deeply by a chakram.
——His soles were riddled with wounds from stepping on caltrops.
As for the rest of his body.
Even if they weren’t as bad as what he received on his battle with the [Demon General of Blaze] Achendia, after being subjected to flames conjured by magic, parts of his face as well as fingertips showed some signs of being burned.
“The Sword Emperor didn’t have any trouble facing with other human Knights back in the day though.”
“Oh come on. It’s really troublesome for me if you lump me together with that guy, okay.”
A moment of complete silence.
Soon after, the Goddess in the form of a young maiden exclaimed with an atmosphere which suddenly turned solemn—
“I guess you’re right.”
Her smile then turned from bitter into enchanting.
It was the first time the Goddess Resflaze genuinely displayed her glee in front of Ren.
“To slowly but surely increase your strength. That is fine in itself. Even though you are human, you fought for the sake of us angels without even minding getting injured… It has been a long time since I have met a person such as you. Regarding your efforts; I, as the ruler of all the angels, express my heartfelt gratitude.”
“I’m glad that you feel that way, but what I did really isn’t such a big deal y’know……”
『In essence, what I did was simply buying some time. The fight with the [Heretic Knight] Casadine was also settled by the intervention of [Investigation on the Spirits]. If it weren’t for them, who knows what would have happened.』
“By the way, where’s Fear senpai?”
“Do not worry about her. She had already long driven out that other detached force and sent them back to the Surface Realm. It’s just that I’m having her deal with the aftermath…”
“That brutish angel. Since she had swung her fists without caring for controlling her power, she ended up opening a huge hole on the cloud sea. She should just have finished the repair work in order to patch up the hole, so she should be returning soon.”
The Goddess answered and sighed.
“Setting that aside, we still have some unfinished matters left to discuss. But you should heal your body first. There happens to be a good Sanctuary nearby if you head out a bit from this temple.”
Sanctuary (Hot Spring).
It was a place where Fear, who had suffered grievous injuries in the Apocalyptic War, was said to have secluded herself in order to recuperate.
“Is it the same place that was used by Fear senpai?”
“No. She had stayed in a bigger Sanctuary. That place may have effects that would be too much for a normal human’s body to handle. The one I’m talking about doesn’t offer much effect when used by angels. But it should be just perfect for a human such as yourself.”
The huge white pillars supporting the central hall.
The Goddess Resflaze pointed towards one particular gap between the pillars.
“Rest there first while you wait for Fear to come back.”
As the Goddess suggested, Ren walked towards the direction she was pointing at.
After going between the gap in the pillars—
Ren’s vision blurred. Afterwards, the sight of a narrow pathway was revealed before his eyes.
Different from the all scenery he’d seen before in Heaven, huge clouds rose up above him and formed towering cliffs. The narrow path, that was barely wide enough to let just one person pass, meandered through them like a winding snake.
『…I’ve always seen the cloud sea continue on beyond the horizon.
…So there’s this kind of narrow path as well.』
“But these cloud cliffs sure are interesting. I’m sure human children would really like seeing them.”
Ren was flanked by cotton-like clouds on both sides. He continued walking on and on across the path, as Goddess had instructed.
“Ah. Is that steam?”
In front of Ren, white, steam-like vapour gradually appeared. Like the steam from regular hot springs in the Surface Realm, it was also damp and warm. A few moments later—
The path Ren was stepping on suddenly got cut off without warning, sending him careening down below.
The sound of something spraying upwards rang out.
Ren had fallen chest-deep into a mysterious body of fluid.
It was white colored; like thick, velvety milk.
But it absolutely wasn’t anything like the hot spring baths in the Surface Realm. In the first place, there wasn’t even a drop of the fluid which clung onto Ren’s skin. But it still actually felt like he was immersing in warm bathwater.
Something in between being solid and liquid. This should be the closest description of the substance.
Warmth was being transmitted through his clothes. The pleasant comfort it delivered made it seem that he really was bathing in a genuine hot spring.
—This was a Sanctuary.
It was a place angels used for rest and relaxation.
It was totally enclosed by tall cloud cliffs. It was a naturally formed depression in the cloud sea, where the rising white vapour had pooled and formed into its present state.
“Ah, that’s right. I didn’t notice the depression earlier, so I ended up falling all the way down here, I suppose.”
Ren murmured, seemingly, to himself alone.
Along with the faint sound of splashing came a familiar voice which rang out from behind him.
“This place is where a part of the natural power that forms Heaven pools over. The human body can’t really handle such an influx of power, so humans can’t stay here for that long a time. But if it’s just bathing for the sake of healing wounds, then I guess it won’t be that much of a problem.”
“Ah. You’re back, Fear senpai. Are you alright? Did you get injured? I was really worried about y……”
Before he could finish what he was saying.
Ren became at a loss for words and froze up after he turned around to face the direction the voice came from.
“It really has been a while since the last time I’ve come to a Sanctuary.”
It was the Archangel Fear, with her pure white wings fully unfurled.
Dazzling blonde hair. A gaze filled with gentleness. She had a charming and elegant countenance, coupled with a tall, mature and voluptuous body, which truly suited her.
And she was actually—
Standing there completely naked, with the lower half of her body fully immersed in the milky white fluid.
“…N- Now just hold on! What the heck is with that appearance?!”
“Ara. Is there something wrong with this, I wonder?”
The Archangel laughed in a sultry manner.
Even though one of her arms was covering her breasts, it could not completely hide those bountiful twin hills which sported a deep cleavage. It was several magnitudes more stimulating than the swimsuit appearance Ren had seen back in the Blazing Cliff Town. Consequently, the contents of his head had already turned pure white from shock.
“I’m actually a bit embarrassed as well. I’ve already worn a swimsuit a couple of times back when we were at St. Fiora Journey Academy. But for humans…Ren is the only one I’ve ever revealed so much of myself to. I’ve never even shown Eleline. So I’m also at a loss about what to do.”
Fear’s cheeks turned red in embarrassment.
“G- Go wear some clothes then! It’s okay even if you have clothes on in this Sanctuary right?”
“Of course. One usually does wear clothes when using this place after all.”
“Do you remember what I told you before, Ren? Among the so called transcendent beings, angels regard humans quite favorably in comparison.”
A small splash.
The Archangel approached closer while immersed in the fluid substance that is neither gas nor liquid.
“Yeah, I do remember that. But…”
“The feeling I had towards you when we were together at St. Fiora Journey Academy was undoubtedly that of goodwill. That wasn’t a lie. But what caused me to feel that goodwill was my curiosity about the fact that you greatly resemble my companion from three hundred years ago, Eleline. You did not have my former companion, Eleline’s, preeminent skills with the sword. But I became interested in your pure heart and sincerely earnest attitude. But that goodwill was actually how us angels commonly felt about you humans, so…”
Fear’s lips pressed together tightly as her words halted. She seemed to have paused in order to find the best words in order to tell what she truly felt in her heart. And after a short moment which conveyed this notion, the expression of the angel with the second highest authority in Heaven softened.
She did not display just a simple smile.
What was reflected in her eyes was a far deeper, far more melancholic, far more complicated sentiment.
“But right now… I think I may have gotten interested in you for an entirely different reason…”
“I must confess, I was truly very glad. About your assistance, I mean. You opposed [Elmekia Dusk] which had ascended Heaven in order to help my fellow angels. …No. I’m even happier about the fact that you willingly had such intentions in the first place.”
Half a step.Just a short half-step away.
She had approached near him with graceful steps. In order to not directly look at her nakedness, Ren tilted his neck and faced away from her.
“I didn’t really do it for any particularly lofty reason or anything…”
“Yes. The fact that you did so like that was what made me truly happy. You naturally felt that you had wanted to help my angel brethren.”
The maiden wrapped both of her hands over her chest. This was not in order to hide her nakedness. It was as if she had hugged herself in order to hold back the overflowing elation within her. It was such a gesture.
“Back when I journeyed with Eleline, I thought of the [Brave Hero] as the most reliable existence in the world. That claim had slowly but surely solidified into belief. If it’s that person, then no matter who or what we fought, he would never lose. Even though he was a human who was much younger than me; for me, Kyelse and Elise, he was someone who was sort of like the most reliable big brother.”
“Yeah. When I first met Kyelse, it kinda felt like that too.”
[Eleline, you’re alive! I really wanted to see you! I was always looking for you! That’s right. Even if you’re human, you’re a special case. You wouldn’t really go and die just after a mere three hundred years—]
The [Brave Hero] Eleline, who had led the three great princesses.
Even now, his influence was still great. For the three who wanted to find the (ENCORE) which he left behind; just what kind of existence was the [Brave Hero] for them?
When Ren thought of this, the first thing that came to mind was his first meeting with the [Dragon Princess] Kyelse.
The way she had clung on to him while ignoring everything else was truly just like a little sister who had dived into the bosom of her long lost big brother after a long time of separation.
It was surely the same for Fear, and even Elise.
“Well, even if this is the case, I’m not Eleline after all.”
“Of course. You’re really just a normal human, Ren. You were not blessed with tremendous power the moment you were born, like Eleline was. However—”
As she placed her palm on top of her chest, Fear took a deep breath.
“That’s why, for me, the fact that you had fought for the sake of Heaven even at the risk of getting badly hurt made me really happy. And it’s not at all like how I felt with my comrade from three hundred years ago. To overcome the barrier of race between humans and angels….. I…..”
A straight and earnest gaze.
Her eyes, which seemingly held fiery passion within, became moist. And then they wavered a bit—
“I… I think I’m going to seriously go for it now.”
The one who broke away from their locked gazes first was her.
“I’m sorry…… Please forget the things I’ve said just now.”
“Honestly, if I allow myself to be fully swayed by my feelings, I would like nothing more than to embrace you tightly. But I know that this would lead to nothing good. I… I like the relationship between me and Ren right now as well, so I would like to treasure it. Yes. Right now, this is still……”
The Archangel’s chest heaved up and down as she breathed. Was it a sigh? Or was it just a deep breath? After doing something that could either be the former or the latter, her profile seemed to have been freed of whatever was weighing in her mind, and she displayed a calm smile.
“I’m glad I said all that out. Now I feel quite refreshed.”
“No. Umm… I don’t really know just how I should respond to that y’see.”
Ren felt rather awkward as he looked at the dazzling and beautiful smile of the other person with him. He was at a loss about how he should reply and what expression he should show at the moment.
“It should be fine if we remained as we were. It’s just that the impression I have of you has changed compared to before. That’s all it is.”
Losing the luster from before, Fear displayed her usual calm smile.
“Please become strong Ren. Someday, please become a Knight who would truly lead us three great princesses and is worthy of being entrusted with everything by us. I, Kyelse and Elise all feel this way, I’m sure.”
“That’s a really lofty goal huh.”
He involuntarily let out his true thoughts. They say the higher one’s goals are, the better. But after imagining just how absurdly difficult it would be for him to reach this goal, he felt that the road he had to take was still truly long.
“I’m looking forward to it. By the way, how are your wounds?”
“Wounds? Ah… Now that you mentioned it.”
Ren felt up his flank over his clothes.
The injury that Casadine had inflicted was still there. But the bleeding had stopped. And when he felt up the opening of the wound, he didn’t really feel much pain. It was the same for his soles. After soaking in the Sanctuary, both the pain and the bleeding had stopped.
“This is amazing! It’s actually this effective huh.”
“Yes. It’s a little too effective on humans isn’t it? But, you’re being exposed to a lot of raw natural energy, so I think it’s about time for us to get out of here or you’ll soon lose consciousness due to the influence of this place of power.”
“That’s scary!? But just wait a moment. Is this place actually that dangerous?”
“If you properly monitor how much time you spend in it, there’ll be no problems. Well then. Let us go back to where Goddess Resflaze is.”
The Archangel snapped her fingers with a *pachin sound.
As she did so, clothes that appeared from nowhere enveloped her body.
“What the heck. So you actually had your clothes on all this time?”
“Yes. I just made my clothes invisible via a concealment spell. As a point of reference from here on out, I just wanted to find out how Ren would react if I appeared naked in front of you.”
“A point of reference for what?”
“Do you really want to know?”
“Nope. I’ll pass on that. I’m kinda scared to hear about it actually.”
He answered with a straight and serious face towards the erotic Archangel. Ren then went out of the Sanctuary they were in. In order not to slip once more, he slowly climbed up the steep slope.
Once they got back to the [Garden of Seraphs] where Goddess Resflaze was residing, the forms of the [Seven Luminaries], which were supposed to be there as well, were now completely gone.
“I’ve given all the [Seven Luminaries] a reprieve at this time. We got interrupted from our discussion earlier after all. It won’t be good for them to participate in this discussion when it’s already halfway through right?”
The maiden with the brilliant (Odd Eyes) sat upon the Seat of the Goddess.
“Ren, come hither.”
“…Come closer? About this much?”
Ren responded to her beckoning and approached the Seat of the Goddess in the center of the hall.
Once he had come just in front of the sofa which had pure white feathers spread all over it, the maiden finally stopped beckoning towards him. It should mean that he should stop right there.
He was stared at intently in close proximity.
The crimson colored right eye and the azure colored left eye. When the mystical contrast present within the pair of (Odd Eyes) seemed to reflect his form, Ren’s back faintly stiffened.
……He didn’t feel a sense of oppression.
……But what was with this feeling of tension?
The pressure he felt when he stood before the Angel Commander Zedek and the Seven Luminaries was not there. However, the maiden exuded a presence that was completely distinct from them.
“That’s actually an aftereffect of being exposed to the energies of Heaven after using the Sanctuary.”
Fear declared, as if seeing through his current state of mind.
“As far as sensing the power of angels, Ren’s spiritual sense has been temporarily raised up. As a result, you can feel the power of Goddess Resflazesama more than before.”
“That is how it is. For humans, feeling my, the Goddess’ power isn’t all that simple.”
The maiden with the brilliant (Odd Eyes) stretched out her hands.
Her slender fingers held Ren’s right hand, and gently pulled him towards her afterward.
A kiss from the Goddess.
Immediately after feeling the lingering warmth from the back of his hand, a crimson colored light suddenly glowed on its surface.
It was a mysterious rune of light he had never seen before. It then enveloped and entered the back of his hand and palm.
“The Seal of the Goddess. With this, you are finally one step closer to the truth. The matters regarding the Apocalyptic War which the dragons, angels and demons concealed from humans. You have finally earned the right to know those secrets.”
Even after turning his hand over, no traces of it were left.
“Well then, is there anything else you want to talk about? Anything you want to ask me? A chance like this doesn’t come often you know. I, the Goddess, am giving so much of my time and attending to a human.”
The Goddess placed her elbow on top of the sofas armrest and held up her cheek.
But Ren felt that he reallycouldn’t think of any matter to ask her right now.
“Resflazesama, would it be alright for me to ask just one thing?”
Fear, who had stood behind Ren earlier, approached near with graceful steps.
“About the talk we had earlier. You mentioned about a second message left by Eleline, didn’t you?”
“……That matter, I see.”
The Goddess gazed upon the white ceiling.
[The Dragon Lord Calra, representing the Valley of Dragons, has granted her consent to lifting the seal on [Apocalypse Island], in accordance with Eleline’s other message.]
[A second message? Now please just wait a moment. I am unaware of that.]
After the Apocalyptic War.
The [Brave Hero] Eleline visited Heaven alone and requested something from the Goddess. That was for [Apocalypse Island] to be sealed.
In the past three hundred no one has ever set foot beyond that seal.
—But there was one more.
Eleline left a message behind that even Fear did not know about.
“Will you tell us about it? As far as I know, the request Eleline asked of Resflazesama was to seal Apocalypse Island together with the dragons and demons. It was a request from the person who put an end to the Apocalyptic War himself after all. You cannot undo the seal for just any reason. It was such a matter, wasn’t it?”
“That is correct.”
“But in truth, the Dragon Emperor Calra representing the Valley of Dragons and Goddess Resflaze yourself who represents Heaven, had already bequeathed the runes for undoing the seal. If this was in accordance with Eleline’s other message, then it is a matter I am completely unaware of.”
“Well of course. The one who told me not to reveal this matter to you was he himself after all.”
Fear’s voice cracked.
“What do you mean? That Eleline actually told you to keep it a secret from me, of all people?”
The Goddess Resflaze kept gazing above but slightly nodded her head.
“At the time, there were two things he requested of me. One was to never let anyone near [Apocalypse Island] and seal it. And the other was—“
[I have another request. Please keep the fact that I visited here a secret from Fear.]
[Fear has done more than enough fighting. It’s the same for Kyelse and Elise. I want those three to forget the battles in the Apocalyptic War and live peacefully after all.]
“About me?Eleline has…… That is just……….”
Fear murmured with a stunned expression.
“It’s quite ironic, isn’t it?”
The Goddess said, seemingly to herself, as she continued to stare at the ceiling.
“Because of the World Record (ENCORE) he left behind, you three are actually heading towards [Apocalypse Island] once more after all.”
“……This also has to do with Eleline’s second message right?”
“That’s right. Consequently, the Dragon Emperor Calra and I, the Goddess found it necessary to test Ren’s mettle. This was also due to Eleline’s second message.”
[Do not let anyone enter that place where we fought the Apocalyptic War anymore. However……]
[There’s one exception.]
[If……If in these coming years. After three hundred years, a person who will shoulder the burden of the world in my place appears, please entrust him the runes to lift the seal.]
“[Sword Saint] Shion—“
The name the Goddess mentioned was quite familiar.
“In these three hundred years, that man is the only person I found worthy of obtaining the Seals. That man is also one who can commune with the Spirits, just like you Ren.”
“The [Sword Saint] Shion too?”
“A few months ago, that man ascended to Heaven all by himself. And at that time, he knelt down towards me and said:’The Spirits all over the world are afraid. Were you aware of this matter?’.”
The interior of the central hall was still. The words which the maiden with the brilliant (Odd Eyes) conveyedfaintlyreverberated within it.
“As you know, we angels cannot hear the voices of the Spirits. So my reply was this: ‘We are not aware that the Spirits are frightened. But in the past, there was a time when the exact same situation had happened.’ And that is—”
“The Apocalyptic War?”
“That is so. Most probably, the person who has come closest to the secrets of this world is the [Sword Saint] Shion.”
And it seemed that the Royal Order of 72 Special Knight Brigade [Elmekia Dusk] has also come to know of some things.
Furthermore, the [Sacred Vessel of Canaan Pilgrimage] has also managed to gain importantinformation.
All three of the world’s most renowned Parties had simultaneously made their moves. They had managed to detect the restlessness of the Spirits, and had inferred that it had something to with the Apocalyptic War as well.
—World Record (ENCORE).
The truth about the Apocalyptic War, the cause of the restlessness of the Spirits and the [Brave Hero] Eleline’s messages. All of these are recorded within it.
“At first, I had intended to entrust the rune seal to [Sword Saint] Shion. Therefore, I had told him of the secret of the seal and have arranged for him to be able to ascend to Heaven whenever the need arises. That is my duty as the Goddess. It has already been three hundred years, like what the man who had put an end to the Apocalyptic War had said after all. But, after learning that the Dragon Lord Calra had actually granted you the rune seal of the dragons, I also had a change of heart.”
The Goddess Resflaze smiled bitterly and let out a sigh.
“The world has already started to change. It is changing constantly. In the midst of this chaotic whirlpool, a Knight bearing the exact same likeness as the Sword Emperor had suddenly appeared.”
“Yes. And he had fought for the sake of us angels.”
“That’s why I had also entrusted mine. To the person who fought for the sake of Heaven, I had given Heaven’s treasured rune seal. Do not eeever forget the truemeaning of that seal.”
The maiden with the brilliant (Odd Eyes) pointed towards the back of Ren’s hand. It couldn’t be seen at the moment, but it surely was there. The crimson colored rune seal that the Goddess had entrusted him.
“Thank you. I’ll certainly take care of this.”
“Umu. I already have an idea as to why Eleline wanted toseal up that island but…… No. It is not something I can say lightly.It is better for you toconfirm the truth yourselves.”
A serious gaze.
But immediately afterwards, the childlike Goddess acted like she suddenly remembered something and hit her hands together.
“Ah. That’s right. Have you already decided on your next destination Ren?”
“N- No… We haven’t really thought about that yet. Right Fear senpai?”
“It sure is a dilemma.”
The blonde haired Archangel faced Ren as she crossed her arms over her chest and sported a frown.
“We now know that [Elmekia Dusk] has begun taking some suspicious actions. I’m also interested about the restlessness of the Spirits which [Sword Saint] Shion had talked about. I think it’s about time for us to observe what the other Parties are doing before taking any action ourselves. Compared to heading straight for the Underworld, I think spending some time gathering more intelligence would be the more appropriate course of action for now.”
“That’s right huh……”
While he responded to Fear’s answer, the thing Ren was mulling over in his head was the words said by the [Investigation on the Spirits] member, (ENCHANTER)Barrier Master Karei earlier.
[If you’re going to travel around the world, then please go and visit Holy Land Canaanas well. There’s no one else in the world more knowledgeable about the Spirits than Elies.]
“Have you ever been to Canaan senpai?”
“The Holy Land Canaan right? I’ve come there a long time ago when we were brought there by Eleline. At that time, the Party [Sacred Vessel of Canaan Pilgrimage] wasn’t around yet. And even if they called it the Holy Land, the number of the population seemed a bit dismal back then.”
Fear replied as she blankly stared at empty air. It looked like she was reminiscing about something and nodded as she answered.
“But it should be alright to go. It’s the center of Spirit Worship. We may be able to glean something more about Ren’s Ancient Summoning spells.”
“Holy Land Canaan huh. But that capital is located in another continent. Traveling by ship would take a lot of time. And a human can’t simply fly in the sky like an angel can.”
“Of course that’s the case. But we can only travel via ship after all…”
“Do you really think so?”
The Goddess Resflaze sat up on the Seat of the Goddess on one knee. The expression she has where the corner of her lips lifted up in a grin was as if she was actually waiting for those exact words earlier to be uttered.
“Ren. You. Have you forgotten who I actually am?”
“Who you are? Even if you say that now…”
“The Holy Land Canaan should be at thesouthern end of the Arcana continent. If that’s the case then… Fumu… Well, it should be fine after making this much fine tuning.”
The maiden with brilliant (Odd Eyes).
Her azure colored left eye suddenly gave of an ethereal glow.
“Ren, behind you to your left should be a large pillar,correct? Try touching it.”
“The pillar behind and to the left. Is this it?”
He headed towards the pillar as instructed and stretched out his hand. The moment Ren’s fingers touched the white pillar slightly covered in green vines—
“I shall send you till the Holy Land Canaan then.”
Ren’s body became enveloped in crimson particles.
“Don’t tell me this pillar is—”
“The pillars inside this [Garden of Seraphs]. Did you think of them as mere decorative objects perhaps? As you can see, all the pillars here are actually Trial Gates. Five of them lead to each of this world’s different continents. The other two lead to the Underworld and Valley of Dragons respectively. How about it? Are you surprised?”
The maiden with brilliant (Odd Eyes) made a proud gesture and puffed out her chest.
The glowing crimson particles surrounding Ren obscured the form of the girl who ruled over all of Heaven.
“You should go now. I shall expect you to have grown further once we meet again, alright?”
“Eh? No, just wait a darn—”
The next moment.
Without any sound or changes in the atmosphere, the form of Ren finallyvanished from Heaven.
The [Garden of Seraphs] at the center of Heaven.
The Goddess Resflaze remained within as she sent Ren off to his next destination.
“He’s one human you would never tire of seeing.”
The Goddess made a bitter smile.
Next to her, Fear sat while staring intently at the pillar Ren had stood in front of.
“He’s surprised by every little thing, becomes visibly moved, and gets easily excited. Observing such a person is actually quite enjoyable.”
“Of course it is, desuwa.”
“The humans who have short life spans have never lost such a sense of wonderment. Both [Sword Emperor] Eleline and [Sword Saint] Shion haveunwavering dispositions, akin to a large tree, no matter what comes their way. Compared to them, Ren seems to be a glass bell.”
If hit lightly, it will give off a faint echo. If hit strongly, it will reverberate grandly till the farthest distance.
—But in the end, it is made of glass.
One tiny misstep and it will gain cracks and eventually break.
That is the existence called a human.
“You should guide him well. So that glass bell becomes one made of the strongest, toughest steel.”
“Yes. Please look forward to it. …But there is one thing that worries me.”
Fear rubbed her forehead with her fingers as she lamented.
“What is it?”
“Resflaze sama, you’ve completely forgotten about the Dragon Princess Kyelse and the previous Demon Lord Elise, haven’t you? Even if you’re able tosend both me and Renstraight towards the Arcana continent, those two are still waiting onboard a boat you know.”
The mouth of the Goddess Resflazehalf-opened with a *pokansound.
“See. I thought so. What will you do now?”
“Y- You lot should think about that yourselves. There should be a lot of ways to go about it if it’s you three, right?!”
The maiden with the brilliant (Odd Eyes) turned her face away in a bullish manner.
After that childish display.
“Really now… You don’t just look like a child but act as one too.”
Heaven’s strongest Archangel let out an exasperated sigh.