The first one to reach the battlefield was, obviously enough, Shibaid.
The Kujou soldiers were in formation, ready to meet the Ichinose-monster allied army.
Alongside the Ichinose troops there were 6 monsters in total. They included 3 Green Tails around level 500 and 3 Yellow Tails around level 400.
There were no other monsters to be seen, maybe because they were acting alongside humans.
“It does not seem like they are being manipulated either.”
Shibaid, who had survived countless battlefields, knew very well the taste of the air on the field of battle. He had cut down manipulated soldiers, and those who were fighting on their own will.
Because of this, he instinctively felt that the Ichinose troops were not manipulated when he looked at them. He also confirmed it with 【Analyze】.
They appeared to be in the typical excited frenzy soldiers felt before battle, but no one was affected by status ailments such as 【Charm】 or 【Confusion】.
“Are they possessed by the battle?”
Shibaid whispered after looking over the troops. They were a mixture of many different races and species, but they had one thing in common.
No one young was among them. Even Elves and Lords, who typically did not change much as they aged, looked like they had already passed middle age.
Among the others, there were many who appeared to be in their early elderly years. Their eyes, however, sparkled bright with the intent to battle.
Shibaid was reminded of berserker warriors who would not stop fighting until their last breath.
He saw one man from the Kujou camp head towards the Ichinose troops. He was carrying a katana, but no armor.
It was an unthinkable thing to see on the battlefield, but Shibaid knew who the man was.
“Hinomoto’s strongest swordsman, huh.”
The man’s name was Toudou Kankurou.
As Kankurou was walking towards the Ichinose army, a man on horseback, clad in superb-looking armor, galloped closer to him.
“That’s quite a large entourage you came with. Unfortunately, we received no announcement of your visit.”
“Of course you haven’t. This is war.”
Kankurou knew the man well: he had once been appointed battalion commander in the Ichinose army.
“Why are there monsters with you? Are they not beasts to be defeated?”
“Who knows what those creatures think? They have their own plans too, I assume. Nothing that concerns us.”
The man answered clearly and boldly. He did not seem to be lying.
Kankurou thought that they were allied probably just because they shared similar goals.
“Why would you do something like this?”
“We were born among the flames of war. With large battles ceasing to exist, some of us simply pass away in silence. But we wish to die on the field of battle! We will not just wait to pass away in our beds!”
“You plan to kindle the fires of war in Hinomoto for such a reason?”
“You may laugh and call us foolish. All who came here today are such fools. Battle-crazy fools who cannot accept these times of peace.”
The man then laughed. A pure, clear laugh, without a shade of doubt in it. A ferocious smile on his lips.
The men behind him shared the same expression.
“The Ichinose house originally formed and grew from a gathering of such people. If not now, then in the near future, but this day was inevitable. Personally, I thought I was going to find some understanding from you.”
“I don’t have the slightest idea of what you mean.”
“In Hinomoto, no man has seen as many battlefields as you, killed as many as you have. O “White haired sword demon”. I give thanks to the heavens that my last battle will be against you.”
The man held up his spear, readying for battle.
His fighting spirit and murderous intent mingled together, prickling Kankurou’s skin.
“….so this is a warrior’s way of life?”
“Hah. Nothing more than complacency.”
The man’s lips sealed shut after those words.
We shall speak through our blades now, is what his eyes expressed..
“So be it then. I, Toudou Kankurou, shall be your opponent in this final battle!”
Before men who viewed death as a righteous boon, Kankurou’s atmosphere changed.
Waves of murderous intent silently spread throughout the battlefield.
“Here I come!!”
Although pressured by Kankurou’s murderous intent, the man unleashed a thrust enveloped in violent winds.
A single sharp thrust, which did not betray the man’s old age. It was his coup de grace, a powerful blow which had felled many an opponent in the past.
This time, however, his spear…did not meet its target.
As the man fell from his horse and into the ground, the tip of his spear, which had been cut off and blown away, stabbed the ground beside him.
The arc 『Black Moon』 had drawn in the air disappeared, the metal sound accompanying the katana’s return to its sheath was overwhelmed by the trampling sound of the approaching cavalry troops.
The men rushing on their horses, the men marching on the ground, no one bore expressions of sorrow on their faces. Their expressions well fit battle-crazy warriors, as the man had called them.
“Well well, to face such numbers of soldiers ready to die will be quite troublesome.”
The Kujou soldiers were not weak by any means. But against soldiers who do not fear death, or rather, soldiers heading towards death, even the most powerful soldier will be burdened with exhaustion.
For Kankurou, it was a group he could easily defeat, provided he had the time.
However, considering the possibility of the 7-tails’ presence, he wanted to avoid both using too much time and exhausting his troops.
“Let me offer my assistance then.”
Kankurou was pondering how to break through the situation, when a Dragnil carrying a black halberd appeared before him.
The fighting spirit he emitted casted an overwhelming pressure on the surroundings.
“Well now, you are sir Shin’s…”
“Sir Kankurou. I shall participate in this battle.”
“My, it is a true honor to fight side by side with one of sir Shin’s companions.”
Kankurou naturally knew of Shibaid and his position in Shin’s service. Kankurou had witnessed him fight during his travels in the continent.
“I believe you have more speed than me, sir Kankurou. I will hold the soldiers back, I ask you to deal with the monsters.”
“That is a very welcome proposal. I shall go hunting then, please wait a while.”
Kankurou nodded at Shibaid’s proposal and quickly ran off.
He was running among thousands of troops searching for just a few monsters, but his expression was not clouded.
Kankurou’s path was opened by streaks of red slashes, created by the same skill Juugo had used, 【Infiltrator Blade】.
Its power, however, was much different. Maybe because of his stats, or because of his expertise. The army was torn apart, as the armored men and horses on Kankurou’s path were cleaved in two.
“It’s the blade demon!! The blade demon is coming!!”
Crimson Slash. That was another name for Kankurou on the battlefield.
His sword arm alone could decide the fate of a battle. That was the symbol of Hinomoto’s strongest swordsman.
“Do not enter the path of his sword!! Surround—”
“I beg your pardon.”
A captain-looking man tried to give out instructions, as Kankurou’s slashes cut through the army’s formation.
But before he could finish barking his orders, Kankurou appeared behind him.
At the same time, the man’s body was ran through by the same crimson slashes.
The man’s torso, cut off from the rest of his body, slowly fell to the ground.
His dying expression, much like the spear-wielding man Kankurou had cut down before, seemed satisfied.
“A truly worthy opponent!!”
The army was losing its officers one after the other, but its morale was not falling, instead rising even higher. A phenomenon that normally would never happen when facing an overwhelmingly superior opponent.
Kankurou, slicing through the enemy formation, now pointed his blade at one of the monsters, a Green Tail. The monster was swinging its tails towards Kankurou.
Before a beast so huge one had to look up to see properly, Kankurou swung 『Black Moon』 without a word. The monsters’ tails, sweeping through the surroundings-Ichinose soldiers included- were sliced away.
The instant after, the Green Tail wailed in pain, Kankurou was at its feet, the monster’s blind spot, holding the sheathed 『Black Moon』 at his hip, ready to attack.
『Black Moon』 was unsheathed, once again crimson slashes flew.
One slash was enough to cut off the Green Tail’s head: soon after, the beast’s huge body, much larger than a horse’s, crumbled to the ground, causing a small tremor.
A cloud of dust rose, the soldiers stopped in their tracks for a moment. But even that would not stop them. As their actions showed, they did not count on the monsters from the beginning.
“Are you looking for a place to die? The country and age might not be the same, but those who live by the blade all share the same destination, don’t they.”
Shibaid quietly whispered while sweeping away those who aimed to strike Kankurou from the back.
Even if he was not using any skill, the soldiers around Shibaid were blown away as if an explosion had gone off right next to them.
In the 500 years of Shibaid’s life, he met many who thought of nothing except how to die.
Girard, who had battled and died at Shin’s hands, was not too different, a berserker who only thought about himself.
One of the destinations of those who live by the blade was now spreading before Shibaid.
Witnessing his formidable sweeps, many soldiers recognized Shibaid’s great ability and gathered around him.
While silently countering their assaults, Shibaid shot a skill towards one of the Yellow Tails.
『Placid Moon』 was held high, then came crashing down.
Spear/Wind combination skill 【Storm Hammer】.
Differently from Kankurou’s 【Infiltrator Blade】, the spherical hurricane born from 『Placid Moon』’s tip blew the soldiers far away, carved into the ground and through the battlefield, also damaging those outside the skill’s range.
The hurricane, ravaging the battlefield in a fan-like shape, claimed the lives of 2 Yellow Tails, which happened to be close to its path. At the same time, Kankurou finished off his second Green Tail.
Then, among the chaotic ranks of the Ichinose soldiers, the Kujou troops finally arrived.
The cavalry broke through the enemy troops, then the foot soldiers struck the separated groups of enemy soldiers. Their well-planned movements were the clear sign of the strict training they went through.
Corpses piled upon corpses on the reddening ground, riddled with broken weapons and crushed armor.
In such a scenery, the two oldest veterans of the battlefield simply continued to swing their blades in silence.
The second to arrive to the battlefield was Schnee.
After joining with Karin, Schnee separated from Shin -who was heading to Fuji- and went on to ambush the monsters approaching the Futaba domain from the rear.
After self-introductions, Schnee had explained that she would fight alongside them.
When Shin said that Schnee would come with them instead, Karin was not exactly convinced, but after hearing that there was something unusual going on at Mt. Fuji, she did not inquire further.
“Well then, as we discussed, I will take the first move.”
After this exchange with Karin, Schnee raised a hand in the direction of the large monster army.
They were about 1 kemel from the monsters. Tsuguho and Tsugumasa furrowed their brows, wondering what Schnee was planning on doing, but the next instant the twins’ expressions were filled with surprise.
“Woooh!! W-what’s that!?”
Tsugumasa let out an exclamation, startled by the cold wind that had suddenly started to blow.
His eyes were fixed on the plains before his eyes, now covered in platinum white ice.
“Lady Karin, just who is she…?”
“—-an ally. You do not need to think any deeper than that for now.”
Karin gave a matter-of-fact answer to Tsuguho’s question, pronounced with a mixture of fear and awe.
She was not as surprised because, during the battle on the ship leading to Hinomoto, she had been witness of Schnee’s crushing victory over the Gale Serpents.
The skill Schnee used was the Water-type magic skill 【Cocytus】, a spell with a wide area of effect.
It was not magic exclusive to battles against guilds like 【Blue Judgement】.
However, its caster was Schnee, who had undergone a power-up during Filma’s rescue. The spell’s power was something beyond the imaginations of Karin and the others, who were running beside Schnee.
Naturally, she had adjusted the spell’s effect in order not to cause damage to the Futaba forces.
“With this, the enemy army’s rear has been taken care of. Let us go assist those fighting on the frontlines. I will take that White Tail.”
“Regarding that one, we could—”
“No, I believe it is best if it is you who informs the Futaba soldiers that we came to help, lady Karin. I do not wish to cause confusion in their ranks. My apologies, but now let us prioritize a speedy extermination of the monsters.”
Karin realized that it would be faster and more people could be saved if Schnee used her magic, rather than if Karin’s group of three went around slaying monsters.
However, due to the abrupt use of 【Cocytus】, a considerable amount of confusion was produced on the frontlines.
Just like what Schnee said, if the messenger announcing that reinforcements arrived was between Karin, one of the Brave Ten, or a nameless adventurer, there would surely be different reactions.
The present problem was that the frontlines were already engaged in a chaotic battle. It would be difficult even for Schnee to eliminate only the enemy monsters.
“….Understood. I leave that to you then. Please be careful.”
The Futaba soldiers were not weak troops that would be trampled without resisting, but they were in severe numerical disadvantage.
Karin, who had heard the approximate numbers of the monster units, feared that they would bypass the Futaba troops and directly invade the towns.
Because of this, she swallowed her pride and agreed to Schnee’s proposal.
Schnee replied to Karin with a small nod and headed in a different direction. Using the frozen monsters as footholds, she closed in on the White Tail, which was heading for the frontlines.
Schnee unsheathed 『Blue Moon』 and released a skill.
It was the Water/Katana combination skill 【Frozen White Arc】.
A platinum white slash sprang forward from 『Blue Moon』.
The crescent moon-shaped blade of ice, which had frozen even the arm of raid rank 3 demon Scoruas, cut off 2 of the White Tail’s tails: the monster had reacted at the last moment at Schnee’s slight killing intent.
The tails froze in midair before landing, while the freezing affecting the other tails was expanding towards the monster’s legs.
A scream, which failed to become words, made the surrounding air tremble.
The White Tail wildly swung its remaining tails, attacking humans and monsters without distinction.
“….just what is this supposed to be?”
Schnee whispered while looking at the White Tail, which had lost all reason because of the pain and anger.
Based on level and monster rank, the White Tail before her was supposed to be the peak of its kind. But in actuality it didn’t match such a description at all.
The monster was simply flailing wildly and did not show any trace of intellect, which should increase as the monster’s level did.
Not all monsters were like that, but as far as Schnee knew, the intelligence of Demon Fox monsters tended to increase along with their level.
“I suppose Yuzuha’s “hunch” is right on the money, huh?”
Schnee stood on the monster, now with neck and tails cut off, and looked towards Fuji.
However, that lasted no longer than a few seconds, she immediately glanced at the battlefield once more and pointed her blade towards the monsters.
Filma and Tiera, riding on Kagerou’s back, arrived in Shijou territory at the time Schnee’s group had started fighting, when Shibaid and Kankurou had finished exterminating the Ichinose troops and monster army.
Akara, Akitaka, and Shiden, who were also headed towards the Shijou territory, had not arrived yet.
Even if they were guests in the Saegusa house, Filma and Tiera had not even met the Saegusa heiress, let alone knowing anyone from the Futaba or Yaejima.
Because of this, even if they knew that there were others coming that way, they did not go talk to them.
For Filma they would have only been in the way, and Tiera was not certain that they were heading to their same destination.
“We’re almost there.”
“There’s smoke coming from behind the defensive walls…”
The soldiers seemed to be fighting back the invaders, but part of the frontlines appeared to have been breached. A 6-tailed Demon Fox monster was sweeping through the soldiers.
“I’m going to take down the one with 6 tails, so please take care of the small fry, Tiera.”
“Understood. I’ll draw them away as much as I can.”
After their conversation, Kagerou charged headfirst towards the monsters’ pack. Casting a wall of thunderbolts in its path while charging through with his huge body, Kagerou reduced the monsters to ashes in an instant.
“Okay then, my turn!”
Using the recoil from Kagerou’s braking motion, Filma jumped high in the air. Bathed in the sunlight, the unique armor covering only her chest and waist area – named 『Magic Armor of Hollow Lacquer』- gave a dull gleam.
On the surface of 『Magic Armor of Hollow Lacquer』a geometrical pattern emerged. The pattern was painted with two pigments of purple. Purple that was almost black, and purple that had a brilliant reddish tint.
These patterns, which made it seem as if wings had grown from Filma’s back, were proof of one of the armor’s abilities, magic power release.
This allowed the user to consume MP and use magic power as a booster or thruster, thus achieving higher speed.
After using it, it was no longer possible to perform quick changes in direction and its MP consumption was high, so it was a function no one used. According to Shin however, it was simply an ability that “chose its users”: the right person would surely be able to tame it.
As she ran freely through the air, almost like she was really flying, Filma readied her 『Red Moon』 .
The soldiers around the fox were just surrounding it while limiting its movements. As no one was especially close to the monster, the timing was just right.
“I’m sorry to say this all of a sudden, but you’re out.”
Occupied with the human soldiers, Filma attacked the demon fox from the sky, which became its blind spot. She came down with the momentum of a falling star.
No one managed to react in time. Both the soldiers and the demon fox stood still before the raging flame falling from the sky.
The soldiers increased their distance because of the heat levels, while the fox wailed loudly because of the strike that had pierced its body.
“W-what!? What the he–!?”
The soldiers who regained their bearings after the sudden fireball attack raised their voices. But they couldn’t finish their sentences.
Inside the flame that had slain the fox, a shadow was moving.
“Something’s coming out…”
The more the shadow came closer, the more it looked human. In the end, the flames split as of their own will, and from the fire whirlpool appeared Filma.
Despite being in the middle of searing hot flames, neither her skin nor her armor showed any burn marks.
Emerging from the flames in that manner, the soldiers both feared Filma and were charmed with her beautiful appearance.
The armor she was wearing could hardly be said to be battle-oriented. No one, however, felt like pointing it out.
It looked good on her, and from the patterns rising from it, anyone would understand that it was no ordinary armor.
“You’ll forgive me for snatching your little prey, yes? —hm? Can you hear me?”
“EH!?! No, well, we were struggling in fact, you saved us. May I ask who you are though?”
“Let’s just say I’m reinforcements. My buddies are rampaging over there, but don’t attack them by mistake, okay?”
Filma pointed towards the large monster army.
What the soldiers saw when they turned was a large wolf-like monster routing the other packs of monsters. In addition, the person riding it was releasing attacks like flashes of light.
“Are you, allies?”
“Of course, didn’t I say that I’m reinforcements? Okay then, I’m going that way so I leave this to you. It’s the place you live in, you better protect it well.”
After saying all that, Filma gracefully leapt towards the masses of monsters.
The monsters turned to black ashes as her waves of flames spread at unbelievable speed.
Looking at this, the soldiers even started thinking that the demon fox they had been fighting until then maybe wasn’t that strong.
“Filma is really amazing…in a totally different way than master.”
Tiera felt somewhat at a loss for words, looking at Filma’s performance of leaping over the monster hordes and attacking the demon fox.
Tiera’s head was filled with questions, like what were those wing-like things that sprouted on Filma’s back, what was up with her armor, which barely covered anything…but for now she put them away and shot her bow.
Her enemies were monsters: there was no need to hesitate.
“I’m stronger than before, after all.”
Maybe because of the fragments absorbed within her body when Filma was freed, Tiera felt that her bow had become very light. If she infused just a bit of magic power in it, her arrows pierced through monsters with much more speed and power than before.
In the Balmel battle, she only managed to shoot arrows with Kagerou and Yuzuha’s help, but now she could could fly with just her strength, and with more power than before.
Combined with her original abilities, Tiera’s fighting power had increased exponentially.
As if encouraging her sniping, Kagerou roared. A mad dance of thunderbolts erupted in their surroundings, turning monsters into ashes.
Because of this overwhelmingly superior presence, even the monsters heading towards the Shijou city now proceeded more slowly.
In addition, the demon fox commanding them was now gone. The monster army was on the verge of collapse.
“I was worried that they would think we were enemies, but it doesn’t look like they’re going to attack us.”
Tiera looked in the direction of the fighting soldiers and felt a little relieved.
She was a bit apprehensive when Filma had charged into the demon fox like that.
Just after this brief relief, Tiera prepared another arrow to shoot, but something other than monster corpses entered her line of sight.
That mostly torn and eaten thing she saw was a human corpse.
It was not the first time for Tiera to see a dead body. But the sight of that body, ravaged and destroyed to the point that it barely retained its original shape, was horrifying enough to make her swallow her breath.
“—-I—-I won’t allow any more of this!!!”
Tiera inhaled briefly, then looked straight at the scenery before her eyes.
Maybe because the soldiers’ numbers were too few, she understood that some monsters had entered the town. But that would end now. Filma had crushed the monster’s commander, and Kagerou was lowering their morale with its intimidating aura.
To lower casualties as much as possible, Tiera aimed at the units with higher levels.