The berserking Zephyr is breaking through the enemy lines, and then enters the battlefield where the smokescreen is wafting about. Enemy and allies were cutting down each other, and in that chaotic space…what are you planning on doing, Claine?!
At that moment, Zephyr’s legs suddenly stop. His limit has come. The time he can stay as an invincible god of destruction is really short, and the price is big.
It looks like Zephyr is trying to move his body, but it isn’t moving an inch.
As if he found himself bound, the coordination between both body and brain crumbles, and that massive lump of muscle stiffened like a statue.
“…Time’s up, it seems.” (Solje)
“…Yeah…Doje, sorry…” (Zephyr)
“No, you tried plenty well… Sorry for making you push yourself like this.” (Solje)
“…It is okay…” (Zephyr)
The mana dissipates from Zephyr.
I jump off from Zephyr’s back. Aah, Zephyr, you may have shrunk one size smaller…
Zephyr has used way too much energy. Changing your body instantly may have been way too reckless. Sorry that my technique has pushed you in such a way.
“Yeah, you probably can’t move anymore. Leave the rest to me and my comrades. Take a good break, Zephyr.” (Solje)
The dragon’s body slowly falls onto the ground. He soon loses consciousness and begins to snore. I exhausted him way too much. Okay, from now on, it is Doje’s turn.
“Now, we have come this far, General Claine!!” (Solje)
I unsheathe the dragon longsword and glare beyond the black smoke.
Old man, what did you set up?
…Zack Claine, just what did you scheme at this crucial point?
I concentrate…prepare myself…that’s why I even managed to notice the sound of a pulling arrow!! Several tens…no, several hundreds?! Impossible! That’s not like you…!
“Damn it… Wind, Fire…!” (Solje)
I hurriedly activate two types of spells in my left palm. A dragon’s fire and a whirling wind ball. I mix them and…damn it!! The arrows are coming!! An indiscriminate rain of arrows!!
Finishing the form, I release a third rate spell that has pointlessly high mana expenditure. A mix of fire and wind creates a blast just as I wanted!
A good percent of the arrows were blown away by that, but it is not like it dealt with all of them. The rain of arrows poured down on us…no, on even the imperial soldiers…
One pierced my right shoulder. Damn it, my dominant arm of all places. Well, at least that’s better than hitting Zephyr.
I pull out the arrow. And then, I instantly grew hazy… Tch, putting even the details in. Poisoned? That’s dirty, Zack Claine.
Thanks to the blast, the black smokescreen was cleared. The vision gets clear…
And so, my comrades in arms and I who had received a rain of poisoned arrows…saw several tens of imperial soldiers crouched. General Claine shot even the imperial soldiers that were in the middle of fighting us.
“Oi…that’s not like you. Going as far as finishing us along with your comrades?” (Solje)
Around 200 meters afar from the cleared black smokescreen, Zack Claine stabbed his sword to the ground, and was standing there in ready.
It is at this distance, so…he surely didn’t hear my complaints. But he could read my heart.
The old veteran roars loudly in the battlefield.
“I can’t save the ones on the road to Hades! It is a logical conclusion; sacrifice a few to save the many!!” (Claine)
“…I see!! That is indeed a logical decision!!” (Solje)
Even so, to shoot your comrades too…No, that cruelness can be categorized as a strength in the battlefield. It is true that our arrival would have sooner or later meant the demise of the soldiers here.
If they are lives he can’t save, deplete them for the sake of your comrades. That is the decision of a first rate tactician.
It is not a decision I like though.
He reorganized his formation at some point in time…
Spread widely from both sides; a formation of two wings that has a large open center…moreover, their hidden archers have been gathered here.
I see, a formation that shoots to death the unicorns without mercy.
Using the group at the front as a blindfold wall to hide their work from us…he created something like this.
There’s no doubt, you are the strongest General I know of. I thought that if it was with the resolve of striking them down with our lives on the line, even we would be able to manage, but…it looks like we were naive.
“…You are not going to surrender, Solje Strauss?!” (Claine)
“Hahahahahaha!! As if.” (Solje)
“Kuh! Are you really that attached to the future?! Just how much crime will you spread in this world for the sake of that ‘future’ you speak of?!” (Claine)
“…I will spread them as much as needed. If I don’t, my fingers won’t reach no matter how much I stretch them!!” (Solje)
“It is impossible! The future you wish for is just empty fallacies!! The hate of the people is strong, knight of Garuna!! You have been led astray by the depths of that rage!!” (Claine)
“…Yeah, that’s right, General. It is a fleeting dream that would be drawn in crayons.” (Solje)
“Even though you understand that, why are you struggling to achieve it?!” (Claine)
“…Because I want to!! If I don’t, just continuing to live like that would be boring!!” (Solje)
“Kuh! You are a really stubborn man. Why weren’t you born in the same banner of justice?! …For the sake of a reckless justice, for the sake of a future that will never be won…that’s only self-satisfaction that’s brought by your own desire for demise!!” (Claine)
He really is a good old man. Claine is trying to convince me and save the lives of even the Alliance army.
You are also on your limit, right? 10,000 have long been devoured. If the Ludo Kingdom’s army targets you, you might die on your way back.
…Well, if you use me as a hostage, you might be able to have a negotiation with Queen Claris. Her Majesty isn’t that soft though… Aah, yeah, this isn’t that.
This old man is just plain good natured.
He is a crazy strong general, but it seems like he doesn’t like to see people die in wars. He really does have the opposite philosophy of us. It isn’t bad. I can’t bring myself to hate your justice.
Even so, I am a Strauss.
“…I know!!” (Solje)
“There was a wide variety of people in the country that His Majesty Verius made!!” (Solje)
“It is just that that country was special…” (Claine)
“I have also seen others. The Ludo Kingdom is one! And any child could play in that forest!” (Solje)
“…You may have two exceptions, but…” (Claine)
“Garf Cortez!” (Solje)
“…Who is that?” (Claine)
“A plain old man that has no name for himself. The mercenary crew that he created…has that same wind in it.” (Solje)
“…Could it be…your…” (Claine)
“I know a lot of places in this world where that wind that shouldn’t exist actually blows!! Hey, old man, that wind has plenty enough value to risk your life for!!” (Solje)
“That’s just a dream… Why can’t you just accept reality?!” (Claine)
“I am telling you that that way of living is boring!!” (Solje)
“…Then, I will become the fiend that stands in your path. I have to protect the order of this world, the peace of it!!” (Claine)
“Yeah, then I will become a cruel Demon Lord as well!!” (Solje)
Zack Claine, honestly speaking, this is my ‘lost’. I don’t want to admit it, but you are superior. Are you sure you are not the top in the imperial army generals instead of Kaizer?
Seriously, if it weren’t for you…we could have won with only us.
“…Too bad, Zack Claine!! To have me use such a gamble!” (Solje)
I violently take out a leather bag hanging at my waist.
“…What’s that?” (Claine)
“Beautiful, right? This blue that seems as if it has been cut off from ‘freedom’!! This is the sacred treasure of the Diaros…the name of this is…the Possession Crystal!!” (Solje)
“…Possession Crystal…the sacred treasure used to fight against Zeruagas?” (Claine)
As expected of an intelligent guy. He knows a lot of things.
But there’s things you can’t learn only with knowledge. I have experienced it with my own body, so I know more about you about this sacred treasure.
“Why is it that you…no, what are you trying to do with something like that?” (Claine)
“…Call for reinforcements.” (Solje)
That’s General Zack Claine for you. He noticed immediately. Or more like, I gave way too many hints.
Claine shouts, he orders the archers!!
“Shoot your arrows!! Don’t let him use that!!” (Claine)
“Too late. They are already here.” (Solje)
That hasty and vigorous bunch has begun to move a long time ago.
The archers noticed.
“Ah?! What…! W-Why?! M-My fingers…are f-freezing?!”
Fumu, so the first one coming out from Hades is you…the first Freedom Knight.
The guy that I thought I wouldn’t be able to meet anymore…I am now meeting him again unexpectedly faster than I thought.
Skeleton and armor merged into one, a truly rustic man. Protecting the pitiful souls of the children and the saint-like monster for 300 years, the ultra cool knight.
Is that a shadow?
…I can’t tell.
He was standing in front of me, but isn’t responding. We had such a flashy farewell, so maybe it is embarrassing that we are meeting again so soon? …It is possible. I feel like Mistral has a shy side after all.
But he is by no means an illusion. He is standing in front of me in flesh and bones…that might not be the best way to put it.
We will be fighting together.
Mistral raises his greatsword…and summons Ice Wolves!!
The grass is gradually freezing, the ground hardens… Aah, of course, the wind that Mistral called isn’t going to be doing only that.
“N-Noooo, I-I am freezing?!”
The imperial archers are freezing. He is only aiming at the archers, huh…
Fumu, Mistral, you also hate it? These people that shoot their own comrades. Looks like your knight’s code can’t forgive those guys.
Mistral didn’t answer at all and disappears from in front of me.
You turned into wind, huh. That’s just like you. The wind of Zakuroa is blowing for your sake after all.
But the Ice Spell is not ending. Being attacked by the frost, the abdomen of the frozen soldiers bursts open. Their abdomens have been bitten off by the Ice Wolves that jumped out from the frozen ground.
It is pitiful that they didn’t get an instant death, but well, they will die eventually. Their insides have been eaten after all.
Mistral who had turned into the wind seems to be crueler than ever before.
The icy ground that has been decorated by frost had Ice Wolves of blue flaming eyes coming out from it. And of course, they follow the will of Zakuroa and were only attacking the 5th division that’s invading these lands.
This wasn’t only occurring here.
From the frozen ground everywhere on the battlefield, there were Ice Wolves coming out.
Their numbers were in the hundreds, or maybe even more than that.
At any rate, the imperial pigs were unable to immediately deal with the sudden slaughterers. They were having their throats and stomachs bitten open by their frozen fangs.
Nice, Mistral. You really are a good guy that thinks of his juniors. I seriously wanted to hire you. I want your sword even now. I want to consult Gindo and see if there’s a way to do it.
Anyways…you are the best! You are seriously cool!!
That’s why I laugh! You are doing the best job as a knight. I have to praise you and tell you!!
“Hahahaha!! Nice, Mistral!! Now, listen, zakuroan comrades!! Listen to my voice!! My name is Solje Strauss!! I have brought back from the dead your dear senior friends, the Freedom Knights of Zakuroa!!” (Solje)
——The fearsome ‘miracle’ of the Demon Lord was moving.
In front of the Freedom Alliance soldiers that were in dire straits, undead knights from Hades had come.
For the sake of their juniors that were injured and had their knees on the ground groaning, a blade clad in frost runs.
The knights of blue shadows that appeared from the frozen ground cut the imperial pigs!!
——Don’t fear us, Freedom Knight juniors!!
Even if our lives are no more, our freedom seeking hearts burn on!!
Overcoming even the boundaries of life and death, they return here for the sake of a common philosophy!!
That’s right comrades, our bonds won’t be cut just because of death!!
——Do you remember, my name is Judo.
Do you remember, I am Elizabeth.
The ears of Solje hear the voice of his comrades, the lovers that died leaning on each other at that bench.
That’s why Solje laughs, so you guys really are together even in death!!
——Rodoni points out ‘listen here, Russelback, that was a fluke, okay?’
Russelback was laidback ‘not true, I won in total victories’.
Shut up, then, in the last match…
…Yeah, we decide by who kills the most!.
——Good grief, the northern men are pathetic!!
The beautiful Mariel skewers one imperial pig after the other with her short spear!!
Hey hey, stand up already, it is too soon to die!!
If you don’t do so after burning out your life, you won’t be popular even in Hades, you know?!
——The small Woodhead uses his favorite knife to create deaths!!
Got it? Don’t go giving up, that will just keep you weak.
Even when living, even in death, cling on, no need to give up.
The man that is giving meaning to our battle is standing in the very frontlines, you know? Be there for him!!
——Nyukam and Shido, the spear of the two that were raised like brothers skewered the enemies at the same time.
Nice technique, Shido; You too, Nyukam.
The two laugh, and enjoy an extension of their time in the present world, together with their comrades that were raised in the same orphanage as them.
We will protect them!! Yeah, of course!! We are family after all!!
——Victor had an arrow lodged in his shoulder, he runs to the side of his collapsed brother, Julian Laichi.
Brother, brother, are you okay?!
…Yeah, somehow, but…we are surrounded by the enemy…you at least should run away…
No way…there’s no way I can do that, not without you, brother!
——Julian Laichi makes a bitter laugh ‘Aah, I should have learned more swordsmanship’.
He couldn’t act cool at times like this in front of his little brother after all…
…My life was pointless…?
When Julian was about to give up, he heard his voice…
——No, that’s not true, Julian Laichi.
Julian was surprised and opens his eyes.
Standing there was the knight that taught him the basics of the sword when he was a child.
…You…didn’t you die…?
——Vashiri Nova laughs with an old expression.
Yeah, a long time ago! …But the bond was there, and I came back!!
Just watch, tall and lanky Julian, late riser Victor!!
Swords are meant to be swung with your soul!!
——The blade dance of the old knights sent the imperial soldiers to hell in the blink of an eye!!
…The way of life of you merchants made Zakuroa bountiful.
Happiness that cannot be created with a sword, that’s what you gave to our homeland.
The old man laughs with glee, in order to praise that pal of his!!
——This bountiful Zakuroa that you guys created!!
Our swords will once more…just once more…protect you!!
Comrades!! Invaders of the Empire!!
Listen to our names!! We are the Zakuroa Freedom Knights!!
——The foolhardy bunch that seeks freedom has returned from Hades.
Together with the Ice Wolves, the blue apparitions of knights rampage in the battlefield!!
The confusion of the living zakuroans soon disappeared.
Yeah, let’s do what we have to do!! We are fighting together with that foolhardy bunch!!
——For the sake of freedom, for the sake of being shackled by no one!!
Just once more…no, that’s not it!! We must not give up!!
If we do, this brittle ‘dream’ of a future…!!
There’s no way we would be able to reach it!!
——That’s why, that’s why we will stand up!
We are mercenaries!!
We will stand up from the depths of hell, devour even despair, and fill our hunger!
Laugh even while dying, live acting strong…and grasp the future with those hands!!
“…I-Impossible…!! What is happening?! Undead appeared?! Are you telling me that you called them, Solje Strauss?!” (Claine)
In my vision that has already been hit by the poison coursing, Zack Claine was shouting while hitting away an Ice Wolf with his sword.
I called them?
…Aah, you could say that, but I feel like that’s not how it is.
Cause you know…it is not like they would just come after being called.
It is because it is them that they could arrive here.
That’s why it is not really my achievement.
“…No, it is not me. They came here because they wanted.” (Solje)
“There’s no way…!” (Claine)
Yeah, it is crazy.
The Zakuroa Freedom Knights and I…just because we wished for it, just for seeking it with our very lives…doesn’t mean that we will be able to obtain it, and yet, we still continue to seek on.
Against the Empire that controls the world?
We are trying to push through our naive wish.
It is not logical. Even an idiot like me knows that… But you know, we long for that way of living. Isn’t it cool? Lately, I have finally begun to understand what is the song that the Strauss want to arrive at.
Desire for death?
That’s not it.
It is simply living for an objective that is worthy of dying for.
We red haired fiendish swordsmen…the songs of the Garuna Strauss…
That’s the ultra cool way of living they have.
That’s why…things like poison, pain, blood loss, fading consciousness… It is not the time to be thinking about such things!!
While crushing the frozen ground with my iron soles, I take one step after another!!
“…K-Kill him!! There’s no need to protect me! That man!! Just kill Solje Strauss!! If we do, we will be able to protect the world for sure!!” (Claine)
“B-Be gone, wretched Demon Lord!!”
Passing by the pack of Ice Wolves, I sway as I continue on, and the imperial knights flood towards me.
Are you people insulting me? This raging red haired Strauss that is clinging to his life and is trying to cut open the future?!
“Weaklings, don’t go thinking that you can stop me with just 4 people!!” (Solje)
The heat of my anger pushes my dying body that has poison circulating in it!!
The first one I kill with a downwards slash; I avoid the slow swing of the second one, and cut off his head with my dragon longsword!!
The third one’s attack…I don’t feel like I can avoid it, so I close the range, and take it with my left shoulder armor in the area that is the toughest. A pain that feels as if it could crush my shoulder bones ran, but I ignore it! Without minding it, I kill him with a stab!!
The thrust of the fourth man that is scared…pierced my dragon scale armor and stabbed my stomach a bit.
My golden eye of raging mana and my blue eye that seeks the freedom of the sky were glaring at him. Was it a scary face? Are you so scared that you let go of the handle of your sword?
I am so happy. That’s the proper emotion to have when facing someone in the path of the Demon Lord!!
“That’s not something you ask the Demon Lord, but God.” (Solje)
A merciless horizontal sweep cuts off the head of the knight and it dances in the air. The blood of a scared warrior is delicious.
I lick the blood that splashed onto my face as I enjoy the taste of death.
I take out the sword pierced in my stomach, call fire, and burn the wound to stop the bleeding.
The strongest General, Zack Claine, looks at me in shock.
“How what?” (Solje)
“How can you go so far in your battle? Why are you not dying?” (Claine)
“…Who knows. There’s something I yearn for from the bottom of my heart.” (Solje)
I continue my advance with my swaying body. I walk towards Zack Claine, towards the enemy army. That’s what I have to do.
“I simply…use my whole…my everything…for the things that I want…” (Solje)
“…You…want to create the future to such an extent…? Even if you have to give up your life?” (Claine)
“…Yeah, that’s right… It is in that cool way of living…that I want to die…” (Solje)
My blood ran out.
My body fell onto the cold and hot ground of the battlefield.
Zack Claine was watching me from afar.
Damn it, get up. I want to act strong for just a bit more, but…my blood and mana are just running dry…!
“…You are not standing up?”
…I couldn’t hear it from all the blades clashing and the raging wind, but for some reason, the low voice of the old man…I feel like he said that…
——You are one sleepy dragon, Zephyr-kun.
The young dragon that was in a lethargic state picks up those kind words.
…Is it from the Maje that gave birth to him?
That’s what Zephyr thought.
——Your important person is on the verge of death, you know?
…You don’t want to abandon him, right?
Of course I don’t…but my body…is not moving…
Yeah, you and him have suffered too much after all.
——That’s why I will give you a bit of power.
…Are you really…Mother?
Yeah, I love the children that try to survive in this Zakuroa.
With these arms, with these hands…I hugged many, and tried to protect many.
——But you see, my heart, my arms, are not enough.
Comforting the dead won’t change the world ever.
That’s why I want to leave my strength to the person that might be able to change it.
…The dragon thought that was the case.
——This person is also a Maje.
Because she is looking at Doje…at Solje Strauss.
The saintly mother that lived in the darkness of the undead-filled Zakuroa hugs the tip of the dragon’s nose.
Zephyr feels something warm coming from it.
——Body warmth? Mana? …Love…
I will give you my power…please share it with him.
…Yes, Maje…Your body is disappearing…?
Yeah, my time has come…now, oh grand wings that will guide the path!!
…Open your eyes and sing once more for the sake of your loved ones…