Oct 22, 2017

Last Embryo V2 Chapter 7

Chapter 7

───Inside the wagon of the Spirit Train, "Sun Thousand".

Even now, the Spirit Train continued to dash under the dark clouds where thunders roared. They talked about leading the "Bull of Heaven" to a remote place, however they were compelled to stop that action due to the sudden assailants. Even if they wanted to escape, they must first defeat the enemy outside the train.
Homura who had finished the audience with Queen, tilted his head from the community spoken by the Lord Butler Scathach.

""Avatära".........is it?"

"Yes.───The group of Kings, "Avatära". That is the name of the community that is currently assaulting us. It's about the ten Gods & Kings from the Indian Mythology, have you heard of it?"

"No, first time hearing it."

"Is that so? Then I'll give a brief explanation while we’re walking. Since it's not unrelated to you."

Slowing down her walking pace, Scathach raised her index finger. Homura wanted to go to Ayato's side immediately, but he would be helpless without knowing about the enemy. He silently returned a nod.

“───The community of the Sun Kings, "Avatära".

Ten incarnations of the sun spoken in the Ancient Indian Pantheon. Each of the ten own separate Gifts and are Divine Spirits as well as royalties, having acquired glory in their respective eras, they are charged with the mission of bringing peace upon the world.

Even in the Little Garden of gods, beings like the First Avatar "Arc", Second Avatar "World Dragon Kurma" and Ninth Avatar "Siddhartha the Enlightened" could be counted on hand. If they participated in the Sun Authority War, they would become the biggest winning candidates whom even "Queen Halloween" cannot touch.”

But Scathach softly denied that possibility.

"Those three who are the strongest battle power of "Avatära" aren't likely to participate. And even if they do, their participation would be limited to being a "Sponsor"."

""Sponsor"? Not the "Host" of the Game?"

"Yes. You haven't heard? Three positions have been prepared for this Game."

Scathach who raised three fingers explained about the three roles while walking.

“First, "Hosts" who were entrusted with the administration and management of Authority War.

Second, "Players" to participate and battle in Authority War.

Third, "Sponsors" who support the participants in the Authority War.

───The three abovementioned positions are available. In this case, Homura's group are the "Players" and me and Queen are the "Sponsors"."

Homura released a small sigh and digested Scathach's words.

The fighters, and the supporters───It's the kind of relationship where humans like Homura fight as Players, and the Gods bestow Gifts upon their heroes. No matter how powerful Divine Spirits they may be, if they don't have excellent pieces they can't win through it. That was also the reason why Queen was recruiting outstanding participants.

"Well, I thought it was like that."

"You expected it?"

"Yes. Because my relationship with "Everything Company" is exactly that. While it's true I came to another world, I don't think that relationship would change so easily. ───And, what kind of God is the "Sponsor" of Avatära?"

Returning to the topic, he asked about the main matter.

Scathach blinked her eyes out of surprise and told him with a smile.

"I believe that "Avatära" is the union community of Players and Sponsors. And this time, there's also the age limit on Player frame."

"Oh, that's a really good news. How much to be specific?"

"Everyone aside minors are banned from participation. In the case of exceeding the age during the Game, you are promptly moved to a special case. Taking this into account, the time left for Sakamaki Izayoi to be able to participate is three months."

".........Eh?"

"Hm?"

"Oh, no.........sorry. Please go on."

Homura leaked his voice from the unexpected name. Scathach continued while grinning.

"Judging from the current interference and other violent actions, the current "Avatära" isn't the righteous group of Kings. Rumor has it that the Demon Lords who felt like taking part in Sun Authority War are gathering regardless of where they are from."

".........In other words, they are naming themselves "Avatära" just because they want to claim being a group of Kings?"

"Well, I can't exactly declare it as such. I heard that at least a third of the ten Avatars of "Avatära" are participating. Naturally in that case, the ones who could become Sponsors are limited."

First Avatar "Arc".

Second Avatar "World Dragon Kurma".

Ninth Avatar "Siddhartha the Enlightened".

Among these three highest battle powers, one of them would certainly take part as a Sponsor.

"Well, supposing the Ninth Avatar who is the founder of Buddhism is innocent, the problem are the First and Second Avatars. However, if we were to speak about their awakening, the "Pisces" of Twelve Constellations and the "Dragon" of Twelve Chen would be necessary.........But, we'll find that out when the opening ceremony arrives so it's fine. The problem are the members of "Avatära" that are interfering with your world. They are undoubtedly involved with the Star Particle Bodies."

From Scathach's words, Homura stopped his feet as if he didn't believe his ears.

Looking puzzled at Scathach, Homura asked again, unable to comprehend the meaning.

".........Please wait a minute. Why did the Star Particle Bodies appear there? I don't understand how it's connected."

From Homura's question, this time it was Scathach's turn to be surprised.

"Oh, you haven't heard from Ayato? About the Star Particle Body Spreading Plan."

".........Ah, you mean that? The pipe dream of performing the Terra healing by making full use of environmental improvement function of Star Particle Bodies?"

Saigou Homura revealed an amazed smile.

The Star Particle Body Spreading Plan, as the name suggested, was a romantic nonsense about building a large tower for spreading Particle Bodies around the world and helping to improve the environment of the planet. It certainly wasn't impossible if it became possible to mass-produce the "Origin" and precisely control the movements of the Particle Bodies.

Desertificated lands, polluted atmosphere, rise of atmospheric temperature and so on.

If the Terra healing by Particle Bodies went smoothly, it was estimated that it would take only a  mere three years to improve all that.

However, the problems before reaching that point were piled up to the height of a mountain.

The place to construct the tall tower for spreading them, the effects of Particle Bodies on human bodies, the fear of nanohazard, religious problems, agreements with pro-environment groups, etc.........the number of problems were endless.

Even if all those were cleared, this time the production line wasn't ready.

If the Spreading Plan goes smoothly, in ten years time, 17% of the planet's atmosphere would be filled with Particle Bodies, however there's also the question as to how to produce such a large quantity of Particle Bodies.

As mentioned above, it took a vast amount of time to increase the production of "Origin", and the parasitic growth in living organisms only resulted in degraded products.

If there were human beings, animals or plants with idiosyncratic constitution that did not degrade the Particle Bodies with parasitic multiplication, that would be a different story───But something so convenient hadn't been discovered as of yet.

"Such an absurd plan is impossible even for "Everything Company". It's not a problem that would be solved by having money, isn't it? It can't earn a social understanding."

"Fufun, I wonder about that? At the very least, the global influence of the Star Particle Bodies will become considerably large with the current case. Half of the problems Homura-kun is worried of would be solved with that, right?"

To Scathach's smile, Homura returned a frown. That might be so.

It would be a great outcome to earn the chance to impress them and prove that instead of being harmful they were beneficial for the human body. When people's trust was gained, it would become easier to appeal to countries and organizations.

But even so, there was still that one final problem remaining.

If the production line wasn't set up, everything would be nothing but a pie in the sky.

Reading Homura's mind, Scathach raised her index finger and asked.

"Then, let's try changing our viewpoint. If we assume that all other problems have been cleared, where would you, Homura-kun, set up the spreading establishment?"

Particle Body spreading establishment───Although Homura took the possibility of the "If" that Scathach spoke with a dubious expression, he still tried to diligently think about it.

Assuming that it was fully possible to secure the true "Origin" rather than the Particle Bodies of experimental stage.

At first, he would want a detailed data on environmental information.

Therefore for the first condition, he would need a land with a peaceful and mostly unchanging climate. Assuming one of them was set up at the Earth’s axis, the North Pole and South Pole, preferably it would have to be a land with no climate change due to the four seasons.

Taking all of that into consideration, if he had to build the spreading establishment───

"If it was me.........I would build the spreading establishment on the equator line."

"Oh? On the equator line?"

Scathach continued walking without much change in her tone. Homura was driven by an ominous feeling while holding his chin with his hand. The reason didn’t require a lot of explaining.

This Sun Authority War should be a battle to compete with "Twelve Ecliptic Constellations" and "Twelve Chén of the Equator".

Despite that, Scathach just now hinted that the Particle Bodies were involved in battle.

(No way, that's just impossible! The Particle Body Spreading Plan───Environmental Control Tower project should have been at a standstill............!)

Chills traveled down Homura's spine. It happened the moment he was about to ask her what she was hinting at───.

The inside of the wagon was assaulted by a violent tremor that exceeded even that of a thunder.

Looking up, Scathach instantly stiffened her loose expression and her wariness increased.

".........That green hand. Did she fail to kill the Bull Monster?"

"Eh?"

"Sorry, let's halt the explanation of circumstances. This fellow is dangerous."

Homura raised a disarrayed voice.

It was immediately after that, when the buoyancy with a sense of deja vu attacked him.


    *


The violent attack released by Ayato scattered the fresh blood in the sky above the Spirit Train.

The head that was cut with a single arrow danced in the air with rotations. As if piercing the heavens, the arrow that read through the rainy wind headed straight and sent the head of the practitioner flying. That wasn't a skill possible to do with a human body. It was an arrow which could be realized only when the user has trained in the martial arts to the level that would be called divine. It was inevitable that the practitioner who didn't expect the counterattack was helpless against it.

Following it, she released three more arrows. All of them drew a trajectory of certain death and approached the headless body.

But firing arrows into the headless corpse was a deed even worse than hitting it with a rod. Since her head was sent flying and the activity of life ceased, there was no need to do anything else.

But she had a feeling of discomfort. The body with its head removed had stiffened up after being shot. The headless corpse staying immobile in the air───rather than falling down, it stopped in the sky.

".........Tsk. Was I exposed?"

In a moment, the headless corpse moved.

The freshly severed head that fell down in rotation while drawing an arc was caught with one hand and was attached to the body. The head and body merged as if nothing had happened and the injury healed instantly.

The practitioner who opened her eyes wide removed the robe that kept out the rainy wind and dispatched the seven jewels that had been manipulating fluids until some time ago.

The three arrows Ayato fired were stopped by the seven jewels traveling in the sky at high speed.

(.........So, she was alive after all.)

Confirming that her guess was correct, Ayato put away her Battle Bow. Since it was defended with the current timing, it would be difficult to pierce her from this distance. The opponent wasn't negligent like before either.

(White-furred Tiger Deity, and a body that wouldn't die even when chopping off the head. Also the jewels moving in the sky. .........I see. Is she the Chinese snob that Sensei spoke of?)

Ayato saw through the enemy's origins. Even in this broad world, there was only one legend to that, that was a perfect match. But if Ayato's prediction was correct, then the enemy would be equal to a Demon Lord.

However, if her memory served right, she was one of the Demon Lords who were sealed long ago. If that turned out to be true, you couldn't blame her even if she took the initiative. Ayato glared at the enemy without removing her vigilance.

However, the practitioner whose head was chopped off, didn't do anything in particular and instead followed the Spirit Train with her eyes while revealing a small smile.

From behind that practitioner came an amazed voice.

『You are late. What took you so long, Shen Gongbao[1].』

"I couldn't help it. When I went to our appointed location "Underwood", it was already deserted. .........Rather, who is that guy on your back?"

She looked at Asterius with a rude but dubious expression.

Asterius also widened his eyes out of surprise.

"That's my line. You are.........Shen Gongbao? From that Chinese mythology "Houshin Engi[2]"?"

"Isn't that obvious? I don't think I've heard of another Shen Gongbao other than me?"

The girl named Shen Gongbao replied with an even prouder tone. Her tender face suitable to her age was peeking out of the short-cut hair. She had quite a few poking hairs, but that showed her young visible age even more.

However, the doubt grew even bigger with that. Asterius who was summoned as the gimmick of the Game wasn't given the knowledge about Chinese mythology. Therefore, he wasn't sure of the details────but wasn't Shen Gongbao supposed to be a middle-aged hermit man?

Although Shen Gongbao still hadn't removed her cheeky attitude, she could still understand Asterius' confusion.

While scratching her head, she tiresomely pointed at the White Tiger.

"It seems you are also having some rude misunderstanding. The white-bearded dirty old hermit you are thinking of is the human form of that old White Tiger[3], you know? I'm the real Shen Gongbao!!!.........Even if I complained over and over as such, Zhou[4] and my close aids couldn't see me as anything but a young girl."

『Saying dirty is going too far. Isn't it all due to your lack of dignity? That's why you were misunderstood.』

Oh shut it, Shen Gongbao turned her face away with a click of her tongue. Finally, the doubt was cleared with that.

"Houshin Engi" where Shen Gongbao was depicted───was one of the exceedingly new legends which came into existence in the Ming period of China. This "Houshin Engi" where new and old Taoist gods and immortals mixed up and fought, was a legend, the period of which is said to be uncertain, however there was a reason for that.

This "Houshin Engi", similar to the "Journey to the West", was one of the legends that was leaked from the outer world. By all rights, the battles of Little Garden were wars by proxies by the gods that weren't supposed to be acknowledged in the outer world, however due to some mysterious factor, the information of the outer world and Little Garden of these two got mixed and created a mixed space-time.

This Shen Gongbao was one of the singularities within the "Houshin Engi".

Whether it was myth of the former or the latter world, this girl who called herself Shen Gongbao has never been spoken about.

Despite being a person who capitulated many and expanded the turbulent times while the Houshin War was intensifying───she was one of the many mysterious hermits whose existence was concluded in "Houshin Engi".

"I understand it, albeit roughly. So in other worlds, you are saying that, that appearance of a girl is your true form?"

"Well, kind of. My real body is that of an adult, but since it seems that there's an age restriction in the current Sun Authority War, I lowered my physical age."

『The contents of your head are immature, huh.』

"Shut it, you old geezer. Rather, isn't the Bull Monster-kun the same? He obviously looks like a kid."

Shen Gongbao said it quite naturally while putting her hands on her waist. It was his first time hearing about there being an age limit, but with that, Asterius also understood the reason behind his own appearance.

So there was an age limit in the Sun Authority War.

In that case, the reason he, who was a "Minotaur", having transformed into a young boy would be───.

".........Kh. No.........!!?"

Asterius held his breath wondering what was going on.

His eyes grew wide from too much shock and chills went down his spine.

He───Asterius, wasn't supposed to have been invited to the Sun Authority War.

He heard that this Sun Authority War involved people who had myths related to the sun. He thought whether he was the representative of the Greek Pantheon, however there were many more suitable people for that compared to him who was the Minotaur. There was just no way for him to be selected out of them.

And yet, why had Asterius turned into a young boy?

Was the main factor for his young appearance something unrelated to the Authority War?

He who confronted a doubt he didn't have until now, looked at his own small hand and was astonished. However there was no feeling of discomfort. He guessed he was around fifteen years old, give or take, but this body of a young boy was undoubtedly his. It wasn't that his physical age was changed. This appearance of a young boy───was the original appearance of the genuine prince of Crete, "Asterius".

What would that mean?

Where was the truth behind him having vague memories?

Asterius held his head due to dizziness and bent his upper body.

"What's wrong? Motion sickness? If you feel sick, go bleaargh and sploosh and vomit on his back."

『It seems I have to teach you a lesson for once, Shen Gongbao. ───Leaving that aside, what's the matter, Bull Monster? If you are going to vomit, I would appreciate it if you'd be considerate for me.』

".........It's nothing. Let's end the trivial talk here."

He took out his original weapon "Labrys" with his right hand. It was comparably smaller to Keraunos, but from the start this wasn't a weapon used for battle. Its true purpose lied elsewhere.

Asterius who raised his body with a ghastly expression, glared at the Spirit Train dashing at high speed while pointing the tip of the double-edged axe at it.

He still didn't believe that "Minotaur" needed salvation.

However, he now had a mystery he had to unravel by any means.

If the person called Saigou Homura was the one who had an answer to it, he couldn't afford to let him escape now.

Asterius who raised the battleaxe "Labrys" befitting of the name labyrinth, twisted his hands and cut the empty space as if opening a lock.


    *


"Sorry, let's halt the explanation of circumstances. This fellow is dangerous."

It was the woman with butler clothing walking inside the wagon, Scathach, who muttered that.

As she looked at the sky with a grim face, she swiftly grasped Homura's upper arm and brought him near. Homura who followed behind stopped his feet due to the unexpected surprise.

He wondered what was going on, but immediately following it, something unexpected happened.

His feet started to lightly float from the wagon of the Spirit Train. Homura felt confused due to the sense of suspension for a moment, but he quickly guessed what this feeling was from the experience he underwent a few days ago.

Holding onto the handrail, he looked out of the window.

"Are......Are we falling!? Along with the Spirit Train!?"

"Right on spot! Don't leave my side. You'll die if you are careless!"

The inside of the Spirit Train dropped off in the sky was covered with agonizing cries. The Beastmen also grasped the furnishings inside the Spirit Train, but it would end badly at this rate. Suzuka immediately leaped several people that were around her close to the surface, however, including the non-combatants, there were quite a lot of people inside the wagon. She wouldn't make it, as expected.

The tiny spirits along with Calico Cat in boots were rolling around inside the wagon.

"Falling~!?"

"Not falling!?"

"Not falling, right!?"

"No, we are fallin' no matter how ya think about it!!!"

Ukkya~♪ The colony spirits rolled around in enjoyment. Considering their weight, it wouldn't be much of a problem for these girls to fall from this height, but the Calico Cat was out of the question.

But the one in the most danger was Ayato who stood on the train deck.

She who was holding onto the protrusions of the deck understood what exactly just occurred.

(The boy riding on the Tiger Deity......Is he the true form of the Minotaur!?)

At the same time as the boy holding the double-edged axes in his hands cut the space, her field of vision was dyed in a multicolored light. It wasn't hard to guess that they were summoned on the gameboard of the labyrinth.

Along with that, Ayato realized that their reasoning was correct.

Next, Ayato, while falling, looked at the labyrinth under her eyes.

The giant labyrinth created on the floating island was undoubtedly that of Minotaur's. They were indeed summoned on the enemy territory, but for Ayato and others who have partly obtained the solution, this wasn't a bad condition. With this, the enemy also couldn't escape. After this, if they could turn the tables on Minotaur, they would be able to clear the Game.

Ayato took out her beloved sword from the Gift Card that was passed on to her. As she did so, a smile naturally spilled out on her face.

It was a sword that, in the past, had challenged countless war gods and deities, overcome the death struggles and even crossed blades with the Zoroastrian Demon Lord. Enemy territory it may be, but she was allowed to embrace a slight nostalgia.

But it really lasted no more than an instant. Ayato immediately put herself on guard.

(───Here it comes!!!)

She set up the sword forged with the wrought iron technique of the fairy race, aiming for the eyes, and intercepted two enemy silhouettes heading straight at her direction.

Facing her, Shen Gongbao, White Tiger and Asterius dashed in the air and approached. Shen Gongbao in particular, had a debt of beheading from last time to repay. As if plunging forth, she took the initiative to attack.

"Hello~ Hello~, Beheader Knight! Thanks for that fascinating arrow! Here's a return gift from me! Get blown to bits, you bastard!!!"

Shen Gongbao manipulated the seven Paopei that gathered the water before───the Houju called "Kaitenju", and surrounded Ayato. These Paopei were the weapon type Gifts that could only be produced with the Sendou of China. These seven balls were weapons that accumulated the fluid and traveled in the sky.

They were all-purpose Paopei, having defense, offense and speed at their disposal. Although they didn't have a specialized field, they were highly strategic. There was nothing more troublesome than gathering and manipulating several of these kinds of weapons.

Shen Gongbao also had a good understanding of the nature of her own weapon.

"Kaitenju" drew arcs from every direction all around and enclosed the target, and all seven at the same time rushed on to attack.

However, Ayato didn't falter. If she was surrounded, all she had to do was to force her way through.

From the deck of the falling Spirit Train, she faced down and dashed. She sliced off the two "Kaitenju" coming from the front on the spot, but it wasn't enough to destroy them. However the front was now empty.

Turning around, Ayato charged at the five "Kaitenju" pursuing her. She intended to attack Shen Gongbao herself, but it was reckless no matter how you looked at it.

Although it was for intercepting, she was physically short of hands like this.

"Hah! So arrogant, Beheader Knight!"

Five "Kaitenju" approached Ayato. The Paopei operating the water were clad in such dense winds that it could be visualized, and they raised a powerful roar comparable to the ship's guns.

However Ayato's eyes contained no fear.

She slightly twisted the hilt of her beloved sword. Then the blade of the sword got split and its trajectory drew an arc.

By swinging it once, it drew an arc like a crescent moon, by swinging it twice, it coiled like a serpent. The special move feared as the Serpens Scorpius Sword Fash by those who have confronted her before, was now throwing a challenge to the mysteries of Sendou.

"Fuuh───!"

She synchronized her breathing. Straining her eyes in order to read the fluid's trajectory. Perhaps even the slightest lapse of focus would call for death. The serpent path that the linked sword drew accurately seized the "Kaitenju".

───Indeed, it was certainly fast, sharp and precise.

It could be seen that the arrow from before wasn't just luck. However, this sword technique did not have enough sword force to knock down the "Kaitenju". Even if the snake jumped into the center of the storm, it would only end with it getting rolled up by the whirlpool.

Shen Gongbao was confident in her victory. However that was a bit hasty.

From the start, Ayato didn't believe she could destroy the "Kaitenju". Because she had already tried it just now. Therefore, there was just one way to survive the barrage before her eyes.

The moment the Serpens Scorpius sword's tip got swallowed by one of the "Kaitenju" that was creating a whirlwind───The five bullets changed their direction and rebounded back to allies.

"What!?"

『What the!?』

Shen Gongbao and White Tiger following behind her raised their voices in wonder. Both of them comprehended the special attack that occurred before their eyes, but exactly because of that, they couldn't help but be speechless. Until the part where the tip of the linked sword was swallowed up by one of the whirling "Kaitenju", it went just as Shen Gongbao predicted it. However, as Ayato violently redrew the swallowed linked sword, the air current was disturbed and the trajectory of one of the "Kaitenju" changed.

The "Kaitenju" that changed direction after the air current was disturbed, had begun to collide into each other one after another.

With this, there was nothing obstructing the space between Ayato and Shen Gongbao. Ayato tried to close the distance in one go, but the White Tiger and Asterius closed in on her and didn't allow her to do so.

The double-edged axe was swung down from White Tiger's back. Ayato again took out the Battle Spear from her card and proceeded to intercept it with one hand. Naturally she would lose in terms of power, but from the start her aim wasn't a head-on collision.

It was a downswing intended to crush Ayato, but sliding the handle of a slightly slanted spear, the double-edged axe cut empty air. The double-edged axe dropped with the inertia as it gave off sparks, however this wasn't coincidence either. Estimating the timing where the owner's control was out of order, Ayato slanted her spear.

"Kh.........You, are you different from the person the other day?"

Asterius and White Tiger took distance by jumping back. Although it was a shameful experience for them, the instant judgment that being near would be disadvantageous was correct. The martial arts she wielded deviated from any standard style.

However Ayato wasn't so lax in pursuit as to overlook that.

If they are thrown off for a moment, thoroughly drive them into a corner.

She who had that driven into her by her master, wasn't so easy as to keep apart once she came to bite. Putting away her sword and spear, she took out the Battle Bow and started the rapid-fire without even taking a distance.

The three arrows she fired in one go grazed Asterius' right shoulder, left foot and cheek. From that skillfulness, the three who opposed her have once again realized that their enemy possessed the ability of divine level.

"───Strong.........!"

Asterius raised an anguished voice. Compared to the time she fought with the Bull Monster, she was like a different person in terms of combat ability. Perhaps it was due to the weapon's ability───nay, it would be proper to say that her nature itself had changed.

Spear for short distance, linked sword for medium distance, bow for long distance.

Cleverly leading the enemy by the nose from all range, and even overturning the number disadvantage, it was a martial arts with incredible skill. With Asterius' skill, confronting this Queen's Knight would be difficult. She had the worst compatibility with his double-edged axe.

However, no matter how powerful the Queen's Knight was, there were things even she was helpless against. The fall of this Spirit Train was certainly one of them. If the divine protection of the Ley Lines that remained until now disappeared completely, the fall would be accelerated.

Ayato confirmed the surroundings in fluster.

(This is bad.........At this rate we will crash with the labyrinth.........!!!)

Ayato stabbed the spear in the deck───but at that moment, Suzuka suddenly appeared before her.

"Aya-chan, grab on!"

"Suzuka!? W-Why are you on the deck!?"

"Leave the talk for later! I have to stop the train's fall now!"

"S-Stop it, you say!? The fall!? You will!?"

How!? Ayato's expression returned back to that of a young girl. She set up the linked sword in confusion. She probably intended to bind Suzuka with the linked-sword. But it wouldn't matter much. While understanding that it would end badly at this rate, there were no other ways.

But unexpectedly, Suzuka looked composed.

After glancing back at the flustered Ayato, Suzuka looked straight at Shen Gongbao. She who extended her hand towards Shen Gongbao, released the  hand she used to grab on───


"If it's the means to float───that girl has it!"


In a moment, Suzuka parted from the Spirit Train and floated from the deck. However, her free fall lasted only for a moment.

Having her whole body clad in wind, Suzuka started to fly above the deck.

"Eh.........H-Huh!?"

Guessing that she was holding on to one of the "Kaitenju", Shen Gongbao started counting them in surprise. She noticed that there were only six "Kaitenju" but this time, even that sixth vanished and appeared above Suzuka's hand.

She raised a disordered voice.

"W-What's going on!? Why are my "Kaitenju" being stolen!?"

『Damn it.........! Is that girl the user of teleportation!』

White Tiger remembered the exchange from before and clicked his tongue.

At the same time, he understood the nature of Suzuka's Gift.

One of them was the Gift of "Asport" ─── "Ability to transfer objects to a distant place".

That is why the ballista arrowheads were transferred in the state of being fired. It wouldn't have ended up like that if she transferred the stopped arrowheads. This was also a powerful Gift, but she had one more Gift of opposite vector.

That was, "Ability to transfer the distant objects near oneself"───A gift commonly referred to as "Apport". This Gift was one of the worst towards those who used weapons and the like.

Because they would be unconditionally robbed off their arms.

But judging by the state of the current Shen Gongbao, it seemed that there was chance of even losing the ownership. Given the situation, the Sendou Paopei couldn't be carelessly used.

『What in the world.........It wouldn't be funny if the "Proto Keraunos" gets stolen! We are taking distance!』

"W-Wait a minute! What happens to my "Kaitenju"!?───Huuuuh!? Even the third one got stolen while saying that!"

Fuaaah!!! The resenting Shen Gongbao was overwhelmed by anger and tried to take out the other Paopei. But it goes without saying that it would have the opposite effect. White Tiger grabbed her collar by his mouth and disappeared towards the shadow of the labyrinth.

Suzuka on the other hand acquired three "Kaitenju", but this Gift was too difficult to use with improvisation. Although she slipped under the Spirit Train and supported the fall with "Kaitenju", she still couldn't prevent it completely. At this rate, Suzuka would be crushed under the Spirit Train.

Ayato raised her voice from the deck.

"Suzuka, Staying under the train is bad! Can't you control the "Kaitenju" remotely!?"

"Operating them becomes difficult the moment they part from my body.........more than this is probably impossible.........!!!"

The "Kaitenju" scattered the storm in the surroundings. It was a proof that their output had fallen. That way, the things that they were able to float couldn't be floated. Ayato considered to just cut open the Spirit Train, but its armor was hard and destroying it was impossible even for her.

As matters stood, there was no other choice but to teleport just before it hit the ground. Although it was slowed down quite a bit with Suzuka's power, there was probably quite a big shock within the wagon. However, there was no other way.

However, at that moment, a woman's voice resounded from the window of the train.

"Hey, the girl over there! Nice fight! Leave the rest to me!"

It was at that moment the giant shadows engulfed the falling Spirit Train.

"Eh? ───Waah! What's this!?"

The shadow was big enough to completely engulf the gigantic Spirit Train "Sun Thousand". The shadows stopped its frame and slowly let it on the ground───but even so, it was too gigantic. There was no helping that the labyrinth that stretched vastly would be destroyed.

The labyrinth and the equipment of the Spirit Train began to collapse.

Seeing that the wagons were intact, it seemed that they were of considerable toughness.

Ayato leaped away from the deck and immediately realized who was the one who saved the train.

(This is Sensei's "Dún Scáith"[5], isn't it!? So it could also be used this way!?)

Scathach who called herself a Lord Butler───as a matter of fact, was a genuine Divine Spirit.

In addition to not being a famous Divine Spirit in any way, her roots were also vague because she was born from the concept of Ancestral Spirit worship, and moreover, she was the Goddess of a special nature even among the special cases who had myths about them in both Nordic and Celtic Pantheons.

The "Dún Scáith" she has, who was the Divine Spirit who ruled over the Sun's shadows and death, operated, was the Gift that cut off the shadows of the  "Queen Halloween's" castle. This was a proof that she governed the Celtic world at night when Queen slept, and also pointed at the fact that only in this land of shadows, she was equal to Her───but currently, the sun still hung in the sky.

This way, she wasn't able to exercise the true power of "Dún Scáith".

(At this time, Sensei is also not in her best condition. That being the case, it seems it's up to me to do my best.)

Ayato braced herself. However, not being in the best condition was also the same for her.

It was also the case just now. If it was her former self, along with "Kaitenju", she could have fatally wounded all three enemies. grieving about becoming quite out of shape was also understandable.

It couldn't be helped, the outside world was too peaceful. She had heard of it, but aside from specific areas of dispute, there were no dangers to her life as long as no serious problems arose.

Bull Monster, Sendou, Celestial Beast. These level of enemies were just right to get back into shape.

Ayato once again set up her sword.

She heard the voices of Suzuka and others just at that moment.

Suzuka who came out of the Spirit Train while brushing away the rubbles and dust of the labyrinth, stood up while shaking her hair like a cat with Saigou Homura and Scathach following behind her back.

"I-I thought it wouldn't work out this time.........! Although I came close to dying thrice after coming to Little Garden, wouldn't that give me a claim for a work-injury? What do you think, Brother!?"

"Well Sister, it naturally wouldn't, you know?"

"Oh, wouldn't queen pay something of that level to you, I wonder? Despite how she looks, Queen is quite generous with money, you know?"

".......... Suzuka, Senpai, Sensei. Please read the mood."

Although Ayato overcame the predicament, hearing the idiotic voices of her comrades, she hung her right shoulder down tiredly.

However it was a bit too early to be relieved.


    *


───Inside the labyrinth slightly away from there.

Shen Gongbao and co who were hiding inside the shade of the labyrinth, distanced themselves from the Spirit Train and raised displeased voices.

".........No good. The "Kaitenju" were completely stolen. I can't operate them from here."

『Is that so. As if the Queen's Knight alone was not a nuisance, someone with transfer ability on top of it is truly troublesome』

"That's right. If we Hermits fight without Paopei, we aren't that strong. .........Rather, wasn't that Queen's Knight amazing! Repelling the Paopei with martial arts, she's the first one since Huang Feihu[6], right, White Tiger!? That linked sword is just a normal iron sword, right!?"

『Yes. It was a weapon with strange form, but there were so signs of any special Gift residing in it. I can't call it anything but magnificent───but it's troublesome. That knight has the worst compatibility with me.』

White Tiger gnashed his teeth and said unpleasantly.

Shen Gongbao also waved her hands around as if she had given up all hope.

"Same with me. I could somehow handle fighting where my field of vision was open, but I can't carelessly use Paopei at a place like this with too many hiding places to count. I can see them being stolen with teleporting the moment I use them. It would be different if we are talking about slaughtering them all. ───White Tiger, is that teleporter girl and shadow user woman also Queen's Knights?"

『I don't know about the teleporter girl, but the shadow user woman is probably a Queen's Knight. If the shadows from before was "Dún Scáith", then she's undoubtedly Scathach.』

".........Oh? The rumored Divine Spirit who possessed both the Celtic and the Nordic legends? If that was the deed of the Celtic Magic, we better be careful about Runic Magic as well, right?"

『I wonder. The compatibility with those two Magics is bad at lethal degree. In the first place, that Goddess should have existed from BC. She should have no connection with Runic Magic.』

White Tiger calmly analyzed the enemy's Spirit Rank.

Scathach was a member of Celtic Pantheon at present, but properly speaking, the Nordic Runic Magic was a magic of completely different cultural sphere from Ancient Celtic Magic───No, in the first place, the magic system called Runic Magic didn't exist at the time when Scathach transferred to the Celtic Pantheon.

At any rate, she was the Goddess who had established her Spirit Rank in BC.

She shouldn't able to use the Runic Magic that came into existence after AD.

In past he had heard that the Runestones of Runic Magic made by the likeminded Divine Spirits were divided at one point, but because there still came claims from every side about there being a possibility that the magic system would be destroyed as a result, all the Runestone Runes were returned to Norse.

Because there was too much difference in the cultural sphere, for the Ancient Celtic Pantheon where the worth of letters was light, the Runic Magic didn't gain much significance. The reason Scathach was forced to use a large-scale Gift like "Dún Scáith" might be because the ban on Magic was still in effect even now.

『Skilled Queen's Knight, teleport ability user, and on top of it, the Ruler of Shadows who's Queen's close aide, huh? We are at disadvantage with just us alone. If the other "Avatära" member's appear, we should reinforce───』

Then suddenly, White Tiger noticed that his back felt light.

『───Hey, Shen Gongbao. Where did that Bull Monster go?』

"Hm? He jumped down earlier when you grabbed me with your mouth, I believe so?"

Shen Gongbao announced quite indifferently.

White Tiger looked absentmindedly with his mouth partly open.

『A............Are you an idiot! Say that beforehand!! We have a duty of securing him!』

"Eh, Is that how it is!? I wasn't told anything about it, you know!!?"

『There are only fellows who can't do their job right! Aah, let's quickly search for───』

"There's no need for that."

Before the panicking two a black wind fluttered.

And at the same time appeared a girl with black spotted clothes. The Black Plague, Pest who was the follower as well as the right hand of Jin Russel, handed over a letter to them.

"You two did well. It seems you were able to guide him well. You can return now."

『.........What?』

"No, wait a minute, Pest! What about my "Kaitenju"!?"

"How should I know. If it's about Paopei, didn't you snatch a lot of them from Taishang Laojun[7] and Yuanshi Tianzun[8]?"

"That's that and this is this! The attachment towards the weapons I made myself is different!"

Ugaa! Yelled Shen Gongbao. Looking at her noisy self with bothered line of sight, Pest glared at her while revealing her disregard for her words.

"Enough already. If you keep staying in the labyrinth, you'll get rolled up in it."

『Rolled up? In what?』

White Tiger asked while suppressing his displeasure. If Asterius unleashed the "Proto Keraunos" it would indeed become a violent battle, but her words seemed to contain more than just that.

Pest probably also understood what White Tiger wanted to say.

While cladding herself in sinister whirlwinds of black death, she looked up at the heavens and said amusedly.

"Isn't that obvious? In the battle of the cannibal monster that indiscriminately eats the labyrinth invaders.........the battle of Minotaur."


    *


───Going a bit back in time.

Sakamaki Izayoi who was confronting the enemy calling themselves "Avatära" in the center of the labyrinth was also gazing at the falling Spirit Train and clicked his tongue.

(Is that........."Sun Thousand"!? Did Porol get the approval for departure!?)

Izayoi quickly grasped the situation. Most likely, he used the Spirit Train to escape from the "Bull of Heaven". But during that, the whole Spirit Train must have been summoned into the Minotaur's labyrinth. It was a brilliant move, but it wasn't compatible with the enemy's hand this time.

If no one stopped it, it would crash into the labyrinth. The moment Izayoi tried to dash towards the Spirit Train, two shadows jumped from the throne.

"You think I'll let you go!? You go and deal with Indra, Arjuna!"

"Understood."

Bull Demon King leaped at Izayoi.

The boy with Divine Bow in his hands gave a short acknowledgement and headed towards Mikado Tokuteru.

The blue haired youth clad in lightning aimed his Divine Bow at Indra. Although Izayoi narrowly stopped the Bull Demon King's club, after hearing the blue haired youth's name, his face was dyed in amazement.

Izayoi who seized the club as if doing a lock, asked to him.

"Arjuna.........? You, did you just call that brat Arjuna!!?"

"Hah! You are focusing too much on everything around you, Sakamaki Izayoi! Are you really in a place to be worried about others!?"

Bull Demon King skillfully rotated the club which was stopped and thrust at Izayoi's abdomen with its handle. But Izayoi immediately stopped it with the back of his right hand and pushed it back. It was good strategy to shorten the distance with long-handled weapons.

He couldn't strike him with the tip or even the handle of the club after he got so close.

You are unexpectedly skilled, muttered the Bull Demon King and tried to take distance.

However Izayoi wasn't so lenient as to let go of a retreating opponent. When he came down, the Bull Demon King upper body got slightly bent. In that state, his hands and body wouldn't muster much strength.

Izayoi who kicked the club away pursued the now empty-handed Bull Demon King.

The Bull Demon King blinked his eyes in complete admiration.

"───I see. A fistfight isn't bad once in a while!"

He did a backward somersault without even straightening his bent body, and this time the kick landed on Izayoi's torso who came leaping at him. Being hit in the solar plexus, Izayoi coughed.

Izayoi became dizzy from the shock that almost deprived him of his consciousness.

Among the attacks he received throughout these three years, this blow was one of the strongest. Depending on the circumstances, it wouldn't be strange even if he was knocked down by it. Biting his lips, Izayoi barely maintained his consciousness.

Being barehanded, this time the Bull Demon King shortened the distance from his side in order to pursue him.

However Izayoi wasn't someone who would allow him to chase so easily. Judging that confronting him with his broken posture would be difficult───He kicked the ground below his feet with all his strength.

"Don't get too cocky!!!"

The raised ground swooped down on Bull Demon King simultaneously. It would be one thing if it was some average Youkai, but there was no way for the Bull Demon King who was the continent's leading great monster to be faltered from a flashiness of this degree.

Although the earth wave that was capable of partially destroying an average fortress proceeded to demolish the labyrinth walls, it was not enough for stopping the Bull Demon King's charge. He had enough toughness to run through the explosion.

As he closed in on Izayoi, he sent a palm strike towards his chin.

But Izayoi predicted this. He avoided it with minimal movements by slightly moving his head and caught Bull Demon King's outstretched right hand under his arm in a hold.

Twisting his arm with movements knowledgeable about the movable limits of joints, he threw Bull Demon King to the ground.

"Guh.........!"

"Ha! Looks like my hunch was right, Bull Demon King! You learned under the same master as Saurian Demon King, didn't you?"

Starting by making the enemy lose balance, hitting their stomach, and dealing the finishing blow after their movements had been sealed. Izayoi had memory of these series of attacks.

Bull Demon King who saw the how good Izayoi's defensive move was also smiled while being pinned down.

"Hohou. I thought your intuition was sharp, could it be that you have been studying under Kouryuu?"

"No way. At best, he was only a reference for my self-studying. Because that guy was the strongest when it came to barehanded fights.........!"

Izayoi twisted his joints with creaking sounds. He didn't make it in time for the Spirit Train's fall, but the sound of it colliding with earth was quite soft. He guessed Queen or her close aide did something about it.

Even though the Bull Demon King was pinned down, he was laughing in complete enjoyment.

"I believe imitating him also counts as studying under him........But I get it. So that drifting withered log got fired up as well?"

"Yeah. He's acting as a "Floor Master" of the East now. He would certainly be surprised as well. He wouldn't think that his missing brother would be attached to the sub-branch of the "Demon Lord Alliance" that is hostile against him."

Izayoi looked at Bull Demon King as if condemning him.

"Demon Lord Alliance"───It was an alliance organization that was created by the Demon Lords who have rampaged in various myths and history. Izayoi, ever since being summoned, had confronted that "Demon Lord Alliance" which devoted itself to wreaking havoc in Little Garden, countless times already.

The "Avatära" that the girl calling herself the World King spoke of, was supposedly an organization made by the Demon Lord of the Indian Pantheon who was once part of the "Demon Lord Alliance".

"He's been lying quiet for the past three years, but he also started moving with the Sun Authority War as a goal. I also have a few things to ask you. Let's have a nice and long talk.........!"

Izayoi twisted Bull Demon King's arm in other direction. He probably wanted to break his arm and take the freedom of his limbs first. However, without seeming to mind it too much, Bull Demon King merely suppressed his laugh.

"Hoho, I see. It seems you guys are misunderstanding that "Avatära" is a branch of the "Demon Lord Alliance".........But that's already in the past."

"What?"

"World King said it right? That "Avatära" in itself is a group of Gods. Those assembled there aren't just Demon Lords anymore.........!"

Despite his joints bent to their limits, The Bull Demon King put strength in his knees and stood up as if nothing while his hand was still being seized by Izayoi. As expected, even Izayoi was surprised at that.

Despite putting in effort to break his arm since a while ago, there were no signs at all of it breaking.

(This guy......! His arm strength is on another level compared to me or Kouryuu.........!)

Even when Izayoi put all his strength to it, the Bull Demon King's arm didn't budge. He might have been bestowed a special kind of Gift, but even so, it was an unbelievable superhuman strength.

"But it's your request after all. I don't mind answering your questions.........but is it fine? like this."

"───!!!"

Bull Demon King's upper arm creaked.

Perceiving the danger Izayoi let go of his hand, but he was slightly late.

While grasping Izayoi whose arm joints were strained to the extreme and standing up, the Bull Demon King casually displayed his ability. The herculean strength that even Izayoi couldn't ignore raised an ear-shattering roar within the labyrinth. It couldn't be compared with the blast from Izayoi raising the ground.

The fist that was swung in a straight line, in less than a second, formed cracks spanning for several kilometers and pulverized the labyrinth walls. Izayoi who was blasted away by the shockwave was smacked into the wall and pierced through several of them.

(Ouchh......This bastard, what absurd strength.........!!!)

Izayoi held his head in the debris. In terms of just physical strength, he was among the top two out of all the enemies he fought until now. In terms of martial arts, Kouryuu was better, but if the difference in physical strength was to this extent, something like the difference in martial arts was a trivial matter.

However, since the enemy was a Demon Lord, there should exist a secret that would become his trump card.

And that, known as the "Host Master", was the strongest authority within the Little Garden only usable by the high-ranking war gods and deities. if he used it now, the situation would be too unfavorable.

(Bastard. Here I'm still preparing for the Authority War! If it's like this, I should have finished the preparations.........!!!)

With the current cards up his sleeve, the chances of victory were slim, that, or the surroundings would be rolled up in it.

Izayoi glared at Bull Demon King who was walking with composure. Just as he said, he wasn't an enemy he could afford to fight while worried about others. He directed all his senses at Bull Demon King and concentrated on the battle.


    *


On the other side, Mikado Tokuteru was also forced into a harsh fight against the blue-haired youth called Arjuna.

The lightning arrows fired one after another from the bow presumed to be a Divine Weapon looked just like a bombardment. Tokuteru changed his Vajra into two-pronged spear and accepted the challenge, but although not much, the firepower was different.

Tokuteru who was running about while panting yelled out of anger.

"Hey, w-wait a minute, Arjuna! Explain what's going on! Why are you involved with the Sun Authority War!? Isn't it unrelated to you!"

"There's nothing to talk about. There's just one thing here that is certain. Right now, we are mutual enemies! .........How about you stop running around already and get serious, oh father of mine!!!"

He fired a blue lightning arrow along with him losing patience. Tokuteru barely dodged it, but the impacted ground raised a roar and rolled up the earth. He got caught in the blast and was blown off. He somehow stood up despite rolling on the ground, and glared at his child Arjuna.

On Arjuna's face who exchanged glances with him, there were indeed traces resembling Tokuteru.

His blue hair that reminded of lightning was a symbol of Divinity inherited from his father.

In a confused state, Tokuteru directed the tip of Vajra at him and asked again.

".........Why, Arjuna. There are no small number of heroes who strayed from the right path after being invited to Little Garden, however those are only people who have experienced sorrow in their lives. So why did you, who should be sleeping peacefully at the sacred mountain after guiding the country to peace, sided with "Avatära" and appear in the Sun Authority War?"

Tokuteru asked in an unusually low voice. In that tone of his was felt the conviction that only this son of his would not stray from the righteous path.

But that was only natural. Indra was the oldest cornerstone of Indian Pantheon, as well as the strongest and wisest Divine Spirit, but he held an unfortunate history of being forced to reduce his Spirit Rank for various propaganda of the later world and the subsequent Divine Spirits. But even he had one cloudless thing that he took pride in.

Great hero Arjuna───the man from the Demigod race referred to as the strongest class of warriors in Ancient India where hierarchy resided. The reason he appeared with a youthful form was probably to participate in Sun Authority War.

However he didn't understand the reason. True, the Sun Authorities had various Gifts.

If several of the twenty four Sun Authorities that held enough power by themselves to even interfere with the human history were to be gathered, it would be possible to even modify the Akashic Records.

But in his son Arjuna's life, something like that should have been unnecessary. He who was a great hero with an established reputation, was supposed to live his live while bearing that glory.

That gaze of his was stopped by the anguished expression of the blue haired youth Arjuna.

His anguished expression gradually changed into a self-deprecating smile.

".........Oh Father. War God Indra. So even you cannot understand the true suffering of mine."

"What did you say?"

"Indeed I was given glory. I was blessed with family, friends, have pacified the war and made many military achievements. .........The strongest Kshatriya. To be displeased about such a life as mine where I even obtained such a title would just be presumptuous blasphemy."

Then why───why did Arjuna return the answer loaded with such sagacious fury towards the gaze of Tokuteru who asked him so.

"Let me return the question. Do you really have no idea about me appearing in the Sun Authority War? Reason that would make me want to participate in battle even if I have to drop all the glory I have earned to ground, doesn't one come to your mind?"

Arjuna's anger grew by every word he spoke. However Tokuteru only knit his brows.

.........No, in truth, it wasn't as if he really had no clue.

Actually, only one thing came to his mind.

But, by no means did he consider it───that for such reason, this great hero that boasted of great fame in the world would cooperate with Demon Lords.

".........Ridiculous. I don't know what kind of ideas have they put in your head, but there should be no valid reason for you to cooperate with the current "Avatära"."

"What a strange thing for you to say. "Avatära", by nature, is the group of sun Kings gathered together in order to save the human history from their last days. The reason my friend is involved in it is also because of that. It is but natural for me, the one called the strongest Kshatriya, to be lending a hand, is it not?"

"That's how it originally should be, but the current "Avatära" isn't functioning normally! Even you can feel that, right!? Or do you really plan to let "Avatära" fall into the path of evil!?"

Tokuteru raised his voice towards Arjuna who had no plans to reveal his true intentions.

Then, Arjuna slightly narrowed his eyes out of surprise.

".........I'm surprised. It appears that even with your standing, you haven't been told about the relationship between the Third Perpetual Motion and the Sun Authorities. That's exactly why "Avatära" must take hold of and control them."

Third Perpetual Motion───From that noun, Tokuteru was once again left speechless.

Arjuna who was the great hero of Ancient Indian Mythology wasn't supposed to be too knowledgeable about the Perpetual Motion. In that case, it was "Avatära" that possessed this information. That, in other words, also means that there's a possibility that the organization called "Avatära" had started interfering with the modern era.

(Could it be that there's someone who went to the outer world without us "Twelve Guardian Devas" realizing it!?)

Normally such a thing should not be.

To them who were called the Heavenly Army, every information regarding the intervention from Little Garden with the outer world should be reported to them. Would that mean that someone who did activities in the outer world behind their backs existed?

Although Tokuteru intimidated Arjuna, he merely closed his eyes and didn't answer.

Perceiving that he didn't earn his father god's understanding, Arjuna's anger changed into sadness as he fixed his arrow.

"Questioning ends here. From this point on, I wouldn't think of you as my father. If you desire to hear about my true feelings, my lamentation, and the truth of "Avatära"───then come at me seriously, War God Indra!!!"

Lightning dwelled within the Divine Bow. The Divine Bow he held, was the genuine Divine Weapon that, if used seriously, could even mow down hundreds of thousands of enemies. Loading all that flow of power into a single arrow, he faced his real father and set it up.

Until this point, Mikado Tokuteru was relatively composed, however───

However in an instant, the lightning started roaring within the labyrinth.

He brushed up his hair, and glared at Arjuna with trembling temples.

"Come at you seriously.........you say.........!?"

Towards his son's disrespect, he finally got enraged.

It might be called anachronism, but in the age and civilization where these two have lived, speaking to one's own father in such a way wasn't allowed. All the more if he was a Divine Spirit.

Divine Lightning began to travel in his blue hair and his face changed into one full of fury.

Be it an average warrior, they would cower with fright with just that glare of his alone.

Mikado Tokuteru who emitted enough heat to even melt the ground, roared towards his own son in anger.

"Ha! It wasn't so complicated to need questions and answers. The logical action was to give a good beating and lecture my foolish son who went astray from the right path!!! I won't care even if you cry, you stupid son!!!"

Lightning strikes rained incessantly from the sky. It was clear that just by him exposing his anger, the weather started to worsen. Arjuna who guessed it would be a hard fight immediately released the arrow of his Divine Bow.

Tokuteru set up the Vajra, invited the thunder in it and met it.

The fight between the parent and child who crossed a thousands of years, had started while unfolding a violent explosion.


    *


Violent rumbles in the ground and clouds of dust started to drift in the labyrinth. It was a proof that intense battles were occurring in every part of the labyrinth. The labyrinth walls that divided the paths crumbled one after another and it was just a matter of time until it would turn into an empty land.

The place Saigou Homura and others stood was also turned into one of such spacious lands.

The Spirit Train destroyed the labyrinth walls with its frame.

Ayato was keeping company to Shen Gongbao and White Tiger, but she also didn't have any sort of injury. There would be no problem in the battlefield as it was. Rather, you could think that Suzuka raised her battle potential by stealing the enemy's Paopei. Even if participating in the battle was out of question, it would make the battles easier if she had measures to defend herself. The usurping transfer would also become a good constraint. It would be okay to think that with this, those two had been turned mostly powerless.

"─────"

Yes───Until the main enemy said those words, Suzuka had believed so.

"Don't move, teleporter!"

Youth appearing from the other side of the debris ordered Suzuka. Ayato immediately reacted to it, but she also became unable to move carelessly. Looking at the weapon he held in his right hand, there was no helping that it became so.

Grasped in the Bull Monster Asterius' hand wasn't the "Labrys" from before. That was something made for inviting targets into the labyrinth, a ritual tool, and not something used for battle.

"Proto Keraunos"───The battleaxe that held the most destructive ability among the Twelve Constellations.

A giant double-edged axe shining with lightning dwelling in it, even now, emitted an intimidating air as if slaughtering Ayato and others. If used even once, it would destroy the enemy along with the labyrinth.

While brushing her sweat Ayato gazed at the Divine Weapon in Asterius' hand.

(Divine Weapon.........! Damnit, to think that he even had something like that.........!)

The momentary relief she was able to collect from Homura and co's safety, had formed cracks in it.

If it was the old Ayato, this would also be a shameful sight. She looked for a moment to use her linked sword, but just by swinging his weapon, the enemy would put the Divine Weapon into motion.

Even Ayato wouldn't be able to make it.

And it was the same for Suzuka. She would be able to snatch the weapon just by raising her right hand. She was looking at the opportunity to deprive him of the battleaxe while in cold sweat, but Scathach stopped her with her right arm and shook her head.

"W-Why.........!?"

"Give up on it. It won't work unless it's a surprise attack. Everyone will get involved and die."

They were frank and direct words of restraint. They were the words of someone she didn't even know, but they held truth in them. There was also part that she was the oldest out of everyone present here, but it wasn't just that.

Suzuka widened her eyes and was surprised, but she swallowed her words and withdrew.

While setting up the Divine Weapon, Asterius confirmed the faces of everyone one by one.

He confirmed the faces of Ayato, Suzuka, Scathach───and finally looked at the face of Homura.

(.........Is it him?)

Judging from his stature, he was around fifteen years old. It was a youth with the same age as the current him. Asterius finally found his target, but he was bewildered by his frail Spirit Rank.

If you ask why───It was because it was too anticlimactic. He judged that neither of his three qualities exceeded the average just by looking at his standing figure. Like these, the Beastmen or even Crete residents would easily cut off his head.

Just what part of him would become his salvation. No, before that, could he answer the mystery that he carried. He became unsure of even that.

Asterius faced him with an irritated gaze. While a hasty thought of quickly settling it passed his mind, he should probably ask the things he had to ask beforehand. If he didn't find those answers satisfactory, he would immediately swing down the thunder. And it would be the end of this Gift Game.

He who directed his gaze at Saigou Homura, asked him the first and the last question.

"The boy over there. Do you have nothing you need to say to me───to "Minotaur"?"

He gave permission to speak. However, he didn't lower his weapon. It was similar to terrorism, but had no intention to be lenient. The thunder increased its brightness and he was about to unleash the lightning bolt.

Asterius quietly waited for the answer.

However, the person in question, Saigou Homura had hardened with surprised eyes. That wasn't by no means because of Asterius' question. Not a single word of Asterius had entered his head. Because he knew that he was the true identity of Minotaur, he stiffened his face with rigidity.

"─────Is this...for real?"

He couldn't believe it. He muttered a word unrelated to Asterius' question. If it was a kind of haggling, he would have swung down the thunder without a word.

However Homura's state was clearly strange. Asterius also made a puzzled expression. Thinking back, Homura was surprised at Asterius ever since he appeared in this place.

In short, he───Saigou Homura, was surprised by the very appearance of Asterius itself, and became shocked.

That was also the doubt of Asterius himself. He thought there was a slim hope, that he might possibly know something.

Asterius poured energy into the thunder, strengthened his voice and asked again.

"What's wrong? What do you know about me!? What is this youthful appearance of mine!? Am I.........not the Bull Monster - Asterius of Crete.........!?"

The true feelings he was concealing spilled out together with impatience.

There was only one thing that identified himself as the "Legendary Minotaur".

The sea roars of Mediterranean Sea and the cloudless sky, and also the townscape with chalk hue. Only that memory made him confident in himself.

But his memory wasn't an evidence. He wouldn't able to push his chest out with pride if there was no definite proof.

At the very least, he wanted someone to confirm it.

.........Yes, he might indeed have needed salvation. Deep down, Asterius revealed a self-deprecating smile towards his self that acted bravely. If he truly could answer him, he would even spare him from devouring.

───What would be the reply. He asked with a gaze loaded with the idea of ultimatum.

Homura also noticed that gaze, however he didn't seem to be planning to answer immediately. He continued to hold down his mouth with an unpleasant face. When he indulged himself in the sea of thoughts, he fundamentally didn't hear the people's words. Neither did he ask for opinions. He wouldn't say a word until he would find an answer he was satisfied with.

Rumbles in the ground resounded in a distance, and the labyrinth was full of lightning. When Homura finally realized that he didn't have that much time, he suddenly raised his face.

"Asterius. .........Calm down and listen. Probably, something startling will occur now."

They were unexpected words. Ayato and others who heard it also exchanged looks in puzzlement. They were words, that were difficult to judge what they were suggesting. After hesitating for a bit to choose better words───he uttered the final victory condition.

"Erase the lightning".


"Asterius. You───are not the Minotaur."


The moment he spoke that truth...

The heartbeat of the genuine man-eating monster started to resound within the labyrinth.

1 Shen Gongbao.
2 Investiture of the Gods.
3 White Tiger was the one Shen Gongbao rode in mythology.
4 King Zhou of Shang.
5 Dún Scáith.
6 Huang Feihu.
7 Taishang Laojun.
8 Yuanshi Tianzun.

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