Chapter 8 – The Battle of Hévin-LeCoultre ~Battlefield~
The night was submerged in total darkness with both the stars and the moon completely absent from the sky. The time was two o’clock in the morning. With the Imperial Capital Arkham in the centre, the western part of the Hévin-LeCoultre Plains expanded around it in all directions. In the sky above — the Escavaron and Claíomh Solais faced off against each other. The generations to come would call this — [The Battle of Hévin-LeCoultre].
Uriel’s voice reverberated clearly through the magical amplifier.
[Your ship has violated our national airspace. That being the prima facie, I am willing to listen to an explanation. After all, I am a magnanimous monarch.]
Ash and Eco stood beside each other on the Escavaron’s deck. Ash grasped hold of the loudspeaker’s microphone and then raised his voice.
“Don’t be mistaken, Uriel! You are not yet the monarch of a country. I won’t allow you to become the King either. Absolutely not!”
[Oh, does that voice belong to Ash Blake? A mere commoner dares to threaten me…haha!]
“What’s so funny!?”
[If you can’t stand the fact, then why don’t you just use the main gun of the Escavaron to shoot down the Claíomh Solais?]
“…What are you trying to do?”
[Oops, there’s something I forgot to tell you. Your precious Oscar Brailsford is also on board this ship. Knowing that, you’re not going to fire those guns, are you? Not to mention the use of Oracles.]
“…Is that why you’re here?”
[To begin with, you’re the ones who have committed the crime of invasion. Even if you do manage to shoot down the Claíomh Solais, the international community will not forgive you — no, it would be more correct to say the entire Lautreamont Knight Country. It is truly unfortunate. Your reckless actions mean that the Lautreamont Knight Country will forevermore go down in history as the rebellious country that turned against its suzerain state.]
Upon hearing those words, Ash revealed a wide grin. He realised a certain truth — even as cautious as Uriel was, he was unable to see past their decision.
“Is that all your brain is capable of? Uriel, are you mistaken again?”
[…What do you mean?]
“Allow me to tell you. Eco and I, as well as everyone else on board the Escavaron are no longer citizens of the Lautreamont Knight Country.”
Ash took a deep breath, infusing his entire body with the power to unleash a deafening cry.
“Raise the national flag!”
At Ash’s command, Raymond and Max who were on standby in a corner of the deck for what felt like an eternity immediately sprung into action. A flag fluttered in the wind upon the Escavaron’s deck.
And then, the two illumination devices that Max operated unleashed intense beams of light. The flag was like a dragon, flying majestically in the space where the two beams of light intersected. The insignia on the flag was the family crest of Avalon’s Holy Dragons’ Emperor Family.
[What are you trying to do?]
“This means — we are no longer citizens of the Lautreamont Knight Country.”
Ash loudly declared,
“We are Avalon’s Holy Dragons’ Emperor Knights!”
“We are an aristocracy that holds the Escavaron as our territory, and an independent nation!”
[Are you mad, Ash Blake!?]
“All of us are perfectly sane. If I had to say something, I’d say that your underhanded tricks were what forced us to take this path. That is all!”
[How foolish! Do you even understand what you’ve done? In order to save a mere woman, you’ve unveiled a flag and declared independence…it’s madness!]
At last, the cold-hearted Uriel displayed his unbridled emotions.
“Uriel, you’ve finally unmasked yourself! Didn’t you know that the impossible could be made possible for the sake of protecting a woman!?”
[What…did you say…?]
“Allow me to introduce myself to you again, Uriel!”
Ash majestically announced his name,
“My name is Ash Blake — Commander of Avalon’s Holy Dragons’ Emperor Knights!”
Upon hearing Ash’s magnificent declaration of his name and title, Uriel’s lips quivered as he sat in the captain’s seat of the Claíomh Solais. In his fury, his knuckles began to turn pale from clenching onto the armrests so tightly. Even the officers on the bridge seemed to be in a state of panic as they speechlessly winced. Uriel racked his brains as he attempted to come up with a breakthrough.
“Hmph…there’s one thing that you’ve forgotten, Ash Blake! Do you really think the international community will recognise your independence? A country as small as yours is bound to require the backing of a considerably powerful ally. Even the Lautreamont Knight Country cannot survive without the Chevron Kingdom supporting it!”
In order to boost the morale of his officers, Uriel deliberately raised his voice to an exaggerated level.
“Tell me, Ash Blake! Is there anyone willing to acknowledge you!?”
[—You need not worry about that issue.]
A pure female voice that seemed out of place suddenly interjected from the side, and the officers in the Claíomh Solais’ bridge also began making a commotion.
“Where did that voice come from!?”
Uriel furiously denounced the communications officer.
“The signal’s coming from the outside! This frequency is…please wait — it’s being transmitted from the Holy Ship Esperanza! The person who spoke was…Her Eminence Raquel IV!”
The communications officer was so flustered that even his tone of voice changed.
[The establishment of Avalon’s Holy Dragons’ Emperor Knights has been officially recognised by myself — in the name of Raquel IV. Thus, there are no issues in that regard.]
Raquel’s playful tone of voice disrupted the rhythm in Uriel’s mind.
“Impossible! The Holy Espada Agency can’t be on his side.”
As Uriel’s expression changed, Raquel continued,
[Oh yes, Prince Uriel. I just received an urgent report from former Third Princess Mirabel Lautreamont — as the Pope, I cannot ignore the evil deeds that your private army has committed against the Brailsford territory.]
“You misunderstand, Your Eminence. That was purely to suppress some civil unrest that occurred in our country. Your Eminence, it’s not a problem that required your intervention, right?”
[If it truly was for the sake of suppressing civil unrest, then it would certainly not be my place to state my opinion. However, if people were forcibly taken from their homes to be used as materials for a drug…then it is no longer something that I can condone.]
Uriel couldn’t help but gasp. He hadn’t anticipated that the truth would be revealed to such an extent.
[An investigation team under my command set off for your country not long ago. Although they may be called an investigation team, they are actually composed of elite members from the Espada Holy Wing Knights. I suggest that you do not put up any unnecessary resistance. Over!]
With a single shout, the broadcast was cut off!
As if the floor beneath his feet had crumbled, Uriel felt as though he was in a state of constant flux, falling into a bottomless abyss — it was the first time in his life that he had experienced such a sensation.
—Regarding Mirabel’s proposal.
Just as Ash had declared, it was to establish an independent country with the magic ship Escavaron acting as its territory. According to Mirabel, a country could take on various forms. In the past, there once existed a ‘knight corps’ that was also a ‘nation’ of its own at the same time. Upon hearing of such an example, Ash was immediately convinced and decided to adopt this methodology. In this way, even if Ash and the others invaded the Chevron Kingdom, the Lautreamont Knight Country would be spared from condemnation.
In addition, the reason why Silvia was excluded from the ship was — she could not be labelled as one of the citizens on board the ship because her nationality as a citizen of the Knight Country could not be renounced if she intended to become the future Paladin. On the contrary, Mirabel sent a letter to Paladin Oswald before they departed on their journey. The main idea was that she would renounce her status and identity as the Third Princess, thereby severing their parent-child relationship. Mirabel had thus also become an official member of Avalon’s Holy Dragons’ Emperor Knights.
“Are you ready, Eco?”
“Who do you think you’re talking to you? Of course, I’m ready to go at any time!”
With a confident smile, Eco removed <<Avalon’s Bracelet>>.
“I am the true descendant of the illustrious Avalon’s Holy Dragons’ Emperor Family…mine own name is Eco Pendragon Aurora Christa Lena Angeles Iria Lorence Liliane Muirel Octavia Robertine de la Rosa L’Espérance van Compostela de Avalon—”
Her bright red eyes then overflowed with a dazzling brilliance.
“I shall bewray mine own true form here!”
Just as Eco declared so, she leapt into the night. Indeed, she jumped off from the ship’s bow. Tremendous magical energy swirled into a vortex, encasing Eco’s body. A pillar of light erupted, running straight from the earth and piercing into the night sky. The clouds that obscured the night sky were cleaved in half, allowing the crescent moon and stars to reveal themselves amidst the night. The roar of thunder echoed loudly. The silhouette of a girl had at some point disappeared, and an enormous entity began to manifest. Soon, the gigantic body of a dragon gradually began to take shape. It had three sharp horns that stood erect like a crown and sharp eyes that seemed as if they could see thousands of miles away. The mane that fluttered in the darkness of the night was a peachy silver, much like the colour of Eco’s hair. The instant that her wings made a low-pitched flapping sound, the two magical ships rumbled unsteadily as they were shaken by strong winds. Finally, <<Avalon’s Bracelet>> transformed into a piece of jewellery that was elegantly adorned around the dragon’s neck. And thus, Holy Dragon Emperor Eco manifested…!
It was a roar that caused tremors across the sky. An enormous amount of magical energy suddenly covered Ash’s entire body. It meant that Eco was bestowing him with the complete version of his Ark. Although the Ark was predominantly white, many parts of it were still gold and bright red. It was only the second time that Ash had equipped the complete version of his Ark. Ash mounted Eco’s head as the <<Avalon Knight Dragner>>. The <<Seikoku>> engraved on his left arm spread across his entire body and radiated heat on a level that verged on pain.
“We’re following as well!”
Rebecca followed after Ash, riding atop Cú Chulainn.
“…If it’s to support Ash, then I can do it.”
Lucca murmured in a timid voice as she rode Gawain beside Rebecca. Max also called out to Ash,
“Listen up, Ash. I’m not here today for you, but for Ashley! I have no regrets!”
Ash almost tumbled off Eco’s head upon hearing that.
“It looks like I need to find time for a nice long talk with Max…”
Although Ash seemed to be in complaint about it, it helped calm his nerves substantially.
“Let’s go, Eco!”
Eco responded to Ash’s cry by soaring gracefully into the night sky. Rebecca, Lucca and Max trailed closely behind them.
[Fire the cannon! Kill that monster!]
Uriel’s anxious voice echoed deafeningly through the air. Amidst the panic, it seemed as though he had even forgotten to switch off the magic sound amplifier. The Claíomh Solais’ main gun then fired immediately after.
However, Eco simply waved her forelimb, instantly wiping out the large shells that had been ejected.
[What are you all doing!? Shoot! Keep firing—]
Uriel’s commanding voice continued to reverberate outside, though it was suddenly cut off…probably because one of the officers had realised and cut the microphone.
“Prepare yourself, Uriel!”
As Ash shouted, Eco flew ahead to position herself directly in front of the Claíomh Solais and then flicked her tail.
“Whooaaa! The main gun was destroyed in a single blow…!”
“Run! We’ll be trampled to death!”
The many soldiers who were originally deployed on the deck immediately began to disperse like a flock of startled birds as soon as Eco’s tail obliterated the main gun. By the time that Ash had landed on the deck, he found it to be completely empty.
“It’s going to be a close-quarter melee from here on, Ash.”
Having equipped her second Ark form, Rebecca landed on the deck behind Ash.
If they were going to rescue Oscar, they would have to search inside the ship. However, due to the enormous size of the dragons, it was no longer possible to rely on them for movement.
“We’re lucky that Uriel was kind enough to give us exactly the information we wanted, so we’ve been spared the trouble of investigating where she might be.”
Ash made a wry smile as he replied to Rebecca’s sarcasm.
“Exactly. Let’s split up to search the ship’s interior.”
Just as Ash raised his fist—
“I have some experience when it comes to close-range combat!”
“Me too! In fact, melee combat was my old line of work!”
Both Celes and Anya appeared. The two girls had ridden on Cú Chulainn’s tail to arrive here. Wielding a combat dagger in her hand, Celes’ right eye shone brightly with determination. On the other hand, Anya wore her revealing native outfit and wielded her prided leather whip. As an aside, Eunice took control of the Escavaron’s helm after Anya left the ship.
“Ash, I’ll also lend you my strength!”
“I’ll do my best as well…”
Max and Lucca also jumped down from the backs of their dragons onto the deck. Both of them carried a vast number of Bright Dragon Crystals in their hands.
“Thank you everyone!”
Ash jumped down from Eco’s head and onto the deck. He then turned around and looked at Eco.
“Sorry, Eco. I’ll be back soon.”
Although Eco made a low groan in apparent dissatisfaction, she nodded obediently and agreed.
“Founding of the Nation ~A.S.B.1365.12~” is closed.
(All 5 of 5 parts) (1/7/20)
Continues on to Chapter 9 – Cassandra of Corruption