“Well then, five days from today, the Campus Selection Battle will be held!”
The school early in the morning.
After greeting the students in the usual classroom, Instructor Raigree immediately announced the coming event.
“The students, who are participating, are to look at the notice board of the practice ground and memorize their competition schedule. If you cannot participate in the battle within the time, you will lose by default. Cases such as injury or poor physical condition are to be reported ahead of time. And then we will consider that point.”
Originally, it was a battle to decide the representatives for the International Tournament, which is a mock battle with other countries to gain the rights to investigate the ruins.
But this time, it was also a battle betting Lux’s attendance at the academy and to obtain the right to join Celis for the Ragnarok subjugation.
Furthermore, the results of the students who supported either Lux or Celis would be taken into consideration, effectively becoming a war between the first- and second-year students against the third-year students and the classroom was wrapped in a strange fervor.
“The rules for the selection battle are as I explained before. And this time, by the Principal’s suggestion, it was changed into a more special contest format.”
Instructor Raigree turned a fleeting glance at Lux.
They probably had a hard time to decide for this time’s contest format.
And then, the long explanation began.
To summarize it, the rules restricted to this time would be the following.
They would carry out a competition between Celis and her supporting faction, the third-year students, and Lux and his supporting faction, the first- and second-year students; and the faction with the most defeat would have to accept the winning faction’s demand.
Furthermore, the battle would be divided into two groups: the general students’ competition and the “Knight Squadron” competition.
Because the level of the students belonging to the “Knight Squadron” was in general high, they would be made to fight against opponents also from the “Knight Squadron”.
The “Knight Squadron’s” battle and then the general students’ battle.
This meant that they could entrust the two claims of Lux and Celis to the outcome result of the two groups.
“Lux Arcadia’s claim and demand are “the attendance at this academy” as well as “to tag along to the Abyss subjugation mission”. Conversely, Celestia’s claim is “Lux’s expulsion” and “the refusal of him tagging along”.”
In short, to get what they want the number of victories of the members of the “Knight Squadron” and the general students supporting them would have to exceed the number of victories of the opponent’s supporters.
One battle against Lux and his supporters within the “Knight Squadron”, and one battle against his supporters among the general students.
At the least, unless he won at least in one of the two groups, Lux would definitely be ousted from the academy.
“That’s all for the explanation. Then everyone, give it your all.”
When Instructor Raigree went out, the commotion of the girls suddenly spread inside the classroom.
“Uwah. As I thought, a contest will really begin! What do we do?”
“Can we win against the third-year students? The winning points seem to take into account the difference in number and ability, but──”
“Lux-san, you must not lose.”
Such voices flew out unanimously.
“Errr, I’m sorry. I somehow got everyone involved──”
As Lux reflexively said so,
“Eeih, be quiet! All of you!”
Watching her classmates making a fuss, Lisha stood up and cried in a thundering voice.
“There’s no need to apologize, Lux. Either way, if you didn’t resist, you might have been driven out as is.”
And then, as to convey to everyone in the class, she raised her voice.
“We only have one thing to do! There’s no need to be flustered; we’ve to give it our all for that! I’ve already taken every possible measure.”
All her classmates, Lux included, looked puzzled.
“I took all night to tune all the Drag-Ride of this class. Your Machine Dragons’ overall output should be enhanced more than before. With this, we’ll at least be able to oppose even the third-year students.”
“I-Is that true? Lisha-sama!?”
“I say. I may look like this, but I did it after getting permission of the other Machine Dragon mechanics and the Principal. The checking after adjustment has also been done. Use them dignifiedly.”
“Thank you very much! As expected of the princess!”
“With this, we can see a glimmer of hope!”
To Lisha’s words, the female classmates raised shouts of joy.
The higher a Drag-Ride’s output was, the more the power of the machine would rise; but at the same time, the intensity of consumption would also increase.
Thus, the output enhancement was a double-edged sword, but she probably judged that a gamble was needed to defeat an opponent, whose ability was superior, in this selection battle, which carried out many short-term battles.
Of course, there was also a limit in the adjustment to raise the output, but there was something other than that which bothered Lux.
Not believing immediately in that fact, Lux could not help asking.
“D-Don’t look too much at my face now. It’s slightly shameful after all……”
Then, Lisha quickly turned her slightly blushing face away from Lux.
Upon close inspection, a shadow slightly remained under her eyes.
“Um……, the truth is, I wanted to adjust the Machine Dragons of all the second-year students, but, I couldn’t make it in time. I could only adjust the ones for our class……”
Lisha said, just slightly despondent.
But, Lux understood that adjusting 20 Drag-Rides in this short time was an uncommon workload.
“Thank you, Lisha-sama.”
When Lux expressed his feelings, Lisha slightly shook her head.
“I-It isn’t really that big a deal to thank me. To begin with, I was the one who made you attend this academy ── I may look like this, but I’m the New Kingdom’s princess after all. I have to take the initiative and move everyone.”
Lisha once hated being treated as the New Kingdom’s princess after what happened to her in the past, but regarding the selection battle this time, she showed her duty as someone standing above others and gave power to everyone.
The fact that she did that much for her own sake was very stouthearted and reliable.
“──No, even so, I’m very happy.”
When Lux held her hand with both his, Lisha’s face faintly turned red and she hung her head down.
“Lisha-sama! It’s no good to steal a march on us!”
“Wait, The selection battle hasn’t begun yet!?”
When the classmates, who saw that, jeered severally,
“──You’re quite good.”
Krulcifer also muttered so with a smile.
“……Excuse me. Sorry to interrupt you as you’re busy, but can I have a little of your time?”
At that time, a knock was heard and one girl entered the classroom.
She was the third-years student and one of the Triad, Sharis.
As all the classmates were surprised at the unexpected visitor,
“Ah! Traitor! Sharis, why didn’t you join Lux-cchi’s side?!”
Tillfarr, also of the Triad, flared up at her while sulking.
It seemed that even if the school year was different, if one wished, they could change the faction to support; but Lux heard from Tillfarr and Noct that Sharis decided to support Celis.
“We’ve already talked about that matter, right? I too really want to support him, but there are various points to consider you see? Besides, I can also come to report my side’s information to you guys. Well, only this time, I was requested by Celis to convey you a message, but──”
To Sharis’ lines, all the members of the class held their breaths.
“It looks like she’ll participate in the two-on-two mock battle from the first day, which is today. Celis’ partner is a member of the same “Knight Squadron”, Saniya Lemiste.”
The way she expressly asked Sharis to convey this message could be interpreted as a declaration of war.
“It’s up to chance whether or not you’ll confront her, but you guys should form a pair with a first- or second-year student member within the “Knight Squadron”. Well, I think that there aren’t many choices though. Well then.”
As she finished her message, Sharis left the classroom.
There would not be many battles between fellow members of the “Knight Squadron” whose members were few.
Saniya seemed to use a general-purpose Machine Dragon <Wyvern>, but considering the fact that Celis was a Divine Drag-Ride’s user, those who could form a pair with Lux were inevitably limited.
As Lux was troubled as to whom he should choose as a partner,
“Of course, you’ll choose me, right? Lux”
Lisha first stepped forward before Lux and stuck out her large chest for a small stature.
“……I cannot recommend that.”
But, rejection flew from Krulcifer, who was only a seat away.
“Your <Tiamat> is certainly excellent, but it would be difficult for long-term use. With Celis-senpai, who has great endurance, your weak point is likely to be aimed at.”
Lisha raised her eyebrows at Krulcifer’s point.
“Even for you, the repair of <Fafnir>, which suffered damaged in the previous battle, isn’t complete, right!? Are you saying that you’ll be able to fully unleash its abilities in that condition──?”
“That degree of damage is no big deal. Besides, in order to defend against Celis-senpai’s attacks, without my Divine Raiment──”
“U-Um…… you two, calm down a little──”
When Lux was about to break in between to the two girls who scattered quiet sparks,
“It’s all right. I’ll be taking part in it.”
A soft, small voice weaved its way through the gap.
The taciturn girl, who was absentmindedly watching the course of events as she was next to Lux until now, slowly stood up and declared as such.
“Eh……? Wait, Phi-chan!?”
“Yea. I’ll fight together with Lu-chan, right?”
She fixedly turned her big eyes towards Lux and asked him with a serious look.
Even though she said it with a docile voice and countenance, it was a peremptory attitude.
Certainly, Philphie was the user of the Divine Drag-Ride <Typhon> and also a member of the “Knight Squadron”.
Besides, he has also witnessed her ability in the previous incident.
She should be an asset enough to confront the Celis’ pair, but
“Hey, airhead girl! Don’t decide on your own. We’re talking this through here, you see──”
“That’s right. We do not intend to easily concede that role. Rather, I do not mind leaving the decision to Lux-kun, but how about it?”
As Lisha and Krulcifer objected in turn, Lux was troubled.
(W-What do I do!? Honestly, I don’t feel like can choose either of them……!)
“Yes, Ye~s! You three, calm down a little~”
When it got close to being a stalemate, Tillfarr broke in.
As one wondered since when she prepared it, three pieces of thinly cut papers were grasped in the hand that she held out.
“As you see, I made a drawing lot. With this the 3 of you will all a have fair chance, right?”
As he was impressed at the girl’s deftness, Tillfarr revealed a mischievous smile and murmured.
“Hmm. No, no, don’t mind it, as compensation for this ── it doesn’t have to be something expensive, okay? Prince”
“……I-I got it.”
(W-When I thought that she came to my help, I got completely tricked!?)
As expected, I’m destined to be led around by the nose by girls, Lux inwardly grieved.
And when the three girls pulled one piece of paper all at once, the result became immediately clear.
“……It can’t be helped, I guess.”
Lisha and Krulcifer respectively raised despondent voices.
It was Philphie, who pulled the paper piece with a red mark.
“Lu-chan. We’re together.”
Though it was her usual absentminded voice, she looked somewhat happy.
“It’s all right. We won’t lose.”
“I-It can’t be helped…… I leave the match with Celis to you.”
Lisha told so and then began the briefing for the match with Krulcifer.
It seemed that the remaining two girls decided to join for the battle in pair.
The pairs must be decided and applied beforehand, but the opponent’s pair composition would not be known until just before the battle.
The tournament was a survival system; which meant that when a member of Lux faction or Celis faction lost in a battle, including the “Knight Squadron”, they would be unable to participate in the battles afterwards.
Since there was a possibility that other members of the “Knight Squadron” would fight Celis’ pair, it would be better not to disperse their forces.
Approximately one hour after, they turned in the papers to indicate their pairings.
Notices of today’s opponents were posted outside the waiting room.
Lisha and Krulcifer’s opponents were Celis and Saniya.
Celis’ partner, Saniya did not have a Divine Drag-Ride.
Thus, judging only from machine performance, Lux’s faction had an advantage; but the expressions of the surrounding classmates were filled with tension.
The Anecdote of Celis who competed in the largest number of matches in both the International Tournaments and the Campus Selection Battles, held the record of being undefeated.
By making enemy out of the “strongest”, who was until now an ally, one could see that they harbored fear.
“──It’s a shame that we weren’t able to form a pair with him, but it’s good that we’ll fight her first.”
“Yes, you’re right.”
But, the two girls, even knowing who their opponents were, smiled without showing any signs of hesitation.
“If we defeat Celis here, it’ll be as good as winning this contest. With that said, rest at ease and wait for the results, Lux.”
Lisha proudly stuck out her chest towards Lux.
On the other hand, Krulcifer revealed her usual cool smile in a composed manner.
“Well then, we’re off.”
“Um, you two ── be careful.”
As Lux said with a serious face, Krulcifer returned only a chuckle and headed towards the practice ground.
As Lux saw off the back of the two girls who left,
“I see you’re popular as usual, Nii-san.”
Lux was surprised at the sudden voice he heard.
Before he was aware, Airi and her close friend Noct of the Triad were next to him.
“That’s quite an awful way of greeting your little sister who came to see you. What an awful brother.”
Though Airi was smiling, her eyes were not.
“T-That’s not true. I was just a little surprised──”
“Yes. I am also of the same opinion as Lux-san. Airi”
When Lux hurriedly explained, Noct followed up.
“……Is that, really so?”
As Lux felt relieved when Airi was about to be convinced,
“Yes. Simply put, I think that he was only fascinated by Lisha-sama and Krulcifer-san. Both of them are beautiful and they currently wear dress gears, so their skin’s exposure rate is also──”
“Wait, I thought that you came to my help!?”
Since she had a relatively quiet character, he had been careless; but this girl called Noct was quite a person with quite a foul mouth, too.
“Haa. Well, Nii-san is at that age, so I don’t mind it, but you should stop looking at my classmate with strange eyes too, okay?”
“……No, um, I didn’t really──”
“Lu-chan. It’ll begin soon.”
When he thought about denying it again, he was urged as such by Philphie behind him.
“Let’s go. I have collected the data of Celis-senpai as much as possible, so I was thinking of explaining it to you and came.”
“Ah, yes. Thank you, Airi.”
Lux awkwardly laughed and then the four of them headed to the practice ground’s audience seats.
When Lux arrived, it was crowded with a great number of students and academy staff, and almost at the same time, Lisha and Krulcifer entered.
“Well then, Campus Selection Battle Group A, second pair vs. Group B, first pair. Both parties, draw your swords and equip your Drag-Rides!”
At the voice of Instructor Raigree, who acted as the referee, the four girls unsheathed their Sword Devices all at once.
And when each group pushed the button, they muttered their pass codes.
“──Come forth, the Branded Wing Dragon which is the symbol of power. Obey my sword and fly, <Wyvern>!”
First, Saniya summoned her general-purpose Machine Dragon, a <Wyvern>.
The blue Machine Dragon which appeared in particles of light immediately unfolded to innumerable parts and changed into an armor which covered Saniya’s body.
“I am not good at a fighting scene, but I shall seriously go at it just for today.”
Setting up a medium-sized blade, Saniya told.
At the declaration of war of the girl, who was a third-year student of the “Knight Squadron”, the audience seating slightly stirred.
On the other hand, Lisha laughed at it and loudly advocated her Sword Device.
“──Awaken, Founding Ancestor. King of the Dragon Gods that is an army in itself. <Tiamat>!”
“──Reincarnate. Giant Dragon of calamity bound by worldly goods. Become the value of worldwide desire, <Fafnir>!”
When the two girls declared their pass codes, the surrounding space was wrapped in light.
A red dragon and a silver dragon, which emitted a beautiful luster, were instantly summoned behind the two girls.
Immediately after that, as they opened from the inside and split into countless parts, each part was equipped at high speed.
The venue greatly stirred at the overwhelming intensity of the two flying-type Divine Drag-Rides.
“I more or less expected that they’d fight with general-purpose Machine Dragons, but…… looks like both of them are serious.”
“Those two are top class even among the second-year students, right? Both their skills and Machine Dragon aptitudes are also high……”
“Besides, how many Drag-Knights are there in the world, who can fight against Divine Drag-Rides at the same time? Like this, even Celis-san isn’t──”
Perhaps because they were affected by their majestic appearances, the third-year female students respectively voiced out their uneasiness.
But, Celestia herself, who confronted them, showed neither agitation nor any signs of being intimidated, and set up her Sword Device.
“Descent. Royal Dragon who inherited the blood of supremacy. Whirl the thunderous sound and make the heavens dance, <Lindwurm>”
A rapier-type Sword Device.
What has appeared behind her sword was a giant dragon with large wings with sharp and solemn shapes and clad in a golden brilliance.
At the same time with her voice, the armor, which instantly covered Celis’ body, equipped both halo-like wings on her back and was endowed with an angel-like divineness.
The students of the audience fixed their eyes upon that beauty and bottomless intensity unintentionally forgot to cheer.
In her right hand, she had an extra-large lance and a Canon with a peculiar shape was connected to her left shoulder.
“Please, observe attentively, Nii-san. The <Lindwurm> of the girl called the academy strongest and her tactics──”
“Yes. Even I, who am a member of the ‘Knight Squadron’, have never properly seen a battle with leader Celis. It is because it immediately ends when she makes a move.”
Airi and Noct muttered with voices tinged with tension.
At the same time as Lux nodded, Instructor Raigree’s voice resounded in the ring.
“Mock Battle, start!”
With the signal, the four machines on the ring flew all at once.
Both sides probably formulated their strategies beforehand, as they moved without hesitation.
When Lisha swung her Sword Device, four <Legions> suddenly raised a growl, depicted four kinds of curves and swooped down onto Celis.
Huge arrowhead-shaped throwing weapons for long-rang attacks, which were <Tiamat>’s special armament.
After all the bullets were fired at Celis, their movements suddenly changed.
Their arc-like trajectories, which aimed at Celis, suddenly rose just before they impacted <Lindwurm>.
And the one, who was above was──
“……Their aim isn’t Celis-neesama! But me!?”
When Saniya noticed Lisha’s intention, she raised her barrier’s output and readied her blade, Lisha laughed.
“Unfortunately, that’s also wrong.”
*pashin*! At that moment, a thin bluish-white flash pierced the atmosphere in a straight line
It was the shot of <Fafnir>’s special armament ── the <Freezing Canon>.
It was rifle-shaped sniper, but it had the ability to freeze its target.
Before the eyes of Celis without the time to evade, the cold wave was repelled, and crystal-like petals scattered in the sky.
A high speed marksmanship which took advantage of a opening when Celis’ field of vision was covered by the four <Legions>.
To the coordination attack, which was performed in an instant, Saniya shouted.
“Your judgment is quite splendid.”
Celis’ aloof voice was heard from the other side of the ice which froze mid-air.
Slight agitation and tension ran through Lisha’ and Krulcifer’s faces.
What has frozen was the medium-sized blade that Celis had.
She sacrificed one armament on hand and used it as a shield.
Lisha once again swung her Sword Device, and began pursuit with the <Legions>, which were used as decoy.
But, all the blade bits were easily repelled by great lance and they fell as she lost control of them.
“You have become strong. You might even have a chance of victory.”
Celis said with a calm voice, yet filled with a quiet overpowering feeling.
“If your opponent is not me, that is”
Immediately after, <Lindwurm> soared at an explosive speed. When it got closer in an instant before the eyes of Lisha clad in <Tiamat>, Celis unleashed a thrusting blow with the spear grabbed in her right hand from oblique stance.
The next moment. Thunder roared, and lightning was emitted from the charge spearhead.
Receiving the spearhead and lightning attack from over her barrier and armor, Lisha was flipped to the back.
Krulcifer promptly readied her <Freezing Canon> aiming at Celis, but her counterattack was prevented by the barrage of the Breath Gun that Saniya had.
“Well then, let’s end the warm up now. It’s fine, right? You two.”
Together with Celis’ intimidating smile, <Lindwurm> was shrouded with light.
When Lux felt the abnormality that occurred to <Tiamat>, Airi, who was next to him, nodded.
“Yes, that large spear is <Lindwurm>’s special armament. The dragon’s fang whose real nature is lightning and stars── it is called the <Lightning Lance>. Because the lightning attack also affects the Mithril Dite, when it hit, the user will also receive damage through the armor, and the weapons of the parts, which received the attack, will see their movements dull for dozen of seconds.”
As a civil official, Airi, who recorded various information in the academy, thoroughly explained.
An ability to pour out a lightning attack at the same time with a strong thrust and seal a Drag-Ride’s functions.
Although that alone was dangerous enough, that thunder which ran through the sky was──
“Yes. But, it is not only that. It is also possible to release a lightning attack from the spearhead. Of course, if you get hit by it, the Drag-Ride’s function will also decrease for several seconds.”
Noct supplemented before Lux asked his question.
“Her attack, which carried electric shock, is called “Raisen”. If that’s used, even if it’s you, Nii-san, it’ll impossible to keep defending against it. The Machine Dragon’s movement itself will be sealed after all.”
It was impossible to keep receiving Celis’ attacks in succession.
As a countermeasure, he could only not get hit, but it would be incredibly difficult to dodge all of Celis’ skilled and refined attacks.
Even if he were to constantly fly about, the other party had a flying-type Divine Drag-Ride. To begin with, there was huge difference in mobility when compared with Lux’s <Wyvern>.
Celis turned into a much more formidable enemy than he imagined.
As Lux watched the match and began to think of a countermeasure, Celis’s gaze suddenly moved and met with Lux’s in the audience seating.
It was just for an instant. But, Lux understood the intention of Celis, who did such a thing in the middle of a battle.
“──It’s coming, Nii-san. This is when she fights seriously.”
Immediately after Airi’s announcement, <Lindwurm>, which loitered in mid-air, shone intensely and expended a huge spherical light.
“Good grief…… I have wanted to settle it before it became like this, but──”
Looking at the domain of light ── the light that was filling the whole practice ground with Celis as the center, Lisha grumbled.
She looked slightly overwhelmed at <Lindwurm>’s Divine Raiment that activated.
“It’s still early to grieve. Even you want to show him your cool side, right?”
Lisha showed a fearless smile to Krulcifer loitering next to her.
“Yeah, I know. <Tiamat>! Show your true nature!”
At the same time she raised her Sword Device and shouted, light shone at her surroundings.
Immediately after, particles of light gathered once again and a new weapon emerged.
The auxiliary armament, <Seven Heads>.
The huge gun barrel, which was the allegory of a Goddess turning into a seven-headed dragon, was connected to <Tiamat>’s right arm and shoulder.
“Now, I shall entertain you! Academy’s strongest!”
She launched a total of 16 <Legions>, which were also warped in along with her auxiliary armament.
All of them simultaneously swooped down and aimed for Celis in the air.
But at that moment, Celis revealed a cold smile ── and muttered.
“Can you really entertain me?”
The next instant, wrapped in seven halos, Celis’ figure disappeared.
And then, she appeared beside Lisha wielding her Sword Device.
Lisha held her breath as the spear’s thrust, tinged with lightning, impaled <Tiamat>’s flank.
Lisha’s body reflexively stiffened at the unavoidable attack,
A rifle blast was heard and a flash of cold wave ran through the sky.
It was a counter to prevent further attacks to Lisha and aim for Celis’ opening, but Celis stopped her assault and turned, then accelerated and dodged.
Her reaction was fast. As if she knew the sniper’s position from the start, she flew towards <Fafnir> and quickly closed their distance.
The moment Krulcifer squared off, Celis had already finished her thrusting’s movement.
As Celis was repeatedly blocked by <Fafnir>’s <Auto Shield>, which activated in response to the Raisen’s attacks, the <Fafnir> eventually caved in and the Raisen knocked down the <Freezing Canon> from the arm of <Fafnir>; and in response, Krulcifer retreated at once.
“──You got me there. You were aiming for me from the beginning, right?”
“It’s a little late to notice it. For someone as wise as you.”
Gaining distance between them, Krulcifer smiled nervously while preparing her drag-ride sword.
“She disappeared along with the Machine Dragon!? What on earth is that──?”
When Lux muttered in the audience seating, Airi calmly raised her face.
“That’s <Lindwurm>’s Divine Raiment ── <Divine Gate>. It allows the user to teleport instantaneously within the range of that light.”
Lux was at a loss for words.
By Lux’s eye measurement, the domain of light that <Lindwurm> unfolded was about 50 Mels of radius.
If she was able to freely teleport within the vast range covering the practice ground, then──
“Yes. This is precisely the reason why she is hailed as the strongest. She can even dominate others in battle techniques and skills; the chance of winning against her, who can teleport like that, is quite slim.”
Turning a sidelong glance towards Lux, Noct supplemented.
Lux instantly understood what she meant.
If compelled to an extreme logic, a fight was determined by one’s range.
Fighting while maintaining a distance to effectively dodge and allow enough space to counter attack would the ideal combat situation.
But, that Divine Raiment was──
“Even if you’re separated from her, she can shorten the distance in an instant. Even if you approach and corner her, she can take your back in an instant. Moreover, she’s cautious of Krulcifer-san’s attacks and Divine Raiment, whom took a position where Lisha-sama acted as a vanguard. But with their formation broken, Krulcifer’s ability to read the future can’t save her from the continuous onslaught.”
At Airi’s mutter, Lux understood once again.
Even if Krulcifer made full use of the Divine Raiment of <Fafnir> that she operated, she would have no means of counterattack if her back were taken instantly.
Krulcifer and Lisha could only escape; there was no room for any counter attack.
They were no longer any chances of winning.
A high-speed battle where four machines danced was unfolded in the practice ground.
Lisha fully activated the <Legions>, used all of them to corner Celis, but this time Celis did not use <Divine Gate>.
“I heard that that boy fended off all your attacks.”
She skillfully wielded her special armament, the great spear tinged with lightning ── the <Lightning Lance>, and repelled the <Legions> attacking from all directions one after another.
Unlike Lux, who dealt with them using various weapons and tricks, she has fended off all the storm-like attacks by the 16 <Legions> only with one spear.
Even so, Lisha’s attacks still continued, but as they lost a little of their mobility each time they were repelled by Celis’ spear, all of the <Legions> dropped to the practice ground before long.
“Your attacks are strong, but that they are brittle when it is against me.”
To the words of Celis, Lisha fearlessly laughed while breathing heavily.
“……I see, you’re really hurting my pride, Miss Strongest. How many people in this world do you think can pull off what you’re doing?”
Krulcifer, while engaging in battle in the sky with Saniya’s <Wyvern>, looked for an opening on Celis.
However, Saniya devoted herself to support Celis as she kept Krulcifer occupied.
Saniya, who fought using a general-purpose Machine Dragon <Wyvern>, fought to separate Krulcifer from Lisha.
Thus, she skillfully handled her two breath guns, maintained an offense and defense in middle range and moved around with great tact without using any winning move. She just attacked to interfere with Krulcifer’s movement.
On the other hand, Lisha’s stamina was already about to reach the limit.
“Then, with this──……!?”
The moment when she set up <Seven Heads>, Celis moved.
With the minimum movement, she threw three Daggers at <Tiamat>. Almost at the same time, the seven halos wrapped <Lindwurm> and it disappeared from where it was.
“Don’t tell me this is──!?”
“It’s over. Scarlet War Princess.”
The moment when Lisha activated her barrier to defend against the daggers, Celis launched an attack from Lisha’s rear and smashed <Tiamat>’s propulsion device.
“Guh……!? So, this is──!”
“Yes. A concerted attack by Celis-neesama alone. It’s a technique that we call “Heavy Strike”.”
To the mutter of Lisha, whose armor was smashed, Saniya revealed a smile.
A simultaneous attack from multiple directions would eventually overwhelm an opponent.
With <Lindwurm>’s <Divine Gate>, she was able to pull it off with perfect timing.
The female students of the audience raised cheers at the special move only possible through concentration and technique, that Celis possessed, and the Divine Raiment’s ability.
“──It’s your lost.”
Bluntly saying so, Celis turned her back on Lisha.
Since the propulsion device of the back wings was destroyed, she no longer had any choice other than falling.
In the worst case, she had to show vigilance towards Krulcifer’s side as she was unable to attack her until the landing, but──
“Where do you think you’re going? Your opponent is still here, Strongest.”
At that moment, Lisha grappled Celis’ <Lindwurm> from behind and restrained it.
<Tiamat>’s Sword Device was grasped in her hand.
“Grovel in the name of the god, <Sprayshot>”
Together with the dazzling radiance of the Divine Raiment, <Lindwurm> fell along with <Tiamat> that grappled it.
Being slammed onto the ground at high speed, a rising cloud of dust wrapped up the two girls.
“……Gravity control ── so by getting rid of your own gravity, you can remain in mid-air, huh.”
Celis said while suggesting slight agitation at the terrible shock of the fall.
By <Tiamat>’s Divine Raiment, <Sprayshot>, she remained in mid-air by erasing her weight first, and the moment she grappled <Lindwurm>, she switched to a strong gravity load and succeeded in getting her for the first time.
In addition to the weights of the two Divine Drag-Rides themselves, a gravity several folds greater was applied, and the two machines’ feet sank.
“If I’m not mistaken, there should have been a restriction in size in transferring with <Divine Gate>, right? Your own size when clad in <Lindwurm> is the limit. In that case, by applying gravity on us together while grappling you like this──”
Even if she were to normally apply the gravity load with <Sprayshot>, her opponent would escape with her Divine Raiment.
Thus, as she waited for this chance of grappling until the very last minute, Lisha splendidly got her.
At the same time as Lisha shouted, no, already before that, Krulcifer had moved.
After flicking off Saniya, who was fighting at long range, <Fafnir> approached <Lindwurm>at a high speed like that of a bullet.
It became a flash of light, tearing the blue sky, and brandished a medium-sized blade.
The moment when the flash of <Fafnir>, which reached its maximum speed, was going to attack Celis,
With an earsplitting roaring sound, <Tiamat> and <Lindwurm> were wrapped by lightning.
Lisha screamed, and Krulcifer was blinded by the intense flash for an instant.
Immediately after, the aloof girl’s voice echoed out.
Before anyone knew, Celis had escaped from Lisha’s restriction and spoke after teleporting to the other side of the practice grounds.
Immediately after, the gun barrel, which was connected to the shoulder, activated as it raised a growl and fired a spherical light bullet.
Lisha and Krulcifer simultaneously held their breaths while squinting their eyes at the radiance of the bullet.
The speed of the flickering yellow light bullet was by no means fast.
But after just a few seconds, as the light bullet reached the center of the practice ground, it flickered there and exploded.
A flash as to burn the retina and the blast to the point of being unable to breath swirled violently within the practice ground and the students in the audience seating raised screams.
Roughly 80% of the practice ground’s area was filled with light and explosive flames.
<Starlight Zero> was another special armament that <Lindwurm> possessed.
It was a wide area ultra-powerful extermination weapon that shot a light bullet called “Star” which compressed the energy amassed to its limit and exploded a few seconds later covering a space of 300 Mels in radius.
Celis perfectly calculated the bombardment and fired while adjusting so that damage did not befall the audience seating.
“To think that Celis-neesama went all out──”
As she received an instruction of evasion from Celis before the bombardment, Saniya escaped from the attack range a step earlier.
Even so, her expression showed her surprise as she cast her gaze at the practice ground below.
As the aftermath of the tremendous impact and flames disappeared and smoke cleared away──
“……Looks like I somehow made it in time.”
Krulcifer’s <Fafnir> was standing in front of Lisha’s <Tiamat> so as to protect it from the blast.
Lisha, who was surprised at that fact, unintentionally raised her voice.
“I have heard the rumors, but it’s quite the tremendous power…… It’s regrettable, but I’m already at my limit.”
*pashiin*! Shedding light, <Fafnir>’s system went down.
Immediately after, Lisha’s <Tiamat>’s system went down too, and both girls’ armors were released.
Because they defended against <Starlight Zero>, they had invested all the energy into the barrier and armaments; they had run out of energy.
“Deeming that they are unable to continue the battle, I declare the third-year Celestia/Saniya pair victorious!”
That moment, Raigree quickly announced the outcome and the bell rang the mock battle’s end.
Immediately after, great cheers poured down inside the practice ground.
“Even <Fafnir>’s automatic defense, <Fafnir>, has been blown off. As expected, she’s not to take lightly──”
“I-I don’t mean that!? Why did you save me──?”
“You have fought until your very limit after all. Even if Celis-senpai has calculated the power, there was a chance, even if slim, that you might be hurt.”
With a matter-of-factly face, Krulcifer told Lisha.
And then, she brushed up her long, beautiful hair and smiled refreshingly.
“Honestly, I was surprised. I believed that your ability to think up tactics is hardly comparable to that of a princess, but you exceed my expectations and cornered that Celis-senpai. At the same time as I was impressed, I didn’t want you to get injured here.”
“S-Something of that extent isn’t really that big a deal…… I have already thought before about a strategy of remaining in the air by lightening my own gravity with <Sprayshot>, so──”
“I don’t mean that. What I acknowledged was the fact that you, who is the New Kingdom’s princess, has gone to such lengths regardless of appearances in order to win. Even though I have already half-given up at that time……”
Saying so, Krulcifer turned her gaze towards Lux in the audience seating.
“That you seriously think of wanting to make him stay in this academy. On that point, I can sympathize with you──”
As she whispered so, Lisha slightly blushed and hung down her head bashfully.
“Wha…… what is it, all of the sudden?! I’m only doing it for my own sake, you see──!”
“Yes, I know. If possible, let’s have a peaceful quarrel from now on. Of course, I intend to win in the end though.”
With just a slightly happy expression, Krulcifer lent a hand to Lisha sitting on the ground.
Celis watched that scene from a slightly remote place.
“They have been defeated, huh. Both of them……”
Airi, which commented next to Lux, said so with a faint sigh.
“Yes. But, I think that they put up a fairly good fight. They have done this much against that Celis-senpai──”
Noct nodded in agreement, but immediately after, she asked a question.
“However, what on earth happened in the last offense and defense? The moment when Krulcifer-san slashed at Celis-senpai, I did not see anything as the area became dazzling, but……”
“She attacked herself…… Is what I think.”
Airi and Noct were puzzled at the small voice which was heard next to Lux.
It was because Philphie, who was watching the battle absentmindedly so far, suddenly muttered so.
“──As I thought, it was that, huh.”
Even Lux, who was looking at the practice ground with a serious expression, could not help but nod.
“W-What do you mean, both of you? At that instant, what happened──?”
Airi questioned the two with a perplexed expression,
“At that time, Celis-senpai attacked herself with her <Lightning Lance>. And probably with an electric shock with high output near to maximum at that…… And then, it inflicted damage to Lisha-sama and <Tiamat> who was grappling her and she shook off the restriction.”
Even the usually composed Noct showed a surprised expression.
There were probably almost no people in this audience seating that noticed the offense and defense of that instant.
Celis, who received an unexpected attack by being grappled from behind, shot the Raisen regardless of the damage to herself, undid Lisha’s restriction and teleported with <Divine Gate>. Furthermore, she fired the other special armament, <Starlight Zero>, and decided the match.
Moreover, at that moment, she also used the flash by Raisen, that she attacked herself with, to blind Krulcifer.
Lux had heard that <Fafnir>’s Divine Raiment of future foresight, , was realized through the sight of Krulcifer, who was its user. Thus, it might be invalidated by removing their visibility itself.
But, what Lux found frightening above all was the judgment and the ability to execute such a feat.
“Which reminds me…… I have heard it in the rumors. She seemed to have a high disposition in sword and as a Drag-Knight, but among them, she possesses a unique talent.”
Airi said as she remembered while looking at the practice ground.
“Memorizing tactics that cover all types of situations and swiftly executing the best countermeasures ── among the military officers of the capital, being able to do this seems to be called ‘Maneuvers on the Book’.”
“Maneuvers, on the Book……”
An instantaneous ability in thinking that allowed her to show a frightening reaction during those only few seconds and reverse her predicament.
It was not just her skills of operating a Machine Dragon and <Lindwurm>’s high performance.
(That’s the academy’s strongest girl, huh……)
Lux once again felt her bottomless ability.
Philphie lightly poked Lux’s shoulder from nearby.
“Lu-chan. Let’s go pay a visit to the two of them.”
“……Ah, yes. You’re right.”
For the time being, he was worried about Lisha’s and Krulcifer’s conditions.
Lux stood up and left the audience seating with Philphie and company.
For these past few days, several temporary rest rooms had been prepared to tend to the injured in the Campus Selection Battle.
As Lux headed to that medical office at a quick pace after having parted from Philphie and Noct, who had individual battles immediately after and Airi who had work to do──
Celis was just walking alone from the opposite side of the corridor facing the courtyard.
She was walking with steps so steady that it’d be unthinkable that they were someone who had just finished a fierce battle. She turned a somewhat confused gaze at Lux.
“It was a little unexpected.”
Putting a hand on her big chest, Celis muttered as if talking to herself.
“Those girls, who detain you, seem to fight for your sake from their true feelings.”
Celis probably felt firsthand the will and resolution of Lisha and Krulcifer through the fight earlier.
Her aloof presence of leader loosened only slightly.
But in the next moment, a strong wave of hostility swept over Lux and made his spine shiver.
“But, my will cannot be shaken, either. You are still an unneeded person in this academy. I will prove it in the next fight with you.”
So, this was a born noble.
So, this was the power of the Ralgris House, one of the Fourth Great Nobles.
The figure of the girl who continued all kinds of trainings since she was a child in order to fight and be established to stand above others.
(That’s right. As expected, this girl’s resolution is different……)
The girl, who since child has fought while abandoning any other way of life.
For Lux, who was not able to carry out his duty as a Prince before, Celis was too formidable an opponent, but,
“You’re a very strong person.”
So as not to lose to her unshakeable will, Lux further declared.
“But ── this time, I will absolutely not lose, too.”
Just like when he decided to destroy the Old Empire before, Lux once again decided.
He would bear the New Kingdom’s future and become their strength.
And he would accomplish it in this academy where he was nearer than anywhere else.
Meeting his straightforward gaze, Celis held her breath for a moment.
But, she immediately returned to her usual aloof presence and walked away as she went past him.
I’ve said it.
In order to chase the black marketer ── the existence appearing to Fugil that maneuvered secretly in various places, there was also the choice of leaving the academy and concealing his figure.
“I know that it’s luxury, but”
He wanted to help the girls of the academy while he was still in the academy.
Lux took a deep breath and began to walk.
Then, he caught sight the academy-exclusive woman doctor, who just came out of the medical office’s door.
“Ara, what are you doing in this place? Did you perhaps also come to pay a visit to the injured girls of earlier? I’m on my way to go see the situation to another room though.”
“Ah, yes. U-Um ── are both of them all right?”
Lux asked while being slightly tense.
Then, as the woman doctor leaked a wry smile,
“You are the two girls’ friend if I remember correctly. They would be troubled if you were to see them in their current appearances, so it’d better not to get in yet, you know?”
“Eh……!? Don’t tell me that they──”
After the end of the mock battle with Celis, there should not have been any conspicuous external wounds, but were they perhaps seriously injured?
Lux, who was driven by uneasiness, hastily ran to the medical office and put his hand on the doorknob.
*bang*! As he vigorously opened the door, an unexpected scene spread over there.
Bandages were wound on the hands and feet of the girls sitting on a bed.
But, it was not the point of being painful to look at, it was just around one or two places.
However, other than there was amazing.
Probably because they were going to change their dress gears, which already fitted their bodies and made their body lines stand out, after their treatment, they were in a state where they took off all their clothes.
Their uniforms and underwear for changing clothes were just scattered on the bed where both the girls were sitting.
The girls, who saw Lux’s figure, blushed and promptly covered their bodies.
Lux’s head instantly flushed at the sight of the two girls, who were known as prominent beauties even in the academy.
Lux should have reflexively averted his eyes, but maybe that was a man’s sad nature, after fully pausing a few seconds,
He told them so and vigorously closed the door.
Haa, Haa……, as he washed off the sweat from his forehead, the exclusive woman doctor smiled wryly as she saw it.
“Even though I said not to get in since they were changing.”
“Please, say that earlier!?”
Lux shouted with all his power his face still bright red and waited for a while for Lisha and Krulcifer in the medical office to call out to him.
“I’m really sorry……”
A few minutes later, when the girls finished changing and the throbbing of Lux’s heart had somewhat settled down, Lux, who went in the medical office, suddenly bowed his head.
In contrast, after Lisha lightly coughed,
“……It’s that, right? In truth, you’re doing it on purpose, right!? What are you thinking about, you pervert!”
As her cheeks were red in bashfulness, she scolded while being flustered.
“Lux-kun. It looks like you didn’t listen to my warning last time. I told you to be careful in various ways since you’re the only man in this academy, right?”
Beside her, Krulcifer also admonished him with a cool face, but as expected her face was slightly red.
“I have no excuse……”
When Lux muttered so while hanging his head crestfallenly,
“W-Well ── as I’ll have you fully reflect on it later, h-how was it?”
“Eh? H-How was what?”
“W-What, you ask? Um, isn’t it obvious!? About earlier……”
While bashfully looking away at a corner of the floor, Lisha asked so.
At that reaction of hers, Lux thought while being shaken.
(A-About earlier, meaning it’s that after all, right? But, I probably suck at praising a girl, so……)
It was already bad to tell what he learned of the shopkeeper of a bar where he had once worked as odd jobs.
He could only go about it with his own words.
(……All right, I decided!)
“U-Um── Lisha-sama’s body is feminine even though it’s small; it’s very sexy and cute and to be frank, I got excited……”
“……!? Uh, aw……”
The face of Lisha, who heard his words, became bright red until her neck.
(Wait, it’s no good!? What am I thinking!? Your hair is beautiful…… or the like, there were many other choices like that, right!?)
He had thought that it was because of the bar where he had done odd jobs until then, but Lux himself completely sucked at praising.
“I-I didn’t mean that, I’m talking about the fight earlier──”
(And moreover, I was mistaken……!)
He made a great misunderstanding and ended up blurting out something embarrassing.
And so, he thought that Lisha would definitely get angry but,
“W-What a helpless guy you’re…… Really, you pervert……”
The concerned Lisha moved both her hands around restlessly as troubled with a somehow feverish expression and averted her eyes from Lux.
Though she looked embarrassed, she did not seem to hate it.
(……What is it, I wonder?)
When Lux wondered such a thing, Krulcifer spoke.
“Lux-kun. I’ll ask you honestly too, but um ── what kind of girl’s body is to your liking?”
“……Wait, what are you saying all of a sudden!? Krulcifer-san!?”
When Lux was flustered as he was asked a quite unexpected question,
“It’s just as stated. I thought of using what you thought when you saw me now, as reference for the future.”
“E-Errr── Um, it was very beautiful. Be it your white skin, your thighs or your buttocks. It made my heart throb quite a bit……”
“……I see. Which means I can assume that after seeing me, Lux-kun, you were driven by a masculine impulse, right?”
“In other words, Lux-kun has always harbored my appearance with indecent delusions like what you saw earlier, is that it?”
“No, wait a minute!? It’s not really like I’m…… a-always looking at Krulcifer-san with such eyes!?”
“That means that you occasionally looked at me with such eyes, huh. I’m a little relieved.”
Krulcifer said with her usual cool expression mixing a mischievous smile.
Her face showed happiness which the mature-looking her did not show usually.
“T-That’s── wait, what are you making me say strange things since a little while ago!?”
“Ara, it’s natural to make you feel embarrassed as much, right? You also made us feel embarrassed, so being properly teased is a way of taking responsibility.”
Being said so, Lux could not argue.
But conversely speaking, he was forgiven with only that. Knowing that it meant as such, Lux inwardly thanked her.
“W-Well, putting that matter aside for the time being, um── I’m sorry about the fight earlier.”
As their talk was settled, Lisha said in a small voice while hanging her head.
“I may look like this, but I challenged her with the intention of certain victory, but…… As expected, someone like me is just── Ah……”
When she showed just a slightly languorous expression, Lux reflexively took her small hands.
“That’s not true. Lisha-sama, you were very cool earlier.”
Lux said so with a smile filled with deep affection.
A girl, who was puzzled about her own existence despite assuming of the status of the New Kingdom’s princess.
Lux conveyed his honest feelings to Lisha, who fought while suffering from her qualification as a princess.
“Yes, you were amazing. Even the surroundings will think ‘as expected of the New Kingdom’s princess── ah”
As he started saying so, Lux unintentionally shut his mouth.
This was because he thought that Lisha might hold resistance for being called princess.
“N-No, It’s not a bad feeling for being recognized as a princess by you and everyone in the academy. Um, I’m also happy about that, but if you could gently stroked my head a little──”
She muttered with a faint voice and looked up at Lux with upturned eyes. But,
“Yes. Also, Krulcifer-san, too, thank you for having held out in various ways and showing me Celis-senpai’s way of fighting.”
“Hey, is my turn over!?”
Maybe because she spoke in such a small voice that he could not hear, Lux had already spoken words of gratitude to Krulcifer.
“<Fafnir> wasn’t in its perfect condition, so I could only do that much. That much in order to connect to your fight, that is. But ── she’s really a tough opponent.”
Although Lisha looked slightly displeased, she pulled herself together and cleared her throat.
“That’s right, we must first win or it’ll be useless. Lux! We’ll go to my atelier from here on!”
Seeing Lisha, who got off from the bed and vigorously stuck out her chest, Lux was seized with uneasiness.
“Ah, but. About that thing you remodeled before, you should stop it──”
Lisha had remodeled the <Wyvern>, which Lux had its armor and output adjusted for defense specialization because of some circumstances, for attack specialization.
Since he could not publicly use <Bahamut> in the Selection Battle this time, he could only fight with a <Wyvern> that was overwhelmingly inferior in performance.
But, no matter how much she adjusted a <Wyvern>, she did not think that just a mere general-purpose Machine Dragon would be effective against Celis.
Even so, Lisha declared full of confidence.
“Don’t worry. If my guess is right, those third-year lots would definitely be amazed tomorrow! Krulcifer, you come, too! The partner in the actual fight is necessary.”
Being randomly led by the energetic Lisha, Lux and company headed to the Drag-Rides’ atelier.
Then as they carried out “countermeasures” for roughly several hours, the first day of the Campus Selection Battle ended.
Within a deep darkness ── on a disused road of the first block of Cross Feed, four men and women gathered.
One was a girl with long hair spreading roughly, with a sharp glint.
One was a young man with ruffled reddish brown hair like a rooster.
One was a small silhouette that one did not know whether it was a man or a woman and that wore a round mask with graffiti on their face.
And, a black robed figure stood on top of debris piled up in heaps, with the moonlight at his back.
“──So, did you finally find that loot? I hope you guys won’t disappoint me too much.”
While looking down with a smile pasted on his face, the robed figure spoke.
In contrast, the three people were positioned like subordinates; first the long-haired girl raised her face.
Towards the carefree, innocent voice, the girl answered with a voice tinged with slight tension.
“I’m sorry, but no── we’ve just pinpointed a place where it might be. As expected, there’s no gap in the academy’s site.”
The robed figure remained silent with a smile as is.
That was above all terrifying for the three men and women waiting below.
The bloody Black Marketeer.
That was the alias of the robed figure currently standing before them.
The arms dealer, who wandered from country to country, maneuvered secretly and peddled various weapons and information these past several years.
His business partners were not fixed, and his backings and affiliations were unknown.
It was an existence upon who all were wrapped in mystery, but there was only one thing certain.
After being involved with this person, a bloody disaster would certainly befall.
Thus, these three people, and also the administrational parliaments of the countries they belonged to, for fear of the Black Marketeer, sought his cooperation.
“──But, if I’m given just a little more time, I’ll definitely find it.”
The long-haired girl fearfully requested.
But, the robe figure laughed as his shoulders shook.
“Unfortunately, I’m also busy, you see? I can’t afford to wait anymore than this. Besides, I owe a debt to the Prince over there. That’s why I’m already moving. I’m done with using petty tricks. I’ll directly smash that academy and then slowly dig it up later.”
At his words, the red-haired man spoke.
“Yea, we’ll finally move that. It’s your turn, Heiburg’s dogs.”
The robed figure lifted the corner of his mouth.
A smile like the crescent moon floating behind him stood out from the dark shadow.
Translator and references notes
 contest between Lux faction and Celis faction. She means here that if they defeat Celis, the other students will be no match for them afterwards