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Chapter 3: Black Quilin Rummel

Black Quilin Rummel

... The mobile fortress that had charged into Centralle's royal palace was on the verge of collapse.

But it had successfully fulfilled its role, and no one felt despondent about it. Even its manufacturer Letarta put a hand on the wall as he muttered, 'You did a good job.'

Damien Valle... Damien of the Dolls pushed up his glasses a smidgen with his fingertip to reset their positioning as he raised up the staff he held in his right hand.

Going outside the fortress, his three armed automatons took on a defensive formation around him.

"Now then, shall we do our job? If we succeed here, he said he'd make me director of the national research institute."

Damien had his own reason to join in this war. Letting him conduct the research he wanted while controlling the world's technological innovation, it was a reward intermingled with Lyle's ulterior motives. But to Damien who held the ideal of creating his own ideal woman with his hands, Lyle's proposal was a dream come true.

Because even if he didn't do any of the other troublesome things, he would still get research funds.

"Let's get started."

As Damien muttered, automatons of cold steel revealed themselves from the fortress' interior. But they weren't of human form. They were moving shields. Once those were stationed to protect the fortress, He stationed himself to create a defensive wall.

Around the moving fortress, an ally encampment had been created in the blink of an eye.

The allied soldiers began to stream out from within. Beside Baldoir, an armored Alette emerged, teary-eyed perhaps having hit her head.

"Gold back all enemies making way to the palace! Get to your stations!"

Abiding Baldoir's orders, the soldiers with guns used the fortress' bulk and the gaps in the shield to take an offensive positioning.

Alette led an elite few.

"If any enemies mange to get through, we will be the ones taking them on. Protect our allies!"

Following teary-Alette's orders, the fully-armored knights stationed themselves to protect the gunners.

There, the enemy's dead soldiers started their charge on a straight line to the palace.

The stream of large-scale Porters stationed themselves around the fortress, deploying their shields to create two, three layers of defensive lines.

From the Porters, the Valkyries disembarked first to enter the royal palace. Around a third of them remained to fortify the defense.

Damien looked over their flowing movements and offered his appraisal.

"Simultaneous attack and defense, Lyle's standard strategies sure are interesting. Do you call this sort of thing military talent?"

There, Damien's automaton No. One spoke up.

"Master, there is a signal approaching at a high speed from the sky. It seems it is headed for the royal palace."

One glance at the sky, Damien immediately returned his eyes to whatever they had been doing.

"If she's gone off to protect her owner, then that's not our job. Just leave it to Lyle. Now then, we're here doing our own job."

From the loading trays of the large-scale Porters, two large golems emerged. Made almost like knights, those giants that exceeded two meters held two shields and two swords in their four burly arms. They were Damien's golems that had been prepared to take on the enemy's dead men walking.

The two that leaped out of the encampment swept the approaching soldiers away with horizontal swipes. But they were insufficient to take on so many dead men.

However, what awaited the soldiers who breached the two golems...

"Fire!"

Was an attack from the unit under Baldoir's command. Besides that, perhaps having finally finished its inspection, a bombardment from the fortress had commenced as well.

Its back was pressed up against the palace, so it was impossible to fire any large-scale magics at it. Damien leaned his staff against a shoulder.

"Now then, buying time isn't a problem. I do hope Lyle's party returns safely."

He muttered...

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A sword with an invisible blade.

When I swung it, the knights before my eyes were too-easily bisected. It didn't feel bad in my hands. And I could adjust its length at will. Having a blade enemies couldn't see was quite a convenient thing.

As a knight lowered his axe, I shrunk the blade, and took a slight turn to avoid. Right after, I extended the blade towards the enemy knight, piercing his head, blowing him all the way to the wall, and sewing him into it.

As I immediately shrunk the blade, I looked over the surroundings from Porter's load-bearing tray.

The enemies that filled the space, and the soldiers that had taken on the forms of monsters were truly troublesome.

"I didn't really want to expend myself here."

Perhaps you could call it a cipher sword, the silver weapon the Third had left behind was truly easy to use. But we were surrounded by enemies, making for quite a troublesome situation.

What's more...

"This is the worst."

As I looked up, the ceiling was pierced through by a human form with long... much-too-long black hair, a girl whose mouth parted all across her face had appeared before me. While she trampled a few dead soldiers beneath her, it seems such a thing was irrelevant.

Opening her large mouth, the drool began to drip out.

"Doesn't look like words will get through. It's just as May said."

As I thought to take on the black quilin before my eyes, May and Marina rose out of the loading tray.

May stretched out her arms as she looked at the black quilin girl.

"This one's opponents are me and Marina. One on one is a bit rough, but if there're two of us, I think we'll be able to manage this rampaging child."

I sent a glance to May and Marina, and the two of them seemed quite up for it. I had wanted to leave them as forces to use against Celes. But we were short on time.

I turned to May.

"All yours. Come back safely."

"It's a promise. You have to keep your promises, so I'll definitely be back."

I glanced at Marina-san as well.

"Marina-san, you come back safe too."

"Treating me like an extra? Well, that's fine too. She looks like a strong one. Not lacking as an opponent. My blood's been boiling a while now. Even my spine is shaking. Telling me this one's strong. If it's not, I feel I can even go to my third stage in one go."

The protectors adorning her arms and legs had been reforged by old Letarta. Apparently she used a Skill to turn into a beast, but even when that happened, they were made so they'd protect her body without being blown off by her changes in size.

May looked at the black quilin.

"Now then, there are quite a few hindrances around."

A number of approaching responses came from behind. Busting through the wall, the armed Valkyries flooded into the room crowded with enemies.

May seemed impressed.

"Perfect timing. So... shall we be off?"

May was clad in electricity. As I covered my face with my left hand, Marina to her side clad herself in flames.

Growing to an adult form, blue scales ran down May's arms and legs. She she was getting a fel for her form.

Meanwhile, Marina-san who'd grown a size larger had taken on a form you could call a beast-man. I had heard of it before, but this was the first I'd even seen their serious fight forms.

There, perhaps feeling provoked their foe opened her large mouth, and closed it down on the dead soldiers around her. I thought she's finally lost it, but once she'd eaten a few, the quilin before my eyes managed to change her form in a similar fashion to May's. She let off black lightning, and the form that came out was even closer to beast than her's. Both her legs were quilin legs. Her arms were human, but her hands were unnaturally large.

She had sinister thorns growing all over. Her mouth opened even wider, and rather than a quilin, her anatomy was closer to a sahuagin.

"How thorny.

As I said that, May leaned over a bit.

"It's a painful sight. I have to end it quickly for her..."

Right after, May kicked against Porter's roof and sent herself barreling towards the black quilin. Marina-san followed behind.

"Ahahaha, it's getting fun around here!!"

While I was busy musing over her belligerence, the two collided with the quilin, burst through the roof, and leapt into the outside air.

Around the Valkyries took on the soldiers. A swing of Porter's large arms sent dead soldiers flying. We made our own path as we proceeded on.

At that moment was a knight who leapt into Porter's loading tray.

"You're in the way!"

I slashed diagonally from below, extending my blade to cut my foe. As I cut through, the force caused his helmet to fall, letting me see his face.

Orange hair... and I thought I'd seen him somewhere before. A young male knight who participated alongside us in the Gryphon subjugation looked at me through his hollow eyes before he slowly collapsed onto the lading tray floor.

"Marcus-san..."

The Circry House. Miranda's younger sister. And Shannon's elder sister had taken him as a lover, and he had become a dead man.

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... Monica discarded the broken drill she held in her left hand.

Changing her stance to hold her right hand's hammer in both hands, she lowered it at her foe.

"I'll pound some sense into that haughty face of yours!"

But the automatons that was her enemy- the butler-model Burt gracefully dodged as produced knives between his white-gloved fingertips and threw them at Monica.

From her apron, she produced a tray to serve as a shield as she swept her hammer to the side.

Burt elegantly jumped to avoid, doing a single rotation in the air as he took two handguns from his inner pocket and pointed them at the maid.

Monica left her hammer behind, leaping from the spot. From the points of the guns raced lines of light, scorching the floor with their heat.

"In the end, you're a fake distributed to the public for civilian use. You're no match for a true one such as I. For I was designed for the very sake of protecting important personnel."

His red hair swaying, he landed as he pointed his guns at Monica, letting out attacks in quick succession. But Monica rebutted.

"Fake, fake... such rilings will never work. And while we imported your notions of maids and butlers, we were the first ones to develop automatons. If we're speaking of fakes, then wouldn't that have to be you?"

Monica predicted her opponent's attacks, dodging them as she exchanged words. They were both automatons, but as they shared no link, they carried out an analogue dialogue.

As Monica hid behind a pillar, Burt pointed both guns to melt it. But Monica was no longer there.

"Without a shred of refinement or history. An existence merely birthed of perverts whose passions grew as they saw no further than the surface, just what's so wonderful about that? Rather than an automaton constructed with a goal of sexual service, I'm saying I hold a far greater worth."

As Burt looked up, Monica swung at him with a broom-like weapon in her hands. HE caught it and destroyed it with his gun. Burt showed no panic.

Monica spoke.

"What's wrong with sexual eyes? I can answer any form of request, what of it? I'd quite appreciate if you didn't force your sense of values on us. And... you lot are fully capable of answering sexual demands as well, goddammit."

Monica launched a kick while Burt held knives in both hands to cut at her. She blocked with the remains of her broom, but her clothing was beginning to receive damages. Her foe was the faster one.

"The maids you call maids are no maids at all. They are no more than harlots in cosplay. Existences that demean our worth. Despicable existences."

"You're quite the noisy one. That's just the sort of culture we have. Before you complain about some other country, why not learn to take a look at your own? I'd like it if you didn't pin the blame for your own lack of worth on us."

As he kicked Monica, she leapt back. Spinning horizontally she landed so as never to show the contents of her skirt and glared at the butler.

That they held animosity towards one another wasn't only from the relation of maid and butler. The various circumstances of the countries that manufactured them were mutually exclusive.

To the space where they contested in skill, the Valkyries arrived. The ones who had come were the unit who held the same face as she, Unit One, as well as Two and Three.

All three units had specially-prepared bodies. The binders on their backs had grown even more wing-like.

"We have come to help out, scrap metal."

As Unit One said that, Monica spoke without taking her eyes off of Burt.

"... I'll give you my thanks for now. But the enemy's output is too high. He's showing specs above the data. There is a possibility he's sucking considerable power form his master."

Monica took a test tube from her pocket, removing the lid to drink down the red liquid inside. It was liquefied Magic Stone, Mana... energy... she was replenishing her energy.

(I want to reduce the burden on the chicken as much as I can.)

There, Burt gave a grin. And he revealed the insides of his tailcoat. In it, valuable gemstones called mana crystals were sewn on in absurd numbers.

Taking one in his hand, Burt crushed the gem. As the fragments sparkled as the melted into the air, the damage he incurred in his battle with Monica regenerated.

"She said I could take whatever I wanted from the Bahnseim Royal treasury. While I grudgingly serve that detestable master of mine... well, when it comes to resourcefulness, she beats out your master."

Monica's eyebrow twitched.

"I can't let that one slide. The only one in the world allowed to speak ill of that damn chicken is this Monica. And you're reluctantly serving your master? Learn some shame. You've no qualifications to speak of elegance or worth. And... The best service lies in serving those without the resourcefulness. As I thought, you've developed a negligent mindset."

Towards Monica's rilings, Burt's expression twisted. It was an exchange one wouldn't think was coming from automatons.

Units One, Two and Three opened their mouths.

"So in the end, that is all he is."

"The butler brags of his master's jewels? Really?"

"How pitiful. For the master who has a butler like you."

To the riling three, a vein popped up on Burt's head. The real question was whether there really was a need to reproduce such an expression on an automaton.

Burt took a number of gemstones from his tailcoat's inner pocket and crushed them in his hands. There, he began releasing gatling fire from his guns.

"I'll break you into pieces so small regeneration will become impossible. For such unsightly imitations... Disappear!"

As Monica moved from that tattered space, she launched an attack on Burt. All the weapons she held were on the forefront of the era. But from Burt's point of view, they were all behind the times.

Monica thought.

(When my energy's restricted over here, he's raging so flashily... I'm starting to doubt whether or not I'll be able to buy time. If it really comes down to it, I'll have to resolve myself. Perhaps I'll make the chicken dickwad cry again.)

Inside, she apologized to Lyle...