Chapter 5-1

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The battle field was lit up by countless gas lights.

Light reflected off the steel of Cherubim as it sprung to life.

Loki had his hands thrust into his pockets, not lifting a hand to control Cherubim. Even then, there seemed to be a flow of magic energy maintained between them. Its giant blades aimed straight for Yaya. Yaya hurriedly dodged out of the way with a somersault.

He was testing Raishin with a surprise attack. None of the watching audience seemed to cry foul. There wasn’t any such thing as unfair play once the Night Party began.

Raishin threw off his coat, and began gathering magic energy at his core

“Our turn, Yaya. Suimei Nijuuyonshouu!”

“Roger!”

Yaya exploded forward with impressive power. Angling her body, she aimed a dropkick right at Cherubim. It was a strong attack, but Cherubim dodged it without much difficulty.

(… Just like I thought.)

Every time Cherubim moved, unnatural gusts were formed. The currents of air seemed designed to aid Cherubim’s movements- was its magic circuit able to control wind?

Off balance, Yaya came under the assault of Cherubim’s blade.

Yaya nimbly dodged backwards, but her opponent rapidly closed the distance between them. Before she was cornered though, Raishin released his magic energy, executing a command.

“Tenken shijuuhatsuketsu!”

Yaya’s strength was reinforced. She caught the oncoming blade with her bare hand, gripping on to it tightly. Brandishing the blade in its other arm, Cherubim swung that at Yaya as well. Once again, Yaya caught it with her bare hand.

A contest of strength began between the two automata. This struggle was what Raishin was hoping for.

The moment Yaya had locked down Cherubim’s twin blades, Raishin was already dashing forward.

Using Yaya’s back as a step, he jumped up off her back and drove a kick straight at Cherubim’s head. The neck area began to bend, wavering under the pressure. The head was its weak point!

Loki clicked his tongue. For a moment his attention turned to Raishin— which was what Raishin was aiming for.

Recoiling backwards from his kick, he gathered magic energy mid-air.

“Kouen Nijuuyonshou!”

He channeled the gathered energy over. Yaya released the blades, and began her attack.

She performed a kick, another kick, and followed up with a spinning heel kick, unleashing a fierce barrage of attacks.

Cherubim expertly manoeuvred its blades to block Yaya’s attacks, retreating as it did so. Its movement was smooth and fluid, like it was gliding through air, its body appearing to be unnaturally light.

Also, its movements were extremely precise. It didn’t try to face Yaya’s superhuman strength head on, but applied power from the sides, expertly adjusting the vector of each attack sideways, deflecting Yaya’s kicks.

Raishin was astonished. Loki was really a superb puppeteer. He didn’t know how much of it was due to the automaton’s own initiative, but still, to pull off something like that!

His surprise caused him to lose his concentration momentarily, and in that instant several short swords had launched themselves from Cherubim’s back. Slicing through the air, they flew towards Yaya.

(Telekinesis!?)

He had seen the same attack in the canal underground. It looked like this was a trick unique to D-works automata. At the speed the blades were flying though, he could tell this wasn’t simple telekinesis.

It was probably a generic magic art. Something to do with the magic circuit installed inside Cherubim.

No matter how he looked at it, it had to be a magic art that could control the wind, right?

He observed the trajectory of the swords. It was something that could be easily dodged- as he was thinking that, he noticed it.

If Yaya dodged, the blades would hit him!

At some point in time, the line of fire had shifted so that he was in it. No, perhaps it had been done on purpose all along.

Attacking the puppeteer with magic arts was considered a violation of the rules, but the executive committee would not be likely to rule this as foul play. Reluctantly, Raishin ordered Yaya to guard.

The short swords hit Yaya and bounced off. Her skin showed no traces of even a scratch.

Loki frowned. Yaya’s toughness was a bothersome development for him.

“Hmph. That armour of yours is a nuisance.”

“Bladed objects cannot cut Yaya.”

Yaya threw out her chest with pride. Loki just snorted with laughter.

“You will be, soon enough. There isn’t a single thing that Cherubim cannot cut.”

Taking his hands out of his pockets, for the first time in the fight Loki extended his hands out towards Cherubim.

“Cherubim— Whirl!”

[I’m ready]

An explosive gust of wind burst forth from Cherubim.

The subsequent heat haze formed caused the air around it to shimmer. The smell of something burning-something Raishin hated, and the smell of fire floated over. Cherubim was expelling hot air while floating in mid-air.

It looked like the silhouette of a grotesque angel. And all that suddenly changed.

Its shoulders, arms and blades interlocked, forming a single piece. Its body parts began to combine like pieces of a puzzle, and an instant later, the angel had taken the form of a sword.

It was a greatsword as tall as an adult. Beautifully curved and double-edged, it was unexpectedly shiny, without any cloudiness in the metal. At its base the face of Cherubim could be seen, giving it an uncanny appearance.

Raishin’s eyes almost fell out of their sockets. On the other hand, it also made sense in a way. He always thought the excessive steel plates made it stick out, but it turned out that they were there so that Cherubim could morph into this strange form!

Loki brought his right hand up, then swung it down.

His movements seemed to be linked with Cherubim, because the greatsword began to attack. It looked like an invisible giant was swinging it around. The greatsword hummed as it spun, heading towards Yaya with full force.

“— Dodge!”

Considering the weight alone, the power behind this attack was significantly different from before.

Yaya evaded, and the sword was driven into the ground, causing fissures to spread out from the impact zone. The friction generated scorched the surrounding turf.

The greatsword’s momentum wasn’t halted, but it kept on going, slashing at Yaya once again.

Raishin hurriedly focused his magic energy. He was going to boost Yaya’s power until she became extremely tough. With this, she would be able to stop even a shot from a battleship’s cannon-

His confidence wavered. Abruptly he used Force on Yaya, overriding her actions.

Yaya was surprised, but she didn’t resist, relinquishing control to Raishin.

He made Yaya jump back. The greatsword grazed her chest, causing a string of blood to extend through the air.

Raishin was speechless. To think that there was something that could cut through Yaya’s superhuman strength!

Plus, this was just a graze. If it hit her head on, this match might be over.

“Hmph. You’re no fool, I’ll give you that.”

The greatsword whirled in front of Loki. Fire burst from its tip and heated the surrounding air. It was like a fiery sword wielded by an angel taken straight from the scriptures.

Once again, the greatsword began to move in preparation for attack. Raishin found himself running away without thinking.

There was a hint of frustration in Yaya’s voice as she said,

“What’s wrong, Raishin!? Please give Yaya magic energy! Just now I got hurt a little, but an attack of that level is something Yaya can surely endure!”

“- Just dodge! Suimei Nijuuyonshou!”

Instead of boosting her power, Raishin was using Yaya’s superhuman strength for agility. Yaya didn’t resist, but dodged left and right at the repeated attacks from the greatsword.

Before he noticed, Yaya’s back was already in front of his eyes. Having been cornered, her back was now within touching distance. There was no further room to retreat.

Unexpectedly, Raishin lost strength from his waist down.

Of course, he quickly righted himself up. However, cold sweat was running down his spine. The afternoon’s debacle had drained him of his strength and magic energy. At this rate, this fight would be bad!

Now that the situation had become unfavourable, his thoughts naturally turned to their trump card.

(If we could bring it down in one shot… No, that wouldn’t work. In this situation, it wouldn’t hit.)

In that case, what should he do then?

He turned his attention to his fingertips. Like blood flowing through blood vessels, he could feel the flow of magic energy through them. However, the flow was hopeless sloppy. Compared to him, it was simply awful.

Perhaps it was just like Yaya said. There was no other way but to stop the attack.

“Raishin! There’s no point in keeping this up any further!”

“… I got it. Tenken kyuujuurokushou!”

Placing his hand on Yaya’s back, he channelled all his magic energy into-

In that instant, Raishin was assaulted by a wave of dread, the darkness of a bottomless pit overwhelming him.

It was a mysterious sense of unease. He felt like he was falling into the darkness, feeling nothing but fear.

The greatsword was falling like a lightning bolt, bearing down on Yaya. Yaya was bracing herself for the impact. Raishin was once again preparing to channel his magic energy into her.

He suddenly grabbed Yaya by the shoulder, replacing himself in her position.

Why he did that, he didn’t know.

Raishin had a clear goal he was supposed to accomplish. A foe that he had to defeat at all cost. But even so, he did the unthinkable.

His body had moved on its own. It was probably because he didn’t want Yaya to die.

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The blade moved across his chest heavily.

The metal sliced a path from his right shoulder to his left breast. A scorching heat passed over his brain for a second, burning the sensation of pain into him. It felt like his innards were being dragged out of his body. Something did fly out from inside him, dancing about in the air. It was the charm Charl had given him, the chain having been severed by the blade.

When he came to his senses, he was slumped onto the ground, dimly aware he was staring at the grass.

He couldn’t move his body. It felt cold. His body was sluggish and numb. He could feel warmth flowing out of his body, and the smell of blood assailed his nostrils.

His vision was growing blurry, and it felt like he was drifting off far away to another world.

“Raishin… Raishin…!”

There was a frantic voice calling his name. The sight of Yaya’s tear-stained face brought to mind someone from his memories.

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