Continues on from Chapter 8 – The Battle of Hévin-LeCoultre ~Battlefield~
Continues on to Chapter 10 – The Battle of Hévin-LeCoultre ~Roar~
Chapter 9 – Cassandra of Corruption
Ash and the others swiftly moved through the narrow passages within the ship. Although armed soldiers appeared one after the another to block the path ahead of them—
“Magic spear Gáe Bolg!”
“I’ll show you how the Tantalos tribe fights!”
The combat styles of Rebecca, Anya and Celes were akin to lions. As soon as enemy soldiers appeared, they immediately pounced upon them.
Acting as the rear guards, Max and Lucca also used Oracles to contain the enemies who approached them from behind. The teamwork of the five-man group was so seamless that it seemed as though they had trained in advance for this day. Ash was deeply impressed. As a result, there had been no need thus far for Ash to draw the holy sword Excalibur. The number of soldiers that he had defeated was also zero.
“Umm, Rebecca-san…I’m not participating in this battle at all…”
While Ash continued to make his way through the aisle, he spoke to Rebecca from behind.
“What are you saying? You’ve already become the head of state, so you can just leave these lowly soldiers to us.”
“Moreover, the destructive power of your Excalibur is excessively strong. You can’t control its power output like my Gáe Bolg, right?”
Just when Ash shrugged in dejection, Max pointed to what lay ahead of them.
“Look Ash, that should be the bridge.”
Just as Max said, there was a seemingly sturdy door at the end of the passage. A large crest belonging to the Chevron Royal Family was emblazoned upon the door. Soldiers armed to the teeth also guarded the door. They were probably members of Uriel’s personal guard. They seemed much more formidable than the soldiers that they had encountered earlier. The moment for Ash to unsheathe Excalibur had finally arrived — as soon as the idea flashed across Ash’s mind…
“Magic spear Gáe Bolg — Wheel of Fortune!”
Rebecca launched a long-range attack, but Uriel’s guards were too slow to react and thus defeated in one fell swoop.
Anya and Celes lifted their legs at the same time and kicked open the door to the bridge. Ash immediately entered the room.
“…Dear me, what a crude bunch.”
Sitting in the captain’s seat, Uriel swivelled his seat around, facing Ash and the others. With complete disregard for the tension that filled the room, Uriel brought a wine glass to his nose and sniffed its aroma. Bottles of wine sat on a round side table. A lady sat in an antique chair beside Uriel. The woman was as stiff as a doll and her eyes completely devoid of life. Even though Ash had boldly barged in through the door, she remained expressionless.
As soon as the lady’s face entered her view, Celes immediately yelled with all the volume that her throat could muster.
“You’re telling me that’s Oscar!?”
Ash shuddered as soon as he saw the powerful effect of the narcotic <Galatea> with his own eyes. However, Ash couldn’t help but look away from Oscar. That was because Second Princess Cassandra also sat beside Uriel. Just like Uriel, she elegantly sipped on a glass of red wine. As usual, she emanated a seductive charm. Aside from Uriel, Cassandra and Oscar, there were also more than ten soldiers in the bridge, though all of them timidly stood on the sidelines and watched Uriel’s face.
“This is checkmate, Uriel. Return Oscar to us.”
Although Ash took a step forward, Uriel remained calm.
“Don’t be so hasty, Ash Blake. A monarch should behave as a monarch does. Since you’re also a head of state, should we not calm down and negotiate at this time?”
“Do you really think that there’s any room for negotiation between us?”
“If you are an independent country, then form an alliance with me. Of course, I will return Oscar to you. If that does not satisfy you, then I will give you even more in compensation. Though your country may be small, a considerable amount of funds is still necessary for it to operate. Is this not an advantageous deal for you?”
“Well? Let our bygones be bygones so that we can discuss politics together.”
“…You’re right. We do have things to discuss.”
Ash stepped forward until he stood in front of Uriel. A content smile spread across Uriel’s face as he planned to gulp down the remaining red wine in his glass.
“But, Uriel, before we start negotiating—”
With his left hand, Ash suddenly grabbed Uriel’s chest.
“This is for Oscar!”
He then launched his right fist at Uriel’s cheek. Uriel’s handsome face contorted, and his nose began to bleed.
“This is for Celes!”
He then threw at hook at Uriel’s chin.
“And, this is for Tristan!”
Finally, Ash poured all his strength into a punch directed at Uriel’s unprotected flank.
Uriel couldn’t help but fall to his knees. After all, Ash’s fists were encased by special armoured gauntlets. The force of those strikes was far beyond what Uriel had imagined.
“Don’t think that I’ll forgive you for this rudeness—”
“That’s enough, Uriel. Continuing to bluff will only bring you down even further.”
Cassandra was the one who discouraged Uriel from continuing to put up an act. Ash exhaled in relief, feeling grateful that he did not have to make an enemy of Cassandra. He was reluctant to resort to forceful methods against Silvia’s older sister.
“Your Royal Highness Second Princess Cassandra. Your relationship with Uriel is only one of a romantic nature. As long as you’re willing to assist in this investigation, we can guarantee your safety.”
However, Cassandra couldn’t stop herself from laughing as soon as she heard Ash’s offer.
“Oh my, have you misunderstood something? Although it’s true that I did act in concert with Uriel before, that was only because our interests aligned. Our so-called lovers’ relationship is just a farce.”
“What did you say?”
In an instant, Ash felt a ferocious aura and goose bumps all over his back.
“…Am I just paranoid? Just then—”
A shrill scream was suddenly produced near his feet.
In dismay, Ash brought his gaze back towards Uriel. It was an uncanny sight. Cassandra reached out with her fingers and touched Uriel’s forehead. A dark helical aura was slowly drawn into Uriel’s forehead from her fingertips—
“W-What are you doing!? Cassandra! S-Stop…you can’t enter……my body!”
Uriel groaned in pain as he thrashed and struggled on the floor. Ash seemed to recognise the dark aura before his eyes. He couldn’t possibly forget. It was exactly what had tormented both Celes and Kriemhild, the same aura as Pluto. No, this aura was far more ferocious than what he had previously seen. A black crystal was thus embedded in Uriel’s forehead.
“What’s going on…!?”
From Ash’s point of view, the black crystal seemed to have been constructed from the dark energy that was produced at Cassandra’s fingertips. Why did Cassandra possess this abnormal ability?
“Ash, get away from that thing!”
Celes tempestuously shouted. She pressed down on the eyepatch over her left eye as a shudder rattled her entire body.
“That is Pluto! And it’s much stronger than the one in me and Kriemhild. The amount of magical energy in it is simply ridiculous…”
Celes’ expression turned pale as she went on a complete turnaround from her usual bold self.
“What did you say!?”
Ash immediately pulled away from Uriel and Cassandra. A cruel smile spread across Cassandra’s lips.
“I’m disappointed, Uriel. And here I thought you were such unassailable man. The least you can do is become a demon and entertain me.”
“This can’t be possible! Didn’t you say that the Dark Dragon King was still asleep…”
After speaking with a strained voice, Uriel extended a trembling hand towards Cassandra.
“Did you say [Dark Dragon King]!?”
Dark Dragon King — Ash was taken aback as soon as he heard the macabre words that Uriel had uttered.
“Mordred is indeed still asleep. But a portion of its great power has already awakened inside of me. I simply concealed it from you and didn’t speak of it.”
Cassandra made a devilish smile as she stood up.
“Princess Cassandra! Just…what is happening?”
Upon seeing Ash struggle to understand the situation, Cassandra slowly turned around.
“Fufu. To put it simply, this is what’s happening.”
Her black low-cut evening dress exposed much of her snow-white skin. Most of her pastel skin was covered by an enormous <Seikoku>.
Memories of the summer vacation flashed through Ash’s mind. He recalled that the director of Albion Church had once said,
—Prince Julius probably had the same feelings as Ash. The prince’s <Seikoku> totally covered his back…I thought it was a kind of bad omen the first time I saw it. It was not be unreasonable for him to dislike anyone seeing it.
The <Seikoku> that was sprawled across Cassandra’s back was completely in line with how the director had described it.
“Well then, please take care everyone.”
Cassandra shattered the glass wall and dove into the night sky. Like a fallen angel, her lone silhouette was engulfed by the night and she disappeared without a trace.
“Was that for real…?”
Ash questioned himself in incredulity, but the situation forced him to face reality.
A shrill cry erupted from Uriel’s throat once more.
“Be careful, Ash! He’s started to become a demon!”
Celes loudly yelled, reminding Ash to remain vigilant. In fact, Uriel’s body was already in a state of perpetual transformation. His blonde hair that originally exuded a noble lustre stood erect while a large Pluto remained embedded on his forehead. His slender eyes gleamed with a brilliant luminescence, and his lips twisted into a wicked smile. All the muscles in his body inflamed, and the skin on his back split apart — black wings soon sprouted in its place. Both his canine teeth elongated and became a pair of sharp fangs. A long and sharp tail grew from his body as well.
“It’s such a pleasant feeling! I see now, so this is what it means to exceed the power of human beings? I suppose you’ll be my practice targets!”
The demon Uriel’s glare fiercely focused on Ash and the others.
Just being within its line of sight almost compelled Ash to shudder. In an instant, a countless number of tentacles emerged from Uriel’s back and they simultaneously sprung forth in assault.
Caught off guard, Ash had no time to summon Excalibur. He stood his ground firmly in an attempt to protect his comrades who were behind, but—
Rebecca swiftly pushed Ash aside. In that instant, dozens of tentacles flew at Rebecca, ensnaring her neck, armpits, arms, wrists, her ample breasts, her slender waist, thighs and ankles. Despite her sturdy and impregnable Ark, it was almost no different from an ornament against the tentacles which oozed dark aura. Piece by piece, Rebecca’s Ark was stripped off by the tentacles. Her porcelain-white skin was gradually exposed. The tip of each tentacle secreted a viscous liquid which dripped onto Rebecca’s hair, face and breasts…
Rebecca wailed in desperation. The magic spear Gáe Bolg which she clenched tightly in her hand fell to the ground.
“Kuku! To think that the famous knight Rebecca Randall is in such dire straits! Did you know that your prestige is acknowledged by everyone in my country?”
The demon Uriel spat out words of mockery as even more tentacles proliferated. The tentacles seemed to possess a will of their own as they dug beneath her clothing and squirmed about.
“Please…don’t stare at me, Ash!”
Rebecca blushed as she cast a pleading look towards Ash. Her courageous eyes were now filled with tears.
“I advise you not to act rashly, Ash Blake. With a bit of force, Rebecca’s head will be severed from her body.”
The demon Uriel issued an arrogant warning. There was indeed a tentacle that was wrapped around Rebecca’s neck. Mocking Ash’s helplessness, the demon Uriel got carried away. He enhanced the strength of some tentacles and used brute force to pry Rebecca’s legs apart. The <Scarlett Empress> that all students admired as a role model — at this moment, the honourable Student Council President of Ansarivan was revealed in an incredibly embarrassing state—
“Fufufufufu! Rebecca, your voice is starting to sound rather slutty! Watch as I tear the mask of a heroine from your face and reveal your carnal nature!”
Finally, Rebecca let out a scream.
Anya suddenly jumped up from behind Uriel. While Uriel was focused on tormenting Rebecca, she had sneakily crept behind him. Anya put away her favourite whip and held up a large dagger which she had concealed behind her arm. With a single thrust, she plunged the blade into the demon Uriel’s back. In that instant, the tentacles visibly spasmed and a stark-naked Rebecca was thrown into the air. In truth, Ash had noticed that Anya was preparing to attack, hence he deliberately pretended to be at the demon Uriel’s mercy.
Although it was a perilous wager, Rebecca fell into safe arms as Ash caught her. Her red hair was a mess, her bare skin was wet and slimy, and red marks appeared on her wrists and ankles.
After Rebecca’s body convulsed a few times, she fainted.
“Tch! Damn Tantalos girl!”
After the demon Uriel furiously cursed, he swung a muscular arm behind him. Anya quickly let go of her dagger and did a roll in order to evade the counterattack. However, the demon Uriel did not continue to pursue Anya, but instead leisurely said,
“Hmph…the game ends here. I’ll show you my true power!”
Standing before Ash, the demon Uriel infused all of his tentacles with magic energy. His tentacles ascended like pythons rising from a jar, and then—
The target of the countless tentacles were the officers who were manning the control and communication equipment.
“What are you trying to do!?”
Ash was perplexed. What was the demon Uriel’s intention? The tentacles swarmed together and seemed to drown all of the officers.
“Your Highness Uriel! Please come back to your senses!”
The officers all voiced pitiful screams. But, it was clear that Uriel’s intention was not to devour the officers. Ash then watched as a myriad of tentacles swallowed up the control panels full of magical engineering devices one by one.
“That can’t be! Is he trying to merge with the magic ship itself…?”
Celes murmured with a pale expression. A supernatural force lifted away the eyepatch that originally covered Celes’ left eye. It was likely a result of the resonance between both Plutos. Celes’ magic eye emitted an intense light. In an attempt to restrain its aura, Celes used her hands to cover the left half of her face.
“As expected of a <Pluto Child>, you have keen observation. You’ve guessed it right, traitor Celestina!”
The countless and immense tentacles finally covered the entirety of the floor, walls and ceiling of the bridge. All of the officers had been buried beneath the tentacles. Even if the deceased once stood against him, witnessing the wanton murder of human life impelled Ash to feel bitter about his own weakness.
Celes pushed her legs and rushed forward. She used her dagger to slice off each of the tentacles that went after Oscar.
“Geez, you’re such a troublesome master, you know!?”
Despite Celes’ ridicule, Oscar remained silent. Even though she was witness to the horror that had unfolded, her eyes remained hollow, empty and devoid of reality.
“I won’t give Oscar to you!”
The demon Uriel propelled a new tentacle towards Celes.
Lucca shouted with vigour. Advanced ice magic surged forth, instantly freezing the tentacle that was aimed at Celes. Thanks to the layer of defence that Celes was afforded by the frozen tentacle, she became free to move. She gently cradled Oscar into her arms and rushed back to Ash’s side.
“What do we do now, Ash?”
Max inquired with a timid and shaken tone of voice. Dozens of tentacles had advanced to where Ash and the others stood. It seemed as though the demon Uriel had actually managed to integrate himself with the magic ship Claíomh Solais using his tentacles. As a result, even if Ash and the others fled, they would not be able to escape. The tentacles were now akin to a protective barricade that made it difficult for Ash and the others to even approach the demon Uriel. Although Ash had considered the idea of using the holy sword Excalibur to eviscerate the tentacles, Uriel was still continuing to integrate with the magic ship. If he audaciously attacked Uriel’s body and the power of the holy sword penetrated the core of the magic ship…there was the possibility of a large explosion. If such a tragedy did happen, there would inevitably be casualties among his precious comrades who were also on board.
—That’s right, I need to pull myself together! I just have to think about how to protect everyone!
Ash rallied his own morale. After giving it some thought, he decided to put the puppet-like Oscar in a safe place before commencing a showdown with Uriel.
“All members are to immediately retreat from the Claíomh Solais! Celes and Max, please protect Oscar! Anya and Lucca, please take care of Rebecca!”
Without delay, all of his comrades unanimously shouted in response. After handing Rebecca over to Anya and Lucca, Ash stood in front of the advancing tentacles to block their path.
“Leave the rear guard to me!”
By the time that Ash and the others had retreated to the deck, all of the ship’s passageways were already occupied by enormous tentacles.
Ash turned away from his comrades as he forcefully closed the steel door that stood between the ship’s interior and the deck. A tremendous pressure immediately pushed back against the metal door from the inside, but Ash’s strength was augmented by the power of his Ark. He pressed hard against the steel door, exerting all the strength in his body against it. If he relied just on his own flesh and blood, he would’ve already been sent flying along with the door. The others took advantage of Ash’s effort to contain the tentacles, preparing for their escape.
Firstly, Max and Celes shared Arianrhod, along with the puppet-like Oscar who was in their care. Lucca and Anya shared Gawain. They had intended to take the unconscious Rebecca with them, but Cú Chulainn came forward to pick up its abject master. Eco brought her head beside the deck and uttered a low growl to urge Ash on, but he didn’t respond to her.
“All of you, get back to the Escavaron immediately and tell those in the cockpit to get as far away from here as possible!”
“What are you thinking!? Hurry up and get on Eco as well!”
Max yelled back.
“No, I’m going to stay here and fight with Eco! Max, I’m leaving everyone in your hands!”
“…I understand. Make sure you defeat the demon Uriel and come back safely!”
Max displayed a rare expression as he offered words of encouragement to Ash before taking off with his Pal. In sequence, Arianrhod, Gawain and Cú Chulainn took off from the Claíomh Solais’ deck.
“Eco! It’s our chance to shine now!”
Ash let go of the steel door and sprinted without looking back. The sturdy metal door was instantly thrust open and an army of tentacles poured out like a tidal wave in hot pursuit of Ash. After narrowly escaping from the onslaught of the tentacles, he jumped over the deck’s railing and into the night sky without hesitation.
Flying in parallel with the Claíomh Solais, Eco quickly turned and caught Ash with her head. On the other hand, the demon Uriel’s tentacles fully encased the Claíomh Solais’ exterior, completing his fusion with the ship.
“Let’s go, Eco! It’s time for us fight Uriel!”
Eco responded to Ash’s cry with a mighty roar of her own.
“The Apostate Princess ~A.S.B.1365.12~” is closed.
(All 3 of 3 parts) (1/7/20)
Continues on to Chapter 10 – The Battle of Hévin-LeCoultre ~Roar~