Continues on from Chapter 3 – Peaceful Life and the Sound of Approaching Military Boots
Continues on to Chapter 5 – Kriemhild’s Song
Chapter 4 – The Academy City’s Underground Labyrinth
Anya led Mirabel and Eunice as they explored the Academy City’s underground labyrinth. Although it had been a long time since she last wore her native tribal wear, her body was no stranger to the outfit. Needless to say, she hadn’t forgotten to wrap that red and yellow muffler around her neck. If she only wore that outfit though, it wouldn’t be warm enough in the current season, so Anya also wore a coat that she had purchased from the shopping district in Ansarivan City. The gauntlet on her left hand still had a leather whip hidden within it.
No matter what kind of beasts we encounter, none of them will be a match for my whip — Anya encouraged herself, but unexpectedly…
The ice cold droplets of water which hit her forehead caused a wave of cold to rush over her, and she instinctively shivered. The Dragon Crystal lamp that she carried almost fell to the ground.
“Are you okay, Anya?”
Behind her, Mirabel showed concern for Anya’s wellbeing.
“Ah, umm. I’m fine…”
It was somewhat embarrassing that the person she was responsible for protecting was worried for her. Anya straightened her nerves.
It was already the third day since they began to live a life without sunshine. For as far as they could see, everything was simply made of stone. There were occasionally cracks in the ceiling where water leaked down. It was not known whether it was rainwater or groundwater. The underground labyrinth was both dark and humid, and also so cold that anyone passing through would begin to feel themselves freeze. There were also many forks in the road, making it seem as if it had been designed to cause trouble for explorers. Occasionally, there were also strange monsters which suddenly attacked. These so-called monsters had been affected by the Bright Dragon Crystals embedded in the rock, and thus mutated. Anya’s mission was to protect Mirabel from the harm of these monsters. Anya felt somewhat guilty that she had thought Mirabel would scream and retreat on the first day. She hadn’t expected Mirabel to continue wandering this deep into the labyrinth. Even when they reached forks in the road, she simply gave the map in her hands a glance and issued instructions, not showing any signs of panic. No matter how dire the situation was, she maintained the same expression on her face and simply marched forward. Once night fell, she would tell Eunice to prepare a sleeping bag, and she used that to sleep directly on the floor. The courage that she showed gained Anya’s admiration.
On the other hand, the performance of her personal maid Eunice could only be described as pure loyalty. Even though they had come to the harsh environment of this underground cavern system, she still pushed along a cart with tea utensils as normal. On top of that, she also carried an enormous backpack on her shoulders. The mere width of that backpack was already twice that of Eunice’s body. According to Eunice’s explanations, the backpack apparently contained food, drinking water, and various tools for their exploration. Anya had even once offered to help Eunice share the load of the luggage out of goodwill. However, Eunice smoothly declined as if it was a job that she could handle with ease.
—I am fairly confident in my own stamina, so please focus on protecting the Princess, Anya-sama.
Unlike Cosette or Celes, she had not received any combat training. Logically speaking, the only reason that she had been chosen by Mirabel to be her exclusive maid was because of her first-rate technique in brewing black tea. But as a special maid of the Royal Family, she certainly seemed like more than just a pushover.
“—It’s almost time for tea I suppose.”
After a while, the three of them arrived at a vast open space which resembled a spherical cavity, and thus Mirabel stopped walking.
After Eunice set her backpack down on the ground, she found a flat area to lay a mat down on, and then prepared to brew tea. Anya held the Dragon Crystal lamp in her hand as she circled around the cavity, and couldn’t help but hold her breath.
“It’s so beautiful…”
The walls and ceiling of the cavity were inlaid with a countless number of Bright Dragon Crystals which shimmered with a rainbow sparkle. It was a surreal sight that almost resembled a crystal chandelier.
“I never imagined that a place like this existed under the Academy…”
What was most unbelievable was the fact that this cavity was filled with hazy white hot air. The cold air from earlier had completely warmed up here. It also carried a slight scent of sulphur.
“Princess-sama, there is a hot spring here.”
Eunice spoke in a slightly surprised tone as she pointed in a certain direction. In the centre of the space was a pit which had the rough size of a small swimming pool, and there was also steaming hot water in it.
“Oh, that’s great news.”
Mirabel confidently walked over to the hot spring, and then swiftly began to undress. She had hair like silver threads, as well as skin that was almost clear and transparent. Her breasts were small and delicate. Her waist seemed so slender and fragile that it invited the desire to cuddle around it. Her lovely legs also formed a smooth curve. In an instant, Mirabel was completely bare.
“Your Highness Mirabel?”
Anya couldn’t help but feel surprised by the princess’ bold actions.
“You two don’t have to be so modest either, come and enjoy the hot spring with me. Since there’s a bath, you should make use of the opportunity to cleanse your body — this is the necessary care that a lady should have.”
Mirabel turned her head and smiled at the two of them behind her. Following Mirabel’s generous invitation, Anya also disrobed and nervously soaked into the hot spring. Just in case a monster attacked, both Anya and Mirabel respectively set their whip and rapier down in a place where they could reach it at a moment’s notice. From start to end, Eunice insisted on upholding her own principles and refused to share the bath with the Princess until Mirabel brought up the word ‘order’, after which Eunice begrudgingly removed her maid outfit. Eunice seemed to have a rather slim build based on how she normally dressed, but once she removed her underwear, her unexpectedly large breasts bounced out, giving Anya a bit of a shock. She couldn’t help but draw a comparison to her own flat chest.
“P-Please don’t stare too much…it’s embarrassing.”
After Eunice whispered so in a voice that was almost inaudible, she sank deeper into the water. The colour of the water in the hot spring was a wondrous light shade of green.
“It’s such a strange colour…”
Anya said as she scooped some of the hot water into her hands.
“This hot spring should contain a lot of iron. Hot water itself is transparent, but the air has caused a reaction which changes its colour.”
Upon hearing Mirabel’s scholarly explanation, Anya felt impressed. There was little need for any further words. The three girls let themselves go and relaxed to enjoy the natural hot spring. After trenching through the cold, their entire bodies were gradually warmed by the hot water.
As Mirabel let out an entranced sigh, the side profile of her face caused Anya to blush despite also being a girl. Before she realised, Mirabel’s eyes had become moist and glowing, her cheeks were as red as apples, and the skin of her shoulders and back had been coloured with a pink tinge.
—If I were as beautiful as Her Highness Mirabel, maybe I’d have the potential to compete against Eco and Princess Silvia…?
Anya couldn’t stop her thoughts from gravitating towards that issue, but she quickly returned from her world of imagination.
—W-What am I thinking about…!?
Anya quickly snapped back to reality. No matter how comfortable the hot spring made her feel, Anya was unable to forget that she was Mirabel’s bodyguard. She could not take it lightly. Anya recalled what had happened over the last three days. While Mirabel explored, she had given her an overview of the general situation. It was said that — there existed a holy relic which lay dormant in the deepest part of the underground labyrinth beneath the Academy. In the end, the greatest reason why Mirabel had willingly taken up her position as the headmistress of the Academy was so that she could excavate the holy relic. Mirabel plainly admitted that if not for the existence of the holy relic, she would not have accepted the position of headmistress, even if it was an order from Veronica. However, even though she became the headmistress, it was impossible for her to immediately leave for an expedition in the underground labyrinth. It was because she lacked the key to exploration — a map. Partial maps were more or less difficult to locate, and the problem of finding a map which documented the deepest route was like a searching for a needle in a haystack. That was the case until a few days ago—. Mirabel finally got her hands on a map that seemed to be trustworthy, and thus she made the preparations to embark on an expedition. There was only a single issue — Mirabel had insisted upon not disclosing what kind of object the holy relic was supposed to be.
“Umm, Your Highness Mirabel…we’re already come this far, so could you please tell me what the holy relic is? I’m rather curious…”
Anya raised the courage to ask. According to Mirabel’s map, it would not be much longer before they arrived at the deepest part of the labyrinth. It was probably the right time for her to ask about the truth.
“That won’t do, Anya. The surprise must be kept secret until the very end.”
But Mirabel still refused to let it slip from her mouth. A faint smile emerged on her face, and she simply placed her index finger against her lips as the miniscule splashing sounds of water continued in the background. Every action she made had a hint of neatness and innocence, and she seemed as charming and luminous as the stars; Anya couldn’t help but feel embarrassed as she gazed at her, but—
From the depths of a passage, an unnerving low-pitched roar was suddenly heard. The next second, a dark shadow rushed towards the pit.
After Eunice let out a weak cry, she hid behind Anya’s back. They had believed that it was the attack of a monster, but that didn’t seem to be the case. It appeared to be a Strada. However, it had a glowing pair of eyes, twisted and deformed limbs, and a decaying body. It was not something that could be classified as an ordinary dragon. The surroundings had also become overrun with a rancid odour.
After Anya hurriedly climbed out of the hot spring, she picked up the whip that she had left near the rocky edge. However, a Necromancia was still a dragon nonetheless. It was not an opponent that could be dealt with using a mere whip…. Anya had once manipulated a Necromancia, and that was why she was well acquainted with how horrific Necromancia were.
“Kuh, what should I do—”
Instantly, Mirabel leapt forward as she shouted. Her slender nude body was only draped in a bath towel. The droplets of water which slipped off her porcelain white skin fluttered and danced in the air. Dazzling silver light was projected from her right hand. Her bright white blade drew out a vertical arc, and the body of the Necromancia was split cleanly in two. The dragon’s corpse which had been split into two briefly became shrouded in a cloud of grey smoke, and it soon returned to dust.
“Your Highness Mirabel…! You’re incredible…!”
Momentarily stunned, Anya quickly hurried over to Mirabel’s side. She had cut the Necromancia apart in such a fearless manner. The expression on Mirabel’s face seemed indifferent as she turned towards Anya.
“Anya, you had such an excessive fear of the enemy that you were unable to see its true essence. The monster that is called a Necromancia isn’t actually that much of a threat.”
Just as Mirabel said, the Necromancia from earlier certainly did seem too weak. By reason, the most impressive characteristic of a Necromancia was its ability to regenerate. Regardless of how skilled Mirabel was in swordsmanship, it was far too unusual that the Necromancia had been taken down in a single strike. Compared to the Necromancia that Milguass summoned in the past, its defensive ability was far too weak. Anya began to criticise herself internally as she clenched her fists. Her performance had been utterly lacking for someone who was supposed to be a bodyguard. Her half-baked knowledge had led her to become transfixed on an incorrect stereotype, and she was unable to produce an immediate response….
“Princess-sama, please get dressed.”
Eunice then brought Mirabel’s clothing over to her. Eunice had already put her maid outfit back on.
“I suppose I should.”
Mirabel put her rapier down, and put her clothes back on with the help of Eunice.
“Please quickly get dressed as well Anya-san. You will catch a cold if you remain naked.”
Thanks to Eunice’s kind reminder, Anya came to realise that she was still naked after all this time because she had been so lost in thought.
When Anya hastily put her clothing back on, Mirabel muttered
“Regarding that topic, there appears to be something off about the situation. How could a Necromancia appear in this place?”
“As far as I know, the only one capable of summoning Necromancia from the ashes of dragon corpses was the Dark Dragon King Mordred who was once attached to Prince Julius. The magic sword that he used for summoning was a special weapon that had been crafted by the Empire, a nation proud of their magical engineering technology. There should be no way to mass produce—”
Anya had only gotten halfway until she suddenly became alert and kneeled down on the spot. She tilted her head and placed one ear against the surface of the ground as she concentrated. There was no mistake. Someone — enough people to comprise a platoon were gradually approaching them.
“…That’s strange, what happened to the Strada from earlier?”
Klaus pulled on the reins as soon as he arrived in a wide, open area. The surrounding walls were embedded with shimmering Bright Dragon Crystals and the atmosphere felt like a large dreamy cavity. The horse came to a sudden halt. At the same time, <Fenrir> soldiers who were marching on foot stopped.
“Kriemhild, are you tired?”
Klaus turned back and asked the girl behind him, though he was not truly concerned about the girl’s welfare. What he was actually worried about was the girl getting tired, and thus not being able to utilise her strength as a weapon during a critical moment, dragging the entire battle down. If not for this reason, Klaus wouldn’t have seen Kriemhild as a young girl, and he wouldn’t have shared his horse with her.
Kriemhild held onto Klaus’ waist as she silently shook her head.
“Right. Then let us continue.”
Led by Klaus, the troops marched through the cavity. On the way, everyone coincidentally discovered that there was a hot spring in the centre.
“Young Master. There is something that we suspect to be a dragon’s ashes scattered next to the hot spring.”
At that moment, the captain of <Fenrir> suddenly asserted that with a loud voice.
“Gerhard, how would you explain this?”
“It’s highly possible that its body lost the energy to continue on, and thus it self-disintegrated. Although we have managed to successfully mass-produce weapons of magical engineering, their strength isn’t comparable to that of Milgauss-dono…”
“…I forbid you from mentioning the name of that traitor.”
Klaus became infuriated the instant he heard that name. He had intended to bring his troops away from the cavity quickly, but he suddenly came up with an idea.
“Is something the matter?”
“Gerhard, how much remains of the dragons’ ashes?”
“Unfortunately…only the amount of a single Maestro.”
“Then, let’s summon it here now.”
Klaus said as he looked around the large cavity.
“This large cavity has a somewhat mysterious atmosphere. Don’t you think that it’s an excellent place to use for summoning?”
“You are very perceptive, Young Master. We shall make the preparations.”
Gerhard respectfully replied with a bow.
As Anya hid behind a rock and peeked at the situation in the wide cavity, her heart pulsed chaotically. After discovering that unknown people were approaching, her decision to lead Mirabel and Eunice behind a rock formation for concealment was correct, but she hadn’t envisioned that the person to show up here would be that one.
—That person is the Count of the Vandenhaar border, Klaus! Why has he led his troops to a place like this!?
Anya speculated that since Klaus was using that unit as his own private army, there was no doubt that they were the famous <Fenrir> of the Empire.
—Anyway, who is that girl?
The girl who sat on the saddle behind Klaus gave Anya an ominous premonition. For a reason that she didn’t understand, she somehow thought that that girl was the number one most dangerous person in the entire cavity. That feeling wasn’t based on a rational analysis, but rather just intuition. After a while, it appeared as though the veteran captain and five other soldiers made a round formation. The captain opened a sealed bag and sprinkled ashes over the ground. Anya was even more surprised when she saw the weapons which the other soldiers held in their hands. Their weapons had a peculiar shape, and it looked like a cross between a sword and a gun. Although Anya had some knowledge of the Empire’s research on weaponry, it was the first time that she had seen a weapon of that type. The malicious aura that it gave off was somewhat similar to Milgauss’ magic sword. It was most likely a weapon developed through magical engineering. It seemed as though the Empire had succeeded with mass-production.
“From ashes to ashes, dust to dust—”
Including the captain, all of the soldiers recited a chant together. The words that they recited were indeed the same as the chant that Milgauss had once performed.
“Don’t tell me that they plan to summon a Necromancia here?”
Upon seeing Mirabel eagerly lean out from the side of the rock, Anya panicked. Even though it was such a dire situation for them, Mirabel’s curiosity as a scholar had been provoked.
“Please don’t act impulsively, Your Highness Mirabel!”
Anya whispered into Mirabel’s ear a reminder to control her actions. However, those words went straight into Mirabel’s ear and out the other as she continued to lean her body further forward.
As the captain’s voice echoed throughout the cavity, a change occurred. The magically engineered weapons that the soldiers held high above their heads let off a burst of wicked light. The pattern of a six-pointed star then appeared on the ground beneath the soldiers’ feet. Instantly, the ashes which had been scattered across the ground began to take the shape of a dragon. It was almost as if the ashes themselves were regaining their former consciousness.
The Necromancia let out a roar that made one’s hairs stand on end. Its dark skin looked wet and shiny. The size of its body was almost comparable to that of Cú Chulainn or Tristan as well. The shape of the wings on its back was also unsettling, and they seemed to belong more to a bat rather than a dragon.
—A Necromancia Maestro!?
Anya was rendered speechless. The sense of pressure that the Necromancia emitted was far beyond that of the Strada that Mirabel had defeated. A possible cause of it was the enhanced precision of the summoning process.
“…What a terrifying technique.”
Beside her, even Mirabel had unwittingly become nervous. It seemed as though she had now abandoned her curiosity as a scholar. Mirabel opened the map up in her hands.
“The situation has changed, so we’ll have to put our exploration on hold this time. Let’s take a shortcut to return to the Academy.”
Mirabel drew her finger across the map and traced out the shortest route.
“I don’t know what the Imperial Army is planning, but it’s obviously not anything good. Fortunately, we’ve coincidentally caught sight of their plans today. We must convey news of this crisis…”
Anya was surprised. She had thought that Mirabel would have made the expedition her first priority. Because of her strong obsession with the exploration, she had not cancelled the plan for her expedition even though the bad news that the Chevron Kingdom’s government would execute the Paladin had arrived. The next second, a ferocious aura ensnared the entire cavity.
The Necromancia raised its head and let out a fierce roar. Its vicious glare was clearly directed at the rock that Anya and the others had hidden behind. Even Klaus’ elite troops had been unable to detect the concealed presence of Anya and the others, yet this Necromancia had.
“We’ve been noticed—!?”
Anya made an immediate decision as she grabbed hold of both Mirabel and Eunice in each arm and then jumped backwards, away from the rock.
Several reddish-purple tentacles sprang out from the Necromancia’s abdomen, and rocketed through the air. The rock that Anya and the others had used as a hiding spot was crushed to pieces, and a hazy cloud of dust rose into the air. Anya shuddered. If they had continued to hide behind the rock, the consequences would have been unimaginable…
As it watched its prey escape, the Necromancia’s eyes let off a ghastly cold glow. As it roared, even more tentacles surged forth towards them. The tips of those tentacles were almost about to reach Mirabel’s upper body.
“Your Highness Mirabel!”
Anya suddenly rushed in front of Mirabel and stood to protect her. Anya was immediately shackled by the tentacles which robbed her of freedom, and her feet were lifted off the floor. After being waved around for a while, Anya found herself hanging upside down in the air. The jacket which she had worn for protection from the cold had been torn to pieces. The wet and slippery tentacles burrowed their way into the tribal wear that she wore around her chest and hips.
The hideous feeling gave Anya goosebumps. In the past, she had once witnessed Eco being assaulted by tentacles, but she didn’t expect that it would feel even more disgusting than she imagined. No matter how much she struggled in resistance, the tentacles remained affixed to her limbs, and there was nothing that she could do. She could only watch as the mucus secreted by the tentacles slowly spread across her brown skin.
“It…it’s so wretched…! Why don’t you just…kill me…ugh!”
As Anya gasped in pain, the image of Mirabel suddenly flashed across her mind.
—That’s right, I was hired as a bodyguard. I have to protect Her Highness Mirabel…!
Anya endured the humiliation as she looked towards Mirabel with brave and determined eyes.
“Your Highness Mirabel! Don’t worry about me, please hurry and—!”
Anya was unable to finish speaking. Even more tentacles flew through the air, and they ruthlessly invaded her body from head to toe.
Instantly, an incredible fighting spirit was released from Mirabel’s body.
“You’ve protected me so well over these past three days. How could I possible leave you to die now?”
After pulling her rapier from its scabbard, Mirabel performed an elegant continuous attack. A countless number of tentacles were cut down one by one. The thick fluids dissolved into droplets as they fell onto the ground.
As it suffered damage, the Necromancia couldn’t help but utter a painful wail. Liberated, Anya fell from mid-air towards the floor along with the remains of the tentacles. Just before her head hit the ground, Eunice firmly caught her body. It was just that she didn’t have the strength fully support Anya’s body weight, and the two of them became entangled as they fell to the floor together.
“—Now this is a surprise. If memory serves me correctly, you should be Her Highness the Third Princess Mirabel, right?”
The Count of the Vandenhaar border ushered his horse as he approached Mirabel.
Although the Necromancia had originally become enraged that its tentacles were cut, it immediately retreated and made space as it saw Klaus advance. It seemed as though the soldiers of <Fenrir> were capable of doing the same as Milgauss, and had full control over the Necromancia. Anya clenched her teeth, and resolutely prepared to sacrifice herself.
—Judging by the situation, I’ve got no choice but to charge into that group as bait to create an opening for Her Highness Mirabel and Eunice to escape.
“I won’t allow you to lay a hand on Her Highness Mirabel!”
After remaining silent on the back of his horse for a moment, Klaus widened his eyes.
“Aren’t you Anya? I heard that you were executed after being arrested in the Knight Country…what is going on here!?”
It seemed as though Klaus believed the fake news that the Knight Country had spread. That was the responsive measure that Veronica had taken in order to protect Anya.
“I just want to ask what your intentions are in leading troops to invade Ansarivan.”
Upon hearing that, Klaus immediately showed a contemptuous look.
“How dare a Tantaros speak to me with that tone…! Since we’ve run into you here, we won’t be letting you escape. Princess Mirabel should have some value as a captive, so leave her alive.”
As Klaus narrowed his eyes, he looked up and down at Mirabel, and then glanced coldly at Anya and Eunice for a moment.
“As for Anya and that maid…they’ll just be hindrances. Kill them.”
Anya held onto the handle of her whip tightly as she thought to herself
There’s no choice but to force our way through after all…
At that moment, Ash’s face suddenly appeared in Anya’s mind.
—So in the end, I couldn’t go to visit him…
Anya had originally planned to visit the hospital while she had some spare time, but the restaurant was always so busy that she couldn’t find the time to do so. After briefly falling into a sentimental mood…
—Yes, I’m a warrior of the Tantaros tribe. It would be fitting for me to die on the battlefield!
Anya found courage from her soul as a warrior.
“Eunice-san! Hurry up and escape with Her Highness Mirabel!”
As Anya screamed that out loudly, she sprinted forth. After dashing through the oncoming stream of tentacles from the Necromancia and narrowly evading them, she leapt up. In the blink of an eye, she had landed in the centre of <Fenrir>’s formation. Anya intended to cause some chaos and catch the soldiers off guard. Since she was surrounded by the soldiers, it was likely that the Necromancia would not dare to attack so easily either.
“Princess-sama. We mustn’t let Anya-sama’s intentions be in vain…”
The scene of Eunice urging Mirabel to escape through the passage was vaguely captured in the periphery of Anya’s vision. Anya thanked Eunice from the bottom of her heart. Although it was clear that Mirabel also wanted to join the battle, Eunice had used her rarely-seen strictness to successfully dissuade her master.
—Now I can fight without any concerns!
Anya freely weaved her familiar whip around and mowed down the soldiers who surrounded her. Although the magically engineered weapons could also be used as guns, the squad members most likely did not shoot in order to prevent accidental friendly-fire. And in the eyes of these Imperial soldiers who only knew how to fight ordinary battles, Anya’s whip was unpredictable and elusive. Anya’s advantage — unfortunately did not last for long.
“The girl is strong! Bring her down!”
The veteran captain shouted. Following their captain’s orders, all of the soldiers immediately abandoned their own weapons and pride to surround and drag down Anya’s lower body.
Anya’s movements were immediate sealed as she was pushed to the ground, and even her whip was snatched away. The veteran gave an almost fatal blow as he slammed his fist into Anya’s abdomen.
Anya contorted her body in response to the pain. The pain in her abdomen caused her body to stop obeying her.
“—That’s surprising. I guess it’s to be expected of the girl who used to be Milgauss’ right hand. I didn’t think you’d have the ability to humiliate us <Fenrir> this much…”
After watching Anya get subdued, Klaus rode his horse forward.
“It’ll be perfect for an annoying girl like you to fill up the Necromancia’s belly.”
The magic soldiers raised their weapons in response to Klaus’ words. The tips of their weapons glowed as they conveyed their instructions to the Necromancia.
The Necromancia let loose an earth-shattering roar that seemed to be mixed with joy as it approached. As it opened its jaws wide, a pungent and rancid odour forced its way towards Anya. The Necromancia’s mouth revealed teeth which grew back even if they fell out, loose and decayed gums, as well as a serpent-like tongue. Its slimy tongue licked Anya from her chest to her belly. The vast quantity of saliva that dripped off its tongue made Anya’s entire body wet.
Anya came to terms with it and resigned as she closed her eyes.
The next instant, the sound of an explosion erupted without any prior warning. The Necromancia’s enormous body was blown away like a cardboard toy.
The Necormancia barely managed to lean against a wall to stabilise its body where it then attempted to mount a comeback. The damaged parts of its body sizzled as they let off a white smoke and they slowly regenerated.
Klaus snarled in fury. The magic soldiers also turned their heads and looked around.
“…Oh. It’s quite the capable one to be able to stand after taking a hit from my blast. Is that the legendary Necromancia?”
After a brief and violent tremor, what appeared from the depths of a dark passage was — Oscar Brailsford, riding atop the Maestro Tristan. She had already equipped her golden Ark and held the magic bow Failnaught in her hands. The moment after, a black figure suddenly rushed to Anya’s side. At first glance, the figure could be mistaken for a black cat. After skilfully picking Anya up, it leapt back and returned to Tristan’s side. The one who had rescued Anya from the enemy was Oscar’s personal maid — Celestina Lafon.
“How disgraceful, Oscar. It’s just a Necromancia, and yet you couldn’t take care of it with a single blow.”
Celes coldly said after placing Anya down on the ground. Oscar responded to the criticism with a wry smile.
“Anya! How could you undervalue your life like that…!?”
Although she had believed that Mirabel was able to make it far from this location, it seemed she had returned to her side. As she fell into Mirabel’s embrace, Anya felt so surprised that her eyes unwittingly straightened.
“It is great that you are safe, Anya-san.”
Eunice also revealed a soothing expression as she guarded Mirabel and Anya’s embrace from the side.
—I’m still alive…
As that realisation and emotion flared up within Anya, tears uncontrollably streamed down her cheeks.
Going back in time slightly.
After midnight, Oscar slipped out of the boys’ dormitory, Apollo House, and planned to undergo her special training. Celes was also with her. Ever since the horrific ‘Pluto Incident’ occurred, Oscar had constantly been in deep thought about the issue of Pluto. It probably wouldn’t have been difficult for her to abandon the power of Pluto and return to the life she once had. Celes herself also wanted to seal the power of Pluto away. But Oscar was unable to accept that choice. She said that she wanted to do something that would surprise Uriel. The key to achieving this goal lay in whether or not she was able to freely use Pluto. That was why Oscar’s special training required Celes’ cooperation. Since the Academy grounds were unsuitable to use as a midnight training venue, Oscar advanced towards Fianna Forest. In there, she coincidentally spotted a suspicious group camping within the forest. She would have liked to indiscriminately trample all over the other party, but Oscar had always been a somewhat mischievous person, so she decided to play the long game. After Oscar tailed the platoon for their entire journey, she happened to run into Mirabel and Eunice who had been breathlessly trying to run and escape.
“Seriously, catching moles isn’t within the scope of my work.”
Oscar sneered as she glanced at Klaus. Even though Klaus had been called a mole by her, he was not irritated by Oscar’s provocation. He simply observed Oscar calmly.
“If I remember correctly, you’re Oscar Brailsford, aren’t you? You don’t get along with other students, and live as a loner, right?”
Oscar scornfully smiled.
“Isn’t your information a bit too outdated? I have already formed an alliance with Ash Blake, and I haven’t pretended to be a loner for quite a while now.”
“What did you say…!?”
The instant that he heard Ash’s name, the expression on Klaus’ face suddenly changed. It seemed as though Klaus had some particularly complex feelings towards Ash.
“Say, why are you in a place like this? According to my investigations — the Emperor of Zepharos has lately devoted all of his efforts into the development of science and technology, and he doesn’t actually have any interest in invading other nations, right?”
“To be precise, isn’t that the information that I investigated?”
Oscar couldn’t help but reveal a dry smile when Celes revised her statement to claim credit for it.
“In short, what I really want to ask is whether or not your military movements are truly the intentions of the Emperor. If they aren’t, then are your actions not equivalent to betrayal?”
Perhaps because those words struck a chord, Klaus was momentarily lost for words and couldn’t find a reason to refute it. And then, he seemed to lose the will to maintain his façade any further, and so he turned and looked behind.
“Kriemhild! It’s time for you to act! Unleash your power!”
The girl behind Klaus seemed to have an innocent nature that didn’t fit in with her environment, but she also seemed to give off a vague feeling of sinisterness as she took a breath on the horse’s back. She then began to sing a song in the Imperial language. Upon hearing her clear voice, Oscar widened her eyes and began to think that the melody seemed familiar to her.
“This is…the aria of the <Queen of the Night> from the ‘Tale of Zauberflöte’, isn’t it!?”
Operas were an art form that the Chevron nobility were educated on. Although Oscar immediately recognised the girl’s song, she was unable to understand the reason why she had suddenly began to sing an opera. To begin with, it was suspicious for a young girl like her to accompany a troop of soldiers.
“Be careful, Oscar! That girl is…probably the same type as me!”
Upon hearing Celes’ sudden scream, Oscar shuddered.
Was that girl named Kriemhild also one of the <Pluto Children>? When Celes reminded Oscar of that, she realised that the upper part of the girl’s face had a metal mask over it. The hollowed out holes in it emitted a chilling glow.
“How is it possible that both of her eyes are Pluto…?”
After Oscar muttered that to herself, an eerie atmosphere swirled around in every direction. It was a large number of monsters. On their way into the underground labyrinth, Oscar had also encountered many monsters, but all it took was a glare from Tristan to frighten them all away. However, the present situation was different. The horde of monsters openly expressed their hostility and gradually tightened their encirclement.
“I see, that girl used the power of Pluto through her own voice…!”
Oscar clenched her teeth. Even though she was one of <Pluto’s Children>, she was completely different from Celes.
Tristen let out a low-pitched growl as if to serve as a reminder for Oscar to keep her guard up. Its piercing glare wasn’t just directed at the monsters which encircled them, but also the Necromancia. The Necromancia’s body quickly began to expand over a short period of time.
The Necromancia’s roar was formed from the combination of three noises. Heads grew out of its body one after the other, and it eventually became a three-headed dragon. Hole-like eye sockets began to emerge all over the surface of its body where eyeballs rolled around. The rancid odour that it emitted grew ever stronger.
“…Aside from the monsters, I didn’t think that even the Necromancia would be affected. This girl’s power is rather shocking.”
As he watched Oscar mutter that in awe, Klaus smirked as he said
“Don’t think it’ll be over with just this, Oscar Brailsford. You’ll regret bringing Tristan to this place in the afterlife!”
As Klaus spoke, Kriemhild elevated the intensity of her song. Her demonic voice morphed into an invisible arrow that was fired towards Tristan.
Tristan tossed its head up without warning, and Oscar was almost thrown off from its head.
“This isn’t good, Oscar! Tristan has also been affected by her song!”
Celes’ warning was no mere triviality, and the proof was the fact that Tristan’s originally silver fur gradually turned black. The scene before their eyes was almost like a replay of the Pluto Incident which occurred before.
“This will be your place of burial. Right, let me tell you some good news as a farewell gift.”
After glancing down at his military-use mechanical watch, a sadistic smile emerged on his face.
“Right about now, both Ash Blake and the young dragon Eco should have fallen into our hands.”
“There was another special team aside from you guys!?”
As she barely managed to cling onto Tristan’s head, Oscar began to look anxious. The problem was that the Necromancia and the horde of monsters surrounding them had pinned them down like insects in a web. Moreover, even Tristan was slowly falling under the control of Kriemhild’s song.
—What should I do next? Oscar Brailsford?
Cold sweat continued to perspire from Oscar’s forehead as she silently asked herself for an answer. And then, Celes cried out at Oscar to reproach her.
“Oscar! Why are you panicking? Isn’t now the perfect time to experiment!?”
Oscar turned back to see Celes pull her eyepatch off in order to reveal her magic eye, with a proud smile on her face.
“Geez, with such a capable maid, I should really be ashamed as your master!”
Oscar also smiled suggestively in response.
“—I am a descendant of <Pluto’s Children>, Celestina Lafon. Pluto bestowed upon Maestro Tristan, heed my call!”
Upon witnessing Celes make an unexpected move, Klaus was shocked. He was well aware of the information on Celestina Lafon. It was because he had developed the living weapon Kriemhild based on the information on Celestina as a foundation.
“Are you trying to compete with me over control of Tristan? But…”
Klaus had already read the detailed report on the Pluto Incident which broke out during the Five Hundred Years Festival, and he had also completed his own personal analysis. Celestina was born into this world as a natural descendant of <Pluto’s Children> — in other words, she was the original. Because of her overwhelming power, even Oscar who rode atop Tristan’s head was affected and she became a demon. Not too long ago, she was defeated because she was unable to control the demon Oscar…so what was that maid up to now?
Oscar’s scream interrupted Klaus’ thoughts. Celes’ magic eye shone brightly. As if to overpower the effect of Kriemhild’s demonic song, a layer of black which was even darker enveloped Tristan’s entire body. In addition, even Oscar’s Ark slowly became a dull shade of silver.
It was a tremendous and thunderous roar which had been emitted by both Oscar and Tristan. Oscar had finally become a demon, and Tristan had also turned into a black demonic dragon. Klaus stared at the demon and demonic dragon in disbelief.
“You idiot…! Now that child is a demon! Once that’s happened, let alone enemies, he might even attack comrades—”
“Hmph. Please don’t jump to conclusions on your own.”
Oscar’s voice differed in contrast to her frightening appearance, and her rational voice seemed incredulous to Klaus. Taking a closer look, Oscar’s eyes did not seem to convey madness. They were the eyes of an uncompromising noble knight.
Tristan also lifted its front foot off the ground and stamped down to express its genuine approval of Oscar as its rider. Tristan’s hostility was directed only at Klaus.
“Damn you! You aren’t under the control of Kriemhild’s voice…!?”
“Don’t underestimate us…you blind aristocrat!”
Celes retorted to the shocked Klaus. After she yelled that out, she leapt up and climbed onto Tristan’s body so that she could proudly stand by Oscar’s side. Her majestic manner made one wonder who the real master of Tristan really was. As Oscar made a wry smile, she took Celes’ hand. Although Celes immediately cast her eyes down in embarrassment, she didn’t let go of Oscar’s hand.
“This is the result of our special training after our failure at the Five Hundred Years Festival. Have a good look at the new combat style that Celes and I have developed — <Diabolos>!”
Oscar sonorously declared as she began to attack.
“That can’t be…!”
As he sat on the back of his horse, Klaus could do nothing but stare on with a blank expression. Despite becoming a demon, Oscar was still able to maintain her rationality. Celes had done her utmost to control Pluto. Even after becoming a demonic dragon, Tristan was still Oscar’s loyal Pal as it fought against her enemies. The collaboration between those three had become an overwhelming force. Oscar’s magic bow Failnaught fired off arrows which swept across the monsters that encircled them. Tristan then flew towards the Necromancia. Under the influence of Kriemhild’s voice, it had become a three-headed Necromancia with a myriad of eyes, yet it was unable to dodge the impact of Tristan’s charge. The Necromancia’s large body slammed into the rock wall, which caused a deafening sound that echo throughout the cavity. Loose rocks constantly rained down on them from the ceiling.
While the Necromancia cowered in fear, Tristan continued its assault. It chomped on one of the Necromancia’s necks and shred it off with brute force.
As the head let out a dying wail, Tristan spat it out from its mouth. On the other hand, Oscar fired off an enormous arrow which pierced through another of the Necromancia’s skulls. Within a short span of time, the Necromancia had been reduced to a single head again. The countless number of eyeballs that covered the surface of its body also gradually disappeared. Even though Kriemhild was unable to personally lay eyes upon this brutal scene, she probably felt it from the atmosphere — Klaus realised that she had stopped singing.
“…Young master. If you are caught up in the battle, you may sustain severe injuries. Even if we must sacrifice the Necromancia, we must continue to advance.”
Gerhard’s tone was surprisingly calm. As the captain of <Fenrir>, he bravely remained level-headed. The turbulent experiences that he had lived through probably far exceeded those of Klaus. In his mind, Klaus derided himself: “It’s no wonder that I’m still a ‘young master’ who hasn’t grown wings yet in the eyes of Gerhard.”
“…You’re right. All units, retreat!”
Clinging to his last chance of survival, Klaus decided to follow Gerhard’s advice. It was because there was nothing more to be gained from fighting against Oscar in this place—. After Klaus looked back at Kriemhild, he gave her an order….
After hearing Kriemhild’s clear soprano voice resound with a song again, Oscar began to feel more cautious.
“Our victory has already been decided…what else will you do?”
“Be careful, Oscar!”
Celes shouted loudly to warn her as she pointed to the Necromancia at the same time.
The Necromancia roared and blocked Tristan’s way. It positioned itself to act as a fortress wall.
“All units, retreat!”
Klaus took advantage of that to issue an order, and he led the charge on horseback as they escaped from the cavity. The magic soldiers acted as a rear guard. The passage that the troops took was the same route that Mirabel and the others had chosen. In other words, it was a passage which led to the Academy. The strange thing was — even though Kriemhild had already disappeared from view, the echoes of her song still reverberated throughout the cavity.
“I won’t let you escape…!”
Just as Oscar raised her bow, the Necromancia’s body suddenly expanded like a balloon.
Oscar immediately commanded Tristan to jump back, and they landed in front of Mirabel and the others. She then created a shield of defensive magic that was several layers thick. Oscar was able to accomplish such a task in just a brief moment.
The Necromancia self-destructed, causing an enormous explosive force to blast through and shake the entire cavity.
“…That was awful.”
If Tristan’s defensive magic had been slower by even a second, everyone in the cavity would have been blown to pieces. That girl was unbelievably ruthless as she commanded the Necromancia to self-destruct — Oscar recalled Kriemhild’s expression in awe. After all of the dust that clouded the cavity dissipated, Oscar instructed Celes to release their demonic transformation before hopping down from Tristan’s head. She then used an Oracle to illuminate their surroundings. The explosion from earlier had caused all of the Bright Dragon Crystals that were embedded on the ceiling and walls to become buried underneath rubble, and the entire cavity had become pitch-black.
“Are you hurt?”
Oscar asked about Mirabel’s condition first.
“Thanks to you, I am not hurt.”
Mirabel replied in a strong voice. Although her appearance was somewhat unkempt now, it had no effect on her elegance or demeanour. Oscar couldn’t help but feel that the name of the <Argento Magus> wasn’t just for show. Although she was rumoured to be rather scholarly on top of being a princess of the Knight Country, she was surprisingly brave. Anya and Eunice also appeared to be okay, and so Oscar felt relieved.
“The problem now is…the pathway leading to the Academy has been completely sealed off by that explosion.”
The words that Mirabel spoke were the truth as a third of the cavity had been closed off by fallen rocks of various sizes. It didn’t seem as though they would be able to catch up with Klaus’ troops.
“This is troublesome. Although I can use Tristan’s magic to blast through the rocks in our way, I’m afraid that the entire cavity could collapse…”
Oscar murmured. At the moment, the only choice they had was to take the pathways that hadn’t been blocked off, but the problem was that only one of those routes remained intact.
Mirabel’s idea was probably the same as Oscar’s. After confirming the direction of the only passage that remained intact, she took an old map out. Anya, Eunice and Celes all stared at the side of Mirabel’s face with a serious expression. Mirabel simply continued to look at the map in silence. Oscar didn’t feel comfortable standing around in the silent atmosphere, and so she tried to start a conversation in a brisk tone.
“Will we be able to return home safely, Your Highness Mirabel?”
After Mirabel slowly raised her face from the map, she pressed her fingers against her temple as she revealed a woeful expression. Was the situation really that despairing? —Upon seeing the look on Mirabel’s face, even Oscar began to feel uneasy. She had hoped to return to the surface as soon as possible in order to deal with the crisis that might have befallen Ash and Eco. Assuming that Klaus had told them the truth, it meant that another special unit had gone to target Ash and Eco. Fortunately, Eco had Silvia and Cosette by her side, and the other female students such as Rebecca also lived in the girls’ dormitory. Even if they were up against soldiers of the Imperial Army, they weren’t the type to fall so easily. The main problem was that Ash had no means to resist in the hospital. As Oscar’s expression grew sullen, Mirabel finally answered
“…I’m sorry. I must say that it is truly unfortunate…the only path before us leads to a level that is even deeper than here. In other words, we can continue to go deeper underground, but there is no way for us to return to the surface.”
“What’s in the lower level?”
“An extremely ancient underground city.”
After Oscar guardedly asked that, Mirabel gave an answer that shattered everyone’s expectations.
“Obviously, no one lives there anymore. It’s said to have been constructed during the era that the Zono-tone civilisation flourished, but that’s all ancient history and I’m not too certain about the details.”
“That’s distressing. Leaving aside the underground city, it’s truly vexing that there’s no way for us to return to the surface…”
Oscar scratched her head.
“Indeed, it is vexing. And a real pity…”
“Your Highness Mirabel, why do you keep saying that it’s a pity?”
When Anya asked that perplexedly, for some reason, Mirabel blushed.
“I-It can’t be helped. I really do think it’s quite a pity. It’s just that, if my prediction isn’t wrong…”
Oscar affixed her gaze on Mirabel, with a glimmer of hope in her eyes.
“The item which lays dormant in the deepest part of the underground city may be able to send us back to the surface.”
“To be blunt, that item is the holy relic which Princess-sama has been looking for.”
When Eunice elaborated on that point, Mirabel looked even more self-conscious.
“I-I’ll say this first…I didn’t say that it might help us to escape just because I covet that holy relic, okay?”
Since it was rare of Mirabel to look this embarrassed, Oscar couldn’t help but smile.
“No one here doubts Your Highness Mirabel. Since there’s a possibility for us to escape there, we should set off for the underground city.”
When Oscar said that, everyone resolutely nodded to express their agreement.
“Königin der Nacht I ~A.S.B.1365.11~” is closed.
(All 7 of 7 parts) (5/11)
Continues on to Chapter 5 – Kriemhild’s Song