V06 Chapter 54: The World without ‘Him’

TL/N: The good news and the bad news… Good news: The chapter is finally here, found some time during christmas to finish it up… So, merry Christmas! Now, the bad news. Due to year 3 chinicals owning my rear, I will be dropping K&M after I finish up volume 6, although I will still finish it up with a polished EPUB for archive. If anyone wants to pick it up, I can provide my standardized name/location translations to ease the transition.


Translator: Huapollon

Kingdom of Fremmevira, Eastern Frontiers.

Within the chain of forts that lined the Life Lanes, knight runners suddenly noticed a dark shadow cast down from above. As they looked up, they saw a massive object that blotted out the sun. It was a ‘ship’ that coursed across the air with full sails.

“Could that be a Levitate Ship that had returned from the Bocuse? That emblem… it’s the Silver Phoenix Knights! They have returned!!”

Seeing the emblem emblazoned on the sails, the knight runners waved their hands in the air and cheered.

With Transport Ships in formation around the Izumo, the fleet that had departed for Bocuse, the Sea of Trees, had finally returned after many months of voyage.

As the fleet crossed over the edge of the forest, those aboard could see the fortress and roads below bustling with activity. In contrast, the atmosphere was quite dark on the bridge of the ‘Izumo’. Despite having finally completed their extensive expedition and returning safely home, the crew lacked any signs of joy.

The center of the negative atmosphere was the one seated in the captain’s chair. He was of relatively short stature, but had a sturdy and well-built body. With his head hanging low, the man sat with his arms crossed across his chest. After a long period of torpor, David ‘the Boss’ Hepken finally raised his head.

“So, we have returned…” Boss groaned as he glared at the scrolling scenery outside the glass.

Reminiscent of a snuffed-out stove, Boss did not have even a speck of his usual domineering attitude.

“Yes, we have… Although much had changed from the time of our departure, we were still able to complete our mission.” Torstei, the Knight Commander of the Violet Swallow Knights, exclaimed.

After the ‘battle’, Torstei had assumed command of the fleet and moved his command aboard the Izumo.

Although lacking his usual enthusiasm and having yielded the fleet to Torstei, Boss strongly insisted on retaining his position as captain and remained in the captain’s chair. This stubbornness wasn’t limited to just Boss, even the rest of the Izumo’s Silver Phoenix Knights remained vigilant at their posts, first and foremost with Batson still behind the wheel.

“We will need to head for Känkänen and report to His Majesty. Although, you can just leave the matter to me.” Torstei proposed after seeing Boss’s fatigued expression.

After arriving in the skies above the Kingdom of Fremmevira, such was the reality that the fleet had to face. Contemplating Torstei’s proposal, Boss descended into a long silence.

“Very well. Let me be the one to break the news to… the boy’s family living near Fort Olvecius.” Boss answered with broiling frustration.

With their minds made up, the fleet continued its flight above the Kingdom of Fremmevira with a stagnant atmosphere within.

◆ ◆ ◆

Seeing the return of the expedition fleet, the entire city of Känkänen was burning with anticipation. With all the Levitate Ships returning visibly unscathed, everyone was confident that the fleet had completed its mission without issue. Considering that few dared to venture into Bocuse in the past, the people were convinced that the day had finally come to remove the veil of enigma that had shrouded Bocuse.

As such, few were prepared for the news that followed: the Knight Commander of the Silver Phoenix Knights, Ernesti Echevalier, as well as his adjutant, Adeltrud Olter, failed to return with the fleet.

When Torstei touched down with the Levitate Ship, he immediately headed for Chateau Schreiber.

“…That was, unexpected.” King Leotamus sighed upon hearing Torstei’s report, “In retrospect, we expected him, more than anyone else, to return safely with the expedition.”

King Leotamus slowly came to realize the magnitude of the report. Certainly, the expedition had many gains, but it all paled in comparison with what had been lost.

Amid King Leotamus’s frustration, Torstei provided additional details regarding the battle – from the Demon Beasts with corrosive fluids to Ikaruga’s fight with the Demon Beasts in order to cover for the retreat of the expedition fleet. As a result, while Ikaruga had successfully kept the fleet safe, it was lost alongside the Syrphrine.

“I still can’t believe it, especially considering his usual willfulness, that he would step up on such an occasion. Does he feel no fear? Or rather, did he simply seek the challenge?”

King Ambrosius was the one who bequeathed Ernesti with the Silver Phoenix Knights, to which the Silver Phoenix Knights had wonderfully lived up to his expectations. Since the day of their establishment, the Silver Phoenix Knights had forged one miracle after another. On top of developing the new Stranded Crystal Silhouette Knights, the Silver Phoenix Knights were seen as indefatigable champions in the fight against the Demon Beasts and Silhouette Knights alike.

Regardless of the situation, the Silver Phoenix Knights would step up to the challenge and triumph against all odds. Perhaps due to their overwhelming strength, everyone had simply neglected the possibility of them losing, with King Leotamus at the forefront.

“In any case, this has created a huge problem. We could not think of anyone capable enough to fill the void left by Ernesti…”

Even if they scoured the entire Zetterlund, King Leotamus had no confidence in finding someone able to replace Ernesti. King Leotamus had not foreseen Eru’s sudden disappearance and the unprecedented issues that it would cause. Even so, as the reigning monarch, King Leotamus was left to face with the problem.

◆ ◆ ◆

While Torstei gave his report in Känkänen, Izumo alone left for Fort Olvecius.

As Izumo appeared in the backdrop of the distant horizon, the members of the Silver Phoenix Knights who remained in the fortress began to stir in excitement.

Yet, their excitement was short-lived, as they had come to realize the absence of Ikaruga and Syrphrine in Izumo’s hangers. The celebration where they would congratulate and share their adventures came to an abrupt halt as their Knight Commander was nowhere to be found.

“What the heck…?! Boss? What happened?”

As the demoralized crew unloaded the Izumo, Dietrich rushed over to Boss. Although he tried to get some clarification on the circumstances, Dietrich completely froze upon seeing the dark expression on Boss’s face.

Boss did not display the slightest of his usual enthusiasm, seemingly had the light snuffed out from his body. Despite knowing Boss for a long time, Dietrich had never seen him this depressed and enervated. As such, Dietrich hesitated to ask, as it was obvious to him that something terrible had happened.

In the end, Dietrich braved his fears and confronted Boss.

“Boss, tell me everything in detail. Exactly what had happened on the expedition? What in the world did you all encounter? And… why did Ernesti and Adeltrud not return?”

In an act completely contrary to his usual forthcoming attitude, Boss’s face dimmed at the question and turned his gaze off to the side as he hesitated for a response.

“…appeared. Unfamiliar Demon Beasts… Flyers… Shaped like beetles… We thought they were nothing but pushovers… However, they were able to spray body fluids that ‘dissolved’ Silhouette Knights!” Boss replied with broken words after a long moment of pause.

Dietrich furrowed his eyebrows upon hearing the report. As a career knight runner, he immediately envisioned himself fighting against such a Demon Beast and, given his personal abilities, soon realized the difficulty of such a scenario.

“…As such, the Wind Knights were essentially useless. After all, none of them could approach the Demon Beasts with the corrosive fluids. Only the boy’s Ikaruga had any chance against them. As usual, he charged headlong into battle.”

Boss’s expression had slightly relaxed and revealed a bitter smile. Dietrich could vividly imagine such a situation.

“Even facing a Demon Beast that could spray corrosive fluids, the boy’s performance was incredible. He had completely suppressed the Demon Beasts’ attack and created an opportunity for the fleet to withdraw. Yet, it was an incredibly poor match-up against Silhouette Knights. After we had fled… The boy was caught by a corrosive cloud. We… were unable to save him. At that moment, the lass went after the boy.”

Boss’s words were not only heard by Dietrich, but also by the surrounding members of the Silver Phoenix Knights. Chatter quickly sprang up as news of Ernesti’s disappearance spread.

“Was… there nothing that could be done?”

Everyone was at a loss for words. They certainly couldn’t pin the blame on Boss. Not to mention, it was an opponent that even the Ikaruga had difficulties with, so additional Silhouette Knights would just be a liability in the fight. Among the few that had the ability, Adeltrud had already gone to help and had suffered a similar fate to Eru.

At the same time, they could not blame the Violet Swallow Knights. Rather, they should be commended for their effort. Under such trying conditions, they had wonderfully brought the Izumo and rest of the fleet back from the Bocuse unharmed.

The current situation was upsetting for the Silver Phoenix Knights, and no valve existed for its release. Dietrich scratched his head in frustration, but with the ‘battle’ already over, there was little anyone could do to alter the outcome. As a wave of bitterness spread through the surrounding crowd, Edgar stepped forward.

“With the Knight Commander gone, what will now happen to… our Silver Phoenix Knights?” Edgar muttered after listening quietly to the earlier exchange.

At his question, everyone drew a deep breath.

“…Y-you! What do you mean? Of course, we will…”

Dietrich immediately jumped at the question, yet was at a loss for a realistic answer. In the end, he could only shirk back with drooped shoulders. Nearby, Boss let out a sigh.

“To be honest, with things as they are now… It is fortunate that you had accepted the commission.”

“Even Boss…?! You make it sound like… as if…” Dietrich uttered only a few words before tightly shutting his mouth, in fear that his words would jinx the situation.

“Without the boy, what else is there for us to do?”

Not even Boss knew how many times he asked himself that question. Perhaps ever since he had returned without Ernesti, Boss had already mentally prepared himself for the inevitable outcome.

“Either way, let us get some rest…”

Boss pushed Dietrich aside and departed from the crowd. His back seemed to appear uninviting from behind, making it difficult for others to follow. With the confrontation over, Dietrich also stepped away.

Edgar stood as he took a glance at the surrounding faces.

Boss wasn’t the only one who had suffered, Batson and the rest of the Levitate Ship crew all appeared listless. Despite Izumo’s safe return from its long maiden voyage, Fort Olvecius was eerily silent.

Edgar felt as if he could still see the lingering figure of the quirky youth with boundless imaginations and the lass that followed him around. He couldn’t have fathomed that the Silver Phoenix Knights would shed this much of its usual vigor when two youths were absent.

“Hey, don’t be so pessimistic. It is still not certain…”

Faced with the suffocating atmosphere as she glanced over at the crowd, Helvi was at a complete loss for words of encouragement.

“What will we do now? Or rather, what should we do now…?” Edgar muttered.

It was a difficult question, to which Helvi did not know the answer. The Silver Phoenix Knights were originally a Knight Order that existed for the sole purpose of supporting Ernesti, be it to carry out his whims that sometimes have far resounding effects on the kingdom or to step forward in fights against Demon Beasts. It was the existence known for its strength across the Kingdom of Fremmevira.

No one could replace Ernesti. Without him, the Silver Phoenix Knights would cease to exist. At that moment, everyone had finally understood.

“So, this is it then?”

Helvi stood silently in place as the bright future before her seemingly had been snuffed out.

◆ ◆ ◆

“Boss! Wait… There has to be a way!”

Hearing the sound coming from behind, the boss stopped and turned around. His expression was even dimmer than before, as if he was ready to face death.

“Di, I will be taking a trip to Academy City Laihiala.”

Dietrich immediately understood what the boss meant and let out a pained grunt.

“Someone has to tell their family… of their final bravery. This is my duty.”

“Bring Batson with you…”

“Bastard… How could I bring him on something like this? Especially when he was forced to leave his best friend behind!”

Seeing the Boss’s back, Dietrich held back his words for a moment to let his thoughts gather.

“Then… let me go with you. I will be worried if you are forced to make this trip alone.” Dietrich insisted.

Instead of stubborn denial, Boss simply nodded in silence.

Fort Olvecius was not far from Academy City Laihiala. It was sufficiently close that Ernesti and Adeltrud were able to commute from home every day.

After settling their horses in the stables near the gates of Laihiala, Dietrich and Boss made their ways to the Echevalier Residence, where Selestina ‘Tina’ Echevalier eagerly expected the return of their child. Incidentally, Ernesti’s father Mathias was still at the academy.

Selestina was joined by Adeltrud’s mother, Ilmatar ‘Ilma’ Olter. As it happened, Archid was away in the Kingdom of Kuscheperca at the time. With both of the Olter twins gone, Ilma stayed over at her good friend Tina’s place.

Instead of Ernesti and Adeltrud, they were greeted by Boss and Dietrich. Almost immediately, Tina and Ilma realized that there was an accident. Tina invited the pair inside and calmly prepared the tea.

“My boy… Eru had encountered some problems… right?” Tina asked after taking a deep breath.

Boss drained the entire cup in a single breath. After mentally preparing himself, Boss turned to Tina without evading her inquisitive gaze.

“The Knight Commander fought valiantly to ensure the survival of the Izumo and the rest of the expedition fleet, yet he was unable to return. As the captain of the Izumo, I personally witnessed part of the battle.”

To Tina and Ilma, Boss repeated the details that he gave to the Silver Phoenix Knights back at Fort Olvecius. He explained the unique characteristics of the enemies they had encountered, Ernesti’s departure to the battlefield and his subsequent failure to return.

As Tina listened, colors slowly drained from her face. With an ominous premonition creeping up from the depth of her heart, Tina forced herself to remain focused despite her receding consciousness.

After Boss finished, Tina was left unable to respond. Seated nearby, Ilma covered her mouth in sorrow as she tried to stifle her whimpers.

“Addy… at least she won’t be lonely with Eru by her side…” Ilma said with a quivering voice before turning to Tina, “Tina, our poor children…”

“Don’t worry, Ilma.” Tina firmly stated with a pale face, if only to convince herself of their survival.

“Mr. Hepken, my boy tends to follow his own convictions. I’m certain that he fought to protect everyone in order to live up to his own ideals. However…”

At this moment, Tina revealed her usual gentle smile. Although still clearly affected by the earlier shock, Tina steeled herself to finish her thought.

“Ernesti would never break a promise, and he had promised to me that he would definitely return. Therefore, I am certain he will be fine.”

Boss and Dietrich were unable to respond to Tina’s statement. They only dipped their heads in silence. After a few small exchanges, they departed from the Echevalier Residence.

◆ ◆ ◆

With their backs to the setting sun, Boss and Dietrich began their journey back to Fort Olvecius.

The scene of the visit remained in their minds. Even until the very end, Tina and Ilma remain convinced that Ernesti and Adeltrud, who lost their Silhouette Knights and fell into the depths of Bocuse, would eventually return. It was a conviction that defined the bond of a family.

Incidentally, as a member of the Silver Phoenix Knights, Dietrich instead thought about the part that he could play, given the circumstances.

“Alright, we should go!” Dietrich declared just as they approached the fort.

Boss did not turn his head to face Dietrich as he quietly listened.

“Given the circumstances, I doubt even someone like the Knight Commander could return by himself. In that case, I say we go and pick him up.”

“How many days did you think the return trip took? Even if we depart now, it will take that many days again to arrive!” Boss grumbled in reply.

“And? It’s the Knight Commander that we are talking about here! He won’t die that easily. If anything, he will find a way to survive, so it’s definitely worth making the trip.”

“Sending out an expedition requires an exorbitant amount of supplies. It’s nearly impossible for just the few of us to scrape it together, not to mention…” Boss immediately refuted.

Dietrich’s suggestion was not unfamiliar to the Boss, who had long since considered it in exquisite detail. As such, Boss had already known the problems of such an expedition.

“If returning would change anything, we would’ve decided on it a long time ago!” Boss spouted before ditching Dietrich for the hanger.

Dietrich simply watched Boss’s departing silhouette as he tightened his grip on the reins.

“…Even so, I could not accept it. How could they possibly expect me to just accept it?!” Dietrich cursed as he jerked the reins and turned the horse around.

◆ ◆ ◆

Not long after, a small commotion broke out in Chateau Schreiber, all because of a certain uninvited guest who barged through its gates.

“What’s all the commotion?” King Leotamus, who was dealing with governmental affairs, asked his attendant after hearing the noise outside.

However, before the attendant was able to give an answer, the source of the commotion burst forth before him. It was a single knight runner, forcing through dozens of royal bodyguards before reaching Leotamus.

“I am the Commander of the Silver Phoenix Knights’ Second Company, Dietrich Kunitz! I apologize for my rudeness, but I have a matter of utmost importance that I need to report to Your Majesty!”

“Hey! Unauthorized individuals are not allowed past this point! Cease and withdraw!”

“It’s not a problem. Release him.” Leotamus ordered, after inspecting Dietrich with narrowed eyes.

With the order given, the royal bodyguards reluctantly released Dietrich and stepped back. At that moment, Dietrich knelt before the king.

“We presume you are here on matters of Ernesti?” King Leotamus inquired at the breathless Dietrich.

King Leotamus did not rush Dietrich for an answer and gave Dietrich a few minutes to catch his breath. In a way, it was a somewhat pointless question, as there was no other reason why a member of the Silver Phoenix Knights would present himself before King Leotamus at this time.

“Yes, Your Majesty! In order to rescue the Knight Commander currently stranded in Bocuse, I beseech Your Majesty to permit the Silver Phoenix Knights to depart on an expedition!”

“Denied.”

Dietrich was left frozen in place with King Leotamus’s flat-out rejection.

“We understand that Ernesti’s Silhouette Knight is the strongest known to man. However, the reports indicated that these Demon Beasts were strong enough to not only fell the Ikaruga, but also directly threatened the fleet.” King Leotamus explained, “What could a few of you accomplish? You, of all people, should know best Ernesti’s strength. If it was an enemy that could match even against the Ikaruga, how big of a force do we need to send out on such an operation? How many sacrifices must we suffer?”

“I understand Your Majesty’s concerns, and I know perfectly well that it will be a daunting task. However, we, the Silver Phoenix Knights, were the ones who fought against the Behemoth alongside Ernesti! Therefore, an opponent of this magnitude should not be impossible!”

King Leotamus continued to shake his head in refusal.

“We know of the Silver Phoenix Knights’ strength, but the chance for defeat is not negligible. If even the Silver Phoenix Knights were to be lost, our kingdom will lose our only trump card against the Demon Beasts. We had already lost Ernesti, so we cannot afford any more risk. Therefore, I will have to deny your petition.”

Although the Knight Commander was lost, the Silver Phoenix Knights remained intact with the Izumo and all the knightsmiths. In other words, the technological advances made by Ernesti was not truly lost.

Ernesti’s achievements were certainly beyond compare. However, it was too much to ask King Leotamus to gamble the fate of the kingdom on the chance of his rescue, if there was even a chance. As the monarch of a kingdom, King Leotamus had made the responsible choice.

Dietrich gritted his teeth in frustration and descended into silence, as he was unable to refute King Leotamus’s sound reasoning.

“Again, we understand you are overwhelmed by grief. We will look past your discourtesy this time, but be mindful of your behavior in the future.” King Leotamus lectured Dietrich in a soft tone.

At this moment, the kneeling Dietrich suddenly stood up. He stared eye-to-eye with the King in an incredible sign of disrespect, such that no one could argue otherwise if he were to be put down on the spot.

Faced with the confidence reflected in Dietrich’s eyes, King Leotamus let out a deep sigh.

“I… had personally fought alongside the Knight Commander in the battle against the Behemoth. In the moment of despair, I had forsaken my chivalric duties. Yet, Ernesti was the one to have brought me back to my proper path.”

The surrounding royal bodyguards slowly crept toward Dietrich, such that they could respond to any sudden outbursts. However, they all paused at his words.

“…Such was the reason why I chose to follow him! It is something that will never change. No matter the obstacle, we, the Silver Phoenix Knights, shall simply overcome. If it is for him, I and my Guyalarinde will take on any danger with a smile.”

With that said, Dietrich gave a bow before turning to leave.

“Wait… what are you planning?”

King Leotamus’s tone was inquisitive at most, without the slightest hint of intimidation.

“Let me resign my commission.”

“What do you hope to achieve alone?”

Dietrich revealed a fearless smile while he kept his back to the king.

“No, Your Majesty. I am not alone.”

King Leotamus soon understood his answer. Dozens of Second Company’s knight runners arrived and pushed aside the royal bodyguards, each of them in the same breathless state as their company commander.

“Seriously, each and every one of you… We had hoped that attitude of your Knight Commander hasn’t rubbed off on you lot.”

“With much respect, I believe each and every one of us had found our reason through him… Now, Your Majesty, I shall excuse myself.”

No one stood in Dietrich’s way as he left.

“Wait…! I guess this outcome was unavoidable. Without Ernesti holding the reins, the Silver Phoenix Knights immediately spiraled out of control. What a pain!”

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“Sire. With your command, we will head out and stop them…” One of the royal bodyguards said at the sight of a troubled King Leotamus.

However, King Leotamus shook his head in response.

“Are you sure, Your Majesty? Aren’t we spoiling them too much?”

“If this results in Ernesti’s safe return, then all is well. Furthermore, with their attitude, we doubt there would be much point in detaining them by force.”

Despite the circumstances, King Leotamus could not simply leave them as they were. With a slight wave of his hand, King Leotamus saw a man silently step out from the shadows.

“We do not really want to rely on this method…”

The man vanished into the shadows after King Leotamus whispered a few words in his ears.

“As expected, the Silver Phoenix Knights has begun to stir. Order the Violet Swallow Knights to hasten their reorganization. Regardless of the outcome, we must prepare a backup plan.”

With the order given, the royal bodyguard stepped out from the room.

Now, alone in the room, King Leotamus reflected on the earlier scene. Dietrich’s brave words were not lost on him. Although King Leotamus did not have a martial upbringing, he could still somewhat empathize with the knight runners.

“What persistence and candor… almost made me a bit envious.”

Despite his personal frustration at the development, King Leotamus revealed a bright smile.

◆ ◆ ◆

After their adventure in the capital, Dietrich led the second company back to Fort Olvecius. Their destination was the workshop. Dietrich soon found his way to Boss, who was sitting listlessly in a daze, and gave him a solid punch to the face.

“Ugh! What the heck?!”

“Ugah?!”

Boss was enraged by the sudden attack. For a staunch dwarf, the punch wasn’t able to cause any serious harm, but Boss had no reason to simply take the punch for no reason. As such, he immediately retorted with a punch of his own, right at Dietrich.

Boss and Dietrich have vastly different arm strength. Drawing a beautiful arc across the air, Dietrich fell to the ground and almost fainted from the pain, only to recover after a short while. With his training and experience as a company commander, Dietrich was able to endure the punch by the dwarven race.

“Ugh, as expected of… what a strong punch! Boss, now’s not the time to relax. We plan to head out to the Bocuse, so prep the Izumo for departure!”

“Huh? You… bastard. It has already been decided. So, just let it go!”

Despite Dietrich usual brashness, he was not particularly reckless. Seeing Dietrich’s unwavering attitude, Boss could not help but took a step back.

“Hmph! Just think, Boss. Those Demon Beasts are the natural enemy to all Silhouette Knights. Do you honestly believe that Knight Commander of ours would simply leave them alone?”

“Of course not. Just like you said, he did rush over in a fit of rage…”

Boss did not hesitate in his answer. From Eru’s usual attitude, everyone knew of his obsession with Silhouette Knights. As such, Eru’s actions were not a particular mystery to anyone.

“Not to say, we are talking about Ernesti here. You know, the one who cheated death time and time again. Even if he has to crawl back from the brink of hell, he would wipe those Demon Beasts off the face of the world. In that case, as a member of the Silver Phoenix Knights, should it not be our duty to advance to the battlefield?”

“You and your nonsense…”

Boss could not figure out how much of Dietrich’s words were serious. Yet, he did not doubt their validity, despite his own personal feelings.

“Boss, was the Ikaruga destroyed?”

“…Probably. Considering its opponent, the Ikaruga has likely been disintegrated. Even if it somehow miraculously survived, the Ikaruga definitely suffered debilitating damage.” Boss muttered as he reminisced about the scene outside the Izumo.

At the time, the battlefield was completely obscured by corrosive clouds, so Boss was unable to obtain any visual confirmation, with only the occasional explosion and falling carcasses of Demon Beasts to indicate the progress of the engagement. Considering that they were unable to locate the Ikaruga after the battle, Boss did not doubt that the Ikaruga had been crippled.

“I doubt even Ernesti could repair the damage done to the Ikaruga out in the fields. Although, he could always surprise us.”

“Then again, Ernesti would likely be stricken with grief at Ikaruga’s tattered appearance, so it would not be simply a matter of having the means.”

Boss gazed down at his own hands. Although he had taken up the unfamiliar position of captain during the expedition, Boss was still a knightsmith at his core. As such, Boss thought of only what he could do with his own two hands.

“Do you really trust the boy that much?”

“It’s not a matter of trust, but intuition.”

Boss slowly reached for his waist. As a knightsmith, Boss would have many of his tools attached to his utility belt. This time, he held up his trusty hammer, the quintessential tool of a knightsmith, and one that gave him courage.

“Fine. I never thought that there would a day where you managed to convince me like this.”

Boss had found his mission. Even if it may be a fool’s errand, Boss was still willing to give it a shot.

“Until we arrive, the second company will serve as escort. Boss, it is knight runners’ job to fight, so leave fighting the Demon Beasts to us.”

“How will you fight? Those Demon Beasts are able to spray corrosive clouds everywhere. Even the Wind Knights were helpless against them.”

Faced with the difficult problem, Dietrich did not shirk back the slightest.

“I understand. In that case, I will use the Javelineers. Hopefully, the javelins would last long enough in the corrosive cloud to pierce the Demon Beasts. We shall bring all the javelins in our arsenal.”

Boss let out an impressed sigh. As far as combat was concerned, Dietrich, who had led the second company through many victories, were able to offer crucial insights.

The Insectoid Demon Beasts were nimble enough to dodge all the shots from afar. As such, a pursuit battle with Javelin-armed Wind Knights might be more preferred. After all, Ikaruga had demonstrated that the Demon Beasts were fragile enough for any hit to sink them.

Incidentally, with the development of the shortened Javelins, the usual magic javelins were now called ‘Long Javelins’.

“…So the mission is really happening.”

The mission was set, and the plan was set. Although it would be a challenge, Boss definitely wanted to give the rescue a shot. With a clenched fist, Boss met Dietrich’s fist midway in a pound.

“Hmph! In that case, just leave Ikaruga’s repair to the knightsmiths… Hey!”

Boss suddenly sprang into action as he met the stares of stunned knightsmiths with a beast-like sneer.

“You lot, start loading Ikaruga’s spare parts onto the Izumo, as many as possible! Be mentally prepared for the Ikaruga to be completely trashed, with all components shy of the core destroyed!”

“…Y-yes!”

At that moment, Boss was a man who had rediscovered his purpose. He had regained the usual brash and confident demeanor of the Silver Phoenix Knights’ Chief Knightsmith, David ‘Boss’ Hepken.

With their old Boss back, the other knightsmiths did not slack around. With a single purpose that guided them, all the knightsmiths sprang into action.

“Although, there’s still a huge problem we have yet to solve… Reaching the site would require a massive amount of time and supply. What are your plans for that?” Boss asked with crossed arms as he looked upon the busy hanger.

“Yeah, we may need to resort to force. In other words…”

“Sorry to interject on your conversation, but we feel that it is wrong for you to cut us out of the fun.”

“Yeah, to think the two of you are plotting all this by yourselves!”

Just as Dietrich and Boss mulled over their plans, new voices came from behind. At first, Dietrich was startled, but as he turned around to look, he couldn’t help but stare in surprise.

“Edgar, Helvi?! Why are you here? I don’t think that I had told you anything.”

“With all the commotion, how could you expect us not to notice?”

“It’s not as if I purposely wanted to exclude you two. After all, our current actions are no different from treason. Since there could only be a future for the Silver Phoenix Knights if we bring back Ernesti, this mission is something that I must do as someone who plans to remain with the Silver Phoenix Knights.” Dietrich said as he shook his head in disbelief, “However, Edgar, you had already received a new commission. There is no reason for you to get involved in this operation.”

“Hey, are you saying that it was perfectly fine to rope me in for treason?”

“Hahaha… How could I possibly let you go? After all, we need you to get Ikaruga repaired!”

As such, Dietrich did not have any qualms about convincing Boss. From his estimates, having the knightsmiths alongside the Second Company was the only way to have any reasonable chance of success.

“Aren’t I part of the Silver Phoenix Knights as well? Why would you cut me out of the mission?”

“If I had told you, won’t you immediately reveal the plans to Ed-…?”

Dietrich cringed as he was cut short by Helvi’s stare.

“Yes. Although my new commission had already been determined, and they are probably willing to give me some time before I take up my post, it would be a different story if I were suddenly away for an extended absence in Bocuse. In all likelihood, such an action would enrage my new employers and see my new commission go up in a puff of smoke.” Edgar explained without denying Dietrich’s words.

At Edgar’s blunt explanation, Dietrich was left completely speechless.

“In that case, why would you come here? Are you an idiot?!”

“I can’t believe there would ever be a day where I would be called an idiot by Dietrich… I am welling up in tears.” Edgar joked with a shrug of his shoulders before turning serious once more, “If it weren’t for Erledyradcumber… if it weren’t for Ernesti, I would have never garnered such prestige. At its core, my new commission was not entirely due to my own abilities.”

Edgar had always been an excellent knight runner. Even without Ernesti, he would’ve definitely been a capable and successful leader one day. Still, their fated meeting had no doubt accelerated Edgar’s rise to glory.

“In other words, I owe him for my success. I’m not someone who could simply ignore what happened to him and proceed to my new post.”

“What? I doubt that Ernesti would care about this sort of thing.”

“Perhaps… Well, I’m also doing this for myself, regardless of what Ernesti thinks. I would be greatly troubled if he were to disappear before I’m able to properly return his favor.”

“If it is your own decision… After all, I’m in no place to judge.”

Dietrich was also someone who would involve himself on matters other than his own, so he was in no place to criticize Edgar. Incidentally, the entire Silver Phoenix Knights could be said as a gathering of problem children, with little care for the consequences as they rush toward their goals.

“The ones we will be facing are flying Demon Beasts, correct?  Isn’t this the perfect match for the Third Company?”

“We are all idiots! I guess it can’t be helped… Let us go on our rampage!”

Dietrich looked around at the Silver Phoenix Knights gathered around him. Everyone from the First, Second, and Third Company were present alongside the knightsmiths as they prepared themselves for the operation – to save Ernesti and Adeltrud.

Not a single person uttered the possibility of their death. Even if it could be too late, the Silver Phoenix Knights refused to stop. Yet, the huge logistical problem remained.

“Now, back to the issue at hand. Our journey would take close to two months. The food and fuel we need alone will be staggering, not to mention the replacement parts, weapons, and other expendables along the way. Do you have any good ideas?”

“As for this… I think our best option is to pilfer… I mean, ‘borrow’ what we need.” Dietrich answered with a nefarious smile.

At Dietrich’s plan, Boss could only reluctantly nod. Even Edgar and Helvi, who usually would step in at a time like this, remained silent. With the situation as is, they might as well do what they can.

“…What a bunch of brats. Cool your heads! What silliness are you planning?” A familiar voice interrupted.

Everyone was startled by the sudden interjection and turned to the source of the voice. They saw a few Silhouette Knights making their way into the hanger with heavy steps, with the one in the lead on its speakers.

It was a silver-plated Silhouette Knight with black accents, one that was not unfamiliar to the members of the Silver Phoenix Knights. The name of the unit was ‘Gilbatiga’, and the one to pilot it was…

“What mischief are you brats up to this time? Seriously, stop making me worry all the time.”

“Ah! L-Lord Regnant!”

…None other than the retired regnant of Fremmevira, Ambrosius Tahvo Fremmevira. As he stepped down from his unit, Ambrosius waved his hand to stop the hastily kneeling crowd.

“Silver Phoenix Knights! You not only went against His Majesty’s explicit orders, but also seek to commit an even more heinous crime! We are greatly disappointed in you all! Have you all learned nothing through your battles?!” Ambrosius declared with an overwhelming air of seriousness.

The roar of the retired regnant echoed through the hanger.

The Kingdom of Fremmevira’s tenth king, Ambrosius Tahvo Fremmevira, was not only famed as a renowned warrior in a society that valued martial prowess, but also was known as a capable scholar. No one could deny that Ambrosius was an enlightened monarch who had forged the foundation on which the current Kingdom of Fremmevira stood. Although he had since passed the throne onto his son, King Leotamus, and retired from public activity, Ambrosius still appeared to be in perfect health.

Incidentally, Ambrosius was the one who, against the advice of his ministers, decided to gamble on Ernesti and endorse the formation of the Silver Phoenix Knights. As such, the Silver Phoenix Knights owed much of its current success to Ambrosius.

At Ambrosius’s stinging words, the Silver Phoenix Knights cooled its previously burgeoning fervor. The entire hanger descended into an awkward silence as everyone hanged their heads and kept their mouths shut.

“When we first commissioned the Silver Phoenix Knights, we did not envision for you to become this sort of impulsive rabble.” Ambrosius admonished the crowd as he walked closer.

While most took the reprimand in silence, Dietrich strengthened his resolve and boldly stepped forward. After all, Dietrich was the heart behind the entire operation.

“I do not deny the legality of our actions. However, for the sake of our entrapped Knight Commander, we cannot abide by the orders!” Dietrich insisted.

“Is that why you came up with the plan to seize the supplies? In that case, let me ask you… With such a haphazardly planned operation, how do you envision your success?”

Dietrich was left speechless by Ambrosius’s inquiry. After all, Dietrich knew best the sheer folly of such an operation.

At Dietrich’s silence, Ambrosius simply let out a disappointed scoff before turning to the rest of the crowd.

“As knight runners, if you are going to strike, aim only for victory! Remember, amat victoria curam! How disappointing it was to see you all lacking an understanding of proper logistics…”

“Yes, Your Majesty is absolutely correct-… Huh? Y-Your Majesty?”

Expecting a stern refusal, Dietrich looked up at Ambrosius in surprise. Before him, Ambrosius revealed a mischievous smile reminiscent of his grandson Emrys, or rather, it should be more appropriate to say that his grandson resembled him instead.

“Listen up, our knight runners! You will soon go on the offensive in the Bocuse infested with Demon Beasts, against an unprecedented foe. We had only done a preliminary survey of the Bocuse and therefore still blind to many of its dangers. However, what we do know is that there exist Demon Beasts who could bring even the Ikaruga down, so don’t expect an easy win without adequate preparation!” Ambrosius declared before turning to the shocked faces of Boss, Edgar, Helvi, and Dietrich, “We presume you four are the mastermind behind this operation?”

Ambrosius slowly made his way to the four before sitting down on the ground. The appearance of the monarch himself sitting on the ground was a surprise to all. Ambrosius, however, did not seem to mind the attention.

“Everyone, sit down as you will. It’s time for us to give you lot a proper lesson… As long as you plan to commit to this operation, then, irrespective of your numbers, you are all warriors. Aren’t you all planning to bring back that silly boy?” Ambrosius ranted to the dazed crowd.

“No matter what happens, no matter the difficulty, those who does not take the first step will never succeed. Although such may be the case, you are all still too naive. Let this old man teach you all a thing or two.”

With that said, Dietrich exchanged a glance with Edgar before the two of them knelt down before Ambrosius.

“Yes, Your Majesty.”

“Hahaha… The battle against the Demon Beasts of Bocuse will be a magnificent one. We’re jealous! If only we’re a decade younger, then we would definitely sign up as the vanguard of the offensive.”

“Your Majesty does not intend to stop us?” Dietrich and Edgar inquired almost simultaneously.

“Hahaha! Hot-headedness is the privilege of the young. Not to mention, we have no desire to overrule the authority of His Majesty. As for you lot… To charge into Chateau Schreiber and openly challenge His Majesty… A bunch of idiots, we say! Do you all know how much of a headache your actions have caused for His Majesty and harmed the stability of the kingdom?!”

“Yes, we are deeply remorseful for our actions. It’s just that…”

Both Dietrich and Edgar were at a loss for words. Ambrosius simply waved them off before pulling out a document from his coat.

“We understand your intentions. However, we hope that you could also understand the dilemma that His Majesty faced. For the monarch of a whole kingdom, every decision has to be carefully scrutinized lest it has far resounding consequences. As such, a monarch simply could not act on impulse nor permit whimsical behavior. Moreover, do you honestly think His Majesty has no plans of his own?”

After signaling for permission, the two picked up the documents. At first glance, Dietrich and Edgar were completely amazed by the details.

“This is the outline for a second Bocuse Expedition?”

“Only a few are privy to this information. While His Majesty could not simply abandon Ernesti, the disappointing results of the First Bocuse Expedition have dampened the enthusiasm of many supporters. However, you should also not underestimate the kingdom’s zeal toward Bocuse. It’s not something that would simply dissipate with a single failed expedition.”

“It is my fault for not sensing His Majesty’s true intentions.” Dietrich confessed to Ambrosius while the latter stroked his beard, “Although, with the urgency of the situation, I doubt we have the patience to wait for the enthusiasm to recover naturally.”

Ambrosius sensed an unrelenting stubbornness in Dietrich’s words before revealing a wry smile.

“Did we not tell you to cool your heads? Much time had already passed since the time the Violet Swallow Knights returned to Fremmevira, so this sense of urgency is inappropriate.”

Two months had already passed since the day Ernesti fell into the Bocuse. As such, a day or two would not make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things. Rather than haphazardly set off on the expedition, it would be more prudent to take the extra moment to plan everything out.

“Both humans and Silhouette Knights alike take a huge amount of supply to feed and maintain. Once again, amat victoria curam. If you hope for victory, you must not skimp on the logistics! We sincerely hope that you will adequately prepare for the long journey ahead.” Ambrosius preached as a smile floated upon his face.

It was the same face that was once said to contain the ferociousness of a lion.

“Needless to say, no one could deny Ernesti’s importance for the future of the kingdom, and we must do everything we can to ensure his safe return. However, all of you are also indispensable talents for the Kingdom of Fremmevira – talents that our kingdom cannot afford to lose. Not to mention, the obstacles this time are not something that could be simply overcome with a haphazard expedition.”

With that said, Ambrosius’s expression softened slightly.

“To attain our objectives, no amount of preparation is excessive. As for supplies, we recommend you to seek out those with resources and humbly ask for their assistance. Ernesti may be whimsical and egoistical, but even we cannot deny his ability as a dealmaker.”

Ernesti was a visionary, but also highly peculiar. Beyond topics that pertain to his personal interests, he would rarely care for anything else. Incidentally, to achieve his ends, he would spare no effort at convincing the opposing party, frequently overwhelming them with his sheer passion. Sadly, other than Ernesti, no one else within the Silver Phoenix Knights would remain undaunted at the prospect of negotiating with the high aristocracy.

“Y-yes… We have now realized a new facet of our Knight Commander.”

“We had originally planned to set aside some time for a proper lesson… However, time is of the essence, right?” Ambrosius joked as he turned to an old man behind him.

The old man emerged from a Silhouette Knight that accompanied Gilbatiga. He slowly made his way in front of Ambrosius before kneeling. At that moment, mixed chatter started among the Silver Phoenix Knights, as many had recognized the new arrival.

“D-Duke…Dixgard…?”

The now-retired Duke Knut Dixgard rose up again and turned to the restless crowd.

“When His Majesty retired, I had also passed the Duchy onto my son and heir. As of now, I am just a simple old man.”

Yet, Knut spoke with an intimidating air, without the slightest dullness of old age. If anything, his words had a certain sharpness that easily cut through the crowd.

“Just as His Majesty had said, the loss of Ernesti had greatly set back our ambitions for Bocuse. Personally, I believe the expedition was done with good intent, just executed a tad to prematurely.” Duke Dixgard stipulated, with little difference from Ambrosius’s own thoughts, “Now, onto the matter at hand… Ernesti is indispensable for the future ambitions of the kingdom, so you must bring him back. As for the supplies, just leave them to me. After all, I still have an agreement with him since ‘that day’.”

Dietrich, Edgar, Helvi, and to a lesser extent, Boss, all revealed a dumbfounded expression at Knut’s statement. Only after a long time did the four return a passive nod.

“…Do Your Grace also believe Ernesti to be alive?”

“I simply do not think he would die from something like this. Trashed his Silhouette Knight? Fell into the Bocuse? So what? He is someone who will find a way to live even if he has to consume the blood of Demon Beasts.”

Although the words were a tad blunt, it was not a scene too absurd for the Silver Phoenix Knights to imagine, and many nodded in agreement.

Ikaruga was the projection of Ernesti’s strength and was undeniably a powerful weapon. However, it was not Ernesti’s only weapon. Ernesti’s true strength came from the dauntless will that drives his petite body. Everyone understood what would happen if such a force of nature was channeled toward a goal.

At that moment, another man appeared from behind Duke Knut.

“Although my strength is meager, let me offer you my assistance as well.”

“Even Marquis Serrati is here.”

Marquis Joachim Serrati ruled a large and fertile march bordering the Bocuse that supplied the kingdom with much of its grains, for which he was known as the ‘breadbasket of Fremmevira’. Due to its proximity to the Bocuse, the House of Serrati had always leaned heavily toward the conservative faction.

“I owe him some favors, so it is always nice to repay him a bit. Not to mention… there is someone that I must rescue.”

Incidentally, Marquis Serrati also had another, more personal reason, for supporting the second Bocuse expedition.

As it happened, Adeltrud was lost alongside Ernesti during the initial expedition. Within the Knight Order, few knew of the relationship between her and the House of Serrati. As such, most were left scratching their heads at Marquis Serrati’s statement. Regardless of the reason, no one would think to refuse help at such a moment.

With the endorsement of wealthy patrons, the Silver Phoenix Knights were left in jubilation.

“Silver Phoenix Knights.” Ambrosius stated, “We understand your reasons for war, but never forget that you are facing against Bocuse. Before you are knight runners, remember that you are all warriors. Value your lives and do your utmost to survive. Before you clinch your final victory and bring him back from Bocuse, you must not let yourself fall. Consider this our final advice.”

Dietrich and the rest of the Silver Phoenix Knights all nodded in unison.

With the logistics settled, the Silver Phoenix Knights once again returned to the preparation for the expedition into Bocuse.

◆ ◆ ◆

Not long since that day, a large fleet had emerged around Fort Olvecius.

With the backing of the Duke Dixgard and the Marquis Serrati, the second Bocuse expedition was able to amass supplies rivaling that of the first expedition. Almost the entire stockpile within Fort Olvecius had been emptied onto the Izumo, filling the flagship to its maximum capacity. Furthermore, the expedition was able to garner an impressive military contingent, comprised of three Silver Phoenix Knights companies and two additional Wind Knight companies on loan from the two aristocratic houses. Effectively, the second Bocuse expeditionary fleet could be described as an aerial Silver Phoenix Knight stronghold.

“…I didn’t expect that you guys are also coming along the expedition.”

Dietrich was astonished by the familiar face within the newly arrived contingent of knight runners. As it happened, Ambrosius had brought the Blue Hawk Knights with him.

“We have received ample training with the Wind Knights, and we definitely won’t be a burden to the expedition.” Nora Frykberg asserted on behalf of the Blue Hawk Knights.

The Blue Hawk Knights served as the eyes and ears of the reigning monarch. Given the very nature of their covert operations, the Blue Hawk Knights deemed the new Wind Knights indispensable to their future success at a very early stage of development. As such, they were afforded the first opportunity to familiarize themselves with the Wind Knights.

“Don’t act so unfamiliar. We are comrades who fought alongside one another in Kuscheperca. How could I possibly doubt your ability?”

During the Kuscheperca campaign, Dietrich had infiltrated the Tetraspides Fortresses alongside the Blue Hawk Knights. While they were far from the quintessential ‘knight runners’, Dietrich happened to be familiar with their strengths. With the arrival of reliable allies, Dietrich gladly shook Nora’s hand.

As such, a new expeditionary fleet centered around the Silver Phoenix Knights had finally finished its formation.

With all preparations set, Ambrosius stood before the gathered knight runners in full battle attire.

The knight runners that stood before Ambrosius had all benefited from his ‘education’. On top of the confidence gained through countless battles, the knight runners’ faces all shone with a tenacious determination.

“Silver Phoenix Knights, depart! Bring that willful brat back!” Ambrosius ordered with a satisfactory nod.

“””Understood!”””

At that moment, the Silver Phoenix Knights finally took to the skies, with countless more supporting their back. Their destination was Bocuse, the Sea of Trees.

Within their hearts, the Silver Phoenix Knights all believed that Ernesti and Adeltrud were safe, and they departed with the expressed purpose of bringing the two of them back.

Despite the dangers and obstacles that stood in their way, the Silver Phoenix Knights showed not the slightest fear. With the Izumo at the vanguard, the second Bocuse expeditionary fleet steadily sailed forward.

TL/N: Just for the record, no one cared enough about the poor guy who got melted by the insectoid Demon Beasts to inform his parents…

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V06 Chapter 53: The Poisonous Demon Beasts

TL/N: Uhh… Yeap, its finally out… cleaning up the redundancy in phrasing took a lot longer than I expected. Did I ever mention that I hated how the battle sequences are written?


Translator: Huapollon

The fleet continued its slow advance high above Bocuse, Sea of Trees.

After the sudden attack by unknown Demon Beasts, the entire fleet remained on high alert.

They did not let the slightest anomaly out of their sights. Thanks to their vigilance, the few threats they had encountered were all perfectly avoided.

Even in combat, there were few Demon Beasts that could survive the onslaught of two full companies of Wind Knights, a full contingent of Wizards, and the powerful Ikaruga. As it happened, the hives of Demon Beasts they had previously encountered were nothing more than an outlier.

Since their initial entry into the Bocuse, two months have passed relatively uneventfully.

“The map has been expanded considerably…”

“Although we had a few scares along the way, our expedition has overall been quite successful. We now have enough details to design a few low-risk courses through the Bocuse.”

The two Knight Commanders stood over the cartography table. The ‘map’ had seen countless new additions, including the surrounding terrain and the course the expedition fleet had taken.

“The number of Demon Beasts encountered within the Bocuse seemed fewer than we’ve previously expected. While we are limited to aerial reconnaissance, we haven’t detected any powerful Demon Beasts.”

Division-class Demon Beasts were typically known for their massive size that could easily be seen from afar. As such, if they couldn’t spot any from the air, then it was not wrong to assume that division-class Demon Beasts were nowhere near.

“We still have ample supplies available. However, we should at least take the opportunity to decide on the extent of this expedition.”

“Yes. While distance may not be much for Levitate Ships, such a trip should be considerably more difficult for a terrestrial expedition. Even with the map, I doubt a second expedition could just follow the course without worry. As such, it is in my opinion that we should wrap up this expedition soon.”

After the exchange of thoughts, the two Knight Commanders set their course of action. As battles became few and far between, the initial anxiety of the crew gave way to calm. After months of staying airborne, the crew grew restless for the comfort of the land.

In the end, they had decided to return with the current progress. However, just as they were about to set their course for home, the unthinkable occurred.

◆ ◆ ◆

A flock of birds waded gently across the air, only to find a huge shadow approaching. They hastily evaded the object with a powerful flap of their wings.

The object cut its way through the clouds, passing by the birds as it advanced. The object was called a Levitate Ship, which could only be described as a ship that could fly in the sky. Specifically, it was the Bocuse Expedition Fleet led by the Izumo, the Wind Carrier under the command of the Kingdom of Fremmevira’s Silver Phoenix Knights. On top of the bridge of the Izumo, Ernesti looked out through the front window, as he absent-mindedly followed the flock of birds with his eyes.

“Full rudder to port! Look’s like the path ahead is ‘blocked’.”

Boss’s order echoed from the rear of the bridge as the crew hastily adjusted course. The frame of the ship groaned slightly as Batson turned the wheel, with the scene outside the window slowly turning. As the flock of birds moved out of sight, Eru let out a deep sigh as he turned his attention to the front.

Before the fleet was an imposing mountain range, stretching far into the clouds. Given the nature of the Etheric Levitator, the Levitate Ships would need to consume an exorbitant amount of fuel if it wished to fly over the peaks, enough to exhaust all the remaining fuel reserves.

As such, the fleet had to sail along the border of the mountain range for a navigable pass. Eru turned his gaze below, following up a small stream coursing down from the mountain.

“What a steep mountain range. I wonder how it compares with the Aubigne Mountains.”

“Likely more expansive than Aubigne Mountains, since I could not seem to make out the northern end.”

The mountains rose up like a natural barrier, reaching all the way to the horizon. Boss was likely correct in assuming this mountain range could rival the Aubigne Mountains.

“There is a small stream coming from the mountains, and the foothills seems relatively flat. If there weren’t any threats in the vicinity, the area could easily fit a second Kingdom of Fremmevira.”

“I think it is about time that we set our course for home. This would make for a great story to tell once we return.”

Having chanced upon a good site for future settlements, the cartographers carefully marked the site on their growing map.

The forward reconnaissance squad of Wind Knights was first to notice the anomaly. It started with a violent rustle of the woods below, as the monstrosity slowly ascended to meet Wind Knights.

“Is that a Demon Beast? It seems different from all the Demon Beasts that we’ve previously encountered!”

“Signal the Izumo, fast! It is at least a duel-class! Do not underestimate it!”

The Wind Knights immediately activated its signal lights while carefully observing the monstrosity. Seeing the lights, the fleet behind entered into a state of high alert.

“The shape… Is it an insect It is also quite large, enough to place it above a duel-class.”

The Demon Beast resembled a beetle, with a long protrusion on its face. It had its entire body covered by a shell, and thin membranous wings fluttered behind its thorax. Although it was only about the same size as a Wind Knight, the expedition conservatively assumed it to be at least above a duel-class Demon Beast. As the reconnaissance squad observed and made their report, the Demon Beast continue to ascend with a low hum.

“Note the horn. I doubt the Wind Knight could survive a thrust from that horn.”

“Got it. Also, is there only one? If so, we can simply take it out with our staff weapons.”

The Wind Knights remained vigilant of the surroundings. However, other than the approaching Demon Beast, they did not detect any other peculiarities. As such, the Wind Knights decided to use their staff weapons to launch a preventive strike, hoping to eliminate the threat in a single volley. They spread out from their tight formation and surrounded the insectoid Demon Beasts before unleashing a barrage from all directions.

As the shots approached the insectoid Demon Beast, its wings began to flutter with an even louder hum. Immediately, the insectoid Demon Beast displayed an almost uncharacteristic agility, easily dodging all the incoming shots.

“This bastard…! Its movements are faster than we had assumed! We can’t hit it like this! Everyone, close the encirclement!”

The crew of the Izumo could see the shots fired from afar as the voice pipes transmitted updates to the bridge.

“Report, one Demon Beast! The reconnaissance squad shall attempt to eliminate it!”

“Just in case, have all knight runners be on standby in the Wind Knights and ready for immediate launch. Since we are not familiar with this Demon Beast, have the remaining Wind Knights on picket duty stay vigilant of the surroundings.”

As Eru issued orders on the bridge, he wondered whether he should head out in the Ikaruga. The number of threats was few, so Eru believed the reconnaissance squad alone should be able to handle it. Not to mention, if Eru launched in the Ikaruga, the current command structure would undoubtedly be affected.

At that moment, the observers let out a dejected gasp.

“W-what…! H-how could it be?!”

“What is it? Let me see.”

Eru took over the telescope and turned to the battlefield ahead. Simply put, it was the worst possible scenario.

Although the reconnaissance squad had successfully encircled the insectoid Demon Beast, they still weren’t able to defeat it. The insectoid Demon Beast was simply too nimble and strafed in all directions, making it nearly impossible for the Wind Knights to land a solid hit. Soon, one of the knight runners became completely fed up with the fruitless chase.

“We won’t be able to hit it with shots! I will head in for a lance charge, cover me!”

“Don’t approach! That bastard has a horn! You can’t assume that it’s a pushover in melee!” The squad commander warned, but the knight runner had already begun its acceleration.

“Still better than having all our shots miss. If the situation takes a turn for the worse, I will simply withdraw!”

“Ugh, fine. All units, suppressive fire! Seal its movements!”

The lone Wind Knight charged ahead, rapidly closing in for a strike, while other Wind Knights laid down a hail of shots. Although the Demon Beast easily dodged the shots, they still served to restrict its movements. Predicting the Demon Beast’s most likely dodge, the lone Wind Knight readied its lance.

Unexpectedly, the insectoid Demon Beast did not attempt to dodge. Rather, it unfurled its legs and pointed them at the approaching Wind Knight as a suspicious fluid began to ooze out. As it formed the fluid into a compact sphere, the insectoid Demon Beast started to prepare a wind spell, proving that it had abilities beyond mere flight.

Once the wind magic fully enveloped the sphere, it was launched toward the Wind Knight. While the Wind Knight planned to dodge, the sphere ‘detonated’ just as it was about to make contact. The fluid within the sphere vaporized into a white gas and, rapidly expanding in all direction, enveloped the Wind Knight completely.

“What is this? Can it be a smoke… b-bomb… Ugh? cough…”

The gas was taken in by the Wind Knights air intake and soon filled the entire interior. The Wind Knights had many modifications to ensure flight, one of which was the air intake that maintained breathable air for the pilots. At that moment, the pilot of the lone Wind Knight was sitting in a chamber awash with white.

Before long, the pilot began to vomit large volumes of blood onto the controls. His eyes became upturned as his whole body shook violently. The gas was a powerful ‘poison’ made from the bodily fluid of the insectoid Demon Beast. Given its habitat, the poison certainly wasn’t designed for the weak constitution of a human. As such, after just a few more shakes, the knight runner took his last breath.

Without its knight runner, the Wind Knight ceased all function and floated helplessly to the wind.

Yet, the effects were not limited to only the knight runner.

Nearby survivors of the reconnaissance squad saw the Wind Knight’s external armor began to bubble and twist. The gas rapidly ate into the entire frame – first the external armor, and then the strand crystals. Eventually, what remained of the Wind Knight disintegrated as pieces fell toward the ground.

Eru stood on the Izumo’s bridge and observed the entire process before lowering the telescope with his trembling hands. Between the Demon Beast’s shot and the demise of the Wind Knight, Eru could easily hypothesize the nature of the attack.

“That Demon Beast… its ability is to shoot out a highly volatile and corrosive bomb…!”

Eru’s words brought a wave of silence on the bridge.

In the air, there was simply no natural defense against an attack that could turn the surrounding space into a deadly corrosive cloud. If the insectoid Demon Beast turned to attack, even a single hit would spell doom.

Witnessing their own squadmate’s death had also greatly affected the surviving members of the reconnaissance squad. Although they were unsure if the knight runner died from the gas, they were certain that the knight runner had certainly perished when the entire Wind Knight crumbled to pieces. The death has spurred the reconnaissance squad forward.

“We must not let a single one approach the fleet! If it is that Demon Beast… even a single one may sink our entire expedition! We shall make our last stand here!”

“S-squad leader! L-look over there…!!”

The squad leader had already steeled himself for death. However, hearing his squadmate’s quivering voice, he turned toward the indicated direction. At that moment, he saw a scene that overwhelmed him with despair.

Behind the insectoid Demon Beast that they were chasing, more shadows appeared rising from the forest.

One, two, three… five… ten… and even more…

Countless insectoid Demon Beasts poured out from the foliage.

“T-this bastard… he is just a scout like us. Darn it! When we already have problems dealing with one of them… There’s no way this is just a duel-class threat anymore! This is a company-… no, a battalion-class threat!”

When a single insectoid Demon Beast could already outperform the entire reconnaissance squad, the squad leader could easily imagine how a fight against so many would end.

In the rear, the fleet was also shaken by the sudden appearance of the Demon Beast swarm. Faced with inaction, Eru took command and immediately proceeded to dissipate the chaos.

“All ships, turn around now! Withdraw from this area immediately!”

“We’re trying! But those Demon Beasts are fast… Think we can escape unscathed?”

“We won’t… if we leave it like this!” Eru responded with a voice tinged with anxiety before turning to the voice pipes, “All Wind Knights, launch immediately! We will be marooned if we lose our ships! Fight with everything you have!”

After giving his orders, Eru dashed out from the bridge and headed straight to the hanger. The moment he arrived in the hanger, he boarded the Ikaruga.

At the rear cargo bay door of the Izumo, the Wind Knights launched one after another. Eru himself seemed impatient as he headed out from the aft door.

“Other than those on picketing duty, all Wind Knights should attach themselves to the exterior of the Levitate Ships!” Eru ordered, using Ikaruga’s speakers on the maximum setting.

“Knight Commander Echevalier! What are you planning?!”

“We will replicate the trick used by the hive Demon Beasts! Have the Wind Knights assist the Levitate Ships’ acceleration! If we rely only on the blow engines, we won’t escape in time!”

“However, won’t that impede our defense? Who will be able to guard against those insectoid Demon Beasts?!”

“Don’t worry, leave that to me and Ikaruga!”

With that said, a loud rumbling came from the Ikaruga as its twin Ether Reactors began to churn, spitting out a massive amount of mana to feed its plumes of flame. With all six of its arms holding Sword Cannons, the Demon King launched into combat.

Syrphrine caught the Ikaruga right before its final acceleration.

“Eru! Let me go with you!”

“Addy, as the expedition’s final line of defense, I’ll leave you to clean up any Demon Beasts that sneaks past me.”

“Wait! Eru, why…”

Without waiting for Addy’s response, Ikaruga shot out toward the Demon Beasts. With its superior thrusters and twin Ether Reactors, Ikaruga immediately opened a large gap between it and Syrphrine. Far behind, Addy could only helplessly watch as Ikaruga pulled away.

“Seriously! Why must you be this selfish every single time?! Hmph! Wind Knights, start pushing the Levitate Ships! If any Demon Beasts approach, use your Staff Weapon to screen them away!”

Incidentally, Eru’s decision to not bring Addy wasn’t all due to selfishness. Rather, from what he had observed earlier, Eru has realized that the Wind Knights suffered from an important design flaw when fighting against the insectoid Demon Beasts.

“With an attack that could corrode a Silhouette Knight, the Wind Knight’s lack of a powerful ranged attack would easily prove fatal.”

Between the rumbling of the Ether Reactors and the bellowing of the Flame Propulsion System, Ikaruga approached the insectoid Demon Beasts at a speed close to a Staff Weapon shot.

“These Demon Beasts… I’ll bury them with Ikaruga!”

Ikaruga readied its six Sword Cannons as it brushed by the withdrawing reconnaissance group. Eru focused the Sword Cannons on the leading insectoid Demon Beast.

The Demon Beast was hovering in a cloud of its own corrosive juice while being completely immune to its effects. At the right moment, Ikaruga fired it powerful shots at the center of the cloud, piercing the Demon Beast’s carapace and blowing away the surrounding gas. However, as the Demon Beast disintegrated, a huge amount of corrosive gas poured out from its flesh, instantly saturating the entire region.

“Even in death, it remains a pain…!”

Ikaruga swiftly changed its thrusters and circled around the massive amount of corrosive gas in front of it, all the while firing at the remaining Demon Beasts.

The remaining insectoid Demon Beasts, seeing their brethren blown to pieces, instinctively sensed the danger posed by Ikaruga’s Sword Cannons. They hastily attempted to circumvent the Ikaruga, but let out an anxious flutter as they realized that they were cut off from their prey.

“You shall not pass…”

Ikaruga stood firm before the swarm. Its thrusters bellowed out flames in all direction as it stared intensively at the Demon Beasts.

From the scene captured by the crystal eyes, Eru had carefully observed the insectoid Demon Beast in detail and soon chanced upon a curious finding. Behind the vibrating wings, the Demon Beasts seemed to have another wing that glowed brilliantly in changing colors.

“That light… So these insectoid Demon Beasts also rely on Ether to fly. Would that explain its flight? If so, then I am certain my Ikaruga is superior.”

Without using an Etheric Levitator, Ikaruga relied completely on its magius thrusters to fly. Although it did cost an incredible amount of mana, the magius thrusters provided Ikaruga with freedom of movement unrivaled by mere Etheric Levitator. As such, compared to the two-dimensional movement of the insectoid Demon Beasts, Ikaruga should easily outclass it in terms of agility.

At that moment, the insectoid Demon Beasts began to launch fluid bombs. As before, the spheres exploded midair, creating a wall of white gas between the Ikaruga and the Demon Beasts.

“Trying to prevent my approach? Useless! My Sword Cannons could easily shoot through the clouds!”

Ikaruga raised its Sword Cannons and turned them toward the shadows tucked away in the white clouds. However, relying on its naturally high agility, the insectoid Demon Beasts simply dodged the shots.

“They are more agile than a Wind Knights and very dangerous in close quarters… How problematic.”

Although Eru had already made quite a few shots, the insectoid Demon Beasts had easily dodged all of them. The cloud also had little intention of dissipating, forcing Eru to remain at a distance. Without much alternatives available, Eru was forced into a problematic stalemate. Soon, a nagging question arose in Eru’s mind.

“Weird, why haven’t they approached? While I am only here to delay their approach, they should not need to do the same, especially with those effective attacks of theirs.”

While the corrosive clouds prevented Ikaruga from approaching, the Demon Beasts had no reason to remain within the clouds themselves. Eru certainly wouldn’t simply approach the could haphazardly. Just as Eru was confounded by the insectoid Demon Beasts’ action, a terrible premonition flashed across his mind.

“Could they be… Impossible, how?!”

With his eyes opened wide in surprise, Eru had the Ikaruga quickly turn around. Its crystal eyes soon caught sight of his worst nightmare.

Three insectoid Demon Beasts had long ignored Ikaruga and headed straight toward the fleet. To prevent their attack on the fleet, the Wind Knights and Wizards had long entered into a precarious situation.

Eru shuddered as he turned to the corrosive gas surrounding him.

“…It is neither an attack nor a defense, but a mere distraction! The insectoid Demon Beasts here are all mere bait! To think Demon Beasts would know tactics!”

In all the battles between humans and Demon Beasts, the Demon Beasts were known for their lack of tactical maneuvers. Although there were some Demon Beasts with leadership qualities, they had never demonstrated the intelligence to perform complex tactics like ‘Deploying smoke, leave bait, then circle around the threat’. As such, Eru had never imagined the possibility revealed before his eyes, or rather, it was a possibility no veteran knight runner could ever imagine.

“I was had!”

Neither the Wind Knight nor the Wizards had any real means to counter the corrosive cloud. However, even though they knew they had fallen into the Demon Beasts’ ploy, they were left with few alternatives but to fight with their lives on the line.

◆ ◆ ◆

The fleet launched a blanket of shots in an attempt to screen away the insectoid Demon Beasts. The Wind Knights were unable to enter into melee in fear of the corrosive bombs. Yet, allowing them to approach would spell doom for the Levitate Ships. As such, without any real counter to the Demon Beasts, the Wind Knights were forced to take the unfavorable fight.

“Darn it, can’t we move any faster?! At this rate, they will definitely catch up!”

“Don’t give up, just keep firing at them! Let them know with our shots that approaching is suicide!”

The fleet’s overwhelming firepower had some positive effects. For the three insectoid Demon Beasts, a stray shot could still inflict considerable damage. Therefore, they remained largely outside of the effective range of their own corrosive bombs.

However, the Demon Beasts suddenly altered their tactics. Instead of a straightforward approach, they pulled back slightly before accelerating to the side of the fleet.

“Not good, they are planning to circle around to the front!”

A few Wind Knights immediately detached from the Levitate Ship to intercept. Due to the risk of the corrosive bomb, they could not risk too brazen an approach and were soon thrown off the Demon Beasts’ tail. At that moment, the Demon Beasts launched a few corrosive bombs ahead of the escaping fleet.

“They have cut off our retreat! Change course! We can’t risk running into the cloud!”

“Take out those Demon Beasts now! We can’t risk another intercepting shot!” Batson shouted in panic as he turned the wheel.

The fleet scrambled to avoid the bursts of clouds. The fleet’s survival seemed incredibly slim now that the initiative was lost.

The insectoid Demon Beasts seemed to be smirking at the scrambling Levitate Ships and their fruitless struggle. Despite the Wind Knights’ best efforts, the massive Levitate Ships were not exceptionally nimble, and it took everything they had just to avoid the clouds.

Hoping to secure their escape, the Wind Knights continued to blanket the sky with shots. However, their efforts failed to translate into results, and, as the corrosive cloud continued to expand, the remaining routes were soon blocked off.

“Darn it! We will end up running into clouds no matter what direction we sail!”

With the blockade complete, the atmosphere aboard was incredibly heavy as a wave of despair washed over the crew.

Piloting the Syrphrine, Addy carefully observed the motion of the corrosive clouds. Interestingly, far from stationary, the clouds were actually slowly shifting.

“Don’t give up! Look closely, the corrosive cloud is descending. Since the cloud is heavier than air, we could definitely escape from above! Levitate Ships, maximize the Etheric Levitator’s output and run the blockade!” Addy declared after noticing the motion of the clouds.

Every Levitate Ship grasped for the single strand of hope as their Etheric Levitator hummed with activity, increasing the Ether concentration.

Sadly, before they managed to ascend, the insectoid Demon Beasts had already pierced through the clouds. As they had used the corrosive clouds to entrap their prey, they certainly wouldn’t let their prey escape without a fight.

“Fire Staff Weapons! Ascend, come on! If this keeps on…”

As before, the Levitate Ships attempted to screen away the Demon Beast with shots. However, the panicking Wind Knights’ disorganized shots were ineffective at limiting the movement of the nimble Demon Beasts.

Faced with certain doom, Lafal called for action.

“Wind Knights, let us delay the Demon Beasts! We can’t let them touch the ships!” Lafal announced as he sent a signal to charge the Demon Beasts.

The squad under his direct command took up the call to arms as they lunged toward the Demon Beasts with their lance. Although the numbers were equal, the unique characteristic of the Demon Beasts’ attack meant that approach was essentially suicidal. Even then, Lafal’s squad remained resolute.

He is… not the only defender of the fleet!”

Lafal gave a quick glance to a distant place, to which his mind conjured up its heroic visage. In a split second, the magius thrusters shot out flames to close the distance as the squad laid down a continuous fire.

The insectoid Demon Beast beat its wings as it dodged the shots. At the same time, it prepared its corrosive bombs to greet the incoming attackers.

“Everyone, disperse! Evade the shots!”

The Wind Knights forcibly changed their flight while feeling the corrosive cloud on their backs. Surviving the bomb, the squad then turned to engage the Demon Beasts once more. On the other hand, the Demon Beasts seemed to have laughed at their pointless efforts and simply flew straight through the corrosive cloud as they continued their way toward the fleet.

“You won’t get away! I still have one more trick up my sleeves!”

Lafal discarded his lance and Staff Weapons, to the surprise of all his squadmates, and accelerated toward the insectoid Demon Beast with the now unencumbered Wind KNight. As he rapidly closed the distance between the two, Lafal released his controls.

“…Instructor, I shall leave the rest to you!”

Below Lafal’s Touediane, the Multiple Javelin Launcher System turned toward the Demon Beast and fired one after another. Lafal focused all his concentration on the guidance of the Javelins, without any hesitation or evasion, all in order to score a hit.

The Demon Beasts had sensed the approaching Javelins and attempted to evade. However, the Silver Nerve-guided Javelins could not be easily thrown off their scent. Faced with imminent impact, the Demon Beasts sprayed the corrosive fluid from his legs and created a defensive cloud.

As the Magic Javelins entered the cloud, the Javelin itself was able to resist some of the initial corrosion, but the Silver Nerve quickly dissolved. With the magic supply and navigation cut off, the Javelins fell harmlessly from the sky.

“H-how… Even the Javelins won’t work? What the hell are we to do with these Demon Beasts?!”

The Demon Beasts simply disregarded the helpless Lafal and continued their approach on the fleet as their leg’s prepared their corrosive bomb. If they had the chance to fire on the fleet and spread more corrosive clouds, then both the Levitate Ships and the surrounding Wind Knights would all meet a pitiful end.

“How… Why! Someone, stop them!!”

Just as the Demon Beast was ready to fire, a single flaming shot from behind Lafal pierced its carapace and caused Demon Beast to explode, leaving only a massive corrosive cloud in its place.

Lafal reflexively turned to look at the source of the shot. From the monitor, what he saw was a Silhouette Knight bellowing flames.

“One down! Now, the next one!”

It was the Ikaruga. The surprise attack succeeded largely because Lafal had kept their focus. Without pause, Ikaruga fell a second Demon Beast with another shot.

“Next… Darn it, it’s too close!”

As Ikaruga raised its Sword Cannons toward the last Demon Beast, Eru could no longer afford to fire. In the time Eru had brought down two of the Demon Beasts, the last one had already flown too close to the fleet. If Ikaruga were to fire now, Eru could not imagine the damage wrought upon the Levitate Ships and the Wind Knights by the corrosive cloud.

Faced with imminent danger, Eru pushed Ikaruga’s thrusters to the max as he slammed into the side of the remaining insectoid Demon Beast. While the force of impact had caused a crack in the carapace, no corrosive gas sprayed out. Eru knew that a Demon Beast this size were generally quite resistant to physical impact, and thus would not easily receive damage without the use of shots or weapon.

At that moment, Eru had taken advantage of the Demon Beast’s sturdiness and rammed it away from the fleet with its four powerful thrusters. After the Demon Beast was a fair distance away from the rest of the fleet, Eru shot at it with Sword Cannons. In a violent explosion, the final insectoid Demon Beast was destroyed.

“So that is Ikaruga, the Silver Phoenix Knights’ Knight Commander Silhouette Knight,” Lafal muttered after witnessing the Demon God’s overwhelming power against the threats he couldn’t even scratch.

Before the Kingdom of Fremmevira’s strongest Silhouette Knight, Lafal could not help but feel an intimidating chill.

With the three insectoid Demon Beasts eliminated, the fleet finished ascending to its desired altitude and continued its retreat. As Eru finally let out a sigh of relief, Syrphrine pulled up next to Ikaruga.

“Eru, it’s time to leave. Let’s make a run for it!”

“Can’t do that, Addy. Look, the insectoid Demon Beasts still haven’t given up its chase. I doubt they would easily let us off…”

Since the moment Ikaruga had escaped from the insectoid Demon Beasts’ trap, the remaining Demon Beasts continued to follow Ikaruga. With its bright wing glittering in the back, the remaining Demon Beasts accelerated toward the fleet.

“Addy, I will leave the command of the Wind Knights to you. In the meantime, I will take care of the Demon Beasts myself!”

“Eru! Must you really ditch me again…?!”

Ikaruga accelerated once more toward the Demon Beasts before Addy could finish her sentence.

◆ ◆ ◆

“How dare you trick me!”

Ikaruga fired upon the approaching insectoid Demon Beasts with a barrage of shots in order to stop their advance. Surprisingly, the Demon Beasts took the battle against Ikaruga rather than advancing on the fleet.

“Hahaha~ Now this is better. Come and let us have a wonderful dance!”

The insectoid Demon Beast seemed to have also realized the threat posed by the powerful and agile Ikaruga. As such, they had deemed the defeat of Ikaruga as their main priority.

“Sadly, I doubt I will be able to return to the fleet after this battle. Well, whatever…”

Eru used his flame shots to disrupt the Demon Beasts’ attempted encirclement and their corrosive clouds. Regardless of Ikaruga’s strength, it was still susceptible to the Demon Beasts’ powerful corrosive clouds. Yet, despite slowly being forced into a corner, Ikaruga did not display the slightest fear or despair.

“Don’t be mistaken, you are the one who is trapped here.”

Instead, Eru’s eyes revealed an incredible rage, a rage that had even surpassed the intensity of its flaming shots.

“Demon Beasts who uses corrosive fluids… You are the greatest enemy of my beloved Silhouette Knights…”

The Silhouette Knight otaku, Ernesti, could not bear with the existence of such Demon Beasts.

“…And by extension, you are my greatest enemy! How could I possibly let any of you live in my ideal world?!”

Both the Emperor’s Heart and Empress’s Coronet began to run at maximum capacity as Ikaruga let out a blood-curdling roar. The battle for survival commenced.

◆ ◆ ◆

Ikaruga stood in the sky with the expedition fleet to his back. Nearby, the insectoid Demon Beasts surrounded the Ikaruga, as their wings beat at a numbing frequency. Neither seemed to act in this calm before the storm.

“Very well, let us do this Ikaruga! Let us annihilate these enemies!”

The magius thrusters hummed in anticipation as the insectoid Demon Beasts started their attack. It was a coordinated strike from two directions, a classic pincer maneuver.

As they approached, all the Demon Beasts launched their corrosive bombs at the Ikaruga. The fluid could be vaporized into a gaseous form that acted as a poison and ate away at a Silhouette Knight. Even the Ikaruga would not easily survive for long in such a caustic environment.

Yet, Ikaruga would not take the attack standing still. With a powerful burst of its thrusters, Ikaruga shot up and avoided the exploding bombs, before unleashing a barrage of shots at the insectoid Demon Beasts below.

The burning shots cut through the white clouds, but the insectoid Demon Beasts had long moved away. The insectoid Demon Beasts were blessed with a naturally strong agility that rivaled even the Wind Knights.

As Ikaruga exchanged fire with the closer Demon Beasts, the ones further away also crept nearer. On top of the advantage in numbers, the Demon Beasts had a second unique advantage.

“As I had expected, these Demon Beasts really are working together. Their movement demonstrated strong teamwork. Yet, to think even the simplest of group tactics would prove this difficult for me to overcome…”

Eru could not let himself be surrounded. Using a combination of thrusters and shots, Eru sought to contain the Demon Beasts’ movements.

Given the distance, Eru could not hope to land a hit. Yet, if this were to keep up, the surrounding area would end up saturated with corrosive clouds.

“Their extinction is certain… but if I don’t find a way to disrupt their teamwork, I won’t have an easy time making it happen… Ugh!”

One of the Demon Beasts fired a corrosive bomb straight up at Ikaruga. Yet, the bomb did not explode until it had reached high above Ikaruga.

“Trying to limit my upward mobility?”

The corrosive cloud spread out like an umbrella before slowly drifting downward. To avoid the corrosive cloud, Ikaruga rapidly turned its thrusters downward, directly into the insectoid Demon Beasts laying in wait below with their corrosive bombs.

Faced with incoming bombs, Eru pushed the thrusters in a sudden burst of acceleration. With Sword Cannons in hand, Ikaruga flew ahead of the exploding bombs and passed by the Demon Beasts.

At that moment, a few flaming shots pierced through the head of the Demon Beast, followed by a large explosion. As chunks of Demon Beast flesh fell from the sky, the remains reacted with the air and created a large cloud of corrosive gas, yet not before the Ikaruga successfully flew out from the encirclement.

“Since the Demon Beasts have some semblance of tactics, it would be better if I took the initiative… Hmm?”

At that moment, Eru had noticed a suspicious shadow on his monitor. Due to Ikaruga’s acceleration, all Demon Beasts should’ve been behind him. Yet, the Demon Beast appeared right in front of him, meaning that it did not join the attack at all.

Eru was not surprised at the presence of the Demon Beast, but rather at its appearance that did not resemble the others he had fought. This Demon Beast was slightly larger, with a light red carapace. It had many more wings on its back and a large protruding thorax that glowed in a mysterious golden hue.

Its pair of compound eyes glared at Ikaruga as it let out a screeching sounds that cut across the air.

Immediately, the insectoid Demon Beasts behind Ikaruga changed formation. Rather than coming at him in a single group, the Demon Beasts split in two and launched bombs on the sides of Ikaruga.

Seeing his sides cut off by corrosive clouds, Eru immediately realized their intentions.

“…I see. Trying to cut me off? Here I thought I had finally seen Demon Beasts with a semblance of tactics, to think they were just operating through a single mind…”

Eru had understood that the larger insectoid Demon Beast before him was the ‘Mind’ of the group.

“In that case, your very existence is a weakness!”

Eru pushed the Ikaruga to advance, believing that if he could eliminate the brain of the Demon Beasts, the rest of the Demon Beasts would lose their coordination, leaving them to be easy pickings. Although the corrosive clouds still proved to be an issue, the Demon Beasts would not be a problem for the powerful Ikaruga.

The red Demon Beast uncurled its legs at the approaching Ikaruga and secreted its corrosive fluids. It then opened its jaws and let out a slight screech. Accompanied by the faint glow of magic, the surrounding air began to gather and swirl.

The red Demon Beast’s magic appeared not to be preparing for flight, but rather to set the corrosive gas into a twister. Soon, a corrosive tornado formed before Ikaruga, threatening to dissolve all matter it touches. At the center of the tornado, the Demon Beast glared intentively at its prey.

“Impressive! So the leader of the swarm also happens to be the strongest!”

Surrounded by corrosive clouds on all sides and an approaching tornado to the front, Ikaruga had no obvious path of escape. Yet, with a single burst of thrusters, Ikaruga went into action.

As the flames shot up into the air, Ikaruga sped his way downward by the pull of gravity. While the corrosive clouds were heavier than air, its descent wasn’t particularly fast. As such, Ikaruga was able to take advantage of its higher speed and drew an arc between the bottom edge of the clouds and the approaching tornado.

However, the Demon Beasts would not let him escape so easily. With a loud buzz, the Demon Beasts returned to the chase.

“Although I wanted to knock out the leader first, I doubt I could ignore these Demon Beasts for long…”

Ikaruga and the Demon Beasts continued to exchange shots as they flew. Soon, the entire sky was blanketed by patches of corrosive clouds and fire.

In the meantime, the red Demon Beast made some distance from Ikaruga to command its swarm from afar. With a piercing gaze that did not let past the slightest detail, the red Demon Beast would change its sound and the insectoid Demon Beasts would adjust accordingly.  As Eru had expected, a Demon Beast with the intelligence for ‘tactics’ proved to be a difficult challenge even for the battle-hardened Ikaruga.

Eru shot down another Demon Beast that flew through the cloud, yet his face did not show any signs of relief. Even with all the might of the Ikaruga, Eru still could not reliably eliminate the Demon Beasts. After all, despite their limited and ever-decreasing number, the Demon Beasts would always adopt the best possible formation for the situation.

“Ugh, so my only option is to slowly whittle down the numbers… Hiya!”

The insectoid demon beasts launched another wave of corrosive bombs, intending to saturate the area with corrosive clouds. Responding to their attack, Ikaruga had to immediately pull into a pirouette and use its magius thrusters to push away the approaching white clouds.

“I doubt I could solve this by dodging. It’s quite the troublesome attack, but I believe they should have a limit to their body fluids…”

Eru’s words slowly faded out as he had realized another anomaly that appeared on his monitor. The originally swiftly receding scenery was slowing down.

It didn’t take long for Eru to figure out the cause: The thrust provided by the magius thrusters were rapidly decreasing. Despite Eru’s best effort at avoiding the corrosive clouds, small particles still ended up inside the air intakes and ate away at the mithril plates within, eventually damaging the scripts.

The powerful thrusters that had kept the Ikaruga in the air were slowly being snuffed out. While the thrusters on the waist still supported minor adjustments, they could not compensate for the entire weight.

“Corrosive cloud… To think they would have such an effect without even coming in close contact. Although I did not underestimate the danger, I do have to say that I may have messed up.”

While Ikaruga had exceptional performance, it was also incredibly heavy with its immense repertoire of weapons and armor. A large number of thrusters proved to be the bare necessity to keep such a behemoth afloat.

With the slightest disturbance of the thruster’s outputs, the insectoid Demon Beasts soon caught up.

“Haa… I was wondering why they had attacked in waves, were they waiting for this opportunity? You think that you could win against me just because I am a bit slow? Don’t underestimate me!!”

Ikaruga raised its Sword Cannons and launched a barrage at the incoming Demon Beasts. As always, the insectoid Demon Beasts easily evaded the burning shots without the slightest decrease in speed. Perhaps sensing weakness in their opponent, the insectoid Demon Beast moved to deliver the finishing blow.

The Demon Beasts prepared their corrosive bombs for the final bombardment. Yet, at that moment, a single silver thread entered into the insectoid Demon Beast’s vision as a certain object pierced through its head. It was Rahu’s Fist, a guided attack that used the Silver Nerves.

Still reeling from the attack, the Demon Beast was then struck by a flame shot and exploded. Sadly, the attack had left Rahu’s Fist out of commission. The fragile Silver Nerves aside, the entire fist fell apart after coming into direct contact with the corrosive fluid. While the loss of Rahu’s Fist was an undeniable loss for Ikaruga, its sacrifice was not in vain.

“Perfect, you have another major weakness for me to exploit… The time delay between commands!”

Seeing their kin being struck down, the insectoid Demon Beasts were left in a momentary disarray. Eru did not let the opportunity slip and launched a massive barrage, blasting the remaining insectoid Demon Beast out from the sky.

With that, the skies regained its usual calm. The numbing sounds of the Demon Beasts’ beating wings were no more as the battered Ikaruga floated in the air.

“The fleet had already made some distance. Looks like… you are the only one left.”

Ikaruga turned to the large shadow behind the corrosive clouds. Although it had lost its swarm, the red Demon Beasts remained unshaken.

“My Rahu’s Fists gone, and I am left with just two Sword Cannons and two magius thrusters. I won’t be able to go all out like always, but…”

Ikaruga was littered with damage. Weapons aside, Ikaruga had already lost over half of its mobility. As such, Ikaruga could not remotely hope to reach its usual performance. Furthermore, the surroundings were still saturated with corrosive clouds, worsened by the recent deaths of Demon Beasts. With the vast spread of corrosive clouds between the Ikaruga and the red Demon Beast, even reaching the Demon Beast would prove to be an incredible challenge. Eru and Ikaruga had to fight the red Demon Beast under such unfavorable conditions.

At that moment, the red Demon Beast unleashed a sharp cry that pierced the air, seemingly laughing at the terrible state Ikaruga was in. After all, the red Demon Beast had some evidence of intelligence, so it probably understood the advantage it held.

Despite the unforgiving circumstances, Eru still charged ahead with its waist magius thrusters on maximum output, toward the slowly descending layer of corrosive clouds.

“Corrosive cloud is dangerous due to its gaseous nature, but it could also be exploited…”

Ikaruga raised both of its Sword Cannons and shot in tandem on a slight intercept angle. The two shot soon collided with one another and caused a massive explosion midair. Given that corrosive cloud was relatively light and that Ikaruga could channel more of its output toward the two weapons now that most of its thrusters were disabled, the force of the blast was strong enough to scatter away the surrounding corrosive cloud and create an opening.

After a few more shots, Ikaruga managed to carve a path through the corrosive clouds, straight to the red Demon Beast. Without stopping, Ikaruga pushed through the tunnel.

The red Demon Beast began to emit more of its corrosive fluids at the sight of the approaching Ikaruga and prepared to unleash a repeat of the earlier tornado.

“Too slow! Closing air intake, let this be the final strike!”

Yet, the red Demon Beast was just a step behind Ikaruga, and Ikaruga swung its Sword Cannon to sever the Demon Beast in two halves.

At that moment, a large shadow appeared off to Ikaruga’s side and let out a terrible cry. It was an insectoid Demon Beast that survived the earlier carnage, hiding inside the corrosive clouds. The surviving Demon Beast flew over and, without the slightest hesitation, placed itself between the sword and the red Demon Beast. Without any chance for recourse, Ikaruga’s Sword Cannon cut into the surviving Demon Beast, body and all.

“How… it took the blow? To think a Demon Beast sacrificed itself?!”

For any intelligent creatures, suicide should be the furthest from its mind. If the red Demon Beast could even command them to lay down their own lives, then its combat potential was clearly abnormal.

The insectoid Demon Beast did not die in vain. With its body crushed, the internal fluids quickly leaked out and vaporized into a massive corrosive cloud. As such, it didn’t just serve as a meat shield for the red Demon Beast, it also unleashed a corrosive cloud on Ikaruga.

Thankfully, Ikaruga had closed its air intake for the melee. As such, Eru was able to avoid inhaling the poison. However, the two waist thrusters were not as fortunate. When the corrosive air entered into the magius thrusters, the flames sputtered out as Ikaruga slowly descended by the force of its own weight.

“Ugh… C-come on! Ikaruga! Just a little bit more!”

Ikaruga’s fall allowed itself to pull away from the corrosive cloud. With the remnants of its magic scripts, Ikaruga ignited a faint ember. With the final glow of its thrusters, Ikaruga was able to slow its descent and allow for a safe landing on the ground below.

However, Ikaruga’s respite was short-lived, for a certain shadow fell atop of the Ikaruga. It was half of the severed Demon Beast, which soon splattered itself onto the ground next to Ikaruga. The corrosive fluid rapidly vaporized and consumed the now immobile Ikaruga.

◆ ◆ ◆

“Darn it! Hey, any news on the fight?!” Boss bellowed in anger while sitting in the captain’s seat on the Izumo.

Ikaruga’s fight with the insectoid Demon Beasts had provided the fleet time to escape. At this time, the battlefield was already far beyond the horizon, and the anxiety among the crew had slowly died down.

“No idea. We couldn’t exactly afford to remain in the vicinity and spectate.” Batson retorted with a serious face.

“I know…! Ugh! Darn it all!” Boss shouted in reply as he stood up and began to pace around the bridge, “Very well, inform the other ships! The Izumo shall turn around to pick up silver boy!”

“Belay that order.”

A calm voice immediately followed Boss’s words.

Turning around, Boss found the voice to be from the Knight Commander of the Violet Swallow Knights, Torstei Koskensalo, who had moved to the Izumo at the outbreak of hostilities.

“Without the Izumo, the defense of the fleet will be compromised. As the highest ranking officer currently in the fleet, I cannot let you go.”

“I will leave all the Wind Knights to the fleet. Surely that would suffice for defense?”

Boss was obstinate in his decision, one that was shared by all who were on the bridge, including Batson. Accurately speaking, everyone was supportive of Boss’s plan, as all of them were members of the SIlver Phoenix Knight.

“Our Knight Commander is still out there. So it is only natural for us to go to him.”

Yet, Torstei refused to budge.

“However, Captain Hepken, that Knight Commander had also given you the order to leave him behind. Not to mention, even if do you return, you would only serve as a hindrance to Ernesti. After all, you should be well aware that there is no role for the Izumo on that battlefield.”

Boss was left speechless at Torstei’s sound argument. Certainly, if a Levitate Ship were caught in a corrosive cloud, it would certainly sink within a matter of minutes. The Izumo was no exception.

Eru ordering them to leave him behind was for the same reason. If Izumo were to return, it would only end up handicapping the Ikaruga. Torstei’s words were the objective truth, while Boss’s words were just an emotional outburst. Torn between the two opposing standpoints, the crews were left at a loss.

“…Who cares, we cannot abandon the silver boy!”

“Yes. Let’s go! Everyone, get ready!”

Even so, Boss remained obstinate. Even Batson stood in support of Boss, likely because of the childhood friendship between him and Eru.

“The battlefield is currently saturated with corrosive clouds. Returning to that battlefield now is simply asking everyone aboard to die with you. Do you even understand why he stayed on that battlefield? Who do you think is disrespecting Knight Commander Echevalier’s will?!” Torstei growled.

With Torstei’s strong words, Batson’s hands paused on the steering wheel as his strong grip chafed the hapless wood.

“If you are just going to hesitate, let me take over. Move aside!”

Boss pushed away the hesitant Batson and grabbed the steering wheel himself, only to have his hands pressed down by Torstei’s.

Boss turned angrily to Torstei, both glared with absolute conviction into each other’s eyes.

“If the Izumo sinks, Eru’s efforts would be for naught.”

Hearing Torstei’s low whisper, Boss finally relented as he reluctantly released his grip on the steering wheel.

At the same moment, a knight runner of the Violet Swallow Knights ran over, dissipating the earlier tense atmosphere on the bridge. Seeing the complicated stare between Torstei and Boss, the knight runner hesitated for a moment, before being overwhelmed by his sense of duty and began his report.

“Sir! We have confirmed that, other than a single Wind Knight, all units are present and accounted for! However…”

The knight runner revealed a tinge of worry, but was prodded on by Torstei to continue.

“The Violet Swallow Knights aside, we could not locate Instructor Olver!”

Everyone on the bridge was shocked by the news. Boss contemplated as he closed his bloodshot eyes for a moment.

“Ahh… it’s the girl. I see… This is pretty much expected. If silver boy was no longer here, why would she remain? Darn it… It isn’t fair that you get to head out by yourself,” Boss muttered with a sigh as he sat down where he stood.

Despite knowing that it would be a one-way trip, Adeltrud would not hesitate to follow after Eru. At that moment, Boss felt a tinge of jealousy toward Addy. After calming himself down, Boss stood up once more.

“Let the fleet hold position for a bit. If silver boy still doesn’t return…”

“Yes. I do not want to abandon him. If he doesn’t return soon, we should send out some Wind Knights to search the area.”

With that said, Boss returned to the captain’s seat with heavy steps.

After a few days, the expedition fleet waited for Eru and Addy to return. Yet, no matter how long they waited, Ikaruga and Syrphrine did not ever return. No matter how many enthusiastic Wind Knights went out to search the area, they caught no sight of Ikaruga and Syrphrine, nor any of the insectoid Demon Beasts.

“…Let us return. All ships, to the west.”

After a week, the expedition fleet begrudgingly decided to return to the Kingdom of Fremmevira.

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V06 Chapter 52: Departure of the Vanguard Fleet

Translator: Huapollon

On a certain day, the residents of Känkänen turned their heads to the sky.

In the early hours of the morning, a massive object blots out the sliver of light, casting a long shadow on the ground below. It was a Levitate Ship, meandering slowly across the calm morning sky. Despite all the excitement not so long ago, the residents of Känkänen had all grown accustomed to the sight, in part due to the massive air fleet under the command of the Royal Life Guards.

However, on this occasion, their gaze remained locked on the Levitate Ship overhead, as the ship was significantly larger than the typical Transport Ship. While Transport Ships designed to carry a contingent of Silhouette Knights were already a sizable construct, the Levitate Ship before them was well over twice their size, making many doubt the sanity of its designer. Yet, regardless of their thoughts, the truth was before them, floating peacefully above the capital.

“How… majestic. I wonder which Knight Order commands such an impressive vessel…”

Onlookers asked, but it didn’t take long for them to arrive at an answer. On the countless sails that line its flank, they were able to see the magnificent crest of the Kingdom of Fremmevira, as well as a smaller silver crest in the shape of a phoenix.

“…So that is the Silver Phoenix Knights’ newest Wind Carrier. Although I had heard the rumors, seeing it in person is still quite a shock.”

On top of the balcony in Castle Schreiber, King Leotamus gazed at the distant silhouette with squinted eyes. He was fully expecting the arrival of the Wind Carrier at Känkänen, since its arrival was by his orders.

As part of the planned expedition into Bocuse, the Sea of Trees, the Silver Phoenix Knights’ Wind Carrier was to serve as the flagship. It was to be accompanied by the Violet Swallow Knights’ fleet of Transport Ships in an altogether massive fleet. Although being airborne afford them certain advantages, the planners understood fully not to underestimate the enigmatic Bocuse. By the time they had noticed, the vanguard fleet had grown to an unimaginable size.

Incidentally, considering that the majority of the western nations were still in the nascent stage of Levitate Ship development, the vanguard fleet was likely one of the few sizeable air fleets in existence on the continent, likely exceeding even the Žaloudekian Steel Wing Knights in its heyday.

“…Speaking of which, I did not expect it to be this massive. Perhaps I had made a mistake in summoning them to the capital for the departure ceremony?”

At the thoughts of the disturbance such a massive Levitate Ship would cause to the residents of Känkänen, Leotamus could not help but hold his head in despair.

“Ahaha!! How about it? Impressive, right? I bet everyone is completely shocked! After all, I had spent a whole lot of effort to get it ready! Feast your eyes on its magnificence!!”

“For the residents of Känkänen, this ship would certainly be a shocking sight. Still, I hope such an act will burn the new Wind Carrier ‘Izumo’ deep in their memories.”

Batson excitedly peered out the window on the bridge, while Ernesti stood behind with a mischievous smile.

Wind Carrier ‘Izumo’ was a Levitate Ship designed from the bottom up as a support vessel for the new Wind Knights. On top of its massive size, it boasts an impressive capacity for up to a whole company of Wind Knights.

With Batson leading the team, the knightsmiths had toiled countless hours to finish this massive ship on schedule.

Incidentally, the Aerial Assault Ship from their earlier excursion to the Kingdom of Kuscheperca was of little help to the team, as the ship itself could not fulfill the excessive demands of the Bocuse expedition. Long distance aerial expeditions naturally required extensive preparation and self-sufficiency, a facet clearly reflected in the ships extensive size. As such, the team was essentially forced to design the ship from scratch, making modifications as the development proceeded.

With everything that had happened, Batson was at the height of exhilaration. Even his fellow knightsmiths were likely tucked away in the bowels of the ship celebrating their success with alcohol.

‘Boss’ David sat in the captain’s chair behind the pair.

“Hey, I think that should be enough horseplay for now. Are you both satisfied? If so, it is time to use the Blow Engines to turn the ship around and head outside the city perimeter. At this rate, we will end up blocking out the whole capital.”

Boss seemed particularly careful about their actions. After indulging their mischievous trick for the fruits of their labor, it was finally time to get down to business.

“In that case, I’ll head down in the Ikaruga and give my greetings to His Majesty.”

As the crew busied themselves with the Wind Carrier operations, Eru descended to Känkänen in his Ikaruga.

◆ ◆ ◆

“Haa… I ended up getting scolded~”

“Obviously. I am surprised you were brave enough to play such a prank on His Majesty… Seriously, I am left completely speechless.”

Knight Commander Torstei Koskensalo of the Violet Swallow Knights let out a deep sigh at Eru’s innocent smile.

Although the sudden appearance of Izumo had caused quite the disturbance, the departure ceremony itself ended rather uneventfully. Overall, the people responded positively to Izumo’s reveal, with no shame brought upon the royal family that sponsored the event. However, it did not excuse Eru’s mischievous prank.

“It is quite the impressive ship, I will give you that…”

Torstei looked out at the adjacent ships through the glass of the bridge. Nearby, several Transport Ships flanked the Izumo in formation, accompanied by two companies of Wind Knight – the entire force of the Violet Swallow Knights.

Of the Wind Knights, a single company would be docked within the Wind Carrier, with the other company in charge of security and patrol. As such, the Wind Carrier would be wholly responsible for the deployment and maintenance of Wind Knights. Instead, the Violet Swallow Knights’ Transport Ships would focus on carrying the fleet’s provision, sufficient to sustain the expedition for over a year.

Their destination was not the boundless sea, but rather over vast expanses of land, where they always had the option to land and restock when their supplies ran low. However, considering the sheer consumption of Ethelite in such a maneuver and the danger Bocuse presented, it was set as a plan of last resort. Therefore, the expedition was expected to carry all their necessities on Transport Ships.

Torstei turned to Izumo’s bridge, gawking around like a kid in the candy shop.

“Speaking of which, Izumo is not only impressive from the outside, the internal design is also a marvel in and of itself. Although my Transport Ships’ accommodation certainly isn’t bad, the Izumo is on a whole different… level.”

The Transport Ships of the Violet Swallow Knights largely kept its initial configuration, with little accommodation for prolonged inhabitation and comfort. In contrast, the Izumo was built to greater capacity, allowing ample room for its crew. Furthermore, with the personal quirks of its designers, many quality-of-life improvements were made to allow Batson and others have smoother control. With the length of their expedition, Izumo’s superior accommodation was certain to impress.

“…Either way, I will be under your care for this voyage, Knight Commander Echevalier.”

“…And I as well, Knight Commander Koskensalo.”

The two shook each other’s hand in agreement. Yet, to the uninformed observer, it was a strange sight between an adult and a child. Few would have believed they stood as equals, if not with the child marginally superior.

“Still… I am surprised you didn’t end up in that seat.”

Torstei gestured toward the dwarf in the captain’s seat. Personally, Torstei doubled as the Knight Commander and the captain of the Transport Ship, which was a logical arrangement that emphasized the need for a clear command structure with two distinct positions. Incidentally, many Knight Orders followed the Violet Swallow Knights’ example. As such, the fact that the Knight Commander of the Silver Phoenix Knights was not the designated captain of Izumo came as a surprise.

“That’s right. This is done in consideration of the fact that when in battle, I am likely fighting in my Silhouette Knight. Therefore, it would be better to leave the command of the ship in his hands.” Eru replied with a smile.

“I s-see… The Silhouette Knight that you spoke of… was it called Ikaruga? I’ve heard rumors about it being a terrestrial Silhouette Knight that could freely fight in the sky like a Wind Knight?”

Torstei remembered the oddly shaped Silhouette Knight in the hanger of the Izumo, with its peculiar six-armed design. Before the advent of the Wind Knights, Ikaruga held the unique distinction as the world’s only aerial Silhouette Knight.

“Yes. In this long journey, I am certain you will have the opportunity to witness it firsthand.”

“Then I will eagerly await the opportunity. Once again, we can certainly expect success with your participation.”

Torstei once again turned to the youth. Although this was only a preliminary expedition, they nevertheless would venture into the enigmatic and dangerous Bocuse, with all the associated stress. As such, they gratefully welcome the power of the famed hero within the Kingdom of Fremmevira. While the two commanders exchange pleasantries, the fleet calmly advanced across the sky.

◆ ◆ ◆

With Izumo at its center, the expedition fleet slowly made its way across the Kingdom of Fremmevira, casting shadows upon villages it passed. Soon, they passed by Academy City Laihiala and Fort Olvecius.

“…I’ve heard Eru is on that large ship in the middle.”

Selestina ‘Tina’ Echevalier gazed upon the fleet to the backdrop of the azure sky as she pointed at the largest ship of the group. It was difficult for anyone to believe that such a massive artificial ship could freely soar in the sky. Nearby, her husband Mathias Echevalier looked to where Tina was pointing, with one hand blocking out the stinging sunlight, before turning to her.

“Really, Eru just can’t seem to slow down… What’s wrong? Do you have something on your mind?”

Beyond her calm exterior, Tina was an intelligent and independent woman with a tenacious will, bearing a close resemblance to her stubborn son. Reflective of her attitude, she was someone who could send Eru off to war in a neighboring kingdom with a smile. However, for some odd reason, she did not have her usual cheerful expression.

“Yes. I understand that our son is very strong, and he will certainly perform with distinction. Yet, I cannot shake this bad premonition about the expedition.”

“Well… It is the Bocuse after all. Even for someone as amazing as our Eru, the journey still leaves much for worry.”

Ever since the founding of the Kingdom of Fremmevira, Bocuse had been a source of constant dread for its residents. It could almost be described as a primal fear, which resisted any attempt to extinguish even with all the advantages afforded by recent advances in technology. Incidentally, it was also used as a common threat for disobedient children.

However, Tina could not easily put her worry in words. After all, Eru was someone who had previously bested even the division-class Behemoth, and the expedition should not meet difficulty any greater than it.

Seeing her gloomy visage, Mathias turned once more to the sky.

“Our son has the strength to overcome any challenge, and he always keeps his promise. Did he not give you his word before he departed? That he would definitely return?”

“…Yes, you are correct. Eru would never break his promise.”

Tina clasped her two hands before her breast. Even she did not perfectly understand the reason for her anxiety. However, no matter the cause, she could only wish for her son’s safe voyage as her eyes followed the departing Levitate Ships.

◆ ◆ ◆

As the fleet continued its journey east, it sailed past Fort Olvecius. Within the fort, the remaining members of the Silver Phoenix Knights looked on.

“So… they have finally set sail. We did see Ernesti and Batson busy with their preparations.”

“Still, even considering all that had happened in the recent days, I still felt that it was somewhat unfair for them to ditch us.”

“They didn’t really ditch us. Rather, we still have our own duties in the base. Not to mention, the expedition was formed with the Wind Knights at its core, so I doubt we would be of much help, especially with Erledyradcumber and Guyalarinde ruled out.”

“In that case, wouldn’t the third company satisfy that requirement?”

“Well, forcing a single company would be just as awkward.”

Among the onlookers were the three company commanders, for whom all subordinates were excluded from the expedition. Curiously, the entire fort seemed oddly placid with Eru’s departure.

“Now, although we were left to look after the fort, I don’t think there is any pressing matter for us to address. In that case, let us enjoy this well-deserved vacation.”

Ostensibly, while the three companies were tasked with overseeing Fort Olvecius in Eru’s absence, the fort itself was not expected to see combat. Therefore, it was effectively a long vacation for those who remained. Hearing the discussion, Edgar turned his attention back to his fellow knight runners.

“As for that, I have to settle some personal matter and will be away from the fort. Therefore, Di and Helvi, I would like to ask you to watch over the fort while I am away… There is someone that I need to meet urgently…”

Dietrich raised his eyebrow at Edgar’s announcement, while Helvi simply nodded in understanding. After all, there was only a single person that Edgar would consider meeting given the circumstances.

“Is it related to that previous matter?”

“Yes. Honestly speaking, I am still somewhat hesitant about my decision. However, if I do not talk it out with him, I doubt my uncertainty will ever resolve.”

“I see… It is certainly better than simply ignoring.”

Despite Edgar’s hesitation, the very fact that he was willing to meet with the interviewer showed that he was partial to the opportunity. At the very least, the interviewer would certainly not let such an opportunity slip by.

“I guess it can’t be helped. Either way, I doubt we will get any more unwanted visitor at Fort Olvecius during your absence, so be at ease on your vacation.” Dietrich said as he shrugged in response, “Speaking of vacations, wasn’t this the first real vacation we had since the formation of the Silver Phoenix Knights? Seriously, it makes me shudder just to think about. I guess we should all enjoy this vacation to its fullest!”

Edgar did not care to realize the reluctance in Dietrich’s words. On the other hand, Dietrich was overcome with a wave of melancholy as he turned once more to the fleet, sailing to the east with the Izumo.

It was an expedition to the enigmatic Bocuse, one that would undoubtedly impact the future of the Kingdom of Fremmevira. At its helm stood Ernesti, the youth that had time and time again led everyone toward a new era.

“We cannot chase after him forever. Now is as good a time as any for us to take that difficult step.”

Under the gaze of many, the fleet continued its journey, eventually finding themselves at the border walls. Beyond, they could see the home of the Demon Beasts – the great Bocuse, Sea of Trees. Without the slightest pause, the fleet sailed into their destination.

◆ ◆ ◆

“…So, this is the air of Bocuse. Ugh… It certainly lives up to its rumors.”

Eru took a deep breath on the top deck of Izumo.

While the breeze blown over from the approaching Bocuse felt no different than when they were in the Kingdom of Fremmevira, the air contained a certain indescribable smell that churned the stomach.

The land was blanketed by green for as far as the eyes could see, with lush foliage stretching all the way to the ends of the horizon. The terrain was also difficult and rugged, where distant silhouettes of mountain ranges stood to the backdrop of the blue sky.

As Eru stared intently at the scenery, two arms reached around and gently pulled him in. At that moment, Eru annoyingly turned his head to meet the culprit in the form of a lass named Addy.

“Addy, didn’t I tell you to not hug me like this with the members of the Violet Swallow Knights nearby?”

“Yeah, I know! However, it should be fine right now, since no one is around~” Addy teased with her head resting on Eru’s shoulder.

Eru was the Knight Commander of the Silver Phoenix Knights, and, by extension, the highest-ranking officer on the Izumo and the expedition fleet as a whole. As such, there were certain considerations for the dignity of a commanding officer that forced him to instruct Addy not to hug him in public. However, it seemed his words fell on deaf ears, to which Eru could only let out a deep sigh.

Originally, the only participants of the Bocuse Expedition were to be Eru and the knightsmiths experienced with the Izumo. Yet, Addy willfully declared ‘to go with Eru’ and ended up boarding the Izumo herself. As a direct consequence of Addy’s decision, the Izumo had to load the Syrphrine alongside the Ikaruga. On the other hand, as the combat instructor for the Violet Swallow Knights and an excellent knight runner in Wind Knights, Addy was more than qualified to join the expedition.

“Fine, just for a little bit. Keep in mind that there are plenty of folks not from the Silver Phoenix Knights on this voyage.”

“But~ I think it would be fine even if people see us! Not to mention, I doubt you need something like dignity when you are this cute~”

“It’s not that simple…”

With that said, Eru walked with Addy back into the ship. Just before he entered the door, Eru took one last look at the surroundings. The Transport Ships kept themselves close to the Izumo, with Wind Knights swimming in and out of the fleet formation. The two companies of Wind Knights were tasked with security and patrol in alternating shifts. After all, despite the lack of any obvious obstructions, the fleet could not afford to be lax in its vigilance.

Once the pair returned to the bridge, they were met with Torstei, who was carefully analyzing the course on the map table. Nearby, Boss sat slovenly in the captain’s seat. Boss cared little about the expedition beyond the operation and maintenance of Izumo, an opinion shared by Batson, who was at the helm.

“We will soon enter Bocuse, so I wish to confirm our operation protocol.”

As soon as Torstei finished, a cloud of dust could be seen in the distant forest, accompanied by the crunch of falling trees. Likely, Demon Beasts were the behind the turmoil. After a few tense struggles obscured by clouds of dust, the forest finally regained its initial calm. On reflection, everyone lightly nodded to one another.

“As expected of Bocuse. I could barely fathom the troubles we would encounter if we were a terrestrial expedition.”

“Even with the Silver Phoenix Knights… I am certain we would incur casualties. Glad we are on Levitate Ships.”

“Yeah! Good thing we finished Izumo in time.”

No matter the intensity of the conflict in the forest below, the Levitate Ship fleet could remain high above harm’s way. The entire crew once more recognized the value of Levitate Ships.

“Considering the few informative expeditions of the Bocuse in the past, we should be safe to increase our speed for now and leave heightened caution to later.” Eru commented with the navigation map open.

“Yes. Regardless of the danger within Bocuse, there had always been few aerial Demon Beasts. Although we should not be careless, we also don’t need to be on highest alert at this point in time.”

The map laid out in front of them only shows a tiny sliver of land on the eastern border of the Kingdom of Fremmevira. Incidentally, one of their primary objectives in this expedition was to expand the details of the map.

Afterward, they plotted the course for the fleet and the patrols, before transmitting those orders to the rest of the fleet. With the plan settled, Izumo slowly expanded its sails as the air current carried the ship swiftly into the Bocuse with the rest of the fleet following closely behind.

“So, we have finally entered Bocuse…” Knight runners of the Violet Swallow Knights muttered silently within the hanger of Izumo as they experienced the jolt of acceleration.

“I had never thought we would be entrusted with such an important mission.”

The knight runners all held deep emotions as they looked over their Wind Knights. Certainly, few within the Kingdom of Fremmevira were isolated from thoughts on the Bocuse.

“It is not just us…”

They gazed past their Wind Knights and at the massive but oddly shaped Silhouette Knight at the other end of the hanger.

“…The Silver Phoenix Knights? Although it seemed our instructors are absent.”

“I had seen Instructor Olver earlier, alongside the young Knight Commander.”

“However, they are not the main actors for the expedition.” Lafal interjected, after silently listening to their exchange. “This is a perfect opportunity for us. While this ship belongs to the Silver Phoenix Knights, the core combat power of the fleet remains with us. Therefore, this is our mission.”

His face revealed the deprecative and anxious feelings of a company commander. After all, this mission was vital to the Kingdom of Fremmevira.

“I’ve heard that, while Wind Knights had been issued to numerous fiefs within the kingdom, we remain the premier order of Wind Knights. However, we must not rest on our laurels.”

The knight runners all nodded in acknowledgment. While they remain the most veteran knight runners for Wind Knights, the competition remained too close for comfort, especially with the kingdom’s emphasis on air power.

“We must perfectly complete this important mission and attain honor for our Knight Order.”

“Yes, let them know our strength! Glory to the Violet Swallow Knights…!!”

The entire company raised their fist in agreement. No matter how difficult the task ahead, they remained confident in their abilities.

With the dreams and aspirations of countless Fremmevirans, the fleet made its way into the Bocuse.

◆ ◆ ◆

The Sea of Trees did not betray its namesake, where trees covered the landscape for as long as they had traveled. The view remained good, with unobstructed sight in all directions. However, no one could deny that dangerous Demon Beasts lurked in the Bocuse, and their unmolested sailing could not continue forever.

“Object sighted on course! Instruct the fleet to be vigilant!”

The Wind Knights scouting ahead had noticed suspicious activity and immediately signaled the fleet with light flashes. On the Izumo, the lookout received and immediately relayed the message to the bridge.

“Captain’s order! Forward patrols have detected suspicious activity ahead. All knight runners are to head to the hanger and be prepared for launch!” Eru shouted into the voice pipes before turning to the captain’s seat, “I’ll head down to the hanger myself and be on standby in the Ikaruga. Can I leave the command of the bridge to you?”

“Yes, rest assured.”

“I’ll also head down to Syr-chan. Eru, let’s go together!”

After watching the two depart from the bridge, Boss turned his attention to the front. At the helm, Batson also steeled himself for the upcoming battle.

At the same moment, the patrol approached the wobbling mass floating in the path of the fleet.

“Is that a… Demon Beast? Rather, is that even alive?!”

“Not sure. While it looks like a rock, it is oddly floating in midair. For all we know, it could be some sort of shelled Demon Beast.”

The object before them took on the shape of an uneven boulder, bearing little resemblance to a characteristic shell. Furthermore, it was not alone, with numerous other boulders in its vicinity.

The Wind Knights slowed their flight and remained guarded against the unknown structure.

“What size! A single boulder is larger than several Silhouette Knights put together. How exactly are they floating?”

“Who knows… Perhaps they also make use of the properties of Ether? I hope they are harmless and doesn’t interfere with our fleet.”

Toward the suspiciously benign structures, the Violet Swallow Knights were uncertain about their next course of action. Understandably, if an object of such a large size were to lash out at the fleet, they would certainly suffer inconceivable losses.

Just as they were hesitant, the structure suddenly began to stir. The sound of crunching was accompanied by a small hole opening on its surface. From within, a single shelled Demon Beast crawled out and leapt into the air, spreading out wings that were something akin to fins or membranes. Following the first that took to flight, more poured out from the opening, and new openings appeared elsewhere. At the sight, the knight runners finally understood the nature of the structures floating before them.

“I see… The boulders are not the shell of Demon Beasts, but rather Demon Beast ‘lairs’!”

“Darn it, those Demon Beasts could fly, and so many of them to boot! All units, withdraw! We need to meet up with the main force!”

Everyone hastily pressed down on the pedal. At that moment, the magius thrusters churned as it spat out jets of flames and the Wind Knights quickly accelerated. With the positioning of the fins, the patrol made a swift U-turn and raced back toward the fleet.

In that time, more and more Demon Beasts poured out from the lair, following behind the patrol and rapidly closing the distance.

“Those Demon Beasts are fast… Is it because of their miniature size?”

The flying Demon Beasts had a teardrop shaped body that was just slightly larger than a human. Its fin-like wings did not flutter as it flew, therefore likely relying on some sort of magic for flight.

“Ugh! One after another, how many of these bastards are there?! This won’t do, we need to trim their numbers down before we return to the fleet.”

The patrol peppered their rear with staff weapon shots as they flew, where the sheer number of Demon Beasts removed the need to accurately aim. One after another, the Demon Beasts exploded into flame. However, the remaining Demon Beasts simply shrugged off the casualties, perhaps knowing their advantage in overwhelming numbers.

“What are those?! Darn it, certainly a grand welcome from the Bocuse!”

On the bridge, Boss could see the distant mass of Demon Beasts rapidly approaching.

“Captain’s order! Immediately change our bearings and avoid the approaching Demon Beasts! All Wizards, be ready to fire upon the Demon Beasts from the flanks!”

“We will experience turbulence on the turn! Boss, return to your seat!”

Reminded by Batson, Boss scurried back into the captain’s seat and braced for acceleration. At that moment, the Izumo creaked as it began to turn, and the other vessels followed suit after receiving Boss’s order. However, given their cumbersome size, none of the ships could make a nimble turn.

In tandem with the turn, the Wizards (1) stationed on the vessels stood up and trailed their staff weapons on the imminent threat. Incidentally, the Wizards on the Izumo were covered by the Bulwark Robe, integrated directly into Izumo’s armor. It was a design that replicated the Flying Dragon Battleship’s increased mana capacity and output. As such, the Wizards on the Izumo were able to fire for a longer period than similar Wizards without the design.

Just as the Wizards prepared to unleash their shots on the swarm, Izumo’s deck opened up and revealed a massive six-armed Silhouette Knight within.

“I see… The Demon Beasts that we have encountered this time seemed particularly problematic. I doubt we could resolve this with just the Wind Knights… Firing flare to signal for shots and whittle down the approaching critters!”

The flare flashed brightly in the sky. At the same moment, the hangers of the Izumo descended into a state of chaos as knight runners hurriedly boarded their Touedianes.

“Initiating the Etheric Levitator! Remember to not activate the magius thrusters until you clear the hangers!”

As Izumo kept a sizeable store of Ethelite, the initial ether for the Etheric Levitator could be directly provided from the ship’s internal stores.

The air intake of the Touedianes started to hum as the Ether Reactors were activated.

“Ready for takeoff! Everyone, push…!”

The maintenance crew in Silhouette Gears drove the Wind Knights toward the hanger door at the rear. Within the hanger, the Wind Knights had to be moved manually to avoid damaging the internal structure with their magius thrusters. Although the Wind Knights benefited from the Etheric Levitator, its actual mass did not change, and the maintenance crew had to perform the task with the assistance of Silhouette Gears.

“Now, it is my turn! Just leave everything to me!”

One of the crew stood by the hanger door and reached into a device with his arm. It was a sizeable mechanical arm, almost as if someone grafted a Silhouette Knight’s arm onto the wall of the ship.

“Hiyaa!”

The crew member channeled magic into the device. It essentially functioned under the same principle as a Silhouette Gear. While a single person could not move a Silhouette Knight without the assistance of an Ether Reactor, it was a different matter for just a part of one, or rather, a slightly miniature and simplified copy of one.

The purpose of the arm was incredibly simple. With its strand crystal fingers, it grabs the Wind Knight and ‘throws’ it out the ship. The device, aptly named ‘Crane Arm’, was able to solve the difficulty of launching the Wind Knights from the ship while giving them an initial acceleration. Effectively, it was a variation of the catapult system.

Afterward, another Wind Knight was moved onto the launch pad. The operator of the arm was visibly fatigued.

“Haa…! N-next…”

“Hey, you are at your limit. Let’s switch!”

Although the Crane Arm was simplistic in design, the amount of mana expenditure was not insignificant, and a lone operator could not continuously operate it for long. However, the current operator was reluctant to switch.

“No! I’m still good!”

“Hey, don’t be stubborn. It’s my turn! Switch already!”

“N-no! I can still go on!”

Incidentally, the task of operating the Crane Arm was oddly popular among the maintenance crew, where everyone always squabbled over the role.

The Wind Knights evicted from the bowels of Izumo soon entered into flight formation, with Addy’s Syrphrine at the front.

“Wow, there really are quite a number of them, but each and every one of them is so small! It seems to be a problematic battle ahead!”

Addy signaled her students from the Syrphrine, and the company soon separated into two columns as they circled toward the Demon Beasts from the left and the right, with one of the two led personally by the Syrphrine.

“We shall whittle them down from the periphery and force them to clump together. Once they are herded together, we shall have the Wizards annihilate them by staff weapons!”

“Understood!”

With flames pouring out from the magius thrusters, the Wind Knights entered into a swift acceleration toward the Demon Beasts. Some poured shots onto the Demon Beasts, while others skewered the demon with the lance. The Wind Knights swam freely in the sky, slowly trimming down the Demon Beasts on the periphery as the rest clumped into the center.

However, the Demon Beasts did not take the attacks one-sidedly, and a portion of the Demon beasts attempted to encircle the Wind Knights. At their maneuver, the Wind Knights immediately changed their direction and evaded the encirclement.

At that moment, one of the Demon Beasts started to balloon in size. The knight runners noticed the sudden change in size, but merely deemed it as a target and poured shots onto it. Only when the shots came in contact with the ballooned Demon Beast did the knight runners realized the cause.

The Demon Beasts burst into a large inferno, sending shockwaves far beyond the effect of a staff weapon shot. It was the result of the Demon Beast’s own device.

“Those Demon Beasts can’t be…!”

Although momentarily stunned, the knight runners were immediately awash with fear. The ballooning of the Demon Beast followed by a sizeable explosion could only be explained by a single hypothesis.

“Their method of attack is suicide bombing?!”

“Wind Knights, cease the lance charges! We cannot be certain which one will explode next, so keep your distance and rely on your staff weapons to attack!”

The sudden realization about the Demon Beasts immediately cut down the venues of attack available to the Wind Knights. As a melee-focused unit, the Wind Knights were essentially crippled by the handicap.

Although the Demon Beasts were relatively fragile, with little means to resist the powerful Wind Knights, its explosive capacity still posed a serious threat to the Wind Knights. If they were to swarm, the sluggish Levitate Ships would be made the most vulnerable. Without the Levitate Ships, the Wind Knights would lose their base in an altogether hostile land. The high stakes fostered an atmosphere of anxiety.

The Wind Knights tried their best to cut down the Demon Beasts, but the countless fliers continued their relentless push toward the fleet.

“…They are now in range. Wizards, fire upon the Demon Beasts, do not let them approach the fleet!”

Standing on deck, Ikaruga waved its sword cannon in command. Up top, Wizards began to unleash their shots upon the swarm.

The barrage of shots flew over and immediately made contact with the swarm, causing bursts of flame all over the sky. In-between the smaller bursts of flame were occasional explosions, presumably from the Demon Beasts’ own destruction. With Izumo’s mana output, the Wizards were free to fire without pause.

“Ahh, there are too many of them! We can’t stop them all!”

“Darn it, there are a few that evaded encirclement! Stop them!”

However, it didn’t take long for the Wizards to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of Demon Beasts. Even the powerful barrage could not counter the incredible advantage in numbers as the Demon Beasts inched ever closer to the fleet.

“If that many Demon Beasts were to attack the fleet, we won’t escape this unharmed!”

The Wind Knights continued their incessant barrage, yet the anxiety was quickly rising among the knight runners. The company commander, Lafal, came around to the Syrphrine in a panic.

“Instructor Olver, the fleet will be in danger! Perhaps we should assist…”

“Wizards will bring down the closest Demon Beasts. We won’t be of much help to the specialized Silhouette Knights even if we rotated over to assist. Therefore, remain focused on the enemy in front of us!”

Far from the fleet, the Wind Knights did their utmost to attack the Demon Beasts, but the Demon Beasts continued to surge forth from the floating lairs. To any observer, the fleet was slowly being overwhelmed by the Demon Beasts.

“We are almost at our breaking point! We must find a way to cut them off at the source… Let us launch a direct attack at their lair!”

Addy was hesitant to abandon combat with the never-ending stream of reinforcements and instead attack the lair itself. Although it was a sound plan, doing so would leave the Levitate Ships vulnerable.

At that moment, a loud howl was heard on the battlefield.

“…Emperor’s Heart, Empress’s Coronet to maximum output!”

On top of the Izumo, the Demon God unleashed its killing intent.

Eru had Ikaruga turn the sword cannons in its six arms on the Demon Beast swarm, steadied itself on the deck, and poured in large amounts of mana into them.

“The Demon Beasts are exploding themselves. Yet, one must ask why they chose to suicide? Isn’t it quite unnatural for a Demon Beast to not strife for their own survival? If so, what is their purpose?”

Eru’s eyes soon turned to the floating structure behind them.

“I could be wrong. However, if we assume those Demon Beasts are mere biological missiles, the body of the Demon Beast should be located…”

The monitor focused on a certain point in space, where a dark shadow could be seen in the distance.

“Let me show you the power of Ikaruga… Not a barrage, but a single overwhelming shot of destruction!!”

In a flash, a blinding shot drew an arc across the sky. The target was the Demon Beasts’ lair. Before long, the incredibly powerful shot made contact with the lair.

Its intense heat pierced through the surface and sunk deep into the lair. At that moment, the scripts within the shot activated as flame burst out through the openings seemingly in tandem.

Following the first shot, Ikaruga shot a few more. One after another, the shots pierced the lair and exploded, until the entire lair disintegrated. Among the chunks of boulders, pieces of wrangled meat and fluid could be seen falling down to the earth below.

“I see, the actual body or the hive mind of the Demon Beast remained within the lair. In that case, I think we found the ideal target. Yet, how should I go about doing this…?”

Ikaruga did not mind the approaching Demon Beasts and continued firing at the distant lairs. Under the shelling, more and more lairs crumbled to the earth.

“Huh…? The Demon Beasts are reversing course?”

The reversal had finally arrived.

The swarm of Demon Beasts had turned away from their suicidal attack and retreated toward the lairs regardless of the constant barrage.

They soon departed from the firing range of the Wizards and made contact with the lairs. However, instead of entering the lair, they remained stuck on the exterior. At the same time, the entire lair began to slowly move.

“They are using the small Demon Beasts as a mean of propulsion?”

The countless Demon Beasts pushed the lair away from the fleet. Although the lairs were a sizeable mass to them, the Demon Beasts took advantage of their incredible numbers. Before long, the lair slowly accelerated and disappeared on the horizon.

“No need to give chase as long as our fleet is safe from harm. After all, our task is not to eliminate Demon Beasts.”

Izumo and the Wind Knights could not afford to underestimate the Demon Beasts and remained on high alert until the lair was no longer visible. Fortunately, not many Demon Beasts made contact with the Levitate Ships, so the fleet itself suffered only minimal damage. Furthermore, all the Wind Knights survived with minimal injury. Considering the threat posed by the Demon Beast, it was effectively a perfect end.

“For a moment there, I wasn’t sure if we would survive. Glad we were able to get through that in one piece.”

On the Violet Swallow Knights’ flagship, Torstei let out a deep sigh of relief. He did not expect to meet a Demon Beast that, instead of the colossal power of a single division-class ‘Bahamut’, relied on incredible numbers to overwhelm its foes. If they did not threaten the Demon Beast at its lair and force them to withdraw, it would be no surprise if they lost one or two Levitate Ship in the encounter. At that moment, Torstei turned his gaze to the Silhouette Knight standing atop the Izumo.

“…So, that is the Ikaruga, the customized Silhouette Knight for the Knight Commander of the Silver Phoenix Knights. I can’t deny its overwhelming presence on the battlefield.”

The strength of the Silver Phoenix Knights was known to many. However, the achievements of the Silver Phoenix Knights in the development of new Silhouette Knights was even more well known.

Just the inventions alone would net Eru incredible fame, and that was not even considering the sheer power of the Ikaruga. For the first time, Torstei was able to observe firsthand the sheer absurdity that surrounds the existence known as the Silver Phoenix Knights.

“I see now why His Majesty praised him. Certainly, I feel that it could not get any safer than him guarding this fleet.”

At that moment, Torstei felt an indescribable confidence that the expedition would turn out to be a successful one.

The Wind Knights remained vigilant for a time after the departure of the Demon Beasts before slowly returning to the hanger. Lafal gazed longingly at the distant sky as he bit down on his lips in frustration.

“In the end, we alone could not defend the Levitate Ships with our own power. If then, for what purpose do the Wind Knights exist?”

Before long, it was Lafal’s turn to dock. The Wind Knight entered the hanger with a slight shudder as the Crane Arm pulled it in, followed by Silhouette Gears pushing it to its respective hanger positions. After the Wind Knight attached its tethers, the knight runner descended from the cockpit. For a while, Lafal remained motionless as he observed the bustling interior of the hanger.

Soon, Lafal’s gaze fell upon the Ikaruga deep within the hanger.

“As expected of the customized Silhouette Knight for the Knight Commander of the Silver Phoenix Knights. However, we will not yield so easily…”

With renewed determination, Lafal once more sprang into action.

◆ ◆ ◆

A month had passed since the expedition had first entered Bocuse.

Within the Kingdom of Fremmevira, Dietrich continued to spend his lethargic days in Fort Olvecius.

“I wonder what they are doing right now…”

“…Probably bashing a few Demon Beasts?” Helvi responded with a similar sluggishness.

“Certainly, there must be quite a few Demon Beasts in Bocuse…”

The relaxed atmosphere wasn’t limited to just the two company commanders. The entire fort was enveloped by an unusual tranquility, likely stemming from the overall lack of direction. Certainly, for the majority of the Silver Phoenix Knights, Eru’s absence had spelled for a lull in activity and, by extension, a de facto vacation. At the moment, Dietrich was enjoying his days off relaxing in the hanger.

“Yeah. Compared to the Wind Knights, I find my Guyalarinde a much better fit.” Dietrich muttered as he gazed upon his customized Silhouette Knight while pumping out his fist.

“Hmm… My company has rather become used to the Wind Knight, so I don’t mind either one.” Helvi responded as she reached her hand into the sky.

“As expected of the third company. In that case, will the Tzendrinbles be put into disuse?”

“Not now, at least. For the mobility of the first and second company, don’t we still need the cart-drawing Tzendrinbles?”

Although such was the case, Helvi and the rest of her company had spent most of their time with the Wind Knight. As such, they cannot deny that they were slightly rusty with the Tzendrinble.

“If you continue to slack off, won’t all future aerial combat fall squarely on the third company alone?”

“Ah… That reminded me, there were a few new equipments designed for close combat. Although I prefer not to use them in aerial combat, as I consider the equipment more specialized for support.” Dietrich sighed as he recalled the new equipment furnished on the Izumo, “Then again, nearly all the knightsmiths went with the Izumo. Without Boss and Eru around, I’d rather not experiment with the new equipment.”

Certainly, even if the trial did turn up with some problems or deficits, there would be no one to address the issues. Until the knightsmiths returned, the new equipment was probably better left to gather dust in some remote corner of the fort.

“Since there is nothing to be done, we might as well just rest up!” Helvi exclaimed.

“While you say that, weren’t you the one who had repeatedly snuck into the Wind Knight practice?”

“What’s wrong with that? I find it enjoyable to test out new Silhouette Knights.”

“Just like our dear Knight Commander~”

“Uuu…”

Without a comeback, Helvi turned her gaze afar.

“So, you refused the offer?” Dietrich asked, seeing Helvi’s melancholy.

“Huh? Ah, not yet.” Helvi answered tersely.

“Is it because of Edgar? If Edgar were to accept the offer, do you planning on following him?”

“Uuu… It is quite the difficult decision for me. However, I think my reasons are similar to yours.” Helvi muttered as she turned her gaze to the Wind Knight, “For both the Centaur Knight and Wind Knight, I found joy in testing new Silhouette Knights and piloting them in combat.”

From the time of the Tellestarle, Helvi had always volunteered to test new Silhouette Knights. Initially, it was probably meant as a way for her to recoup from her defeat. Soon, she found herself enjoying the process, and accompanied one new model after another from its initial design all the way to battle. Participating in the day to day development of the Centaur Knight and Wind Knight had made Helvi especially attached to both.

“As such, I do not feel particularly qualified for the position of Knight Commander. In a way, I sometimes feel even the position of company commander was beyond my abilities.” Helvi sighed as she revealed a complicated smile.

“Certainly, only someone like you could command the third company, known for their attraction to new Silhouette Knights.”

“If you put it that way, I guess the same could apply to you as the leader of the second company.”

Considering Dietrich role in leading the aggressive ‘Assault Company’, Helvi could not help but snicker. Now on the receiving end of a verbal jab, Dietrich gave a complicated smile in response.

Just as the pair jousted verbally, a single Silhouette Knight appeared before them. It was a unit of pure white and was instantly identified as Edgar’s Erledyradcumber.

Dietrich waved lethargically at the approaching Erledyradcumber.

“Oh? Isn’t this our newly-minted Knight Commander? Long time no see, how have you been?” Dietrich quipped.

Edgar was away on personal business and had only recently returned. He gently draped his overcoat on the back of the chair and sat down.

“It sounds weird coming from you. Either way, the trip had proved quite successful.”

Not long ago, the intermediaries for the various nobles had visited Fort Olvecius with the intention of recruiting the company commanders. After the meeting, Edgar had contacted them and went to discuss the details.

“I was actually introduced to a certain aristocrat, who was quite impressed by the Erledyradcumber. While the initial discussion revolved around the charge of a garrison Knight Order for a medium-sized city, I think I can expect an even higher position from him given his overall attitude.”

Dietrich let out a whistle.

“Not bad. The Knight Commander of a garrison Knight Order is already quite the esteemed and trusted position, yet you were still able to make him feel lacking in offer. You have my full respect, Lord Knight Commander~”

“Stop that, didn’t I tell you already that it sounds weird?”

“What is so weird about that?”

“Well, it makes me sound like a second Eru.”

“…If you put it that way, it certainly does sounds weird.”

No one could deny that they had a very eccentric Knight Commander. While his achievements were beyond compare, Eru was prone to bouts of ‘insanity’ in his pursuit of Silhouette Knight. The trio all let out a profound laugh as they came to the same thought.

As they slowly regained their calm, Dietrich once again turned to Edgar.

“Serving as a Knight Commander is the aspiration for all knight runners. Everyone should feel happy when they see their dream soon turned into reality. If so, why do you have such a long face?”

Edgar was taken aback with surprise and reflexively turned to Helvi.

“Yeah, I have to agree with Dietrich. You seemed to have doubled your usual dose of melancholy.”

“Really…?”

Dietrich aside, Edgar was not expecting Helvi to corroborate the observation. While Edgar was known for his control of his emotions, it was impossible to hide them from his old friends. Having been seen through, Edgar let out a deep sigh as he dropped the act, finally letting his fatigue show.

“Although the negotiation was smooth, I still feel reluctant to leave the first company.”

“Huh? Won’t the first company be in good hands?” Helvi inquired.

“I know about the replacement. However, they are all comrades who have shared countless battles with me, so I couldn’t help but worry about their future. Not to mention, I am leaving them for purely selfish reasons.”

Edgar turned his gaze toward the tidily lined up Karrdatolles in the hanger, each decorated with the white cross of the first company.

“Haa… You are being too absorbed in the details. Don’t concern yourself with what comes later. No matter who takes over, I doubt they would act out of hand with the overwhelming prestige of Knight Commander. Rather, I am more worried about your replacement when it comes to Eru.”

The most difficult task faced by the Silver Phoenix Knights was to meet the incessant demands of its quirky Knight Commander, such as suddenly declaring one day to ‘challenge the strongest possible Demon Beast’. As such, not many could survive their pace.

“…Now that I think about it, it shouldn’t be much of a problem. If the replacement is found lacking, I can always train him personally. I will not permit the successor to squander the wonderful order we’ve established~”

“No way… Did you become addicted to the position of an instructor?”

Edgar turned to find Dietrich’s almost maniacal laughter. It seemed that the earlier training of the Violet Swallow Knights had flipped a certain switch in Dietrich. As such, it was decided that before the replacement could take over command of the first company, the individual would have to survive a series of intense training regimen designed by the veterans of the Great Western Storm.

“Regardless, you need not worry about us, Edgar. Just follow your heart.”

Edgar looked at his friends with startled eyes. All his worries and hesitation were seen through, to which Edgar could only laugh in response. At that moment, the wrinkles on Edgar’s forehead slowly unraveled.

“…Fine, consider it a personal debt. I will certainly return the favor one day.”

“We shall look forward to it.”

Helvi revealed a smile as she looked at the exchange. She then turned her head up and gazed at the plethora of stars. While the days were calm, the Silver Phoenix Knights were certain to return to their usual bustling one day.

“Nngh~ Then, until the time when the Knight Commander returns, let us fully enjoy our long-awaited vacation!” Helvi declared as she stretched her stiff body.

At that moment, the trio’s gaze subconsciously fell upon the eastern horizon.


(1) Wizards are the name of the Fremmeviran specialized Ranged Silhouette Knights inspired by the Kuschepercan Resvant Vido, possibly using the chassis of Fremmeviran Karrdatolles instead of the Kuschepercan Resvants as its base.

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V06 Chapter 51: Choice of the Silver Phoenix Knights

TL/N: This is just a friendly reminder for everyone to let me know if you spot any errors or typos within the translation. Remember, it is all for the sake of a pristine translation.


Translator: Huapollon

The tales of the encounter between Violet Swallow Knights and the Demon Beasts soon spread like wildfire throughout the Kingdom of Fremmevira.

Ever since the advent of the Levitate Ships, the people of Fremmevira held an insatiable interest in any development pertaining to the sky. The reveal and subsequent success of the flight-capable Silhouette Knights only further invigorated the population. While the efficacy of the Transport Ships had always been held in doubt when faced with the presence of flying Demon Beasts, the timely news gave people hope for a positive change.

Under the tumultuous circumstances, the Violet Swallow Knights were not given a single respite. From the earliest inception of the flight-capable Silhouette Knights to the establishment of a Knight Order, the recruits have finally reached the point where they could officially graduate to become full members of the Violet Swallow Knights. At that moment, the Violet Swallow Knights were to receive a few new appointments to their ranks, including their long-anticipated Knight Commander.

“The Royal Life Guards have sent over all the experienced personnel for the operation of the Levitate Ships, who will be joining the Violet Swallow Knights as new members. They will also be taking over the command of the Wind Knights.”

“With this, the Violet Swallow Knights have finally obtained official recognition. Not to mention, Silhouette Knights are now deemed indispensable for the sky… I guess all’s well that ends well.”

The inaugural Knight Commander of the Violet Swallow Knights was to be Torstei Koskensalo, the commander of the Royal Life Guards’ Levitate Ship Corps and the captain of the Transport Ship during the combat trial.

Since the trial, Wind Knights and Transport Ships were devoted to cooperative training, through which they were able to correct any faults in the teamwork and further amplify their combined performance. Certainly, with the accumulation of experience, the effectiveness of a joint operation was no longer disputed. At the same time, the appointment of a veteran Levitate Ship commander to lead the newly formed Violet Swallow Knights was to no one’s surprise.

“The cooperative training with the Transport Ships will soon proceed to the next phase. If all goes well, we can likely expect similar Knight Orders to be established in the future.”

“Yes, we are certain the Violet Swallow Knights will serve as a wonderful template for future Knight Orders.”

Other than the newly transferred officers, the composition of the Violet Swallow Knights saw little change since its initial inception. While Squad Kiverahati encompassed the entirety of the Violet Swallow Knights’ current aerial combat capability, the Violet Swallow Knights could expect future supplementations to their air fleet.

“The production quota for Levitate Ships will remain the same as before, but now we will also need to accommodate the production of Wind Knights. As such, we are pained to say that we will be burdening the industrious knightsmiths for the months to come.”

“Understood, it is also our honor to work on such a project.”

On the other hand, the official recognition of the Violet Swallow Knights meant that the originally exclusive Transport Ship fleet of the Royal Life Guards will be split to meet their needs. At the same time, there would certainly be others who wished to emulate the Violet Swallow Knights’ proven success, and with it, increase demand on the already overstretched production of Transport Ships and Wind Knights. Consequently, the training of new knightsmiths with the relevant skillset was made an utmost priority.

“Leave it to us. We will have Boss head over to assist.”

The one known as ‘Boss’ in the Silver Phoenix Knights, David Hepken, was to head to the NTR Laboratory with a few of his subordinates. Both the Transport Ship and the Wind Knight were technology deemed beyond the command of mere nobility and were kept under the strict supervision of the royal household.

Boss was one of the few knightsmiths within the kingdom who has a working understanding of both the Levitate Ship and the Wind Knight, making him an indispensable technological advisor second only to Ernesti himself. His task at the NTR Laboratory was to advise and establish a dialogue with their knightsmiths, thereby further streamlining the production of Touediane to meet the royal demands.

“We shall look forward to the wonderful performances. Now, for other matters.”

King Leotamus sat under the expectant gazes of the Fremmeviran aristocracy, all of whom had answered his summons to hold a realm-wide conference on a topic that was not the least unexpected, especially given the recent developments. Understandably, the nobles did not delay their attendance by the slightest and swiftly made their way to Känkänen.

“As everyone is likely aware, the Silver Phoenix Knights had returned from the west with new technology pertinent to the Levitate Ship and, through its application, had managed to develop the technological marvel known as the Wind Knight. Therefore, we hoped to seek opinions regarding the appropriate uses for these new technological advancements.” Leotamus sternly prefaced the purpose of the conference.

It was a declaration that immediately brought about intense chatter among the kingdom’s aristocracy. Certainly, there were severe regulations regarding the deployment and use of the Transport Ships and Wind Knights in the proposal.

Firstly, there was the difference between the regulated size of the respective Knight Orders, in which strict limits were placed on the permissible number of Transport Ships and Wind Knights available to each of the feudal subjects. Secondly, the Transport Ships were restricted to predetermined lanes, with severe punishments reserved for crews who operated beyond the demarcated regions.

Although the restrictions felt overbearing, the nobility did not push for significant adjustments. They understood that certain limits need to be placed when considering the impressive freedom of movements afforded to them in the sky and the cost of maintaining state-of-the-art Wind Knights. While it was unlikely for them to be excluded from the new technology, they felt it would best not be greedy. As such, they decided to best start small.

To Leotamus’s surprise, the conference proceeded smoothly despite the initial reaction and the prolonged discussion.

“…The nobles are all eagerly petitioning the crown, in order to be given authorization for Transport Ships and Wind Knights.”

All the nobles sought after the authorization to incorporate Transport Ships and Wind Knights into their feudal Knight Orders. Incidentally, the demarcation of the ‘lanes’ between the feudal territories took up most of the discussion, followed by determining the order in which the nobles received their Transport Ships and Wind Knights.

As the eve before the dawn of the Great Age of Flight, the kingdom continued to stir in preparation for the eventual daybreak.

◆ ◆ ◆

The wind of change blew across the Kingdom of Fremmevira, affecting all who it touched – even the Silver Phoenix Knights.

Ernesti was summoned to Castle Schreiber for the duration of the conference as a technical advisor, providing suggestions and clarifications on a diverse number of topics. To Eru, any task wasn’t considered too tiresome as long as it led to the proliferation of his ‘half’ humanoid robots.

Even though the conference lasted for many days, Leotamus showed not the slightest fatigue.

“Ernesti, looks like your Wind Knight will soon be spread throughout the kingdom. That aside, we would like to discuss the current state of the Silver Phoenix Knights,” Leotamus said as he turned to the ever-enthusiastic Ernesti, “There should be a few able officers under your command, is that right?”

“Is Your Majesty referring to Edgar-senpai, Dietrich-senpai, and Helvi-senpai? Is something the matter?”

While Eru’s creations were frequent topics of discussion between him and Leotamus, the Silver Phoenix Knights themselves were rarely brought up. At Eru’s cautious reply toward a seemingly odd topic, Leotamus paused for a moment before continuing.

“As you are aware, Transport Ships and Wind Knights are in constant demand, and the situation was further aggravated with the conclusion of the recent realm-wide conference. However, there remained many difficulties to overcome before our current production could even remotely meet the voracious demand. One of the most pressing is the need for trained knight runners to operate the new Wind Knights. Since the operation for the Wind Knights is vastly different from current terrestrial models, we are short on able instructors to the new models.”

“…I see. Then, I presume Your Majesty is trying to say that the trio was selected as instructors?” Eru deduced from Leotamus’s words.

“Precisely. Simply put, it would be similar to the situation with Violet Swallow Knights. Therefore…” Leotamus reluctantly suggested, “Would you be willing to part with the three of them for the good of the realm?”

At the suddenness of the proposal, Eru was at a slight loss for words.

“Your Majesty, there were certain considerations to have them as officers within the Silver Phoenix Knights.” Eru replied only after a long pause.

“We had already discussed with our predecessor on the matter. However, Ernesti, the current predicament no longer allowed us to afford such a luxury.” Leotamus calmly stated, seemingly already have made up his mind, “With your numerous achievements, there is no longer anyone left within the kingdom who would slight you for your young age compared to when you had started the Silver Phoenix Knights. We understand that you have all gone through much together, and there would undoubtedly be attachments to your subordinates. However, they too have grown much through your exploits, and it would be an undeniable waste of talent to keep them as mere knight runners forever.”

Eru carefully considered Leotamus’s position. Since the establishment of the Silver Phoenix Knights, they had fought many difficult battles with the Demon Beasts, even participating in a distant war as an expeditionary force. Among the Knight Orders within the Kingdom of Fremmevira, the Silver Phoenix Knights were without parallel as far as real combat experience was concerned.

In a way, the Silver Phoenix Knights had become an assembly of combat veterans. Certainly, given the spontaneous nature of Eru’s command, the members of the Silver Phoenix Knights were all drilled to be elites. This held especially true for the trio, who were not only skilled knight runners for both new and old Silhouette Knights, but also experienced tacticians and instructors.

“Wind Knights will certainly bring about an incredible change within our kingdom. With the change, excellent knight runners will be in constant demand, especially with the few who are intimately familiar with the Wind Knight.”

Although Eru understood the logic, he was still reluctant.

“Certainly, we will arrange for capable successors to their positions, to ensure the least disruption to the daily operations of the Silver Phoenix Knights. We won’t force the decision upon you, but would you at least consider our proposition?”

“I understand. I will discuss with the officers. If they are interested, I will…” Eru replied with a slight nod, seemingly deep in thought.

◆ ◆ ◆

At roughly the same time as the discussion between Eru and Leotamus, a few visitors arrived at Fort Olvecius.

While they were not donned in armor, their elegant demeanor allowed one to easily discern their elevated positions. They each held introductory letters decorated with the crests of aristocratic houses to prove their identities, but their request was a peculiar one.

“…So, you have asked for us rather than the Knight Commander?”

The visitors specifically requested for an audience with Edgar, Dietrich, and Helvi, to which the trio received in the conference room.

“Yes, we are here specifically for Sir Blanche, Sir Kunitz, and Lady Obary. We operate under the auspices of the various Knight Orders and nobles to resolve pressing personnel matters.” One of the visitors stated in a respectful tone, “The three of you are well known across the kingdom for your exploits as the company commanders within the Silver Phoenix Knights. As such, the purpose of our visit today is to ask you to contemplate the possibility of a promotion, specifically to serve as Knight Commanders. Understandably, proper remuneration will be prepared.”

The trio was momentarily left speechless by the sudden proposition. Dietrich simply sat motionlessly as he glared intently at the visitors with raised eyebrow. Nearby, Edgar was at a loss by what he had heard, to the point of doubting his own ears. On the other hand, Helvi nervously looked over to Edgar for leadership. The trio was used to the lack of common sense within the Silver Phoenix Knights, but even they could not accept the ridiculous declaration.

“T-this is quite unexpected… Not to mention, we are only company commanders. Suddenly elevating us to Knight Commanders is…”

Seeing the trio’s suspicious gaze, the man gave a light nod.

“Perhaps the three of you are not aware of your own fame? In that case, it is certainly no wonder that you would be baffled by the offer. Therefore, let me take the opportunity to explain. If the three of you had belonged to a regular Knight Order, such an offer would seem to be a bit extreme. However, the three of you are officers within the Silver Phoenix Knights. By merits alone, you are all more than qualified to lead your own Knight Orders!”

Edgar had always had a serious personality, and the severity of the discussion only further amplified his intimidating visage. Yet the man did not seem the slightest deterred.

“I won’t deny that the Silver Phoenix Knights had many achievements, but those are largely due to the skill of its Knight Commander.”

“I understand. As for Lord Echevalier, we do not deny that he is somewhat of a legendary existence. At the same time, we could not deny that the members of the Silver Phoenix Knights all contributed to the success.” The man explained as he revealed a gentle visage, providing a slight pause for Edgar to internalize the discussion, “It was your excellent skill that allowed you to keep up with all the accomplishments and, if I may so state, enabled you to receive your own customized Silhouette Knights. I think you are all well aware that, in most Knight Orders, customized Silhouette Knights are only reserved for the Knight Commander. While you may only command a company within the Silver Phoenix Knights, your potential is clearly equivalent to a Knight Order!”

The trio simply looked at each other with a few involuntary blinks. With the incessant actions they had experienced, they rarely had the opportunity to look introspectively at their own activities. Certainly, even their common sense was slowly eroded by their exceptional Knight Commander.

“Everyone has heard of the role that the Silver Phoenix Knights played in bringing about the new Silhouette Knights. As a matter of fact, the three company commanders who had attained success on countless battlefields are the aspiration, or more accurately, the idol, of all young knight runners.”

“Really… I had never thought much about it.”

Upon seeing the visibly shaken trio, the man quickly continued.

“Achieving such fame despite your young age was the result of your own talent and hard work. Therefore, I am certain you do not wish to remain a mere company commander forever.”

“Are you suggesting we depart from the Silver Phoenix Knights?”

“We do not wish to pressure you, since we only serve as an intermediary. Not to mention, we understand that you are still unfamiliar with the extent of your own worth from our discussion. Therefore, with that in mind, we will certainly respect your decisions.”

The man looked satisfied now that he had cleared the trio’s initial suspicion and saw the trio seriously considering his proposition. Regardless of the outcome, he had already accomplished his task.

“As I had said at the beginning. If you are willing to accept the positions, proper remuneration will be prepared. In my humble opinion, commanding one or two Knight Orders would not be difficult with your incredible talent. It is an opinion shared by even the nobles who had provided us the introductory letters.”

“…Please afford us the chance to discuss the matter over with our Knight Commander.”

“Of course. Feel free to take your time. Once you come to a decision, you can reach us here, and we will immediately arrange for an interview.”

With that said, the man stood up, left his contact information, and departed the room with an elegant bow.

Edgar, Dietrich, and Helvi sat quietly in the conference room, still haven’t overcome the shock of the proposition. While Edgar seemed deep in thought, Dietrich soon let out a deep sigh.

“Hmph… I see… Honestly, I had never given it much thought, but on careful inspection, we had really done quite a bit.” Dietrich said.

“…I am quite happy to be praised. However, I had never dreamed of ever leaving the Silver Phoenix Knights.”

“…Our Knight Order. Certainly, it would be more comfortable to remain.”

Edgar slowly raised his head, seemingly had come to his own conclusion.

“Circumstances aside, the establishment of the Silver Phoenix Knights was mostly for the sake of Ernesti. Not to mention, we needed closure for the slight we had experienced. It was for these reasons that Di, Helvi, Boss, and the rest of the current members came together to form the Knight Order.” Edgar stated.

“When you put it that way, I guess we had already accomplished our duty?”

“…Yes.”

In the distant land of Kuscheperca, the nemesis that had stolen the ‘Tellestarle’ was erased from existence.

On the other hand, Ernesti no longer needed the protection afforded by the Silver Phoenix Knights. Both his fame and his strength had long reached legendary proportions, almost to a point where he could rival the king himself. With achievements that reached as far as the distant Kingdom of Kuscheperca, even if they ended up with unfamiliar recruits, no one would now dare to underestimate Eru.

“With the development of Wind Knights, the Silver Phoenix Knights is slowly changing… In that case, is our continued presence really absolutely necessary?” Edgar muttered his thoughts on a topic he had never contemplated before.

Next to him, Helvi remained silent at Edgar’s rhetorical question.

“Who knows? However, as long as I stay in the Silver Phoenix Knights, I will certainly be exposed to even newer technology. It is not wrong to say such was the reason why I had joined the Silver Phoenix Knights. Not to mention, I enjoy the atmosphere here. Even if the offer to serve as a Knight Commander is very enticing, I doubt I am suited to leading anything more than a company.” Dietrich declared with a shrug of his shoulder.

Having seemingly made his decision, Dietrich slowly made his way out of the conference room, only to be stopped by Edgar’s voice.

“So have you already decided? If so…”

“Edgar, do not worry about what I think, nor should you worry about the first company. Just be true to yourself.”

“Di, I…”

Before Edgar could finish, Dietrich had already made his way out of the conference room, uttering one final sentence from the hallway.

“No matter what you choose, face your decision wholeheartedly.”

Edgar sat in his chair as he watched Dietrich closed the door. At that moment, Helvi also stood up from her seat.

“…Helvi.”

“No, this is your own decision. Edgar, no one could choose for you, nor should you ask others to choose for you.”

Helvi gently flicked Edgar’s forehead with her finger before leaving the room with a wave of her hand.

Alone in the room, Edgar continued to contemplate the difficult decision.

◆ ◆ ◆

The moment Eru returned to Fort Olvecius, he summoned the trio to a meeting. However, before he could bring up the topic of his discussion with Leotamus, Dietrich retold of the earlier visitor they had.

“…I see. They are surprisingly quick.”

“From the looks of it, you were already made aware of their intentions?”

“Yes, but it could only have said to be a short while before. Whether this was all just a coincidence aside, they beautifully managed to avoid the awkward situation of secretly negotiating outside the chain of command.” Eru replied with a complicated expression on his face.

Compared to Eru, who calmly shrugged his shoulder, Addy was left completely frozen by the news, having only had just heard about it through Eru.

“So? What have you decided?”

“My decision? How to put this nicely… Whenever I see you, my enthusiasm for leading a whole Knight Order simply evaporates.”

“Huh? Have I misheard something…?”

Dietrich could not stifle his laughter.

“Either way, I would feel more comfortable remaining as a company commander. Rather, are you fine with us leaving?”

“Hmm… After all that we had gone through, I am certainly reluctant about letting you go…”

“T-that’s right! There is no reason to leave at all! If that were to happen, then…”

“However…” Eru immediately interrupted Addy’s sudden outburst, “To serve as a Knight Commander is the greatest honor for any knight runner. I simply could not find it in my heart to ask you three to abandon such a golden opportunity.”

Not just Addy, the trio were all left speechless by Eru’s declaration. Everyone knew that Eru was serious, with the same seriousness usually reserved for Silhouette Knights.

“Therefore, I ask you to carefully consider, and find the most acceptable answer for yourselves. No matter what you decide in the end, I will wholeheartedly endorse your decision.”

Overwhelmed by Eru’s forthrightness, the trio all nodded in reply. With that said, Eru soon left the three to their own thoughts with Addy closely behind.

“Eru! Are you really fine with them leaving?!”

Addy could not understand why Eru would be willing to accept their departure. Although the Silver Phoenix Knights were established by pure necessity, they were still comrades that had survived through countless grueling trials together. Therefore, Addy believed everyone would remain together for the foreseeable future. No way had she ever thought Eru would instead endorse their decision.

“If that is their wish…”

“But…!”

“Addy.”

Eru looked intently into Addy’s eyes. Faced with the serious Eru, Addy could only back down and listen silently.

“Life will fly by in the blink of an eye. As such, one should not live in constant hesitation, especially when the opportunity to fulfill a life-long desire appeared before oneself. Even if there are concerns, that should be left until the opportunity is firmly in one’s hand.”

Carpe Diem‘, such was Eru’s own motto in his second life, one that was clearly reflected in his actions. From when he landed in this world, he had not let the slightest opportunity pass by.

“Even if they depart from the Silver Phoenix Knights, they will still remain our friends. Therefore, they should think seriously and decide based on their own desires.”

Despite Eru’s nudging, Addy still could not seem to accept his decision. At the same time, Addy could not think of any way to retort his sound logic. As such, Addy could only tightly hug Eru with a complicated expression.

“If they left with regret, and there was no reincarnation to follow, they will certainly feel sad.” Eru muttered as he gently patted Addy on the head.

Perhaps no one in the world could comprehend the depth of Eru’s final muttering.

◆ ◆ ◆

Even as the whole nation was swept away by waves of enthusiasm, time continued to move steadily forward.

The Transport Ships made their way into the lives of the people, with numerous lanes established between locations within the Kingdom of Fremmevira, transporting both passengers and cargo at a speed never before possible. Before long, the sheer convenience of air travel made the inhabitants of Fremmevira reliant on the new technology.

Just as everything slowly settled down, a tense meeting was held in Castle Schreiber.

“…An expedition to Bocuse, the Sea of Trees?”

“Precisely. Although the new lanes had only recently stabilized, the expectations for the Transport Ships had continued to grow unabated. Chiefly, everyone looks to the new technology as a mean to venture into the previously unexplored Bocuse.”

Eru had anticipated a troublesome request when he was greeted by an unsettled Leotamus in the throne room. However, in no way did he imagine it would be such a problematic request.

“From Your Majesty’s words, I expect it would not be a simple investigation?”

“Sadly, yes. With the current political climate, the formation of a ‘Bocuse Expeditionary Force’ would likely become a foregone conclusion. We had always known there would be suggestions along these lines when we first set our eyes on the Levitate Ships. In a way, this development was wholly within our expectations.”

The ‘Bocuse Expeditionary Force’ had its roots intricately linked to the birth of the Kingdom of Fremmevira. From when mankind had developed the world’s first Silhouette Knight to combat the Demon Beasts in what was now the Western Nations, they had sought to claim the whole of Zetterlund for themselves. Yet, after a series of victories that pushed Demon Beasts across the Aubigne Mountains, mankind soon encountered Demon Beasts of immense power in the depth of Bocuse – Demon Beasts that even Silhouette Knights could not overcome.

Although mankind suffered a crippling defeat, they were able to retain a portion of their conquests on the far-side of the Aubigne Mountains. At the base of Aubigne Mountains’ eastern foothills, mankind established a nascent kingdom that eventually grew to become the current Kingdom of Fremmevira.

In the months that followed, the Western Nations enjoyed a golden age of peace without the threat of Demon Beasts. Even Kingdom of Fremmevira was able to avoid destruction and slowly change, where the threat of the Demon Beasts became increasingly marginalized in the minds of its inhabitants.

Sadly, despite its importance to the history of Fremmevira, the first ‘Bocuse Expeditionary Force’ left little in the ways of records. A large part of the blame fell upon the chaotic times that followed its untimely demise. However, one thing could be certain, the expedition met its end at the hands of Demon Beasts that rivaled the Behemoth (1) in strength, said to have the ability to wipe out hundreds of Silhouette Knights with ease.

From the rumors alone, retracing the footsteps of the first ‘Bocuse Expeditionary Force’ was borderline suicide, and no sane person would recommend such a foolhardy expedition if it weren’t for the advent of the Levitate Ships and Wind Knights.

“Although the Levitate Ships and Wind Knights have their advantages, I still consider mounting such a major expedition at this point in time to be haphazard at best.”

“We understand, but between the Levitate Ships’ incredible mobility and the Wind Knights’ able protection, air travel had become convenient and safe. Not to mention, the widespread use of Karrdatolles had served as a powerful deterrence to Demon Beast attacks. Simply put, for the first time in our history, we have the spare military capacity.”

“…Therefore, Your Majesty wishes to turn our attention outward.”

Since the west of the Aubigne Mountains had already been settled by the Western Nations, ‘outward’ could only imply the virgin lands in Bocuse, the Sea of Trees.

“Presumably, Your Majesty expects the Silver Phoenix Knights to bear the brunt of this mission?”

“Don’t say it like you had just been dealt a terrible hand. Your performance has repeatedly… exceeded our expectations.”

Even the nobles that held marches bordering Bocuse could only provide limited intelligence about the Sea of Trees. With the centuries that had passed since the first Bocuse Expedition, little was known about the Demon Beasts that lurk in the depth of Bocuse, and there always existed the risk that a haphazard expedition would wreak calamity on the kingdom by stirring up the rage of another Behemoth. As such, the nobles were in full agreement that any expedition should tread with the utmost caution. After all, unlike their brethren in the Western Nations, the nobles of Fremmevira have lived under the constant threat of Demon Beasts for countless generations, where only the cautious remained in their ranks. Incidentally, the nobles of Fremmevira had a strong sense of camaraderie, perhaps a testament to the unique environment in which they rule.

Therefore, when the usually cautious nobles openly petitioned the king for an expedition, their intention was as clear as day. In their minds, as long as the expedition was spearheaded by the famed Silver Phoenix Knights and their legendary Knight Commander, success was all but assured. As such, the Silver Phoenix Knights was a victim of its own success and fame.

“We think you should be the one most aware that other than the Silver Phoenix Knights, no one could undertake such a difficult expedition. Not to mention, regarding the earlier report about the ‘Wind Carrier’… Do you not think this expedition would be the best stage for its maiden voyage?”

Eru was slightly moved by Leotamus’s words and began to fantasize the most effective way to utilize the newly designed ‘Wind Carrier’.

“…In that case, may I borrow the Violet Swallow Knights for the expedition?”

“The Violet Swallow Knights? We understand that they are able knight runners, and their familiarity with the Wind Knights is evident to all. However…”

Leotamus was at a slight loss by Eru’s request.

“As Your Majesty may have been aware, while the Silver Phoenix Knights do boast a single company’s worth of Wind Knight (2), the Knight Order as a whole remains largely terrestrial. Not to mention, there was the recent bid for the officers, and I would like to provide them some time to decide. As such, the Silver Phoenix Knights would volunteer the Wind Carrier and myself in the Ikaruga for the expedition, but I would humbly request the Violet Swallow Knights to provide the Wind Knight escorts.”

“In that case… Very well. As the Knight Order with the highest number of active Wind Knights, the Violet Swallow Knights shall participate in the expedition. Just leave the detailed arrangement to us.”

Regardless of Silver Phoenix Knights’ strength, sending them on a terrestrial expedition into the depth of Bocuse would be foolish at best, especially when considering the strength of the terrestrial Demon Beasts within. Therefore, most of the expedition would rely heavily on the Transport Ships and Wind Knights.

“As for the Wind Carrier, I would need to confirm its status with Boss.”

Following the audience, Eru needed to discuss the matter with the ‘Captain’ of the Wind Carrier and quickly organized the key points of the meeting in his head.

With that, mankind prepared to venture once more into Bocuse, the Sea of Trees. No matter the challenge Eru and the Violet Swallow Knights may face within its bowels, they could only steadily prepare for all eventuality.


(1) Behemoth – The poor division-class Demon Beast defeated by Eru, whose heart was torn from its corpse to fuel Eru’s terrible machine of destruction.

(2) Most of the Silver Phoenix Knights’ 3rd company were trained as Wind Knights, thereby would be able to double as a Wind Knight company. There isn’t an actual company of only Wind Knights in the Silver Phoenix Knights.

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V06 Chapter 50: The Violet Swallow Knights

TL/N: There had been quite a bit of grumbling relating to the pace of the release, which while is the standard pace for the significantly longer LN chapters, feels too slow for those that are used to read short weekly WN releases. Since I do prefer to be accommodating whenever possible, I am going to put this poll here… https://www.strawpoll.me/15310313 For the purpose of the poll, a section is whenever you see a section break ‘◆ ◆ ◆’ in a chapter, which is curiously about the same place where the standard WN chapter ends, not counting the frequent two- or three-parter that exist in WN releases. Do note, however, that this poll is only meant for K&M, as Rokuaka will still be kept on a full chapter per month basis.

p.s. Curiously, from what I have gathered, many who grumbled seemed to instead want me to do a volume release like how Sky released K&M. Presumably, they were among the few that voted for the volume release at the initial poll a while back. Sorry that I cannot accommodate everyone’s preference, but there is certainly a chance the poll will swing the other way this time~


Translator: Huapollon

Near the capital Känkänen, there was a large proving ground used by the Royal Life Guards. It was the same site where Tzendrinble first revealed itself to the world.

On this day, countless young knight runners gathered. They hailed from all across the Kingdom of Fremmevira, each a survivor of the grueling selection exam. All of them stood tall, with unbridled ambition clearly reflected in their eyes. While they appeared somewhat anxious for what was to come, there wasn’t a bit of hesitation for the glory they would eventually receive.

At the top of the stands in front of them, a shadow appeared in the royal balcony. The man, accompanied by the Royal Life Guards, was none other than the current monarch of the Kingdom of Fremmevira, Leotamus.

At the king’s arrival, the knight runners all knelt. After looking over the sizeable gathering, Leotamus gave them permission to return to their feet.

“…You had all endured vigorous training to reach this point. As the vanguard of the future of the kingdom, we are certain you have heard the rumors prior to the assembly today.” Leotamus announced under the covetous gaze of the young knight runners, “As you all must be aware, our recent expedition to the western nations has returned with the Levitate Ship technology. Through effort, we have come to stand on the precipice of history, as we prepare to challenge the unknown and explore the unexplored! To claim the vast sky for our own!”

Leotamus looked up at the azure sky above. It was an untamed realm that stretched endlessly in all directions and, thanks to the advent of a new technology, within reach.

“Yet, the Levitate Ship technology is not exclusive to our kingdom, having had been spread to the numerous western nations. Before long, our control of the skies will be contested by other challengers. As such, we could not simply sit back and rest on our laurels. To that end, we formally announce the completion of a new technology, exclusive to our fair kingdom…” Leotamus declared with a slight pause before the grand dramatic reveal. “…The flying Silhouette Knight! Understand this, knight runners, the future battlefield will no longer only be restricted on the ground, but in the vast skies above as well!”

At that moment, Leotamus heard gasps from the crowd below. Certainly, for the king himself to address the recruits in person reflected the importance of the occasion to the knight runners below. From his words, the knight runners came to understand the responsibility they were about to shoulder.

As the crowd grew sterner at the realization, Leotamus continued.

“You shall be members of a new Knight Order. It is an order with the expressed purpose to accommodate the new flying Silhouette Knights, and your performance in it will serve as a model for all posterity. Never forget that you are all the vanguard of a new realm! Now, let us introduce you to your instructors.”

With his speech finished, Leotamus beckoned with his hand as all the knight runners stood at perfect attention.

At first, nothing seemed to have happened, and the proving ground descended into a period of awkward silence. The knight runners were all perplexed by the inaction. Just as they were about to break their stance to look around, they noticed small shadows off in the distant. The shadows slowly grew on the backdrop of the azure sky. At a glance, the knight runners were quick to realize the silhouettes were significantly smaller than a typical Levitate Ship.

Before long, the shadows zoomed overhead, accompanied by the deafening roar of explosions. Everyone felt an intense pressure at the sight, now clearly displayed before them.

“H-hard to believe… The S-Silhouette Knights are really flying!”

It wasn’t just the knight runners, even the Royal Life Guards could not help but gasp at the incredible sight.

Everyone had expected Silhouette Knights to be largely humanoid in shape, despite the rare eccentric – such as the Tzendrinble. However, the ‘flying Silhouette Knights’ above them were just as outlandish as the Tzendrinble. While the upper torso was humanoid, the bottom half was something completely extraordinary. It had a tail that resembled fish, with weird fin-like protrusions on its flanks. Additionally, almost to feed the sense of growing abnormality, the Silhouette Knight lacked any legs.

Overall, it was a Silhouette Knight even more aberrant than the Tzendrinble. One that defied any common sense.

As the knight runners stood shocked by the sight, the ‘mermaids’ drew an arc around the sky with colorful streaks behind them.

“Are they… landing?”

From the ground, the observers could see that the Silhouette Knights were slowly descending. As the streaks of colorful light slowly faded away, the four Silhouette Knights approached an opening in the proving ground.

At that moment, loud shots followed by intense metallic grinding could be heard as chained stakes flew out from the Silhouette Knights. They stabbed deeply into the ground below, anchoring the Silhouette Knights firmly. Further grinding could be heard as the Silhouette Knights retracted the chains, pulling themselves closer and closer to the ground.

Since the magius thrusters were turned off during the descent, dust was not blown up to obscure the view. Incidentally, it created an eerie calm in the landing, and everyone held their breaths as they watched.

Once they had reached the appropriate height, the pair of massive fins came into contact with the ground. Stabilized by the fins and the anchors, the Silhouette Knights stopped all action as the Ether Reactor wound down.

For everyone present, it was the first time they had seen such an impressive feat of engineering. In silence, everyone watched the Silhouette Knights before them. Only Leotamus did not seem particularly shocked by the sight.

“…Seriously, that Ernesti sure loves to scare new recruits.” Leotamus sighed at the mastermind behind the whole display.

Certainly, this event showed a particular childish aspect of Eru. However, there was a certain hint of irony as the criticism came from the king that approved the plan in the hope that the reveal would create an everlasting impression on the new recruits.

At that moment, the mermaid began to stir once more. From its back, the whistling of air could be heard as the armor slowly bulged up. Everyone instantly recognized that the cockpit of this specific model was placed on the back. Under the gaze of everyone, a few human-sized shadows emerged wearing Silhouette Gear.

Standard convention dictated that the cockpit usually opened to the front, and the knight runners only wore a lightweight suit as pilots. Just as everyone was left flabbergasted by the unusualness, the heavily armored pilots lithely leapt from the back of the Silhouette Knight and made their way to the recruits. There, they opened up the Silhouette Gear and removed the fitted straps before stepping down onto the ground with their own two feet.

At the sight of the pilots, the recruits stirred once again. All four of the knight runners were exceptionally young, at most a few years above the recruits. At the forefront was a relatively well-built male, and they all knelt before the king.

“…As ordered, four Wind Knights of the Silver Phoenix Knights are here to answer Your Majesty’s summons.”

Leotamus nodded in reply before turning to the recruits.

“Knight runners! Burn this sight into your minds, for these Silhouette Knights are the ‘Wind Knights’ you shall pilot!”

The recruits were left completely speechless as they silently gasped. After the Levitate Ship, they have flying Silhouette Knights now. It was a completely foreign realm for anyone to fathom. Certainly, they had all heard the rumors, but it was something altogether to see them in person.

Considering what is to come, it would be problematic if the knight runners did not treat their positions seriously. Therefore, Leotamus agreed to parade the Syrphrines before the new recruits to give them a slight jolt of intimidation. However, the effects went beyond their expectations, and Leotamus was troubled for a solution. Regardless of his inner turmoil, Leotamus would never wear such thoughts on his face.

“With these new Silhouette Knights at its core, we shall now proclaim the formation of the new Knight Order, to which we shall name the ‘Violet Swallow Knights’. It will be an order destined for the air, with the Wind Knights as your wings. For the time being, we shall leave you under the command of the Silver Phoenix Knights.”

Although it was possible to have the Wind Knights under the direct command of the Silver Phoenix Knights, Leotamus was reluctant when considering Eru’s spontaneous and unrestrained nature. He feared above all else that Eru would lead the new Wind Knights astray. As such, Leotamus had decided from the very beginning to establish the Wind Knights as a separate Knight Order, regardless of its size.

“Where the Levitate Ships take to the sky, Silhouette Knights must follow to keep them safe. As the vanguard of the virgin sky, we look forward to your valiant performance.”

Not just the new recruits, but even the veteran Life Guards turned to give a resounding shout of affirmation. Satisfied, Leotamus gave a slight nod before giving a glance to the knight runners of the four Syrphrines.

“Now, you will be under the guidance of the Silver Phoenix Knights. Knight Commander, approach…” Leotamus said to one standing behind him, “We shall leave the rest to you, Ernesti… Remember to show restraint.”

“Yes, Your Majesty.”

Leotamus remained somewhat unconvinced, but he simply let out a sigh before leaving the royal balcony from the rear. In his place, a short boy came forward.

Just as the recruits expected him to start his speech, the young boy leapt from the balcony to the proving ground below.

“Greetings. I am the Knight Commander of the Silver Phoenix Knights, Ernesti Echevalier.” Eru declared with a wide smile, as all the recruits looked upon in wonder.

Only select few knew about the identity of the Knight Commander of the Silver Phoenix Knights, given his importance to the national security. Outside of Academy City Laihiala, barely anyone had known his face. Before long, the Knight Commander turned into an enigmatic existence only foretold by rumors.

As a being preceded by rumors, the Knight Commander was known to be an unparalleled genius who began developing Silhouette Knights while himself only a mere student, as well as piloting the new Silhouette Knights with incredible skill. Not long after, even the king recognized his excellence and honored him with a Knight Order. In short, the Knight Commander was a character that almost felt surreal for his fantastic feats – a truly legendary existence.

Yet, the so-called Knight Commander that stood before them was unusually young, with a fairness of complexion that resembled a maiden. He lacked the imposing stature and attitude worthy of the rumors. To the recruits, the Knight Commander was no less surprising than the flying Silhouette Knights straddled on the ground nearby.

However, Eru did not seem to particularly mind.

“From now on, I will expect everyone present to pilot the newly designed Wind Knights. Although the Levitate Ships have already taken to the air, they are still too fragile. As such, it is in our nation’s most urgent interest to train you all into capable knight runners for the Wind Knights, to defend the Levitate Ships from attack.”

Just as the recruits were frozen in shock, the four knight runners of Syrphrine made their way behind Eru. While three of the knight runners looked like veterans of countless battles, one curiously looked about the same age as the recruits. The four were Edgar, Dietrich, Helvi, and Addy.

Seeing their deference, the recruits were finally convinced that Eru was the commander of the Silver Phoenix Knights.

“One day, when you are able to stand alone, the Violet Swallow Knights will officially be independent. By that time, the Levitate Ships would undoubtedly fly far, perhaps even venture to other continents. Do you not feel that is unfair? If ships could fly, why not Silhouette Knights? In order for Silhouette Knights to reach every corner of the world-…”

“…Wait. Knight Commander, you are veering off topic.” Edgar whispered into Eru’s ear.

After a slight pause, Eru continued.

“Either way, you will be placed under the tutelage of these four. Through training, I expect you to become the world’s first group of knight runners to reach the sky and leave your names in history.”

The recruits were slightly put off by the sudden change in pace, but, intimidated by Eru’s enthusiasm, they all nodded to his words. With that, the Violet Swallow Knights were officially established.

◆ ◆ ◆

Not long since the inauguration of the Violet Swallow Knights, the new recruits found themselves in Fort Olvecius, sharing the fort with the Silver Phoenix Knights.

A small clearing was made by felling the trees near the fort in preparation for the eventual Wind Knight hanger. However, until its construction, the company (ten units) of Wind Knights were temporarily parked in the clearing, set abreast to one another.

These Wind Knights, designated as ‘Touediane’ by the NTR Laboratory, were an improved version of the Syrphrine. It had a simplified but refined design compared to the prototype, with an appearance that was both clean and elegant. However, given the limited field testing done, everyone understood that further improvements were sure to be made in the future.

The Violet Swallow Knights were now in their practical training, during which they will familiarize themselves with the Wind Knight’s basic operation. Furthermore, the training will be done under various conditions to further assess and improve the Wind Knight’s design. Understandably, there was still quite some work to be done before they could shed the prototypes and officially finalize on a production model.

The recruits, now members of the Violet Swallow Knights, constantly shot glances over to the nearby Wind Knights, clearly anxious for their first ever experience in a Wind Knight. Before them, Eru gave the recruits their instructions.

“As everyone is probably aware, a new batch of Silhouette Knights had recently arrived. Although I would like to have you all try a hand at piloting, I would need you all to complete the basic training regimen first before I could allow you in the Touediane.”

The recruits revealed a serious expression as they prepared themselves mentally for training. They were particularly pumped up with the prize dangling right next to them.

Sadly, the enthusiasm quickly waned when they found out the training entailed repeated drops from up high.

◆ ◆ ◆

“…This is different than what I had imagined.”

After a few days of brutal ejection training, the recruits began to grumble.

“Weren’t we all excited when we first laid our eyes on the flying Silhouette Knights…?”

“To think we wouldn’t get the opportunity to pilot one…”

The training they endured lately were either getting catapulted out by the Gear Ejector, or to run laps with the modified Silhouette Gear, the Descendlads. It was a regimen designed to build physical endurance of the knight runners and to gain a familiarity with the new Descendlads. For the recent graduates of the academies, the regimen created an uncanny sense of déjà vu. Although the recruits did not refuse the training, as they were told that it was an important part to become capable pilots, they nevertheless felt slightly disappointed by the mundane regimen.

Opposite them, the officers and veteran knight runners of the Silver Phoenix Knights served as their instructors.

Edgar was tasked with teaching the use of the Gear Ejector and the correct posture for landing after the ejection.

“Understand that this repetitive training is absolutely important! In order to allow you to perform under any circumstances, you will need to be repeatedly drilled until the actions become second nature.”

With that said, Edgar let them perform the ejections again and again, until the sequence of actions became drilled into their very beings. As the recruits became more and more familiar, Edgar would increase the height of the landing, even requiring the recruits to perform simple evasive maneuvers. With Edgar’s stoic and uncompromising attitude, the visage of a demonic instructor soon became ingrained in the minds of the recruits.

In between breaks of Edgar’s training, Dietrich would make the recruits wear Descendlads with him and run laps.

“Faster! In most battles, the stamina and mana will determine the final victor. I expect you to train until you are able to survive even if the Wind Knights run into difficulties! Remember, this is a matter of life and death!”

As the head of the Silver Phoenix Knights’ Assault Company, Dietrich had survived countless bloody battlefields. Not only him, the Silver Phoenix Knights as a whole were veterans of the Great Western Storm, through which each of the knight runners held a wealth of experience despite their young age.

In the difficult and long run, Dietrich remained emotionless even as the recruits became exhausted. To the students, Dietrich was a demonic instructor on a level no less than Edgar, leaving them without a single hope for respite.

Other than the hellish training, the recruits also had to attend lectures to build up a rudimentary understanding of the operation. The lecturer happened to be Addy, the youngest of the officers. Incidentally, Edgar and Dietrich were quite young themselves among the knights of the kingdom, while Addy was about the same age as the recruits. Although the recruits felt odd to have a lecturer so young, they hoped that it would at least provide a refuge from the difficult physical training.

“When you pilot the Wind Knight, you must first Fwoosh the Etheric Levitator to allow it to float. Afterward, you Swish on the air currents when you move forward, and you will be able to move quite fast!”

“M-ma’am… We r-really couldn’t understand…”

Contrary to their expectations, Addy’s lectures were incredibly painful to sit through. Thankfully, the lecture materials were prepared by Eru and Boss, so the overall details were quite complete. However, the lecturer assigned to the recruits was Addy, one who piloted by vague ‘feelings’. As such, the lecture was filled by onomatopoeias and made nearly impossible to understand, through which the recruits sadly resigned themselves to self-study the material.

“…Looks like this won’t work.”

“Should we lend a hand? As it stands, there will certainly be trouble when we put them into practice.”

“Hey, Addy, haven’t we already told you to use fewer sound effects?”

With that said, Helvi became assistant to the lecturer and clarified the vague parts of Addy’s lectures. Helvi’s previous experience of learning Tzendrinble’s operation from Addy helped with her interpretation. As the recruits took in Helvi’s comprehensive explanations, they had finally seen a glimmer of light in their grueling day to day life. Incidentally, Helvi soon gained the nickname of the ‘Healing Goddess of Training’ among the recruits.

◆ ◆ ◆

After months of hellish training, the Violet Swallow Knights were finally allowed aboard the Touediane. Although that was the case, the knight runners could only take turns piloting the Touediane given the lack of units. For the recruits, those without their turns were forced to continue their usual training regimen.

“I’m sure you all have looked forward to this moment! It is time for everyone to take to the skies, so I hope you all remember your training. Now, prepare for boarding!”

“Yes sir!”

After enduring through Edgar’s incessant drills, the recruits were swift in their actions. They smoothly slid into the Descendlad with practiced movements and inserted the silver swords into the appropriate slot. Once the lock had been disengaged, the recruits quickly performed a system check and then stood before Edgar in attention.

There was a visible nervousness on the faces of the recruits. Despite the vigorous training they had endured, they were anxious for their first flight.

“Good! Next up is boarding the units, just like we practiced. If there are any questions, be sure to let me know!”

The recruits gave a strong affirmation before climbing aboard their respective Wind Knights. Firstly, they had to link their Descendlads to the Gear Ejector.

“Ugh! Although they had mentioned it before, there really are too many instruments! To think it would be this complicated…”

Although the recruits had ample experience piloting Silhouette Knights, they were still surprised by the complexity of the Wind Knights. The sheer number of buttons and instruments were simply incomparable to the terrestrial Silhouette Knights.

It was a common drawback of all the new Silhouette Knights developed by the Silver Phoenix Knights. With every new feature they added to the successive models, there needed to be a corresponding control system, resulting in an ever-increasing complexity for knight runners to master – the most extreme case being the Ikaruga itself. However, beyond the additional dials and switches on the Wind Knight, there were other difficulties the knight runners had to overcome.

“Don’t panic! Just follow Adeltrud-… I mean, Helvi’s instructions. Set the Etheric Levitator to a minimal output, just enough to have the unit float, all the while not making any sudden movements.”

The recruits regained their calm with Edgar’s recommendation and followed the instructions to slowly manipulate the controls. The Ether Supplier began to hum as concentrated Ether streamed into the Etheric Levitator. Before long, the unit reached the concentration threshold as it floated into the air, and the tethers were held taut on the ground below.

“Good! Time to retract the tethers. Be ready, the moment the tethers are detached, the Wind Knights will experience a sudden rise. Everyone, remain calm when that happens!”

With the tethers were detached, the entire unit took to the air. The sudden freedom from the confines of the ground gave the recruits a new rush of excitement.

The objective of the session was to establish a stable altitude with the Etheric Levitator. Although some of the recruits did struggle with balance, they were able to quickly regain control with their practiced movements. Granted, a select few did end up ejecting out after losing control.

After completing their initial flight, the recruits slowly build upon that experience with increasing height and, eventually, with propulsion. Soon, the Violet Swallow Knights finally reached the point where they could freely fly in the air.

◆ ◆ ◆

“Switch to wedge formation!”

The tail of Edgar’s Wind Knight flashed in color as the rest of the Wind Knights fell into formation closely behind. With their fins outspread, the Wind Knights freely coursed across the sky in the practiced wedge formation.

“Good, it looks like they are slowly coming together.”

With the sound of strong wind whistling high above, the knight runners could not communicate by sound. As such, light signals were installed as an effective mean of communication.

Although there were few obstacles in the sky, the amount of information they need to process was certainly not lacking. Furthermore, they needed to establish formations if they were to be effective in combat.

“They are still somewhat shaky, not to mention there isn’t much in the ways of preexisting aerial tactics. However, this level of performance should suffice for now.”

As the instructor, Edgar settled into his role as he began to subconsciously score the other Wind Knights. At that moment, a Syrphrine zipped past the formation with incredible speed.

“Haa… Adeltrud is as impressive as always. If only her lectures were better.”

Compared to the Touediane they were piloting, Addy’s Syrphrine was much nimbler in flight. In other words, while the recruits were barely passable as pilots, Addy was flying as one with the Syrphrine across the air currents.

The recruits were all mesmerized by Addy’s incredible performance. Although her instructions were difficult to understand in class, they could not deny her unmatched skill in the air. The recruits could not help but regret her inability to transmit her experience properly in words.

“To think she was able to control that fish this well! Perhaps she was feeling a familiarity with her experience in the Tzendrinble? Either way, we won’t admit defeat!”

Edgar signals for the Wind Knights to increase their speed as they chased after Addy’s Syrphrine.

◆ ◆ ◆

Thus, the training continued to a certain day.

“Edgar-senpai, Di-senpai, Helvi-senpai, and everyone else, please gather around.”

“What is wrong?”

It had been some time since Eru summoned everyone to a meeting. His face was plastered with worry.

“It’s nothing serious… Just that His Majesty had informed me that with the sheer amount of resources we had poured into the Wind Knights, there had been a growing amount of grumbling at court that voiced doubt about their actual usefulness.”

“Has it reached the point where His Majesty must intervene?”

Dietrich knitted his brows at Eru’s words. Considering the efforts already spent to recruit and maintain knight runners for the Violet Swallow Knights, it was odd for them to voice their concerns about the Wind Knights’ utility this late in the process.

Eru revealed a complicated smile, apparently not denying the possibility.

“Perhaps there were some nobles that honestly believed the Wind Knights to be ineffective. However, I think the majority at court only desired for a proper demonstration of the Wind Knights in actual combat.”

Everyone quickly understood Eru’s words.

“Since the grumbling of the nobility had reached unbearable heights, His Majesty is also at a loss. Therefore, His Majesty had ordered us to claim some achievements with the Wind Knights in the coming days.”

“…As in actual combat? Not to disappoint… While the training has been progressing relatively well, I certainly wouldn’t deem any recruits as battle-ready.” Edgar mumbled under his breath.

Although the Violet Swallow Knights had acquired a certain familiarity with the Wind Knights, they still had too little experience in mock battles and were untested as a fighting force. Therefore, Edgar was reluctant to have them stand in combat.

“Of course, His Majesty had given our circumstances some considerations and will provide a proper stage for our performance, with outside help permitted. If my assumptions are correct, His Majesty should be asking us to provide escorts for the beleaguered Life Lines, with the Transport Ship themselves fully armed for combat. If that is the case, I would like to ask Edgar-senpai and the rest of the officers to participate and bring the full force of our arsenal to bear.”

“Uwaa… That is quite the stage.”

The officers looked at each other for a moment. Certainly, the recruits were all mere neophytes when it came to aerial combat, and the lack of actual combat experience was a problem they would eventually have to overcome. Therefore, it might be better to take advantage of the king’s proposition, especially when the king permitted outside help.

“Isn’t it perfect that we are allowed to help with the demonstration? I will definitely do my best in Syr-chan~! So, Eru, will you be participating as well?”

“Not only Addy, the whole of the Silver Phoenix Knights will provide support. As for me… Sadly, the main actors of this field trial are the Wind Knights, so I wouldn’t be able to accompany the group in my Ikaruga.” Eru begrudgingly declared with a clenched fist.

“If you really want to participate, why not simply pilot a Wind Knight yourself?” Dietrich suggested, to which Eru only gazed at him with wide-open eyes.

“I would probably singlehandedly wipe out all demon beasts! Hmm… That certainly is an idea-… No, I want it to be an impartial demonstration, so I cannot participate.”

With Eru as the pilot, any unit would vastly exceed its expected performance. In a way, Eru wasn’t particularly bragging about himself, but merely offered an objective point of view.

Looks like the Knights Commander finally learned some humility.

Edgar kept his thoughts to himself and merely nodded in reply.

“I understand. Since His Majesty personally demanded a demonstration, we will do our best to comply. It isn’t too much of a surprise, since an actual combat is within our eventual plans. As for the knight runners, we shall personally select the skilled ones among the recruits.”

“I shall leave the details to you.”

With the discussion, the Violet Swallow Knights’ long-anticipated debut in actual combat was finally set, with the close support of the Silver Phoenix Knights and the Royal Life Guards.

◆ ◆ ◆

Near the Kingdom of Fremmevira’s capital of Känkänen, a giant shadow slithered across the recently cleared patch of forest at the foothills of Aubigne Mountain Range.

It was a Transport Ship under the command of the Royal Life Guards. The wind from the Blow Engine filled the sails as the ship cruised atop the strong air currents. Its speed not losing even the slightest to the powerful surrounding winds.

Soon, the ship slowed its pace. A single black speck had appeared on the far horizon. It approached the ship at an incredible speed, catching the eyes of the sentries aboard.

“Enemy attack from the front! Everyone ready? Squad Kiverahati, enter battle formation!” Edgar loudly shouted through the voice pipes on the bridge.

His orders soon were amplified through the loudspeakers and were received by the three Silhouette Knights docked next to the skip.

“Understood! Undocking and entering formation!”

With a humanoid upper torso and a fish-like tail, the group of mermaid-shaped Silhouette Knights accompanied the Transport Ship in the sky. They were the Violet Swallow Knights – a Knight Order formed around the world’s first flight-capable Silhouette Knight, Touediane.

The Wind Knights were towed by the Transport Ship on tethers. Since they had already matched their Etheric Levitator’s output to that of the ship, they would be able to fly on their own the moment they uncoupled the tether from the hook on the exterior surface of the ship.

The Wind Knights wiggled the fins accordingly, taking advantage of the surrounding air currents to pull some distance from the Transport Ship. Once they were at a safe distance, the Wind Knights activated the propulsion system as they zoomed forth with a burst of flame. There was simply no comparison between the flame propulsion and the Blow Engine. Even the metal-clad Silhouette Knights could easily achieve incredible acceleration at just a moment’s notice.

The company of Wind Knights entered formation at the front of the Transport Ship. It was a formation designed to intercept an approaching attacker.

“…Enemy to the front. Squad Kiverahati, engaging!”

At the front of the formation, the designated command unit flashed its light signal to the rest.

In the time the Violet Swallow Knights entered combat formation, the speck of dot continued to close the distance. On closer inspection, the approaching object was also a Wind Knight. However, unlike the Touedianes of the Violet Swallow Knights, it was the prototype Syrphrine piloted by Addy. It was a mock battle with Addy serving as the enemy.

“Do not go easy on Instructor Olter! Let’s show her the fruit of our training! Surround her!”

The command unit began to accelerate with its lance at the ready. All the while, the light signal flashed its intention to the rest of company.

Wedge formation, pincer attack!

At the command, the Touedianes broke off into squads of three as they began to encircle Addy from both sides. With only a single Syrphrine as their opponent, the recruits sought to take advantage of their superior numbers in a pincer attack.

As both sides entered firing distance, an intense barrage of magic shots was unleashed upon the Syrphrine in an attempt to disrupt its movement. At the same time, the other Touediane approached from the sides with lances at the ready.

The recruits carried out their orders with practiced motions as their impeccable teamwork isolated the lone Syrphrine. However, the Syrphrine simply disregarded their barrage and charged headlong into the encirclement.

Although they were using practice rounds, getting hit by them will still cause ample backlash, sufficient to seal any movements. As such, Syrphrine would not stay still to receive the shots.

Syrphrine turned the thrusters toward the ground with a slight twist of its tail. Like a fish leaping out of water, Syrphrine rapidly gained altitude, before dropping back down by the force of gravity. While the Etheric Levitator allowed the unit to maintain a certain height, there was no reason why they should limit themselves. Syrphrine took full advantage of its fins as it glided effortlessly through the barrage of shots.

“Do you have any thoughts regarding the Violet Swallow Knights?” Edgar asked the one seated in the captain’s seat.

“Hmm… It is certainly quite the show. I certainly didn’t hold many expectations when I first heard about flight-capable Silhouette Knights. However, now that I have witnessed them in action, I have to say they could certainly hold their own. By the way, are they all the new recruits of the Violet Swallow Knights?”

The man seated in the captain’s chair was the captain of the Transport Ship. At the same time, he was the commander of the Royal Life Guards’ Levitate Ship Corps.

“The ones currently piloting the Wind Knights are the most skilled recruits within the Violet Swallow Knights. Do you not think they are performing quite well?” Edgar replied with an affirmative nod.

“I see. So there are some differences in aerial combat when compared to terrestrial combat, and their encirclement was pulled off quite admirably. Still, the one who managed to evade their attack is in a league on its own.” The captain muttered as his gaze was focused on the single Syrphrine, “…The movements are almost mesmerizing. I doubt there would be any concern if the whole of the Violet Swallow Knights reached that level.”

“…She is one of the few aces within the Silver Phoenix Knights, and she serves as an instructor with the rest of our officers.”

“Ah… I guess it’s as expected for the Silver Phoenix Knights,” The captain mumbled while he gazed around the bridge, “On other note, to host this cooperative mock battle with the Transport Ship as support, I am quite surprised by the ingenuity of the Knight Commander of the Silver Phoenix Knights.”

“It’s nothing. The Knight Commander mentioned that, given the inability for Wind Knights to land frequently, there needed to be a support platform to provide rest and maintenance during operation. As such, it didn’t hurt to entertain a cooperative training as early as possible.”

Edgar simply regurgitated Eru’s earlier explanation. The new Wind Knights were vastly different from the original terrestrial models. Even the slightest adjustment would require incredible effort. Furthermore, the intricate design made the internal quarters relatively cramped, precluding the possibility of extended operations.

As such, when the demonstration was decided upon, Eru gave an interesting suggestion. Since the Wing Knights were originally designed as an escort, they should at least carry out a cooperative training with the Transport Ships.

“As expected of the Knight Commander. To think he didn’t only invent a new Silhouette Knight, but also thought of a proper tactic for its use.”

Of course, Eru did have inspiration from his previous world, with the symbiotic relationship between aircraft carriers and airplanes. That being the case, no one else could fathom the source of such an inspiration beyond Eru himself.

“Either way, the focus should be on the Wind Knights. Just knowing that they are not as useless as the rumors made them out to be will suffice. Since anything could happen on an actual battlefield, I will entrust you to keep up the wonderful preparation.”

“Certainly, we will do our best.”

“Good, I will leave everything to you.”

Just as the two reached a tacit understanding, a sudden burst of wind zoomed past the Transport Ship. Thankfully, the wind wasn’t too strong, and the Transport Ship only experienced a light wobble. On board, the crew entered into high alert.

They soon realized the cause of the wind was Syrphrine, who skidded past the Transport Ship after breaking through the Touedianes’ barrage. In other words, the interception was a complete failure.

“Looks like they are still quite green.”

“Sorry about it. Looks like we will need to increase their training,” Edgar replied with a sigh, before muttering under his breath, “Still, Adeltrud, this is only training. Why couldn’t you hold back a little.”

The Syrphrine soon came back to the side of the Transport Ship, waving happily at the bridge.

Although the mock battle was a failure, the Violet Swallow Knights did not give up and continued with further rounds of cooperative training.

◆ ◆ ◆

With the mock battles behind them, the Transport Ship returned to Känkänen. The Violet Swallow Knights and their Wind Knights also returned to base, relieved at the liberation from the evaluative gazes of the Royal Life Guards.

“Argh! To think we couldn’t land a single hit on Instructor Olter again!”

“Haa~ I guess we must look miserable in front of the Royal Life Guards. I wish the instructors would go easy on us.”

“How could she maneuver so freely in the sky? Magic shots aside, I do not think we were even able to close in on her.”

The recruits each expressed their own opinions of the mock battle results. Curiously, one common topic was their view of Addy’s exceptional piloting. It was simply difficult for the recruits to imagine how she could move that freely despite piloting the exact same Wind Knight as themselves, or rather, compared to the prototype Syrphrine, their Touediane should be superior in every aspect.

“Since she was able to act as our instructor, I don’t doubt her potential. Yet, it does feel somewhat disheartening to not be able to close that gap with our immense effort.”

All the instructors sent from the Silver Phoenix Knights were relatively young in age. In particular, Adeltrud Olter was about the same age as the Violet Swallow Knights’ recruits. Yet, the skill between the recruits and Addy were like heavens and earth, one that allowed her to easily evade the concentrated barrage of an entire company. As such, the recruits were curious about the experience necessary for Addy to achieve such an overwhelming skill.

At that moment, one of the recruits opened his mouth.

“Say, do you think our loss against Instructor Olter would bar us from participating in the demonstration?”

The barracks turned silent at the thought. While they were given the title of Violet Swallow Knights, they were still mere recruits. Therefore, they would always run the risk of being disbanded from a lack of confidence by the higher-ups.

“…No. I do not personally think that would be the case. We are, after all, selected through a rigorous process, and thus allowed to partake in this training. At least… I do not think we will be dismissed before a proper demonstration.” The youth that served as the commander reasoned, breaking the stifling silence.

Despite it being mere conjecture, the recruits gave a sigh of relief.

“Y-yeah! We shouldn’t stay depressed forever. As long as we do our best…”

“Yup, we will definitely improve. No matter what, I want to fight demon beasts in the Wind Knights.”

“It is definitely an opportunity! Speaking of which, wasn’t His Majesty looking forward to our performance?”

Everyone tried their best to encourage themselves.

“In that case, as long as we do not give up, we will definitely… become the next generation of heroes!” The young commander capped off the conversation.

Heroes. It was a title monopolized by the Silver Phoenix Knights for many years. They had vanquished demon beasts large and small, keeping towns safe from harm, and provided aid to allies in their greatest time of need. Beyond a few remaining obsolete models within the kingdom, most of the advanced Silhouette Knights were the result of their handiwork.

Even if the Wind Knights proved to be a success, the Violet Swallow Knights could not hope to immediately match the achievements of the Silver Phoenix Knights. Yet, the Violet Swallow Knights would at least gain fame as the first pilots of Wind Knights in history, or so they believed.

“Let’s not stay depressed. Why not review today’s mock battle? Was it because our encirclement was too lax?”

“No, I feel as if it was because her movements had misled our focus.”

The recruits once again regained their vigor. After a moment of banter, they returned to review their most recent mock battle. The young commander, Lafal Kiverahati, looked upon his company with a satisfied smile.

Lafal was not wrong. The joint training with the Transport Ships was meant to provide them experience for the eventual demonstration. In other words, they were seen as the representative knight runners in the whole of the Violet Swallow Knights.

The top officials had already decided on a company (ten units) of Touediane to participate in a live combat demonstration. As such, ten knight runners were chosen among the recruits to partake as pilots for the operation. To lead them, Lafal was selected for his calm demeanor, skill, and mastery of tactics.

Lafal was born as the third son of House Kiverahati, a lesser noble within the Kingdom of Fremmevira. As a mere third son, Lafal could not count on the allodial inheritance to live out his life, especially with the extent of primogeniture practiced within the kingdom. While the second son might be kept as an heir-in-waiting, younger sons must seek their fortunes elsewhere. Therefore, Lafal settled on the same career common to many cadets of lesser nobles, to polish his martial skills and serve as a knight runner for the kingdom. At least up to this point, his story was not much different from any other, but he alone had the benefit of timing.

Just as he was about to graduate from his studies, a rare opportunity presented before him. It was the reveal of the world’s first flight-capable Silhouette Knight, and, with it, the demand for young knight runners to train as their pilots. It was a strange opportunity, as such openings were usually given to veteran knight runners with years of experience.

As the top of his class, Lafal jumped on the opportunity and made it through the final selection. With hard work and natural talent, Lafal was eventually selected as the commander of the company.

He was still young, and the Violet Swallow Knights were still in their infancy. As such, there were many difficulties before him. Yet, depending on his future performance, reaching the stars was no longer a mere dream. This ambition was not limited to him along, all the recruits contained an unquenchable will to succeed. In the constantly evolving Kingdom of Fremmevira, the vast skies remained an unknown realm. If they were able to tame the sky, glory was certain to follow.

“We will definitely succeed.”

Hearing Lafal’s quiet mumbling, the rest of the recruits nodded in agreement. With hearts as one and heightened morale, the recruits looked forward to the upcoming challenge.

Their own drive aside, the recruits did feel that, since the mock battle, Edgar had become stricter with their training. As such, despite their own personal conviction, they could only lament their misfortune.

◆ ◆ ◆

Time passed quickly, and soon, the day of reckoning had finally arrived. At a certain airship dock near Känkänen, the Royal Life Guards’ Levitate Ship Corps carefully performed the final checks on their Transport Ships. Nearby, a company of the Violet Swallow Knights’ Touedianes stood attention, and across from them were Syrphrines and Touedianes of the Silver Phoenix Knights.

“It’s almost time for battle. After the countless trials you had all endured, it is finally time for you all to demonstrate the fruits of your training!” Edgar announced while facing the nervous Squad Kiverahati.

The rest of the crew borrowed from the Silver Phoenix Knights were busy with their own checks. Rather than sheer drive for perfection, the other members of the Silver Phoenix Knights simply wanted to avoid the task of babysitting the Violet Swallow Knights and thrust it onto Edgar.

“You and the Wind Knights are the stars of this show! Stay vigilant and you will all perform well! In any case, we will always be close by to assist!”

“Y-yes sir…”

Despite knowing the Silver Phoenix Knights were around to assist if anything were to go wrong, the recruits still could not resolve their anxiety. After all, real battles were completely different from the mock battles they had experienced.

“Do not worry. The actual demon beasts are nowhere near as terrifying as Adeltrud.” Edgar declared with a hint of sarcasm.

With their current state of mind, the recruits took longer than usual to catch Edgar’s icebreaker joke. In their nervousness, they could only reveal a complicated smile in return.

“Demon beasts are weak individually, but are a powerful threat as a group. The same could be said for you. No matter the situation, never let go of the advantage you have in numbers. Remain steady and make the most of your excellent teamwork!” Edgar continued, brushing aside the recruits’ lukewarm response to his joke.

“Y-yes sir…”

After a few words of encouragement, Edgar received the order to depart.

“Now. Violet Swallow Knights, to battle!”

“Understood!”

With Wind Knights on the flanks of the Transport Ships and hearts full of expectation, the fledgling knights spread their wings and took to the azure skies.

◆ ◆ ◆

The Transport Ship smoothly cruised across the sky, parting the powerful winds with its sturdy bow.

“…We should be arriving at demon beast territory soon. The last time we were here, it took everything we had just to escape. However, this time will be different.” The captain muttered with a serious expression.

It was a route he had attempted to chart on a previous mission, where his ship had suffered the crippling attack of the Glaive Wings. During the previous encounter, the Wizards performed splendidly, but in the end, they were still forced to withdraw.

However, the captain felt this mission would be different. Instead of provisions, the hold of the Transport Ship was filled with the newest models of flying Silhouette Knights.

“Now, let us witness the strength of those fledglings! Inform the Violet Swallow Knights to prepare for combat!”

With the order delivered through the voice pipe, the cargo hold began to clamor below. Knight runners scurried aboard their Wind Knights and initiated the start-up procedures.

“We will begin the airdrop. All deckhands, clear the area!”

As the deckhands evacuated from the chamber, the floor of the Transport Ship swung open and the tethers that held the Touedianes detached. At that moment, the Touedianes were evicted from the bowels of the Transport Ship by the force of gravity. However, the Touedianes didn’t collide with the ground below. Rather, they slowed to a stable altitude with the concentrated Ether already prepared within the Etheric Levitator. After only a slight dip in altitude, the Touedianes began their aerial maneuvers.

Other than the units kept within the cargo hold of the Transport Ships, the Wind Knights tethered on the outside also disconnected their links. They were a detachment kept externally for the sake of sudden emergencies.

As the mermaid Silhouette Knights freely swam in the strong air currents, they carefully pulled away from the immediate vicinity of the Transport Ship. With a burst of air, the streamlined Wind Knights accelerated from the cumbersome ship.

“Let’s see what you are capable of…” The captain muttered with narrowed eyes as he gazed upon the exhaust trail stretching out from his ship.

“Demon beasts sighted ahead in loose formation!”

Squad Kiverahati soon detected movements far ahead and reorganized themselves into formation.

The loudly squawking demon beasts were known as ‘Glaive Wings’, a relatively common duel-class flyer in the Kingdom of Fremmevira.

It didn’t take long for the Glaive Wings to notice the intruders encroaching on their territory, and they were soon awash with enmity. Be it terrestrial or aerial intruders, the territorial Glaive Wings were not willing to relinquish their hunting grounds without a fight. Following a high-pitched screech, the Glaive Wings focused on their intended target and, with bodies bathed in the gentle glow of magic, quickly accelerated through the air. Thus, the first historical air battle between Silhouette Knights and demon beasts commenced.

“Just as the instructors foretold, there are quite a number of demon beasts…”

Lafal used the light signals to transmit his intentions to the rest of the company, and Squad Kiverahati nimbly changed their formation. Opposite them, the Glaive Wings did not form up into any discernable formation as they clumped closer to one another.

In the battle against demon beasts, the tactical maneuvering of a Silhouette Knight was as important as, if not more so than, the performance of each individual unit. With the correct practiced formation, the Silhouette Knights’ potential could be greatly amplified.

“Do not get encircled and slowly whittle down their numbers from the outside! Screen them away with ranged attacks and do not let them approach!”

With Lafal’s unit in the lead, the company changed their course. Rather than charging headlong into the demon beasts, the company turned to the side of the approaching demon beasts and trailed their staff weapons upon them.

With a faint glow, the staff weapons unloaded their shots upon the unsuspecting Glaive Wings. A curtain of orange shots curved toward the demon beasts and blanketed them with spectacular explosions.

Enduring waves after waves of shots, the Glaive Wings fell one after another. However, the Glaive Wings did not simply resign themselves to the slaughter. With their natural agility, the Glaive Wings nimbly dodged the shots and steadily closed the distance.

“F-fast. Looks like we won’t get through this with shots alone… I think it is about time. Company, switch to lance and form up into a wedge!”

The Wind Knights quickly altered their formation to wedge and charged straight at the center of the Glaive Wings. As the magius thrusters roared, the Wind Knights accelerated into combat.

As far as melee weapons were concerned, there was a slight difference in its use for aerial combat. Without the benefit of a stable footing, aerial melee combat relied heavily on their inertia. For the heavy Silhouette Knights, their charge became incredibly lethal once they reached the desired speed.

Like a loose arrow, the Wind Knights tore a gaping hole in the center of the Glaive Wing formation. Although the large size of the Glaive Wings gave them an imposing appearance, they were built relatively light and were easily split asunder by the powerful thrust of the Wind Knights.

Now on the far side of the Glaive Wings, Squad Kiverahati did not slow their flight. After reaching a certain distance away, Squad Kiverahati circled around for a second charge.

“Good… This could work! Looks like our initial charge shaved off quite a few of Glaive Wings!”

With his eyes on the large gap torn by the earlier charge, Lafal became convinced of the effectiveness as he savored the success. Even with body strengthening, the Glaive Wings could not resist the Wind Knight’s devastating charge. Incidentally, the Glaive Wings, while blessed with superior agility, lacked the tough skin and ferocious attacks of their terrestrial cousins.

With the crippling blow, the gathered Glaive Wings quickly scattered in all directions, before turning back with the intent to surround Squad Kiverahati. Despite their low intelligence, the Glaive Wings seemingly recognized that clumping together was a recipe for disaster.

“It seems we won’t be able to immediately wrap this battle up. In that case, we will proceed to our next formation. Squad Kiverahati, break off into flights and run them down!”

From their individual performance, the Wind Knights held an absolute advantage. Thus, they were not in the slightest disadvantage when split into flights. With a burst of acceleration, each of the flights separated themselves from the company and raced to intercept the approaching Glaive Wings.

As one group of Glaive Wings tied the Wind Knights down in combat, a separate group of Glaive Wings began to ascend. Unlike the Wind Knights, Glaive Wings relied on their powerful wings rather than concentrated Ether to stay afloat in the air. Therefore, unlike the Wind Knights, which was relatively limited in vertical maneuvers due to the nature of the Etheric Levitator, the Glaive Wings could adjust their altitude with ease.

Once the Glaive Wings reached a point directly above the Wind Knights, they collapsed their wings as they spun into a dive. Reinforced by powerful strengthening magic, the Glaive Wings made their body into a living lance as they performed their classical attack maneuver.

Beyond the difficulty of receiving an attack from directly overhead, the Wind Knights also struggled from the inability to quickly adjust the altitude, thereby precluding them from engaging the foe.

The Wind Knights had also noticed the Glaive Wings’ movements. Curiously, they remained surprisingly calm despite the impending attack.

“While having enemies overhead is a considerable disadvantage, it doesn’t mean we are not prepared for the possibility!”

Lafal pressed a few buttons next to the movement controls and activated one of the prepared weapons. At Lafal’s command, Touediane’s lower torso opened up and revealed a Multiple Javelin Launcher System beneath.

“Now, have a taste of Magic Javelins!”

With a loud explosion, Javelins burst forth from the launcher. The launcher installed on the Touediane was a truncated version of the standard Multiple Javelin Launch System, but with all the necessary parts included, such as the use of Silver Nerves.

Despite it being smaller than its predecessor, the shortened light-weight Javelins were not the least weak. Essentially, it was a weapon designed with aerial combat in mind.

The short Javelins flew with incredible precision toward the approaching Glaive Wings and pierced through them with ease. Despite their superior agility, the Glaive Wings were unable to respond to the fast-approaching Javelin and was easily decapitated by the strike. Without its head, the Glaive Wing slowly fell toward the ground.

“Success! To take out the Glaive Wing with a single strike, this weapon is devastatingly powerful! However, I cannot believe how hard it is to control the course. If anything, I doubt I would be able to fire these Javelins on the move.”

For the fledgling knight runners, the guidance system for the Javelins was extremely difficult. As such, it was very easy for the knight runners’ focus to be drawn away by the Javelins and neglect the control of the Wind Knight. However the case, the sheer destructive power of the Javelin was undeniable.

Just as Lafal let out a sigh of relief from felling the Glaive Wing, a second Glaive Wing that was obscured by the first took advantage of his temporary negligence.

By the time he had noticed, the second Glaive Wing was already on top of him.

“Wh-… Darn it!”

As there was no longer any time left to dodge, Lafal spontaneously raised his shield, hoping to minimize the damage to follow.

At that moment, a single Silhouette Knight tore through the air and moved between the Glaive Wing and him, with the tip of its lance wonderfully catching the approaching Glaive Wing and knocking it away. The Wind Knight continued for a short distance before turning to Lafal.

“While it is not wrong to be proud of your achievements, you should not let the success go to your head. There are quite a number of enemies left, and, as the company commander, you should keep a good grasp of your surroundings. Your company is currently way too dispersed! Hurry up and gather them back in formation!”

“…Instructor Blanche! U-understood, my sincerest apologies!”

After Edgar confirmed his safety, he gave a few words of admonition before flying away. Taking the criticism to heart, Lafal also returned to the fray.

With a few flashes of the light signal, the dispersed company soon formed up behind him and Squad Kiverahati once again launched an offensive.

From that point on, the Squad Kiverahati held an absolute advantage over the Glaive Wings. Although there were a few sticky situations, Edgar was able to bail them out from disaster. Before long, the Violet Swallow Knights stood victorious.

In comparison, the Wind Knights held the advantage of options over the Wizards, able to fight in both melee and ranged as the situation dictated. With its superior performance, it could even hold its own against a dozen of duel-class demon beasts in the sky.

The captain watched the triumphant Violet Swallow Knights attentively from his Transport Ship in the rear.

“It’s truly hard to believe. Looks like a new era is upon us, where mankind will seize the skies. I am certain the Violet Swallow Knights will play a critical role in what is to come. We should consider ourselves fortunate to be at the vanguard of technological development.”

In his critical gaze, the captain seemed to have arrived at his own conclusion.

◆ ◆ ◆

As the victorious Violet Swallow Knights and Transport Ship returned to Känkänen and reported to the king, the Wind Knights had finally proven its strength and established themselves within the kingdom.

While they were unable to immediately spare the industrial capacity for Touediane’s production, the Wind Knights did find themselves with a steady increase in production alongside the Transport Ships. The successful cooperation between the Transport Ship and Wind Knights soon spread across the kingdom.

With that, the Violet Swallow Knights slowly developed a fame that was reminiscent of their parent Knight Order, the Silver Phoenix Knights.

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V06 Chapter 49: Inhabitants of the Sky

TL/N: Happy Lunar New Year everyone, and here’s my red envelope for y’all~


Translator: Huapollon

A single ship flew by with full sails.

It was a Transport Ship exclusive to the newly formed branch of the Fremmeviran Royal Life Guards, the Levitate Ship Corps. One that was directly subordinate to the King of Fremmevira himself. The ship was filled to the brim with provisions, evidently on a supply run to the eastern hinterlands. Managing the supply lines was the task given to all the new Transport Ship operated by the Royal Life Guards, collectively known as the ‘Life Lines’.

“…The wind is stronger than usual. Retract the sails!” On the ship’s bridge located at the front of the vessel, the captain bellowed orders to his crew, “We have quite the full load today, so it would be dangerous if we were to pick up too much speed.”

Since the Transport Ship used sails for propulsion, it could take advantage of natural air currents instead of relying solely on its Blow Engines. However, even so, it should only be done in moderation, as too high a speed would prove hazardous. While the travel time could be considerably shortened, the high speed stiffened the controls and made the ship difficult to steer. Furthermore, high speeds would also cause incredible stress on the frame of the Transport Ship itself, severely shortening its operational life.

It had been only a few short months since the Levitate Ship first appeared during the Great Western Storm, where it held the unique distinction as the world’s first effective airship. As such, few had the experience to adequately command and crew these vessels. The crew could only hope to slowly accumulate their knowledge through trial and error. Furthermore, the production was still in its infancy, which made every ship precious. Such were some of the reasons why only the Fremmeviran Royal Life Guards were provided with the Transport Ships.

“I hope our trip will continue to be an uneventful one…”

The captain’s worry was not unfounded. As of late, not a single trip on the Life Lines ended smoothly. Sadly, their trip was not the exception.

On the deck of the ship, the sentries soon noticed activity in the air and quickly turned to the voice pipes.

“Winged demon beasts sighted on a direct course. Believed to be duel class, numbering… at least ten!”

A group of black shadows appeared to grow on the backdrop of the azure skies. As they flapped their wings, they let out a bone-chilling screech. They were demon beasts known as ‘Glaive Wings’, categorized as duel-class.

Atop the Transport Ship, it was easy to assume the demon beasts were far off in the distant. However, this in itself was a visual deception in a place void of comparative objects, and their relative speeds meant such distances could easily shrink before notice.

“Slow the ship and change course! Circle around them!”

On the captain’s command, the blow engines on one side of the ship were put into overdrive, and the ship slowly began to list to starboard. Incidentally, due to the sheer weight of the ship and its cargo, the course change was sluggish at best.

Sadly, despite the captain’s quick judgment, his efforts were for naught as a group of Glaive Wings broke from their flight and came after the object that intruded upon their territory.

“Looks like a fight is now inevitable… In that case, have the Wizards ready their units for combat! Tell them to screen the demon beasts away from the vessel! There’s no need to chase down the demon beasts that flee!”

At that moment, the top armor of the Transport Ship began to stir. Curiously, what arose were not part of the Transport Ship’s internal armor, but a form of mana storing armor called the ‘Bulwark Robe’, a critical component for the ranged Silhouette Knights. As the ship was designed for transport, it was only assigned three Silhouette Knights for defense. Having received their orders, the Silhouette Knights took aim at the approaching demon beasts with the staff weapons on their backs.

Perhaps the greatest reason for the Royal Life Guards’ monopoly on the Transport Ships was these ranged Silhouette Knights called Wizards. Knowledge and experience alone were insufficient for the skies, and those who venture into this new landscape needed to have the courage to survive. As such, the select elites in the Royal Life Guards became the top picks to venture into the unknown.

The Transport Ship not only prepared itself for combat, but also searched for an opening to escape. At that moment, the howling of the Glaive Wings could be heard as they entered into range.

“…Open fire!”

The Transport Ship unleashed a torrent of shots on the approaching demon beasts. This barrage could be said is the specialty of the Wizards, taking advantage of their teamwork to curtain the skies with shells.  Incidentally, unlike their tough-skinned terrestrial cousins, the aerial Glaive Wings were lightly built and would easily go down with a single shot. However, the problem was landing a hit.

The natural agility of the flying demon beasts proved to be a challenge for the Wizards. Despite the concentrated barrage, only a few demon beasts fell to the shots, as the rest continued their approach.

At that moment, the Glaive Wings spread their wings as they soared above the Transport Ship before entering into a dive. With weight and momentum on their side, the Glaive Wings accelerated straight at the ship. While it appeared suicidal to the uninformed, their bodies were enhanced with reinforcement magic, making themselves into powerful living lances.

One after another, the Glaive Wings pierced through the Transport Ship.

“Ugh… Keep it up! We have to get away!”

The provisions poured out from the openings, but the crew didn’t give the loss much thought. The cumbersome Transport Ship could not easily escape from the agile Glaive Wings. Under the command of the captain, the Wizards continued their relentless barrage until all mana was exhausted.

After a brave and unwavering defense, the Transport Ship finally found an opening and escaped from the Glaive Wings’ relentless assault. At the same time, the ship was battered beyond all recognition. Their successful escape was all due to the diligence of the crew and, in no small part, sheer luck.

“…This line won’t work. Too many darn demon beasts.” the captain lamented as he spread a map on the navigation table, “…I guess we will need to try a new route.”

On the map, countless X’s could be seen.

When the Life Lines were established, the Fremmevirans were quickly presented with a difficult problem – No matter where they flew, they’d always end up encountering demon beasts.

Even though the kingdom had a sizeable force of Silhouette Knights, they were largely restricted to only certain regions. Stationed in cities, villages, and important highways, the Silhouette Knights were kept to defend key population centers for the sake of efficiency. Beyond these select locations, the kingdom tended to simply ignore the presence of demon beasts. However, with the advent of Levitate Ships, the freedom of movement made it easy to wander into demon beast infested territory.

To ensure safety, the kingdom committed sizeable resources to demarcate the demon beasts’ territory. With new means of travel, came new obstacles to overcome. For the Kingdom of Fremmevira, there still remained large swathes of area that proved hazardous to life.

◆ ◆ ◆

A missive arrived at Fort Olvecius, the headquarters of the Silver Phoenix Knights. The royal crest of Fremmevira on the missive clearly betrayed the sender’s regal identity.

“His Majesty’s orders?”

“No, but it’s certainly nothing good.”

Eru opened the letter and checked its contents. Standing beside him, Addy was hesitant to take a peek over Eru’s shoulders. After all, since the letter was directly addressed to Eru, there was likely privy information not meant for her eyes.

“They had assigned the new Transport Ships to the Life Lines. However, due to harassment from the local flying wildlife, they had suffered severe setbacks. Only with the Wizards were they able to avert disaster.”

Eru revealed a complicated expression as he waived the letter around. Addy, on the other hand, had a serious look.

“Flying demon beasts are difficult, and few have experience fighting them.”

“Quite true. It’s nearly impossible to escape, and the staff weapons are inaccurate against them. As it stands, I doubt they could keep the Life Lines up for long.”

By and large, flying demon beasts were treated as a greater threat than their terrestrial cousins. While they were more fragile, they were significantly more nimble and thus difficult to target. As such, it is generally preferred to avoid conflict whenever possible.

“I guess His Majesty wants us to provide a plan?”

“Probably, but it doesn’t specify in the letter. Maybe His Majesty has already caught wind of our development? Either way, we should hurry with our work on the Syrphrine.” Eru declared with a stern face.

After Eru had finished the design, the knightsmiths of the Silver Phoenix Knights worked day and night on assembling the Syrphrine prototype.

As a matter of fact, the entire process could not be so easily accomplished without the assistance of the veteran knightsmiths. Even in all of Zetterlund, few knightsmiths had endured the same unimaginable trials as those in the Silver Phoenix Knights. Conversely speaking, these trials had forged the knightsmiths of the Silver Phoenix Knights into a skilled and adaptable workforce, capable of incredible feats with the advent of the Silhouette Gears.

“Now, let us hurry with the operational trials.”

Eru gazed upon the huge Silhouette Knight hanging from the workshop ceilings.

Syrphrine Mk. II was over halfway done. Compared to the fully assembled upper torso, the lower torso remained a rudimentary frame, where the knightsmiths were busy finishing the internal components.

The gap in progress was largely due to the difference in familiarity with the associated technology. While the upper half used existing Silhouette Knight frames, the lower half required extensive skills in shipwright.

It was unquestionably a revolutionary design, combining not only the Ether Reactors and the Etheric Levitator, but also the Ether Supplier, all together in a compact core. Around this core, the unit had mobile capacity armors and the modified propulsion system. On mobility and stability alone, Syrphrine was a marvel of construction.

When Eru drew up the blueprint, he was exceptionally careful with the placement of the various components. Moreover, the knightsmiths were able to provide suggestions during its assembly, allowing Eru to further refine the design. Bold in design and delicate in execution, these were the bare minimum of attributes necessary for challenging the unknown.

“Oh? It is slowly turning cute.” Addy commented with a cheerful smile, a complete reversal from during the tests of Syrphrine Mk. I.

Through repeated revisions, Mk. II has gained a streamlined appearance, which not only lowered air resistance in flight, but also gave it a surrealistic beauty. Eru did not know which part of the design Addy liked, but it seemed Mk. II did fit her tastes.

While the upper torso was based on existing technology, changes were still made to fit the new design. Most of the internal components were rearranged, with the most prominent being the move of the cockpit to the back, all for the sake of providing room for a ‘critical component’.

“Heh… The cockpit seemed to be quite large, but with the Silhouette Gear, it may be quite the tight squeeze.”

As the test pilot, Addy stood on the back of the incomplete Silhouette Knight. Curiously, she was dressed in a Silhouette Gear, neither the Motorbeat nor the Motorlad, but a wholly new different Silhouette Gear.

This Silhouette Gear was highly compact and did not enclose the whole body. It also had a pair of long arms, making it difficult to imagine in combat.

Syrphrine’s cockpit was designed to incorporate the use of the modified Silhouette Gear. The cockpit was never particularly roomy inside. As such, no matter how they redesigned the Silhouette Gear, it was still quite the tight squeeze.

“It may feel awkward at first, but connect the arms of the Silhouette Gear with the unit… Yes, with this, you should be able to control the Silhouette Knight with your arms and the thrusters with your legs. Now, Addy, I will leave the rest to you… Everyone, we will start the operational trial.”

Eru walked Addy through the process, as she was still unfamiliar with the new control scheme, and performed a final systems check before closing the rear-facing cockpit door. With everything ready, Eru had all the knightsmiths clear away from Syrphrine and take cover behind prepared ramparts, in fear of any uncertainty during the trial.

“Good. Addy, start the ‘armored propulsion system’ test!”

“All right! Let’s do this!”

At Eru’s command, Addy pressed the initiation button. Within seconds, the Etheric Levitator activated as the entire Silhouette Knight took off into the sky.

“Uwaaa! I-it’s unruly! Ugh!”

Addy quickly adjusted the form of Syrphrine as she activated the second function of the armored flame propulsion system.

The muscular strand crystals within the subarms covered the intricate scripts below, scripts that commanded the newly incorporated ‘Air Burst’. When Addy injected mana into the subarms, the scripts would activate spells and called forth a powerful burst of wind that slowed Syrphrine’s descent.

“Whew…”

Moments before reaching the ground, Addy activated a second burst to cushion the landing. With that, the first trial successfully concluded with both the Silhouette Knight and its pilot’s safe return to the cheers of the knightsmiths.

“Hmm… It still feels somewhat unpolished, but the overall performance was quite satisfactory. Even on the off chance that something like the previous test were to happen, the pilot now should be able to safely bail out through the Gear Ejector from the rear.”

“While you and the young missy could probably survive the fall, other knight runners may not be as fortunate. Since the danger is much greater for an aerial unit, an escape plan certainly wouldn’t hurt.”

The Gear Ejector described the connection between the Syrphrine and the Silhouette Gear. Its greatest function was the eponymous ‘ejection’ mechanism. When activated, the system would command the Magius Engine to cut off the strengthening magic surrounding the cockpit and thus allow the armor to unfold. At the same time, the system would cause an air burst to eject the Silhouette Gear from Syrphrine, pilot and all.

In a sense, it was more accurate to say the knight runners were wearing ‘scripts’ rather than a real Silhouette Gear, in order to allow runners without the knowledge of ‘air burst’ to sufficiently escape the Syrphrine. Granted, the Silhouette Gear does have some strengthening magic to it, if nothing else to resist the force of the ejection. All these improvements were made in light of the Mk. I’s trials in order to increase the survivability of the knight runners.

“Well done, Addy! Both the Silhouette Knight and the Silhouette Gear functioned as expected, and the landing was splendid. I had always known you could do it with a bit of training!” Eru congratulated Addy for the successful first trial, “Next up, I would like you to test the ejection system to ensure it is working as designed.”

“Ehehe… Huh? W-wait… You couldn’t possibly mean…”

Addy was at a loss when Eru suddenly praised her, but his next words made her turn her head in shock. When it came to testing the Gear Ejector, there was only one method.

“Therefore, I will need Addy repeatedly catapulted out from the Syrphrine.”

“H-huh? E-Eru, just wait a moment… I really don’t want to be shot out that many times!”

Addy was not the only one to voice her displeasure, even the nearby knightsmiths revealed a complicated expression at the prospect of reassembling the armor after each and every ejection.

“Addy, the Syrphrine is different from any previous Silhouette Knight, as it is a unit meant to fly unassisted through the sky. If by chance an accident were to happen, even you wouldn’t be able to get away unscathed from a fall of that height. The trials to follow are certainly not without risks. Therefore, I hope for you to receive enough training to ensure your safe return.” Eru declared.

“E-Eru… To think you thought so much for my safety! Alright, I understand! No matter what, I will definitely return to your side!” Addy responded as she hugged Eru tightly, to which Eru returned the hug and gave a slight nod.

“Say, since the young missy is already fine with the trials, why are the rest of you hesitating? This is to ensure the safety of the knight runners, so I expect all of you to work hard!”

Hearing Boss’s sharp words, the knightsmiths overcame their reluctance and proceeded to work.

For the next segment, Addy was catapulted time and time again from the cockpit, and stress tested the Silhouette Gear by leaping off tall buildings.

As one previously familiar with Silhouette Gears such as the Motorbeat, and as one of Eru’s star pupils, Addy was able to survive a moderate fall with magic alone. As such, the repeated ejections not only served as her training, but also served as the field trial for the Gear Ejector, and to thoroughly evaluate the capabilities of the Silhouette Gear. Certainly, the Silhouette Gear had seen through multiple iterations during the development of Syrphrine thanks to Addy’s trials. Just to mention, other than Addy, Eru had also kidnapped a few regular knight runners for the field trials, and, in time, the Gear Ejector was honed to perfection.

◆ ◆ ◆

In time, the eagerly awaited lower half was finally done, albeit slightly behind schedule when compared to the upper torso. Regardless, the finished Syrphrine Mk. II has finally appeared before the Silver Phoenix Knights. The upper torso has a slight bulge on the back, while the lower tail has a streamlined appearance. On its flanks, two large fin-like wings stretch out, making it the perfect embodiment of the word ‘mermaid’.

In its unmanned state, the Etheric Levitator maintained a minimal output, which allowed the Syrphrine to hover slightly above the surface. Rather than a flaw, the lack of foot was by design, or in the words of the designer, “The Etheric Levitator was unique in that as long as the unit is functioning, it cost little to nothing in maintaining the altitude. As such, it was unnecessary to land on the ground each and every time. Rather, it takes more effort to manage the altitude in a landing.”

In daily operation, the Syrphrine simply relied on tethers to keep it from floating away, while its large fins help serve as a landing gear for when it needed to land. Curiously, the fins also allowed for some limited mobility on the ground, even if it was slightly cumbersome.

“Internal ether concentration reaching the critical threshold. Eru, I am ready.” Addy announced using the loudspeaker within Syrphrine.

Eru nodded as he confirmed Ikaruga was nearby and ready for deployment before giving the order.

“We shall commence the propulsion test. Syrphrine, detach tethers!”

The knightsmiths in their Motorlad released the tether controls as a sharp metallic sound echoed in the chamber. Syrphrine, now untethered, slowly floated up by the strength of its levitation field. As a safety precaution, the Syrphrine prototype had its ether output severely limited, so its climb was quite sluggish. With a slight breeze, the fins wobbled as designed to stabilize the craft.

“Activating magius thrusters…! First, let us start gently…”

After reaching a reliable height in order to not damage the workshop, Addy pressed down on the throttle. By her command, a jet of flame burst out from behind as the magius thrusters hummed with activity, and Syrphrine began to cruise forward.

While they had intentionally limited the thruster output, Syrphrine seemed to be relatively stable in its flight. Certainly, both the fins and the streamlined design both helped mitigate any turbulence.

“…So the trial is a success? Good! Syr-chan, time to take it up a notch!”

Haunted by the painful memories from back in the Mk. I, Addy had purposely held back during the initial stages of the trial. However, with the smooth handling so far, Addy seemed to have forgotten her earlier anguish. As she familiarized herself with the control, her movements began to show less and less restraint, or rather, she was simply reverting back to her usual impulsiveness. With every press of the throttle, Addy called for a stronger and stronger burst of flame through the magius thrusters.

Syrphrine sliced through the air as it flew. Its long and slender build allowed for a moderate, but stabilizing, amount of air resistance, minimizing any risk of suddenly spinning out of control. Furthermore, the unidirectional thrusters simplified its overall control, with directional movement relegated to the fins that took advantage of the surrounding air flow and the flexible tail that move the thrusters to the desired position. In this regard, the new design was a resounding success, demonstrating a flexibility not previously seen in the Mk. I.

“Hmm… It feels like Tzen-chan. I guess this could work!”

While Syrphrine’s undulating motion through the air was clearly reminiscent of a swimming fish, Addy had felt its overall control was rather similar to Tzendrinble on top of its already similar shape and design. It was a familiar feeling for Addy, and it didn’t take long before Addy was freely swimming through the sky.

On the ground, the knightsmiths were jubilant at their success. With the tragedy of Mk. I engraved in their memory, the knightsmiths had worked ceaselessly on the Mk. II in a bid to regain their honor. Even Boss, stroking his beard, seemed incredibly pleased with the results.

“Although it still requires a bit of fine-tuning, the overall design could be deemed a success. I’m glad the previous tragedy didn’t repeat itself.”

“Yes. From the looks of it, we should be able to report to His Majesty soon… That aside, I would like to take it out for a spin later on.”

As the knightsmiths were celebrating, Eru seemed to be deep in thought.

Just to mention, later on, there were sightings of a mysterious object flying over Academy City Laihiala at incredible speed, where it caused another uproar in the streets.

◆ ◆ ◆

Archid ‘Chid’ Olter briskly walked through the hectic streets.

He was in the capital of the Kingdom of Fremmevira, Känkänen. The capital had always been a massive metropolis, but it had become exceptionally brimming with activity ever since the advent of the Levitate Ship. After all, the capital was the headquarters of the Royal Life Guards, and, with it, the main dockyard for the new Transport Ships.

Chid nimbly navigated through the crowds and headed to a small tavern in the outer rims of the city. The tavern was located in a quiet and discreet alleyway, far away from the boisterous streets. If Chid wasn’t informed of the location beforehand, he certainly would have a difficult time finding the tavern.

Chid slowly pushed open the door to find the place filled to the brim by patrons, chatting away as they had their meal.

Among the patrons, one stood out above the rest and had attracted much attention. It was a man close to two mels in height, with a muscular build that seemed mismatched for the tiny bar stool as he gorged away on plates after plates of food.

The man was named Emrys Geijer Fremmevira and was the one who had called to meet with Chid. He lifted his face from the now empty plate and waved Chid over. Despite being the second prince of the kingdom, he did not seem to sport a particularly regal air.

“Oh, Chid! Over here! Sorry about calling you over so suddenly! Have you eaten yet? The food here is not only good, but the portions are also quite large! It has my full recommendation!”

“Your High-… Young Master, why do you even know about this place…?”

Faced with Emrys’ rather empty apology, Chid could only let out a sigh. As Emrys’ was innately brusque, Chid felt it would be a waste of time pointing out every little mistake in etiquette.

“Since it was the Young Master’s summons, how could I have refused? I am only surprised that you have picked such a remote meeting place.”

“Hahaha~ Quite the perfect hideaway, is it not?”

Emrys’ bold question made replying difficult. As such, Chid simply chose to sit silently across from Emrys and ordered a light meal.

“…May I ask why you’ve asked me to come alone? To even specify not to bring Ernesti along, is everything alright?”

“…Ah, I see. Leave that aside for now and let us focus on the main topic at hand.”

Emrys revealed a stern expression. If it weren’t for the sauce stuck in the corner of his mouth, his words would have an incredible weight to them.

“As you are aware, dad had pushed for the development of the Levitate Ship the moment we had returned from Kuscheperca, and, from what I’ve heard, the Silver Phoenix Knights have been working on something interesting as well. At this rate, I am certain the Kingdom of Fremmevira will be at the forefront of the technological race. For that reason, I wish to make another trip to the Kingdom of Kuscheperca. Not as an observer or a clandestine operative, I wish to proceed as the representative of Fremmevira. After all, I am pretty sure that I have gained quite the fame for my participation during the war.”

As one of the main contributors during the war, Emrys was held in high regard among the Kuschepercan nobility. Additionally, he held close relations with the royal family as one of their blood relatives. Although there were some reservations having Emrys take up an important diplomatic position with his carefree personality, Chid thought as far as Kuscheperca was concerned, Emrys should be fine.

Just as Chid was contemplating Emrys’ suggestions, Emrys sprang upon him an even more shocking news.

“When that time comes, I will need a few followers… So, Chid, come with me to Kuscheperca.”

“H-huh? M-me? To K-Kuscheperca? Isn’t it a bit too sudden… and, why me?” Chid exclaimed as he leapt up from his seat, for a moment forgetting that they were in a public space.

“Actually, I had always planned to bring you with me! Don’t you have fond memories of Kuscheperca? Moreover, I am certain you are quite the able assistant, having to deal with Ernesti for so long. Just to mention, I have already gotten permission from Marquis Serrati.” Emrys simply replied after revealing a wide smile.

“Y-Young Master is certainly quick…”

Whenever Emrys had decided on something, he was certain to push it through. From how he made all the necessary preparations prior to the meeting, Chid could only sigh in amazement.

“Looks like I don’t have much room to refuse. However, would you mind if I talk it over with everyone in the Silver Phoenix Knights first?”

“Of course! If there is anything you need, feel free to let me know. After all, I am borrowing you from the Silver Phoenix Knights, so we will definitely need to obtain Ernesti’s permission. Oh, but do not worry, just leave convincing Ernesti to me.”

After that exchange, Chid half-heartedly ate the delicious meal and chatted with Emrys before taking his leave for Laihiala.

Sitting in the cockpit of Tzendrinble, Chid seemed to be deep in thought. Certainly, when Emrys mentioned his ‘fond memories’, they certainly only point to the one obvious lingering attachment he had for Kuscheperca.

“I had originally wanted to gently refuse the invitation and take some time to think everything through…”

What to do now?

Chid felt the answer slowly taking form in his heart. In order to discuss his thoughts, Chid raced down the road in the Tzendrinble.

◆ ◆ ◆

Castle Schreiber stood at the center of Känkänen. In the main audience room, King Leotamus let out a deep sigh with drooped shoulders. Across from him stood Olver Blomdahl of the National Technological Robotics Laboratory, with one hand over his mouth and trembling uncontrollably at the recent report sent over by the Silver Phoenix Knights.

“Seriously, just when I thought they were silently recuperating from their recent adventures… I honestly don’t know what to say anymore…”

“We did receive reports of their new developments. Since the project did have its merits, we didn’t plan to interfere. Still, to think they would be able to make the Silhouette Knight fly so soon after the advent of the Levitate Ship. Ernesti is quite the fellow…” Leotamus muttered with a complicated expression.

The report detailed the completion of the ‘Wind Knight’, a Silhouette Knight that could fly unassisted through the air. It was news enough to make anyone quiver in shock.

“Since ships could now fly, nothing barred Silhouette Knights from doing the same… Although such is the logic, we still couldn’t believe one could turn such a mere figment of imagination into a working prototype in so short a time.”

“It’s like watching an innocent child making a new toy for himself. However, thanks to his absurd actions, we were provided an aerial Centaur Knight and a valuable new addition to bolster the kingdom’s forces. Either way, he is the same as always…”

Olver gave praise not in the sense of the gatekeeper, but as the director of the NTR Laboratory. The hint of sarcasm in his complement was unavoidable given the subject matter.

At that moment, Leotamus turned to a serious expression.

“Given our chain of fortifications along the hinterlands near Bocuse, we had always assumed the interior of the kingdom as relatively safe. Yet, as experience had shown us, the demon beasts are still as pervasive as ever. In a way, the advent of the Levitate Ships has shown us the vastness of the sky.”

There were many demon beasts living within the Kingdom of Fremmevira. Recently, thanks to the introduction of the new ‘Eastern Model’ Silhouette Knights, people had come to believe the demon beasts were defeated as a major threat. However, there was both truth and falseness to this belief.

Long ago, when the kingdom was founded, the people tend to settle on relatively safe regions for their towns and villages. Consequently, the settlements were like islands in the wilderness, connected by thin strips of roads. As such, there still existed many uninhabited regions within the kingdom. Considering they still haven’t fully pacified the land, it was to no one’s surprise that they would suffer such a setback in the air.

“We are certainly troubled by the frequent attacks on our Transport Ships and are in need of a solution. In a way, this project is a perfect fit for our problem. Do you think the Silver Phoenix Knights had anticipated our troubles?”

“Perhaps… but it is hard to say for sure. In my humble opinion, there is no greater mystery in this world than the mind of Ernesti.”

Leotamus nodded to Olver’s assessment.

“Either way, the timing couldn’t have been better. With this new Silhouette Knight, our command of the sky will be significantly improved. It will undoubtedly usher a whole new era for our kingdom… In that regard, I hope the NTR Laboratory will keep up its good work.”

“Understood. It is my honor to serve.”

As Olver departed from the audience chamber, Leotamus returned to deep contemplation once more.

◆ ◆ ◆

A few days later, Eru received a summon from Leotamus and soon made his way to Känkänen. There, Leotamus presented Eru with a proposition.

“Your Majesty wishes for me to organize a new company… with the new Wind Knights?”

“Yes. The fact that you designed the Wind Knights aside, we recognized the importance of flying Silhouette Knights in future exploration with the Levitate Ships. However, this new design also presented us with many new problems. Besides the unorthodox production, one of the most pressing issues was the difficulty in finding able knight runners.”

The limiting factor that precluded the widespread use of the new Wind Knights wasn’t its production or materials, but rather the complete lack of trained knight runners. New models like the Karrdatolles were more of an upgrade to existing Silhouette Knights, and the knight runners tended to have a basic understanding leading up to its operation. Comparatively, models like the Tzendrinble were seen with a significantly smaller pool of capable knight runners to that of Karrdatolles, given its more peculiar operation. Yet, the Tzendrinble was still a terrestrial Silhouette Knight, and could be mastered with sufficient training.

On the other hand, the new Syrphrine was completely different. Named the ‘Wind Knights’, their operation was vastly different from any existing Silhouette Knights. As such, one could expect a long period of training before the knight runners could achieve proficiency.

“Even the crew of the Transport Ships are still fumbling their way through the new technology, we could only picture their resignation if we were to present them with a flying Silhouette Knight. After all, we don’t even have an instructor for something as unique as your recent creation. Therefore, we might as well start with a new batch of cadets to specialize in Wind Knights, as they may be able to learn better if they are without the entrenched habits of veteran knight runners.”

“I see. Your Majesty intends to have a new generation responsible for the new technology.”

Leotamus gave a strong nod in reply. Wind Knights were simply too unique, and any knight runner would essentially be relearning from the basics. As such, Leotamus thought it may be better to leave the Wind Knights to new cadets. Certainly, there were instances where veterans with ample experience would be appropriate, but in case of the Wind Knights, the quicker uptake of young students was preferred.

Haa… It is only half of the reasons…

For Leotamus, there was a more pressing concern.

Ever since its formation, the Silver Phoenix Knights had always served as the center for the development of new Silhouette Knights, and the kingdom saw it as their trump card against adversity. While the Silver Phoenix Knights were nominally under the direct command of the king, the group had grown to be largely autonomous under the command of its Knight Commander, Eru, and would act unexpectedly from time to time. Furthermore, due to the unique circumstances that led to its formation, the Silver Phoenix Knights had little in the ways of personnel changes.

As such, there had been incessant requests from courtiers to send their relatives to obtain achievements in the famed Silver Phoenix Knights. Since Leotamus did not wish to meddle in the internal affairs of a largely autonomous order, he had largely suppressed the requests.

“We shall issue a call to the whole kingdom for able knight runners to form the new company. We will leave the specifics of the selection to you.”

The formation of the new company presented Leotamus the perfect opportunity to quell the discontent. Furthermore, regardless of their achievements, the Silver Phoenix Knights were too exclusive an organization and would definitely benefit from new blood from time to time. As such, Leotamus decided to take advantage of the situation to solve two problems with a single stroke.

The glint in Leotamus’s gaze did not escape Eru’s notice. Despite being relatively willful in the pursuit of his desires, Eru still possessed an uncanny discernment.

“I understand. As per your orders, I will organize a new company based on the Wind Knights.” Eru affirmed his new task with a brisk bow.

As always, Leotamus could not discern the meaning of Eru’s soft smile. Without revealing his unease, Leotamus gave a silent nod in reply.

With the meeting, the plan to form a new company with the Wind Knights was decided.

◆ ◆ ◆

Not long since the discussion between Leotamus and Eru, a certain rumor began to circulate around the pilot academies in Fremmevira.

“Hey, have you heard?!”

“Yes, ‘that’, right? Everyone is talking about it, the new ‘Knight Order’.”

“Yeah! Just to tell you something more interesting, I’ve heard that the knight runners will be piloting…”

“…To think it would be flying Silhouette Knights!!”

“Hey, don’t spoil the big reveal! Either way, it is hard to believe that Silhouette Knights could fly. After all, we only learned about flying ships just the other day. Looks like things are becoming weirder and weirder.”

“Don’t say it like that! I think it sounds rather exciting, not to mention it is the newest model. Newest model! I’ve heard the ones behind it are…”

Those Silver Phoenix Knights.”

“Stop spoiling the reveals!”

In the enthusiastic discussions of the cadets and knight runners, the name of the Silver Phoenix Knights would arise from time to time.

It was a group dedicated to the development of advanced Silhouette Knights, with the Tzendrinble and the Levitate Ships among its impressive repertoire. At the same time, the Silver Phoenix Knights were a famed Order under the direct command of the king, under which they had defeated the incursion of powerful demon beasts and triumphed in an expedition to a distant kingdom, holding the title of being the strongest Knight Order.

Furthermore, the Silver Phoenix Knights were known within the kingdom to be comprised of relatively young members. As such, they served as a role model for young and ambitious knight runners desperate for fame and recognition.

Beyond their martial achievements, they were intricately linked with the new ‘Wind Knight’. It was rumored to be the Silver Phoenix Knights newest Silhouette Knight, for which the king himself held in high regard and desired the creation of a new ‘Knight Order’ to accommodate the creation. For many, it was an opportunity of a lifetime.

As with all rumors, there were certain embellishments as they passed from person to person. What was originally supposed to be an experimental company soon became a whole new ‘Knight Order’, with interesting consequences. As the scale of a new Knight Order was different from a mere company, the expected demand in personnel was worlds apart. Incidentally, not only were the cadets of the various academies riled up by the rumors, but also the cadets of the lesser nobles, and they all gathered at the gates of Känkänen to seek their fortunes. Before long, the streets of the already crowded capital became unruly and booming with activity. (1)

Faced with the unexpected development, Leotamus was at a complete loss for what to do, and he quickly summoned Eru back to the capital to devise a solution. The two faced one another with complicated expressions.

“…Ernesti, as you can see, perhaps it would be better to establish a new Knight Order?”

“Umm… but I already have my hands full with the Silver Phoenix Knights…”

“We understand, but… with the current scale of mobilization, we doubt they will accept the addition of a mere company.”

Leotamus was clearly stressed by the situation. While the kings within Zetterlund ruled as absolute monarchs and could easily disperse the crowd with a single command, Leotamus was reluctant as he was behind the call in the first place and retracting his decree would undermine his authority. Additionally, the countless nobles that had gathered in Känkänen would see such a move as an affront to their pride. Since the Levitate Ships and the Wind Knights represented the forefront of technological development, the nobles all wanted a chance to demonstrate their valor in the new Knight Order, and Leotamus did not want to be the one to pour cold water on their enthusiasm. As such, Leotamus was left with limited options.

“If possible, I wish for some time to evaluate the feasibility of a new Knight Order and discuss it with the other officers of the Silver Phoenix Knights. If possible, Your Majesty, I wish to request assistance in the production of the Wind Knights and preemptively increase its output.”

“It can’t be helped. We will divert a portion of the staff at NTR Laboratory to assist you in the production.”

With his request satisfied, Eru was clearly uplifted.

“Understood. By Your Majesty’s will, The Silver Phoenix Knights will do its utmost to see it done.”

“Yes, we shall leave it in your able hands.”

Leotamus finally revealed a more peaceful expression upon hearing Eru’s confident response.

◆ ◆ ◆

Eru immediately returned to Fort Olvecius and ordered a meeting. Upon hearing Eru’s explanation, everyone was slightly anxious about what was to come.

“…And there you have it. We originally planned to organize a company, but the large influx of applicants made it difficult to limit the size. In all likelihood, we may have a full brigade on our hands.”

“Well, it can’t be helped, let us just pretend we didn’t hear what you said and be on our way.”

Just as Dietrich was making his way out of the room, Eru grabbed his arm with a clearly forced smile.

“This determines the widespread use of the Wind Knights and is a personal request of His Majesty. I have deemed the assistance of Silver Phoenix Knights necessary for its completion. As a loyal knight of the kingdom, I am certain Dietrich would not refuse the request of His Majesty, right?”

“…Y-yes.”

Faced with the domineering pressure of Eru’s smile, Dietrich could only resign himself to fate before turning to look at others.

“Don’t worry, none of us could escape fate.” Edgar lamented nearby with drooped shoulders.

“Of course, it is a revolutionary Silhouette Knight. Although, it can’t be helped now that things have come to this…”

They were unsure whether to laugh or cry at their fortune.

“Whenever Eru is involved, the situation would undoubtedly escalate in the end.”

Even Helvi could only casually accept the development as she shook her head. At that moment, Eru took a serious expression.

“Honestly, I was half-joking about the brigade. Certainly, we can’t accommodate such a huge force… I image it would be at most a few companies or a battalion.” (2)

It was impossible to accept everyone who applied. Even Leotamus understood that there was to be a selection exam where they could hand out a few rejections. However, given the heavy involvement of the nobility, it would undoubtedly be quite the sizable number remaining.

“To tell you the truth, establishing a new Knight Order won’t be difficult. The problem is what comes next.”

“The training?”

As the new Knight Order was tasked with organizing a force of capable knight runners for the Wind Knights, it would need to take care of the training. They know full well the headache of dealing with such a large number of trainees.

“As such, Edgar-senpai, Di-senpai, and Helvi-senpai, why not try piloting the Syrphrine?”

“Huh? Now? Although I am quite interested in the Wind Knight, I do not have any plans of abandoning Erledyradcumber. Why not leave it to someone new?”

“I also don’t wish to give up the Guyalarinde. At most, I will drop by during their training.”

Not only the two, other knight runners of the Silver Phoenix Knights had been accompanied by their respective Silhouette Knights for some time. As such, there was an overwhelming sense of attachment to the units that had fought and protected them.

“I am fine. After all, the third company is known for our interest in new creations.”

Only Helvi alone agreed to the new arrangement. As the test pilot for Tellestarle, Helvi held an insatiable curiosity for the new Silhouette Knight.

While others may not be as enthusiastic as Helvi, they still held some interest in the new Silhouette Knight. Hearing the divergent and reluctant responses, Eru revealed a bright smile, striking the three with a terrible premonition.

“I am not asking you to abandon your customized Silhouette Knights. I am only asking you to acquire some experience in the new Silhouette Knight and be familiar with the feeling of operating them.”

“Huh, Ernesti?”

The premonition continued to grow with Eru’s smile.

“Afterwards, I only ask everyone to ‘assist’ with teaching the newcomers… Even if they are part of a different branch of service, they are still members of the Fremmeviran Army. I am certain as veterans, you will assist the newcomers to the best of your abilities.”

Despite knowing that the mentorship to come would be difficult, Eru had no desire to let the officers off the hook. They blankly looked at each other before the three raised their hands in resignation. The Silver Phoenix Knights were not only faced with combat against the demon beasts, but also tasked with overcoming the countless challenges set up by its Knight Commander. By now, the officers had long resigned to their fates.

◆ ◆ ◆

Soon, the officers and members of the Silver Phoenix Knights began their training, with members of the third company making up the majority of the volunteers. As Helvi described, the third company was especially interested in new inventions.

Although it was meant as training, the Wind Knights were still in production. As such, the best they could do at the moment was practice with the Gear Ejector.

“I didn’t think too much about it during Adeltrud’s trial, but now that I have personally experienced the system… I couldn’t help but be impressed by his creativity.”

Having been shot out into the air and landing many times, Dietrich looked upon the seemingly relaxed Eru and Addy with annoyance.

If they were to face disaster in the air, they would be unable to reach safety. As such, everyone knew the importance of ejection training. Despite such being the case, the training was still difficult, and the volunteers quickly began to feel enervated.

Just as they thought there was no end to the ejection training, the NTR Laboratory had sent word that the first batch of Wind Knights was to be delivered. With the news, everyone finally breathed easy at the eventual start of operational training.

However, the operational training was not as simple as they had thought. Despite having weathered all types of difficulties, the domain of the sky was one not easily breached.

“I have never seen so many different buttons and instruments before… Are all these necessary for flight?” Edgar sighed while sitting in the cockpit, looking around at the various instruments around him.

Etheric Levitator, Ether Supplier, and magius thrusters, not to mention the controls for the Silhouette Knight itself. Everyone knew at a glance that it would be no easy task to master the Syrphrine’s operation. Ostensibly, of all the test pilots, Dietrich’s familiarity with the magius thrusters on the Guyalarinde made him the quickest learner.

Just as they finally had completed the basic operational training, the volunteers were faced with basic aerial maneuvers. The training first started with low altitude maneuvers, and then slowly increased the speed and height. The controls were repeatedly drilled into the volunteers until they had gained enough familiarity to fly in formation.

“Now that I think about it, the operation is not as hard as I had initially thought. Although it feels awkward not touching the ground.” Edgar mumbled during a break.

“Yep! Other than the weightlessness, the Wind Knight is not that much different from the Tzendrinble. It should be fine to move with a bit of confidence.” Helvi cheerfully added.

“They did mention the entire design was based on the Centaur Knight, so it is not a surprising conclusion.”

Incidentally, Helvi demonstrated the highest competence with the Syrphrine of the three officers. Only Edgar came from a background that did not benefit his mastery.

“I am also slowly getting the hang of it. In my opinion, this fellow is really like an untamed stallion.” Dietrich interjected into the conversation with a shrug.

“Hmm… Rather than calling it an untamed stallion, wouldn’t it be more appropriate to call it an untamed fish?”

“We shouldn’t get hung up on the appearance. While Syrphrine may appear as a mermaid, its maneuvers more closely resemble cavalry, so it isn’t wrong to call it a flying stallion.”

As long as there was no outside force acting upon it, the Etheric Levitator would always maintain its set altitude by design. Therefore, even if they change the altitude using the magius thrusters, Syrphrine would eventually normalize to its original altitude. As such, from purely a theoretical view, Syrphrine’s ‘flight’ was merely on a two dimensional plane of a different height.

Once they had acquainted themselves with the sensation of flight, Syrphrine would feel no different from any other Silhouette Knight. When it is combined with the inspiration they took from Tzendrinble, the trio came to see Syrphrine as no different than the typical cavalry.

“On the other hand, I am having difficulty maneuvering with the fins. I wouldn’t want to face demon beasts with such stiff controls.”

“Do not worry! Syr-chan is very gentle, and, as long as you figure out the trick, you will find her surprisingly obedient!”

“Seriously, don’t compare us with a frequent test pilot like you.”

After a period of intense struggle, Addy had obtained a complete mastery of Syrphrine. Least of all thanks to her experience in aerial combat during the subjugation of shelled demon beasts.

“I agree, Syrphrine is an exceptionally obedient Silhouette Knight, how could you possibly mess up? Don’t make yourself sound like a novice.”

“So true.”

Addy and Helvi, a pair of veteran knight runners for Tzendrinble, began a duet of praise for the new Syrphrine.

“Honestly… I won’t deny that it is fun to pilot the Syrphrine. Definitely worth the risk of serving as lab rats for Eru.”

As they chatted away, Eru was within earshot of Dietrich’s comment and approached with a glowing smile.

“I am glad to hear everyone is having fun. Therefore, let us kick it up a notch and have a mock match! I certain you will have double the amount of fun!”

“Haa… Me and my big mouth.”

With that, Dietrich took an incredible amount of effort to convince Eru not to hold a mock battle against Ikaruga.

◆ ◆ ◆

While the knight runners were busy with their training, the knightsmiths were not simply lazing around. Other than Boss, who was sent to the NTR Laboratory to instruct and supervise the production of Syrphrines, other knightsmiths were thrown into another project.

“…Eru, are you sure about this?” Batson nervously asked after going over Eru’s blueprint, “Haven’t we told you that we are not shipwrights?”

“Don’t be discouraged. Surely you must agree that the combination of Syrphrine and this vessel is a match made in heaven?”

The blueprint before Eru and Batson was one for a massive ship. It was the design for the aforementioned Levitate Ship, but its structure was nothing like the preexisting Transport Ship.

“I need someone deeply familiar with the Levitate Ships, the Silhouette Knights, and the new Wind Knights to participate in its design. Since Boss is away, you are the only one who could take up the task.”

“That sounds nice, but I know that getting involved in any of your projects would mean a world of trouble! Haa… I should’ve been more adamant about switching over to the development of the Wind Knights.” Batson lamented with tears welling up in the corner of his eyes.

The other knightsmiths that stood behind Batson turned deadly pale the moment they glanced upon the blueprint.

“Why do we even need to redesign the Levitate Ship? What is wrong with just sticking to our current Levitate Ships?

While they were experts of Silhouette Gear and Silhouette Knights, the knightsmiths were mere amateurs when it came to the design of ships, and, by extension, Levitate Ships,

“As long as Wind Knights become widespread, I am certain we will need a ship like this in the future. After all, Silhouette Knights alone are still too fragile to dominate the skies by themselves.”

The Levitate Ship on the blueprint included many special functions, of which a significant number was based on Silhouette Knight’s technology. As such, only those involved in the development of the Wind Knights could imagine such a design.

“As such, we need to create this ‘Wind Carrier’ to serve as a mobile base for the Wind Knights.”

Eru was not satisfied with simply organizing a Knight Order of Wind Knights. To allow them to achieve their full potential, Eru sought after a new creation.

Therefore, while the knight runners continued their training, the knightsmiths turned to a new development as they began to dabble in the art of shipwright.

Far in the capital, the selection of members proceeded smoothly, and soon, a new Knight Order was born in the Kingdom of Fremmevira.


(1) An interesting tidbit on the word ‘cadets’: here, the former ‘cadets’ indicate military academy students, while the latter ‘cadets’ indicate non-firstborn sons of nobles. Yes, I purposely left it as is since it is quite an interesting coincidence.

(2) Since someone asked, I will put a note here about the military organization. In K&M, a company is made up of 10 Silhouette Knights, a battalion is 3-4 companies (Silver Phoenix Knights is a battalion-sized Knight Order, with 3 companies), and a brigade is 100 Silhouette Knights, or about 3 battalions (As first stated in Ch43). Knight Orders are of variable sizes, and are more of an organizational unit than a purely military unit.

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V06 Chapter 48: The World of His Dreams

TL/N: The first compiled volume 5 EPUB/PDF has been now released, so feel free to grab it. Expect the second version to come out later, assuming I feel up to make a large correction of the earlier chapters for translation accuracy, grammar, and flow. Either way, enjoy~


Soon after the return of Emrys and Ernesti on the ‘Aerial Assault Ship’, the rest of the Silver Phoenix Knights that marched overland crossed over the imposing Aubigne Mountains and eventually arrived safely back in the Kingdom of Fremmevira. Back in the capital, the news of their triumphant return spread like wildfire, and the people cheered loudly for their victory.

At the same time, the kingdom had finally lifted the veil of secrecy surrounding the Levitate Ship to the general public. The very thought of the ship flying freely across the azure sky enticed the people’s imagination, and gave everyone a sense of foreboding to the eventual dawn of the Great Age of Flight.

After much celebration, the Silver Phoenix Knights were finally free to return home.

◆ ◆ ◆

“Everyone, gather around! I know we have just made it back home, but we should immediately start our development of a ‘Flying Silhouette Knight’!” At the Silver Phoenix Knights’ Headquarter of Fort Olvecius, Knight Commander Ernesti Echevalier addressed the gathered members.

It heralded the return to their typical routine.

After having just moved everything back into the fort, the pilots and the knightsmiths revealed a complicated expression at the sudden announcement.

“Good, you all know the drill. There won’t be a fight anytime soon, so I expect all the Silhouette Knights to be sparkling clean!”

When it concerned an object the size of a Silhouette Knight, even a simple wash proved to be consuming. Granted, the knightsmiths had performed a complete maintenance on the Silhouette Knights when they had departed from Kuscheperca, but even they could not deny the need for another maintenance after such a long march home.

With everyone’s task assigned, David ‘the Boss’ Hepken signaled for the officers to gather.

“What’s wrong? I thought the announcement was pretty predictable…”

“Flying Silhouette Knights… Is that right?”

As Boss cracked and stretched his tired shoulder, Helvi Oberg, the commander of the third company, let out a sigh in resignation.

“By the way, wasn’t there the matter regarding our report on the Levitate Ships?” Edgar C. Blanche, the commander of the first company, said with his arms crossed, “If I remember correctly, there was that announcement during the celebrations…”

“Yes. Although we were worked to the bones, I’m glad we managed to get all the documents together in time.” Boss replied as he gently flexed his muscles.

In combat with the Kingdom of Žaloudek, the Silver Phoenix Knights managed to dissect the Levitate Ships captured from Žaloudek, through which, they gained a familiarity with the construction of Levitate Ships rivaling their original builders. However, transferring that knowledge into a presentable form was nevertheless a difficult task, especially while a war raged on.

“From what I have heard, His Majesty had already issued an edict for the NTR Laboratory to immediately begin development of a Fremmeviran Levitate Ship. I bet those over at the NTR Laboratory are completely overwhelmed by the size and urgency of the project.”

“Not to mention, they were basically given a complete blueprint of the Levitate Ship with little warning…”

Thinking back, Helvi could not help but feel a bit of sympathy for the members of NTR Laboratory. As the world’s first airship, the Levitate Ship was daunting for anyone but the most peculiar of geniuses like Eru.

“The NTR Laboratory certainly deserves our sympathy, but we mustn’t fall behind the various western nations. In a way, with the push toward the development of a Fremmeviran Levitate Ship, our current plan will be seen as clearly deviant. Given our official status as His Majesty’s personal order of knights, I do not see our course of actions as particularly wise.”

Dietrich Conitz, the commander of the second company, no longer showed any surprise at Eru’s spontaneous antics. To Dietrich’s concerns, Eru nodded his head in understanding. However, everyone knew instinctively that Eru would not compromise his plan even the slightest.

“I understand your concerns. However, let us not forget the purpose of the Silver Phoenix Knights.” Eru declared as he pumped his fist into the air, “We exist for one reason and one reason alone: the development of new and advanced Silhouette Knights, and that will never change. In a sense, our actions are perfectly aligned with our raison d’être!”

“I guess that also makes sense.” Boss said as he reluctantly nodded in agreement.

At that moment, a hand reached out from the side and grabbed Eru by the head.

“Boss, aren’t you convinced a bit too easily? If anything, Eru’s reasoning is contrived at best. Considering the sheer utility of the Levitate Ships, it is clear where His Majesty’s priorities lie. Yet, here we are planning the opposite. In all likelihood, an official edict may arrive any day now and order us to focus on the development of Levitate Ships.” Dietrich said while rubbing Eru’s head vigorously, turning his usually straight hair unkempt.

Although the Silver Phoenix Knights were formed in the personal interest of Ernesti and have a reasonable degree of autonomy, the members nevertheless had reservations toward openly defying the interests of the kingdom. At its core, the Silver Phoenix Knights were the direct subordinates of King Leotamus and, as such, must pay heed to the effect of their actions.

“Do not worry. I have everything already figured out. Even I wouldn’t abandon all sensibilities and push stubbornly for the development of new Silhouette Knights.”

“Huh? Really? …I mean, really now?!” Addy inquired as she glared at Eru with suspicion.

“Yes. To be precise, it is the very emphasis on Levitate Ships that require us to hasten the development of a flight-capable Silhouette Knight.” Eru answered with an unwavering smile.

At Eru’s words, Edgar and Helvi looked at one another quizzically before turning to Dietrich, who merely shrugged his shoulders in response. Next to them, the twins were completely lost by the discussion. Only Boss seemed to have an eager glint in his eyes.

“As for the reason… I’m sure everyone has an inkling of the experience. With the arrival of Levitate Ships, the original two-dimensional battlefields are now extended into the air. If, hypothetically, a group of earthbound Silhouette Knights was to face suppression from the aerial Levitate Ships, what would be the options available to it?”

The answer was not hard to imagine, since the Silver Phoenix Knights experienced such difficulties firsthand in the battles against Žaloudek.

“The presence of the Levitate Ships is not negligible. An overhead bombardment would pose a considerable threat to an earthbound force, and neutralizing such threats should be the utmost priority.”

“That’s true. However, even the Tzendrinble have difficulties in outpacing the Levitate Ships, so a speedy withdrawal is pretty much out of the question.”

“Precisely! In other words, no matter which form of combat we will encounter in the future, ‘air superiority’ will play a significant role in determining the outcome.”

At that moment, the twins nonchalantly brought a blackboard next to Eru. On it, Eru excitedly drew a Silhouette Knight on the bottom and a Levitate Ship above, then circling the Levitate Ship with the words ‘air superiority’ next to the bubble.

“I think that explains the concept of ‘air superiority’. Now, let me ask you all, what is the most effective way to neutralize the enemy Levitate Ship and claim air superiority?”

“Hmm… I think I understand what you are saying. However, isn’t that the entire purpose of staff weapons and magic javelins? For what reason do we need to devote resources to a specialized flying Silhouette Knight?”

Eru turned to the baffled Edgar and revealed a bright smile. At the same time, Eru’s attitude emitted an indescribable pressure on the surroundings.

“Do you honestly think that will suffice?”

Turning to the blackboard, Eru added staff weapons and lightning curtain, the defensive package seen in combat against Žaloudek, next to his sketch of the Levitate Ship.

“We should not underestimate the resourcefulness of men. In that short time period, the Žaloudekians have already developed a reasonable counter to our anti-air weapons. In other words, it is safe to assume that the effectiveness of staff weapons and magic javelins will only continue to decrease in the future.”

As the developer of magic javelins, Eru was the one most familiar with the advantages and disadvantages of his invention. As such, Eru knew perfectly well that magic javelins were but a temporary solution against Levitate Ships.

“Not to mention, we tend to label them all as Levitate Ships, but there was that battleship in the shape of a dragon.”

At the mention of the battleship, the officers’ faces turned rigid.

The Flying Dragon Battleship ‘Vouivre’. Although they had only ever encountered one such vessel during the battles against Žaloudek, its combat potential exceeded an entire battalion of Silhouette Knights. The Flying Dragon was a foe that had even fought on equal ground against Ikaruga, and only with the creation of the Aerial Assault Ship did the Silver Phoenix Knights manage to defeat it. In short, the strength of the Flying Dragon was indisputable.

“While your logic is sound, it’s hard to imagine any nation but Žaloudek having the technology and resources to construct one. Considering how severely we have crippled Žaloudek in the war, I doubt they will make another in the near future.”

Eru nodded at Dietrich’s words, but his view on the matter was slightly different.

“Perhaps we should be safe in the foreseeable future. However, now that people know such a ship is possible, we cannot deny that there won’t be imitators. As such, we should be fully prepared to face another and plan accordingly.”

Certainly, the task of planning a counter would logically fall on the Silver Phoenix Knights, who had triumphed against one in the past.

Hearing Eru’s response, Dietrich crossed his arms as he sunk deep into thought. While the staff weapons and magic javelins would be able to reach the Levitate Ships, Dietrich knew that such methods would prove insufficient in sinking the Flying Dragon.

“Countering the Flying Dragon with Levitate Ships would also be difficult. Its powerful ground attack aside, the Flying Dragon was even unmatched in aerial combat. Therefore, the next logical step would be to construct a similar Levitate Ship as counter… No, a counter based on attrition would be costly and inefficient.”

After thinking through a few possible scenarios, Dietrich could not help but raise his hands in resignation. Yet, a nagging concern arose in his thoughts.

“Still, would Silhouette Knights really be a viable counter to the Flying Dragon just because they could fly?”

While it is true that if Silhouette Knights could fly, the two would be fighting on the same three-dimensional battlefield, it did not predispose that such a fight would be an equal fight. The sheer difference in power and output was an undeniable truth.

“The Flying Dragon’s lightning curtain is most effective against ranged attacks, and, when you combine it with its innate mobility, leaves close quarter combat as the only reasonable solution.”

“I see… However, if I have to say the one major flaw in your plan, it is that you are assuming others could replicate your performance in the Ikaruga.”

“As for that, Ikaruga is my personally designed unit, so I do not hold the same expectations for others. However, even if it is just a standard aerial Silhouette Knight, as long as we have adequate numbers and well-trained pilots, I doubt we would so easily lose to a Flying Dragon.”

Such tactical reasoning is commonplace in the Kingdom of Fremmevira, where the officers were faced with the daily incursion of demon beasts and needed to formulate plans in the field.

“With our current situation, we certainly lack a viable counter against the Flying Dragon. I, for one, think it would always be better if we have more options available to us.”

As the crowd slowly came to terms with Eru’s reasoning, Eru cleaned the blackboard and turned to the audience.

“Now, what we just discussed predispose our opponent as a Levitate Ship. However, as far as His Majesty is concerned, my next topic is the most important.”

There’s more?

No one said it out loud. Whenever the discussion involved Silhouette Knights, Eru would always have much to say, if not sometimes too much. For the officers who have been with Eru for a while, such ramblings did not come to them as a surprise.

“The greatest advantages provided to the Levitate Ships are its mobility and sizable capacity. With the advent of the Levitate Ships, people will definitely let their mind wander. In that case, would they be satisfied with just the western nations and the Kingdom of Fremmevira? Certainly not! Before long, they will find the world to be incredibly small, and with it…”

Eru drew a rough sketch of a map of Fremmevira and the western nations. It didn’t take long for everyone to understand what Eru was hinting. For the Levitate Ship, which was no longer constrained by the earthbound terrain, previously unthinkable destinations were now open to exploration.

“Would it be Bocuse, the Sea of Trees, or the far ends of the ocean? Regardless of the destination, we will definitely encounter countless demon beasts. As such, Levitate Ships alone would prove too fragile for such a journey, and we are certain to need a viable escort. In that case, what better escorts would there be than Silhouette Knights?”

Edgar, Dietrich, and Helvi gently let out a sigh. While Chid and Addy actively thought back to their lessons in the Academy.

“All in all, we could no longer be content with our tether to the ground. As the defenders of humanity against the constant threat of demon beasts, it is our duty to shed our earthly shackles so that we could best defend the people. Do you all agree?”

None present could refute Eru’s logic, and the plan was therefore decided. The western nations aside, as far as the Fremmeviran knights were concerned, a large part of their duty was to protect the population from the threat of demon beasts, and the Silhouette Knights served as their swords and shields. To the Silver Phoenix Knights, the answer was obvious.

“The lands that humans inhabit are ever expanding, and such change could only be accelerated with the arrival of Levitate Ships. If our next battlefield is in the vast skies above, then Silhouette Knights and pilots must adapt… Or rather, we shall make them adapt. Even if we reach the corners of the world, we will be accompanied by our Silhouette Knights.”

With the explanation, everyone simply looked at each other. They all understood that their Knight Commander was a peculiar one, but this time felt completely different. Rather than being merely content with advancing the current world, Eru sought to actively reshape the world in his image. No one could imagine what sort of world Eru desires, beyond the fact that it would certainly be a world filled with Silhouette Knights.

“…With that said, it’s hard not to admire our Knight Commander. As a professional knight runner, his words are quite invigorating.”

“Either way, we are not shipwrights. It feels more at home when it’s Silhouette Knights.”

“Right. I think that cleared up our most pressing concerns. As usual, will we be devoting all our resources to the development of a new Silhouette Knight?”

“I guess I better brace myself for the eventual operational tests…”

As each of them confirmed the plan in their own way, Knight Commander Eru seemed rather perplexed.

“I think there’s a slight misunderstanding. It won’t just be the Silhouette Knight. We will also be working on a new Levitate Ship.”

Hearing those words, everyone suddenly froze. Only Eru alone began to write happily on the blackboard.

“If we were to have flying Silhouette Knights, then the supporting Levitate Ships must also evolve to properly accommodate them. Likely, both will have to be designed from scratch. As such, our task at hand will be to develop a viable aerial Silhouette Knight and its supporting Levitate Ship!”

What awaited the Silver Phoenix Knights on their return from the battlefield was another battlefield. Those present could only sigh at the long battle to come.

◆ ◆ ◆

A while later, the knightsmiths had finally completed the maintenance on the returning Silhouette Knights. Just as they were taking a break, Boss showed up with a pained expression on his face, and the knightsmiths all had a terrible premonition for what was to come.

“As you are well aware, His Majesty has deemed the Levitate Ships a national priority. However, we shall keep our focus on the development of a flying Silhouette Knight. Since I can see quite a few of you bracing for my announcement, I’m sure you are all familiar with the drill by now.”

None of the knightsmiths seemed particularly shocked by the news. After all, many of them were veterans of dealing with the Knight Commander of the Silver Phoenix Knights and could easily foresee the development.

“Well, we already expected Eru to pick Silhouette Knights over Levitate Ships.”

“If anything, it was a mere question of ‘when’.”

“After all, it is the Commander we are talking about here~”

With a few simple laughs, everyone easily accepted Eru’s decision.

“In our previous battle against the Flying Dragon, I frequently dreaded how it would’ve turned out if it weren’t for Ikaruga. Rather, we were almost certainly doomed without the presence of Ikaruga. Our anti-air Silhouette Knights proved almost ineffective in combat, and it was only through our unique armament on the Aerial Assault Ship that we barely managed to avert disaster. Such an outcome was a disgrace for us knightsmiths.” Boss reluctantly said after much thought.

The knightsmiths of the Silver Phoenix Knights all participated in the construction of Ikaruga. As such, they were the most familiar with the uniqueness of Ikaruga, as well as its most significant flaw. Ikaruga’s full potential could only be brought out by an equally peculiar pilot like Ernesti. Conversely speaking, none other than Eru would be able to serve as its pilot, and it was this exclusivity that made Ikaruga a fundamentally flawed unit. To a knightsmith, the sheer strength of Ikaruga was a source of pride, but, at the same time, its exclusivity left a sour aftertaste.

“The Knight Commander desired for everyone to be able to fly, so it was hard for me to refuse.”

In the future, other Silhouette Knights would be able to soar in the azure skies, and the knightsmiths that would serve as their support will need to keep up. Seeing Boss wholeheartedly embracing the challenge, the other knightsmiths were also inspired. However, it was at that moment that Boss let slip the second piece of bad news.

“By the way, it seems silver boy also plans to develop a new Levitate Ship in tandem.”

With those few words, all the knightsmiths spontaneously froze where they stood.

Some had doubted whether they had heard it correctly from Boss – that on top of developing a new Silhouette Knight, they were to also develop a new Levitate Ship, and no less in tandem. It was the very definition of apocalypse. With summer fast approaching, the knightsmiths could do little but brace themselves for the long days ahead. Even the bright smiles they had earlier were now but a shell of their former selves.

“Now, Batson! I guess I will leave the new Levitate Ship’s development to you!”

“…Huh? W-wait a minute! It’s the first time I’ve heard about this! W-why me, Boss?!”

The sudden announcement made Batson Termonen leap in surprise.

“Silly, I only just mentioned it now. Since silver boy is your childhood friend, I thought it would be best if I entrust one of Eru’s projects to you.”

Certainly, Batson had known Eru since they were young and had the achievement of developing the Silhouette Gears under him. Yet, there were some responsibilities Batson would not accept.

“If I were assigned to the Levitate Ship, what would Boss be doing in the meantime?”

“Isn’t that obvious? Make Silhouette Knights fly.”

Seeing Boss’s almost childlike attitude, Batson could not help but envy.

“That sounded much more interesting than the Levitate Ship! It’s not fair for you to pick the good parts for yourself.”

“Still, orders are orders, and I order you to oversee the development of the Levitate Ship!”

“Boss, that’s certainly an abuse of power!”

As the pair bickered, the rest of the knightsmiths simply stared blankly into the distance. Regardless of who ended up in charge, they would still have to step up to the hellish development – their battlefield.

With their plan settled, the Silver Phoenix Knights once again sought to make their mark in the world under the command of Ernesti. For the Kingdom of Fremmevira, which had only recently been exposed to the existence of Levitate Ships, would Eru’s creations prove to be a newfound strength, or a mere source of chaos? Only time will tell.

◆ ◆ ◆

To their luck, the Silver Phoenix Knights did not receive any specific edicts from Leotamus.

Perhaps due to Leotamus’s own reservations about imposing on the autonomous order of knights, or perhaps due to his trust in the abilities of the NTR Laboratory, the Silver Phoenix Knights were untethered in the pursuit of their goals.

“Now, let us test out the basic parameters.”

“So this is our first model. I understand that function is important, but for it to turn out like this…”

The Silver Phoenix Knights began on the design of the flight-capable Silhouette Knight. Understandably, they couldn’t immediately dive into the blueprint. The seamless incorporation of flight onto the Silhouette Knights was foreign to them, and it was haphazard to treat flight as a mere attached module. To create a flying Silhouette Knight, they would have to integrate the Etheric Levitator directly into the Silhouette Knight’s frames, and for such a significant addition, the basic parameters of ‘form’ and ‘function’ would need to be properly assessed.

Eru and Boss gazed up into the air with a somewhat apprehensive expression. Within their sight was a Silhouette Knight, floating gently in the air with listless limbs. On its back was a sizable hump, or rather, referring the object as a mere ‘hump’ would be a misnomer, as it was about the same size as the rest of the Silhouette Knight.

For the pair, the Silhouette Knight represented an attempt to see if it was possible to incorporate the Etheric Levitators used in Levitate Ships, and the results were disappointing at best.

“It certainly seemed to fly, or at least, float. However, I doubt a Silhouette Knight like this would be of much use in action.” Boss frankly stated his assessment.

The Silhouette Knight was indeed floating, but that was the extent of its operation. It simply hovered helplessly in mid-air, completely devoid of any meaningful action. Boss could only sigh at its pitiful appearance.

“If our goal was only to make a Silhouette Knight float, this would be more than sufficient. Although, I think we already expected this outcome. After all, the Etheric Levitator was a device that enabled an object to float in the air, but by itself lacked any form of propulsion. In other words, we will need a separate propulsion system.”

“If that is the case, was there any purpose to this experiment?”

“Hahaha! It shows that we will have to miniaturize the Etheric Levitator.”

“I think that was pretty obvious from the start…”

Eru simply ignored Boss’s comment as he happily scribbled away in his notebook. Despite his own reservations about performing such a seemingly pointless experiment, Boss nevertheless entertained Eru’s fancy.

After its conclusion, Boss thought Eru would come up with a groundbreaking declaration, but what followed were more experiments that merely confirmed widely held facts. While others were unable to keep up with Eru’s thoughts, Eru knew that such experiments were necessary building blocks for a flying Silhouette Knight.

As the experiments progressed, Boss began to brainstorm for possible solutions to the various issues.

“For the propulsion, will we be relying on the flame propulsion system?”

Currently, the Silver Phoenix Knights had two forms of propulsion system available to them – flame propulsion and wind propulsion. For wind propulsion, they would need to install a blow engine and corresponding sails. While wind propulsion was an effective solution for large Levitate Ships, it would prove too cumbersome and limiting for Silhouette Knights. As such, the only viable choice was flame propulsion.

“Hmm… Unless we come up with a new form of propulsion, flame propulsion will probably be our only choice…”

Although unintended, this seemingly pointless series of experiments helped the Silver Phoenix Knights organize their thoughts and gave them an overview of the task before them.

“All in all, we just need to create a miniaturized Etheric Levitator, incorporate the flame propulsion system onto the Silhouette Knight, and then find a way to provide enough mana to fuel both systems… Are you serious?!” Boss roughly summed everything up before throwing his hands up into the air.

The current Silhouette Knights were not designed for aerial maneuvers, and would require significant additions to weight and size to accommodate for flight. However, no matter how much Boss and Eru tried, there was simply not enough spare capacity for all the new additions.

“For that problem, I do have a few ideas…”

“Not bad, let us hear them.”

Eru took a moment to organize his thoughts before holding two fingers up in the air.

“Firstly, we could simply construct another Ikaruga that utilizes the Etheric Levitator. This way, we will only have to worry about the miniaturization of the Etheric Levitator.”

“Rejected! Constructing another Ikaruga is close to impossible!”

Ikaruga relied heavily on the ‘Emperor’s Heart’ and the ‘Queen’s Coronet’, two massive Ether Reactors, to provide sufficient mana for its complex propulsion system. However, given the scarcity of such reactors, Ikaruga could not accommodate their need for a mass-produced Silhouette Knight – one of their fundamental design criteria.

“I agree. Therefore, we should look to the existing case.”

“Existing case? Is there already a flight-capable Silhouette Knight?”

“Not exactly. I am talking about the ‘Flying Dragon Battleship’.”

The Flying Dragon Battleship has an Etheric Levitator for flight, flame propulsion system for maneuver, and adequate mana output to maintain the systems. In other words, it has all the parts necessary for an effective flying Silhouette Knight. However, given that the Flying Dragon was a variant of the Levitate Ship, it wasn’t particularly applicable for the design of Silhouette Knights.

“…Sometimes I really want to give your head a good smack.”

“Please don’t. My head will probably end up flying off if you smack it with that herculean strength of yours. As for the Silhouette Knight, let us just say that neither plan is particularly applicable, and we will need to change our paradigm of thought.”

Standing beside the enthusiastic Eru, Boss revealed a face full of fatigue.

◆ ◆ ◆

The morning sun basked the Academy City Laihiala in a warm glow.

At first light, the students at the Laihiala Pilot Academy greeted one another as they made their way to class, passing by Adeltrud ‘Addy’ Olter as she happily skipped down the street in nostalgia.

The gossips of the surrounding students inevitably reached Addy’s ears, of which the majority dealt with the Levitate Ship. It wasn’t limited to Laihiala, as the whole kingdom was in an uproar to learn that it was humanly possible to construct such a wondrous vessel. For the students at least, one inevitable topic was whether the Academy would eventually start a ‘Department of Aeronautics’. As one with intimate knowledge of the Levitate Ships, Addy could not help but feel a sense of superiority to the student’s mere gossip. Traveling down the familiar roads, her lithe footsteps soon brought her to her destination.

“Morning! Eru, are you ready to go?!”

At the Echevalier Residence, Addy promptly invited herself in and, after exchanging simple greetings with Tina, called out to Eru. Soon, Eru came down the hall with a suitcase full of documents.

“Yes, let us be off~”

Saying their goodbyes to Tina, the pair then headed out from the mansion. Fort Olvecius, the Silver Phoenix Knights’ Headquarter, was located not far from Academy City Laihiala. As their families lived in Laihiala, the Silver Phoenix Knights felt it was proper to visit home from time to time. For Eru and Addy, their favorite means of transportation was in Addy’s Tzendrinble.

On their way back to Fort Olvecius, the sound of a sudden gust caught the attention of everyone. As they turned their gaze to its source, they saw a ship with filled sails cruising across the azure sky. They instantly recognized the ship as the newest creation of the NTR Laboratory, the Fremmeviran ‘Transport Ship’.

It hasn’t been long since its introduction, so only a limited number was produced. For now, the Transport Ships were primarily tasked with transporting provisions along the eastern hinterlands. However, everyone dreamed that the ships will one day carry passengers between cities. In a world plagued by demon beasts, the freedom and safety offered by air travel could not be understated, and the Transport Ships were the physical embodiment of that dream.

“Well, we can’t fall behind. Addy, let’s hurry back to the fort.”

“Got it~”

It had been two months since the return of the Silver Phoenix Knights from Kuscheperca. In that period of time, no one could deny that monumental changes were occurring within the Kingdom of Fremmevira.

◆ ◆ ◆

As for the Silver Phoenix Knights, they had been working fervently to develop the necessary technology since the conclusion of their initial experiments. During the two months, the sheer complexity of the flight technology proved to be an incredible challenge for everyone.

“To think we actually managed to miniaturize the Etheric Levitator. With this size, we could finally use it for Silhouette Knights.”

“It wasn’t as hard as we had initially imagined. After all, a Silhouette Knight is a much smaller load than a Levitate Ship.”

The Etheric Levitators used in Levitate Ships originally were about the same size as a Silhouette Knight. Comparatively, the Silver Phoenix Knights’ new Etheric Levitators were significantly smaller.

A large part of their success at miniaturization was due to the simplicity of the underlying concept. At its essence, an Etheric Levitator generated buoyancy by maintaining a supply of concentrated ether within itself. For an object the size of a Levitate Ship, the Etheric Levitator would have to be of a minimum capacity to generate enough buoyancy. However, for the lighter Silhouette Knights, the Etheric Levitator could be constructed with a significantly lower capacity while still achieving the same effect.

“Next up. The redesigned flame propulsion system and the control plate.”

“Ugh… Such complicated magic scripts, the engraving is so small that the scripts are barely legible…”

After discussion, Eru redesigned the flame propulsion system by substituting mana storage frames in its design, and, to regulate functions, incorporated a mithril plate with detailed scripts. At a slight cost to overall thrust, the redesigned propulsion system was significantly more compact, and the decreased thrust would also translate to decreased mana expenditure. Given the Silhouette Knight required numerous components to support flight, every bit of saved capacity was important to their goal.

“Now, the last part, and the hardest part, is the Ether Reactors. We would need enough mana for aerial maneuvers, while providing a sufficient reserve for combat. Despite our best efforts, we likely couldn’t avoid the need for multiple reactors. For now, I think we could use Ikaruga as a reference for the design of the Silhouette Knight frame, as I am leaning toward two Ether Reactors.”

“Hmm… I guess it can’t be helped. Although we won’t be able to produce additional Ikarugas, I am at least thankful that there is a viable reference for its overall layout.”

With that resolved, they had decided upon the Etheric Levitator, the flame propulsion system, and the Ether Reactors.

“With that in mind, I had created a rough blueprint of the final design.”

“Oh? Let me take a look.”

Eru took out his sketches from the suitcase and taped them onto the blackboard. From the onset, Eru decided to use the Fremmeviran mass-produced model Karrdatolle for reference. Karrdatolle was known for its strong performance and ease of control. As such, it would prove to be an effective base for designing the flying Silhouette Knight.

“H-hey…”

The blueprint showed a clear inspiration from Ikaruga, with two Ether Reactors placed on its torso and back respectively, and a miniaturized Etheric Levitator behind the pair of reactors.  Although they had tried their best at miniaturizing the components, it still proved impossible to have all the components internalized due to space constraints. Furthermore, it had to incorporate a stockpile for Ethelite that would provide sufficient fuel for the concentrated Ether.

Eru’s most pressing concern came down to the protection of the main components, especially the Etheric Levitator, which would risk a catastrophic leak of concentrated Ether if it suffered a breach. As such, Eru did his best to design all the core components as closely together as feasibly possible, with increased armor to provide protection, essentially resulting in the creation of an armored citadel around its core.

Lastly, the newly redesigned ‘armored flame propulsion system’, combining mana storage frames and the original flame propulsion system, were installed circumferential to the core, thus allowing for the mobility and freedom of movement necessary for aerial combat. To achieve the incredible range of motion, Eru took inspiration from the Silhouette Arms.

“Is it just me, or does this Silhouette Knight look slightly obese?”

“Definitely not cute…”

With much of the core components in the torso, the thick armor surrounding them, and the circumferential propulsion lining the outer rim, an unnatural bulge was seen on the trunk. Its spherical appearance was, to say the least, unappealing to the eyes.

“…Hey, silver boy. If this is the best you can come up with, consider it my resignation.”

“It can’t be that bad, right?”

Even the designer himself was slightly conflicted inside, and his usual confidence seemed slightly blunted. On the other hand, Boss hesitantly turned to Eru with a complicated expression.

“I agree that this design contained all the essential parts, but it is difficult to appreciate the design when the Silhouette Knight turned out looking like this.”

Boss’s words seemed to have resonated with all the knightsmiths present, as they all raised their hands in agreement. Outward appearances aside, the design was even problematic from purely a functional point of view. With its cumbersome design that emphasized the trunk, the Silhouette Knight would clearly lack the natural dexterity of its predecessor, such that it would likely have an unsatisfactory combat performance even if it did successfully achieve flight.

Although Eru had expected some resistance to the design, the severe backlash had pushed him to reconsider.

“Ugh… How problematic. I agree that the design is a bit unappealing…”

“I wouldn’t describe it as merely ‘a bit’.”

“However, before we could achieve flight, there are still many difficulties to overcome. In that sense, we should not be too held up by what we could and could not achieve, nor how to perfect the design. We simply know too little at the current moment.”

At Eru’s words, the clamorous knightsmiths slowly calmed down. Even the ones who were most opposed to the design silently retracted their hands.

“Invention requires thought, and thought requires experimentation. At this stage, it is no more than a prototype, so there are definitely improvements to be had. However, before you all judge it a failure, I sincerely ask you to at least see it build.”

Granted, the Silver Phoenix Knights was an organization formed for the sole purpose of assisting Eru with the development of new Silhouette Knights. In other words, Eru did not need their expressed approval for the projects and only had to hand down orders as the Knight Commander. Yet, despite his rank, Eru had never simply forced others to adhere to his will. To Eru, the Silver Phoenix Knights who had built countless Silhouette Knights – ‘Robots’ – with him, who had experienced the exhilaration and anguish of creation, were already a brotherhood. Regardless of what others thought, Eru would continue to openly express his opinions and convince the members with words.

“As always, it sounded like the whispers of the devil. With that said, I guess we have no reason to refuse…” Boss said as he let out a sigh, “You are certainly correct. There is still much to be learned in the field of aeronautics, and, despite its unsightly appearance, this prototype will likely prove necessary in furthering our knowledge.”

In the end, Boss’s curiosity as a knightsmith overpowered his sensibilities, and he raised his hands in resignation.

“Fine. Let us leave the appearance for now, and focus on making the Silhouette Knight fly.”

“It’s all for the sake of science!”

Led by Boss’s response, the other knightsmiths begrudgingly came around. Granted, everyone held a complicated expression, but for now, they were willing to put aside their personal reservations and devote themselves to the project.

“I’m just going to say this now. This one is only for the sake of testing, the next prototype better be decent looking!” Boss loudly declared just as the meeting ended.

◆ ◆ ◆

At that point, the Silver Phoenix Knights spent the better half of a month to complete the prototype. Although there were numerous new additions, the assembly itself wasn’t particularly special. Thanks to their years of experience and the flexibility afforded to them by Silhouette Gears, the time they spent in its construction couldn’t be considered long.

Understandably, the knightsmiths grumbled extensively throughout the process, yet despite their own reservations, no corners were cut on its creation. Before long, the first prototype Silhouette Knight took form before them, with the designation of ‘Syrphirne’. Disappointedly, the final product remained faithful to the blueprint, and seemingly retained its chubby appearance.

On the scaffolding, a somewhat apprehensive figure stood next to the cockpit of Syrphirne.

“Ugh… It has a cute name, but that doesn’t cover for its appearance… Eru, do I really have to pilot it?”

Addy looked over Syrphirne with drooped shoulders, a complete opposite of her usual enthusiasm. After the knightsmiths themselves, even Addy, the selected test pilot for Syrphirne, could not bring herself to appreciate the design.

Worse still, the sheer size of Syrphirne precluded itself from the standard stationary stance, and instead was sitting on the ground with outstretched legs, a stance that exuded laziness.

“Sadly, you were the only one right for the task. As the unit relies on flame propulsion for its maneuvers, I think it would be best for someone familiar with thruster control. In other words, there was no better candidate than you, who has experience in operating pneumatic thrusters.”

“As for that, why can’t you ask Chid?”

“He is currently busy with another assignment… Therefore, Addy, I want to borrow your strength for the sake of opening a path to the skies. Will you help me?”

Eru eagerly hoped to convince Addy to take the role. Yet, despite Eru’s best efforts, Addy did not budge, with a clear reluctance displayed on her face. Seeing his usual persuasion ineffective, Eru took drastic measures.

“…Once it is done, there will be a sizable reward for your troubles.”  Eru gently whispered after bringing his lips next to Addy’s ear.

“J-just leave it to m-me! I w-will make that bucket fly e-even if I have to k-kick it up myself!!”

Addy suddenly sprang into action and lithely leapt into Syrphirne’s cockpit. Nearby, Eru could not help but wryly smile at Addy’s enthusiasm.

As the armor closed up around the cockpit, the strand crystals began to creak with activity, and the giant slowly came to life. Accompanied by the humming of the twin Ether Reactors, the initially dark interior soon became illuminated with light.

“Hmm… It doesn’t look particularly bad from the inside.”

Addy methodically went through the initialization sequence and fine-tuned the reactor output to a manageable level. For Addy, it was a simple and familiar routine, as the controls were no different from any other Silhouette Knight. Just as she was about to make Syrphirne stand, Addy recalled the need to activate the Etheric Levitator.

“…Right. Everyone, I will now activate the Etheric Levitator! Starting the ether feed… now!”

Addy informed everyone through the speakers before opening the ether valves. As the concentrated ether poured into the Etheric Levitator, the indicator slowly rose toward critical threshold, and Syrphirne began to stir. Due to its unbalanced construction, Syrphirne was unable to stand on its own power, and had to rely on the field generated by the Etheric Levitator.

“Ether concentration rising, levitate field reaching critical threshold.”

As the levitate field’s capacity exceeded the weight of the unit, Syrphrine floated up to a standing position. Although everyone was left speechless by its clumsy operation, they nevertheless gave a round of applause once Syrphrine rose.

“I-it’s floating… All this feels somewhat surreal~”

All the knightsmiths held complicated emotions as they looked on to the spherical balloon floating up into the air, with limbs dangling motionless on its sides. Near the front, Eru paid little attention to the other knightsmiths and busily scribbled away in his notebook.

“Hmm… The Etheric Levitator seems to be operating as designed, but the limbs seems somewhat redundant. I will have to reconsider the purpose of the limbs later on. With the decent weather today, I doubt Syrphrine will be so easily blown away, then… Addy, begin the propulsion test!”

“Got it. Activating circumferential thrusters!”

With a serious expression, Addy carefully operated the temporary flight controls installed next to the mechanical controls. Under the command of the magic scripts, mana surged into circumferential thrusters as they slowly propelled Syrphrine forward.

“Gently now… Maintaining minimal thrust.”

To avoid a repeat of Eru’s sudden acceleration during the Ikaruga test, Addy kept the thrusters to a bare minimum as it glided around the test ground. Curiously, the sound of the thrusters and the dangling limbs created an eerie sight.

“Oh? It’s working. I guess it is somewhat impressive in operation, but it is still unsightly.” Boss mumbled as he looked over to the floating Syrphrine.

At the very least, they were able to conclude the functional tests and could now focus on the improvements… Or at least, that was what they thought.

After a while, Syrphrine floated to the edge of the testing ground.

“Hmm… I guess it can’t be helped. Time to turn Syrphrine around… W-was it like this? Huh? Odd…”

The circumferential thrusters had no problem propelling Syrphrine forward, but disaster struck when Addy tried to perform the turn. With all the thrusters pointed along the axis, what should have been a simple turn turned into an uncontrolled spin.

“W-waaait… Uwaaa…!!”

It all boiled down to an unfamiliarity with aerial maneuvers. Unlike an earthbound Silhouette Knight, Syrphrine could not rely on friction to slow down or stop its turn once initiated. Without knowing the need for a reverse thrust, Addy unwittingly put herself into a horrendous spin.

“B-boy, what happened?!”

“I see. So the thrusters will need to be adjusted for turns…”

The situation only further devolved into chaos as Addy attempted to correct the spin with the thrusters. The sudden acceleration broke the fragile balance as Syrphrine began to fling itself aimlessly through the air.

“Eeeru…! Heeelp! Saaave me!!”

“Boy, hurry up and do something!”

Boss’s bellowing voice broke Eru out of his contemplation as he leapt into Ikaruga.

At last, with Ikaruga’s timely intervention, Syrphrine finally ended its rampage.

◆ ◆ ◆

“Seriously, no matter how much you beg me in the future, I will never test another one of your Silhouette Knights before it is complete!”

After being liberated from Syrphrine, Addy was fuming with rage. She was absolutely adamant about her decision, no matter how Eru tried to placate her.

“Uuu… If even Addy couldn’t pilot the Syrphrine, I will need to rethink the design.”

Although Addy was mad at Eru, she nevertheless hugged Eru tightly in her arms. On the other hand, Eru did not resist Addy’s advances, as he also hoped to make up to Addy for her troubles, and only quietly contemplated his designs. Addy was one of Eru’s direct pupils, and could be said as the most adaptable pilot among the Silver Phoenix Knights. If even she has problem with Syrphrine’s controls, then it would be nearly impossible for other pilots.

Given the particular form of flight offered by the Etheric Levitator, Eru and the others would need to devise a control scheme different from that of Ikaruga to offer the new Silhouette Knights a stable flight.

Incidentally, Syrphrine’s field trials were tentatively placed on hold since the mishap. Without significant upgrades, the current Syrphrine would prove too hazardous to pilot, not to mention a complete lack of willing test pilots. As such, Eru and the others needed to reevaluate the entire design, even if only to give meaning to Addy’s brave sacrifice.

“The enhanced maneuverability ended up only increasing the difficulty of control. Perhaps it would be better to place a limit on the possible movements and design some sort of stabilizer…”

Syrphrine’s circumferential thrusters were designed to be omnidirectional, thus allowing for an extensive range of complex aerial maneuvers. Conversely speaking, it meant that the slightest mishandling would have the Silhouette Knight spin out of control. Beyond the obvious difficulty for pilots, the flexibility of the omnidirectional thrusters also made corrective maneuvers nearly impossible.

“We need to somehow achieve an ease of control without compromising its maneuverability.”

At first glance, the goals seemed to be at odds with one another. However, for Eru, who had the knowledge of his past world, there were inspirations to be had.

How were planes able to maintain stability in flight? Other than relying on the propulsion from the thrusters alone, planes also stabilized itself with the surrounding airflow…

“That’s right, we need ‘wings’.”

Where could we possibly place the wings on a Silhouette Knight? At the very least, it should be somewhere that doesn’t interfere with its combat potential…

“Perhaps… on the hands?”

An image of the design slowly materialized in Eru’s mind, with the arms of Syrphrine switched for wings. At the thought of the balloon-shaped Syrphrine with two wings and two listless legs, Eru could not help but let out a slight chuckle.

“…An obese harpy.”

It was a design completely devoid of beauty. Furthermore, Eru could not imagine how such a design would function in combat beyond kicking with its pair of dangling legs.

“…Hey, Eru? What are you doing?”

Without him noticing, Eru had stretched his arms out like wings, and only broke out of his trance when asked by Addy.

“I am currently thinking about ways to redesign the Syrphrine, but it is not coming along well.”

“Huh? Let me take a look…”

Addy continued to cling to Eru as he sketched his earlier thought on paper. With just a single glance at the obese harpy, Addy let out a sigh.

“What is this? So. Not. Cute.

Eru also wanted to improve the form, but that had to wait until the basic functions were satisfactory. Granted, as a knight runner himself, Eru tended to place a greater emphasis on the functionality, to no small part due to the attitude of the Kingdom of Fremmevira as a whole, but even that emphasis has its own limits. Regardless of what Eru or others thought about its form, Syrphrine would be considered pointless if it did not meet even the slightest operational needs.

“Looks like we will need to start over from the very beginning and rework the design from there.”

With that said, Eru pushed aside all the existing paperwork on the table and laid out a new sheet of paper.

Etheric Levitator, Ethelite stockpile, Ether Reactor, flame propulsion system, and lastly, wings…

Eru mentally juggled the different components like a jigsaw puzzle as he brainstormed for possible arrangements.

“To maintain a Silhouette Knight’s combat ability, while ensuring sufficient maneuverability and stability in the air… This is turning out harder than I thought.”

Eru could not seem to come up with a viable arrangement even after numerous attempts. Worse still, his focus on the components made him slowly lose sight of the overall design. Even if he did come up with a design in this state, it would be no more than the half a dozen components forcibly jumbled together. Sensing his tunnel vision and growing impatience, Eru took a deep breath and turned to the nearby Addy for a change of pace.

“Hey, Addy. If it were up to you, what would you do?”

“Hmm… I certainly don’t want to experience that spin again. If anything, I would hope for an obedient child like our Tzen-chan~”

As Eru seemed to be busy in thought, Addy laid out another sheet of paper.

“Say, Eru. Compared to our earlier failure, how does a Levitate Ship sail so smoothly over the sky?”

“That? The Levitate Ship and the Silhouette Knight functions on different principles. Not only does the sheer size of the Levitate Ship offer itself stability, but the sails also create resistance-…!”

At Eru’s sudden silence, Addy tilted her head in perplexity.

“…Eru?”

Eru slowly turned to Addy with wide open eyes and stared blankly. At Eru’s strange behavior, Addy was slightly taken aback and took a few steps away.

“…I see. I was too focused on the humanoid frame of the Silhouette Knight. That’s right! The answer is the exact opposite. Since there was already a successful case, we should do our best to emulate it. For the tactical considerations… Definitely cavalry. The wings… The layout… If we do it like this… It may just work out!!”

As a sudden jolt of inspiration hit Eru, thoughts began to flow as all the pieces quickly fell into place. Before long, a single image appeared in his mind, and the elusive path to completion opened up before him.

In his excitement, Eru leapt up and hugged Addy tightly.

“Thank you, Addy! It’s all thanks to you that I was able to think of the perfect solution. Look forward to the result!”

Eru lightly kissed Addy on her cheeks before sprinting back to the table as he concentrated on replicating his thoughts onto paper.

Nearby, a beet red Addy stood there motionless and stunned. After slowly returning from her trance, Addy gently hugged Eru from behind.

“…Eru, could you do that again?”

“Maybe later, I’m busy right now.”

“…Cheapskate.”

◆ ◆ ◆

The next day, a single Tzendrinble charged into Fort Olvecius, to the horror and confusion of everyone inside the fort. Before everyone had recovered from the shock, Eru leapt out from the cockpit.

“Is Boss around?! Also, have everyone gather immediately in the conference room!”

With that said, Eru swiftly dashed toward the conference room. It didn’t take long for everyone to reasonably conclude that, as before, Eru likely has a new and revolutionary design up his sleeves.

The pilots and knightsmiths slowly made their way to the conference room, where Eru awaited them with a thick stack of papers and a brilliant smile. Everyone was taken aback by the Knight Commander’s sheer enthusiasm.

“Without further ado, let us begin the meeting. I had finished the new design for the flying Silhouette Knight. In it, I took a new approach and designed a Silhouette Knight that would fly, but without using the Silhouette Knight as the base.”

Just as everyone was baffled by Eru’s words, Boss took a peek at the blueprints.

“It has turned into something completely different!” Boss gasped at the sight.

“Yes. We have two known successes to look for inspirations, Ikaruga and Levitate Ships. Syrphrine was modeled after Ikaruga, but has ended in failure. As such, we should now look to the Levitate Ships.”

On the blueprints laid out along the table, there was an unusual Silhouette Knight. One could even call it a ‘mini-Levitate Ship’. It seemed to have combined the upper torso of a knight with a bottom in the shape of a ‘ship’, with the two halves merging seamlessly at the waist. Understandably, the Levitate Ship was a few magnitudes larger in size than the typical Silhouette Knight, but the ‘ship’ on Eru’s design had shrunk to match the rest of the Silhouette Knight. Furthermore, the lower half contained movable joints that were evidently taken from the design of the Flying Dragon Battleship ‘Vouivre’, creating a seemingly surrealistic design.

“It is a Silhouette Knight that was based on a compact revision of the Levitate Ship design. If I had to describe the appearance, it would probably be half-man, half-fish. A fish that freely swims through the sky, don’t you all find that fascinating?”

In other words, Eru’s new design was akin to the mythical creature called a ‘Mermaid’.

Not long ago, Horacio Collazo designed the Flying Dragon Battleship by superimposing designs from Silhouette Knights onto a Levitate Ship. In a twist of irony, Eru had now done the opposite, and resulted in a Silhouette Knight that took inspiration from the Levitate Ship. For the pair of inventors, their respective results could be said as a reflection of their own values and priorities.

On the other hand, the Mermaid was not a particularly unique design, since the Silver Phoenix Knights had long designed Silhouette Knights with unusual appearances, chiefly among them was the Centaur Knight ‘Tzendrinble’. In a way, Eru had only swapped the horse half with the fish half.

“While I did look to the Levitate Ships, I had taken much of the technical aspect from Tzendrinble. As for the tail, the joints would allow for increased maneuverability, and, if we prepare strand crystals within, we would be able to provide for a decent mana storage.” Eru continued, leaving everyone behind just as they had almost caught up to his pace.

The Mermaid’s overall construction was similar to Tzendrinble, with all the core components placed in the bottom half. Although the size was slightly bloated, the tail didn’t look particularly out of place without the dangling feet of the previous design. As expected, a Silhouette Knight designed for aerial combat has no use for legs and would rely on its Etheric Levitator for all its operational needs.

“This design looks oddly familiar… How is it controlled? Hopefully, it won’t start spinning uncontrollably like before.”

“As for the controls, I kept it similar to the scheme seen within Tzendrinble. From our experiments, I had concluded that the circumferential thrusters only complicated the controls and decided to keep the thrusters in a single direction. As for aerial maneuvers, the Mermaid will instead be relying on the attached fins.”

Rather than offering the high degree of maneuverability as previously envisioned, Syrphrine’s omnidirectional thrusters had made control of the Silhouette Knight nearly impossible. As such, Eru changed the thrusters to point in only a single direction, where any turns and fine-tuning would instead rely on the newly added fins.

Combining all the changes, the redesigned Silhouette Knight would share characteristics and motion with freely swimming fishes, and a role similar to heavy cavalry, with even the controls largely replicated from the existing Tzendrinble.

“Hmm… In other words, this child is Tzen-chan’s little sister?”

Hearing Addy’s remark, Boss could not help but break out in laughter.

“…Or maybe a little brother. Then again, since it took about half of its existing technology from Tzendrinble, I would rather call it a cousin.”

“In that case, we should make it even cuter!”

“Hmm… Maybe if we add another fin or two…?”

“I don’t think that would make it cuter…”

As a synthesis of Silhouette Knights and Levitate Ships, the newly designed Silhouette Knight was the crystallization of the most advanced technology of their era. Yet, despite its revolutionary design, the minds behind its creation instead seemed to be preoccupied with its appearance. To an outsider, such conversations must felt absolutely shocking.

After a while, Boss finally steered the conversation back on topic.

“Either way, this design looks much better than the previous one, and I am starting to feel a bit motivated. So, what’s next? With how different this Silhouette Knight is from pre-existing models, we will probably need to set its classification.”

Eru took a moment to think, before revealing a bright smile.

“For this class of Silhouette Knights… Let us call it ‘Wind Knight’.”

Incidentally, for this new Silhouette Knight, Eru decided upon the name ‘Syrphrine Mk. II’. However, to the rest of the Silver Phoenix Knights, there was an unspoken rule to pretend its predecessor had never existed. Therefore, as far as everyone else was concerned, Syrphrine Mk. II was the one and only Syrphrine.

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V06 Prologue

TL/N: So the bad news, wanted to finish the Vol 5 EPUB, but grammar check and final tweaks are delaying the whole process, so the release is inevitably delayed. As such, due to peer pressure, I will have Vol 6 start its release ahead of Vol 5 EPUB getting wrapped up. For those EPUB (and those filthy PDF) fans, it will take longer than promised. Tehepero~

For Vol 6, as usual, redraws for colors and toc will be done at the end of the volume when I prepare it for EPUB. Black and white inserts will be placed accordingly, and arc title pages will be done, because those are simple (I swear this will jinx it somehow).


Zetterlund, a place where man and giant robots coexisted… A place where demon beasts roamed the land.

The vast continent was bisected by the imposing Aubigne Mountains into the east and west. The Kingdom of Fremmevira lay on the plains east of the Aubigne Mountains, in which the Academy City Laihiala stood nestled at the boundary between the mountains and the plains.

One day, from a certain mansion in the Academy City, Selestina ‘Tina’ Echevalier by chance looked out the window, only to find a mysterious ‘ship’ floating by. The ‘upside-down ship’ seemed to be sailing on the clouds with filled sails, gently cruising forward.

“Ah, I should probably get ready.”

Tina stared at the flying ship for only a moment and, as if remembering something, left the room in a hurry.

Tina was not the only one who witnessed the spectacle. Villagers, peddlers, and even students of the Laihiala Pilot Academy were awestruck by the sudden appearance of the Levitate Ship.

With nary a care for the commotion stirring below, the Levitate Ship slowed its pace above the academy proving grounds and opened a port on the bottom of the ship. From within, a giant armored humanoid flew out with arms outstretched. Everyone knew at an instant that it was a Silhouette Knight.

The Silhouette Knight fell toward the academy without a single cable to slow its descent. However, before the crowd could turn pale at the impending impact, plumes of flame burst out from beneath the Silhouette Knight and brought itself to a hover. With a thud, the Silhouette Knight landed at the center of the proving grounds, tossing up a cloud of dust in the process.

The academy’s instructors, including one named Mathias Echevalier, squeezed through the bustling crowd and emerged before the Silhouette Knight. Despite having been relatively far away at the time of the landing, the instructors could only sigh at the abnormally shaped Silhouette Knight with its telltale plumes of flame. Even in all of Zetterlund, they would not find another that could defy common sense as the one before them – both the unit and its peculiar pilot.

“Here I was wondering what the commotion was about… To think it was just Ikaruga.”

Mathias ignored the dumbfounded stares around him and walked over to the landed Ikaruga.

“Seriously, Eru, what are you up to now…”

◆ ◆ ◆

That day, the entire Academy City Laihiala was in an uproar with the arrival of the Levitate Ship above the academy. Everyone’s eyes remained fixated on the incredible construct hovering in the skies as they gossiped wildly in the streets.

A small shadow darted through the jubilant crowd. His silky platinum hair shimmered in the sun, catching the attention of onlookers as he threaded his way down the busy road. Leaving behind a streak of silver, the boy soon made his way to a familiar neighborhood with a large ornate mansion with a lone female standing by its doors.

“Eru, welcome home.”

Upon seeing Eru, Tina revealed a brilliant smile. Eru immediately returned a smile, and made his way next to Tina.

“I’m back! Mom, have you seen it? Isn’t that ship a wonderful souvenir?”

Following Eru’s introduction, Tina turned her gaze upon the Levitate Ship. Despite the extraordinary sight, Tina remained her usual calm and collected self.

“Wow, so you really were the one behind that ship. To have something so large float effortlessly in the sky, those in the west sure are incredible.” Tina said with a gentle tilt of her head.

“Right? That ship is quite the catch! Would you like to come aboard for a tour? I can guarantee the view of Fremmevira from the skies is truly a sight to behold!”

“I can come aboard? Just so you know, I have never boarded a regular ship before. However, since you recommended, I will delightfully take you up on your offer.”

“Great! There is also much I want to tell you, about the incredible fun we had over there…”

Having effectively commandeered the kingdom’s greatest spoil of war for his own personal use, Eru enthusiastically chatted away as the pair made their way into the mansion.

It was the early days of winter in Anno Occidentes 1283.

The Silver Phoenix Knights returned triumphantly from the battlefield of the Great Western Storm after rescuing their ally, the Kingdom of Kuscheperca, from the brinks of destruction.

◆ ◆ ◆

A few days later, the uproar that had shaken Academy City Laihiala repeated itself at the capital of the Kingdom of Fremmevira, Känkänen.

As the Levitate Ship slowly made its way to the barracks of the Royal Guards and retracted its sails, the surprised guardsmen were fully prepared to attack. Only when a familiar Silhouette Knight emerged from the ship did the guardsmen relax their stance.

Accompanied by the sound of rattling chains, a Silhouette Knight was steadily lowered onto the ground. It was a Silhouette Knight in the shape of a golden lion, glowing brilliantly in the afternoon sun.

“Hello, Känkänen! I’m back!”

Emrys soon found his way to Chateau Schreiber’s royal audience chamber, where King Leotamus could only let out a disapproving frown in response to his gleeful appearance.

“…Seriously, you dumb brat. Why did you not bother to promptly report your return, but instead went joyriding around the kingdom?”

“Ah! Sorry, dad. We just thought it was appropriate to have the Silver Phoenix Knights visit home after such a long trip.”

“Appropriateness aside, do you know how much chaos that ‘flying ship’ of yours will cause to Känkänen?”

“Hahaha! I’m not surprised! It’s really quite the marvel!”

It was quite clear that Emrys was not reflecting on his actions. For a moment, Leotamus almost let out a long sigh, but resisted the urge in the presence of his court.

“That ship of yours definitely has piqued our interest, and we will certainly be expecting a full briefing. But firstly, tell us… Did we win?” Leotamus asked Emrys after correcting his posture on the throne.

“Obviously! Although it had been close at times, we have successfully revived the Kingdom of Kuscheperca! Auntie, Isadora, and Eleonora are all safe!” Emrys happily announced with outstretched arms.

“Is that so… Good.”

While it was but for a moment, Leotamus revealed a soft and grateful expression upon hearing Emrys’ report. More so than the state of the Kingdom of Kuscheperca, Leotamus was feeling relief for his beloved sister, Martina. With his worries put to rest, Leotamus finally turned his attention to the flying ship moored outside his castle.

“…Still, to think that ships could fly. Are we wrong to presume that Ernesti is behind it?”

For a world before the age of flight, the existence of a flying ship could be said to shake the world at its very roots. As such, in Leotamus’ mind, and in the minds of everyone at court, a genius who could create such an astounding machine should be none other than the young commander of the Silver Phoenix Knights. Therefore, they could not help but shudder when Emrys shook his head in reply.

“Sadly, no. The Levitate Ships were built by the Kingdom of Žaloudek. Even for the Silver Phoenix Knights, this war was the first time they had heard or seen ships that could fly. As such, we had quite the hard time dealing with them…”

At Emrys’ seemingly calm words, the members of the court all held their breaths as they turned to the Levitate Ship moored outside the castle. This held especially true for the veteran commanders, who speculated the scene of their own first encounter with such a ship on the fields of war.

Just as everyone was awash with anxiety, Emrys’ next words were able to wonderfully clear up the atmosphere.

“However, since the Commander of the Silver Phoenix Knights really liked those ships, we ended up taking the ones we wanted and had the rest shot down!” Emrys declared with a puffed chest, as if speaking of his own achievements.

Comparatively, Leotamus was left enervated with the aftershock and slumped slightly in the throne. However, his unbecoming behavior was not noticed by the rest of the court, who were also recovering from the surprise.

“…Leaving the details as to how you managed to do so, tell us, what of the rest of the Silver Phoenix Knights?”

“Ahaha! The rest of the knights are still in Kuscheperca. The capacity of a single Levitate Ship is surprisingly limited, and since we gave the rest of the ships to Kuscheperca, only a few of us were able to fly back in advance. However, I imagine the rest of the knights will soon arrive.”

Hearing Emrys’ loud laughter, Leotamus finally broke character and brought his palm to his face.

“…Your arbitrary choice in the matter aside, we clearly see the potential in the flying ship, and you decided to return with only a single one of the vessel? How problematic… Since you mentioned that it was captured technology, will its method of construction elude us?”

“Need not to worry! The Silver Phoenix Knights had already performed a detailed analysis of the vessel and had shared the schematics with the Kingdom of Kuscheperca. If my predictions are correct, the various western nations should be rushing to its production.”

To Fremmevira, the Silver Phoenix Knights were an autonomous group at the pinnacle of technological advancement on the continent. Therefore, there were no better alternatives to the Silver Phoenix Knights when it came to delving into unknown technology. At that moment, Emrys clapped his hands, and an attendant entered the audience room with a large stack of documents at hand.

With the documents, Leotamus took a moment to digest the secret of the Levitate Ships before letting out an appreciative sigh.

“…With this, our kingdom will not fall behind the rest of the nations. Now, we think celebrations are in order. Have the heralds announce our victory and our new ship, and, once the rest of the Silver Phoenix Knights arrive, let there be a great triumph for our returning heroes!” Leotamus declared in a clear and resounding voice before adjourning the court.

The courtiers all hurried to their tasks with much on their minds. Rather, all with the single exception of Emrys, who only thought about how he would finally be able to nap the afternoon away on his old and familiar bed.

Walking down the empty halls of Chateau Schreiber, Leotamus gestured into the air, and a shadow immediately appeared behind him.

“Send a message to Olver and Gaizka. Just tell them it is ‘matters pertinent to the flying ship’ and they will surely come flying over.”

With a slight glance, the shadow had vanished from his presence. Leotamus continued his way down the empty halls, with a heart filled with anxiety for the future.

◆ ◆ ◆

Days later, a pair of individuals appeared at Chateau Schreiber answering the king’s summons. Instead of the royal audience chamber, the guards led the two to a discrete meeting room where they waited in silence.

When Leotamus finally arrived, the pair’s response was oddly mismatched with their appearance. Despite his youthful appearance, the Director of NTR Laboratory, Olver Blomdahl, appeared unusually calm. On the other hand, the grizzled Chief Knightsmith of NTR Laboratory, Gaizka Johannsson, was brimming with enthusiasm. At the scene, Leotamus could not help but reveal a wry smile before bringing up the main topic of their visit.

“As you are aware, we summoned you today to discuss the matters pertinent to the flying ship, or rather, the ‘Levitate Ship’ that had shocked the kingdom. We have a task of utmost urgency for the technical staff of NTR Laboratory. Are you interested?”

The question itself was almost rhetorical. It has been only two days since Eru and Emrys returned on the Levitate Ship and had the ship moored near Känkänen. Therefore, despite their high posts, the two had not received any details on the Levitate Ship beyond the occasional rumors. Their curiosity for the Levitate Ship was what prompted the pair to rush over to Känkänen.

“O-of course!! For such a large ship to fly freely in the sky, it is a wonder what mechanism could allow for such a feat…”

Gaizka had recalled the lessons forced upon him during the competition and tried to appear calm. Yet, despite his best intentions, his excitement clearly bled through his poorly held visage. Even Olver, who appeared calm next to Gaizka, stirred in curiosity.

Unlike the retired regnant Ambrosius, Leotamus does not have the desire to toy with the pair’s enthusiasm and beckoned his assistant to bring over the stack of documents on the Levitate Ship.

“These documents detail the technology relevant to the construction and operation of the Levitate Ship that the Silver Phoenix Knights brought back. From what I gathered, the secret behind the ship’s flight is something called the ‘Applied Ethelite Theory’.”

Olver held his breath as he browsed through the documents.

“To think Ethelite could be used in such a way. A ship that could fly… the Levitate Ship. What a terrifying invention!”

Even as a mere gatekeeper, Olver was nevertheless a member of the proud Elves race – masters of magic and builders of Ether Reactors. As such, Olver held complicated emotions when presented with the Applied Ethelite Theory and its undeniable proof. Rather than his usual aloof demeanor, Olver delved into the documents with unbridled passion, hungrily consumed page after page of information.

“Seriously, that Emrys. All because he thoughtlessly paraded the Levitate Ship straight through the capital that so many weird rumors have begun to float around.” Leotamus muttered under an exhausted tone.

The appearance of the otherworldly Levitate Ship above the skies of Känkänen had led much of the town to gossip. To address these rumors and prevent more outlandish ones from taking root, Leotamus and his ministers had been working around the clock with little rest.

“Either way, since the Levitate Ship has already proven its effectiveness in Kuscheperca, we are certain the relevant technology will shape the world for the years to come. From what Emrys had told us, all of the western nations are stirring in the background to develop their own.”

Leotamus’s stern words had turned the enthusiastic Gaizka deadly pale. At that moment, Gaizka had finally realized the severe implications of the technology before him.

“From the experiences of the Silver Phoenix Knights, we have learned that our technological advantage is not infallible. As such, our edict for the NTR Laboratory will be as follows: Spare no expenses, and focus all your resources on the research and development of a Fremmeviran Levitate Ship!”

“Understood!” The pair loudly affirmed the royal order.

With detailed documentations and blueprints to the Levitate Ship in hand, Olver and Gaizka hastily left for the NTR Laboratory in Dufaure, where they would undoubtedly began work on the Levitate Ship.

Left alone in the room, Leotamus let out a deep and audible sigh.

“Speaking of which, it had only been a few short years since the Silver Phoenix Knights introduced those revolutionary designs for Silhouette Knights. It pains us to accept this, but whenever the Silver Phoenix Knights become involved, absurdity results.”

Leotamus did not share the same enthusiasm as Ambrosius and Emrys for new advancements, and only stared blankly in the distance with a fatigued visage.

◆ ◆ ◆

At the NTR Laboratory, all of the craftsmen and knightsmiths were completely devoted to the development of a Levitate Ship and worked ceaselessly on a viable prototype. Everyone understood that the secrets of the technology were obtained at the cost of their pride, and no one dared to slack at work.

Fortunately, most of the critical components had already been dissected by the Silver Phoenix Knights, and the NTR Laboratory only needed to follow the blueprints to recreate their own. Furthermore, the structure of a Levitate Ship was based on existing technology in shipbuilding, and they simply needed to apply it around the Etheric Levitator core. As such, it didn’t take long before the lightly-armed variant of the Levitate Ship, the ‘Transport Ship’, came to be and began to see widespread use in the Kingdom of Fremmevira.

From that moment on, the ‘Great Age of Flight’ clearly dawned upon the continent of Zetterlund.

Unlike the western nations, who were still struggling to recover from the aftermath of the ‘Great Western Storm’, the Kingdom of Fremmevira was completely unscathed from the flames of war. Armed with the improved Silhouette Knights, the risks posed by demon beasts greatly diminished, and the kingdom’s spare military capacity rose accordingly.

With the safety afforded to them in the sudden leap of military technology, and the endless possibilities granted to them by the mobility of the Levitate Ships, the people of Fremmevira began to float around a previously unimaginable thought: the exploration of the enigmatic ‘Bocuse’, Sea of Trees.

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V05 Chapter 47: Liberation of Delvincourt

TL/N: Redrawing will be done once I return from my trip on Nov 15, and next volume will not start until after I finish redrawing. There is no cliffhanger, so rest easy for the month~ See you all by the end of November~


The destruction of the mighty Flying Dragon Battleship created a lull in the combat as many turned to watch the fiery spectacle. The Flying Dragon was not just any Levitate Ship. It existed both as the greatest threat to the Kuschepercans and the indisputable guardian of the Žaloudekians. As such, between the two, the death of the Dragon came as a greater shock for the Žaloudekians.

On the Cauderlier Plains, where the sound of war died down, a clear voice ran out from the Kuschepercan Queen.

“Brave knights of Kuscheperca, now lies the greatest opportunity for us to reclaim the Tetraspides Fortresses once and for all!”

Eleonora’s declaration spread like wildfire among the Kuschepercan ranks, and, with their renewed vigor, they prepared for an assault on the panicked Žaloudekian army. After numerous close calls, the Kuschepercans had finally commanded a clear path to victory. With unshakable morale, the Kuschepercans readied their weapons.

“All forces, advance! Onward, to our capital!”

With the King’s Mount in the lead, the whole of the Kuschepercan army advanced on the Žaloudekian positions. The long stalemate between the two had finally broken as the advantage swung decidedly to the Kuschepercans. Unlike the Kuschepercans, who charged ahead with an unstoppable momentum, the Žaloudekians no longer had a capable commander to rally the despairing troops. One after another, the black knights fell to the Kuschepercan assault. One after another, the Levitate Ships high above were shot down by volleys of javelins. It was only a matter of time before the whole of the Žaloudekian army perished on the Cauderlier Plains.

“D-darn it… S-sound the retreat! We have lost the day! Save your units for the next battle!!”

The Žaloudekian army no longer had the stopping power, a large part due to the Žaloudekians having lost their strategic reserve alongside the death of the Flying Dragon. As the Žaloudekians started to rout, many of the survivors who were not fortunate enough to escape were cut down as they fled. Soon, the colors of New Kuscheperca flew above the Tetraspides Fortresses, proudly fluttering in the wind.

The routed Žaloudekians no longer had any semblance of an army as they fled for their lives. It was clear to everyone that the Kuschepercans had won the day.

“Chase after the Žaloudekians! Do not let a single one of them escape and cut them all down! Long live New Kuscheperca! Long live the Queen!!”

As the Kuschepercans rose up in cheer, the war had finally left the Cauderlier Plains.

With Revantiers at their core, the Kuschepercans followed closely behind the shattered Žaloudekians, all the way down the road to Delvincourt.

The loss of the old capital Delvincourt was the start of the Great Western Storm. It not only signified the fall of the Kingdom of Kuscheperca, but also represented its replacement by Žaloudekian rule. As such, the liberation of Delvincourt was both the personal wish of Queen Eleonora, and the collective desire of every Kuschepercan.

With the Silver Phoenix Knights’ third company at the vanguard, the first and second company loaded up for transport, and the Kuschepercan Revantiers following closely behind, the Kuschepercan army did not show the slightest exhaustion as they chased the fleeing Žaloudekians toward the capital.

“Now! Charge through their defenses, and open the path forward!”

“Advance! Revenge for our late commander Edgar!”

“Hey! Erledyradcumber aside, I am perfectly alive and well!”

Despite their lighthearted banter, the Silver Phoenix Knights did not relent in their assault. Faced with the overwhelming power, the Žaloudekian defenders simply melted away.

In Delvincourt, Silhouette Knights were scrambling to escape as the Kuschepercan forces slowly approached. The surviving Levitate Ships took off one after another and turned toward the safety of the west. Delvincourt lacked any meaningful defense, and the black knights woefully lacked the numbers to face the might of the Kuschepercans. When the Tetraspides Fortresses were lost, the Žaloudekians no longer had any staying power within central Kuscheperca.

“…Looks like we are defeated.”

Princess Catalina sat motionless on the throne as she gazed out at the fleeing Levitate Ships. At that moment, a single person hastily came before the throne.

“Your Excellency! The Tetraspides Fortresses have fallen, and the Jade Dragon Knights are in full retreat! The Kuschepercan army will soon reach the gates. Your Excellency, please make your escape as soon as possible!!”

Despite the worrying report, Princess Catalina did not stir at his words. Her inaction only further amplified her subordinate’s anxiety, almost to the point of forcing the princess to evacuate.

However, with a loud explosion, the subordinate froze. It was the recently departed Levitate Ship. Before it made far from Delvincourt airspace, the Levitate Ship came crashing down in a smoldering ball of flame.

The reason was obvious. It was a certain Silhouette Knight that roared across the sky, bellowing a trail of fire. With the Flying Dragon gone, the Demon God was now unchallenged in the sky. Leaping from Levitate Ship to Levitate Ship, the Demon God sunk them with painful efficiency.

“…It’s useless. With the Dragon’s loss, our deaths are already set in stone.”

Princess Catalina had realized it the moment she saw the destruction of the Dragon. Against such an overwhelming existence, there was simply no escape.

◆ ◆ ◆

With Resvant Vidos holding the walls, and the Revantiers lining the road, the King’s Mount, Kartoga Ol Cauchard Secundus marched through Delvincourt’s massive gates.

“…Father, I have finally returned.”

The Silver Phoenix Knights were now in full control of the area around Delvincourt. As such, the Kuschepercans and their King’s Mount could march peacefully through the gates. The banners that lined the main roads had all been replaced by the advancing troops to Kuschepercan colors, in a bid to declare the return of the Kuschepercan regime.

“Delvincourt was originally the seat of the Žaloudekian viceroyalty, and, as such, was governed by Žaloudekian royalty. Now that we have retaken Delvincourt, I had hoped to meet one of the Žaloudekian royals.”

The surrounding guards could not help but stir at Eleonora’s statement. After witnessing the Žaloudekian invasion and the death of the previous king firsthand, they were unsure what would happen if the Queen were to meet their royal.

In victory, Kuscheperca has to act in a way befitting the victor. If they had captured an enemy royal, they would need to decide the treatment. After all, as with the Kingdom of Kuscheperca, the Kingdom of Žaloudek also relied on their bloodline to rule. As long as they have their hand on a Žaloudekian royal, the Kuschepercans would be at an advantage in the ensuing negotiations.

“Your Majesty, you must not act rashly.”

“I understand.”

Walking in the middle of its bodyguards, Kartoga Ol Cauchard Secundus had finally reached the front of the castle.

In the courtyard, the group descended from their Silhouette Knights and were greeted by Dietrich and Nora in Silhouette Gears. The two removed their Silhouette Gears and knelt before Queen Eleonora.

“We have been awaiting your arrival. The captured Žaloudekian royal rests in the audience chamber.”

“Thank you, we will head over there immediately.”

Queen Eleonora walked at the center of the armed bodyguards as they made their way down the deserted hallways on foot. To them, it was a familiar setting, as even with the change in ownership, the layout of the rooms remained the same. Without making a single wrong turn, the entourage found their way to the audience chamber.

The audience chamber was filled with the Silhouette Gears of the Blue Hawk Knights. They kept alert as they encircled the throne. On the throne sat an astute-looking woman, who remained calm and collected despite being surrounded by imposing Silhouette Gears that could crush her on a whim.

As Queen Eleonora entered the chamber, the Silhouette Gears parted to make a path. Meeting the Žaloudekian royal, Eleonora waved off the nearby Silhouette Gears to make room.

“…So you are the daughter of the King of Žaloudek, King Bartolomeo.”

“Yes, Your Majesty. I am the crown princess of the Kingdom of Žaloudek, Catalina.”

Princess Catalina did not have the slightest air of a defeated ruler. Sitting on the throne, Catalina displayed no fear, but remained dignified as her eyes met Eleonora’s. It was a scene that easily misrepresented the power dynamic in play.

If it was still the previous Eleonora, she would likely be overpowered by Catalina’s presence. However, now as the Queen, and after enduring many trials to return to Delvincourt, Eleonora was no longer the naive flower.

“We have only one question for you. When we were close to breaching the city, did you never think of escape?” Without breaking eye contact, Eleonora asked the seated Catalina.

“Escape is pointless… Your Majesty should know very well. Even a child knows the ending that befalls the Levitate Ships attempting to flee.”

At that moment, a loud roar of flame could be heard as the six-armed Demon God descended upon the courtyard.

“With the Demon God, how could Your Majesty possibly expect me to escape? With Delvincourt already under its grip. Even if I tried to escape, I would be easily caught.”

Eleonora slowly approached the throne without a hint of hesitation as Catalina answered her question. Nearby, the bodyguards were on their toes and carefully watched the scene unfolding. As Eleonora made her way up the final steps, Catalina voluntarily stood up and stepped aside.

“One who was defeated could no longer have the privilege to sit on this throne. I return this to you, Your Majesty.”

Eleonora, on the other hand, did not immediately take her seat, but stared attentively at Catalina.

“…You will be treated as a prisoner of war. In future negotiations, we will count on you to serve your role. As such, we will afford you the treatment worthy of a royal.”

“I am rather surprised. Do Your Majesty not plan to have me killed? After all, I am among those responsible for the death of your father.”

Despite talking about her own death, Catalina carried the conversation with a lighthearted air, even revealing a slight smile on her face. Yet, Eleonora could see in Catalina’s eyes an indomitable will, as if judging Eleonora for her capacity as a sovereign.

“…As far as what Žaloudek had done, I have my own thoughts on the matter. However, as the Queen of Kuscheperca, my actions will determine the fate of the kingdom. In my capacity as the Queen, I simply deem that having you alive for future negotiations will be more advantageous to the kingdom.”

Hearing Queen Eleonora’s words, Princess Catalina nodded in agreement.

“As Your Majesty wishes. I had already been mentally prepared for the worst. This loss dealt a crippling blow to the Kingdom of Žaloudek. As such, it is in my kingdom’s best interest to avoid further escalations in this conflict, and I believe Your Majesty’s kingdom carries the same intention.”

With everything said, the nearby knights came up to Princess Catalina and escorted her away from the audience chamber. For the foreseeable future, Princess Catalina would be kept under arrest until the conclusion of peace.

After Catalina had left the room, Eleonora finally turned toward the throne.

Over a year since the death and defeat of the late King Augusti, the throne of Kuscheperca had finally returned to its Queen.

◆ ◆ ◆

During the Kuschepercan’s final push on Delvincourt, one Levitate Ship secretly departed from an airship dock near Delvincourt. It was not a Levitate Ship of particular note, and it even lacked the usual contingent of Anculosas aboard. The heavily armed Levitate Ships of the Jade Dragon Knights had already departed for the final battle on Cauderlier Plains. As such, the unarmed Levitate Ship did not number among the Jade Dragon Knights. The one who sat at the helm was a laid-back man.

“…Chief knightsmith, are you sure we should depart at this time? D-Delvincourt remains firmly in our hands, and Princess Catalina still holds command. Not to mention, the signal fires from the Tetraspides Fortresses-…” One of the crew asked the man at the helm.

Faced with the question, the man only looked sheepishly at his crew. It was the Chief knightsmith of the Kingdom of Žaloudek – Horacio Collazo. As always, Horacio remained shoddily dressed, and did not have the air befitting his station.

“Haa… I believe that signal is real. Sadly, the Kuschepercans will be reclaiming their capital. Do you have a desire to stay and fight to the death?” Horacio glared at the crew member.

“N-no, that was not my intention.”

The man shirked back at Horacio’s stern tone. Seeing his subordinate’s reluctance for escape, Horacio could only let out a long sigh.

“Us technical staff have no role in the combat to come. Although some may slander our willingness to abandon our allies, our first duty is to bring the fruits of our research and experiences back home. This way, our nation will be able to adequately respond to any future threats. It is a plan that Princess Catalina would surely support.”

Horacio’s logic was sound. However, even if defeat was certain, his crew wondered why Horacio did not show even the slightest remorse as the first to flee. Not to mention, everyone knew Horacio gravely valued his life, so his words lacked a certain authenticity to them.

“Granted, the defeat this time will be quite the crippling blow. How everything plays out will ultimately depend on Prince Carlitos.”

In his mind, the well-chiseled face of Prince Carlitos surfaced. At that moment, Horacio knew that, given their national power, a repeat invasion of Kuscheperca was nigh impossible. As such, even Horacio had few ideas as to how the regent would tackle the ensuing diplomatic scuffle.

Sitting at the helm, Horacio suddenly leapt up in excitement.

“Our army had the Flying Dragon Battleship, my greatest masterpiece! Although it was a rushed construction, who could have possibly imagined it beaten? Has it really been defeated?”

Horacio’s mouth curled up into a dreadful smile. Unlike his words, Horacio’s voice did not carry the same sense of loss, but rather one of excitement.

“In the end, reaching the skies is harder than I thought. However, none of this was a waste, and we have gained valuable experience through its loss!”

Horacio continued to mumble as his gaze turned below deck and toward the hanger that held the crystallization of his research. While the research served as insurance for his early departure from Delvincourt, Horacio himself also did not wish for his research to be lost, and that, in turn, prompted his escape.

Not to mention, with his untimely escape, Horacio was likely to be punished for abandoning Princess Catalina. To avoid such a fate, Horacio thought to bring a ‘welcoming gift’, and this research served as the perfect gift.

“Our work is not over, and the path for me to reign over the skies is still far in the future. However, one day, I shall create the greatest Battleship. Let this be a valuable lesson for the time to come.”

As the humming of the wind turbine disappeared alongside Horacio’s Levitate Ship, thick clouds rolled over Delvincourt, blanketing the clear skies in a thick layer of gray.

Before long, rain fell upon the battlefield, washing away the flames of war.

◆ ◆ ◆

With the most recent report, all the nobles present could only hold their breath.

At the Žaloudek capital, Crown Prince and Regent Carlitos Emden Žaloudek listened to the report on Kuscheperca. His well-chiseled face clearly twisted from anger.

“…After the loss of Delvincourt, rebellion broke out all over Kuscheperca. New Kuscheperca have remained largely silent after their victory and have only sent small forces out to assist the local rebellions. Second Prince Cristóbal has died in combat, and Crown Princess Catalina has fallen into enemy hands. The morale of our forces is beyond salvage, and the troops are in full retreat…”

With every report that found its way to Žaloudek, Carlitos’ brows would furrow to an ever greater degree. His usual cool manner, when combined with his silent fuming, created an unbearable pressure on his surroundings.

“How? Hasn’t Kuscheperca already been annexed? At most, I have received the report that a lone princess managed to escape from captivity. How, then, did our army suffer such a crippling defeat? As security, I even had the Flying Dragon sent to assist!!”

The reversal in Kuscheperca was sudden and unexpected.

Despite Žaloudek’s decade-long preparation for its reunification, New Kuschepercan only took mere weeks to bridge the technological gap. With new Silhouette Knight models, the Kuschepercans erased the advantage the Žaloudekian black knights afforded them. Moreover, Žaloudek had lost most of its Levitate Ships, and even the Flying Dragon Battleship could not avoid the same fate.

Worse still, with the death of the Second Prince, and the capture of the Crown Princess, the Žaloudekian Reunification Army lacked a proper leader. Carlitos understood perfectly that any attempt on Kuscheperca would now be a fruitless endeavor.

The strength of the black knights made it hard for anyone to rationalize the defeat, and the loss in materiel was beyond Žaloudek’s ability to cope. The more Carlitos thought about their current predicament, the more uneasy he became.

However, the bad news did not seem to end.

“Your Excellency, the Eastern Flag of the Eleven Flags has begun to marshal their forces at our southwestern border. We have also detected suspicious movements on our northern border. If the surrounding nations invade, we will likely not be able to hold with the Lead Bone Knights alone.”

“One after another! To think they would pounce at the slightest weakness… Hyenas, the whole lot of them!” Carlitos erupted as his anger finally reached a boiling point.

In a surprisingly short amount of time, the reversal in Kuscheperca had brought a huge change to the regional power dynamics, and the winds had turned against Žaloudek.

“They believe we are on our last throes and think to take a bite? It seems that we need to put them in their place!”

“However, Your Excellency, our forces are already stretched too thin. Even if recall our army in Kuscheperca…”

The news of the Kingdom of New Kuscheperca’s recent victory had already spread like wildfire, and many of the neighboring nations had already mustered their forces to take advantage of the chaos.

Initially, many of the neighboring nations preferred to simply observe the situation, as the Žaloudekian army held an overwhelming superiority. Even though Kuscheperca was defeated, other nations didn’t immediately seize the initiative, since doing so would make the black knights their enemy. Having troops spread between occupied and home territory tended to thin out one’s defenses, yet, Žaloudek at the start of the reunification had enough power to compromise neither.

At the same time, the other nations could also not carve their own territory from the remnant of Kuscheperca, as they worried that any hard-earned territory would soon be retaken by the black knights. In the end, the surrounding nations could do nothing as Žaloudek took over Kuscheperca in its entirety.

However, with the sudden reversal, in which Žaloudek suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of Kuscheperca, the other nations no longer needed to worry about the now shattered black knights, and one after another, sought a bite of the wounded beast.

“W-why… why did this happen?!”

On that day, at the center of the Žaloudekian Capital, Regent Carlitos Emden Žaloudek collapsed from excessive shock.

Since then, the Žaloudekian borders began to weaken. At first, there were only minor incursions, but soon, the surrounding nations turned to outright invasion.

Despite the worsening situation, Žaloudek’s Lead Bone Knights fought bravely against the countless invaders from all corners of the vast kingdom. However, overwhelmed by their sheer numbers, the Lead Bone Knights could only fight a fighting retreat as more and more land was taken by their enemies.

Yet, on this terrible battlefield, one group of Silhouette Knights were able to hold the lines and threw back multiple assaults.

“Haa… So in the end, only I survived.”

It was a rapid response group carved from the survivors of Kuscheperca. The group was led by an oddly-shaped Silhouette Knight armed with countless ‘swords’.

“Very well, I guess I shall take up their share of the fight.”

With their fragile and deteriorating situation at home, Žaloudek could not help but abandon their ambition to reunite the fragmented nations.

◆ ◆ ◆

Kingdom of New Kuscheperca’s capital, Delvincourt – originally the seat of the Žaloudekian viceroyalty, the capital had now seen better days since its reclamation by New Kuscheperca.

The chain of defeats from the Tetraspides Fortresses to Delvincourt had lost Žaloudek both the largest metropolis in the region and their commander, Princess Catalina. Additionally, with the situation deteriorating rapidly at home, the Žaloudekians could not help but retreat from Kuscheperca.

Since then, the Kingdom of New Kuscheperca declared the relocation of their capital from Fontaine to Delvincourt. The whole kingdom was in a state of celebration as the citizens welcomed the return of their capital and their Queen. Despite the losses they suffered during the long war, the Kuschepercans now looked once more to the future.

On a certain day, at a dock near Delvincourt. Queen Eleonora, accompanied by Martina, Isadora, and the Kuschepercan nobility, watched over the Silver Phoenix Knights as they loaded their supplies aboard their Levitate Ship – the Aerial Assault Ship.

“Still, with this ship around, transporting supplies got a whole lot easier. Hey, silver boy, let us keep this ship with the Silver Phoenix Knights!”

Boss had a bright smile plastered over his face as he gazed upon the Aerial Assault Ship. Since the battle, the Multiple Launch Javelin Systems had been removed, and the Aerial Assault Ship returned to a lightly-armed Levitate Ship meant for transportation.

The Aerial Assault Ship was currently packed to the brim, with a large part occupied by the cores and parts of the Žaloudekian Silhouette Knights.

“Oh? Are you sure you want to hide this ship from Gramps?”

“He is free to look, but we definitely won’t hand it over. This ship is our spoils of war!”

“Looks like you have grown attached to this ship. Although, we could always construct a new ship from what we learned… but, either way, it shouldn’t be a problem.”

Batson and Eru looked at each other before shaking their heads. Having commanded the Aerial Assault Ship in war, Boss seemed to have developed a special attachment. The first ‘Aerial Knightsmith’ seemed to be leaning toward a suspicious direction.

As the Silver Phoenix Knights finished loading their supplies, Eleonora turned to Emrys.

“…Looks like you plan to return to Fremmevira.”

“That’s right. With the Queen back in the capital, and the Žaloudekians removed from Kuscheperca, there is little reason for us combat specialists to remain. As far as the restoration is concerned, it is a matter for Kuscheperca and her Queen.”

On that day, the Silver Phoenix Knights planned to return to the Kingdom of Fremmevira, and Eleonora was here to see them off.

Among the nobility, there were many who wished for the Silver Phoenix Knights to remain in Kuscheperca. After all, the Silver Phoenix Knights had rendered a great service to their cause, and, during the restoration, every little bit of military power was necessary to maintain order.

However, the Silver Phoenix Knights were still an expeditionary force on loan from the Kingdom of Fremmevira. As such, they could not remain indefinitely in Kuscheperca. With the immediate goals of defeating the occupying Žaloudek force, their service was complete. Still, the same cannot be said for its individual members.

Among the loaded supplies was a wrangled wreck of a Silhouette Knight, beyond any recognition, but with parts that greatly exceeded a normal model. It was the Tzendrinble that fell alongside the Flying Dragon.

“Chid…-san.” Eleonora called out to the young Knight Runner staring at the wreck.

Hearing the voice, Chid immediately turned around. Despite standing right in front of him, Eleonora closed her mouth without saying another word, as if she reverted to the sheltered princess from a long time ago.

Chid wasn’t sure at first how to respond. After gathering his thoughts, Chid turned once more to Eleonora.

“I… am a member of the Silver Phoenix Knights, and I will need to return with my companions. I am… sorry that I could not keep my promise from that time.”

At his answer, Eleonora turned downcast and, after a slight tremble, clasped her hands together.

“N-no… I understand. Know that you helped me… and gave me strength… in my time of greatest need. As my designated knight, you have accomplished your task wonderfully.”

As Eleonora finished, she did not face Chid again. Then, a single teardrop fell onto the ground below.

At that moment, Chid took a step back and knelt before the Queen, reminiscent of their first encounter. The only difference was that now the girl had become the Queen, and the boy was soon to depart. Despite all this, Chid remained the same boy who desired to serve as her strength.

“…Your Majesty, I wish you well. If Kuscheperca is ever in danger, I will immediately return to your side once more.”

“Chid-san as well. Once you return to Fremmevira, I wish you luck in your pursuit to be a splendid Knight Runner. I… will try my best not to trouble you in the future.”

Eleonora finally picked her head up. The hesitation cast away, and, in its place, Eleonora stood with the dignity and confidence befitting a Queen. Only a single tear streak remained on her face.

As Eru quietly watched over the two from afar, Addy quickly hugged him from behind.

“Hey, Eru, were you thinking about leaving Chid here?” Addy asked.

“How blunt. Still, this is not something I could decide alone.”

“Then, if it’s the young master… would you be able to do something about it?!” Seeing Eru’s complicated expression, Addy turned to the nearby Emrys.

“F-fine, just leave it to me! However, the Silver Phoenix Knights technically fall under the command of my father, so I can’t arbitrarily remove a member from its roster. Let me talk with my father! If anything, I will at least figure something out.” Emrys responded confidently with his chest held high.

However, no one had ever seen Emrys lacking in confidence before.

“Rys-nii.” On the other side of the dock, Isadora called out to Emrys.

Emrys nonchalantly walked over to Isadora, only to pause his footsteps when he found Isadora’s facial expression to be particularly stiff.

“Rys-nii… Thank you for saving me, Ellie, and mom. At that moment, we really thought we were done for. We didn’t think we would ever have our kingdom back.”

“I was well taken care of by you and Auntie, so there was no way I wouldn’t come to your rescue!”

“But now, it will be up to us to rebuild our kingdom. Just leave the rest to us… Then, when everything settles down, would you come and visit?”

At her question, Isadora sounded slightly nervous. Emrys simply rubbed his chin for a moment, before turning to Isadora.

“Who knows! We are bringing quite a big present back to Fremmevira, so things will get busy back home. Either way, shouldn’t it be your turn to visit?”

Isadora’s eyes widened at Emrys’ answer, before revealing a charming smile.

“Yes. Next time, we will be sure to visit Rys-nii’s kingdom. I will do my best to stabilize the kingdom so we can visit without worry.”

“Mmn, that’s the spirit! Ah, right. When you come, I will show you how we hunt demonic beasts. After all, the west doesn’t have demonic beasts. Please look forward to it, the whole hunt… quickens the blood!”

“That won’t be necessary.” Isadora bluntly rejected his suggestion.

As everyone finished their goodbyes, the Silver Phoenix Knights boarded the Aerial Assault Ship. Under the auspices of the Kuschepercans, the Aerial Assault Ship slowly took to the skies.

“Then, Silver Phoenix Knights, time to return home… We have plenty of presents to go around once we get back!”

The Aerial Assault Ship sailed at the head of a column of ground transports. Known to be the strongest knights in the east, the Silver Phoenix Knights won a great victory in Kuscheperca, and returned home in triumph.

◆ ◆ ◆

The Great Western Storm that started with the annexation of the Kingdom of Kuscheperca, and ended in the collapse of the Kingdom of Žaloudek, ultimately led to the flames of war to spread across the western nations. As the distrustful invaders of Žaloudek sought to partition the weakened hegemon, they inexplicably agreed to an armistice after some time.

The reason for the armistice was intricately linked to the unique technology held by Žaloudek, the highly secretive Levitate Ship and its construction.

At first, the reasonable conclusion was that the invasion brought about the spread of the Levitate Ship technology. However, how the technology made its way to the other nations remained a mystery.

Some rumors stated that Žaloudek knightsmiths caught on the losing side of a war defected with the technology. Other rumors said that the western nations developed their own Levitate Ship based on their observation of Žaloudekian Levitate Ships. There were even rumors that said it was provided by a suspicious package that circulated between the countries during the invasion.

Regardless, with the spread of the Levitate Ship technology, many nations had turned their focus to its production. The Great Western Storm had demonstrated the Levitate Ship’s superiority and effectiveness in combat, making it foolish for any nation to neglect its development. After all, the initial fate of Kuscheperca had perfectly demonstrated the consequences of going to war with a technologically inferior army.

Still, beyond the regular Levitate Ship, the nations also sought after the powerful Flying Dragon Battleship. However, the critical secrets to its construction were lost alongside the disappearance of its creator, Horacio Collazo.

In the end, they only managed to acquire the technology for constructing the Etheric Levitator and the Levitate Ship, but that alone was able to revolutionize warfare in the western nations. Without the limitations of terrain, the Levitate Ships had amplified the mobility of their armies.

As if guided along by the mysterious hand of fate, the nations soon expanded beyond the confines of Zetterlund, ushering in an escalation of the Great Western Storm.

It was a time later called the preamble to the ‘Great Age of Flight’. (1)


(1) Ama-kun is a fan of Koei’s games.

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