Section 14: A Noble’s Duty
[Iris]: “Sarah!! That girl!! Descend near where that blonde-haired girl is!!”
[Sarah]: “Got it!”
Unicorn’s sky running took a steep turn downwards as we headed straight for Grides-san.
Grides-san is currently about halfway between the still standing seventh wall and the collapsed sixth. Among the pattern of noble mansions, this one was especially large with a grand presence to it……and it’s already partially collapsed while being swallowed by flames.
There were still people running towards the open seventh gate. But not everyone could run. Some people couldn’t even walk. There were injured crouched down or others who were doing their best to crawl away from some wreckage.
In order to protect such people from the flames, Grides-san was continually creating barriers from the dirt to provide cover from Sanz Wanz.
A line of cannons on top of the seventh wall let out a rain of fire. The shells flew high above Grides-san and the other citizens towards the approaching dragon.
However, perhaps because they were less powerful than the ones created by the gnome sisters, not a single one of them were able to break through Sanz Wanz’s wings.
Other than the cannons, there were dozens of these giant structures called ballistae that resembled giant crossbows shooting large, lance-like arrows at Sanz Wanz’s wings, but they weren’t having any effect either. The only reason Sanz Wanz hadn’t made it further than it had was because of a magic barrier woven out of the wind that multiple magicians were working together to create.
[Iris]: “Rose-san, please help the injured as soon as we land!”
[Rose]: “I understand”
[Lapris]: “Oi oi, wait! Then whose going to take on Sanz Wanz!?”
Lapris turned to me and frowned.
[Iris]: “That should be clear.”
At the end of my gaze was a small red bird, flying a ways ahead of us and leading the way.
Her burning tail feathers drew a streak of red light across the sky.
[Iris]: “Tit for tat. If it’s air combat, there’s nobody better than her.”
Phoeniko plunged down and soared past Sanz Wanz’s line of sight.
Sanz Wanz’s eyes chased after her, diverting her attention away from Grides-san.
A shiver ran up Lapris’s back. I figured she would evacuate to inside my hair like usual……
[Lapris]: “T-T-Then……I’ll, I’ll do my best too! I’m her senior after all!!”
But instead she puffed out her chest, looking towards Phoeniko while talking as if she were her minion.
[Iris]: “Then, I’ll leave guiding Sarah and Unicorn to you. I know you’ll be able to handle this.”
Unicorn got a little closer to Grides-san and the other townspeople.
Lapris grabbed hold of Unicorn’s horn and turned back to me.
[Lapris]: “Y-Yeah, leave it to me! I can come through in a fight. I’ll manage somehow until you unleash Phoeniko’s power!! But……oi, you’re helping out here too Linzflare, right!?”
[Linzflare]: “Yes, of course Lapris-senpai.”
Linzflare-san seemed to take a liking to the ‘senpai’ and replied with a large smile.
[Iris]: “Thank you everyone. Then I’ll leave it to you!!”
After jumping over the ruins of the sixth wall, Unicorn touched down on the ground. Then we rushed like the wind to where Grides-san and the injured were waiting.
Rose-san held on to me and disembarked. Rose-san’s feet skidded across the ground, digging into the exposed soil where the cobblestone street had been turned over by Sanz Wanz’s rampage. By my honor, I am not a heavy person. The weight of Rose-san’s equipment is why it took so much time for her to come to a stop. When you take into account the weight of her armor, shield, and mace, my weight is negligible. The same as me not weighing anything at all.
[Lapris]: “Y-Yo!! Keep this momentum and charge in!! Charge forward and kick it!! Avoid the cannon fire!! The arrows……do something so those don’t hit us either!!”
Lapris held fast to Unicorn’s horn while throwing out orders while Sarah controlled Unicorn and rushed towards Sanz Wanz. Following Lapris’s overly rough instructions, Unicorn got in close and kicked Sanz Wanz’s wings with her front legs. Meanwhile Linzflare-san created a magical barrier out of stone to protect them from the oncoming cannonballs.
Spinning around, Grides-san looked shocked to see us.
[Grides]: “……Y-You are……Calvafon-san……? And Auroll-sama!?”
Grides-san’s proud, curly locks had become unkempt beneath the soil barrier and one of her ribbons had come unraveled. Her gorgeous clothes were covered in dirt, almost unrecognizable from what they were before.
[Grides]: “It…..It’s dangerous here! Quickly evacuate to the castle!! The gates should still be open for the time being!!”
Grides-san was looking at us, but I soon realized there was more to what she was saying.
Her words were definitely aimed at us, but they weren’t for just us.
There are still people around with no way to defend themselves who are trying to escape to the castle.
She is standing here now as a decoy, a leader, and a shield for those who remain to try and buy them the time to reach safety.
[Grides]: “Hurry, hurry and run away if you can!! Crawl if that is what it takes!! Everyone else, gather around……I will protect you until reinforcements arrive!!”
She then flipped through some pages of her torn spellbook to begin casting a spell.
[Grides]: “O wild…..ancestor…..of life. That……That comes only…..from the deviation!!”
However, her magic power’s already run out. If she pushes herself any further than this, she will end up collapsing just like she did during her duel with me.
[Rose]: “Iris-san. I will attend to the seriously injured.”
[Iris]: “Yes, thank you”
After nodding towards Rose-san, I turned my attention back towards Grides-san. And then I set my hand on her shoulder.
[Iris]: “Grides-san, you should run too.”
[Grides]: “……Eh, what moronic drivel is spilling out of your lips!? Are you blind!? Do you not see all the people here who have yet to escape!?”
She slapped away my hand and tried returning to her chant. Right now there is only one, definitive enemy in her sights, Sanz Wanz, and she looks ready to do anything if it means giving a chance for other people to flee.
And that, probably includes sacrificing her own life.
[Grides]: “You too……have some recognition of your status as a noble. Fight for your nation, serve your king, and protect the weak. That is what a noble’s duty is!!”
Grides-san pushed a fist against my chest.
[Grides]: “Fine, go ahead and run. You are not technically a noble as of yet. There is no need for you to feel obligated to sacrifice yourself for anyone else’s well being.”
Grides-san tried pulling her hand away from me.
But I grabbed hold and held her hand tight.
[Grides]: “……W-What are you doing!? Let go……”
[Iris]: “You are misunderstanding me a little Grides”
I forced her to quit her chant and lower her spellbook.
[Grides]: “Wha-, you dare to suddenly address someone without honorifics completely of your own accord!?”
[Iris]: “Then, Grides-chan?”
[Grides]: “Even more unacceptable!! You will properly refer to me with the proper san!!”
[Iris]: “But isn’t it fine since we go to the same school together? Besides, I can tell now. You’re younger than me.”
I brought the ring on my right index finger closer to my lips.
[Iris]: “You usually wear makeup don’t you. That’s why you look a little younger than me right now.”
A strong light began emitting from the ring. The scarlet red of the dream gem ruby was like the setting sun, dying the sky and everything underneath its glow in a gentle vermillion.
[Iris]: “It is just like Rose-san said. You are an incredibly noble person. But there was something else Rose-san said too. You are strong, too strong. And when I see you like this……I can’t help but agree.”
When I transferred more magic power to the ring, it transformed into a grimoire. The name Phoenix was scrawled across the fiery red cover.
[Iris]: “You are too quick to decide to die.”
She swooped down in front of me and eagerly waited to be let loose.
[Iris]: “Leave the rest to us Grides”
I opened the cover, glaring at Sanz Wanz from over Phoeniko’s shoulder.
[Iris]: “I now…….release the bonds on this world!!”