—It was at almost the same time that light erupted above and below the clouds.
If there were one who could observe the battle’s taking place, separated by thick clouds and a large distance, then they would most certainly not be of this world.
The battle, which had begun with attempting to conquer the Pleiades Watchtower, was finally coming to an end.
The current situation was—
Cried Subaru, as the sea of sand was blown to bits and shockwaves that whipped up a sandstorm raged.
The immense amount of destructive power that was smashing into Subaru was enough to instantly blow his body to bits. And yet no such thing occurred—
One of the three original magic spells that had been created by Subaru and Beatrice.
Roughly speaking, this magic spell was a form of absolute defense magic that prevented the bodies of Subaru and Beatrice from being influenced by external forces by stopping the passage of time around them.
“It’s so frustrating because I came up with the idea in the first place, but it feels like I’m the one getting thrown into the worst situations because that guy used a similar ability!”
“We’ve talked quite enough about this matter, I suppose! Betty already decided to ignore it long ago, in fact!”
When she heard Subaru’s complaint, Beatrice, who was on his shoulders, shouted that at him.
The Witch of Greed’s Sin Archbishop, Regulus Corneas’ Invincibility ability, was an extremely powerful force that could be described as being backwards compatible with E M M. Though the guy who used it was a scumbag, its practicality was outstanding. That was what he’d aimed for, though it wasn’t something he wanted to do.
“I still need to reference him, even though that guy is a scumbag that makes me feel like throwing up.”
Would it sound better if he said he lived by experience?
This type of thinking also reminded Subaru of the Sin Archbishop of Gluttony, and he was extremely disgusted by the fact those guys stood in his way no matter where he looked.
However, without it, he wouldn’t be able to protect Beatrice and Meili.
Meili, with her eyes closed, began taking strained breaths in Subaru’s arms.
She looked to be in a state of shock, but that was simply due to how painful breathing was for her. The injuries she’d been dealt looked like they were gradually healing due to Beatrice’s healing magic. Well, more or less, but she should be improving, maybe, possibly.
“Using healing magic and E M M at the same time is too difficult, I suppose! The three of us would be dead by now if it weren’t for Betty, in fact!”
“I know that! It’s just...”
Thanks to Beatrice’s rebuke, Subaru began to question himself.
When it came to the damage he’d taken, there was no longer any other way to endure it but to bite down on his back teeth. The problem was his current supply of mana—in the first place, he was only useful as a tank for holding magic power, but the capacity of Subaru’s tank was just average, if not below-average.
When he used E M M, his mana was continuously consumed, like water flowing out of a bucket with holes in it.
And at this rate, it wouldn’t be long before E M M and the healing magic stopped working altogether. And—
“Stopping Meili’s healing magic is NOT an option...!”
“Then we will have to stop using E M M, I suppose. I’ll have to entrust the timing and what happens next to Subaru, in fact!
“Then you can count on me. Beako, you will take care of Meili’s treatment and become a good obedient spirit that responds immediately to my instructions!”
“The way you worded that! Is! Bad, in fact!”
Arguing with each other in such a way, Subaru and Beatrice exchanged glances, and without a single second of disturbance in their connection, turned E M M off—and then jumped from where they were standing.
Behind them, the Crimson Scorpion and the other witchbeasts were fighting and making a beeline towards Subaru and the others. As per usual, the bothersome Crimson Scorpion had its sights set on Subaru, who had a handicap where he couldn’t get too far away from the tower.
In terrible situations like this where the situation would not change otherwise—
By revealing his Return by Death ability, Subaru generated a thick amount of Miasma which attracted all of the witchbeasts there to his location. —It wasn’t a technique of any kind, but that was one of the abilities that he heavily relied on.
It was dangerous enough as it was, but if the Crimson Scorpion was aiming for Subaru, making it fight with the other witchbeasts might bear fruit.
But it might have been too much to ask for.
If Beatrice, Meili, and Subaru collapsed here, then Ram, who had entrusted some of her burdens to him, would also collapse, and then, one after the other, they would be annihilated.
Due to the power of Cor Leonis, the sense of closeness he felt with the others became far too strong. With the power of this Authority, he had no idea how Regulus grew accustomed to living his life in solitude.
“—! E M T!!”
Thinking useless thoughts, he saw a future where everyone was disintegrated by a ray of white light, and then, having a premonition of Death, he released his second original magic spell.
E M T was a form of negation magic that negated all magic released at it. It didn’t have the same weakness as E M M, which required zero movement in order to stay activated. —At least in principle, any attack that used mana would be negated by this magic spell.
“I turned E M M off and used my trump card in five seconds flat!”
That wasn’t as easy as it sounded, and, on the contrary, he didn’t know what to do after that, and was surrounded on all sides.
As it was, the stinger of the Crimson Scorpion, the flames of the Hungry Horse Kings, and the other attacks of the witchbeasts were aimed and then fired at Subaru and his group, threatening to turn them all into ash.
Gulping, Subaru stiffened. If he wanted to break through the current situation, he would need to use his third and final original magic spell. However, it was not complete yet.
If anything were to go wrong, Subaru and his group might end up floating in an imaginary space—
“I can’t believe in myself enough to bet on it awakening at the last minute—!”
Although Natsuki Subaru was recognized as a capable guy, he didn’t blindly believe that he was some type of superman who could break through any sort of situation no matter the circumstances.
He was simply the type of guy who never gave up. Even if he gave up, he would get himself back on his feet more than any other. To put it another way, it means that other people gave up more.
“Now isn’t the time to show my habit of losing. It’s a bad gamble, but...”
“—Can you do anything with your willpower and vanity alone? That level of determination is truly like you, however.”
It was at the moment Subaru decided he had no choice but to give it a try. A sudden voice came from above, and then the figure of a person descended and slashed in between the attack of Death that had been fired at Subaru and everyone else. It was so radiant that Subaru reflexively shut his eyes.
That wasn’t a metaphor either, for it truly was dazzling. —It was because the figure was clad in the colors of the rainbow.
Immediately after that, a light shined and repelled that furious onslaught of attacks.
There were the shock waves that left destruction in their wake, an inferno of flames, and the charge of the other witchbeasts with their lives on the line. A black light weakened them, water overflowed and swallowed them up, and the violent winds of a sandstorm made them lose their momentum.
That had been the act of manipulating the forces of nature itself, and it had been done by a man with a graceful countenance, who landed on the sand wielding his long knight’s sword—
“—For that reason, I came here in a hurry. It seems that I arrived in the nick of time.”
As he spoke, Julius Juukulius, who was known as the Finest of Knights, glanced back at Subaru.
With his white uniform stained here and there with blood and dirt, he stood there calmly. He was a refined as ever, clad in the colors of the rainbow.
At his commanding presence, Subaru said “Julius...” with quivering lips.
“You... I left a message that said to go help out the others who were in dangerous places!”
“Yes, and I did so. That is why I came here. My apologies, but I thought this place was the most dangerous compared to the others.”
“Shut up! What’s up with that scar on your face? What happened with Reid?!”
“It was my loss. He ran away in a pleasant mood after winning.”
“That’s lame! If you’re gonna do it, then you gotta go for the win! But I would’ve been done for had you not come, so I’ll only say this once. Thanks!”
Julius, who had a white scar under his left eye, laughed with a “Ha.”
He said that with a hint of annoyance, but he had apparently gained something after finishing his fight with Reid. The proof of that was—
“Have you made up with your quasi-spirits?”
“Actually, they blossomed from their budded forms and were elevated into spirits. Also, saying we made up would be incorrect. We were never at odds to begin with.”
Hovering around Julius as he answered were the six dim, glowing quasi-spirits—no, spirits.
The spirits, who had lost their connection to Julius due to Gluttony’s Authority taking his Name away, had not given him any assistance whatsoever, and had long been puzzled as a result.
However, they’d bridged the gap between them, causing them to develop a stronger bond. Forming a new contract with his six spirits made him seem both smart and like a womanizer.
“I had such a hard time persuading Beako, but you’re such a clever guy, huh.”
“Regrettably, I’ve already been eaten, though.”
“Not funny! Aren’t you getting over it a little too fast?!”
Subaru was amazed at Julius, who could even joke about being victimized by Gluttony’s Authority.
Seeing as he had said that he had won and escaped, it was clear that he had managed to conclude things with Reid. And since it was clear that Reid’s body had belonged to Roy Alphard, it would be natural to assume that he had also settled things with one of the Gluttonies.
And since Julius had yet to say anything about the danger he posed, then it could be assumed that he had succeeded in neutralizing Alphard.
“Julius! You got here at just the right time, I suppose! I need to borrow Kua!”
Julius immediately consented to Beatrice’s request, who was above Subaru’s head. He was also able to sense that it was only a matter of time until something went wrong with Meili, still in Subaru’s arms.
From the group of six spirits, the blue-colored Kua, which governed the water element, flew out and began pouring its gentle healing magic into Meili’s body along with Beatrice’s.
“This will require a considerable amount of time.”
“Yup, so take a look around. Now that Shaula has turned red and is very angry, can you handle her? Didn’t you just lose to the red dude?”
“For that very reason, it would be discourteous to the lady to state that this battle was being fought to make up for that loss.”
Julius faced the Crimson Scorpion—Shaula—wielding his knight’s sword.
The knight stepped forward, but the Crimson Scorpion seemed to look right through him. Everyone in Subaru’s way was simply an obstacle to it, and its murderous intent stayed locked on to a single target.
It was with that attitude that Julius, a spirit knight, improved himself and moved a step up.
“Subaru, I will handle Miss Shaula. As far as other things are concerned...”
“You mean I need to handle them on my own, huh? Roger that.”
“No, please work together with Miss Beatrice to get things done.”
“In a situation like this, I can produce about 70% of my power thanks to Beako.”
To be honest, even 70% was a pretty vain figure. At 80% or 90%, what Subaru could be proud of as the contractor of Beako was his cunning brain and a few little techniques, so it might even go up to 95%.
In any case—
“You coming here really helped us a lot...”
“It would be best for you to reexamine the value that you yourself possess.”
After having a relatively short conversation, Subaru and Julius each focused on their distinct roles.
Julius advanced in order to prevent the attacks of the witchbeasts from reaching Subaru and the others, reducing the damage to the rear by fighting a fierce battle.
Subaru, on the other hand, wanted to keep the injured Meili away from the witchbeasts while focusing on buying time so that the conditions for victory could be met.
Feeling a sense of astonishment, Subaru raised his face as if blown away by something. The cause of this was the Pleaides Watchtower and the change that had occurred there. It was—
“—The response from Ram disappeared?”
—Volcanica’s breath was released over the upper floor, tinged in a blue light.
Emilia attempted to break through the situation with every ounce of her being by using ice shields.
When they were traveling through the sea of sand to the Pleiades Watchtower, she had used ice shields to defend against the rays of white light coming from the tower. However, they did not last a single second against the dragon’s breath.
The stacked ice shields were melted instantly, yet still managed to slightly weaken the power and scale of that attack as it rained down upon Emilia.
As a result, Emilia took shelter behind the black Monolith for a moment.
It was true that it was quite strong and undaunted by the breath of the dragon. However, she had a hunch that if it were destroyed, the Trial would be ruined. And besides, she had a feeling that this had nothing to do with breaking through the Trial—
“I’ll reaaally be lonely if it’s destroyed...”
There was a handprint that gave her a feeling of déjà vu, on a Monolith that had been left behind.
She also had no idea if it had anything to do with her, or if she was just seeing things. She just wanted to find out why it gave her that kind of feeling in the first place.
So she couldn’t lose it. In order to not lose it—
Gathering her mana together to the limits of her current state , Emilia deployed an Icicle Line. Though she had a massive amount of mana at her disposal, using it all at the same time was not feasible. No matter how much mana a person had, they were limited by how much could pass through their Gate in a single instance.
Emilia had ten times the amount of power as most magic users, but her potential was further developed due to her experience as a spirit arts user.
Magic users interfered with the world with their power by sending the mana they built up within themselves through their Gates.
Spirit arts users interfered with the world with the help of spirits and by using the mana in the atmosphere.
That being the case, Emilia trained herself in both.
The amount of water coming out of a faucet was fixed in quantity, but if one were to store it in a bucket, one would have more water at one’s disposal. Based on that, Emilia did this both inside and outside her body.
The application of a maximum magic spell, one in which the mana overflowing from within was preserved on the outside, with the gate being ignored entirely—
Subaru had called it that and said it would be difficult to pull off.
Oddly enough, this had happened at the same time Subaru shouted out that he couldn’t believe in himself enough to pull it off. And then Emilia went ahead and gave it her all to succeed in something that had never been done before.
And she succeeded in doing it.
If Emilia’s original magic power was at a level of one, would the power of this magic spell that came into being due to the application of the overflow of magic be ten, or perhaps even reach a hundred?
In a single moment, the white void that swept over the world was not the expression of a frozen atmosphere, but was rather the accompaniment of the power to stop the unstoppable passage of time.
The dragon’s breath, which was the embodiment of Death, was no exception.
The collision of the blue light and Absolute Zero created a void in the world.
In an instant, the two maximum powers struggled against each other for a short amount of time before cancelling each other out.
Indeed, they had surprisingly silently cancelled each other out without any other effects, and when the time that had been stopped began moving again, Emilia brought out an ice spear and rushed forward.
Her slender throat vibrating, Emilia charged towards Volcanica.
Her body felt awfully heavy because it had taken energy from her entire body. Even though the mana itself was used outside of the body, the toll it took on Emilia was rather large.
Turning over a bucket full of water required an enormous amount of energy. So it was no wonder that Emilia was exhausted and fatigued, for she had used enough energy to overturn a fountain, not just a bucket.
However, she let out her voice.
“I can’t…lose heart forever!!”
By shouting that out, Emilia reinvigorated herself.
While life energy and mana were different things, she still thought that she could awaken her sleeping energy simply by willing it to come forth. That may have been a misunderstanding, but even if she was just fooling herself, lying wasn’t so bad from time to time.
Not giving her a chance to breathe, Volcanica roared that out as he swung his paw and tail.
The impact came from outside of her perception, and Emilia defended against it by relying on the feeling of the beads of ice spreading around her—helping her advance as they got crushed were seven ice soldiers she’d created.
An ice soldier stopped a downward blow from reaching her, and then another ice soldier stopped the following blow from a paw with its own body. Emilia then jumped off of its shoulder whilst another ice soldier, standing on the shoulders of two other’s stacked on top of each other in order to give itself some height, held off the tail flailing in the air, ultimately sacrificing itself.
“Ha! Haiya! Haiyaaaaa!”
After borrowing the aid of those who had nobly sacrificed themselves, Emilia threw an ice spear while rotating herself in the air. It hadn’t been enough to penetrate the outer layer of the Divine Dragon, but it had been enough to get his attention.
Volcanica swung his troublesome paw at Emilia, grazing her silver hair as she dodged it. Then she charged in, risking her life in order to get under his chest. —And from that position…
“That’s… his white scale—”
Emilia hoped that her blow would be able to touch or hit it, and then looked up at the sky.
Emilia opened her eyes when she drew close to the Divine Dragon once again, close enough to touch, and saw that evasive white scale directly in her vision.
The reason as to why was rather surprising. That wasn’t a white scale. Not at all.
There was a white scar there that could have easily been mistaken as one of his scales.
Since the wound had already closed, he shouldn’t feel any pain if it were touched.
However, the Divine Dragon just didn’t want that wound to be touched for some reason, and went through a lot of agony when it was. Emilia’s breath caught when she realized that it had something to do with his old, undying memories.
Taking advantage of her momentary hesitation, Volcanica flapped his wings.
Volcanica’s massive body flew up in an instant with Emilia’s hand still stretched out in front of her. Emilia greatly regretted her mistake after she’d done it.
When fighting a winged being, this was the worst situation one could be in. If one were to be attacked in a position that was unreachable, one would accumulate debt in the blink of an eye.
Emilia immediately placed her hand on the floor, then ice suddenly began to rise from where she was standing.
Now that she had an improvised ice foothold in the sky, Emilia desperately attempted to catch up to the flying Volcanica. However, the ice foothold reached its limit when it had been extended to 33 to 66 feet (10 to 20 meters), and she wouldn’t be able to reach him if he moved further away.
Emilia’s shouts were answered by her ice soldiers, who were climbing up the side of the ice platform.
The ice soldiers climbed to the top of the foothold and then immediately began jumping. They used the shoulders of the one that jumped previously as a footstool, repeating that process six times. Then Emilia jumped off of the back of the last one—
As soon as she pushed off of the ice soldier’s back with a great amount of force, it broke their formation.
However, the seven ice soldiers, who were now falling, all fell with smiles on their faces while giving her a thumbs up. With their encouragement, Emilia, who had jumped last, moved her hand towards Volcanica’s tail.
Emilia’s fingers grabbed thin air as his tail was drawn back. And then the tail, which had been pulled back rapidly, returned to Emilia’s position, who gazed at it in wonderment.
There was nowhere to go in the air. Even if she were capable of producing an ice shield in an instant, that power that could break through it in an instant was destructive enough to be fatal.
Emilia was entangled with thoughts of failing in addition to what she should do.
As time slowed down, she desperately tried to find a way out of her situation, and mobilized all of her resources in her mind and body to see if she could do anything. Giving up wasn’t an option, however.
None of Emilia’s favorite people ever chose to give up.
“I won’t give up, either!”
However, just saying such words wouldn’t be enough to save herself.
The tail attack of the Divine Dragon, who understood the long passage of time, drew near to Emilia, as if trying to teach her the meaning of impermanence—
In a single moment, a raging wind from directly below Emilia blew upwards, helping her ascend, though only slightly. The wind blowing upwards pushed against her body, slightly altering her situation.
This had brought her from a situation where there was a 100% chance of Death to a situation where the possibility of Death was 90%. And Emilia, who refused to give up, took hold of that 10% chance of survival.
The Divine Dragon’s tail was swung towards Emilia’s head. Since the momentum behind her ascent had increased, the trajectory of the tail attack moved from her head to her body. Understanding that with her intuition, rather than her perception, she pulled her knee’s to her chest with all her might.
Emilia made her body as small as she could in order to get out of its attack range—but the tips of her toes were grazed by his tail attack, causing her body to spin at a high speed due to the fierce shock it caused.
Emilia’s body was blown upwards with her knee’s held in her arms.
Emilia clenched her back teeth as she was swallowed by the attack that was capable of causing the contents of her head to spill out, and created some ice footholds in the sky, stopping herself by force.
With tears in her eyes, and her entire body taking in the shock, Emilia looked down after hearing a powerful sound.
With her field of view turned upside-down on the ice ceiling in the sky, she could see Volcanica’s head, as well as figures approaching from the stairs of the first floor in the distance.
Actually, they weren’t figures at all, but rather the silhouettes of a person and an earth dragon.
It had been Ram who’d come here and helped Emilia move a bit higher. She couldn’t hide her astonishment at the fact that Ram, who she could see in the distance, had come here in a bloodied state.
But thanks to her assistance, Emilia managed to escape a death resulting from her head getting struck.
Thanks to her help, Emilia once again put some strength into her knees. Using the ice ceiling as a foothold, she went on the offensive against Volcanica. However, Volcanica looked rather funny in front of her.
He was wagging his tail and looking down, rather than looking at Emilia. There was a possibility that he had deemed Ram, who had saved her, to be his next prey. But that wasn’t the case. The golden eyes of the ancient Divine Dragon weren’t looking at Ram at all.
After Volcanica’s murmur faded away, Emilia’s rushed her body directly beneath him. Half a moment later, the tail of Volcanica, who had been looking above him, broke the ice ceiling. He had been late as Emilia was no longer there, nor was she aiming directly at his throat.
Then Emilia created another ice foothold—no, an Ice Slope. When she had been running away from Regulus with Subaru in Priestella, she’d created something with the aim of not killing her speed, but accelerating it—it was created in the air and slid on using shoes made of ice.
Emilia’s speed accelerated in the sky, preventing the tail attack from reaching her.
Creating an ice slope in midair and then steadily, steadily accelerating, Emilia’s silver hair fluttered in the wind as his tail chased after her, and then—
Jumping off of the slope, Emilia aimed a kick at Volcanica’s throat, going at a high speed. She fired herself straight, like an arrow, at the white scar on his throat, avoiding the closing paw trying to grab her.
The white sole of Emilia’s shoe struck his throat, causing Volcanica to let out a shout once again.
Hearing the sound of the sky cracking, Emilia let out an “Eeeeekaaaaah!” causing her to cover her ears as she immediately began falling due to the kick’s recoil. Falling, falling, falling—
“Eek!... Wow, thank you!”
The falling Emilia had been caught by the ice soldiers who were supposed to have fallen to the ground.
Emilia stood up thanks to the aid of that soft landing and saw that she had gotten back to the upper floor, as well as that Volcanica was writhing in agony above her. Once again, she ran straight to the Monolith next to the central pillar.
She ran and ran to get to the Monolith that gave her a sense of déjà vu—
“I knew it!!”
She reached the Monolith, and, this time, she was able to press her hand against it unhindered. That force created a shock that shook the Monolith, and Emilia’s hand was a perfect match for the handprint in question. She wasn’t sure how many people in the world shared similar hands, but this handprint on the Monolith at least belonged to someone who looked exactly like her.
“—Thou, who hath reached the top of the tower. Step forth onto the first floor, almighty petitioner.”
When Emilia placed her hand on the Monolith, Volcanica descended whilst flapping his wings.
Volcanica, whose large body was still floating up in the sky, and was supposed to have returned to a sane state, asked that same first question once more, as if he had returned to being senile.
But she felt like the question was different than the one he had asked the first time when he was in a completely senile state. —Right, that was the question he had always started with.
“—I, am Volcanica. In accordance with the ancient covenant, the will of thee who hath reached the top shall be questioned.”
These were words that had been said many times.
The will of thee who hath reached the top shall be questioned. —In other words, the feelings of those who have reached the top.
What do you want to do? What do you desire? What did you come here to do?
There were many answers that Emilia could give to that question. There were plenty of answers to ‘what do you want to do?, what do you desire?, and what did you come here to do?’.
However, at this moment, what Emilia wanted the most—
“—I ask. Thy will!”
After all of those repeated question, Emilia opened her eyes wide whilst opening her mouth. Then she answered him in a loud voice.
“—For everyone to get along!!”
Suddenly a powerful gust of wind blew, engulfing the sea of sand with its force.
Evading a fierce attack from a witchbeast, Subaru cried out “huh?!” and Beatrice, who was working hard to heal Meili, was also shocked, saying “what is it, I suppose?!.”
Naturally, the same could be said of Julius, who was currently engaged in an extraordinary battle against Shaula.
—No, the amount of surprise he felt must have been even greater.
The reason why was because he wasn’t pursued despite there being a fierce whirlwind of dirt that blocked his field of view, causing him to feel a sense a danger and fall back.
“—What on earth. SUBARU!!”
“HUH!? What is it! I can’t see my surroundings because of all the sand...”
“It’s fine! Come here!”
Responding to Julius’ earnest call, Subaru, spitting the sand out of his mouth, turned towards him. Then he saw why Julius had been so frantic and widened his eyes.
Subaru, with a cry of astonishment, saw the figure of the Crimson Scorpion toppled in the whirlwind of dust, fluttering its many legs in the sand.
Until now, the tower administrator had not responded to any of their attacks and had simply chased them down in a machine-like manner—an error had occurred in the self-proclaimed Stars-Keeper.
“Have you done something?!”
“No, I didn’t do anything special. I was focusing my attention on staving off its attacks. But as soon as that sand wind blew...”
“Sand wind...that’s right, that wind...”
The fierce wind that had engulfed Subaru and the others was called Sand Wind, and it made them realize that something was wrong.
The Sand Wind mercilessly engulfed those who traveled through the Augria Sand Dunes, but ever since they broke through the barrier in question, a powerful wind like this had never blown around the watchtower.
That was why there had never been such a thing known as Sand Wind here. And yet now it was blowing—
“Subaru! Look! The sky.”
Beatrice exclaimed that with an adorable voice to Subaru, who was confused. When he heard her, he looked up with a pained look on his face.
Changes had occurred in the Pleiades Watchtower, and those changes were quite obvious.
“—The clouds…cleared up.”
The Pleaides Watchtower went all the way up into the clouds and extended into the sky. The top of it was literally covered with clouds and could not be viewed from below. However, the strange clouds that had always covered the top of the watchtower had disappeared.
So he finally realized something. —That the aftermath of the wind just now had scattered those clouds.
The clouds had been cleared and the top of the tower was now visible from below. And that only meant one thing, at least according to Subaru’s wishful thinking.
“—Did you do it, Emilia?”
The perception of the muttering Subaru, who could sense everyone in the tower with Cor Leonis, could perceive Emilia who had disappeared, and then Ram and Patrasche returned as well. It was likely that they went to help Emilia and had gotten some results from that.
To put it another way, if Subaru’s deduction was right—
“The rules of the tower have been rewritten... Shaula! Hey, Shaula! Listen to me!”
“You don’t need to fight us anymore! Now you’re free to...”
Was the reason why the toppled-over Crimson Scorpion was writhing and suffering so much because the ancient pact that had been etched into her had been severed? He didn’t understand the fine details. But that was enough. There was no reason for her to suffer anymore—
As Subaru was approaching her and calling out her name, someone grabbed his collar. At that moment, a razor sharp tail passed through the space where he had just been before being dragged away.
With the wind blowing, Subaru was at a loss for words as he felt the smell of burnt air brush against his nose.
If Julius hadn’t stopped him, he would have been hit. But it wasn’t a sense of Death that afflicted Subaru.
“HEY, SHAULA! SHAULA! WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU, STOP MESSING AROUNDDD!!”
While listening to Subaru’s desperate words, the Crimson Scorpion slowly went back to where it was in the sand. With its compound eyes gleaming, it went back to its toppled-over position, and, slowly perceiving Subaru once again, drooled from its fiendish fangs.
That didn’t seem to be the attitude of a normal, rational being—
“—Subaru, unfortunately, but…”
Julius grabbed Subaru by the shoulder as he spoke and tried to move forward. But when he realized what he was thinking, Subaru grabbed his arm and stopped him in his tracks.
He could tell that Julius was trying to take on the role of the guy who did what he needed to do. But he would never allow that to happen.
“I’ve decided to help. —I’m…gonna help her out.”
“Is it the duty you feel towards her as her master?”
Shaking his head, Subaru disagreed with Julius’ words. That wasn’t the case. Subaru wanted to help Shaula, but not because he was her master or anything—
“It’s not because I’m her master. I’m going to do that because I’m…moved by her.”
“It’s the same with Beako. How could I abandon someone who’s been all alone in a sand tower like this, who cried and said she enjoyed the days she spent with us?”
Clenching his back teeth, Subaru declared that to Julius with his arm in his grasp.
Julius then glanced back at Subaru and sighed.
“...You’re stubborn. But that’s what you should do.”
“No, I was just impressed by you again. I stuck to my vanity once. So you should stick with it until the end.”
Julius, smiling lightly, replied with that, tracing the wound on his left cheek with his finger.
Subaru narrowed his eyes at his answer and suddenly realized that his left hand was being held by someone with a gentle touch. It seemed to have been Beatrice who had done it.
Gazing at Subaru with the loveliest eyes in the world—
“Meili has gotten past the difficult part, I suppose. The rest—”
“Can you help me get her out?”
“If I say no, what kind of brute would Betty be, I wonder... Good grief, Subaru really is such a helpless partner, I suppose.”
In response to Beatrice, Subaru smiled bitterly and scratched his head. Then he firmly rejoined his hand with his most precious contracted spirit and turned to the Crimson Scorpion—to Shaula.
The spirit knight, and two people standing side-by-side, faced the crying girl who needed to be saved. And—
“I’m already worn out both mentally and physically. —So help me out already, Shaula!”
—In the conquering of the Pleiades Watchtower, the final showdown, began.