A man known to burn any path that he takes, turning everything into the same ash color as his hair.
The prince that is widely known as the darling child of war.
The looks of the man who had been rumored to even have killed demon lords was――
――It really is you isn’t it. …『Brad』.
Without a fail, 『he』 was the same as Hasim remembered him.
The memory that flickered for less than a second passed and Hasim returned to himself.
The moment that his brain had comprehended that he had seen the figure of Serius, his brain kept impatiently ringing alarm bells and he quickly opened his mouth. A loud voice resounded.
While looking for Elma and her group who had gone to flank the enemy from the right, he called Merea.
The gaze that he felt a moment ago was enough for him to understand that his plan had been seen through already.
The gaze that came from far away. If it hadn’t been in this situation, he would have ignored it with a, 『that’s impossible』 feeling.
However, he could no longer ignore it.
Every hair on his body was standing on end.
As if to show that his conviction was not mistaken, the 『people』 far away could be seen moving around.
Serius could be seen giving instructions to several other black armoured soldiers, riding on similar red scaled land dragons.
Although he couldn’t see the gestures in detail but he could see that the black armoured people had started forming a huge 『technique formation』 in front of them, leaving Hasim with absolutely no room to doubt his conviction anymore.
The technique formation was leaning towards the right side where Elma and her group was.
In the next moment, Hasim finally found Elma’s figure.
She herself didn’t seem to have noticed Serius’ arrival yet.
Her position was probably bad. Not to mention, in that pressing situation, she probably had her entire concentration on making sure that she didn’t lose sight of the enemy commander.
If it carried on this way, as soon as she entered the shooting range of the enemy, she’d definitely be sniped at.
If her reaction makes it in time then she might be able to resist it by making use of the demon sword Krishra’s technique cleaving but normal people would never be able to react to a high speed attack from a place that they haven’t even been expecting to be attacked from.
The situation was tilting towards the worst possible outcome.
「I’ll hold the left side somehow or the other! You go to the sword emperor now!! ――Go!! Quickly!」
Hasim moved his horse towards the left side. Without minding that he himself was entering the fray, he moved his sword with one hand.
When Merea heard Hasim’s voice, he blew away the enemies around himself and quickly looked around to confirm the situation.
In the next instant, when he faced a certain direction, he stiffened. A man with ash coloured hair riding a red land dragon.
Merea who had been concentrating on the battle seemed to only then notice those people approaching.
Merea’s body moved towards the right, at a speed that was a few levels higher than anything he had done so far.
It was at a speed where his figure could no longer be seen with the naked eye.
With the point where Merea steps on as the origin, a windstorm raged in the surroundings.
Having already comprehended the entire situation, Merea moved towards Elma in a straight line with a speed that left behind afterimages.
The white flash ran through the battlefield.
Partway, Merea found Noel who had been rampaging in the central battlefield instead of him and jumped onto his back.
It was the perfect timing as well since Noel had just finished cleaning up all the enemies in the surroundings.
Noel seemed to be extremely happy at Merea’s sudden visit and started bouncing around but he immediately noticed Merea’s tension and tilted his head in confusion.
Merea quickly gave Noel instructions in dragon tongue.
The first was to go support the battle on the left side that he had just left and the other was――
As soon as he finished speaking in dragon tongue, Merea got off Noel’s back in a hurry and then ran towards his tail. Then,
「Swing it with all your might!」
As soon as Merea said that with a strong voice―― Noel swung his tail horizontally with an astounding forcee.
It seemed like Noel was trying to cut Merea down.
The demon lords in the surroundings couldn’t help but draw back a little but Merea himself didn’t even frown for a second and kept watching the movement of the tail.
Then, Merea used that as a scaffold and flew through the sky.
Using the force of Noel’s tail attack, he had his body fly through the sky diagonally.
He flapped the six wings of wind and added even more speed to his movement and with that violent force, he passed by everything.
The ones reflected in Merea’s eyes were the soldiers of Lemuse as well as Elma who was trying to circle around to the rear of the enemies.
――I’ll reach no matter what.
Elma was boiling with killing intent as she looked at the man with a large build, in the other side of the crowd of black clothed people.
They had already been noticed by Mūzeg’s cavalry and already had to fight battles in between.
However, the main force of Mūzeg had already set off towards the left and added to that, they hadn’t been noticed by a majority of the soldiers until they had already crossed more than half the distance which was something that was really advantageous for them.
――I’ll reach now.
Elma did not doubt that fact. As if resonating with that confidence, the demon sword raised an exceptionally loud cry.
――What’s that…? ...Light?
They had already gone around behind Mūzeg and taken their backs. They only needed to determine themselves and breakthrough to the spot where the commander was.
Those guys who didn’t expect to have enemies going around to their backs were left rather defenseless.
As Elma raised her sword and fixed her posture while encouraging herself, she noticed a strange 『light』.
It was a white light that she remembers seeing somewhere.
Sixth sense. Intuition. The intuition of Elma, who herself was a warrior with rare talent, understood what that light was reflexively with a speed that even her thoughts weren’t able to catch upto.
However, by that time, A big white light was already approaching in front of her eyes.
There was absolutely no time――to move her body.
The white light, 『grazed』 Elma’s face.
It didn’t hit her directly.
It missed her with a paper thin difference.
Elma was still not able to understand how she had been saved.
When her stiffened body loosened after a moment, she thinking ability finally returned.
In the next instant, she noticed it.
Standing in the gap between her and the white light――was the figure of Merea.
The arrival of Merea and the shot of the white light cannon were simultaneous. The white light cannon was without a doubt approaching Elma from the front, about to attack her but Merea who showed up in the nick of time, managed to get in between Elma and the cannon with the same speed that he had been travelling at.
His left hand had a reversal technique that he had knit while in mid flight out of pure reflex.
Merea’s reversal technique and the white light cannon had crashed together and one small part in the very depths of the white light cannon had gone a slightly different direction and made it through. This was the light that had grazed Elma’s face.
However, most of it had already disappeared in the dried up noise left over after the contest.
Elma looked over at Merea who was rolling on the ground with the same force that he had entered with from the side, speechlessly.
However, even Elma understood that she was the target if that attack.
While keeping an eye on Merea, she tried to check out where and how she had been attacked as such. She looked over at the direction that the light had come from.
She saw the red land dragons at the end of her sight and a moment later she noticed the human figure that she had seen before.
While getting down the sacred mountain of Lindholm in Shaw’s golden ship, the man that they had encountered just once.
With ash coloured hair――
「...Serius Brad Mūzeg!」
She couldn’t see any details since it was too far away but she felt like he had returned her gaze which caused every hair on her body to stand on end.
It was an instinctive response of her body.
Feeling that, Elma was convinced. It was a conviction that she really did not want.
Merea quickly got up and yelled. Elma immediately understood what those short words meant
After having made it so far, they couldn’t really let the commander go just like that.
There were also those soldiers from Lemuse who had been left behind during the battles. For their sakes as well, they couldn’t go back empty handed.
Elma fixed her senses and quickly made the horse run forward.
She positioned Mūzeg’s soldiers as a wall against the earlier white light cannon and charged forward.
Due to the situation that just occured, they hadn’t gone as far around the enemy’s army as their original plan demanded but in the current situation, they had no other choice.
――I’ll just have to cut open a path myself.
The moment after she had started moving, Elma heard another explosive sound behind her. Even if she didn’t see it, she understood. It was the 『second shot』.
「Don’t turn back! I’ll be fine!」
「――Yeah, I’ll definitely get his head!」
Without turning back, Elma moved forward at full speed while just shouting back.
――The same guys as the ones on the sacred mountain…!
While stopping the enemy’s white light cannon with the reversal technique in his left hand, Merea thought inwardly.
It was the same technique as the one that he saw on the sacred mountain. It was the cooperation technique that Mūzeg’ss practitioner corps used.
If the person who was riding on the red land dragon was Serius, as Elma had said, then――
――That means that he brought them from the sacred mountain…!
He probably brought along the elite practitioners who could at least ride on his back.
Merea had been rather happy that Mūzeg didn’t have any decent long distance capabilities. Since he didn’t have to leave any processing power for his reversal technique, he was able to use one technique of the heroic spirits more than usual.
However, now he was limited to the white lightning and the six wings of wind.
He had to cancel the three tails a little while back, when he used the reversal technique to block the attack against Elma.
「Such persistent guys!」
They were seriously annoying. How far do they plan on chasing after them for this hunt? Although he felt a little admiration at how persistent they were, when he thought of the side getting chased, they really were the worst.
While cursing them internally, he noticed that they were about to launch the third shot. The white light could be seen glittering in the distance.
As soon as he saw that, Merea started making his move.
「Don’t think that I’ll just keep taking your attacks…!」
Before the white light could be shot out, Merea stretched his right hand out and opened it up.
Merea’s red eyes shined with a pale phosphorescence and a mysterious pattern could be seen on its surface. The pattern was as beautiful as an elaborate work of art.
「Aggressive reversal technique――」
The moment after his words left his mouth, a technique could be seen developing in his open right hand at a bizarre speed.
Numbers, letters, geometric patterns, various system of structures mixed together to form that 『formation』, which moved around like a living, wriggling insect and in the blink of an eye an image had taken shape.
「――〈Black Light Cannon〉」
The time when the white light was shot out from the other side as well as the time when Merea shot out his own technique was practically simultaneous.
White light could be seen glittering in the distance and the technique formation created by Merea had a black light shining in it.
While both formations increased in size to cover each other, they became huge and converged while raising a high pitched noise.
It was shot off. A white flash a black luminescence flew through the battlefield.
It was as if, a reproduction of the scene that occured on the mountain top of the sacred mountain of Lindholm.
The white and black lights offset each other and an explosive sound resounded in the surroundings.
With that sound as the trigger, the majority of the people on the battlefield suddenly noticed the change in the situation. Movement started to take place.
The ones with the most noticeable movements were the soldiers of Mūzeg. They saw the afterglow of the white light cannon that had been offset and when they looked in the direction where the white light had been shot from, they seemed to finally notice Serius’ presence.
The light of the favorite cooperation technique of their home country was an easy to understand landmark for them.
The moment they noticed Serius, at the same time,
――They withdrew? Why…?
Merea’s surprise was also understandable. Rather than increasing their morale and charge forward, they ignored the chance that they had and instead retreated all together.
If they were losing then it was understandable. If their formation had crumbled then it was understandable.
However, Mūzeg was on the suppressing side.
At the very least, that was the case when it came to the battle on the left battlefield.
Even so, they 『abandoned』 all of that.
He couldn’t understand.
As if to show that not a single person in the army had a single complaint to their current actions, their movements were oddly orderly, which in turn caused Merea to feel a chill down his spine. ――That orderly movement seemed rather eerie to him.
However, as he was watching that scene in a half dumbfounded way, Merea suddenly thought of a certain possibility.
It’s an eccentric thought that he came up with simply because he had heard how mighty Serius was. Serius was an existence that was, to the kingdom of Mūzeg―― ――...That large an existence huh.
Isn’t it possible that they 『stopped』 taking orders from the current commander. Since a higher ranking commander had arrived, they immediately stopped the orders from the previous commander and retreated once to redo their formations and plans.
If that was actually true, then he couldn’t think of it as anything but abnormal.
Which was why he thought that is an eccentric possibility.
Even so―― Now that he had thought of that once, he couldn’t not think of it anymore.
Mūzeg’s army moved all together with synchronised movements as if they stopped thinking. The scene was surreal enough that he would be able to accept it if he was told that they had all been brainwashed.
――That man...that far huh…
A scene that seemed to prove Merea’s wild guess happened. That scene was reflected in his eyes when he turned his gaze towards Elma’s back.
The commander like man who Elma had been aiming at till a while back, had taken off the extremely large helm that he alone had been wearing.
As if to show that the very act of taking that helm off would return him to being a simple soldier.
Elma who saw that seemed to be hesitating as well.
It was an exceptionally strange sight.
「These are just dolls. ――Just 『dolls with warmth』」
Merea couldn’t get himself to move immediately and kept watching the retreating black wave of people.
Elma could see the dead all around. They were exactly like the dead directly from hell, swaying aimlessly under the sun.
They completely ignored her, who had infiltrated that far into their ranks and just approached that light as if they were broken dolls.
Elma missed her chance to swing out her sword.
The act of the entire army retreating simultaneously ended up with the commander having a thick defensive wall being created around him. If she had been, but a moment faster, she might have managed to cut him down. However, in the current situation, even if she forced herself, there was a chance that she may not be able to return after that.
The main reason that she had missed her chance had been something else.
More than anything else――
「What did he do just now…?!」
The moment that, that man took off the helm that was like the symbol of being a commander, she felt that there would no longer be any meaning in forcing herself to kill him.
That man―― 『Stopped being a commander』.
――That’s no joke. Is that even okay to do?!
She of course, thought that.
Even if she thought like that, as if gaining an unneeded conviction on the matter, that man’s actions were 『unnaturally natural』. That man didn’t seem to have any doubts about his own actions.
「That’s just insane…!!」
Just giving Serius the supreme commanding rights and that man retaining the position to command the squad would have still been fine.
However, the body that seemed so large a little while ago, seemed like it had become considerably smaller and with the other soldiers, without saying a single word, he continued to approach Serius.
He had 『assimilated』.
They were the same. He was no different from the other cavalrymen. He was a nameless soldier now.
Speak up. Order them to 『retreat to his highness Serius’ position』.
「Don’t just silently step back like a doll…」
Prove that your position is higher than the other soldiers. Prove that your leadership abilities are exceptional.
If we defeat you, our situation would become advantageous―― 「Prove that…!」
Elma’s yell didn’t get through. They just silently ran towards the light.
Elma recalled one of the main objectives of the original plan. Hasim had said that they were to buy time till the reinforcements from the three kingdoms came.
If that objective is kept in mind then this retreat by Mūzeg’s army is actually something that Lemuse should be excited about.
The cavalrymen of Lemuse would be able to breath a sigh of relief and the demon lords would have the same effect as well.
――This is a bit too…
Elma turned her thoughts towards the cavalrymen of Lemuse who had accompanied her. More accurately, to the cavalrymen that had put their life on the line on the way here and been 『lost』. When she thought of them, words naturally floated up in her mind.
Elma couldn’t say that out loud. However, she did think that internally. The few remaining cavalrymen of Lemuse probably thought the same.
What would become of the thoughts and feelings of all the people who put their lives on the line and died in the process, trying to get to this place. Did this charge end up becoming an extremely pointless endeavour?
Elma herself managed to come up with an answer to that and she couldn’t stop herself from strongly clenching her hand.
A strong sense of chagrin wrapped itself around Elma’s body.
「Not yet. Their sacrifice hasn’t become useless yet」
However, in the next instant, those words passed into Elma’s ears. It was a strong voice.
Elma immediately turned towards the direction of the voice and found the owner of it. Merea had, at some point, reached behind her and reaching up from below the horse, he grabbed her fist and opened her fingers up. His actions were so gentle that you wouldn’t even know that he was using the same hands he used a little while ago to take many people’s lives.
「Thanks to Elma reaching all the way here, Serius was forced to use that technique sooner than he probably planned. In the situation where he still had plenty of distance with Mūzeg’s army, he was forced to show that he was closing in on them. In that case――Let’s use the situation」
Elma couldn’t clearly understand what Merea was trying to do. However, she had an inexplicable desire to stop Merea.
This man is probably going to go do something now.
Not to mention, it’ll probably be something terrifying. This wasn’t her warrior’s intuition that was reacting but instead it was her 『woman’s intuition』 that was reacting.
As if expecting her hesitation, Merea smiled up at Elma.
「Elma return back from here. ――I’ll go out now」
Go. Where to?
――There’s no mistaking it.
――He’s going to go to where the red land dragon is.
This man is definitely capable of that.
As soon as she realised it, Elma was convinced.
Even though he was someone who had the title of lord of demon lords forced on him, he still tries to devote his entirety to fulfil that title.
He was a man who would easily use his body as a shield for demon lords.
It had been like that from the beginning and ever since they charged into this battlefield, that tendency had been growing ever stronger.
――He has a peculiar air.
The scent of a man who has such a strong affection for the other person that he would sacrifice himself for them without a second thought and the completely opposite scent of a solitary strong man.
Most probably the latter has its root in his strong will to cut down anyone and anything that stands in the path of his objective.
The two scents that feel like they’d contradict each other if he just took one wrong step.
It’s possible that they call this kind of air as the 『air of a hero』.
However, she had to stop him for that very reason.
There’s almost no more space left between Serius and Mūzeg’s soldiers. Although they haven’t regrouped yet but after shooting the technique earlier, the land dragons had been approaching quite quickly.
They had come close enough that their clothing could be seen.
They’ll reach in time and regroup.
What exactly can he achieve by jumping in now of all times.
――It’s too dangerous.
Elma suddenly stretched her hand out towards Merea from atop her horse. At some point, Merea who had been holding her hand had already moved further away.
「There’s something that I have to ask him no matter what. ――For the sake of my 『dream away from the battlefield』」
Hearing what Merea just said, Elma recalled the scene from 『that time』. She still vividly remembered the warmth from when she was in contact with Merea’s shoulder.
「There’s also the need to confirm what I talked about with Hasim before the war. For that sake, although it’s a short time, now would be my chance since I can still slip in between Mūzeg’s army and Serius」
While taking a step back, Merea spoke as if adding to his explanation. He had a smile on his face that seemed to be trying to give Elma peace of mind.
Elma felt a bad premonition and quickly jumped off her horse and tried to grab Merea’s hand. At some point, anxiety had filled her chest up and felt like it would come out her mouth.
「Not to mention, if I took this chance to take Serius’ head, the war would come to an end. If Serius is that large an existence for Mūzeg’s army then that in turn, is a huge weakness as well. If it goes well without a problem then that’s good. It’ll end the situation with everyone being saved from much injury」
That might be so. But,
――What about...your injuries?
Will be able to come back safe? Are you, yourself, included in that 『everyone』?
While trying to say those words, the hand she had stretched out――
「It’s fine――I’ll come back properly」
Grabbed onto empty air instead.
Merea had taken another step away from Elma and did not respond to her extended hand.
「St, stop it――Don’t go! Merea!」
Elma’s impatient scream resounded throughout the battlefield.
As that voice was resounded, Merea wrapped himself in the white lightning and rushed out.
The wings of wind on Merea’s back flapped strongly and the wind of the wilds that got stimulated by that stroked Elma’s face gently.
Elma continued to reach out to Merea’s back, which continued to grow smaller.
Various scenes flashed in front of her eyes.
Various thoughts whirled around in her mind.
In the end――
A tear fell from the corner of her eye.
It was a tear accompanied by an uncontrollable anxiety.
The moment she herself noticed those tears, Elma, for the first time――
Noticed that she held 『special feelings』 for Merea.
That hand――will no longer reach.