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MASHU WORST GIRL
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"I thought Ron and Jon were the same person and we just interspliced whichever we felt like" ~ TC, 6:54pm CST, 11/28/2017

File: 1535317027343.jpg (1.85 MB,1920x1080)

 No.49

Continuing off from your departure from Russia, the Shadow Border receives a transmission from The Wandering Sea, Baldanders.



Meuniere:
Atmospheric analysis, completed. Nitrogen, oxygen, argon, carbon dioxide, standard values clear. The atmospheric mana is about the same density as that of the 21st century. No harmful properties were found.



Gordolf:
Hmph. Though the outside is a disconcerting blank white, at least the air seems to be normal. If that’s the case, we can stop the Border, and take a look at the outside.
Don’t you think so, Guda? Surely you must be intrigued by this dreary scenery? No?
Hahaha, my thoughts exactly you youngster! First we should breathe in the outdoor air, followed by the provisions―



You:
Before that, what is The Wandering Sea?



Gordolf falls silent, and laughs.



You:
The new director doesn’t know much about them huh?



Gordolf:
O-of course I know about them you idi-ot!
I just can’t pretend to know about something that I really don’t! I’m not one of the key pillars of the Mage’s Association!
I was in London’s Clocktower, and have never been to the “living ocean”, The Wandering Sea that continuously wanders the North Atlantic!



Meuniere:
Only on the level of rumors huh. Uncle, you sure you’re really from one of the esteemed families?



Gordolf:
I’m not an uncle! You pesky double-chin! Think about it from the other angle!
An island of mystery that even an elite like me cannot enter, the origin and final “puzzle” in the world of magicians, that is The Wandering Sea, Baldanders!



Mashu:
Yes. That’s also what was recorded in Chaldea’s database. The Mage’s Association was founded at the start of the Gregorian Calendar, but split into three organizations from there.
Using London as their base, the magicians adapted to their times, and established magecraft alongside human history. Eventually that will become the greatest power in the world of magecraft, the Clocktower of London.
The founding family of Chaldea, the Animusphere, and Mr Gordolf are affiliated with this organization.



Gordolf agrees. Even in the 21st century, the Mage’s Association is synonymous with the Clocktower of London.



Mashu:
Next is the Atlas Institute in Egypt. It’s a school for those that pursue Alchemy. Back during the Sixth Singularity, we were able to enter the central part of the place. A giant’s cave that is easy to enter, but extremely difficult to leave from. An academic facility that spreads deep underground like a tomb.
There’s an absolute law that forbids people from bringing any of the technologies developed in Atlas to the outside world but, Chaldea’s Founding Director was able to bypass that rule by possessing an “Atlas Contract”.
And with that, CHALDEAS was completed with the assistance and sponsorship of Atlas Institute, and we were presented with the special Mystic Code – the Imaginary Numbers Observation Device - Paper Moon.



Gordolf adds that while the alchemists of Atlas Institute were not the type to leave their building, they did have minimal correspondence with the Lords of the Clocktower.



Gordolf:
While they may be heartless group of technicians and weapon makers, that’s nothing, since they are a useful bunch if used properly.



Mashu:
And finally……the last “existence” in the North Atlantic, The Wandering Sea, Baldanders.
In Chaldea’s records, there is only a brief overview about them. 「Refusing to accept the progress and change of magecraft through civilization, the practitioners of mystery before the Gregorian Calendar ――― magecraft from the Age of Gods.」
That is the absolute law of The Wandering Sea. Their principles clash with those from the Clocktower.



Holmes:
That’s right. They reject magecraft’s development, and simultaneously reject the consumption culture of humanity.
The Wandering Sea is a magical structure that has no compatibility with today’s human society.
As such, their doors are firmly sealed, and the number of new disciples are very few but……



Gordolf:
Fuu. They’re nothing but old folk who only practice moldy magecraft. Well, they do open their doors once a year, to invite talented individuals in. Back at the Clocktower, there were only a handful that made it to The Wandering Sea.
Do you get it now? Unlike those from Atlas Institute, The Wandering Sea are different type of gathering that emphasize on secrecy. Their internal affairs and overall situation is vague. That’s because―――



Holmes:
The Wandering Sea is always moving.
The Wandering Sea is said to be a floating island in the middle of the North Atlantic, but the situation is actually the reverse.
In the midst of a moving “ocean” akin to a different world, there exists a magical structure built way before the Gregorian Calendar. That is why it remains undiscovered even in the 21st century.
Land that moves whilst cladded in a texture of mystery―――I see. Truly it is an “isolated Singularity”.
With that, even if the earth’s surface is bleached white, it can escape from that unknown phenomenon.



Gordolf pouts unhappily, claiming that The Wandering Sea has been looking down on the rest of the world, and only sending their pleas for help when crisis truly strikes. He thinks they can learn a thing or two from us, especially since we broke through the Russian Lostbelt without knowing anything and still remain in confusion.



Meuniere:
So you are indeed aware that we haven’t solved anything yet, Uncle.



Mashu:
……in this situation, I suppose everyone at The Wandering Sea must have compromised on their conditions and sent out a lifeboat for us……



Gordolf is still frustrated, and asks Holmes, the Operations Advisor, for his opinion on the matter. Can we truly trust the signal? Holmes has the same opinion, and asks Da Vinci about her thoughts. Da Vinci’s hologram pops up.



Da Vinci:
Half-half I guess. It’s not on the same level as the Clocktower’s type of signal, but this wavelength, is very close to that of Atlas Institute.
We don’t have any data on The Wandering Sea, so I can’t give any confirmation~
Well putting the validity aside, if there’s a mage’s workshop I’d definitely love to stop by. We were able to avoid any problems so far with what we had in Russia, but the Shadow Border isn’t that almighty.
Truthfully, I’d like to re-adjust and fix the frame again. With the state of the world right now, it’s not exactly ideal for collecting resources.



Holmes glosses over the details of the signal. It looks like the source is from the west of Norway, in the ocean. As the Shadow Border has just exited from the west of Moscow, it’ll take a few days before you can reach. The Shadow Border can convert the atmospheric mana into electricity, but your food rations may not last. You ask if the Shadow Border can just dive back into Imaginary Number Space, and get to the destination.



Da Vinci:
Ah, that’s a no-go. As the Technological Advisor, I can’t allow the Shadow Border to do an Imaginary Numbers Dive until The Wandering Sea.
As much as we can, let’s continue along on land. Well there will be the “Storm Wall” standing in our way though.



Gordolf:
Why!? No, in the first place there’s another wall of storms!?
Explain this, Technological Advisor!?
If theres a wall of storms, beyond that is a Lostbelt right!?



Da Vinci:
There’s nothing we can do about it Gordolf-kun. Because we have two problems.
First, is the special trait of The Wandering Sea. We may have received the coordinates but, the destination, it’s extremely vague. More like, it’s always moving. And more like, deviating.
With these kind of coordinates, it is therefore dangerous to Imaginary Numbers Dive with the Paper Moon.
Unless we directly go to The Wandering Sea and entwine our fate there, a long-distance dive will be difficult.
And the second problem. This one’s more severe. We’re short on energy. Holmes made it sound simple by saying that we can convert mana into electricity, but there’s a limit to that.
The recharge can’t keep up with our expenditure. Under these conditions, a long Imaginary Numbers Dive may prove fatal. All the life-support systems will be shut down you know. There’s no point in having just me remain alive right?



Meuniere:
Ah―……yeah the conceptual barrier also burns electricity when we dive into Imaginary Number Space.
The Shadow Border can probably only dive for about two hours right now. Furthermore, we don’t have precise coordinates for the destination.



Gordolf expresses his frustration, and wants to know if we have to enter a Lostbelt again, and around where. Da Vinci confirms another “Storm Wall” to be covering the Scandinavian Peninsula. If we continue advancing in that direction, we will be sure to see it again.



Holmes:
……In other words, this white surface is also the scenery until we leave Russian territory. There are two routes that we can take to get to the coordinates of The Wandering Sea.
We can cut through the Scandinavian Peninsula, or go through the ocean by Poland and Germany. Da Vinci, of the two, which is actually feasible?



Da Vinci raises that while the Shadow Border may be able to cross the Strait of Dover,1 we may have difficulty crossing the ocean.



Da Vinci:
Actually, I’m against having us get close to the British Isles. In the first place, we don’t know what kind of state the earth’s oceans are in right now. My recommendation is for travel on land.



Holmes sighs, as cutting through the Scandinavian Peninsula would mean encountering our 2nd Lostbelt. He asks for your opinion.



You:
……Um, what about other regions?



Gordolf:
That’s right, I want to know about the other countries! What is happening now in Europe!?



Da Vinci:
The wall of storms are only covering the Scandinavian Peninsula. It doesn’t look like there’s anything coming from Greece’s side. And uh……well I didn’t want to add any unnecessary anxiety but, we can’t observe Britain.
The Border can’t monitor what’s going on in Britain with its current equipment. We’ll need a much larger eye for that.



Gordolf is displeased with the news, noting that we only get two days of rest before entering the Scandinavian Peninsula. But he commands everyone to prepare in advance by then.



Gordolf:
Meuniere! If we find any kind of shelter midway, stop the vehicle and do maintenance on the Border!
Da Vinci, you watch over that Demi-Servant girl properly, we’ll need her to work hard next round!
Holmes you come with me! To the isolated cell!



Gordolf is set on interrogating Kadoc, and he should have woken up by now. Hopefully with the interrogation, we’ll be able to learn more about the Crypters and Wodime’s plans.



Gordolf:
When we get there, he’ll surely confess everything. With my brilliant leading questions!



You offer to join Gordolf and Holmes, though Gordolf remarks that your heavy expression suggests your inaptitude for these kind of things. But he assures you that Kadoc will surely give in to his hunger since he’s still a growing youth. Gordolf laughs, confident in his plan to brighten Kadoc’s melancholic look with the lure of thick, creamy carbonara.



Holmes:
Rest assured, Mr Guda. As long as I am around, the interrogation will not turn into anything violent.
……Plus, there is something that I must inquire. I have more or less figured out what the Crypters want. The information that Kadoc Zemlupus carries, is also within my estimations.
However, there are two unknown factors I have yet to unravel. “The Fantasy Tree” and “Siriuslight"(Greater Command Seal).
Well, the Siriuslight mentioned by Kadoc is probably jargon, and shouldn’t carry any significant value―――



The alarm suddenly rings. Gordolf is startled, there shouldn’t be any pursuers like the Oprichniki.



Da Vinci:
Unfortunately so! Something is rapidly approaching us from Russian territory!
Presently, it’s catching up to the port of the Border at 90 km/h! Meuniere-kun, accel, accel! At this rate it’ll catch up to us!



Meuniere:
That’s impossible, there’s a slope from here on! We can’t increase our speed any further!



Da Vinci:
Awawa, heat source detected! This is a―――RPG!2
Warhead, approaching in 3, 2―――



Something smashes into the exterior armor of the Shadow Border, violently shaking the vehicle. Gordolf panics and becomes slightly hysterical. Holmes confirms that the damage is light, and has not pierced the exterior armor. As the Shadow Border’s exterior shell was fortified with modern technology and conceptual magecraft, normal weaponry shouldn’t be able to damage it.



Meuniere:
No, there’s been damage Holmes! One panel of the exterior armor is missing! If we get attacked any more things will get worse!



Holmes is stunned.



You:
Great Detective―――!



Gordolf:
Which means……I, I just remembered! This explosion, yes! In a distant past, well just two weeks ago, there was that impact from the Anti-Materiel Rifle that befell upon an unfortunate, handsome youth that was me!
In other words the attack from that vicious vixen Koyanskaya-kun! To put it mildly, we’ll be killed right!?



Fou:
Fou, Foou!



Meuniere:
This isn’t the time to reminisce the past, Uncle! Holmes, can’t you do something!



Holmes:
Ha! My apologies, I have decided.
Relay to all staff in the left corridors to evacuate to the engine room. I will head to the site of damage with Miss Kyrielight.
In preparation for the next attack, Miss Kyrielight will deploy a magical shield to protect the interior passages. Is that fine, Guda?



You:
I’ll go along……



Gordolf pulls you back and tells you that he can’t have a shortfall of manpower in the Command Room. Holmes and Mashu depart quickly. Meuniere remarks that the enemy has almost caught up, and displays the screen.



Gordolf:
Nuu, brazenly climbing the sand dunes in a straight path, the enemy does indeed have a tough vehicle.
If only I had such a formula machine when we were in Russia! Lets see, you pesky Oprichniki that won’t go away, what kind of face you’ll make when you beg―――haiii!?



Mashu:
That’s a person’s silhouette! They aren’t riding a vehicle!
One figure, approaching closer on foot! That is―――that person is―――



Holmes:
The readings of a Lostbelt Servant, clad in a dark blue ceremonial garment……
The priest that called himself Father Macarius……!





……My eyes opened from hearing what sounded like a call. A cold, ticklish like voice. This place is……I wonder where is it. It looks like I’m still alive but……



Kadoc:
Hh……!



A terrible dull throb aches at the back of my head. Probably a wound from being knocked out. They really didn’t show any restraint huh.



Kadoc:
……that western barbarian. Even for an outlaw, that’s far off from being Rock.
……these vibrations……a car? I must be in the Shadow Border huh……



I confirmed my surroundings amidst the darkness. It appears that I have been captured. My hands were bound behind my back, but it looks I’m free now. The magecraft-sealing handcuffs are on the floor, broken.
……did I unconsciously break them when I passed out? Probably not. I don’t believe myself to be capable of that.



Kadoc:
……it’s ice cold. Did it break from being frozen over?



……What remained with me, was the last vestiges of her huh……damnit. Even for me, this convenient fantasy makes me feel sick. Now isn’t the time to drown in my wounds. The me who failed, doesn’t have that right to do so.



Kadoc:
……but, it’s not like I’m going to let this chance slip. If you want to escape, now’s the time, Kadoc.



Assault from the outside……? Only the Crypters would attack the Shadow Border……



Kadoc:
They’ve come to rescue me……?
……No, that’s wrong. That’s not gonna happen.



Their lips are sealed.
Apart from that, there’s no reason for them to help the losers.
At any rate, I can’t just be holed up here now that everything has been prepared.
First, I have to get out and be free. I don’t know what will happen next though. This is the extent as to what I can do. Whatever comes after that, I’ll think about it on a whim.





The priest fires a second rocket at the Shadow Border, leading to another violent tremor.



Gordolf:
Imbecile, so you’ve fired the second one! What’s the situation now!



Meuniere:
We’ve made it, thanks to Mashu’s shield deployment! There’s almost no damage! Good job, Mashu!



Fou:
Fou, fou!



Meuniere:
Hostile Servant, is still in pursuit on the port side of the Border! Ahh, he took out another rocket launcher!? How many is he carrying!?



Gordolf:
Muu, I just noticed that sticker is from the NFF Service! Koyanskaya-kun’s special merchandise!
Now I can understand why it can damage magecraft-fortified armor! But―――fufu.
That priest doesn’t seem to be a big deal. You could phrase it as coins for a cat, gold for the Musik.
To perfectly handle that modern magecraft weapon, only those under Koyanskaya-kun―――



Da Vinci:
What is this――!?
The hatch is open, it’s open―――!
Gordolf kun, check the in-car monitor! The doorway into the Border has been unlocked! It looks like, someone has opened the hatch and left for outside!



You:
On the ladder on the right……!



Gordolf:
What!? Clinging onto the exterior of the Border, this isn’t an action movie―――
There’s someone―――! Isn’t that Kadoc Zemlupus! We have an adventurous idiot here, and there too!?



Da Vinci warns that Kadoc is headed towards the deck on the Shadow Border. Both you and Gordolf quickly give chase, and make your way through the hatch towards the deck above.



Kadoc:
……tch. It’s you huh. Well, I figured you’d come after me.
Looks like the color in your face looks better now huh?
How nice that you can go back to being your usual carefree self.



You:
……Yeah. That’s because I was scolded by Patsy.



Kadoc:
Is that so.
……that Yaga, I lost because of him.
If it wasn’t for him, I would’ve won. But―――those words, I wouldn’t have been able to win against those.
He may have been troublesome but he was a pretty big deal. The loud howls of the losers is something I can’t ridicule again.



Gordolf:
Eei, what are you talking so leisurely for! Kadoc Zemlupus! Return to the Border obediently now! Right now we can treat you as a special case under International Treaties!
Listen well, don’t go stubbornly jumping off in desperation alright?
I have done it once too, and I reaaaallly regretted it after that! And nobody gains anything out of it!
If anything there’s more merit in following us! That way I can properly convince the Association!



Kadoc:
……Hmph. You don’t have to tell me that. I thought that there would be an escape pod or something, but there isn’t one. Although I managed to push my body to get up here, I’m now at a complete standstill.
If it was the me before, I would have probably stubbornly jumped off. But……
I made a promise. I can’t let myself die in vain here.
Interrogation right. Fine with me, I’ll tell you what you want. That’s nothing if it means I can continue to live. It may be unsightly, but I’ll be able to live till the end―――



???:
That will be enough. It is indeed worth it that I came in preparation for such a situation.



A familiar priest assaults Kadoc from behind, and he coughs up blood.



Kadoc:
Ras―pu―tin―yo―u―



Kadoc collapses.



Priest:
Oh my. Well well, it has been a long time, Lord Gordolf Musik. And you, Chaldea’s Master. To have successfully conquered Russia, you have my blessings.



You:
Release Kadoc now……!



Priest:
Unfortunately I cannot do that. I too have a position to uphold. Kadoc Zemlupus has completed his role as a Crypter.
I was his Supervisor. Cleaning up the aftermath, I have been assigned to carry out such duties with mercy.



You:
………!



Gordolf:
(Nunuu, after Da Vinci, to suddenly attack even Kadoc from behind……!)
(Even I cannot forgive that as a gentleman, but my Gorf-punch won’t be able to affect him……!)
(What is Holmes doing……! Where is his usual anticipation……!)



Priest:
Please be rest assured, Director Gordolf. My job does not consist of eliminating all of you.
The scope of my present duties, are only within Russian territory. Before all of you completely escape, there was something that I had to settle.
I had disgracefully used an aggressive tactic but, do kindly overlook it. Unlike Koyanskaya-kun, I do not have the power to warp between Lostbelts. My means of transport are fundamentally the same as all of you.
I am but a neutral supervising role that has not received permit from the 「God of the Foreign Star」 to move between Lostbelts.



Holmes makes his appearance.



Holmes:
God of the Foreign Star……? That is a very interesting matter. Would you be able to tell me more, Father Macarius?



Mashu also rushes over, donning her Orthenaus frame. She is shocked to see Kadoc incapacitated.



Priest:
Well, the time has come. Let’s leave the questions for next time, Sherlock.
Though, it will be most troubling if you called me by my false name. Let us have that sorted out in order.
My true name is Rasputin. Grigori Rasputin. A Deadman (corpse) that holds onto his Saint Graph, and conceals the soul of that name.



But Holmes tells the priest that he has already deduced that much. The important question, is how did he obtain the corpse of the priest? In the pan-human history, Kotomine Kirei’s body had burned away without a trace. Without a vessel, Rasputin would not be able to manifest.



Priest:
Now.
To discover that is your true nature, Sherlock.
Long ago, you had called the Incineration of Human Order as the “Divine-tier Murder Mystery”.
As such, you may go ahead and label this invasion as such.
“Who, and how did they perpetuate this crime”.
When you have finally composed everything together, we shall meet again.
Who is the one carrying the blame? That will be when, I hear the answer from your lips.



Holding onto Kadoc’s body, the priest swiftly jumps off the deck of the Shadow Border.



Mashu:
Kotomine―No, Father Rasputin, has jumped off whilst holding Kadoc-san!
What should we do, Senpai!?
We can quickly give chase with the Border―――



But Holmes reluctantly dissuades Mashu. It is dangerous to return back to Russia as well. Holmes blames himself for not having anticipated this situation.





Kadoc:
……hh. Damn, did I pass out again.
You really like to suddenly attack people from behind. My heart, I seriously thought it stopped for a moment.



Priest:
Of course, it did stop.
If I hadn’t done so, did you think Mr Holmes would let us so easily escape?
If he realized that you were alive, he will surely come back for you. That would put me in a difficult spot.
Kirschtaria, has instructed me to bring you to Olympus.



Kadoc:
……I see. Well then, whatever it is the result is the same. You’ve wasted your time, Rasputin.



Priest:
Hou?



Kadoc:
It’s just a matter of either being killed by Chaldea, or being killed by Wodime.
There’s no place for a failure like me. The outcome here is for me is to be executed before the other Crypters.



The priest falls silent.



Kadoc:
What’s with that concerned expression. If you have something then just say it, you fake priest.



Priest:
Well. I was just thinking that if Kirschtaria was that kind of person, then my job would be most simple.
That aside, it is obvious as to how to deal with you. You may have lost the privilege to command a Lostbelt but, you still have your Siriuslight.
That command seal belongs to our “God”. As long as you possess that, your life is no longer your own.
Don’t think that you can die in vain, Kadoc Zemlupus. Your soul will be used till the very end, after all your fate is one to be squeezed out.

 No.50

Prologue 2: Prologue intro.2-2



2 days after the assault from Pseudo-Servant, Rasputin.
On the road leading to the North European Lostbelt.



―――White.
For the earth’s surface to have become like a white sheet of paper, it wasn’t an exaggeration.
In actual fact, it was a pure white. Everything had disappeared, all kinds of things.
Nature, civilization, whatever that lived there had disappeared without a trace. Erased off, would be a more appropriate description.
All that could be seen was a single, brand new white color ground plane.
Midway, there were also exceptions in the geography.
They appeared to be traces of buildings. Whether they changed due to heat, whether they crumbled due to impact. Regardless, though they had changed into abnormal shapes, it was visible that they were some kind of building structure.
In order to ascertain that, they got off from the Shadow Border into the open.
The atmospheric composition was normal. Breathing was possible. There wasn’t any need to don high-gravity, air-tight suits.
“It was good that we didn’t have to become like astronauts”, said Leonardo Da Vinci with an angelic smile.



Mashu:
…Senpai. I can see something just ahead.
Unless we drew close, I couldn’t have made them out……because all the buildings, had turned into a white color.
………….
……buildings, right.
If there are any survivors, we will have to quickly bring them to the safety of the Border―――



Her voice disappeared without finishing the sentence till the end. What stood before her eyes was far beyond what she could imagine.
It can’t be helped. Any sane human, would hold their breath as they asked “why?” upon witnessing this scene.
Everything had been bleached white. And there unnatural, missing parts that appeared to have been rubbed out with an eraser. They were just like, modern art monuments that stood in the midst of the sand dunes.
No traces of life could be seen. Perhaps to convey that these are the remains of living things……not even the trace of death.
While they were ruins, they also appeared immaculate. Scenery that cannot match with our common sense.
“It’s as if this is a different planet”, was what anyone would have felt as they glanced at the monitor.



Mashu:
……Let’s go inside. We might, be able to find some traces left behind.



Earth had changed.
White-papered Earth―――
A planet without life was what it had become, excluding the Lostbelts.
But even in having been wiped anew, there were rare instances of places, buildings, and life 「left behind from the bleaching」.
Chaldea has decided to term these as 「Remnants」.
This time’s investigation marks the first contact with these Remnants. Buildings that had been left behind on this white bleached ground.
The new director was pessimistic but, most members did not overlook the possibility of survivors.
To conclude, no survivors were found. However that outcome was not entirely zero.
Certainly there were traces of something there. Traces of someone, who surely, had evaded the bleaching.
Before the North European Lostbelt, likely at the old Finnish region, on the periphery of the capital Helsinki―――
There were traces that someone had lived in that room. Days before, weeks before, perhaps months before, traces of human dwelling.
Empty PET bottles, and countless cans. Remains of a communications device, that had likely undergone countless attempts of repair.
A doll-like object catered towards toddlers had also fallen over. Proof that there was a small child amongst the survivors. Furthermore, that which was clearly left behind―――



Mashu:
…………From this memo. Someone was here several hours earlier. Based on the date, it appears to have been recorded as yesterday. The number of survivors were, 6 people.
However, they gradually decreased―――
……………
At the end, the person who wrote this memo too……Where on earth, did they disappear to.



The methodical lines of composition were unfortunately undecipherable.
Whether it was Finnish or Swedish, Guda could not read it.



Mashu:
「Why has the world become like this. Those invaders from that sky, why did they hate humans」



At the end of the memo, such questions were written.
Why. Why. Why.
Why, lamenting as people were bleached white. As if it was a crime to find meaning in that.



Mashu:
……It’s time. Let’s return to the Border, Master.
Sweden is right before us. Please prepare for the next operation and have sufficient rest.



Putting aside the 「Remnant」. The most intriguing thing was indeed.
That no one could find any trace of blood, or violence in those ruins where that man had disappeared from.
―――soon, the Shadow Border will enter into the Lostbelt No.2. What awaited for them, would it be a hell unforgiving to existence, or perhaps―――





Back in the Shadow Border, everyone prepares themselves before the “Storm Wall” surrounding the North European Lostbelt.



Da Vinci:
Ahh. Finally we will be breaking through the North European Lostbelt. Though this time it’s spontaneous, unlike “inevitable” as with Russia.
As everyone can see, we are able to observe the Fantasy Tree. As a faint pillar of light though.



Gordolf:
U-umu. We don’t know what’s going on inside but, our job is still clear. The Lostbelts that walked on a different path of history from ours. I can’t fathom what kind of ominous, unknown land it’ll be but, whatever it is, as long as that Fantasy Tree can be cut down, the Lostbelt will return to normal, and that wall of storms will disappear.



Da Vinci:
Right right.
But this time let’s put aside investigation on the Fantasy Tree. Our top priority is to cut through North Europe and reach The Wandering Sea. Depending on the situation we can just ignore the North European Lostbelt.
If there comes a time when we have to attack this place, that will be when we have fortified our power at The Wandering Sea. We can’t always be relying on Guda-kun and Mashu all the time☆



The validity of the signal aside, Gordolf asks how will the Shadow Border cut through this Lostbelt.



Holmes:
That will be done with the original function of the Border.
That storm spans for about 2 km. We will move through an Imaginary Numbers Dive to cover that distance.



Gordolf:
Eh? So we’ll be diving in the end? That awful feeling of having your soul pulled out?
Like, being able to see your body from third person view as if you were playing the Game of Life board game?



You:
I wholeheartedly agree.



Gordolf:
Right? If I knew this was happening I would have cut back a bit on breakfast this morning!



Meuniere:
Geez, everyone all feels awful. If you’re the Commander please bear with it. As for me I’m already used to it. That kind of thing can’t compare with a rayshift.
(Well, not like I’ve rayshifted before though!)



Gordolf:
Nnu, such a big mouth for meuniere……!
Ha, rayshift my foot!
Under my new system the Zero Sail is obviously much better! Oi Holmes! Da Vinci! Make the preparations, Shadow Border, Take off!



Holmes:
Excellent spirit there, Commander Gordolf. Just by hearing that really lifts our spirits.
(And nice one, Mr Meuniere. Now we’ll have less trouble when diving!)



Da Vinci:
Alright now, everyone, prepare yourself for an out-of-body experience on your seats. This time we wont be diving as deep as last time.
We’ll be sailing in a shallower, hopefully closer to real-world distance with no time differences.
We don’t have any fate tied with North Europe after all. Just for a short moment, we’ll just be escaping from this world’s plane.
It’ll feel just as though we’ve moved after you hold your breath, think of it like free-diving.
Are you ready, Guda-kun. After this, we’ll be back we’ll be back in the unprecedented world again you know?



You:
Please commence the 2nd dive!



Da Vinci:
―――Very well, understood. Now let’s traverse beyond the storm!
Imaginary Numbers Observation Device – Paper Moon, Open! The destination is, Southern Sweden, near Norrköping!
Logical expression deployed over the Shadow Border’s external armor. The proof of existence attaching us to Real Numbers Space, detached.
Future prediction: Proof of hypothesis at the boundary surface in 20 seconds. Mitigation of space-time decompression in 0.4 seconds.
Procedures for departure, all good. Imaginary Sea Level, calm with high waves!
Shadow Border, departing from reality. Imaginary Numbers Dive ――― Zero Sail, proceeding!



The Shadow Border dives once more into the Sea of Imaginary Numbers.

 No.51

Section 1: The Demonic Sword’s Assault (First Part)



—I hated Sundays.

Because I hated my father? No.

Because I hated my mother? No.

When I was young, I absorbed my parents hopes and wishes, and came to believe that it was all that I could be.

There was no need to hate it. Excessive parental love was unnecessary.

Following my parents’ hopes, I will someday reach the Sixth Imaginary Factor.

I will accomplish my family’s long-standing, long-cherished wish.

That is because I have obtained the strength necessary to do so.



Still, I hated Sundays.

In that mansion I was used to living in… I hated that day which I had to spend with my parents.

It was as if a giant ceiling was pressing down on me all the time, from the moment I awakened, until the moment I went to bed.

I did not hate my parents. I respected them, I was proud of them. Even now.



Then—

Just what did I hate—?





In the Shadow Border, Da Vinci announces that the Zero Sail is going smoothly, and asks that you enjoy your voyage through this “Sea of Time” for the time being. You will be moving across a distance of 150 km, which will take around an hour with the Border’s suppressed output. Gordolf is uneasily silent.



Da Vinci:

Oh my, there seems to be one face which isn’t at ease. Whatever happened to all that bluster you had just a moment ago?

Even though it’s only the second time, you should already be used to this form of travel. Isn’t that right, Commander Gordolf?



Gordolf:

Hm? Y-Yeah, you seem to have some business with me, Technical Consultant. Could it be an unscheduled tea-time?



Guda:

Is there something on your mind, Commander?



Gordolf:

Hm. Nothing in particular. It’s just a small, meaningless sentiment.

…Seriously. Even though we’ve defeated the Servant that destroyed Chaldea, my mood’s just not brightening up at all…

My private army, Flush Four… they were a bunch of ill-natured hooligans, but they were good at their job.

I have to properly pay out the insurance money after this is all settled… though I’m broke right now.

Still… this really is an unusual method of travel.

I’m a man of the road. I don’t like the sea. Even so, for the sake of humanity, I wouldn’t mind boarding a submarine, but…

I don’t feel like I’ll ever get used to this Imaginary Numbers submersible. Though I’m moderately used to being boat-sick.



Da Vinci:

Hmm? You’re feeling bad even though you’re not boat-sick? Is Gordolf-kun claustrophobic?



Fou:

Fou. Fou, fou.



Gordolf:

That’s not the problem! It means that I can’t get used to this situation!

Listen here. Getting used to danger is none other than losing sight of what safety means.

Oversight. Betrayal. Bankruptcy. Having your victory cancelled by a judgment. Such retaliation comes from carelessness and arrogance.

We can’t be having the optimism that succeeding once means you’ll succeed at it twice.

In the first place, demonstrating the actual existence of Imaginary Numbers space is certainly, certainly a great achievement, but to be honest, it should leave you feeling “the hell is this”, shouldn’t it?



Guda:

…Eh, well.



Gordolf:

Even though I have a strong principle that I won’t ride in any vehicles that aren’t driven by my own hand…

Uu…. Rare as it may be, isn’t Imaginary Numbers Space a special element possessed only by a handful of mages…

Just thinking that I’m floating amidst that is… Uuuh… I’m getting dizzy…



Holmes smoothly interjects, saying that Gordolf has quite some guts, since he doesn’t actually seem dizzy from his behaviour. He attributes Gordolf’s unease to him being a pure mage. The other Chaldea staff are just half-educated in both magecraft and science. Gordolf’s focus on magecraft means that he is keenly aware of both the benefits and dangers of an Imaginary Numbers dive.





Holmes:

Even so, you are doing your best to stay calm. What extraordinary courage… no, perseverance.

What depths of adversity you must have experienced thus far. Could you perhaps already be accustomed to being in a pinch?



Gordolf:

I-I-I-I’m not used to being in a pinch at all! I’ll have you know that I’ve never been the very last to reach the goal!



Mashu:

Last to reach the goal…? New Director Gordolf is using a rather strange figure of speech.



Gordolf:

H-Hmph, that’s right. When you become like me, you’ll be first class at metaphorical speech, Ms. Mashu.



Mashu:

(! The new director used an honorific with me…!)



Guda:

The Holmes style of compliments is quite hard to understand after all…



Gordolf:

That’s the case, huh. Really, Heroic Spirits have idiosyncratic personalities, don’t they.

Or perhaps if manifested as a Caster, he’d be more easy to talk to as a management consultant. That’s what I’ve thought, but…



Holmes:

Hahaha. That is not the case. I am what I am, even if my Saint Graph is different.

In truth, I was in the Caster class when I first met Mister Guda…

Even so, having made an official contract with Chaldea in the class of Ruler, I remain quite unchanged.

Is that not so, Miss Kyrielight?



Mashu agrees. Holmes has not changed, as far as she can remember. Gordolf acknowledges it, and then changes the topic. He coughs and asks Da Vinci about the schedule for the voyage ahead. Mashu reminds him that there was a briefing immediately after the dive into Imaginary Numbers space. You wonder if Gordolf had fainted right after the Zero Sail.



Mashu:

Ah.

I’m sorry, Mister. We didn’t notice…. To think that you’d have fainted with your eyes open—





Gordolf:

N-No, that’s wrong, no, I didn’t faint at all, since I’m a man who can withstand the G-forces of 250 km/h, alright!?

Y-Yeah. But what about the boy over there? Yes. Guda. I’m talking about you, yes, you.

According to the reports, it seems that you frequently go into REM sleep, don’t you? You can go anytime, even when you’re standing. Is that your special skill?



Mashu:

Yes. We call it the Guda REM REM state.



Gordolf:

Uh, really… it’s really a skill…? Is Chaldea alright?

W-Well, anyway, you were half asleep just like me, weren’t you?

Do you remember the contents of the briefing? Should we check the knowledge level of everyone here?



Mashu:

That’s right, I suppose. My apologies.

Eh? But, after the Zero Sail, I think Senpai was feeding Fou-san—



Holmes:

Hahahahahaha. Da Vinci, it is the director’s wish. Could you repeat our current circumstances one more time?



Da Vinci agrees to do so, since the director hopes for it. She repeats the briefing. Right now, you have entered the Scandinavian Peninsula, and are currently diving to break past the “Storm Wall”. From here, you will surface in northern Europe, in the south of Sweden. Although it is merely 10 km worth of movement, you have no bonds with Scandinavia. Whether or not you’ll surface at your targeted coordinates will be a matter of luck and Da Vinci’s technique. Since she already has her hands full just trying to keep the Shadow Border on target, she’s unable to scan for the presence of enemies at your landing point. She hopes you’ll be prepared for a rough surfacing like your arrival in Russia.



Gordolf mutters that this means you’re always leaving things up to chance whenever you enter a new Lostbelt. He asks Da Vinci once more if it is possible to ignore the Scandinavian Lostbelt and head straight to the North Sea. Surfacing in the Lostbelt should require conditions to be met, and so he thinks there’s no point to surface if it’s unnecessary. Even if you don’t know the Wandering Sea’s coordinates, you should first head to the North Sea.



Da Vinci:

I understand your feelings, but it’s impossible. At the moment, we are skimming along the boundary of real space and Imaginary Numbers space.

Think of it as being in a state of 「peeping」 at real space while being in Imaginary Numbers space. If we don’t do so, we won’t be able to surface without a 「bond」.

So, in this state, the Shadow Border’s electricity consumption is influenced by the distance in real space.

Of course, it’s because we’re “parallel to reality”.

For the current Border, it is impossible to perform Imaginary Number dives skimming the boundary surface for more than 300 km without recharging.

Thus, we cannot avoid surfacing at least once within the Scandinavian Lostbelt. We’ll need to resupply too.



Gordolf:

…I see. Imaginary Numbers diving… it has its conveniences and inconveniences…



Da Vinci:

That’s how it is. Diving in and out at places to our fancy, to our own convenience is…



Gordolf:

Is?



Da Vinci:

Is impossible for the current Border and I, no matter what. Sorry, Gordolf.



Gordolf blows up at Da Vinci’s cheeky statement, realizing that she’s actually asking for a fully equipped workshop. That might be possible once you quickly pass through Scandinavia and rendezvous with the Wandering Sea. Da Vinci thanks him for understanding matters quickly, and says that for now, it’s best to just sit back and enjoy the ride. The time error with the surface is around 10 days. Once you pass the storm wall, you’ll immediately surface.



Mashu:

…It’s the same as in Russia. That big tree is also in Scandinavia after all…



Holmes:

We could observe it with the naked eye before we entered the “storm wall”. If the Fantasy Tree is near our surfacing point, we might be forced to choose between 「passing through Scandinavia」 and 「investigating the Fantasy Tree」.

Regardless, after surfacing in the Scandinavian Lostbelt, we will be travelling by land for some time.

So that you will be able to handle any situation, it would be preferable for you to maintain your calm.



You think to yourself if the Scandinavian Lostbelt is a world like Russia. Holmes begins to wonder about the mysterious collapse of the Fantasy Tree in Russia. At that time, the sonar pings, and Gordolf panics. Something is approaching the Shadow Border.



Meuniere:

Omni-directional sonar detecting a response! What’s this, a moving object response of a fixed wavelength!?



Holmes:

A fixed wavelength, moving object response— is there something else moving other than the Shadow Border?



Gordolf:

Wait. Wait, wait. Wait! We’re in Imaginary Numbers space… wh-wh-what else could exist here!?



Fou:

Foufou…!



Holmes:

Indeed. Originally, there should be no objects existing within Imaginary Numbers space, other than things with the Imaginary Numbers trait. However, there is an exception.

That would be us, who are aboard the Paper Moon-equipped Imaginary Numbers Submarine, the Shadow Border.

In other words—



Mashu:

It’s an existence that can undergo an Imaginary Numbers dive, just like we are…?



Holmes:

If true, it would be technology that surpasses the Atlas Institute. Although I cannot rule out the possibility…

Da Vinci, can you ascertain it from your end. Your eyes should be better than ours, no?



Da Vinci:

Sorry, I’m already doing my best with just observing the surface. I don’t have any cameras to spare to observe our surroundings.

However, it’s definitely strange. The Border has been advancing smoothly for quite a while.

There’s definitely something in the Border’s vicinity. However, I’m just unable to determine what it is.

Although the Border has other magical or spiritual radars besides the sonar, they aren’t getting the job done.

Since it’s unimaginable for there to be lifeforms living within Imaginary Numbers Space, I thought that it was a soliton wave propagation, but…



Gordolf:

E, e, e—-



Mashu:

New Director Gordolf?



Gordolf:

E, E, ENEMY ATTACK!!



Meuniere:

Hey, who said that this old dude had already gotten used to things!



Gordolf rambles that it must be some sort of monster or Servant who can dive through Imaginary Numbers space. That would not be strange. Holmes happens to agree that it is quite likely. After all, Rasputin had said that Koyanskaya was able to freely travel to Lostbelts. Although Holmes finds it hard to imagine that she is using the exact same methods as Chaldea, he cannot rule out that she has some form of dimensional transportation.



Gordolf continues to panic, telling everyone to remember Ivan the Terrible, one of the many monsters that live in a Lostbelt. He says it’s not unthinkable for there to be a Lostbelt Rider with the sort of interesting skill that allows Imaginary Numbers space travel. Meuniere doesn’t accept that logic, unable to believe that there’s anything besides the Border that could be in this space.



Holmes:

(…An organism or Heroic Spirit that can dive in Imaginary Numbers. Miss Miyamoto is a drifter of parallel worlds…)

(But she only transfers between different worlds).

(Just a drifter who will eventually discard all possibilities and transfer to the point of zero.)

(There should be no existence in real space that can freely move between dimensions like we do.)

(None at the stage of 2016; that is what the Atlas Institute’s Trismegistus told me…)

Well, the possibility is not zero.

As long as we are able to do it, it is not strange that someone would be able to imitate us one day.



Meuniere:

You should stop talking, Holmes! The old man’s getting more and more disturbed!



The sonar pings again.



Fou:

Fou?



Gordolf:

It’s gotten even closer!?



Mashu:

Please calm down, New Director. That’s… although you might not be at ease, I—

I feel like I can sense something. It’s very near…



Guda:

What is it— I feel like I’ve sensed this before?



Mashu:

No, I don’t know what it is… I think. But strangely, it doesn’t feel unpleasant…

Somewhere, just a bit… it feels warm—



Gordolf:

Eii, it’s the devil’s usual tricks! The devil is always nice at first!

I’ll follow my own reason! Listen, everyone—

Though I’m definitely not becoming some adventurous thrill-seeker! In this situation, even I understand that an emergency surfacing is the best choice!



As the Director of Chaldea, Gordolf orders the Shadow Border to surface immediately. Even though Da Vinci would like to support Mashu here, she can’t ignore the director’s words. At any rate, it is the truth that there is something around the Shadow Border that she can’t see. It’s not something to be overlooked, and so she too votes to surface. Luckily, you’re close to passing through the storm wall.



Before surfacing, she confirms with everyone once again your current status. You have already crossed the border and are entering the southern region of where Sweden once was. However, the risks when surfacing are higher than in Russia. The forced exit back into real space will damage the Border’s body, and might damage the crew’s bodies too.



Da Vinci:

If you are heavier now than you were 10 days ago, the gap in bodily functions alone will be enough to make you vomit.

Is that still fine? Of course, I, as the calculator, exist for the sake of avoiding this.



Gordolf tells Da Vinci to cut the chatter and to just surface. Something unknown might be right beside the Border, and for him it’s a matter of life and death. He’s not keen at all to continue the voyage with an unknown danger by his side. Gordolf once again orders the Shadow Border to surface. Da Vinci tells Meuniere to change the controls to manual, since the automatic controls will force a stop to the manoeuvre thanks to the safety equipment.



Meuniere:

Seriously!? This is exactly what the manufacturer would call “unintended usage of product”!



Regardless, the surfacing proceeds. Da Vinci begins the high-speed calculations necessary as alarms blare. Panicked by the alert, Gordolf tells everyone to buckle their seatbelts and take a deep breath. Da Vinci says there’s no need to worry – she’s just going to make the vehicle do something a bit unreasonable. Mashu is concerned, but you tell her it’s going to be all right. You believe in Da Vinci. Still, Da Vinci complains she’s going to heat up doing it, so she really doesn’t want to. Because of her small frame, the burden is stronger. Holmes lends a hand, operating the console. Mashu volunteers to help too.



Holmes:

Sure. Though I only learned by watching, it’s better to have more hands. At this time, it’d have been great if Sir Babbage was here.



Da Vinci:

Yeah. Still, with just the records in the Saint Graph Trunk, it’s difficult to borrow their strength outside of short battles. It can’t be helped.

If it was like with Salieri then things would be different, though. At this moment…

…Yeah, too bad. There won’t be any help! We’ll have to do it on our own!



The alarms blare again. The Paper Moon begins the plus minus convergence of the planetary route map, and the Shadow Border is about to dock in real space. Having narrowed down the gap between the target coordinates and reality to 0.4 seconds, Da Vinci brings the Shadow Border out from Imaginary Numbers space.





Da Vinci checks off the readings on the Orthenaus suit, and tells Mashu she’s all ready for her sortie. Mashu reports that all the values and weaponry are normal, but there’s something bothering her. Da Vinci asks what it is.



Mashu:

This time the launch sequence isn’t for being fired out. There’s some differences in the chamber and the formalities this time.



Da Vinci:

Well, although you were fired directly to the operation area last time, this time it’s a reconnaissance mission. Furthermore—

You’ll be together with your Master. We can’t exactly send the both of you flying now, can we?



Mashu:

Ah.

Now that you say it… that’s right. Senpai’ll be together with me too—



Da Vinci:

Then, I’ll ask again. Are you ready?



Mashu:

Yes. —-Shielder Armored, ready for sortie.



Da Vinci:

OK. Shadow Border, opening hatch! Begin the reconnaissance operation!



Mashu steps out into the snow and greets you.



Mashu:

…Senpai.



Guda:

Aren’t you cold?



Mashu:

Yes, it’s just a bit cold.

If I breathe out like this… haa… you can see my breath turn white, but I’m fine.

The anti-cold equipment is functioning. Also, Scandinavia isn’t anywhere near as cold as Russia was.

Even so, how do I put it… the whole surface is a silvery world, Senpai.

The temperature is 3 degrees Celsius. But the wind isn’t cold, and the sky is refreshingly clear.

Although we’ve experienced it in Russia too, but even though it is the same snowy landscape, this is like Heaven.

Even though I think the temperature will plunge into negative degrees below ten once night falls, right now it’s really warm…



Guda:

It’s really… romantic…



Mashu:

Yes. I feel that way too.

Although I don’t know what the Scandinavian Lostbelt is like yet, it is really peaceful here.

Not all parts of a Lostbelt are dangerous… it’s enough to make me hope for that.

…No, now is now the time to let be sentimental. Let’s begin the mission, Master.



Guda:

Alright, time to scout the perimeter!



Mashu:

Yes! First, let’s aim for that small hill, and take a good look at our surroundings!



At the moment, the Shadow Border is in the snowfield, recharging its electricity while under camouflage. You have around 3 hours before the Border completes its charging, and so you’ll explore until then. You head to the top of the hill, as Mashu suggested.



Mashu:

We’ve arrived at the summit. …………………….!

As far as the eye can see… are plains of snow… and…. Senpai—!



You quicken your pace and spot what left Mashu astounded.



Mashu:

Those are…

The white mountain range continues on for a good distance, but the snow… it’s not just that…. Ice…?

And the waving blue that covers the northern half of the mountains, could it be—



Guda:

Flames. The mountains are burning.



Mashu:

Yes. Those are flames. Fire is rising from places where there are no trees!

It’s too unnatural to be a natural phenomenon, so I think it must surely be some effect of magecraft.

A world where white ice and blue flames cover the mountains. So that is the form of the Scandinavian Lostbelt…

Furthermore… floating in the sky… there’s a very, no, far too big sun…

No matter what, that’s too big. I’ve heard that Scandinavia is a place where the sun is dark for half the year, but I’ve never heard that the sun was this big in size.

No such records exist.



And there is one more thing of note. The Fantasy Tree is nowhere to be seen, even though you had observed it before entering the storm. Even in that paper-white world, you had seen the Fantasy Tree. Mashu wonders if it has been hidden with some form of magecraft.



Holmes contacts you at this time. He notes that you are roughly 500 metres away from the Border, and says that is wise – just the right distance. No enemies have been detected and the burden from the emergency surfacing was within expected parameters. The Shadow Border will not be able to move for the time being. So that no time was wasted, the two of you were sent out to scout.



Holmes:

…Dear me. A realm of ice and flame. It seems that this Lostbelt is not going to be a straightforward one.



You report all you have sighted to Holmes. He thanks you for the report and confirms the visuals.



Holmes:

The sun is indeed more gigantic than usual. However… the inflation of the sun should be something that will only occur billions of years from now.

Although we do not know just how altered the environments of a Lostbelt are, if the sun which exists in outer space were to have turned into a red giant, the surface would not be covered in snow and ice, having turned into a desert.

Miss Kyrielight aside…

Mister Guda would not be able to survive in the first place.

Mashu:

Yes. That’s why… that might not be the star present in outer space.



Holmes:

The possibility that though we may see it as the sun, it might not be the sun, then.

I do not think there were any such tales in Scandinavian or Germanic lore, but I will investigate.



You ask about the flames next.



Holmes:

It can be deduced.

First, look closely.

The fire does not spread, even slightly. What reason could there be for the fire to be placed on the mountain like individual pieces?

You could call it divine Mystery if that is what it is, but this cannot be seen as anything other than the territory of magecraft.

To begin with, this is undoubtedly related to the Crypters or Lostbelt Servants.



Guda:

If it’s a Lostbelt Servant, then what’s their True Name?



Mashu:

Y-You went straight to the point, Senpai!

But yes, that’s right. This is how Mister Sherlock Holmes is.

Observational eyes that can see through all circumstances with a single glance! And those logical deductions which charm the readers!



Holmes:

Hahaha. Thank you, Mister Kyrielight. It embarrasses me to be evaluated on the novels which describe my adventures.

Hm. Well, it is fine once in a while.

I do not like speaking from the conclusion, but, yes, what brought those flames is undoubtedly—



Holmes notices that Fou is behaving excitedly. Just when everyone is wondering what is up with Fou, you hear a roar. Loud footsteps approach as Mashu calls for you to get behind her. A giant is approaching you. It is around 5 metres tall and humanoid in form, wearing a mask on its face. Mashu attempts to decipher its speech but fails, likening it more to the roars of beasts than any language she knows. Still, she makes an attempt to communicate.



Mashu:

…He-Hello. Bonjour. Guten tag…. Ni hao. Konnichiwa.

We are not your enemies. We do not desire a destructive first contact.

We—



The giant roars.



Guda:

It’s no good, Mashu! You’re not getting through to it!



Mashu:

…Master. It appears to be viewing us as targets to be attacked.



The enemy closes in. You have no choice but to prepare for battle and engage the giant.





You defeat the giant. Mashu is already sweating, and you tell her it might be better to return to the Shadow Border. She thanks you for your concern, but says that she is alright. The sudden combat has thrown her breathing haywire, but her bodily functions are normal. There are no problems with her vital signs and she can still continue.



Analysing the combat data, Holmes tells you that you have just fought an enemy you have not encountered before. It was not a Heroic Spirit, nor was it a mystical beast. It was undoubtedly a giant, humanoid lifeform that appeared in Scandinavia. Something that originally should not exist in the 21

st century.



Mashu:

…..Giants.



Guda:

Those giants that appear in myth and legend?



Holmes:

Thanks, then I need not explain the details. You are correct.



Mashu talks about how the strong giants were once many in Scandinavia, but nowadays, in Sweden, Denmark or Norway, giant sightings are almost non-existent. Their numbers thrived during the Age of Gods, not the modern day. Holmes notes that on his end, Gordolf and Meuniere are kicking up a fuss at how impossible it is to see a living giant in 2018. But it is fact that you met one, and it tried to kill you when Mashu attempted to converse with it.



Mashu:

The eyes that I could see from behind the mask were… full of killing intent, I think.



Holmes exclaims that the Crypters are’nt holding back at all, inviting them to such a world in only the second Lostbelt. Still, you should do what you can do. First, you need to update the database you have on your enemies. The Border did not detect the giant approaching as Chaldea did not have the information of ancient giants on hand in the first place. Furthermore, he notes that the snow around this region have tiny amounts of magical energy present within them, so slight that only a skilled mage would be able to detect it. Due to this interference, it is not possible to detect the giants approaching from simple magical energy reactions. It seems that Da Vinci had been lamenting this oversight, saying something about being dull when connected to the biological unit. But even this can be written into the data and the Orthenaus’s software can be updated immediately. Which Holmes does promptly.



Mashu confirms the upgrades, and is immediately able to pick up the presence of new enemies in the surroundings. There are multiple ice beasts and giants closing in, and you order Mashu to break through so that the two of you can retreat to the Shadow Border.





Having defeated the enemies, Mashu confirms that there are no more signs of life in the vicinity. She can also pick up the traces of magical energy in the snow now. You wonder if it’s a Lostbelt Servant that can control the snow. Mashu can’t know for sure, but thinks that might be the case. Da Vinci urges you to return to the Border; you can talk later rather than standing around to attract giant attention. Da Vinci asks you to return carefully without leading the giants to the Shadow Border.



Back in the Border, Da Vinci welcomes your return. Mashu reports to her that the Orthenaus is in peak condition, thanking Da Vinci for her work. Da Vinci is just pleased that it’s working fine. It seems that Gordolf has gone to rest, the stress of the surfacing perhaps having gotten to him.



Meuniere:

Even after surfacing he was worrying about meaningless things like whether or not to send out a scouting party…



Da Vinci:

It’s not meaningless. He is how he is, someone who’ll always try to look for a “safety measure”.

Of course, it’s for the sake of helping himself, but as a leader, it’s one of the important factors.

Ready oneself the moment there is danger. Retreat immediately if things are going bad.

When you are in a higher position, the more apt an judgement it is to leave it to the people on-site.

With regards to that, New Director Gordolf is terribly excellent.

I don’t know why, but he seems to be the type to feel the tribulations of the investigators on-site as his own.

I wonder why’s that~ Perhaps he’s been disciplined by a very strict family tutor?

Something like, “when you send your subordinates off to the battlefield, you must grasp the situation yourself through your subordinates’ feelings”?



Meuniere:

Ah… I see. That explains it. He often showed a pained expression while in Russia.

He was empathizing with Guda’s circumstances at that time.

It’s no wonder he’d keep on yapping noisily then…



Setting that aside, Da Vinci tells you that compiling the contents of your scouting mission into the format of a report will be enough as far as reporting to Gordolf goes. She remarks that you’ve had a rather terrible encounter. Giants are something that existed largely in the Age of Gods. Mages would not have seen the real thing except for fossils and bones. Though they may have lingered on in places thick with Mystery, they would become a threat, and then dispatched by the heroes of the era. Even so, something like your encounter was originally impossible.



Da Vinci:

After all, you haven’t seen the ancient giants even after rayshifting to seven singularities, have you?

Not to even mention in the modern day, 21

st century!



Holmes:

That is— the Jotunn, I would say.

In the Age of Gods, the Scandinavian world was made out of nine realms. Amongst these, there were two…

The icy realm of Niflheim, and the fiery realm of Muspelheim, which clashed and created frost.

The frost became a river of poison, and the poison was formed into a giant by the heat of Muspelheim.

This is the original giant which existed in Scandinavia, Ymir.

And then, from Ymir’s body came countless giants which we call the Jotunn.

They were indeed giants born in the era of the gods.

The Jotunn would at times couple with the gods of Scandinavia, giving birth to new gods and giants.

The surviving Jotunn fell from mythology in time, and were said to have transformed into the trolls of later lore, but—

Well, what you met were no trolls. They were undoubtedly Jotunn.



Everyone is silent at Holmes’s display of knowledge.



Guda:

Holmes, could you perhaps be knowledgeable on giants?



Holmes:

Ha, ha, ha. It is because I am Sherlock Holmes.

No matter what Saint Graph I have, I am a “seeker of knowledge”. I believe that is how I introduced myself.

…that was but a joke. What I obtained from the Atlas Institute was not just the Paper Moon.



Mashu:

The Trismegistus!



Holmes:

Yes. I came in contact with the Pseudo-Spiritron Calculator, Trismegistus. At that time, I just happened to see some confidential data regarding giants.



Guda:

I see, damn you Holmes.



Holmes:

Ha, ha, ha.



Meuniere:

Is it something to laugh about…?



Da Vinci tells Holmes that rather than laughing, he should be telling what he knows. It’s not fair for him to keep his knowledge to himself, and he should know how important it is to share information in a group. Holmes will think about it, but he requires more information. This Lostbelt is not merely a place where the once lost giants are now dominant. Although the giants are strong existences equipped with Mystery, they are living creatures, not Servants. You have yet to detect a Servant’s presence.



Holmes:

If we use Russia as a standard, then in Scandinavia we should find an existence that rules this Lostbelt, as well as a Crypter nurturing the Fantasy Tree.

Although we are alert against the latter, there is a high possibility we might also come into conflict with the former.

Still, with that said, right now our objective is not to fight them. It is to cross Scandinavia without being discovered by them.



Da Vinci:

Right, right. Anyway, we have to rest first, don’t we?

Luckily, the density of magical energy in this Lostbelt is higher than in Russia. The refuelling of the Border is going as scheduled too.

The Border will be able to move in a little while more, so until then, the two of you should rest.

You used your legs and hips a lot climbing the snowy mountain, didn’t you~? I recommend you loosen up thoroughly.



Mashu:

Yeah…. ah, before that, Mister Holmes!



Holmes:

What is it, Miss Kyrielight?



Mashu brings up the matter which Holmes had been speaking to you about, before you were interrupted by the giants. It was regarding the flames covering the mountaintops. The both of you ask if Holmes knows what they are about. Holmes doesn’t claim to know, but he says that he has a rather certain deduction about the matter. Right before he can explain, however, the alarm is heard. Fou cries out excitedly.



Meuniere:

What’s this, are the measuring instruments broken!? Dammit, they don’t seem to be broken, they’re working properly!

Guda, Holmes! A really gigantic magical energy response has just been detected near the Border!

It’s like a mana furnace! A monster that can rival the Great Holy Grail seen in London, Angrboda…!

 No.52



Meuniere:

Dammit, there were no shitty signs at all! It just poofed out of nowhere in the snowfield!



Holmes:

I fear it is a Servant. It must have exited spiritual form just now.



Mashu:

That’s right! A Servant could get close with such a method!

Mr. Meuniere, is that Servant on the side of Pan-human History!? Or is it—



Meuniere replies that while the Saint Graph’s structural pattern is the same as Chaldea’s, the colour of the frame is subtly different. Shamefully, he has to admit that he doesn’t understand it. But what he does understand is that it’s a hostile – the magical energy headed towards you contains a strong curse.



Da Vinci:

A Lostbelt Servant…!



Holmes:

The Border’s spiritual radar’s detection capability should be exceedingly strong, but for it to fail is…

It should be receiving external backup in the form of presence concealment. If they wanted, they could have gotten even closer to us.

But, it did not do so, and instead undid its spiritual form and showed itself to us.

…what impressive confidence, or should I say, cruelty? Mr. Meuniere, can you show us the monitor?



Meuniere:

The monitor’s a no-go, it’s in a blind spot!

Hey, this isn’t the time to stay calm! We should be slamming on the Border’s accelerator about now!

What should we do, should we announce the situation over the vehicle’s internal broadcast system!? A good portion of the staff are resting now, you know!?

Da Vinci, we should be moving on already, right!?



Holmes says that your enemy might not have located the Border yet. It might know that the Border is nearby, but it still needs to locate the precise position. Still, you’ll be found sooner or later. The Border’s camouflage is not perfect. Da Vinci comments that it’s strong against magical means of detection, but close contact or a physical search will locate the Border. She asks you and Holmes what should be done – should you sit here quietly holding your breath?



Guda:

…We can’t let it enter the Border.



Holmes:

That is correct. The worst scenario at present would be for the enemy to invade the Border’s interior.

After all, the staff are all non-combatants. The moment they enter, this adventure is over.

Mr. Meuniere, what is the current situation? Is the enemy still not moving?



Meuniere reports that it has yet to move from where it was discovered, still within the cameras’ blind spot.



Holmes:

Almost as if it knew it was being monitored by us. Bold, but prudent.



Holmes asks Da Vinci to prep the Border so that the engines are running and that it can move at any time. Da Vinci will need some time for that, though. To buy time, Holmes says that he’ll meet the enemy alongside you and Mashu. The three of you are the only ones able to fight after all. Naturally, it is then your duty to receive rude guests. Mashu is ready to go, saying that her exoskeleton can be activated at any time. Battling for a few minutes is possible for her. As you decide to go too, Gordolf comes running in.



Gordolf:

EXECUTE AN EMERGENCY DIVE!



He’s not going to allow you to sortie, insisting that the Border dive immediately.



Mashu:

New Director Gordolf!? Have you woken up!?



Gordolf:

Anyone would wake up with that ruckus! And my sharp ears picked up everything you were saying in the cockpit!

We have to run here, there’s nothing you can do even if you go out! Escaping across the Lostbelt and so on is also out of the question!

If we’re discovered by the enemy, then we must first hide! So right now, there’s no choice but to perform an Imaginary Numbers dive!

They won’t be able to chase after us once we’ve dived! We won’t have a trailing vehicle aiming at our ass either!



Da Vinci agrees with Gordolf from a safety standpoint. After you dive, you would be safe from whatever it is from the surface. However, the logic procedures have not finished deploying yet, and it is possible that Imaginary Numbers space would peel the Border’s armour away, leaving you adrift. Da Vinci calculates that there is about a 0.003% chance that you would be lost in Imaginary Numbers space.



Gordolf:

That’s an easy victory, then! Although the rates are the same, even so my racing machine has not won even once!

Anyway, as long as we can’t summon Servants, engaging in battle is absurd!

You cannot have forgotten about that bunch in Russia, have you!

Lostbelt Servants are powerful existences— I know just how disgustingly strong they are because of Chaldea’s destruction.

Even though that girl over there seems to have become able to fight, it’s not like we can just say please and pressure her to fight at every time!

As the Commander, as the Director, I will advocate for the actions that I feel give us the highest chances of survival!

No, No, this is an order! You will provide the reasons, consultants. That is your job!



Both Da Vinci and Holmes smile.



Gordolf:

At least, there is one uncertain element! The mystery Servant— possibly a Lostbelt Servant, is someone we have not identified!

Therefore, I think escaping should be our first priority!



Da Vinci:

The line of reasoning for everyone to survive is a straight one, eh? Then here I’ll believe in the new director’s wild instinct.

Sorry, Holmes, Guda-kun.

This vessel will once again begin its dive into Imaginary Numbers…. At least, the Servant outside is a strong enemy.

I don’t think you will be defeated, but the battle would be quite intense.

If the fight engulfs the Border then it is all over. That’s a fact.



Meuniere:

So we’re diving again!?

Well… if Mashu and Guda don’t have to sortie, then this is the best thing to do, though…



Da Vinci says she’ll be leaving the wheel to Meuniere. She’s returning to the computing chamber to connect with the Border, planning to prove that she is the perfect existence.



Guda:

That means… change of plans, so put on our seatbelts?



Mashu:

Yes. I’ll follow Senpai’s orders…!



Gordolf:

Guwaaaa, it’s because you are all like this! You never start with the assumption that your superior’s orders are to be followed, do you!?



Meuniere says that there’s been a frank and fair exchange of opinions and so progress has been made, attributing it to the leader’s personal qualities. Gordolf snaps that he can see through Meuniere’s flattery and they should be getting the Border to dive while the Servant is still merely watching. An announcement is made: the Paper Moon has been deployed.



Gordolf:

Everyone to your seats! You might be tired of hearing this, but don’t forget your seatbelts!



Fou:

Fou, foufou!



The deployment of the logic procedures over the Shadow Border’s outer armour is completed, and all emergency procedures for the dive complete just in time. Holmes will operate the control stick while he orders Meuniere to monitor the measurement devices intently.



Da Vinci:

Shadow Border, departing from reality – Sail Cut. Imaginary Numbers Dive— Zero Sail, venturing forth!



Just as you dive, there is a crash and alarms blare.



Mashu:

….ah!

Senpai, this is… all of my four limbs feel like they’re being weighed down physically!



Guda:

Something dragged on the hull—



Gordolf:

Wh-What’s this. This doesn’t feel like Imaginary Numbers space! Did the dive fail, leaving us in reality!?



Da Vinci:

—It got us. The activation of our procedures was detected, and by just a hair’s breadth, we were caught.

We’re being stopped physically. Amazing. This is physical strength that surpasses the Border’s maximum output!



Mashu:

Physical… strength…?



Meuniere:

Magical energy signature increasing! No, no, this is… the Servant is directly grabbing onto the Border!



There is another loud noise.



Gordolf:

Wh-wh-what’s going on!?



Mashu:

A floating sensation—?



Holmes:

Don’t take off your seatbelts! Everyone, brace for impact!



The Border is sent into a roll. When it comes to a stop, Fou is jumping around agitatedly.



Gordolf:

U-Ugh… What just happened… I don’t get it… my eyes are spinning… ugh… anyway, is everyone alright…?



Mashu:

Senpai, are you hurt!?



You’re fine, and tell her that.



Mashu:

Thank goodness—



Guda:

After that sensation of floating… we rolled around once, and were thrusted away at an incredible speed…?



Mashu:

Y-Yes. I felt the same. It was as if the Shadow Border was lifted up by something, and with momentum, flung far away.



Holmes confirms your impressions. After the enemy Servant stopped the Border from diving, it picked up the Border and flung it away. With such strength, Holmes wonders if it is a Berserker-class Servant. At the very least, it has a strength parameter capable of such feats. Da Vinci announces that the navigation system has completely stopped after that impact. Time will be needed for a bypass to be made, and the suspension has also taken damage. Although you’re at least lucky the Border didn’t end up upside-down, for the time being, it cannot move from your present location. Da Vinci apologizes – you will not be able to dive or escape.



Holmes:

No need for apologies, Da Vinci. Naturally, the responsibility lies with our uninvited guest.



Gordolf:

Mu, mu, mumumumu…! We’re out of options, then. This is not good!



Meuniere:

Aah, it’s bad, it’s very, very bad! The magical energy signature is closing in. Though we can now identify it as a Heroic Spirit of high standing, this time it is not going to just stand by and watch!

It’s charging in, making a beeline for us, distance left 100, 50…

…Dammit, it’s zero!



There is a crash, and the enemy Servant begins taking apart the outer armour of the Shadow Border. Meuniere exclaims at the barbarity of your opponent, as from the sound of it, it’s ripping and tearing away the outer armour. Da Vinci is amazed that the armour, strengthened by the previous her after a lot of time and effort, is being taken apart so easily. She wonders just what weapon or Noble Phantasm is being used.



Mashu:

…Senpai.



Guda:

Let’s go, Mashu!



Gordolf tries to stop you, saying that you should wait and see what happens for a bit more. Meuniere doesn’t think you have the time for that, and asks the two of you to help out.



Da Vinci:

Holmes, you help too! Listen here, the magical energy of the Servant out there is Ivan-class!

Don’t hold back. If you handle it badly, you might be defeated here, okay?



Holmes:

…I understand that. I have just now ascertained the Saint Graph of the Servant outside, after all.

At least, I will protect Mister Guda’s life.

You should concentrate on your own safety as well as repairing the systems as soon as possible.



Opening the hatch, Mashu confirms the presence of the enemy at the left-rear of the Shadow Border.



Guda:

Step away right now—!



Masked Heroic Spirit:

-Hou. So that poorly-made board was the entrance.



Holmes:

(That is a Lostbelt Servant…? But no, what is that ominous feeling emanating from that Saint Graph…!?)



Masked Heroic Spirit:

One human. Two Heroic Spirits.

Ah, no. Neither of them are genuine, pure Heroic Spirits. It seems that unnecessary things have been mixed in with them.

Kuku. Impurities, interesting.



The enemy Servant begins to approach.



Holmes:

I see. That is certainly a powerful Heroic Spirit.

Setting the Border’s outer armour aside, the multiple barriers stacked over the hull’s inner shell have also been ripped apart.

In the past, Da Vinci worked together with Nitocris and Paracelsus in Chaldea to strengthen these, which are equal even to a barrier from the Age of Gods, nearing the capability of a fortress made from divine steel…

And it was cut through like a hot knife through butter, without even releasing the weapon’s True Name.

…How fascinating.

Which demonic sword is that, I wonder?



The enemy Servant remains silent. Mashu notices his red eyes.



Holmes:

It is a demonic sword after all, then. A holy sword would not look so ominous to the eye.



Masked Heroic Spirit:

….I do not like question and answer sessions.



He attacks Mashu suddenly, though she manages to block his strike.



Masked Heroic Spirit:

Hou.



He moves, and slashes again. Even these strikes, from the dagger at his waist, feel heavy to Mashu. This is the strength necessary to lift and toss the Border. However, Mashu refuses to let him pass.



Guda:

I can’t see the trajectory of his blade at all—



Holmes:

Is that so? Ah, regarding his sword, he is not using his sword, but only his dagger.

I can only barely catch it myself, really, just barely. What an incredible expert.

If only Miss Miyamoto were here…

That was merely at the level of a jab, for him, at least. Though it might be another matter for Miss Kyrielight.



Mashu:

….



Masked Heroic Spirit:

Hm. Girl, did you go mad?



Mashu:

!



Masked Heroic Spirit:

After all, you are standing here. It should be the time to turn your sturdy shield over and flee.

—You do not seem so stupid that you cannot understand the difference in our power.



Mashu:

……

….I’ll endure it, if I have to. Our journey cannot end here.



Fou:

Fou, foou! Foufoufou!



Mashu:

Fou-san!? Again…!

Don’t, stay in the Border!



She pauses for a while.



Mashu:

And, thank you, for worrying about me…

That Servant is very strong. He is surely stronger than me, while I’m equipped with Orthenaus.

A great hero… he has a somewhat similar presence with the powerful Heroic Spirits that we have met thus far.

Even together with Holmes-san, we might not win…. But.

Being as reckless as this is definitely already a given.

Our journey is no longer ours alone—



She remembers Ivan.



Mashu:

…perhaps, it has been so from a long time ago.

It’s no good to just say “I can’t do it” and wash your hands of it, after all…!



Guda:

(Resolve yourself)



Fou:

Fou, fou…!



Masked Heroic Spirit:

A journey.

I, myself, have no interest whatsoever in your travels. I advance only for the sake of my own objectives.

Surrender to your misfortune, girl. The brat over there, too. As long as our paths have crossed…

…I will kill, and take from you.



He readies two daggers in hand.



Holmes:

He’s coming! I’ll support you too!





Mashu thanks Holmes for the fire-support with his beams. Holmes tells her to think nothing of it. Still, they can’t hold anything back against this foe. Rather, Holmes states that they have to put in maximum effort, and a little more beyond. He asks if the enemy isn’t interested in introducing himself. The masked man remains silent.



Holmes:

Still, I see.

By seeing your performance thus far, there are still things I can understand. A mastery of the sword that can even be called peerless, in Scandinavia.

A strong and sturdy body. The reflexes and intelligence to easily evade my beams. You know it, right?

You know that I am a Heroic Spirit who employs magical attacks. Likely, we can call that wisdom.

Then, you are…

Someone who defeated the evil dragon, and then devoured its knowledge. Am I mistaken?



Masked Heroic Spirit:

Hou?



Holmes:

The son born from the union between Sigmund, King of Hunaland, and the daughter of King Eylimis, Hiordis.

Even amongst the brothers who are said to be mighty heroes with strength, intelligence, and all manners of techniques and abilities that surpass the common man…

You were the most excellent of them, a man praised as the noble King of Warriors.

You were the wondrous swordsman who renewed further the demonic sword which King Sigmund obtained from overcoming the great god’s trial at the Barnstokkr.



Mashu:

That’s… could it be…!



Holmes:

The seasoned stalwart who defeated the army of King Hunding and took vengeance for his father, Sigmund.

The hero who single-handedly defeated Fafnir, the radiant evil dragon phenomenon which became the greed of Gnitaheidr.

The human who could ride anywhere in the world after becoming fast friends with Sleipnir’s son, Grani.

The great hero, who devoured the dragon’s heart, and obtained invincible strength as well as divine wisdom!

Your true name is Sigurd! Equal to Siegfried, one of the strongest Heroic Spirits in Scandinavia!



Mashu:

Dragonslayer…!



But Holmes finds that a few questions still remain. Though Sigurd may be considered a peerless existence, where did that monstrous strength come from? And what is more, his red eyes. Sigurd chuckles.



Sigurd:

I see. You are a wise man of Panhuman History.

What of it, then? In the face of some great hero of Scandinavia, how will you fight?



Mashu is convinced of his identity. His blade was swift, sharp and yet heavy. Even if he is using just his dagger. He has yet to wield that red demonic sword, Gram, even once. You point out that you seemed to see him swinging it around, but Holmes says that he indeed was just swinging it around. He has yet to wield it properly, as if to say that you were not worthy to set eyes upon Gram’s true value.

Sigurd finds the chatter noisy, and attacks Mashu. You cast strengthening magecraft so that she can repel his heavy attack.



Sigurd:

A temporary strengthening through magecraft? Hmph.

You’re in the way.



Mashu:

The demonic sword— is coming!



Sigurd:

Die, human.



Holmes manages to intercept the blow. You and Mashu aside, he is a Heroic Spirit after all. He’s also become accustomed to melee combat. With the Border right here, he can’t allow Sigurd to activate Gram.



Holmes:

—BARITSU!



Holmes closes in, attempting to attack Sigurd.



Sigurd:

Silence.



There is a slash, and a spurt of blood. Holmes is stunned.



Sigurd:

—How fragile, these things called Heroic Spirits are.



Mashu:

Holmes-san!

Senpai… Sen…pai…! Holmes-san’s arm… his right arm… has been cut off—!



Guda:

Leave Holmes to me!



Mashu:

…I’ll leave it to you, Senpai!



Without a word, Sigurd walks off.



Holmes:

…Chase after him. Leave me here.



Mashu:

Senpai!



Guda:

Emergency Heal!



Using the Mystic Code, you begin to cast a healing magecraft on Holmes. He stops you, however, saying that you should keep your mana consumption down.



Holmes:

A Heroic Spirit won’t die from just this. As expected of the demonic sword Gram. Although that strike is worth a special mention, as you can see, both my heart and my brain are perfectly intact.

Of course, I have suffered terrible damage, but my spiritual core has not yet been sundered with a single blow.



Holmes breathes out, composing himself. He urges you once more to chase after Sigurd. Sigurd did say that he was here to take. And so, the question arises as to what is there on the Shadow Border that has provoked his assault. That is something that must not be handed over.



Holmes:

….「Elementary, my dear」.



He uses his Noble Phantasm on Mashu, buffing her up. Although it is not in perfect condition, it should still work on those who would thwart conspiracies and evil deeds. He tells you again, to go. Holmes calls your opponent a terribly unnatural existence, though Sigurd still seems unfamiliar with something and might still be defeatable. When you ask Holmes for a clearer explanation, he apologizes – his injuries are affecting his thoughts, and it is difficult for him to stay sober. Holmes promptly passes out.

Mashu confirms that his vital signs are still present. Although he is in terrible condition, his spiritual core is intact, as he has said. In the meantime, you need to stop Sigurd.





Holmes opens his eyes. He notes that he had lost consciousness for a while, and that the two of you have gone.



Holmes:

I see. So this is how it is like to receive a strike from a demonic sword. It is truly difficult. Ah, this is the first time I have taken such a deep wound from a blade. Hm.

…….

—You could smile even while enduring such pain, Irina.



Da Vinci:

Who’s that?

Why, aren’t you conscious and all, Holmes. Now I feel my slight concern was wasted.

Someone will come to help you soon. Everyone’s evacuated from the rear-most hatch on the Border.

Even though we can’t use the Border’s facility at the moment, we’ll be able to resupply mana at least. So just sit tight and wait.

The enemy Servant’s aim is not to destroy the Border. This became clear in the previous battle.

If we’re lucky the Border won’t be destroyed. That’s why, just hang in there for a little longer.



Holmes:

Yeah… but, I do not think mental strength alone is sufficient for this.

To be frank, I am in danger of being destroyed. A rune of death has been carved upon me, and so a single misstep will lead to my doom.



Da Vinci is in disbelief – there is no rune magecraft that can kill a Heroic Spirit. However, she checks herself promptly – it must be a Primeval Rune. A fundamental magecraft from the Age of Gods, created by the great god Odin. Holmes adds that Sigurd had learnt the use of runes from Odin’s daughter.



Holmes:

At the same time my arm was cut off, he brilliantly engraved the rune. It seems that I’m quite hated by him.

…Huh.

If I move recklessly, my spiritual core will shatter. How skilful. If I do not move, there is only pain, and I can still talk.



Realizing the danger of his condition, Da Vinci tells Holmes to wait, as she’s coming immediately. Although Holmes still has much more he wants to say, his mind is fuzzy and he can’t compose his thoughts.



Holmes:

For some reason… haha. My thoughts are filled with memories of the past.



Da Vinci:

Holmes!



Holmes:

Da Vinci, tell this to the director. No matter what is taken, do not move.

That, I fear, is something not particularly concerned with individual humans or Heroic Spirits…

After all… he is…

………..

 No.53

Section 2-2: The Demonic Blade’s Assault (Second Part)



You and Mashu pursue Sigurd into the Shadow Border. It seems that he has entered the cockpit.



Guda:

While Holmes’s Noble Phantasm is still in effect, let’s give Sigurd a beatdown!



Mashu:

Yes!



The two of you arrive at the cockpit, but there’s no one to be found. There are no signs of struggle either. You point out that the hatch is open – he is on the deck. Outside, Meuniere shouts at Gordolf.



Meuniere:

Is this really fine, old man! If you hand that over, this ship will…!



Gordolf:

Eei, shut up! Be quiet or you’ll get killed! At times like these, this is all we can do, so leave it to me!

Here! This is the Paper Moon that you have been looking for! Take it!

We were going to keep it hidden, but your strength has been too impressive! As a reward, it’s yours!



Sigurd:

…How unexpected. As a human, it seems too early to say such words.

You’re treating this more lightly than I expected. I have heard that this was your lifeline, though?



Gordolf:

T-T-T-That’s right, but even so it’s not our actual lives! Besides, it’s not like you can eat that thing!

Now, you’ve accomplished your ob-ob-objective, right? You’ve no more business with us, right? None, right?

If you do this, we will be pitiful drifters, losers who will just die off by ourselves even if left alone!

You don’t care much for useless work, right? Then, how about you just walk away right now!?



Sigurd:

…Indeed. This sword is not some cheap blade used to cut up useless meat.



Sigurd turns to leave.



Gordolf:

(Woohoo! Survived yet again!)



Guda:

Hold it—!



You and Mashu barge onto the scene, demanding that the Paper Moon be returned.



Gordolf:

(Uh… wait a minute, things were going well just now, right? Why would you come in speaking so sharply to that edgy knife-man?)



Sigurd:

…Hou?

The human and the hybrid. It seems that you do not understand the difference in our strength.



He realizes that Holmes has bestowed some sort of protection upon Mashu, granting her an unexpected boost in ability.



Sigurd:

…This is worth crushing. Your stubbornness is like scrap iron.

Very well. I did want to confirm the operation of this body a little bit more.

—Come. Though it's just playing around, I’ll be rather serious about it.



Mashu:

We’ll come at you even if you don’t say so. As long as you don’t retreat from our ship, that is.



Sigurd:

Heh. Retreat, you said.

Girl. And you, boy. Tell me your names. This is what a hero of man is likely to do, I suppose.



Mashu:

—I’m Mashu Kyrielight.



Guda:

Guda.



Sigurd:

I’ve heard it. Though, I’ll soon forget it.



Mashu:

Yes. That is fine.

…Master. Let’s take back the Paper Moon from the enemy Servant, Sigurd!



Sigurd:

Prideful. Overconfident. Arrogant. Conceited.

Man has not changed at all. Heh. As if they were like the gods themselves.



Mashu:

(Gods…?)

It doesn’t matter what you say. Or perhaps, it is exactly as you say.

But, even so…

Senpai and I will not retreat! This time, we have Holmes-san supporting our backs!

—The one who’ll retreat! Will be you, Heroic Spirit Sigurd!





Sigurd strikes a heavy blow on Mashu’s shield. You immediately use a Command Spell, granting her the strength to get a good hit in on Sigurd. Panting from her exertions, Mashu composes herself before talking.



Mashu:

…That was an attack with all of the magical energy from both me and Senpai. With Holmes-san’s strength added on top, it becomes considerably powerful.

Even though it’s not the real baritsu, there was an effect. Your spiritual core should have suffered some damage.



Sigurd:

….



Mashu:

….Please retreat, Sigurd.



Sigurd:

You said something about my spiritual core. So what?

SO WHAT?



Sigurd moves to attack again, this time moving so fast that you can’t even see him. His attacks land on Mashu heavily.



Mashu:

Sen…pa….i…!

Exoskeleton, mobility dropping— the remaining magical energy is… ku… ugh… not yet…!

…I can’t… fall… yet…! Senpai… Sen…pa..i…!



But she does fall. You run to support her.



Sigurd:

You—- don’t move.

Now then… What was that just now? Because you are a hybrid?

I was terribly shocked to hear you say that was all of your magical energy. It was like a hunter licking his lips when bringing down his prey.

….

Ah, that is wrong. You are no hunters, you are no heroes, and I am afraid you are not even warriors.



He gives you a kick.



Mashu:

Senpai…!

Ugh… move… move, Orthenaus! Please—



Sigurd:

Pitiful child of man.

This is mercy. Rejoice. The sword of your hero will reap your head.

Humans. O humans. Sorrowful ones. There will be no tomorrow for you, just like how there will be no tomorrow for this world.



Mashu:

No, no…! Senpai, senpai, use your Command Spell on me one more time… Senpai…!



Sigurd:

It’s useless. Know this, you will meet your death before your magical energy can be transferred.

Farewell.



Guda:

(Do not avert your eyes)





The sword is swung, slicing through the wind.

…..

Fresh blood…. did not spill.

Nothing spurts from the neck. There is no hideous sound of blade cutting through flesh and bone either.

The head still remains on the body.

He still lives.

By just the skin of one’s teeth…

If the demonic sword’s point had been just a little lower, then Guda’s life should have been split in twain.

However.

Perfectly, just before it struck, the red demonic sword completely stopped.





Mashu:

(The tip of the demonic blade… stopped… in mid-swing—-)

Master!



Sigurd’s eyes, which had turned blue for a moment, returns to red.



Sigurd:

….Hmph. So this is the pride of a hero.

You’ve narrowly escaped death, child of man.



He walks away without a further word.



Mashu:

Master!

Please don’t move…! You’re injured, since you took that kick from him…

That’s why… for now, please don’t move…

…Senpai…



Mashu collapses.



Guda:

Mashu…!





Sigurd arrives at an icy palace. There, he announces his return to Ophelia. He seems to have returned faster than she expected, and Ophelia asks if he has obtained the Paper Moon, that relic of the Atlas Institute.



Ophelia:

I don’t think it would be the case, but you didn’t break it, did you?



Sigurd:

Hah. Don’t question me.

I will never get used to handling these tools that came from the hands of men. Confirm it for yourself this thing that you treat as gold.



Ophelia does so, confirming that it is the real thing. She leaves it with Sigurd, ordering him not to hand it over to anyone. She claims Sigurd is undoubtedly the most sturdy and robust existence in this Scandinavia, second only to the Queen.



Sigurd:

I suppose.

Well then… I’ve done my work as a Servant, but is there no reward?

Master, Ophelia Phamrsolone.



Ophelia:

…Thank you for your hard work, Saber. My strongest knight. There is no more work for you at the moment.

It’s fine for you to relax. That’s right, how about I give you a holiday as your reward?



Sigurd:

Hm. Doesn’t sound bad.



Ophelia:

And there’s one more thing.



Sigurd:

Go on.



Ophelia:

—-Sorry, but could you please not look at me with those red eyes?



Sigurd:

Heh. Kuku. You are a woman who can make me laugh. Do we not both have unusual eyes, Ophelia?



Ophelia doesn’t care about that. Right now, they have the Paper Moon, and that’s all that matters. Although the Shadow Border is a rare existence which can bring about an unimaginable phenomenon, without the Paper Moon to serve as its “eyes”, its crew are as good as having their legs crippled. Ophelia smiles slightly.



Ophelia:

I’ll applaud them for being able to remove the Russian Lostbelt. However, their journey ends here.

As a matter of fact, no one will be able to get in Kirschtaria-sama’s way. After that, yes—



Queen of Ice and Snow:

…Fufu. You seem quite happy there, Ophelia.

Is it love? Or is it that which will become love?

Even after thousands of years, there are still things I have yet to fully understand, but…

Humans often speak of it. Of how it would feel, and whether it is sweet. Or if it would have the heat of fire.



Ophelia:

….Your Majesty.



Sigurd:

…..



Queen of Ice and Snow:

To smile after getting your hands on a toy, hm. It seems that you do have a cute side to you after all.

Well? You spoke of the Fantasy Tree. —-What happened to it?



Ophelia reports that its nurture is going well. In a place where normal people will not be able to reach, the tree continues to grow, even now. There is no organized resistance in Scandinavia so she foresees no problems.



Queen of Ice and Snow:

An organization. A word yet unfamiliar to my ears.

Well, there is no need to heed the howling of a single wolf. I do not think it could even serve to stave off boredom.

But, yes… if they are in a pack, they might become a minor nuisance. Is that not so, Ophelia?



Ophelia:

…Yes.



The queen declares that her world, her Scandinavia is one filled with long-standing peace. There is no one who would come into conflict with another. Not even one person. Of course, beasts do still hunt their prey, but that is all.



Queen of Ice and Snow:

Humans, beasts, none engage in pointless conflict… there is no hatred either.

Even if there was, it would merely be to the extent of a single wolf, howling. Is that not so?



Ophelia agrees. The Scandinavia ruled by this queen is one of the eternally peaceful worlds. The queen laughs, pointing out that she is talking as if there are other worlds with such stability. Ophelia reminds the queen that the stability of a Lostbelt is most important. That is what allows the “Tree” to grow. She says that the queen should just continue to rule the Lostbelt as she always has.



Queen of Ice and Snow:

Hmm.

You truly are a woman with no greed, Ophelia. Ophelia Phamrsolone.

Your efficiency deserves praise, but…

But, that is not enough to be called a queen. Do you understand? If you do not, then remember.



Ophelia:

No. I am not a queen.



Queen of Ice and Snow:

Haha—



She seems to wave her wand.



Queen of Ice and Snow:

Why would you plunder?

My land has no need for such greed. If you call me queen and claim to serve me, then remember this.

Though you called it a compass… hmm. Is the hospitality of my icy castle lacking?

Did you forget? All of the ice and snow that fills this Scandinavia is part of myself.

As I rule over all that is pure white, I know everything at all times. I can see it as clearly as if I were close enough to touch it.

I can hear it, too. The breath of all things, their cries, the flapping of wings, the blowing of the wind.

The sound of leaves rustling upon leaves… and of course, the words of men.

I know of the situation with those people of the Shadow Border too, alright? Right now, they are setting up a barrier to avoid the giantkin.

—Ah, what pitiful things.

That is being human too. In order to live, in order to grow, they are ones who would protect their own lives.



Ophelia:

…Saber. I told you that I didn’t mind if you killed everyone besides Mashu, didn’t I?



Sigurd:

I’m bad at telling apart humans.



Ophelia:

…You…!



The queen laughs, finding their exchange truly enjoyable. She calls the great dragonslayer a coarse one, and turns to Ophelia once more. The queen notes that Ophelia does not seem to have understood the queen’s way of doing things yet.



Queen of Ice and Snow:

Why would you kill?



Ophelia:

…Out of fear, Your Majesty. The Shadow Border, the remnants of Chaldea, they are our enemies.



Queen of Ice and Snow:

Enemies, huh.



Sigurd:

If you don’t mind me killing them all, then I’ll go kill them right now.



Ophelia:

Stop!

…You can’t. Don’t kill Mashu Kyrielight.



The queen is amused once more at this fresh expression on Ophelia’s face, one she has never seen before. Even though Ophelia had remained unmoving in front of the Archer, right now, she is displaying various emotions. From this, she asks if Kyrielight is someone who means something to Ophelia. Ophelia refuses to give an answer.



Queen of Ice and Snow:

Fufu. You are a cute one after all, Ophelia. I will forgive it.

And, sir knight. Do not kill. You will not kill.

My ice and snow is not death, but the form of my love. I will not permit this pure white to be stained with crimson red.

Do you understand, knight of Ophelia?



Sigurd:

….Hmph.



Queen of Ice and Snow:

Love is good.

If you come to know of love, do not lose it. Grab it with your hands, embrace it with your arms, so that you are not parted from it.

At times, flames without love drive everything mad. There is such a thing, even from the time when the gods existed.

Do you understand? —Ophelia, and you, sir knight.



Ophelia:

Yes. Your wise words will not be forgotten, Your Majesty.





Ophelia returns to her room.



Ophelia:

….Love, huh.

No, no. I will definitely not become like Kadoc.

I will not fail.

I will do everything I can for the sake of Kirschtaria-sama.

I will turn the other Lostbelts into nourishment for my own… and certainly, surely, meet Kirschtaria-sama’s expectations…



Youngest Valkyrie:

Nourishment—

Every time you speak of the 「Tree」, such an expression appears on your face, Ophelia.

Do you hate this Scandinavia? Do you think that it should not exist…



Ophelia:

Ortlinde… no, I don’t think that way at all.

Even though this was in the Panhuman History, I have inherited Scandinavian blood from my mother’s side. This is my distant homeland.

I don’t hate it. In fact, it makes some part of me, deep down inside, feel safe.

Just breathing the air makes me feel at ease.

I like it. I like this place.

I must admit that I’m shocked by the queen’s generous acceptance. But still, I don’t hate it.



Youngest Valkyrie:

You like it…



Ophelia:

Yeah, I do. I’m glad I ended up here after exiting the Coffin.

This is what I truly feel. On top of that—

I am proud of my objective, my important mission as a Crypter, to nurture the 「Tree」. The 「Tree」 is something necessary.



Youngest Valkyrie:

Necessary. To the man named Kirschtaria?



Ophelia:

……

…The Lostbelt here is very important. I’ve already explained it to all three of you, haven’t I?



Youngest Valkyrie:

Yes. That is correct.

Your current statement has been recorded into my memory storage. It will immediately be shared as a linked record.

Question. Matter for confirmation. A message has arrived. —-from Hilde.

If you do not dislike this place, why do you put on a cold expression whenever you talk about the 「Tree」, she asks.



Ophelia:

Cold?

Ah, that’s…

…Because I feel helpless.

Even if the 「Tree」 is nurtured, maintaining it is all I can do. Furthermore, without using the Siriuslight, the possibility of changing this world is low.



Youngest Valkyrie:

Do you want to change this Scandinavia? Ophelia.



Ophelia:

…Yes, it’s not like I have not thought of it. Is it different for you?



Youngest Valkyrie:

Even though we can analyse, we cannot judge. We can only follow the orders that have been input.

Have you forgotten, Crypter? We are not human, but merely existences that execute our master’s orders.



Ophelia:

Yes. That’s right.



Youngest Valkyrie:

Ah, again…



Ophelia:

Yes?



Youngest Valkyrie:

It’s nothing. Because you displayed the same expression as when talking about the 「Tree」, I responded after synchronizing with Thrud’s statement.



Ophelia smiles.



Ophelia:

That must be because your analysis is insufficient. —Surely.

 No.54

Section 3-1: Apex of All Things (First Part)



Gordolf starts off the meeting by asking Da Vinci to give the briefing. She gives the report on your current situation: it has now been 20 hours since Sigurd’s attack. Thanks to everyone’s efforts, a deadly result was averted. However, there are still problems ahead. Sigurd had taken the Paper Moon from you.



Gordolf:

That’s right! The Paper Moon, of all things!



Meuniere:

To be more precise, the Commander himself put it in a cotton bag and handed it over.

What’s that supposed to be, was it meant as an offering? Even that Sigurd was tilting his head aside in confusion!



Gordolf:

You fool, you thought I was giving it away as a present!? That was a sign of concern that befits me!

That man was far too barbaric. So that the Paper Moon wouldn’t get damaged, I gently wrapped it up before giving it over!



Meuniere:

Seriously!?



Da Vinci stops their bickering and continues her report. The emergency surfacing, followed by the emergency diving, and then Sigurd’s assault: all of it has left quite the damage on the Shadow Border. Still, none of the crew have died, so Da Vinci considers that a miraculous result. However, Holmes did not get out of the attack unscathed.

You haven’t seen or spoken to him since then. Da Vinci explains that if he moves recklessly he will die, so for the time being, he’s staying absolutely put. After all, not only did he have his arm cut off, he also had the rune of death engraved upon him. Da Vinci explains once more about primeval runes. The Scandinavian runes were one of the fundamentals of magecraft, once lost but rediscovered by magi. Even though modern runes are inferior in comparison to the ones used during the Age of Gods, they are still quite convenient. The incantation time is short and they can be used for many purposes, particularly in battle. The Mystic Codes that you wear also utilizes rune magecraft, such as Gandr.



Da Vinci:

Anyway, primeval runes are really powerful stuff. Though many things were made from primeval Ymir’s flesh by the supreme existence of Scandinavian myth, the great god Odin, runes are different.

By offering up his own life, he discovered these written words which were themselves the esoteric mysteries of the world.

Perhaps it would be right to call them that which guides one to the truth seen by Odin.

If death is engraved, death is brought. Inescapable—

—As long as you are a living thing!



Mashu:

A living thing…? Then, as a Heroic Spirit, Holmes-san can recover? Is that what you’re saying?



Fou:

Fou, foou!



Da Vinci:

Exactly! Mashu, you’re absolutely correct! I don’t know what Fou’s saying at all!

Praise my genius for being able to assemble a recovery pod for a Heroic Spirit’s ether body under such hasty conditions. Yup.

Thanks too, Guda-kun. Sorry for having you try recovery magecraft using your Mystic Code so many times.

But if you hadn’t done so, Holmes would’ve vanished before the pod was complete, so—



Guda:

I gotta use it when it needs to be used, after all.



Da Vinci thanks you once again, and says that Holmes will properly repay this debt once he’s recovered. Still, for now, he’ll be sleeping off his wounds. She says that Gordolf-kun must be feeling worried. Gordolf is irritated at her casual address of him since they’re in the middle of a briefing. Returning back on topic, Gordolf gives you your new mission – something he thinks is already self-evident. You’ve lost the Paper Moon and are one Heroic Servant down, but even if you sit around, you’ll remain in a precarious situation.



Da Vinci:

So that you break through your current predicament! And so that you can proceed with your mission!



Gordolf’s jaw hangs open as Da Vinci steals his lines. She apologizes for doing so cheekily. Everyone else has no words too.



Da Vinci:

What’s that! Isn’t it fine, tehepero! Fine, let’s move on!

Retaking the Paper Moon, removing the Fantasy Tree, and finding a trail to the North Sea. Those are our objectives.



Mashu understands that you have to take the Paper Moon back in order to continue your journey, but she questions including the removal of the Fantasy Tree in your objectives. Da Vinci explains that Sigurd came not to take your lives, but for the Paper Moon. As the only ones aware of the Paper Moon’s threat should be the Crypters who had lost Russia, it only stands to reason that he’s a Servant of theirs.



Mashu:

Ah… that means that the Crypter already knows we are in Scandinavia…



Meuniere:

We can’t avoid a fight. If it’s only going to end up in a battle no matter which path we take, I suppose we gotta defeat the Fantasy Tree that’s taken root in this Lostbelt, then.



Gordolf:

That’s right. If the Crypter realizes that the Fantasy Tree is in danger, they’ll take some sort of action.

At that time, it would be our best chance at retrieving the Paper Moon, everyone. This observation of hope is just impeccable, is it not?



Fou:

Fou, foou.



Though there are still a lot of things you need to do first. First, you must investigate this Scandinavian Lostbelt. Da Vinci and the crew will need to repair the Border, so it’ll be you and Mashu alone again for this mission. She asks if you’re fine with it, and of course you are. Still, Mashu is uneasy about venturing too far from the Border with Holmes out of commission.



Da Vinci:

Fu, fu, fu. About that, I have a plan! Yay!



Meuniere:

Ah, it’s great that we have a cute and reliable Technical Consultant… it’s really great, I suppose…



Da Vinci:

Aw, no, praise me more, praise me more~! Know just how useful I can be!



Da Vinci proceeds to brief you on the Lostbelt you are currently in. First, she brings up the apparent basis for this Lostbelt: Scandinavian mythology. Just as with the Age of Gods in other territories, in Scandinavia there were many divine Mysteries such as gods or giants. However, around 1000 BC, or 3000 years before the present, everything changed. Gods and giantkin vanished from the reality – the Texture – of Scandinavia through Ragnarok, which began with the eruption of Mount Katla. Phantasmal species and others were all included. A lot of mythological lore was also blown away. Gordolf adds that is how it was, at least as far as the mages generally concur.



Mashu:

Ragnarok…

The Twilight of the Gods, the final battle that marked the end of the Age of Gods in Scandinavia, wasn’t it?



Gordolf:

That’s right. The plots of the evil god, Loki, brought about many great calamities.

And the flame giantkin, the Muspel, appeared from the fiery realm of Muspelheim. That was the true nature of the great eruption of Mount Katla.

The great god Odin was swallowed by the giant wolf of destruction, Fenrir, and many gods were killed in the clash between gods and giants.

The ruler of Muspelheim, the King of Fire Giants, Surtr, incinerated all of the land with his “Sword of Flame”.



Da Vinci:

Right, right. Then, in Scandinavia where gods and giants had disappeared—



Mashu:

The Age of Humanity arrived… with the loss of so much Mystery, civilization advanced with great speed…



Fou:

Foufo. Foufo fououf.



Da Vinci:

Well, that’s what happened.

Together with the Texture (reality) that covered its world, Scandinavia of the Age of Gods disappeared from the Earth’s surface… is what the mages of Panhuman History have theorized.

It is just a bit different in historical records. The oldest major eruption of Mount Katla was in 930 AD, and there are no records whatsoever of any eruptions around 1000 BC.



Gordolf:

It’s only logical since the Texture had vanished from the surface.

Though we have compilations of Scandinavian myths from the Sagas or the Eddas, they are only left behind in the form of fragments, and these gaps have exerted an influence, is what the general consensus is.



Da Vinci:

You seem to like general consensus, Director.



Gordolf:

Wh-What’s wrong with that! This is a theory supported by many authorities! It’s something like common sense in the Clock Tower’s Faculty of Archaeology (Mel-Astaire)!



Fou:

Fofou, fou.



Da Vinci:

The real truth remains unknown. We are unable to fully comprehend all of Scandinavia during the Age of Gods in Panhuman History.

Piecing the fragments together and attempting to vaguely deduce the situations and beliefs of that time is all that we can do.

…Well, it’s more or less the same everywhere else, though!



Gordolf reiterates that the Scandinavia you are in right now is completely different. This is a Lostbelt where the Age of Gods never ended.



Guda:

If the giants exist— then the gods might, too.



Mashu finds that logical. Da Vinci says that might be the case, but it’s not something to conclude at the moment. The problem is “when” this Lostbelt diverged from proper history. If the giants exist, then the point of divergence must lie in the BC era. And indeed, Mysteries on the level of the Age of Gods still remain here, but “why”? Right now, you do not know the answer to these two questions: when, and why. Once you do, it’ll all become clear.

Da Vinci thinks that the divergent point was when the Scandinavian Age of Gods ended 3000 years ago in Panhuman History. However, she has no clues as to why. Why is this Lostbelt in such a form? What are those flames on the northern mountaintops? She’s unable to detect any of the towns or villages that should have existed in Panhuman History either. And in the first place, are humans here, or have they been turned into something like the Yaga? Gordolf concludes that you don’t know anything, only that the Age of Gods hasn’t ended.



Gordolf:

If one of the divinities would just appear and explain everything, it’d go much faster. Seriously, what an unfriendly Scandinavian Lostbelt this is!



Meuniere:

I don’t think there’d be some god who’d so conveniently explain each and everything to us.



Fou:

Foufou.



Da Vinci:

But you do have a smart and cute Da Vinci-chan right here.

Um, if it’s about the situation in the Lostbelt… Right, we should talk about the Scandinavian Fantasy Tree, too.



It can’t be seen at the moment, whether with the naked eye or the Border’s observation instruments. Da Vinci says it must be hidden by something or another. That is why your operation this time includes the search for the Fantasy Tree.



Guda:

If we see it, cut it down…



Gordolf:

Of course. If there’s a good opportunity to chop it down, there’s no need to wait for my orders. Just chop away.



Da Vinci then unwillingly brings up the next topic. It’s hard for her to say, but you will not be able to summon Servants in this Lostbelt at all times. You ask if it’s that the Border doesn’t have enough power, or if the leylines are too far away. Da Vinci says yes to both. Firstly, the Border’s damage has left it with insufficient electricity, and on top of that, she can’t detect any leylines either. She says it must be due to the magical energy infused into the snow and ice at a particle level. This is also acting as an obstacle for long-range communications. The magical energy in the ice and snow may be completely controlling both mana and human history.

Mashu theorizes that the ice and snow might be from someone’s magecraft. Da Vinci replies that if so, the caster must have tremendous power – most likely the King of this Lostbelt. She asks you to keep in mind this possibility, though it’s also possible that this Lostbelt itself just has such a nature.



Gordolf:

…ah, ahem. Okay.

To sum it up, we are in a precarious situation. As our combat strength is virtually depleted, we have no choice but to send only the two of you out as investigators.

Understand that it was a difficult decision to make.



Guda:

I understand that.



Gordolf:

Ha, ha, ha! I see, that’s very good! Well then, the investigators shall depart at 0900 hours tomorrow morning!



Da Vinci tells you that though Sigurd’s whereabouts are yet unknown, around 150 km northwest of the Border there are multiple lifeforms detected. It could be a village of some sort, though such a village does not exist in the maps of 2017. Still, you should head there to gather information first. Of course, Da Vinci has prepared translation charms for your use. She did want to support you as best as she can and have the Border go along on the search, but for now, this is the best that they can do. The Border is currently being repaired and can’t move. Of course, it can’t dive either.



Da Vinci:

But, the Orthenaus will be coming along so don’t worry. I’ll concentrate on tuning it once more for these 20 hours.

It shouldn’t become unstable after blocking the demonic sword anymore.



Mashu:

Thank you very much. I, too… when the next time we meet him…



Da Vinci:

Yeah. Don’t hesitate to biff him one with a good punch. There’s no need to be concerned about Siegfried~!



Mashu:

Yes, that’s right. I think Siegfried-san would get caught up in it though!



Meuniere is concerned about the poor communications, and wonders if they can’t send another person along. Da Vinci would like to have just one more Heroic Spirit, someone who could manage the Border in her place. Gordolf warns her not to waste their precious and diminished electricity on summoning tests. Rather than doing something useless, investigating the local region is the smarter decision, or so he says. Da Vinci asks you to find allies if possible. Perhaps Heroic Spirits from Panhuman History have appeared, just like in Russia – summoned by the land, just like Beowulf and Billy were. Then, Da Vinci confirms everything with you once more.



Da Vinci:

—You have three main objectives.

The first is to retake the Paper Moon. The second is to cut down the Fantasy Tree.

And lastly, finding a trail to the North Sea. These are the goals which you have to work towards. The first is absolutely necessary!

To start off with, collect information, and ensure new additions to your combat strength!



Guda:

Sure, I’ll get the mission done.



Mashu:

Yes, Senpai!



Fou:

Fou! Fofou!



Gordolf:

The operation begins tomorrow morning at 0900 hours! Then—

If there are no other questions, then this briefing now comes to an end!





The next morning, you head out.



Mashu:

It does not seem that a blizzard will be coming. The weather today is clear, in southern Sweden of the Scandinavian Lostbelt.

I’m all prepared, Senpai.



Guda:

I hope it stays clear.



Mashu:

Yes. It’s a good omen!



Though Mashu thinks that she shouldn’t say such things in your current circumstances, she still wants to spiritedly move forward. Da Vinci agrees; continuing with a gloomy face would be bad, and it wouldn’t make a bad situation better.



Da Vinci:

That’s why it’s as Mashu says! Let Da Vinci-chan give Mashu a pat on the head.



She moves closer, and goes “There there”.



Mashu:

Th-thank you very much.



Gordolf shouts at Da Vinci over the comms, asking what she is doing. He tells her to quickly send you off, then return to the Border. After all, she’s the only Heroic Spirit left who can defend the base.



Da Vinci:

Right, right, Director. Did you want to see their faces? Is there anything you want to tell them too?



Gordolf:

None! No, there is!

With the Paper Moon taken, we are in a pinch! Being unable to move, we’re just like a defenceless little animal with its belly showing… So quickly! Achieve your mission and come back!

Listen here, don’t take any thoughtless actions that’ll lead to your serious injury!

It’s not going to be funny if we lose any more people!

Well, no, the situation we’re in is already not funny, but… first, take it back. And come back unharmed. That’s all, now go!



Gordolf ends the transmission.



Da Vinci:

Fufu. Somehow, the new Director’s an easy person to understand.

He’s probably worried about the both of you. You get it even if he doesn’t say it, don’t you?



Mashu:

…Yes.



Guda:

He wants us to return unharmed so that he doesn’t have to worry.



Mashu:

Yes, Senpai. He must have been quite worried during the assault—



Da Vinci:

Yeah, something like, is the Demi-Servant girl’s wounds fine, or will we be alright if the demonic sword-wielder appears again.

He got really faint-hearted after Holmes got whupped, and couldn’t even move an inch!



Mashu is still worried about the Border’s defences and whether or not Da Vinci can handle it alone. After all, the current Da Vinci has almost no combat ability at all. Still, Da Vinci assures her it’ll be fine. Sigurd doesn’t seem to have any more business with the Shadow Border, and she’s also put up a barrier over it. The giants won’t be able to detect it.



Da Vinci:

I haven’t worked so hard in preparing a barrier since the time I was putting the finishing touches on the Mona Lisa…



Mashu:

(In life, Da Vinci-chan w-went so far as to put up a barrier when finishing the Mona Lisa!)



At any rate, Da Vinci will be waiting for your good news at the Border, with the others. She asks that you advance carefully, as you still don’t know everything about this Lostbelt. Furthermore, communications will be difficult – the magical ice and snow will restrict it to a range of several kilometres at best. Even so, she asks you not to give up.



Guda:

You’ve got healing and repairs to take care of, so don’t push yourself too much, Da Vinci-chan.



It seems that you won’t be able to exchange information unless you return here, to Norrkoping. You will forced to act independently more so than you have in the past, so she asks you to be careful.



Da Vinci:

Even if there’s a really cute kid asking you for help, don’t get all reckless unless they’re as cute as I am, okay? Alright?



Mashu:

Yes. Da Vinci-chan shouldn’t push herself too much either.



Da Vinci:

Oh, jeez. You are all such thoughtful young people…. Hey, wait, I’m the younger one right now!

Yup. I’ll be careful too. Ah, and then…



Fou pops out and begins bouncing around.



Fou:

Foufou, foou! Kyuan!



It looks like Fou had snuck outside by hiding in the storage space of Mashu’s shield.



Fou:

Foufoufou, foufoufo.



Mashu:

…Yes. Fou-san will be coming along this time too.



Guda:

Then, let’s do well on this three-man journey!



Mashu:

Yes. Compared to 2 people, with 3, our resources have gone up by 1.5 times! We’ll be in your care, Fou-san.



Fou:

Foufou~



Da Vinci:

Even Fou was concerned that we’re short-handed… but, you’ve got some good instincts!



Fou:

Fou!



Mashu:

Hehe. Yes, Fou-san is enough to be considered a full person’s worth. It’s comforting!

As a result, the total output added together might be three people’s worth.



Fou:

Foufo, foufofou.



Mashu:

It’s true, you know?



Fou:

Fou, foou. Fou!



Fou jumps up onto Mashu’s shoulder.



Mashu:

Are you fine with my shoulder? Not Senpai’s?



Da Vinci takes the opportunity to debut a transportation device she prepared while trying to fine-tune a means of communications, though the latter is still not assured for now.



Da Vinci:

It is called—



She reveals a pair of skis.



Da Vinci:

The Orthenaus Add-on Option, Ollerus Board!



Mashu:

This is…!

Additional equipment for my exoskeleton, right? Did you make it even though there was so little time…!?



Guda:

These are skiboards, aren’t they!



Fou:

Fou, foofo!?



Da Vinci:

Don’t underestimate a genius! Yes, fufufufufu, these are really awesome skiboards!

They’re high-speed skiboards that can convert magical energy into a jet thrust! Even the god of skiing, Ollerus, would be shocked!

Charms for protection against falling are added too. It’d be difficult to fall anyway, since gyro-sensors have been added so you actually won’t fall after all.

A single board has also been prepared for Guda-kun. With this, you can move at high speeds across the snowy plains of Scandinavia!



Guda:

Yahoo! Da Vinci-chan’s a good girl!



Da Vinci:

Heheh. Be impressed, be very impressed!

Ah, but if you’re going to seriously move at super high speeds, you better fold up yours and cling onto Mashu, okay?



Mashu:

…Thank you very much, Da Vinci-chan. You must’ve pushed yourself to finish this.



Da Vinci:

Fufufu. Spending late nights is the privilege of the young☆

You two really forced yourselves recklessly yesterday. This is easy compared to that.

Holmes would definitely have felt the same—

—or maybe not, I don’t know. It’s that famous detective after all.



Still, Da Vinci ultimately feels bad about placing the burden on the two of you. She’ll say it again – be careful. You have several days’ worth of food, drinking water as well as camping tools kept in the storage space of Mashu’s shield, so Da Vinci advises you to take rest whenever appropriate. She reminds you once again not to be reckless.



Mashu:

Yes!



Guda:

We’ll be going now, Da Vinci-chan!



Da Vinci:

—-Yeah! Have a safe trip!

 No.55

Section 3-2: Apex of All Things (First Part)



The two of you look at the scenery of this Lostbelt once more.



Mashu:

—Snow, and ice, and fire.

This is the Scandinavian Lostbelt… looking at it once again, this landscape is somehow…



Guda:

Pretty.



Mashu:

Yes— I suppose. I do think it’s a very pretty sight.

Snow and ice, which can only exist at low temperatures, and fire, which has a high temperature. Their coexistence has created a very unique landscape.

At the same time… it’s just strange, after all.



She finds it strange that even though there are no combustibles in sight, the mountains are aflame. It is a beautiful yet inexplicable Mystery. Mashu comments that though it’s great that the Ollerus Board can even climb uphill, when moving at high speed your powers of observation are quite diminished. When stopped, like this, there’s a few more things noticeable.

The amount of snow, for example. She notes that asides from a part of Norway, there’s not so much snow covering Scandinavia. Here, though, the mountains are frozen, as are the trees. Mashu pauses and corrects herself – the trees are actually ice, shaped into pine trees. There is no actual vegetation to be seen thus far. Mashu supposes that it is like the glaciers in Russia, something due to a strange and different principle compared to your own world. After all, Lostbelts are worlds that have walked down the path of an “if” in history. She wonders just what history this Lostbelt had, that would have led to such a scenery.

Looking up, Mashu notices two birds.



Fou:

Fo, foou! Kyaau!



Mashu:

Look at that, Senpai! There are birds!

There must have been other, normal living things in Scandinavia… besides giants and magical beasts.



Guda:

It’s a bit relieving.



Mashu:

Yes. At least, this is a world where birds can live—



Fou:

Fou, foou!



Mashu:

Fou-san? Are you interested in those birds…?



Fou jumps about.



Fou:

Fofou, fou.



Mashu doesn’t quite get what he’s trying to say. Instead, she says that you should be moving on, so she asks Fou to get back into the shield. The wind pressure when riding the board might blow Fou off otherwise. Fou obediently follows instructions. Mashu then matches your current location to the Panhuman History map. Although she doesn’t think she’ll be able to synchronize with the satellites, she still manages to get an overlay. It appears that you are currently in southern Sweden, directly over Lake Vattern.



Guda:

Wait, this is a lake?



Mashu:

…Yes. It is. In the Panhuman History, that is…

Lake Vattern is more than 1900 square kilometres in surface… it should have been a large lake which was formed after the last glacial period.

However, where we’re standing right now is amidst mountains covered in snow—



Fou:

Foou, foufou. Fou….fo?



Mashu:

…It’s not just snow and ice and flame… but the Lostbelt truly has many areas in which it differs from Panhuman History…

Though I felt that way in Russia, this just reminds me of it all over again.



Fou:

Foufoufou. Fofofoufo, fou!

Fou, kyaau!!



Fou jumps up and knocks Mashu on the head.



Mashu:

Waa, Fou-san!?



Fou:

Kyau, kyaau!



Mashu:

Wh-What is it? Fou-san, what did I—



Mashu realizes what Fou was trying to warn her about, and apologizes profusely. There are giants nearby, and they have found you. As you hadn’t bumped into a single one on your way here, Mashu suspects that they’ll approach if you linger in one spot for too long. She apologizes again, and the two of you prepare to battle the giants.

Once they are disposed of, Mashu notes that there are no other magical energy reactions within the surrounding dozen metres. Mashu apologizes yet one more time, saying that she let her guard down despite Da Vinci warning her time and again not to be careless. Since you are not in contact with the Border, she should have been more vigilant towards detecting magical energy or Servants.



Guda:

You just have to pay more attention next time.



Mashu:

Yes. I won’t fail a second time!



Fou jumps up onto her shoulder.



Fou:

Fou! Fou! Fouuu….



Mashu:



No. It wasn’t Fou-san’s fault. You don’t need to worry yourself that much.

In fact, you helped us out. Thank you very much.



Fou:

Foufo~



Mashu takes a deep breath and composes herself.



Mashu:

We are unable to contact the Shadow Border in current circumstances. That means it is the same as being unable to contact Chaldea’s base.

I’ll be aware of that mindset. According to Chaldea Staff Regulations Article 23, Paragraph 2—

You must not panic and act calmly. In other words…

Judge appropriately, act appropriately, return appropriately!

And afterwards convey an accurate report.



Guda:

Chaldea Staff Regulations Article 23 Paragraph 2… what a shoddily written rule…



Mashu:

Yeah, it’s pretty shoddy. Paragraph 2 was something Doctor snuck in after all.



Guda:

Ah, I see. It’s very like him.



Mashu:

Yes. I think so too.



You and Mashu ride the Ollerus Board to an area where there are more of those icy trees. Here, you confirm that they aren’t frozen trees, but tree-like shapes which appear to be carved out of ice, like countless needles pointing towards the sky. Mashu says that most animals would not be able to survive in such an environment. Instead – though Mashu hesitates to use that word – the giants seem to be living just fine amongst the forest of ice. Perhaps they’re attracted to the magical energy present. There’s more of them than you have encountered so far. Mashu wonders if you’ve accidently wandered into their grounds by avoiding the burning mountains. Since you’ll have to fight if discovered, you try to keep a low profile. For that reason, you go by foot from here.

Fou seems to be enjoying this trip, bouncing ahead. Mashu tells him not to go too far, since he might be found by giants.



Mashu:

Ah, but it might be okay… Fou-san looks really cute.

Perhaps the giants wouldn’t eat him but keep him as a pet…



Fou:

Fou. Fou.



Mashu:

….

Senpai, can we talk about something?



Guda:

Is it about Sigurd?



Mashu seems surprised that you read her mind, and confirms it. She tells you that she’s felt something off from the start, and begins giving a brief background about Sigurd: one of the strongest heroes of Scandinavia, the one who reforged anew Gram, which was broken by Odin’s Gungnir, and defeated the Evil Dragon Phenomenon, Fafnir, to ultimately obtain the dragon’s wisdom. Then, he crossed paths with Brynhildr, and lost his life to the love and hate that resulted. Sigurd was a hero said to stem from the same origin as Siegfried, and is at times said to be the original one himself. But there is just something that Mashu finds strange.



Mashu:

He doesn’t give off that feeling at all. That masked Heroic Spirit—



Guda:

He was a strong Heroic Spirit, but…



Mashu:

Deep in my heart, something about it troubles me. Though it’s a bit hard to put it into words…



Mashu stops, and asks if you hear that. As if right on cue, you hear a child’s scream.



Guda:

Mashu!



Mashu:

Yes. The scream is from the north, northwest! Let’s go!



Rushing to the spot, you see a girl who has been found by the giants.



Girl:

Oh no… they found me… And I was doing so well too…

Why, why… why did I mess up right at the end! I’m such a dummy!

Aaaaaaa…. No, no—- this can’t be true, can it…!



The giants roar, and she shrinks back in fear.



Mashu:

We made it! Master!

Please protect the girl! I’ll—



She slides onto the scene, using the Ollerus Board.



Mashu:

I’ll now enter combat with the giantkin! Fou-san should stand back too, please!



Fou:

Foufou!



Girl:

Eh, eh, eh, eh… who… are… you…?

No, no no no no no! You can’t! If found by the Bergrisar (hill giants), the child who is found shouldn’t be helped!

Th-that’s why… that’s why…!

If you see a child getting attacked you must run immediately! Even so… wh-what are you doing!? Run, please run!



Guda:

We’re not going to do that!



Girl:

E, eh…?



The giants roar again.



Girl:

Kyaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!! You dummy! Now we’re all going to be pancaked…!



Mashu:

…We won’t! Orthenaus, full output values stable. Let’s go. Master!



Guda:

Help that girl, Mashu!



Mashu:

Yes!



The giant falls. Mashu declares the end of combat and that there are no other magical energy reactions detected in your vicinity. During the fight, the giant was not alone, as ice monsters were accompanying it. It was also a species of giant you had never seen before. Mashu remembers that the girl had said the word “Bergrisar”. She identifies it as a type of giant in Norse mythology, a hill giant. They were friendly to the frost giants, the Jotunn. Still, Mashu finds it hard to believe that they’d team up and attack people in such a manner.



Guda:

How’s the condition of your exoskeleton?



Mashu:

There’s no problem. It’s in tip-top shape!

We’ve succeeded in dealing with it somehow. There are no injuries too, thanks to Senpai’s support.

The load on the exoskeleton is still within the margins of error… Da Vinci-chan’s retuning is amazing.



Fou:

Fou, Foufou. Fouu.



Mashu:

Ah!

That’s right, Senpai. That girl is—



With her eyes shut, the girl is muttering “Bergrisar” over and over again.



Girl:

God, God, God… please, please.

Please, let me go to where everyone is peacefully, even if a giant turns me into a pancake…

……



Mashu:

Um, uh, hello—

(Is she speaking Swedish? The translation charms should have no problems working for dialogue, but…)

(Her words are a bit hard to catch. It might just be my imagination, but her accent is a bit difficult)



Girl:

………



Guda:

It’s okay to open your eyes now.



Mashu:

Yes, there are no more threats to your being. Your safety is secured for now.



Girl:

……………

I-I was saved? The Bergrisar aren’t here?



Mashu assures her that she’s safe. There are no giants around for dozens of metres. The girl looks around restlessly, heaves a sigh of relief, and then shouts.



Girl:

—-THAT’S AMAZING!

Amazing, amazing. This is the will of God!

Thank you, thank you, thank youuu~ You saved me, it’s amazing, it’s really amazing.

How did you do it!? When found by a giant you should definitely be pancaked, but to think nobody became a pancake at all!

Um, ah, ah. Sorry.

…Ahem. I have to greet people I’ve met for the first time. I learnt that properly so I know.

I’m Gerda!



Mashu:

Gerda-san, I see. It’s a nice-sounding name that befits a Scandinavian girl.



Gerda:

Thank you! Hehe. I think you sound very nice too.

The big sister in black armour, and the big brother with black hair—

What are your names?



Guda:

The onee-san in armour is Mashu Kyrielight.



Mashu:

Thank you very much. And this onii-san is Guda.

He’s my Senpai.



Gerda:

Senpai…?

The two of you are really amazing. I was so shocked!

Which village did you come from? Are you alright in such thin clothing? You don’t seem to be trembling, but are you really not cold?

I’ve got a proper set of furs so I’m fine. Since I decided to go out of the village on my own, I had to prepare everything properly.

The adults are too busy with preparations for tomorrow so they’re useless, so I have to do everything myself.

Whether it’s cooking, or curing a child with a terrible fever!



Gerda pauses as she remembers something.



Gerda:

Th-That’s right, I have to give thanks. If someone does us good, we must pay it back.

But I don’t have anything on me right now, so I’ll have to go back to the village…

B-But, I can’t go back without the herbs…

….Yeah, yeah. What should I do—



Mashu whispers to you excitedly about the first Scandinavian person you have met in this place. She’s delighted to have found one, and since Gerda doesn’t seem to look very different, unlike the Yaga, she wonders if this means that the culture here is similar to that of Panhuman History. But still, Gerda’s clothes would look very out of place in 2018. At any rate, Mashu says that first you should get Gerda to guide you to her village. After that, you can gather more information.



Guda:

If we cut down the Scandinavian Fantasy Tree, that child will…



Mashu:

…Yes.

If the Fantasy Tree is destroyed… then all of the lives in this Lostbelt would likely share the same fate.

But, for the sake of Panhuman History—



Guda:

Even so, I can’t ignore this child.



Mashu:

…Yes. I feel the same way too.

I think I would have engaged in combat even if Senpai didn’t ask me to.

….

No, there’s no “even if” here. Senpai would definitely have said it, I think.

That we should help that girl.





Fou:

Foufou, foou!

Fou, fou, fou!



In a very active mood, Fou keeps jumping around.



Gerda:

So cute! Come here, come!



Fou:

Fou, kyaau!



Fou jumps again.



Gerda:

That’s so fun. Do I do it like this…



She does a little hop.



Gerda:

Pyon.



Fou:

Foooooou!



Gerda:

Hehehe! You’re too pretty to be a mouse, so maybe you’re a dog, or maybe you’re a cat!

Ah, I get it. I get it now. You’re a horse!



Fou:

Horsefo!?



It’s the first time Gerda has seen an animal close up other than sheep. She thinks Fou is really pretty. Gerda then talks about another, pretty thing that she has seen before: a rainbow in the sky. It was very big, a seven-coloured rainbow that looked like it could reach the other side of the mountains.



Gerda:

The others didn’t see it, but I saw it. I’m amazing, aren’t I, ahem!



Fou:

Fofou.



Gerda:

Hehehe. Yeah, it’d be great if I could show it to you!



Fou:

Fou!



Mashu:

Is Fou-san so active because of the weather?

Perhaps the cold temperature here is just right for Fou-san.

Ah, see, please look, Senpai. He’s gotten so fond of Gerda even though they’ve just met.

Oh, no. In this case, perhaps it is the other way around? It’s Gerda-san who’s grown fond of him?



Guda:

…She’s a cheerful kid, Gerda-chan.



Mashu:

Yes. Gerda-san’s a very cheerful person.

And since she left her village and came all the way here just to pick some special herbs that her friend needs, she must have a strong sense of responsibility.



But there’s something on Mashu’s mind. Gerda wanted to pick herbs, which means there should be a place where herbs can grow. Furthermore, if the situation was so urgent, why did Gerda leave the village by herself? Although Mashu isn’t sure about the entirety of Scandinavia, here, at least, there are dangerous giants. Of course, mere humans cannot fight the giants. If they encounter one, they would certainly be dead. Even so, they did not send out a team of multiple adults with more proper equipment, moving as an organized group.



Guda:

That’s right. There must be some reason for it.



Gerda:

Are you talking about me?

That’s right, I left the village to pick herbs! The adults can’t do it since they have to prepare for tomorrow, so the children have to take care of the children’s matters.

I’m the big sister, so I have to do my best.

Ahem.



Fou:

Foufou, fou!



Gerda:

Ahaha. Thank you, were you praising me? Fou is a good child!

Good boy, good boy, what a pretty coat! My hand’s the one which feels good combing you!



Fou:

Foufou, fou~



Mashu tells Gerda that it’s dangerous around here, since there are high chances of giants appearing. Gerda knows that. Although giants almost never appear close to the village, there are a lot of giants up in these mountains.



Gerda:

But I’ve no choice… the heavenly messengers that bestow upon us runes will only be here tomorrow.

Even though diseases can be immediately healed with runes…

If I wait for that, Laura will probably die.



That is why Gerda came to this place. She had heard that around here, there were amazing herbs which can heal all illnesses. Apparently they are particularly effective for fevers.



Gerda:

….Umm. Uh, well, that’s…

I was certainly reckless. Actually, we aren’t supposed to go outside of the village.



Mashu:

Is that so?



Gerda:

Yeah. No one is supposed to leave the village at all. You should know that too, right?

Those who can leave the village are, yeah, only the heavenly messengers who are the servants of God.



Mashu:

(God…)

Um, I’m sorry. When you say God and heavenly messengers, do you mean—



Gerda:

Fufu, that’s no good! Even if you test me that way I won’t be caught!

Lady Mashu. The big sister in the black armour.

Although I’ve always heard that everyone who had a sword or a spear were messengers of God, but there are those who have shields too! Lady Mashu!



Mashu:

I’m… a heavenly messenger…?



Guda:

Yup. Mashu’s an angel.



Mashu goes red.



Mashu:

…!

S-Stop that, Master, this isn’t the time for a joke…



Guda:

Anyway, first let’s go pick those herbs together. Then you can lead us to your village.



Gerda:

Hooray! I was thinking that would be great if it happened!

Did you know what I was thinking? Then, even though you’re not holding a weapon, the black-haired big brother is a heavenly messenger too!

 No.56

Section 3-3: Apex of All Things (First Part)



You ask Gerda about the Fantasy Tree and the unnaturally large sun, but she is ignorant of either. It’s the first she’s ever heard of such big trees, and as far as she knows, the sun has always been this size. For her, the current state of things, such as mountains being covered in frost and flame, is natural and unchanging.



Mashu doesn’t seem too pleased with the answer. Gerda picks up on it and quickly apologizes for not being able to provide a satisfactory answer, though Mashu reassures her that it’s okay. Picking the herbs comes first. Gerda happily says it’s not too far off. As she runs ahead again with Fou, Mashu whispers to you.



Mashu:

(Senpai—)

(There’s the World Tree in Scandinavian mythology, Yggdrasil… it should be an important existence there.)

(Though it’s not strange that young Gerda-san might not know of it, but, it’s a little…)



Guda:

Perhaps they have no myth of Yggdrasil.



Mashu:

(Th-That’s a bit too…)

(For that myth to be absent… it’s… something we can’t rule out…)

(If Lostbelts are a Pruned Phenomenon where things that did not occur in Panhuman History have happened, and have continued till 2018….)

(It is also possible that the framework that is Scandinavian mythology has been passed down in a changed form)

(Mountains of frost, mountains of flame)

(And that weirdly large sun, as well as giantkin)

(All these strange sights that we have seen might just be related to a change in mythology…)

(…that is, if a change in mythology did indeed happen)



Fou begins making noise. Alerted, Mashu asks Gerda to stop and not make a sound. You hear the footsteps of giants passing by. If Fou had not drawn your attention, you might have been discovered. You stay silent and keep low until they pass you by. Gerda tells you that the place where you can get the herbs is close by, just a little further ahead.



Mashu:

(Activating silent mode for exoskeleton. Any noises from motion or exhaust will be suppressed with the activation of the silencing charm—)

(This’ll be fine. Let’s go, Master.)



You reach a green valley nestled in the mountains. Here plants and flowers are growing, something that Gerda points out excitedly.



Gerda:

(I’ve heard old stories that there were such places outside the village, where animals and plants could live)

(It was easier to find these places in the highlands between the mountains of flame and mountains of frost)

(And then, I thought to climb from the side of the icy mountains)

(After all, if humans were to climb from the flaming mountains they’d just get burnt to a crisp, right?)



Mashu:

(I see, that makes sense—)

(Comparatively, the highlands near to the flames would have melted ice and snow…)

(A warm atmosphere. Exposed soil. Thanks to these, it’s possible for plants to grow here)

(It is just like a garden…)



The ground trembles. It is indeed a pretty place, but there are also a lot of giantkin sleeping and strolling around here. Mashu notes that this is yet another discovery: that the giantkin of Scandinavia can be active in both a cold winterland as well as a more temperate environment. In fact, judging by the numbers gathered here, you could say that they much prefer warmer lands such as this.



Guda:

(It’ll be hard to keep ourselves hidden)



Mashu:

(—Yes)

(We’ll need to decrease the giantkin numbers to a certain extent, secure the herb we need…)

(And then activate the Ollerus Board’s Jet Mode in an emergency retreat from this place. That’s the plan of action that I suggest.)



Though you’ve trekked through the icy forest on the eastern side to get here, on the western side of the garden it’s a slope covered with snow. So Mashu plans to ski down that slope to retreat. Gerda doesn’t think it’s possible because she doesn’t see any ski boards around, but you quietly assure her you’ve brought some with you.



Gerda:

Eh, you brought boards along!? Where?



She accidentally forgets to whisper, and immediately apologizes upon realizing her mistake. However, it’s too late. The giants have discovered you. Mashu says that it’s no problem and you have to proceed as planned.



Guda:

That’s right, begin the operation! First, let’s reduce the amount of giants around!



Mashu:

Acknowledged, Master! Orthenaus silent mode deactivated, swapping to combat motion!

—Interception battle, let’s go!



You engage the giants in battle.



Mashu:

First wave has been defeated! Exoskeleton auto-tuning for continued combat mode. Venting exhaust!



Fou:

Foufoufou! Kyuu, kyu!



Mashu:

Yes, Fou-san! I can still do this, I’ve still got enough stamina and output left for our retreat!

Let’s continue the operation, Master!



Mashu brings down another wave with no issues. She praises Da Vinci for making her able to fight for so long. Although the exoskeleton’s power output has decreased by 20%, she can still sufficiently continue for another battle. Mashu asks that you don’t mind her status and judge according to the situation.



Guda:

They’re still gathering in droves! We really should avoid fighting any further if we can!



Suddenly, Gerda runs out as Fou squeaks in alarm. Mashu asks Fou to stop Gerda.



Gerda:

I’ll be right back! I don’t want to be the only one who sits around doing nothing!



Mashu:

Gerda-san!



The giant roars, but Mashu’s not about to let it go after Gerda. She gets in its way and temporarily boosts Orthenaus’s output to block the giant’s attack.



Guda:

Mashu, just hang in there a bit longer! Come back here, Gerda!



Gerda:

I GOT IT! THE HERB!

Haa, haa, haa… huh, haah…! I did it. I did it!



As Gerda pants heavily, you immediately order Mashu to begin the retreat as according to the plan. She takes down the giant she’s dealing with, while Gerda cheers.



Gerda:

Wooooow…! Awesome, awesome, even though that giant is so huge…

Lady Mashu is fine even with it bearing down on her… so there’s such a thing… how awesome…

Heavenly messengers aren’t afraid of giants after all!

When all the adults get caught by giants, there’s nothing left of them but pancakes—



Guda:

All the adults? What do you mean…



Mashu:

Senpai, grab onto my body! Gerda-san and Fou-san too… um, heave-ho!



Mashu hauls all of you up and prepares to retreat.



Mashu:

Orthenaus Extra Equipment Ollerus Board— emergency booster activation!

The wind pressure is going to be tremendous so please close your eyes! I’ll be using my visor!

Emergency activation of jet mode from the third speed. Ollerus Board, standby. 3, 2, 1—

—Boost start!





In Ophelia’s room…



Koyanskaya:

Hi, Ophelia-chan☆



Ophelia:

You’re…



Koyanskaya:

Welcome to this guest room of snow and ice befitting that of a princess— that’s not it, I’m welcoming you back today too.

I’ve already started just now, you know? Vodka cut with Scandinavian ice is surprisingly good~☆



Ophelia:

……



Koyanskaya:

Ara, you’re making a face that’s wondering if it’s fine for me to be drinking on the job, aren’t you? Um, I’m thinking the exact same thing.

But that’s the fault of this castle. I thought it’d be warmer than Russia here.

This castle of snow and ice alone is an exception amongst exceptions, though. It’s so cold that without a Mystic Code one’d be all frosted over.

It’s better than being hot, but being too cold doesn’t seem ideal too? Hey, what do you think?

—Ophelia-chan from Scandinavia?



Ophelia:

…It’s nothing special.

So you’re still here, Koyanskaya. I thought that you’d have moved on to some other Lostbelt.

You have the duty of being a messenger, have you not? Just like how I have been entrusted with a mission by Sir Kirschtaria.



Koyanskaya:

No no, there’s no need to worry about me. I’m just about done with my work here in Scandinavia.

The Fantasy Tree is growing well, and the Lostbelt’s King is cooperating too, no?

I’ve also replenished my personal collection, and it’s about time to head to the next Lostbelt.

Since that’s the case, I should’ve been more serious and taken better care of Kadoc-kun. I’m regretting that now.

Well, but—

Rather than worry about him, who’s dropped out, wouldn’t it be better for me to worry about someone who’s still active, like you?

Actually, since we’re both girls, I just can’t leave you alone☆ It seems☆



Ophelia:

I don’t think you have any cause to be worried for me, Koyanskaya.



Koyanskaya:

Eeh, is that so? Really? Really really, really?

Ophelia-chan is very upstanding and is excellent as a mage, but somehow there’s a certain ennui, as if your mind is not here. It really tickles my maternal instincts.

Well, it doesn’t need to be said, but I don’t really understand the feelings of being a mother, though?



Ophelia:

How annoying…

I have offered my absolute loyalty to Sir Kirschtaria Wodime. Worry not, I harbor no doubts.

Neither is there anything troubling me. My Mystic Code includes charms which serve to protect the mind.



Koyanskaya:

Eh. If you’re strengthening that aspect, doesn’t that mean you are aware that it is your weakness?



Ophelia glares at her.



Koyanskaya:

Oops, best to let sleeping dogs lie. This is the sort of thing better left unsaid in human society.

Well then, let’s pretend that didn’t just happen and do it all over~!

Drink with me, Ophelia-chan! Let’s have fun until the morning!



Ophelia:

……….Huh.



Koyanskaya:

Arara. A sigh?



Ophelia:

…It seems that you don’t understand, so I will say this.

You are unneeded in the Scandinavian Lostbelt. If you plan to continue your hobbies, then it’ll be better to go to another Lostbelt.



Koyanskaya:

Yeah. I’ll scoot off as soon as I’m bored of my vacation in Scandinavia.

Until then, let’s get along, okay? We are both comrades in 「misanthropy」, are we not?

Fufu… it’s okay. It’ll be okay, Ophelia Phamrsolone. You poor little girl.

There is no human who will pressure you here. Here, Sunday will never, ever come.



Ophelia:

Eh…?

You, what did you… say—



Memories flash through Ophelia’s mind.



Ophelia:

….What do you know.



Koyanskaya:

As fellow girls, you are one of my few friends. There’s no secrets that we can keep from each other, can we?

It’s fine, Ophelia. There’s no need to worry about anything at all.

There’s nothing to fear at all. There’s nothing to regret at all. Just follow the orders of the one dear to you, as much as you wish.

The world has disappeared in a slate of white, and even the Lostbelts will collapse some time.

This is all just killing time before the 「God of the Foreign Star」 descends. So, why don’t we enjoy ourselves as we will?



Ophelia:

…You—



Koyanskaya:

That is why you don’t need to care about anything at all, hey?

—Let’s enjoy this eternal Wednesday together, shan’t we?



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